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Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

So, I’m back from my little around-the-world adventure. Wasn’t that quick? It sure was for me.

Before we get to the food, I need to take you on a walk around Tokyo.

First, you have to buy your subway ticket and rush to the train.

Then, wander around the fashionable Ginza district. You may not be able to afford anything in the stores, but it is fun to look around. And, someone is always available to help you find what you’re looking for.

You never know who you’re going to see outside the subway station.

Hats are pretty big in Tokyo right now — it was 85° that day. Also, those glasses have no lenses. They are just cool.

Walking in Kagurazaka, you might find a family on their way back from the temple.

But let’s get down to business. The food. Most people think of sushi when they hear Tokyo, and that’s where my culinary adventure began. I went to Tsukiji market but missed the 5 am tuna auction.

I instead got there in time to watch the tuna being sliced.

Not so kosher.

Matsutake mushrooms.

Akebi. I saw this fruit in a stall and stood in front of the boxes for about 5 minutes, hoping someone would notice me. Finally a gentleman caught me staring and stood next to me pointing at the purple fruit, half split open. He said “akebi.” I repeated, “akebi” and smiled. He nodded. I nodded. I reached for my wallet and moved to pick up a fruit, hoping he would indicate how much it cost. He just laughed and shook his head and shook his finger at me. I smiled. He shook his head again. I walked away, hoping I would see the fruit elsewhere. After 30 minutes of wandering, I returned to the stall, and smiled at my friend. Pointed at the fruit. Smiled again. He picked up one and handed it to me. I again reached for my wallet, but he shook his head. I shrugged my shoulders and scrunched up my eyebrows. He smiled and indicated I should eat it by scooping the seeds out with a finger. I smiled and walked away. Apparently, the akebi season lasts only 2 weeks. My timing was great.

Grating wasabi behind the restaurant.

My sushi chefs. It’s a lot easier to eat in Japan if you carry with you at all times a laminated list of kosher fish in Japanese (I found the list on the Jewish Community of Japan website). This, along with a subway map, made up my Tokyo survival kit.

After having sushi made from fish so fresh it was still warm, I pretty much stuck to noodles for the remainder my trip.

Soba.

And udon.

You’re supposed to slurp.

 

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I was struggling to tell this story for weeks on end. Until a good friend reminded me of the beauty of intense brevity with what some may call Hemingway’s best short story: “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

I’m going to let that sink in for a moment…

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… and then share my second day in Panama with you. You can fill in the details.

Fruit never before seen. Not tasted.

Chef rescue. Try fruit. Make friend.



New Year. Re-taste fruit. Shehecheyanu. Blessed.

Hemingway I am not.

But, as the (Jewish) holiday season draws to a close, I wanted to share with you my wish for a year of new experience, fabulous adventure, and friends to share it with.

On that note, in just a few days, I am heading to Tokyo (and Paris) for work for two weeks. And a few days of adventure.

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This is my second installment of virtual vacationing in Panama. You joined me two months ago for breakfast (where did the summer go?) — now let’s check out dinner.

When two single women arrive in Panama, they can expect to be wined and dined every single evening. Without even making an effort. And when there are enough kosher restaurants to rival those in New York, you can bet that these two single girls were happy to oblige. Every night, gentleman would arrive at our door to sweep us away to a different restaurant. We met Panamanians, Argentinians, and Chileans. Sephardim and Ashkenazim. Religious and non-religious. Unfortunately, none of these gentlemen was memorable enough.

But the food was.

My favorite dish, the one that had me return to the same restaurant and request a meeting with the chef, was ceviche. I remember first trying ceviche in medical school when my Venezuelan classmate wanted to share with us some of her favorite foods. I was fascinated by the idea of cooking fish in the acid of citrus juice and since then, I have many variations with salmon and tuna. But the ceviche at Darna was the closest to my first taste of the specialty. I was determined to meet the chef to get the recipe, and on the morning of our flight home, I was able to do so. More on that adventure and the flight we almost missed later, but her is the recipe.

