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eG Foodblog: Swisskaese - The Israeli Table - Not Just Felafel and Or


Susan in FL
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Ling, we went here just for you. My hips are crying already, but it was well worth it.

Thank-you, Michelle, that was so sweet of you! :wub:

I think your fruit tart looks wonderful, and I love the square shape. I haven't come across an individual square tart pan like that in N. America...it is very cute!

I looked up "kadaifi"--I think it is like "kataifi", is it not? Shredded phyllo? Or does the word "kadaifi" only refer to the walnut pastry that is made with this dough, and then drenched in syrup? I found recipes to that, too.

Regardless, I think the marscapone kadaifi sounds delicious.

Kadaif=Kataifi=knafeh=konafa=shredded phyllo dough

It depends on what part of the Middle East/Central Asia/Balkans, etc. you come from. I should have left off the "i". It is spelled Kadaif.

I am pretty sure Chef Bertele uses a square ring to make the tart. Maybe you could find them at a professional restaurant shop.

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Michelle, I have been busy but am now catching up.. still haven't made the Siniya... I'll let you know when I make it!

This is a beautiful blog. I love the diversity in the food and all the pictures of the streets, markets and shops. Thank you so much for doing this. You said at the beginning that this blog is not a celebration, and I can understand why you said that, but I really feel that you are spreading love with it, your love for your country, the food, and your David!

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Boker Tov Everyone

I have a very busy day today. But before I run out, I am going to tell you about last night's wine tasting. Zaafran has wine tastings and cooking courses every week. Next Thursday they are having a wine tasting just for women.

Daniel Rogov has graciously given me permission to include the introduction about Carmel Wineries from his 2007 wine guide:

Carmel was founded as a cooperative of vintners in 1882 with funding provided by the Baron Edmond de Rothschild. Its first winery was constructed that same year in Rishon Letzion, in the central coastal region of the country, followed in 1890 by a winery in Zichron Ya’akov, in the Mount Carmel area. Carmel receives grapes from about 300 vineyards throughout the country, some owned by the winery, others by individual vintners and by kibbutzim and moshavim. Even though their share of the local wine market has dropped from over ninety percent in the early 1980s to somewhat under fifty percent today, Carmel remains the largest wine producer in the country, currently producing over 13 million bottles annually.

For many years, Carmel was in a moribund state, producing wines that while acceptable, rarely attained excellence and failed to capture the attention of more sophisticated consumers. In the last four years, Carmel took dramatic steps to im-prove the level of their wines. Senior winemaker Lior Laxer is now overseeing a staff of five talented winemakers, most of whom have trained and worked outside of Israel; the winery is developing new vineyards in choice areas of the country and gaining fuller control over contract vineyards; and a new state-of-the-art winery has been partly completed at Ramat Dalton in the Upper Galilee. In the 1990s Carmel was the first winery to plant major vineyards in the Negev Desert, has more recently established an in-house boutique arm in Zichron Ya’akov, and is also a partner in the new Yatir winery. Despite all of this, it is no secret that Carmel is undergoing serious economic difficulties and, with nearly all new faces at the helm of the company, many are now waiting to see precisely what the future holds in store.

Current releases include the top-of-the-line varietal Single Vineyard series, the wines in the Regional series (sometimes referred to as the Appelation Series) and the Private Collection series. Other wines are in the Zichron Ya’akov series, the Selected series (sometimes known as Vineyards or Vineyards Selected Series outside of Israel) and the Hiluleem series.

There were 18 people at this wine tasting. The tasting was of two new lines from Carmel Wineries, called "Regional Wines" and "Single Vineyard". And I have to say, I was quite impressed. I really liked these wines and I also liked the artwork on the bottles. They depict animals from Biblical times. The wines are Kosher, but they have not been pasturized.

Let me begin with a disclaimer that I am not a professional sommelier. I just like good wine. I have had the good fortune of travelling and I have tried a lot of wines from Chile, Spain, Romania, Bulgaria, Australia, California, Washington State, Canada, India, Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Israel, South Africa, Hungary Georgia (the country). I am sure I forgot a country.

I don't collect expensive wines and I do not have a wine cellar or wine cooler in my home. In my dream home someday. I think the most I have ever spent on wine was 100USD.

There are nine different wines in this series. We tried six different wines. Four from the regional series and two from single vineyard series.

Regional Wines

Carmel has picked varietals from prime wine growing areas of Israel to produce this new range of premium wines.

