A Dayquil-Induced Rant Against Pretentious Food Porn Magazines (Mainly, Saveur)

I was deathly ill last week. I was fairly certain it was the summer plague or typhoid. I’m not sure. My guess was walking pneumonia, but I’ll admit I tend to be a bit dramatic on these issues sometimes.

It started with a sore throat, some harmless coughing. Then, over the course of the next couple of days, it hit all the stages of grossness—stuffed up nose, phlegmatic cough, painful throat and ear canals and general miserableness.

I moved downstairs to the couch (in an effort to save XFE from both catching my disease and losing sleep from my coughing). And during those many long nights and days alone ensconced in my couch, drenched in Vick’s Vap-O-Rub, drinking cup after cup of Throat Coat (ok, and a hot toddy or two) and hopped up on various cold medicines, I had a lot of time to think about life’s mysteries and how precious good health is, and most importantly, the state of our household magazine subscriptions.

paltrow_home_remedies_

Continue reading A Dayquil-Induced Rant Against Pretentious Food Porn Magazines (Mainly, Saveur)

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Balinese Eats that Will (Probably) Not Result in a Spider Body Possession

Babi guling

When I came across this article about Bali, I had to click on it, even though I knew I didn’t really have the “stomach” to do so. (PUN INTENDED) Also: (Heads up: the article I’m referring to involves an Australian tourist and stomach-burrowing tropical spiders. Soooo….yeah. Nothing fun there.)

You see, we went to Bali a few months ago. Actually, we went to Bali exactly two weeks after this event and stayed in the exact same hotel. (Heads up: the article I’m now referring to involves a daughter and her boyfriend murdering her socialite mother and stuffing her in a suitcase. You’ve been warned.)

Anyway, the coincidence of that event and our trip timing was incredibly creepy and weird. Creepy because, well, there had just recently been a murder in what I would positively call the least murder-y type place ever. I mean, seriously, the St. Regis in Bali is amazing. Wonderful. Tranquil. Everything and everyone is peaceful and cheerful and willing to help you with absolutely anything. If you even mentioned, for example, that you liked a particular fruit, that fruit would then appear every damn day nestled in a beautiful wooden bowl, just especially for you.

St. Regis beach
See? Totally peaceful and gorgeous. Not at all murder-y.

Weird because we spent a good part of everyday wondering if any of the staff we were encountering had known or waited on the victim and her murderers. When we saw a sign in the lobby about the area being monitored by cameras, we wondered if those signs were new or if they had been there the whole time. We suspiciously eyed every single heavy decorative object in our bungalow as a potential bludgeoning device. It was all very at odds with a vacation mentality.

Anyway, I’ll talk about the St. Regis in Bali a bit more in another post. Well, probably a lot more, since staying there was one of the best vacation experiences we’ve ever had (We flew a kite! We released a sea turtle! These are not euphemisms! These are legitimate activities we participated in!).

But for today, let’s just explore some of Bali’s best eats in pictures and be glad that no one got invaded by tropical spiders. Also, no giardia, so nothing but unicorns and rainbows as far as I’m concerned.

drinks and sambal

Sambal – This is the first thing we ate in Bali. It was served in a small dish next to these amazing peanut crackers. Sambal is sauce typically made from a variety of chili peppers and secondary ingredients such as shrimp paste, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, shallot, scallion, sugar, lime juice, and rice vinegar or other vinegars.

Nasi Goreng at St. Regis
(Photo not mine. I was too busy eating to take pictures http://www.foodnut.com/i/St-Regis-Boneka-Sunday-Brunch-Bali/St-Regis-Boneka-Sunday-Brunch-Buffet-Bali-nasi-goreng.jpg)

Nasi Goreng – I had this for brunch one morning at the St. Regis in Nusa Dua. It’s a fried rice dish, with shrimp crackers and sliced up omelet, and a side condiment of spicy red paste.

bubur ayem
Photo not mine. I was…well, you know. Click on photo for link/credit.

Bubur ayam – This was another St. Regis brunch special. It was like congee – a non-sweet porridge, with shredded chicken, green onions, sambal and eggs, I think. It was ok, not my favorite.

