Sunday, February 24, 2008

I See You!

I had a four hour layover in Vienna on my way home from Armenia. Though I didn't sleep before my 6am flight and barely did while squished into the very back row of the plane between an oversized Finn and the toilet, I felt like I ought to make the most of my amazing February adventure and see the Innere Stadt of Vienna. It was undeniably beautiful - lots of baroque detail, gold, cobblestones. Good for a glimpse, but probably too much for an extended stay. However, I could definitely get into the pastries. Here's my 8am latte and slice of apfelstrudel at the Aida Kafe-Konditorei around the corner from Stefansdom.

Armenian Snickers

Here are some delectable fruit and nut confections that are Armenian specialties. To the left are straight-up dried fruits. In the middle - fruit lavash - predecessor of the fruit roll-up? And then on the right is sujuk - a sausage-shaped treat billed as Armenian snickers. They string walnuts into a kind of walnut rope and then dip it and dry it successively in a mixture of grape and mulberry juice. What results is an amazing nutty fruity energy-packed treat. Which would you rather have while x-country skiing?


This is lahmajo - Armenia's version of Turkish lahmacun - flat bread spread with a minced meat mixture and baked. Fantastic washed down with tan, Armenia's salty yogurt drink - Iran's dugh - Turkey's ayran...

More Lavash

So my team got snowed out of the region we were supposed to monitor on election day. It snowed a foot and a half the night before, and once the wind kicked up, the roads became impassable. At noon, we descended from the mountains to the town of Aparan, where we wandered into this lavash bakery.

Meal on the Run

Here's my lunch of lavash, basturma, and a picked pepper bought in the town of Ashtarak, the seat of Aragatsotn marz, the province where I was monitoring presidential elections last week. My team (Armenian driver, Armenian interpreter, and Slovak partner) and I spent the morning before election day scoping out our territory north of the town in Aparan in a mountainous area inhabited by Yezdis, a Kurdish-speaking sun-worshipping minority, and then returned to Ashtarak to watch a precint election committee pick up their ballots and other election materials. I grabbed this food from a store while a on a sort of goose chase following the Alagyaz election committee around the town of Ashtarak who didn't feel the need to inform us where they were going before returning to the mountains. It was no problem in the end, since the traffic back was so thin. We waited for their car a few miles outside of Ashtarak and followed them back to watch them set up for election day.


Oh Yerevan! City of icy sidewalks, tuff-encased buildings, and sweeping views of Ararat! Here was my first real meal, and probably the best one of the trip. I ended up with a group of 12 Spaniards and one Albanian at this Iranian restaurant in the center of town near the opera house. Being the only Russophone and Iranophile in the crowd, I handled the ordering. I scored a major first for a post-soviet dining experience - the waitress actually *thanked* me for my help ordering food and managing the crowd. The meal itself was fantastic - perfect rice, kebabs, salad-e-shirazi, mast-o-khiar, ghormeh sabzi, and tea served from a Nadir Shah teapot. Plus ample draft Kilikiya and Kotayk lagers to wash it all down.

Airport Chinese

Here's my last pre-Armenia meal of sauteed tofu, stir-fried green beans and beef, and lo mein from the food court at O'Hare. The spread at Manchu Wok was definitely more appealing than nearly everything else there - pizza, burgers, etc, and was certainly going to be more palatable than the airplane meal. Plus, I had plans to zonk out on an ambien. So I went for it! The food wasn't disgusting, and could have been quite helathy if I had gone for the steamed vegetables and white rice. But the enticing salt and grease won out...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

My First Cake

This is the first cake I've ever decorated. It's three layers of vanilla sponge, butter cream, mango simple syrup, and raspberry jam. I made the basket of roses out marzipan, but it can also be done with butter cream, or gum paste if you want it to look more realistic. The best part about decorating this cake was using a blow torch on the marzipan basket to brown the sugar on the top and create a "woven" texture.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

recent eats.

Just some recent little tasties from a month of ER and vacation. Note the prominence of tea in my diet. Also looking at Mr. Bento Porn (search for it on Flickr) and wondering if I will ever switch to ceramic containers. Or would I drop my lunch bag and break them all and make a huge mess? So goes the love-hate relationship with plastic. Anyway, here is a Whistler breakfast, pre-clinic blood orange and bakery Momo sponge cake, and pre-call meethi dal.