Sunday, March 22, 2015


Easter is quickly approaching and I can't help but reminisce about the cookies my grandmother always used to buy us. You know the ones... oversized, holiday-inspired shapes, cellophane wrapping that was near impossible to open gracefully, edible icing eyes*, and of course the rock-hard icing coating. Something like these:

The funny thing is I don't remember actually eating them. First of all, I was one to savor cool looking food or those things I wanted to savor later. (This generally ended up in a disappointing letdown as the hype was 10x greater than the taste.) Secondly, I'm pretty sure I must have broken a tooth or two on these Quikrete concoctions. Biting I to them was more work than it was worth. Finally, they couldn't have tasted that great if I don't even remember how they tasted.

Anyone else remember these? Did you actually enjoy eating them or just the idea of them?

*If you know these cookies, you know these eyes. And there was always that one wonky eye that didn't see quite straight, thus adding to its charm!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Belgium... a look back and forward

So we booked our flight to Belgium for this summer, which cannot come soon enough. Get us out of this never-ending winter. Even more important, get us back to our beloved land of all things that are tasty! Just over four months and counting...

In honor of our trip, we recently had a taste of Belgium dinner combining two of our favorites: carbonnade à la Flammande (belgian beer stew) and pommes frites (fries). OK, so we cheated a bit and bought frozen fries, but they were of the Yukon gold persuasion- the closest you can probably get stateside. Even if we made our own they just couldn't compare to those from our favorite friterie (which will be merely a block away from our friends' house!), Maison Antoine. We did splurge, though, for a bottle of Belgian style ale for the stew- worth it! 

I used this recipe: (I did not add the potatoes as we served it over the fries.)

While it may not have been 100% authentic, it certainly brought back memories of our favorite little under appreciated European country. It got us thinking of of all the chocolate, waffles, waterzooi, vol au vent, and frites we've savored during our previous visits; it also gave us inspiration for July: chocolate crawl, Liège meatballs and stoemp (which have both somehow eluded us for three visits), seeking out the ultimate Liège waffle... oh, and about a dozen more sauces chez Antoine! Not to mention bringing a spare suitcase for all those jars and bottles of sauces we'll be bringing back!! (That's in addition to the spare suitcase for our chocolate haul, of course.)

À bientôt, chère Belgique!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Candy Corn- a love/hate relationship

Now that Halloween has come and gone, the candy still remains. Candy that was leftover from trick or treating and the other candy. You know, the stuff you buy on November 1 because it's 50-75% off. The stuff you normally don't buy and keep around the house. You know... Candy Corn!

I've always had a hot and cold relationship with the seriously sweet fake maize. Don, on the other hand, can't seem to get enough of it. I go through phases of loving it one year and despising it the next. The year I found out it was made with honey was the worst, resulting in a multi-year boycott. Honestly, these days I can take it or leave it. I had my obligatory 5 or 6 pieces this year to confirm whether or not I actually like candy corn. Meh... it was o.k. If it suddenly disappeared from the planet, I don't think I'd miss it. (Well, I would miss using it as fake teeth, but that's about all. I'll stick to my chocolate, thank you very much.)

Feel free to add your two cents with a comment!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Olympic hockey triggers foodographic memory

Hockey has always been a part of my life, almost as much as food has. So as I sit here on a snow day watching the US Men's team take on (aka rout 7-1) the Slovakian team, leave it to Doc to trigger a long-lost foodographic memory. Doc was commenting on Patrick Kane, a USA team member who grew up in Buffalo, and how he had a ritual when he attended Buffalo Sabres' games at the Aud (RIP). Apparently Kane used to get nachos during the first intermission and ice cream during the second. 

Well, who would have thought I'd share something in common with the Blackhawk other than my hometown. Seriously, when my dad and I would go to games- sitting in our beloved corner gold seats- we had the exact same ritual. Before the game, I had to go to the opposite end of the arena to watch the players come out of the locker rooms onto the ice for warm-up. I'd snap a lot of pictures and just watch in admiration, waiting for my favorites to emerge. First period was for settling in, getting into the groove of the game, and building up an appetite. Then during the first intermission we'd share an order of nachos, served with that oh-so-realistic, surprisingly spicy cheese sauce. Of course, we'd need dessert later, so to cool off the heat it was always a cone of soft serve during the second intermission. Win or lose, it was always a fun experience and I always looked forward to the next time.

