Celebrating Three Kings Day

Growing up, I only vaguely new about the holiday of the Epiphany/Día de los Reyes Magos/Three Kings Day. I had certainly never celebrated it. As an adult, the first time I really learned about how important the day was in Latin American and Spanish culture was during one of our trips to Puerto Rico. Still, I’ve never timed travel in these countries to coincide with January 6.

If you’d like to learn a bit more about the holiday, check out this article explaining the history, facts, and traditions of the Epiphany.

Since moving to Boston, I have been practicing Spanish with a conversation partner who’s morphed into a friend. She’s from Spain, so I ask her oodles of cultural questions that arise while watching Spanish movies and television shows. This means I asked her a lot about Three Kings Day, both the food and the traditions. Naturally, after these conversations, I was getting amped up to make the traditional cake. She and her husband were nice enough to put up with me in their kitchen for a few hours and have Jordan and I over to celebrate with some Spanish food.

Would you believe they even have an entire leg of jamón iberico in their apartment right now?! It was too exciting for me. I got to to a bit of the slicing myself, which was humbling. I now respect those people in Spanish restaurants or at Spanish weddings that are in charge of this duty a lot more.

A little manchego cheese and salchicón into the mix! We also had salad, quiche (okay, not so Spanish, but tasted great!), croquetas, and picos (those little, tiny, crunchy breadsticks you are served at tapas bars). I was also introduced to calimochos (or kalimotxo), a mix of red wine and Coca-Cola. I’d rather stick to a good Rioja in most cases, but it was fun to try one 🙂

The bakers:

If you didn’t take a gander at the article above, it’s traditional to eat a king cake, or roscón (rosca in Latin America) for the holiday. Much like in France or Louisana during Mardi Gras, a token is inserted into the cake. However, in this case, there’s a lucky token (we used a small toy) and a not-so-lucky token (a dry garbanzo bean). When eating, you must bite carefully into your piece, just in case the tokens happen to be in your slice. The lucky winner gets to wear the king crown for the night (Jordan won, so please imagine him wearing this headband–he won’t let me share the photo with you :)); the unlucky winner is required to pay for the cake. In our case, no one was unlucky, since it was homemeade. We happily dipped our slices of cake in hot chocolate.

The food was fun, the conversation more so. We had a lovely night and learned a bit more about Spanish culture. We even got to take a bit of the roscón home!

Did anyone else celebrate last night or the night before?

In case anyone is wondering, we followed a recipe from the site Javi Recetas. I’ll be spending more than a little time browsing for other recipes…

Una Settimana Italiana | My Italian Week at Home

1910390_507352755016_2662_nA full decade ago (ahh!), I was in Italy for a total of four full days, two in Rome and two in Venice. We saw the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museum, the Roman Forum, rode a gondola, and gazed at the mosaics in the Basilica of San Marco all in that amount of time. It was probably too much, but at the time I thought that I might not ever have another opportunity to travel back to Europe and I wanted to see all the sights that I could. And no matter how rushed you are, the moment you climb that hill and see the Roman Forum is a moment you aren’t likely to forget.

Food, on the other hand, wasn’t really anything that interested me at the time. This is lucky, actually, because I left Europe with -7USD to my name, plus an overdraft fee. We survived by eating only street pizza and gelato. Not that either of us were complaining about the quality of those, either.

Now, I’m, well, a more curious eater than I was during our university years, to put it lightly. I’m also happy to have found people who don’t see my food interests as out of the ordinary and instead encourage me to learn even more.

Last week, my social life, my work life, my book club life, and my own personal reading life all collided into this ball of Italian food and culture. Really, I didn’t plan it that way.

On my own, I’ve been listening to a few Coffee Break Italian podcasts to prep for our trip. I finally read My Brilliant Friend for book club; I indulged in the light read of Under the Tuscan Sun. Our book club cooked accordingly, making for a night of delicious Naples-themed food. Then, I got to tag along as a server/assistant for an Italian cooking class through work.

