Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

eG Foodblog: Alcuin (2011) - In the middle: Eating and Drinking on the


Recommended Posts

That pasta looks absolutely fantastic, rock star world class!

Oh, and I am also a big fan of braunschweiger. I grew up eating the cheap stuff in the yellow/orange tube on plain white bread with mustard. These days I'm very fortunate to have a local producer who makes a high quality version of my favorite "poor man's torchon".

Enjoying the blog very much!


Kansas City, Mo.

Unsaved Loved Ones

My eG Food Blog- 2011

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can you share your habanero sauce recipe? My freezer is packed with beautiful bright orange bags of them from my bush.

Take about a 1/4 to 1/2 lb of habaneros (I like 1/2lb, because it mellows a bit in the fridge), a carrot, a few cloves of garlic (I'd say 3-4) and a small onion. Clean the habaneros, cut the carrot into thin disks, and slice the onion. Put that into a saucepan with 1 cup vinegar and 1 cup water. You can use distilled or apple cider, but I prefer the clean sharpness of distilled here b/c the fermented flavor of the apple cider makes the pepper sauce taste overripe, but of course a chacun son gout. Cook until everything's nice and soft, then add a touch of sugar (I like a pretty small pinch in mine, just enough to bring out the fruitiness of the habaneros) and salt (I like a lot of salt in mine) to taste. Then you puree it in a blender as smoothly as possible, and bottle. I use an old bitters bottle that I bought in a gas station driving back from Milwaukee(people love their bitters here), but they weren't worth much so I dumped them and saved the bottle, knowing it would be perfect for something.

Here's the finished product

habanero sauce.JPG

I'm not sure where I got the idea from, or what the recipe looked like before I got my hand riffling through its inner workings to make it how I want it. It makes for a fruity, very hot sauce though, better than anything I could buy.

nunc est bibendum...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That pasta looks absolutely fantastic, rock star world class!

Oh, and I am also a big fan of braunschweiger. I grew up eating the cheap stuff in the yellow/orange tube on plain white bread with mustard. These days I'm very fortunate to have a local producer who makes a high quality version of my favorite "poor man's torchon".

Enjoying the blog very much!

Thanks. "Poor man's torchon": awesome.

Braunschweiger can be really great if its made with care, or it can be full of additives and lengtheners and who know's what.

I was talking to somebody the other day about headcheese and he said he didn't really like it, but could stomach it when he had to if his parents fed it to him. I started talking about how delicious it was, and he mentioned he was eating Oscar Mayer headcheese! That's all he knew of headcheese. I tried to preach the gospel but he wasn't interested.

Then again, Oscar Mayer is pretty local to these parts. Their headquarters is right down the street from my house, and the family mansion is about equidistant the other way. The wienermobile is a very common sight around here.

nunc est bibendum...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the hot sauce recipe. Sounds like it would bring out the habanero well without masking it. I will be giving it a try. Going to keep my eyes open for a suitable bottle.

Soya sauce or Worcestershire sauce bottles work really well if you can get the smaller sizes. Don't make pepper sauce but never toss one of these bottles as I find many uses for them.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just got back from the Willy St coop, where I buy most of my food. The place is irresistible to me, which is a problem because it's very expensive since every thing is organic and as local as possible, etc. But they have the best products, the best fish (the only worth buying in the whole town), the best cheese aisle, the best bulk aisle, etc.

Warning: be prepared for some blurry and otherwise lame photos.

willy st outside.JPG

Here's what it looks like when you walk in, right into the fruits and vegetables section. The store is pretty small, but everything in there seems to be thoughtfully selected. The great majority of it is good.

willy 1.JPG

Some fruit. It's apple season, as you can clearly see...

willy 2.JPG

Some vegetables

willy 3.JPG

willy 5.JPG

Squashes and pumpkins

willy 4.JPG

The juice bar and bakery

willy 6.JPG

Frozen meat and fish

willy 7.JPG

The meat section. This used to be about half the size, and it was clear the store did not care about meat. But as smaller local producers started getting bigger and more able to get their products out by riding the wave of the local, organic, green movement and/or starting coops to compete with bigger operations in terms of distribution, the coop caught notice and expanded their meat selection to include them.

willy 8.JPG

willy 9.JPG

willy 10.JPG

The selection is still small, and as you can see, there are times between shipments when some things aren't there. I was looking for some pork chops today, but they didn't have any. That's just the price you pay dealing with small producers I think and I'm really very happy they bring their meats here in the first place. When I get them at the farmer's market, they tend to be frozen but you can get them fresh and ready to go here.

