Tags: food

12

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Salt of the Earth

It’s Summertime in England so Jessica and I are eating the bounty of the season. Now is the perfect time for lamb. Yesterday we went to the Open Market and picked up half a leg of lamb (butterflied) from Tottington Manor Farm. This evening, we marinated it with rosemary, thyme, garlic, olive oil, and lemon and then threw it on the barbecue.

While we ate, we listened to a podcast episode. This time it was a documentary about salt from my Huffduffer feed. It’s an entertaining listen. As well as covering the science and history of salt, there were some interesting titbits on salt-based folklore. There’s the obvious one of throwing spilt salt over your shoulder (in to the eyes of the devil, apparently) but there was also one that neither of us had heard of: that offering someone salt at the dinner table is bad luck and warrants the rebuttal “pass me salt, pass me sorrow!”

Well, you live and learn.

Then we started thinking about other salt-based traditions. I have something in the back of my mind about a new year’s eve tradition in Ireland involving throwing bread at the door and sprinkling salt in the doorway. Jessica remembered something about a tradition in eastern European countries involving bread and salt as a greeting. Sure enough, a quick web search turned up the Russian tradition: “Хлеб да соль!!” ( “Bread and salt!”).

This traditional greeting has been extended off our planet. During the historic Apollo-Soyuz docking, crackers and salt were used as an easy substitute. But now when cosmonauts arrive at the International Space Station, they are greeted with specially-made portions of bread and salt.

We finished listening to the podcast. We finished eating our lamb—liberally seasoned with Oregonian salt from Jacobson. Then we went outside and looked up at the ISS flying overhead. When Oleg, Gennady, and Mikhail arrive back on Earth, they will be offered the traditional greeting of bread and salt.

100 words 088

Tomorrow is the big day—Responsive Day Out 3: The Final Breakpoint.

All the speakers are in town, safely ensconced in their hotel. To welcome them to Brighton and to get them relaxed for tomorrow, we all went out for a magnificent meal this evening. I hired out the pop-up restaurant Isaac At. What better way to welcome people to Sussex than to sample local seasonal food (and drinks) prepared by an immensely talented team. It was really great—great food, great company; just right.

Now I will attempt to get a night’s sleep before tomorrow’s overload of responsive brilliance.

100 words 047

One of the great pleasures of travelling is partaking of the local cuisine. Today I travelled to Düsseldorf. As soon as I arrived, I went out for ramen.

Wait, what?

You might be thinking that I should really be making the most of the pork and potato dishes that Germany is famed for, but the fact is that the ramen here is really good.

Düsseldorf, you see, has one of the largest Japanese populations of anywhere in Germany. It all started in the ’50s when a number of Japanese companies set up shop here.

The result: great ramen in Düsseldorf.

100 words 038

I ate well today. We celebrated Boxman’s birthday with lunch at the Yeoman, a most excellent purveyor of pub food.

Then this evening, Jessica and I went on a double date with Richard and Wendy to the magnificent 64 Degrees. It was a special evening of English food and English wines, in collaboration with local wine guru Henry Butler.

The food was wonderful: oysters, tuna with apples, whelk croquettes, turbot sashimi with fermented butternut squash, asparagus, sea trout cooked like we were in yakitori alley, and thin slices of beetroot with yoghurt for dessert. All accompanied by fine English wines.

100 words 036

I get home from a day in London, working on-site with a client. I’ve spent the day trying to crack a tricky responsive navigation issue, still hammering away at it on the train back to Brighton.

Once I’m home I crack open a beer—an Arundel pale ale. Jessica is making a fantastic meal of basque chicken (while simultaneously making some chicken stock). We sit down to eat this wonderful dish accompanied by a green salad and a bottle of Rhone wine.

I’m happy.

While we’re tucking in, we listen to an episode of Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time all about cryptography.

Happiness turns to bliss.

100 words 020

As I was making my way homeward through the North Laine last week I noticed that a building around the corner from The Skiff had changed somewhat. I saw kitchen equipment where previously no kitchen equipment had been.

