Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Beet-red Velvet Terrine/Pâté

loosely based on this gone raw burger recipe
  • 1 or 2 fresh raw beets
  • 2 small/med. carrots *
  • 1/2 to 1 cup walnuts, soaked in water for an hour or so
  • 2 tablespoons brewer's yeast (optional I guess)
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of miso paste (depending if you use 1 or 2 beets and how salty your miso is)
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons of cardamom seeds (shelled), toasted in a pan for a few minutes on medium and then ground with mortar & pestle**
  • olive oil

* The original recipe called for sundried tomatoes, which are also fantastic in this recipe, I just forgot to soak mine first!
** I guess you could use already powdered but it just won't have the same fantastic flavour. In fact, you could use a different spice/s as the original recipe called for cumin, celery seeds and oregano, not cardamom!
The orig. recipe also calls for some garlic and a little bit of onion, which is also good but optional too.

Start your walnuts soaking. Peel and roughly chop a beet or two, ditto the carrots. Drain your walnuts. Dump all that into the food processor (or mini-chopper, in batches) and add the miso, yeast and cardamom. Drizzle with some olive oil. Pulse to chop and then process until uniform and a good texture.

You can either bake it until it's heated through or eat it cold. It'll blow your mind either way.

Monday, May 23, 2011

not only dogs do it in the park

Okay so I've decided to come clean about something I've been struggling with, which I'm ashamed of: ethnocentricism. I thought I was getting better, recovering somewhat from an initial culture shock I've felt coming to the land of the brash from polite Japan. I was adjusting, trying to reason with myself whenever the culture-judging instinct took hold, and not feeling so hostile in response to what I perceived as rampant hostility, negativity, inconsideration.

And then... Two incidents turned my head around in the space of a few days and had me resentful again. Last weekend I was having dinner on the sidewalk terrace of a restaurant around the corner with my visitor/travel mate on her last night in Spain. It was typical Spanish dinner time, which is 10:30 p.m., so it was not unusual that a family soon arrived and took the table next to us that included a little girl and two (10/11-year-old) boys who decided to play rather than sit down as their parents looked at the menu.

No big deal, it's a free world, right? Except the game that they chose to play just a few metres from our table was soccer with a soda can, which on a sidewalk makes a heck of a racket. But you know what? No one, including the parents, seemed to mind or care. I thankfully didn't have a migraine but as this went on for 10, then 20 minutes, I thought of the residents of the building directly above who may not be dining but rather trying to relax. We certainly didn't enjoy our dinners and kept shooting dirty looks at the immune parents, to no avail.

When there was a break in the noisy game, I glanced over to see that it was because the two boys decided to step off of the sidewalk onto a little square of grass/hedge and, get ready for this, have a peeing contest... Needless to say we finished up our food as quick as possible and fled.

Now I need to explain that men and children urinating in public places is super-common here and I still have not adjusted to that but I try, try, try to rein in my disgust and remind myself that my reaction is based on a taboo in my own culture and that I must not judge others.

However, should we not, please, draw the line at pooping? Yes, that's right, and I don't mean to shock you (or rather, maybe I do! so then I won't feel so guilty about my ethnocentricism? chime in with comments, won't you, please?) but a few days after that fateful dinner I was walking the G-dawg at lunchtime and entered a park full of picnicking office workers only to come upon a man in front of some bushes (yes, in front) squatted with his pants around his ankles. Okay, he didn't look like a businessman or anything, could have been drunk, disturbed, I don't know. But it was just... too much for me. Down I sunk again into my despair.

But.... here's a happy ending for you. I've been buoyed up again in the last few days by a grandfatherly fruit-store owner who stuffed my knapsack with extra (free, if somewhat wrinkled) apples and called me cielo (a term of endearment that literally translates as "sky") and an exceptionally friendly poodle-owning lady who chatted me up (as Grace smelled her Tony) and in parting also called me cielo.

So who knows, maybe the sky's the limit. Someday I could love Madrid as much as I loved Tokyo.

