For the love of food

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens*Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens*Brown paper packages tied up with strings*These are a few of my favorite things*Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels*Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles*Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings*These are a few of my favorite things*Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes*Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes*Silver white winters that melt into springs*These are a few of my favorite things

Summer Savory July 28, 2009

Filed under: Food,Recipes,Uncategorized — lovemyfood @ 9:04 pm

Its been absolutely crazy the last few days, temperatures are above 30C (90F) and since I live in the usually cool Pacific Northwest I am (like everyone else) absolutely unprepared – wall to wall carpets combined with lack of A/C in the majority of private residences. So any cooking I am doing the last few days is grilling outside because turning on a burner or the oven is out of the question. The star of this post is Summer Savory, a woodsy smelling herb which to me is a gentle, more mild, combination of Thyme, Rosemary & Sage. It is a great addition to a salad, a wonderful replacement for Basil in a Caprese style salad (tomatoes, mozzarella, olive oil and summer savory), awesome in pasta dishes as well as fish and meat.

The first recipe I want to share is for grilled chicken thighs (you can use chicken breasts or drumsticks) in a Summer Savory & Lemon marinade.

Grilled chicken with summer savoryWhat you need:

1 lb skinless chicken thighs (4 in count)

3 Tbsp lemon juice

3 Tbsp Summer Savory, chopped fine

3 cloves of garlic, pressed

1 shallot, sliced

1 Tbsp olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper (don’t be stingy)

 

To make:

1) Combine all of the above

2) Pierce chicken thighs with a fork or a tip of a knife in a few places for the marinade to penetrate the meat better

3) Let marinade for a few hours or over night

4) Sprinkle with salt and grill

Fish with summer savoryThe second recipe is almost as complicated :) as the first one but it is for fish. Summer Savory is a great herb to go over any white flesh fish like a Trout, Cod or Sole. I used it with Cod just the other day and it goes like this: Squeeze some lemon juice over the fish, brush with olive oil, season with salt and black pepper and then liberally distribute Summer Savory (you can take the leaves off the stems or chop the whole thing – your choice). To grill a fish that is fairly delicate I use perforated (by me, using a knife) foil to allow the juices and water coming out of the fish to drip down so the cooking process does not go into the boiled fish stage. I served mine with a tangy Napa cabbage slaw with mustard dressing:

For the slaw :1/2 Napa cabbage sliced into ribbons + 1 grated carrot + handful cherry tomatoes sliced in half + 1 or 2 Tbsp chopped Cilantro

For the dressing:1 Tbsp mustard + 1 Tbsp rice vinegar + 1 Tbsp Grape-seed oil (substitute Canola or any other mild tasting oil) + 1 Tbsp finely chopped Cilantro

*** You can get Summer Savory at your local farmer’s market or your grocery store, it would normally come in those small plastic packages usually hanging in the fridge in the produce department.

 

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms July 22, 2009

Filed under: Food,Recipes — lovemyfood @ 4:42 pm

Stuffed Zucchini FlowersThose delicate lovely flowers are becoming more popular in north America in recent years though they were on European menus for quite a while. There are male and female flowers, female flowers are actually producing thezucchini and are attached to them. Many people deep fry them but I prefer not to do that both for health reasons as well as because it seems to me they retain more of their flavor if they are just sauteed. I made my zucchini blossoms on a whim after getting some at the farmer’s market in Redmond, be ware that they don’t keep long, should be kept dry and in the fridge. The technique is fairly simple and all you need is a pastry bag, one bowl, one frying pan and a pair of tongs.

For the filling:

Equal amounts of Ricotta cheese and Sheep’s milk Feta (you can use goat cheese, it turns out delicious too) and lots of fresh herbs, salt and pepper to taste.

For each  3 Tbsp Ricotta & 3 Tbsp Feta I used a tablespoon of each – sage, basil, oregano, dill, rosemary, chives; one small shallot and one clove of garlic. Use your favorite herbs or whatever you have on hand at home mint, cilantro, parsley, time, summer savoury etc…

Using a pastry bag fill the zucchini flowers with as much mixture as they will hold, heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat, drench the zucchini flowers in flour mixed with salt, then in egg and the last step would be bread crumbs and into the pan until golden brown on all sides. Remove from the pan onto a paper towel for it to absorb the extra oil.

