Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ingredients of a country lunch II - snails and meats






















Having installed a completely new kitchen in our summer home has certainly increased my interest in cooking. During one weekend in May we indulged in several good lunches based on imported French cheese, fine charcuterie, and escargots. Here are some of the things we enjoyed during our countryside lunches.


Escargots with garlic and parsley butter

We found a packet of frozen escargots with garlic butter in the local supermarket. For those of you resisting to eat these delicious treats, I recommend you to change your mind. Escargots are delicious. The butter, flavoured with garlic and parsley blends with aromas and concistency close to seafood and mushrooms.

A must on a country lunch, and enjoy them with a chilled dry white wine. MMMMMMMagic!!!!

Snails as served at Le Laurencin in Lyon - see the story here

Ciabatta with coppa and pesto

Pesto is one of the best inventions of Italian cuisine. I make my pesto from home-grown ruccola from my garden. I bought Coppa, a Neapolitan-style salami, at Magazin du Nord in Copenhagen. Beautiful pink cured pork shoulder meat marbled by white threads of fat.

Warm ciabatta, topped with a generous amount of emerald coloured pesto, and a large slice of coppa, folded, to match the size of the pastry. What could be better?

Ecco! Culinary quality time...........

Coppa de Parma and Italian Salami with black peppercorns served during an ordinary weekday - see story here

Asparagus with Italian pancetta

I love asparagus! Most people I know, steam or boil them, but did you know that they are easily turned into small tasty treats.

Take slices of pancetta, delicious Italian streaky bacon, and fold them around asparagus tips. Roast in the oven until crisp, and serve immediately. Delicious with a glass of chilled sparkling wine.

Lobster ravioli with asparagus as served at Assaggio in Boston - see story here

Toast with Dijon mustard, ham and buffala mozzarella

So easy and so good as a summer treat. Take slices of good bread (I used brown spelt bread). Drizzle a little olive oil on top, then a teaspoon of lovely sizzling Dijon mustard, followed by two thick slices boiled ham. Top the toast with a thick slice of Buffala mozzarella. Bake in oven until slightly brown on top.

YUM!!

Italian toasts - crostinis - served on the way to the Oslo opera. See story here

Friday, June 19, 2009

Feskarbröderna - Göteborg




















A love a well stocked fish monger, and one of the best I have seen is Feskarbröderna located in Nordstan in Göteborg. It is great to see so many specialties under offer, based on freshly caught produce found in the ocean just outside the city.

Norway lobster

Norway lobster is the mini baby brother of the European lobster. It is red, not black, and far less expensive.

You will pay up to €20-30 for a kilo., i.e. 6-10 lobsters They are absolutely delicious prepared raw on the BBQ or halved, baked in the oven with garlic butter or other marinades.

Read more on Norway lobsters here

Salmon

For those of you that buy Norwegian smoked salmon, it would be interesting to know that there are so many varieties of this smoked specialty.

Producers are constantly experimenting to create new interesting products. They either add different woods to create richer and more interesting smoke aromas, or add flavour by marinating the fish i.e. in aquavit. This means that there are increasingly number of new intriguing products to choose from, as e.g. this salmon under offer.

See recipe for open sandwich with akvavit marinated smoked salmon with creamed scrambled eggs with Dijon mustard and tarragon.

Open sandwich cake

Smörgåstårta or open sandwich cake is a Swedish specialty. The sponge in a cream cake has been substituted with white bread baked in a cake tin.

The bread is sliced in the same way, and is layered with prawns, salmon, asparagus, eggs, and other delicacies, topped with mayonnaise. You may also make a Smörgåstårta with meat as well.

At Feskarbröderna you find a cake made from seafood. At SEK 295 or €27 you get a lot for your money. Enjoy it with a good pint of beer and an akvavit.

Read more on the delicious Smorgastarta here

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ingredients of a country lunch I - say cheese
























I love cheese, and as I and a friend left for our summer home, I visited Fromagerie, the local cheese shop, where I chose some cheeses for us us to indulge in. I bought three different varieties based on goat's milk, two French and two Italian, each with different character and texture.

Cavet Feuille

This is a goats cheese from Banon, a community in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence in south eastern France. This region borders Italy.

The cheese has a long history and its origins may go back as far as Roman times.

It is matured for two weeks and is then dipped in eau-de-vie and wrapped in a chestnut leaf. The alcohol prevents bad mould and even the wrapping, chestnut leaf aroma influences the cheese’s taste.

It has a remarkably soft and creamy consistensy, and is mild in taste, compared to other goat's cheese. It is therefor more appealing to those of you that does not like white goat's cheese.

Chevre in puff pastry with fresh salad with vinaigrette as served at Le Gourmand de Saint-Jean in Lyon - see story here

Crottin de Chavignol Ferier

Another goat's cheese and a completely other world.