Panamanian Ceviche

In Panama, this ceviche is made from corvina - a white, firm fleshed saltwater fish that Darna Chef, Ayelet, said can be replaced with grouper, seabass, halibut, or red snapper. Not finding any of these today, I chose talapia. Ayelet gave me the recipe as she makes it in her restaurants – in batches big enough for 10 with 5 pounds of fish and 20 limes (about 1 L of lime juice). She explained that Panamanian ceviche differs from other South American ceviches in using more onion. I’ve adapted the recipe to serve 2-3 with a little extra poblano heat and replacing the celery with jicama.

Ratios:

- 1/2 pound white fish per person

- 2 limes  per person

- 1/4 large onion chopped per person

- 1/4-1/2 habanero pepper per person (the smaller the pepper, the hotter)

- 1/4 C chopped celery per person

- salt, pepper

My version:

- 1.25 pounds talapia

- 4 limes

- 1 small red onion

- 1 large habanero pepper

- salt, pepper

- 1 small jicama

Dice fish into ~1/2-inch cubes and place in a glass on other non-reactive bowl. Add the lime juice and salt and mix. Chop the onion very fine and add to the fish. Wear gloves to chop the pepper very fine. Gently toss with fish and refrigerate for 3-4 hours before serving.

The fish is ready when it firms up and turns opaque white.

Dice jicama into ~1/4-inch cubes and soak in a little bit of lime juice and salt. Refrigerate.

Add jicama to fish and toss. Serve over romaine leaves.

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tastes like home

In high school, I spent a summer as an exchange student in France living with a family in the Loire Valley. Mireille, her husband, and their two children welcomed me into their home and lives and even took me on vacation with them. Even though I flooded the upstairs bathroom on my first evening when I couldn’t figure out how to use the hand-held shower. Even though I asked that they not add butter to my chicken because I kept kosher (no butter? a heresy!). Even though I was shocked at being invited to drink wine with dinner. Even though I was shy with my French and spent the first few days virtually in silence. (Yes, me, silent.)

Quickly I grew to love the rhythms, smells, and tastes of small town life. First in Mont près Chambord visiting châteaux most weeks and the corner bakery to pick up a baguette or a pain de campagne every morning.  Then on vacation in Sables-d’Olonne in the Vendée at the  grandparents’ rustic house where we picked our meals largely from the robust garden.

Every other day or so, we went to the outdoor marché to buy only the freshest produce from vendors who has raised the fruits and vegetables themselves. The tomatoes were redder, the haricots verts greener and skinnier than anything I saw in our supermarket back home. And the cheese.

The cheese. It deserves its own paragraph. The stinkier, the better. The fattier, the better. As a girl who had been dancing for years and subject to scrutiny in front of the mirror, this was mind altering. I tried creamy cheeses. Nutty cheeses. Blue cheeses (still not a fan). Rind cheeses. Goat cheeses. I discovered I loved Bucheron, Gruyère and its French cousin Comté, Saint Marcellin, and of course Camembert. We kept le fromage out of le frigo at room temperature in a special cheese cupboard. I could could keep going. But this post isn’t about the cheese.

I had packed in my luggage a bag of chocolate chips and a recipe so I could bake for my French family an American classic that I often made with my mom. Gathering the rest of the ingredients and converting the recipe without measuring cups was a bit of a challenge. We got held up looking for baking soda in the grocery store. Until a bit of creative sleuthing (a halting conversation between me and the  baguette baker) led me to the pharmacy for bicarbonate de soude.

My French famille loved the cookies. So much, in fact, that we made several more batches even after the chocolate chips were gone, and not being able to find pépites de chocolat, bought big blocks of chocolate and chopped them into coupeaux de chocolat. And the grand-mère took to calling them “crokies.” The name stuck.

