Month: September, 2009

random london encounters over beet marinated salmon and coconut shrimp

london is an absolutely massive city. the current population of approximately 7.5 million is almost exactly 10 times the size of my former city of san francisco, practically a quaint seaside town in comparison.  these 7.5 million people richochet across 650 square miles, hurtling from the west end to the east end, from north of the river to south of the river, encountering hundreds or potentially thousands of new faces each day. you’d think it would be nearly impossible to randomly run into the same person over and over again, that the likelihood of your path crossing over another person’s london trajectory must be fairly small. and yet, how often might we see the same people over and over again without really noticing?

take, for example, my most coincidental of london acquaintances, patrice. patrice, on the right in the photo below, runs  sauce á part, a culinary company creating french-creole cuisine with pacific and mediterranean influences that caters, produces food events, and runs a stall at broadway market.

patrice from sauce apart

a few weekends ago, on a perfect sunny saturday of people-watching, canal-walking, vintage-browsing, and of course obsessive eating, i dragged a fresh-off-the-plane annie to broadway market just up the road as soon as she got to the house.  we stopped at patrice’s stall to chat and she asked how we knew each other. and all i could say was, it was just one of those random london encounters.  i first met patrice at his broadway market stall about 2 months ago with my friend dan. and by ‘met,’ i mean that he offered me a sample of sumptuous slow roasted pork and i accepted (obviously) but was too full from a face-stuffing borough market trip to purchase anything.  i told him i’d be back sometime with an empty stomach. and then we moved on.

later that night, after an extended journey all the way across london to the opening of the pavilion at the serpentine gallery in hyde park and back east, dan and i quite unexpectedly found ourselves at the final evening of the double club, a congolese street market themed pop-up restaurant/bar/dance club/art installation in a huge warehouse behind the angel tube station in islington.  waiting in line for drinks, i ran into patrice again, who somehow remembered me from our 3-minute encounter earlier in the day. we talked food, we talked markets, we talked global cuisine, we talked more food, and i promised to return to his stall again soon. it was a lovely discussion and such an odd encounter considering the series of steps it took for us to arrive at the double club and how many times we almost got derailed along the way. how often might this path-crossing occur unnoticed or unacknowledged?  it’s fascinating to think about all the different ways in which people’s lives intersect and how we might be completely unaware…

i always find it interesting to consider these trajectories. of course, being a bit of an obsessive eater, they often lead back to food. i didn’t see patrice again for about two months but a few weekends ago, fate crossed our paths to bestow upon me this gorgeously hued beet-marinated salmon, vibrant with color like the petals of a tropical flower.

beet marinated salmon

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chicken coops, award-winning bread, and buffalo milk at the organic food festival

saturday was a pretty eventful day.  chris and i got up at 6am, hopped a train to sunny bristol, ran a Go Game at igfest, then jumped out of a plane and parachuted straight into the organic food festival. okay, that last part is entirely untrue. but we got asked about 20 times if we had skydived directly to bristol, clad as we were in our unbelievably attractive trademark orange jumpsuits while wandering around the largest organic showcase in europe.

entering the organic food festival

it was one of those magical instances where the forces of nature align at the precise moment to allow for our attendance at the festival.  not only did it happen to be in the right city at the exact time we were already traveling there for work, but the massive marketplace of food activities was situated about 20 feet from our game location. ridiculous. thanks to the organic foodie gods smiling upon us, we got to tour the many stalls of farmers, bakers, ice cream makers, olive oil producers, brewers, and so much more.  most importantly, we got to eat lot of stuff. delicious stuff. stuff like this clown smile of cheese from the bath soft cheese company.

the bath soft cheese company

i am going to make my way to Bath (pronounced bawwth) just to eat more of this cheese.  sadly i don’t remember the name, but i think it might just be the fantastically named Wyfe of Bath, described on their website as ’succulent and bouncy.’  ahahaha. are they taking the piss? did chaucer write their copy?  hilarious.

