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Everything posted by therese

  1. Yes, it's normal. The butter in question is almost certainly made from cultured (or clabbered, the term my grandmother used) cream rather than "sweet" or uncultured cream. It's nothing to do with whether it's fresh or not: you can actually freeze the butter and it will still have that nice butter-y/cheese-y smell and flavor.
  2. Seems like I just got back from Lisbon, and I'm planning two weeks in June in Italy, but somehow I've managed to wedge another week of holiday in there somewhere (a week I'd otherwise have lost, as my vacation days don't roll over to the next year). April 28 through May 4, so I'm expecting splendid weather in Paris. I usually rent apartments when I travel, but this time I'm solo and availability was a bit tight last minute, so I'm at Le Meridien Etoile (via Priceline), a very boring large business hotel in the 17th next to the Palais de Congres. Convenient to metro as well as the Air France bus from CDG (really, I'm trying to make myself feel better for having ended up in this non-refundable lodging), so obviously I won't be doing much cooking. Most of my meals will likely not be near the hotel, but tips for the occasional meal close by, as well as a source for breakfast items would be much appreciated. Prospective local dining or coffee partners welcome to contact me via PM.
  3. It's a 40 minute drive from my house (which is another 3 minutes from the smack dead center of town if you were on the freeway). Well within the Atlanta metropolitan area, and Cobb County includes some of the wealthiest areas in Atlanta. And of course that's 40 minutes without traffic. With traffic...well, when leaving town on Friday afternoons to go visit the grandparents (who live in Kentucky, so up I-75, the same freeway that goes to Kennesaw) we usually just stopped for dinner as soon as we ran out of HOV lanes, as the traffic slows to a very definite crawl.
  4. Thanks for the info, jason. In case they don't already know about it, there's a nice mention of Osteria delle 3V on slowtrav.com. Shall I tell them you said hi?
  5. Great attribute for a destination restaurant! ← Exactly. I used to date a guy who had his own small plane, and when we went on a date it was not infrequently via plane (we lived in Charlottesville, VA) and typically to an airport that had its own restaurant. Apparently this practice was pretty common, and pilots compared the relative merits of airport restaurants n the area. So the restaurants enjoy a certain amount of "drive by" custom. And well-heeled custom at that, as this sort of airport serves charters and private owners. The restaurant's located in the metro Atlanta area, in Kennesaw, so not an unreasonable drive for those of us who live way, way in town. And it would be even faster by helicopter.
  6. With two weeks of eating in front of us we don't necessarily need to make every last meal anything all that amazing, so I'd be happy to send a little business your cousin's way if you can recall the name of the restaurant. Glad to hear that the food on the ferry to Locarno was nice, as so often that sort of thing isn't very, and the idea of dining en route is very nice.
  7. So, almost time for my return visit to Stresa. My last trip there was largely for work, but I so enjoyed the location and the hotel, La Luna nel Porto, that I'm bringing my husband and two children (son 16 and daughter 13) back with me for two long, lazy weeks. For any of you who may not be familiar with typical U.S. family vacations I'll point out that this is a distinctly uncommon approach: very few Americans vacation for more than one week at a time, and staying in one place for the entire period is considered, well, odd. Stresa is sleepy but not too sleepy, and is well-connected by road, rail, and ferry to locations in northern Italy and Switzerland. The hotel we're using is small and comprised of small apartments with kitchens and ours has a large terrace overlooking the lake. Laundry facilities on site, so no hassle with large amounts of luggage. We have decided to rent a car, as that will give us easier access to national parks and small towns. We'll still train to Milan and locations directly on the train line as it's so simple. As far as our catchment area for day trips, I'd like to keep total car time in each direction to under an hour. With that in mind, do any of you have specific recommendations for restaurants or agriturismos in the area that serve meals? Hiking in the area a plus.
  8. If you do want to use real cornbread the key is to make it very thin (no more than an inch thick) and make it in a skillet, such that the crust is substantial and so keeps the whole thing from crumbling. Tomato and cornbread sandwiches are typically made this way.
  9. And speaking of pastries, I did figure out what this one is called: torta de Azeitao. And I'm pretty sure we consumed it in Azeitao.
