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  1. Welcome to the 2012 season of eGullet Foodblogs and welcome, too, I guess, to my corner of Melbourne. Now, it's not Sunday. Not yet. Not even here. It will be soon--it's Saturday night--but I figured I'd post my prep for Sunday's dinner now, given early on Sunday I'll be spending most of the day at the Australian Open. I must apologise in advance, too, for the quality of some of the photographs. When I'm in a store somewhere I tend to prefer using my iPhone to my hulking SLR, a decision that often results in shitty photo. Some context. I live and have always lived in Melbourne's south eastern suburbs. I've spent most of my life in suburbs with a very high population of migrants from all over the world. Australia's culinary scene is shaped by migrants. The Italians and Greeks and others from that part of the world, back in the second half of the 20th century, they brought pizza and pasta and capsicums and salami. In the later part of the 20th century, the Vietnamese, Chinese and Cambodians brought over a wide array of condiments, fruits and vegetables. Every batch of refugees and immigrants has brought their food with them--from boiled bagels to biltong, chorizo to bok choy. Entire suburbs became, and to some extent remain, 'enclaves' for various ethnic groups--Springvale, which I'll show you some time during the week, is home to a great many Vietnamese and Cambodian-Chinese. Clayton, where I am now, was once home to many Greeks and Italians--they're still here--but now has a very large population of Koreans and Indians. Dandenong, which you'll also see, has a lot of Sudanese, Sri Lankans, Indians, people from what used to be Yugoslavia and many others. The nation's collective palate has matured, too. At some point, not too long ago, supermarkets started selling frozen packages of 'stir fry' vegetables and a selection of dried pastas that went beyond spaghetti and 'macaroni'. Products I once had to look for in specialist stores--one of the many local Indian grocers, for instance--I can now find in most supermarkets. Much of this change has been in my lifetime. In my family home the menu evolved from variations on bangers and mash to include an increasing selection of heavily Australianised Asian and Italian dishes. The South East Asian influence is very obvious in the menus of our fine dining scene. I could show you many different parts of my city. If you visit here as a tourist, you're likely to visit Queen Victoria Market and maybe a couple of the big name restaurants in the CBD. I'll show you a little bit of that, but my focus will instead be on where I live and the surrounding suburbs. The preview pictures Canned grubs from South Korea, as avaliable at the 'Hong Kong Supermarket' just down the road. Not a mango or orange tree. It's a lemon tree in my backyard. Many Australians own lemon trees and we tend to get a bit weird about paying for lemons in the supermarket, even tho' they're typically only $3-4 per kilogram. Harry's Deli, a large Greek grocery store located at the end of my street. Reasonable selection of spices and dried goods, as well as olives, Greek cheeses and 'homemade' dips. A selection of umami boosters that, as a couple people pointed out, includes vegemite. I very much prefer savoury flavours to anything else. One of the local butcher shops. Australians might recognise these titles as coming from local chefs/authors. We also have reasonable-sized Indonesian population in Clayton. This is one of two Indonesian restaurants--very cheap and not bad, either. The food is very much like what you'd imagine getting in an Indonesian home in terms of presentation and menu options. A small part of the spice section in India at Home, one of the two larger Indian grocers (there are two big 'supermarkets' and a lot of smaller places, most of which also sell hot food items such as samosas) in Clayton. Also sells products from elsewhere in southern Asia, Fiji and South Africa. Some of the cheeses sold in one of the local Italian delis. Also sells a small selection of non-Italian products, including Spanish paprika and canned fish from Portugal. Harry's Outlet -- Greek deli I ducked into Harry's in search of juniper (not Greek, sure, but their spice selection is decent)--no luck--but ended up stocking up on some of their 'homemade' dips. Oasis Bakery -- Middle Eastern bakery, grocery store, etc My search for juniper led me to Oasis, a Middle Eastern grocer five minutes from home. It's 'Middle Eastern' in its focus but also sells a lot of interesting foodstuffs--some modernist cuisine-type additives, canned snails imported from France, a variety of canned fish eggs, a decent selection of Mexican chillies, etc. The spice selection is easily the most extensive there is so close to home. It's a nice shop. Vine leaves, obviously. A selection of dips, including all of the usual suspects--hommus, ful, tzatziki, roasted capsicum, etc. A selection of duck and goose products including fat, confit and rillettes. Salmon roe, lumpfish caviar and a few other varieties of 'fish egg' priced between these two points. Actual caviar is not sold here, of course. We're not in the right area for that. A selection of olives, ranging from hulking kalamatas marinated in a variety of ways to pricey little ones from Italy. Part of the section dedicated to oils and vinegars. Avaliable are products such as raspberry finishing vinegar, organic sesame oil and a truly baffling variety of infused extra virgin olive oils and fruity/spiced vinegars. Opposing this shelf is a shelf dedicated to sauces, including a selection of peri peris from Portugal and southern Africa and some 'gourmet' chutney. A section of the (long) wall dedicated to nuts and dried fruit, running from macadamias to slices of pear. A section dedicated to pre-packaged Turkish delight, running from cheap bulk packs to expensive organic stuff. A line of tajines they're pushing. Part of the spice, herb and powders section--you can pre-made blends, a variety of different chillies (in powder or whole form) and chilli blends, vegetable and fruit powders, natural food colourings and essences, whole and powdered spices and additives. A selection of salts, ranging from the usual--table salt, rock salt, etc--to some flavoured salts (wild garlic, etc), expensive Maldon sea salt and a few interesting ones, such as black salt and hickory smoked salt. Selection is actually superior to that of the ultra expensive gourmet shops such as Simon Johnson and Jones the Grocer. Part of the pickles section--runs, again, from industrial-sized cans of pickled onions to little jars of chillies. Freeze dried fruits and vegetables, sitting atop a freezer that holds icecreams, pastry, savoury and sweet-filled pastires, dough, ready meals such as their housemade Lebanese pizzas (avaliable hot in the restaurant), desserts of various kinds and a huge selection of frozen fruits and berries (want 3 different kinds of cherry, by any chance?) Just near here, too, is a whole wall of cheeses and a counter that sells a variety of pastries, ranging from baklava to macarons (insanely popular in Australia at the moment, thanks to Masterchef). Some honey--again, the range includes expensive local stuff (Manuka, organic, etc) and some imported ones from Greece and other places. Still cheaper than Simon Johnson, Essential Ingredient and other places aimed at wealthy inner suburbanites. If I find the time I'll show you one of those stores as a nice bit of contrast. A section dedicated to dried beans and grains, ranging from farro and organic quinoa to chickpeas and navy beans. Some dessert-type products, including Persian fairy floss, orange blossom water and rose water. Around the corner is a selection of chocolates, mostly imported or good quality local ones. Some beverages. There is also a large selection of teas and coffees for sale at Oasis. Oasis also has a restaurant, which sells--both for takeaway and sit-in customers--Middle Eastern dishes such as Lebanese pizza, doner kebabs, salads, desserts and a wide selection of stuffed bread/pastry-type products. The food is reasonably priced and, in my experience, very good. I don't eat there often--my shopping tends not to coincide with lunchtime, as Oasis is insanely popular and it's difficult to get in/out of the carpark, as it's on a busy main road--but I've never struck a dud dish. The haul. I went in looking for juniper--I need it for Sunday night's dinner--and came out with smoked sea salt (I'd been on the look out for this stuff since buying the Hawksmoor at Home book, so it was hardly an impulse purchase), goose rillettes and some wild Australian olives. The olives, which I ate with some of the imported brie I bought the other day. Very nice olives. Dan Murphy's I'm cooking kangaroo on Sunday night so I figured I'd want some beer to go with it. Luckily, Dan Murphy's is just down the road from Oasis. Dan's is a chain of booze outlets owned by one of the two big supermarket chains. It has very good prices and a very good selection of some of the finer things in life--craft beer from Australia, wine from Australia and elsewhere, spirits and, of course, single malt whiskies. I have enough wine, whisky and spirits at home, so I was only in search of beer. Part of the liqueur/spirit section. Looking out over the