Monthly Archives: May 2011

<3 california

Los Angeles left me well-fed, entertained and sunburned. Culinary highlights were cooking chicken tikka masala with Daniel for his family and watching my friend Adam and his friend Cyrus eat an insane amount of food (i.e., bacon wrapped shrimp, grilled cactus, queso fresco, chorizo) out of a molcajete. After a lovely ride up the Pacific Coast Highway between Santa Monica and Ojai, I am now seated squarely on one of the farm’s outdoor couches after being here for a little over 24 hours. Farm tasks have included use of a wheel hoe,transplanting peppers, eggplant, and sunflowers, and a few other tasks here and there. As expected, fresh vegetables are abound and to my pleasant surprise, there are a ton of fresh oranges to pick off nearby trees. This morning a rooster woke me up, a warm, tree-picked orange provided a nice snack, and my lunch was the following: rice noodles with daikon, carrot, broccoli, beet leaves, and egg.

My first taste of the farm life was better than good, and I am excited to have the farm life and my life become one.

genna found a home in tucson, arizona (to the tune of “get back”)

Upon arriving in the Tucson airport, I rushed down to find my hiking backpack which had beat me to the city by almost 12 hours. (More thanks to United!)  It was locked in the United office for about twenty minutes, and when I finally got it, I realized that my Dr. Bronner’s had leaked everywhere. The bottle didn’t even break–it just opened and poured out. At least my bag smells (very strongly) of lavender!

My stay has covered walking through Sabino Canyon with my friend Sam, meeting some very cool folks (including a young Iraq war vet and some students researching the border) at the Roadrunner Hostel & Inn, and getting a substantial haircut while showing myself around downtown Tucson. There is lots of cool art and landscape to see in this city. I am excited to return for a longer time.

And now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for: a highlight reel of my Tucson eats. My complimentary Belgian waffle with prickly pear jam, fruit smoothie, and Dairy Queen dipped cone were all camera shy, so apologies. All were delicious and were excellent at their job.

Queso Suizo with Chorizo and Tortillas at La Parilla Suiza

Chips, Salsas, and Pickled Onions & Jalapenos at Pancho Villa Bar & Restaurant

Torta with a Roasted Pepper - $4.99!!!

I officially need to live somewhere with a large Mexican population. Bolillo (torta bread), tortillas, and mole are all officially on my list of things to learn how to make, and the best place to cook a cuisine is where the ingredients are readily available (and hopefully cheap).

Now, I am on my way to get a Sonoran hot dog with my friend Rob and the journey to Los Angeles will begin.

colorado’s finest

I returned to Dulles International Airport at 6:15 am and got through security by 6:30. My flight was destined to leave at 8:20, so I settled down for the 1.5 hour wait until boarding time. We boarded the plane and all was well until we got news that a deboarding was necessary, along with a two hour delay. I am 99% positive that I was on the same plane that abandoned me in the airport yesterday. How did United go through a 24-hour period without switching it out? Awful.

Anyway, I spent a portion of the two hour delay searching my iPhone’s internet for suggestions of what to do during a substantial layover in Denver International, and luckily someone on the BeerAdvocate forums pointed me in the direction of the New Belgium Hub. After crossing two moving walkways and stopping briefly in the ladies’ room, I reached the hub in its full glory. I have only ever had Fat Tire and the Mothership Wit, so I tasted the Ranger IPA, the 1554 Black Ale, and the Sunshine Wheat. The Ranger IPA  won.

Blue Paddle Brat and the Ranger IPA at the Denver International Airport

To go with my beer, I ate the Blue Paddle Brat, a bratwurst infused with New Belgium’s Blue Paddle Pilsner and topped with peppers, onions and sauerkraut. I added whole lotta mustard and, paired with the very crispy fries, it was the perfect stomach filler before Tucson bombards me with Mexican food.

After a brief perusal of the menu after I ate, I read the description for the “Lips of Faith” tap. The product is always changing but the brewery often utilizes wild fermentation methods and fruit juice. Sounded like the making of lambic to me, so I asked for a tulip of the current Lips of Faith brew. The bartender wouldn’t give it to me until I tasted it, and babes, it was impossible to discriminate it from a Framboise. Happiness is 8.5% ABV fruity effervescence.

my night at the westin hotel

So, my flight to Denver was postponed and ultimately canceled. I was  pretty flustered, especially since my bags seemed to get twenty pounds heavier every hour I had them in tow (Thanks, gravity!), but managed to book a new flight and get shuttled to the nearest hotel to stay for the night. I would have bothered my friends to house me, but the trek back into DC would have required three more hours of lugging my crap all over town and a bunch of guap for transportation, so I opted for the free shuttle to the free hotel room with a $15 food voucher.

