Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Radio silence

I don't think I've ever gone this long without updating since I started this blog. So long that I missed my own fifth anniversary (Sep 18) and that I've been in North America for 10 days and I didn't even mention that I was coming. As usual at this time of year, I am traveling primarily to attend my .org's annual meeting, which took place in Quebec City and ended two days ago. It was the usual extremely intense roller coaster ride, compounded this year by my team's decision to run a one-day symposium just before the main meeting started, which felt like almost as much work as the other five days put together.

But it's all over now, and before I plunge into the long list of follow-ups, wrap-ups, and action points, I'm having some downtime. At the moment, I'm staying in a nineteenth-century (I think) farmhouse on Ile d'Orleans, just outside Quebec City, with three of my work friends, decompressing and celebrating J's retirement at the end of the month. Tomorrow DP and Miss B will arrive to collect me, and we will begin a three-week jaunt to visit family and friends in Montreal, Boston, Kansas City, and Dallas.

So that's the news from here. I'll leave with a few photo highlights of the last 10 days - mostly food, of course:

One of my all-time favorite sandwiches, the chicken club - not widely available outside North America, and therefore an object of regular craving in Australia. The experience was somewhat marred by the chef's decision to put cream cheese on the bread. Photographed by the lovely MJ, who is clearly a much better photographer than I am.

Deep-fried sushi from Yuzu, a Quebec City chain. We liked this so much that we went back for seconds. It sounds like an abomination, but it's totally delicious. Another image contributed by the talented MJ.

My retirement present for J - a set of hand-embroidered (yes, by me) napkins to celebrate her new life as a lady who lunches.

Last night's dinner - a spicy fish stew with rice prepared by friend K, accompanied by braised kale prepared by yours truly. South American comfort food and definitely a keeper recipe - more info to come on this.

Dessert last night and breakfast this morning - a mixture of fresh berries (some of them were even local!) topped with a sprinkling of sugar and a large spoonful of Greek yogurt.

The object of today's first expedition - what our landlady assures us is the best bakery on the island for morning coffee and pastries.

She did not mislead us. This danois au framboise may be the best thing I've ever eaten in a bakery.

That's all the news for now. More shenanigans to follow shortly.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Instant salad

As a parent of a school-age child, I seem to spend a fair amount of time dodging activities that cut into the dinner hour. I consider family dinner more important than most other things, so I prioritize accordingly. Recently, I have been making one exception, though, for a kung-fu class. Miss B really likes it, it ticks a lot of boxes for her physical and skills development, and it's a 2-minute walk from our house. That last part mitigates the fact that it starts at 6:30 pm, since it means I can still cram in a family dinner beforehand. I've been using it as a challenge to myself to see if I can get dinner on the table with 30 minutes or less of prep beforehand; as a result, this is now my go-to kung-fu-night salad. It's delicious, it's nutritious, and it takes even less time to prep this than it does to walk to class. (Cutting an actual salad is enough to send me over the edge in a 30-minute prep window.) And every time I do this, I think fondly of my friend J., who first introduced me to this ridiculously simple concoction.

Retro cool avocado halves
Cut one avocado in half and remove the pit. Place each half on a small plate, and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Fill the pit cavities with balsamic vinegar. Serve as a starter or side.
Serves 2.

(Miss B is not into the avocado, so I chop her up a carrot or cucumber instead.)

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