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].

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.

Tuesday/ Costco’s $1.50 hot dog

The price of a hot dog at Costco — $1.50 with a giant cup of soda — has not changed since 1985.  So I had to snap a photo of it in the little food court section while I stopped by there today!

Costco is a no-frills warehouse store chain (488 locations in the US) that was founded in Seattle in 1983.  Shoppers pay an annual membership fee ($60) to be able to buy anything from food and household items (usually in bulk quantities), to watches to TVs, at low prices. The store has 75 million members nationwide.  Ardent fans love the ‘treasures’ they find at stores: electronics, appliances or other less frequent purchases offered at extremely good prices.

Costco’s famous $1.50 hot dog that comes with a 20 ounce soda that can be refilled. (Public service announcement from me to the shoppers: take it easy there with the sugary soda.  20 ounces is already 2½ cups/ more than half a liter!).

Friday/ Bitte ein Bit (a Bit, please)

The one-a-day beer is in the cans, the as-much-as-you-like beer (no alcohol) in the bottles. I like them both.

My fridge was empty, and I set out to refill it today with eggs, milk, yogurt and beer. The store where I usually get my German beer, and my McCann’s Irish oatmeal, was out of both. 

Well darn it, I thought. And: You’re too persnickety with your tastes.  The Amazon-owned grocery store called Whole Foods Market came to the rescue, though.

Saturday/ ‘over medium’

My new little pan does the job of frying a single egg nicely. I wait until the top of the egg is solid enough, and then the fun part comes: wiggle it loose and flip it like a little pancake, to get the top side done as well.

I try not to clutter up my kitchen with too many devices and pots and pans, but finally got a little non-stick single-egg frying pan.

Of the myriad ways to prepare an egg – soft boiled, hard boiled, soft scrambled, hard scrambled, sunny side up, over easy, over medium, over hard, omelet, poached or baked – the ‘over medium’ style is one of my favorites.

Wednesday/ snacking on grape nuts

My new favorite snack cereal is Post’s Grape-Nuts. I see it has been around a long, long time. It is made from wheat and barley, so no grapes and no nuts! It does have a nutty taste, and was originally thought to contain grape sugar.

Mr. Post created his cereal way back in 1897. The box reads on the front: ‘Fully Cooked, Pre-Digested, Breakfast Food/ Grape-Nuts/ A food for the brain and nerve centres’. The Super Mario video game character on the 2018 box was created by Nintendo Japan, in 1985.

Tuesday/ let’s braai

Braai means barbeque in South Africa, and can be used as a noun or a verb.  I like to check out the offerings in the grocery store for braaiing.

Pork ‘Texan steak’ style is a thick cut of pork with seasoning rubbed onto it, then grilled or fried in a pan; boerewors (US$2.85/ lb) is very popular for South African braais | Kalahari (brand name) salt features a gemsbok | the largest marshmallows I have ever seen, also for braaiing

Wednesday/ Prost! with a Helmut

My helmet had a nice foamy head, and I liked the crisp taste.


We went to a pub called ‘Standard Brewing’ tonight, in Seattle’s Central District. It’s been there a few years, but it was my first visit.

The beers on offer are brewed on site, and I had a Helmut: a Munich ‘Helles’, a medium- bodied lager with a full malt presence and a clean finish.

Wednesday/ König Pilsener

König Pilsner, in a 500 ml can. It comes in bottles as well. Some connoisseurs say beer in cans taste different than beer in glass bottles. (Or is it one’s imagination? Time for a blindfold test!).
The König brewery is located in the west of Germany, in Duisburg.
Thursday’s projected highs : 95 °F (35°C) in Seattle and 103 °F (39°C) around other places in Puget Sound.

We ducked into the cool inside of a restaurant called ‘Smiths’ here on 15th Avenue tonight, for our regular Wednesday-night-beer-and-bite.

My favorite beer is a pilsener, and so I had a König Pilsener – brewed in Duisburg, Germany.

