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Everything posted by fliplap

  1. I keep coming back to this post for some reason. Now that I've been back in the States for a year I'd like to reflect on my original question: What should I have brought, food-wise, to Namibia? Not much. Ingredients were available. They might have been 400 miles away, but they were available. There is a Taiwanese grocer in Klein Windhoek that has many of the Asian items you crave, from Thai curry pastes to fermented tofu. The Super Spar near Maerua Mall in Windhoek has an impressive selection of imported items, for example, Cholula hot sauce. They also have some things that can be hard to find in the US, like 2kg bags of rye flour. Fresh cilantro is unobtainable, however, coriander(aka cilantro seeds) is used to make biltong and wores, so you can get it in large quantities at Agra, a farm supply store. They also have lots of other common herb seeds. Peri-peri peppers are widely available, you may know them as birdseye chiles, or Thai chiles. The mass market beer is decent, with Namibian Windhoek and Tafel being better than South African Castle or Black Label. Brewed-under-license Heineken is widely available. The Tops inside the Super Spar has a decent selection of import beers (Guinness, Pilsner Urquel, etc). Liquor of every variety is widely available, including several brands of tequila. Wine is plentiful, very good and very cheap. Several very drinkable red wines are available for less than $3 a bottle, though avoid the Tassenburg, yiles. I kept a lower quality white wine in my fridge in the summer, it was ~$8 for a 5 liter box. I did actually bring a good knife with me, though it never made it to Namibia. Like many things it was stolen from my checked luggage at the Johannesburg airport. . No worries, good knives are available at the kitchen store next to Mr Price Home in Wernhill mall. You might have to travel a great distance, over a long time, to get what you need, but someone told me this once in Namibia: We do not have much here, but we have time. So what would I have brought? 2 17oz bottles of Sriracha. (Impossible to find) 1 32oz bottle of Tapatio (the Cholula at Super Spar is very very expensive) Powdered versions of various chiles. Thats about it. Separated from familiar flavors, Tapatio makes everything taste Mexican. Sriracha makes everything taste like, well, Sriracha, which can be a good thing. Anything else I wanted I found, or quickly forgot about in a haze of cheap wine. I assume he was a JICA volunteer?. There's an excellent chance that I met your nephew, or that he knew my roommate, Nori. I met lots of JICA folks, and if he ever traveled to Keetmanshoop, he probably stayed at my house.
  2. I feel like I should probably update this. I finished Peace Corps in December and have been travelling since, I write from Taiwan now. Peace Corps was a wonderful experience that I would encourage anyone with 2 years on their hands to give serious consideration. Just don't believe the packet of information they send you: I wasn't a teacher, I didn't live in a village. I had computers, but internet only though my mobile phone, thus no egulleting. They were right about the food: Its terrible, there were a few exceptions, but most of it was pretty bad. I did try everything I could: from corn porridge, to mopane worms, to "smiley" - a whole goats head braised in an iron pot over a fire. Common Namibian food was fairly close to described. However, Namibia's proximity to South Africa and its oddly large German population meant that lots of western ingredients were available and purchased only by westerners. We lived in a fairly large town, by Namibian standards (pop 17,000-20,000), with two small grocery stores and a produce store. The capital, 500km away had almost everything else we needed, including a small Taiwanese grocer. I lived with another volunteer and over the course of two years we explored avenues of culinary curiosity I may have never wandered down at home for lack of time, motivation, or both. We had a small fridge to keep things fresh, but we had only a counter top toaster oven with 2 hot plates, so we had to be inventive with dishes and methods of keeping thing warm. Despite this obvious oven deficiency, we baked every loaf of bread we ate. From white, to wheat, to rye, sweet and buttery to sour and chewy. We maintained a sourdough starter that went into pretzels, pitas, pancakes, pizza and wonderful airy inside, crusty outside rolls and loaves baked on a huge piece of flat stone I found one day. We lived where we worked, all day projects were no problem, we could pop over to the house from the office to check on things throughout the day. The produce shop would often take in oddball items, like 3 kilogram zucchinis. Yes, you can get sick of double chocolate zucchini cookies. We once found young ginger and watched in awe as it slowly turned pink when we poured hot sweet pickling liquid over it. When they took in a batch of jalapeños we bought so many we had to give out jars of pickled jalapeño rings to keep them from going to waste. As suggested, we had an herb garden, though the only things that grew in the Kalahari sand were basil and cilantro. The basil made mounds of pesto. We'd carry the hard cheese back from the capital and the lack of pine nuts making us inventive with almonds, sunflower seeds and macadamia nuts. The cilantro, combined with the jalapeños that were frozen instead of pickled, became liters upon liters of salsa frozen in old yogurt containers. It went great with all of the homemade tortillas. I could go on and on, but the last 2 years have been, culinarily, the most enjoyable of my life. Some of my concerns were confirmed, some weren't, none were insurmountable. Though the stewed goat nose was close.
