March 30, 2009

wooo, going to hawai'i!

HOT DAMN. My crazy project has gone unexpectedly dark, and I have no work to speak of until it resumes, and so I have gotten permission from the powers that be to say YES YES HELL YES to tallasiandude's plan to skip town and spend two weeks in Hawai'i starting immediately after our San Diego dance weekend.

Which means as of Thursday evening, we are outta here, suckers! YAY!

So, internet -- if we were flying direct to Kaua'i, I would go immediately to Hamura's for saimin... but we are going to O'ahu this time. Where does one go for the really good saimin treat in Honolulu?

Posted by foodnerd at 06:36 PM | Comments (1)

March 24, 2009

still recharging

I thought maybe I was doing a little better today, but after a sane breakfast (banana, plain yogurt, marmalade) and a sane lunch (baingan bhartha with rice and a hardboiled egg), and two small 15-minute naps, I still found myself today at 3:30 intolerably hungry.

I had some crostini crackers and chipotle hummus, which didn't even make a dent. So I applied protein to the problem, in the form of some lovely cheddar cheese. Still not good enough! So I ate a big bunch more of those dark chocolate salty almonds, and that finally did the job.

It's a little bit worrisome, but it really does feel like extra fuel is being requested in order to do repair work in there. The nap cravings reinforce that feeling. I do feel much better the last day or so, but clearly all is not entirely back to normal just yet.

Posted by foodnerd at 06:52 PM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2009

work nightmare over

So the last few weeks have been really gnarly with work, and the last few days, from about last Wednesday, have been one long endurance test of remarkably little sleep, remarkably high levels of anxiety, and one firedrill after another. But we got through it, and very successfully too, and now after two nights (in a row!) of more than 9 hours of sleep, I am starting to feel human again.

And I am musing on what exactly I have felt the need to eat the last couple of days. During the worst of it, while traveling and doing a big presentation to clients, I ate pretty healthy food and I think that helped a lot: congee with preserved eggs and pork, a cold salmon nicoise salad, good quality sushi, eggs and bacon and fruit. And omega-3 fish oil capsules have been helping me feel much more alert across the board the last couple of weeks, so that helped too.

Since I took a horrible early morning flight home, too early to get a decent breakfast EVEN IN A CASINO, I managed on a bottle of milk, a Zone bar, and a bottle of berry-based superfood-ish juice, and then gnawed my way through the last of my homemade Chex Mix on the plane to keep my mind off my bodily suffering. Coke Zero on the plane kept me lucid. Blargh.

When I got home, I drank a bunch of water, and then we had a pepperoni & mushroom pizza at Upper Crust. That hit the spot, and then I keeled over and slept for 11 hours.

Yesterday, I had a spinach & cheese omelet and some banana and orange sprinkled with cinnamon, and a big fat coffee. Dinner was rice and korean pickles and tofu and the last bits of beef soup broth. And then I was overcome by the need to eat chocolate: I had a bunch of those awesome dark chocolate almonds with salt.

That kept on this morning, when I capped off my rice, egg, furikake & pickles with the last bit of a Ritter Sport dark chocolate hazelnut bar.

Not sure what to make of that, really. But given what I have put my body through over the last week, I am going to give it whatever the hell it wants for another day or so. Then it's back to normal, and hopefully with a nice sunny bit of springtime weather to go with it. That would be nice.

Posted by foodnerd at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2009

white house vegetable garden

I don't have time to find a link for this, but today Michelle Obama broke ground on a new organic vegetable garden on the lawn of the White House.

That so completely RULES. There may be hope for us after all.

Posted by foodnerd at 08:37 PM | Comments (1)

March 17, 2009

plum & walnut yogurt

holy crap, Liberté brand plum & walnut full-fat yogurt is so delicious I don't know quite what to say.

Posted by foodnerd at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2009

fromage fort

I happened to do my shopping at the Framingham Whole Foods this weekend, and discovered a little treasure called fromage fort. It purports to be a mix of four cheeses and garlic and spices, and it is a creamy thick dip for celery sticks and carrots. Normally I loathe celery sticks because they overpower whatever you dip into, but they are downright tasty with this stuff on 'em.

I've not seen this at my local Newton WF, but I will take a closer look the next time I am there. I'd keep this stuff around for semi-healthy snackage and impromptu cocktail party nosh.

Posted by foodnerd at 12:14 PM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2009

the true and glorious nature of fried rice

dried scallop & egg white fried rice

If you grew up anywhere or anything like I did, the fried rice of your youth was dark brown, salty, greasy and speckled with frozen mixed vegetables and tiny scraps of red roast pork and egg. And you slurped it up with vigor, but it was hardly the stuff of dreams.

Enter tallasiandude and his frequent workday lunches at the Vietnamese restaurants of north-eastern Massachusetts. He would come home rapturous over the fried rice at a couple of places in particular. And one day he brought me up there, and we ordered a plate of that rice. And then we ordered another plate because the first was so mind-bendingly delicious, perfect, bright, fresh, white, tasting of the wok heat and clean egg and shrimp and scallion.