From Carmel website

Johannisberg Reisling Upper Galilee

This white wine is light and fruity. It had a very refreshing taste. Reminded me of the many reislings I had when I lived in Germany. It would go well with spicy fish and chicken dishes. There are only 250 dunams of this grape in Israel. I think only Carmel and Ramat HaGolan wineries produce this wine.

Carignan Old Vines Zichron Yaacov

Among other things, Carignan grapes are used to make sacremental wine, which I find is sickeningly sweet. This is not a sacremental wine. This is a robust and meaty red. I really liked it and would serve it with a nice juicy steak. This is the first time, at least in Israel, that this grape has been used to make a premium wine. The vines are at least 30 years old and they have been cut back so that instead of the typical production level of 2-3 tons of grapes per dunam (1,000 square meters), they produce between 700kg and 1 ton per dunam.

Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz Upper Galilee

Very robust, well balanced wine with not too much tannin. Just right for drinking with a big juicy steak or on its own.

Single Vineyard

This fine range of Single Vineyard and Estate wines, represents a complete change of direction for Carmel, Israel’s biggest winery. The introduction of small winery procedures, reduction of yields. the employment of a team of young, creative oenologists trained in new world winegrowing countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and the establishment of two new boutique wineries, has enabled Carmel to produce hand crafted wines representing the terroir of the chosen vineyards. Each wine has been nurtured by an individual winemaker from the vineyard to the bottle.

From Carmel website

Cabernet Sauvignon

This wine is from the Zarit vineyard on the Lebanese border. Together with the Cabernet Shiraz, this was our favourite all around drinking wine. I will definitely buy this.

Gewurztraminer Muscat

I am not a fan of muscat, but this was very good. Light and fruity. Not too sweet. Tasted a hint of passion fruit (I usually find those descriptions a bit pretentious, but I really tasted the passionfruit). The wines are made from grapes that have almost been allowed to become raisins on the vine and as a result, the taste is tremendously concentrated. However, it also means that this wine is produced in small quantities and is sold only in 375ml bottles. Apparently, we got the last two bottles of the 2004 vintage. It is from the Sha'al vineyard in the Golan Heights.

Here are some pictures from the wine tasting and the shop:

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Wine tasting room. It is also used for Zaafran's cooking courses.

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Bread, premium olive oil, cheeses, olives and a spicy salad were provided for the tasting.

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The wines

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Overview of Zaafran.

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Spices, teas, premium chocolate, candied fruits, rice spices. All of these you can buy in small amounts.

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Premium olive oil

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Boutique dairy cheeses

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Our purchases: Carbernet Savignon Shiraz 2004, Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay 2003, Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, Bakers yeast and cumin.

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I am off to run some errands in preparation for tonights Sabbath meal. The vegetarian guest will not be joining us. Tonight, my guests are a nurse who is originally from California and an Iranian affairs analyst, originally from Iran, but grew up in Manchester, England. As usual, we will have some very interesting conversations :wink: You know the question, if you could invite four famous people, who would it be? Well, I feel like I experience this in real life. David and I are really lucky to have friends from a variety of backgrounds, such as opera singers, baroque musicians, health professionals, political analysts, mathmaticians, scientists, historians, linguists, software developers, etc.. We are never bored.

Tomorrow is my last day and I have decided to bake some bread. I am going to make something I have never made before. A couple of years ago David bought me Baker & Spices Baking with Passion cookbook by Dan Lepard and Richard Whittington. I have been dying to make Dan's Garlic Bread and you are going to watch me make it.

The surprise dessert I wanted to make with the tehina fell through. I wanted to make sheeps milk ice cream and serve it with tehina and date honey. I couldn't get any sheeps milk and I didn't have room in my freezer for the ice cream maker. So, I will make it some other time and post pictures. I might try it with goats milk. What do you think?

See you later.

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Michelle, it was interesting to read about the wine tasting. I haven't gone to a large number of wine tastings but have found them fun and interesting. I have one question about your report:

[...]Carignan Old Vines Zichron Yaacov

Among other things, Carignan grapes are used to make sacremental wine, which I find is sickeningly sweet. This is not a sacremental wine. This is a robust and meaty red. I really liked it and would serve it with a nice juicy steak. This is the first time, at least in Israel, that this grape has been used to make a premium wine. The vines are at least 30 years old and they have been cut back so that instead of the typical production level of 2-3 tons of grapes per dunam (1,000 square meters), they produce between 700kg and 1 ton per dunam.[...]