  10. As our time was limited and M is not a fan of egg-based sweets we didn't make a special trip out to Belem for pasteis. Of course, it turns out now that M is a fan of pasteis de nata now that she's tried one (she was actually the one who purchased the ones that we ate under extremely windy conditions on the top of the Elevador Santa Justa). I did drive by the pastelaria in Belem on my way to Cascais with M2. Exactly the opinion of my local friends: "You must return to Sintra and have the...well, I can't recall the name now, but they're shaped like pillows and they're really delicious." I have to admit here that one of the things that drives my interest in food is literary references, and the scene that I recalled in Sintra was the one in "The Maias" where the protaganist and his friend both spend their time trying to obtain an object that's simultaneously available and unobtainable. For young Maia it's a woman, for his friend it's queijadas. Had I been with my husband I'd likely have made a point of dining at Tavares, as it's featured prominently in the same book.
  11. Yep, I'm going to have to go back and try all those restaurants that I missed on this round. And some pastries---I didn't have nearly enough pastries this visit.
  12. Yes, plenty of both goat and sheep's milk cheeses. The cheese in question (from the lunch we prepared at home) was actually made from a mixture of different sorts of milk (the label shows the sweet little critters but you can't see it at the resolution in these photos) and just didn't taste of very much. Even leaving them (there several of them in a little mesh bag) didn't make them very interesting. Cheese that we tried in restaurants were generally very tasty. As for surprises in the in the Portuguese (or at least Lisboan) diet, not too many, particularly as I'd spent quite a bit of time thinking about the food in advance. I was surprised by the following: 1. cornbread (as we ate at lunch one day in the apartment, also used as crumbs with bacalhau in the lunch on Confeitaria Nacional)---I'd never thought of cornbread or cornmeal as being part of the diet. It would be interesting to know how and when it was introduced. 2. yogurt: I was expecting much better yogurt, but almost all of the brands available in the grocery stores (including Pao e Acucar, which had an enormous selection) were sold sweetened, and virtually all of them had an additive of some sort, either powdered milk or some other sort of thickener. Because M really, really wanted some nice plain yogurt I probably spent a total of at least one hour over the week reading yogurt labels. I did finally find one, a French organic product made with whole milk, nothing else (except the culture, of course). And it was delicious. So I'm left to conclude that yogurt was not historically a big part of the diet. Presumably milk was preferentially used to make cheese instead of yogurt. Hmm, what else? Well, various sorts of pate were pretty popular, with single serve packs of smushed up bits of this and that showing up alongside one's bread in restaurants.
  13. Sounds like you had a great visit, Shaya, and your boys are likely to remember it (yes, even the little guy) as a very special experience. I'll be on the lookout for your home-made meals in the Alps.
  14. My husband cooked for me on our second date: fresh linguini with scallops in white wine and butter sauce. I moved in that night. The first meal I ever cooked for him was calves liver and onions with mashed potatoes, with baked custard for dessert.
  15. My next trip is to Italy, in June, but I certainly plan to return to Lisbon with my family some time soon. Maybe I'll visit some of this sites instead of just eating all the time. Many thanks for your help planning this trip. And thanks as well to the others who made suggestions.
  16. Yes, she can. Or at least she says she can and I've no reason to doubt her. By way of explanation, my tag line (the question "Can you pee in the ocean?") is the result of a trip to Italy a couple of years ago with another friend who turned out to be, well, picky. I'd known she was picky about food (no red meat, no shellfish other than shrimp, no fin fish with anything like a head or bones) but I had no idea that she'd be incapable of using most of the public WCs in Italy. By way of illustrating the problem she pointed out that she was incapable of peeing in the ocean, ever, under any circumstances. So now whenever I consider traveling with somebody I ask them first if they can pee in the ocean. For what it's worth, WCs in Lisbon were uniformly tidy and well-equipped, and apart from needing to know that the appropriate letters are "S" (for senhoras) and "H" (for homems) there were no adventures worth mentioning.
  17. Forgot to mention that I did consume the required egg custard tart (on top of the Elevador Santa Justa, one that I'd purchased from a pastelaria en route, along with my orange juice). I did not sample ginjinha, with or without the chocolate cup. Another important reason to return.
  18. My pleasure, ludja. I refuse to drink coffee out of paper cups anywhere, even in the U.S. They do have ceramic cups at places like Starbucks, you just have to ask for one. And I didn't get to drink much vinho verde, as M doesn't like bubbles in her wine. Something else I'll do more of when I return with my husband.
  19. M's husband met us at the airport in Atlanta, and I was home in time for dinner with my family. Altogether a lovely trip, with great food and lots of fun. Feel free to ask me food-related questions here on the forum, or if you'd other details just PM.
