Archive for travel

When Mr and Mrs NerdCuisine Ate New York, pt. 1

Posted in american with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2013 by oskila

I think I’ve hinted at us getting married and honeymooning in NYC in more than one of the recent posts (can’t be bothered to actually check while writing a new post though), so it’s about time to relate our travels, or rather what we ate.

Arriving in New York at late lunch time I guess we had some sort of culinary short circuit and ended up in McDonald’s for dinner. Not awfully exciting, but at least a bit interesting to compare Swedish and American McD restaurants. The furniture is the same, but the menu system isn’t. While Swedish restaurants generally have everything on HD monitors, at least the one we visited in NY had backlit menus that looked like the ones used in Sweden in the 90s.

The next item is the hotel’s complimentary breakfast. It had six different pastries, iced water, tea and (by Swedish standards very very weak) coffee. Not exactly a healthy breakfast, but at least free of charge.

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After considering a number of options, lunch happened at a deli on the Soho part of Broadway, which had very nice pepperoni pizza. (is this maybe the first time yours truly has actually posed for a blog picture?)

Lunch and shopping taken care of, we ambled back up towards our hotel near Madison Square and ended up at the supposedly Swedish style coffee shop Fika.

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They offered a number of rather Swedish foods, but while their drip brewed coffee was the best I had during the New York trip, serving it at my workplace would induce a considerable amount of surly comments. In short, the strength was in the roast and not in the grounds-to-water ratio. Americans reading this and wanting to invite Swedes for coffee, here’s a bit of advice: the correct amount of ground coffee to use with a liter of water is 120 ml or 56 grams (1,97 oz)

The privilege to serve us dinner was awarded to Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. Our decision was based on the proximity to the hotel and the assumption that a place with a line that long has to be pretty good, which it was indeed, even though part of the popularity could be attributed to hip factor. If I was actually giving out grades, Shake Shack would have points deducted for the difficulty of getting a table, which meant sitting on the park benches, which in turn meant one had to fend off the infamous park squirrels.

Following some thinking and debate, we’re not quite certain whether we dined at Shake Shack on June the 4th or 5th, but where we ate the other of those nights is a veritable conundrum. Possibly the pizza place at Broadway and 27th.

6th of June is Sweden’s national day, and since I had told friends back home that we would have a picnic in Central Park we went there. After noticing a flag or two, watching some Robins forage and wave upon wave of squirrels run past we ended up having a ‘picnic’ at the Loeb Boathouse.

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The burgers were of a sensible size, but one order of fries would have been plenty for the both of us.

After lunch we strolled over to the Swedish Cottage, which didn’t look like we expected it to, but nothing from 1876 ever does. Then we went to the American Museum of Natural History and got in free of charge because a nice gentleman we met at the entrance apparently had the habit of collecting his member admittance tickets and passing them out to people he met on the way out. Saved us $38 to spend on other things.

I’m fairly certain we ate dinner at Duo that night, which was slightly fancier than we had planned, but still laid back enough that they asked if we wanted to share one order or have one each. I didn’t take any pictures in the restaurant, but here’s a link to what we ate, from their Facebook page: Fancy pants DUO hanger steak.

This post is rather long by now, so I’m going to call it part one and do another as soon as I can manage, with the rest of the trip.

The French Adventure

Posted in cheese, french, fruit, shellfish with tags , on July 25, 2012 by oskila

Some may have noticed that NerdCuisine hasn’t updated in about two weeks. The main reason for this is that I’ve spent ten days in France, where I’ve spent more time pointing at stuff in menus than cooking, and gone online almost only for important stuff and only with an iPad. I don’t fancy writing and photographing whole blog posts with an iPad.

And now I’m back home, feeling a need to post something, anything, and thinking that the popular type of food blogs other than those with recipes is the kind of blogs where people simply tell their readers what they’ve been eating lately. That’s what I’m going to do now.