Right around that same time, I was reading Mouth Wide Open by John Thorne (a gift from C, thanks, C!). In that excellent volume is an article about Mr. Thorne's similar progression of experience with fried rice, and since he lives in a less-urban area with less proximity to seriously good Asian restaurants, he went about figuring out how to make an excellent fried rice for himself. Having never managed a successful fried rice on my own by bumbling about experimenting, I tried his method, and holy kershnikeys, does it ever turn out good.

It's good even when you deviate a little bit and put in different vegetables or meats or seasonings according to the contents of your refrigerator. It's good with white rice or brown. It's good and hot and fresh and filling and tastes of toasted rice and heat and white pepper.

So it is with all this for background that we found ourselves at Vinh Sun in Boston's Chinatown, out on a hot date to eat dinner & see Watchmen after a really stressful couple of days. It was most stressful for me in particular, so I was getting to pick most of what we ordered, and for some reason I was drawn to the list of fried rices. The most unusual-looking one was listed as a "dried scallop and egg white" version, and it seemed like it might be a good flavor balance with the other stuff we were getting.

And it arrived, pristinely white and flecked with scallion, white pepper, big fluffy sheets of egg white, with reckless quantities of shredded dried scallop scattered over the top like golden pine needles. The rice grains were hot and toasty, almost chewy and bouncy in texture, and the whole thing was just perfect, light, savory, rich. The rice is a little different and the flavorings are different, but the spirit is the same, making it a distinctly Chinese version of those excellent Vietnamese fried rice dishes.

So now we know three places to go out and get superlative fried rice, and we make it at home as best we can. If you have reason to be in Boston Chinatown, try and get over to Vinh Sun and order some fried rice and taste for yourself how truly delicious it can be.

Posted by foodnerd at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2009

noodly thoughts

a couple of things noodle-related:

- tallasiandude has been meditating on the nu ro mian of his youth, and thinking that the plain wheat shanghai-style noodles we've been using are good but not quite the same as what he remembers... so when we spied some egg-white noodles of about the same size and shape from the same maker, we grabbed them to see if perhaps they might fit the bill. And they did, and how. They are chewier and more substantial, with a bit more flavor even, and they are spectacular in the beefy broth. All subsequent Noodlefests and nu ro mian endeavors shall be using this improved noodle!

- We tried some brown rice rotini from Trader Joe's. We are occasionally seized by such insanity, in the blind hope that this time will be different from all the other times when non-durum pastas are just plain awful. And astoundingly, this time it wasn't so bad. A little bland, but generally quite acceptable. I would recommend cooking them a little bit more than you would a normal pasta, because when one rotini (rotino?) is just perfect, some of the others still have undercooked cores. When it's uniformly soft, you kind of don't notice that it's made of not-wheat when you're eating it with a robust tomato-meat sauce. I think the fact that it is made with brown rather than white rice gives it a bit more body, texture and flavor. If I was gluten-intolerant, I would be entirely pleased with this product as a suitable vehicle for delicious sauces.

So that makes a total of two non-standard pastas that are decent: TJ's brown rice rotini, and the whole wheat pasta from Big Y (Full Circle organic whole wheat pasta, apparently not the Big Y store brand, but that's the only place we've found it locally).

Posted by foodnerd at 10:49 AM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2009

shut yer whining

Normally, I adore everything about The Fatted Calf. All their meats are delectable, and I look forward to reading their newsletter even though it inspires dreadful, inconsolable longing, because it is such delightful food porn.

But lately, I've been rolling my eyes back into my head when I read those newsletters. And the reason is that they've been (goodnaturedly) complaining about the horrors of winter. Oh PLEASE. What a bunch of candy-ass whiners. I'm sorry, if you live anywhere that has a farmer's market even in February, you have no grounds whatsoever to complain about winter. Ever.

Take this for example, from the newest newsletter:

"Indoor living starts to feel a little stale by the time March rolls around. I start to have hopes and dream of picnicking on less sodden ground. While the rain blows sideways, I think about cooking paella over an open fire at the beach instead of on our Weber in the freezing carport. And already, dressed in parka and galoshes I am gardening in short stretches between rain showers."

Oh, the terrible sadness of having to cook on your carport Weber in March, and having to garden with a coat on. Listen, wusses, I dug my car out of 8 inches of snow YESTERDAY. Don't talk to me about your suffering or the cold weather. I don't get a fresh local vegetable around here until JUNE. SO SHUT IT.

Posted by foodnerd at 06:44 PM | Comments (2)

March 03, 2009

Is this weird? canned peaches & goat cheddar

Lately I've been doing fruit+protein breakfasts, and last week that turned out to be jarred cling peaches and a couple slices of goat-milk cheddar.

That got a ringing "dude, that is weird" from the tallasiandude. I'm on the fence: on the one hand, to me it's pretty normal, but I can see how it might be a little weird, especially for breakfast.

So let's hear it, Internet: Is this weird?

Posted by foodnerd at 10:32 AM | Comments (2)