  3. Hah! The Peace Corps that came with my invitation actually mentioned that there's a chance I would be teaching computer science at a school with no computers at all. Part of me hopes that isn't true, but then another is intrigued by the challenge of explaining a computer without one in front of me. I'll have already been in Namibia for a couple months for training before I head to my final assignment, so I have no idea how remote my site may be. Opportunities to head into the city might be few and far between for me. Like you said, Namibia is a big place and PC prohibits volunteers from owning a car. Motorcycles are sometimes approved, but only if you live very very far from your assigned site, a bicycle is more likely. As a teacher I've been told I will probably live at the school. I really appreciate the wide variety of suggestions and opinions. Bringing along spices to break up the monotony sometimes present was suggested to me by a few previous volunteers. I knew eGullet would be the best place to come for ideas! I have no doubt there will be some great culinary experiences while I'm there and I'm looking forward to them. I'm looking for suggestions for those days when the Namibian equivalent of a frozen bag of peas is the only thing on hand!
  4. Nambia, with its relatively stable political climate and proximity to South Africa is a fairly popular destination for the eco-tourist types. But it's also twice the size of California, so I can't bet on being able to run to the tourist towns for supplies. I definitely like the idea of bringing seeds. I'll pick up a simple book on gardening before I go, I'm not so good with plants. I'd really like to get some tomatoes and herbs going. How do you think a small jar of sun dried tomatoes would do without refrigeration? Chipotles are a great idea, and I can't believe I almost forgot sriracha! Keep the ideas comin!
  5. Hah! I made exactly this last night, with spinach gnocchi.
  6. I make this all the time, and add halved cherry tomatoes for color and flavor.
  7. Check out your local middle eastern specialty store. One of my local ones always has a few of them in the freezer.
  8. Yesterday I found out that I've been accepted into the United State Peace Corps. I'll be teaching computer science to middle and highschool aged kids for the next 2 years in Namibia, on the west coast of southern Africa. Along with piles of paperwork the Peace Corps also included a brief description of Namibian food. From the sound of it, it is the land that taste forgot. Food is a means of survival, lots of rice, very little in the way of fresh fruits and vegetable. Meat only on special occasions. Lot of what they'll call sauce, aka ketchup. A typical meal consists of rice, topped with ketchup. Things I will supposedly have access to (but I wouldn't count on): - A gas powered fridge - A stove with pots and pans - Some simple canned vegetables, maybe. With all that in mind, if you had to fill a small shoe box with some essentials, what would they be? Anything I bring needs to last at least a year, if not 2. What things would you bring to jazz up rice and similarly bland food? Spices? Dried anything? Preserved/canned anything? Small bottled sauces? Looking forward to some great ideas, Rashid
  9. Great thread. I always have: - Some manner of blue veined cheese - domestic blue, stilton, roquefort, gorgonzola - Some manner of hard or semi-hard italian cheese - parmesan, romano, sometimes asiago - Onions, tomatoes, lime juice, jalapenos or serranos. - Must be ready to have pico de gallo at any moment - Corn tortillas - They keep well and are great for fresh tortilla chips - Various canned beans - black, pinto, garbanzo - Assorted oils, vinegars and spices - Yeast - Both instant and ADY - Copious amounts of bread flour - At least 1 bottle of good beer. Do chipotle peppers in adobo keep well after they're out of the can? I never use a full can of them and I'm usually wary of using them after they've been in the fridge for a couple weeks. But I agree, great stuff to keep around,
  10. fliplap

    Pizza Sauce

    Words to live by. I prefer cooked sauce, it tastes like a NY slice to me. I use a 15 oz can crushed tomatoes, saute onions garlic and a little chile. Add tomatoes, salt pepper, cook 10 minutes until the tomatoes don't smell raw, add fresh oregano and basil off heat. My favorite toppings are caramelized onions and prosciutto. ← Hey! I spent a long time learning to quickly toss a round pie! I agree about cooked sauce though. Unless I'm dealing with really good tomatoes, I'm probably cooking the sauce. I think it gives the pie on a whole a richer, deeper flavor. And with toppings like caramelized onions and prosciutto it just about has to be cooked to be able to taste it :-) Those are 2 of my favorite toppings as well. On the other hand, for a margherita or lightly topped pie (fresh mozzarella, basil, ricotta, arugula, etc) an uncooked sauce is the way to go. If you want the flavor of crust to shine, a cooked sauce will do nothing but over power it. My usual uncooked sauce is a can of San Marzanos, italian seasoning, salt, some chile flake and some fresh garlic all pulsed in the food processor. I let it all sit together for an hour then apply. Gotta get that pie in the oven quick though. The uncooked sauce, even with drained tomatoes has a lot more water in it and will soak through the crust pretty quick on a thin pizza. EDIT: And I second the pizzamaking.com suggestion. That place rocks. My dough is so much better thanks to that site. Not to mention the motivation I got from seeing all those great looking pizzas!