It is probably the most famous cheese of the Loire Valley. It has been produced for over 400 years in the village of Chavignol, near the wine producing commune of Sancerre. It is a firmer cheese that may enjoyed through all stages of maturity.

Crottin de Chavignol is moulded then taken out of moulds after 12-24 hours, salted, dried and ripened at least ten days. After 4 months the cheese will have lost 70% of its weight and turned into a richer, more concentrated cheese.

We enjoyed it when the cheese was moist, with a white core. It has a stronger character as goat's cheese goes. Great with a glass of chilled white wine. It is also recommended served warm in a aromatic goat's cheese salad.

A salad with goats cheese, aubergines and red pesto served at M/F Crown of Scandinavia - see story here

Mozzarella di bufala

For those of you that love regular mozzarella, may I recommend the cheese made from buffalo milk. It is even richer, creamier, and more delicious.

Water buffalos are exotic animals, and has been domesticated in Italy for over 1000 years. They were probably introduced to the mainland from Sicily, and had been brought there by their Muslim rulers.

The main region of buffalo mozzarella today is the area around Naples.

It is a very soft and creamy cheese with a mild and rich taste, perfect as a part of a traditional insalate caprese or on a hot cheese sandwich.

See recipe for chicken roulade filled with sweet mustard, mortadella, asparagus, and mozzarella here on Enjoy Food & Travel


Pecorino Romano (Photo: Jeff G.)

For those allergic to cow's milk, pecorino is a perfect substitute to Parmesan cheese. It has the same hard consistency, a strong salty taste and another bitterness reveals that it has another basic ingredient.

Most of the pecorino is produced on Sardinia, and in the regions of Lazio and Grosseto on the mainland.

These cheeses are not only good in pasta dishes or on pizzas but also as an integral part of a cheese platter. Pick a pecorino, a blue cheese, camembert or brie and a soft cheese, and you are in for a treat.

We enjoyed it as contrast to the other cheeses, and as it was a solid portion left, I placed the leftover in the freezer for later use.

A homemade cheese pie with aged pecorino, sharp cheddar and monterrey jack cheese under offer at Qunicy Market in Boston - see story here

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A story of wine barrels


My good friend and Enjoy Food & Travel co-writer Susanne Koch has just visited Bordeaux. During her stay she went to Saint Emilion, a region known for its red wines. Here she tasted some of its best wines, and she was told a story of wine barrels, that I will share with you.

The account given was that as the vineyards in Saint Emillion produce complex wines, they are in constant need of extra tannins. They are supplied by new oak barrels bought in large numbers. At Chateau Haut Sarpe alone, they order 80% new barrels every year at the cost of around 500 EUR each. As the amount sharply decrease, each barrel is used only 2-3 years to store the premium wines. There after the barrels are used to store less exclusive wines produced at the estates.


The oak barrels are then sold on, at a fraction of the price, either to Portugal to produce port wine or Ireland or Scotland to be used to store whiskey. If you think that this marks the end of the barrels life, think again.

My good friend Susanne was told that the barrels at the end of its life, no longer fit for production were sold to Thailand. The thrifty Thais flattened the rounded oak wood to produce – floors!!! Believe it or not!

If this is not a fascinating food story, what is? I do not know. I would not mind having a wooden floor with such a past

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

From bear's den to cat walk - the Sitges gay scene















My - it is one whole year since I visited Sitges. Time flies and you are getting older and your body seems to increasingly get a life of its own. When a 48 year old, pot-bellied bearded, and gay hedonist enter the Sitges gay scene, it is easy to despair, but have courage. After the cat walk where you sipped a margarita, watching well trimmed bodies passing by, you can blend into the narrow streets of the old city to find a bear's den, where you can enjoy a pint and meet someone like you.


Sitges is one of the most famous gay destinations in Europe. This small city has been famous for its open mindedness for a very long time.

Gays and lesbian travelers followed liberal artists to what once was a poor fishing village. In both America and Europe artistic communities became the first haven for liberal minded and sexually liberated cultures.

Today gays and lesbians are more visible here than most other places in Western Europe. Even though Sitges is a small city (around 26 000 inhabitants) gay travelers fins a large number of discos and clubs that should cater to any tastes found in the gay community.

A drink by the catwalk

I'm a model, you know what I mean
And I do my little turn on the catwalk
Yeah on the catwalk, on the catwalk,
yeah
I do my little turn on the catwalk

(Right Said Fred)

At Parrots Bar you gather around the small street leading from the upper part of the city to the beach. At dusk, this street is transformed to a catwalk, as (primarily) gay men gather along the street. At Parrots Bar you sit under colourful parasols, to watch those passing by.

