CAKE… Vicky and Ray, two of our fun friends, got married around Christmas, it was a small family affair- Ray does not like crowds or attention, so as their first compromise they hosted a bash for all their friends, unfortunately we were unable to make it- Thailand took us away for a different kind of fun.
In exchange, we invited the newlyweds round for an American-themed wedding reception dinner- steak, potatoes and wilted spinach. All elevated- a steak like Heston, individual ramekins of gratin dauphinois and wilted spinach with nutmeg butter. All that was missing were butter rolls and warm glasses of milk.
And since I think all the rage for wedding cakes these days remains red velvet, we had one of those topped with our asexual hugging salt and pepper shakers proving we too believe in marriage equality!
Have a long and happy life tougher Vicky and Ray!
Apologies these photos are not that great- night photography is something I need to improve.
(The menu- only in Spanish)
(First impressions are everything)
(So welcoming and love the colours)
One of our fabulous MBA students from Chile gave me some recommendations of things to do/see/eat while I was in Santiago. As you have probably realized, my priorities tend toward the eating variety, so first up is FOOD!
There is a lovely, albeit, touristy place called Patiobellevista, which houses numerous shops selling Chilean handicrafts. Think copper and a blue stone which can only be found in Afghanistan and Chile- lapis lazuli (according to the open-top bus tour commentary). Patiobellevista also hosts some inviting restaurants with plenty of outdoor seating- which for a girl who rarely sees the sun living in Edinburgh, al fresco dining was a must.
I was instantly attracted by the outdoor porch setting of Cebichería Constitución,and understanding what this was, I was in. For you non-hispanophones- it is ceviche and it was the freshest tasting seafood I think I have eaten. This mixed-fish ceviche was served with fresh lime juice, a bit of yam, onions and white beans. I also tried some of their fresh octopus with an amazing black olive ‘dressing’ of sorts. I would love to try to recreate these dishes now I am home, hopefully Ben is game. We just need a Mercado Central* in Edinburgh.
*Mercado Central is a huge fresh seafood market in Santiago. I popped in for a look and smell (so fresh, there wasn’t one)! I was kindly asked several times where I was from- I the wide-eyed lost look always gets me in trouble. They make a famous eel broth here- I gave this a pass.
Ben and I are attempting to mix-it-up and trying to be a bit more adventurous with our cooking. Ben has been perfecting his pulled pork recipe. It started with a tasty hunk from Peelham Farms, a local producer of high-quality meat products. You can even adopt a pig, then the team from Peelham slaughters it for you and you have piles of the other white meat.
Starting with the pork, Ben followed David Chang of Momofuku’s recipe for Pork-Belly Buns, but replace the pork belly with pork shoulder and used some of the elements of the Bo Ssam recipe that is so popular at his New York restaurant.
To cook the buns we picked up a steamer at our local Chinese supermarket. I have always wanted a steamer. With Ben, all my dreams do come true.
Perfectly puffed and brushed with oil so they do not stick together. They cook in 5-7 minutes.
The final product- with a taste explosion of ginger and scallion sauce and ssamjang, a fiery soybean paste. Momofuk-me they were good!
We had left-over pork, so the next night we had some traditional Chinese Char Siu Bao or pork buns.
Our Edinburgh summer weather has been pretty miserable (this video sums it up). When we moved here last year, we heard, “this is is the worst summer in years”. As soon as this June hit with record levels of rain and now moving through July with flooding, the Edinburghers are saying, ”no seriously, this is the worst summer we have had- ever”. It does not look encouraging for future summers.
On the plus side, Ben and I are never hot, we can sleep under a duvet every night, wear jackets and even wool sweaters. While my American friends and family are looking for ways to cool down we are trying to stay toasty and dry.
This quest means we have been craving some non-summery foods. I found myself wanting tuna noodle casserole this week. When I told Ben the Minnesotan in me was trying to get out, he had a really sweet response, “I love it when the Minnesotan in you comes out, it reminds me you are foreign and exotic and I love you. Peas tuna noodle hotdish sounds great.” I tried this recipe. Ben loved it.
We invited some friends over for Bastille Day brunch and I made the above cake. The original recipe called a triple-berry summer buttermilk bundt cake with lemon glaze (from Smitten Kitchen), mine was a double berry summer buttermilk (make my own bundt tin) cake. We do not have a bundt pan. I also opted against glaze. It was really tasty and the lemon zest was a great addition.
My Mom turned me onto Food and Wine, she has a subscription to the magazine and highly recommended the Four-Cheese Mac and Cheese, which lucky for those of us without a subscription can this and loads of others. For additional smokey flavour she suggests cooking it on the grill, another way to stay cool during those hot mid-west summers.
Both Ben and my cousin Jack have June birthdays, so when Jack was here, I made Food and Wine’s Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Walnut Crust. It was my first cheesecake and it was really nice.
YUMMERS PLUS… When I was at my brother’s, he prepared some really nice meals. He is an excellent cook and has an Architectural Digest-worthy kitchen. Two of the dishes which stood out were a Chicken-Peanut Stew from Marcus Samuelsson of Aquavit fame. I want to get his new book, Yes, Chef- there was an excerpt in June’s Vogue (Chef Samuelsson and model wife-they are quite the good looking pair-were featured). For afters Johnners whipped up Blueberry Rhubarb Crisp with Pistachio Crust and threw in some strawberries for extra zing.
We finally tried the newest and what appears to be hippest bakery in Eidnburgh, Lovecrumbs, complete with cool students from ECA (Edinburgh College of Art) sampling scones and espressos sitting in the window cramming for exams.
Ben is a fan of Lovecrumb’s lady bakers. Before their retail space opened they worked at Out of the Blue (one of Ben’s volunteer locations) food market and had a wholesale operation run from Leith.
Their new space is quite charming if you are in to random and shabby, which we totally are. It was impressively busy for a new place. They have a tasty selection of treats, but we opted for one madeline! I might have to sneak back over lunch some day to try some other goodies.
(Here they are- Lovecrumbs window dressing)
(Double espresso- yes, please)
(Portion control- one madeline)
(Love the plate)
(We really liked the minimal style)
(And the counter donkey)
(I think I will repurpose our wardrobe for cakes!)
Thank you Lovecrumbs for a tasty afternoon pick-me-up! Good luck with the new venture.