Sunday, August 23, 2009
A Few of My Favorite Things
So my quiet this month has been due to tons of visitors to Zürich these past few weeks, with two more sets to go. I got to do a lot of travelling (and eating), but little cooking. Furthermore I just got back from a schööön wedding of two good friends in southern Germany a few hours ago.
In keeping with my hobby, however, I did find some great local regional food in Strasbourg when I visited with my father and stepmother last week. I had no idea that Alsace was so full of culture, from the interesting traditional regional dress, legends about the storks that herald spring, and the history of being both German and French at any given part of the last century. It's also the home of the European Parliament. Hubert Keller, one of my favorite chefs (I couldn't stop watching Top Chef Masters as hard as it is to do so outside of the US), is from this region. And of course the best sweet white wines, Gewurztraminer and Riesling, are produced locally.
While the parents dined on steak and coq au vin, I had andouillette with haricots verts (photo below). Those from Louisana may recognize this type of pork sausage made from the intestines :D The beans had plenty of butter, garlic and herbs and my Dad and I remarked on how it felt as if we could have been eating the same meal centuries ago. On our way back from the old town on the ile in the center of the city, I stopped at a shop where I bought some tasty (and inexpensive!!) foie gras and a fig mustard that I devoured within about 72 hours.
I did have a chance to cook dinner early in my Dad's trip. The first course was the pleasing yogurt-feta dip with farinata, topped with the olive oil I bought in Catalonia. The second was red rice salad in a roasted pepper, along with this really great wakame and zucchini salad from the latest cookbook from Hiltl - the oldest and best vegetarian restaurant in Zurich. For the salad's dressing, I added Byodo's great apple cider vinegar to the sesame/soy recipe. I use the stuff religiously for cole slaws, tuna or egg salads, marinades. Apple cider vinegar is the only type that's actually alkaline, balancing your body's pH like almonds and veggies do. I recommend trying condiments that use this vinegar over others...
The third course wasn't my proudest, as I attempted a goji berry carrot cake with homemade vanilla frosting. Though I used plenty of cream quark for lightness, the gluten free dough was quite heavy :( I think it was because I subbed in a portion of quinoa flour, which doesn't work so great for sweet baking as it's nutty and dense - such as with my scones. Also my parents were not at all used to the fact that - and I LOVE this - the whipped cream here is natural and unsweetened!!! And 100% creamy.
I'll conclude with a flashback to the flavourful Alsatian meal that was gone too soon :)