Chocolate Chip “Crokies”

Makes more than 5 dozen small cookies

I have lost the recipe that I brought with me to France, but this one is pretty close, adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. The rice krispies are an homage to my mom who always threw them in our cookies and I love the crunch they add. These cookies are on the softer side, so if you like them flatter and crispier, add 1-2T water with the wet ingredients.

- 1/2 C softened butter or margarine

- 3/4 C white sugar

- 3/4 C brown sugar

- 2 eggs

- 2C flour

- 1/2 t baking soda

- 1/2 t salt

- 1 t vanilla

- 1 C chocolate chips

- 2 C rice krispies

- 1-2 T water (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Mix. Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until well blended. Add 1-2 T water if desired. Mix flour with baking soda and salt, then add it to the liquid ingredients and mix by hand. Fold in chocolate chips and rice krispies.

Bake. Drop cookies by scant tablespoonfuls onto a silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake 10 minutes until lightly browned. Cool for a few minutes before removing from silpat/parchment and transfer to a rack.

I keep my cookies in the freezer and think they are best eaten cold.

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I told you I’d be doing a little bit of virtual vacationing, so here is my first installment.

Almost a year ago, I went to Panama with my good friend Elvera. We stayed in Panama City for about half of our vacation, relying on the hospitality of my business school classmate, Joe, and his family, including his wife and son, and his parents. Everyone seemed happy to welcome two single girls to Panama, but more on that later.

The best part of my mornings was waking up early with little Jack and sneaking him out to the porch with a bottle to give his mom a few extra moments of sleep. We would lounge on the hammock lazily lapping up the few rays of sun slowly peeking out above the horizon.

After our early-morning nap, I was sometimes greeted by a glass of fruit juice. Not ordinary orange or grapefruit juice. No, this is Panama. One morning it was papaya juice, the next watermelon blended with ice and served in a frosty glass.

When Elvera and did venture out to Bocas del Toro, our AM breakfasts always included the same fruit salad – a mix of papaya, watermelon, and pineapple. And a lot of coffee. So, when I returned to my home, with neither hammock nor little Jackito nor the coordination to make a frosty fruit beverage, I recreated my tropical mornings with the same salad from Bocas.

Panama Fruit Salad

Choose the ripest papaya, watermelon, and pineapple you can find. Scoop seeds out of papaya and cut flesh into bite-sized chunks. Cut watermelon flesh into bite-sized chunks. Cut pineapple into bite-sized chunks (leaving out the stringy core). Add a few splashes of lime juice. Mix. Eat in the sunshine.

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the midnight oil

Some of you have commented about the dwindling frequency of my posts. And the past few days, I’ve been in the office after midnight. So, I’ve decided to go on some trips. No, I don’t think I have enough vacation time to go anywhere fabulous in the near future, so I’m going to go through some of my recent and less recent travels and bring you along for a little food fun.

Of course my most recent trip was less about the food and more about the outdoors. I know, me? Yes, me! It was refreshing to pack a bag with barely a moment’s notice and throw it in the car, driving north to a land where the latest restaurants close at 10. That foreign land…New Hampshire. We did manage to find a fabulous coffee place that is worth the trip before a big hike…

…or a drive half-way up a mountain. (Mount Washington is known not just as the tallest peak in the Northeast but as having notoriously erratic weather.) We were warned at the field house that winds get so high at the mid-point plateau that we had to hold onto our car doors when opening to avoid having them ripped off. When we got to this point, as far as we were allowed to drive, I of course had to exit the car to see what this was all about. Luckily I did hold on to the door because as we walked just a few steps from the road, the wind threatened to knock me over.

We did finally make it up a shorter slope, one filled with running streams and leafy trees.  With my still healing knee, we had to keep a leisurely pace, allowing me to take in the scenery that I might otherwise rush past.

When we got to the top, we sat at the peak with a clear view of the surrounding mountains and valley. Scooping garlicky hummus into our mouths with crackers was the best meal of the weekend.

