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A Food Tour of the EU Embassies

10 May

by Green Gourmet L

Of all the things going on in DC, people swore up and down that I HAD to go to the “Open House” weekend at the EU Embassies. As I read about the events from last year, I realized that I needed a plan of attack. This year, they were expecting over 50,000 people, long lines, and gorgeous weather. Our plan? Wait in line early for a “popular” open house and then hit the smaller ones later in the day. This plan worked perfectly. Here’s where we went (and the food, of course).

Embassy 1: Greece 

We must have waited in line for about an hour to get in. Just when you think you’re almost there…

You realize upon entering that there is a line to get to the food. Hmmmph. It was worth it. to get a sampling of savory and sweet dishes from some of the restaurants around town.

An Ouzo flavored soda to quench your thirst:

Followed by some grape leaves, pita chips, hummus, and tzatziki:

For dessert, of course the traditional baklava and a honey/walnut cookie:

Know who else was there? Zaytinya of course! If you’ve never heard of Zaytinya, check out the Green Gourmet’s review here. Zaytinya was serving their own version of greek yogurt with apricots and handing out their secret recipe. Yum.

After a sweet ending at the Greek Embassy, we decided to head to…

Embassy 2: Estonia

Do you know where Estonia is? I do (now). When we were outside, we were lucky enough to watch some traditional Estonian dancing, and they were nice enough to pose for the papparazzo.

Although, I’m not sure how the people from Estonia survive on their food. The samples were garlic croutons and dried anchovies.

I guess you just drink alot of this:

This light brew got us ready to move onto the next…

Embassy 3: Bulgaria  

This was one of my favorites on the inside.  A big beautiful staircase and lots of fresh flowers.

They were serving a traditional savory cheese pastry called Banitsa:

And a red wine produced in Bulgaria. Is it possible for a red wine to be both sweet and dry? Discuss.

At this point, we were over having to wait in any more lines. And because it was a beautiful day, we headed to the Georgetown waterfront to visit the House of Sweden.

Embassy 4: Sweden

Sorry Sweden, apparently I was feeling camera shy. Or slightly tipsy from three  two servings of Bulgarian wine.

This is the entranceway, which has a modern water feature.

The inside feels very much like wandering through Ikea. Multiple floors, huge glass windows, modern architecture. They served some of my favorite cheese (Jarlsberg) with lingonberry jam. And chocolate cookies courtesy of… you guessed it, Ikea.

What’s the perfect end to a perfect day of Embassy tours? The perfect beer. In this case it’s Blue Moon.

I’m kinda bummed I won’t be here for the upcoming Around the World Embassy Tour happening this weekend! Click here for more details. Have fun on your travels and don’t forget you read about it on Green Gourmets!

Great Grapes Wine Festival

4 May

by Green Gourmet L

What do you do when it’s sunny, 70 degrees, spring time, and Saturday? Drink wine of course! And what’s more fun than drinking wine? Drinking lots of wine. You can sample up to 200 different wines at the Reston, VA wine festival. If you missed it this weekend, not to worry. The Great Grapes festival will be back this way in the fall (Sept 10th and 11th). Don’t live anywhere close to Virginia? The festival also stops in Cockeysville, MD and Charlotte/Cary, NC. Check out the website for more info on the festival.

Now onto the good stuff…the wine! There were two wineries that we liked the best:

Granted, we didn’t have the time (or the stomach) to sample all 200 wines, so we had to pick and choose based on eye-catching signs and proximity to our blankets. Each tent gave about 5-9 samples, which were a mixture of whites, reds, and some sweet wines. The nice thing about drinking local wines (similar to eating from local farmers) is that you’re giving money back to the community and supporting small, local businesses. Many of these smaller vineyards offer tours, wine dinners, or even a chance to stay overnight. What a fun weekend trip! Here are the two wines that we loved:

Chardonnay Reserve 2008

Grown at an altitude of 1700 feet, the 2008 Chardonnay Reserve is a wonderful wine with a toasty vanilla nose, a delightfully light mid palate filled with citrus and apples and a subtle oak finish.

Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2007

Tight nose opens to feature hints of plum and other dark stone fruits. Upon the palate, this wine widens to include blackberry and raspberry tones, leading to a hint of anise on the finish. Slightly lighter body and delicate tannins follow a more Italian winemaking tradition and are indicative of the 2007 harvest. Enjoy with braised or grilled beef or lamb.

Cheers y’all, and don’t forget you read about it on Green Gourmets! Thanks given to Matt Higgins for the great pictures.

Cauliflower Done Right

26 Apr

Green Gourmet L

With the weather getting warmer and the flowers in full bloom, the urge to eat lighter is upon us. And I, for one, am totally ready. Although I’m also ready to gorge myself on a 7 course meal in a Thai man’s basement tonight. Don’t worry, I’ll take lots of pictures and tell you all about it later this week.

Back to spring, I love the vegetables that appear this time of year. Snap peas, green beans, sprouts, I’m getting excited to go to the farmer’s market again. I whipped up something last night that put me in the warm weather mood. Seared salmon with sauteed kale and cauliflower mash. If you’ve never had cauliflower in this way, you’ll be a convert. It satisfies your craving for mashed potatoes, but it’s lighter and (possibly?) healthier. Give it a try!

Cauliflower Mash

Ingredients

Makes 3-4 small servings

  • 5 cups cauliflower or 1 bag frozen cauliflower
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 TB butter
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk or plain kefir
  • salt and pepper

Directions

Place cauliflower in a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 12-15 minutes or until very tender. Drain well.

