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).


Happy Anniversary to Us!


Ten years ago today – Patrick posted a Roundup with Saucy Tomato Salad and look what has happened since. Spices, culinary meditation and crispy culinary chaos feature in some of his favourite posts.


I started a tad later and spent slightly (ok, considerably) less time in the kitchen. Culinary history and timely tips were my thing – and my favourites list reflects this, featuring as it does only one actual recipe.

We have had guest posters, too (and welcome more … hint, hint).

We have talked turkey, gotten baked – uh, I mean, baking – gone multi-media with podcasts  and launched a Fabulous Foodie Facebook group. What a ten years it has been. Can’t wait for the next ten!












Summer Infusions Underway

What do you do with too many lemons and a ginormous mint plant? Well, if you are me, you grab the vodka and you start infusing.

As I found out last year, making lemon vodka is super easy. And if you ignore all the advice about letting it sit for two week and let it sit twice or three times as long, what you get is so smooth and so lemon, you’d swear it was limoncello.


The mint infusion is an experiment. We go a chocolate mint plant this year instead of standard mint. It’s still mostly minty – but there is that faint hint of chocolate mint as well. Not consistently warm enough out to infuse cream for ice cream yet (that’s coming son though) so I figured vodka was worth a try. Also, based on research, I am drying some leaves to add to coffee beans. They may also get added to a very strong ground coffee for the inevitable supply of cold brew iced coffee I intend to make this summer.


And no – this does not lead to massive lemon wastage. You can freeze lemons (whole or quartered with or without zest) quite easily – just wrap them foil or plastic wrap and pop the wrapped fruit in a freezer bag -and use them for juicing later on. Which is what I shall do. And considering the size of the mint plant, some of that may well end up in the freezer as well.

Banbury and the Bard

Banbury is, as you may know, forever entwined with Banbury cakes – flat-ish oval pastry filled with spiced currants. They’re not unlike Eccles cakes and they’re still available in Banbury though not in the two shops most associated with them in days or yore. I present to you – the days of yore.


E. W. Brown’s Original Cake Shop, 12 Parsons street.


Betts’s Cake Shop on Banbury High Street in 1878

There was some dreadful idea being tossed around about turning that A. Betts High Street space (very much present and in use lately as a pop-up shop) into an arcade. Yes, a gaming arcade. I am very much hoping the request for the change of use required will be denied. But never mind that now. I will complain about that elsewhere.

Banbury has another eponymous foodstuff lurking in its past and today seems a good time to mention it. Why today? Because today is April 23rd — anniversary of both Shakespeare’s birth and his death.

Banbury Cheese!


“Banbury cheeses, for which the town was noted until the 18th century, were first mentioned in 1430” (Cal. Close, 1429–36, 74). It was a cow’s milk cheese, yellow in colour and quite strongly flavoured, made in thin (about 1 inch) rounds.

“But wait!” I hear you cry. “What does this have to do with Shakespeare?”

In “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” Bardolf addresses Slender as “You Banbury Cheese!” – and this would have been commonly understood by the playgoers as an insult implying there wasn’t much to him (Banbury cheese being only about an inch thick.) That’s not to say Banbury cheese wasn’t popular – it was; in fact, it was better known than Banbury cakes at the time. It was just  … well, thin.

It was made in various places around the area but mostly in Grimsbury and Nethercote – what was then the Northamptonshire end of things*

And that’s not the only bardish thing about Banbury. No, there was a Shakespeare Inn on Parsons’ Street and we can still see the bust (sitting over Flora Bella Florists) that used to greet visitors to the Shakespeare Inn (1871-1891, I believe). *waves* Hi, Will!


And that is my culinary history trivia for the day. Happy birthday, Will.
* Boundaries tended to move around a lot and originally Banbury straddled two counties.

Marching to a Foodie Drum

March is full to the brim with culinary observances.

CAFFEINE AWARENESS MONTH: I’m hugely aware of it, thanks. In fact, the more I have, the more aware I am. We’re always been more or less in a constant state of caffeination at Fabulous Foodie. From a few facts in our Quick Coffee Trivia Round Up to our tips for Crafting a Cup of Coffee; from the mildly mind-bending Coffee Conundrum, Caffeine Continuum to choosing which coffee day to celebrate in Coffee Really Gets Around.