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spaghetti with chilis and garlic DSC_1056 DSC_1057 DSC_1064

oxtail with vegetable italian style

I had a serious amount of fun for it being “work”. I sipped some wines, all of which were new to me, ate provolone and anchovy crostini, artichokes, endives, spaghetti, oxtail, and chestnut ice cream. All in the same night. And all while hanging out with some of my favorite peeps.

DSC_1072 DSC_1079

A couple days later, our friend hosted a dinner party (she also happens to be in my book club, woot!)–Italian themed as well. The weather was wonderful, and she has the perfect yard for al fresco dinner parties. As soon as I saw the tables in the backyard, I was thankful to have remembered my camera for the day. Even still, part way through meal, I failed as a photographer, simply eating my secondo (main), contorno (side), dolce (dessert), and digestivo without taking a single photo. That’s right, folks. You only see our starters and our first course below.

DSC_1081 DSC_1082 DSC_1083 DSC_1084 DSC_1086 DSC_1087 spaghetti outdoor dining DSC_1089 DSC_1091 DSC_1092

What a great week! All of the events, meals, books, and discussions made for a full, fun, and inspiring week. And it’s whet my intellectual and actual appetite for our upcoming actual Italian week.

I wish you all a happy week, Italian or otherwise 🙂

 

A Month of Chinese Food | Too Busy Eating to Take Those Pretty Photos

Chinese Braised Oxtail

At the beginning of this month, I imagined myself visiting countless (actually, okay, I estimated a very countable 4-5 places) Chinese restaurants, slurping down noodles, trying a few dim sum places, and ordering Dan Dan Mian in. This never happened. Not really. Once, I took Jordan to Chinatown’s New Town Bakery, since we needed to go to T&T Supermarket anyway.

I also nearly lost motivation mid-month. I was attacked by the North American palate cravings. All I wanted was a nice broccoli and potato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich on the side. We did break from Chinese food for a night of pesto pasta, but I attribute that to the fact that I found myself swimming in free basil on one occasion. A day later, I found the motivation I needed, thankfully.

kitchen.chineseWhat kept me motivated during this slump? This delightful read by Ann Mah: kitchen chinese. It’s like a food memoir mixed up into a rom com. It was fun to read and taught me a bit about Chinese food and culture.

Blogs, per usual, were another source of inspiration. Those that inspired me to try new recipes when I was feeling lazy and wanted to me reposer sur mes feuilles de lauriers* include Steamy Kitchen and the Woks of Life. Neither steered me wrong. Both provided way more recipes than I needed to fill my month and typically came with enough stories and explanations to make me excited enough to get off the couch, even after work, to cook a nice meal.

I didn’t make my way through all the recipes on my to-cook list, but we did much better on the cooking side of the project as compared to making our way to Chinese restaurants. I still need to make Chinese tea eggs and have some quality sweet and sour ribs. I have no doubt that sometime in my near future, these things will happen.

But I digress. Concentrating on what we didn’t eat is so not the point. Especially when we tried some very fun new things.

The month had some hits. It also had some misses.

I had two favorite nights. Night 1 was when we invited a friend over for supper (yep, I call it supper–that’s what we call it in my neck of the woods, and I simply won’t can’t break the habit). Jordan and I (heavy on the I this go round) had spent a good 2 hours braising our pork belly and prepping the spicy Ma Yi Shang Su, also called Ants Climbing a Tree. When the lovely guest of ours came over, we spent some time together making our dumpling filling and shaping dumplings to go into the bamboo steamer. We ate and sipped a nice Argentine red and ate and chatted and ate. Earlier in the day, Jordan and I had gone to New Town Bakery to stock up on some egg tarts, almond cookies, and sesame balls. I have since decided that if I one day have a child, he or she will be fed Chinese sweets from a young age so that he or she won’t have to learn to appreciate them as an adult. Still, a fun end to the evening, even if the desserts weren’t our taste.

Favorite Night 2 was Peking duck night. I picked my duck up at Jackson’s Poultry (the staff there is always so friendly!), bought a sackful of plums, and stocked up on five spice. For the most part, we followed recipes a la Jamie Oliver for our duck and our plum sauce, then spent some time rendering the fat and saving the legs for confit (the legs had a big less five spice, just for the record), and finally using all those randoms bits for a stock. It was really quite the production, but fun all the same. And technically, since those confit dug legs are still in waiting–and thus, some of the rendered fat as well–we’re still enjoying that duck. The bird that keeps on giving. As for the plum sauce, gruyère and plum sauce grilled cheese wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I was craving grilled cheese, but it’ll definitely do the trick.