I served mine with good balsamic vinegar and nothing else but you can make a small tomato salad (really finely chopped tomatoes with some herbs, garlic and olive oil) or sauce to go with it.

 

Food in Switzerland

Filed under: Food,Switzerland,Travel,Uncategorized — lovemyfood @ 4:11 pm

Zermatt

Picking up from where I left in my last post about my vacation…after Chamonix Mont Blanc we continued on to Zermatt and stayed at Le Petit Hotel which justifies its name by having really tiny rooms, overall it was clean and quiet but if you are coming for your yearly vacation and want a really nice hotel this one is not it.

In Zermatt itself I do recommend visiting the Italian GramPi’s on 70 Bahnhofstrasse where both pasta and pizza were quite good. The real gems though are the various mountain restaurants you can visit either while skiing or hiking in the mountains. They serve traditional simple foods, concentrating on fresh local ingredients and all this is washed by beer and some more beer. Here is a photograph of a restaurant we absolutely loved, Chalet Ried Restaurant,  it is located on the trail going up to Sunnegga and is really close to Zermatt so you can either go there from the town itself for the sake of enjoying a lunch with a view or to actually go up to Sunnegga and on your way down have a well deserved meal. The owners are very nice people and the restaurant is open all day long until 9 pm (in the summer). 

Chalet Ried Restaurant Zermatt

food in Zermatt

Another one is located in Z’mutt (a very nice hike to get up there with constant views of the Matterhorn) and is also good, it is actually called Restaurant Z’mutt (there are a couple more restaurants in that tiny old village).

Restaurant Zmutt Zermatt

Valais specialty foods

Rosti and sausageRosti with ham and egg

So keep looking for the mountain restaurants because they have the best views, the best prices, the best food and you will have the best appetite whether you are hiking, biking or skiing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andermatt

Baumann Cafe Oberland on 49 Gotthardstrasse, a lovely bakery and cafe in the also lovely town of Andermatt. Good coffee and a mouth watering selection of pastries with loads of seasonal fruits. We did not have any food but what I saw on other people’s tables looked appetizing to say the least.

 

Interlaken and Iseltwald

In the Interlaken area we actually stayed at the Hotel Bellevue Iseltwald (it is in Iseltwald, not in Interlaken), the hotel itself is nice and clean with all rooms overlooking the beautiful lake, it is very simple and basic inside with no luxuries but its location and lake view compensate for that. While staying at this hotel we visited Bern and Lucerne, we hiked in the Jungfrau region hiking up to Klein Scheidegg where we enjoyed rosti, sauerkraut and sausages from the outdoor stand.

In Interlaken itself I was happy we found Restaurant Baren on 2 Seestrasse, Interlaken is quite the touristy town and many places give up on quality. This place was not an outstanding restaurant worth telling long stories about but it is was quite good and provided an authentic local meal.

 

Lucerne 

An outstanding meal in the area came again from a restaurant mentioned in the Relais and Chateaux guide and is located on lake Lucerne. We visited the Restaurant Sparks  in Park Hotel Weggis (one of the three restaurants in this lovely hotel). The shady terrace overlooking the lake was beautiful, service professional and the food delicious – I really enjoyed the seared steak tartar and the Pike-Perch as well as the multi component dessert.

 

Blausee

One more restaurant on a lake side was quite different, it is located on lake Blausee and is adjacent to a trout farm and is celebrating it on its menu. It costs 5 euro to actually “enter” the lake area but here is a tip – its free after 5pm and in the summer it is not a problem to come after hours without missing a thing. The lake is tiny and full of trout, the views around it are beautiful and the restaurant had good food and lovely atmosphere. I had a plate of various cold preparations such as smoked trout, smoked trout mousse, trout tartar etc and really enjoyed it; I obviously tasted everyone else’s food and both the beer batter fried trout fillets, the oven backed whole trout as well as the smoked trout ravioli were all delicious. Desserts were quite good but very large so be ware.

