#160: Venezuela

“Everyone should be able to do one card trick, tell two jokes, and recite three poems, in case they are ever trapped in an elevator” -Lemony Snicket

Side Bar for those not in the know: It’s a paramount fear of mine to be trapped in an elevator–nay, plummet to my death in said elevator. Is this irrational? Obviously. Does that make it any less stressful to ride in elevators? No. No, it does not. On this note, people at the hospital have gotten into this horrific, lazy problem of taking the elevator one floor… when you’re already nervous around elevators, this creates some unidentified rage that bubbles up less like champagne and more like hot caramel. Think: rolling boil as opposed to soft lovely glittery effervesce. So along those lines, I have been thinking about this quote from A Series of Unfortunate Events and while it’s funny in a dark way, it’s also not wrong. While I try to take the stairs as often as possible, I do work on the 8th floor. I’m now taking suggestions for card tricks as I’ve comfortably checked off the other boxes on that list.

THE DINNER: We ventured to Venezuela for the post-turkey weekend. The collaboration here is Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese… yeah, we go big or go home. But we are home, so all kidding aside, it’s a melting pot of culinary styling. Obviously, you’ll see traditional foods like arepas, empanadas, asado and polenta. You’ll also see not so common place things like Lengua de Res (beef tongue in vinaigrette, anyone?).  Lots of rice, beans, plantains, corn, onions and eggplant.

It was tricky to nail down a recipe for this country. So many options, so little time in the day. We settled into making arepas which were tricky but well worth it and they were topped with a type of chicken salad and avocados. It’s all fun and games till the food coma sets back in…

Arepas con Pollo y Aguacate Recipe: https://www.mycolombianrecipes.com/corn-cakes-with-chicken-and-avocado
Arepa Recipe: http://homegrownandhealthy.com/homemade-arepas/

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Ease of prep and cooking: FOUR STARS out of five this recipe!
Two hard weeks in a row… whatever will we do with ourselves. It’s not so much the chicken part of this recipe as it was the homemade arepas. Those bad boys are every bit the reason for this four star review. It’s that they fry quickly and not so quickly at the same time and the size of the pour is really integral to the success of the arepa. All in all, once mastered, it was smooth sailing. None of the ingredients were from a specialty market, and no conversions were necessary.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and A HALF of STARS out of five for this meal!
Call it the bird, but this weekend was fowl in all the right ways. Post Turkey coma, the chicken didn’t sound like a wonderful meal option but we persevered in the name of cooking! There was something really magical about this week’s meal– the corny, grainy and crispy texture of the arepa off set by the juicy lime, mayo infused chicken topped with creamy avocado. It just had all the best texture game. I think the real stars were the cilantro and the onion… and while we all added a round of hot sauce to these, we agreed wholeheartedly that it was wonderful “as is”. I wonder if this one was made on a different weekend if it would have scored better. Perhaps we were blinded by the bird this weekend but it was four and a half stars all around. Don’t let it fool you– it really was a great treat for a Sunday.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but we will be setting sail to Micronesia for #161. Bring your appetite and your favorite Holiday movie!

Cheers,
– L & K

 

#159: Andorra

“Life’s a dance. You learn as you go. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow”

That’s about right. It’s a metaphor, obviously. But, this girl literally got her two step on this week. I love love l-o-v-e going out dancing…though admittedly (shamefully) in my adulthood, the times I actually get to go dancing are less and less. It’s at a point where we seem to be lucky if we get out of the single digits over the course of the year. Life gets in the way and many of my old dancing buddies are now married and otherwise occupied. To make up for this, I routinely dance in the car, lab and, yes, of course, the kitchen. This week’s trip to The Rose brought back this thing that my mentor, the incomparable Robert Pruitt, used to tell me all the time when I was working in DC, “It’s not always moving forward motion that makes progress. Sometimes you go one step forward… and two steps back…. and few steps sideways. KBrov, it’s not failure! It’s a marimba! Enjoy the dance.”

So, here we are. Enjoying all the steps and the missteps and all the twisty turns. I’m ready for many more trips around the floor. Dancing shoes are ready. Let’s boogie, baby!

THE DINNER: I had brunch with some of the gang today… it was lovely, utterly classy and all things adult. Pinky’s out. Now, speaking of classy. It doesn’t seem to get much classier than Andorra. Bear with me. This little nation happens to be the 14th OLDEST country in the world and is the first for life expectancy (read: 81 years average). They’re tiny. In fact, they’re so tiny that their militaristic budget is completely based on donation. Could you imagine? But they haven’t seen a war ever, so it’s probably very feasible for them all things considered. Andorra is nestled between France and Spain (we hit those countries in week #77 and #40 respectively). She is snuggled up in the peaks of the Pyrenees; and therefore, like we have here in the 303, there is no shortage of mountain sports like skiing and hiking. They’re also the highest capital city in Europe at 3300ft. It’s adorable, but we’re at 5280 here in Denver, kiddos 😉

One might expect that cuisine from this hidden gem would be both French and Spanish in collaboration and you’re not wrong. Last week we have a “collab” with England and France, so this falls into the theme of November so far in this blog. Look at all these super powers getting along so nicely…at least on a food scale. Armed with Google Translate magic, we picked a Andorran burger that features a country staple called “trinxat”. Think latke but with cabbage and ALLLLL the garlic. The burger is served on a bed of trinxat and topped with bacon, Camembert and tomato salad. If it sounds lovely, you should have smelled it.

