Foodie Tuesdays, water?

What does water have to do with gluttonous, tongue-gasms? I subscribe to the anecdotal wisdom that says sugary, carbonated beverages kill your tastebuds and reprogram your mind to crave more sugar and more fat. Which usually means certain things won’t taste good or sound appealing. There’s also the problem of wasting your daily nutritional requirements on liquids that do nothing beneficial for you or your body.

Hmm. This topic seemed so much more viable when it first came to me. I’m trying to think of all these cool examples and absolute proofs that support my hypothesis. The unfortunate tidbits coming to me relate to the fact that throughout history water has not been very potable, and required boiling before drinking. Take the ancient Romans, for example, who were purported to drink diluted wine in the same abundance and for the same hydration effects for which many of us drink water. Of course, diluted wine is far different from soda or fruit juices dripping with corn syrup (in any form).

Foodie Tuesday, Moments of Weakness

Retroed by InkSpot's Blot
Retroed, a photo by InkSpot’s Blot on Flickr.

We all have them, right? Those moments in the grocery store when you just want to indulge. You don’t want to go home and chop up all those amazing colorful veggies you just bought. You’re tired. You’ve been sick. You just need something easy. And fattening.

That moment found me a couple of times this past week. In this exact combination. I usually like to cook at home. Sure, restaurants and I are no strangers, but the routine is pick out a couple of recipes, shop for those, cook ’em and have leftovers ad infinitum.

Routine has not been part of my vocabulary lately. It’s taken much of the energy I have to sleep and kick virus butt. Enter weakness. A single serving pizza, and meatless pepperoni. The first time I “made” it, I set off my fire alarm. (So happy to know it works. Silver lining, right? Sorry neighbors). The second time was far less eventful. Both times—pre foodus— I was infused with a guilty pleasure that almost drove me to drag my gooey meal to a dark corner, where I could eat it in quiet bliss.

But … the actual taste of it wilted in comparison to what my mind had built up. I imagined a crunchy crust, sharp fresh tomato sauce, and buttery cheese. That’s not what my mouth got. A frozen pizza warmed up in the oven. Don’t get me wrong. It was fine, maybe even better than many of the frozen pizzas shivering in the arctic wastelands of the freezer section. However. It was not “foodie” worthy, nor did it fulfill the sinfully delicious quotient of that guilty pleasure bit. It DID satisfy every inch of the lazy factor, though.

Foodie Tuesdays, Garlic

Random Food by InkSpot's Blot
Random Food, a photo by InkSpot’s Blot on Flickr.

I don’t like highly processed food. It seems the more that companies work with food, the more stuff they put into a product, the more messed up it becomes. The less healthy it is. But—

for a busy working girl it’s hard to be perfect. This has become my major cheat. I will admit fresh garlic is far superior (and tastier) than the stuff that comes chopped up and vacuum sealed in a jar. How much time does it really save? Maybe five minutes, maybe not. It’s just so seductive to twist off the lid, dive in with the spoon and retrieve a heaping helping of garlic. It’s in the pan in less than 10 seconds. Done. On to the next task.

Foodie Tuesdays, Best of 2011

La Foglie by InkSpot's Blot
La Foglie, a photo by InkSpot’s Blot on Flickr.

I can’t hope to remember all of the restaurants I visited, or the new recipes I tried in 2011. That’s not exactly necessary to create a list for the Best Food of 2011. In fact, it’s probably better to take a less contrived and more spontaneous approach too it. In no particular order:

A. Mister A’s, San Diego, California. This one was memorable for the occasion, and of course the view. Aaron took me here on our first date. He picked me up, took the scenic drive (unintentionally if I remember right) through the park. I tried to conceal my panic as we drew closer and closer to the spot. My mind was in denial until he parked right in front of the building and announced “We’re here”. Why so panicked? Mister A’s as a first date is a pretty big and impressive deal. The sunset came and went. The city lit up. We went through a few courses on the menu, including a shared dessert. Afterwards we strolled through Balboa Park, and topped it off with a birthday cupcake at my house. The quintessence of a romantic evening…
Mister A’s

B. David Bann’s, Edinburgh, Scotland. This was Mom’s choice, and it might be the premiere vegetarian restaurant in Scotland. We ambled down the street of what appeared to my untrained eyes as a working class neighborhood. Bann’s was, however, top shelf. After the lunch rush, it was blissfully sedate and quiet. The presentation was phenomenal. Each plate a work of art, for the feasting of the eyes as well as the tongue.
David Bann

C. Thomas Hill Organics, Paso Robles, California. Thomas Hill has it’s own farm to supply must of the ingredients that eventually end up as someone’s meal. I arrived here after a ~7-hour drive from San Diego and used needing to rest as a convenient reason to stop in wine country. Since I got a ridiculous good price at the motel (yes, I did), I decided to treat myself to a nice dinner. The back patio is lovely and has that romantic appeal. Fountains dimmed the chatter of other diners. The wine list was generous, and the menu sparkling with creations inspired from the seasonal harvest.
Thomas Hill Organics

D. La Foglie, Ortigia, Sicily. After a day of extensive travel and soul weariness, I ventured out of the hotel for a romantic meal for one. I have been to this place twice before, and each time it charms me and induces a homey sort of contentedness. By this point, I was sick of airplane food, and other similarly processed foods. I didn’t realize exactly what I was ordering, but when this (see picture) deliciousness arrived at my table, I could have burst into tears. It was PERFECT. Soup. Fresh veggies and fruit.
La Foglie

Honorable Mentions:
West Coast Tavern, San Diego, California
Back Yard BBQ @ Suzy’s. San Diego, California.
Het Podium, Utrecht, the Netherlands

Foodie Tuesdays, NaCl

Random Food by InkSpot's Blot
Random Food, a photo by InkSpot’s Blot on Flickr.

It may be a basic building block of life, and among the most ancient of seasonings, but that didn’t prevent me from hating salt as a kid. So much so that I wiped down each individual french fry, and made the best icky face whenever I saw my mom licking the salt off a margarita glass.

Some random salty facts: Salt has been harvested since at least 6050 BC. It’s been used not only as a seasoning agent, but also as a method of food preservation. Too much will kill you. So will too little. In the Middle Ages, salt was referred to as “white gold”. Suicide by salt was used among Chinese nobility back in the day.

I’m not sure when I had my epiphany. It might have happened as I gradually eliminated meat and most dairy from my diet. Whatever the case, my opinion toward salt has changed drastically.

While I do add a dash during the cooking process, I tend to save my salt for the end as a sort of garnish. This preserves the intensity of the flavor while minimizing the risk of over-salting a dish.

I’ve also become curious about the less banal variations. You can get it refined, coarse, flaky, Kosher, and smoked. Depending on where it was harvested and how it was processed, it can some in several different shades created by the mineral content profile.

Aaron made a sinful treat one morning. Blood orange sundaes with toasted sliced almonds. The key accent? The pinch of Fleur de Sel at the very end.