  11. I make bread in my 5qt KitchenAid Professional at least once a week with hydration ranging anywhere from the 80s down to the 50s and haven't had a problem with even the driest doughs. That said, I'd personally avoid making large batches of stiff bread doughs. The box might say it can handle 12 cups of flour, but they clearly mean cake batter or something similar. I keep it under 6 cups when making bread. PS: There's lots of info about KitchenAid mixers, and competitors, in the Prep Equipment forum of Pizzamaking.com here: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/board,48.0.html There's also a KitchenAid rep that answers questions everyone now and then.
  12. p.s. Janos and the more casual J-Bar at your hotel are great choices maybe Acacia in the St. Philip's Plaza, same place where Cafe Terra Cotta used to be ← I'll 2nd the suggestion of J-Bar at Loews. I take it the Cafe Terra Cotta in Tucson has closed? Looks like the one in the Borgata is gone too. Too bad, I liked that place, but haven't eaten there in years.
  13. Onion and Gorgonzola filled bialys from The Bread Bible. Of course, they look down right shameful in here with all these beautiful loaves.
  14. Damn it all! I loved the New York Strawberry Cheesecake!
  15. I was in Las Vegas this weekend and ate 2 of my 3 breakfasts at Bouchon, since the Venetian was walking distance from my hotel. I got there around 8:45am on Friday and it was nearly empty. I was able to get a patio seat without any wait. The patio is very nice and really helps take you away from Vegas. My server was very prompt, polite and attentive. However I did notice more than one mix up in orders. The servers never seemed to know who ordered what at a given table and at one point served the wrong table altogether. The servers ended up confering in a circle on the patio, plates in hand until they figured out what table the food was going to. It really wasn't a big deal, it appeared everyone got what they ordered in the end. The pre-meal bread was wonderful and crusty and came with a tasty orange marmalade instead of butter. I thought the lack of butter was odd. Turns out it was odd as, without prompting, my server returned a couple minutes later with butter. I ordered the french toast and a side of pomme frites, both of which were wonderful and came out very fast. The french toast was topped with fresh, thin sliced, crisp apples and filled with apples and maple syrup. It had a crispy sugary top layer. Altogether it was a lot like apple pie, good thing I like apple pie! The pomme frites were crispy and light and served in a generous portion, but I'm not sure I would order them again as I really don't need that much food in the morning. My wonderful, relaxing meal came to $24 with a glass of orange juice, tax and tip Returned on Sunday around 9:45am with a friend. The waiting area was full and there were people spilling out into the hall. The dining room was packed and I knew the chances of getting a patio seat were slim. We were told there was a 20 minute wait for a table, which I was fine with, however my dining partner wanted to get back to the convention we were attending over the weekend, so we decided to sit at the bar, which serves a full breakfast menu. It should be noted that you must sit at the bar, the tables in the bar area are not served. The bar itself is beautiful and appears to have been milled from several very large masses of aluminium. We placed our order with one of the 3 bartenders. I ordered the boudin blanc and my friend ordered the same meal as I did the previous morning. This time we received no bread. I'm not sure if this was a bar thing, however I did see other bar diners receiving bread later, so I suppose I could have asked for it. The food took considerably longer to come out this time, obviously due to the increase in customers. When the food did come out the server was once again confused about who ordered what. First the good, the boudin blanc was amazing. Could be the best sausage I've ever had. I'm not a fan of heavy breakfasts and was amazed that sausage could taste this light. The croissant was flakey and buttery. The eggs however were not what I was expecting, they seemed slightly over cooked and were sort of flat and flavorless. My friend did not care for the french toast and felt it was too sweet. To be fair, I did mention it was a lot like apple pie before he ordered it. The real disappointment were the pomme frites. They were nothing like what I got on friday morning. These were soggy and oily and looked like they had been mashed into thier holder as opposed to the carefully stood up crispy batch I had received previously. Looking back, we probably should have asked to have them replaced. Despite some of the issues, I have every intention of returning the next time I'm in Vegas. I guess if I had to offer a suggestion: Go on a weekday morning, and get there early for the best seat, service and food.
