Saturday, August 01, 2015

Kona Farmers' Market

First thing this morning, we went to the Kona Farmers' Market.
We bought tomatoes and basil from Malamala Farms, shown above.

Rambutan, a type of lichee... we tasted it at the market and bought some for lunch, as well as several other fruits.

We also bought Kona coffee: light and dark roast, from a farm
that's located uphill from where we have been.
100% Kona coffee is quite wonderful. Unfortunately blends are often labeled quite deceptively... you have to read carefully!
By around 9:30 we were heading for Two Step the great snorkel place near the Honaunau National Park.
Left to right in the water: Alice, Evelyn, Miriam, and Len.
You can see the national park from the snorkel beach. 

Two Step beach viewed from the National Park (a couple of days ago).

After snorkeling at the beach, we came back to eat our farmers' market purchases.

Tomato and basil salad, an incredibly ripe mango, other fruit, and bread from the artisan bakery.


The Blue Moon setting this morning: it's the second full moon this
month, so it's a blue moon.
We shared a dragon fruit for breakfast, along with our cereal. Then we drove to the volcano.
From afar we could see the fumes rising from the vent in the crater.
Lunch at a picnic table near the visitor center of the National Park.

Miriam and Alice entering the famous Thurston Lava Tube.

In the lava tube.

Steam rising from a vent in the ground. 
Sulfur deposited on a rock near a vent.
Vents and sulfur deposits.
In the forests around the volcano, fascinating ferns and other flowers.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Kona Coffee from Greenwell Farms

During all our visits to Kona, today was our first tour of a big coffee farm:
Greenwell Farms near Kona. The farm has a large number of coffee trees,
 facilities for processing and roasting the coffee, and a visitor center.
(We did once tour a small one, Kona Lisa Coffee).
Close-up of ripening red coffee "cherries" which contain the
so-called coffee bean, which isn't really a bean.
Coffee trees.
A hopper full of the "cherries" which will be hulled, sorted by size and quality, dried, fermented, and finally, roasted. 
Our guide telling us about how coffee is processed. Lenny, Evelyn,
Miriam, and Alice are all listening.
Besides the rows of coffee trees, Greenwell Farms grows avocados, papayas, bananas, and guavas. 
Jungle fowl (aka chickens) are all around the coffee trees.

Alice and Miriam Cook Dinner

In the kitchen of the condo in Kona, Alice made
her creation of tomatoes stuffed with avocado.
And Miriam made green salad.
Dinner: stuffed tomatoes, green salad, bread, and
fruit salad. All the produce is grown in Hawaii:
tomatoes, avocado, lettuce, papaya, watermelon, and pineapple.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Coffee Shack, Captain Cook, Hawaii

This morning at The Coffee Shack in Captain Cook Hawaii:
Geckos are everywhere, coming in the windows.
And outside the windows -- one of the world's most beautiful views!
We arrived in Hawaii last night. Snorkeled this morning. Then brunch. 
A gecko enjoying the view. Miriam's photo.
Miriam and Tom.
Several of us ordered Eggs Benedict with fresh local ahi tuna under the eggs, and oven fries. Fabulous!
And cups of 100% Kona coffee. Don't accept blends, only drink 100% Kona.
Coffee Shack pies are famous: we had one piece of
key lime pie.
Location of the Coffee Shack on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Salade Niçoise

A French classic: Salade Niçoise. Often on the menu in neighborhood restaurants in Paris.

For a potluck that I'm about to go to, I made a vegetarian version; that is, I omitted the tuna and anchovies that are part of the original. I follow Julia Child and use French potato salad with olive oil (pommes à l'huile), black olives, tomatoes, green beans, and hard-boiled eggs. I improvised a tiny bit and added a few lettuce leaves and some fresh dill and spring onions.

As with every French dish, the quality of ingredients makes the dish. I've written about it before: one of my favorites! I thought this post would fit in with the blogging theme of Paris in July.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Simca and Julia Child

Louisette Bertholle, Julia Child and Simone Beck
in Julia Child's Paris kitchen in the early days of working together
-- from My Life in France p. 116 via this source.
Julia Child's memoir My Life in France (written with Alex Prud'homme and published 2006) documents many things, including her lifelong friendship with Simone Beck, nicknamed Simca. Their relationship included working side by side as coauthors on Mastering the Art of French Cooking, working on subsequent cookbooks together, sharing family vacations, and more.

Simca was also the author of two cookbooks on her own: Simca's Cuisine, published 1972, and New Menus from Simca's Cuisine, published 1978. The first volume was reissued in 2013 and is still in print, but I believe there was only one edition of the second volume.

From their first meeting in 1951 in Paris, at a party for French and Americans involved with the Marshall plan, Julia and Simca were obviously compatible. They immediately talked about "food, food preparation, food people, wine, and restaurants," and agreed to meet again. Julia soon invited her to lunch:
"We talked about food, of course. She was a tall, dashing, vigorous française of about forty-two, with shoulder-length blond hair parted on the side, pale milky skin, high cheekbones, dark-rimmed glasses, and firmly held convictions. ... She studied at the Cordon Bleu under the famed chef and author Henri-Paul Pellaprat, whom she also hired for private cooking lessons. She had extensive knowledge of the cuisine of her native Normandy... renowned for its rich butter and cream, beef, and apples." (p. 114-115)
Simca, it turned out, was writing a cookbook with Louisette Bertholle. In My Life in France Julia documents how she became their coauthor and co-teacher at their cooking school in Paris. The narrative includes Simca and Julia's emerging quarrels and frustrations over Simca's cooking philosophy -- always affected by Simca's "firmly held convictions" which sometimes meant stubbornness. I found this all fascinating reading along with all Julia's memories of life in Paris in the 1950s.