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’tis the season

Hello there. I know that most of my neighbors are dodging snow storms on the East Coast. And I feel sorry for you, I do. But, it’s strawberry season here in Israel and I just can’t resist sharing some pictures from the shuk (market).

After a traditional Israeli breakfast — shakshuka, salad, and labne — on X-mas morning…

… I headed to Mahene Yehuda on Friday afternoon and was overwhelmed by the rows and rows and piles and piles of strawberries. Deep red, huge, and just oozing with juices. But for anyone who has never been to Mahane Yehuda, let me just tell you that it’s a zoo before shabbat. So much so that while I was able to snag a big bowl of berries, I didn’t dare snap a picture for fear of being overrun by the more serious shoppers. Luckily, a few days later at Shuk HaCarmel in Tel Aviv, I was able to grab a few more berries and get some pictures.

Isn’t travel great?

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Modern conveniences make our lives easier, no doubt. I remember when we got our first car phone. It actually had to be attached TO the car. And when my dad went out grocery shopping and my mom forgot to put something on the list, she could call to remind him not to forget the OJ. What a revolution. I remember remarking, “what did we do before car phones???” Now, I travel almost everywhere with a cell phone, a BlackBerry (my “BB”), my tiny Nikon digital camera, an iPod, and if I’m going somewhere for more than 3 days, my computer – because I never know when there might be a blogortunity.

The same holds true for me in the kitchen. I never thought I needed a mixer, but now I can barely fathom making a cake without mine. (And I recall when a newly smug married entered my apartment and exclaimed, “Zahavah, you have a Kitchen Aid, you don’t need to get married!”…I just looked at her husband and could not utter the pitying comment that I would not come up with until hours later.) Even in my 6X6 Manhattan kitchen (and now in a larger, newer Boston abode), my “work space” was somewhat cluttered with a mini food processor, blender and multiple immersion blenders, crepe maker, waffle iron, and George Foreman grill, and don’t forget the 3 sets of pots and pans. Yes… in addition to basari (meat) and chalavi (dairy), I have a small collection of parve (neutral) batterie de sine (Ok, it’s not really batterie de cuisine, but after finishing Julia Child’s My Life in France this weekend and visiting The Breakers and The Elms in Newport, RI last week, I have decided to adopt this terminology. And, anyway, a girl can dream!)

outside the Elks, reminded me of Rimini (unable to capture the extensive batterie de cuisine inside)

Outside the Elms. The juxtaposition of stone and sea reminded me of Rimini (unable to capture the extensive copper batterie de cuisine inside the massive kitchen)

But every once in a while, it’s refreshing to leave a lot of the fancy things behind and keep things (relatively) simple.

This weekend, I visited the condo in Sunny Isles, Florida that my snowbird grandparents (whom you met briefly; I have referred to my grandmother as “Grapefruit Bubbie” because we always had a grapefruit half waiting on each plate before dinner) left to my mother after their passing, and that my parents just finished gutting and renovating. While this was normally our winter get-away, my sister and I joined my parents to toast our new southern abode this past weekend.

My job was to start to outfit the kitchen and my sister, the architect, is in charge of any design decisions that have yet to be made.

a simple lunch as we take a break from unpacking and escape the August sun at high noon

a simple lunch as we take a break from unpacking and escape the August sun at high noon

Since no one will be living here full-time, we’re really trying to keep things pretty basic. We’ve thrown out a lot of things,  but have kept some stuff worth saving. Starting from the beginning means I’m out buying measuring cups, cookie sheets, and salt (and parchment paper and Callebaut chocolate…maybe you see where this is going…) and making do with some oldies but goodies, like Teflon pots and pans that were probably bought when Teflon was a novelty and are still in their original boxes.

Being here in the heat of August that does not let out even in the evenings means that I am barely in the mood to cook. We do a lot of take-out from the local kosher markets – my favorite is Sarah’s Tent in the Waterways.