wine section. This store, by the way, seems smaller than the other near near my house. Cider has become popular in Australia in the past couple of years. In addition to the shitty overly sweet 'apple, strawberry and bullshit'-type stuff, there's also some good quality imported French and British (as well as a few local) ciders. At some point this week I'll try and track down some of the better Australian ones--they're not sold at Dan Murphy's yet. Part of the beer section. The selection runs from the mass produced locals and imports (VB, Carlton, etc, as well as Stella, Corona, etc) to locally made craft beers, a few that straddle the line between mass produced and crafty (James Squire, the Matilda Bay range) and some nice imports (Duvel, Chimay, Leffe, Sapporo) from Belgium, mostly, but also France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Vietnam, South Africa and other places. A wider selection of, say, Indian beers (Kingfisher, Haywards 5000, etc) can be had at some of the smaller bottle-os in Clayton, which service a large Indian clientelle. The haul. Note the Sierra Nevadas--I've heard very good things. All of the others (aside from the minis) are local beers. Spiced and smoked kangroo -- prep Why did I head out in search of juniper and ale? On Sunday night I'm cooking kangaroo, working from a recipe in 32 Inspiration Chefs -- South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia [and some other places] for springbok. In the original recipe, some springbok loin is marinated in a spice mix, tea-smoked and then seared in a pan. It's accompanied by, among other things, a verjuice reduction, an apple chutney, parsnip puree and braised radicchio. It's a little more involved than what I'd normally make for dinner, but it's the weekend, school holidays (I'm a teacher) and the moment I saw some of the springbok/kudu/etc recipes in that book I was really keen to try all of them with 'roo fillets. Kangaroo, incidentally, is the most widely avaliable game in Australia--most supermarkets will sell the 'Macro Meats' brand fillets, steaks, 'kanga bangers', hamburgers, mince, mini-roasts and a variety of pre-marinted products, including sis kebabs and spiced steaks. Through a decent butcher, you can also order in--or sometimes even find, if you're lucky--kangaroo meat from other companies and in other cuts, including tail. In Queen ViC Market you'll maybe find 'roo biltong or salami. It's very lean and a bit like venison in terms of flavour--a bit sweet, a bit of iron, a meat for people who like meat. It's disgusting if over- or under-cooked, too. A lot of people don't like it because their one experience was negative--it's so easy to ruin. An increasing number of fine dining restaurants, including Vue de Monde, The Point and Jacques Reymond, are starting to include 'roo on their menus. The 'roo fillets, sitting in a marinade comprised of cumin, coriander seeds, chilli, mustard seeds, juniper, salt (I used some of the smoked salt), black pepper, soy sauce, treacle, olive oil and Worcester sauce. Verjuice reduction (water, sugar, verjuice). The apple chutney (Granny Smiths, red onion, sultanas, tomato paste, garlic, ginger, celery, brown sugar, red wine vinegar, water, cinnamon, nutmeg, bay, cardmom and cloves). When I return home from the Open I'll set to work on the last minute elements of the dish--the parsnip puree, the radicchio and some polenta (corn meal seemed like a nod to the African origins of the dish, while ticking off the starch requirements nicely). Instead of smoking the fillets in the oven with rooibos tea, orange zest, star anise and cinnamon as in the original springbok recipe, I'll load up my smoker with some hickory chips. The dish shall be served with much beer.
  2. We were going to call it "Manitoulin Unrivalled" but after Kerry's adventures over the week or so unravelled seemed more fitting. Those who follow us faithfully know the routine: Technical difficulties..... Stay tuned...
  3. The Manitoulin test kitchen topic has been so popular, it has reached the 20-page mark (the point beyond which the servers are begin bing less efficient at processing) in under a month! We've split this discussion; the preceding section is here: Manitoulin test kitchen (Part 1). So there wasn't much to choose between them taste wise or texture wise. The Ruhlman wet/dry is faster and easier. Most of the prep now done for another dinner of laarb this time using Kerry's recipe. Might have cooked more this afternoon but had a nice nap instead after all this is supposed to be holiday too.
  4. Start spreading the news. We are on our way north. Just stopped in Barrie for breakfast at a place called Cottage Canoe. Will post more shortly.
  5. !חג פסח שמח or Happy Passover! This is not the first time I've done an eG Foodblog during Passover. It's hard to believe that the first one was in 2005 and the second one, just one year later in 2006. Since it's been 5 years since I last blogged, I thought it was time to do it again. For those of you who don't know me, I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. If you take a look at this map of North America you'll find Winnipeg right in the center - about 100 km north of the US border (we border North Dakota and Minnesota) and dead centre between the east and west coasts of Canada. I work in the family business - we call it Desserts Plus, but the emphasis is more on the Plus and less on the Desserts. We're kosher caterers and have a kosher food store in Winnipeg. Tomorrow (Monday, April 18th) marks the end of the 3 busiest weeks of the year for us -- we expect over 150 catering orders to go out over a 4 hour period, plus customers coming in for last-minute items before Passover starts tomorrow evening. You probably won't hear much from me tomorrow -- unless there are some lulls during the day. But if you have any questions, please ask them! I'll get to them as soon as possible. The plan for the week is a small seder dinner on Tuesday night and a lot of home-cooking over the holiday. It's 11 PM and I have to go finish packaging the chopped liver -- I've been here since 8 AM and have to be back by 8 AM tomorrow - and there's still stuff to do before I go. (This is about 1/3 of the 90 lbs. we made this year)
  6. If you missed it, we recently relaunched the eG Foodblogs with our own Fat Guy kicking things off here. After a short break, another great eG Foodblog is under way. FoodMuse is sharing a week with us -- click here to read along and participate. And don't worry, there won't be a long break before the next one. On deck for next week, we have a blogger who has shared this picture with us:
  7. Five years ago, I had a foodblog. It was a terrific experience focusing on Providence food culture and on our family's daily cooking and eating during a pretty typical fall week. A lot has changed in five years. That little kitchen I used to cook in? Well, we moved into my dream kitchen. Though 1950s applicances, lighting, and so on present plenty of problems, and though the suburban commute is driving me nuts, the new kitchen is my Disneyland -- the happiest place, for me, on earth. A few more changes. Take liquids. Though I didn't know it was a bandwagon exactly, prasantrin is right: my tea selection has changed quite a bit. It's no longer quite so Tazo dominated: In addition, my drinks repertoire has expanded beyond this sort of thing: Not that there's anything wrong with a bit of Wray & Nephew neat, but several years of developing my cocktail chops, including BarSmarts Wired training and several months of work as a bartender and bar consultant, means that you'll see a broader array of libations. Much of that bartending experience has unfolded at Cook & Brown Public House, an award-winning new restaurant in Providence that we'll surely visit next week sometime. Meanwhile, these two? They grew. A lot. While they are on light KP and tasting duty regularly, it's vacation, so I'll need to pull out all of my skills of persuasion to get the two of them, now a kindergartener and teenager, to play sous chef. What else? I bought a lot of cooking equipment, spent a lot of time curing and smoking charcuterie, delved into Southeast Asian cooking, and indulged by food jones as much as I possibly can. Much more on that to follow. Finally, there's these here eG Forums. For years, I've been lucky to collaborate with a great team of volunteers to make eG Forums as vibrant and lively as possible. I've learned so much from Society members, and I hope to give some back over the course of the week. I'll also need some help: I've got some tricky stuff to negotiate, and will need you at the ready! As I said last time: At least for me, Andy Williams was right: this is the most wonderful time of the year. Starting later today, I'm off through January 2, and the vast majority of my waking time is consumed with cooking, shopping to cook, planning to cook. At the very least, I have Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas dinner, a Night Before New Years Eve party, and New Years Day cassoulet to prepare. In addition, I have a few surprises planned, including some time with some chef friends in town and a trip with at least one other Society member exploring our Biggest Little State in the Union. I'm really thrilled to be able to spend the week with you. So let's get started!
