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Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

sangria sorbet, take 2

I was really bothered by my recent attempt at sangria sorbet. So disappointed with it that I threw it out.

But when I spied some strawberries on my neighbor’s counter, I grabbed them and promised to bring them back in a fun new form. I knew that redemption was mine. I decided to focus on the sangria experience instead of just making the sorbet. This time, I made good sangria and let it sit for a day in the fridge. Only when all the flavors had mixed did I even consider freezing this concoction. And while I waited, patiently this time, I recalled my first authentic sangria. In Spain. By the water. With a cool wind blowing around 10 pm as the sun was finally setting.

I was on my first trip to Spain – and was in Barcelona to be exact. I was taking the post-college graduation, not quite backpacking, trip through a few western European countries. Four weeks, four countries. And even though I was stubborn enough to pack everything into a backpack, I could not carry that monstrosity. So I had to buy a set of wheels to bungee cord my backpack to — it was never evenly balanced, I might add — and totter that thing from train station to hotel over cobblestones every few days.

Because, you see, the countries that I organized (and I use that term loosely since organizing involved choosing a city, a date, and a train; all our hotels except for 2 were booked on the fly) involved only one or two select cities. Here’s how I travel – I pick a home base and work from there. For that trip: England = London; France = Paris + Nice; Italy = Venice + Florence. Then a few day trips as desired. I admit, it was just a trip of highlights, but I needed to stay sane, and I knew I’d be back.

My travel companion and boyfriend, on the other hand, had never been out of the country (you can see why I added camembert as a litmus test) and he wanted Spain since he had studied Spanish in school. So Spain was his. And he was not good at prioritizing. In our 7 days 0f Spain, we went to Barcelona, Pamplona, San Sebastian (we had to follow Hemingway’s travels), Madrid, and Seville. By Seville, I was exhausted. And hot. And really sick of trains. And frustrated that I never knew what was going on around me.

But our first evening in Barcelona was amazing. I could still speak French and sort of be understood. We ate near the port and the cool breeze was welcome. Tapas was new and inviting and vegetarian options abounded. Most importantly, our introduction to real Spanish sangria was one made with “xampagne.” I remember strolling back from dinner along the wide boulevards, intoxicated by the bubbly sangria, the hints of Gaudí, and the anticipation of a week of exploring the complete unknown.

Looking back with a bit more perspective and without all that luggage and those horrible wheels, that week in Spain was a pretty great whirlwind and introduction to the diversity of the country. The architecture of Barcelona. An all-night party in Pamplona followed by sitting on a rickety wooden fence as the bulls torpedoed by. The train (bus? I can’t recall) to San Sebastián for a mini siesta by the water and to sleep off our prior evening, and then on to Mardid for a real bull fight. And finally arriving, travel weary, for a relaxing few days in the in the very hot, tapas-rich, flamenco stomping and twirling Sevilla.

And it started with that xampagne sangria.

Sangria Sorbet – MUCHO BETTER THIS TIME!

sangria sorbet with mandarin liqueur

I still make this sorbet with leftover ingredients – wine and fruit – that I have in the kitchen (or that I’ve scavenged from my neighbor’s kitchen) rather than seeking out xampagne. The trick I found is making a sangria (slightly sweeter than you’d drink) and letting it sit for a good day.

Makes 4-6 servings

1 C strawberries – need not be beautiful, better to be a bit over-ripe actually

1 orange

1 C dry red wine – I used a Cabernet

1.5 C 1:1 simple syrup (essentially a scant cup sugar dissolved in a scant cup boiling water)

2 shots orange liqueur (~1/4 C) – e.g., Cointreau; here I used Bartenura Mandarino because it was still Passover.

Rinse berries and remove any bad spots (mushy, etc.). Slice into small pieces – it doesn’t matter how you slice them because they will get pureed later.

Add orange zest and juice, including pulp. This will probably yield about 1/3 C juice.

Add wine, syrup, and liqueur and allow to sit at room temperature for several hours and then refrigerate overnight. The mix should taste a little bit sweeter than you would want for mere drinking (mere drinking? I’ll leave it to you decide if you can ever merely drink sangria…).

Freeze in sealed container. This mix froze solid for me overnight. Woohoo!

frozen solid!

frozen solid!

Remove from refrigerator for 30 minutes and then use immersion blender to puree berries and aerate sorbet.

getting ready to use the immersion blender...you can see a few orange pieces and strawberry chunks

getting ready to use the immersion blender after a 30-minute thaw...you can see a few bits of orange pulp; the strawberry slices sank

This will help give the sorbet the desired consistency.

Return to freezer for a few more hours to re-freeze.

Serve with some extra orange liqueur.

sangria sorbet with mandarin liqueur

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a taste of my NY

I was in NY this past weekend and my time can be summarized in a few words – family/friends, food, and art. Not surprisingly, much of the latter two were shared with the former. It was such a NY weekend. And for the first time in a long time, the only thing I bought were things to fill my pantry and fridge.

pantry and fridge items purchased in NY

my NY goodie bag

I got everything on my list and then some. In addition to good balsamic, parmesan, and fun demura (and white) sugar cubes, I found kosher beef jerky, gnocci from italy, ras al hanout spice mixture (which honestly I could have found up here, but I saw it in Fairway so I just bought it), and the pièce de résistance…Hazelnut oil. I found the hazelnut oil in Zabar’s (specific info on the oil on my resources page) and had bought the same one a few years ago but let it go rancid because I didn’t realize it needed to be refrigerated. I was SO happy to find this oil again!