Other notable experiences include the hot and sour soup, which I believe may have warded off a cold, braised oxtail, and all Schezuan-influenced dishes. I think we’d add the hot chili oil to anything if we’d only be able to find a way to claim that it was supposed to be a part of the dish. We had Mapo tofu and also a Schezuan fish stew which we definitely enjoyed.

My biggest disappointment of the month? The breakfast congee. I had the best of intentions to dry my own orange peels, never did it, and found myself using other ingredients around the pantry to flavor the rice porridge. It ended up being a far cry from anything traditional, and it certainly wasn’t anything that left the husband eager to eat ride porridge in the mornings. (He might have mixed peanut butter and honey into his). I had envisioned it as a much more comforting breakfasty morning, but it ended up being one of those Cassie-is-trying-something-and-it-is-not-great-but-I-won’t-complain sort of things. But when Thai food rolls around, I’ll give it another go, maybe try savory instead of sweet congee.

After a month of ginger, soy sauce, black vinegar, cloud ear mushrooms, dumplings, and Schezuan peppercorns, what do we have to show for ourselves? Other than our new bits of food knowledge, only one single photo. We were apparently too busy eating to snap any decent photos of our creations.

The photo of the oxtail above is the only one from the entire month’s worth of home cooking.

chinese new year granville island public market

So instead I’ll leave you (and my future self when I return to this page with a hankering for Chinese food) with a list of the recipes that we tried at home this month.

  • Dan Dan Main (noodles)
  • Ants Climbing a Tree
  • Chinese braised oxtail
  • Shanghai-style Pork Belly
  • Pork potstickers
  • Veggie potstickers
  • Hot and Sour Soup
  • Egg drop soup
  • Vegetable Lo Mein
  • Buddha’s Delight-Round 2
  • Peking Duck
  • Homemade Plum Sauce
  • Shanghai Noodle Bowls
  • Breakfast Congee
  • Egg Foo Yung
  • Kung Pao Veggies (Sweet Potatoes)
  • Vegetable Chow Mein
  • Mapo Tofu
  • Schezuan Fish Stew

The month of April? All about Mexican. We’ve already prepped our habañero hot sauce and revamped some of our favorites. Can’t wait!

Happy cooking and happy eating!

*There is a pun to be had here in English, too, I’m sure, but I just can’t seem to make it work. It works so much better in French since bay leaf is feuille de laurier and to rest on one’s laurels is se reposer sur ses lauriers. Since a bay leaf is often used in a type of cooking I am much more familiar with, using that bay leaf seems like resting on my laurels, not stretching my repertoire, etc. Does it work, does it work?!

 

Ramen, Soursop, and Steamed Pork Buns | February in Food

I can’t say that I’m actually hitting every one of my learning goals for the year. I’m doing pretty good on my reading list, and language learning is, well, relatively on course. Others are lagging. I haven’t even taken the guitar out of the case. Expanding my food repertoire and knowledge, on the other hand, has come naturally and enthusiastically. In Montreal, I learned about my breads, viennoiseries, and French cuisine, as well as some Quebecois staples. In Argentina, I learned about ice cream, the art of grilling, and wines. Vancouver? Vancouver is an amazing place to learn about Asian cuisines. We’ve barely begun to scratch the surface.

During the month of February, I focused on learning more about Japanese food. While I did my best, I did let myself get distracted. First, I was gifted a bag of paella rice and the chorizo from Oyama started calling to me. Then, with Mardi Gras and Valentine’s Day, I couldn’t resist making an andouille (Oyama could become a habit) gumbo and a king cake. And did you really expect me to not have something Chinese on Chinese New Year?

pork steamed bun

As for that Japanese food project, I like to think I held my own. No longer do I think Japanese food is only udon noodles and sashimi. Shiitake mushrooms were in and out of our kitchen like crazy. The tub of miso paste is nearly gone. I bought soy sauce at crazy rates, ate tons of rice, and learned plenty of Japanese words that I continue to mispronounce 🙂 I tried my best to go into every dish and ingredient with an open mind. Some pleasantly surprised me. Some, well, will probably never make their way into our normal shopping rotations. For better or worse, the list of the month’s Japanese foods (that I can remember at this moment) are the following.

