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eG Foodblog: Marlena - Life is Delicious Wherever I am

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...........I am a pastry cook at the original Bay Bread (Pine at Fillmore). Other outlets (bakery/cafés) in Cole Valley, Russian Hill, and Cow Hollow sell our breads and pastries, but they're mostly all made at Pine Street (there's a big bread shop down in South SF, but every pastry is made in my location). I love it. I love the smell wafting down the street in the wee hours when I am coming in to start my day. I love watching the deft fingers of the bread bakers shaping and forming dough into every manner of shape, kneading in extras like dried figs and walnuts, the confident slashes the oven baker makes in the baguettes to give them their traditional grignes, the peel with the 8-foot long handle to get to the way back of the bread oven, the quick flicks of the wrist of the head viennoiserie baker as he rolls croissants, the magic of turning common ingredients like flour, butter, sugar and eggs into any variety of magical creations...of course, that doesn't even tap into what I do, which is pastry, which I also love. It's a great environment with great camaraderie; Pascal (the owner) always seems to have a smile on his face.

Oh, and the pot de crème? A simple spoonful of it can make me weak in the knees. A warm croissant, crispy and impossibly flaky and buttery, gets me giddy.

i'm coming, i'm coming, what has taken me so long! I can smell the bread now, and the croissants.......maybe i should bring some butter from here? man, bay bread breads haunt me they really do. i'm coming!!!!!! too bad i don't live in the neighbourhood any more; now i stay with my step daughter who lives in glen park.

really wonderful croissants, oh they are great without butter but with butter i could faint. a dab of jam towards the end when i've returned to some composure.

reminds me of a funny story. a friend lives on paris' ile st louis and i was visiting him, staying for a few days. the first night he says: what would you like for breakfast? i told him i like to eat raw garlic on rustic toast for breakfast, and/or raw onions. he looked at me like maybe i was joking, didn't i have a great sense of humor! then he said: okay i'll get croissants! (and he did, and oh his local croissants are some of the best on this planet).

x x marlena

Marlena the spieler


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What about artichoke stems?? huh?? come one...you know you love'em!  :laugh:

Poached in chicken stock, with chopped tomatoes and garlic...lemon juice right before you devour...I mean serve....

I LOVE em! I was scandalized a year or so ago when i was doing a cooking appearance at a famous place (starts with a C and is in napa) and my designated assistant (whose credentials were that she had assisted a big shot cooking teacher in france, initials a w) anyhow we're going over the organization and prep on the phone. one of the dishes was a braised artichoke dish, you pare the artichokes of their thorny leaves, cook the chokes in olive oil, lemon, white white, garlic, parsley. anyhow i was scandalized because when i said to put the trimmed stems into the pile of artichokes to use, she refused! and haughtily informed me that she had never eaten an artichoke stem, had no intention of doing so and we would not be doing so at C. she said that in her training at a w they didn't use the stems, she had never heard of anything like it! (what a great assistant, eh!).

so i had to sadly not use the stems, i would have packed them all off in a doggie bag for myself if they had kept them when they were doing prep but they chucked em in the bin before i arrived in the morning!

funnily, i was speaking to a friend who does cooking tours/classes in paris and she said: of course we do not eat the stems! so maybe its not such a scandalous thing, more a geographical thing. but i mean, you're assisting someone and they want the artichoke stems! please. give her the damned stems! i'm thinking that she felt it would reflect badly on her.

but they're as good as the heart, the dear little things.

Tell me, do you ever make artichoke soup? cook it with stock, thicken it with potato, and melt a pat of butter on it when you serve. and be sure you add garlic to the pot!

I would have used my favorite line from "Fried Green Tomatoes" and told her, "I am older and I have more insurance than you, so if you don't put the stems in the pile like I ask, @#@@#$#!".

In everyone's honor, I am going to have an artichoke for dinner tonight. I also like the stem. My David does not like the stem for some reason; it just means more stems for me.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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I love your blog, Marlena.  I have a growing shopping list of what I am going to buy when I come back to the UK in a few weeks.

The French don't eat turnip tops either and I have to ask specially if I want to buy baby turnips with the tops still on.  Anything associated with the war and hardship is not eaten - perhaps artichoke stems were used as fodder, along with swedes, parsnips and jerusalem artichokes.

