Saturday, March 10, 2007

it's the most wonderful time of the year...

no, not xxx-mas, not my birthday...it's HOT DOCS TIME!!! we've already bought our festival passes and my saliva glands are going into overdrive just looking at the pre-program they've posted on the net. what's amazing is that, unlike previous years, where i was working two jobs, and trying to squeeze in documentaries when i could, hot docs conveniently dovetails with the END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR!!! which means that the boy and i have made a pact to take those last weeks of april off and unwind by stuffing our craniums with as much harrowing, depressing, socially-conscience-demoralizing documentaries as we can! there are a minority of documentaries that are of the testament-of-the-human-spirit calibre, but the ratio tends to work out to: 5000 from the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and people (read: the privileged west) are selfish, gluttonous, rapacious fiends to 1 people (read: the underprivileged can be self sacrificing and will find hope in even the darkest of circumstances). i can't wait!! it's going to be such a treat, and the perfect kickoff to the SUMMER OF SLACK!

this is the glorious plate of ethiopian food from last night. dukem was a raging success. the service (even though i was only getting take out) was warm and effusive and generous, and the food was top notch. for $34 we got four different dishes, that all came in those BIG square styrofoam boxes. the only quibble is that maybe they gave us too much food. each dish came wrapped in injera (the sourdough crepe that serves as flatware, utensil, and accompaniment, is the beige stuff in the picture), and then an additional piece of injera was included. we were drowning in injera. starting from the top of the picture is awaze tibs (lamb): cubes of tender lamb marinated and cooked with tomato, jalapeno, garlic and berbere sauce ("A common Ethiopian sauce that is hot and spicy tasting. Made with the seeds of cumin, cardamom, coriander, and fenugreek that are combined with garlic, ground cloves, turmeric, grated gingerroot, black pepper, salt, paprika, cinnamon, and dried red chiles, this sauce provides a distinctive tangy flavor for ethnic foods" - google). clockwise from that we have tikil goman: cabbage, carrots, potatoes, cooked in tumeric sauce. next we have the family's unanimous least favorite, sherro wot: highly-seasoned chick peas in berbere sauce, and finally, the ground meat mixture is dukem kitfo: a popular special kitfo mixed with the right amount of home made cottage cheese, herbal butter, cardamom and mitmita (all descriptions taken from the dukem take out menu). kitfo is actually generally served raw like a tartare, but they can also do it cold. i have no problems eating raw meat, but it's generally something i prefer in the summer, as opposed to winter. mitmita is an ethiopian spice mix, and it definitely lends a fiery glow to the kitfo.

i ate dinner before everyone else got home, and tried to do the traditional thing of just eating with my hands and the injera as my utensil, and consequently made a giant mess of myself. because i'm left-handed i also eat with what's traditionally regarded as the ass-wiping hand. boo the clumsiness of my ass-hand!!

tonight for dinner we're having my first attempt ever at brandade. "
The famous brandade de morue of Provence is a pounded mixture of salt COD, olive oil, garlic, milk and cream. This flavorful puree is served with CROÛTES and often garnished with chopped black truffles. Other salted or smoked fish can also be used to make brandade" - from epicurious.com
i'm not serving mine cold...it's a popular atlantic province and quebec tradition i believe to serve the dish as a hot casserole. i've been soaking the salt cod in cold water and changing the water every 8 hours or so for 24 hours. then i'm going to slowly poach it in some milk, flavoured with a pinch of saffron, onions, and garlic. meanwhile, i take some yukon gold potatoes, peel them and boil them, and then pass them through a food mill. into the potato mixture, i'm going to fold the salt-cod poaching milk, and the milled onions and garlic. then i'm going to fold in chunks of the salt cod, spread this mixture into a baking dish, and cover with buttered panko and bake it in the oven until it's hot and crispy on top. i'm serving this with a steamed green bean and grape tomato salad. for dessert, to complete the french-canadian/acadian theme of the menu, we're having pouding chomeur, which translates to "poor man's pudding". it's a dish made out of very humble ingredients, consisting of a cakelike batter that's cooked on top of a brown sugar or maple syrup, and i find it very comforting and warm in its' modest splendour. we're having this with vanilla ice cream.

fin.

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