Month: June, 2009

it's always sunny in scandinavia, part two: southern sweden

summer in southern sweden – no matter what time you wake up, it’s sunny. there’s also a chance that when you fall asleep it’ll be sunny. if you go to a wedding and drink with your cousins until 6am, it is possible that you will be awake for all 18 and a half hours of sunlight that day and more. or so i’m told.

just picked strawberries

the long hours of sunlight in southern sweden are also responsible for these freshly picked strawberries, pulled off the plants just mere hours before being displayed temptingly on the breakfast table. the number one guest house in lund, (so named for its address at Studentgatan 1 but also cause it’s awesome) puts on a mouthwatering breakfast smorgasbord every morning, including freshly baked bread, local cheese, yogurt and muesli, homemade orange marmalade with a spicy ginger kick, and excellent swedish coffee.

orange ginger marmalade

you can fill up your plate and head outside to sit in the lush green backyard where it’s obviously going to be sunny, and enjoy a leisurely breakfast. i could definitely get used to this.

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it's always sunny in scandinavia, part one: copenhagen

i recently spent a day in copenhagen with my mother on the way to sweden for my cousin sarah’s wedding. we took a boat ride through the canals, meandered through the cobblestoned streets, and ate lots of  traditional danish cuisine, i.e. colorful things stacked atop one another often involving bread, a mayonnaise-y type of sauce and some form of seafood. don’t worry, it’s way more delicious than it sounds and often very aesthetically pleasing. this concoction is certainly unlike any other chicken and bacon sandwich i’ve ever seen.

chicken and bacon sandwich

copenhagen, didn’t you know that bacon sandwiches are supposed to be greasy artery-clogging messes and not bountiful gardens of vegetal delight? no seriously, i kid because i love you and your incredibly moist curried chicken.

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Grillin' out in the summertime.

Little sister here. I’ve been busy with work and training and keeping track of kiddies, but not too busy to eat a tasty meal every now and then. Here are some pictures from our most recent grillstravaganza, which left our bellies full of portobello mushroom, grape tomatoes, shrimp, pineapple, zucchini, italian sausage, and homegrown asparagus. New aspiration: some time in the future, a summer of grill-only cooking (griddles allowed, of course). It might even be more energy efficient than regular stovetop cooking. Thoughts, anyone?

4634_1123649851607_1237920005_30480055_5511023_nWheelbarrows make great outdoor tables, especially because the tiny countertops on either side of the grill don’t really do justice to all the food we cook. We learned our lesson last time when a precariously placed package of precious italian pork sausage (fist pump for alliteration!) toppled to the ground.

4634_1123650051612_1237920005_30480060_3634936_nSome kabobbed shrimp and tomatoes. The shrimp are great with pesto, or just a little salt and pepper, and the tomatoes get super juicy on the grill.

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pieminister pies from cup in manchester: yes, pies are nice.

heidi pie at cup in manchester

hello and welcome to mushy peas on pie on mash.  and cup. woohoo!

in manchester for a go game last week, chris and i wandered the galleries, shops, and restaurants of the northern quarter and stumbled upon this lovely little cafe named cup.  sunny, warm, and colorful, this cafe/gallery space/t-shirt and print shop/vintage tea set seller turned out to be the perfect place to hang for a bit before our train. and most importantly, the perfect place to eat PIE.

cup sells pies from pieminister, a fantastic company making ‘a really good pie from proper stuff.’ i’d seen their pies at borough market as well as at a supercool pietrailer in islington and had always wanted to try one. i finally got my chance at cup with the ‘heidi’ pie – goat cheese, sweet potato, spinach, red onion, and roasted garlic in, as they call it, a lovely pastry. it’s a british pie award champion! oooh. i also plan to try their varieties with thai green curry, wild mushroom & asparagus, and chorizo & olives extremely soon. mmmmmmmmmmm.

i had mine with salad on a geometrically printed tabletop.

heidi pie with salad

mmm. buttery, flaky pastry crust surrounding toasty warm vegetables tastes like fires in the fireplace and fuzzy slippers. comfortable and homey. Read the full article »

rambling restaurant: pissaladiere, harissa chicken, and another perfect symphony of dessert

pissaladiere with roasted tomatoes

welcome to the third edition of the rambling restaurant, brought to you by chef foodrambler, michelle the poet, and me. for the first time, i remembered to take photos of all three courses, so this post is all about the food. get ready for some serious food porn.

course one: pissaladière (best pronounced with a throaty french accent like you’re trying to clear something out of your sinuses). it’s a french tart made with slow-cooked onions, anchovies, and olives on a puff pastry, served with roasted cherry tomatoes and fresh basil.