Here's the fish section

willy 11.JPG

It's also small, and it's very expensive, but the fish is good quality. It is actually an offshoot of another store, the Seafood Center that's on the Westside of town, so they are somewhat separate from the coop itself. The fishmonger's there are great though. They'll get you what you want, tell you when things are coming in, and they aren't stingy about giving away bits for stock even though they sell it already made. I asked for fish heads once and they gave me a 5lb rack of halibut, still full of meat. I made fish stew out of it, and it was plenty meaty, plus I was able to put some good fume in the freezer.

willy 2.JPG

nunc est bibendum...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here's some more co-op stuff.

They have a very well outfitted bulk aisle of course

This is only one side, I forgot to take a pic of the other side, but it looks pretty much the same!

bulk aisle.JPG

Bulk oils, syrups, soy sauces



bulk spices.JPG

They also have a really good deli and salad bar. I get ideas from their salads all the time; they're very inventive not to mention delicious. And the best thing about the salad bar is that they put their composed salads alongside the greens and vegetables, so you get a lot of good variety.

willy 12.JPG

willy 14.JPG

Here's a shot of the deli

willy 13.JPG

When I first saw the Southern Fried Tofu they have, I was skeptical. Actually, it went beyond that: I bought a square just so I could deride it. It turned out to be delicious, with a very flavorful fried crust. I get a square sometimes now as a treat for myself on the walk home from the store.


willy 15.JPG

willy 16.JPG

The coop's cheese selection is one of, if not the very best, in town.


Curds. There is a sign up when they are especially fresh (i.e. made that day). That's when you want them. An old cheese curd is halfway between pasty string cheese and the deliciousness that was.


And here's some limburger. The Chalet Cheese Co-op in Monroe, WI (a little more than an hour south of Madison) is supposedly the last maker of limburger in the US. You can go visit (must call in advance), see the cheesemaking process, then get a limburger sandwich (dark rye, mustard, limburger, thick slices of onion) to eat. They're good.


nunc est bibendum...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is what I picked up for dinner tonight. I wanted pork chops, but a loin roast will have to do.

for tonight.JPG

That's grade b maple syrup that I'm going to use to glaze the pork. Apple rings and lemony greens on the size. Not sure about the potatoes yet. Maybe a potato cake of some sort?

Off to get some lunch and do a bit of work.

nunc est bibendum...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had to pick up some lunch today, so I went to the library mall where the foodcarts congregate.


There are all manner of foodcarts. There are generic "Asian" foodcarts where you can get fried rice and eggrolls, there's a vegan cart that I haven't yet tried, several sandwich carts, a Louisiana themed cart, a Peruvian cart, a Jamaican one, etc. This is one of my favorites

carts 2.JPG

I like a dish they do there, I can't remember what it's called, that's just fried tofu over a bed of salad greens, dressed in kecap manis and peanuts. You can get rice on the side gratis.

I didn't go there today though. Instead I went to my favorite foodcart, Buraka

carts 3.JPG

They do East African, mainly Ethiopian. I got a half-portion of Dorowat over injera bread.

carts 4.JPG

I think the injera might be my favorite part. It's a very sour and spongy flatbread that makes a perfect foil for the stewed chicken and deep pepper flavor (it's not hot though, so as not to alienate more tender palates). And they do a good lentil salad to boot. I could probably eat just that and be happy enough.

nunc est bibendum...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I went to the coffee shop at the end of my block to do a little work. It's called

evp 1.JPG

It's the French equivalent of "ready set go" that the owner chose because of her background in competitive rowing. Here's the entrance a little sitting garden

evp 2.JPG

I got a cup of Tanzanian Peaberry coffee and a blueberry scone. It was a decent scone, though I'm not sure where it came from (EVP only does coffee and soup in house). (The best scones in town can be had at Lazy Jane's Cafe in case you're interested: they are incredible, especially the lemon.) Back to EVP: this is the inside, a standard coffee shop where people meet to talk business, politics, books, do work, read the paper, etc

evp 4.JPG

The best part about EVP is that they roast their own beans there, daily. That means that the beans are rarely more than a few days since they were roasted when you drink them.

