The Seduction of Doritos

Whoever thought a triangle could bring so much pleasure?

The plane of this three sided treasure is dusted with bright orange powder, a desert of tangy nacho cheese flavored particles.

You grasp it between your thumb and pointer-finger, drawing it closer to your parted lips, your mouth salivating in eager anticipation as you bring the hard morsel closer and closer.

It approaches your excited mouth, and you gingerly nibble it until it reaches breaking point, severing it in half.

You glide your tongue around the surface, around the edges, the powder melting into your saliva, an explosion of nacho flavor greeting your liquid mouth.

The intensity of flavor beginning to wane, you impatiently chew the halved chip, already anticipating the next wave of tangy nacho flavor that is to follow as you repeat the process.

Once the individual sized bag is finished, you gaze longingly at your orange cheese powder coated finger pads.

You raise them to your mouth, and purse your lips around them, your tongue swirling around it in circles as you succumb to the tangy cheesy flavor one… last…time.

That is the seduction of Doritos.

B is for Burrito

Fluffy lime-cilantro white rice. Velvety smooth black beans. Juicy grilled chicken. Chunky Fresh Tomato Salsa. Creamy and dreamy guacamole. Milky shredded cheese. Smooth neutralizing sour cream. Plump yellow sweet corn.

More like sweet jesus.

That is my thought as I devour my Chipotle burrito. Not even the white tortilla wrapped around these intoxicating ingredients can handle the sheer pleasure, ripping against its strain of excitement.

If only the escaping beans and guacamole could entangle and reproduce more burritos.

Now, that’s a thought. If you are a miracle worker, and can make that a reality, then I want to know you. You would be the closest thing to God. Or maybe the devil. Because let’s be honest, you are in a downright painful state after finishing one of those baby’s; if it’s not the tortilla ripping, then it’s your stomach splitting.

Whether it’s from agony or pleasure is for you to decide.

 

 

Bread and Hummus, Hummus and Bread

Thought of the day: There are few things in life that are greater than hummus and carbs, the carbs being bread or pretzels.

Disclaimer: I have tried carrots and other veggies with hummus, and while hummus is hummus, and you can never go wrong with hummus, there is just something so satisfying and uncompromising to the heavenly pairing of bread and hummus.

For example, take these mini organic carrots that I am eating with hummus right now. They are orange, cold, wet, and undeniably, a vegetable. While not gross by any standard, it simply does not live up to the hype that is bread and hummus.

Sorry to ruffle anyone’s feathers with this information. But did you really need me to tell you this? I mean come on, bread and hummus is practically a fact of life at this point. Might as well do everyone, including yourself, a favor, and jump on board with the carbs and hummus.

I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

And if you end up liking the winning combo so much that a picture of it ends up being engraved on your tombstone, I wouldn’t even judge you. Not that I’m judging you now. I don’t even know you. But, if you don’t like bread and hummus, then, I am judging you. Sorry.

Peace and love, ya’ll. (Now you better go and eat your weight in bread and hummus)

Allie

If You Give a Pear Puff Pastry

I blame The Great British Bake Off cooking show for inspiring me to make the monstrosity of mini pear pies tonight.

My gosh, I’m not even sure that the white wine infused pears made up for the burnt homemade caramel sauce I had to continuously remove from the baking sheet so as not to set off the fire alarm. Then there was the poaching liquid I used to flavor and cook the pears:  1 cup of dry white wine, the zest of an orange, a pinch of ground cloves, and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon. Add a swoosh of honey for sweetness, a dash of salt, and a quick toss of black pepper to add heat and balance the flavors, and you have a winning recipe. Except for it would help to not lose track of the time that the poaching syrup has been boiling while you wile away the minutes listening to the new Ed Sheeran record, Divide.

By the time I glance back at the medium sized blue saucepan, the syrup has reduced to about a quarter of its original volume, well over the allotted amount. I’m just going to pretend that I meant for that to happen, that it was my plan from the very beginning to go for the deep, bitter, buttery burnt caramel that pools at the bottom of the pan, sliding ominously off of the surface of the puff pastry wrapped pairs.

Yep, this is a winning recipe for sure.

