Welcome to Brunette à Bicyclettea collection of thoughts, photos, and videos; my digital scrapbook of the people and places I’ve come to love, wherever I happen to be (currently, that’s Washington, DC).
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Category Archives: Food
I’ve come to understand that I’m a very food-motivated person. It shapes how I travel, the destinations I choose, and what I bring home, which invariably includes some sort of herb, spice, or cooking instrument. I vividly remember the smell of the red pepper and cumin seeds from our favorite Beijing chuan(r) restaurant that made the flames dance and our mouths water. When I think of Paris, the heady, salty smell of poulet à l’estragon twirling on spits at my local farmers’ market is one of the first things that comes to mind. I remember biting into a piece of aarull, dried on the roof of our host family’s ger in Mongolia and wishing desperately that I had the language skills to ask more about it. And, the first time I tried durian — wooh, my! These are the things that burn into my memory and make me ache for a place.
Turkey was yet another adventure in tastes and smells and a riot of color. The bright reds of tomatoes and spice pastes, bright greens of grilled peppers and pistachios, deep purple pickled cabbage and charred eggplants. Big mezze spreads with pillowy, seeded bread gave way to steaming plates of kebabs and grilled vegetables. It was a delicious couple of weeks. Continue reading
In the States, we generally think of balkava as a homogenous thing – at least I did. Actually, it’s a whole category of pastries of different shapes, colors and textures made with some combination of sugar, nuts, honey, cream, butter, and phyllo dough. The nuts used are generally walnuts or pistachios, but pine nuts and hazelnuts are not entirely uncommon. In all its many variations, baklava is a beloved dessert from Greece to Iran and from Syria to the Balkans. Continue reading
Lahmacun, a popular snack in Turkey, is often described as a “thin-crust pizza.” Personally, I find that rather misleading. The lahmacun you find in restaurants, kebab shops, and even peoples’ homes, is often baked at local bakeries in industrial-sized ovens (“firini”) and brought back to be reheated as needed. Although bakeries (“firin”) here will advertise lahmacun, you have to go to a restaurant or kebab stand to actually purchase one. Continue reading
Buds are appearing on branches here as little bulbs timidly peek out of the ground. As though to remind us that we’re still days away from the first day of spring, we plunged back into a cold spell. I reluctantly reached for my down jacket and gloves as we headed out to the farmers market. However impatient I am for spring, the cold weather gave me the perfect excuse to go explore a little place in neighborhood that has intrigued me for a while. Continue reading
Started by a homebrewer and the former beer director at the Big Hunt, 3 Stars Brewing Company is the latest addition to the growing number of craft breweries popping up in the District. Their facilities in Takoma are open Saturdays for tours, bottle sales and growler fills. However, when you pull up to this warehouse-turned-brewery, you’ll also see people leaving with plastic tubing and bags of hops underarm. 3 Stars has held onto its roots and their homebrew shop — the only one in DC — sells just about anything you’d need to start making your very own batches. (I’ll leave the brewing to the experts, but to each their own.) Continue reading
Is there anything better than freshly-baked bread? A warm baguette fresh from the oven on a chilly evening in Paris never made it home without the crouton. Warm and soft, delicious on its own but a little nob of buter wouldn’t be unwelcome either. Even the smell of freshly baked bread apparently makes us nicer people. Bagels, pitas, even the humble dinner roll are exponentially better the sooner they get to you from that hot oven. Here in the District, our bread experience has been a little underwhelming, that is, until we found the Pretzel Bakery (340 15th Street SE, 20003). Continue reading
Don’t let it’s less-than-photogenic appearance dissuade you. This stuff is seriously good. Tomatoes aren’t something I generally associate with Vietnamese food, but now I’ve officially given up on trying to pin down this cuisine. What do I know? Continue reading
I just got home from making our family’s bûche de noël with Mémère, the third my grandmother and I have made together. It’s a tradition I look forward to every year and I’d like to think that under her tutelage I’m becoming an increasingly seasoned apprentice of sorts. However, I did forget to put two tablespoons of butter in the cake this afternoon, so I’m convinced I need at least a few more years of her looking over my shoulder to get it just right. Mémère, having earned her stripes years ago, took it in stride, assured me everything would be fine, and shared a few of her own stories of bûches gâchées. Since there’s over a cup of butter in the recipe, I don’t think anyone will miss those few measly tablespoons anyway. Continue reading
November’s been a race-to-the-finish. I feel like I’ve been wearing too many hats these past few weeks — meeting deadlines, waiting on results, and finishing past projects that have dragged on far too long while trying to start new ones. I generally thrive on being busy, but the other day, it got to me. Try as I might, I couldn’t kick the sensation that I wasn’t quite keeping my head above water. I needed a break.
I bundled up, put on boots, and headed out for a walk. I walked through the park and picked around in a few of my favorite shops. Continue reading