Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Sandy's Granola and Photo Practice

August 26, 2009

I promise, my loyal readers, that I am working daily on many recipes, but they seem to need a little extra work lately.  In the meantime, enjoy these photos of Sandy’s famous granola from our favorite retreat, the Cabin at Spring Bay on Oracas Island.  I’m practicing my photography diligently these days, so if you have any suggestions or feedback, please leave it in the comments.  I can use all the help I can get. These photos were taken with a Canon G9.

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A Second Installment of Orcas Cuisine: The Inn at Ship Bay

August 25, 2009

The second place that my husband and I go every year on Orcas Island – and our hands down favorite – is the Inn at Ship Bay.  As you can see by the photos below, the food is amazing, but what we love is the staff.  The servers are all experienced and know every detail of the food off the top of their heads.

We sat outside with a gorgeous view of East Sound.  My husband thought the meal was absolutely perfect.  He ordered a steak (just like he does at every restaurant).  I thought it was almost perfect…

Salad of Duck Confit, Roast Sweet Onion, Local, Greens, Shaved Reggiano, Peach Vinaigrette and Toasted Almonds

The greens, vinaigrette and toasted almond blended so well in this salad.  I’m not an expert on duck confit, but the texture and taste didn’t seem different from roast duck.

Yes, I am a duck-oholic and ordered duck for my main as well:

Seared and Roasted Duck Breast, Yukon Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables and Local Shiro Plums

I ordered the breast medium-well was worried it would come out over cooked, but I it was cooked exactly and was crispy on the outside and juicy inside.  The veggies, especially the beets, were all delicious.  It was missing a little something and I quickly figured out it was the black cherries on my husband’s steak and stole them – every last one!

And I never go without dessert…

Lemon Baked Alaska

Hands down the prettiest dessert I’ve had in a long time.  I just wish the meringue was crunchier.  I haven’t made Baked Alaska before, but I imagine that is not an easy task in an ice cream dessert.

Christina's: True Northwest Cuisine

August 20, 2009

It’s my last night on Orcas Island.  I’m sitting at the computer trying to decide if I should call Christina’s white gazpacho creamy.  It was smooth, but light in the way a vinaigrette becomes emulsified as you whisk in the oil.  Pure olive oil was drizzled over the green grapes in the summery puree.  It was surprising, refreshing and cool.

The first time I ate at Christina’s, it was still owned by Christina.  I can still remember what I ate:  A single ravioli… two sheets of pasta measuring three inches by three inches filled with caramelized onion and smothered in a sauce of soft French cheeses, garnished with crispy sage.  Perfect in every way.  It’s different now.  Owner Maureen Mullen has a little way to go to reach the level of service and cuisine that Christina had built, but I can see glimmers of hope in her gazpacho.

This time I ordered an empanada with local greens.  The empanada pastry was filled with cannelloni beans and summer squash served with house-made tomatillo sauce and cojita cheese.  The greens stole the show though.  They had a fruity or citrus-like quality.  The waitress said they were sauteed in oil, shallots, white wine and vegetable stock.  There was kale, red cabbage and kohlrabi (green turnip) picked young, so they weren’t too bitter.

A non-cheesy mint risotto transformed roast chicken into Arroz con Pollo.  I’m not sure if that was intentional.  There were some of the tiniest carrots I’d ever seen in orange, purple, white and green.  Hubby’s medium steak came out still mooing, but they quickly fixed that and brought it back out lightly charred on top, rich brown on the sides with pink running through.

The service… We couldn’t decide between four of the wines, so they brought out four glasses and gave us a taste of each.  I was impressed with their effort.  The waiters were attentive.  They smiled at the baby.  Something was a little off though.  My suspicion was that they were tired.  It was the last seating of the day.  My husband thought they might be having trouble with his accent or having a culture clash.  Either way, the overall experience was relaxing and delicious and we’ll return next time we’re on the island.

Whipped, Layered and Glazed: Twenty-one Cakes

August 12, 2009

Dessert heaven. During my trip to Germany last month, I attended the wedding of friends who had 21 cakes at their reception.  The more amazing thing is that the groom’s mother made ten of them. What a phenomenal woman. The funny thing is she kept insisting that she wasn’t a professional baker. Whatever. I’m going to try to interview her for the blog, but in the meantime and without further ado here are the photos.

Tiramisu

Bûche de Noël: My favorite cake of all time made in the traditional way with Genoise rolled with espresso buttercream.

How did I miss this one?

Just as beautiful on the inside:

Oh yeah, and then they served dessert.  Raspberries and strawberries in Quark with white chocolate leaf:

A blessed union:

Snags in Saarland, Germany

August 7, 2009

At a barbecue in Germany we saw how you get perfectly cooked sausages:

The grate swings back and forth over the fire. They must think it’s such a great idea, they had two:

What was cookin’ on the grill? White sausage that was mild and juicy, hot sausage (which I didn’t try) and fresh pork fillets which the lady of the house had insisted had to be picked up that morning and not a day earlier. My kind of cook!

BlogHer '09 Foodie Dinner

July 31, 2009

I can’t believe a week has already past since the food blogger meetup at BlogHer ’09.  It was so inspiring I have been blogging, twittering and reading blogs nonstop since then.  It was so exciting to meet all the rock star food bloggers and as you can see from the expression on Rodger’s face, the food wasn’t bad either.  : )  That’s taramosalata (or taramasalata) that he’s enjoying at the Greek Islands restaurant.  This kid has good taste, let me tell you.  My favorite dish of the night was the baklava for dessert.  By far the best baklava I’ve ever had. 