I have to admit that "I'm to sexy", by Right Said Fred, was ringing in my ears. As I am no Adonis to talk of, I felt a little uncomfortable. I was very relieved to find Casa Blanca Bears, at Pau Barrabeig, 5, a narrow street in old Sitges. This place sets a completely different standard. Here chubby bearded men are revered as sex symbols.

Casa Blanca Bears

If u go out in the woods today, be sure for a big surprise
If u go out in the woods today, u better go in disguise
for ev'ry bear that ever there was
will gather there for certain because
today is the day the teddy bears have their pic... nic

Teddy Bear's Picnic (Kennedy / Bratton)

I am so happy to find a bar catering to the Bear movement. This anti-trend for large gay men is refreshing in a movement that adore the immaculate male physique. As most other trends that gay bear movement come from California, where it grew out of bikers clubs.

Today bear's dens are scattered around the world, as this one in Sitges. It is a charming little bar, dark and charming, with an Italian owner and his partner behind the bar. We had certainly a great place there in 2008, and I do look forward getting back there this June.

On gay Sitges - see GaySitges.com

Monday, June 15, 2009

UPDATED: A short guide to Sitges


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A whole week in Sitges has left me with a great tan, fully relaxed, and filled with experiences. Just 40 minutes away from the busy streets of Barcelona, it is a popular place to visit for a swim during the weekends, and during the summer seasons gays and lesbians gather here to enjoy an active social life in a liberal atmosphere. In spite of this, the city does not feel like a ghetto. Here you meet elderly straight couples, families with children and youths. Here is a short guide to what will come here on Enjoy Food & Travel

Hotels


  1. Hotel Santa Maria
    This is the hotel where we stayed in Sitges. A nice family run hotel with an exquisite location. See earlier review here.

  2. Hotel Romantic
    A wonderful old fashioned hotel, with a magic secluded garden and a very special waiter. See earlier review here.

Bars, cafés and restaurants - to be reviewed


  1. Restaurant at Santa Maria hotel - a large restaurant with reasonably priced, but medium quality food

  2. Pesquaditos Tapas y Mariscos, to be visited once, not more, in my opinion

  3. Al Fresco Restaurant - already visited once in 2007, and will certainly be visited when we return in 2009

  4. Ristorante & pizzeria Claudius- a great and inexpensive restaurant with excellent service

  5. Montroig, a cafe with the most delicious fruit drinks imaginable

  6. Izarra, a pintxos restaurant favoured by the locals

  7. La Oca, greasy chicken, greasy chips, fat sauces, and severe indigestion

  8. Bianco restaurant, trendy interior, great but over priced tapas, by the harbour

  9. Casablanca - a restaurant for bears, i.e. chubby gay guys. One of the nicest bars I have visited in my time

  10. Zodiaco, a family run restaurant famous for its seafood, recommended for a traditional paella

  11. Parrots bar, colourful drinks served ringside by the gay catwalk. A place to see and be seen

  12. La Nansa, a great culinary experience in a local gourmet restaurant - our best in Sitges

  13. O Rei Des Tartes, decent pasta restaurant

  14. Eguzki - Lizzaran, more scrumptious pintxos

  15. Nieuw Amsterdam, a place for a late night snack, as well as for a dinner

  16. Cap de la Vila, classic pasta and pizza restaurant

Sights - to visit being there

Sitges is primarely a place to get a tan, dine, and enjoy the nightlife. There are, however, a few interesting sights to explore. I did not do much sightseing myself, during my week long stay, but I will review the following sights:


  1. The beaches

  2. Church of Sant Bartomeu I Santa Tecla (17th century)

  3. Palau Del Rei Moro

  4. Palau Maricel

  5. The El Greco monument

  6. The house of Don Joai Austria (Anno 1664)

  7. The house of Santiago Rusignol

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Chateau Haut-Sarpe Grand Cru Classé 2002

My good friend and Enjoy Food & Travel co-writer Susanne Koch had a weekend in Bordeaux a few weeks ago, and brought home a pretty special bottle of wine for us to enjoy at my summer home. A signed bottle of Chateau Haut-Sarpe Grand Cru 2002 is a wine out of the extraordinary, and signed by the owner.

I am not a great fan of wines from the Bordeaux region. If you want a really good bottle from this region, you will have to pay a larger sum, often better spent on a quality wine from countries like Spain, Portugal, Australia, South Africa or the US.

This wine estate belongs to Joseph Janoueix, and is one of the great household names of the Libourne area; they are as well known for making wine as for being wine merchants.

This wine was a blend and one of the grapes used was merlot, one of my favourites. I found Chateau Haut-Sarpe a complex wine. Rich red berry and pepper aromas and a distinct tannin character.