Happy Australia Day!

A year before starting He Cooks, She Cooks, I studied for a semester in Sydney. It was an exciting time of traveling, making friends and, of course, eating.

I tried Aussie classics like pavlova, lamingtons, shrimp on the barbie, barramundi fish, and a burger topped with beetroot and a fried egg. But my Sydney food memories span many more cuisines. Besides

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the friendly people and jaw-dropping landscape, the best part about Sydney was the multiculturalism. I always said, if we can't decide where to eat, let's just spin a globe.

I'll never forget the Turkish kebabs and pide from take-away places, the Lebanese restaurant with bellydancers and the best falafel I've ever had, Hugo's gourmet pizza, Chinese noodles from an underground mall in Haymarket, the Spanish churros and hot chocolate at San Churro, King Street's endless supply of Thai restaurants, Portuguese chicken shops in Dulwich Hill, samosas at the Indian Holi Festival, modern French pastries at Adriano Zumbo, Taco Tuesdays at the Flying Fajita Sistas

And then there were the times I cooked. I'd pick up a local catch at the Sydney Fish Market and buy produce at the Paddy's Market, then cook something Asian-inspired at my friend Nicole's house. I'd make cookies, brownies and peanut-butter-chocolate Chex mix for my housemates. I shared my California background by making fajitas for my friends. And for our Semester-End Fiesta, I made 23 avocados' worth of guacamole.

I can't think about Australia without thinking about food. And so often, thinking about food makes me think of Australia. Sydney exposed me to heaps of new and wonderful things that I'll incorporate into my own cooking for the rest of my life. (Also, Aussie words and phrases like 'heaps')

If you're interested in more about Sydney, see my travel blog, Cross-World Puzzle. My posts tagged 'food' are here.


Food Blogging in 2010

I will remember 2009 as a great year for food in my life. I started this blog in February with my friend Michael, who used to come over to cook dinner nearly every night. We ate quite well, and we accomplished many food goals, as I've reflected on before.

Now, it's time to look forward. I want to continue to learn about flavors and cooking techniques. I want to taste new foods and try my hand at different cuisines. I have some ideas about what I'd like to accomplish with this blog and the direction I'd like to go. Most importantly, I'd like to get a job that combines my two passions of food and journalism.

Now for a few predictions about the world of food blogging in 2010:

I'm pegging dutch babies, pozole and malfatti as the cool things to make in the new year. All of those dishes have been around forever, but based on somethings I've seen in magazines, on TV and around the internets, those are to-blog in oh-ten. You'll see… (Jan. 7 update: I'm adding lentils and aleppo pepper to this year's future list of trendy/overused ingredients.)

Salted desserts (especially caramel), bacon and macarons have been very popular — almost too popular — for the past two years, but I don't see that quite letting up. The people who were ahead of the trends might be getting tired of these things already, which means the mainstream is ready for them. Starbucks has a line of macarons coming out. Candied bacon is on more and more dessert menus and bakery shelves. Along with that is the salted caramel, which is not so unconvential anymore, but still too good for bloggers to give up.

We'll see if we have another year of homemade marshmallows. I'm growing a bit tired of seeing them on Foodgawker and Tastespotting, but I still haven't made them myself and I'm sure there are other food bloggers who have homemade marshmallows on their new year's list.

Spatchcocking — butterflying poultry and then roasting or grilling it — started to gain ground in late 2009. I saw it in the summer, and there was a big push around Thanksgiving. I think you'll find even more people trying it with their turkey next year.

The lines will continue to blur between professional and amateur cooks. Competitive cooking shows like Top Chef are broadening the public's knowledge about gourmet food. And the proliferation of food blogs is really forcing the bar to be raised when it comes to home cooking. Then you've got Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home and David Chang's Momofuku cookbook, not to mention the sous-vide machine for the home kitchen.

I just hope food bloggers find ways to be creative this year and in the future. The internet has enough banana bread and snickerdoodle recipes, don't you think? Let's muse on food, try new things and see what we can do. Above all, let's eat really, really well.

Cheers and Happy New Year!


Buenos Aires Street Food Part Dos


My three months in Buenos Aires are up, sadly. I loved getting to know the city by walking everywhere and sitting in parks peoplewatching. The weekends were my favorite because everyone spent the day outside. I would walk to Puerto Madero's Costanera Sur, where I'd be surrounded by local people and food.

No, Buenos Aires doesn't have as strong of a street food culture as some countries you see Anthony Bourdain travel to, but I found the area along the ecological reserve to be the best place to fill up for a buck or two. Although I've written some about this before, I have a few more street treats to add.

bondiolaBondiola — This grilled pork shoulder can be a little tough, so it wasn't typically my first choice, but it's a common order for others. Porteños tend to keep their food simple. Bondiola al limon (with lemon) is standard. I liked to load up on the vegetables. My sandwiches always looked like a salad bar compared to those of locals. In fact, that's how I decided which parilla to visit, by the topping options.