Satay – The Balinese love their satay. It’s exactly what you think it is: skewers of grilled meat slathered in a peanut sauce. We even ate these on the dive boat lunch (along with a variation of nasi goring).

Babi guling

Babi guling – The Balinese national dish: roasted whole pig. I really wanted to try this, but never got to. We hired a driver to take us around the island one day and he had his own agenda. When I asked about getting babi guling, he said the place he goes to was too far out of the way. Meanwhile, we must have passed about 50 roadside places specializing in babi guling over the course of the next eight hours. I really should have been more insistent. Especially in light of our own Porktober event.

pomelo salad

Rujak jeruk bali – Pomelo salad. Actually, I’m not sure this is a Balinese dish per se. I think it’s Thai. But we fell for it hard. We had it at breakfast and it came in these little glass jars at the W Hotel in Seminyak. A pomelo is like a grapefruit on steroids, and it’s cut up and combined with cilantro, peanuts, green beans, carrots. So refreshing and not unlike green papaya salad, only more citrus-y.

snakeskin fruit

Salak – Snakeskin fruit. It is indigenous to Bali and is related to the palm tree, somehow. It had an easy to peel, flaky outerskin. The inside fruit was segmented, and had a firm flesh similar to an apple, and a small dark pit in each segment. In fact, it tasted a lot like a cross between an apple and a pear, but much neater (less juicy). We loved them and ate a ton of them. Our butler at the St. Regis made sure we were well stocked.

Rambutan - the hairy, scary Balinese fruit
Again, not my photo. Click on image for link.

Rambutan – This hairy, scary-looking fruit was in our fruit bowl, but we didn’t even attempt to eat it.

Bitang - Balinese beer
This one, totally is my picture. Amazingly.

Bitang – Balinese beer. Nuff said.

There was one other dish that I ate twice and loudly declared them to be the best I’d ever had: nachos at the St. Regis. Usually at lunch, by our pool, after drinking many Bitangs and/or glasses of wine. At first, we ordered them out of morbid curiosity, certain that there was no way they’d be any good. But they were. They were delicious. Then I had to order them a second time, just to make sure. They had shredded chicken and a cheese sauce made out of béchamel and they were actually really, really good. I guess sometimes a girl just wants a taste of home.

St. Regis nachos. The. Best.
Amazingly, I stopped shoving these into my mouth long enough to take a picture. Note glass of rose in the background.

It’s Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Porktober

October is a very special month around thePoeLog household. It’s the birthday month of XFE, aka my boyfriend-for-life. It’s also the month we met. Yep, seven glorious years ago this month he wore me down and convinced me to go out with him. A couple of weeks later, on Halloween, he tricked me into our first smooch.

October is also when we usually celebrate Fall Fun Day. This year, Fall Fun Day has been postponed till November and extended into a weeklong event to be celebrated in the Basque region. Speaking of travel, October is usually a pretty big month for that. In October 2009, we did an amazing driving tour of Ireland and XFE bought me my first pair of Louboutins.

Kissing the Blarney
Pretending to kiss the Blarney Stone so I could get the hell off that freezing rampart. No injuries sustained, surprisingly.

In October 2010, we went to New Orleans with our friends Matt and Melissa, and Troy and Eddie. I slipped in the shower at the W hotel and had to get seven stitches in my forehead.

busted
Not at all glamorous shot in an airport bathroom stall. Seemed fitting at the time. The grumpy expression is quite real.

Last year was a big improvement over the previous year. In 2011, we went to Paris and XFE bought me my second pair of Louboutins.

Paris gift

By my count, that means that this year, I might be do for stitches again.

And, if I do require stitches, it will most likely be related to the main reason why October is so special to us: Porktober. Porktober is a fairly new addition to our repertoire of made-up celebrations and traditions.

Porktober
Porktober logo. Notice the tiny TM for trademark pending.

Porktober started last year, and arose because XFE read about pig roasting in Men’s Health or some other nonsensical place. I was, quite naturally, reluctant about the whole thing. But, using the whole birthday argument, XFE swayed me into agreeing to allow him to roast a small (ish. 56 pounds or so) pig on our back patio.

