It is now November, and the taste of the festive chewy, sour, tart and sweet craisins reminds you of Thanksgiving and its warmth and comfort with memories of a savory dinner and the fun and hectic day after burning it off on Friday before the month of December once again reminds you of winter time when these festive cranberries will once again hang as decorations around the house, for some who do. I used to boil them with sugar and wine, and the sound of these sour red berries popping at first made me laugh, as more people should do, and as fun foods, delight the senses with mirth when all should be at the end of a long year and winter season when we think of thanksgiving and gifts and the next year to follow. These berries–are they fruit, or mere decorations? I never knew as they hung with popcorn around people’s homes and at first taste I wasn’t sure what it was, or poured out of a can on the side with turkey and other appetizers. The more it’s there, the more the ideas flow–I like to replace chocolate chips with these dried craisins as they don’t melt in the bag, in the car, or in my hands where I may smear them on my clothes. Red, festive, delightful, and chewy–by themselves or munch in muffins, desserts or cookies, they’re just too much fun.
The Chocolate Week in London once again turned on its extravaganza for this year’s festival in October as a reminder to many couch potatoes to feel indulgent about curling up on a sofa with a large bar of dark, milk, white or nutty chocolates. Instead of guilt or self repulsion, this annual festival reminds us that this act is something to indulge in like a tantric sabbatical ingesting these tempting chocolates traditionally meant for the gods until that curtain ripped open to allow the rest of us to join in without having to wait for a Messiah. And with plenty of unusual and interesting events to choose from, Chocolate Week gives you the perfect excuse to indulge.
Events for chocoholics
Celebrating the humble chocolate in all its forms, from bars, boxes, truffles, fountains and cakes to sculptures and drinks, Chocolate Week is all about trying and tasting every conceivable kind of chocolate concoctions, finding out how it’s made and celebrating the delicious sweet delectable treats that we all crave now and then to appease our endorphins.
Fall is the time to get great deals on cans of pumpkin puree which is a nice substitute in recipes such as banana, carrot or zucchini bread. If you like crunchy nuts, substitute equal pumpkin puree for banana; if you like chewy raisins, substitute the shredded carrots, and if you like the earthy flavors, substitute the shredded zucchini. It’s simple and straightforward using real pumpkins combined with eggs and oil to deliver a moist fluffy cake which you can season with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger or a hint of cloves. You can be adventurous with nuts, dried fruit, apples, chocolate chips, carrots or zucchini for a splash of color and texture. Put it all together to make a fall harvest loaf with the deep sweet taste of pumpkin that you can sink into before the day starts, or after your work day while snuggled in your sofa enjoying a hot cup of tea, coffee or cocoa.
Hot and Spicy – Sour and Pungent
After harvest time, large ripe cabbages are bought at the local markets and brought home to load in large mixing bowls to wash and soak in salt in preparation for pickled kimchi. The cabbages are removed and a paste of spices are layered between the salted cabbage leaves, made of ground red peppers, ginger, garlic, shrimp and fish sauce. They are then preserved in large glass jars on window sills or rooftops as the cabbages soak and season in the spices. The salt and hot peppers mixed with brine starts to pickle and turn sour, and the smell of fish and shrimp paste begins to ferment and exudes an aroma of sour pickled vegetables from the kitchen to the table.
Kimchi goes back to the Three Kingdoms period when people needed to preserve vegetables for the long cold winters. During the Koryo Dynasty, various regions developed their own recipes with salt, garlic, and fermented fish paste. During the 16th century, red chili peppers were introduced to Korea from Japan and added; they quickly became popular as people began to experiment with new spices and vegetables. With peppers and cabbages that were easy to grow, they paired nicely with rice; kimchi also lasted during the long cold winter months without the need for refrigeration. All the ingredients came together in harmony over time, sour and pungent, hot and spicy, seasoned to perfection, yet not too overpowering. Kimchi soon developed into a staple comfort food for Koreans.
Sweet Light Sensation yet with a Hint of Deep Resin
When one thinks of apple cider, one may picture Christmas yuletide memories of stewing apple juice with cinnamon sticks, cloves, anise and other spices to drink on a cold winter day to warm your insides with cozy satisfaction. In London, in the pubs and after seeing the Strongbow ads before movies in theatres, I tried one of these cold variations and was quite surprised at the cold brew with a hint of apple taste that may be flat, sharp, or tart depending on the brand of your choice. I recently had Angry Orchards which may be so for those wiped out by Costco bulk, and now on rotation as traveling vendors renting out space at this Washington state bulk chain. Angry they may be as I grew up in Sunnyvale with apricots and other fruit orchards that busied themselves like busy bees during the war times to keep the soldiers fed and alive. While the cherry orchards sold out to Martha Stewart for Kmart, pandering to her bulk distribution, the orchards themselves are a vital tradition of fall and other seasons, keeping everyone revitalized and satiated in sobriety without the beer brawl shananigans. Pick one up, and try one with ham or pork or other pairings with this sweet and light alcoholic drink of your choice. I like to enjoy mine while snorting XXL fire hot Cheetos. Hot and sweet – what more can you ask for?!!!
Try Angry Orchards, Johnny Appleseed, Strongbow, or Woodpecker
Steaming, Stewing, Red and Delicious with activities to delight your family and friends:
Friday – Sunday, originallobsterfestival.com $13 admission, $30 lobster feast presale, $42 gate
Being that the price is $13 admission, and $30 for meal and $42 at the gate… I would expect more for an event with a headlining singer like Roger Daltry at least for Orange County Festival. But there is a certain paradox in the pricing of Lobster I feel at a public local festival at this price and for meals when vendor prices are quite high anyway. Check for food safety vendors and signs, and ask servers if they have Food Handling Card because for seafood and crustaceans, one can easily come across bacteria formation similar to Salmonella.
A full day of fun and merriment is yours for exploring when you enter the Lobsters Festival. Food is the main attraction at this event with vendors, some hiring promotional activities. With music and enjoyment, one is bound to fall in love with fall crustaceans like lobster, shrimp, squid, scallops, seaweed, and other delectables of seafood selections to remind you of the pulling high tides of fall when one will be assured of the best tasting seafood of the year with remainder readily available at your local markets to pair with white wine and light beer, complementing the saltine sea of our beautiful Pacific Ocean where the tropical weather of the current season brings forth an all encompassing gastronomical exotic blends of earthy dark salt flavors of the west coast. Look fully around you and see the wonderful selections and realize the invaluable worth of what would merely be little critters in the sea when we put our joint efforts of presenting an array of seafood delight at a venue by the harbor and along the coast.
I lived there in 2002 and never heard of this event, but I really enjoy and highlight the full selection from sea to coastal vegetation delights during the season of harvest that starts to whine down in October before our family dinner at Thanksgiving.
Dark Rich Taste of Stout Beer: the varieties to pair with food and dessert
by Jeesue Kim 9/2/2014
Originally, the adjective stout meant “proud” or “brave”, but later, after the 14th century, it took on the connotation of “strong”. The first known use of the word stout for beer was in a document dated 1677 as a reference to strong beer. The expression stout porter was applied during the 18th century to strong versions of porter, and was used by Guinness of Ireland in 1820. In the 19th century, the beer gained its customary black color through the use of black patent malt, and became stronger in flavor.
The slogan “Guinness is good for you” was thought up after market research in the 1920s suggested that people felt better after a pint, and post-operative patients, blood donors, pregnant women and nursing mothers in England were advised to drink Guinness.
…. for more of the article see Dark Stout Beer Blog