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!

Tuesday/ Captain Haddock, I presume

I noticed today at the No 10 bus stop here on 15th Avenue, that Captain Haddock from the Adventures of Tintin, the comics series by Belgian cartoonist Hergé, is featured on the local restaurant’s rotating menu (food from Belgium in this case).  I will have to go in and sample some of the food .. waffles, for sure – and is haddock (fish) a Belgian dish?

P.S. Fererer won in straight sets over Zverev. Yay!  In the final four he will now face fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka.

The sign at Coastal Kitchen restaurant here on 15th Avenue.  As Belgian cartoonist Hergé was considering names for his new character, a seafaring merchant marine captain, and Tintin’s best friend, he asked his wife, Germaine, what she had cooked for dinner.  She told him, “a sad English fish—haddock.”  Hergé thought this was a perfect name for Tintin’s new mariner friend, and so Captain Haddock was born. (This information from Wikipedia).

Wednesday/ cabbage with nutmeg

Here’s the cabbage, with the whole nutmeg nut showing the texture inside. (Yes, I probably overdid it with the nutmeg on the cabbage. I will use less next time!).

I got a whole nutmeg from a friend, and so I cooked up some green cabbage on Tuesday, and grated fresh nutmeg onto it.

Nutmeg is commonly added to sausages, meats, soups, preserves, puddings, and fruit pies.

Until the mid-19th century, nutmeg came exclusively from the Banda Islands in Indonesia. Today Indonesia still produces 75% of the world’s nutmeg.

Wednesday/ Katsu Burger

Three of us had a burger and a beer at a fancy-burger place called Katsu Burger, tonight. The burgers, fries and dipping sauces are described as Japanese American fusion.  My chicken teriyaki burger with fries and Japanese mayonnaise* was very good.

*Mayonnaise with (among other ingredients) hondashi powder.  Hondashi powder is made from a smoked and dried fish called the bonito.

This mural is inside Katsu Burger on Capitol Hill, featuring Japanese icons such as Godzilla, Mt Fuji and the rising sun from the Japanese flag.  The katakana characters top left カツバーガー are promounced ‘Katsu bāgā’.

Wednesday/ team dinner


Here’s my panna cotta : an Italian dessert of sweetened cream thickened with gelatin and molded. It was actually billed as ‘cherry blossom panna cotta’, to add a little Japanese to it. It was delicious.


Colorful wall art on the corner of Jackson and Montgomery St, close to where we had our dinner. There are lots of cubes in this picture, and one pyramid (the TransAmerica Tower in the back).

We had a team dinner at the Roka Akor tonight – an upscale Japanese bar in the Financial District.

There was a fixed menu with items such as chicken teriyaki, tuna sushi roll, golden beets and spicy beef.

For dessert there was cherry blossom panna cotta.


Sunday/ South African food in Seattle


The flags by the entrance to the Mt Baker Community Center shows something South African is going on inside!

My Facebook group ‘South Africans in Seattle’ held a bake-and-grocery sale in the Mount Baker Community Center on Sunday, and I felt compelled to go check it out.  Maybe they have those giant jars of Marmite, or Pronutro (breakfast cereal) or Mrs Ball’s chutney, I thought.

Alas – none of those items were on sale. Several other types of South African food were on offer such as curry (with ground beef) and rice, biltong1, braaivleis2 and sweet desserts such as koeksisters3 and and melktert4.  The space inside was very crowded and the lines were very long, though – and I was too impatient to wait in line for food.   I did chat to some friendly South Africans :).  Not many have been in Seattle as long as I have been.

1jerky, but saltier and never sweet    2barbecued meat    3a sticky syrup-infused version of a doughnut   4Afrikaans 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.

Wednesday/ Mensho Tokyo

Here’s a peek inside the hole-in-the-wall Mensho Tokyo (676 Geary St), one of Japan’s most acclaimed ramen (noodle) bars, this being the first one outside Japan.  I read online that the place has been mobbed, ever since it had opened in February.  About 50 people were patiently waiting outside on Wednesday night to get in, when I walked by.  The text on the wall describes katsuo bushi, a stock made from dried bonito flakes.  (Bonito is a medium-sized predatory fish in the same family as tuna and mackerel).



Saturday/ the McMenamins Six Arms

We walked down to the McMenamins Six Arms on Pike Street tonight : a bar and eatery in a wedge-shaped building.  The inside has old-fashined and seventies-style chandeliers, and they serve up pub grub and house-made microbrews – our kind of beer.  Life is too short to drink Bud Light.

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Here’s a little bit of the eclectic décor inside the McMenamins Six Arms. Look for a stuffed crow on the assembled plumbing. And since it’s Capitol Hill, and LGBT Pride Month, the rainbow flag has been put on display as well.

Wednesday/ eat your veggies

Here’s a chart from a recent TIME magazine that shows how percentages of daily consumption much room there is for improvement in the American diet.  (The breakdown is by calories, not by volume or mass).  Yes, diets are very complicated ! .. but surely we should all try to eat much more veggies.  And no, pizza and packaged foods do not count as vegetables!

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Wednesday/ Super Six forever?

Here is the Super Six restaurant where we had a burger and a beer tonight.  We think the restaurant is located in a re-purposed gas station or automotive repair work station.  Super Six refers to a kind of intake manifold on 70s and 80s car engines. One has to wonder with oil and gas prices as low as they are again, if fossil fuel engines will ever go away and be replaced by electric cars or hydrogen fuel cell cars.   I see the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car did start selling in California .. but at an estimated 3,000 cars that will be sold this year, it’s off to a slow start, for sure.