  • Tempura: I just went veggie. Can you believe I hadn’t actually tried it before? I ordered out for this. Deep frying at home seemed like a mess to avoid.
  • Cured Brill: When I layered salt and raw fish between kelp sheets, the husband kept his qualms to himself. I think we were both unsure about how this would go, but it ended up being my favorite at-home dish. And it was super easy.
  • Udon Noodle Bowls: Dashi, quality noodles, and whatever we felt like.
  • Tonkatsu: Something we’ve actually made at home before. Was nice to know what we were doing for once.
  • Konnyaku: This is taro root powder gelatin. Or diet food. It’s got a strange smell, a weird texture, and frankly, while I believe better cooks can make it bearable, I do not believe they can make it taste good. But please, prove me wrong.
  • Yokan: Bean curd dessert jellies. Really, I came around to like these by the end of the month.
  • Mochi (with red adzuki bean soup): Nope, that hard white square you see in the Asian foods aisle is not soap. Those little rice cakes puff up like crazy and become stringy and chewy. I will not say that I loved this, but I didn’t dislike it. As for making red bean paste from scratch, it triggered my memories from last year’s self-poisoning incident.
  • Black Sesame Ice Cream: I’ve been working my way through the pint for a couple weeks. Some days I think this is the best ice cream flavor known to man. Some days, I feel the complete opposite.
  • Ramen: Oh, wow. After reading through Ivan Ramen, we ventured out to two of Vancouver’s ramen shops. I’ll recommend Kintaro Ramen in Vancouver. I now want to travel to Japan and simply spend days on end slurping noodles and avoiding eye contact while at baths.
  • At-home gyoza: Fun to make. Easy to make. And way cheaper this way!
  • Miso soup: A staple during the month. Add some tofu, wakame (seaweed), and shiitakes.
  • Miso-glazed salmon: We live in BC. Salmon had to be done.
  • Teriyaki Trout: Though my ferry operator told me not to, we marinated this for a good hour and a half. And I’m glad we did.
  • Daikon Radish: Grated, sliced, raw, cooked. Any other way possible.
  • Veggie Sushi Rolls: I am horrible at rolling these. We attempted twice. I think I actually got worse on the second night’s attempt.
  • Umeboshi: Holy pickled plum. So intense. This is another thing I just can’t figure out if I like.
  • Japadog: I did it. And I ate it on the side of the street while passersby wondered if I knew that QP Mayo was dripping down my face. I did.
  • Oyster Motoyaki: I think I’d like my oysters done a bit differently, really. Is hard to find the oyster meat under all of that jazz, but they did taste good.

homemade gyoza

Like I said, I didn’t eat Japanese food for every meal of every day. For the most part, breakfast consisted of the usual suspects (Jordan’s working on perfecting his curry omelette), plus a brunch at Cafe Medina. My food distractions really came when we wanted to make something special to celebrate a holiday, visitor, or event. Here are some of our other notable meals, snacks, or ingredients.

  • Soursop: It’s like that delicious cherimoya fruit, except it’s not so sweet that you can’t finish your portion. Good stuff. People often say it’s a mix between a pineapple and strawberry, if you can imagine that.
  • Sans Rival: I make this Filipino cashew meringue cake for special occasions. Leah visiting was just such an occasion.
  • Sesame Ball with red bean paste and Steamed Pork Buns: Stopped in at New Town Bakery in Chinatown to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
  • Buddha’s Delight with Cloud Ears and Dried Lily Buds: Continuing on that Lunar New Year streak, I had a couple friends over for some Buddha’s Delight and Chinese almond cookies.
  • Chorizo and Scallop Paella: Because when you have saffron and paella rice, it’s hard to say no to this.
  • Fresh green peppercorns: What a refreshing little mouthful of peppery flavor.
  • Mardi Gras King Cake: My third year making this ring cake. Too festive with the colored sugars.
  • Andouille and Chicken Gumbo: Roux, file powder, and delicious andouille sausage. I think I need to start making this more than once a year.

