word of an indian melody

May 28, 2010

Finally a new restaurant review; it’s been almost a year. One reason for the delay, of course, is the Generic English Pub. It always begins with that I want an ale, and then I end up eating fish and chips. I like fish and chips, but I won’t write reviews about it. But now I went into a real restaurant. Here is what I found.

After an evening rehearsal at St. Mike’s in central Southampton, a snack was in order and, more by chance than by design, my colleague and I stumbled upon and into Indian Melody, a new vegetarian/vegan restaurant on High Street (see another bunch of reviews here).

The menu is impressively long and slightly intimidatingly outlandish. After asking for a few more details, we found our way to two light dishes, a mixed spiced rice bowl with some freshly made condiments and a touch of fresh cilantro, and a crisp sort of large pancake with a deliciously juicy fresh cheese and vegetable filling. I’m bad at names, forgive me. Read the rest of this entry »

beef stews weird and great

March 9, 2010

I am reading what David Tanis has to say about fusion. One of his favorite examples combines east and south. Tanis’ judgment is short and clear: “they can keep their wasabi aïoli, thank you very much” (this reminds me a little of my own aside on Pesto in this hummus article). Of course, Tanis then dives headlong into a gorgeous recipe for a “French-style [duck] braise with Chinese flavors.” (David Tanis 2008. A platter of figs and other recipes, p. 80-2. The book is a pleasure to read).

Fusion, in this interpretation, is the same as a non-original globalized mix of ingredients and cooking techniques. Robin tells me that the dapper Borås Tidning recently printed a Chili recipe. It incorporates all sorts of seasonal vegetables (Swedish, that is), a tiny amount of Spanish peppers and, as a special treat, soy sauce. It should be served with lingonberry bread. So this is Fusion for Dummies Read the rest of this entry »

3 quick chicken roast tactics

January 23, 2010

Saturday. I’m writing music, using my pencil. I’m copying extensive cues from one part of a concerto for two keyboard instruments by J.S. Bach into photo copies of the second part, in preparation of a rehearsal on Monday, where I will be the only keyboardist present, and where I will have to fill the gaps left by the absent other soloist.

This act of severe retro-geekiness – writing Bach with a pencil – costs a lot of time; time I cannot spend on cooking (one may wonder where I get the time to write this blog entry). In anticipation of all this, I bought a whole organic fresh chicken (these things are possible in Southampton. I’m still amazed). Preparing a Chicken roast goes fast, and you don’t have to stand and chop and stir all the time. But even here, most of the talk is about how to fill the gaps, or rather, the chickeny hollows. Read the rest of this entry »

red cabbage and chestnuts

December 5, 2009

To explain why I ended up combining chestnuts (Wikipedia wants me to call them sweet chestnuts or marrons with 2 “r” or, in American, Spanish chestnuts; all in order to avoid confusing them with lesser, inedible kinds) and red cabbage, I will first introduce my childhood red cabbages. At home, red cabbage contained a few cloves, perhaps bay leaves, allspice, in fancy moments some apples, and some smoked pork of the bacony kind. I sort-of liked red cabbage but it was certainly not my ultimate favorite.

At the age of four, I learned to be careful with food away from home: The kitchen of the Weberhof on the island Juist (at the time best described as a seaside vacation kindergarten, where I was supposed to have fun while my parents went on an old-instrument museum trip), bluntly introduced me to the culinary side of homesickness (my present addiction to home-cooking may still be a late compensation for the loneliness of those four weeks).

Regarding North-German red cabbage, there was every reason for my reluctance: Read the rest of this entry »

kitchen gadgets of doom

October 19, 2009

My flat in the UK, a new temporary post-doc-studies accommodating asset, is furnished, which includes pots and pans and things in the kitchen. Most of these are new or at least clean. Only the oven, split into a baking and a grilling compartment, has seen way too many moons and could apparently not be cleaned any more. I am looking forward to a 19th century-style ur-British day of coal mining one day. For now, I’m happy to consider here the various things I am renting.

First, there is the scooper. This is a bent slotted spoon made from heat-resistant black plastic, apparently, or hopefully, used for scooping up sausages from their greasy bath. The plumber, who came after a week to fix a leaking tap, forgot his keys behind the wooden panel in front of the bathtub and used the scooper to retrieve them. Read the rest of this entry »

parcel experiments with savoy cabbage

October 17, 2009

Somewhere in my archives there is a recipe with Savoy cabbage and salmon. I am sneakily not giving the link. Otherwise people would never have to leaf through my accumulated postings which would be sad.