Do you get the little bunches of baby artichokes (you eat everything, leaves n all) in the UK, or just the big bulbous ones?

I often give the kids artichokes for supper - with big bowls of melted garlic butter and baguettes to mop up all the juices.  The little ones don't like the hearts, so I save them, slice them in oil and garlic and sauté them alongside slivers of steaks, then tossed in linguine for dinner the following night.

Please say hello to Waitrose for me please....  :smile:

I bet you're right: its the war! my parisian friend also eschews beetroot, saying that they served it as school dinners in the post-war 50s and 60s and it was so disgusting that she has a hard time biting into it now!

I love turnip tops!

We don't usually see the little bunches of baby artichokes here in britain, but then perhaps somewhere they are available. in california they are sold in boxes, not the oh so charming little bouquets! artichoke heart with slivers of steak and fettucine likes soooo good!

Waitrose awaits your visit eagerly! you've got to buy cheeses here in britain; go to neals yard near borough market. neals yard has a brilliant array of english cheeses. but in a pinch waitrose is pretty darned good, and probably one near where you'll be!

i love british cheeses too! wales is doing some fabulous goats cheeses. and i'm enamoured of oxford blue. and montgomery cheddar.

a bientot!


Marlena the spieler


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I made your Christmas pudding today, even though it was hot as heck, and am a convert! Not the preachy kind but the quiet kind. My husband was thoroughly surprised and subsequently delighted. So, thank you from a far corner of the world. I will make it again in colder weather and tell everybody who it's from.

If only Jack Nicholson could have narrated my dinner, it would have been perfect.

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I made your Christmas pudding today, even though it was hot as heck, and am a convert!  Not the preachy kind but the quiet kind.  My husband was thoroughly surprised and subsequently delighted.  So, thank you from a far corner of the world.  I will make it again in colder weather and tell everybody who it's from.


ps: my husband wants you to know that in his humble opinion one of the secrets is to add brandy butter melting in, but then melting brandy butter onto anything is his basic culinary idea of heaven.


Marlena the spieler


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Cardamon coffee, my winter favorite!

This has been fun!

I meant to ask you, as another "expat", how you view your US food history and your current UK cooking environment. (Is that suitably vague and hard to answer?). Just curious to know if you think about it much!

Wonderful question, Helen. My US food history and UK present food environment are not as different as your Western history and Eastern food environment, but it is something i think about.

i've lived in the Uk for over 18 years now. when we first moved here the food scene was very different. at first my daughter and i tried to eat more natively, but we found much of the food too heavy for our tastes and we reverted to our lighter california and mediterranean fare. we were very shocked at what the children were eating for lunch at her school! (bag of crisps, chocolate bar, can of fizzy drink. standard lunch). once my daughter brought a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat, for lunch, and her friends were very interested: we've seen it on television and in the movies, but never in person, they all exclaimed at her pb and j! they loved her lunches and soon i was packing tacos, pita-wiches, salad nicoises, veggies with dips, stuffed grapeleaves, and all sorts of things that are more of the british eating habits these days than they were then.

when i spend time in the usa i realize how european i've become in my eating habits. i don't like snack foods, seldom buy anything snacky either savoury or sweet, cookie or cracker, unless its a nostalgia thing.

american restaurant portions are too large. but then eating in the uk is never very reliably good. i hate the flavour of bad fats that permeates even today, too much of the food in eating venues.

in fact, i don't like to eat much in uk restaurants as the service thing is weird, and the food is not reliable.

packaged food, including ready meals, is considered a normal thing in the uk. supermarkets, even waitrose, have rows of them for sale. have you ever tasted these things? i did a bbc radio tasting for them, and even the highest end ones were awful. about the only good thing you could say about our selection was that they weren't horrible. that was the best thing and that was only one or two meals.

i like a much more ethnic way of eating than my surrounding environment, and i mean: i like some of the american things i grew up with, and my own eastern european jewish thing. i often feel as if i'm a traitor when i cook my homey comfort foods. my husband is never happy, but i feel as if he's afraid of the neighbours. the neighbours are all very nice, but would never ever want to try my food.

people--and i mean especially my professional colleagues in the food bizz--love to put down american food, and i get very tired of hearing about it. very very tired. they'll eat the stuff but complain because its american!