  20. Wednesday morning arrived painfully early, as it'd been some time since I'd seen the dark side of 5:00 AM. Our breakfast today included the queijadas that we'd bought in Sintra on Tuesday afternoon: There was a thin crust around the base, and the more I think about it the more it seems that perhaps this thin crust was not, in fact, crust but rather cardboard. I won't worry too much about it either way. We'd assumed that the taxi stand just down the road would be staffed at 6:00 AM, but in fact it wasn't. But no worries---I hailed a passing taxi and we were on our way by 6:03. Breakfast was served on the short flight to Madrid. I bought a sandwich, yogurt, and a small bottle of red wine (shhh, don't tell Delta) at the airport for the transatlantic flight, as coach food is so hideous that just the thought makes me slightly queasy. And so you imagine my dismay at the thought of my Spanish food all going to waste, as we were upgraded to Business class for the 9 hour flight home to Atlanta. The food wasn't amazing by any means, but it was edible, and the wine and liquor flows like water. Champagne all around, please. The food: Each course had a choice, including cheese instead of fruit (or you could have had both). I skipped the ice cream for dessert and just had the cookies instead. All sorts of snacks during the flight, and then prior to landing a light meal: My last glass of champagne:
  21. Train back from Sintra to Lisbon, and then metro to Baixa-Chiado and the last block on foot to our apartment, where we set to packing our suitcases like crazy women, as we knew we'd not feel like doing it when we returned from dinner, and our flight to Madrid was scheduled for 7:35 AM the next day. M2 arrives as planned at 7:30, tours the apartment, and then takes us by car to a restaurant somewhere out near Cascais. It's located on a marina, and has lovely views and is very nice inside as well: fairly glam, very much what one sees in Atlanta. I don't recall the name, but perhaps somebody local will recognize it. We were joined for dinner by two of M2's colleagues, women that I've also known for years through work. Some of the things we ate: This was, all told, the least impressive food that we ate in Lisbon, and I'm including the lunch in Sintra and the toasted ham and cheese sandwich at Caldo Verde in that number. But it was a lovely evening nonetheless. Sometime dinner isn't about the food. M2 drove us home to our apartment and then back over the bridge to her children in Montijo.
  22. For Tuesday afternoon we'd actually had to choose between going to Sintra on our own, or driving to Obidos with M2. As we really wanted to see Sintra, and also because I wasn't entirely sure I'd survive another whirlwind tour with M2, we chose the former. We caught the train from Sete Rios, and climbed gradually higher in altitude until finally arriving in Sintra. Beautiful, beautiful place. Here's a photo of the National Palace that shows the kitchen chimneys: We were hungry and so we had lunch at a thoroughly unremarkable little place that served acceptable if not amazing food. Stunningly awful U.S. music from the '70s played in the background, lending that certain surreal something to the experience. I bought some very pretty little ceramic serving dishes that I'll photograph later and add. By the time we got to the castle the last tickets had been sold (have I mentioned that I'm a really terrible tourist? and I'm not the least bit ashamed of it, I'm afraid), so we went over to Piriquita for coffee and queijadas. The little old lady waitress forgot to bring the pastries, though, and as we had dinner plans we just got a couple to go from the counter on our way back to the train. Here is a photo from the interior of Piriquita. It is mobbed with tourists; somehow we managed to arrive about 10 seconds before everybody else everywhere we went, and so never waited for tables:
  23. We spent the rest of the morning shopping, and took the Elevador Santa Justa to the top, where it was very sunny and clear (I'd been waiting for a sunny and clear day to make this trip) but also extremely windy. I like this picture because of the contrast of the oranges against the blue sky. That's the ruins of Carmo in the background: I drank an orange juice in the cafe, all the while keeping a firm hold on anything that might move. This view shows a really lovely set of rooftop gardens, one with a dining area and one with (I assume) grapevines. The river is beyond:
  24. When we first checked in to the apartment on Thursday afternoon we'd been asked whether we'd be amenable to being interviewed for an article about renting apartments while traveling. I said possibly, depending our schedules, and the agent gave me the journalist's email address. We agreed to meet her at A Brasileira (so within view of the apartment, actually) for coffee at 10:00 AM on Tuesday AM. I ordered um galao escuro: The journalist was a very nice young woman, just out of school, who is doing freelance work to establish her reputation. The article in question will appear (if accepted) in the Saturday supplement of Diario de Noticias at some point. She's promised to email us, but if any of you notice it first let me know. As part of the research for this article she'd spent half a day with a Japanese tour group, an experience she summed up as follows: "They get off the bus, they get on the bus, they get off the bus, they get on the bus." She then pointed out that we didn't seem like usual American tourists; I refrained from pointing out that one doesn't necessarily recognize American tourists of the unusual sort when passing them in the street. Having established that none of us was an axe murderer we went back to the apartment and she took approximately one bajillion photographs of us. [edit to clarify time of day]
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