At this point, you can either mash by hand, use a handmixer, or place in a food processor (depending on what texture you like). Add the other ingredients and mix well. Garnish with chives or spring onions. Serve hot alongside your favorite spring dish and don’t forget you read about it on Green Gourmets!

Ginger-Lime Baked Pineapple

20 Apr

by Green Gourmet K

I had a craving for some fruit when I was at the grocery store and pineapple was on sale for $1.99 so I snatched that up thinking I’d eat it fresh or throw some in a stir fry.  Then I promptly forgot about it until I realized I needed to cook it up ASAP!  I have never broiled or baked pineapple but it seemed like it was worth a shot.  Turns out this was the best decision I have made in a long time.

This dessert is my new favorite – because it is incredibly fresh tasting and has a nice balance of hot and cold, sweet and sour, fruity and creamy.  To get the hot and cold and sweet and sour part I used greek yogurt.  The naturally sweet pineapple  is almost caramelized by the buttery ginger-lime syrup and the unsweetened yogurt is a great complement.  Ice cream or a lightly sweetened cake would be good with the pineapple too but the plain yogurt does a nice job of balancing out the sweetness.

The baked pineapple could be made ahead and then heated and served later.

Ginger-Lime Baked Pineapple Dessert

Ingredients

Juice of 1/2 lime

2 tbsp. butter

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1/2 cup water

1 whole pineapple, cored and sliced

2 teaspoons of sliced fresh ginger

plain Greek yogurt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Core and slice one pineapple.  Arrange slices in a baking dish.

Peel and slice ginger, set aside.

Melt butter in saucepan with brown sugar, once melted, add the ginger, lime juice and water.

Let simmer on low until the mixture is syrup-like in consistency.

Pour over the pineapple, holding out the ginger slivers.

Bake for 25 minutes at 350, then broil or turn your oven up to 400 degrees and bake for 5 more minutes.  Let the pineapple cool for a few minutes before serving.  Spoon pineapple and sauce over greek yogurt and garnish with a small sliver of lime.

Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Farmers Market Bounty

18 Apr

by Green Gourmet K

Slow Food Savannah debuted at the Forsyth Park Farmers Market this weekend and we had lots of visitors to our table.  The market was very busy as usual and we were fortunate to be able to speak to many people from our target audience.  Hopefully support and enthusiasm for the organization will continue to grow.

While at the market I of course did a little shopping of my own and found some really inspiring and beautiful ingredients.

First off, Slow Food Savannah’s table was right next to Walker Organic Farms and those folks know how to display and sell some good-looking organic produce.  One thing that caught my eye immediately were these root vegetables.

Ignore the wilted leaves, that was my fault for not bringing a cooler.  So what’s so great about this funny looking root vegetable?

Oh yes, look at that beautiful pink color!  This is a watermelon radish.  It has a slightly sweet taste but is spicy and crisp, like conventional radishes.  It was new to me and I love finding something I have never tried before.

The Walker folks also had lovely, colorful carrots.  These carrots make me sad for grocery store carrots, they will just never, ever be able to measure up to flavor and appeal of the real thing.

The radishes and one of the yellow carrots (no need to peel these organic carrots!) went right into a salad with Walker spinach, feta cheese and a homemade vinaigrette.

I also picked up this little guy:

An heirloom cherry tomato plant!  I can’t wait to get this guy planted in a big container.

I hope this inspires you all to get to your local farmer’s market and find out what special varieties of new and interesting foods you might be able to find.  My time there this weekend was a great inspiration for me and I can’t wait to see what else pops up at the market throughout the spring and into summer.

Quinoa – Another Perspective

22 Mar

by Green Gourmet K

 

Quinoa - Image from Incaorganics.com

Yesterday I noticed an interesting article in the New York Times about how the popularity of quinoa (KEEN-wa) in America and Europe has been a boon for Bolivian farmers but has also caused the price of the grain to be out of reach for many in the country, who rely on it as a staple.  Now many in this region are relying on less expensive, and often nutritionally deficient foods, some of which are most likely from U.S. sources.  Quinoa has a relatively high protein content (14-18%), compared to other seed/grains, and it is loaded with amino acids and minerals.  It is also a great alternative for those on a gluten-free diet.  These characteristics have made it very popular in the U.S. and Europe.

 

Image from Bob's Red Mill site.

I found the conundrum the article presents very thought-provoking and it was difficult to write about this topic.   I have mixed feelings about this and I would guess many of you do as well.  Obviously, L and I are very interested in eating locally when we can, as well as eating foods with high nutritional value, and we both realize that we are fortunate to have the resources to do this.  Neither of us are rich, but by global standards, we are in a much better position than many and we should be grateful for the luxury of being able to choose what we eat.   Americans can choose to buy quinoa, jasmine rice, couscous, or whatever grain we want, it’s all there in your local grocery store.  This article was a great reminder that such a wide range of choices is not available to everyone, that we are the exception and our choices will affect others.

What do you all think?  Will you reconsider buying quinoa?

Now just to complicate matters, here’s a roundup of some of the interwebs best quinoa recipes:

 

Lemon-scented Quinoa Salad from 101 Cookbooks

 

Quinoa Cloud Cookies from 101 Cookbooks

Mexican-style Quinoa Salad by SummerTomato

Quinoa Turkey Burgers by ChefMom

Spiced Courgette, Quinoa and Apricot Salad from Essentially Healthy Food

Orange Quinoa Muffins by Gluten Free Gobsmacked

Whole Grain Quinoa Bread by Chef In You