my sandwiches american style are just looked at as if they are rather dirty, in that they are filled so generously, and with mayonaise rather than butter (or marg). still, when anyone bites into my tuna they come back for more, dispite any culture claims they are holding on to.

in san francisco where i live my alternative life, EVERYBODY wants to talk about food and taste whatever i'm making! here, too often its considered bad manners to mention the food--until recent years that was the accepted manners: that its impolite to mention the food, or to praise it, while you're eating.

but i'm always surprised at things in america too: people are terrified of cheese! terrified of butter! so many people won't eat duck, or lamb! they eat their meat too well done (i must be french in that regards: rare is tastiest, juiciest, well done is tough and sad). they have their tastes molded by chain restaurant and packaged products, ick. sometimes i think everything tastes too sweet, and that american cooking schools are turning out chefs and teachers who start all recipes by caramelzing onions, and not everything needs to start with caramelized onions!

and i love eating cheese at the end of a meal; my american friends do try but don't find it a natural progression. britain has brilliant cheeses and isn't afraid to eat them!

i think that living in europe--and by that i mean the continent--my food gets streamlined in essence and not bogged down by too many un-necessaries. in america people can add too many ingredients to things and the flavours get muddled. and i don't even want to comment about cooking in britain because if i do, i'll get a whole slew of british egulleteers complaining, regardless of what i say and how true it is.

in both the uk and usa people get a funny idea as to what is the correct way to make or eat certain foreign foods (but that is probably true all over the world. i've seen some weird california specialities in europe, but mostly in the uk) (okay this is too awful not to share: in tesco magazine a few years ago a well known food writer ran a recipe of california food and included this speciality: a hot waffle, topped with caesar salad, maple syrup over this, and bacon, and crumbled blue cheese too(maybe gorgonzola? i forget). (this was an editor who scoffed at using me for a california story. can you imagine how i feel about this stuff?) is it any wonder why ordinary people who read these publications think that california/usa food is awful?

so, yes, i do feel a rather different person from either of my cooking environments. and i really feel like a foreign creature when i'm cooking in greece, or france, or italy.....but not in a bad way, in a good way......... i carry with me all of these layers of cooking, of food styles, and i feel very enriched by them, and unique because of it.

oh, i could rant on forever. and i could be much less discrete too.

but instead. i think: hot chocolate. the weather is so cold. and i'm trying to get up the courage to walk the hour up the hill to the swimming pool. and then the hour back.

but it will be so good for me. and think of how delicious dinner will taste afterwards!


Marlena the spieler


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Shhhh.... I've been known to eat cold boiled potato with ketchup and cheese, too, but never with raw onion added! And your snacks sound like my meals! I've been known to sneak into the fridge at night, too, to eat leftovers, but I'm not sure... no, wait. I'm not sure sneaking is the right word. I work from home, so I'm usually up until the sun rises, then go to sleep. So it's not sneaking, right? :)

And for now, in case before your blog ends, I just want to say thank you so much for such a wonderful journey through your pantry, kitchen and eating! You've reminded me so much about all the foods I love (and miss) as well as given me a whole bunch of new recipes to try out! (Puddings, here I come!!!) I also learned how to speak goat and sheep! Yay!

Please let me know if you're ever in Hilo, Hawai'i and I'll be sure to rustle up some of the freshest fruits and veggies for you. And macadamias from our backyard. Or maybe I'll just make a trip and visit with you and Swisskaese. :)

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mochihead: :smile::smile::smile::smile:

hope to see you with those macadamias, and meanwhile, keep up your sheep and goat speaking, you never know when it will come in handy!

Meanwhile, i've been over visiting Helens blog and am reminded of shiratiki, and how much i fell in love with a shiratiki in san francisco that was made from yam and tofu! i just loved it! one night i made a soup using both fat udon and thin yam-tofu shiratiki, with baby bak choy, and diced tofu, and i think some white miso too.

soooooo umami. i'm a slut for umami!

x marlena

Marlena the spieler


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Irish Cream - I have eaten in the same restaurant. Mullet so fresh it practically leaps off the plate. Isn't Lesbos/Lesvos wonderful? I would love to try to replicate the octupus I ate there, but it would not be the same without the med sunshine, the ouzo and a smiling greek waiter.....Fresh octopus is readily available here in Bordeaux and I am often tempted.