The fact that they roast their own at this location is a good and a bad thing actually, because if you go there you will without fail smell like roasting beans the rest of the day. But they really know how to roast beans. It was through EVP that I was introduced to my favorites, like intensely caffeinated and high acidity light-roasted Rwandan and Tanzanian Peaberry, or smooth medium light roasts like Ethiopian. I've had intensely fruity coffee there from Bali that had balance of fruit and acidity like a wine (I really like wine, but I didn't really like this coffee). I'm not a big coffee aficionado; I only use a drip machine. But I've learned a lot about good coffee through their beans. And they have the friendliest barristas in town bar none.

evp 3.JPG

nunc est bibendum...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A great drink to drink while cooking dinner: The Americano. Flavorful, bitter, bubbly and importantly, low-test (because you don't want to get drunk before dinner, unless you do).


I like mine a bit more fullthroated, so I use 1 1/2oz Campari, 1 1/2oz Carpano Antica Formula, stir to dilute, then top with soda. I used to go 1-1-1, but I like a bit more Campari and vermouth these days.

nunc est bibendum...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Loving the blog so far! I haven't been to Madison since my college days (I went to UW-Milwaukee but I had lots of friends in Madison) and it's amazing how much it's changed and grown in the last, ahem, few years, not to make myself seem TOO old :laugh:...

I need to get myself one of those chitarra dealies...because if there's one thing I need, it's another kitchen gadget!

If you ate pasta and antipasto, would you still be hungry? ~Author Unknown

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great cheese porn. But that's not what has me salivating. You have a food cart that sells Ethiopian food? Injera for lunch? My envy is complete.

My only real food shock when I moved from the east coast to the midwest was the minimalist seafood selection. I did learn to love freshwater fish such as trout, which I'd never had before. But the local fruit and vegetables were the best I've ever had access to. I still miss them, along with my old neighborhood bakery and the excellent microbrewery nearby.

Thanks for blogging, I'm looking forward to more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dinner was roast glazed pork loin, braised kale with lemon, potato cake, and seared apples


This picture was taken by my girlfriend, who wields the superior camera.

The glaze is maple syrup, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, shallot, and mustard, slightly reduced and painted on during the roasting process. The pork was roasted to 140F.

The potato cake is thin slices of potato glued together with parmesan, cooked in duck fat. The kale is simple: olive oil to soften some shallots, kale braised in its own liquid until tender, then finished with half a lemon, salt and pepper. The apples where honeycrisp caramelized in butter.

With it we drank a favorite of mine

wine 1.JPG

This is an Alsatian pinot noir. It's got plenty of fruit and it's medium to light bodied. What's great about it is that at this point (it's a 2006) it's got great tannins that are just right (maybe you'd call them "matte" in texture?) but it's also got good acidity. So it plays perfectly with a wide range of what food can throw at it, from the sourness of the lemon to the richness of pork fat to the caramelly sugar of apples. It's a great food wine. Certainly not cheap, but I still think its' a good value, mainly because in the vast majority of occasions it will not disappoint.

nunc est bibendum...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I decided to treat myself to a burger for lunch today. Madison is a pretty decent town for burgers; you can get a very good one a four places, in descending order of greatness: Dotty Dumpling's Dowry, Cooper's Tavern, The Weary Traveller, and The Old Fashioned.

I actually don't usually eat the Old Fashioned burger for one reason: they season the meat with extraneous herbs. I don't like a beef sausage on my burger. But they do do a good thing in topping the burger with a perfectly cooked sunnyside egg and nice brioche-style bun.

The Weary Traveller only has one kind of burger too, called Bob's Bad Breath burger. It is called this because there is a preponderance of garlic mixed in with the meat (in fact, I'd say that there's a heavy-handed use of garlic in pretty much everything they serve...). It is topped with a ridiculously thick slab of cream cheese. It's a good burger, but I don't eat them but every so often.

Cooper's is good, but can be a bit inconsistent. They top their burger with crispy pork belly (uncured I think) which when it's good, it's good, but when it's not so good it can be a leathery heap of bun destroying madness. Still, I've had great burgers there.

That leaves us to Dotty's, where I went today.

The interior

dottys 5.JPG

The decor is "college" themed pretty much, with some weird twists here and there. It's ok, and they keep the lights nice and low at all times, with a little desk lamp at your table so even when its crowded (and it gets crowded) you don't feel like you're eating with the house. The service is also very good in my experience.