PS: Still not finished uploading my pix from the south to Flickr but will hopefully do so over the weekend.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

G speaks

Okay so yes, I'm officially obsessed with Mishka the talking husky of late, but in my defence, the training that yielded the talent G-dawg displays in this video predates my knowledge of Mishka's existence (though I do attempt for the zillionth time in this video to get G to speak English, with Mishka's iconic "I love you" being my dream)! We taught G to talk on cue because A's mom really-really gets a kick out of hearing her over the phone.

Recently, my friend Teacup was visiting and I made G speak for her. It was T who sent me the Mishka link upon her return home. Sadly, G just doesn't seem to have a knack for any other language but hers, and she speaks mainly for cookies rather than a desire to communicate that huskies seem to have. But she certainly is as kawaii as ever, ne!

I've gotta go finish packing my bag now. I leave tomorrow a.m. on a southern exploration by train, as mentioned. Pictures will eventually follow. Hasta luego.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


When so much time has passed, it's hard to know where to start. For those I haven't spoken to in the interim, I spent the last couple of months not just worrying about my friends and colleagues in Japan but also working on a website that launched a few weeks ago.

Penitents leading a procession through the streets
of Sevilla on the Sunday before Easter.
Since then I've been meaning to post but then had a visitor for a couple of weeks who kept me busy with sightseeing, including a trip to the truly awesome town of Sevilla during the run up to the city's famous Holy Week (Easter, etc.), so we actually got to see the procession floats on display in a couple of churches and then even some penitent processions on Palm Sunday (the pointy mask-hats creeped us both out a little). Apparently the major processions (can't imagine there being even more people in those narrow streets, I don't like crowds and I was freaking out a little as it was) later in the week got rained out.

Sadly, two days in Sevilla just aren't enough (we barely got to see a sliver of the gorgeous Alcázar) but I am going back there in a couple of weeks with a friend from Montreal who I'm meeting in Malaga next Monday. I will take tons of pics then and post about the trip afterwards as we're also going to Granada and stopping in Cordoba (all by train) on our way back up to Madrid.

But what I wanted to talk about today was something that I dreamed up the other night after A & I went to a concert by one of the few jazz artists A listens to who I actually really like a lot: Avishai Cohen. It was a really fantastic show with a very enthusiastic crowd & 4 encores that gave me an idea for a post theme like some I used to do in Tokyo: here are my cultural highlights of our time so far in Spain, which unbelievably is now 10 whole months. We tend to do more cultural things here than we ever did in Tokyo since it is very affordable and the selection is great.

Incendies: a play by Montrealer Wajdi Mouawad. We saw this back in early fall I think. The movie has come out, which I haven't seen but the play was excellent and it was so nice to hear some Québécois!

Max, by Batsheva Dance Company: the show was called Max and was arresting & fascinating, riveting in fact. It seems to have drawn heavily on the movement technique/'language' called Gaga (nothing to do with that Lady) developed by the company's artistic director that has apparently even become a sort of exercise style/movement, spreading to the US and Japan (Batsheva is coincidentally also Israeli).

Flamenco at Sevilla's Flamenco Museum: I'm afraid I didn't write down the names of the artists but all 4 were superb. Male and female dancers were both so impressive (I particularly like male flamenco as it seems more physical/passionate and you can see the foot work better without the dress!) and the vocalist and guitarist absolutely excellent. We were in the second row but it was hard to get nice pix as we weren't allowed flash so most are just a big blur!

Avishai Cohen: Bassist, composer, arranger and to my surprise, a really great singer. Most of his own work doesn't have that much vocals in it but he covered a couple of songs that night, including a version of this Argentinian ballad, Alfonsina y el mar, that was even more beautiful, if you can believe it.

Museums: It was nice to have a tourist-friend excuse to go back to two of Madrid's world-class museums, the Thyssen-bornemisza and the Del Prado. Am looking forward to the Picasso museum in Malaga now too.