Category Archives: Wanderings, Outer

Don’t sleep on Monday night :) — April 15th

140411163359-01-lunar-eclipse-0414-horizontal-galleryI just read some very interesting news, and thought to share here! There is a phenomenon related to Lunar Eclipses called Blood Moons, when during a total lunar eclipse the shadow of the earth makes the moon appear a beautiful coppery red, the color of a desert sunset. Starting tomorrow night there are going to be four blood moons in a period of a year and a half.

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This phenomenon is going to repeat itself in this century several times. We are fortunate to be able to see this, because their appearance is not regular, in fact there was one period of 300 years that the blood moons didn’t occur.

The picture on the left has several overlapping images of the moon, during an eclipse, in a few different shades it might appear in.

This time four of them will appear approximately each six months, starting April 15, then on October 8, April 4, 2015, September 28, 2015. So, get those telescopes out, and get prepared to forego sleep!

A very special cheese called DOUANIER

1622830_10152326162046327_8680752664535244644_nToday was turning out to be a normal Saturday after I adjusted to a change in my schedule. My afternoon flamenco class had got canceled at the last minute, and then I received the surprise of an unexpected gift of an assortment of cheeses. One of these was called Le Douanier (the Custom’s agent 🙂 )… apparently named so because the Fromagerie (the cheese farm) is located near the US/Canada border, in Quebec. Wanting to try them with good bread, something crusty and chewy, and some wine that would pair well, I decided to first go shopping. This is how everything looked!

To try the cheeses I opened the Douanier first, I enjoyed its beautiful nutty flavor, specifically pine nuts, so much that I decided not to open the others, not wanting to mix the different flavors. Having loved it so much I decided to google and get more information about the Douanier, and this is what I found:

untitled“Semi-soft cheese with a washed and brushed rind, refined by leaving in a drying room for more than nine weeks. It is separated in the middle by an edible vegetable ash, which is supposed to represent the ‘wall’, or the ‘Customs’ at the border, between Quebec and the U.S.

With aromas of the ‘terroir’ (the earth) and of vegetal growth, Douanier has hints of nuts and green apples on the palate.”

Other details:

Producer: Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser
Origin: Montérégie, Quebec
Rind: Washed
Milk: Cow pasteurized 
Texture: Semi-soft pressed
Fat: 24%
Humidity: 48%

I found it to be a truly lovely cheese, to be eaten on its own, if the subtle falvors are to be enjoyed! 🙂

Very innovative food ideas — SIAL* 2014

[SIAL* — Salon international l’alimentation — an annual Food Tradeshow recently held in Montreal, on April 2, 3 and 4. Please read the last four posts here (if you missed them) to learn more about my visit there.]

As may be expected, a tradeshow of this caliber has very innovative and creative food ideas on display! Some things that left me gasping were the following — either for appearance, or taste, or both taste and appearance :)!


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The first of these fantastic displays of ‘caviar’ made with sea-weed! No need to cut up sturgeons and salmon for their roe (fish eggs), in fact being made of seaweed makes this product healthier! The four tumblers have four different flavors… the dark-colored one in the foreground is the sturgeon flavored caviar, the dark one in the back is truffle-flavored, the green is wasabi flavored and the red, salmon-flavored…on a party-table, these would certainly be the ‘pièce de résistance’, the conversation piece!


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Next is an almost empty tray of sesame cookies from a company in Jordan. I have yet to eat a sesame product which is so delicious :)! As you can tell, people come from very far to attend this show! At this kiosk I was offered another product, a small ball-like shape — dates covered with pastry, very delicious too.
 
 


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And the last was something tasty with a very appetizing appearance. It’s a recipe you all may try. Take good quality olive oil, add chopped up sun-dried tomatoes preserved in oil, add small sized bread croutons and serve them in individual servings on spoons. Mamma mia 🙂 — delizioso**!!!
 
 

**Delicious in Italian 🙂

 

Chocolate — SIAL* 2014

[SIAL* — Salon international l’alimentation — an annual Food Tradeshow recently held in Montreal, on April 2, 3 and 4. Please read the last three posts here (if you missed them) to learn more about my visit there.]

As may be expected at a tradeshow for fine foods, there was lots of chocolate to be found at SIAL. I could hardly believe I was actually refusing offers to taste all sorts of fabulous creations, but after a while I couldn’t ingest any more sweet stuff.

2014-04-04 12_04_40However, one product that impressed me a great deal was ki’XOCOLATL — chocolate from Mexico! I couldn’t do better than to copy directly from their supplier’s website www.origenes.ca as to the secret behind their fabulous product.

“In the Mayan and the Nahuatl languages, the word Ki-xocolatl means: delectable chocolate. This name was chosen in honor of the two great pre-Hispanic cultures that dominated the cultivation of cocoa plants, and passed it on to modern man. The Olmecs as well as the Mayas were the first to cultivate cocoa, which was used to prepare a drink offered in their religious ceremonies. Cocoa beans were later used as a monetary medium of exchange in commercial dealings. The Aztecs mixed cocoa with spices to convert it into a drink for Gods and Kings.

