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food excerpts from my trip to Seattle/Vancouver

There were also some hardcore attempts at pimping me the glories of Starbucks, but they don’t have much there I like – though the hot chocolate was tasty. The tea, however, was much better back at home base.

The three hour drive to Vancouver wasn’t bad, even with the border checkpoint and the sudden turns with very little advanced signage.

After rallying in [redacted]’s room, a troop of us went down to start enjoying the organizational fiasco that was this convention. We went down about half an hour after registration was due to open only to find that the huge line hadn’t started being processed and that they were having everyone who wanted to get into the convention line up together, whether they had already registered the night before, had pre-registered online, or were registering that day – all in one line. YAY!

So we made our first foray into the food court in the mall attached to the hotel – and thus began my attempt to eat *everything* in Vancouver because the food was cheap and tasty! MMmmmm!

I went to a singapore joint and had sour long beans and spicy tofu. By the time we had finished eating, the line which had been deep into the food court had vanished – sadly, we soon found that they had just found a different path around the hotel to wind the line instead of having processed everyone who had been waiting.

…and then taking [redacted]’s son off on a quest for food (esp. red bean buns) which ended up at a noodle place that was only mostly acceptable.

…Ummmm… and that was pretty much it for the night (until the dessert thing at 10:30), so I took the opportunity to explore the city and make sure I’d be able to find the theatre the next morning. I boarded by the SkyTrain two blocks from the hotel (metrotown station) and went toward the city to the end of the line (Waterfront station) only to discover that my fare would include a trip to North Vancouver on the SeaBus. Now it had been rainy for the first two days we were there, (record-breaking amounts of rain), but that evening the sky cleared and there was a beautiful sunset – and then I got to cross the water at night with all the city lights reflecting in the water. If you’ve ever traveled with me, you probably know that something like this is my favorite way to first see a city: at night and near water. (I think things like the London Eye are just about the best thing ever to do fresh from the plane with an edge of jet lag and nothing but peaceful beautiful city for the entire ride.)

I wandered around London Quay. I walked uphill (upmountain?) through a residential area for a while before giving up on getting far from the water and shifting east a few blocks to walk down a more commercial street. I stopped by a friendly liquor store that had very little in the way of scotch and passed a couple nice restaurants that were out of the league of the cheap, tasty food I knew I could find. I passed by one of the restaurants that I am pretty sure I read about on Joseph Mallozzi’s blog, but I can’t find it after a quick look. I’ll (maybe) post the name later because the menu I grabbed is still packed (it was just a paper one for take out, so quit thinking I’m a thief).

Asked around the bus drivers for the location of the theatre – found out it was on the central Vancouver side of the water and that I could find the right street by the Tim Hortons. But it was getting late, I hadn’t had dinner, and there was a dessert party to go to, so I just took the SkyTrain home instead of exploring for the right street.

No worries – I was up early enough the next day that I left well ahead of everyone else, so I took the opportunity to weave about the streets a bit and do some touristing on the way to the theatre.

I found that I do not like Tim Hortons, and I am wondering whether that is a moral failing on my part. I tried the old fashioned glazed (a cake donut) and the honey dipped (a yeast donut), and both were too sweet. The honey dipped was almost like a Krispy Kreme but over the line as far as sweetness goes. Even the tea tasted a bit stale and uninteresting. Just as well, because ditching the tea meant that I was free to try Blenz‘s Royal Tea Latte, which was Assam and rose petals steeped dark and then flavored with a couple squirts of vanilla syrup before being topped off with foamed milk just like a latte. MMMMmmmmm! I considered buying a canister, but then I realised that it wouldn’t be anything like the stuff they were making from ingredients at the store (and one small canister was 13 CAD).

…Ummmm… *ducks head* I skipped one of the panels to have lunch. MMmmm – buns and water dumpings from this place with handmade noodles – so good! The bubble yea place had fresh papaya, so they make me a tea with papaya and coconut milk and no tapioca. If I had known you could get bubble tea without tapioca bubbles, I’d have been drinking it long before now.