The stand where I got these choripans (chorizo sandwiches) had great salads and marinated vegetables to add. Oh yeah, and it still costs a dollar no matter how much you load on top.


I also loved the caramelized onions and spicy salsa at the stand where I got this morcilla (blood sausage).


And if you read my ode to dough, you know how hard it

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was for me to ever pass up the grilled bread. Some stands only offer plain, but others will slice it and add cheese, ham or other filling in the middle. My favorite stand was a mother-daughter operation in the Puerto Madero park. They would mix spiced ground meat into the dough before cooking. Fantastic results.


And then, there's dessert. People would make cakes and other sweets to sell in the parks on weekends. I usually went with a churro or an alfajor, which involves two soft cookies surrounding dulce de leche, then rolled in shredded coconut or dipped in chocolate.

alfajoresYep, I'll miss this.

More about Buenos Aires street food here.


No More Gourmet Magazine?


I read some very unfortunate news today on Addie Broyles' Relish Austin blog. Conde Nast is planning to stop publishing Gourmet Magazine. I feel genuinely sad.

After a trip to Europe when I was 4 years old, I told my parents I wanted to be a chef. They outfitted me with a poofy white hat and let me help in the kitchen when I wasn't playing with my plastic food-related toys. A few years later — once I had the reading thing down pat — they got me a subscription to Gourmet for Christmas.
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I didn't remember the year, but I remembered the cover, so I was able to find it online. December 1994. A Christmas cookie issue.

Since then my family and I have found many recipes, whole meals even, to recreate from Gourmet. I've flipped through those magazines countless times. They're all in a cabinet in the laundry room now. When I go home, I sit on the floor, lean against the washing machine and browse through marked, folded and food-stained pages.

It's sad to think the collection won't get any bigger. While I appreciate the convenience of having millions of recipes online, I don't see myself getting nostalgic about going through virtual bookmarks.

As someone who loves food — and who would like a job in journalism — the end of Gourmet Magazine is heartbreaking news.


Foodie Shopping

groceriesI am emphatically not a fan of shopping for clothes. But grocery shopping? Well, it would be in a top 10 list of my all-time favorite activities.
I love seeing all the food in one place. When I'm standing there, I can visualize any meal. I look at the shelves and imagine all the uses I could put each item to. Another thrill? Getting the best bargain. Comparing brands and sizes and considering quality makes shopping with me no quick trip, but I take satisfaction in knowing I got the best for my money.
Of course, I'm prone to impulse buys, too.

I'm probably the only person to have ever gone to the store for milk and come out with kohlrabi and beef tongue as well. The moment I left the store, the absurdity of my purchase hit me.

What's the most interesting/strange/funny collection of items you've bought at a grocery store?


Buenos Aires Street Food… or Reasons Why I Cook Less Lately

I believe that if you want to know a city, you have to embrace the streets. In Buenos Aires, I walk between three and 12 miles each day, venturing to different corners of the city

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and using new routes all the time. And if Anthony Bourdain has taught me anything, it's that street food is often some of the best a city has to offer. I've been taking advantage of BA's cheap and delicious options, so I thought I'd share.

Argentina is well known for the parilla, the grill. There are many stands serving up asado, whether it's grilled flank steak, blood sausage, burgers or chorizo. The photo above is choripan, a chorizo sausage on bread. Chorizo here is a pretty plain sausage, not the spicy stuff from Spain or Mexico. But it's got smoke from the grill, classic chimichurri sauce and is enveloped in a perfect baguette. This 4-peso meal (just over $1 US) from Palermo is still one of the best I've had here.

Also at the portable parillas are hamburger patties that are otherwise unextraodinary until you realize how many topping options you have waiting for you. I dressed my burger with two varieties of chimichurri, mayo, a pepper and onion salsa of sorts, tomato, pickled cabbage, lettuce and fried shoestring potatoes. Six pesos in Puerto Madero.

When you're less in the mood for grilled meat, pans rellenos are a great option. People walk around craft markets selling these stuffed breads out large baskets. If you're lucky, yours will still be warm when you get it. Common fillings are ham and cheese or mozzarella, tomato and basil. I got this massive one filled with pumpkin, corn and cheese in San Telmo for 8 pesos yesterday, and I just finished the other half for lunch today.

There are many possibilities for dessert, too. The majority involve dulce de leche. These churros are filled with the heavenly stuff and are 1 peso each (about equal to a quarter) in Recoleta.

There's much more, but consider this an introduction.

Read Part Two here.