A month and 3 days have passed since the last narrative. An incredibly long hiatus. And before I told myself to update this blog, I have been contemplating on changing the focus of this blog or even overhauling the entire thing. I was extremely busy the last month because of work and because of that, I have been backed up with three entries, not counting the recent Gourmet Sunday failure where Hawaii was the inspiration. Grateful that cooking (which includes baking, and just recently, food preparation) is my stress-reliever, I guided myself to the computer and is now typing away.
Normally, I’d write an entry for each Gourmet Sunday that we have however, my situation placed me into a position where I cannot make that happen. So, to serve as the entry for the past 3 meals, here it is.
Mother’s Day is always a celebration in our house. And I guess in most households as well. My mom has always been there for us since my dad has been working most of the time overseas. My dad is the traditional Filipino cook while my mom is more of the gourmet cook. It was a great combination. One day is adobo, and then chicken pot pie the next. To tell you the truth, it was their love of cooking which taught us to love it too. Because without cooking, there will be no eating. Right? And to celebrate this wonderful day, I made the menu an ode to her gourmet style of cooking. And I think it fit the occasion. A wonderful salad of spinach together with penne with sun-dried tomato pesto make great sides to the incredibly tender and moist pork chops stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. You see, to make the dinner different since we don’t usually have sun-dried tomatoes or spinach that often, and economical, I made use of both ingredients in as much dishes as I could. And to make it even more different, instead of a cake, I made, for the second time, elegant Parisian Macarons for dessert – strawberry macarons with vanilla bean buttercream. Based on the reactions I received, I am pretty sure they all loved the 5-course meal. (We had an overload of spinach that day which made us allergic to them for about a week.)
About 4 years ago, when I was still in college, we had this activity, no, competition, during the Nursing Week called “Vaudeville” where each class was assigned with a Broadway musical to stage. We got Miss Saigon. Being Filipino, I knew that it was that musical which brought Lea Salonga to stardom, winning the Tony’s and all. And apart from learning the script, characters (I got to play the Engineer, to those who are familiar with the musical), songs, costumes, and dance routines, researching about the culture of Vietnam during the war made me want to go and visit the country, both in Ho Chi Minh where the musical was set, as well as in the capital, Hanoi. I am pretty sure that, just like the Philippines, there are distinct tastes in the food in Ho Chi Minh which is in the South, and Hanoi which is in the North. So I had to try for myself what Vietnamese food would taste like, as close as I can. IT WAS A REVELATION. Being an impulsive cook, I made sure to make my own đồ chua and nước chấm. It wasn’t hard to do since we are neighbouring countries, similar ingredients are readily available. Although I was not able to make sinh tố bơ (avocado milk shake) because the avocados we bought did not ripe on time, the other two dishes made up for that. The gỏi cuốn (fresh spring rolls) and bún bò nam bộ (beef vermicelli noodles) definitely made up for the lack of the after-meal treat. It was an enjoyable experience and a learning one as well. I realized that every country, however far or near one is, there will always be something that will connect one to the other in food. Food connects people irregardless of race, age or gender.
Ah yes. Good ol’ England. Up till now, I am still confused with what to call this country. Is it England, the UK or Great Britain? (06/14/2013 NOTE: Please refer to Ian’s comment below for an enlightening explanation on the difference of England, UK and Great Britain… for those who are like me – unfamiliar.) Whatever it’s called, this is one country I am hopeful to visit. I am telling you, I have an extremely long list of places to travel to. You see, this is actually one country where I had to research a lot deeper compared to the other countries that had inspired the previous Gourmet Sundays. I have a friend, in the blog world of course, who is
an Englishman himself British, and I don’t want to make a fool of myself when I decided to make England, the UK, or Great Britain the inspiration for a Gourmet Sunday. I got to know Ian from mud4fun when I got to visit his blog on urban farming land rovers, his wife’s blog, The Land Rover Owner’s Wife, is more on the urban farming side, which I am involved as well. And reviewing the comments he gave me on the menu I prepared, I acceptingly received a lecture on the differences and influences on English or British cuisine. Just like what I did in the Viet Gourmet Sunday, I pickled my own onions for the Ploughman’s Salad. The pickled onions, they loved so much that they ate it with anything. And the shepherd’s pie, or the cottage pie, to be politically correct, was what I expected it to be – oily and delicious! Comforting it is. The dessert, I guess I should have listened to what Ian said and should have made a trifle. It was a let-down as compared to the other desserts I have made, and to think I had high hopes for this particular banoffee pie recipe. Well, the search goes on!
After three different paragraphs for three different Gourmet Sundays, I have decided to change the format a little bit. You’ll get to know the changes once you regularly visit this blog. For the next Gourmet Sunday, check out the menu below (try to guess what inspired this menu):