I thought the beer’s name might mean ‘the king’s beer’, but no, it’s named after brewmaster Theodor König who started brewing the beer in 1858.

Today the brewery belongs to Bitburger Braugruppe GmbH.
Their tagline is ‘Bitte ein Bit’.




Friday/ hold the butter, coconut oil

I have coconut oil in my kitchen (that I cook with sometimes), but I see that I should not use it for cooking. It contains 80% saturated fat ! – not good for the heart.

I do cook with olive oil, but I see there is an even better option : polyunsaturated oils such as corn oil, soybean oil or peanut oil. Check out these stills from CBS’s Friday morning show.

Some studies show that a diet with polyunsaturated fats can have the same effect as statin drugs.
Stay away from coconut oil and palm oil, and take it easy on butter and beef cuts with a lot of fat. Butter has 60% saturated fat, and beef has 40%. I suspect ice cream is in the 40% range as well.
Olive oil and avocado is still good – they have monounsaturated fats, but oils with polyunsaturated fat are the best.
Coronary heart disease is still the no 1 killer in the United States.

Monday/ a king’s ransom for king salmon

Hey! You cannot fool me: $74.99 is really $75, is it not? (and it comes to $82.19 after adding the city’s 9.6% sales tax).

King salmon is the most expensive of the salmon for sale here in Seattle (and the best), and Copper River King Salmon is even more pricey.  Shipments from this year’s limited catch have arrived on Alaska Air, and salmon fillets were available at Pike Place market this weekend – for $75 per pound. Yikes.

Just for fun, I compiled a list of other expensive foods – much more expensive, in fact.   [Source: much of the information gleaned from a list published on The Awesome Daily.]

Food Country of OriginPrice, USD, 1 lb
Copper River SalmonAlaska, USA$75
Moose Milk CheeseSweden$500
Kopi Luwak CoffeeThe Philippines$100-$600
Kobe BeefJapanUp to $500
La Bonnotte PotatoesFranceUp to $1,500
Blue Fin Tuna SushiJapanUp to $1,200
Matsutake MushroomJapanUp to $1,000
European White TruffleItalyUp to $1,000
Densuke Black WatermelonHokkaido, JapanUp to $1,200
Tieguanyin TeaChina, JapanUp to $7,000

Wednesday/ my new guilty pleasure

Single-serve Nutella is a boon for travelers (me) that need something to put on bread that does not need a refrigerator.

I picked up a new guilty pleasure while in Germany & Switzerland recently: putting Nutella* on my bread or toast.   The convenience stores in the train stations there sell single-serve Nutella packets, and once I had a few slices of bread with the stuff on, I was hooked.

Nutella is widely available here in the United States, and comes from a factory in Brantford, Ontario, in Canada.

*Nutella is a chocolate and hazelnut spread and has been around since 1964, when it was first produced in Alba, Italy – an area known for the production of hazelnuts. [From Wikipedia].

Nutella featured on the front page of a recent issue of the German newspaper Die Welt. Some unhappy European Union member states complained at the 2017 EU Spring Summit that they are getting sold second-rate household products in their stores.  For example, said the East European countries : our Nutella is not as creamy as the product that is available in Germany! (I would complain too!).

Monday/ it’s National Milk Tart Day!

Melktert, Afrikaans for ‘milk tart, is a South African dessert consisting of a sweet pastry crust containing a creamy filling made from milk, flour, sugar and eggs.  Monday marked the fourth ‘National Milk Tart* Day in South Africa.

*I’m not so sure ‘milk tart’ is in wide use and a proper translation.   I think even English-speaking South Africans say melktert.

‘Give your Hero a Tart Today – it’s National Milk Tart Day’ says this ‘Die Burger’ newspaper report of Monday.
Here’s the melktert I bought at a coffee shop.  It cost all of R60 .. not even US$5!  And how many do I want? inquired the store as I pointed to it in the display case. Oh no, only ONE! I said. It’s eight inches across which makes for a lot of tart!