…Right, so, end of convention. And now it was time to hunt for my misplaced knitting. I started off by going back to the theater with the screening and leaving a description and my contact information there – no luck. And then the only other places I had to look were at the hotel (or in the rental car of the people I don’t know), so I set off west on Davie Street toward the area that the guidebook one of my roommates had brought said was the gay area of town. And, oh man, was it! *delighted* There was a jeans and underwear store called Priape, and many other delightful things. I stopped by an indian restaurant (not Indian Bistro, but a few blocks west) because the manager, Jerry, saw me pondering the menu and was very eager to invite me in. He seated me by the window so that I could better watch the “parade” of people going by. This lovely, candle-lit restaurant would be a perfect date restaurant (as confirmed by the sexy couple at the next table) except for the manager stopping by to tell hilarious stories that were both charming and terrifying: about how he was queen bee of the restaurant and had to fire one of the older waiters who did not respect that when he first came to manage the restaurant, how they were short staffed tonight because the other waitress had a hot date and was “itching to twitch” that night, and how back when he had first come to Vancouver in 1974 and had been smoking a joint with a lovely young fellow (both hiding under a windbreaker) he had been jumped by the cops and arrested – and wasn’t he lucky they chose one of the rare times he wasn’t there giving head – and that his case went to the supreme court (of Canada?) because he had just been smoking when he’d been harassed for his homosexuality. And the food was tasty – I had lamb vindaloo (actually spicy) and lots of fresh hot bread (with free refills on naan). And then I slid out just in time to catch the bus to go back to the SkyTrain – no waiting. 🙂


I’m about to head out to Seattle/Vancouver and I’m still packing and cleaning the apartment for the cat sitter… but one of the preparations for a trip includes getting rid of all the dirty dishes in the sink and the perishables from the fridge.

That means that breakfast options were a little sparse, and I went for the ever-convenient (and dishes conserving!) ramen in a styrofoam bowl.

And I think it has gone off.

Ramen does that?


Going on a trip – Food list to minimize spoilage

Food List
I don’t really have that much…

head of lettuce
1 tomato
coconut & pineapple juice

1/2 qrt yogurt
leftover raita
scallion cream cheese
1% milk, just a little left
a little half&half

chicken stock
cooked chicken
1 doz eggs

loaf of whole wheat

Need to buy by Friday
chicken leg quarters ($.49/lb)
cereal (coupon)
day old bagels (to freeze) (April 7th-ish)

massive amounts of mashed potatoes?
with chicken sandwiches
and salad

… lettuce soup?

Roman Recipes – Roast pork w/ cumin and honey, Sauteed mushrooms, Split Pea Pulse, Elberberry Custard

So for making Roman Recipes, I first consulted the Vehling translation (because that was the one my mother let me take with me when I moved), but then later I consulted a more reliable translation, the Flower & Rosenbaum translation, which has the Latin and the English on facing pages. Oh, and then I am referencing a completely different translation after the fact – it’s not a good translation, but it is online so I can show you what I’m talking about.

So here’s what we had for dinner last night:
Roast Pork
The whole point of making this dinner was that I had bought a huge pork loin and had cut it into three, still large, roasts. And then my mother had been making pork roasts and sending me the leftovers. And my freezer has been slowly filling up with pork! If I made a roast on my own, I’d then still have 2/3 of the roast right back in my freezer. So I came up with the nifty theme and invited people from the SCA to join me for dinner.

I was intrigued by the Vehling translation’s description of a roast that was first broiled and then braised. And I was all, hmmm… that’s like browning it before you braise it, only we usually do that in a pan rather than an over – cool, it’ll be like brisket.

Only then I checked the Flower & Rosenbaum translation and found that Vehling had been smushing together two recipes that were supposed to be separate. I’m still a bit dubious and I am half inclined to check a manuscript edition because the Flower & Rosenbaum have very clear punctuation and separations of one thing from the next, and I suspect that is a modernization. I did not, however, get around to actually checking before I made the dinner.

So I made the simplest recipe – the one that is a lot like the way I make pork when I do not have a fancy recipe to go from: cover it in salt and roast it and then drizzle with honey right at the end.

Only I usually do all kinds of fancy things like embedding garlic cloves in the meat, and sliding sprig of rosemary between the fat layer and the meat, and studding it with cloves of garlic. The honey, however, was new.

So I figured that a little “roman inspired” creativity never hurt anything, so I lightly dusted the fat on top with asafoetida, and then a heavier dusting with ground cumin. Then I added a nice, thick coating of kosher salt. Oh, yeah, and I pinned bacon rind to all of the exposed surfaces so that the edges wouldn’t dry out during cooking.