  8. That’s real estate talk for an eat-in kitchen in a pre-war building, and it is from this cultural locus in Brooklyn that I am reporting on my Epicurean exploits. Which are influenced by: My parents, who loved to play with food. The changing face of New York City, my beloved melting pot. The vegetable box, which comes on Thursdays. Julia Child at 3:00 a.m., and food as succour. My name is Linda, and I am an Italian-American living in an Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn with my partner, Lynn, and our parrot, Ernie. The building I live in has a bakery on the ground floor, which was once a bakery of some renown in our neighborhood. My landlady’s father built it in 1930, and bread and pastry were sold at the front of the house. That’s bricked over now, and the coal oven is in the back where the landlady’s nephew still bakes bread for commercial bakeries and one food store on our block that has a sign reading “We sell Caruso bread on Tuesdays.” Now you wouldn’t know there’s a bakery here unless you witness the weekly coal or flour delivery. This is us, our only formal portrait. We have been together a long time. I am on your right. Every morning I am served espresso in bed. This is made in a Bialetti Moka Express pot. The reason why I am served is that I am incapable of movement before my daily injection. At any given point in my adult life, I am in some state of addiction/withdrawal from some form of caffeinated beverage. Right now, I am in withdrawal. This tidy espresso cup, rather large by European standards, and is likely a double, is half my usual dosage. I’m doing well and can sometimes actually get out of bed to make my own espresso if the pot has been prepared the night before and I have to pee really bad. I use Illy canned coffee in this pot, and I believe that learning how to make it is what got me started on eGullet. I wanted to be able to replicate the espresso I had in Italy, I did some research, and ended up with this. This espresso does not, by any means, taste as good as the espresso in Italy, but it’s low tech and I try to live a simple life, a philosophy often expressed through food.
  9. Good morning, all! Welcome back to New Jersey. The 34B in the description is not my bra size but the exit off of Rt. 80 where I live in the northern part of the state. Now for a very sad,sad sight empty toast dope containers
  10. So, amapola guessed my identity, I should have remembered that there are actually Amsterdam residents on this site. Welcome to my foodblog! When snowangel asked me, I hesitated at first. I’ve done 2 blogs and have shown you many of my favorite foods and favorite places in Amsterdam. Will I have anything new to tell and show you? I hope the ‘new adventures’ part of the title is going to provide some entertainment. I’m going to try to eat/buy/cook something competely new and unfamiliar every day, or go someplace I’ve never been. Besides that, here are a few things that are scheduled for this week: Tomorrow we’re having dinner with 4 people, 3 of them I’ve never met, the other one only once. Is that adventurous or what? Can anyone guess who they might be? Thursday is a very special day, because it’s our wedding-anniversary. I’ll be making Dennis a special dinner, with a couple of items that I don’t like, have never cooked, but that he loves. I won’t tell you what they are because he’ll be reading along and it has to be a surprise! Sunday we have some friends coming for dinner, one of my old friends from University and his girlfriend who is pregnant. I still have to find out about her food dislikes and what she will/won’t eat at the moment. Adventures aside, I am very much a creature of habit and that won't change during this blog. I’ll still take you to some places that have featured in previous blogs, and I will eat some things I love and eat often. Like rhubarb... I promised snowangel there’d be rhubarb! I made this compote yesterday and this was breakfast: yoghurt, granola, rhubarb. I adore rhubarb and eat a lot of it while it is in season. Here's what the rhubarb looked like in march, when it first came to the market: and here's what it looked like yesterday: darker, thicker, and coarser in texture and flavor. But still wonderful I love the bright tangyness first thing in the morning. Dennis had a bowl of buttermilk and granola, which is what he has had for breakfast almost every day for the past 14 years, so I won't mention that again this week I'll leave you while I go on a couple of errands. Questions, assignments and suggestions very welcome! To keep you entertained, here are the fridge-shots (I've done 2 blogs but never showed you the fridge )
  11. Hello, everyone! I've foodblogged before, both here and here - and believe me, props I got from all of you during my first attempts at cooking meant a HUGE amount to me and I will never forget them. A lot has changed since then. Brief recap: about a year and a half ago, I tossed my whole life up in the air, and with a lot of help and support from family, friends (among them the incredible Eric_Malson), and some people who had never met me before (some still haven't, in person, at least), came down squarely on my feet...in Madrid. Basically, in January 2006, I went to Spain to sing Violetta in a tour of La traviata. It was my first biggish gig (which is to say the first of any size that anyone would be interested in), my first important leading role (as in, uh, the title role???? In an opera that has been sung by every great diva since the damn thing was composed???) and my first - well, technically second - time in Spain, the other one was 3 days in Bilbao back in 1999. To say that I had a huge blast is the understatement of the year. In fact, I fell passionately in love - with the country, with the people, with the whole idea of working to live, rather than living to work, and, possibly most of all, with the food. Oh my god, the food. At the end of the tour, I took the single least planned, most spontaneous step of my entire life. I was supposed to get on a plane from Alicante to Madrid, and from Madrid to NYC, to go back to "normal" life, the day job, and all that involves. Instead, I got on a bus in Valencia, went to meet Eric in Gijon, traveled with him for several days, then went to Alicante for several days to see my friend Iva, and then found a room to rent in Madrid and just...stayed. The most amazing thing happened. As most of you know, in NYC I had to make a living working a day job (legal secretary ahoy!) in addition to the very few singing gigs I could scrape up. Here, I have been working as a full-time singer since I got here. Violetta was followed almost immediately by another Violetta in Italy, followed almost immediately by my first Lucia di Lammermoor...you get the picture. Almost everyone I audition for hires me...and I just appeared on the cover of a magazine, if you can believe it (if you can't, go here for the proof), as part of the festival Músicos en la Naturaleza, with whom I'm singing 8 recitals throughout Castilla y León this summer (with the utterly amazing Eric_Malson at the piano!). I am booked solid through summer of 2008 at this point, and more gigs are coming in all the time. As you might imagine, I keep thinking someone's going to wake me up and say "PSYCH!!!!" Anyway, on to blogging! I have a fun week in store for you - a few of my favorite places in and around Madrid, then will be heading up to Salamanca, possibly my favorite city in Spain, around Thursday with the man my father calls my gentleman friend and I will just call "C," or perhaps "Mr. Trouble," to visit his sister and her new baby. On Saturday we'll be joined by Eric_Malson for lunch in Zamora, I hope, if the restaurant is open (Spain. August. Entire country on vacation. You do the math), and Saturday night I have the latest of this series of recitals in Fermoselle, which should make for some great pix. Sunday we'll head back to Madrid! Before I head on to the foodblogging part of the foodblog, I would just like to give one unsolicited piece of advice: if you decide to drop everything and move to Spain, it might behoove you to speak more Spanish than "sí," "no," "gracias," and "una cerveza, por favor," although some here would say that's all you need . I did not speak any more than that. Shockingly enough (yes, for the humor-impaired, that's sarcasm), considering it's a country in which the first language is, yanno, something not English, remarkably few people SPEAK English. I do speak much, much more Spanish than that now, although the subtler subjunctive forms (or, perhaps, el puto subjuntivo) continue to elude me. On to the food! Later in the blog you'll get pix of my apartment, but right now I'm at C's. I'm cheating a bit, because I ate dinner after midnight, so technically it was Monday. Last night I drove back from Riaño, the site of Saturday's concert, which is a solid 4.5 hours from Madrid. I arrived about 11pm and drove to C's house, where he made me dinner (bless him. I was tired). A bit of background: C is a pilot for a large airline (they fly all over Europe and to Mexico, Central and South America, although not yet to the US), recently divorced, two kids ages 3 and 5 who are adorable (you won't get any pet porn in this foodblog, as neither he nor I have them, but if I can get his permission you might get some cute child pix, although I'm not sure we have any of them eating). How we met is, to me at least, amusing and an indication of the technological age. I won't post it here, but feel free to pm if you are curious. We've been dating for almost 9 months now, done a fair amount of traveling together, and share passions for great music, the beach (or the pool, or really anywhere we can swim) and really good food. We cook together a lot, we cook for each other a lot, and we go out to really good restaurants, too. Yes, he speaks fluent English. Together, we speak fluent Spanglish. We had filets of fletan (halibut), cooked with olive oil, garlic and butter, a salad (just lettuce this time, it was late) with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and clara con limón, which is beer mixed with lemon soda (I know how it sounds. It's delicious, especially in summer in Madrid, when it's hot, hot, hot). filets in the pan, slightly blurry (these first two pix were taken with C's phone, as my camera batteries were dead). C says he forgot to put lemon on the fish for decoration. Oops. the whole thing, on the table Then we had some raspberry cheesecake ice cream, which uh, I forgot to get a pic of, and hit the sack. This morning's breakfast - coffee (unfortunately instant. There are a few reasons C drinks instant coffee, one of which is he frequently has to leave the house at 4 or 5 am to fly and doesn't want to have to think about anything at that hour more complicated than putting a cup in the microwave. Later in the week you'll get some Bialetti Mukka porn from my house) and Pastas de la Montaña, which are butter cookies from the region around León. The mayor of the town gave me a HUGE bag of regional products, including a longaniza (similar to chorizo), a salchichon (regular cured sausage, less spicy and more pink than chorizo), a goat cheese, some creamy blue cheese and these fabu cookies. The cookie box Plated Then C went off to a paddle class (like a combination of tennis and raquetball) and I went off to the store to get batteries for the camera and some groceries for later today. He has to go to work at 6, so we'll be having lunch fairly soon here. More pix and postings to come, and I hope you enjoy your virtual trip to Spain with me! K edited to add, oops, January 2006 is when I came to Spain, not 2007.