First of all I must say that I’m impressed with the French food stores that I visited. The sheer difference in selection is humbling. Needless to say, I had a ball every time there was food shopping that needed doing. Even the gas station supermarkets had more stuff than many medium sized grocery stores here in Sweden. I certainly don’t know about any gas stations here that offer foie gras or fresh mushrooms.

We spent large parts of the trip in the small village of Blauzac, about 10 miles north of Nîmes, in the region of Languedoc-Roussillon. One of the more obvious features of the house was the fig tree in the courtyard.

I didn’t encounter a fresh fig until I was 23, and most figs I’ve ever seen in Sweden have seemed to be hours away from rotting and sold at 7-15 SEK each (about 1-2 USD), not to mention the dried ones, which I’ve never liked. Will look into the possibilities of pot-growing a fig tree on the balcony (might be too windy).

On the second day in France, I fell in love with Coeur de Boeuf tomatoes. I think they’re much more interesting than the more ordinary looking beef tomatoes we usually get in Sweden.

They turned out to be very good for grilling.

The next day was Saturday, which seems to mean market day in rural french towns, in our case Uzès, a short distance from Blauzac. The importance of the market is even more apparent when you consider that it was held as usual even though it was also Bastille day and the day when the Tour de France was going to zip through town.

Garlic is obviously important. This wasn’t even the largest pile.

Bought a piece of Gruyère-like cheese at the market to have something to snack on while waiting for the bikes. We had laid siege to a couple of café tables and ordered a steady stream of coffee in order to keep our seats without complaint.

After the spectacle had died down (see, the competing bike riders were harbingered by a continuous flow of more or less fanciful sponsor trucks, making noise and handing out free samples for several hours) I was glad to go home to Blauzac and finish off the cheese along with a fig.

This is probably the closest this post will get to a recipe. I was charged with the task of dessert. Figs with Brie, black pepper and balsamic vinegar. The vinegar came in a spray bottle. Very convenient.

Now I’m skipping a couple of days, not because the food wasn’t interesting, but because I didn’t take any pictures. We headed for the Mediterranean coast to have lunch in Bouzigues, a small town, but very big in the seafood business.

Huîtres gratinées – Gratinated oysters

Moules à l’aïoli – Mussels with aïoli

Moules farcies – Stuffed mussels

Not only did the restaurant we visited know very well how to make sure lots of molluscs hadn’t died in vain. They also were quite good at desserts.

Crème Catalane (which is quite similar to brûlée, only with milk instead of cream)

Fromage blanc au coulis de fruits rouges et yaourt – Quark with red fruit sauce and yoghurt

After the lunch in Bouzigues, we spent a few days in nearby Balaruc-les-Bains. Apart from an accidentally ordered starter of whelks, the food was good considering that we didn’t pay very much, but it wasn’t mindblowing either. Either way, I didn’t take any pictures since dinner often happens late in the day in France, and I didn’t want to use flash.

Having spent four nights in Balaruc, we headed back to Blauzac to settle down a bit before heading home again via Marseille. Cooking dinner at the house there is a collective effort since there’s often a lot of people to feed. We had previously provided a potato salad, grilled tomatoes and a brie and fig dessert but were completely in charge this time. We decided to grill some lovely merguez sausages and serve them with ratatouille and hand cut pommes frites/french fries/chips since the kitchen equipment included a deep fryer. I’ve eaten ratatouille on several occasions, but never made it myself before. It turned out rather nice, partly, I’d like to think, because of coeur de boeuf tomatoes.

The camera battery died before I could get a proper photo (which also happened a couple of minutes before the Tour bikes raced past us) so we’ll have to make do with a phone photo. The ratatouille pan and frites bowl looks a bit small in the picture, but they contain food for 12 people.

It’s only good and proper to also mention that while at the beach in Sète, near Balaruc-les-Bains, I asked my girlfriend to marry me, which she graciously agreed to do. Now you know, in case this and future posts are unusually silly or chipper.

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