I keep being interested in the possibilities of savoy cabbage –  it should be a marvelous vegetable, the queen of leaf cabbages. We might, for example, attempt to braise the cut-up cabbage in white wine and give it a creamy lift at the end. We’ll likely end up with a soggy and squishy heap that tastes quite nice but looks like what, when I was little, the farmers gave to the pig. Alternatively, we might try out some kitchen-wiz oven treatment with shredded savoy and minced lamb, which could result in dried-out, brown and bitter strands between the sizzling fragments of meat.

Read the rest of this entry »

restaurants in summer sweden III, marstrand

August 29, 2009

The beautiful city of Marstrand is located at the Swedish west coast a few miles north of Göteborg. You reach it if you drive off the E6 highway at Kungälv, turning west and following the signs. Be prepared for over-wide and unsteadily-driven campers in the summer and inconsiderate moose in the winter. The picturesque old part of the little village is located on the Marstrandsön, an island that can be reached by a ferry.

We run into a colleague of mine on the ferry, who just bought a house here. Our subsequent restaurant hunt is based on his well-meant recommendations. This works very well indeed regarding the Café Berg’s located at the northern section of Hamngatan. Fortified with reasonable Cappuccinos and some nice sweet apple-filled bits of bakery, we conquer the island until, eventually hungry, we begin heading towards his second recommendation, Lasse-Maja’s krog just across from where the ferry arrives.

Lasse-Maja’s website is not quite complete at the moment, but it sports some impressive art-photography of the menu, which changes every day according to the products available on the market. We’re talking here mostly about fish, so this devotion to freshness is an excellent sign. We can also read the following: Lasse-Maja’s chef Richard Waje guarantees top quality in everything including the ingredients and the service. In other words: the guest has every right to have the highest expectations.

Read the rest of this entry »

restaurants in summer sweden II, borås

August 29, 2009

The city of Borås has a bad name in Sweden, for no real reasons. Yes, it rains a lot here, and the highway that goes right through the city does not allow for picturesque views. But the center of the town is calm and nice at daytime, not too large for a casual stroll and it offers good opportunities for hanging out and getting a decent meal.

Restaurants come and go at quite a quick pace in Borås, which often makes me sad: one would wish that all those enterprising chefs had a little more success convincing the Sjuhärad residents of the benefits of an international cuisine. A little color would truly make everyone happier.  A new large Indian restaurant opened only yesterday on Yxhammarsgatan; I want to wish them well.

The Greek taverna on Lilla Brogatan, on the other hand, has been there for quite a while now. It is a nice, relatively large space with a few random Hellenic decorations and painted crumbling plaster walls Read the rest of this entry »

restaurants in summer sweden I, bollebygd

August 29, 2009

Anyone traveling in Sweden knows that highway restaurants, relatively scarce as they anyway are, are called things like McDonalds, Shell or Korvkiosk (sausage hut). Names like “Route 66” or “Smakfullt” (the latter meaning both “full of flavor” and “tasteful”) do occur, too, but are the exception. Anyway, it is good to know about a few alternatives. This series of reviews will guide the innocent traveler towards some decent meals. I’ll tag these posts in Swedish – let’s see what happens.

It will, for example, be helpful to know that four minutes away from “Smakfullt”, which lies on the R 40 half an hour east of Göteborg, a bunch of enthusiastic people is trying to make a “Family restaurant” go round, with occasionally quite nice results. They need a real audience, however, and a critical one, too.

I am talking of La Familia Macsad which is situated in the in the southwest corner of the tallest building of the pulsating center of Bollebygd, aptly called Centrumhuset, (just beside the Trend-Makery, a boutique which has housed a stable collection of household Non-Necessaries for about a decade). Other highlights of Bollebygd’s center are a wine and beer store, a medical center and a parking lot with too narrow spaces.

La Familia has inherited the espresso machine of the previous owner who didn’t succeed in spite of his good coffee – that’s why we started going there. They have a fixed lunch menu which seems okay, and on some evenings they are open and offer dinner à la carte. Read the rest of this entry »

a new season: another asparagus rant

July 4, 2009

Bremen in May means asparagus. Every morning, my mom jumps on her bike and returns a little later with kilos of the stuff, right from the farm. We recently ate asparagus for a whole week, every day. This makes me relaxed enough for a candid report about my asparagus life at home in Bollebygd. Read the rest of this entry »