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eG Foodblog: ronnie_suburban, redux - Adventures in the ordinary


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Those ribs look extraordinary!  You've probably posted it already and I may have missed it, but what is in your dry rub?

Thanks :smile:

No, you didn't miss it. Here's the rub recipe...

8 T Sweet Paprika (Hungarian or Spanish but I don't recommend smoked)

4 T Chile Powder (I use 100% Ancho)

4 T Light Brown Sugar

4 T Freshly-ground Cumin Seed

2 T Kosher Salt

2 T Freshly-ground Peppercorns (I use a mixture of black, white, green & red)

2 T Ground Oregano

2 T Granulated Sugar

1 T Granulated Garlic...if you cannot get good stuff (Penzey's, Spice House, etc.), just omit it)

1 T Granulated Onion...if you cannot get good stuff (Penzey's, Spice House, etc.), just omit it)

2-4 tsp Cayenne Pepper

This will keep for a few weeks but, as with any ground spices, the longer it sits after grinding, the more it will degrade.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

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ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Ron, that picture left me slack-jawed with want, afloat in a puddle of my own drool (not pretty). How do you control the heat with the weber? I have a hard time keeping the charcoal supply steady over that period of time. Also, is that some kind of special thermometer, or could I just use my standard oven thermometer?

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Wow! Talk about food porn.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Ron, that picture left me slack-jawed with want, afloat in a puddle of my own drool (not pretty). How do you control the heat with the weber? I have a hard time keeping the charcoal supply steady over that period of time. Also, is that some kind of special thermometer, or could I just use my standard oven thermometer?

The easier question first. That thermomter is built-in the the lid of my Weber but it can be emulated via the use of a probe thermometer

gallery_3085_307_1099274641.jpg

and a cork from a wine bottle. You run a small hole lengthwise through the cork for the probe and then insert the entire device into one of the damper holes in the Weber's lid.

As for the overall temperature control in the weber, it's an inexact science but it starts with keeping the heat source very limited in size. I use one of the semi-circle baskets that came with my grill but again, you could simply build a small pile of charcoal and wood on one side of the grill or use a coffee can with some properly-sized holes punched through it. It's important that the bottom of the fuel basket is relatively open so that spent fuel (ash) can fall through it, create room for new fuel and allow the fire to keep burning.

gallery_3085_307_1099273684.jpg

Fuel baskets...slightly different than what came with my grill but similar in shape and overall design

Once I've got the fire going, I use the top and bottom dampers in the Weber to control how much air flow (oxygen) the fire has. Generally speaking (in reasonable weather), with the fuel basket in use, the bottom damper completely open and the the top damper 80% open, I can keep the tempertaure around 250 F. This varies depending on outside tempertaure, wind, precipitation and other factors.

About every 30-60 minutes, I top off the fuel basket with some additional lump charcoal and wood. As you can see, the basket design allows you to continuously add fuel to the fire by simply laying it on top of the already-burning embers. The grill that came with my Weber has 2 hinged sections so it is easy to "fold it back" to access the basket, which never needs to be moved during cooking.

I'm sure there are many folks here who are a lot more experienced with this than I am. But this method has worked very well for me--so well in fact that I use it frequently even though I also own a cabinet-style smoker.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

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ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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The easier question first.  That thermomter is built-in the the lid of my Weber but it can be emulated via the use of a probe thermometer and a cork from a wine bottle.  You run a small hole lengthwise through the cork for the probe and then insert the entire device into one of the damper holes in the Weber's lid.

Okay, you are a genius. This is why I love egullet.

As for the overall temperature control in the weber...

I think my main problem lies in vent control. I smoked ribs this summer pretty sucessfuly overall, but I think the fire was a little too hot. I thought opening the vents would make it hotter, but if you are using only one of the baskets I guess it would even things out. Also, I wasn't able to find lump charcoal first time around, so I kept having to prepare the briquettes in the chimney, which was a pain. I finally found a source for lump charcoal and stocked up. Thanks!

Now I need to start paying attention to our 5-day forecast, I have a package of ribs in the freezer begging to be played with.

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oh, my...I've already had lunch but I'd give my right arm for some of those ribs. They are soooo beautiful! Thanks SO much for sharing.