  12. How-do. I'm Mark, I've just grown a very big moustache, and I'll be your blogger for the next week or so. I live in Amsterdam, The Netherlands....yes, the very same Amsterdam that is home to one of eG's more revered foodbloggers, the lovely and talented Chufi. When snowangel asked me to do this here foodblog thing, of course my first concern (understandably) was that my blog would do nothing more than serve up a healthy slice of relative suckitude. ...but then I thought about it a little....and as many common tastes as The Chufe and I seem to have, we come from quite obviously different perspectives: I'm an immigrant here (5 years in March), and an American, and that immediately plunks she and I down at two distinctly different reference points: I think the Dutch Cooking thread (the reason I joined eGullet, BTW) and her foodblogs beautifully articulate where she's coming from. I think I may be coming from an almost opposite direction. What i eat here in Amsterdam happens to consist primarily of other immigrating cultures' food...Indonesian, Surinamese, Antillean, Turkish, and Moroccan foods show up in our apartment on a daily basis. And what fascinates me about the Amsterdam versions of these kitchens is that they reflect all of the compromises and constant adaptation that immigration requires, and what we ultimately end up with is a set of multicultural cuisines that you can't really find anywhere else in the world. So, in showing you a normal* week for us, I hope I can show you some of the interesting hybrid grub that makes up our daily eating life. * Actually, there is nothing normal about this week. It is the dead of summer holiday here: all of the music venues are closed, most of our friends and neighbors are out of the country, and a good number of our normal eateries are on on vacation as well. I just realized how strange this sounds: "all of the music venues are closed". This directly affects our life because we are closely tied to one of the, eh..."alternative" music scenes here in Amsterdam. I'll probably elaborate on that eventually, but what it means is that most of our friends are musicians, producers, label owners, etc...and going out and seeing or playing music is the cornerstone of our social life. But every July and August the citywide music scene shuts down and almost everyone we know leaves town, either to play in festivals around Europe or to just get away until the season restarts in September. We have not yet mastered this "getting out of town" bit. +++ I'm a bit of an insomniac, and summertime is especially tough because of all the daylight hours. So, I'm off to (hopefully) sleep for awhile, but I'll put my nose to the grindstone here as soon as it wakes up.
  13. Hello and good Monday morning. Welcome to my Foodblog. First off, let me congratulate Little Ms. Foodie-a fellow Northwesterner and former resident of my home, Spokane, Washington. She correctly answered the location of the 'teaser' photo, and correctly answered the variety of the little berries in the second 'teaser' photo: You are looking East from Spokane through the pine forests to Mount Spokane, the little dark bump in the background. We are in the far Eastern corner of the state, about a 5 hour drive from Seattle to the West. Seattle is a one hour flight from Spokane, which I do every day. Yes, I commute to work on an airplane, every day. I live in Spokane but work in Seattle. The flying bit comes in because I am in management for an airline. That's the day job. Food and writing is really my passion. More on the work schedule later. Now on to photo #2, a personal favorite of mine: Sorry to the folks who guessed these little blue nuggets were wild Maine blueberries. No, they are wild huckleberries. I am so excited that a fellow Washingtonian, (is that a word?), correctly identified the secret ingredient photo. I am making an offer right now to Little Ms. Foodie that I will bring you a bag of wild huckleberries to Seattle later this Summer in recognition of being the first to spot the huckleberry photo. We will arrange delivery details later. Huckleberries are simply the most flavorful little beauties you will ever taste. In fact, I actually have goose bumps right now as I write to you about huckleberries-they are that precious to me. They are about half the size of a blueberry and range in color from red to purple to black. I can't really describe the flavor of a huckleberry other than to say it is sweet yet tart, much more tart than a blueberry. What sets the huckleberry apart in my opinion is it's fragrant aroma-a cross between rose, orchid and just about any other tropical flower you can name. The scent is unmistakeable, and wonderful. If you smell a huckleberry, the aroma will be forever stored away in your senses and then, even 10 or 20 years later, if you smell another huckleberry it will transport you back to that original huckleberry sensation. The subtitle to my blog-Black Pearls of Gold-is in honor of how highly I prize the huckleberry. We pick them wild just a mere 20 miles out of downtown Spokane, our main competition being black bears and grizzly bears. We'll visit more about huckleberries later this week-how my Grandmother used to buy them from an American Indian woman who sold them door to door out of a hand-woven basket, how to cook them and where to buy them. For now, welcome and I hope I've whetted your appetite for what I promise will be an insightful, fun and funny, informative and personal look into my world of food and cooking and how it really defines who I am. I hope we'll form some new friendships along the way and that I'll learn about you and the food and cooking in your life. Now back to the pesky day job for a bit and I'll be back to you soon.
  14. Good Morning Egullet! I am so excited to have been asked to do a foodblog this week. I too, was sad to see Nina have to cut her's short, but am very excited to see it when it continues. So in the meantime, grab your cup of coffee or beverage of choice, sit down, relax and let me start the show. First, I will introduce myself, since most of you don't know me. My name is Stephanie and I live with my boyfriend Mark and our two dogs and two cats in Sacramento, CA. The city of Sacramento is divided up into different areas or neighborhoods. My neighborhood can either be considered East Sacramento or Midtown. Here's our house. This neighborhood is great! All of the houses are from the 20's and probably even older than that. My house was built in 1922 and I guess they call these highwater bungalows. Here is the view from my porch, which was one of the teaser photos: To keep this food related, the water tower there is called the Alhambra Reservoir and it apparently holds 3 million gallons of water that supplies the neighborhood with drinking water. There are several of these in the greater Sacramento area. Here's a sort of recent article about the Reservoir, since you can see from this picture the edge of the "artwork" that was applied to the front of it, that is viewable from the freeway, not too far away. The article has a fuzzy picture of the art, so I will see if I can get a better one for you before the end of the week. I am also going to try to get a picture of the camouflage the article mentions, since it is sort of historical. Also in this picture, to the left behind the trees, you'll see a brick building. When I bought this house a little over 3 years ago, that building was in the process of construction. Housed in it is an imaging/xray center. Come to find out from the previous owner of this house, that was slated to be a Trader Joes, and he was head of the neighborhood committee to fight against it, then he moves. I guess he was concerned about traffic, which is still a problem regardless. The best thing about this neighborhood though is that we are in walking distance to a Safeway, which is right behind that imaging center, several restaurants and several bars, which will be visited during this blog. How I got into cooking? Well, I have been cooking for as long as I can remember. When I was 10, my mom came down with ALS..to make a long story short, as it progressed, she was unable to cook for my younger brother and myself. My dad had to travel alot for business, and so it was up to me to learn how to cook to feed the family. I also learned at a younger age than most people, to grocery shop, which next to going to Williams Sonoma or Target is my favorite type of shopping. So mom taught me several easy type of recipes; tacos, spaghetti, chicken and mushrooms, basic stuff. In college, I tried to enhance my skills, on a college budget and then things just grew from there. Over the years, I have gone to different cooking classes or demonstrations, watched many hours of Food Network and just experimented on my own. Almost four years ago, I met Mark who loves to cook as well as being a hopeful chef one day. So we started cooking together a lot. Which leads us to why we are doing Atkins, which Insomniac, I think, guessed from the teaser photo: We generally cook more at home than go out to eat. Well, the pounds starting packing on and his sister suggested we try Atkins. I know in my life, I have tried every crazy diet, except Atkins, in fact, a few years ago, I thought Atkins sounded crazy. We even tried the cabbage soup diet last year to no avail. So we said, what the hell, lets give it a try. We started Atkins on July 2 of this year. To date, he has lost 40 pounds (damn men!) I have lost about 25. I will disclose this up front, we by no means are Atkins fanatics, because there are a lot of them out there. We also fudge a little here and there. I suppose if we followed the program to a T, I'd have lost more by this point. But overall, I am happy with the diet, I don't go hungry, I am seeing progress which is the most important part and I get to eat steak whenever I want! So what's in store for this week? Well luckily, I am only working today and tomorrow. I am in pharmaceutical sales, so my day consists of traveling around and discussing drugs with doctors. So basically my blogging for the next two days will be in the mornings and evenings. Since we are trying to be really good on this diet and with Thanksgiving on the horizon, we'll be eating strict today, tomorrow and Wednesday. We do plan on some "cheats" although Mark calls them "treats" on Thursday, since it is Thanksgiving. Friday, we are going to go out with some foodie friends to a lunch at a new upscale restaurant and we'll also be going to visit some local wineries in the foothills. We'll have lots of cooking in all of this, lots of pet pictures and of course, after the fridge is cleaned up a little, the mandatory fridge shots. I hope that you'll enjoy my blog, feel free to ask any questions about Low Carb food, food in general or anything else on your mind.