CELERY MONTH: An entire year has passed since I posited that there was no reason celery needs an entire month and I have yet to hear anyone present anything that has changed my mind.  Not even the people who run Celery Flats in Portage, Michigan. What is Celery Flats, you ask? It is – I kid you not – an interpretive center (open seasonally) dedicated to explaining the importance and history of  celery farming to region. If THEY can’t convince me the stuff is worth commemorating, I am unlikely to be convinced.


FROZEN FOOD MONTH: Now, I suspect they mean commercially frozen food but I am going to take this to include the freezing of food at home. Because quite frankly, the only difference between our freezer and pantry at TransAtlantic Towers is the temperature. Our freezer space works as hard or harder than anything or anyone in the house. Worthy of celebrating, indeed!

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Tasty Tidbits: February News Peruse

Every now and then, I come across foodie stories that I feel compelled to comment on. Then there are stories where commenting to the screen isn’t enough (come on, we all do it) and I do another Fabulous Foodie News Peruse to share those thoughts and opinions with someone other than the cat. This is round up of just those kind of stories.

  • Beans Do Not Belong in Chili” declares the Slate headline. Well, I don’t know about that. I have tried and enjoyed beanless chili but I am firmly in the “beans are perfectly welcome in my chili” camp. I spent my childhood in Texas eating chili and every year perused the offerings at the Chili Cookoff competition at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. Beans were found in any number of those dishes and no one spurned them, called them goulash or declared them out of bounds.  I say, “Yes” to beans in chili. What say you?

  • If you consider the fact that potatoes are one of the most thrown away household groceries on both sides of the Atlantic, you might think people were already buying more potatoes than they know what to do with. Add that to the chips, fries and mash consumed by the ton when eating out and you might also think tater sales were pretty good.  And yet, apparently that is not enough for the U.S. Potato Board (there is a board for everything, trust me). What are they doing about it? According to Food Republic the U.S. Potato Board Is Firing Up 500 Food Trucks To Sell More Spuds. OK, who’s not buying and eating their share of spuds? I can’t do this all by myself people!


  • Hardly a week goes by when I don’t see yet another article declaring that they have found the IDEAL way to make scrambled eggs. This week is no exception with epicurious suggesting that “The Ingredient Scrambled Eggs Are Always Missing” – oh really? Now, scrambled eggs are one of those things people hold VIEWS on – but my preference for soft/firm/with cheese/without can depend on my mood. I am TOTALLY on board with the addition of a certain amount of really good cheese to a scramble now and again, however. How say you, foodies? Should cheese be ONLY involved when it comes to omeletes or are you happen to cheese up a scramble as well?


Jan 3: Chocolate Covered Cherry Day

I went to see if I could find some interesting or odd details about chocolate covered cherries when I was brought up short by the SHOCKING number of recipes online for making your own chocolate covered cherries.


Don’t misunderstand. I love chocolate covered cherries but at no time, in no way and in no circumstances that I could ever imagine would I make them. Who does that? Anyone?

10 Best (Non-Baking) Uses for Bicarb

Before anyone asks: yes, my fellow Americans – bicarbonate of soda is the same as baking soda. Now that we’re on the same page – Happy Bicarbonate of Soda Day!

There was a time when I assumed the only thing bicarb was good for was, once mixed in with water, as a hangover remedy. These days I bake more so I realize there’s more to it than that. But I’ve also realized in the past year or so, that its usefulness as a tool in the cleaning arsenal around the house is unrivaled. Well, only rivaled by lemons. Between bicarb and lemons, I hardly need anything else.


I’ve been switching to greener cleaning options these days – for a number of reasons, chief among which is the obsession that cleaning product manufacturers have these days about scenting EVERYTHING. They clearly have a very different understanding of the word “lemony” or the phrase “pine fresh scent” than I do. YUCK!


So, I thought to mark the occasion of Bicarbonate of Soda Day, I thought I’d round up a few of the ways I used bicarb around the house. You may find a useful tip or two – and by all means, share any others you might have.

Continue reading “10 Best (Non-Baking) Uses for Bicarb”