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness. – Elsa Schiaparelli, 1890-1973, Italian Designer

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The easier question first.  That thermomter is built-in the the lid of my Weber but it can be emulated via the use of a probe thermometer and a cork from a wine bottle.  You run a small hole lengthwise through the cork for the probe and then insert the entire device into one of the damper holes in the Weber's lid.

Okay, you are a genius. This is why I love egullet.

LOL! I am not a genius, just like you, I read about this method somewhere here on eGullet, although I can't remember who specifically suggested it (not saying you're not a genius, either) :smile:

As for the fuel/vent ratios, you're probably right about the venting and 1 basket. I only ever use 1 basket. 2 just seems like too much heat given the relatively small area inside the Weber. I like be able to keep the meat away from the heat and with 2 baskets, I generally feel like I can't keep the meat far enough away from it.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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It's not but once a day that I go to EG and discover something else I need. Those rib racks. I can never get as many ribs on the grill as I want, and this is the answer.

Behemoth, I have an old Weber Kettle, and smoke successfully all of the time. It's a matter of experimenting. I still use an old fashioned oven thermometer in it, nothing new-fangled or fancy or requiring a battery. It works fine. Every so often, I have to take it out with one pair of tongs and use another pair of tongs to scrape the brown stuff off of it so I can read the darned thing, but it works.

I do not have those charcoal bin/keeper things. I put some charcoal (I use briquettes) on one side of the grill. Put some more in the chimney, and when they are ready, dump them on the pile of un-started that's to the side (use tongs to move whatever falls into the area for the drip pan). Keep tongs handy, and add more briquettes with tongs when it looks like it's time. Add soaked hickory as necessary.

Since my grill is old, the top vent is a little "leaky" and I find that I'm best off to keep temp down by keeping all vents open, but if it goes to low and I need to goose it up, I will "cock" the cover ever so slightly. I was having real trouble controlling the heat, so I experimented one day with an unbelievably cheap pork shoulder, and got it figured out. It was not the best butt I've ever done (far from it), but I at least figured out my grill. Mine is old (23 years; it was a wedding present) and has seen a boatload of smoked meat.

And, part of it is weather. That recent very cool, drizzly day made temp control really easy. I was able to run errands for an hour with nary a worry. Wind, outside temp, rain, etc. all affect it. Keep on trying!

Now, back to Ronnie. I think it's time I smoked something again. I think my husband likes the smell of me after I've smoked something. And, if I don't shower before I go to bed, the sheets smell faintly of smoke in the morning, a reminder of all of that good, greasy fun we've had. :shock::shock:

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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It's not but once a day that I go to EG and discover something else I need.  Those rib racks.  I can never get as many ribs on the grill as I want, and this is the answer.

Yes, the racks are excellent and I think they were about $5 each, IIRC.

Now, back to Ronnie.  I think it's time I smoked something again.  I think my husband likes the smell of me after I've smoked something.  And, if I don't shower before I go to bed, the sheets smell faintly of smoke in the morning, a reminder of all of that good, greasy fun we've had. :shock:  :shock:

Susan, this is quite possibly the most glorious thing I've ever read on eG. Thank you for brightening my morning :biggrin:

Also, before I forget, I want to mention that those baked goods from Sweet Memories, which we snarfed down on Friday, were absolutely amazing. The oatmeal/chocolate chunk cookies were completely addictive and the untraditional rugelah (made with puff pastry) were out of this world. And...yes, my son did end up with the cupcake. :smile:

It is the blog homestretch for me today. So far this morning, I've taken a few sips of the daily IVA. It's Jim's (our General Manager) call on the lunch today. I'll be back later with some details and some pictures. Not hungry yet but give me a few hours... :wink:

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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doesn't the brown sugar in the rub make the ribs taste molassessy?

:raz:  :raz:  :raz:  :raz:  :raz:

The poster here is referring to my (well known?) aversion to molasses. The answer is no, it's not enough brown sugar to impart a "molassessy" flavor. If it were, I'd have omitted it from the rub recipe long ago. :biggrin:

Do I sense a minor bit of rib envy here? :raz:

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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doesn't the brown sugar in the rub make the ribs taste molassessy?

:raz:  :raz:  :raz:  :raz:  :raz:

The poster here is referring to my (well known?) aversion to molasses. The answer is no, it's not enough brown sugar to impart a "molassessy" flavor. If it were, I'd have omitted it from the rub recipe long ago. :biggrin:

Do I sense a minor bit of rib envy here? :raz:

=R=

i don't need ribs, i have pickled tongue :raz::raz::raz::raz::raz::raz:

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doesn't the brown sugar in the rub make the ribs taste molassessy?

