Food … in the Eye of the Beholder

Not relevant to anything but I was just struck anew at how absolutely beautiful cocoa pods were.

And that got me thinking about the beauty of food in general. Frequently I see my facebook timeline fill up with art as people try to find a balance for the stress, bad news or uncertainty that the news (endlessly reposted and retweeted before our eyes) can bring. I can see the appeal of that but I’m a food person so I went looking for pictures of food that served the same purpose for me. here are some of what I found.

Black forest pavlova: there’s something almost decadently gothic about it.
Pomegranate seeds: like edible rubies
carrots: in the eye of the beholder

There are so many foods – raw, fresh, whole dishes, presentations, etc – that show just how amazing and breathtaking (as well as delicious) food can be. I’ll be hunting up more soon.

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Feb: So Many Food Holidays, So Little Time

February may be a short month but it is in no way short of culinary holidays and foodie observances, including but not limited to:

  • Cherry Month – considering how many types of cherries there are, we may need more than a month to celebrate them all properly. And really, who wouldn’t extra time for cherry pie, cherry sorbet, cherry sundaes, chocolate covered cherries, dried cherries (excellent in summer salads not to mention in trail mix) and cherry preserves. Maybe we should – within National Cherry Month – declare a day for the top 20 or 30 most popular species? Someone get on that, right away! Thanks.

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  • National Grapefruit Month – I have a confession. I am not a huge grapefruit fan. I know lots of people are and there are heated debates among them regarding the superiority of pink vs white grapefruit but to me it’s just too sour. I have heard that in South America they are often cooked which renders them a bit sweeter. I may consider trying that this summer. Has anyone else tried it? How is it?

  • Hot Breakfast Month – I know, I know. No one has time for breakfast. Heck, I work at home and even I am hard-pressed to remember when my last hot breakfast was. But I can tell you what it was because when I do hot breakfast at home, it’s because I am craving softly scrambled eggs (the kind that take ages but are so worth it), a well-toasted and thoroughly-buttered (with unsalted butter) plain bagel, shredded potatoes-n-onions and orange juice. Bliss.

hot-breakfast

  • Macadamia Nut Month – since macadamias are often found in some of my favorite cookies (as in any cooking with chocolate chips in them), I approve heartily of celebrating them. I did wonder if we actually needed a whole month. It seemed to me, in my nutty ignorance, that a day would be more than sufficient – until someone pointed out that macadamia nuts are excellent for the diet (they lower bad cholesterol being high in monounsaturated fatty acids). So, instead of the cookies (which I tend to have around year-long) why not indulge in a handful of macadamias a few times a week for the month. It can’t hurt and it might help. But hey – do not give any to your dogs. Macadamias are toxic to our canine friends.

nuts_macadamia

  • Snack Food Month –a month? With SUCH a wide variety of snack food available for us to enjoy and celebrate, I personally would need a whole year or at least half a year.

Seriously? With all that we may need that leap day every year.

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Birthday Lunch

Went out for an early birthday lunch – a significant one at that, the big five-oh – so I didn’t stint myself.

Mushroom risotto, shorthorn ribeye and sticky toffee pudding.

Radio: Food Worth Traveling For

I am quite often found – on a Monday morning – down at the Puritans Radio studio talking with Peter Evan Jones about food on the ‘Jones on Food and Travel’ program. This Monday was no exception and this week the topic was food worth traveling for.  CNN Travel made some bizarre choices – including ketchup (not a food, in my opinion, much less a food worth traveling for), buttered popcorn (another head scratcher) and potato chips (honestly?) which is what prompted this segment.

What food is so good that you would tackle traffic, airport lines and baggage restrictions to reach it? And yes, my better half – I mentioned the tapas from Bar Pinotxo in La Boqueria in Barcelona. 🙂 When do we leave?

If you’re a fan of food and/or travel, the show is on every Monday from 10-12 (UK time) and I will be posting links to the whole program as well as my segments for those who prefer to catch it later on. This week’s whole show can be heard at

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Food: To Participate or Watch?

“All of that has led us here, to a strange and mostly uncharted territory where being passionate about food and being passionate about cooking have become two very different things.”

I think the above is true for huge swathes of people who describe themselves and think of themselves as being ‘into food.’ And while I think it is true, I also kinda don’t get it. I recognize the truth of the statement but I don’t understand how one can be TRULY interested in food without being interested in cooking because I’m both.