Andorran Trinxat Burger Recipe: http://burgershereandthere.com/2011/02/05/andorran-burger-recipe/

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Ease of prep and cooking: FOUR STARS out of five this recipe!
This one was hard. I’m not going to split hairs over it. There were moving parts, conversions and lots of irons in the fire. So, to be fair here, make sure you’re on your toes and you’ve got what you need. I would be willing to bet, you can make the trinxat beforehand or early and it would go smoother all around if you’re looking for a work around. The best laid plans though, tend to work out well. We didn’t have to make any specialty market excursions, so that was a good spot in the process.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR of STARS out of five for this meal!
We aren’t sure what’s not to like here… except some people might not be fans of thyme that’s a small component. There’s creamy, molten cheese; crisp sweet tomatoes; juicy pork; smoky bacon and all served on indulgent mashed potatoes with cabbage. When you really get down to brass tacks, it’s meat and potatoes. It’s rib sticking Sunday family meal. For all the bells and whistles, it really is more farmhouse cooking which would be appropriate given the position geographically of the country. There was a problem with saltiness, but once everything was mixed together, honestly, it reminded me of meatloaf. Which is both great and sort of a letdown because that’s hardly exotic. All that aside, it was delicious and earned all four of those shiny stars. We would make this one again (without any salt).

Heading into American Thanksgiving week, we will take a detour to Venezuela for the even #160. Coming off Veterans Day– to all the service men and women here and overseas. To the police officers and all branches of the military both active and retired: we are so incredibly overwhelmed by your often thankless sacrifice and that of your families/friends. Thank you for making it possible for all of us to rarely give a second thought all day about our safety, freedoms and happiness. You have given everyone the immeasurable gift of “peace of mind” for which no amount of gratitude can repay. May we all be so mindful of this more than one day a year.

Happy Veterans Day and thank you all for your service,
– L & K

#158: Malta

Squeaky clean, jelly beans!

This week, post recovery from some pretty gnarly food poisoning and Halloween chaos. I found that cleaning was all I wanted to do. So I systematically took after each room in the apartment and deep cleaned. Turns out, when you’re dating and busy with life as I tend to get- clutter of the physical and emotional sense tend to pile up. My Type A personality just can’t handle clutter… so it was time to clean house in more ways than one 😉 which is such a great feeling.

Clean your floors and feel that glorious smoothness beneath your toes. Clean your freezer and find all the space you have for more ice cream. Clean your phone/social media of unwanted people and feel the peace of mind drift over you like warm milk. It’s all about cleaning here this week in Brovskyland– and might I just say, it’s just so damn good for the soul. So keep it clean and play through.

THE DINNER: After having a fun and low key Saturday hanging out at Mockery’s third anniversary party and then hitting Great Divide for their Jameson-Aged silky smooth Dark Lager– we found our way to pizza heaven at Fat Sully’s. Sunday rolled around we had our last soccer match and then made it our mission to eat all the rabbit stew. Alright- allow me to back up now that we’ve caught up.

Our country adventure this weekend was Malta. Malta is an archipelago in the central Mediterranean between Sicily and the North African coast–and was settled by both the French and the British at different times. This was super evident in their food profile. For one, rabbit stew is very much a British and provincial French peasant dish. The second part was the fact this puppy marinaded in red wine over night… sounds rather French to me. You would conceive that the country of Malta also has a big Mediterranean influence, and you wouldn’t be wrong there. It made for an interesting culinary excavation this weekend for sure.

Maltese Rabbit Stew Recipe: http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/rabbit-stew-stuffat-tal-fenek

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Ease of prep and cooking: THREE STAR out of five this recipe!
We were back at converting from metric to standard and Celsius to Fahrenheit. There also was a lack of direction with the directions, if you know what I mean. We had to go to a specialty meat market for the rabbit (shout out to Edward’s Meats in Arvada!). Overall, it was slightly more intensive than previous countries– hence the three stars. However, once the marinade was applied we sort of just “set it and forget it” while we were off at soccer. We came home to a stew and some pretty horrific Bronoco’s football.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR of STARS out of five for this meal!
Rabbit tastes a lot like chicken, go figure. Who knew? But it was more dark meat and therefore juicier. There also was not a whole lot of meat- but that’s to be expected as it’s a small creature. The red wine was just perfect at breaking down the protein and creating a depth of flavor to the potatoes. Overall, it didn’t really need any extra seasoning…but we just wanted something more. More onion? Perhaps. More veggies? Quite possibly. Just More. So, therein lies the four stars and not five. More. At the risk of sounding greedy: Just More.

Running high on sleep post time change, we are off to the tiny country of Andorra for #159. As we head into the winter and Holiday months, we also might be taking occasional byes for family functions and “regular” food. Also as an update– for those that recall our adventure to Ox Tail Stew for #21: England?? Yeah, we are planning to revisit that recipe as the snow is flying and we are craving a little indulgence.

Later Alligators,
– L & K