pissaladiere - onion anchovy and olive tart - small

course two: harissa-spiced chicken with roasted potatoes and eggplant on a lentil, mint, and feta salad, topped with a thin strip of marinated red pepper.

harissa chicken with roasted eggplant, potatoes and lentil salad

course three: meringues filled with almond cream, topped with raspberries, strawberries, and a thin shard of almond bark.

meringue with almond cream and summer fruit

this dessert blew me away – just a day after waxing rhapsodically about the pavlova from frizzante, the talented miss foodrambler concocts her very own equally spectacular version. crunchy almond bark, sweet and juicy fruit, smooth and buttery cream, soft-yet-also-with-structural-integrity meringue – it was a beautifully complex symphony of contrasting tastes and textures in a single bite.  luckily there were many bites to go around…

so many meringues with almond cream and summer fruit

i managed to take so many pictures tonight because, miraculously, we had the most stress-free, easygoing, is-this-as-simple-as-it-seems?, unchaotic rambling restaurant so far. we seem to be getting the hang of this whole secret supper thing (knock on wood). no frenzied moments of plating, no stacks of dishes piled precariously, just delicious food from chef foodrambler and some really lovely people. i chatted with some people from finland who also speak swedish and english and we chilled late night with some awesome south londoners. i even learned how to say ‘that’s delicious’ just in time for my trip to southern sweden this week! bring on the meatballs sweden, i’m ready to eat.

frizzante at hackney city farm: wild boar sausage, tomato sunshine, and perfect strawberry clouds of dessert

wild boar salsiccia, parsley salsa verde and homemade bread

FRIZZANTE! according to my italian speaking dining companion kellin, it means ’sparkling’ as in ‘i would like my water frizzante.’ a less romantic translation could also be ‘gassy’ but i think we can all agree that’s not a good restaurant name.

frizzante is the casual yet intimate, rustic yet gourmet italian restaurant tucked into an unassuming building at hackney city farm. i may have mentioned once or twice how excited i am to live next to a farm in the city with real animals (especially donkeys named larry and calves named rhubarb and custard. GAHH. stop trying to debilitate me with your cuteness). i am even more excited that the farm is home to such a warmandfuzzy feeling place as frizzante.

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mini hamburgers from free roaming, naturally raised, more-than-organic wild beef

burgers on the grill

it’s barbecue time! not only is there sun, but there is some delicious meat to be had here in london. chris and i went to a picnic organized by our new friends from yelp last weekend on the oh-so-englishly named hampstead heath. thanks to a running joke about our ’stupid american’-ness, we decided to bring some super patriotic mini hamburger sliders to the picnic. how do you know a burger’s done? poke it on the grill and it bleeds red, white, and blue, dammit.

wild beef selection at broadway marketof course, we had to get the very best of british beef for these high-quality bites of americana. i took advantage of my broadway market trip last weekend to pick up some ‘fine mince’ ground beef from the wild beef stall. this company is based in devon in the southwest of england, and they sell meat from the most purely naturally raised cattle i’ve ever seen.

in the states, the best quality meat is from cows fed only grass rather than corn, soy, or scary things like ethanol waste because that’s how cow stomachs evolved to digest.  the lucky ones might get to graze a pasture rather than being confined to a pen or feedlot. the cows from wild beef, however, graze the grasses on the uncultivated soil of devon, without any supplementary feed to promote growth or mass amounts of antibiotics to combat high risk of infection due to unsanitary living conditions.

they call it ‘nutritionally, ecologically, and gastronomically the best‘and they might just be right. their old breed north and south devon and welsh black cattle roam the windy, fertile moors like heathcliff (sorry, just finished wuthering heights), free to feed on grass, herbs, weeds, and shrubs to their heart’s content. and then they become delicious, meaty, flavorful, safe-to-eat beef. it’s a little expensive, but i’d rather eat good, farm-fresh or wild-moor-fresh meat less often than eat cheap but scary industrially processed meat that’s probably full of anthrax. always better to eat your burgers without fear of death from bacterial infection. here’s some more information on why sustainably produced meat is better than the industrial stuff in an article i wrote for eat.drink.better (sorry for the self-plug but i already did the research and now it’s in one place. if it ain’t broke, why write it all over again?)

