This Weekend’s Edition of Feasting (July 2018)

A few years ago, one of my BFFs was talking to me about the “suckage”.  Everybody talks about how valuable time,  money, and sleep are but nobody ever talks about “spiritual” energy, i.e. doing things that make you feel energized.  I’m doing my best to avoid the suckage, even if I am feeling a bit overbooked as of late.  After all, it’s the best season of the year and there is so much fresh food around!  While I haven’t cooked in a few weeks, I’ve got some stuff planned for August.  Stay tuned!  For now, stuff about that one weekend when I cooked in July.

(Side Note: I’m having a media issue so the photos are forthcoming. If you’re interested, just comment & I can email the pics to you)

Without realizing it, this post is a bit on the Australian side.

Snacks

One late night at the radio station, I got served a You Tube ad for Red Rock Deli chips.  I was on the tired side and – no joke – thought I was having some weird fever dream or that I somehow had patched into an Australian IP.  Red Rock Deli chips are the premium level bagged chips in Australia.  I’ve eaten many, many bags in my lifetime.   Apparently, they’re doing a launch in the US market.  For now, the ones we are getting here are actually made in Australia so they actually taste like potatoes vs. salt & oil.  I ordered a mixed case from Amazon (I love Prime but am completely conflicted about the packaging).  There was a packing issue so I ended up with a case of all Lime & Cracked Pepper, a tropical version of salt & vinegar.  Since you can’t return food, they let me keep that case. The mixed one with Himalayan Sea Salt and Sweet Chili & Sour Cream arrived the next day.  Fingers crossed they’ll release the Honey Soy Chicken ones.  Americans tend to like sugary tasting stuff so I’m guessing those probably won’t make it here.   They’ll just stay a special treat for when I travel.

Mains

Billy Kwong is probably my most favorite restaurant on earth. It’s all sustainable, local food made in a Chinese-Australian style.  I love authentic Chinese as well but fusion recipes can be really fun.  BTW, if you’re ever in Dublin, Hang Dai does very similar stuff.  Anyway, the service reminds me of Upstairs on the Square (sadness!) – very sophisticated but unpretentious and delicious.  We usually get the “banquet” which is a bunch of dim sum style starters, rice, veggies, fish, and duck.  The duck is deep fried and it’s sublime.  Don’t be afraid of frying – it just provides some texture & extra flavor to the skin and goes really well with the acidity from the plums and blood oranges.

For sides, we did rice and a snow pea, zucchini, and asparagus salad with mint and hot sesame oil. The key is to put all the ingredients together and drizzle hot, not spicy sesame oil over it.  The heat collapses the mint and gives the veggies a nice summery flavor once it all cools down.

Accompanying wine:  Taittinger Rose

Leftovers

As you can imagine, we had a ton of food leftover.  The next day was a picnic of sorts with the white & rose Bulgarian wine from what our other friends call LIQUOR FANTASTICO!!!!.   So cheap! So much variety! So many free tastings!  I bought them on a whim, not knowing how they’d be.  They were great, holding up well to all the strong flavors.  They also stored well after being opened.  In general, I tend to recommend Central/European wines (German, Czech, Hungarian, etc.) for game meats & birds and the Bulgarians did not disappoint…even the white.

Like I said if you need pictures or recipes, hit me up in the comments.

 

 

Qu’est-ce que c’est ce “pet-nat”?

My friend posted that question to the above photo on the socials. Pet-nat is the shortened version of petillant natural, i.e. the old school way of making fizzy wine…before champagne, before prosecco, before the sodastream (no joke – many cheaper fizzy wines are run through a sodastream to give them bubbles).  Basically, wine that hasn’t finished fully fermenting is bottled and sealed.  The carbon dioxide from the chemical reaction gets captured within the bottle, making the juice fizzy.  Often, the winemaker will use some kind of wild yeast, which can make for a really unique flavor profile that you won’t get with mass market wines.

As you know, I LOVE Australian wines & winemakers.  Most of the really innovative tastes are coming from there, imho.  I actually feel like that can be said about their art, music, fashion, food – anything really.  There’s something about Australia that’s so unique and it comes through in so many things.  Anyway, the last 4 or 5 pet-nats I’ve had have been from Australia.  In general, it seems like they’re not super easy to come by here or in Australia.  If you’re interested, I have seen some French ones at some boutique wine shops in Boston.