  16. When they're in season and cheap I just can't buy enough of them. Avocado "crab" puffs are one of my favorites, of course they contain no crab, or even any fish. Basically just cream together cream cheese, alittle sugar and as much avocado as you dare, wrap in crab puff wrappers (I forget the actual name for these) and deep fry. Serve with sweet and sour or "sweet chili" sauce. Use your imagination when it comes to avocado salads. I'll dice the avocado into 1/4" cubes and mix with diced tomatos and crumbled blue cheese. Top with basil infused olive oil and balsamic vinegar, garnish with basil leaves. You gotta really like blue cheese for that one though.
  17. I guess I'll bring this thread back. I love cheesecake (its actually how I found this thread). Foods I just can't do: Olives (olive oil is, of course, wonderful) Melon (I can stomach water melon, but only if its the only fruit around) Wine Pickels I want to much to like olives and wine. Every couple of months I'll try to consume one or the other. Just the other night a colleauge suggested I try red wine with indian food. Thinking the indian would cover up the wine, I tried it. Wine just burns all the way to my stomach. I don't know what it is :-(
  18. I would love to hear how it was! Please let us know. ← I just finished dinner at Pizzeria Bianco, so if this review is overly positive, and I don't think it is, it is because I'm still high on the food. I'm going to attempt to be complete here, feel free to skim. Pre-Game We arrived at Pizzeria Bianco at 4:45pm and there was already about 20 people sitting outside, in 110 degree heat, on a Tuesday. I can't imagine how many are gathered on a saturday evening in the fall. Despite the heat the wait was not all that bad. There is ample seating and by this time in the day there is plenty of shade afforded by the small surrounding trees. The other relief from the heat is Bar Bianco next door. Bar Bianco opens a 4pm and allows patrons to bring their beer outside while they wait for the pizzeria to open. There are 2 beers on tap at the bar: Four Peak's "Hop Knot" and something called a "Cream Ale". I've had the Four Peaks "Hop Knot" before, at the Four Peaks brewery/restaurant. As you might guess its very hoppy, it is golden in color and has a lot more alcohol than you might expect from it. I was only inside Bar Bianco for a moment since the pizzeria was opening in about 5 minutes. I figured on ordering the Cream Ale once seated. Around 4:55pm a line began forming. At 5:05pm the door was opened. Pizzeria Bianco only accepts reservations for parties of 6-10 and there was a party of 10 with a reservation right at 5pm. Bianco's is only a 40 odd seat place and this party had consumed 1/4 of it. My guest and I were seated promptly, as was everyone else. The space is small enough that the host does not so much seat you, as generaly describes the area she wishes you to sit in, the rest is up to you. Once Inside Upon sitting I took a survey of the restaurant. Towards the front is a small 6-8 seat bar. Directly next to that is the open kitchen with a large cylindrical brick oven. A quick guess says it could hold 3 (MAYBE 4) pies if you're real good at managing them. The kitchen is surrounded by a counter which often sees patrons leaning against it talking to Bianco while he stretches dough. Back to beer. Unfortunatly the Cream Ale is not available in the pizzeria. The only beer available on tap in Pizzeria Bianco is Four Peaks "Fools Gold", which I've also had before, and quite enjoy. A light gold color with a fruity aroma and a lingering head. Five or so minutes after being seated our server brought us a small plate of sliced bread and a dish of olive oil. The bread was wonderfully crusty on the outside with a airy, chewy crumb on the inside. A few minutes later we ordered the Antipasto and the Margherita pizza. Now, I'm a firm believer in judging a pizza place on its margherita, however I'd just heard too much about the fennel sausage to pass it up, so I had them add it. The Main Attraction(s) The antipasto arrived within 5 or 10 minutes, I wasn't paying much attention to the clock as I was enjoying my beer. The menu has described it as wood roasted vegetables, sopressata and a bite of cheese, and thats exactly what it was, and it was amazing. On the rather generously sized plate were mushrooms, carrots, zuchinni and tomatos, all roasted. Accompanying them were 4 perfectly thin slices of sopressata, a type of dry italian salami, and 2 thick wedges of a cheese that I judged to be Asiago Fresco. But the real star of the plate was the roasted eggplant parmesan. I would happily pay for an entire plate of it. It could possibly be the absolute best eggplant parmesan I've ever had in my life. It melted on the tongue and filled my head with oil and cheese