Tuesday/ the beer is here

Here’s a Rainier beer truck on 15th Ave, delivering supplies to the local restaurants and watering holes, no doubt.

Rainier-branded beer was launched 1878, 11 years before Washington became the 42nd state in the Union (on November 11, 1889). The ‘pale mountain ale’ shown on the truck was introduced in 2016, brewed with Yakima valley hops. I see on the website it was a limited-time offering, though – so it might not be available anymore.

Thursday/ Marmite peanut butter

I eat Marmite on toast almost every day – the yeasty, vegetable extract concoction that has been around since 1902, similar to Vegemite in Australia.

Now I see  Marmite peanut butter has hit the supermarket shelves in the UK. Some call this move by Marmite ‘more divisive than Brexit’.

So, the equation to verify with a taste test is,
if ❤ Marmite
+ ❤ Peanut Butter
=  ❤❤ Marmite Peanut Butter !

I will have to get my grubby hands on a jar, ‘spread the love’ on my toast (as it says on the cap), and find out!

Monday/ stroopwafels!

The last of my stash of Daelmans stroopwafels (‘syrup waffles’) that I had brought back from the Netherlands. They come in caramel (shown), honey and chocolate. I can buy them online or even in the Cost Plus World Market store here in Seattle, but I will hold off as long as I can before I do that. Lots of sugar in them, and it is almost impossible to eat just one.

It is International Waffle Day.
Money cannot buy happiness, they say .. but money can buy stroopwafels, and is that not the same as happiness?

Friday/ shepherd’s pie with green lentils

I read everywhere that we all need to eat more lentils and beans.
So when I saw this recipe (New York Times account needed for link) for a vegetarian shepherd’s pie made with French green lentils, I went for it.
It was a bit of work, but my efforts paid off nicely in the end!

I made sure I had all the ingredients laid out first. When the action starts, the item needs to be available right away! There’s tomato paste, whole milk, French green lentils, peas, sour cream, sliced mushrooms, sliced leek, vegetable broth, salt, pepper, flour, carrot, lemon juice, butter, parmesan cheese, fresh thyme, minced garlic and russet potatoes.
A closer look at the French green lentils*. These were cheap ($2.49/ lb) and I’m sure they were grown in the USA.
*Per Wikipedia: The term ‘Le Puy green lentil’ (say ‘le pwee’) is protected throughout the European Union (EU) under that governing body’s Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), and in France as an appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC). In the EU, the term may only be used to designate lentils that come from the prefecture of Le Puy (most notably in the commune of Le Puy-en-Velay) in the Auvergne region of France. These lentils have been grown in the region for over 2,000 years and it is said that they have gastronomic qualities that come from the terroir (in this case attributed to the area’s volcanic soil). They are praised for their unique peppery flavor and the ability to retain their shape after cooking.
Here’s the filling of the ‘pie’ in its final stage. After this, it all went into a Corningware casserole dish, with a layer of the mashed potato on top, and then into the oven for 30 minutes for baking.
The finished product after two hours. Yay! The shepherd’s pie is ‘comfort food’ with a nice texture and is very tasty.

Tuesday/ I’ll have an ‘ystervark’

There is aardvark and then there is yster- vark (porcupine). Local craft brewing company Hoogeberg (‘High Mountain’) named one of its lagers Ystervark. (I still have to try it).

The Ystervark is a ‘hybrid lager’, which means it was fermented at the higher temperatures usually used for ales. The time and temperatures used in beer fermentation is not an exact science, and allows brewers to be creative.

Lucky Friday

Cape Town highs today: 29 °C/ 84 °F and partly sunny. The days are still long: 13 h 15 mins. [Graphic from ‘Die Burger’].
A peek into my refrigerator here in my AirBnB apartment. The canned fish (Saldanha Pilchards) are from the chilly waters of South Africa’s west coast | Castle lager now has a non-alcoholic version | another favorite are the Windhoek Lights (2%), brewed in the German tradition in Namibia | the Crunchie bar has a crisp honeycomb center covered with chocolate | Ceres makes the world’s best fruit juice blends (this one very romantically named ‘Whispers of Summer’) | Woolworths (‘Woolies’) is the place to go for fine foods and yogurt | The Lindt rabbit comes from Switzerland, of course. I had to get it because the dark chocolate ones are hard to come by in the United States!

The weather was much cooler today.
There were no power outages, and tonight a lucky South African may win the largest local lottery jackpot ever: R 210 million/ US $14 m*.

I have beer in my fridge, and some of my favorite South African snackies, so life is good.

*A fraction of the obscene amounts offered in United States lotteries – but drawing 5% each year of US$ 14 m comes to $700,000. Plenty to live a lavish life, anywhere in the world.