  15. Good morning! Oh, I am so excited for this week. The last time I blogged, I was living in Toledo with one kid (my daughter, Dylan). Now, I am in Chicago with two kids (Max is 14 months old). Things change a lot in just a couple of years! The move to Chicago was rather unexpected, and came about at the end of August. We had just three weeks to find a place, hire movers, and get here. It was insane. I am just now feeling settled, but one of the things I have NOT yet done is really get to know the food offerings here. We've had some fabulous dinners (Butter was our favorite so far!), and I've seen a few great shops, but I really want to find the best of the best. And that's where you guys come in. I want your help. Each day, I'm going to explore a different food market, ethnic area of the city or classic style of Chicago food (hot dogs anyone?). And, I want your input. If you know of great Chicago places, please tell me. I also want some input from people with specialties in various areas of ethnic cooking. When I go down to Chinatown, I'd love to do so with an assignment. Tell me what to cook, give me a shopping list, and set me loose. Sound good? I have some pictures to share of my morning routine, but first I'll give you guys a list of some of the food places I think might be interesting. I still need my itinerary for today, by the way. However, today is a challenge. I work from home and have phone meetings until 2. Dylan needs to be picked up from school at 3. I can certainly go somewhere with here after school, but we can't be gone long (Chicago babysitters are expensive, and I'll have one home with Max). And to make it even more complicated? The baby will be up from his nap by about 4. I can keep him occupied in his booster seat with some food for probably 1/2 an hour. So... we need something easy. Welcome to the world of a working mom who cooks! Here's the list I started. Please add to it as you see fit: Italian markets - I cheated and did this yesterday. I have lots of great pics to share. I'm willing to go back though. Chinatown - I'm excited to go, but this is very far from my house Koreatown - This is pretty close to my house Pastoral specialty foods store - I am very eager to check out their cheese selection. Bread - There is a bakery here called Crust that makes fabulous bread. I have found it at local stores, but I have not found their actual bakery. I would like to do so. German food - We are very close to some great German stores and German restaurants. Polish - Chicago has a HUGE Polish population. Mexican - ditto the above Farmer's Market - This I'm doing Saturday morning. I will need some help, though. I'll tell you more later. Meat Market - We live about a block from a GREAT one. Sam's Wine - Heard this place is the best, but I haven't checked it out yet. Stanley's Produce - Ditto the above. Coffee - I need to get some more today. I usually get the Pleasant Morning Buzz blend at Whole Foods (we live a block away), but let's try something more interesting. I'm thinking Intelligentsia or Julis Meinl. Any opinions out there? Spice House - I've been dying to go here. It's not too far from my house. OK, I'll leave you with that, and will be back shortly with my morning routine.
  16. INTRODUCTION-BACKGROUND So I’ve been thinking for weeks now about what kind of things to put in this blog, images of food porn dancing in my head, fantasizing about the nice restaurants this will give me a good excuse to go to, and predicting the looks I’ll get when the waiters watch me photographing everything brought to our table. But I didn’t really think much about the introduction. Now it’s a day before I’m to start and suddenly I have to think about this! My real name is Bob Beer, I’m nominally a Seattleite (14 years) and I’ve been living in Istanbul, Turkey for around 6 years now. The original reason I came here was to study Turkish folk music, as well as learn Turkish well (I work as a translator). And of course, eat and learn to make at least my favorite dishes. I am not nor have I ever been a food professional; I’m just a person who likes good food, and is drawn to what is different. I remember as a kid begging my mother to buy a persimmon in the grocery store — they were terribly expensive — because the idea of a fruit I had never tasted was so alluring. Years later I spent 10 dollars I didn’t have to try durian for the first time. (Fortunately I loved it.) A random note that doesn't fit into the flow - the pictures in the teaser are 1) a view from my garden to the mosque next door, 2) a boy in our local weekly neighborhood market selling snake gourds, and 3) a cup of strong Turkish tea in the typical glass. My mother is a southerner and the daughter of a Greek restaurateur (he was Greek, the restaurant wasn’t but he was a damn good cook in any case) from Marmara Island, about 2 hours west of here by fast ferry. You might imagine that I grew up eating lots of Greek food, but mom was married to a meat-and-potatoes man whose mother was, by all accounts, a horrible cook. Chicken was boiled. Steaks were fried-till-dead, then incarcerated in milk gravy and boiled further. My dad was thus very finicky about food and many a meal was begun with a tentative sniff, and a “....what’s this?” (The groaning buffet table to which we were invited at a Chinese friend’s house was a wonderland for me; to him I think it was more like a chamber of horrors, the little whole octopuses and thousand-year-old egg topping the list of terrifying surprises...) Greek food? “Hrumph! Why do they keep putting cinnamon in the beef?” Lamb? Mom tried feeding it to him once, convinced that he wouldn’t even recognize it. He did. I was a kid who ate pretty much everything except fresh tomatoes; the rule for my brother and I was that we had to try everything. My brother took on more after my dad, I took after my mom. So aside from some really good sweets around Christmas, Greek food happened mostly on those weekends when my dad was out of town, much to my brother’s dismay. To be fair, my first taste of feta cheese made me want to hurl... And we both did like yogurt, which we always had around, because my mom made her own, not a common thing in Iowa in the 60s. We called it "yiaourti," I didn’t even know it had any other name. I remember one of my playmates almost gagging when we fed him some. When I was growing up, my dad was a grad student and mom a housewife, so we ate cheaply and mostly out of cans; more Spam than I care to think about. Mom was a pretty good cook actually but I think tended to see it mostly as a job and not something to get really creative with unless there was company. I don’t think I ever had fresh beans or peas till I was in around 6th grade and my mom planted a big garden. That was a revelation. Various things spurred me to really get interested in food. I had a good friend in 7th grade from Taiwan, and I ate at their house a lot. Living for a summer and then a year in Greece (where I discovered that tomatoes could be edible and nearly everything was made from scratch) was definitely another one. The first cookbook I ever bought was on that trip. For a while there I made bread every week. I grew up in Iowa City, Iowa. When I moved out of the house, I went to Champaign, Ill., and was exposed to a wok for the first time. There was a big Asian food store there, and all these mysterious ingredients! I still can’t cook Chinese worth a damn though. My first trip to Turkey was in 1982, for 2 weeks, and I instantly fell in love with the country, its people and its food. I was living in Greece at the time so it was fascinating to see the different takes on things that were very familiar, as well as things completely new to me. I also was dismayed to find that recipes I found for some of these foods in cookbooks in the west came out tasting very different from the way they tasted in Turkey. Milk is not milk, yogurt is definitely not yogurt, and pepper paste is...more or less nonexistent. Yeah, it's all in the pepper paste! Most of the time, I eat fairly simply. My own cooking habits are strongly influenced by my time in Greece. I suppose if I were writing this blog from Greece, I’d say my cooking habits are heavily influenced by my time in Turkey. It’s a relatively new border, with Greeks and Turks on both sides of it, what the heck! I’m not vegetarian but I don’t eat lots of meat. I cook for myself a lot but don’t usually go all-out unless I have guests. So this blog should offer a good opportunity to make some good food, go to some of my favorite (if not necessarily upscale) restaurants, and take you on a virtual tour of some of the wonderful food markets here. Of course I’ll take suggestions as well: If there’s something you’d like to see (excluding the cuisine served in a Turkish jail), just ask. TURKISH PRONUNCIATION I’ll be using lots of Turkish words, so here is a quick guide to pronunciation for those who are curious. That way I can write a word like “İmam Bayıldı” without constantly having to include hideous transliterations like “ee-MAHM bah-yuhl-DUH” in parentheses. Or you can go to the online Turkish/English dictionary http://www.seslisozluk.com and hear the words pronounced. You have to become a member for that function, but it’s free. You may have to change your encoding for these to display properly. If you are seeing letters like “þ” or “ý,” then you need to choose View > Encoding > Turkish on your browser. Turkish is 99% phonetically written. Maybe 98%. The vowels are: a - father e - bet (Or, if you are the Turkish equivalent of a valley girl, a drawn out, nasal a as in “bad...” If you want to hear a masterful imitation of Turkish valley girl, I can direct you. ) ı - somewhere between butter and wood. Capital: I i - about halfway between bit and beet. Capital: İ o - roll ö - close to the German ö u - tool ü - close to the German ü The consonants are pretty much as you might expect with the exception of: c - jet ç - cheese ğ - lengthens the preceding vowel j - Zsa Zsa ş - shoot
