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Foodblog: bergerka


bergerka
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You can, in fact, hear me (and see me, in a little black dress) sing on the web - the sound quality isn't great, but it's a food - or at least booze - related song, so it fits here.  The date was July 14, 2007, in Cervera de Pisuerga, the second of the series of concerts I'm doing this summer.  This was before Eric arrived, so the pianist was a Colombian named David Barón.

Brava diva! You play a most adorable drunk. :biggrin:

And the eagerness of all those market stallers to have their photo taken is also sweet -- and refreshing!

Love the photos of dinners on checked tablecloths. That last one looked like it came right out of an Old Master's still life.

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Good morning! Afternoon! It's 1:30. I'm not going to tell you how late we were up. We had to finish the bottle of wine.

Time for coffee and a few more of the butter cookies from Riaño, accompanied by the soundtrack of Cars!

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on today's agenda are lunch at C's house and dinner at probably my favorite restaurant in Madrid, which has a LARGE number of really good associations for me, including one big one that some of you who have pm'd me already know about.

Funny Spanish faux pas, that I was just reminded about today. Brussels sprouts, which I love, are "coles de Bruselas" in Spanish.

I was sitting around eating dinner with my friends Paco and Cristina one night, and we were, in fact, having Brussels sprouts. Paco mentioned that he liked them, but that if eaten at night, they should be considered a chemical weapon (Paco is hilarious, especially when it comes to bodily function jokes). I said, I thought, in Spanish, "Not for me, I like eating Brussesls sprouts at night," which is basically "para mi no, a mi me gusta comer coles de Bruselas por la noche."

Except I didn't say "coles de Bruselas." I said "colas de Bruselas," at which point Paco fell off his chair onto the floor and laughed like a madman (seriously, he did, I'd kill to have a picture). j

You see, "colas" are something else entirely. Actually, the word is slang for the male sexual organ.

I had in fact said that I liked eating penises from Brussels at night.

:laugh::laugh::laugh::blink::laugh:

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

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:raz: Learning a language can be hazardous to one's reputation, but a wonderful jolt to one's sense of humor if you let it! In college I studied American Sign Language and had taught my friend a very rudimentary sentence: "Nice to meet you." The verb "meet" was the important one, it is the "#1" (We're #1!") on each hand coming towards each other. Instead he used the "#2" (Peace) on each hand instead. He told her, "Nice to f*ck you" and never lived it down. :biggrin:

Hey, you mentioned that those pretty cookies were from the mayor. Um, the mayor stands around giving food gifts to visitors at the airport? :hmmm: How'd that happen?

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:raz: Learning a language can be hazardous to one's reputation, but a wonderful jolt to one's sense of humor if you let it!  In college I studied American Sign Language and had taught my friend a very rudimentary sentence: "Nice to meet you."  The verb "meet" was the important one, it is the "#1" (We're #1!") on each hand coming towards each other.  Instead he used the "#2" (Peace) on each hand instead.  He told her, "Nice to f*ck you" and never lived it down.  :biggrin:

Hey, you mentioned that those pretty cookies were from the mayor.  Um, the mayor stands around giving food gifts to visitors at the airport? :hmmm:  How'd that happen?

no no. There is no airport in Riaño. We've been driving all these places, as most of 'em don't even have BUS service, they're so out of the way. The mayor showed up at the concert and took us out to dinner afterward, then gave each of us a bag of local products, one of which was the cookies.

Lunch!

C and I realized we were both sporting pretty good-sized hangovers (since losing the weight and dropping hard alcohol, my tolerance has gone down the tubes. Plus, I find white wine hangover to be the WORST). According to me, the best solution for that is doner kebap, but I just had it last night. According to him, the best solution is paella. However, we had neither paella nor time to make it.

So this was a quickie faux-paella ish rice dish he made up out of his head!

First, he heated caldo de pescado (fish broth) to a boil, with a bay leaf.

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Then he added rice, calamares (squid) and langostinos (big, big shrimp)

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Then we ate it! With, of course, bread, and water. Lots of water. Very cold water.

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It was quite delicious. We followed it with more of that lovely watermelon, but by the time I remembered about a photo, we'd eaten it.

He's off to fly to Barcelona and back, and I'm now home for the afternoon. Just had a coffee. I think I'm going to drink a lovely cold 1.5 liter bottle of more...water.