As soon as I arrived, I sprawled on my king-sized mattress and flipped on “No Reservations: Sardinia.” Anthony Bourdain proceeded to whet my appetite with flashing images of the most amazing food from the other large island neighboring Italy . If watching a goat being roasted over an open spit wasn’t enough to excite my tummy, the meat-roaster proceeded to engulf a hunk of lardo in flames and let the fat drip onto the goat. Then, I was tortured through watching a lot of people (who were not me) eat an insanely elaborate farm homestead meal, capitalizing on Sardinia’s agriturismo industry. Why, Anthony, why? Regardless, Sardinia is now firmly planted at the top of my list of culinary destinations. I mean, people there carry around special knives in their pocket to facilitate consumption of cured meat and local cheese. That is where I belong. Also, just check out the description of the cuisine on Wikipedia.

Hunger in tow, I moseyed down to the Padella, the hotel bar and restaurant, for some food and perhaps a brew or two. (By the way, whenever I say or think “hotel bar,” the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” gets stuck in my head because I always misheard “cocktail bar” as “hotel bar” as a kid.) I had the tomato-basil soup, ravioli with rabbit ragu, and chocolate lava cake. In retrospect, I should have just gone for the burger I was craving because my attempt at exploring new territory didn’t go so well.

Ravioli with Rabbit Ragu

Chocolate Lava Cake

The rundown:

1) I was in the bathroom when my soup arrived and by the time I returned it had cooled off a bit too much. Lukewarm soup ain’t pretty (or delicious).

2)  The ravioli were actually pierogies. Thinking back to the description midway through the meal, I remember reading “smoked potato ravioli,” but for some reason, my mind didn’t make the connection to pierogies upon reading this. I think I spent the majority of time eating the ravioli trying to figure out why the ricotta was much grainier than it was creamy. It was like biting into a sweet pickle when you are expecting  a sour one.

3) The rabbit ragu had a bone in it! Eating rabbit is something I find to be at once troublesome and absolutely not troublesome. Like most animals, rabbits are adorable, so getting over eating the Velveteen Rabbit and Little Bunny Foo-Foo is a little hard for me. But beyond that, they reproduce so quickly and eat vegetarian so I feel like they are quite a sustainable food source. But when I am plowing through a maybe ravioli-maybe pierogi textural battle, the last thing I expected was to find a bone (an unidentifiable one at that) amidst a bunch of connective tissue in the sea of pulled rabbit meat. Blegth.

4) It was clear that the ravioli were old because the pasta at the seams was really dense and chewy. They had dried out a bit too much, either in the refrigerator or freezer, and were an unpleasant mouthful.

5) The chocolate lava cake was absolutely delicious except it was supposed to come topped with ginger ice cream and instead it came with vanilla bean. Screw that! I wanted to reminisce about eating dark chocolate + ginger Green & Black’s bars as a form of caffeination during late night study jams, but no. I was not afforded that moment of nostalgia.

Overall, though, my time bellied up to the Padella bar was great, and the attentive staff and $3 happy hour beers were only the beginning. Most importantly, I sat next to a woman who had been a stewardess nearly half a century ago, and her stories about dating members of the Brooklyn Dodgers and wearing girdles so she “wouldn’t jiggle” made the entire meal go down a lot smoother.

dc: 41 hours (and counting)

I am currently using the convenient, complimentary WiFi at the Dulles Airport outside of Washington, DC, waiting for a convenient, complimentary update on the status of my flight, which has been undergoing an inconvenient, complimentary part repair for the past four hours. Scheduled to leave at 11:03, we just got an update that we will receive another update at noon. So instead of freaking out, I am going to post this entry and then try to figure out how (and if) I’m going to get to Tucson.

First stop was Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street, a DC landmark with really great music. I went with my friend Abby who I haven’t seen since October. The two of us spent Summer ’09 in DC together, and it was great to reconnect with her in the city we got to know together.

Chili Cheese Fries

Chili Half-Smoke

The next day, I hung out with my Haverford friends Waleed and Kate, and some of their friends from home. They all live in Arlington, VA, and made the trek out to DC proper to chill. Falafel for lunch with the whole crew and Ethiopian for dinner with Waleed. Both meals were eaten streetside, but the showcase of the falafel experience was definitely the cement being poured a few meters away.

Falafel with a Side of Cement

Lalibela Sampler Plate, complete with hard-boiled egg and a bunch of delicious stews

Ethiopian beer! Waleed!

farmward bound

Today at noon, I begin my weeklong journey across the country to Ojai, California, where I will spend the summer WWOOFing at Mano Farm. With brief stops in DC, Tucson, and LA, my travels will surely be full of good food, great friends, and awesome scenery. Probably some great people-watching too, especially on my two substantial bus rides and my 3 hour Greyhound layover in Phoenix, AZ.

anginetti (italian love knots)

One day approximately five months ago, my friend Daniel and I made Italian love knot cookies. For some reason (thesis, job applications, and otherwise being a senior), I never got around to posting the gorgeous pictures he shot or the recipe we used. I simply glommed the cookies and moved on with my life. Time to remedy that! All of the pictures were taken by Dan.

Moleskine Recipe Journal, courtesy my handsome and lovely brother Johnny

Cookie Ingredients

Icing Ingredients

Cookies Waiting to be Baked

Post-Oven

Dipping

On Drip Tray, with Zest Garnish