Thursday/ a red onion’s layers

Here’s a beautiful red onion that I put into a roasting pan tonight, with sweet potato wedges,  butternut squash and Brussels sprouts.
It’s a little tricky to get everything to roast evenly, without some pieces getting burnt – but I’m learning!

Sunday/ a not-so-super Superbowl

Well, the Superbowl was a bust.
The one and only touchdown of the game finally came in the 4th quarter.
The New England Patriots won over the Los Angeles Rams, as expected – congrats to them.

We did get a little snow on the ground here in Seattle, with more expected overnight. I was adventurous in the kitchen and tried my hand at a red lentil soup. It turned out really nice.

The final step in making the soup is adding in lemon juice and chopped cilantro and stirring it in. I didn’t even know before seeing the recipe, that there was such a thing as red lentils!

Wednesday/ Dick’s Drive-in turns 65

Local burger chain Dick’s Drive-in was founded in 1954.
This Tuesday, they celebrated their 65th anniversary by offering burgers at the ‘original price’ of  19 c.
The regular price today for a 1/8 pound burger, is $1.60.
That means average annual burger price inflation was about 3.4%* for the 65 year span from 1954 to 2019.

*Very close to the average of the annual Consumer Price Indexes (CPIs) published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics over the same period (3.5%).

I walked by Dick’s Drive-in on Broadway at about 5.20 pm tonight. (Temp. 49°F/ 9°C, so not bad, at all). Across the street on the left, is the Capitol Hill train station. Three new apartment buildings are under construction right next to the train station.
Billionaire Bill Gates (63) spotted at the Northeast 45th Street Dick’s in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood, around 7 p.m. on a recent Sunday. “He ordered a cheeseburger, fries and Coke,” said Paul Rich that took the photo. Rich has been going to the beloved fast-food franchise every week or so for about five years. [Photo: Paul Rich]

Sunday brunch

My friends and I ran out to Ozzie’s Diner in Queen Anne here in Seattle this morning for brunch. Some of us had ‘the house mess’: a scramble of egg, cheese & some veggies, on top a bed of hash browns.

Temperatures only got to 42 °F (5 °C) today, but this is absolutely mild compared to the frigid temperatures expected along the Canadian border in the Midwest by Wednesday.
A polar vortex will drive down nighttime temperatures at places such as International Falls, MN to a deep, deep freeze of -36°F (-38°C).

Ozzie’s Diner was established in 1954, and is on Mercer Street in Queen Anne. (Smart cocktails in such a down-to-earth place? Hmm. Probably cocktails mixed with a shaker with sensors/ fancy technology to help the bartender make it perfect every time).

Saturday/ the chickens need to scurry

Check out the cool packaging for eggs that I got, from Vital Farms .. and to boot it has the ‘Certified Humane’ label on it. (That’s the labeling that matters here in the USA, say my friends that know. Ignore ‘natural’ and ‘cage-free’). So these eggs are from truly free-range hens. The Dutch call these chickens scharrelkip –‘chickens that scurry’.

Friday/ feierabend

A little bit of Germany here in South Lake Union: ‘Feierabend’ opened in 2006.
Here’s the ‘trouble’: those big steins of beer. The restaurant website says while some menu items are traditional (pork shank on the right), others have been adjusted for the Northwestern palate. All 18 beers are imported from Germany, though.

I’m sure as soon as feierabend* had arrived on Friday in Washington DC, politicians & their staff rejoiced more than they usually do.

*Feierabend literally translates to ‘celebrate-the-evening’ (the end of the work day).

Meanwhile, the 185th Oktoberfest is in full swing in Munich, Germany.  I’d still like to make it out there one year – just not sure I could handle even just one of those one-liter steins filled with potent beer! It would be really embarrassing to keel over and fall off one’s chair while the umpa band plays.

Tuesday/ no Aviation Gin for you (or me)

I see actor Ryan Reynolds’ gin has arrived in Seattle (Aviation Gin). It made me think of our gin of choice, for after-work cocktails, back when I worked in China: Bombay Sapphire. So I should give the Aviation Gin a try.

P.S. Alas, party-pooper researchers have published the results of a sweeping global study in the Lancet, that says that not even modest amounts of alcohol is good for one’s health. What is one to do?

Spotted here on 15th Ave, on Capitol Hill: a delivery truck with a poster of Reynolds, promoting his new gin. Described as an ‘American gin’, Aviation Gin is handcrafted in small 100-case batches by a small, dedicated team of master distillers in Portland, Oregon.

Saturday/ South Africa’s protein cereal

Ahh .. a shipment of ProNutro cereal from South Africa landed on my porch this week, sent by my friend Jose. I have fond memories of the stuff and still like it very much.

Back in high school, it was the only breakfast that would sustain me all the way through the long mornings in class. The cereal is also famous in South Africa for feeding baby animals and birds (that one might have rescued).