K

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

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delightful blog. great way to start the day. thoroughly enjoying madrid vicariously. :biggrin:

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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I forgot to mention that the reason today is so quiet is...it's a holiday. Yes, in the middle of the week.

It's the festival of basically every Virgin of Spain.

So nothing's open (except the restaurant I'm going to later, I checked), and most of Madrid has fled (which happens in August anyway) to the beaches or mountains.

A bit of housekeeping: I'll be posting dinner very late tonight, my time. Tomorrow is a travel day - I'll post breakfast before we go, but the rest will probably be posted fairly late. Thereafter, until Sunday afternoon, I will only have access online once or twice a day!!! I will try my best to get to any questions or pm's, but if there's a bit of a delay in answering, forgive me. :smile:

K

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

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Good morning! Yes, it's 8 am here. No, it's not normal for me to be up. In fact I am only up for a few minutes - my phone rang (don't ask) and I realized I forgot to post dinner before falling into bed last night.

Pictures are coming later. I, as usual, forgot the $%&@ camera. Fortunately, Rogelio from this here eGullet did not. Therefore, all pix are by him and are hence significantly better quality than anything I might take. :laugh:

We went to Asturianos, which Rogelio and Eric introduced me to more than a year ago.

Asturianos is a great, quirky place run by a great, quirky family. It has been my default first date place for some time (yes, including C), because the food is terrific and if a guy doesn't like the atmosphere there, he most likely eventually won't like me.

This is Asturianos, and this is Alberto, one of the sons of the family that owns it.

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I love Alberto. He's completely insane. I would probably marry him if his girlfriend wouldn't kill me.

Tonight's group was Rogelio, Eric, Pedro (also from this very site), his lovely wife Mar, C and me.

We put ourselves in the hands of Julia, chef extraordinaire, and she gave us (pix coming shortly):

lovely fresh tomatoes from Rogelio's parents' garden, sweet and full of flavor.

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gambas al ajillo - shrimp cooked in olive oil and garlic, always extraordinary.

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berberechos - cockles, cooked with garlic, parsley, possibly white wine? This is one of my favorite dishes here, and I order it every time they make it.

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cecina - cured beef, like jamón ibérico, but beef (or horse, sometimes), a specialty of León. Like bresaola, but, you know, better.

gallery_8920_5009_52039.jpg

Here's some very good olive oil that we used on the tomatoes and the cecina. A note: I knew NOTHING about Spanish olive oil before I got here, because I never saw much of it in the US. It's absolutely fantastic.

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patatas con cabrales - french fries covered with melted cabrales cheese, which has a very strong, very individual taste. I find it absolutely addictive. Some people hate it. Be aware: never in the US have I had a cabrales that tasted like the real thing. When I finally ate it here, it was a revelation.

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favas con morcilla de matachana - fava beans with morcilla (blood sausage) that has been broken apart, cooked in butter and white wine and served (it's another of my favorite things. I love morcilla, and I like this style even better than the style commonly served in Burgos, which is cooked with rice and cumin).

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estofado de pollo - free-range chicken stewed in, I think (I don't dare ask Julia for her recipes!), broth, wine, onion, green pepper and carrots. This was fantastic, for me, with the tomatoes and the favas, easily the best of the evening (although patatas con cabrales always win, as far as I'm concerned).

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beef cheeks, braised, with french fries. Deliciously beefy, strong and hearty.

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For dessert we had three of their best:

natillas (crème anglaise) with cinnamon

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flan de queso - I have no idea how they make this, but it is like crack. It's far less sweet than a regular flan, with a strong cheesecake flavor, but is the silky texture of flan.

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and for me, the most outstanding dessert on the planet - chocolate mousse with olive oil, salt and pepper. The first time I ever tried this, I was with my friend Re'ut who was visiting from the States and we had stopped in for a light dinner. Honestly, we sat there and MOANED. :wub::wub: We told Alberto that he could make commercials for this dessert as follows: "no date Friday night? No problem! Just come to Asturianos and try the chocolate mousse!!!" :laugh::laugh: It's so unbelievably delicious that Willow once talked them into making her an order to go. Everyone at the house could tell when she was eating it by the sounds of "oh my GOD" coming from her room.

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we drank a white burgundy from Maison Leroy to start, then a red made by Alberto`s brother Belarmino that was called Fresh, then a red dedicated after Clint Eastwood's "Pale Rider," only in Spanish, "Predicador," made by the famous Contador.

