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Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Endive Salad with Feta and Scallions


Green Papaya Thai Salad


New Orleans-Style Blue Bottle Iced Coffee


A Fighting Chance

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

It’s strange that when traveling, I mean while in the process of actually getting from A to B, my food choices devolve within the web of plebeian masses.  Nothing for breakfast on my way to the airport, a gigantic cup of coffee after check-in (what am I thinking?!   that can lead to nothing but an encounter with an airplane lav!), a 1000-calorie muffin, dry snack mix on the plane, washed down with a full-sugar ginger ale, greasy pizza for lunch during the layover, more soda, and wine on arrival for dinner.  No wonder I feel a wretched mess.

But in my defense, it can be difficult to find reasonable food when dashing between gates.  There is always a McDonald’s, some measure of coffee shop/cafe simmering to bitterness under fluorescent lights, someplace serving tepid pizza from under warming lamps and those sandwich-salad-on-the-go kiosks.   The latter are very misleading when one is looking for good food-  to have a ham & swiss sandwich, for example, one is pretty much guaranteed to get a small loaf of white bread stuffed lopsidedly with a great gob of sliced ham (origin far, far from being known), a couple of thin slices of tasteless plastic cheese, one sad ribby piece of lettuce and sliced tomatoes defeating the mayonnaise’s efforts to keep the bread from getting soggy.   After two or three days spent lolling in the refrigerated kiosk, that sandwich is thoroughly cold, dry on the outside, soggy on the inside, pathetic, utterly without taste.   A salad from one of these places is, at best, a mass of dried out iceberg coated with a solid layer of cheese and bacon bits, with a mini tub of full-fat dressing wedged in along the side of the bowl.  There are probably more calories in half of that little tub than there are people onboard the average 737.

But at last, with this most recent extendo-flight to and from Nova Scotia, there are signs of hope.  In Chicago, we found the Salad Express- one must still contend with cheese and ham and bacon ladled onto greens, but here are real choices for food that don’t contain massive amounts of calories and fat.  Miraculous that one can choose from several vinaigrette dressings.   In Halifax, we purchased a packaged spinach salad which (despite the “bacon” bits) contained delightfully fresh and springy spinach.   We bought Vitamin water and I drank from the water fountain.  Water!  From the fountain!  I willfully ignored the possibility of germs that came from far and wide.

rightbite_200x1391Most encouraging of all was United.  Yes, United Airlines; an unsuspecting domestic-route vanguard of quality buy-on-board food, a company that doesn’t force its customers into making food choices that will result in what could arguably called an airplane-food hangover.   On a 4+ hour flight, we had the choice of 4 “snackpacks“:  two of them involved cheesespread, one involved cheese sticks (described as “comfort food a-go-go”?) and one, thankfully, with no cheese at all.  I opted for the RightBite snackpack, a combo including hummus made with pronounceable ingredients, tuna salad made without mayonnaise, and baked pita chips, among other things.   Amazing to finally be offered food onboard that would normally be a part of my everyday diet, instead of something I would eat only whilst drunk and starving.   That snackpack, plus an apple bought before the 2-hour on-tarmac delay, saved my sanity.

So there is hope!  We arrived home after 16+ hours of travel without having been forced to eat unreasonble food.   I still drank wine for dinner on arrival, but at least my tastebuds were intact.

Les Salades D’Été

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

My French, she is returning!  But not really.   Usually, she returns only in the form of a thick Québecois accent for humourous commentary.   And yet here, we have les salades d’été.

First, a whim of le Marc in the form of a spicy ceviche with  roasted corn and red pepper salad. This was a first course of a 4-course menu, 3 of which escape my memory.   This is the inaugural attempt at home-made ceviche as the idea of it does flirt with danger:  fish cooked only in citric acid.   Mind you, if underdone, what is the worst that could happen?   The fish was extremely fresh; at worst, we would end up with citrus flavoured sushi, hardly a tragedy.   But the plate, she held perfectly “cooked” mahi mahi, with a pleasantly savoury hint of spiciness from a tiny red chile.


Et puis, nous avons le Salade de Fennels, Mango et Walnuts.  C’était si bel.


Finalement, the French Laundry Salad of Black Mission Figs with Roasted Sweet Peppers and Shaved Fennel.  An impromptu purchase of the fresh figs was what prompted this incarnation.  In the recipe, he writes “In the summer, I’ll find a fennel patch alongside the road, where the buds are still green and haven’t blossomed, and I’l cut all the tops off.”   Off the side of the road!  And it’s true, we see fennel growing everywhere here.  I snap off some wispy fronds as Sammy and I walk by and rub it into my fingers to have the scent with me for awhile.    That licorice bite with the sweet figs and tangy balsamic, a first course that is California.