But there are just a few things that no one can make for me, and that I made with the most basic of equipment. Fresh iced tea from tea bags seeped in a Corning Ware percolator, voided of its percolating bits. Lemon balm-infused simple syrup to sweeten said iced-tea. Salad with marinated zucchini and other veggies, some of which, like the lemon balm, are from my CSA and I could not bear to leave to languish in my fridge.

one last pot of fresh iced tea, seeping at 6 am before I caught my flight (excuse the flash)

making an early morning pot of fresh iced tea for the day (excuse the flash)

lemon balm-infused simple syrup

lemon balm-infused simple syrup

And of course, a family favorite – chocolate chunk cookies (with only chocolate chunks, no nuts). I meant to bring down a jar of almond butter, but in my rush to catch my flight, I grabbed peanut butter instead. I hoped the recipe would be pretty adaptable and my father had been talking about these cookies for over a week (I made them for  him for father’s day and he and my mother have been asking for another batch since then.) For the past few days, in between dealing with plumbing problems, last minute meetings with the contractor, and the-ever-important few hours in the late afternoon sun, I’ve been amassing ingredients in the store. After lunch today, I grabbed a few old school bowls, measured out my dry ingredients, let the margarine get to room temperature, measured out the peanut butter, and chopped up the Callebaut chocolate with a Ginsu knife (remember those? Yup, Bubbie had one!).

pouring the PB

The first step: “Using electric mixer, beat butter/margarine, almond butter, and both sugars in large bowl until light and fluffy.”  Hmm, I have never done this without a mixer. Ok…well, back to good old-fashioned elbow grease. I grabbed a spatula and set to work, first just beating together the butters. So far so good. A nice even creamy mix. OK, I was ready to add in the sugar. And I set to work with the same intensity as before.

Crack.

The first kitchen casualty.

kitchen casualty

Without missing a beat (well, I did snap a few photos), I pulled a big spoon from the drawer and finished up the dough, adding in the chocolate chunks and then throwing the dough in the fridge to cool before running out to the pool for a few late afternoon rays.

if you look real close, you can see the reflection of my flip flop in the bowl

if you look real close, you can see the reflection of my flip flop in the bowl

After returning from the pool where I finally caught up on my New Yorkers (funniest line in the 8/3 issue: “You know who looks fabulous in a bathing suit? A mannequin. Also, a hanger.”), my sister arrived, we grabbed a quick dinner and then toasted our new apartment with some sparkling wine and peanut butter cookies.

In my opinion, they are not as good as the original recipe, too crispy where the others have the perfect chewy bite,  but my family seemed to like them, because when I woke up this morning for my early flight home, there seem to have been a few cookie monsters in the middle of the night.

the cookie monsters attacked overnight

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playing hooky

I was supposed to go to a dance class last night (my new Wednesday evening ritual…yeah!), but after a few too many days of forgetting to wear sunblock (1 day is too many and I really should know better!) and then relishing in the sunshine that had been hiding from us here on the East coast, I realized that I was just a little too pink and weary to make it through a 2+ hour fabulous but exhausting and requiring-full-concentration modern jazz class.

Of course, I had already prepared a light veggie dinner in anticipation of a hungry return from class on which I gladly munched away  as I readied myself for an evening of dancing that would be a little less about concentration, technique, positioning, and placement. My friend Tammie and I decided to kick back and check out a live Brazilian band at Beehive. Complete with caiparinhas (the national drink of Brazil made from Cachaça [a sugarcane alcohol], sugar and lime that I first tried at my friends’ wedding in São Paulo), a demonstration of the  steamy Rio-style partner dance called Samba de Gafieira (followed by our own feeble attempts at emulating some of the hip-swaying fast-and-fancy footwork), an ad-hoc capoiera circle, and good conversation with friends new and old, the evening provided a wonderful respite from the sun.