Here's the Predicador bottle

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Here we all are! From left, front to back then back to front, César, Mar, Pedro, Eric, Rogelio and me.

gallery_8920_5009_9651.jpg

Breakfast pix coming...whenever I wake up!

Edited by bergerka (log)

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

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You can, in fact, hear me (and see me, in a little black dress) sing on the web - the sound quality isn't great, but it's a food - or at least booze - related song, so it fits here.

 

The link is here  Vodka

If you think it sucks...just don't tell me.  :raz:

Loved your performance of a Gershwin song I'd never heard before (hmm... I'd've thunk the lyrics were more Cole Porter-ish). What fun!

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Kathleen, great foodblogging! Your Spanish is terrific, sounds like you've been in Spain much longer.

Asturianos is a one of its kind place, you'll either love it or don't get it. Food can be inconsistent from time to time but we keep coming back to it. The berberechos a recent addition to their menu, are among the best in Madrid, along with Sacha's in that pack. Thanks god, it seems they removed a dish made in hell, Belarmino's creation --the other brother: some sort of duck magret carpaccio with orange juice. But we had some good laughs thanks to it!

PS: The white wine was a Leroy 1997, from Maison Leroy. They have a quite good wine list at Asturianos.

Edited by pedro (log)

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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Pedro, thank you very much. It was great to see you and Mar and get to spend some time with you last night! You and Julia obviously have a very special relationship... :raz::raz:

Breakfast is coffee, coffee, coffee and a li'l piece of banana bread, which if I do say so myself, turned out rather well.

gallery_8920_5009_556195.jpg

aaaand we're back to my crap pix as well. Sorry about that.

Ok, I need to get moving - have to get stuff done to get on the road to Salamanca and, as usual, I am already running late!

K

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

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This is the first time that someone praises my pictures :raz:

It was just another great night at Asturianos, our favourite haunt with all it's particular idiosyncratic personality, kind of you love it or hate it.

Don't ask why but we keep wondering why do we come here every single week. We just can't help it!

Rogelio Enríquez aka "Rogelio"
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cecina - cured beef, like jamón ibérico, but beef (or horse, sometimes), a specialty of León.  Like bresaola, but, you know, better.

gallery_8920_5009_52039.jpg

After Italy, Spain produces the best charcuterie -- by my reckoning, anyway.

I looked at the Wikipedia articles for cecina and bresaola and couldn't figure out the difference between the two. Would you happen to know? I understand it's a pretty technical question.

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First courses.  I had the gazpacho (I LURVE gazpacho in summer), J-A had the paella (which is very good), and Eric the judías blancas (white beans) con chorizo (also very good, just very, very heavy for about a 90-degree day):

gallery_8920_5009_304952.jpg

I loves me some gazpacho in the summer too! In fact, I made a ton of it to take to a friend's birthday party up in Northeast Philly this past Saturday. (I seem to be making so many treks up to Philadelphia's vast post-war suburb-in-the-city, maybe I should move there. Not. :smile: )

It was the first gazpacho I ever made (I couldn't have done it without the co-worker with the prodigious garden in South Jersey), and people loved it.

But I notice that the gazpacho in the picture above is decidedly non-chunky -- in fact, it looks just like tomato soup. This is the first time I've seen gazpacho that didn't have little chunks of tomatoes, cucumbers and whatnot in it. What goes into this gazpacho? Is it pureed to a fare-thee-well?

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I looked at the Wikipedia articles for cecina and bresaola and couldn't figure out the difference between the two. Would you happen to know? I understand it's a pretty technical question.

Cecina is done with the whole leg and As far as I know bressaola is done with the Round part.

Rogelio Enríquez aka "Rogelio"
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After Italy, Spain produces the best charcuterie -- by my reckoning, anyway.

I looked at the Wikipedia articles for cecina and bresaola and couldn't figure out the difference between the two. Would you happen to know? I understand it's a pretty technical question.

Having now been to both countries and eaten charcuterie in both, I'd reverse the two. I much prefer Spain's cured meats...but it could be just me.

Um

I don't know the difference. :huh: Pedro? Rogelio?

Re the gazpacho, it is supposed to come with guarnicion, the chunks of tomatoes, onions, peppers, bread crumbs that you spoon into the soup. One of the less charming aspects of the waiter we had that day at El Gran Jamonal is his tendency to forget the little extra items...and then forget that you have asked for them. Oops.