I preheated the oven to 400 degrees, and then I lowered it to 250 as soon as the meat went in. Since I had no idea how heavy this roast was, nor do I own a meat thermometer, I went for long, slow cooking that would end up with the meat very thoroughly done, but still tender. I think it ended up cooking for about 4 hours.

And I completely forgot about adding the honey.

It was still quite tasty.

Not satisfied with how simple the roast was going to be, I gave in and decided to make one of the sauces for roasts. Since I was unable to obtain laurel berries or myrtle berries, I went for the third one – and still ended up having to skip half of the ingredients.

I put into a mortar:

  • a lot of pepper
  • dried lovage
  • dried celery leaf instead of celery seed
  • dried dill
  • asafoetida
  • cumin

and then I added slightly damp ingredients

  • ginger, cut into slices against the grain
  • parsley, shredded

then I started working in the liquid ingredients to form a paste

  • a splash of worchestershire sauce and thai fish sauce to make the equivalent of liquamen
  • olive oil
  • a wee little bit of red wine vinegar, which wasn’t in the recipe, to keep it from getting too oily

The sauce turned out very tasty and complemented the pork perfectly.

This is just mushrooms sauteed with oil, liquamen, and pepper.

Almost every translator has you taking time to dry the mushrooms in the middle of cooking. Having cooked mushrooms, and read how modern cookbooks describe the process, I think Apicius is just talking about how mushrooms release a lot of liquid when the start cooking, and that you need to keep cooking through that point until the liquid evaporates before you start to add seasonings (esp. liquid ones) or you’ll end up boiling your mushrooms more than sauteing them.


Again, I chose to use yellow split peas because I like them so much that I had bought a brand new bag a while back only to come home and find that I still have 2/3 of a bag already.

So first I boiled and skimmed the peas.

In a mortar, I ground up black pepper, lovage, and cumin. I added cilantro and liquamen (worchestershire sauce & fish sauce) to make a paste. I then added about half a cup of wine (Manischewitz!) and let it sit and get happy together while the peas finished cooking, and I finished cleaning my apartment.

Then I put a decent amount of olive oil in a pan, poured in the spice and wine mixture to start

I also made some non-Roman accompaniments

After having tasted the peas, I decided that this was a rather spicy and pepper-heavy meal. So I got some yogurt, drained it, and made a raita. There are no yogurt sauce recipes in the cookbook even though there are references to soft cheeses. I think that’s because it’s a rather cold, wet sort of thing to be mixing with ones food and you never know what sort of digestive complications that might create.

And while there are recipes for cucumbers, I chose to serve them just drizzled in white balsamic vinegar to make them as refreshing as possible.

Both additions were good choices.

Elderberry Custard
I posted about this day before yesterday, when I made the first part of the recipe. While looking for the spices for the pork, I found dried elderberries for sale. So I stewed together the dried berries with a few raisins (as I did not have raisin wine, and I thought any sweetness added would be a good thing), a lot of wine (Manischewitz), and some pepper. I did add some honey because I was adding honey to the hard cider I have going, and I was very worried about the lack of sweetness to the dish.

So after it had boiled down and reduced, I strained the liquid out and refrigerated it.

After the roast was out of the oven, I beat together 6 eggs and poured in as much of the elberberry concentrate as looked right, beating it all together. Then I ladled it into greased ramekins and set them in a larger casserole that had an inch of water.

They were ready just as the musical episode of Xena (The Bitter Suite) was finishing.

I thought the end result was just too eggy, and everyone ended up adding some honey to it. I think I would like to try again with just egg whites (elderberry meringue?) and just egg yolks (elderberry zabaglione?) to see whether either one yielded a more favorable result.

Elderberry Custard

So I’m making Elderberry custard from a roman recipe.

Now I’ve already strayed from the recipe a little because the spice dealer had dried elderberries instead of fresh ones, but since I thought I’d have to substitute another berry entirely if I ever hoped to make the dish, I’m calling it a win.

So this is for company. And I am wondering whether I want to cook it the way it says in the recipe, over a double boiler (which I have, thanks to [redacted]!), or whether I want to put it into little ramekins and bake the custard in a water bath (the only way I have made custard before, with the added benefit of a pretty presentation.

Also there’s no sugar in this recipe. I couldn’t stand it and added a little bit of honey, but I sure am glad that I have a back up dessert: french bread