It just so happens, that the taste is much more satisfactory than the appearance of the pastry wrapped fruit. The pairs are tender, melting in your mouth as their warm cinnamon spiked syrup fills your taste buds. The puffed pastry is chewy, yielding a soft interior, and a hardened exterior, the differing textures adding to the uniqueness of the dish.

While the taste is one of soft elegance, I question that my flour coated cutting board, and my now flour specked black leggings, is worth it.

Truth be told, I didn’t follow the recipe verbatim, so I may have been setting myself up for a less than perfect experience from the beginning. Even so, I think it will be a long, long time before I concoct these baked fruity morsels again.

 

 

Eyes burning, tears welling, eyelids slowly closing against the stinging fumes of the onion-like shallot I am chopping. I am beginning to question my decision of attempting to make springtime pea soup, inspired by this recipe from Food and Wine.

It’s a funny thing, the way your taste changes as you age. Growing up, peas were loathsome, vile things, that in my mind, should not have been awarded a question of existence. From their odd, green orb edifice, to their sweet, grass-like taste and squishy texture, they were the bane of my childhood.

Today, I am still not a first rate fan of peas. However, something happens when you combine their sweet earthiness with the slightly bitter licorice bite offered by a pinch of fennel seeds, and they become a transcendence when you puree them with white wine drunken shallot. Add the zest of one lemon, and a tablespoon of chopped fresh mint, and the pea soup is uplifted, taking on the soft zing of life on a pretty, blue skied spring morning. Cream is optional, but if you add it, the already smooth texture of the pureed peas transitions to a silken pool of bright green dreams. To finish it off, a sprinkle of relatively tasteless sweet paprika, the bright red spice contrasting against the green liquid. It looks like Christmas in a pot.

The recipe has made enough for four lunches, but I wish it had made enough for five.

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Pass the Peas, Please

The Escape of the Pork Shoulder

Almost three pounds of pork shoulder has been simmering on my stovetop for about the last three hours. The rich smells of pork fat, chili powder, onion, and garlic perfume my small loft apartment; it’s as though I have drifted away from the bustling city of Providence, Rhode Island, and into a burnt orange adobe home in rural Mexico.

I found the recipe for the pork carnitas on Allrecipes.com. While I’m not sure how authentically Mexican the meal is, the taste is the perfect balance of the melt in your mouth meat that has been slow cooking for hours, and the freshness of cilantro, corn, avocado, tomatoes and lime that add a much needed lightness to the dish. The shredded pork is juicy, drunken with its internal jucies and  bath of spiced chicken stock  that has gently rolled over it for hours.

The meal was easy enough to make: Cut a 3-pound pork shoulder into large chunks, and place them into a hot greased pot. Once the meat is browned on all sides, add the spice mixture of chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper, chopped yellow onion, and 1 chopped garlic clove. Add about 15 mL chicken stock. When it reaches boiling point, bring down to a simmer for 2 ½ hours before transferring to a casserole dish, and placing it in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the meat is browned. While the meat is browning, combine corn, half of an avocado, ¼ cup cherry tomatoes, and 1 cup black beans. Add parsley for freshness. Add browned meat to veggie mixture.

Now, all seemed to be going well, as it should with a recipe that is not overly complex. But, it was when I took the meat out of the oven, about halfway through the baking process, that things took a turn for the worse.

I was just minding my own business, using two forks in opposite pulling motions to shred the bone-tender meat, when all of a sudden, the baking dish clattered to the ground, the hot meat and juices plopping onto my just-cleaned kitchen floor.

Aghast and slightly frustrated at the audacity of the meal to leap from the countertop onto the ground, a few curses flew through the air before I swiftly bent down and grabbed the chunks of searing hot pork with my bare hands, quickly placing them back in their supposed safe haven casserole dish.

From there, it was a mere 15 minutes before I removed the shredded pork from the oven, and added it to the raw vegetables and beans, creating a rich carnita salad that I am happy to have for lunch for probably the next week.

Should you try to make this recipe yourself, the one piece of advice I can give you is to not drop it on the floor, especially a just cleaned one.

Happy Cooking!

To view the recipe for pork carnitas, click here

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Licorice Latte Lust

cropped-liccorice-latte.jpgIf you are a fan of black licorice and coffee, then you need to try the licorice latte at Kaffibrennslan in downtown Reykjavik, Iceland.

