Monday, October 31, 2005

Peanut Butter, I Hardly Know 'er!

I just crack myself up sometimes. Ah-hem.

Anyways, I’ve finally gotten around to making some treats, and since it's Halloween, well then, how timely for the little ghosties and goblins prowling about tonight. Since I already had everything in the cupboard necessary, I made Anna’s Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.

It was terribly difficult to resist the urge to add vanilla to the cookies, but I somehow managed. They turned out great, too, all hot and gooey straight from the oven, with loads of peanut butter flavour. Since I had part of an 80% Lindt chocolate bar left over, I chunked it, and added it in as well. The dark chocolate was a nice counterpoint against the sweetness.

Although these were very good, I did think they were rather sweet. Next time, I’ll reduce the amount of white sugar, and see how low we can go. I'm sure the sweetness will be no problem whatsoever for the kids!

I was unable to find the recipe by searching on her site (Anna, where did that recipe go?), so I’ll reproduce it here.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

½ cup shortening
½ cup margarine, softened (I used unsalted butter)
1 cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup white sugar
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cup quick-cooking oats
1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325-degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together shortening, margarine, brown sugar, white sugar, and peanut butter until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time until well-blended.
Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and oats; stir into the creamed mixture.
Gently fold in chocolate chips.
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 9-11 minutes in the preheated oven, or until just barely puffed and light brown. Don’t over-bake.
Cool and store in an airtight container.

Note: I used tablespoon-sized portions of dough for the cookies, and found that they baked off at about 17 minutes.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Labour of Love: Boeuf Bourguignon

When DucCat and I got married, one of the gifts that I received from my mother-in-law has become treasured above all others: Julia Child's Mastering the Art of Fine Cooking, Volume 1.

I was still just coming into the realm of cooking at the time, and when she discovered that this book was missing from my arsenal, wasted no time in filling that gap. I'm no Julia Powell, so am still making my way, page-by-page through its enchanting prose. There are only a few recipes that I've gone through, but one in particular has taken hold of DucCat: beef burgundy.

The first time that he made it was on an icy-cold early spring evening. It was a Saturday morning, and I was spending the day at school. DucCat pondered over coffee, and finally decided to make me a lovely surprise.

Five hours later, he had finally finished cooking, and the pot was left to bubble away in the oven. I arrived home to unimaginably wonderful scents beating their way through the front door: red wine, tender beef, herbs, garlic- it was mouth-watering.

Since then, DucCat has honed his bourginon method, and is down to about three-and-a-half hours actual cooking time. The cookbook, at this time of year, is a bare bones guide. In another month, it will sit in the cupboard as he adds pinches of herbs, pats of butter, and glugs of wine into the ever-simmering pot.

We used to serve this on spaetzle, and I believe we once even tried it on mashed potatoes. Our preferred method has shifted towards toasted slices of bread; when we can arrange it, as in this case, it has to be Syd's bread.

It's sliced on the thick side, then toasted golden as it becomes an enviable, toasty cradle for a succulent autumn meal.

What eventually comes out of this prolonged loving process looks much like this:

One can't help but to lean forward and take in that heady, rich aroma.

We initially served this with a Chateau Lafite Rothschild Pauillac 1999. This deep, dark wine has a complex depth of flavour, with ripe fruit, soft tannins, and touches of smoky wood and leather. It went extremely well with the bourginon, but I’m looking forward to tasting it again in one year’s time.

As the meal continued, we switched to the Whitehall Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 that our guests had kindly brought. It became obvious that we should have had the wines in the opposite order. While still a very good wine, with soft dark fruits, blackberry, and spices all nicely balanced- it was no match for the Pauillac.

For many of us, Autumn is here, and in some places, Winter is already making it's frosty presence known. Invite over the ones you love, dig in, and drink deep from the well of life!

Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

a 9- 10 inch fireproof casserole 3 inches deep
6-ounce chunk of bacon
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 lbs. lean stewing beef cut into 2-inch cubes
1 sliced carrot
1 sliced onion
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp flour
3 cups of a full-bodied, young red wine (we used a Three Thieves Cabernet Sauvignon)
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 tsp thyme
crumbled bay leaf
the blanched bacon rind
18 to 24 small white onions, brown-braised in stock (recipe follows)
1 lb. quartered fresh mushrooms sautéed in butter (recipe follows)
parsley sprigs


Remove rind, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, inch thick and 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.

Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.

Dry the beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of pre-heated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.

When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.

Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.

('*) Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.

For Immediate Serving: Cover the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.

For Later Serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.

Brown-Braised Onions

9-10-inch enameled skillet
18-24 peeled white onions about 1-inch in diameter (we usually get the frozen kind!)
1 ½ Tablespoons butter
1 ½ Tablespoons oil
½ cup of brown stock or red wine (we used the brown stock)
salt and pepper to taste
medium herb bouqet: 4 parsley sprigs, ½ bay lear, and ¼ teaspoon thyme tied in cheesecloth

When the butter and oil are bubbling in the skillet, add the onions and saute over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins; you cannot expect to brown uniformly.

Braise as follows:
Pour in the liquid, season to taste, and add herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40-50 minutes, until the onions are perfectly tender, but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet.

Sauteed Mushrooms

10-inch enameled skillet
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon oil
½ pound fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small, or quartered if large
optional: 1-2 Tablespoons minced shallots or green onions
salt and pepper

Place the skillet over high heat with the butter and oil. As soon as you see that the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4-5 minutes. During their saute, the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In 2-3 minutes, the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have lightly browned, remove from heat.

Tuesday Tacos and Tempranillo

We were still in recovery mode from being on holiday, and wanted a simple and fast meal. Once again, we found ourselves reaching to the back of the pantry for our Ortega Taco Kit. Yes, we are only human.

In all honesty, I’d never eaten one of these until I met DucCat; this was one of his staple bachelor meals. Throw some ground beef in the skillet, and actually, it doesn't even matter if it's fresh or frozen. Get it nice and brown, then open the seasoning packet and dump the contents in.

Keep the seasoning packet pulled wide open, and fill it almost to the brim with water; add this to the skillet, too, along with a nice dollop of taco sauce or salsa, whatever you have in your fridge. It doesn’t hurt to add a couple of drops of Dave's Insanity Sauce, but not too much.

And soon, you’ve got tacos. Here are DucCat’s.

Before he met me, his tacos were pretty much just meat and cheese.

Look at all the vegetables now- I am so proud.
*dreamy sigh*

Now I’m not some sort of crazy anti-carb person, but unless I’ve been running a lot,
I prefer a lettuce-leaf wrapped taco. Let’s the flavours shine through a lot more clearly, or something.

Of course, I’m not here to talk about convenience-food dinners, so let’s move onto the wine: a Rioja Antano Tempranillo 2002.

I believe we had our first taste of this wine about a year or so ago, and I’m already seeing some improvements.

It’s a tangle of raspberries and soft fruit; the harsher tannins have mellowed a bit, and it’s smooth and groovy on your tongue.

The finish lingers smoothly- altogether a very pleasant wine, though I’ll cop to drinking it more after the meal than during.

What out there pairs really well with Dave’s Insanity Sauce, other than agua?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

It's a Hoe-Down!

Yee-haw, baby, it's that fantabulous time of year again when the Cowboy his-self unleashes the magnitude of his artistic endeavours upon the unsuspecting public!

This year's showing will take place down in Port Warwick this Friday, October 28th, from 5:00-9:00, and Saturday from 12:00-3:00. All the usual suspects will be in attendance: crazy, foam-core creations, paintings, photos of the holga and pinhole variety, and I'm almost certain one could find an Elvis the Fluffy Dog running about.

And just so that you don't think that this is completely unrelated to food, there will be nibblies and bubbly for those in attendance.

How do you get there? Call Cowboy Syd's restaurant at 757-599-5800, and they'll get you to the spot.

"In God we trust, all others pay CASH!"

Friday, October 21, 2005

Dim Sum in Newport News

Well, it doesn't seem to truly exist here, at least if it's not previously frozen. Since that's the closest we've come to it thus far, it does well enough for DucCat and I. Last night was a dim sum night.

We typically have some sort of vegetable with dim sum, and tonight DucCat had found kim chee at Harris Teeter. For a jarred kim chee, this was pretty good stuff. Flavourful and spicy.

Of course, the warning label always gets me going.

Each time, I hold it gingerly over the sink, cupping the top with a napkin- and nothing more scary than a soft pop happens. I've seen far more ferocious champagnes.

