For a blast of bright August flavor on a frigid January day, try roasting tomatoes. Baking or roasting transforms the winter tomato, minimizing the mealy texture and maximizing their sweet flavor.
Last weekend I concocted the recipe below, and brought the appetizer (pictured above) to a party. I saved time by having the baker slice the baguette and purchasing pre-made Olive Tapenade from Trader Joe’s. (If you live near one of their stores, get the tapenade that’s found in their refrigerated section, not their shelf-stable product.)
Tomorrow I wave goodbye to the tundra heading off with my man for a month in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.
After a couple of days in trains, airports and planes (we’re saving a ridiculous amount of money flying out of Chicago instead of Detroit), the ninety degree temps will be a wake-up call to my weary wintry soul.
My favorite part about traveling is experiencing the food–the ideal gateway to the people and their culture. Food is so easy. Who can be offended when you approach to inquire, “Do you have any suggestions where I can eat?” It’s the starting point for many interesting conversations. Can’t speak the language? So what. Food is multilingual. Restaurant owners will love, perhaps even invite you into their backstage world, if you appreciate their food with smiles and thumbs up gestures.
Most of the time will be spent traveling up Viet Nam, the last spot, Hanoi, where we’re spending a week. The city’s a culinary paradise fusing flavors from France, China and Viet Nam. You can believe I’ve been scrutinized the street food and restaurant scene online. I’m wary of Trip Advisor as some of the higher starred places tend to be Asian cooking adapted to the American palate, but this Food Republic site’s been worthy. Scrutinizing their site and the links, I feel as if I’m studying for the Bar (-:
As scorching as it can be in Southeast Asia, it’s remarkable how insanely popular their hot soups are–the locals eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Something about the heat of the broth and spice that cools you down as you slurp. Whatever. All I know is that for my money, these folks have cornered the market on soup.
Unless you live in the vicinity of a Pho House or other Asian eatery, they share little resemblance to the USA versions of winter soups–those that you would find lining grocer’s shelves or steaming on a hot bar.
If inclined, give the recipes a try. The fresh lemongrass, coconut milk, fish sauces and chili’s may very well cure what ails you.
Be well, my friends, and remember to wash your hands often! The flu bug is vicious this year.