The texture of the coffee is satisfyingly smooth and thick, and the flavors intensify its comforting warmth. Tastes of richly brewed coffee mingle with the deep, velvet of dark chocolate notes, while syrupy folds of black licorice add a darkly satisfying sensuality to the drink.

On a cold Icelandic night, this beverage is the perfect remedy. Sipping the steaming liquid, a nostalgic warmth spreads throughout your limbs, allowing you the feeling of being wrapped in a cozy woolen blanket by a crackling fire.

As for the coffeehouse itself, the atmosphere is memorable.  The small room is  warmly set aglow, the soft lighting exposing the wooden tables and interior. Locals exchange pleasantries with you at ease, making you feel welcome and at home.

My experience at Kaffibrennslan was a memorable one, and I look forward to the day I get to return to this place, and the amazing country that is Iceland.

Cafe Loki: A Culinary Enthusiasts Dream Come True

At Cafe Loki, all of your Icelandic culinary dreams will come true.

The butter yellow building seems like a bit of a tourist trap. It is located across from one of the most visited landmarks in Iceland, Hallgrimskirkja, or Hallgrims Church. It even spells “tourist trap” in maroon colored font on the edifice, figuratively speaking. In actuality, it says “Cafe Loki Icelandic Traditional Food”. However, given the restaurants location, and that its title includes “traditional” and “food”, tourists seemingly make up an important part of its demographic. The autograph book in the entryway of the café further exemplifies this.

Nonetheless, once inside the dining room, it does not scream gaudy, and little did I know, it would soon be home to some of my fondest memories of Iceland. It is simply decorated, most walls painted neutral in color, the seating a mix of light brown tables and booths. A smattering of locals and tourists decorate the landscape. It is a small establishment, and the faint scent of fish and culinary wonderment permeate the air. I have come here with one delicacy on my mind, something that I have wanted to try since I saw Andrew Zimmern eat it on his show, Bizarre Foods: Kæstur hákarl, or “treated shark”. In short, this delicacy has been around since Viking times. It is hung to dry for several months, left to ferment in its own juices until it is deemed edible. Even then, it is hardly my idea of a movie time snack.

The shark comes to us served in a small white ramekin. It has been cubed into a few small pieces, a small Iceland flag spearing one of them. It wreaks of ammonia, and the putrid smell assaults your senses before you even taste it, ammonia burning your nostrils. I was warned about this so called delicacy, but, with a deep breath, and maybe even a slight longing to taste this unruly protein, I spear a cube and put it in my mouth. Maybe it’s my mind blocking the nightmarish taste of the rubbery elasmobranch fish, or it could be that I tried chewing it for as long as possible without actually trying to taste it, but the actual eating of it was not as bad as I anticipated. Rather, it is the aftertaste that encapsulates this culinary experience, the ammonia and other revolting juices that set the back of your throat on fire, raising your body temperature to a truly uncomfortable degree. Has my throat disintegrated to a pile of smoldering embers? Then, suddenly, the onslaught of the criminal is restrained, cut through with a shot of Brennevin, a clear schnapps deemed Iceland’s signature distilled beverage. While the flavor of the schnapps remains muddled against the uproarious taste of the shark, it certainly helped to ebb the burn that had taken over my mouth, and I felt something of a patriotic Icelander after the event. My sincere thanks goes to the wait staff that recommended drinking this beverage after the shark.

While Kæstur hákarl is not something I would eat on a regular basis, the memory is one of pure fondness and a wish to return. I remember sitting in Café Loki, completely happy, and utterly spiritually free. I had crossed off the shark from my Iceland bucket list, and had tried other delicacies to boot. The rye bread ice cream with rhubarb syrup makes for a most welcome surprise after the shark, the rhubarb sauce submitting a bright contrasting tang to the sweet richness of the chocolate studded ice cream. Even something as unfamiliar as mashed fish can be easily stomached after the shark.

Go on and try it, what are you waiting for?

I first wrote this review for TripAdvisor: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g189970-d1960952-r467398473-Cafe_Loki-Reykjavik_Capital_Region.html#REVIEWS

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