I had one goal for my first BlogHer and that was to get connected with the food blogging community.  It is so much more interesting to me to read other blogs when I’ve met the people behind the page.  Then you can imagine the words in their own voices and envision them cooking up these treats in their kitchens.  This dinner accomplished this goal single handedly.  The seminars and networking events were just icing on the cake.

How does one find out about these events?  I’m not exactly sure, but I just happen to be lucky enough to be sitting next to Elise from Simply Recipes while getting a hand massage in the expo hall and she told me about it and introduced me to Lydia of Perfect Pantry, who was organizing the event with Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen.  Lydia and Kalyn put together lovely bags with spices for us too. 

I put pretty much everyone I met in my blogroll, which was mostly empty before, so check that out to visit some super blogs.  I was most excited to meet Hetal and Anuja of Show me the Curry – two other ladies that, like Malissa and I, have an online cooking show.  Only they do numerous episodes every week.  I’m in total awe.  I was very lucky to sit next to Krista of Londonelicious who really knows her stuff and walked us through all the dishes.  Did you know dolmades aren’t normally vegetarian?  To think the number of times I ate them when I was.  Oops. 

I put the photos up on my SmugMug account, so you can go there to view and download them if you like.  I promise they’re not all of Rodger.  Please let me know if you have any problems with it.  This is the first time I’ve used SmugMug to share pics.  Click here for the gallery Click here for the Flash slideshow.

Le Soufflé Magnifique

July 29, 2009

Choc Souffle

Grand Souffle

Rushing back from the Castle at Versailles, 30 minutes late and dressed in tourist shorts with cameras in hand, the Le Soufflé maître d’ welcomed us with a smile pointed to our casual wear and said “Magnifique!” as he led us to the corner table in the air conditioned back room.  What’s more, they had ice water (a real treat in Paris).  And when I saw a 3-course, all-souffle dinner on the menu?  Well, I knew this was the France I’d come to see.

For my appetizer I ordered a simple cheese soufflé, which tasted a bit like brie with the earthiness of a good rind.  I’m not sure if it was actually brie (especially since I lost my notebook where I wrote down the name of it), but very similar anyhow.  My first impression of a true Parisian soufflé was that it had a light, uniform texture and was not too eggy.

For my main course I ordered Le Soufflé’s specialty, the King Henri IV soufflé.  This is a plain savory soufflé which comes with a small bowl of chicken and mushrooms in cream sauce.  When they set the soufflé down at your table, they take the spoon and make a well in the middle and pour in the sauce and chicken.  It had the perfect balance of light, spongy soufflé  and creamy, hearty sauce.  This one was definitely my favorite.

Finally, it was dessert time.  I ordered the Grand Marnier soufflé, but it was not at all what I expected.  I imagined that it would come out, they’d pour a little alcohol in it, light it on fire and then I’d eat it.  Instead, I knew I was in trouble when they came and dropped the entire bottle of Grand Marnier off at the table and walked away to get the soufflé.  They came back with the sweet, angel-food like soufflé, poked a well in the middle and started pouring.  After pouring a couple shots in, they put the bottle back on the table and walked away.  No fire meant there were still two shots of alcohol in my dessert.  Well, I have to admit this was a bit much for me and especially for my nursing son, so I ended up stealing a lot of my husband’s chocolate soufflé, which came with a boat of smooth chocolate sauce.  And really, that was not a bad way to end a perfect Parisian meal.

European Musings

July 21, 2009

I just returned on Thursday from twelve days of sightseeing, wedding celebration and delicious eating in Europe.  I’m just starting to be recovered enough to have a few minutes to blog and now I’m leaving tomorrow morning for BlogHer in Chicago!    I have so many pictures to share from France, Germany and Switzerland, but they will have to wait until after I return.  I kept a detailed food log, so I won’t forget anything.  This experience will definitely influence my cooking.  Here are a few thoughts on my European cuisine experience:

Paris was our first stop and what a busy way to begin our trip!  Here I had the best vegetables and morels I’ve ever had (La Terrassee, Westin Hotel) and tasted many things I’d never tried before: canelé (a SW French pastry), tarte tatin (upside-down apple tart), mâche (a tender lettuce).  I even had a dinner of 3-courses of souffles!

Next we took the train to Southern Germany for a relaxing time celebrating the wedding of our friends.  I was happily surprised to find the food in Germany even better than in France (Don’t tell the French I said that!).  The best dish I had the entire trip was at the reception.  It was a vegetarian lasagna with just a perfect mix of roasted bell peppers, carrot planks, zucchini and creamy cheeses.  There were over 20 wedding cakes – each one more beautiful and delicious than the next and most baked by the mother of the groom!  I have tons of pictures of these to share.

The last leg of our journey was a quick stop in Zurich, Switzerland before heading back to Paris to fly home.  Here I had my first taste of European pork Cordon Bleu.  There are cafés on every corner to sip tea and people watch.  I only wish I’d had more time to sample Swiss chocolates!        

For those of you that know me, you’ll know that all this cheese and cream does not do good things for my sinuses and I’m still getting migraines every single day even though I haven’t had a lick of dairy since I returned, but was it worth it?  I have to admit, yes, I’d do it again.  To me, experiencing the culture of a place is so closely tied with the food.  How can you go to France and not have crêpes outside the corner café?  How can you go to Switzerland and not have chocolate?  It’s just the price I have to pay.  And I do it with a smile on my face.  : )