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eG Foodblog: JAZ - Park and Shop


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I was thinking that those cucumber slices looked perfect for tossing with coarse salt, Korean coarse hot pepper, a little rice vinegar, and a touch of sugar. Mmmm...must make some today!

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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It looks like you have some antique glassware and shakers/pitchers there.  Do any have a special story of aquisition?  I think it was the very small ones on the bottom center that you said came from your mother, is that right?  Those are adorable!  They make martini glasses so big these days as a rule I'd love to find something petite.

Actually, these are the ones my parents had:

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I picked these next ones up at an antique store (actually a warehouse/barn) in Montana a couple of years ago. They're German, from the 30s (I think). (Sorry about the photo -- it's hard to get the detail to show up without a dark background, and the trivet was all I had.) They're really liqueur glasses -- they only hold about two ounces to the rim.

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This is from a set my grandmother had -- six etched glasses and an ice bucket. I had a small drink pitcher that matched, but unfortunately, it broke a few years ago.

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I love the cocktail shaker on the top shelf, beautiful! (at least I think that's what it is)

This set is one I bought about 10 years ago -- my first "antique" purchase. It's from the art deco period. Check out how small the glasses are.

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Now I shift into a different mode from the last four days -- today through Thursday are work days, when I have no computer access for 8 hours at a stretch. I'd hoped to post about my "cowboy cassoulet" adventure this morning, but I ran out of time.

For the recipe (which I will also post, with Russ's kind permission), check out this topic.

And to keep you interested, a few teaser photos.

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gallery_7258_2197_55902.jpg

gallery_7258_2197_1253890.jpg

See everyone tonight!

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Miss E, here.

My claim to fame: I played Park and Shop with JAZ when we were tots. I was there when the burgeoning gourmet mastered the Easy Bake oven. Heck, I was probably bossing her around, as I am that dreaded being known as an older sister.

Now, to answer your inquiry, Miss J, "Anything else?" How about those frigging chocolate peanut butter balls? What is the shelf life of the truffle mix in your freezer? Is this the real reason you aren't going to visit?

Seriously. Love the blog. You can have an extension on the peanut butter balls. But don't tell Tom I said so.

When the universe gives you what you want, ask for more.
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Slicing cucumbers and other vegetables is really easy with this ceramic blade slicer.

gallery_7258_2197_25597.jpg

The blade is double sided, so it slices on each pass of the vegetable. It's really great.

I'd like to second her endorsement of the Kyocera ceramic slicer, which also comes in a julienne version. (I have one of each.)

At $25, it's also inexpensive.

Where did you find one in black? The slicers I picked up at Williams-Sonoma were yellow (regular) and green (julienne). Not that I don't like the colors, but I think black is cool.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

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

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Miss E, here.

My claim to fame: I played Park and Shop with JAZ when we were tots. I was there when the burgeoning gourmet mastered the Easy Bake oven. Heck, I was probably bossing her around, as I am that dreaded being known as an older sister.

Now, to answer your inquiry, Miss J, "Anything else?" How about those frigging chocolate peanut butter balls? What is the shelf life of the truffle mix in your freezer?  Is this the real reason you aren't going to visit?

Seriously. Love the blog.  You can have an extension on the peanut butter balls. But don't tell Tom I said so.

How cool is this?! Welcome to eGullet, Miss E!

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I think that Kyocera slicer goes way thinner than my (admittedly cheap) mandoline. I'll keep that in mind when the mandoline breaks.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Slicing cucumbers and other vegetables is really easy with this ceramic blade slicer.

gallery_7258_2197_25597.jpg

The blade is double sided, so it slices on each pass of the vegetable. It's really great.

I'd like to second her endorsement of the Kyocera ceramic slicer, which also comes in a julienne version. (I have one of each.)

At $25, it's also inexpensive.

Where did you find one in black? The slicers I picked up at Williams-Sonoma were yellow (regular) and green (julienne). Not that I don't like the colors, but I think black is cool.

Hmmm. We don't have Sur La Table here, but my folks leave go soon to see my sister, and my mom always brings me a "trinket." I think this is just the trinket I want!

Janet, as to barware. I have this set of four sterling silver shot glasses in a little leather case that look like gold inside. So we suppose they are safe to drink out of? The came from my great-aunt Laura, and they would be from the early 30's, I think.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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...my "cowboy cassoulet" adventure this morning, but I ran out of time.

For the recipe (which I will also post, with Russ's kind permission), check out this topic.

And to keep you interested, a few teaser photos.

-snip-

See everyone tonight!

Oh, fun. I look forward to reading more.