It’s been 55 years since ProNutro made its debut in South Africa (a somewhat odd anniversary to celebrate, but hey, they are free to do that). The product is made from maize (corn) and soy. It is an instant cereal, prepared with hot milk. It takes a little experience to know j-u-s-t how much milk to add! It soaks up the milk over 5 or 10 minutes. If you did not add enough, it gets really solid and feels ‘dry’ to the tongue. I prefer it porridge-style, so with lots of milk.

Sunday/ we’re getting a Shake Shack

I only learned of the East Coast’s cult burger chain ‘Shake Shack’ when it was reported that Special Investigator Mueller’s team had a lunch bag from Shake Shack during Paul Manafort’s trial. (The lawyers would not say what they had for lunch; they had strict orders not to talk to the press).

Anyway: Seattle is getting a Shake Shack, close to Amazon’s headquarters.

Here’s the fancy Shake Shack storefront coming in to view (it’s still surrounded by construction fencing). The burgers are high-end: ‘100% all-natural Angus beef, served on a non-GMO Martin’s Potato Roll’, says the website.  Behind it, off Westlake Avenue, is the newest Amazon tower starting to get its walls and windows installed.

Thursday/ beers at Fadó Irish Pub

The entrance to Fado has great Art Deco framing. The pub has been there since 2000; I suspect the Art Deco much longer.

We had beers and a bite at Fadó (say f’doe*) Irish Pub tonight. It is located in the historic Colman Building on 1st Avenue.  Since it is First Thursday of the month, we could also stop in and admire art at a few of the galleries nearby, afterwards.

*An Irish term meaning ‘long ago’. It is used in Ireland to start a story -the equivalent of ‘once upon a time’.

I love this circa 1909 picture of the Colman Building. Check out the horse-drawn buggies lined up in front of it. Automobiles were only just starting to make it onto the streets. [Picture obtained from http://www.historylink.org/File/8708].

Saturday/ a little bit of Mexican

We had great Mexican food at Poquito’s here on Pike Street on Capitol Hill. The restaurant opened in 2011. The neon sign outside is much older and from the 1980’s. It was salvaged in South Seattle and given a second life after it had been taken down from a restaurant in Seattle’s Greenwood district.  

Saturday/ street food

On Saturday, we trekked down to South Lake Union to check out the food – and the people – at the 6th Annual Seattle Street Food Festival.

Here is 9th Ave at about 2 pm, with the crowds still manageable. 9th Ave is lined with the brand new construction going on in South Lake Union.

This food truck sells schnitzel. Originally from Austria, breaded schnitzel is now popular in many countries and can be made with almost any meat: veal, mutton, chicken, beef, turkey or pork. 

Frozen pops and icicles, in exotic flavors.

And here is my meal: stir-fried chicken and spices with jasmine rice, a fried egg, and a little cucumber salad on the side. It was very good.

Monday/ I need my Café Francais

The good stuff. I discovered that I have four different tin designs in my kitchen drawers. (The tins are handy for coins and screws and bolts).

My attachment to Café Francais goes back to the very first time I set foot in the United States in 1990.  My older brother and I were visiting my younger brother in Palm Desert, California. He had some in his kitchen cabinet.

The stuff has been my favorite additive for hot milk, ever since. (Just one teaspoon).

I completely ran out of it last week, and horrors! it seemed to have disappeared, or was sold out, everywhere.  But just tonight, I checked one more time here at the local Safeway (grocery store), and there it was, on the shelf.

Friday/ a gargantuan chunk of freshwater

Friday night saw almost 3 inches of rainfall in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town.  Still, the Cape Town City Council is said to be entertaining the possibility of towing an iceberg from Antarctica to Cape Town, to further help boost the city’s low water inventory.  Say what? Can that possibly work? was my first reaction.

Well, here are the numbers*. Some 200 billion tons of ice from Antarctica slide into the sea in a typical year – the equivalent of more freshwater than the world uses in a year. Some icebergs float for 5 years in the ocean, and some make it to Gough Island. Such an iceberg could be towed from there, for the roughly 2,700 km (1,700 mi) distance to Cape Town.  The iceberg will be stationed off the coast (Cape Columbine on the west coast is mentioned), and could conceivably deliver 100 megaliter of water every day for a year as it melts.  (About 20% of the city of Cape Town’s needs).  If such a project is can be pulled off successfully, its cost is projected to be less than half the cost of desalinating an equivalent amount of seawater.

*From an article in the Sat Jun 2 issue of ‘Die Burger’ newspaper.

[Maps and information from Wikipedia] Gough Island has a temperate climate between 11 °C (52 °F) and 17 °C (63 °F). It’s about 91 sq km (35 sq mi). In 1995, the island was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to many species of birds, subantarctic fur seals and (unfortunately) house mice, an invasive species brought there by humans. A project underway by the United Kingdom aims to exterminate all of the mice by 2021, though. They kill as many as 600,000 chicks a year on the island.