Turns out it’s a new pop-up restaurant called Isaac At. It’s only open on Friday and Saturdays, and you have to book online ahead of time. “Why not?” I thought to myself, and booked a table for myself and Jessica.

We just got back and I’m happy to report that it was most excellent—five courses made from local ingredients, beautifully presented.

100 words 004

I’m staying with my brother-in-law Jeb in Seattle’s Green Lake neighbourhood. Right around the corner from his house, there’s a great little sandwich place called The Butcher & The Baker.

Yes, the mandatory ampersand is there setting off all the hipster alarm bells but, y’know, I’ve been thinking… if the label “hipster” means good food, good coffee, good beer, good music, or good bicycles, well I’m okay with that.

In the case of The Butcher & The Baker, the food is very good indeed. They could probably slap adjectives like “hand-crafted” or “artisinal” on everything they produce.

They make delicious sandwiches.

Hipsters.

Counting down to dConstruct 2013

It’s dConstruct week—just a few more sleeps to go! The speakers are starting to arrive into town, the conference badges have been delivered, and the epic task of applying hundreds of stickers to hundreds of badges has begun.

Stickering

The Brighton Digital Festival is already in full swing. Reasons To Be Creative kicked off yesterday so the town is already full of geeks hanging out, drinking coffee, listening to talks and discussing them afterwards over a beer, and generally having a good time—exactly the kind of Brighton behaviour that curmudgeons like Andy and Colly love to hate.

The Immaterials exhibit headed up by Timo is opening at Lighthouse tomorrow. I’ve been walking past in the mornings coming into work and it’s looking fantastic. Although it did lead to a moment of cognitive synaesthesia:

Meanwhile over at 68 Middle Street—soon to be Clearleft’s new home—an exhibition of The New Sublime is already underway.

There’s so much going on this week: Reasons To Be Creative from Monday to Wednesday, Improving Reality on Thursday, Maker Faire and Indie Web Camp on the weekend, and, of course, dConstruct on Friday.

I’m so excited about this year’s event! It’s definitely not your typical web conference and it’s certainly not your typical conference line-up. It’s going to be a blast spending the day in the company of such splendid speakers.

If you’re coming to town for dConstruct—or for any of the other wonderful events going on—here are a few tips on some places to eat…

The Guardian recently published a list of the top 10 10 budget restaurants and cafes in Brighton. Seems like a pretty fair sampling. The Seven Bees cafe is recommended for its fry-up—a recommendation endorsed by Lomokev who has eaten and photographed just about every fry-up in Brighton and beyond.

Chris has put together a Foursquare list of places to try.

On the weekend, the Brighton and Hove Food Festival will be running its market on New Road and Jubilee Street, right by the locations of Maker Faire and Indie Web Camp, so there’ll be no shortage of tasty treats on offer.

On the day of dConstruct itself, we won’t be providing lunch, but we have arranged for some discounts at nearby cafés and restaurants. Also, it’s a Friday and that means Street Diner will be happening just up the road from the Brighton Dome.

Alas, the weather forecast is looking pretty damp for Friday—even though it’s going to be gloriously sunny until then—so be sure to bring your brolly.

August in America, day seventeen

Today began bright and early with a delicious breakfast at Zazie. Every other time I’ve been to that place, I’ve had to wait in line for ages because on the weekends, it’s a ridiculously popular spot in Cole Valley. Today, being a Monday, there was no wait at all.

But most of today revolved around a later meal. Cindy and Matt reserved a table at Quince, a swanky restaurant that I knew would be good from seeing Larry’s pictures. The problem was I needed a suitably swanky outfit.

Now, I began this American trip with a decent enough ensemble; my Hiut jeans and a matching typically-flowery shirt. But over the course of my travels, those jeans developed a split, then a hole, then a rip. So I picked up a pair of black trousers when I was in San Diego. That’s all well and good, but my flowery shirt is dark blue …dark blue and black really don’t match. So I needed to find a nice shirt, one that would work with a pair of black trousers, and I needed to find them as soon as possible.