As the freezer dim sum steams away, I make the dipping sauce, something I picked up from Recipezaar's taylortwo: "My Korean Dipping Sauce". I always add the optional garlic-chile paste. We had to try a new brand (rooster), which turned out to be surprisingly wimpy. I had to triple the amount we normally use to get any semblance of heat or garlic. Luckily, there was enough sriracha around to heat things up once again.

Now for a question I'm really not sure I want to know the answer to. What the hell kind of dumpling is this supposed to be, anyway?

There's nothing else in English on the package that indicates what the contents are, except the picture of the jolly old fat man.

I mean, maybe it's supposed to be reindeer. It couldn't really be Santa Claus-flavoured, now could it?!?

I couldn't detect anything from the North Pole in these dumplings, and even suspect that they may contain kimchee. At least, I hope that's why they were so red.

For jarred kimchee, this wasn't too bad. For jarred kimchee from Harris Teeter, it was surprisingly good.

The dipping sauce, as always, was just right, thanks to the judicious amount of Rooster sauce. This is one of our favourite quick weeknight meals!

"My Korean Dipping Sauce", adapted from taylortwo

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons good-quality garlic-chile paste
1 bunch green onions, chopped

Mix together first seven ingredients, then divide into two bowls.
Split chopped green onions between the two bowls.
Let sit for at least an hour for flavours to develop; the longer, the better, of course.

PS- Where the hell can we go to around here to find good dim sum?! We're willing to travel, yo.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Cats are Out of the House!

We're heading down to Duck, North Carolina just now to spend a few days on the beach. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Fat in the Fire

The night air was cool and crisp, yet begged for a simple meal, preferably something char-grilled and touched with smoke. DucCat immediately got to work on the Weber, expertly coddling the coals, and was soon twisting and flipping two very fat Costco-sized steaks.

As things began to calm down out there, I remembered the mushrooms still simmering on the stove, and went to finish those off. The recipe was based upon one from Marcella Hazan's Essentials Of Italian Classic Cooking, and contained simple button mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, garlic, and rosemary, all cooked down nicely with a little chicken stock. It truly made the house smell wonderful.

Just as the mushrooms finished, DucCat sailed back in with a platter full of piping hot steaks and grilled bread, and we were ready.

The little blob next to the steak was purported to be horseradish- Helluva Good (brand), in fact. I thought we'd had this kind before, and even enjoyed it. This batch in particular was so mild and humdrum that I just gave up, and ate the steak plain- DucCat resorted to steak sauce. Oh, the humanity.

Now this was really not my best idea. We were out of spinach, so I just thought it would be fine to toss the piping hot mushrooms on top of the salad, and have at it.

Er, not so much so. I scraped out the mushrooms onto the grilled bread- a huge improvement. DucCat didn’t care for the mushrooms so much- too much rosemary, even though I'd used less than specified.

(Full disclosure: when I first met him and was trying to learn how to cook in order to win his heart, I made something with rosemary. Perhaps some sort of pork tenderloin? When adding the fresh rosemary, there was quite a bit left over, so I didn't see the harm in throwing it all in. I mean, it was just an herb, so more would just be better, right? Ha! It was like chewing on pine needles, and after several moments of grim munching, we threw it out, and just ate more bread and cheese. He told me last night that he used to like rosemary, but is now permanently scarred by that horrific tenderloin.)

All in all, a great meal, but I'd had an Amateur Gourmet-inspired Pumpkin Apple Bread craving all day long. DucCat gave the thumbs up, and soon the house was redolent with cinnamon, apples, and pumpkin. After a long, hot summer, it was so nice to have those scents wafting through the air again.

In about 45 minutes, the bread were ready to come out of the oven. I didn't think that the tops looked quite golden enough, so I pulled out my trusty blowtorch to caramelise them just a bit. As you can see, there's a bit more carbon up there than caramel.

It wasn't until this point that I finally finished reading the recipe, which stipulated close to two hours of cooling time.

Two hours, are you kidding me?!?

As there were two loaves, I decided that one would just have to take one for the troops, and chopped it right on up. It certainly didn't seem to suffer in the least, all moist and hot and spicy and... you get the idea. Welcome Autumn, and thanks, Adam!

Monday, October 17, 2005

The weekend cheese plate

It's Sunday. It's gorgeous and not raining, for the first time in seven days and seven nights. It's temperate, warm, with a bit of a cool breeze. DucCat and I prepare a much-welcomed cheese platter for our leisurely Sunday European-style lunch.