K

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

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Arguing over which countries charcuterie products are better is almost like arguing over which child one loves more. Both countries have incredible products with jamón Iberico de Joselito perhaps being the pinnacle from either country. Until I got to know Spanish charcuterie better in Spain I pooh poohed it compared to Italian. Unless one has it there, one really hasn't had it. The ability to eat those products is enough of a justification in my book for a trip over there.

Keep up the great work, Kathleen. The meal at Asturianos looked scrumptious and reminded me a little of the meal my wife and I shared with Rogelio and his wife last spring at Valencia's Bodegas Casa Montaña. The dishes were relatively simple, but emphasized the purity and freshness of the ingredients.

gallery_8920_5009_3744.jpg

I have enjoyed oil from Koroneiki olives in various blends including that from Dauro, but I have never previously seen it commercially as the principle or sole variety in a bottle of olive oil. As the name implies the olive comes originally from Greece. Could you discern any particular differences now between the different varietals available? In this topic, Chrisamirault is looking to score some olive oil from the arbequina varietal.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Ahem. Switching the topic from chauvanism, Kathleen I just wanted to ask if you ran directly from your concert solo in the church to a road performance of "Company". You do Little Black Dress very well, indeed!

I honestly never thought of putting chocolate in banana bread before. Looks scrumptuous.

Thanks for all the market shots with the obliging vendors :wink: . Should the cathedral in your destination factor into any of your adventures, I'd be happy to add something relevant. I am just interested in seeing more of a country I really want to visit!

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I, as usual, forgot the $%&@ camera

I'm taking up a collection for Kathy to get her a personalized t-shirt that reads: "Camera? What camera? Oh hell, I forgot the F*!@ing camera again?!?" and to also buy her the camera she wants that she swears she'll remember to bring. :raz::wub:

Can you tell us a little more about the aspects of the Spanish olive oil that distinguishes it from the Italian? Is it more spicey, grassy, fruity, etc? It looks like it is so beautifully green on the tomatoes. I love that they put the actual bottle on the table rather than an unmarked cruet that you have to guess at the quality of contents which I see 99% of the time here in the U.S.

What are the chances of you smuggling me some *real* cabrales in the spring??? OMG, it sounds exactly like my kind of cheese! (Oh, and you will take me to Asturianos whenever I can haul my sorry carcas out to visit. Notice that wasn't a question? :wink: )

It was fabulous to see some fellow eGers out helping Bergerka with her blog! I love getting real faces to put with the names.

I'm looking forward to Momma's cooking! And cute kids pix too!

edited to fix quote box and add this:

I noted in the Wikipedia bit about the cabrales that it is from the Asturia region. Is this family from there as well and is the food largely representative of that region? Also, you've traveled quite a bit now throught the country, have you found any regional differences in cuisine? What are the classic "our region makes the best _____" boastings that you (or C) can share?

Edited by Genny (log)
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Asturianos looks fabulous, especially the patatas con Cabrales and the favas with morcilla. I'd go there every week too! Except, is it an absolute requirement that one has to be young and gorgeous to get in?

Edited by Abra (log)
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Hola from Salamanca! It's about a 2 hour drive from Madrid, we listened to a best of the 80's cd that C had made, all the way. :biggrin: I have a very weak signal in the apartment, let's see if I can get the pictures of lunch to post.

As usual, I got going late, so we arrived late...right at the END of the lunch time. Fortunately, there was something to eat, as we were both hungry! (we had potato chips and diet coke on the road, but that doesn't count and the camera was all the way in the back of the car anyway.

A word about César's mother. In addition to being a very nice and interesting person (and EXTREMELY patient with my relative lack of Spanish, hence relative lack of anything interesting to say), she is one of the best cooks I have ever met in my life. She's one of those people who just KNOWS what flavors go together, and I always end up eating as much as I CAN eat when I visit, and being way too full. I'm sure she thinks her son is dating an utter glutton.

She had made lentejas (lentils), one of my favorite dishes ANYWAY. Most people will tell you that they have to be made with pork products of some kind, chorizo or something, in order to give them more flavor. C's mother, on the other hand, puts nothing like that in her lentejas. They are just lentils, onion, garlic, carrot, scallion, a little salt and (HUGE surprise to me) a little cinnamon.

