Sunday Omelette

Hot Water BottleI am stretched out on the living room couch with my hot water bottle, a cozy blanket and my book. Simon returned home a little while ago from his jaunt into the woods at the Royal Botanical Gardens with Michael, Zachary and two friends. They had a blast feeding chipmunks and chickadees and were full of stories and smiles as they bundled through the front door.

These is a real nip in the air today so when the kids got home they were both chilly and hungry. Michael and his friend Jacob were the first to raid the kitchen for a snack. Their choice was to open a pack of rice crackers to accompany their hummus and a couple of Macintosh apples. They rushed through their food and were finished just in time to answer the door to three giggly 12-year-old girls. Omlette

Zachary and his friend, Briar, are a little more discerning in their choice of snack. For them, it is a fresh Sunday afternoon omelette.

Their first stop was my wallet to collect the needed resources for the visit to our butcher on the corner. They arrived home a little while ago with black forest ham, country style ham, a red pepper and two massive smiles.

I am now listening to the omelette preparation currently underway in the kitchen. At the moment they are weighing the pros and cons of the various spices they are considering for their gourmet creation (including, I might add, whether Pink Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt is their preference).

And, truly, I’m not sure I have ever heard anything more adorable!

All I can say is…if gourmet omelettes is their snack of choice at ten years of age, what the heck will they be making after a night of partying in university?

Lobster bisque? 😉

Lobster Bisque

Bounty

August FoodWe are heading home tomorrow morning to prep for our end-of-summer family trip to New York City.

As we sat down to our dinner tonight, I was hit by a feeling of deep appreciation for the bounty of August. Fresh corn, sweet peaches and divine field tomatoes that actually taste like sunshine. And straight from the farmers field a few hours ago.

Aren’t we lucky to live in a corner of the world with such incredible and delicious bounty?!?

Mom and I are, at this very moment, tucking into fresh peaches with my homemade vanilla cream…absolutely and exceptionally divine! 🙂

Lovin’ the Salt

I used to be the popcorn queen. I absolutely loved popcorn. I think I used to go to movies just so I could pig-out on a massive bag. And, Saturday night movies at home were always accompanied by a big bowl of air-popped popcorn with lots of butter and salt.

Well, my popcorn days are well and truly over. I am allergic to corn and allergic to butter. So, even if I wanted to, I could no longer indulge.

Chick PeasIf any of you out there are in the same popcorn-deprivation-boat, I have awesome news! And it all rests on the unassuming little chick pea!

At the Mother’s Day party last week at my sister’s house, she had roasted chick peas as a side dish and they are delicious. They are like divine little morsels of salty and savoury goodness.

Who knew?

Well, apparently lots of people, because when I Googled them last night I discovered a veritable plethora of options. Here’s the net-net;

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
  • Rinse a can of chick peas
  • Pat them dry
  •  Toss them into a 9″ x 13″ pan with any seasoning you can dream up (I used olive oil, cumin, garlic powder, dried cilantro, and Celtic sea salt)
  • Bake for 30 minutes or so and stir once or twice while they are roasting

We are just heading over to our neighbour’s backyard for a glass of red wine and to sit around the fire. And isn’t it nice that I will have a lovely little vehicle for the salt craving that always seems to accompany my wine?

Yum! 🙂Roasted Chick Peas

 

Going With the Flow

We went to Cal Pep for dinner last night and, I have to say, I don’t think I have ever enjoyed myself more in a restaurant!

Cal Pep, by reputation, is one of Barcelona’s best Tapas restaurants. Cal Pep opens its doors for dinner at 7:30pm. And when we arrived at 9:00pm, the place was absolutely hopping. The restaurant seats about twenty customers who all sit diner-style at a long counter and have the opportunity to watch the two Tapas chefs work their magic. There is very little room behind the counter for the two chefs, the four serving staff and the three bus boys but they seem to manage as if it is a well-practiced dance.

We only had to wait ten minutes or so to find a spot at the counter. Less than fifteen minutes later the place was suddenly packed with tourists, most of them Americans as, we discovered, they had just started their Spring Break. And because the restaurant is so small, I had the opportunity to listen in on all kinds of conversations as the people waiting behind me were less than a foot from my back.

Simon was seated beside a young German woman on his other side and, thanks to her flawless English, they got chatting and spent the better part of the meal in animated and intriguing conversation. Simon’s conversation with her meant that I was free to watch the goings-on around me without feeling I was ignoring my partner and I, in turn, did not feel the least bit ignored.

