#89: Ecuador

What’s new, foodie friends??

February is already drawing to a close. Which seems impossible. I feel like this new year is already flying by. It’s also nice to see the return of snow and a departure from the wind. I love this time of year– people are gearing up for spring weddings and early summer graduations. It’s nice to see the tulips starting to come up and things are starting to get a little more green and a little less brown… if only a little anyway.

THE DINNER: This week we took a trip to South America to try out some Ecuadorian cuisine. I’m such a fan of this flavor palate– that is the spices and flavors of Latin based foods. I love spice and cumin and it never seems to get old for my taste buds. So I was naturally very excited.

We had so many wonderful recipes to pick from, but with the return of the snow, we settled on soup for our meal this week. This is actually a traditional Ecuadorian soup that features meatballs (albóndigas) and rice (arroz) in a simple broth with lots of veggies. We were commenting, that this one looked a whole lot like one of our favorite Italian soups: Italian Wedding Soup. And in fact, when we got down to brass tacks, it really was like a Latin version of this Italian staple. Pretty funny how thousands of miles away, and there are food similarities. It’s sort of comforting knowing the language of food is universal.

Sopa de Albóndigas con Arroz (Meatball and Rice Soup) Recipe: http://www.mycolombianrecipes.com/meatball-and-rice-soup-sopa-de-arroz-con-albondigas

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: THREE STARS out of five this meal!
This one wasn’t a “red herring” for difficulty like many weeks before (nor was it a problem with finding herring like last week!). We could look at this recipe and anticipate that it’s gonna take a hot second to create this soup. We have a lot of moving parts and also making of the balls of meat. All said, it wasn’t difficult just some time involved. No strange ingredients. Meatballs are simple to make.

Best dish of all time scale: FIVE STARS out of five for Meal!!
Unbelievable. This is a wonderful dish. We had to hit it with some more salt. We also hit it with a very small splash of hot sauce, but honestly, this one was aces all around. We were surprised to find the cornmeal in the meatballs as the binder, but were delighted when we tasted them because it really added a great texture to what might have been slimy otherwise. It was a little greasy, so we had to skim some of that off, but it wasn’t a big deal. Overall, it was really yummy; PLUS having avocado in your soup– that’s like winning the culinary lottery.

We have arrived at #90 which will take us to the country of Bangladesh! We are 46% done with our food trip around the world on AW195S! 

 Happy Eating!
– L & K

#88: Sweden

The Lent season is upon us.

I say that like “winter is coming” on Game of Thrones, when in reality, I enjoy the challenge of giving things up for Lent. It hardly feels like Lent and Easter time with the weather this week being in the 70s.. so that’s sort of wonderful. I love Colorado for so many reasons, but blizzards followed by heat is something of a state trademark. For Lent this year, Colorado might want to consider giving up the wind though… it’s really messing up my marathon training 😉 Just a suggestion from a native.

THE DINNER: As a catholic of 27 years, I am comfortable with fried with most every week of Lent. It was home-plate for us tackling this for our Swedish dish this week. Stekt Strömming is a classic Scandinavian meal consisting of fried herring with toast and sometimes mashed potatoes and lingonberries. It’s sort of like the Swedish take on American steak and potatoes.

Stekt Strömming Recipe: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2010/12/scandinavian-streetfood-fried-herring-on-crisp-bread-tarter-sauce-recipe.html

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five this meal!
We hit a snag finding herring. That was the only hang up. We were going to substitute Sardines, but we couldn’t find fresh ones. Chalk it up to land locked state we live in. We settled on halibut. This was not an exciting fish– we were really looking forward to the herring. All things considered though, it was not a hard ingredient list to come by, and frying fish is not a difficult task.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR STARS out of five for Meal!!
Like stated above, we are big fish eaters and especially during Lent we enjoy fish every Friday. So this one, though delectable, just didn’t blow us away. It was expected. It’s fried fish with what can only be described as tartar sauce (albeit amazing homemade tartar sauce) and on toast… making this an open face fish sandwich. Apart from all the cliche, the best part of this was the red onion. As someone who is a seafood purist, red onions in all their over powering glory don’t come near my seafood. This was such an amusing combination. It was lovely and while competing with the fish and tartar, was not the craziest combo. I was a big fan, and that’s probably what saved this ho-hum dish this week earning a four star and not lower.

Almost hitting those triple digits, we trek on to #89 which will find us in a different hemisphere in Ecuador

 Don’t blow away!
– L & K

#87: Syria

We are the Champions, my friends!!

Congratulations to the Denver Broncos for an amazing season and an astounding victory in the face of all the naysayers. It was a pretty awesome weekend in Brovskyland, filled with football and food and family. Three out of the four of my favorite “f” words covered there. It’s bittersweet though, because while we have ended on the best possible note, this marks the farthest we will be from football. It’s now on to baseball and soccer season…and well, we all know how those Rockies break your heart 😉

THE DINNER: This week we decided to take a trip to the Middle East, because, well it’s a whole lot warmer there than it was here this week. It was a snowy, blustery kind of state we found ourselves in, so it was a welcome food escape when we decided to venture to the culinary world of Syria for week #87.

