Monday, 11 June 2012

Caught in a Logistical Transition: Updates from Granville

Good evening, dear Reader! It's certainly felt like it's been a long time (because it has) since I last blogged about anything and even still I'm playing catch up with blog posts that have been unwritten for nearly a year. In the last week and a half or so, the cheftestants of "Around the World in 80 Plates" travelled from spice-filled Morocco to the villas of Tuscany; the summer seasons of "Hell's Kitchen" and "MasterChef" began; and the slew of additional programming (including family favourite "Rizzoli & Isles") has made it quite evident that summer is officially upon us. Interestingly, the first day of summer is actually June 20th this year, which also happens to mark the first day of my journey en route back to Paris.

Similar to my experience last year, this summer I will be working for The Experiment in International Living (EIL) by leading a group of high school students on a four-week experience in France. Specifically, we will be based in Paris for the aptly named program, "The City of Lights: Photography in Paris". Perhaps it's too early to tell, but I imagine my photo particular photo journey will provide some room for a parallel gastronomic journey while we're there. As I plan for France, much of my effort of late has also been focused on a Fulbright application to Italy for the 2013-2014 academic year, and preparations for yet another round of graduate school applications. And if this weren't enough, plans continue to steadily moving forward for Denison's inaugural Food and Culture Colloquium, and things are starting to wind down for me on campus as reports and projects wrap up. For whatever reason, though, the whirlwind of life dissipated if but for a moment this past weekend, as I embarked on a relatively big move from my apartment in Stone Hall to a one-bedroom house about 60 seconds away by car. But first, I did want to share a simple recipe that has served as another marker of the completion of a two-year academic cycle that has challenged me in my transition from a college graduate to a young professional. Of course it's food related: the bacon, bagel and brie sandwich.

As I settled into Granville two Octobers ago, Victoria's Parlour quickly became my favourite restaurant. Soon to be a tradition, following church, I would go to the restaurant where Day Y Noche now stands and order the bacon, bagel and brie sandwich. It always came with a side of fresh fruit to contrast the richness of the three distinct ingredients; and it was this simplicity that I channeled in constructing my last "cooked" meal in Stone. In it's shortest form, I implore you to try out this recipe, or perhaps more so this preparation: between two toasted plain bagel halves, layer your bacon and slices of brie and press down everything together. Here, you're relying on the heat of the bagel and bacon to ever so slightly melt the cheese. Anything more than that and you'll have a messy cheese sauce-type thing going on (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). With this, instead of cantaloupe, honey dew and grapes, I went with a fruit salad of fruits that happened to be on sale at the grocery store which I mixed and tossed with some orange juice. Again, simple perfection.

Alongside reflections of my time so far here in Granville, my logistical move has given me the opportunity to absorb the sights and tastes of Granville beyond my staple visit to Whit's. On Friday, one of my colleagues, Molly, helped kick off the move but not before having breakfast at Aladdin's. It had been my first time there and I found the waitstaff to be rather upbeat and cheerful for it being relatively early in the morning, as well as efficient and able to produce filling food that didn't make you feel guilty after eating it. Energised by the meal and armed with iced mochas from Village Coffee Company, we started off strong and made a bit of a dent in the midst of everything I've somehow stored in my apartment over the last 20-ish months. Eventually, we made it to the lunch hour and went to Jess's Greek Eats; it had been a while since I was last there, but the food (and especially the fruit smoothie) was as fresh-tasting as ever. On the way back to my house--which is just one block away from the Farmers Market and downtown (not that it takes much to get downtown)--we stopped in at Petali Teas (another first time visit for me) where I ended up purchasing French Lemon Cream Rooibos and Moroccan Mint Green Tea (retrospectively, do you get the connections?). Additional first stops for me were Goumas Candyland(?... or was it Confections? I can never get that story straight..) and Kussmaul Gallery. Geeze, I gotta get out more.

Later that day, my parents arrived from Michigan and the three of us went to dinner and house items shopping after a bit more moving. For dinner, we went to LongHorn Steakhouse where I must admit my entrée of salad defeated me. I only got through half of it, not because I didn't like it, but (and perhaps this will be the only time I admit this) because it filled me up. To be fair, their Grilled Chicken & Strawberry Salad included more than just mixed field greens: grapes, mandarin oranges, candied pecans, feta and raspberry vinaigrette. It was definitely more of a refreshing side for a cooling spring-to-summer evening.

On Saturday, my dad and I put together the second of two bookshelves together before I took my parents to the Farmers Market. Either the market's really picking up or we got there earlier than I usually do, but it was as crowded as Granville's Broadway St could possibly be. Following our market experience, we went to Aladdin's for brunch before picking up the moving pace again. After they eventually checked into a hotel, our final sit-down meal was, of all places, Dragon Village. For those who know me, Americanised Chinese food is not what I'm immediately drawn to, but there was something about this particular visit that drew us there (aside from the fact it was getting late). Also, either it's fact or I was just really hungry, but there was a certain authenticity and surprise of freshness that all three of us picked up on and wow, was it delicious. On Sunday, my parents and I went to St. Edward's for Msgr. Enke's 40th anniversary celebration of his ordination; it was a truly wonderful Mass, complete with an exciting musical display of Irish roots, and a cheerful reception which followed. Soon after, my parents were off on their way back to Michigan and I crashed from the combination of the heat and the hours of moving and flights of stairs over the last few days. (I'm pretty sure the combined effort of the weekend was on par with the marathon effort of Rafa who won his seventh Roland Garros title earlier today and firmly established him as the King of Clay.)

I suppose if nothing else this was the abridged version of the past 72-ish hours, but before I forget (and speaking of clay), I do want to extend a huge written THANK YOU to my parents, Molly, Mark A. (Marilyn's Mark), and Clay, for all of their help in the move. As of this posting, I have turned in my Stone Hall Room 303 key and am racking my brain trying to figure out how much I could possibly organise before I leave Granville on Friday. We'll see how that goes... In the meantime, check out my album from this weekend by clicking here.

In wrapping up this post, and as promised, I do want to close with a written critique of a dish Molly earlier prepared, based on her best friend's recipe. Presented above is a whole wheat pasta (rotini?) with sautéed onions, spinach and bleu cheese, which I would categorise easily as healthy comfort food. The pasta--with particular emphasis on the fact it's whole wheat pasta--was cooked perfectly and I think the combined amount of gluten and limited bleu cheese (which wasn't all that distinguishable) created a great sauce without there actually being a technical sauce added to the dish. The smell of the dish itself reminded me of home (particular because of the spinach and onion) but with the onions especially being julienned to such long pieces, there seemed to be a bit of a bitter taste left behind from this latter combination. Perhaps if the spinach was cooked with a touch of salt and the onions were given more time to soften (though I appreciated the bite in its more al dente form), the bitterness would have rounded out to a smoother flavour. This being said, I did add some shredded Parmesan instead of salt, and if I could've found it amidst all my unpacked boxes, I would've also added a touch of freshly grated nutmeg to complete the richness of this otherwise healthy dish. As there are so few though nevertheless nutrient-rich ingredients to start off with, and because there's no sauce, it's very clear that the ingredients fully work well together in unison and in many respects need to be eaten together (and served warm/hot).

No comments:

Post a Comment