Some things will never be the same. There will never be another place like the Aud and a line like the French Connection. Some things, however, will always remain like my undying, unexplainable devotion to the Sabres. And while the Sabres may not have always won (they still don't very often...), a lot of memories were made nonetheless.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Pop Tarts

Who would think dinner conversation would spark a memory about Pop Tarts? Honestly, I cannot tell you the last time I had one. However I can tell you the first time.

Pop Tarts were just one of those things I never had as a child. My parents never bought them for us and we never asked for them. I guess I turned out o.k. since I made it through my first 18 years of life before I ever set lips upon the Kellogg's boxed breakfast fare. Rewind to the first day of college classes... I can recall the class (Hotel Operations), the building (Cantwell Hall upstairs), the professor (Tim Sullivan), the time (8:00 a.m.), and the day (Tuesday). After a thoroughly entertaining class- seriously, it was- I realized I had some time before my next class and so did a classmate. Edie was kind enough to ask me to head back to her dorm room to hang out for a bit before our next class. Since breakfast was pretty early and it would be a while until lunch, she offered me a Pop Tart to tide me over. Well, I can't say it was a life altering moment in terms of something I could not live without, but I certainly ended up with a memory out of it nonetheless.

On the rare occasion I pass by Pop Tarts and their generic counterparts in the breakfast foods/cereal aisle and think, "You know, I could really go for one right about now." I've declined in the name of better nutritional choices, but maybe if I could just buy one individual Pop Tart once in a while... I did kind of favor the blueberry frosted ones. Maybe, though, they wouldn't taste as good as I remember. Perhaps I'll just keep thinking about them and leave things be.

What do you think? Do you have a favorite Pop Tart? Toasted or non-toasted? Frosted or not? Name brand or generic? Never had one? Can't live without them?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Germany for lunch

As we cooked and ate dinner tonight- schnitzel, spaetzle, and red cabbage- I couldn't help but think back to this past July when we were visiting Jeff and Melissa in Brussels for two weeks. There was a day hanging around for which we had no plan, so after some option weighing we decided to go to Germany for lunch. That's right, we drove to Germany basically to have lunch. Sure we walked around the cute little town of Monschau and bought the obligatory gummy bears, but it sounds so much cooler when you say you're driving to another country to eat. When in Germany... eat schnitzel! (And yeah, it was realllllly good!)


Monday, January 20, 2014

Trader Joe's

Oh my... how have I just recently discovered this foodie heaven? (Well, actually, there isn't one within an hour of me, so that's probably the reason.) Anyway, I sought some advice on what are some "must buys" from TJ's and now I'm seriously addicted. Not having a cooler made it a bit difficult as I had to pass up many delicious looking refrigerated and frozen goodies, but I managed to find some new addictions: reduced-guilt guacamole, dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds, curry and masala simmer sauces, to name but a few.

What does this have to do with food memories? Here you go: I am now able to relive delicious memories of some of the places I've been by enjoying foods I can't normally find in a regular store.
  • Cookie Butter: I got a "lead" on this product, so I just set out around the store looking for something I knew nothing about. I assumed it was some kind of special butter used to make cookies. Was I wrong! I bought the cookie/cocoa swirl version. Think Nutella (minus the hazelnut flavor) swirled with speculoos cookie flavored peanut butter (minus the peanut flavor). You have to try it to really understand it... it is divine. And I've only ever eaten it as a dip for pretzels (or my finger). Speculoos, I think, is the national cookie of Belgium. It's a spicy little biscuit that is basically in, on, or on top of almost anything there. You can't swing a waffle in Belgium without hitting something to do with speculoos. Now I need to go back to Brussels...
  •  Fleur de Sel Caramels: Having just traveled briefly to Normandy, France this past summer, I was already seeking the deliciousness of the caramel lifestyle they live in Honfleur. (Think speculoos as above, but the caramel version.) Since Trader "Jacques" harvests their "Fleur de Sel" (flower of salt) from the French coast, I felt I had to give these caramels a try. While they are made with a few more ingredients (like corn syrup and coconut oil, for example) than their French cousins, they are a decent stand-in. Now I need to go back to Honfleur...
  • Cheddar & Horseradish Potato Chips: If you've been following me, you know my obsessive addiction with odd potato chip flavors. Well, add this really spicy one to my list. I could just see this on the shelves at the Tesco in London or at the local pub. Add a nice pint and you've got yourself a cozy (or "cosy") evening, English-style. Now I need to go back to London...
As you can see, I'm obviously going to be busy traveling a lot in the near future! With so many places yet to visit and many delicious ones to revisit, choosing where to go will be extremely challenging. But it's a challenge I'm willing to taste, er, take!