I made a version of the lamb ragout from Julia Child's "The Way To Cook", (added celery root, rutabagas, and potatoes,) last weekend. I've never thought of fennel and beans. Sounds good. I'm sure you'll say; but, I'll be interested to know where you got your lamb.

Was drinking Rogue's Mocha Porter, myself; but, that Racer 5 looks tasty!

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Hmm... I wonder what would happen if you deep fried those cucumber slices.

Oooh, that is an interesting question. They would certainly splatter something fierce unless they were patted dry and then maybe tossed with a little corn starch?

Ah Dave, any excuse to plug those glasses :biggrin: They are sweet!

JAZ-Thanks so much for the stories! I love the old barware also and have only recently started collecting. No heirlooms coming my way, my grandparents lost just about everything in a house fire many moons ago. :sad:

I too love that hand held mandoline. Looks compact and convenient. Shoot, another thing to add to the wish list! I use my mandoline for cucumbers more than anything else and make a salad with a little rice wine vinegar and sesame seeds.

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Miss E, here.

My claim to fame: I played Park and Shop with JAZ when we were tots. I was there when the burgeoning gourmet mastered the Easy Bake oven. Heck, I was probably bossing her around, as I am that dreaded being known as an older sister.

Now, to answer your inquiry, Miss J, "Anything else?" How about those frigging chocolate peanut butter balls? What is the shelf life of the truffle mix in your freezer?  Is this the real reason you aren't going to visit?

Seriously. Love the blog.  You can have an extension on the peanut butter balls. But don't tell Tom I said so.

Aren't big sisters just great?

Actually, E and I get along really well. What she's talking about with the peanut butter balls is this: every Christmas I make a few cookies and candies for friends and family. Her husband (Tom) is addicted to the peanut butter truffle balls I make -- he saves up his carb allowance for the whole month of December, I think, so he can eat them. This year I made fillings for three different truffles, but got a cold and ran out of time to make them (in my defense, I made three types of cookies and three other candies). Then I promised I'd make them for Valentines and again, just didn't get around to it. Now, they're promised for Easter, and I think he'll disown me if I let him down again.

And I have no idea what the shelf life of frozen truffle filling is, but my guess is I'll be starting from scratch.

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I'd like to second her endorsement of the Kyocera ceramic slicer, which also comes in a julienne version.  (I have one of each.)

At $25, it's also inexpensive.

Where did you find one in black?  The slicers I picked up at Williams-Sonoma were yellow (regular) and green (julienne).  Not that I don't like the colors, but I think black is cool.

The company sent all the employees at SLT one as a gift/incentive -- that was a while before we got them in the store, so maybe the black was a trial run that they decided they didn't want to use? I've never seen them since -- we only sell the yellow and green. Although I think (I'm not swearing to it) that the adjustable ones are black.

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There are two reasons why I decided to make Russ Parsons' "Cowboy Cassoulet" for one of my blog dinners. One is that I have wanted to try to make a great dish with beans ever since I had a transcendental bean dish a couple of years ago at Bay Wolf, a local restaurant. Before that, I'd always thought that beans were okay, but pretty low on the culinary excitement scale. At Bay Wolf, I had a mixed grill dish that was served over beans, and I practically finished the beans before the lamb, quail and sausage served on top of them.

The second reason is that I recently got a new Emile Henry clay "stovetop" cooker. I've used it once, and it worked fine, but turned out to be extremely difficult to clean. But I didn't want to give up on it, and since everyone seems to think that beans do better in clay than anything else, I figured beans would be a good test of the new pot. If they weren't any better in the clay than in my trusty Le Creuset, then I'd have learned something about that claim. If they were, then the Emile Henry would earn a place in my kitchen. It would be a good match; the pots are virtually the same size -- about 5.5 quarts each, with about the same diameter.

Actually, there's a third reason I decided to make Russ's recipe -- it sounded really tasty. I love lamb and garlic; I like fennel too.

Here's the recipe, reprinted with Russ's gracious permission. (I've merged the instructions with photos and my comments. The entire recipe can be found by following the link included in my earlier post.)

Cowboy Cassoulet

(from the L.A. Times, courtesy of Russ Parsons)

Total time: 4 1/2 hours

Servings: 6 to 8

3 pounds lamb shoulder blade chops

Salt

1 head garlic, separated into cloves but not peeled

2 pounds fennel (3 small or 2 medium)

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 onion, diced

1 cup white wine

1 cup crushed tomatoes

1 pound Great Northern white beans or navy beans

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 baguette (to get 1 3/4 cup bread crumbs)

8 fresh sage leaves

Okay, so when I got back from the store I realized that a) I'd forgotten the sage leaves and b) I didn't have the half bottle of white wine in the fridge that I thought was there. Oops.