They are so delicious that I could eat them six times a day, incredibly rich and MUST be eaten with bread to sop up the sauce at the end. Seriously, the thought almost makes me hungry again.

Lentejas

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Lentejas, side view!

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And a Magnum essence ice cream bar for dessert. dark chocolate over vanilla ice cream, with a chocolate cookie right in the middle. Just evil.

gallery_8920_5009_279091.jpg

Back to thinking in Spanish. Ufff.

K

Edited by bergerka (log)

Basil endive parmesan shrimp live

Lobster hamster worchester muenster

Caviar radicchio snow pea scampi

Roquefort meat squirt blue beef red alert

Pork hocs side flank cantaloupe sheep shanks

Provolone flatbread goat's head soup

Gruyere cheese angelhair please

And a vichyssoise and a cabbage and a crawfish claws.

--"Johnny Saucep'n," by Moxy Früvous

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Kathleen, this blog keeps getting better and better. I keep finding excuses at the office to check it.

Cesar es muy hermoso!! Soy alegre para usted. (Forgive the probably poor spanish, it has been awhile!)

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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This is wonderful. I've just jumped in for snips and snaps, and will read and enjoy the whole thing allatonce when I'm up and around again. It will be a lovely thing to look forward to with a big bowl of latte some morning soon.

I was so reminded of a tall, svelte, young Beatrice Lillie singing "Vodka." Just scrumptious.

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I am SO enjoying your blog! Thank you!

I feel as if I have been on vacation when I haven't even left the bakeshop. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to blog this summer. You have no idea how much it means to those of us who can't get the time off!

Living vicariously through all of you, and enjoying every minute of it! :biggrin:

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      About me:
      I dream about food, I wake thinking what's for dinner and I'm so excited to share it with you. I'm part of the food world in New York. By that, I just mean that I'm so fortunate enough to be invited to great events where I get to eat great food. I'm also a nerd and a part of the technology world. I produce, edit and sometimes host food related web videos and I'm also a part of the tech world.
      I'm launching a website called Please, Pass the Gravy. www.pleasepassthegravy.com We let you create a menu, invite friends and then collaborate on that menu. Never host another potluck with 8 pasta salads. You could use it now, but we're alpha launch, it works but it's ugly. It's my ugly baby. So, if you use it be kind and message me if you have improvement ideas. I thought it would be ok to write about it here because it is food related.
      I live in Brooklyn with a lovely guy who likes to eat and a small corgi mix dog. I cook pretty much every night and do a nice brunch on the weekend. I am not a crazy dog lady, but I do admit to cooking food for the dog. I have an excuse, beyond doting, he had seizures that have stopped since not feeding him dog food.
      Foods I cook:
      Spicy foods! If you look at my blog I have a simple papaya ketchup with habanero that is pretty darn good.
      I love great cheese. This may be the week for Beer Cheese Soup.
      I try to limit carbs, though I do cheat.
      In any given week C. and I probably eat cauliflower, broccoli and green beans as a side.
      Tonight's dinner will be Vietnamese inspired. We'll see how it goes. I'll post about it as soon as I can.
      Any requests? Questions? I'd love to hear from you.
      -Grace
    • By Duvel
      In these challenging times, a full summer vacation is not an easy task. For the last 1.5 years we have been mostly at home with the clear plan to visit Catalonia (or more precise my wife’s family) latest this summer. And it looked good for a while. Unfortunately, the recent rise in case numbers in Spain have resulted in …
       
      OK, let’s skip this part. Long story short - my wife and me are fully vaccinated, as are >90% of the people we care about in Catalonia. After some discussion (after all, Germans tend to prefer to be on the safe side of things) we simply fueled up the car, got each a test (for the transit through France) and started to drive …
       
      After a leisurely 11h drive we arrived at a small fishing town somewhat north of Barcelona around 3.00am. We unloaded the car and my wife an the little one went straight to bed. 
       

       


      I found an expired beer in the elsewise pretty empty fridge and enjoyed the cool breeze on the terrace. Holidays, here we come …
       

    • By liuzhou
      Last week, Liuzhou government invited a number of diplomats from Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar/Burma, Poland, and Germany to visit the city and prefecture. They also invited me along. We spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday introducing the diplomats to the culture of the local ethnic groups and especially to their food culture.
       