Ki-xocolatl is the result of various years of collaboration between the Belgian Chocolatiers Mathieu Brees and Stephanie Verbrugge the cocoa producers of Chiapas and Tabasco in Mexico. It was a perfect blend of work and strong emotions that contributed to the cultivation of an exceptional cocoa from the forests where wild animals and plants co-exist in perfect harmony.

The carefully selected criollo beans are toasted and refined until a fine paste is obtained. Then based in the European tradition the paste is carefully blended for a minimum of twelve hours. Ki-xocolatl uses the best ingredients in preparing its products, such as sugar from local cane and organic vanilla from Veracruz.”

In the picture one can see the full range of their chocolates, with bowls of various kinds of chocolate for taste. My favorite was the one in the bright pink label, 72% dark chocolate with pink peppers — it was simply divine!

 

Olive Oils — SIAL* 2014

[SIAL* — Salon international l’alimentation — an annual Food Tradeshow recently held in Montreal, on April 2, 3 and 4. Please read the last two posts here (if you missed them) to learn more about my visit there.]

Logo_Olive_d_Or_2013OLIVE d’OR (Golden Olive) is a leading international olive oil contest held in Canada through the SIAL Tradeshow — a perfect place for someone like me to be, who is always on a quest for the best and the finest in olive oils, amongst some other food products!

It was very pleasant, therefore, to have a few minutes with one of the representatives of the Silver winners of the 2014 Olive d’Or Prize at SIAL, the Oleiva premium oil. This oil is produced by Slama Huiles**, aTunisian company, Tunisia today being one of the largest producers of olive oil in the world.

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The gentleman I spoke with was, of course, disappointed that they didn’t win the gold prize, having won it in another international competition in New York, some years ago. I tasted and loved the Oleiva oil. When they saw the look on my face as I savored the taste, and then asked where I could buy more, they told me they would send me the information soon, and gave me a few small sample bottles, since no selling is permitted at Tradeshows. I’m relishing it at home, treating it like liquid gold, which it is :)! They asked me if I would do an interview with them, which I readily agreed to, so, please stand by for more on Oleiva!

 

2014-04-06 12.39.11-1The pamphlets they gave me have some rich and useful information. The olive tree has a very long history in the Mediterranean region. The culture of olive oil goes back to years BC. It was first brought to Tunisia from the Middle East by the ancient Phoenician founders of Carthage. From ancient times Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs and all civilizations in the region have been passing the olive oil cultivation and production know-how down to the successive generations.

Slama Huiles has been in the hands of the same family for three generations, continuing a 2000 year old tradition from their ancient olive grove “Domaine Le Baron”.

Besides it use in food, especially as a dipping oil with crusty breads (my favorite), olive oil is full of medicinal and nutritional value, which I’ll be writing about at a later date!

**The word ‘Huiles’ means oils in French. The French influence in Tunisia comes from the French colonial Empire era when Tunisia was under the French Protectorate from 1881 to 1956.

 

SIAL — If you read the previous post…

2014-04-04 17_59_38…you will know how enthused I am about the Food Tradeshow SIAL, that took place in Montreal this year on April 2, 3 and 4. As in the previous two shows, this time too, I discovered some wonderful new items, along with the old traditional staples like olive oil, maple syrup, small scale productions of liquors and wines, coffee, chocolate, breads, desserts, amongst others. These latter are the reason I started visiting SIAL, as I am always on a quest for better and better olive oil, coffee, chocolate and breads.

One of my favorite things about a show of this caliber is the extremely high quality of the products seen there. A small example is the pecan nuts I tasted at the section of foods from the United States. I have never seen or tasted pecans of this color, size, freshness, and taste (picture below)…incredible at all levels. Now I’m spoiled 🙂

2014-04-04 16_31_35I shared the pecan samples with a friend who travels to the US often and he too found them of extremely high quality. This is nothing to do with SIAL, but as someone who travels frequently by road to Florida he said they must come from Georgia (I have yet to investigate that) and told me that all along the highway, signs of pecan groves and pecan products for sale are ever-present. One of his favorites is the ‘pecan roll’, which is not a baked good like a cinnamon roll but a nougat/fudge like item, covered with crushed pecan nuts. He’s promised to bring me some to taste the next time. In the meantime I checked online and found info at this link:

http://candy.about.com/od/nutcandyrecipes/r/easypecanrolls.htm

There’s lots more to come from my experiences at SIAL… stay tuned! 🙂

My favorite ‘show’ is back :)

SIAL (salon international de l’alimentation) the International Food & Beverage Tradeshow, is an annual show, alternately held in Montreal and Toronto. When the show is here, in Montreal, I dust off my ITWPA (International Travel Writers & Photographers Alliance) badge and go. Here’s a video from a past show that captures the ambience of the place!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChkgFpYz_Bs&list=PLrwpO0j_4z9S1Ppq7mLb3NV-XxrxUS7Pg&feature=share&index=2

It is so much fun to mingle with food professionals at all levels; introduce myself as a freelance ‘food and wine-focused’ travel writer and make such wonderful discoveries. I saw and tasted two fruits today, one from Panama, and the other from the Dominican Republic that I hadn’t even heard of before. It is very moving, to meet people who come to such trade shows with awesome products, full of hope to find distributors for their products. One young woman I met, from Panama, was selling a hot sauce based on her grandmother’s recipe. That was so cool!

