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    Singing The Baguette Blues

    May 9th, 2008 by steve

    We both love the bread in Europe. A warm baguette with lots of super crunchy crust and moist fluffy innards makes any day better.
    Most mornings, I run across the street to get a fresh baguette and then fry up some bacon and eggs to complete a perfect brunch. Yes ‘brunch’. It’s light out until nearly 10pm here, so we’re night owls these days.
    So the whole daily fresh baguette thing is great and all, but we’ve discovered that the grass is not always greener. Several times now, we’ve bitten into (and been bitten back by) squishy, dense or otherwise boring bread. It’s horrible. We’re not in Milpitas; this is Paris. We have expectations to be met. The bread should -always- be crisp and yummy.
    We’ve boiled down a few theories to these rules:
    4) Don’t buy on a Monday morning or after a holiday. The oven just doesn’t have its heart into the job yet.
    3) Skip it on a humid or wet day. It’s just not worth the risk.
    2) Think twice if the counter girl says “blahblah pas bien blahblah”
    1) NEVER EVER buy at the Naturalia grocery. Even if they are the only boulangerie open on Sunday. UGGGG. Healthy bread in any language sucks.

    Mary says: the baguettes from the Nature store are like Cold War bread ‘da! you veel eat rock!’ but today we found a boulangerie that sells the lustiest bread we’ve had. it’s simply glorious.

    Posted in food, paris | 1 Comment »

    Going Green

    February 8th, 2008 by mary

    It’s hard to resist cooking classes when you’re surrounded by such good local food so we signed up for a 3day/3night cooking course up in the hilly farm lands outside of Chiang Mai. It wasn’t until we looked at the poster a second time that we found out it was an organic vegetarian farm. We were worried we’d be surrounded by granolas but the people there were really friendly and fun. Okay, so we were the only two people that didn’t practice yoga, meditation and mantras daily.

    There was yoga class at dawn, fresh baked bread for breakfast from the sustainable farm next door, then we would cook 3 dishes for lunch and another 3 for dinner. We even made tofu from scratch. Everything was fresh and made from raw ingredients. The kitchen was completely outdoor and had a great vista of the village and farmland below. While we were there we stayed in a hand molded mud hut right out of the flintstone’s. There is a wealth of knowledge there and a seemingly endless list of active projects. One day a group of 25 monks came by for a tour of the place and to learn how to make natural soap and shampoo. The day that we left they were mixing up organic paint. Who knew! It was easy to see how most people there were repeat and extended stay visitors.

    The people that we met were part of the highlight we spent the nights laughing at everyone’s stories and screaming at rowdy card games. The Thai couple that owned and ran the cooking class were incredibly funny and awesome cooks. We made so much food that we couldn’t eat it all.

    All in all it was a great time and we now we know how to make really good pad thai, tom yum soup, curry pastes, and an awesome peanut sauce among other tasty thai dishes, with or without meat.

    Posted in food, thailand | No Comments »

    Putting on the Pounds

    December 22nd, 2007 by mary

    Coming out of Nepal our stomaches were still shriveled from our Himalaya experience. Bangkok was there to fill it back to its bloated form. There were fresh fruit juices galore. Our favorite being mango and passion fruit. There were also refreshingly fresh young coconuts, vinegary tom yum soup, the perennial favorite pad thai, succulent grilled jumbo prawns by the kilo, savory oyster omelets, and crispy chocolate banana crepes. Of course frequent trips to Swensen’s ice cream and Subway sandwiches helped too. We also found Isreali places that served good falafel and hummus when we needed a change. There is no shortage of food options here and I found myself counting down the minutes to the next meal.

    Thai food in Thailand is completely different than what you’d get outside the country. The taste is fresher, more distinct and flavorful. Each bite hijacks your taste buds for a thrill ride. The food carts and gutter side eateries are often the most tantalizing. And there’s no shortage of ambience on the streets.

    John got to get some good bites in before heading back to the States. The jumbo prawns never had a chance.

    Posted in food, thailand | No Comments »

    Now Serving 115,495,330

    September 24th, 2007 by mary

    Mary didn’t believe me at first when I said we should go to Beijing on this trip just to have roast duck. But I was serious. I had Peking Duck for the first time when we were here 2 years ago and it was a life altering experience. I vowed then that whenever I returned to China, I would come back to Beijing for dinner. She quickly succumbed to my plan and so we find ourselves now in Beijing.

    We returned today to the 150 year old restaurant near the Forbidden City where they actually track the number of ducks they’ve served during that time to emperors, kings, presidents and us. It’s a magical place, from the duck to the atmosphere, to the giant LED sign on the wall that tells you that duck number 115 million just popped out of the oven. Yeah, maybe it was a little touristy, but mmmmmm.

    As we passed Tiananmen Square today, focused on our impending happiness, we stumbled not across the gate that leads to our ducky wonderland, but a giant wall enclosing block after block of the Qianmen district.

    In preparation for the upcoming Olympics, this historic area that was home to houses, shops and our dinner is being razed to make way for a Chinese Santana Row which will have none of the character or charm of the original. Since this blog is being censored here anyway, I’ll just say that it stinks that China is tearing chunks of real history and culture out (not to mention displacing how many families and small businesses) just to give Olympic tourists a Disney-fied China.

    Fortunately for our stomaches, the Quanjude restaurant does have a temporary location until the reconstruction is complete, so we did get our fix. But it just wasn’t the same. So tomorrow we’ll try our host’s recommendation for the new best roast duck in Beijing, serving #15,621.

    -Steve

    Posted in china, food | No Comments »

    Letting our fingers do the ordering

    September 24th, 2007 by mary

    We don’t know how to speak or read mandarin so when it came to reading Chinese menus we were sadly useless. We found the best way to satisfy the stomach was to point at what other people were chowing down. This ended up working very well as we got to taste some great stuff that we otherwise wouldn’t have known to order.

    Bowl of crossing bridge noodles famous in Xian. It only comes in one size, enormous.

    Hot pot with spicy goodness, a Sichuan specialty.

    Grilled skewers of pork, eggplant, stuffed buns, quail eggs, lotus root, tofu, mushrooms and so much more . Street food at its best in Jiuzhaigou.

    Posted in china, food | No Comments »