Monthly Archives: May 2007

The universal Peeps

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How do you say “Peeps” in Japanese? My father-in-law, YY, seems to know. He just got back from China last night, via Tokyo and Portland, Oregon. These foreign Peep-shaped pastries came with him, made fresh yesterday at the Tokyo airport. They have come a long way and are well worth it. I should mention though, that unlike the American multi-hued marshmallow Peeps, these are more like a chick-shaped, soft, steamed, biscuit in texture. And the center is about the same, except made of chestnut flour. Nice twist!

Also: big thanks to YY’s friends who shepherded the Japanese Peeps (along with some tea and other goodies courtesy of YY and P, my mother-in-law) on the next leg of their journey, a flight this morning from Minneapolis straight to Boston. Lucky they were coming in for their daughter’s graduation in town. Thanks for making sure they got here okay!

Vermont road-trip

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Mr. Food and I packed up the cooler on Monday for our trip to Brattleboro, just a couple of hours northwest of here for a relaxing night in Vermont at the Meadowlark Inn. We didn’t bring much for the trip as it was a remarkably short one and also because there just wasn’t much in the fridge to bring– a holdover from our recent travels and our current inability to keep the larder stocked. So, we had one apple, some carrot sticks, a handful of walnuts, and a container of red grapes. I’m happy to say we survived the trip despite the paucity of the provisions… Though perhaps this had to do more with the lunch we enjoyed along the way at a place in Concord, Mass.

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Dinner choices in Brattleboro on Memorial Day were not so numerous. Many restaurants were closed but one of the innkeepers suggested Vermont Country Deli instead. Wow. I’m glad I shot this photo before we started eating, otherwise this meal would have been another of those I-got-so-wrapped-up-in-eating-I-forgot-my-camera-was-there events. There were green beans with garlic– and they were cooked just so, not too crunchy or too mushy, just right. Then beet salad with undertones of basil and… what was that, cinnamon? Something warming and reminiscent of the bakeshop. Whatever it was, it worked! For the main course, a gnocchi with wasabi-cucumber-tomato saucing. I was hesitant to embrace this flavor combination, but let me tell you, Mr. Food and I fought over the remnants of this dish. For dessert a lovely ricotta cannolo (for the record, the pastry-cream versions are not worth the effort) with orange-tinged filling.

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And the next morning we were greeted by Lucia –also a graduate of my cooking school though we weren’t there at the same time– and a procession of breakfast treats. First, the peach upside-down cake with fresh fruit (melons, grapes…) on the side. Then a palate cleanser of orange juice and a pot of hot tea. And onto the main course of a (perfectly cooked, I might add) eggs benedict. Very very nice. And the view of the green hills and fields was not so bad either!

We headed home soon after, but not before checking out another food shop in town, the Brattleboro Food Coop. They have a lot of interesting stuff there, including many dried herbs and berries that I just have never seen in this country… like hawthorne berries, they seem more of a Chinese thing to me. (Welcome, hawthornes!) Anyway, we picked up some fill-your-own-container maple syrup, some fruit, and some locally made naans (to fry at home).

But the BIG find of the day, the #2 reason why I wanted to go to Vermont (#1 being we won a night at Meadowlark) was for the most amazing sodas. Specifically, the Mint Lime variety– the others really are too weird even for me! We bought all they had which was about a half dozen and drove them home carefully to nestle in the back of our fridge until the time is right. One of those moments was over dinner last night– enjoyed with a side of chicken salad sandwich. Mmm. It’s really too bad they don’t sell these anywhere closer to Boston than Western Mass/Southern Vermont… But we do what we can.

Piz-ZA

This is yet another case of the-meal-was-so-good-I-forgot-to-take-photos… a very pregnant S and I went to Za for lunch the other day. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I ate the exact same pizza I ordered last time (and the only other time) I ate there. And I enjoyed it a great deal. So there. This lovely creation is something I like to call the potato-potato-bacon-cheese pizza. One of the potatoes is mashed and the bacon must be Applewood or something similarly wonderful. Upon further research, it is– and they call the round “Diced Potato, Mashed Potato, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Sweet Onion, and Gruyere Cheese topped with Thyme and Scallions.” Mmm. Whatever you call it, it’s easy to eat.

I’m not a cheeseburger fan…

(they’re just not my thing)… but this is pretty amazing. Craig LaBan, restaurant critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, is actually singing here about cheeseburgers! My favorite is the “Truffles fall like snowflakes, on my plate” line. Followed closely by the emotional chorus: “Cheeseburger, I hold; Mischief heart of liquid bleu; Cheeseburger, I hold; You melt into mine.” Wow. Follow the links for the audio and video components– they’re priceless. And thanks to L of the tunafish (I really hope you don’t mind me calling you that, it’s kinda catchy I think!) for pointing this out to me, I never would have seen it otherwise.