Rejuvenated and armed with two different kinds of sunblock (yes, they are both from Europe – Piz Buin and La Roche-Posay Anthelios), I’m ready to spring/summer smarter and return to the Wednesday dance classes that I have quickly grown to adore.

Marinated Zucchini Salad

-163 sharp

Many marinated zucchini salads call for cooking your vegetables first, but in a heat wave, I try to do anything to avoid turning on my oven or stove. This salad, drawing from a Greek-inspired dish from Saveur and an Italian recipe from RecipeZaar, is a great use for zucchinis that are in abundance starting this time of year through the end of summer. Some of my other favorite recipes for zucchini include zucchini bread and zucchini parmigiana (instead of eggplant).  Choose zucchinis that are firm and dark green and not too large.

Serves 4-6.

- 2 medium-sized zucchinis or 3-4 small zucchinis

- 6-8 white mushrooms

- 1 bunch spring onions (4-5)

- fresh dill

- juice of 1 lemon (~1/4 C) or 1/4 C white wine vinegar

- 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil

- kosher salt or other coarse salt

- pepper

zucchini, mushrooms, dill, wild spring onions

Cut zucchini into thick matchsticks. You could use a mandoline or a julienne peeler, but I don’t have the former and the latter makes strips that are far too thin for this recipe. I just hand slice everything.

Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel to remove any clinging dirt or debris. Don’t submerge in water or the mushrooms will become water-logged and soggy. Remove ends of stems and slice lengthwise.

Slice whites and light greens parts of the spring onions into thin circles.

Rinse dill, pat dry, and finely chop. Add as much as you’d like. In the batch I made without mushrooms, I added a few T. In the batch I made with mushrooms, I added a large handful.

Toss all vegetables  and dill into a large bowl.

Make dressing: juice one lemon into a medium sized bowl (should yield ~1/4 C) and then pour in an equal amount of extra virgin olive oil while quickly whisking the mixture to make a quick emulsification (this is pretty cool when you realize you can do it yourself and it’s really easy — it took me about 30 seconds). Add salt and pepper to taste (~ 1-2 t of salt or more, 5-6 grinds of pepper) and whisk again. Taste by dipping a thin slice of mushroom.When the dressing is to your liking, pour atop the veggies and dill and toss everything together.

If you’re feeling particularly lazy, you can just drizzle the olive oil and lemon juice over the veggies and throw salt and pepper on top, then toss everything together. I was feeling a little fancy.

If you don’t have a lemon, or want a slightly different flavor, you can use white wine vinegar as your acid, or even try a mixture of the two.

marinated zucchini with lemon and white wine vinegar (no mushrooms)

Refrigerate at least one hour or overnight. The salad gets better with time. After a few hours, I usually taste it and find that I need to add a little more salt (much better than it being too salty).

Enjoy after a dance class, while dressing for a night out on the town, or at a picnic with friends.

zucchini and mushrooms marinated in lemon with loads of dill

***

Since I did indeed miss my dance class to go see a Brazilian band, I wanted to share a video of the great contemporary Brazilian dance company, Grupo Corpo, that I saw a few years ago at BAM. Lau had come to visit from London, and the infamous foursome – Jeremy, Thierry, Lau and me – was reunited for an amazing non-date evening. Here is a video of one of the pieces that we saw that night. What I love about this number, besides its infectious music, is the choreography’s playfulness and freedom, the use of light and shadow to make it look almost like there are extra dancers, the simplistic costumes so the audience can focus on the purety of the dance, and how the dancers incorporate the unique back curtain into the entrances and exits.

What I love about Grupo Corpo is the incredible variety of their numbers and their musicality, their pulling from folk dances and rhythms from their local environs and the broader cultures (Asia, Africa) that make up the melting pot of their own home. Below is a trailer to a documentary with excerpts from many of their numbers, showing off their versatility.