veggie tempura spicy tuna roll

pork steam bun

sour sop

mardi gras king cake

 

paelaa

 

oyster motoyaki

Speaking only for myself (because I know how much the mister hated the umeboshi and the konnyaku), I will say that I had a lot of fun trying new foods in February. Even when things are, uh, less-than-my-favorite, I still have fun trying. Up until now, March has been of the same ilk: some things delicious, some things awkward, but all of it interesting. We’re already started on our lo meins and chow meins, and I’ve got a little something braising as I type this. Any time I think I’m starting to learn a good deal about cooking, baking, or even eating, I learn of something else. That’s just the way I like it.

Happy cooking. Happy learning.

Colby Cheese Days | World Cheese Curd Throwing Competition

The word colby is Norse in origin. It’s logical, then, colby cheese is just the kind of cheese that might appeal to the Scandinavian palate I’ve referenced before. Colby cheese is a mild cheese, similar to cheddar (but skips the cheddaring process).

The cheese is celebrated every year with a three-day festival in the city of the same name. Colby, Wisconsin, is found in the heart of the state, off of Highway 29.

colby wisconsin

colby wisconsin building

If you’ve never been to a rural Wisconsin, small town festival, I will try my best to explain it to you. But truly, you’ll just have to experience one for yourself to determine if it’s something you can appreciate. It’s probably not for everyone. If you are looking for health food, this isn’t your festival. The festival goers will probably know you’re a tourist and might even ask what you’re doing there. They will look at you strangely when you pull out your D-SLR and ask if you can take photos of them deep-frying. (To be fair, they were friendly and some welcomed photos, but some thought I was a bit off). There will be a parade of local princess floats, John Deere machinery, and polka groups. Don’t be alarmed if you see a Miss Some-Nearby-Small-Town wearing a camouflage dress. I would never personally do it, but to each princess her own. There will also be a town coloring contest, a glee club performance (sang the Killers, ha!), a tractor pull (I didn’t really understand the concept before, either, so don’t worry), fair rides, and certainly food.

colby cheese sign

colby cheese days

coloring contest colby

colby cheese days

colby cheese parade

colby cheese parade

colby wisconsin tractor pull

This woman was my hero for the day. Don’t believe she won, but she was the only woman I saw competing, so we rooted for her.

colby, wisconsin tractor pull

colby wisconsin tractor pull

And as you guessed, in Colby, there will be cheese curds. The way God intended them to be eaten. White and squeaky, the lightly and freshly battered, and fried until beautifully golden. This was almost reason enough to go.

deep fried cheese curds colby wisconsin

Don’t leave Wisconsin without eating them. Unless you’re a vegan. Or have celiac disease. Or aren’t going to eat a salad as your next meal.

colby cheese day festival

colby cheese days festival

Sure, I’m a sucker for a cheesy festival of any nature, but what really convinced us to make the trip was the opportunity to take part in a World Championship. I’m not kidding. For two dollars, you can say you competed in a world championship of cheese curd throwing. You can’t make this up. Once I heard about this, I had to go. Am I strange? Apparently. We were probably the only to people eagerly awaiting the beginning of the competition. It began with very little fanfare. Despite little fanfare, the winners’ trophies were on display.

trophies colby cheese throwing

I lined up shamelessly among the 11-year-olds holding their parents’ money. I prepared. I asked the 11-year-old behind me for tips. And then the organizer of the event. What were the tips I received? I’m not telling. In case I return next year 🙂

colby cheese curd throwing

Participants are classed according to sex and age and allowed to throw as many curds as they are willing to pay for. Because things were slow going, my sister and I were the only two in our age group for a while. And I went first.

colby cheese curd throw

If you look really closely, you can see the white blur in the air. My throw landed in bounce, meaning I was on the board. Correct, folks, I led a world championship. At least for a while.

Sister went next and came close.

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Sadly, we had other commitments that evening, so had to leave before the end of the competition. Before the event, I had pictured crowds gathered around cheering for local shot put champions. Nothing of the sort. Which made me feel a little easier about leaving earlier.