Korean BBQ (II)

Our three-person book club met this afternoon over tea (black with rose) and cake (pound with lemon and basil)… Incidentally, the pound cake recipe is one of the worst written ones I’ve seen in a while (note to self: remember to never actually use the recipes from the Improper Bostonian) I have a culinary degree and it was not easy to follow. Not to say it was impossible, but if a recipe is written well you should just be able to follow the ingredients and the steps, in order. That was not the case here. It was way too vague and meandering. To show you what I mean and post it here would be a disservice, just in case anyone actually tried to use it! So, we’ll move on to the book we read, The White Darkness— about a trip to Antarctica, so interesting, but Y(oung)A(dult) genre, so, not exactly my style. Sorry, R and C, I know you like this stuff better than I do. Thanks for putting up with me…

Anyway, onto the important part! We decided to have Korean BBQ for dinner since R has been hankering for it ever since she heard of our California hijinks last week. So we all (with Mr. Food and Misters R and C in tow) went to New Jang Su BBQ and had some amazing food. I don’t remember what we ate but it hardly mattered. I had my camera but was too busy eating to even take photos until it was all gone…

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You’ll have to ask R if you want to know what we ate. She’ll remember. She goes there so often they know her. All I know is that it was good. And that I probably won’t even need a snack before bed– except for this lime sherbet drink I’ve got here… that doesn’t count, does it?

Didn’t think so.

California eatin’

Last weekend we spent two days in the Los Angeles-area (and a day getting there and back!) to see our friends J and R get married– and it’s about time!! So, congratulations to the lovely couple and what follows is the chronicle of what we ate when we were there. Apparently R is one of the few people who actually read this blog and he wants to see himself here! And he’s the groom, so he gets what he wants, at least this week.

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For the rehearsal dinner we went to a Korean BBQ place in LA somewhere, we ate outside under an airy canopy and had our fill (and then some) of grilled meats. Kudos to the server who handled those tongs like a pro and flipped a griddle-full of shrimp (or beef, chicken…) before we could even grab the chopsticks. Nice work.

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Then on to the groom’s cake… but in this case it was a groom’s pie! R much prefers pies to cakes (I mean, who doesn’t? Unless it’s an ice cream cake…) so J went and bought a pecan, a banana cream, and a boysenberry (pictured here, though after the fact). I did my best, with the groom’s help, to slice and plate them but they were all different sizes and many fruit pieces escaped the crust. Whoops.

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The next morning, the day of the wedding, Mr. Food and I took a walk to the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica where we were staying. We had almost forgotten how nice the ocean smells! (At least, I thought so) On the way we had breakfast at Jack n’ Jill’s which is apparently famous because of some television show we don’t watch. But regardless, the servers were all very friendly (maybe that’s a West Coast thing we are not used to in Boston!) and the breakfast we got was tasty. The tea came in individual pots which is always a nice touch. Unfortunately, the cupcake– a coconut one– was kinda dry and too sweet even for me to finish it. Ah, well…

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And then the wedding, under a canopy of trees in the hills of Malibu. Wow. Gorgeous. And here’s the cake, with a little likeness of the bride and groom on top. Lovely!

Note to brother J and about-to-be-sister-in-law H: You’ve got a lot to live up to when you get married next week! See you then.

Other people’s refrigerators (I)

There’s been a back-log of blogging happening recently. (I wonder if that should be called a backblog) One thing I’ve been meaning to post is pictures of R’s refrigerator and freezer, now two or so weeks out of date– sorry! Anyway, if you look first at her freezer door:

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You’ll see all frozen treats. She has me going for a while with the “healthy” options like fruit sorbets and plain vanilla ice cream, but then, wham, a Ben & Jerry’s in the middle of all that! Where’d that come from? And then the pack of crushed garlic blocks… I say get one of these instead. (But, no, you don’t have to spend $38 on it…)

Her refrigerator is not much more telling…

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Basically stocked with juices, milk, and Brita-ed water… and is that maple syrup hiding in the back? Probably for those lovely French toast brunches we have at her place sometimes. Lots of eggs. Tomatoes in the bin below? (You know, those are really great at room temperature…) And with a super huge pack of Cadbury’s Crunchies she’s ready for anything. But, R, what’s in that plastic bag??