Click on the picture for a bit of a larger version, but here's the breakdown, starting at the upper left.

The blue crock holds pesto and chopped tomatoes; some carrots, and then some goat cheese; a hot pepper jack, a sliced row of fuji apple, which runs into a mild jack; the yellow crock holds luscious, unctuous Usinger's peppered liverwurst (my new favourite food); more carrots, and then Chaource Lincet. I hope I spelled that correctly, but it's one of those incredibly buttery creations that could be a Marilyn Monroe of the cheese world.

A little Pacific Peak Chardonnay went quite nicely with it all. We each crafted our own perfect crackers, and spent a couple of hours relaxing in the early afternoon warmth, chatting, laughing, and enjoying the shockingly cloudless blue sky.

Ah, literally the perfect s'kat cracker-

pesto, goat cheese, tomato and fresh basil.
Of course, it was the weekend, so a passionate Norwegian forrest-kitty meowed her way outside in order to make an appearance. After tasting a bit of liverwurst (a girl after my own heart!), she rubbed her face happily around anything at hand.

These are the moments in which you realise how good life can be- how good it is. These are the moments onto which you should hold tight- it's what makes every weekday banality worthwhile.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Hope for Hampton Roads

Oh. My. God.


a Trader Joe's is coming to the new Jefferson Commons shopping centre. I've never been so happy to see a chain in my life. If there are any TJ 'must have's', leave a comment!

Friday, October 14, 2005

I'm not the only one...

...who's lookin' forward to the weekend. No rain! Sun! Weddings! Pizza!

See you on the flipside!

Loosin' that Brutti's Feelin'

On a leisurely Sunday morning, DucCat and I can typically be found tooling around the Hampton Roads area on the ST-4. For the past couple of months, we always seem to be in the Portsmouth area for lunch, and have made it a habit of dining at the The Bier Garden.

A couple of Sundays ago, we decided to throw habit and comfort aside, and venture someplace new. And that's how we ended up at Brutti's.

Usually, their tiny, outdoor patio always bustles- today there were only a couple of tables occupied. After perusing the menu, which seemed to have a quasi-European flair to it, we went it, and were quickly seated on the patio.

Our server walked stiffly up to us, poured water, dropped off the menus, smiled wanly, and walked back inside. Okay. I was soon tempted by the Cashew Chicken Salad, "tender chunks of roasted chicken breast, cashews & veggies, sauteed, and served over a bed of fresh greens".

Just then, the server returned, and I placed my order. DucCat followed with a request for the Hot Pastrami & Swiss on rye. The server, with that curiously sphinx-like expression, took our menus and left again.

The patio was starting to fill up when he returned with our ridiculously large plates. Like clockwork, as soon as he deposited them and walked away, the flies began swarming and dive-bombing us.

My salad was composed of iceburg lettuce- very tired iceburg lettuce. The chicken had been rendered completely tasteless and dry. There was one cold tomato (damn you!), although the broccoli was passable. I was hungry, so nibbled some of the broccoli off my plate, no more.

DucCat's was much better, and he even let me have a bite or two out of pity.

The waiter returned to take our dishes, barely blinking an eye when my salad exploded with an angry cloud of flies when he picked it up. I was amazed that he took my almost-full plate back without a word, except, "I'll get your check." Nice work, dude. We paid, and quickly left.

As we walked down the street, DucCat asked if I was still hungry. A little, I agreed, and unison we turned on our heels and went straight over to The Bier Garden.

Ah yes, The Bier Garden. Let me count the ways in which I love you:

Weihenstephaner Hefe

Erdinger Heffe Weisse



Yeah, those are a few good places to start. So are these.

Knockwurst and German Potato Salad. Both were simply fantastic. I'm amazed that I never liked sausages until recently, and everytime I sample a new one, its with the same sense of childlike pleasure. Bite. Pop. Squirt. Wow!

I usually get the liverwurst here, but today I selected the teawurst, and cucumber salad. The teawurst was good, different in subtle ways. It was a litle more raw in taste, and very light. While good enough, I will probably stick with the liverwurst in the future, but it was nice to deviate this once.

We paid up, and took a little walk around the downtown area, before hopping back on the bike. I resisted giving the finger to Brutti's.