I’m certain I didn’t win. My throw wasn’t my best, and the competition was supposed to last for a long time. Some other lady between the ages to 19-40 had to have launched that glorious, round curd farther than I had. I even heard the woman next to me trash talking my distance saying she has “got to be able to beat that one!” Alas, I hope for society’s sake that someone in the group of several hundred people had a better arm.

Like an Olympian without a medal, I went home empty-handed.

Lighthouses and Fish Boils | Door County Day 1

I spent the afternoon at my cousin’s child’s birthday party at a campground near Black River Falls. On the ride there or back (my 28-year-old memory fails me), my aunt mentioned that I must have been a little behind on posting because I haven’t even gotten around to the Door County pictures from over a week ago. I promise that I’m still working my way slowly through an armchair geographer post about what I’ve learned so far about Hmong culture, but since I found myself with a bit of downtime this evening, I couldn’t resist a bit of photo sorting from the trip. Without further ado…

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Last Wednesday through Friday, I went on one of Wisconsin’s quintessential vacations: Door County.

door county beach

It’s known for its beaches (on Lake Michigan), its cherries, its fish boils, its wineries, and its grand ol’ Scandinavian heritage.

Door County is often called the Cape Cod of the Midwest, a name which made me giggle. It’s an exaggeration, to be sure, but the more I learned about the dynamics between locals, wealthy summer residents, and random tourists, the more I could make sense of the comparison. 

door county beach

We made the most of our time on this trip, squeezing many things in to a little bit of time. Unfortunately, we simply didn’t have the time for a week-long relaxing beach trip. But even if we had, the weather would have been a bit chilly for simply lounging and listening to waves.

After arriving in Sturgeon Bay, we headed straight for our hotel. Thankfully, we were able to check in a little early and drop the luggage off. We stayed at the Holiday Music Hotel, which I highly recommend. Lots of character, a recording studio attached, kitschy lobby, simple but decent breakfast, and friendly staff. And the price is lower than all the nearby resorts.

door county holiday music motel

holiday music hotel door county

door county holiday music motel

After checking in, we headed north toward the dry town of Ephraim, where Wilson’s Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor is located. Between our motel and this restaurant, I was beginning to think that the entire county was some sort of ’50s time warp.

door county wilsons

door county wilson's

I worked in a root beer stand in high school, so I’m quite particular about root beer. Wilson’s makes their own, so I decided to opt for the float as my ice cream treat. And since whitefish is the local specialty, I went for a fish sandwich. This is not your McDonald’s fish sandwich, I assure you.

door county wilsons

door county wilsons rootbeer

After Wilson’s, we wanted to take in something besides calories (culture, for example) and visit one of the county’s well-known Norwegian-style wooden churches: the Boynton Chapel. Tours take place Monday and Thursday from 1-4 PM, but if you arrive a bit late and just want to take pictures, you don’t need to actually join the tour. It’d have been interesting, though. Everywhere you turn, there’s a carving or painting.

boynton chapel door county

door county boynton chapel

boynton chapel door county

boynton chapel door county

door county boynton chapel

door county boynton chapel

door county boynton chapel

cassie.doorcounty 143

We skipped from the chapel to the Cana Island Lighthouse.

Inland, Door County looks like Wisconsin. Along the shore, you can imagine the Cape Cod bit more easily.

door county beach

I got some great photos here, but I have a new computer which keeps flipping portrait view photos, so I’ll save those for another day. (Wait, did you read that?! I finally got a computer!)

door county

cana island lighthouse door county

cana island lighthouse door county

door county

door county cana island

cana island lighthouse door county

door county cana island

door county cana island

After visiting the lighthouse, we didn’t have to much time to kill before our big evening event:

the Door County Fish Boil.

This is a tradition of the county. I knew as soon as we decided to go to Door County that I’d want to do one. But there are over fifteen public ones offered in the county and choosing can be difficult. Luckily, I read Nat Geo Traveler on a regular basis and they included a story in the most recent issue about Door County fish boils. Et voilà, we chose the Old Post Office in Ephraim.

ephraim

ephraim door county

ephraim door county

A fish boil includes onions, potatoes, and whitefish. And a bunch of salt, but they tell us that it boils over and out so you needn’t be alarmed when you see the quantities of salt added. I believed Earl. Because I preferred to.