and a seductive roasted flavor that I can't stop thinking about. I'm not sure if its always on there, but ask if it is, and for the love of food, order the Antipasto! A few minutes later our pizza arrived. Perhaps 13" in diameter with black char markes on the entire crust. Topped minimally with tomato sauce, basil and mozzerella but with a good amount of thick, bias cut fennel sausage. If the sheer fresh taste doesn't immediately grab you, the smokey, crunchy, chewy crust will. The crust is so so good I wish I could order it as a topping. I quickly consumed 2 of the 3 slices that comprised my half of the pie. However on the third slice I was careful to evaluate the merits of the individual ingredients. The fennel in the sausage is not as apparent when masked by the sauce and cheese, but when removed from the slice and taken in small bites it really come through. I'm not a huge fennel fan, but it was quite good. I believe Bianco sources his sausage from a local place called Schreiner's Fine Sausage. This likely where the salami on the antipasto plate is sourced as well. The cheese is fresh mozzerella that, rumor has it, Bianco makes himself. Alledgedly the basil is also grown by Bianco for use at the pizzeria as well as Pane Bianco. The sauce I contemplated for some time. As far as I can tell, it is tomatos. Just tomatos. I couldn't find any other flavors in it, no bits of garlic, traces of basil or red pepper, just tomatos. The bill came to $37 after tax and tip. It included a pint of beer ($3.75) and an iced tea ($1.50) as well as the antipasto ($11) and a pizza margherita ($10) with sausage ($3). Thats a Wrap As I left I received a brief "Thank You" from Mr Bianco. When it is said that Christopher Bianco lays a hand on every pizza, it is a gross understatement. I watched him toss out pie after pie. I didn't see a single other person touch the pizza before it entered the oven. There is no man in that kitchen, there exists only a pizza tossing machine with the model name "Bianco", programmed to make the best pizza you'll find outside of Italy.
  19. Pizzaria Bianco has been called the best pizza in the country by more than a few reviewers, there's a thread a few topics down. Although I haven't eaten there yet, I've got plans to eat there Tuesday. It is suggested you arrive around 4:30, or earlier. Doors open at 5pm and it will fill up immediately, even during the week. If you like outrageously spicy mexican food and good strong margaritas I'd suggest Los Dos Molinos on Central about a 1/2 mile south of Baseline. Not the best part of town, but I'd suggest getting an early dinner as it has a small dining room and is extremely popular. If you get there around 5pm you should get right in, but if you show up around 7pm don't expect to get a table until 8:30pm or so. On the plus side, you can order margaritas while you wait, just don't plan on driving yourself back to your hotel afterwards! If you're looking for something less spicy, but still excellent mexican food, check out Los Sombreros in Scottsdale, on Scottsdale Rd, north of McDowell. Really good, creative mexican food. The restaurant itself is quite small, but nicely decorated and in a nice part of town. I'm not really into wine, but I am into beer, and if you're into beer I'd suggest Four Peaks brewery in Tempe. Microbrew place, upscale bar food (swanky pizzas, big salads) and amazing beers. If you want to impress clients (or a date), try LON's at the Hermosa. Great food, but on the pricey side. Beautiful location and wonderful atmosphere. I noticed you were coming in October, if you'll be here October 6th you might consider attending Zoofari. It black tie charity function for the Phoenix Zoo catered by many of the best restaurants in town, as well as a lot of chains. In addition, it is usually attended by a dozen or more wineries. Unlimited drink samples and food are included in the $225 ticket. I've gone the past 2 years, great fun. One of those functions that it is best not to drive yourself to, if you know what I mean.
  20. Wow, thread from the dead! I'm eating at Biancos next week.
  21. I just finished up 'The Nasty Bits' last night. Of course I appreciated Decoding Ferran Adria, as it was an excellent precursor to the show, which came on later that evening. I do wish that he had put the commentary at the end of each article, or at least made note that it was there in the beginning of the book. Maybe he did and I missed it. I would have liked to hear the story behind the Decoding Ferran Adria article immediately after reading it. I also enjoyed the Masa piece, which has me so craving sushi that some friends and I are going out this weekend. I haven't read Kitchen Confidential yet, but I'm next on the hold list at my local library.
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