Is there an advantage to cutting back on production?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I can't believe how quickly your blog week is finishing. It's being a fun tour for me too, especially having discovered Za'afran through your posts. I hope to make that wine tasting for women next week and intend to exchange some shekels for bottles there. If I can keep my credit card from jumping out of my purse and somehow paying for some of that premium olive oil or new kitchen gadgets, that will be restrained and mature of me :cool:.

Looking forward to your next posts - that garlic bread sounds very good.

Miriam

Miriam Kresh

blog:[blog=www.israelikitchen.com][/blog]

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Michelle, I'll be away this afternoon and for most of the evening, so since by the time I get a chance to read this thread again, it'll be Shabbat there, I'll wish you Shabbat Shalom now. Enjoy your food and wine, and I'll look forward to reading all about the meal later.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Sorry, it has taken me so long to get back, but I have had some computer problems and then I had to start dinner. My guests are due any second now and after they leave I will post today's dinner and shopping from earlier today.

Shabbat Shalom everyone.

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What a beautiful blog. Beautiful views, beautiful food.

The one of the halvah made my jaw drop. Holy moley.

I'd love to live in a place that had pomegranate statues on the streets. That's so neat.

And the cheese! And everything else too.

Thank you for sharing your life and your food with us.

:smile:

I don't mind the rat race, but I'd like more cheese.

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This morning we went to the greengrocer, the bakery, the food fair and the supermarket.

The weekly foodfair is a shopping mall near where I work. Today, the honey, olives and olive oil lady was there. Her name is Elaine and she is originally from England. Her business is called Elaine's Farm. She and her husband collect honey from their beehives and also collect olives from their olive grove. She sells her products every Friday at the food fair and she also delivers within a certain area. She sells thistle, carob, avocado, eucalyptus, citrus and clover.

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Elaine and her honeys

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Look at the difference in colours. The flavours are as different as the colours.

We didn't buy any honey today because I already have one container of avocado and carob that I bought from her a couple of weeks ago.

The we went to visit a very nice Druze couple that sells salads, kubbeh and baklava. They are from Dalyit al Karmil and they have a restaurant and catering business. We bought red tehina, hummous, eggplant tehina, cauliflower salad and lamb kubbeh from them today. Their salads and kubbeh are outstandingly good. Now I know where to buy baklava. :wink:

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Mansaf Druzi is the name of their restaurant.

There are other people that come to the food fair to sell, such as:

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Argentinian women that sells empanadas and dulce de leche liquor. Great over ice cream.

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Israeli sushi!

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Sushi anyone?

We then went to the supermarket to buy a few things and when we arrived at the butcher counter, a women was trying to buy goulash meat. The butcher told her to buy a certain cut and it would only take 40 minutes to cook, David overheard them and said, "No, it will take much longer to cook goulash." To which the butcher replied, "I am the butcher, I should know how long to cook this cut of meat." And I said, pointing to David, "His mother is Hungarian." and the butcher said, "My mother is from the Caucasus." and the woman said, "My mother is from Queens." and the other butcher said, "My mother is from L.A." Then we all laughed. This is Israel and why I love it here so much.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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Michelle, it was interesting to read about the wine tasting. I haven't gone to a large number of wine tastings but have found them fun and interesting. I have one question about your report:
[...]Carignan Old Vines Zichron Yaacov

Among other things, Carignan grapes are used to make sacremental wine, which I find is sickeningly sweet. This is not a sacremental wine. This is a robust and meaty red. I really liked it and would serve it with a nice juicy steak. This is the first time, at least in Israel, that this grape has been used to make a premium wine. The vines are at least 30 years old and they have been cut back so that instead of the typical production level of 2-3 tons of grapes per dunam (1,000 square meters), they produce between 700kg and 1 ton per dunam.[...]

Is there an advantage to cutting back on production?

Yes, the reason is to produce a higher quality of grapes. Quality over quantity. You don't need premium grapes to produce sacremental wine.

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The silvery gray cabbage-looking plant might be broccoli. They look similar to broccoli fields I've seen growing in the Salinas valley. Strawberries also like growing that area.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Now I am going to show you how I made the main course for this evening's Shabbat dinner. I made the Palestinian national dish of Makloubeh, which means upside down. The Jordanians also make this. I am sure there are other versions of this in other Middle Eastern countries.

I will post the recipe in RecipeGullet tomorrow.

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I begin by browning skinless chicken pieces on both sides in a little olive oil.

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I then placed the chicken pieces in a pan and covered it with 5 cups of water.

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I added cinnamon sticks, saffron, allspice, cumin, whole pepper, nutmeg and cardomon pods. I cooked the chicken for 25 minutes.