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an electrifying evening of rabbit and brandy snaps with rambling tongue

the transformed space at vulpes vulpes

welcome to rambling tongue at vulpes vulpes! last saturday, the underground restauranteurs of rambling restaurant and the poets of hammer & tongue played host to a warehouse full of adventurous diners in a spectacular artist space in hackney. there was rabbit stewed in cider. there were artichokes with homemade mayonnaise. there were brandy snaps stuffed with marscapone and cream and raspberries and crystallized violets. there was poetry and music and dancing and bottles and bottles and bottles of wine….

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my favorite food reads, julia child's life in france, and the 'how not to cookbook'

i love reading food books. i love personal accounts and memoirs by famous chefs and food critics, and especially by ambitious, funny, and self-deprecating amateurs that just love food. i love food-related non-fiction like works on the history of salt or the changing role of sushi in america or how cooking made us human. i love books on sustainable eating and real food and what organic really means. and of course, i love cookbooks. i have a few cookbooks on my bedside table – not primarily to read the recipes, although i do sometimes and they make me very hungry – but because my favorite cookbooks are full of juicy anecdotes and back stories and useful tips like how to spit roast a salmon or build your own grill out of a trash can (okay, that’s a very specific cookbook).

to share some of these favorites, i’ve started a page of good food books including all these different categories, which you can find under ‘food reads’ on the side of the blog.  i was inspired to create a dedicated book page because of two recent book encounters i want to share: my life in france by julia child and the how not to cookbook project by aleksandra mir.

warning: there’s a lot of writing coming up, but you’re only going to click  if you like reading in the first place, right?

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my new addiction: dangerously quick and easy scallion pancakes

scallion pancakes with a smashed garlic scallion soy dipping sauce

i am in the midst of a very dangerous scallion pancake obsession. if you’ve ever had these flaky fried disks dotted with slivers of green onions, you know that they have potential to become a serious addiction.  you pick up a piping hot triangle, shimmering lightly with a bare trace of sesame oil and threatening to pull apart into thin layers of nearly translucent dough.  you dip a corner into the smashed garlic soy vinegar sauce and bring it to your mouth, inhaling the scent of crispy seared scallions and the nutty warmth of the lingering sesame flavors.  and then you bite down, the doughy inner layers dissolving on your tongue as the crispy outer shards of the browned pancake crack into pieces like the icy surface of a frozen pond as springtime approaches.

oh…it tastes so good. and then you want to do it again. and again. and again.

and when you have perfected the quick and easy scallion pancake recipe to the point that it takes a mere stomach-rumbling twenty minutes to go from a bag of flour and a handful of scallions to the tastiest of pan-fried snacks…well, it’s dangerous business. because you will do it all the time. trust me, i know.

so i give you this scallion pancake recipe with a warning: with great power comes great responsibility.  after trying these pancakes, the mere sizzle of the pan or scent of freshly chopped scallions may cause you to relinquish control, churning out pancake after pancake and consuming every bite. cook at your own risk…

step by step scallion pancakes recipe in photos

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amsterdam, part four: the greasy underbelly of the city's food scene

oh so much mayonnaise

mmm…nothing like a blanket of mayonnaise to stimulate the appetite. lest you think tastes in the city of amsterdam are so refined as to produce only plentiful cornucopias of fresh produce and traditional artisan cheese wheels, i thought i’d share some photos of the darker side of the city’s gastronomic offerings.   if you despise the deep-fried, cringe at cholesterol, and fear fattiness in full force, shield your delicate eyes from the following gallery of wonders.

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amsterdam, part three: dutch hockey stadium food for the win!

fresh fruit cups at the stadium

in the wise words of the irish legend eoin flinner, the food at wagener hockey stadium in amsterdam is ‘absolutely savage.’  i don’t know if it’s a dutch thing or a european thing or we’re-not-in-kansas-eating-deep-fried-anything-anymore thing, but i’ve never seen food like this at a sporting event.  sure,  i’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for a good old fenway frank and garlic fries are part of the fun at A’s and 49ers games,  but i was seriously impressed by the freshly made sandwiches and the bountiful displays of fruits and vegetables. check out the mozzarella and tomato caprese sandwiches on huge baguettes below:

mozzarella tomato sandwiches at the hockey tournament

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