That’s why Jessica and I spent most of the afternoon going up and down Haight Street, popping into every vintage or thrift store we came across. In one of those stores, I found a Ben Sherman shirt. Amazingly, it fit me. Even more amazingly, it was just twelve dollars. Bargain!

I feel like there should be alternative fashion shows, where the models sashay down the catwalk and—upon reaching the end—stop and say, “See this shirt? Twelve bucks! Bargain!”

With my shirt mission fulfilled, I shined my shoes, scrubbed up and headed out with Jessica to rendezvous with Cindy and Matt for an unforgettable evening of excellent food and wine.

August in America, day six

Jessica and I spent today in full-on tourist mode in Philadelphia, walking its streets and exploring its rich heritage.

Philadelphia, home to the Liberty Bell and the American constitution; the city where the founding fathers toiled at their work, forging a revolution and a country; home to the country’s first library and its first bank; in many ways, the birthplace of the modern world.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever. Here’s the important part: today I had my first ever Philly cheesesteak.

Every Philadelphian has a very strong opinion about where the best cheesesteak in the city is to be had, and we went with a highly-recommended, very popular spot: Jim’s. There was a line out the door. This is a daily occurrence.

Jessica at Jim's

When you eventually get to the point of ordering, you are strongly encouraged to quickly and clearly state your cheese choice and onion preference (a Boolean value). Then you pay. Then you find a seat, if you’re lucky. Then you eat.

State your cheese Cheese steak

On the recommendation of the internet, I went with the cheese wiz option. Technically, I’m not even sure if it’s actually a cheese. But boy, it sure works a treat in combination with the delicious beef and onions. The cheese wiz acted as a mayonnaise-like lubricant as well as a flavour ingredient. All in all, it was absolutely superb. If all cheesesteaks are this good, I can understand this city’s pride in—and obsession with—its contribution to the sandwich world.

After that we wandered around and took in the sights until it was time to meet up with Jenn and Sutter for a beer at sunset while watching an infinite supply of joggers run up the Rocky steps and raise their arms in the air at the summit.

Osushi

A few years back, Craig took some lovely pictures of four generations of sushi chefs:

The story goes something like: Jiro trained Shiro who ran off to Seattle, started one of the first sushi joints in the city, and trained Taiichi, who now runs his own sushi shop. Jiro also trained his son, who works at Sukiyabashi Jiro and (one assumes) plans to take over the business once his octogenarian father retires (which, according to Jiro, is when he dies).

I love the additional photos that Craig took of each chef making their nigiri-te (the hand motion they use when forming nigiri).

The undisputed Jedi master of these sushi chefs is Jiro Ono. He’s the subject of the forthcoming documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi.

Christmas in Brighton

I just celebrated my first Christmas in Brighton. I usually spend the holiday season either in Ireland with my family or in Arizona with Jessica’s family. This year, thanks to a Kafkaesque game of beaureaucratic tag involving the Home Office and Jessica’s passport, we were stranded in the UK—like most people as it turned out.

It ended up being a most pleasant affair, spent in the company of good friends and copious amounts of good food. Following a shady rendez-vous with chicken-pimp Pete, we had the raw materials for an excellent roast. After an evening (and early morning) of playing poker, in which Andy emerged victorious, the festivities were complete.

With Christmas done, I am now going to spend my first New Year’s Eve in Brighton. To be honest, I’m not much of a party-goer so I don’t think I’ll be enduring the cold for Fatboy Slim. Besides, my mother is coming over to visit and I don’t think that would be her scene either.

Instead, I’m planning to carry my current enjoyment of coziness, comfort food and mindless entertainment across the threshold of the year. The entertainment will be delivered via the big screen TV that I treated myself with at Christmas.

Now I can finally watch those films that I vowed only ever to watch on a big screen:

  1. Blade Runner
  2. Brazil
  3. 2001: A Space Odyssey

If you need me, I’ll be busy treasuring the twin spirits of Christmas present: gluttony and sloth. Once the new year has been rung in, they can go back to being vices but for now they are both most assuredly virtues.