Just barely.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

A Harley Farms Kinda Birthday

I am lucky enough to have a wonderful mother-in-law, who thoroughly appreciates the arts, fine wines, and fine foods. She taught herself to cook ala Julia Child, and passed that priceless heritage along to DucCat. She recently had a birthday, and a woman of such taste deserves only the best.

That’s why I was so jazzed to stumble across the Harley Farms website, tucked quietly away on the other side of the country.

I browsed through their selection of cheeses, trying to decide upon which tantalizing round to order.
Perhaps the colourful plentitude of the Artisanal Assortment?

Then again, the holidays are right around the corner... maybe ‘the Collage’, a "stunning and colourful journey through their most popular cheeses"?

I finally decided to go with the more modestly-sized ‘festive wheel’, and selected the ‘Van Goat’. Her love of art is as passionate as her love of flowers- and good, fresh goat cheese.

The shipping, as you can imagine, was as much as the cheese itself, but it came well-protected, still with a bit of a chill when it arrived at the front door. I’m not sure yet how it tastes, but she’s said that it won’t be cut into until a special occasion- and with DucCat and I around, as well.

The word artisanal truly seems to apply to the products that Harley Farms crafts for the world to enjoy. Happy birthday, Judy.

all photos courtesy Harley Farms

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

It Turns Chili in the Autumn

We in the Hampton Roads area are finally experiencing a reprieve from the merciless heat of our most recent summer. Then days are still warm, but the touch of cool air has begun to make a bit of colour appear in the leaves. The night air is deliciously chilly, perfect for an evening dip in the hot tub- or a proper bowl of chili.

DucCat has been making some variation of this chili for years now. About three years ago, I demanded the he write the recipe down, as he’s a ‘pinch o this, pinch o that’ cook.. The following recipe is merely a blueprint, and tends to morph just a bit each time it is made.

Of course, one of the best things about chili is that it makes such a large amount, and is as close to being perfect for the freezer as meals tend to come. The heaping bowl above was scavenged late Tuesday night, quickly thawed and warmed through, and tasted just as good- if not better- than when we’d first had it.

DucCat’s Chili-Blueprint

1 pound ground beef
1 pound sausage
1 red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves
2 cans of whole tomatoes, drained
2 cans black beans, drained
1 can tomato paste
1 can of Budweiser
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon mexican oregano
2 types of chile powders, 1 Tablespoon each
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon cumin
4 sliced Trappey’s jalapeno

note: estimations of the spice amounts are purely speculative, as he always goes back and adjusts the flavours as the day bubbles away.

Brown ground beef in large pot; remove, and drain all but 1 Tablespoon excess grease.
Add onion and sausage and sauté until onion is translucent and sausage has browned; drain off excess grease.
Return ground beef to pot, add additional ingredients, and bring to a boil.
Lower heat to a lively simmer, and let cook for several hours, stirring occasionally.
Occasionally taste and adjust the spices as necessary.
You’ll know it’s done when you’re about to gnaw off your little finger and use it as a tester.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I Never Sausage Rain...

To say that this weekend went ‘not so good’ is an understatement.

Let’s begin by reviewing the weather we’ve had here this summer: lots of hot, lots of humid, and lots of NO RAIN! It’s been two months, at the very least, since we’ve seen a single, fat drop.

The rains began Friday night, hard, heavy, and wet- the gods began to snicker. We awoke Saturday morning to the continuing heavy downpour. DucCat and I eyed one another nervously over coffee, hoping it would stop soon.

We arrived in Port Warwick, ready to make a go of it anyway. Wet artists scurried back and forth, trying to protect their pieces as much as possible.

I do have to say, it was a REALLY bad day for the watercolourists.

Finally, around 11:00-ish, the rains began to slow just a bit. DucCat went back to the tent to try and start a fire, while my friend and I went to get the food and supplies.

We returned to the tent laden with sausages and hope. Sadly, the health department had already shut us down, due to the possibility of rain coming in through the sides of the tent.

This was not a great way to begin our great Sausage Adventure. DucCat and I turned to comfort food that night. Meatball pie, baby, meatball pie:

After a good night of rest, we popped out of bed Sunday morning, deliriously happy to see that it wasn’t raining! It was still very grey, overcast and misting. I’d call it high humidity, but the temperature had taken a definate turn for the cooler side.

