tastebud travel: a meal plan

I dreamt last night of Rome. Cobble stones scattering tattered handkerchiefs of shadows through streets. Rubber strands of pasta wound like tourniquets on my fork. Explosions of pigeon wings as my Italian leather ballet shoes tripped lightly up the Spanish Steps. I’ve never been to Rome. And I don’t own a pair of Italian ballet flats. But I should go. And I definitely should own.

January is the month when my mind cannot be held captive indoors. Despite the reclusive 4-degree temperatures and the blinding purity of snow, I am already dreaming of sprouting baby lettuce tendrils, spying daffodil patches spread like chicken pox through soggy woods, and trading in snow boots for ballet flats. My mind may be getting a little ahead of the calendar, but there’s no reason why my stomach can’t go along for the ride. My menu plan this week endeavors to expand the palate beyond my Pittsburgh winter wonderland.

A Mid-Winter Travel Menu

Monday (Alaska)

Wild Alaskan Salmon with Tomato and Basil Pesto

In the winter, I can’t (really, really can’t) bring myself to purchase those pale red globes being pawned off as tomatoes in the grocery stores. So I substitute oven-roasted or sun-dried tomatoes. In the summer, I pile on thick slices of fresh-off-the-vine, crimson tomatoes. I buy nutrient-rich wild Alaskan sockeye salmon from Wild For Salmon. Their filets have never disappointed and are easily stored in the freezer for easy access all year long.

Tuesday (Italy)

Baked Portobello and Goat Cheese

This simple and surprisingly hearty meal will have you reaching for seconds. (Do be generous with that goat cheese!) If you’re up for some homemade sauce concocting, might I recommend this recipe from Smitten Kitchen? The addition of wine and red pepper flakes gives the sauce a spicy kick.

Wednesday

Left Overs

Thursday (French Countryside)

Poule au Pot (recipe courtesy of culinary historian Anne Willan, shared by Martha Stewart)

While this recipe is easily accessed online, you won’t be disappointed if you beg, borrow, or steal Anne Willan’s gorgeous cookbook, The Country Cooking of France. (Poule au Pot can be found on page 107.)

Friday (Provence)

Provence Chicken Crumble

What a happy marriage: a favorite recipe from a favorite blog featured in a favorite place. Except not quite in that order. We first stabbed a fork into Chicken Crumble when vacationing in Lourmarin, France a few years ago. Then I stumbled across the lovely cooking blog, Cocoa and Lavender. Afterward, I discovered that the authors of said lovely blog were the very same people who had introduced Chicken Crumble to the Provencal restaurant where we had dined. C’est une petite monde, n’est-ce-pas?

Saturday (Thailand)

Dining out: Thai Suan Thip with friends

Sunday (Good ol’ U.S. of A.)

Happy Birthday to Big Friend. His birthday meal of choice? Pizza Hut’s stuffed crust pizza. I can’t just let it go at that, so we’ll also be celebrating with a homemade angel food cake (compliments of the ever-helpful, ever-exacting Alton Brown) and Smitten Kitchen’s to-die-for black-bottom cupcakes.

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2 Comments

  1. Wordgirl said:

    Hi there,

    I’ve had you on my reader for awhile and just wanted to say hello — you’re making me wistful for both good cooking and travel!

    I noticed you are a former fellow English teacher — I left teaching (English Composition) in 2007 to stay home with my stepson and try to conceive our daughter — who is now a toddler –and I’m just adjusting to this sahm world!

    I wanted to say hello,

    P

    January 24, 2011
    Reply
    • It’s nice to know that I have kindred spirits out there! Thanks for taking the time to say hello and keep up with my little corner of the world! May we both continue to adjust to sahm gracefully…

      January 24, 2011
      Reply

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