Sunday, July 31, 2016

Political Conventions and a Celebration of American Food

This year has been a particularly contentious campaign season so we thought it would be a good idea to remind ourselves how wonderful this country is and keep in mind that we are all Americans. Here's what we made for the nights of the first week's convention. We originally posted these pictures to Instagram with the captions that follow.

Monday, New England: white clam pizza, Boston lettuce with dried cranberries and VT cheddar, RI coffee stout for Ken and coffee milk for me, grape nut ice cream with Maine blueberries.

Tuesday, South Atlantic: MD crab cakes, low country boil, key lime tartlets. Ken had a MD Dead Rise beer with Old Bay, but we didn't get picture.

Wednesday, Mountains: AZ fry bread taco, CO trout, baked ID potato, and non-mountain OH Buckeyes. Epic Imperial IPA from UT for Ken, which he pronounced "stunningly good".

Thursday, East North Central (Midwest): beef and noodles over mashed potatoes, reminiscent of Ken's grandmother's chicken and noodles, Hoppin Frog double IPA from OH, and sugar cream pie.

Continuing our celebration for the second week's convention, we made the following.

Monday, West North Central (Midwest): Our most whimsical dish so far: Tater Tot Hot Dish, from MN. Served with roasted corn and sweet tea, rumored to have been invented at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, MO.
Tuesday, Pacific: Salmon, the "California blend" vegetables of my youth, cous cous with red peppers, Hawaiian beer and pineapple shave ice.

Wednesday, South Central: Kentucky beer, first zucchini from the garden, fried catfish and the official fruit and vegetable of Arkansas, pink tomatoes.

Thursday, Mid-Atlantic: Buffalo wings, Philly cheese steak and NJ Taylor ham, with beer from Brooklyn Brewing Co.

We had so many good ideas and enjoyed celebrating these regional dishes that we also made these:

St. Louis pizza, baking powder vs. yeast crust, an approximation of Provel cheese, and served in square pieces.

Michigan Coney dog.

North Dakota knoephla soup. Knoephla are like potato-less gnocchi, and the potatoes are cubed in the soup.

Fox's Lobster House and One More Lobster Roll

On Father's day Gail and I took a trip up to Maine on a quest for fried lobster. Gail's cousin posted to FaceBook about a fried lobster she had at Fox's Lobster House in York Beach. For a few weeks we had this stuck in our heads and couldn't find a place more local to try it.

It turned into a great trip. We went to a dairy farm and bought raw milk and eggs. We stopped at a few breweries including the eclectic Earth Eagle Brewings in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We walked over the world's smallest suspension bridge: The Wiggly Bridge in York Maine. We walked on the beach. We got a soft serve. We stopped at a great candy shop: Harbor Candy Shop in Ogunquit, Maine. And, right across the parking lot from Fox's is the scenic Nubble Light. All in all, a perfect day.

The fried lobster was exactly the decadence we expected. Tender fried pieces of chunky lobster tail, dipped in drawn butter. It was sweet and sinfully rich. Amazing! Since we had recently done a side-by-side of lobster rolls, it seemed only fitting to get Fox's lobster roll too. That roll beat all the others we had tried, although not by much. It had a good New England-style roll that could have been a touch fresher, but otherwise it had a good mound of lobster with good salt and mayonnaise levels, and just the right amount of lettuce. At $18.95, it wasn't the least expensive, but it did come with a generous portion of onion rings. It was table service, so overall not too bad.

To put a cap on this lobster trek, we had to try McDonald's seasonal lobster roll. It was priced at $8.99, and probably had 4 ounces of meat. They didn't skimp. The roll was toasted, and like so many of them, could have been a touch fresher. They had a good balance of mayonnaise and celery salt, but overdid the lettuce. That's not such a huge problem after we picked it off. Overall, we've had better, and we had worse. At $9 it was an excellent value.

Try the World Box: Sweden

The Sweden box was a bit incoherent. It had plenty of treats, but not enough ingredients for a Swedish meal. The recipe card included recipes for salmon and dill toasts, Swedish dumplings and ham & cheese toasts. There was also a pointer to a Swedish meatball recipe. The closest thing to an ingredient for these dishes in the box were the crackers and lingonberry jelly to garnish the dumplings.

We did make the toasts, and dumplings. They were good, but not enough for a meal. We augmented it with a Swedish shrimp sandwich called räkmacka that I learned about on a business trip to Sweden. Räkmacka is a pile of tiny shrimp with a lump of mayo and egg on the side. People mix as much of the egg and mayo as they want into each bite. Together these dishes made a mini Swedish smorgasbord.

Sweden also has a tradition of fika, which is a mid-day sweet snack with coffee. Swedes will drop everything in the middle of the workday: "Time for fika." The box included cookies, licorice, fudge and coffee in support of fika. Swedes like strong coffee, and have barely heard of decaf.

The box included:

Mörsjö Deli gourmet crisps - A thick salty cracker, that was good. Our package was a little bit crunched up.

Nordic Rosehip Fudge - This very soft fudge was flavored more like penuche. It was very good, but we didn't taste any rose flavors.

Tillmans Elderflower saft syrup - This was the star of the box. A little of this in a glass of seltzer made for a deliciously refreshing non-alcoholic cocktail.

Gille Double Chocolate Crisps - This was an interestingly elaborate cookie with two cookie layers enrobed in chocolate sandwiched with some caramel.

Löfbergs Kharisma Coffee - Good strong Swedish coffee.

Hafi Lingonberry Preserves - Lingonberry jelly just yells Sweden to me. It's sort of sweet and sour like a mix of strawberry and cranberry.

Lakritsfabriken Sweet Licorice - A good, strong licorice with a slightly salty flavor. This was a softer version of the center of a Good & Plenty.

Liss Ellas Sweet and Hot Mustard - This was a decent hot and sweet mustard with big mustard grains.