Another product that caught my attention was a sausage from the Lac St. Jean area of Quebec, which had blueberries added to it! That just blew me away. It was absolutely delicious, with a very distinct flavor of blueberries in the meat! This company will soon start supplying stores in Montreal. They promised to let me know when and where, and as soon as I hear from them I’ll report the information here.

SIAL is co-located with SET Canada, the National Food Equipment and Technology Tradeshow — the two cater to the North American food-industry professionals. SIAL Canada and SET Canada are an integral part of the SIAL Group—the world’s leading network of food-industry shows— which has a presence on 4 continents (Paris, Montreal/Toronto, Shanghai, São Paulo and Abu Dhabi) counting 7,500 exhibitors and 200,000 visitors from 200 countries.

SIAL lasts three days…today was Day 1. So, expect to find very interesting food posts here in the next few days 🙂

 

This post is NOT a hoax :)

It’s the first of April 🙂 — did anyone play a joke on you yet? Called April Fools’ Day (sometimes called All Fools’ Day) the world over, it is an informal holiday celebrated every year on April 1. The day is not a national holiday in any country, but it is widely recognized and celebrated as a day when people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other, called April fools. Hoax stories are also often found in the press and media on this day.

Precursors of April Fools’ Day include the Roman festival of Hilaria, held March 25, and the Medieval Feast of Fools, held December 28, a day on which pranks are still played in Spanish-speaking countries. In 1508, French poet Eloy d’Amerval referred to a poisson d’avril (April fool, literally “April fish”), a possible reference to the day. In Italy, France, Belgium, and French-speaking areas of Switzerland and Canada, the April 1 tradition is often known as “April fish” (poisson d’avril in French or pesce d’aprile in Italian). This includes attempting to attach a paper fish to the victim’s back without being noticed. Such fish feature prominently on many late 19th- to early 20th-century French April Fools’ Day postcards. In these countries, the pranks always involve the use of the word fish, in some form!

Ashley Macha of Health News and Views hasd argued that April Fools can be good for one’s health because it encourages “jokes, hoaxes…pranks, [and] belly laughs”, and then explained all the benefits of laughter, including stress relief and reducing strain on the heart. It also noted that the themed content makes sense within a larger context: “April 1st also marks the start of National Humor Month, a month-long celebration of laughter and happiness”, and who can argue with the benefits of that! 🙂

In most countries, the accepted rule is to play jokes and pranks only until 12 noon… after that the ‘perpetrators themselves become fools’!!!

 

A marvelous flamenco evening :)

What a treat it was on Sunday evening to see a show by  Israel Galván! This flamenco dancer has been variously called “revolutionary”, “avant garde”, and quite simply “a genius”… It was my first time to see him, and my first time to be exposed to a contemporary, if I may call it that, flamenco style. Israel was born to flamenco dancing parents, and at age 18 decided to take up flamenco professionally, and what a stir he has created in the dance world with his talent.

imagesThe brochure I was given at the Theatre described his dance as complex, with rapid-fire footwork and movement and in the show I saw it all! In the world of dance, Israel has won every possible flamenco prize there is to win, including the Giradillo prize at Seville’s flamenco biennial, the Flamenco Hoy critics’ award for best dancer of the year, which he received in both 2001 and 2005, and Spain’s national dance prize — I have to say it was a humbling experience to be in his presence, simply because to be so good one has to put intense and long practice into what one has a passion for, and that is something to be admired and appreciated always!

I’m posting a video of his, so you know what I’m talking about… OLÉ!!!

 

Our beliefs ‘make’ us

Londonderry Air is an ‘air‘ (music) that originated from County Londonderry in Ireland (now Northern Ireland). It is popular among the Irish diaspora and is very well known throughout the world. The tune is played as the victory anthem of Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games, and the song “Danny Boy” set to the tune, is hugely popular.

For some inexplicable reason, this song has always brought up a lot of haunting sadness in me, since I first heard it at the age of around 12. Now that this has come up again today, I think I need to investigate the connection ;)…

But another lovely poem/song that is set to the same melody, Londonderry Air, I learned and memorized during my school years. It is something that moulded me to become the person I am in my life. Here are the words, written in 1906 by Howard A. Walter, learned at around age 12, and never forgotten:

I would be true, for there are those who trust me;
I would be pure, for there are those who care;
I would be strong, for there is much to suffer;
I would be brave, for there is much to dare.

I would be friend of all—the foe, the friendless;
I would be giving, and forget the gift;
I would be humble, for I know my weakness;
I would look up, and laugh, and love, and lift.

Here’s the best youtube link I found, although the words are slightly changed in it!

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Interesting though, that upon checking this poem out online, I found the original version that I never knew existed… very Christian, but lovely, all the same (I’m not Christian). If I removed the religiously-inclined words, it still makes perfect sense to me :)!

If only more people… but let’s not go there! I can only speak about MY truth 🙂