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Meanwhile I fried cauliflower in canola oil until golden brown

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Then I fried eggplant until golden brown

Then I washed the Persian rice five times and added ground cardamon, ground cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg.

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I sliced onions and sweated them in a pan. Removed them from the flame and added the chicken pieces on top and let it steep for a few minutes. Then I put the cauliflower on top of the chicken, the eggplant on top of the cauliflower and the rice on top of the eggplant. Added enough water to cover the rice and cooked for another 20 minutes. I then let it sit and inverted it onto a platter.

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And finally the Shabbat Meal. Shabbat is a time that you make the house nice, you clean, you dress up the table, yourselves and you serve a special meal. Come to our home for Shabbat.

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Welcome to our home.

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The table is set with the Shabbat candles, challah and the Kiddush cup

After the blessings over the wine and the challah and after we washed our hands, we served rum and pineapple cocktails.

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And we munched on a few olives.

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We then went to the table and I served the Druze salads. L-R, front row: eggplant salad and fried courgette; L-R, back row: red tehina and cauliflower salad

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Crackers for the salads from Artisanal Breads

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Druze lamb kubbeh

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Makloubeh

Green salad as suggested by Daniel Rogov - Romaine lettuce, baby leaves, rocket, basil and mint with an olive oil dressing

Wines: Ramat HaGolan Gamla Chardonnay 2004

Don Julio Merlot (Chilean) 2004

Our guests brought the wine

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Melon, peaches and figs with a splash of Czech slivovitz

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Apple cinnamon cake made by a friend of one of our guests

We all had tea with dessert. Two forest fruit teas, one black tea and one other fruit tea.

The meal was delicious. The Makloubeh has so many layers of flavor and it is very easy to make. The fruit salad was very refreshing and the cake was delicous. The salads and kubbeh also went well with the meal.

Shabbat Shalom and Lila Tov. It is very, very late here. I can't believe tomorrow is the last day, but we are not yet finished. We will have breakfast and I will make some bread and then we will bid adieu.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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I can't believe how quickly your blog week is finishing. It's being a fun tour for me too, especially having discovered Za'afran through your posts. I hope to make that wine tasting for women next week and intend to exchange some shekels for bottles there. If I can keep my credit card from jumping out of my purse and somehow paying for some of that premium olive oil or new kitchen gadgets, that will be restrained and mature of me  :cool:.

Looking forward to your next posts - that garlic bread sounds very good.

Miriam

I wish I could go to the wine tasting, but I already have plans for next Thursday. Believe me it is hard to restrain yourself. I can never leave there without buying something.

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What is red tehina?

The honey looks gorgeous - I'd be stocking up on it for next month!

Red tehina is made with the long red peppers. It is not super spicy, but it has a little kick.

The honey is really, really good and she sells it runny or thick.

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Good afternoon everyone.

I am going to post breakfast and breadmaking pictures a little later. We got a bit of a late start today. So if you have any questions please feel free to ask.

The week really helped me more than you know. There were lots of things going on in the background and I needed a little diversion. I hope you learned a few new things. I tried to give you a small taste of the richness of our diversity. I concentrated more on the Middle Eastern aspects of Israeli cuisine. Some other time, I will have to show you the European and Eastern European side.

I showed you pictures of the northern part of Israel and the central part of Israel, now I will show you a few pictures of the southern part of Israel, The Negev.

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Will you give us your recipe for dates stuffed with lamb?  That sounds gorgeous.

And speaking of kitchen appliances (which you were a few pages ago) what is the name of that little cake-baking plug-in thingie that I used to bake cakes in a zillion years ago when I was spending time on a kibbutz in the 70s?  It made surprisingly good cakes, without an oven per se.

Abra, I am sorry I missed this question earlier. I will be happy to post a recipe I have, but you will have to experiment with this one. I think that the stuffed dates I had were seasoned with either ras al hanut or just cinnamon. You will also have to open the dates up with a pencil-shaped tool. This is a Moroccan dish, so maybe Paula Wolfert might have some ideas of what to use.

I have put the recipe in RecipeGullet:

Dates Stuffed with Lamb

As for the cake baking thingie, I am not sure what that is. I will ask one of my cousins. The only thing I can think of is the wonder pot, but it isn't electric. Can you describe it. Did it look like a toaster oven, was it round with a top?

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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The bread has failed miserably. I can't get the dough to rise properly. :sad::angry:

At this point, I will have to try again, but I won't be able to start over now because it is an all day process. I promise I will start over next weekend and post the results in the Pastry thread.

I will post our breakfast photos as soon as the camera batteries are recharged.

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      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.
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