This doesn’t mean I am a good cook – I’m not. But I am interested in the process and the history of it in addition to being interested in food. I like eating food – hell, let’s face it (and my waistline), I love eating food – but I am interested in MANY things about food. Where it comes from, how it is prepared, how it changes from place to place and time to time, what it represented, etc. I watch cooking shows because of all of that – and frankly, I like watching people cook. At home or on TV. Also – some good tips can be winkled out of them.

Happy Cookie Day

Oh the weather outside is  … well, actually it isn’t frightful at all. It’s rather brisk and chilly, yes. But bright and sunny. Never mind the song then. What else can we talk about? Oooh, it’s December 4th – Cookie Day! We can talk about cookies. What is your favourite cookie? By which I mean either to eat or make (or both).

various_cookies

What I Learned at Banbury Food Fair 2016

So, the Banbury Town Fair has once again come and gone. As always, there were samples galore to try. We’ve learned over the years that once we’ve nibbled your way through the first batch of booths, had lunch and then nibbled and snacked our way through the rest – the idea of dinner often never occurs to us. But it’s not all about actually eating. It’s also about chatting with people about the food they have brought, prepped, turned into art or just enjoy. It’s an incredibly social occasion and with over 100 vendors, a day full of cooking demos and foodie’s everywhere – I always learn a lot.

This year I learned that in order to make a fruit gin, you may need to let the fruit infuse anywhere from several months (soft fruits like raspberries) to just over a year (sloe). Now, I am not a gin drinker (I’m a vodka girl with mixers, myself) but I tasted the raspberry gin from Foxdenton Fruit Gins and goodness! It was delicious – I can absolutely see baking a Christmas cake with that.

I learned from Anita Chipalkatty (while watching her making jalfrezi – an Indian stir-fry) that while Chinese stir-fry and Indian stir-fry have a lot in common cooking method wise, the chop is very different. Chinese veg is shredded or julienned quite fine for stir fry where as for an Indian dish, the chop is chunkier. It still cooks quickly but retains more individual taste and structural integrity (all the better for scooping, for example with chunks of pepper).

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Anita explains it all – and I was totally listening and not plotting to elbow my way to the front when the “taste the dish” offer was announced.

And sadly while I was not able to get close enough for a clear picture, Restaurant 56 head chef Andrew Scott (Banburian himself) and sous chef Nick Bennett (yes, that was him on Masterchef) did make disassembling a duck look GREAT fun.

We discussed timeframes for smoking beef and pork with Smoke and Spice BBQ – and as a Texas-raised BBQ eater from itty-bitty-hood, let me say the beef brisket with Kansas sauce is spot on! The North Carolina sauce seemed to be going over well too.

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Beef Brisket from Smoke & Spice

The difference, in case you wondered, Continue reading “What I Learned at Banbury Food Fair 2016”

On the Occasion of Caviar Day

Today, so my research tells me, caviar day. Which kind? Whichever kind you like.

Black caviar is from sturgeon varieties – beluga, sturgeon and stellate sturgeon – and is not (as one might expect) always black. Sometimes it is grey (beluga), sometimes a quite a dark bronze-y shade (sturgeon) and finally deep inky black (stellate).

Black Caviar

Red caviar comes from either on of variety of salmon or trout – keta (dog salmon) is apparently considered the best type of red caviar.

Red caviar comes from either on of variety of salmon or trout - keta (dog salmon) is apparently considered the best type of red caviar.

Though interesting in a sort of intellectual and Trivial Pursuit sense, all this this leaves me essentially unmoved to take any action since, I confess, I do not care for the stuff.  No, it’s not because I have not had good quality caviar. It’s not because I wasn’t given the right “garnishes.” I have tried it on three occasions – and at BEST, I was able to summon an internal “meh.”

Caviar didn’t always have the cache it does today. In fact, it was used as pig and animal feed until the end of the 18th century and when it first became a “thing” in America, they gave it away free in bars – like a small fishy version of today’s free peanuts that are supposed to make you a thirstier and more profitable customer. The pigs and bar flys are welcome to it – at least, they are welcome to my share.

But don’t let me stop you – my lack of interest in caviar just means more for you. So grab your topping of choice and your champagne or ice-cold vodka (I gather there is some debate about which is best choice for maximum caviar enjoyment) and enjoy.

I’ll be over here prepping for Ice Cream Day (July 19).

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