This particular one that we had yesterday, is from Jauma Vineyards in McClaren Vale, SA and it was SO good.  On its own, it reminded me those Swiss blackcurrant pastilles with alpine herbs and was very dry.  Oddly, the cheese we paired with it completely crushed it.  I was really surprised.  Although, the truffled gouda from Whole Foods had very pungent truffle shavings.   When P unwrapped it, you could probably smell the truffle down the hall & out the front steps.  It’s the only time I’ve ever had a truffle crush a wine.

Because it was so organic & local to its region, I assume it would go best with bread & cheese from SA.  I did rummage through my cabinet & found a bag of salted potato chips made in the Pacific Rim (potatoes grown in Japan), which were amazing  with it.

Verdict: delicious, light, dry & perfect on its own or a pairing with organic Australian food, if you can find it.

 

You’re Irish…You CANNOT Be Into This!

P: “Didn’t you guys fight to get away from them?”

M: “Yes”

M: “But I like these things!!!!!!!”

True story.

On all accounts.

I am an Irish Citizen.

In 1921, Ireland did become independent from the UK.

And,  I looooooooooooooove other people’s celebrations.  You won’t catch me celebrating my own but if it’s your birthday, wedding, special day, I’m all up ins with champagne, balloons, tasty treats, & prezzies.  In this case, I was not invited to the royal wedding so I’ll be celebrating later on my couch.

Anyway, the only reason why I am writing this is to share my joy in watching the news for the first time in foh-freakin-eva and not seeing something awful.  It was all hats, nice clothes, smiling people, and a bride & groom who look super in love.

When his brother got married in 2011, I felt the same way.  At the time, I worked in travel & I was spending every morning in “crisis” meetings, figuring out how to evacuate people.   Prince William’s Wednesday wedding day was literally the first day in months where the leading story wasn’t an earthquake, tsunami, nuclear disaster, or political rioting.

So, I want to sincerely thank Prince Ginge & Meghan Markle for creating some happy news stories. I really do wish them much happiness.

By the way, when I woke up this morning,  the tv was already on.    P was sniffling, drinking his coffee, and said, “They’re so in love. I can’t stop crying.  He really loves her.”.

RIGHT?!?!?!?

sniffle, sniffle, sniffle, happy tears

 

 

 

 

Japan Vacation Advice (Sort Of)

In general, I get asked a lot of travel questions – everything from my opinion on certain lodgings to troubleshooting itinerary snafus.  Before I answer anything, I always try to determine what the emotional needs or desires around the trip are.  What kind of trip are you doing? Is this a vacation or something else? Is seeing as many sights as possible more important than resting?  That kind of thing.

The one place I get asked about more than others is Japan.  While I have been there multiple times, I rarely give advice on it.   From a practicality standpoint, Tokyo itself encompasses 2500 square miles.  It’s huge.  From a cultural and amusement standpoint, there are so things that you could do that I wouldn’t even know in which direction to point you.

So, instead, I give 3 pieces of advice.  First, think about what you like and find things that match your interests.  There is always more going on than you could reasonably do.   Second, English is not a primary language, even in the big cities.  Depending upon your comfort level, it may be easier to stay at an international hotel and book some English speaking tours.  People do speak English but it’s best to assume that you may not readily find someone who can help you on the fly.  Third, read up on as much of the culture as you can.  The more you are cognizant you are of things like train manners or what to do with your chopsticks,  the better your experience will be.

Having said all that, there are some great sites that can help you plan a dream trip:

Airbnb Experiences – one on one cultural experiences at a fair price

Viator – Tours and excursions of all kinds

Trip Advisor – reviews & forums for anything travel related

JNTO – for tourist advice & discounts for visitors

がんばって!

Be sure to turn the lights off as you go…

I seriously thought I was going to die in this building.   Actually, something did happen last Spring where that was a distinct possibility…but I had that day off.  So, here I am.

