Pulpology: Mark & Sonia's Intercontinental Absurdities!


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Re: Wanderfood Wednesday: Epicurean despot (by mark at 5/09 2:16 PM)
Re: Photo Friday: the kids are all right (by sonia at 1/03 11:20 AM)
Re: Photo Friday: the kids are all right (by krakestraw at 12/21 2:30 PM)
Re: Africa Always Wins (by lacyemartini at 11/05 3:01 PM)
Re: Africa Always Wins (by mark at 11/05 12:01 PM)
Re: WanderFood Wednesday: foxy overindulgence in Middleburg (by sonia at 7/18 11:27 AM)
Re: WanderFood Wednesday: foxy overindulgence in Middleburg (by cbheller at 7/18 11:23 AM)
Re: Top of the Loaf, Ma! (by sonia at 5/11 8:30 AM)
Re: Top of the Loaf, Ma! (by mark at 5/10 11:40 AM)
Re: Sugarloaf smooches (by wanderinglaura at 4/25 11:24 AM)
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24 February 2010
WanderFood Wednesday: chocolates around the world

raw cacao pods and beans
raw cacao pods and beans

Madecasse 63%
Madecasse 63%, from Madegascar


Last night the DC Foodies Do Good group gathered at Biagio Fine Chocolate for an exquisite tasting and education in the art and science of chocolate. Can't have much more fun than that... not with your clothes on, anyway. ;)

Biagio explains the difference between cocoa butter and cocoa solids
Biagio explains the difference between cocoa butter and cocoa solids

Owner Biagio Abbatiello gave us a quick overview on the history of cacao, from the Mayans all the way through the latest renaissance of artisanal chocolates. He also walked us through the complex process of growing beans and producing chocolate, and how many potential points of failure there are along the way. Whew. Don't try this at home!

We learned some fun facts like...

* the Mayans greeted the Spaniards with prized cacao beans, who in turn completely misconstrued this revered gift as lowly almonds

* chocolate played an important role in ancient Mesoamerican culture and great rulers were said to drink up to 50 cups of it per day to increase their potency

* in Dickensian times, all sorts of additives (like brick dust, ew!) were mixed into commercial chocolate, prompting some of the first regulatory measures

* if a chocolate bar has a strong vanilla aroma, it probably means the beans were over-roasted and vanilla was added to cover this flaw

* the percentage of total cacao you see on artisanal chocolates includes cocoa butter as well as cocoa solids, so two 70% bars can have completely different flavors & textures

* there are three types of cacao beans: forastero, trinitario, and criollo; the first is the most common and used in your M&Ms and other "supermarket" chocolate, and you're more likely to see the other two listed on more expensive artisanal chocolates

* listen to your chocolate! good quality chocolate should have a nice crisp snap when you break it, and if you're lucky you and your chocolate might even engage in a conversation

guide to tasting fine chocs
guide to tasting fine chocs

And then, of course, the really fun part... the tasting! Biagio provided 8 different dark chocolate samples and one milk chocolate, ranging from 63% to 75% cacao (and 32% for the milk choc). We nibbled treats from Madagascar to Venezuela and many points in between. As with a wine tasting, there is a distinct multi-step process to allow one to truly appreciate fine artisanal chocolate with all the senses. And indeed we did. I think my favorite was the Hispaniola 70% bar from Rogue Chocolatier, with a surprising burst of burnt orange and hints of cherry. It definitely spoke to me, which was no small feat given that all the arrayed chocs were stellar in their own way.

Bolivia Cru Sauvage 68%
Bolivia Cru Sauvage 68%

Divine 70%
Divine 70% from Ghana

Hispaniola 70%
Hispaniola 70% from the Dominican Republic

Biagio generously provided a gift basket door prize -- as if all that free chocolate wasn't enough! -- and newcomer Amanda was the lucky winner of a sampling of delectable treats from the shop. She promises to return the favor by participating in the next DCFDG, a volunteer session at Miriam's Kitchen.

Amanda and her prize
Amanda and her prize

For those in the DC area, I highly recommend a visit to Biagio Fine Chocolate. The staff is wonderfully knowledgeable, and they're committed to a mission of introducing the best chocolate the world has to offer. And if you're a DC-area foodie, come join the DC Foodies Do Good crew! The group's monthly tweet-ups alternate between educational tastings and community service projects, providing the perfect mix of gustatory comradery and do-goodery.

Michel Cluizel Concepcion 66%
Michel Cluizel Concepcion 66% from Venezuela

Hop on over to Wanderlust & Lipstick's WanderFood Wednesday for more mouth-watering pics.


RECOMMENDED:
DC Foodies Do Good
organizers: @robynwebb & @storgaardconley

Biagio Fine Chocolate
1904 18th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
202.328.1506

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Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 1 comment


19 February 2010
Photo Friday: slacker edition

I've been a bad-bad monkey this week and have not posted ANY new content to the blog! I blame the complete *lack* of snow this week, forcing me to actually go to the office and get some work done. Bleh!  ::: shakes fist at Mother Nature nobody in particular :::

However, all the recent snowmageddon/snowpocalypse/snOMG craziness has me dreaming of greener pastures and new garden adventures. So, here's a little hopeful reminder that spring really is coming...

sunflowers always make me smile


And if you want to see the rest of the pics from this recycled Photo Friday, check out the original post: Simple pleasures.