anyway, back to sliders. with meat this good, all you need is a little salt and pepper and it tastes fantastic. then in keeping with our american-only-in-theory hamburgers, i made my favorite gougeres for buns, but we’ll just refer to them as cheese puffs to keep up appearances. chris and i brought a mini barbecue grill to the heath, which we’re pretty sure is illegal, but sometimes you just gotta be gangsta like that. chris grilled these little morsels of meat to the perfect level of chargrilled flavor on the outside and pink juiciness on the inside. i did my best to set the cheese puffs on fire as i appear to have a singular talent for incinerating bread products. perhaps i could parlay this skill into a baking/circus career.

flaming cheese puffs and burgers on the grill

chris is teaching me the ways though – we’re throwing a barbecue party this weekend. you may or may not know that he is a former barbecue professional, after all. if you’ve seen any photos of him on this blog so far, you’d also know that he really likes to bite things. first a spatula, then a yummy slider. RAOWR. chris and the wild beef burgers

Two Absolute Must-Read Food Related Articles

just wanted to pass along two of the best food-related articles i’ve read in a very long time. they’re both fascinating for VERY different reasons and i highly recommend reading.

first off, the fantastic blog obama foodorama covers michelle obama’s amazingly enlightened, proactive, honest, and progressive stance on food justice, food policies, school lunches, gardening, nutrition, health, and the dangers of processed and fast food. she even talks about food deserts, a really important issue not given nearly enough attention. so glad that someone prominent, visible, and well-liked is discussing these topics.  and she does it without sounding preachy or elitist, just as someone concerned about all these important issues that happen to be inextricably interrelated. obama foodorama calls her ‘the new leader of america’s food movement’ and i’m psyched about it. so obsessed with her…

secondly, you must read this article from my hometown boston globe on…[grilled cheese]. just do it. then read the comments. all 300+ of them. seriously. chris and i spent at least two hours doing so last week, and i laughed, cried, ranted, railed, and generally just shook my head in amazement at the ingenuity/hilarity/stupidity of humankind.

once you read that, you’ll know why i’m slightly disturbed to have made grilled cheese for money, and for my whole office:)

a sunny saturday at broadway market: wild mushroom risotto and the oldest cheese in england.

broadway market from afar

another beautiful saturday in east london, and it’s off to broadway market! vietnamese iced coffee in hand, i spent a lovely few hours last weekend wandering the stalls,  listening to the outdoor musicians, enjoying the sunshine, and chatting with various vendors of all kinds. of course, i did a bit of eating along the way.

check out this wild mushroom risotto with fresh arugula, grated pecorino, and a splash of truffle oil from the sporeboys stall. mushroom risotto from sporeboys at broadway market

it’s wild and exotic! sounds like a scantily clad late-night performance rather than a lusciously creamy and rich risotto. i bought a box of their assorted mushrooms last week and enjoyed a number of meals of  sautéed mushrooms with italian olive oil, fresh sage and rosemary, and grated piave cheese (hard and nutty, a bit like parmigiano reggiano or pecorino), also from the market. so good and can be served so many ways! recipe and ideas for lots of mushroomy fun in my post on eat.drink.better. even more MUSHROOM MUSHROOM fun here (and no, that site will never get old).

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secret supper at rambling restaurant: the candlelit rooftop moroccan feast

sunset on the rooftop

hooray! yesterday marked the occasion of the rambling restaurant: round two, and i’m happy to say that the evening felt like a great success for two major reasons. first off all, it didn’t rain. that’s always helpful for a rooftop dinner in london with no backup plan. secondly and most importantly, no one fell off the roof and ended up badly injured or dead. VICTORY!

the menu for the moroccan supper

happily, everything seemed to work out perfectly even beyond the absence of inclement weather and hospital visits. the fabulous moroccan menu was planned and executed to perfection by chef foodrambler and michelle, while i concentrated my efforts on transforming an empty bethnal green rooftop into a exotic and colorful yet also comfortable and functional moroccan themed dining space.  i attacked a pile of assorted cushions, rugs, and blankets, raided michelle’s flat for decorative items, and took a last-minute trip to the columbia road flower market for a end-of-market deal on a stunning bouquet of english peonies. despite a few moments of panic that there wouldn’t be enough seats or spoons or rugs before guests arrived, all turned out beautifully just in time to welcome our first diners.

it’s amazing what colorful cloths over well-loved coffee tables and patterned pillows and wovern rugs on a barren rooftop can do to transform a  space  into a warm and luxurious place to lounge. our guests had a full view of east london’s wildly varied architectural styles, with huge rectangular modern monstrosities looming over quaint brick townhouses and their cute circular chimneys and the sky overhead created a gorgeous shifting panorama of depth and color as the evening went on. but most importantly…such good food!

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