After a super long run, I’ve decided to leave The River.  It wasn’t a quick decision or prompted by a singular event.  Over the past couple of years, the logistics of traveling close to 100 miles round trip by car or taking an expensive, unreliable, inconveniently scheduled train just started to chip away at my overall enjoyment.   After working a really long work week, facing another long day, made so because of transportation, became daunting.   In the Fall,  I just threw it out to the universe that I was open to something new.

From time to time, I get pinged by radio people in and out of the market, asking me if I am interested in any “potential opportunities”.  Despite having passing regrets about not taking that morning gig in Dubai in 2002 or that thing in California in 2005, I’ve been relatively satisfied with my choice to stay at The River.

The Fall passed in a blur, with me working, working, working at both jobs.  The week before Christmas, around 8p, my boss pulled me into her office and told me I had to take my vacation, starting now.  I had accrued 3+ weeks and taken one day (oops!).   All of the sudden, everything in my life just went quiet.   10 hours later, I had an “inquiry” in my email box from a station that I had been into for years.

After a few conversations and a meeting, I decided to take the new gig.   The acceptance timed out with a planned vacation; therefore, I was able to sneak away without being disruptive.  Plus, I hate goodbyes, so, it really worked out.  Initially, I just felt relief because I would never have to sit in a random yet regular Saturday morning traffic back up on 495 or pass time on a 2 hour train ride.  Although, the more it’s sinking in, the more excited I am about the idea of doing something new and making new friends.  I am all about the adventure and I know this new opportunity is going to be full of them.

Ultimately, I loved my time at The River.  I met so many great people – both coworkers & artists.   In the end, I simply had SO MUCH FUN.  SO MUCH FUN.  More fun than I ever imagined.  Even though the building sits on a giant sinkhole, it has a pretty cool vibe.   As I was leaving for the last time and turning off the lights, I meant to say thank you for all the amazing experiences.  Since I didn’t say it then, I’m saying it now.  <3

Hello world!

This blog post was already here when I when I imported my blogger blog today.

Since I say “Hello” to the world at least once a week via the broadcasts and the interwebs, I figured this is probably the best photo for this post:

Big props to my mother-in-law for finding this card at Trader Joe’s & surprising me with it in the mail.

New World vs. New World being Old World

Back in the Fall, I found myself with some free time to plow through my stacks of Netflix dvds & books.  Over the years, I’ve been given some crap that I still get the dvds, but they never stream indie or foreign films. So, je n’en ai rien a foutre.

One of the dvds was “Blood Into Wine”, the doco about Maynard James Keenan’s vineyards in Arizona.  Overall, the documentary was an interesting perspective on wine as it was half about the artistry of wine and half about responsible farming & environmental issues.  The real star was in Eric Glomski who was a river ecology major, which translated into restoring the land in Arizona.

After watching the movie, I purchased 4 wines from Caduceus – a red, a white, a rose, & an orange.  The first one we dipped into was the Primer Paso red blend, which was made in the style of Cote Rotie.  As a comparison, we cracked open a Field Theory Aglianico from Paso Robles.  The comparison I was after was not grape to grape but more new world trying to be innovative vs. new world trying to be classic. For a meal, we decided to do Pacific Rim style duck, i.e. roasted with soy sauce, molasses, and orange.

First, we tried both on their own:

The Field Theory (right) was much fruitier and simpler than the Cadeceus.  The Caduceus was complex but subtle, rich, and bit spicy with ripe purple/red fruit.  Both were really good but you could tell there was a lot more deliberate technique with the Caduceus.  BTW, the Caduceus was $50 and the Field Theory was $18.

Since the alcohol content of both were >13%, we decided to have some snacks while were cooking:

We chose truffle potato chips from MA France and white corn chips from Wegman’s.  Perhaps not surprising, aside from the salt, neither chip held up to the wines.

For the main course, we did the duck, fries with French aioli, and green salad:

Both wines complimented the duck well.  The Field Theory kept it’s fruit, whereas the Caduceus veered more dry & spicy.  Oddly, we felt that Caduceus made us feel like we were eating in Europe & the Field Theory like California.

Verdict: Either! Depends on budget and where you’d like to “go” for dinner 🙂