Tomorrow I'm attending Field to Fork Network's Rooting DC urban gardening event and hope to get all fired up about this year's gardening endeavors. Stay tuned for updates about my planned attack on the front lawn and other edible conquests!


For more great travel photos, be sure to visit Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


RELATED LINKS:
* Photo Friday: simple pleasures
* Grrrrrrrrreat Success! a Special Olympics Victory Garden update
* Our (Special Olympics) Victory Garden
* Celebrating Joan with the first seedlings of the season

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Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 1 comment


12 February 2010
Photo Friday: to oktapodi, with love

oktapodi prepares for another journey, National Airport, DC
oktapodi prepares for another journey, National Airport, DC

As we gear up to celebrate Valentine's Day this weekend, I though it was a good time to give some love to the unsung hero of this blog: the tireless, unflaggingly cheerful oktapodi. Our version of The Roaming Gnome, this humble bath toy has accompanied us across several continents, to festivals, and on roadtrips, never the worse for wear and always maintaining that goodnatured grin. Here, then, is a tribute to our favorite cephalopod:

oktapodi at La Paz Waterfall Gardens, outside San Jose, Costa Rica
oktapodi at La Paz Waterfall Gardens, outside San Jose, Costa Rica


oktapodi admires Volcan Santiaguito, outside Xela, Guatemala
oktapodi admires Volcan Santiaguito, outside Xela, Guatemala

also from Guatemala:
oktapodi surveys the quiet before market day, Chichicastenango  oktapodi hangs out in the waterfalls, Semuc Champey  oktapodi prefers to stay on the ground, Tikal
Chichicastenango | 
Semuc Champey | Tikal


chillin' on the dock at Alton's, like ya do, Utila, Honduras
chillin' on the dock at Alton's, like ya do, Utila, Honduras 


Sonia and oktapodi atop Caana temple, Caracol, Belize
Sonia and oktapodi atop Caana temple, Caracol, Belize 


oktapodi checks out the Man, Black Rock City, Nevada
oktapodi checks out the Man, Black Rock City, Nevada 

[more great pics of oktapodi at Burning Man]


oktapodi surveys the final krathongs, Bangkok, Thailand
oktapodi surveys the final krathongs, Bangkok, Thailand



oktapodi checks out the traditional Bornean art, Kuching, Malaysian Borneo
oktapodi checks out the traditional Bornean art, Kuching, Malaysian Borneo

also from Malaysia:
scubalicious sea creatures, Sipadan, Malaysian Borneo  lunchtime in Kuching, Malaysian Borneo
Sipadan | 
Kuching


oktapodi enjoys Osyrusfest golden hour, Pennsylvania
oktapodi enjoys Osyrusfest golden hour, Pennsylvania

[a great montage of all the new friends oktapodi made at OsyrusFest 2009]


oktapodi gets a custom sand fortress, Virginia Beach
oktapodi gets a custom sand fortress, Virginia Beach


Chicago is oktapodi's kind of town
Chicago is oktapodi's kind of town

also from Chicago:
man vs sea creature, yarrrrrr  the Pulpo Room at Meson Sebika
man vs sea creature |
the Pulpo Room at Meson Sebika


oktapodi quite enjoys a bellini in the afternoon, Venice, Italy
oktapodi quite enjoys a bellini in the afternoon, Venice, Italy

oh, the places oktapodi will go… Assisi, Italy
oh, the places oktapodi will go… Assisi, Italy

also from Italy:
oktapodi thinks the Duomo is dreamy, Florence  stupendous scenery and a lovely drive, Furlo Gorge, Le Marche  oktapodi surveys the completed masterpieces, La Tavola Marche, Piobbico  look, we have the same face! Bonci Winery, Jesi  oktapodi guards the Rocca Roveresca, Mondavio
Florence | 
Furlo Gorge | La Tavola Marche | Jesi | Mondavio

oktapodi ponders the Apennines, San Marino
oktapodi ponders the Apennines, San Marino


For more great travel photos, be sure to check out Delicious Baby's Photo Friday.


PS. It also happens to be Mark's birthday today, but he graciously gave up this spot for oktapodi so be sure to give him some birthday love!

Mark & oktapodi pose with Mt Shasta, somewhere in California
Mark & oktapodi pose with Mt Shasta, somewhere in Northern California


RELATED LINKS:
* all oktapodi pics
* Burning Man stories | pics
* OsyrusFest pics

* browse all pics of our adventures


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Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 0 comments


10 February 2010
WanderFood Wednesday: Penang food court adventures
chowing down at Gurney Drive

squidalicious!
squidalicious!