We arrived about 15 minutes early for the boil and joined our dining companions behind the restaurant.

door county fish boil old post office

fish boil

door county fish boil

door county fish boil

door county fish boil

The fish is boiled while Earl tells fish pun after fish pun for the audience. And just like that, the pot is off, the fire is up, and the diners mosey around to the front of the restaurant to grab their plates and go through the line.

fish boil door county

door county fish boil

I know, it looks like a plate fit for the, well, Midwestern version of a Scandinavian palate. But it was really good fish (the servers come around to remove the bones in it for you), the bread is decent, and the coleslaw rivals your grandmother’s.

It also comes with a nice view.

door county fish boil

I was happy.

fish boil

It also comes with your very own slice of Door County cherry pie. Ice cream is a bit extra, but made locally.

cherry pie a la mode door county

We lingered a little before returning back to the hotel for the night. There was a view of the sunset on the lake. Who would want to leave right away?

Day 2 recap coming soon….

A Bastille Day Celebration

I have a confession. Before moving to Québec, I wasn’t all that into French (actually from France) culture. And then when I moved to Québec, I was swept away in the deep currents of their very own culture, so I didn’t really make a concerted effort to delve into French culture.

I still heavily favor Québec over France when choosing musical artists, television shows, etc. (it’s what I know best between the two), but after having a couple adorable, lovely French conversation partners, I became intrigued bit by bit. Annabelle fed me my first salade de chevre chaud; Aurélie cooked French onion soup from scratch for all of her friends at her birthday bash. It’s hard to resist charming ladies feeding me traditional French food. Thus…

I jumped on the French bandwagon.

This month, I’m signed up for Coursera’s free French Revolution course (probably won’t actually finish the writing submission, but am watching video lectures and reading). Couple that with the fact that my older sister has her own madeleine pan and developed une recette de coq au vin à la Shannon (my sister’s name), and the result is the two of us planning our at-home mini-Bastille Day celebration.

We celebrated a few days early since I’ll be skipping town again this evening and we couldn’t squeeze it into our busy family schedules. Works out, though, because now I can share the photos on actual Bastille Day!

bastille day at home bread

Note the beautiful roses from our parents’ rose bushes. Lovely!

The Menu

  • Snacking: Whole wheat baguettes (that bread challenge last year has really come in handy!)
  • Soup: Soupe à l’oignon (French Onion Soup)
  • Salad: Salade de chevre chaud (Goat cheese salad)
  • Entree: Coq au vin (Shannon’s own version, which varies from the traditional recipes in a couple ways) served with rice
  • Dessert(s): Chocolate pots de crème, whole wheat madeleines, and macarons that I bought and carried in tow from Montreal

The only thing that wasn’t made from scratch were the macarons. I don’t have the patience to learn how to make them. It was my parents’ first time having them, so I thought the sacrificed space in my carry-on was worth it.

I won’t say that Shannon and I worked seamlessly together in the kitchen.

bastilleprep

There was a serious hitch when we discovered that there was no corkscrew to be found and the wine (essential for two of the recipes…I mean coq au vin without the vin?!) remained unopened. We tried to hillbilly it open with large screws and other strange things from the toolbox before a nearby relative in possession of a corkscrew answered her phone and saved the day. We sent a macaron in exchange.

bastilleday

However, overall, things went well. We planned the menu at a distance, had lots of giggles, and put on a pretty decent spread. We get to cook together so rarely these days, that it wouldn’t really have mattered if the food burned, spilled, or lacked salt. There is just something awesome about cooking real food with family. Bonus points if I have an excuse to badger them with French words.

bastille day french onion soup

salade de chevre chaud bastille day

coq au vin bastille day menu

coq au vin bastille day menu

Filling the pots de crème.

pouring pots de creme bastille day menu

Les pots before they’ve set.

pots de creme bastille day menu

french desserts bastille day

Happy Bastille Day, all you revolutionaries!