:raz:  :raz:  :raz:  :raz:  :raz:

The poster here is referring to my (well known?) aversion to molasses. The answer is no, it's not enough brown sugar to impart a "molassessy" flavor. If it were, I'd have omitted it from the rub recipe long ago. :biggrin:

Do I sense a minor bit of rib envy here? :raz:

=R=

i don't need ribs, i have pickled tongue :raz::raz::raz::raz::raz::raz:

I've heard that's not all that's pickled :biggrin:

Well, GM-Jim made a lunch choice so horrible, so yucky, that I'm going to just have leftover ribs for lunch and maybe a bowl of soup. Back to update shortly.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Don't leave us hanging here, ronnie!  Yikes, what could Jim have picked that's so horrible?

I feel bad using the blog to bash a place from which I didn't even have lunch (which isn't to say that I won't). Luckily, I hedged by bringing a half slab of ribs to the office. Ironically, even those who made the lunch choice (or were happy with it), were delighted that we had ribs. I believe the direct quote from Jim, referring to the joint from which lunch was ordered, was "well, I'll never order that again."

Ok, the place in question is a Cajun/Southern Roadhouse-type place in Evanston, IL that attempts, IMO, to do too much instead of focusing on one type of cuisine. Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, Peach-Glazed Wings, NC pulled pork, pasta dishes and Johnny cakes are some of their offerings :wacko:

I know that it garnered 3 Forks (out of 4) from the Chicago Tribune (as indicated on their menu) and that many folks whose tastes I respect also dig this place. But, having lived in New Orleans for a couple of years, my bar for cajun food is set fairly high and this place, for all their effort, falls far below it.

Anyone know the place of which I speak, err...type?

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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i've usually lurked and read and thoroughly enjoyed

food blogs so far (including ronnie's). i have a question

that i was undecided about, whether to post here, or to

pm ronnie. i ended up posting here, not sure if it was

the best choice......

is the food you posted about your typical / usual fare?

all the yummy pictures and fun descriptions etc made me wonder:

1. is such a (to me) high level of eating out common

or am i am outlier? (i live in the US). i consider

mine a reasonably middle class type household

and we (family of 4) couldn't afford to do this :) or do i

live in an unusually expensive area (north carolina)?

2. are the dishes you posted your usual fare? or unusual?

what struck me was how "meaty" it all was: large serving

of meat as the centerpiece of the plate, and anything else

was in tiny quantities off to the side; even at breakfast. where's the

fruit and vegs?

(please note: i am NOT debating any health

or diet issues: just curious about what people consider a common

or usual eating pattern for them).

milagai

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Don't leave us hanging here, ronnie!  Yikes, what could Jim have picked that's so horrible?

I feel bad using the blog to bash a place from which I didn't even have lunch (which isn't to say that I won't). Luckily, I hedged by bringing a half slab of ribs to the office. Ironically, even those who made the lunch choice (or were happy with it), were delighted that we had ribs. I believe the direct quote from Jim, referring to the joint from which lunch was ordered, was "well, I'll never order that again."

Ok, the place in question is a Cajun/Southern Roadhouse-type place in Evanston, IL that attempts, IMO, to do too much instead of focusing on one type of cuisine. Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, Peach-Glazed Wings, NC pulled pork, pasta dishes and Johnny cakes are some of their offerings :wacko:

I know that it garnered 3 Forks (out of 4) from the Chicago Tribune (as indicated on their menu) and that many folks whose tastes I respect also dig this place. But, having lived in New Orleans for a couple of years, my bar for cajun food is set fairly high and this place, for all their effort, falls far below it.

Anyone know the place of which I speak, err...type?

=R=

Are the initials D.K.?

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i've usually lurked and read and thoroughly enjoyed

food blogs so far (including ronnie's).  i have a question

that i was undecided about, whether to post here, or to

pm ronnie.  i ended up posting here, not sure if it was

the best choice......

is the food you posted about your typical / usual fare?

all the yummy pictures and fun descriptions etc made me wonder:

1.  is such a (to me) high level of eating out common

or am i am outlier?  (i live in the US).  i consider

mine a reasonably middle class type household

and we (family of 4) couldn't afford to do this :) or do i

live in an unusually expensive area (north carolina)? 

