August 2009

Food in Hoi An Vietnam, Days 6-9

August 26, 2009

Vietnam Trip, Hoi An,Days 6-9

Our time in Hoi An was very much a vacation-within-a-vacation. We spent the bulk of our time at the lovely Victoria Hoi An resort on the beach outside of town. Plus, it was ungodly hot and humid the entire time. This meant we ate a few of our meals at the resort rather than making the trek into town. Still, there are some places I’d like to share.

Market, Hoi An Town

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On our first day in town, we wander through the food market around 6pm, and while it’s starting to close down for the day, it’s also humming with locals making late purchases for their dinner. We get caught in a motorcycle traffic jam inside the market. Someone is making a purchase, from his bike, blocking all traffic, both pedestrian and moto. While I want to return on another day, we never do make …

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Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Parmesan

August 24, 2009


My very first job in a restaurant kitchen was as the pastry chef for a small mom-and-pop Italian restaurant. How I got that job with no experience is a story for another day. But after working there for about 6 months, I moved to working on the hot line part time. One of my responsibilities was to make the batches of eggplant parmesan and lasagna. I loathed doing the eggplant because this meant I had to stand over a scalding rondo pan of hot oil and fry rounds of eggplant for what felt like days.
Later, when I was a head chef in another resaurant and would somehow end up with an extra case of eggplant, I never forgot how much I hated all that frying and came up with a much healthier version of the dish, grilling the eggplant instead.
I haven’t made this for over a decade, but …

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How to Peel and Seed Fresh Tomatoes

August 20, 2009
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I love my garden, I really do. And I think the fresh tomatoes were quite possibly the best thing about it. But late in the season, due to some insects eating the leaves and the blazing summer sun, I got some really ugly tomatoes. uglytomatoesThese were not the picture perfect ones seen in previous posts, but rather, they were sunburned and splotched, and a few, were slightly chewed on. But like all children, they are still beautiful on the inside, and perfectly edible (ummm, ok, not like children).
So, what to do with my unattractive fruit? I can’t give them away, I’d be too embarrassed. The answer is to cut away and peel off all the ugliness. Then, they are pretty again and ready to be made into sauce or soup. If you just try and peel a raw tomato you will find yourself participating in an exercise …

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Stuffed Zucchini with Italian Sausage

August 11, 2009
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I have another confession.
I don’t love vegetables. Odd, because I have a garden, right? I like them enough, some more than others, but I don’t think I could ever be a vegetarian. And zucchini? Well, let’s just say I’m learning to love it.

But I have this garden, into which I’ve put a lot of time, effort, and expense, and I should probably eat what I’m growing, don’t you think? In general, I only grow what I like and when it comes to zucchini, I think I’ve always liked it as an ingredient more than the focus of the meal.
But my zucchini plant has a way of getting the last laugh on me. Not only has it been generous in its gifts to me, a few of its fruits have hidden themselves among the leaves until they just got too big not to be noticed. I ended up …

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Food in Hue Vietnam-Day 5

August 8, 2009

After spending all morning touring the royal tombs in the countryside surrounding Hue, we return back to town overheated, dehydrated and ready for a late lunch. We ask at the front desk at our hotel for a recommendation. They give us a card for a place called La Carambole and we walk over there. What we discover is the backpacker street of Hue, and a restaurant with a multi-page, multi-lingual, multi-cuisine menu. Alarm bells go off in my head, but we’re hungry and sit down anyway. I ask for the local specialty, beef noodle soup, Bun Bo Hue. We are told they are out. We peruse the menu for a few more moments, debating the cheese sandwiches, hamburgers and spaghetti, look at each other, and get up and walk out of the restaurant.

Now I’m starving and we are perilously close to breaking Golden Rule #1. We start …

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Quick Mid-Summer Garden Update

August 5, 2009
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This is 2 day’s haul from the garden last week. In the photo are 4 different types of tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, an eggplant, a zucchini, and a cucumber. Was the no-dig method successful? Yes, I think so. Did it work for everything I planted? No, but I learned in the process and will be better prepared for the next go-round.

As of today, parts of the garden are still in full swing and others are winding down. I still have some Black Truffle and Brandywine tomatoes (which I think cross-pollinated because I’m now getting big, fat, dark tomatoes) and the zucchini and eggplant look like they are getting ready for round two. Other tomatoes are starting to wither and the green beans never really could survive the aphid onslaught.

I’m starting to think about what to plant for my “fall garden.” Any ideas of what would be suitable for …

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