I think the most amusing aspect of Cal Pep was the ordering process. One of the waiters approached us and asked, in broken and heavily-accented English, if we had any allergies or, God-forbid, were vegetarian. We knew better than to launch into the long list of allergies…gluten, dairy, corn…and just told him that I am a vegetarian but that fish and seafood would be perfectly acceptable. He spent a determined few moments asking if I could have a little bit of ham, a little bit of pork or even just a bit of chicken. We assured him that none of the above were preferable but to go-to-town on the seafood. He seemed a bit disappointed in my meat-free insistence but finally acquiesced.

Simon and I turned to each other laughing as we recalled the funny scene from My Big Fat Greek Wedding…’that’s okay, I’ll make lamb’.

Once we had established allergies and preferences, I assumed we would get a wine list and a menu. However, neither of those things happened. The waiter asked us whether we wanted four of five Tapas dishes and what we wanted to drink. We told him five Tapas, beer for Simon and red wine for me.

And that was the end of any input from us. While we waited for our mystery order to start arriving, we noticed that the Spanish-speaking patrons were not only offered menus, but wine lists as well. At Cal Pep, life is moving far too fast to accommodate us fumbling English-speakers so they take full and unapologetic control.

Hilarious!

What I have not mentioned yet is the owner of Cal Pep who is a short and rather rotund man dressed in his chef whites. He has big glasses, a loud voice and speaks absolutely no English. He commands the chaos like an army general and nothing escapes his notice. Every few minutes he will clap loudly when one of his staff needs to attend to something or other.

While I observed the jovial and steely owner, plates started materializing in front of us and my wine was produced from an enormous bottle. I had absolutely no idea what type of wine it was but I was certainly not challenging the authority of the staff on their choice for me! The food was absolutely delicious and piping hot. Watching the precision and talent of the cooks was inspiring and the barely controlled chaos of the tiny restaurant was utterly bewitching.

Simon was still busy with Cristina, the German woman, so I just ate my meal and basked in the chaos.

Just as I was launching into my artichoke chips, I was aware of a commotion behind me. Part of the Cal Pep protocol is to enter the restaurant and walk to the end of the line behind the diners along the counter. As soon as places become available at the counter, the ones furthest into the restaurant are seated. Apparently, the system had become a little mixed up and a loudly insistent man from Manhattan was voicing his disapproval at the fact that there were people in front of him who had arrived after his party, which consisted of his teenage daughter and heavily bejewelled and gorgeously coifed wife.

Watching one of the waitstaff try to explain that he was aware of the order of patrons and that they would be seated before the party in front of them was fascinating. It was completed with finger actions of walking people, whistling and a funny kind of humming. As the American man was directly behind me, I had front row seats to this comical attempt at communication.

As luck would have it, the Manhattanite was eventually seated beside me, so I had the opportunity to witness what I knew was coming next. What I found particularly interesting was that the owner quickly materialized to take the order from the Manhattan family. There was much back-and-forth in loud Spanish and loud English.

Why is it that when someone clearly does not understand our language, we think that talking louder will smooth out the communication?

Eventually, a wine list was produced and selections were made. The Manhattanite had to fight hard to get a bottle of water as the owner seemed to be trying to communicate, as he patted his round belly and had his hands to his throat, that water was not good for anyone, and that they should just stick to wine.

The man was not amused by these antics but I was transfixed…and they hadn’t even tried to order food yet!

I’m sure you can imagine the tug-of-war that occurred over the food ordering. And, to add insult to injury, the man’s teenage daughter was a vegetarian and no amount of hand gesturing, waving of arms, or belly-patting from the owner was going to budge her, or her infuriated father, on her eating preferences.

By the time the Manhattan family’s food arrived, the man was so angry that I am sure he had to choke down every bite of his food. As I compared his dining experience with mine, I realized that where I had had fun letting go of control and going with the flow of Cal Pep, he had tried to assert control over an environment that was, unapologetically, having none of it.

As we made our way out of the bustling restaurant and into the narrow alley outside the restaurant I was absolutely delighted to have spent our last night in Barcelona in the company of such diverting, delicious, and hilarious surroundings.

And it reminded me how much fun letting go of control and going with the flow can be! And, truly, if we can’t let go of control when we are in someone else’s intriguing culture, then when can we?

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