One thing that sets them apart, however, is the fact that every pint glass is chilled.

dottys 1.JPG

This is not a trivial detail. It makes for some very refreshingly cold beer that stays nice and cold for a while. And they have a good beer list. But more importantly for today, they have Sprecher's Root Beer, the best root beer in the world, on tap. Notice how the chilled glass actually freezes the head of the rootbeer. There's no ice in this glass, but it stayed nice and cold the whole time.

dottys 2.JPG

Here's the burger and some fries

dottys 3.JPG

The fries were just out of the fryer; I burnt my tongue a bit in haste to consume them. You'll also notice that there is a whole lot of salad on that burger. I like it this way, in fact, and always have, as long as the lettuce and onions are fairly watered down supermarket varieties it makes for a great contrast to the burger meat.

Dotty's serves their meat salted only on top, and if you ask for it medium rare or rare, that's what you get (medium, which is pink throughout, is their standard).

dottys 4.JPG

This picture doesn't quite do it justice, but this burger is not pink, it is red inside and grilled outside. Perfectly cooked, and they got it to me fast enough that the cheese hadn't quite melted yet. The key part of the burger though is that it tastes like beef, and it's not overshadowed by anything. Just a properly cooked burger with good condiments. The only real problem is that they don't toast their buns. That would put them in the highest echelons of burgerdom.

They have an extensive and expensive selection of specialty burgers and many of them are good (I particularly like the insanely messy Melting Pot), but they do a good standard burger and I likes my burgers standard.

nunc est bibendum...

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Dotty's serves their meat salted only on top, and if you ask for it medium rare or rare, that's what you get (medium, which is pink throughout, is their standard).


Lucky you. Here in Ontario you can order a burger cooked any way you want it so long as it is either well-done or carbonized! :angry:

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Dotty's serves their meat salted only on top, and if you ask for it medium rare or rare, that's what you get (medium, which is pink throughout, is their standard).


Lucky you. Here in Ontario you can order a burger cooked any way you want it so long as it is either well-done or carbonized! :angry:

Since I dont eat red meat, I had a turkey burger at Dotty's. It was very good.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since I work at a winetasting over the weekend, I tend to have good wine around the house. This past weekend, I picked up this cremant de Bordeaux rose. It's an 80/20 Cab Franc/Merlot sparkler. I was having trouble thinking what to eat with it, and was thinking chicken. But that wasn't exciting me. I thought salmon too, maybe with butter sauce but wasn't really interested in that either. Then I thought Pad Thai, and though I thought the suggestion strange, I went with my gut instinct.

pad thai wine.JPG

Sometimes I have a hard time pairing wine with Thai and Chinese dishes, but I think my instincts were right about what this wine would be and how it might work. It's full bodied and fruity and has delicate acidity. Mainly about the fruit and bubbles, but still quite dry enough. I think it will play well with the pungent fruity-sour sweet pad thai sauce. And it will surely handle the garnishes easily enough. I'm thinking it will be good.

nunc est bibendum...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The way I make Pad Thai is pretty standard. The sauce is equal parts fish sauce, tamarind extract, and palm sugar heated up until the sugar dissolves. Then you cook the garnishes

pad thai 1.JPG

That's egg, shrimp, preserved turnip, mung bean sprouts, pressed yellow tofu, and scallion. I would have used Chinese chives, but they looked terrible at the store, so scallions had to do.

pad thai 2.jpg

I like to cook the egg then remove it from the wok, then start with the tofu and work my way through the chive/scallion and preserved turnip, add about 2 t ground pepper, then go to the soaked rice noodles, then I add the sprouts (I blanched them this time, because it was easy and cuts down on the liquid they release, so it doesn't dilute the sauce), and the shrimp. I cook it all in the sauce until the noodles and shrimp are just done. Then top with roasted peanuts. Serve with lime and extra chili on the side

Served with chilled pea shoots with oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

pad thai 3.jpg

The wine worked, standing up well to all that the pad thai had to offer. I'll have to go with sparkling wines more often with things like this.

nunc est bibendum...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Went to another very local (within a hail mary from the house) place for a drink, the Avenue. The Avenue is the kind of bar you're not likely to see outside of Wisconsin.


The Avenue is old beer stein and old clock themed, as you can see. My pictures of the collections of steins didn't come out well, but you can just substitute the Rathskeller steins and you'll be there.