Port Warwick had officially become a giant mudpit overnight, thanks to 6 inches of unprecedented rain. We were prepared in boots and jeans, and soon, The Sausage Shack was looking rather inviting.

Here’s a closer look at our signs (click on photo to enlarge).

Some friends happened by at this point, and kindly took our picture. Can you sense the growing anticipation?!?

As it turned out, the few people who braved the mud and cold mist didn’t seem to be so interested in eating our tantalizing sausages. Our tent was all the way at the back of the event- if this played into it, I’m just not sure. It also didn't help that the wind was blowing that wonderful scent away from the festival, not towards the crowd.

Nonetheless, our juicy little andouilles were fantastically spicy and flavourful; the mango-peach salsa cooled it down while nicely complementing the savoury flavour; a smattering of Trappey's jalapenos made one’s mouth buzz with endorphins.

Props to Cowboy Syd for being our best customer.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Pre-Weekend Cat Blogging

Our guardian of the winter squash, all hail the Princess Melange.

On the Verge of a Busy Weekend....

Since I'm not going to be posting this weekend, I'll take the opportunity to catch up on our week's worth of comfort foods.

Yes, that's right, we didn't stop at chicken fried steaks. The next night was pizza, but you've seen that before, so we'll hop right along to chicken parm night.

This was one of the first meals that DucCat ever created during his bachelor days, and it's a good one. Thinly-pounded chicken boobs coated in a spiced flour crust, pan-fried just perfectly, then finished in the oven in a layer of bubbling tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil. DucCat had his the classic way, served over pasta; I opt for wilted spinach, much to his eye-rolling dismay.

After so much heavy food, I begged for a night off, so we headed over to Sushi Yama.

Our experience was completely delightful, from start to finish. We ordered our meal carry-out, and had some dumplings while we waited. I didn't have my camera with me at the time, but I've previously documented the shumai. They were just as superb as last time. The real jewel turned out to be the handmade gyoza, soft, with just a hint of chew from being pan-fried. The filling was bursting with spicy pork, ginger, and something that almost tasted citric. They were a real pleasure to eat.

As we paid up, the owner came over to us, and pointed out that they'd added extra toro and extra bulgogi. Apparently, he'd been watching us eat, and was tickled at our joy over the dumplings. What a nice touch.

I was going to try to arrange these all on a platter before photographing, but they were beautifully boxed. This is a cucumber-wrapped tuna roll, doused with colourful caviar. It was very fresh tasting, and of course, it's always fun to pop caviar between your teeth.

You can also see the fresh toro, picked up at 3:00 that morning all the way in Maryland, and driven back by the owner. It was superb, and just melted in your mouth like butter. DucCat hadn't had the toro before, but became an instant convert.

The next box contained a well-done rendition of spicy tuna rolls, and what I believe was a dragon roll. I'm not sure what I thought a dragon roll was, but I didn't anticipate it having a core of pink squishy stuff. I tried a piece, but couldn't get beyond the texture. DucCat refused to even try it.

The last box contained the hallowed bulgogi roll. Classically prepared bulgogi is stuffed inside, and lavished upon this roll. It's spicy and hot; kimchi inside the roll provides textural contrast.

What a great meal. I just have to revisit that first box again.


Last night was our compromise meal: tacos. It's an easy weeknight meal because it comes straight outta tha box! That's right, sometimes we're shameless hacks, and the Ortega Taco Kit is our crutch.

He prepares the ground beef, while I chop up our toppings. He toasts taco shells, while I rinse my lettuce leaves.

Soon, we're both happy.

We drank a 2004 Panarroz Jumilla with the tacos.

It's a smooth Spanish blend that had cherry on the nose, and curiously, went simply softly sultry and smooth in the mouth.

Once it hit my tongue, I was unable to pick out any particular flavour.

Nonetheless, it was quite enjoyable, and I look forward to having it agian.


So that takes care of a week's worth of comfort foods, and we stand on the brink of the FIRST ANNUAL PORT WARWICK ART FESTIVAL. Admidst the rain, lightning and thunder promised (damn you, hurricane, damn you!), DucCat and I will be tag-teaming the sausage stand, serving spicy andouilles to the undoubtedly ravenous teaming crowds that will suck it up and brave the weather. 'cus I know I would, right?

No matter what happens, we'll face it just like this:
Wurd to ya mutha, dawg.
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