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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Dear Santa

I am cross-referencing these two lists to see what cookbooks I could ask for: The Craft of Baking, mayhaps, and How to Roast a Lamb pop up in both. But what I really want is The Blackberry Farm Cookbook, mentioned in a short blurb in the Times review. The Farm has blipped about in my radar since my lowly days as an intern at Conde Nast Traveler, when I would call well-traveled readers and ask them their opinions for the Zagat-like “Gold List” issues, and this place is supposedly like the Smoky Mountains version of Blue Hill except you can sleep there and partake in recreation. No one had anything bad to say about it, from the picnic lunches (packed just for your trip with vegetables that stay crunchy!) to the amenities (locally made soap, no Prell).

So my list is as follows:

* Cookbook, and/or

* A personal chef who will make the culinary delights in book, and/or

* A butler who will serve the said delights, and/or

* A trip to the farm so I can experience everything first-hand

Really, I’m flexible, Santa!

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When in Bermuda…

Please, hurricane Bill, be kind

Please, hurricane Bill, be kind to this beaut

From time to time I will post past vacation photos and highlight the food consumed during our stays. This is a coping method, being that I will not be allowed to take a one week vacation for a year, the cruel and unusual norm in this restaurant industry.

When we arrived in Bermuda recently, we asked our innkeeper where we can grab good Bermudian food, as we try to adhere to ol’ travel principle “When in Rome…” for the same reason that we’re puzzled at tourists in New York City who crowd places like that lone Applebee’s on 50th Street. I mean, why go to France and stop in at the Charles De Gaulle airport McDonald’s, right?

The flip-side of this may be a toll on your health. In 2006, when we visited Argentina, we sought the local and well-known parrilladas for the juicy, grass-fed sides of beef. My bf wholeheartedly embraced the gaucho diet and ate steak probably every day (mind you, gauchos really ate meat once every three months) and I’d wake up in the mornings and eye him suspiciously as I’d read in medical articles that heart attacks frequently occur in the AM.

Anyway, back to Bermuda. “There’s really no Bermudian food, really,” the innkeep replied. “It’s just rice and peas and chicken.” She was partly right—there’s plenty of rice and black-eyed peas, but she was definitely wrong about there not being Bermudian food.

Gloria's fish dinner

Gloria's fish dinner

Above, Gloria’s Kitchen served up a fresh, flash-fried fish dinner with crunchy cole slaw. Tasty and filling.

When we stopped in at Black Horse Tavern near the airport, there were virtually no tourists. Here we grabbed some conch curry with rice and vegetables. The veggies were clearly from a frozen mix, and the conch wasn’t local (I asked), but Bermudian food is like “American” food in the sense that it’s a changing amalgam of different cultures from Portuguese to West Indian, and the bounty of export, which accounts for the stratospherically-high prices.

Conch curry at Black Horse Tavern

Conch curry at Black Horse Tavern

We adhered, too, to the strict Dark and Stormy recipe: Goslings Dark Rum tempered with Barritt’s Ginger Beer. As far as ginger beers go, Barritt’s was less than impressive (and not made with actual ginger), but it was the only ginger beer available for purchase. We made note that it wasn’t the best Dark and Stormys we’ve had, but you pay for the ambiance, eh?

Ginger beer, left + Dark and Stormy, right

Ginger beer, left + Dark and Stormy, right

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DC highlights

I rode the Bolt Bus down to DC this weekend to visit N., one of my lovely roommates from college. Between all the catching-up we had to do—our Saturday started at 2:15pm because we were too busy talking—we snuck in some sights and properly fed ourselves good grub.

Peaches at Eastern Market

Ripe, juicy peaches at the farmers market at Eastern Market

N. said the city is home to the biggest Ethiopian population in the world outside Ethiopia, so that meant I had to have some authentic Ethiopian there at a place called Dukem on U Street. It was my first time, and certainly not the last.

Ethiopian platter

What a balanced meal

Crepe-y, sponge-y bread for scooping

Crepe-y, sponge-y bread for scooping the goods

DC, like many other cities, is also in the throes of cupcake mania. We passed a good number of them during our strolls, but we eventually stopped at lovecafe, owned by the folks who run Cakelove across the street. A little on the expensive side—the cake slices cost $5 apiece, crikey—but the buttercream on the strawberry sponge cake tasted spot-on, rich and sweet but not cloying. I was leaning toward the red velvet, but I was glad that I asked the counter person whether they use food dye or beet juice. No red # 40 for me, please.