  17. Good afternoon. I'm Erik Ellestad. I apologize for the late start to this blog. You may know me as the guy who posts a whole lot in "Fine Spirits and Cocktails" and occasionally elsewhere. I'm also one of the Specialists who digests the San Francisco Chronicle Wine section. I've recently started acting as a host in the "Fine Spirits..." and "Food Media and News" forums here at eGullet; but, am relatively new to those duties. My wife and I live in San Francisco, CA in a neighborhood called Bernal Heights. You'll see more of that shortly. The short version of my bio, is, I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. Went to school at UW-Madison. While at school, I started working in restaurants. My first job was at a place called Brat und Brau, where they initially decided to put me on the Cash register. Unfortunately, I did not handle the simultaneous pressure of social interaction and money handling well, (plus I'm fairly certain the manager was using my incompetence to steal from the till,) and they moved me to the early morning setup. Filling salt and pepper shakers, setting up the salad bar, that sort of thing. Doing dishes later in the afternoon after the customers started coming in. After that job, I made the transition to a catering company, where I first started actually cooking and doing prep work. Nothing like doing prep for really large functions to force you to learn how to use a knife. Eventually, I graduated from college, and not being particularly keen on pursuing further studies in my major (BA-English), I continued working full time in restaurants.
  18. Welcome to my life! The short and sweet of it is that I moved here from San Francisco in 1984 and opened a cooking school right in front of the Central Market in 1988. My web presence started with my first site in 1997, with a dining guide for Florence and Chianti as well as recipes online. This is a work week for me so bear with me. I am meeting students for a walking tour and lunch, then three days of cooking and a Friday day trip to Chianti. The weekend I will be in Certaldo ( near San Gimignano) and catch a local market and visit my neighbors, the Coopertive olive oil mill that is in full swing! Join us! Right now I am off to have breakfast at the market.. (My husband and I have formed a team and he helps me with the cleaning etc so by the time I get up... the kitchen is already cleaned and he is ready for a second breakfast!) more later! this is great that the Italy food board is also doing Tuscany this month. Bon Appetito!
  19. Greetings and salutations from sunny San Diego! Any of my closest friends will tell you I am not one to be easily intimidated, but I admit it is a bit unnerving to be directly following such exemplary bloggers as John Whiting. But don't worry, I'll get over myself fairly quickly. I was originally going to subtitle this blog something like "Beggars Banquet," or maybe "The Tightwad Gourmand" (as in "you've heard of the Frugal Gourmet, now meet ... " et cetera and so forth). These titles were attempts to address the fact that, for various reasons, I live a pretty low-budget lifestyle, but still manage to have a damn good time enjoying food. In fact, I kind of revel in finding and enjoying good cheap eats, and this blog would be a chance to go on at length about that revelry with folks of like mind. For one of the many things about eGullet that has really turned me on is the great egalitarianism of food tastes here--I've noticed that many of the same people who contribute passionately to topics on five-star restaurants and rarified vintages also weigh in with equal vigor about sliders, barbeque, chili, and other "just plain folks" food. But as to the blog title I wound up with: by the serendipity of scheduling, it turns out that I will be moving at the end of this month to a neighborhood a few miles away from the one I currently live in. That means not only a whole different kitchen, and a whole different household with different tolerances about cooking, but also a whole new neighborhood of food resources to explore. So--one of the themes of my blog this week will be taking you all along with me as I get ready to move my personal food act across town. If I'm lucky and the fellow currently occupying my new digs vacates in time, you'll actually get to see my new kitchen and what I'll soon have to work with; but at the very least I'll take you with me as I start exploring the shops and eateries around my new neighborhood. There might even be an IKEA run in there somewhere--meatballs ahoy! I don't get to do big cooking projects in my current living situation nearly as often as I'd like, partly because my current household companion (who I've immortalized in various posts as Fearless Housemate) is really sensitive to food smells, and partly because this wacky house has a substandard kitchen exhaust fan that vents directly into FH's bedroom--YIKES! So I do try to spare the poor guy from being stanked out of his own room as much as possible. HOWEVER, Fearless Housemate will be out with his band on a gig this Saturday evening, so I plan to execute some kind of minor cooking extravaganza in his absence--the exact nature of which will be determined by what looks good in the markets, what feels good to me, my energy level by the time we get to Saturday, PLUS your input and suggestions. As for the bulk of this week's meals: I'm taking inspiration from Pan's foodblog, in which he demonstrated the dining, take-out, and delivery food wonders of his immediate neighborhood. Only I'll have *two* neighborhoods full of dining and take-out opportunities to draw upon--my new one as well as my current one, both of which feature a fabulous array of inexpensive ethnic eateries. In fact, the teaser photos for my blog demonstrated just a small sampling of the local riches in my current neighborhood: The above, in order of appearance: a bento box from Nijiya Market; a medley of cold Szechuan-style appetizers from my beloved Ba Ren; and the iconic San Diego takeout meal, a fish taco combo, this one from El Cotixan, the nearest 24-hour taqueria to my current abode. And that's just for starters; within a five-mile radius of where I'm sitting right now, I can also sample such cuisines as Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, Middle Eastern, Filipino, Indian, South American, Greek, Hawaiian, Jewish-style deli, several different styles of hamburger from national chains to one-of-a-kind monsters, and others cuisines that I'm still only just discovering after three-and-a-half years in this town. Oh, and one other little adventure: on Sunday evening, I'm going to be playing Mistress of the Church Coffee Reception. The congregation of which I am a member is going to be hosting a distinguished lecturer, and I volunteered to do battle with the social hall's brand-new high-volume high-speed high-falutin' coffeemaker. I'm told it's supposed to be easy, all the instructions are written out and taped to the beast. Ooooo-kay ... so how come nobody else volunteered for this task? I sense a potential for this to turn into something right out of an "I Love Lucy" episode, so I'll be sure to bring my camera along in order to record any coffee carnage. There will be other neighborhood adventures as well, depending on time, schedule, whim, energy level, and audience suggestion. About those audience suggestions: I do hope folks will chime in early and often with questions and comments as well as suggestions. As you may have noticed, I like to have a lot of fun while hanging on the board here, and it's so much more fun when I have accomplices to help bat the conversational shuttlecock around. P.S. Oh yeah--despite my fondness for Frank Zappa, there will be no corn sandwiches in this blog (shudder). However, there may well be some fried seafood of some sort, though perhaps neither oysters nor eels (not that I wouldn't mind that...)