It was a mixed success. First off, the pig had to sleep overnight on ice and there was only one tub in the house – mine. We started the process ridiculously early in the morning – not a way to get my buy-in on a project.

Porktober pig
2011 pig. We’ll do about the same size this year, I suppose.

The weather was a bit uncooperative and as a result, the coals died down a number of times, which meant it took longer to cook the pig than we had planned. A mistake in the early mounting of the pig on the skewers meant it was not securely fastened and slid around during the whole turning and cooking process, a situation that compounded as the pig cooked and shrunk down.

We had made a whole host of other food products, including two briskets, which was a good thing since the pig was taking so long, but also turned out to be a bad thing since people were already pretty stuffed (and tipsy from hours of mint juleps) by the time the pig came off the fire. The result was a TON of leftover pig. More than the two of us could eat, that’s for sure.

Porktober pig
Tasty pig.

Then there was the subsequent cleanup the day after, which was completed by me and XFE on a very cold and drizzly wet Sunday, and required removing and storing the pop-up canopy, bleaching the fire marks off the patio, cleaning the spit and loading and returning it to the rental place, along with all the other dishes and recycling and trash gathering and floor mopping. And, of course, scrubbing the bath tub multiple times. Not a fun way to spend a Sunday after a party.

So while everyone had a good time at the party (how could you not when the juleps were flowing?), in my opinion, it had been a bit of a logistical mess. To me, the whole exercise had seemed like an awful lot of trouble for very little return. Sure, the wow factor of having a pig roasting on your patio is pretty fun, but overall, it just didn’t seem worth it to me.

So I was very surprised, gob-smacked even, when immediately after moving into our beautiful, completely renovated, and thus-far, pristine house, that XFE started mumbling about another Porktober. An even bigger and more grandiose affair. With a logo. And Porktober-branded paraphernalia. And, a trademark on the term, Porktober.

Porktober koozies
The logo, designed by my friend Brian, who only charged us a “friend” fee on his services. Fun fact: Brian is vegetarian, so he will not be partaking in the eating portion of Porktober. Also: he has two small daughters who will probably be traumatized by the sight of the piggie-on-a-spit.

XFE’s reasoning was that there had been lessons learned during the previous year’s event, and we could not let those lessons go to waste. We would build a better Porktober, complete with more coals (we’ve already procured seven bags of coals) and a sturdier (aka: proper) mounting process for the pig. The cooking will start later and the coals will be hotter so the pig is done sooner. There will be no brisket, only other snackie-ish items (don’t worry, I’ve preserved the pigs in a blanket).

One thing that has not changed – Monsieur Piggie will again have to sleep overnight in the only bathtub in the house – mine. So this Friday, I open my bathroom door again to a pink snout peeking out of my shower curtain. We’ll see if this year’s event sways me over permanently to the Porktober bandwagon. At least I know I’m getting a cute t-shirt out of it, and, hopefully, no stitches. I’ll be staying away from the mint juleps, just in case.

Porktober logo
Oh, did you want to see that logo again against a white backdrop? Because, we have that as well.

Birthday Ham

It’s not every day that one can say they brought home the bacon. Or, even, the ham.

But my main man XFE’s birthday is today (Tuesday). And, well, he loves his cured meats.

Which is fairly surprising considering the Great Northern Italy Food Poisoning Incident (Involving Salami), Spring 2011. I personally still have some hard feelings toward cured meats.

 

However, when the man who has everything (because he just goes out and buys it for himself) indicates an interest in an 18 pound piece of meat and a stand for carving it, you jump on it.

 

There was actually quite a bit of research involved. For example, the best Spanish ham to get would have been an Iberico. However, these Iberico, which come from some pretty damn special pigs that only eat acorns, is a bit pricey.

 

We did not end up with an Iberico. We ended up with a Serrano. Which I brought home last week. Not by metro, obviously. By car service.

Then we watched a video on how the hell to put it in the holder, carve it and store it. And then we did. We ate it (well, at least a few slices off of it). We’re counting on Porktober to make more of a dent.

Maybe we can smuggle an Iberico back when we go to Spain in November. Yep, we’re going to Northern Spain, which is very exciting.