But, I always have dry vermouth, and if it was good enough for Julia, it's good enough for me.

And I have a giant rosemary bush in the backyard, and I like rosemary with lamb, so that would do as a substitute for the forgotten sage.

With the tons of rain and intermittent sunshine, the growth in the yard is amazing. Time to weed.

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Lest you get the wrong idea and think that I'm a garderner, let me dispel that notion. This huge thing was here when I moved in. It's next to a Meyer lemon tree that I did sort of rescue, though, so I'm proud of that.

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Meyers usually have two (sometimes more) crops a year -- so I have immature lemons and buds at the same time. It's really pretty.

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Back to the subject at hand. First, I opened the beer in the teaser photo. It seemed like the thing to drink while making cowboy cassoulet -- a cocktail just wasn't right.

Next, the competing pots:

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The red one is the Emile Henry; the blue contender is the Le Creuset.

The cassoulet:

I had some lamb bones leftover in the freezer from a curry a while ago, so I figured I'd make lamb stock to use for the cooking liquid. With a pressure cooker, I can make a decent stock pretty quickly. I had roasted the leftover bones, but then when I bought the lamb for this dish and started trimming it, I figured I may as well add those bones as well. So it was a combination of roasted and raw.

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Pressure cooker lid on and ready to go.

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For the prep, since I was making this in two batches, I wanted to make sure everything was evenly divided between the two. I measured all the ingredients.

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The first step is to blanch and peel the garlic, leaving the cloves whole. I got a head of garlic with huge cloves, so I split some in two.

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You start the actual cassoulet by browning the meat in some olive oil. My photos of this step didn't turn out. But here are the bottoms of the pots after the browning stage. Seems to me that the Emile doesn't heat quite as evenly as the Le Crueset.

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Emile Henry

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Le Creuset

Then you add the carrots and cook without stirring for a few minutes, to get some carameliztion started. This worked better in the LC than in the EH.

Add the onions, and cook for a few minutes until they soften up. Then add the wine to deglaze and cook it until it's mostly evaporated.

This step was really interesting. After about 7 minutes, the liquid in the LC was pretty much gone, but amost all of it was still there in the EH.

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Le Creuset

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Emile Henry

It took another 5 minutes or so, with the heat turned up, to get the liquid to thicken in the EH. But when they had about the same moisture level, I continued.

The next step is to add the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes or so.

Then add the beans, along with 5 cups of water (stock for me, and the 5 cups was total; I used 2 1/2 cups in each batch). Then slip the quartered fennel and the garlic cloves into the beans, and lay the meat on top, pressing into the beans so that it's mostly submerged, but not all the way.

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(That's the Emile Heny; the LC photo didn't turn out very well)

Then you cover the pot and bake it for one hour at 325 degrees. I had a little trouble fitting both pots in the oven, but I made it work. I switched their positions halfway through just to be fair.

After the hour, you add 1-1/2 tsp. salt and a "generous grinding" of black pepper. Stir it gently, trying to avoid breaking up the fennel. I added about a tsp. to each half, and it still could have stood a little more, to my taste at least.

At this point, the liquid issue arose again. The LC batch was pretty dry, but the EH batch had plenty of liquid. I added about 3/4 of a cup more broth to the LC, and none to the EH.

Back into the oven for another couple of hours. I checked them after another hour, and at that point the EH looked as if it needed a little more liquid, so I added about 1/4 cup of broth. The LC was okay.

Back into the oven for another hour or so, and they seemed done. At this point, I was done too, so I let them cool, took some photos and called it a day.

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Emile Henry

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Le Creuset

After some serious rearranging, I got them into the fridge.

We're almost done, folks. I did have cassoulet for dinner tonight, and it was really great. Don't give up. Tomorrow morning I'll finish the instructions (bread crumbs and a final browning) and give you my verdict on the clay vs. enamel question. And my verdict on the dish.

Thanks for putting up with my limited availability. See you tomorrow.

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Thanks, JAZ. Sorry you are having to blog in this godawful weather. At my house this morning it hailed and exactly 60 seconds later the sun came out. :blink:

My fave Caesar salad is Julia's take on Cardini's which is in "From Julia Child's Kitchen". The croutons are cooked in garlic-infused oil so there is no raw garlic in the salad itself. Julia omits anchovies. I include them (mushed up into the lemon juice and oil) but omit the raw egg. I adore the way she calls for leaving the romaine heart leaves whole and eating the salad with one's fingers.

Lobster.

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The cassolet looks prettier in the EH, for what its worth - I think its the rich color of the pot's interior. It all looks delicious in any case.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Wow JAZ, what an event! I love that you are doing them head-to-head though. I've never done that before. What in the world are you going to do with it all? Just freeze portions I suppose?