2.  are the dishes you posted your usual fare? or unusual?

what struck me was how "meaty" it all was:  large serving

of meat as the centerpiece of the plate, and anything else

was in tiny quantities off to the side; even at breakfast.  where's the

fruit and vegs? 

(please note: i am NOT debating any health

or diet issues: just curious about what people consider a common

or usual eating pattern for them). 

milagai

I wouldn't say it was 100% typical, nor would I say it was wildly atypical either. Blog week is somewhat synonymous for me with making fun choices rather than the best ones. That said, I do enjoy fruits and veggies but with my local farmer's market having just closed for the year, I would have really had to go out of my way to get good produce this week and I just didn't have the time or the desire to do so. I'd define this week and the couple on either side of it as "transitional" in the produce area. In the weeks to come I'll likely be eating more soups, root veggies, etc. Just not quite there yet. I am also a big fan of salads too but looking back, I guess I wasn't really in the mood for them very much this week. :wink:

The most typically representative meals have probably been the lunches. That's pretty much how lunches "go down" at my office. We work hard and eat in the office, at our desks, nearly everyday so we tend to go with convenient and comforting choices. But, by far, lunch is the largest meal of the day for me.

As for the meat/cost issue, I love meat but generally make it knowing that it will cover a few meals. Ribs, shanks, pork butt, etc. are all time consuming and thus, made in larger batches and eaten over a few meals. While some of the cuts I enjoy are a bit more expensive (skirt steak, ribs) many like shanks, brisket and pork butt generally cost under $2/pound. I will say that I stashed and trashed a few more leftovers this week than I normally do, just to keep things a bit more varied.

As for breakfast...I love eggs. Again, I rarely eat breakfast but when I do, I want it to be something I really love. If I'm not going to have eggs, or a bagel with lox, I'll likely just skip it entirely. I'm not a big fan of fruit for breakfast and the whole pancake/waffle/french toast genre is just not my bag. Generally speaking a big, tall, iced caffeine bomb is about all I need until lunchtime.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Don't leave us hanging here, ronnie!  Yikes, what could Jim have picked that's so horrible?

I feel bad using the blog to bash a place from which I didn't even have lunch (which isn't to say that I won't). Luckily, I hedged by bringing a half slab of ribs to the office. Ironically, even those who made the lunch choice (or were happy with it), were delighted that we had ribs. I believe the direct quote from Jim, referring to the joint from which lunch was ordered, was "well, I'll never order that again."

Ok, the place in question is a Cajun/Southern Roadhouse-type place in Evanston, IL that attempts, IMO, to do too much instead of focusing on one type of cuisine. Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, Peach-Glazed Wings, NC pulled pork, pasta dishes and Johnny cakes are some of their offerings :wacko:

I know that it garnered 3 Forks (out of 4) from the Chicago Tribune (as indicated on their menu) and that many folks whose tastes I respect also dig this place. But, having lived in New Orleans for a couple of years, my bar for cajun food is set fairly high and this place, for all their effort, falls far below it.

Anyone know the place of which I speak, err...type?

=R=

Are the initials D.K.?

Yes, they are :biggrin:

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Don't leave us hanging here, ronnie!  Yikes, what could Jim have picked that's so horrible?

I feel bad using the blog to bash a place from which I didn't even have lunch (which isn't to say that I won't). Luckily, I hedged by bringing a half slab of ribs to the office. Ironically, even those who made the lunch choice (or were happy with it), were delighted that we had ribs. I believe the direct quote from Jim, referring to the joint from which lunch was ordered, was "well, I'll never order that again."

Ok, the place in question is a Cajun/Southern Roadhouse-type place in Evanston, IL that attempts, IMO, to do too much instead of focusing on one type of cuisine. Jambalaya, Red Beans and Rice, Peach-Glazed Wings, NC pulled pork, pasta dishes and Johnny cakes are some of their offerings :wacko:

I know that it garnered 3 Forks (out of 4) from the Chicago Tribune (as indicated on their menu) and that many folks whose tastes I respect also dig this place. But, having lived in New Orleans for a couple of years, my bar for cajun food is set fairly high and this place, for all their effort, falls far below it.

Anyone know the place of which I speak, err...type?

=R=

Are the initials D.K.?

