I recently came upon a trove of Grecian goodies: honey, chestnuts, dried thyme (it has thorns and tiny purple flowers!), and liters and liters of olive oil. What better way to begin delving into their untold yumminess than with a simple breakfast — steamed spinach, a fried egg sprinkled with feta and parsley, and tomato salad, all drenched in the most gorgeous, supple olive oil I’ve eaten in a while.
P.S. The voyeur in me LOVED this food diary by Sam Sifton. Charming, honest, and delicious. There’s nothing I love more than reading a long list of dishes or ingredients (bedside reading is usually a cookbook), so stories like this are totally my internet catnip. [via Shoko]
Out and about in La Malbaie. Sometimes it’s so nice to make an escape from the city.
Until a few months ago, I had never really explored Quebec outside of Montreal. Sure, there were a few brief overnight trips to the Laurentians and the Eastern Townships and points further south, but never anywhere further north, like Quebec City, Charlevoix, or Kamouraska. So when Adam and I took a week-long road trip across Quebec, our first stop was the provincial capital. We stayed at the Auberge Saint-Antoine, which had a cozy library and a delicious restaurant, famous for its roast duck (and our hotel room had a gigantic terrace and was decorated with huge gemstones!). Because we went in April — in the hotel biz they call that the “shoulder month” — everywhere we went was totally empty and relaxed. It was the best.
Though I love traveling, one of the most challenging aspects of it is not being able to cook. Luckily, on this trip I will be able to spend time in the kitchen, at least for a few days, because we’re renting a small apartment! (I even packed a few of my most favorite French cookbooks!) I’m already fantasizing about making meals just like this one — one small roast chicken, swiss chard dotted with cherry tomatoes and fresh garlic, and crisp jerusalem artichokes, peeled and roasted until golden and fragrant.
For my first proper dinner back in Hong Kong, my parents took me to Spring Deer, a restaurant that my dad has been going to since he was a grad student in the early 1970s. I went there, too, in the mid 90s, and it’s exactly how I remember it, right down to the gracious elderly waiters who will bring you fresh bowls of boiled peanuts when you crave them (they just don’t make ‘em the same Stateside!). At least a dozen luscious, crispy Peking Ducks were wheeled out of the kitchen while we were there, making me seriously plead for one of our own. My dad wisely advised me that ordering a full duck in addition to all of our other dishes would be food suicide. (Actually, we compromised: we’ll be returning to try that duck).
At Spring Deer, the focus is on Beijing-style Northern Chinese food, so we ended up ordering a lot of the homey, comforting classics that my whole family grew up with. The food is simple, but sensational — we ordered tender, supple water spinach shoots sauteed in garlic and peanut oil; braised pork knuckle, served cold and with a savory ginger-garlicky sauce; tender dumplings stuffed with pork and fresh Hong Kong crab; spicy, sweet chicken coated in a sticky vermillion sauce; winter melon soup soaking in a salty, smoky ham broth; and my old childhood favorite, cong you bing, or tender, flaky layers of pastry coiled into a pancake and laced with fresh scallions and garlic soaking in oil. Man, I forgot how great Hong Kong is. So happy to be back.
One 16-hour flight later, and I’m in Hong Kong, yo!!!!! (Raddest part of flight: watching Funny Girl for the first time, ADORING it, and deciding that, besides Sound of Music, which doesn’t even count because I only like it for nostalgic reasons, it is the only musical that I can be persuaded to watch). Most annoying part of my holiday vacation so far: what is it about jetlag that results in total loss of appetite? Because it’s a damn shame. Any tips for overcoming jetlag?
[Harvested ackee fruits; if you eat them before they're ripe, they're poisonous! If you're patient, they're delicious. Like smooth, rich custard.]
[A tropical tangle.]
[A 'blossoming' ackee. Beautiful but deadly.]
[Red snapper fish stew with okra and onions, served over rice. The secret ingredient? A packet of powdered chicken stock.]
[A pair of breadfruits, which is starchy and dry like bread! This guy was so sweet; his shirt said: "I've had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this was not it." -Groucho Marx]
[Swimming in the Caribbean Ocean. It was a dream, every second.]
Adam’s incredible story about our trip to Jamaica is in the latest issue of enRoute Magazine (and in their annual blow-out food issue!), so I can finally share my photos from our crazy journey. I’ll post them throughout the weekend — I have so many! Skimming through my photos is making me miss the island like crazy.
After a few (okay, quite a few) detours — we’re unofficially calling it Natasha’s Great Eastern Canada Tour of 2011 — I’m finally, finally, back in Montreal.
That’s 24 hours in Toronto, a swing through Niagara Falls, 12 mindblowing, magical hours at Norman Hardie in Prince Edward County, and an afternoon in Ottawa, until I’m finally settled back into my sofa in Montreal 20 minutes ago. Canada is pretty rad.
Funny how time gets away from us — especially when there’s a wedding in the works. Especially when there’s 200 people coming to the wedding, and especially when you’re the maid of honor. But, as with events that seem to take a million lifetimes to plan, they all seem to be over in a split second. So I’m back in Canada, for now, and I have plenty of things to do — like this workshop that’s just around the corner. It’s going to be just great, and you know? It’s nice to be back.