Strawberry sponge cake

Strawberry sponge cake

Pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese icing

Pumpkin cupcake with cream cheese icing

I’m already making a mental checklist for the next time I visit: some half smokes at Ben’s Chili Bowl and mini donuts and fresh fruit sorbet from the market, stomach ulcer be damned.

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Off to the land of the Potomac, where I will do my best to not drink the water.

Please write if you have any suggestions of sweets shops there, gracias!

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Make a note of these delicious options all over the country and beyond.

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Le Tour Eiffel

Le Tour Eiffel, out of focus

It’s a given that all people obsessed with food should go to Paris or spend a chunk of time there (or the rest of France, too) to acquaint the self with all matters surrounding it: the history, culture, preparation techniques that’s been well-documented for centuries, les marches en plein air. As Ernest Hemingway wrote: “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then whereever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” He probably meant a lot more than just food (sex, booze, terse but profound conversations, hunting?), but we’ll just stick to food for our purposes.

I had never been until last October (sad, right?) until the boyfriend bought us plane tix as a pastry school graduation present. I felt so lucky! I set out to have pretty much everything we had ever covered in classes, a tall order for my blood sugar level, as we only had four days.

A hearty piece of chocolate tarte, with tar-thick ganache—almost the consistency of caramel—from Chez Michel in the 6th arrondissement capped off our post-arrival meal:

Chocolate tarte

We stopped by Laduree on Champs-Elysee, but it was like Grand Central in there (mostly women with fancy bags and sharp elbows, dangerous). Plus I realized the cost of one Laduree macaron was half of what I had in my bank account, so I ended up settling for the less glossy and hyped but pretty good Dalloyau ones. They were properly crispy on the outside, and chewy on the inside, with buttercream fillings. I ate most of the contents below before I remembered to take a picture—oops! Getting better at that all the time.

Maracons

I think I planned the trip around stops at Poilane. I had never had a croissant so airy, so ethereal. The layers of the puff inside it just disappeared as soon as they hit the tongue. We also bought a box of punitions, the crunchy shortbread cookies sold there, to save for the journey home.

Get in my belly!

Then there was this leek and seafood quiche we bought at a bakery off Rue Lepic near Montmartre, with a satisfying, thick crust.

seafood tarte

There was also a tarte aux pommes from La maison Kayser, but the photo is really bad so I’ll spare you. But feel free to drool at this snapshot of profiteroles in chocolate sauce from a great dinner we had at Brasserie Lipp:
Classic profiteroles

In true BWD fashion, though, the trip was equal parts bitter and sweet—personal conflicts surfaced, plus it was so short. C’est dommage. Mais que sera, non?

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Um, hello Summer. I’ve been looking for Spring. Have you seen her today? Oh, she’ll be back Wednesday…Mmmkay. ‘Til then, I’ll have to fight the urge to stick everything sweet and frozen in my face, you say? Well, no can do. You see, this weather has reminded me that I’m suffering a long bout of post-vacation blues (ask my boyfriend about my ukelele playing), which began late March after I returned from the compact, lush isle of Kauai, Hawaii, where I had this:

Shaved Ice from Wishing Well Shave Ice Truck in Hanalei

Shave Ice from Wishing Well Shave Ice Truck in Hanalei; no, I'm not giving you the finger.

Yes, as per the photo it was pleasantly streaked with Highlighter-fluid-colored, unnaturally-flavored fruit syrup, and nestled in a very un-“green” styrofoam cup, but it was lined with rich, creamy macadamia nut ice cream on the bottom, the ice was finely ground, and it quenched my thirst and quelled my sweet tooth all at once. And that’s its main benefit. Because if you get a Shake Shack custard or simple ice cream, as good as they may be,  the sweetness leaves a residue and it can leave you thirsty. Get a Slurpee or Jamba Juice and you just had your daily caloric intake in a cup the size of a bucket that’ll run right through you. Not that shave ice isn’t calorically unendowed, but this is the right combination that’ll leave you cool and sated, at least until dinner.

I’m not waiting for Spring to come back (and it’s too late anyhow, we already bought a watermelon yesterday from Whole Foods, as though it were July!). Off to Koryodang, a Korean/French bakery on 32nd Street. They have a busier, East Asian version of shave ice with the ice on the bottom, and the accessories—canned and/or fresh fruit, red bean paste, mochi—on top, neatly circling the mound of ice cream in the center. It won’t transport me to Hawaii, but it will remind me of that one childhood summer when my mom brought home an ice grinder and my sister and I went buck wild until the blade was no longer sharp, and sometimes slurped red bean ice-water soup because we couldn’t eat it fast enough (brain freeze!). And I’m going to walk there, from SoHo, in this heat, because the reward will be that much greater.

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