When looking for recipes this week, as with last week, we concentrated on a vegetarian menu. Because of all the impending football goodness: pizza, burgers, hot wings… and all manner of greasy and wondrous meat related dishes; we wanted to give our bodies a little break from all that with our AW195S pick. I loved the idea of doing a green salad for a Middle Eastern country because in so many ways, we relate to food of the region to slow roasted meats and shwarmas; tangines and naan. It’s not a produce desert!! It’s actually incredibly common for Middle Easterners to enjoy fresh fruits and veggies year around, due to their warm climate and they consume these fresh foods on a daily basis. For that reason the cabbage salad pick selected is something pretty prevalent.

Syrian Savoy Salad Recipe: http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/middle-eastern-cabbage-salad.aspx

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: ONE STAR out of five this meal!
Come on, Ladies and Gentleman, this one is CAKE. It’s a chopped salad, for heavens sake. But in all reality, it’s just about the chopping and ingredients here. We did make the dressing from scratch, per the recipe, so there is where the one star comes from. It was so aromatic! Which was lovely. Also, all the ingredients were easy to come by at the local grocers and the recipe did not require translation, which after Bulgaria last week, we were happy as clams to realize.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and a HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
Delicious and refreshing! As a flexitarian, I eat salad all the time. So this is my wheel house, but also I’m pretty critical for that same reason of salads. I love cabbage so that already was a delightful departure from romaine, iceberg and butter lettuce. The red onion is perfect, so that added to it. I also just fell in love with this dressing! The lemon was tart but the yogurt was sweet and the spices were savory. All bases covered. The best thing was the mint, while subtle and finely chopped added a little something special to the background. Well done, Syria. We were all very impressed, even my carnivorous father. Not to mention, this one would hold up swell in the fridge for leftovers (we didn’t have any because it was devoured), but the cabbage really holds up with dressing and doesn’t get wilty.

I can’t believe we are already on our #88 country! We plan to head north for our final Scandinavian country Sweden for Valentines Day weekend!

 Happy Valentines, lovers!
– L & K

#86: Bulgaria

Snowy, Monday!

I’m all about the snow, as I know many of you Colorado natives agree with me. It’s funny to talk about the differences between a big snow storm here and a big snow storm in places where they aren’t used to it… looking at you, East Coast and Southern states! 😉 Regardless, we have been getting some significant snow, and unlike those other places– we have to go to work still. I’m totally jealous though, it would be nice to have the Denver area shut down for a little while.

THE DINNER: In light of super bowl meat fest that we anticipate, we decided to head a little south of vegetarian for the next several weeks on AW195S! This week we hit up the European country of Bulgaria for some grub and were surprised with the overlap of dishes we saw. It was hard to find a uniquely “Bulgarian” dish as there was a cultural bleed into Russian and German dishes.

None the less deterred, we settled on a simplistic zucchini stew that brought with it some major complications. We picked out a Zucchini and Rice Stew (“тиквички и ориз яхния” in Bulgarian by the way… ). It was tricky because the first recipe we pulled absolutely refused to give into the charms of Google Translate making it impossible to read or decipher.  The next recipe was better but not without problems, mainly the portion size.

Bulgarian Zucchini-Rice Stew Recipe: http://bulgarian-recipes.com/bebeshki-i-detski-hrani-13/detski-zelenchukovi%C2%A0hrani-158/zucchini-with-rice-11600.html

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: FOUR STARS out of five this meal!
We have been really fortunate to have google translate save our bacon over this culinary journey. Oooh, bacon … now I’m sidetracked. Proverbial bacon. This time we were not so lucky. We could not seem to get the original recipe translated so we hunted for an alternative, which we found but it took more time than usual. There were only four ingredients but that was not the hard part. We also had to quadruple the recipe to make it feed-able to three normal sized humans. Messy is the word of the day for this one, folks.

Best dish of all time scale: TWO (sad) STARS out of five for Meal!!
Good grief, Charlie Brown! After all the work on this one, it was actually really a disappointment. It was the most bland thing we’ve made, ever. It had a little dill for garnish, but save that which was “optional” in the recipe”, it had no flavor! Onion. That’s the only aromatic in the meal, didn’t save this one. It had so much potential. Bland. (SIDE BAR: we went to town with it after we tasted the initial tasteless rice mush… some hot sauce and garlic and salt and pepper and BAM! It was suddenly palatable… but even the tarted up version only won an extra half star from the panel.)

Super Bowl Sunday is upon us and we will be spending Saturday in Syria for #87 so we can celebrate with our Broncos on Sunday!! 

 

GO ORANGE CRUSH!
– L & K