      First off, we headed two hours north into the mountains of Rongshui Miao Autonomous County. The Miao people (苗族 miáo zú), who include the the Hmong, live in the mid-levels of mountains and are predominantly subsistence farmers. Our first port of call was the county town, also Rongshui (融水 róng shuǐ, literal meaning: Melt Water) where we were to have lunch. But before lunch we had to go meet some people and see their local crafts. These are people I know well from my frequent work trips to the area, but for the diplomats, it was all new.
       
      So, I had to wait for lunch, and I see no reason why you shouldn't either. Here are some of the people I live and work with.


       
      This lovely young woman is wearing the traditional costume of an unmarried girl. Many young women, including her, wear this every day, but most only on festive occasions.
       
      Her hat is made from silver (and is very heavy). Here is a closer look.
       

       
      Married women dispense with those gladrags and go for this look:
       

       
      As you can see she is weaving bamboo into a lantern cover.
       
      The men tend to go for this look, although I'm not sure that the Bluetooth earpiece for his cellphone is strictly traditional.
       

       
      The children don't get spared either
       

       
      This little girl is posing with the Malaysian Consul-General.
       
      After meeting these people we went on to visit a 芦笙 (lú shēng) workshop. The lusheng is a reed wind instrument and an important element in the Miao, Dong and Yao peoples' cultures.
       

       

       
      Then at last we headed to the restaurant, but as is their custom, in homes and restaurants, guests are barred from entering until they go through the ritual of the welcoming cup of home-brewed rice wine.
       


      The consular staff from Myanmar/Burma and Malaysia "unlock" the door.
       
      Then you have the ritual hand washing part.
       

       
      Having attended to your personal hygiene, but before  entering the dining room, there is one more ritual to go through. You arrive here and sit around this fire and wok full of some mysterious liquid on the boil.
       

       
      On a nearby table is this
       

       
      Puffed rice, soy beans, peanuts and scallion. These are ladled into bowls.
       

       
      with a little salt, and then drowned in the "tea" brewing in the wok.
       
      This is  油茶 (yóu chá) or Oil Tea. The tea is made from Tea Seed Oil which is made from the seeds of the camellia bush. This dish is used as a welcoming offering to guests in homes and restaurants. Proper etiquette suggests that three cups is a minimum, but they will keep refilling your cup until you stop drinking. First time I had it I really didn't like it, but I persevered and now look forward to it.
       

      L-R: Director of the Foreign Affairs Dept of Liuzhou government, consuls-general of Malaysia, Myanmar, Laos.
       
      Having partaken of the oil tea, finally we are allowed to enter the dining room, where two tables have been laid out for our use.
       

       
      Let the eating, finally, begin.
       
      In no particular order:
       

      Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato
       

      Bamboo Shoots
       

      Duck
       

      Banana leaf stuffed with sticky rice and mixed vegetables and steamed.
       

      Egg pancake with unidentified greenery
       

      Stir fried pork and beans
       

      Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum)
       

      Pig Ears
       

       
      This may not look like much, but was the star of the trip. Rice paddy fish, deep fried in camellia tree seed oil with wild mountain herbs. We ate this at every meal, cooked with slight variations, but never tired of it.
       

      Stir fried Greens
       
      Our meal was accompanied by the wait staff singing to us and serving home-made rice wine (sweetish and made from the local sticky rice).
       
       
       
       
      Everything we ate was grown or reared within half a kilometre of the restaurant and was all free-range, organic. And utterly delicious.
       
      Roll on dinner time.
       
      On the trip I was designated the unofficial official photographer and ended up taking 1227 photographs. I just got back last night and was busy today, so I will try to post the rest of the first day (and dinner) as soon as I can.
    • By shain
      It's been more than a year in which international travel was challenging to impossible, but gladly this is changing, as more countries are able to vaccinate their population.
      Greece had managed to return to a state of near normality, and opted to allow vaccinated individuals to enter. And so I decided to go on a slightly spontaneous vacation (only slightly, we still had almost a month for planning). To the trip I was joined by my father, to whom I owed some good one-on-one time and was able to travel on a short-ish notice.
       
       
      Many people are yet unable to travel, and many countries are suffering quite badly from the virus, and therefore I considered if I should wait some time with this post. However, I hope that it will instead be seen with an optimistic view, showing that back-to-normal is growing ever closer.
       
       
      We returned just a few days ago, and it will take me some time to organize my photos, so this is a teaser until then.
       
       
       
       
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