Besides visiting the old classics foodie haunts on the UWS (Zabar’s, Fairway, Gourmet Garage), I stopped in to the newly renovated Kosher Marketplace — one of the higher end all kosher grocery stores in my old “chood” to see what it looked like. No longer a cramped tiny store, and still carrying some very high end products and interesting products, but check out the pictures below, and giggle along with me about some of the product placement issues they’re still working on (Meira — these are for you) …

expensive chocolate + bean dip!

yum...Payard's kosher collection...

fancy french apple sauce - French Lau in London used to order these to remind her of home

Delis compote aux pommes: authentic fancy French apple sauce - French Lau, living in London, used to order these to remind her of home

I didn’t just shop for food … I took advantage of NY’s culinary and cultural variety.

I got into the city only 3 hours before sundown, wanted to catch a small photography exhibit at a Chelsea gallery, and needed to find food for shabbat for my sister and my friend. This is probably only possible in NY and a handful of cities. We went to the exhibit — photography of female Israeli soldiers and dancers in Russia (captured poignantly not in performance, but behind the scenes which is where, as Elvera, who I met when we were in a dance company together, and I know only too well, the real emotion is), met the artist (!), and managed to pick up Indian food just cross town in “Curry Hill” and get back to my friend’s apartment more or less in time for shabbat to begin. Only in NY!

Saturday afternoon, we ate Indian leftovers and then walked to The Jewish Museum to see their exhibit on Chagall and the Russian Theater which is only around for 2 more weeks. What made the exhibit really interesting was that Elvera is originally from the Ukraine and could give her own commentary about life and the theater (having trained in dance there) in the more modern Soviet Union, when it was still united.

And then in the evening, I went to a CityStep benefit held at the Alvin Ailey building. Right outside the room where our benefit was being held, there is a stunning mosaic of Judith Jamison (who, I might add, received an honorary Doctorate of Arts the same year I walked…) that I just can’t resist sharing with you.

mosaic of Judith Jamison at Ailey

mosaic of Judith Jamison at Ailey

I had Sunday brunch at Pain Quotidien with some of my international friends that I so sorely miss. And interestingly enough, a guy wearing a yarmulke was eating in there too…Romy and Thierry wouldn’t let me take a picture of him eating his baguette and butter. And I wasn’t in the mood to approach him to start a discussion. Clearly we both subscribe to the “traditional French (and Belgian) baguettes are kosher; check that they are made on a floured (not greased) baking sheet/stone” rule and believe that this rule does not only apply to France (Belgium) … <ignoring the fact that I have become a bit more lax about eating out>.

After strolling through the MoMA and seeing some classics that I’m embarrassed to say I had never seen before in person, I was treated (and I mean treated!) to one of my favorite meat places for an early dinner. It has been so long since I’ve eaten meat out in a restaurant — and especially red meat — that I truly savored each bite of my Wolf&Lamb ribeye  burger with grilled onions. This was no meagre hamburger. This was the kind of burger that melts into the bun. No ketchup required. I couldn’t decide whether to eat it with my hands or a knife and fork. So, I alternated between hands and cutlery. It may not have been pretty, but it tasted pretty great. And the company, my dear friend MD, made it all the better. And thanks for the help with the picture — otherwise it would have been all bun!

Wolf&Lamb ribeye burger

And then it started to snow.

And snow.

And snow.

And eventually I got home.

But, wow…I did a lot in just a few days. You always hear about a NY minute. I think it took me six months away to realize and appreciate the vivaciousness of this city. And these were just a few tastes of my NY. I can’t wait to return for more. Imagine what I can do if I actually plan…

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I have been writing content for this blog for several months, have told scores of friends about this endeavor, have been cooking and baking and trying to take pictures of my experiments, but have put off actually “going live.” I’m not sure what I’ve been waiting for.

I made the decision to pull together all of my recipes and cooking adventures and travel after meeting Clotilde clotildeDusoulier in Paris last November for a book reading and signing. If you don’t know who she is, you should. She writes Chocolate & Zucchini (she’s at the top of my list of favorite blogs…check out her French “edible idioms” if you love the French language as much as I do), and everything I have ever made from her site and cookbooks has turned out well. Coming from me, that’s saying a lot. At the signing, she suggested using a blog, at the very least, as a way to keep track of your recipes and maybe to eventually share them with the world. She signed one of her books to me: “Pour Gayle – le bonheur est dans la cuisine! Clotilde” — “happiness is in cooking/the kitchen.” More on Clotilde later, but suffice it to say that my visits to France have led to many memorable experiences.


A year and a half ago, I spent about a month taking dance classes in Paris and Nice. At a later time, I’m sure I’ll write about the amazing food I ate, the (mostly positive) reactions I got to wearing a Jewish star the whole time, but right now, I’m going to focus on the issue at hand and some words of wisdom I received from one of my dance teachers in Nice. I was taking a jazz and tap dance atelier (workshop) at OffJazz that taught me so much more than dance. Given the world renown of the the school as well at its amazing location, students came from all over Europe and the world to train with Gianin Loringett and Gianin's classother teachers. (I hung out with people from London, Paris, Cannes, Prague, the Hague, Denmark, Brazil, and Cuba, and have gone back to visit a few dancers in their home cities.) What I found amazing, besides the instruction, was Gianin’s ability to switch seamlessly from one language to another. I consider myself lucky to speak passable French, but this guy is amazing. Our last week, we had several Italian students in one of our classes and as Gianin was demonstrating some steps, he stopped and stared at one dancer standing back and watching rather than practicing and yelled out, “Non pensare, fare.” For the rest of us whose common language was English, he translated as only he could: “If you sit around and think and wait, the train will leave you at the station.”


So there we go. I’ve started my blog. I’m on the train. And since this is about food, I guess I need to post at least one yummy picture. So, here is an authentic salade nicoise from, yup…you guessed it, Nice.

salade nicoise a Nice


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