By the time Julia Child wrote the memoir, Simca was no longer alive, so there's an amazing degree of frankness about their disagreements. Julia also described Simca's disappointment and probably jealousy of Julia's great popularity as a TV personality and food celebrity: successes that Simca did not share. While Julia did not attempt to claim undeserved credit, she indisputably became the only one of the three original authors to be prominent in the American national consciousness.

My Life in France also includes much about the continuing close friendship of Simca and Simca's husband with Julia and Paul Child. It describes a sterling example of trust, when Julia and Paul agreed to build a house on land in Normandy belonging to Simca's family, promising with a handshake to return the entire parcel when the time was right. Indeed, the land and house were returned without incident, after years of the two couples' vacationing together in the French countryside.

Long ago, I bought the two cookbooks that Simca published on her own -- works which never received the adulation and popularity that she had enjoyed as Julia Child's coauthor. I've tried various recipes from them over the years. I particularly like the recipe for Tartlettes à la dijonnaise, which I've always made as a single 8" tart. The result is a bit like the Parisian boulangerie item called pizza, which only slightly resembles American or Italian pizza. I don't know if the bakeries still have them, but these French pizzas were little tartlets filled with a delicious tomato filling and almost always topped with one anchovy and one black olive -- a delicious Paris memory from many visits!

One very interesting flavor trick for Simca's tartlets: you brush the inside of the pastry with mustard and sprinkle them with Swiss or Dutch cheese, 1/2 cup in all for the bottom and top of the tart. Pre-bake them at 375º. And after that, fill them with tomato filling, sprinkle them with more cheese, herbs, and olive oil; and bake them briefly again, also at 375º. Of course I'd be tempted to garnish them with just one olive and maybe one anchovy, for old time's sake.

Here's the filling recipe from Simca's Cuisine p. 234:

    Simca's Tomato Tartlet Filling

  • 3 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes, or 2 cups purée de tomate provençale, or 2 two-pound cans of whole Italian plum tomatoes, drained, refreshed with herbs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, to make 1/4 cup, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon each dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, savory
  • Salt
  • Black pepper,  freshly ground
If the tomatoes are fresh, skin seed, and juice them. Chop them roughly.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet, add the chopped onions, and cook them, stirring from time to time, until they are soft but not colored. Add the tomatoes, the minced garlic, half of the herbs, and salt and pepper.  If the tomatoes are fresh, simmer them for 5 to 10 minutes to cook them, but do not allow them to become a pulp; the pieces should retain their shape.

Fill the partially baked tart shells with the tomato mixture. Sprinkle with drops of olive oil and the remaining herbs, and spread with the grated cheese. Finish baking the tartlets in the oven for about 15 minutes -- just long enough to heat the pastry and the tomatoes and melt the cheese, which should form a glazed crust hiding the tomatoes.

Unmold and serve.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Culinary Historians' Dinner

Arepas con Pollo Adobado from Columbia or Venezuela
Earlier this evening, we attended the summer dinner of the Culinary Historians of Ann Arbor (CHAA), held at the Ladies' Literary Club of Ypsilanti clubhouse that was built in the 1840s. While this was our first time attending this event, most of the other people present have been participating in CHAA dinners for years or even decades. Tonight's theme was "Under the Southern Cross: Foods from Countries on the Equator or Below."

Contributions ranged widely around the lower half of the globe: African peanut soup, South American chicken and beef dishes, a dish from Borneo, Indonesian salad with peanut sauce, and several selections from Australia and New Zealand. I didn't keep careful notes about all the foods, but I enjoyed every one that I tasted, especially those flavored with the spices from the spice islands and other southern places. A really delicious selection!

Aussie vegemite sandwiches cut in the shapes of kangaroos and koala bears.
Explaining vegemite: "We hope nobody has tasted it before. Because if
you have, we'll be taking these all home."
Each contributor presented a brief summary of his or her dish and its history.
Chilean Pastel de Choclo: "a very fancy shepherd's pie."
Topped with a special type of young sweetcorn called choclo. Flavored with basil and layers of beef and chicken.
Behind that: Passover Haroset from Surinam made from a variety of cooked dried fruit and spices.
Explaining the arepas.
Pavlova: a meringue cake topped with lemon curd or cream and strawberries -- my contribution.
This dish was invented in New Zealand in the 1920s, claimed by Australia, and is now very popular in the US and many other places.
It's often made with whipped cream, but we had very hot weather today so I used lemon curd, which holds up better.
Anzac biscuits, supposedly invented during World War I to survive several weeks on a ship
supplying the Australia-New Zealand Army Corps, or ANZAC, who were fighting in Europe.
Explaining carrots with honey and cheese from Chile.