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tira de asado (Argentine-style beef shortribs)
A little of what you fancy does you good.”
- British saying

The hardworking folks behind this non-award winning blog are enjoying a deserved warm weather break on Florida’s Gulf Coast right now. No offense to the locals, but we did not pick this particular destination for its well-known and highly prized food culture. Instead, it was selected as a fitting location for our first post-baby trip that would be easy to get to, easy to negotiate in situ and with guaranteed good weather, something we’ve been craving after a hard winter made tougher by a sleepless infant. Continue Reading »

Guyanese Chow Mein

Guyana, sitting on the top right of the land mass of South America, is among the least known and most mysterious of that continent’s countries, something that is almost as true today as it was when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle used it as the setting for his 1904 novel, The Lost World. Home to the most intact and least spoiled rain forests in South America, Guyana’s biodiversity is simultaneously staggering and largely undocumented, and cascading from its mossy, permanently cloud-topped peaks, fall several of the world’s largest waterfalls. Guyana is also unique on a human-scale, having the distinction of being the only English-speaking nation in South America, and, perhaps because of this, of having been among the world’s largest producers of natural latex for the manufacture of cricket balls Continue Reading »

Pasta con le sarde (pasta with sardines and fennel)

Greeks, Romans, Moors, Normans, Spaniards, Garibaldi and his thousand, and finally hordes of tourists have visited Sicily over the milennia. Some stayed for centuries, some only for generations, but even those whose sojourn was comparatively brief played a role in the island’s blending of cultures and traditions.

If this human concoction can be distilled into a single dish, it might be pasta con le sarde. A strikingly simple plate of spaghetti, fennel, onions, and sardines garnished with golden raisins (sultanas) and pine nuts, but its layers of flavor and texture speak of Sicily’s multifarious heritage. Grapes, introduced by the Greeks in the 7th century BC, combining with the tradition of using dried fruit in savory dishes adopted from the Moors, the abundant use of saffron borrowed from the Spanish Bourbon monarchy, and the native reliance on cheap and readily-available ingredients of the highest quality in the onions, foraged wild fennel, pine nuts and the island’s golden olive oil. Continue Reading »

lunch at Ferdinando's Foccaceria

When you think of old-style Italian-American restaurants does red sauce spring to mind? Red check wax table cloths, family-style servings, a free salad with your entree, rotund red-faced guys with their sleeves rolled-up, going “ey!” and slapping each other on the back? Sure, it’s a cliché, but it’s also close to the truth in a lot of places, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I, for one, love a classic east coast red sauce and meatballs joint, but it’s not the complete picture. Continue Reading »

Fabada Asturiana

Almost seven years ago I journeyed from Santillana del Mar to Santa Maria de Lebaña via San Vicente de la Barquera. So many saints, so much devotion, that it was little surprise to learn that beyond the monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana and through the Picos de Europe lies the hallowed ground of Covadonga.

It was at the battle of Covadonga in 718 that Christian Spain under Pelayo, King of Asturias, began the reclamation of Iberia from the Muslim Moors. Nestled deep within the Asturian mountains, Covadonga is as important to the Spanish national myth as Hastings is to the British or Lexington to Americans. However, history defies such over-simplification – the linear narrative of one thing followed by another – and it is too easy to say that simply because certain events turned out the way they did there were no other possibilities. Indeed, a sentence stating that the defeat of a Moorish army by a Spanish king at Covadonga began the reconquest of Spain – which culminated in Ferdinand and Isabella vanquishing Boabdil, Emir of Granada, in 1492 – encompasses more than 700 years and glosses over seven whole centuries of war, shifting borders, switching alliances, inter-marriage, suffering and grief. Continue Reading »

caldo de costillas (Colombian beef short rib soup)

We understand from our Colombian friend Juan Camilo (who longtime readers may remember from this podcast) that the Bogota nightlife is on a par with any of the world’s party capitals, and that when it comes to late night boozing, the aguardiente-loving natives of Colombia’s capital are among the most experienced. It should come as no surprise then that they have also spent some time figuring out effective cures to the inevitable DT’s the morning after — something that I am sure Charlie Sheen, with his well-known enthusiasm for the odd briefcase of Colombia’s most famous export, already knows about. Continue Reading »

deep-fried baby octopus with fried eggs
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

- Hamlet

Emerging from the cool interior, the scent of carved stone and beeswax mingles briefly before being overwhelmed by the perfume of orange trees, and the holy silence is punctured by the mossy gurgle of a tiny fountain. Large white geese peck assertively at the ragged hands of ferns that decorate this cloister and I am reminded that oranges were brought here by the Moors and that geese make more effective security systems than dogs and fences. Incongruous? Perhaps. But not nearly so peculiar given the context in which I was reminded of this memory of Barcelona: an article announcing that Jennifer Aniston’s favorite country is Spain and Barcelona her favorite city. All of which would be of no interest whatsoever if she made better movies. Continue Reading »

Lamb Peratil curry with Malay fragrant rice

Though a resident of Singapore, then a part of Malaysia, during the early 1950s, I doubt very much if my father ever had much of an opportunity to experience its astonishing variety of cuisines. Confined mostly to the Changi district (now better known for its international airport) and the company of other expatriate British military families, his diet hardly differed from that of his older brother, Roger, who stayed in England at boarding school throughout the family’s four year sojourn in the east. Continue Reading »

Lomo Saltado

During his show on Panama, Anthony Bourdain observed that Chinese food somehow gets shinier the further west one goes. He might also have mentioned that it changes in other ways throughout the western hemisphere too, on the whole, becoming less and less Chinese-like. In a similar way to Panama, to which Chinese laborers flocked to help build the eponymous canal, Peru experienced large-scale immigration of Cantonese mine workers during the latter half of the 19th century too, and still has the largest Asian population of any nation in South America. Largely isolated from its home country for the intervening century and a half, the Peruvian Chinese community, like many New World immigrant groups, developed its own distinct peculiarities. Continue Reading »

foie gras and wild mushroom raviolo

There’s a show on public television here in America called “Moment of Luxury” in which the host very generously enjoys all manner of fine things on our behalf and then shares his collected pensees about the experience. Traveling around the food blogosphere lately has felt like a surprisingly similar experience for us since our three month old prevents us from experiencing any luxury ourselves.

Tough titty, I hear you cry. Fair enough, we have lived rather high on the hog these last several years and have been blessed with several unforgettable moments of luxury along the way, but like the princess and the pea, we are finding our current rather straightened circumstances somewhat uncomfortable. Continue Reading »

Lentils with chocolate and baked paprika spiked pork chop

Those of you who raised your eyebrows at the very idea of lentils mixed with chocolate might be forgiven for thinking that we have lost our tiny minds, that too long around infant children, cooing and a-goo-goo-gooing, has softened our already mushy brains beyond repair. Indeed, had we not gone out on a limb ourselves and given this a bash, I daresay we would be right there among you sucking our teeth and rolling our eyes, but, like many foods that turn out to be extra delicious, a small leap of faith is necessary. Continue Reading »

Food & Friends, Recipes and Memories from Simca's Cuisine

The culinary memoir has to be one of my favorite genres of both cookbooks and books in general. Combining anecdotes, family history and delicious recipes, and spanning literature and cuisine, there’s really nothing better than a cookbook that you can actually read, that’s not just a selection of quick and easy recipes by some personality-laden stand and stir TV show host, and from which you learn the context of the food and about why traditions and patience in food are important. With the holiday season upon us, I can heartily recommend you give the gift of a copy of Food & Friends: Recipes and Memories from Simca’s Cuisine by Simone Beck, to your nearest and dearest this year. Continue Reading »

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