I often cook a similar recipe with turnips and greens - using magret (duck breast) and a drizzle of honey at the end, served without any carbs, bread for the juices and just cheese to follow. A glass of Clairet and bingo - a near perfect spring lunch. Winter I just substitute the Clairet for a claret, and bingo - a near perfect winter lunch!

Marlena - what colour is your artichoke soup?

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....... I can't resist linking to an entry on my blog right after I returned from Greece.

Turnips with Greens

So in Greece they would use olive oil rather than bacon...fabulous either way.

Irish Cream, thanks for putting the link to your post-greece blog, what a wonderful and evocative visit to greece that little several minute visit is! i mean, talk about being there! wonderful.

i'm reminded of a british food writer who specializes in greek food and fancies herself more of an expert than she really is (do we want initials?) : not long ago she harrangued me in public about how i knew nothing about greece or food in greece, and to prove it she cited the fact that no one any longer has you go into the kitchens to point to what you want rather than order it from a menu. 'those days are over!' she exclaimed.

it made me wonder if it wasn't HER who hadn't been there in a while. i don't think that the greeks (or the turks,either) will ever stop pointing out their cooking foods in the kitchen, though there certainly are more menus around than there were in the old days, and more people (ie waitstaff) speaking english too. but not off the beaten track, and sometimes not on it, either!

looking at your blog makes me want to go back to greece, and its only been a week or so since i left! meanwhile, i just might whip up some dolmathes tonight. i have the vineleaves......

x marlena :smile:

Marlena the spieler


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Thank you, Bordelaise and Marlena for saying such nice things about my blog. And here is the funny thing...when I left Greece after 3 weeks, I said to myself, "Ok, I've done Greece and don't need to go back." And I believed it for about a year. But now I can't stop thinking about it. It's like a siren call...which is one of the many reasons I have so enjoyed your blog, Marlena. You feel it and you DO it!

Thanks so much for sharing your food with us this past week. I'll miss your blog and I'll miss Helena's, too. It was a nice contrapoint.


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Marlena - what colour is your artichoke soup?

its grey-green, pureed but very vegetal.

i once ate an artichoke soup at Olives in Las Vegas. it was a food writers gathering, and the course in question was shellfish which i am allergic to. So todd english, the chef-owner said: 'i'll make you something special.' so he made artichoke soup, not a pureed artichoke soup but one with slices of artichokes in it, and a lemony base. it was yummy. i think it might have had cepes in it......

:smile: marlena

Marlena the spieler


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WHATS FOR DINNER? last night of blog, a farewell dinner.

i'm skipping lunch for a nice long swim. one hour, i usually do it every day but have had about three weeks without swimming and am now shaped like a potato!

so during my swim i'll think about dinner. i feel hubby's tug away from my more exotic desires and his comfort ones: macaroni and cheese is something he is lusting after. (i haven't made it in a long time).

me, i'm thinking of a cassoulet. there is a restaurant in paris that serves a lovely one and i always have it when i'm there. and whenever i'm in the southwest of france this time of year, i gotta have it there too (but of course, in their home territory!)........ but i haven't made mine--full of duck or goose confit, pork, sausage, saucisson, oh, and fabulous beans which aren't soaked, so maybe i'll just put them up to soak in case we need them. i even add a little lamb, too, sometimes. and my garlicky homemade crumbs, and i do have some excellent stock stashed away, and some duck fat and goose fat.......oh it is tempting.

can i make a good cassoulet in a day you might ask? well, who cares what time we eat? and if its a cassoulet breakfast tomorrow morning, well i have no problem with that!

on the other hand, we have macaroni and cheese. on the other hand.....i just might stop by waitrose on my way home from my swim and see what hops off the shelves. i like a big salad of greens with super-excellent English bacon in chunks browned and tossed hot into them.

Marlena the spieler


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Thanks so much for the discussion upthread about artichoke stems!

I didn't think I was totally ignorant about food and I hate waste - I'm one of those people who cooks cauliflower leaves, plantain peels (well, sometimes), radish leaves, etc. - yet somehow the fact that artichoke stems are also edible had totally passed me by. I can't believe I've been wasting something not just edible but also delicious.