Inspired by Gary Arndt's recent Operation Street Food, this week's WanderFood Wednesday post is a flashback to our 2008 food court adventures in Penang, Malaysia. Penang is known as a foodie paradise, especially if you're an adventurous eater (and, really, what other kind is there?). The whole town is a treasure trove of street vendors. But Gurney Drive is the mack daddy of food courts, with an abundance of stalls dishing out all manner of Malaysian, Indian, and Chinese delicacies. You just wander through the chaos and point at whatever looks interesting. It's all cheap and delicious, so you might as well experiment!


chicken feet, anyone?
who wants some chicken feet?

treats on sticks
treats on sticks

Sonia slurps some asam laksa
Sonia slurps some asam laksa
 

Hop on over to Wanderlust & Lipstick's WanderFood Wednesday for more mouth-watering pics.

RELATED LINKS:
* all Penang pics
* all Malaysia pics

* Penang blog stories

* last week's WanderFood post: A few of my favorite things, part four:
small-town restaurants 


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Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 2 comments
05 February 2010
Photo Friday: friendly schoolkids in Barrio El Calvario

the girls were the first brave ones (claro!)
the girls were the first brave ones (claro!)

My original impetus for hopping a chickenbus and taking a daytrip from Xela to San Andres Xecul was to check out the technicolor church in the main square. And the church facade is pretty cool, with a riotous display of carvings in primary colors depicting scenes from the Mayan holy book the PopolVuh. But the real treat was farther up the hill, where I encountered a group of school kids in an area called Barrio El Calvario.

Barrio El Calvario schoolkids
Barrio El Calvario schoolkids

I had to huff and puff a bit to get up the steep hill, but was rewarded by stunning views of the valley and highlands. Meanwhile a group of kids seemed to be having gym class behind me. They were a little shy at first, but soon came over to check out my pen collection as I wrote in my travel journal. And then, gradually, everyone wanted to get their picture taken! First the girls, then the group, in various configurations.

gym class
gym class

I also got the chance to admire a creepy Mayan shrine dug into the hillside just beyond the gym class area. These are fairly common in Guatemala, although this one had the added bonus of wild turkeys running through it. You'll notice I got much closer to photograph the children than I did to the turkey.

creepy Mayan shrine with... turkey...??
creepy Mayan shrine with... turkey...??

These photos are from my 2007 Central American trip through Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize. For more fabulous travel photos, check out DeliciousBaby's Photo Friday!


RELATED LINKS:
* all San Andres Xecul pics
* all Guatemala pics
* original story: Making friends in San Andres Xecul


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Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 2 comments
03 February 2010
WanderFood Wednesday: a few of my favorite things, part four
small-town sustenance

mmm, ravioli with duck ragu
mmm, ravioli with duck ragu (Taverna della Rocca, Frontone)

This is the fourth and final installment in a four-part series of my favorite Italian food porn from our recent trip. The other three parts are linked below.

Part four: small-town restaurants
One could argue whether or not some of these sites are actually small towns... it's all relative once you start traveling through the Italian countryside. All of these sites were reached via daytrip from our agriturismo in Le Marche, and each had its own distinct charm. In contrast with our culinary adventures in Florence and Venice, visiting these smaller cities was much more about slow food and slow travel, sampling the local fare, and taking a deep-deep-deep breath to soak it all in. In some cases, we had a recommendation for a specific restaurant. More often than not, we followed our nose and found a place that suited our needs in the moment. Regardless, each of these towns had their own stories to tell; links and recommendations are provided below.

cantucci e vinsanto
cantucci e vinsanto (Vineria PerBacco, Anghiari) 

heart attack on a plate, om nom nom
heart attack on a plate, om nom nom (Agriturismo Olivetano, Perugia) 

panini-licious
panini-licious (Caffe Duomo, Assisi)

Zuppa della Luna
Zuppa della Luna (Osteria Della Luna, Gradara) 

sadly, not the mixed grill… awesome piadine tho
sadly, not the mixed grill… awesome piadine tho (Taverna della Rocca, Frontone)


Hop on over to Wanderlust & Lipstick's WanderFood Wednesday for more mouth-watering pics.


RECOMMENDED:
Vineria PerBacco
Galleria girolamo magi
52031 - Anghiari (AR)
+39 0575 788893

Agriturismo Olivetano
Strada dei Cappuccinelli, 18
S. Lucia - Perugia
+39 075 44235

Caffe Duomo
Piazza San Rufino, 5
06081 Assisi
+39 075 81 55 209

Osteria Della Luna Di Ercoles E Cimarelli
Via Umberto Primo
61012 Gradara (PU)
+39 0541 969838

Taverna della Rocca
Via Leopardi, 22
61040 Frontone (PU)
+39 0721 786109


RELATED LINKS:
* A few of my favorite things, part one: big-city restaurants
* A few of my favorite things, part two: festival snacky-treats
* A few of my favorite things, part three: handmade with love

* Anghiari: Tuscan daytrip
* Perugia: full of surprises
* Assisi: saints and sinners
* Frontone: can you smell what the Rocca's cooking?
* Gradara photos

* browse photos by region: Le Marche | Umbria


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Posted by sonia at 12:00 AM | Link | 1 comment