Blausee restaurant switzerland

Ascona

Ascona is beautiful but unfortunately when we were there the weather left a lot to be desired and we saw very little of this lake side town, but we did have lunch at one of the strangest restaurants I have even been to. The restaurant is located in one of the small alleys very close to the lake, to be more exact on via S. Omobono, the name is Grotto Baldoria. There is no menu and you eat whatever the cook makes in the kitchen, the seating is outside and is very basic with picnic tables and a fiberglass roof to prevent you from getting soaking wet when it rains. The meal begins with some bread, a board with cured meats (salami etc) that you get with a knife and cut some for yourself and the board goes onto the next table, a delicious salad followed, then the main course brought out in the pot or skillet it was cooked in and is divided between the diners whether its only your table or maybe a few tables depending on occupancy, it all follows with a cheese board on  a self serve basis, then a cake (crostada) also as self serve and even the Grappa at the end follows the same principal. The main course is simple and good as if you stepped into someone kitchen rather than a restaurant but do not expect anything fancy – we had pasta with tomato sauce and veal a creamy sauce of sort. 

Grotto Baldoria Ascona

Lugano

Tea room Vanini, right in the center of town on Piazza Riforma , with tables overlooking the city hall, good coffee and cakes. People come to sit and enjoy the sun, enjoy looking at the passing by tourists and locals. Basically to see and be seen as well as enjoy the pastries.

Tea room Vanini Lugano

Zurich

Now on to our final stop – Zurich. You can have a plain traditional hearty meal of sausages or meat (veal in mushroom sauce…) with a side of potatoes of course – your choice between rosti, mashed, potato salad etc at the Zeughauskeller on 28a Bahbhofstrasse, it is touristy but don’t be afraid it is still good. Another option is to have a traditional Spanish dinner sitting at an outdoor table on one of the small streets in old Zurich having tapas made daily. The place is called Bodega Espanola and is located on 15 Munstergasse, we had some Sangria and some Rioja, olives, tiny sausages, sauteed rabbit,  anchovies in olive oil, squid and a few other small plates we chose from the selection available on display inside the restaurant; they also have a menu for some main courses but we did not bother with those.

Now we do breakfast and weekend brunch in two separate but geographically close places. The breakfast spot goes to Felix Cafe am Bellevue on 5 Bellevueplatz with a view on the lake where cakes, pastries and chocolates are abundant; indoor as well as outdoor sitting is available. The brunch spot goes to the garden in the Terrasse restaurant on 3 Limmatquai where it is busy on the weekend, with everybody in their “Sunday best” enjoying jams and pastries, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, fresh orange juice, white wine and some (like me) lemon risotto with shrimp.

A must visit, though not exactly an innovation, is the huge Sprungli store on 21 Bahnhofstrasse, you can get a table and enjoy the pastries, little sandwiches and coffee and you can go ga-ga buying things to take back home with you loading on chocolates over chocolates but one thing you absolutely cannot go out the door without is the Luxemburgerli (macarons) – every color, every flavor, pink and gold, sweet and tart, they are tiny and delicious and if you are flying home from Zurich they have a special package which will allow you to get them home safely and devour them within a day or two because their shelf life is 3 days top. I like the fruit flavors best.

While in Zurich we stayed at the Sheraton Neues Schloss, its nice and spacious, has good service and a central location.

General

One other place in Switzerland I would like to recommend for lunch or take out is the Kauffmann Metzgerei with quite a few locations in Bern, Zurich, Thun, Basel and a few more (you can see a list if you click on “Aktuelles” on the website); it is a deli with sandwiches, a large selection of prepared food that could be heated for you if you like (sausages, potatoes, rotisserie) as well as a large selection of raw meats you can buy if you have a kitchen in your hotel room. They also have beer and other bottled drinks :)

Kauffmann Metzgerei

 

Club room @ the Pro Club

Filed under: Food,Restaurants in Seattle & the Eastside,Washington State — lovemyfood @ 10:21 am

I had gift certificates for dining at the club room, I wish I never used them…the food was horrible, there is no other, more gentle, way to describe it! At first I ordered the pasta with asparagus and shrimp – I took a bite of the asparagus spear and it was absolutely tasteless as if it was defrosted two minutes ago and no seasoning (not even salt) was in the vicinity, I opted for the shrimp but as soon as I lifted it closer to my nose I realized it reeked and I sent it all back. Since we were already there and my husband’s burger was on the table I figured it was a safe option so I asked for one as well; it took a long time to actually get it and after I tasted my husband’s I was sorry I actually did – it was like eating a tasteless piece of dry cardboard. No need to mention I didn’t eat mine really…ok, I ate the fries that came with it.

