I was never a fan of creamy Caesar salads, and I suspect my disdain was grounded in encounters with mediocre-at-best bottled versions. For longer than I can remember, the boy and I have been quite happy making our own vinaigrettey rendition and I think we would’ve happily continued to do so had it not been for Sunday. Which was the boy’s first day off since starting his month long stint in Halifax (at the HSOW) as Hoffmann in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann (an opera featuring drunkenness, death, evil geniuses and love.
Shameless plug Sidenote: his performance dates are August 6 (7:30PM) and August 13 (2PM). Concept: Victorian steampunk. The show’s going to be awesome.)
Watching Iron Chef has become more than just an after dinner sport – in fact, it’s been an inspiration for dinner. Take the episode featuring sturgeon: the boy has a “oh-I’m-so-going-to-make-that” moment as Iron Chef Symon whips out a sturgeon puttanesca (check out wikipedia for its etymology: a quick dish to be made between turning tricks). The lovely photo is from the boy’s version 2 rendition, served when his mum was up visiting. Relatives with a cars mean having a chance to explore places that we would’ve unfortunately missed otherwise (not exactly bike-able or bus-able to beyond the corners of London) : one stop at the Arva flour mill in Arva, and one to White’s Cider Mill in Lambeth. Too bad we didn’t have a chance to meet Mike at the flour mill – the owner is a friend of the chefs at The Only. Oh well, perhaps we’ll meet him at one of his frequent trips to the restaurant and chat bread. Purchases his store included a 10kg bag of flour, some semolina, local eggs and the most wonderful caramels. At the apple cider mill: pressed apples for drinking and cider making, cherry juice, and goodies to ferment cider.
With a lack of capers in our kitchen (something I’ve yet to learn to appreciate), the puttanesca tomato sauce featured olives, anchovies and chilli flakes, with catfish (yum!) thrown in at the end. The semolina was smooth and elastic, much easier to work with than all purpose flour and resulting in thinner hand-rolled sheets (our next kitchen purchase, after a sharpening stone, may be a hand operated pasta machine). Needless to say, it was absolutely delicious.
We have a new apartment!
The boy and I moved into our new place at the beginning of September: same (sketchy) building, larger unit. What sold us? The really really large kitchen. Well, relatively so anyway, as far as apartment living goes. But, but, but… we had no fridge until a good week later. No joke: it was Sept 7th before we convinced them that doing groceries was integral to my well being. Eating instant noodles and pizza for a week had me wondering how people survive on these types of food for the entire academic year. Ewww.
The building management had promised us a new fridge (a few new ones were on order), and kept saying that they’d be here ‘either today or tomorrow’. Definitely more than a few ‘tomorrows’ passed by, so we knocked on their office door. The solution to the not-yet-arrived fridges? Them pulling out a fridge from an empty unit. Meh, it’ll do for now – not to mention that it’s a better fridge than the one on the boy’s old studio. Besides, it seems like they haven’t forgotten about the new fridge, which means perhaps one of those by the end of the month? I’ve learned not to assume anything around here. I’m just crossing my fingers on one of those soon, so we’ll have a functional freezer. Not that the one now isn’t functional, but it’s one of those ice-boxes-within-the-fridge type deals. Not very cold.
We lucked out at the grocery store last week: tuna was mislabeled as shark! We couldn’t believe our luck at finding this stuff for 11$/kg. It turned out to be okay, but not fabulous (unfortunately), in our rendition involving soy sauce, wasabi, and sesame seeds. I’m not sure I’ll be using the george foreman again for tuna without modifications (it didn’t grill… it steamed the fish – too much liquid!).
In other kitchen news, our oven has no temperature markings.
Yes, jellyfish! Quite edible, and non poisonous.
Jellyfish has been something that I’ve grown up with, and definitely not considered odd in my book of edibles (then again, it would be quite difficult to try and deter me when it comes to food). It was most fun to introduce it to the boy and a brave friend, who agreed upon viewing the package, that jellyfish was ‘goopey looking’. [Package consisted of: pre-soaked, pre-shredded, insta-serve jellyfish in a sealed packet, alongside envelopes of MSG related seasonings plus sesame + chili oils]. Despite the floppy looking texture, one mustn’t be fooled: jellyfish has a distinct and pleasant crunch! Random as the textures may be, it may help in explaining the fact that we often refer to jellyfish as ‘rubber bands’ in Cantonese.
Jellyfish itself is neither fishy nor seafood-like, and actually isn’t very flavourful in general: it all becomes a function of the marinade in which it’s thrown. Interestingly enough, jellyfish is associated with banquets for me, and has only been consumed out of that context rarely. Though the aforementioned packages are quite convenient, I look forward to buying the stuff that hasn’t been pre-shredded to make my own rendition of jellyfish ‘salad’ – combining soy sauce, sesame oil, chili oil, and perhaps some rice vinegar and sugar. Sesame seeds are also fantastic additives for an extra nuttiness.