I drank a couple of Wisconsin brandy Old Fashioneds

old fashioned.JPG

I think it's easy to lose sight of the importance of the WI version of this drink. There was a time when I scorned it, believing my 2oz spirit, 2 dashes bitters, 1/2 t rich simple, swatch of citrus peel version to be the only thing worthy of the name Old Fashioned. But it's hard to deny the WI version as legitimate, and this is because of one simple fact. WI Old Fashioneds can be had in many many places across the state with a decent level of consistency. You can go to many places in Madison, ask for an OF sour and get a drink that tastes like you expect it to. When you go up north in the state, you will see signs on many many bars that advertise their cocktail hour (usually 4:30 or 5 o'clock). Wisconsin has a tradition of its own, and even if the drink that's served is not my vision of an Old Fashioned, it's still a traditional WI Old Fashioned and I know I can get a well made version in many places if I want one. One of the hallmarks of a revolution for cocktails must be a concern for consistency, and that's happening here (and been happening) with the Old Fashioned at least. So it gets my respect.

One thing to notice with the above drink is the lack of muddling of the fruit. Many people here will tell you that an Old Fashioned must involve muddling. I've mentioned my method for the drink and have been greeted with a blank stare of incredulity, and an insistence that there must be some muddling, with fruit, or it's not an Old Fashioned. But the Avenue does not muddle their old fashioneds. They use simple and bitters with brandy, then add the fruit as a garnish. This is what makes their WI Old Fashioneds the best in town too, so the muddle garnishes don't turn to sweetness emitting garbage at the bottom of the drink.

nunc est bibendum...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Similar Content

    • By Duvel
      The first week of November are „autumn holidays“ in the area where I live. We wanted to use that time to go to Paris, but when my parents-in-law somewhat surprisingly announced they‘d be coming over from Spain for the whole of November, we scrapped that idea and looked for something more German …
      So … Berlin. Not the best time to travel (cold & rainy), but with a couple of museums for the little one and the slightly older ones to enjoy together, plus some food options I was looking forward it was a destination we could all agree on. The Covid19 warnings in the Berlin subway support that notion …

    • By liuzhou
      Note: This follows on from the Munching with the Miao topic.
      The three-hour journey north from Miao territory ended up taking four, as the driver missed a turning and we had to drive on to the next exit and go back. But our hosts waited for us at the expressway exit and led us up a winding road to our destination - Buyang 10,000 mu tea plantation (布央万亩茶园 bù yāng wàn mǔ chá yuán) The 'mu' is  a Chinese measurement of area equal to 0.07 of a hectare, but the 10,000 figure is just another Chinese way of saying "very large".
      We were in Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County, where 57% of the inhabitants are Dong.
      The Dong people (also known as the Kam) are noted for their tea, love of glutinous rice and their carpentry and architecture. And their hospitality. They tend to live at the foot of mountains, unlike the Miao who live in the mid-levels.
      By the time we arrived, it was lunch time, but first we had to have a sip of the local tea. This lady did the preparation duty.


      This was what we call black tea, but the Chinese more sensibly call 'red tea'. There is something special about drinking tea when you can see the bush it grew on just outside the window!
      Then into lunch:


      Chicken Soup

      The ubiquitous Egg and Tomato

      Dried fish with soy beans and chilli peppers. Delicious.

      Stir fried lotus root

      Daikon Radish

      Rice Paddy Fish Deep Fried in Camellia Oil - wonderful with a smoky flavour, but they are not smoked.

      Out of Focus Corn and mixed vegetable

      Fried Beans

      Steamed Pumpkin


      Beef with Bitter Melon

      Glutinous (Sticky) Rice


      The juiciest pomelo ever. The area is known for the quality of its pomelos.
      After lunch we headed out to explore the tea plantation.




      Interspersed with the tea plants are these camellia trees, the seeds of which are used to make the Dong people's preferred cooking oil.

      As we climbed the terraces we could hear singing and then came across this group of women. They are the tea pickers. It isn't tea picking time, but they came out in their traditional costumes to welcome us with their call and response music. They do often sing when picking. They were clearly enjoying themselves.

      And here they are:
      After our serenade we headed off again, this time to the east and the most memorable meal of the trip. Coming soon.
    • By FoodMuse
      Hello everyone,
      eGullet was nice enough to invite me to write a food blog chronicling what I've made or eaten out for one week. I'm so excited about it! Thanks guys.
      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.
    • 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


      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.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...