  20. Greetings from the OTHER Charleston! I am getting a rather late start because I got slammed the minute I got into work, but I am very excited about doing this blog. First, a geography lesson – anyone who watched World New Tonight last night on ABC is probably confused about where Charleston, West Virginia is located. They had a correspondent in Charleston (the capital city) reporting on the mine safety legislation that just passed, but the map they displayed showed Charles Town, a WV city about 5 hours away. Here is where both cities are located. West Virginia has been in the news recently for some very unhappy events. I hope to show you that West Virginia is more than these depressing occurrences, and that while not a culinary mecca, there is good food available to most residents of this state. I welcome, nay, encourage, any questions about West Virginia and its food. As the title of my blog suggests, there will be baking in this blog. Lots of baking and indeed baking with bacon. I found an interesting recipe for Swedish Ginger Cookies that calls for bacon fat. Mmmmm, bacon. I also just purchased some almond meal and might try to make macarons for the first time (inspired by this macaron thread on eG). I may bake other items on request, so think about what you might like to see. In addition, I need to bake myself a birthday cake (sorry, no cassoulet on my birthday). My birthday is Thursday (I will be 37), but I will probably get to baking and decorating this weekend. I would like your suggestions on what kind of cake (or pie?) I should bake for myself. My friends all think I am strange for wanting to bake my own birthday cake (and for other reasons also food related), but I love to bake (even if I do cuss a lot whilst doing so). Ideas? I have to run out for an hour or two, but before I leave, here was this morning’s breakfast: All hail the coffee maker, without which I would never get going. There is yogurt underneath all that granola. Gotta run, be back soon! Edited for tipos.
  21. Good morning, all! I'm really excited about doing my first foodblog, and I can't wait to show you around New York City, my adopted hometown. This week we'll be hitting the opera (pre-theatre dinner and during-intermission Champagne make it food-related!), Babbo, a couple of markets, and loads of other fun spots. I'll also be cooking a whole bunch, and giving it my all to make something I've never made before...but more on that later. I've lived in Manhattan since graduating from college in 2001, and have loved it from day one. At first, my forays into the New York food scene were exclusively restaurant-based - milking my California-based mom for dinner at all the new places I wanted to try when she was in town, while eating Kraft dinner or Ramen at home when she wasn't. At some point, I realized how much money I could save and how much better I could treat myself if I actually started cooking for myself. I always had the skills (I used to throw brunches and cocktail parties), but just never cooked for myself on a regular basis. Well, that's changed, and if I'm still not the most accomplished home cook I know (and certainly not anywhere close to it here on eGullet), I am one of the happiest. I live on the Upper East Side, a neighborhood known for its museums, its palatial Park Avenue apartments, and its (clothes) shopping. I'm hoping to show you my version of the Upper East Side, filled with tiny coffee shops and tinier produce shops, fantastic bakeries and even the occasional decent restaurant. But not to worry - we'll also be making visits to SoHo, Chelsea, and Greenwich Village, at the very least. I am off from work this week, since my mom is here from California, and am leaving right now to meet her for breakfast before she has to catch a plane home. But, I'll be back with a full report on breakfast and any adventures undertaken on the way home. In the meantime, I'd love to hear from all of you - is there anything you'd like to see me do this week? Any place you'd like me to visit and photograph to death for you? Anything you think I should make? I have a bit of a head cold, and am pondering garlic soup for dinner tonight. Recommendations are VERY welcome! See you soon!
  22. My name is Rochelle. I host the Cooking and DC & DelMarVa forums here on eGullet. Long timers may remember the Diary of a Cooking School Student I kept back when I studied at L’academie de Cuisine for my culinary degree. Fans of the Foodblogs may recall that I completed a turn in the hot seat about a year ago, when I was the chef for a sorority at the University of Maryland (34 Hungry College Girls). My, how things change in a short year. Since I kept that sorority-chef blog, my life has shifted dramatically. My husband, who is almost done with a doctoral degree in music, landed a position at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV (about 85 miles from Washington, DC), which he started in August 2005. So we sold our house in Takoma Park, MD and moved to Harpers Ferry, WV last summer. This meant I had to leave my job at the sorority…which was okay with me, it was getting a little boring although it was a fun and fairly easy job to do and do well. So, what next for me? I had long fantasized about teaching cooking skills, and I decided to try to piece together a career that would include that as one of my primary revenue streams. I also wanted to try my hand at catering, and I wanted to land some sort of regular food writing gig. So I founded my own business, Rochelle Myers Catering and Cooking Classes, and got cracking. Last fall, I catered a few weddings and private parties, and I managed to line up some teaching gigs for this winter. I also teach private classes when I can find the work. And I even managed to hook up a monthly gig writing a “Cooking 101” column for the Martinsburg, WV Journal-News. I’m always looking for more work, but for now I’m pretty busy. This past summer, we discovered that I am pregnant with our first child. The future food nerd/music snob is slated to arrive sometime around 10 April. We feed him only the best…my homemade food via the umbilical cord, and a steady diet of classical music via my mp3 player and a set of earbuds stuck in the waistband of my maternity jeans. I expect that when he turns 14 he’ll be listening to thrash metal or gangsta rap or whatever the equivalent is at that time and eating McDonald’s as a rebellion against his super-focused artistic parents. We couldn’t be more excited about our baby and eagerly await meeting him. Right now, I am teaching a bunch of one-off cooking classes at Frederick Community College in Frederick, MD (about 30min away), and also teaching a six-course “basics of cooking” series for Jefferson County (WV) Public Schools Adult Education program. This week, I’m also putting together my next column for the Journal-News, so there should be a visit from a staff photographer who comes and snaps images of my work-in-progress to publish with my article. My mom is visiting this weekend because there is a baby shower being held in my household on Saturday;she might be bringing a friend, and I expect to cook for them a little bit, plus probably have one or two meals out at some of our limited local restaurants. On Sunday, I’ll be going back to my alma mater, L'academie de Cuisine, to check out their 30th anniversary gala dinner—should be a good time, they’ve invited back a bunch of alums to prepare special dishes for the event. In between, I’ll be eating whatever strikes my pregnant-lady fancy, preparing low-carb meals for my husband who is losing weight, and sleeping about 10 hours per day. Gather ye antacids while ye may…
  23. Good morning everybody! Between the Dutch Cooking thread, the Amsterdam thread and my regular postings on the Dinner thread, I feel that my daily food-life is pretty well-documented here on Egullet. (too well, some of my friends might say). So when I was thinking about doing another foodblog (after the fun I had doing the first one February 2005), I wanted it to be really special. I was very happy when it turned out I had the opportunity to share one of my favorite weeks in the year with you all! I have a lot of fun things planned for this week. I have shuffled my workweek around a bit so I only have to be at the office 1 day during this blog, on Friday. The rest of the week will be devoted to food and festivities Tomorrow is my birthday. I love my birthday. I usually manage to get a whole week of celebrations out of it, and this year is no exeption. On Sunday I had the first birthday dinner for 10, with family. Tomorrow I’ll start the day with coffee and cake with a friend, then do a bit of shopping and sightseeing in Amsterdam, and have dinner at one of my favorite places with my husband and some friends later. On Sunday the 30th, there’ll be a party for about 18 people at my house! Lots of Egulletters have helped me plan the menu over on this thread, and I’m sure it’s going to be great! On Monday, I’m baking somethng to take to work on Tuesday and treat 20 or so co-workers. Now that’s the Birthday Cakes part of the blog title explained. I’ll talk about the Royal Celebrations part later… or maybe some of you already know what I'm referring to? If you have any question, things you would like me to eat or do, let me know. (but please don't say frites ) It looks like it's ging to be a nice, moderately sunny day in Amserdam today. I'm going to go out for some air & a little excercise. See you later!