 

Redmond Farmer’s Market on Saturday

Filed under: Food,Hidden gems - Redmond — lovemyfood @ 10:11 am

English peas redmond farmers marketI was pleasantly surprised that the Redmond farmer’s market is actually a very functional market with quite a few vendors who are there to sell their produce, why? I have visited a few markets here in the area and found them to be more of a gimmick where “artisans” sell their products demanding ridiculous prices for things that are really not that special – in Issaquah I was amazed by the smoked salmon guys who charged about 5 times higher a price than smoked salmon costs in a store, I understand its a small business and its local and yada yada yada but seriously..? Five times the price??? So I was very happy to find out that the market in Redmond had a lot of produce (think Zucchini flowers & english peas) including organic produce as well as cheeses, breads, cakes and multitude of jams and sauces. I was also happy to find some of my childhood favorites not found in abundance in this area, Gooseberries and Red Currants, yum!

Will gladly go again!

 

Food in Provence, Cote d’Azur and Chamonix Mont Blanc July 14, 2009

Filed under: Food,France,Uncategorized — lovemyfood @ 4:01 pm

I am back!!! I was on a wonderful vacation in southern France, Italy and Switzerland and now I have some recommendations to make :)

 

Vence, France

Our point of departure was a small town near Nice (about 20 minutes by car from the airport) called Vence where we stayed for the first night; the town itself is quite small but lovely with a beautifully preserved medieval center. We stayed at a very nice family run bed and breakfast called La Ferme du Paradou  and visited a very good restaurant called Le Pizzaiole chez Guy on 28 avenue du General Leclerc – the majority of the food is made in a wood burning oven we sampled quite a generous selection of dishes between the four of us (escargot with garlic & parsley butter, pasta, pizza, steak with pepper sauce, grilled fish of the day, foie gras) and everything was delicious.

Unfortunately I have very little to say about the food in Provence because it was more than disappointing though one restaurant really did stand out, it is located in the small town of Chateauneuf du Pape and is called La Mere Germaine and is listed in the Relais and Chateaux guide. The food was amazing and the light and sunny dining room was very pleasant, there is also a terrace which we couldn’t use due to the Mistral. Order anything – meat, game, seafood, desserts – its all good! While in the Chateauneuf du Pape take the time to visit a winery or two (some require advanced arrangements) – we visited the beautiful Chateau La Nerthe  and gladly brought a couple of bottles home with us. 

Chateau la Nerthe

Another decent meal in Provence (my view was not shared by half of our table of four…) was Allain Assaud in St Remy de Provence  at 13 blvd Marceau (to the left of the church), the food wasn’t amazing but it was good starting with a traditional fish soup with toasts and rouille, pot au feu with duck confit and a cherry clafoutis of sort for dessert. I do think it was overpriced for what it offered but the atmosphere was nice.

 

We continued towards the Alps through Annecy and really enjoyed our meal at Le Venezia at 23 rue JJ Rousseau, it is a small place overlooking one of the canals with very good pasta (the carbonara came with an egg yolk in an egg shell on top of the pasta which I thought was nice) and buckwheat crepes (galettes).

Annecy, France

 While in Chamonix Mont Blanc we stayed at the wonderful Les Balcons du Savoy which on top of the amazing view had a kitchen allowing us to shop the many beautifully stocked food stores with many local specialties like Chanterelle or Cepes salamis & oozing cheeses. We also found a very good pastry shop not falling in quality or imagination from its Parisian counterparts; the name is Patisserie Richard on 10 rue du Docteur Paccard.

chamonix mont blanc pastry shopfrench pastriesChamonix pastry shop

 

While in Chamonix we actually visited only one restaurant and it was quite enjoyable with fun decor which complemented the name, La Dolce Vita, displaying some scenes from Federico Fellini’s classic. The restaurant is located on 78 rue du Lyret and is an Italian restaurant with Italian owners and Italian food.

After Chamonix Mont Blanc we continued on to Switzerland and this will be my next post.