Another one of my favorite numbers is Lecuona – a series of duets filled with longing, desire, and passion (of all types) danced to music written by Cuban Ernesto Lecuona, including this sexy tango…

… culminating in a waltz of 6 couples (starts at 3:25) that looks like a black-and-white movie.

I want one of those white flowy dresses with the open backs!

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Almost everything I own has a story. Part of that is because when I travel, I love to shop.  And I don’t just shop for clothing and shoes… I usually bring home an extra bag of local (kosher) food that I can’t find at home so that I can extend the experience of my trip and share it with those back home. I hope to share some of these finds with you in the future, as the spirit moves me.

I spent a few weeks in South Africa in 2003, mainly in Cape Town, working on a health care project with some classmates for the city of Cape Town under the direction of the late Ivan Toms. We worked hard in city health clinics  every day (my team was charged with uncovering the cause of an 8 million Rand increase in drug costs) and had the opportunity to explore different aspects of Cape Town live in the evenings and on the weekend.

jackass penguins near Cape of Good Hope

After my first weekend spent in Seapoint, I was fortunate enough to befriend a local, Tali, who showed me around much of the local scene beyond tourist spots. We ate out, went to bars off the beaten track, shopped beyond the V&A Waterfront, and I met people whom I imagine I would have been friends with had I lived there.  We even went to grocery stores and this is where my habit of seriously bringing home  local ingredients began. Besides sweeties (mmmm….Sally Williams nougat), one of the most interesting things that Michal introduced me to were uniquely flavored salts. I bought one such salt mixture that Tali recommended called “Darling Buds” made by The Cape Herb Company that contains coarse sea salt and various dried flowers – rose petals and buds, lavender, cornflowers, chamomile, and calendula. The smell is heavenly and I often use it in place of regular salt. There are many other varieties with interesting ingredients and most, if not all, are kosher. The bottles are refillable and you can easily adjust the grind size.

darling buds, grinder removed

Luckily, these salts and many of the spice mixtures made by The Cape Herb Company have made it stateside, and I have seen (and purchased them) in Fairway (see Resources for further info). They can also be ordered online at Chelsea Market Basket.

Floral Roasted Potatoes

This recipe actually has nothing to do with South Africa; it just uses the “Darling Buds” salt to accentuate the herbes de Provence spice mix with lavender to give regular roasted potatoes a delicate floral scent and flavor. I love lavender and use it as often as I can!

This is just a good guideline for roasted potatoes. Here I used all-purpose russet potatoes that I purchased for potato peels. The crunch comes from the high heat. You can cut the potatoes into larger chunks, but I chose more of a  home fries-size; bigger chunks = roast for longer. You can obviously use any spice mixture you want — good traditional alternatives include garlic, rosemary, dill, or some heat from red pepper flakes or cayenne.

Serves 2-3.

4 potatoes

1-2 t Olive oil

Herbes de Provence (with lavender)

Salt and Pepper (I used black pepper and “Darling Buds” made by The Cape Herb Company)

Preheat oven to 450°F

Cut potatoes (can peel for a more delicate look) into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes. Soak in water for at least 30 minutes (or longer) to draw some of the starch out, keep crisp, and to make sure the potatoes don’t turn turn color from air exposure.

Drain water and lightly pat the potatoes dry. Spread potato chunks out onto a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil. Drizzle with a few splashes of extra virgin olive oil (~1-2 T) and toss with herbes de Provence (~1.5 T), 5-6 grinds of Darlings Buds floral salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Herbes de Provence

"Contains chevril, basil, rosemary, tarragon, garlic, lavender, marjoram, savory, thyme, and parsley"

Bake for about 30 minute or until edges are golden brown and crisp, shaking the sheet occasionally to free up any potatoes that are sticking.  The smell of the lavender and other flowers is divine as the potatoes are crisping up in the oven.

Allow to cool a few minutes before eating (if you can…I always burn my tongue and the roof of my mouth). These are great anytime.

roasted floral potatoes

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