Yes, they are :biggrin:

=R=

Ah yes...Dixie Kitchen! I have fond memories of the place. However, I ate at the Hyde Park location years ago while I was in college. I could see trying it again & being disappointed. I'm sure I've had much better Cajun since college.

btw, it's been nice reading your blog Ronnie!

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Ah yes...Dixie Kitchen! I have fond memories of the place. However, I ate at the Hyde Park location years ago while I was in college. I could see trying it again & being disappointed. I'm sure I've had much better Cajun since college.

btw, it's been nice reading your blog Ronnie!

Thanks, via :smile:

DK is a place that so many love; I'm probably in the minority. Perhaps I should have given it another shot today instead of just running the delivery back to the office and eating leftover ribs. One of my co-workers ordered the Catfish Po' Boy and he absolutely loved it.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Ok folks, shown below is the final meal of my blog week...

gallery_3085_293_1099357948.jpg

Red Lentil Soup and toasted 'Country' bread with butter (along with a few more of those perpetual chives) :wink:

It's about 47 degrees F here and it's been raining all day. Combine that with the fact that it's the first day of standard time and, well, it's been a real bummer. It was all but dark out when I left my office, something that will take some mental adjustment over the next week or so :sad:

But what better way to meet the lousy weather than with some excellent homemade soup? The best part of this is that I only came up with the idea, my darling wife :wub: followed my advices/instructions via the phone and turned out a wonderful dinner. Honestly though, I think she's been holding out on my all these years. No one who "dosen't know how to cook" could have made a soup this delicious.

I do plan on watching some NFL football tonight and that can often lead to snacking, so I may be back later for a final update. But just in case that doesn't happen, I want to thank everyone for reading along and making my blogging experience such a pleasant one. :smile:

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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And you thought you were done!

Describe the soup please? From whence the bread? What kind of butter?

Trust, for dessert, that you have raided a treat bag from last night. My kids know that little Baby Ruth bars belong to mommy, as do any bit o honey's.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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And you thought you were done!

Describe the soup please?  From whence the bread?  What kind of butter?

The soup was started with stock which my wife made :shock: from 2 smoked pork hocks (from the fresh meat dept, not home-made) and water. She then made a 'mirepoix' in the cuisinart with 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks, 1 leek and 1 yellow onion. She sauteed the mirepoix, added the pound of red lentils, combined it all and then added the stock. She added a bay leaf, kosher salt, fresh-ground black pepper and let it simmer for a few hours. Near the end, she threw in some flat-leaf parsley and what little meat she could harvest from the hocks.

The bread was again, Labriola, via Garden Fresh Market. The butter, President-Unsalted. I also use any one of these other brands, depending on what's available: Plugra, Cabot, Lurpak or my favorite, Jana Valley. Always unsalted.

Trust, for dessert, that you have raided a treat bag from last night.  My kids know that little Baby Ruth bars belong to mommy, as do any bit o honey's.

No, as I mentioned upthread, my son traded away all his chocolate :angry: before he even came home last night and that's the only candy I really enjoy (other than some in-season candy corn), so I didn't have Halloween candy. My wife, very wisely, took all our leftover (outbound) candy to a donation spot today, so that's no longer available. I do have some variant of a Rittersport bar on hand, so I may break that out a little later. :smile:

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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      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 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.
       
       
       
       
    • By Drew777
      I'm a Brit. I'm also a closet Frenchman.  To cap it all, I'm happily retired in Bangkok, the city of a street food culture that's second to none. The Thais are healthy and slim. I'm just this side of alive and far from slim. Lockdown has me fantasizing about my days working in London, Paris and New York, an existence, if one could call it that, revolving around gastronomy of one kind or another. They paid me, not so very much as it happens, to do what I enjoy doing most in life. We all get to do it, but I was one of a fortunate few who made it his metier. Well all that's in the past now, but I still dream of my time in Paris when lunch was a tad short of 2-hours, little-known local bistros remained affordable until the day they were discovered by La Bible (Michelin Guide) and the students were revolting - this was the summer of '68, for heaven's sake. Someone should open bistro here in Bangkok with a table d'hote of Soupe a l'Oignon gratinee, Blanquette de Veau, a stinky Epoisses and Tarte Tatin to finsih with creme fraiche. Ah, it's back to lockdown and pad Thai. 
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