A month of travel

August 4, 2008 at 4:47 am (Uncategorized)

I left Montreal at the end of July, visited all three U.S. coasts, then finally arrived in Germany a few days ago. In my month of travels I made and ate lots of tasty food:

  • I had my first all-raw meal, at Pure Food and Wine, in NYC, with my friend Alekz.
  • I made lots of Thai food with my mom: we experimented with lots of Thai curries, a thai satay peanut sauce, and a marvelous Thai chili paste that was great on zucchini and tofu
  • My mom and I also tried our hand at veggie sushi, with brown rice, and a wasabi “mayo”
  • My mom and I made (twice) the most recent recipe in our food club: a zucchini, onion, tomato gratin from Cook’s Illustrated
  • My mom showed my sister and I how to make flour tortillas from scratch
  • Alekz and I made another batch of Thai lime and chili peanut butter cookies, and also attempted a vegan version, with some advice from my mom
  • My friend Amira bought a huge box of peaches from the “Old Man Retirement Project” farm, near Sacramento. We attacked the box of peaches and made peach chutney, pickled peaches, peach jam, peach tea, and peach butter. I added peaches to pico de gallo, and cheekily dubbed it “peacho de gallo.” Amira’s husband Jack made us peach pie, and Amira made a tasty salad with peaches. Probably my absolute favorite peach concoction, however, I created from the the delicious, extremely fresh trail mix Amira made for our hike. I topped the trail mix with one chopped peach, a big splash of whole milk, and a dash of cinnamon. Best “cereal” ever.
  • I had a lovely meal at Cha-ya, a japanese vegetarian restaurant in the mission. Their yamagobo roll was excellent, and I enjoyed my curried noodle soup, although it could have used a tad more vegetables.
  • I got a chance to eat at Ajanta restaurant in Berkeley, and talk to the owner and cookbook writer. I asked him if there was any way to speed up his carrot halvah recipe, perhaps by using cream instead of milk. He said the carrot wouldn’t get as caramelized and it wouldn’t be as good. Sadly, there was no carrot halvah on the menu at the restaurant. The owner said it was because a) people see carrots on a dessert menu and get turned off, and b) people have had lots of sub-par carrot halvah and have low expectations. For my main dish I ordered a mixed-squash curry, with potatoes. The sauce was very good, but the zucchini and yellow squash didn’t add much. I liked the potatoes much more. We asked the owner for the recipe for the sauce, and he gave me a rough estimate of what to do. Later in the week Amira and I tried our hand at re-creating it, but using cauliflower instead of squash. It didn’t quite come out like the one in the restaurant–a bit too sweet and the spices weren’t quite right. I’m going to try it again though and post about it here.
  • My friend Amy took me to Vic’s Indian supply store in Berkeley, and I was shocked to discover that I’d never heard of about half the items on the shelves. After all these years eating Indian, I had no idea that there are so many kinds of dal I still haven’t tried.
  • At Tacubaya in Berkeley I had a very simple, fresh, and delicious bowl of mexican pinto beans with all the fixings. I also took a look at their cookbook and I’m excited to try to vegetarianize their recipe for tortilla soup. It looks very promising. I scribbled down some notes, but if anyone has the original recipe and would like to share, please send me an email!
  • Katrina made me a delicious salad with watermelon, tomato, radishes, mint, and feta, and a very tasty spread made of greek yogurt and feta and mint.
  • Together Katrina and I made beet greens, and another night bok choy. Both times we cooked them with ginger and garlic and they were impossibly good.
  • I tagged along with Katrina on a wine tour in the Napa Valley. My favorite was Sterling Vineyards. We got to taste and compare three different years of the same wine, and get a better understanding of what happens to wine as it ages.
  • Katrina and I took a tour of the Sharffenberger factory. The whole building smells delicious, the tour was really interesting, we got to try lots of samples, and we managed to snag the last two boxes of chocolate nibs in the store, as well as lots of great chocolate bars. Derek really liked the milk chocolate bar with almonds and sea salt that I brought him. He said “this is better than any chocolate I’ve had in Germany”!. My favorite was the nibby chocolate bar, both milk and dark. Now I’m reinspired to make the Sharffenberger chocolate cookies from Alice Medrich’s cookbook, that I made and loved many years ago. Unfortunately, none of my cookie sheets will fit in my oven in Germany, so I’m going to have to buy new cookie sheets or borrow someone’s kitchen with a bigger oven.
  • I returned to Gobo in the Village, but sadly I couldn’t remember which dish it was I liked so much the last time we went. If only I had written a review!
  • Once in Germany, Derek and I made a very tasty pasta salad: whole wheat pasta, mint, feta, roasted tomatoes, and broccoli prepared Cook’s Illustrated style. It was delicious.


  1. Jane and Lane said,

    Your travels sound fabulous. I will be expecting big things come Thanksgiving. Any chance we can add the Thai Roasted Chili Paste as a veggie dish to our menu this year (minus the fiery bit, I’m a mild girl)?

  2. captious said,

    Yes, that’s a great idea. My mom and dad are coming, so I’ll ask my mom to bring some non-fiery chili paste, and we can add it to butternut squash and spinach. A very Thanksgiving dish I think! Much better than candied squash and creamed spinach, for sure.

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