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The Super Six restaurant is located at 3714 S. Hudson Street in Columbia City in the south of Seattle.


Friday/ red cabbage

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The ‘tree’ inside of the cabbage makes me think of woods and fairy tales.

I cook my veggies with a little light olive oil and water with the lid on the pan, and I tried some red cabbage on Friday night.  I love green cabbage, but I see red cabbage has ten times more vitamin A and twice as much iron as green cabbage, so maybe I should stick with the red.

We don’t know where humans first started to cultivate cabbages, but it was most likely somewhere in Europe around 1000 BC. By the Middle Ages it was widely grown and eaten in the Middle Ages in Europe.

Thursday/ Mission burrito lunch

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There’s a big burrito inside the Chipotle bag. The printed text on the side says ‘Have you ever run into someone with no teeth, and asked ‘What happened?’ – a joke by comedian Anziz Ansari.


I discovered a Chipotle franchise near our office here, and now I go there at least once a week to pick up a Mission burrito.  These are also known as a San Francisco burrito or a Mission-style burrito and is a type of burrito that first became popular during the 1960s in the Mission District of San Francisco.   These burritos are bigger than the Mexican ones, and have additional ingredients beyond the basic rice, beans and meat.

Wednesday/ Oreo cookies and milk

I did stay up last night to watch the start of the new Late Show.  Host Stephen Colbert made fun of presidential candidate Donald Trump’s denouncement of Nabisco for closing an Oreo cookie factory in Chicago and moving the operation to Mexico.  (Oreos will still be made in three U.S. states).

P.S.  I can report that it is still high summer in California : it was 100 °F (38°C) as I got into my rental car at 7.30 pm tonight !  .. and I see the projected high for Thursday here in Walnut Creek is 106 °F (41°C).

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Stephen Colbert ate at least four Oreo cookies from the packet while talking about it.


Friday/ rusks from Woolies

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Woolworth’s rusks are top-drawer : made from Ayrshire* buttermilk and with free-range eggs! (They are delicious). *Ayrshire are dairy cattle originally from southwest Scotland.

A rusk is a hard, dry biscuit or a twice-baked bread, and Woolies is the nickname of Woolworths in South Africa, chain of retail stores modeled on Marks & Spencer in the United Kingdom. (The first store in South Africa opened in Cape Town in 1931).

Wednesday/ the Seattle Coffee Co

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This ‘Seattle Coffee Co’ is next to a big bookstore in the Tygervalley Mall nearby in Durbanville. There are 90 of these coffee shops around the country.

There are no Starbuckses in South Africa, but the first one is slated to open in Johannesburg in 2016, with others to follow.   South Africans do love their coffee : it is not referred to as boeretroos* for nothing in Afrikaans.

*Troos translates to ‘comfort’. Boer is much harder to translate.  It could simply be taken to mean ‘farmer’, but it also stands for the descendants of the Dutch-speaking settlers of the eastern Cape frontier .. and to this day is used for Afrikaans-speaking South Africans that are aware of that heritage.

Tuesday/ the Hungry Lion

Hungry Lion is a fast food franchise found in South Africa, Botswana, Angola and Swaziland. It was started in 1997 by Shoprite grocery stores. The outlets sell fried chicken and chicken burgers only. Does a hungry lion eat chicken? I guess SO!
In Afrikaans we would say ‘Ek is so honger soos ‘n wolf’ (as hungry as a wolf).
The Germans also say hungry as a wolf, or ‘Ich habe einen Bärenhunger’ (I have the hunger of a bear).

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This Hungry Lion fast food outlet is in the EIkestad Mall in Stellenbosch.

Saturday/ cat Instagram

This cartoon is from John Atkinson’s ‘Wrong Hands’ cartoon blog, here.  For my readers that may not know what the heck Instagram is, and what the cartoon pokes fun at, let me help.  Instagram is an online mobile photo-sharing service.  Its users (you need to set up an Instagram account first) take pictures and share them on Facebook and Twitter. People take all kinds of silly pictures with their phones, and many times of the food or dessert that they are about to eat : a totally 21st century social media phenomenon. So here we have a smart and dexterous kitty cat called Max, using his mobile phone and an Instagram account to post pictures of his food everyday. Go Max!  How about a mouse?


Saturday/ watermelon gummy candy

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‘Kasugai Watermelon Gummy Candy is very delicious. Please have a fun time with this watermelon gummy candy’ .. the clumsy but cute instruction on the little packet.

I have a bad cold and so I missed the Fremont (it’s a Seattle neighborhood) Solstice Parade with its naked* bicycle riders this year.  *OK, they have body paint on, but they are an evergreen source of titillation for the crowd.   The parade celebrates the start of summer here in the Northern Hemisphere.

I did make it out of the house to go gather some food at my local grocery store, though .. and found some nice Japanese gummy candy to cheer me up.

Tuesday/ I’ll have a Japanese soda

‘I’ll have a Japanese soda’, I told the waitress at the sushi restaurant where we ate on Monday. (That’s all the menu said : ‘Japanese soda’). Hello, what’s this? I thought when the bottle with the narrow neck and the blue plastic top fused onto the glass bottle arrived.  There is a carbonated marble in the top that you push into the drink when you open it.  Wikipedia says Ramune is one of the modern symbols of summer in Japan and is widely consumed during warm festival days and nights.  It has been around since 1876.

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[Picture found on-line, by Charles Nguyen] A ‘bowling pin’ arrangement of Ramune bottles. I had a green melon-flavored one at the back.