Genny

(There are only 2 of us here and I often make huge batches so that I can freeze and pull out later for a convenient meal.)

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Thanks, JAZ.  Sorry you are having to blog in this godawful weather.  At my house this morning it hailed and exactly 60 seconds later the sun came out.  :blink:

My fave Caesar salad is Julia's take on Cardini's which is in "From Julia Child's Kitchen".  The croutons are cooked in garlic-infused oil so there is no raw garlic in the salad itself.  Julia omits anchovies. I include them (mushed up into the lemon juice and oil) but omit the raw egg.  I adore the way she calls for leaving the romaine heart leaves whole and eating the salad with one's fingers.

Yes, on Friday it hailed, and on Saturday we had lunch outside. Sunday, it poured. Springtime in the Bay Area.

I'll check out Julia's version of caesar salad -- the croutons sound great.

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I'm eagerly awaiting your assessments! I like to do the head-to-head comparisons like you're doing, and such tests are what convinced me that mass matters in braising. I haven't tried the Emile Henry stuff but I'm curious to hear about it.

My experience with beans has been about like yours was. I keep hearing raves and wondering why. I'll try that cowboy cassoulet; it sounds like it might change my mind!

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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That side by side cooking is so cool. I often thought of doing that but I'm always too lazy.. And, that cassoulet looks sooo good, it has so many of my favorite things in it (lamb, beans, fennel..) , I'm definitely going to try that soon!

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I am thrilled you are doing a side by side comparison of Le Creuset and Emile Henri pots. I have had a lusting for the Emile clay pot. It's so attractive and so pricey.

Eagering awaiting the results...

"A few days ago, I heard a doctor talking on television about the dangers of stress. It can kill you. It can cause a heart attack or stroke. The doctor listed many ways of coping with stress. Exercise. Diet Yoga. Talk a walk. I yelled, "Bake cookies." I often talk to the television. I yelled it again and again. The doctor went on with his list of 12 ways to reduce stress and he never once mentioned my sure-fire treatment......"

Maida Heatter

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. . . And the answer is . . .

They were about the same. At least at first. Maybe because I was so tired by the time I finished cooking both of the cassoulets on Monday, when I tasted them, I couldn't really tell much difference. They were both good, both pretty moist (although, again, the EH kept the edge that way, but it almost seemed to have too much liquid). The fennel and garlic were cooked almost to the point of melting into the beans, and the lamb was fork tender with a crust on the parts that were exposed. I personally like that, but if you don't, you could just submerge the meat all the way into the cooking liquid.

However, after sitting for a day, the EH version took the lead. The Le Creuset version was still great, and I would have been very happy with it if I didn't have the other pot. But I think the extra liquid in the EH absorbed into the beans over the day and the texture was better.

The final deciding factor will be how easy the pots are to clean. One thing I love about Le Creuset is that it's always easy to clean. My one experience with cleaning the Emile Henry was terrible. Maybe that was a fluke, but if it's always that hard to clean, I'm going to think twice about using it very often.

More in a few minutes, with photos.

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A few photos of the final cooking.

First, last night's cocktail.

gallery_7258_2197_5782.jpg

This was a variation of a Sidecar, which is brandy, triple sec and lemon juice. My version substituted a spiced demerara sugar syrup for the triple sec. The glass was rimmed with more Demerara.

2 oz. brandy

1/4 oz. syrup (this is a 2-1 syrup, infused with cinammon, cardamom, ginger and cloves)

1/2 oz. lemon juice

I started heating the oven to 400 and put the Emile Henry pot of cassoulet in. By the time the oven was at 400, the cassoulet was warmed through and just beginning to bubble. To top it, I mixed about three tablespoons of finely minced fresh rosemary into a cup and a half of "fresh" bread crumbs (these were fresh crumbs that I'd frozen and thawed). Those went over the top and got drizzled with olive oil.

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To drizzle oil, I use an old Fee Bros. bitters bottle -- the shaker top is perfect for dispensing a few drops at a time.

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After about 20 minutes at 400 degrees:

gallery_7258_2197_26867.jpg

It was, as I mentioned, really good. I'm not sure it could ever be as good as that bean dish from Bay Wolf, but it's good enough to make me rethink beans.

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

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

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

       
      The children don't get spared either
       

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

       

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


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

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

       
      On a nearby table is this
       

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

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

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

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

      Steamed corn, taro and sweet potato
       

      Bamboo Shoots
       

      Duck
       

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

      Egg pancake with unidentified greenery
       

      Stir fried pork and beans
       

      Stir fried Chinese banana (Ensete lasiocarpum)
       

      Pig Ears
       

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

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