Marlena, I'm having so much fun reading your blog. The only hard part about it is to actually keep sitting and reading it, as it so much makes me want to abandon all other activities in favor of racing into the kitchen to start cooking something...or popping down the street to buy some fresh simit...or booking a flight to Greece...

Swisskaese: if you're reading this. Ever since you mentioned dates stuffed with minced lamb the concept has been preying on my mind. I even have minced lamb in the freezer and dates in the cupboard. What ideas for spicing did you have in mind? I think I'm going to have to cook this.

Other people's ideas for spicing are also welcome, of course!

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Thanks so much for the discussion upthread about artichoke stems!

Swisskaese: if you're reading this. Ever since you mentioned dates stuffed with minced lamb the concept has been preying on my mind. I even have minced lamb in the freezer and dates in the cupboard. What ideas for spicing did you have in mind? I think I'm going to have to cook this.

Other people's ideas for spicing are also welcome, of course!

I have a recipe for it, but I am work. I will look for it tonight and post it.

You will also need some sort of boring tool to remove the seed and keep one of the sides intact.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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What do you mean its the last day of the blog?? :shock: What fun it has been to peep inside your world for a few days. Thank you.

I also enjoyed reading your take on living and cooking in 2 different worlds. I've spent a lot of time thinking about this, and I try not to be judgemental when I'm in the salad dressing aisle... but you come to realize the US food culture is so marketing based. I don't mean going to the market, I'm mean advertising marketing. This could be the basis for a whole new thread.

Again, thank you!

(and yes I make artichoke soup! :smile: )

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Ever since you mentioned dates stuffed with minced lamb the concept has been preying on my mind.

I saw a tapa recipe once that had chorizo packed in dates with... possibly an almond - 15min in a hot oven.

I believe a spicy heat would be called for to offset the date's sweetness. And how about a wrap of somekind?

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Marlena, what are some of your favourite Middle Eastern dishes?

I love anything with olive oil, cumin, cilantro, hot sauce (am a zchug fanatic, love other peoples,love my own, think i could make eggplant salad every day of the year and it would never be the same except not all of them would be middle eastern.). i really love middle eastern food.

i love making a pumpkin dip from libya (is there still a restaurant in jaffa that specializes in libyan food, dr shakshouka? i got inspired by their pumpkin dip thing). speaking of shakshouka, how much do i love shakshouka!!!!!!

pilaffs and grape leaves, anything with eggplant and /or chickpeas, i love things slathered in lemon juice. love meze and little plates. love big plates of things like couscous. love mint tea. sometimes with a little plate of pinenuts alongside.

love middle eastern coffee with cardomom. love LAMB. braised with spices, with eggplant, with honey and prunes. i love a good schwarma (but it has to be made very well). love a good felafel (and all the salads that go with it, tel aviv style).

i love brik a l'oeuf. and tunisianne sandwiches and tunisian meatballs with peas. i love middle eastern meatballs and middle eastern koftas. love fish cooked with tahina, and anything simmered with quince. love machshi of stuffed vegetables.

i'm sure i've left stuff out. i really love middle eastern foods so much. i have a natural middle easterner living right inside me that calls for it whenever i haven't eaten it for awhile.

:wub: marlena

Marlena the spieler


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On the True Potato Confessions front, let me admit to a childhood love for cold, baked potato with honey and salt. I don't have it often now, but it's still good.

Marlena, thank you so much for this great peek into your international kitchen. At first I too couldn't imagine a blog without pictures, but your word paintings are so vivid that I forgot to miss photos. And your enthusiasm for food is so contagious!

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Ever since you mentioned dates stuffed with minced lamb the concept has been preying on my mind.

I saw a tapa recipe once that had chorizo packed in dates with... possibly an almond - 15min in a hot oven.

I believe a spicy heat would be called for to offset the date's sweetness. And how about a wrap of somekind?

i ate the chorizo ones as a tapa in san francisco a month or so ago. at, lets see, baraka, the meze and sortof middle eastern place on potrero hill. the chorizo-packed dates and yes, i think an almost was involved, oh it was so yummy that we had to order a second portion (there were three of us. we nearly ordered a third.


Marlena the spieler


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    • 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.
    • 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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