  24. Howdy folks. Welcome back to my little food-world. I'm really tickled to have been asked to blog again so soon, and am looking forward to having another really fun time with y'all. And I do hope that, once again, people will feel free to participate with questions, suggestions, stories, whatever turns you on about what I'll be presenting. In this week of traipsing around with me, you'll notice that a lot of the same obsessions evident in my first blog will still be in full effect in this one, including but not limited to: good cheap eats in little hole-in-the-wall mom-n-pop joints; ethnic markets; Asian cuisines; exploring neighborhoods; shameless references to classic rock. You'll also note a whole new obsession making its presence known, which I realize I've been harping about almost too often in my posts around eGullet recently--but hey, it's helping me keep my commitment, so I appreciate you all humoring me. Yep, I'm talking about my whole little crusade to come up with a weight-management plan for myself that is realistic, healthy, customized to my food preferences, and enjoyable enough that I can stick to it for a good long time without it driving me nutz. So far it's been going pretty darned good, if I do say so myself. So I'm only feeling a little bit nervous showing you all what I do now to implement this weight-management plan in my daily food doings. Part of what I do now with weight-management will be occupying most of my morning today (I mean, once I get done with the business of sleeping). I'll be headed over to my HMO for my weekly weigh-in and exercise class. Then I've got a bunch of errands lined up, some of which are food-related: one will be catching lunch at a local pho cafe, and at least one other will involve some shopping. I will bring camera along, of course, and do my best Harriet the Spy imitation for your enjoyment. Other plans will be revealed as the week progresses. Some of them are admittedly rather fluid--I do a lot of little shopping trips for fresh produce, and I tend to let what I cook be influenced by what looks good and appeals to me at any given moment. And this week, I'll also be soliciting opinions and ideas from you folks--so feel free to chime in. As to (somewhat) more solid plans: I do know there will be at least one outdoor farmer's market. I think there's supposed to be at least one food-related community event at my organo-groovy UU church. There will even, finally, be a visit to Ba Ren, the local Szechuan joint I love so well--my food plan includes, for the sake of my sanity, the concept of the pre-planned occasional splurge, and a few of my local foodish friends will help me demonstrate how that's done. Oh, and I can't resist filling you in about the photos from my blog teaser, especially as they too relate to planned blog stops: This is a wonderful Vietnamese soup known as "bun" -- actually, I think the word "bun" refers specifically to the type of rice vermicelli noodles used in this style of soup. This variation has tomatoes, periwinkle meats, and fluffy cubes of shrimp cake. The broth is spicy, and enriched with a fermented fish paste. Like its sister-soup pho, this one comes with a big pile of veggies and herbs to add in. I had this at Saigon, 4455 El Cajon Blvd, one of the westernmost outposts of a whole string of Vietnamese and other Asian restaurants and shops that I am busily exploring. I may or may not hit Saigon again during the week, but I'll definitely show you some of "The Boulevard's" delights. Oh yeah--and this blog would not be complete without an appearance by the owner of this scarf: I guess I gotta call him Fearless Ex-Housemate now, huh? I was over at Humphrey's Backstage Lounge, a local live-music venue attached to a very popular resort/restaurant complex, to hear one of FXH's bands perform, and I was lining up a photo of the extremely nice warm scallop and shimp salad they served me there. When FXH noticed how Humphrey's dishware pattern matched the scarf he was wearing (swag from the recent concert tour of Donald Fagen, better known as one half of the classic-rock act Steely Dan), he couldn't resist accessorizing my photo--and voila, he "scarfed" my salad. (ow. sorry, couldn't resist). It was in fact FXH's Steely Dan tribute band that was playing that night--whenever he plays there, he can't resist directing the audience's attention to the view out the lounge's windows: ...of course, it's night by the time he sings the lines "The end of a perfect day/Distant lights from across the bay..." All this is actually on topic, because there will be at least one more planned musical visit from FXH during this blog--and food will very much be involved.
  25. Prologue: Our hero and master chef has gone off to the wilds of Elsewhere in America to slay dragons with his high notes. Left to her own devices, our heroine quickly realizes that ordering out every night will not only expand her waistline, but severely reduce her cash flow, and one can only eat baked potatoes for so long without getting bored. She has no other alternative but to do what she has successfully resisted for an obscene number of years. She must...learn...to...cook. Cast of characters: bergerka, your intrepid heroine slkinsey, the absent hero Charlie, their roommate, who was kind enough to lend your heroine his digital camera and who seems to have no objection to serving as a test subject for recipes ewindels, dessert maven and restaurant god Eric_Malson, frequent partner in crime for cooking and restaurant/bar trips SarahD, ditto Asher, Zebulun and Issachar, the ferrets, who turn their noses up at mice, preferring raw chicken. Mickey, the little bastard of a cute fuzzy brown mouse who has taken up residence in our apartment. Mickey pushes traps aside contemptuously with his nose and likes to poop on my stovetop. A few other characters will pop in and out from time to time. Act 1: First of all, thanks, everyone, for putting up with another foodblog from me. For anyone who doesn't know, I'm an opera singer who lives in New York City with slkinsey, our roommate Charlie, and three cute little ferrets. Somehow or other, I missed the day when we were all taught to cook, although I bake pretty decently. As mentioned above, slkinsey is out of town until just before Thanksgiving, and I am taking the opportunity to figure out the mysteries of the kitchen once and for all. So far, I've made the following: a spicy pumpkin soup, described here, which was really good, sopa alentejana, also delicious, which Eric_Malson taught me to make (and which was my first experience ever poaching an egg. Hint: do not poach eggs for 5-8 minutes, as The Joy of Cooking tells you to do. You end up with concrete eggs. Fat Guy's EGCI course, here, is much better and easier to follow, and combined with telephone advice from mom produced two perfectly cooked eggs), and arroz al frango (a Portuguese chicken and rice dish), which Eric and I made this past Monday night. No, you don't get to see pictures of my first attempt at cutting up a whole chicken - there's only so much laughter at my expense that I can take. There were also pumpkin cranberry muffins that didn't turn out quite right, and a pumpkin cranberry pecan bread that did, I'll post the recipe below. As mentioned above, Charlie the roommate has lent me his super-duper high tech digital camera, which does everything except push the button for you, so there will be pictures. I can't promise you the exquisite composition provided by, say, slkinsey and bleudauvergne, but they shouldn't be THAT blurry, and yes, there will be ferret porn, metaphorically speaking. I have planned the week to include a few evenings of cooking for myself, two evenings out (one at Churrascaria Tropical in Queens and one with fried dumplings in Chinatown followed by a trip to Pegu Club to overindulge - I mean, have one or two little...teeny...drinks), and - yes - one dinner party with friends at my apartment. If you have any (REASONABLE, remember I'm a beginner) requests, please express 'em and I'll do my best to accommodate. I may pick up opera tickets one or two nights, which will throw the whole schedule into turmoil. Let's get started with breakfast, shall we? Before he took off into the wild blue yonder, slkinsey taught me, once and for all, to use the damned espresso machine. We have a Rancilio Silvia, and I've always found it intimidating, but no more - after two weeks, I'm practically an expert. Plus I have the written instructions up on the refrigerator door. Slkinsey also roasted about a week's worth of coffee before he left, but I ran out of it and do NOT know how to work the roaster and have no desire to try. Fortunately, Eric_Malson introduced me to Cafe Caracolillo, which can be had for $8 a pound at La Rosita restaurant (where they make a delicious cafe con leche and cubano sandwich) and which makes a dark, thick, chocolatey shot of espresso. The bag is shown here: Here is the Rancilio, savior of my morning: Oooh, sorry, that picture is kind of dark - I thought I brightened it before I uploaded, but it was very early (I had to be at my day job at 8:30 today, a long story). Here is the finished product, with a slice of pumpkin pecan cranberry bread. Ack! I'll work on the pictures tonight, I promise. That one is really not very good. For my birthday, a couple of weeks ago (28 again!), I asked my brothers and sisters to send me their favorite recipes. My sister Carol sent this one, for the bread: Mix together in a bowl: 2 cups sugar 4 eggs 1 cup oil 2 cups pumpkin (cooked and mashed or canned - I used the leftover fresh pumpkin from the soup) Into a separate bowl, sift: 3 1/3 cups flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon nutmeg 2 teaspoons baking soda 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon allspice Have ready: 2/3 cup milk 1 cup chopped nuts (I like pecans) 1 cup raisins, fresh or dried cranberries (if you use fresh, as I did - I like the tartness - cut them in half. I used about 1.5 cups), or mixed raisins/dates Cream the eggs, oil, sugar and pumpkin in a bowl. Gradually add dry ingredients, alternating with the milk. Beat well. Fold in the fruit and nuts. Bake in greased and floured loaf pan (this makes one very large loaf or two medium sized ones. Either way, fill pans a little more than 1/2 full with batter) at 350 degrees, for about one hour or until toothpick comes out clean.
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