Word and Image

Food

Picnic in the Square

IMG_0401Plop! Yes bring a rug and plop down in any open space. No one seems shy about bringing along a rug and just claiming a spot in the middle of everything. I can’t say that it appears comfortable. Selfies in the background!? It’s midnight and joint is hoppin’! I’d ordinarily think a nice soft patch of grass would do. But there ‘s no grass in sight. Folks will set up in the most unlikely and most uncomfortable looking locations. And despite the hour, no one appears ready for bed.


Typical Drink Ramadan

IMG_0357My guide told me that there were typical drinks that were served at Ramadan. These things create the familiar memory of a holiday as eggnog would remind me of Christmas. The dark purple drink is served everywhere. The origin or berry is unclear to me. The taste is distinctive. The other drink is newer and is seen together. But it is the purple stuff….has an odd distinctive flavor. It is sweet without citrus tartness. Initially I did not like it but it becomes an acquired taste. It was new for me but is typically served where ever I go. Most vendors served it up from plain plastic containers. Here at least the display had some style and was worth sharing the image. Otherwise for the rest of the year I don’t see this drink.


Typical for Ramadan

IMG_0328My guide told me that this is typical food served at Ramadan. It is liver she said. Diced liver and mixed vegetables are added to a hot grill. The savory smell beckons. It seems this is the specialty of the house and at every table multiple orders were being eagerly shared. No one seemed to mind me taking images, so I did.


Street Food

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This is a pocket food. It starts as a small ball of dough that like pizza is stretched to paper thinness. And then a filling is added. The package is folder and thrown on an oiled hot grill. Make it golden brown. It looked good. The picture says it far better than a description.IMG_0352


Lunch Special

IMG_0125I am just realizing that the restaurants around here run lunch specials. Restaurants do this everywhere, I suppose. But bargains? This one was a pretty sweet deal. Zucchinni soup, pasta with bacon (it’s really beef), and a pounded tender chicken cutlet; the salad, bread, and soft drink are included. IMG_0127That’s my iPhone ebook reader in the background. Peaceful setup as anything…All this goes for the price of an entrée menu item. I’m trying to be good and not overdo this. IMG_0129I noticed the steak house has a lunch special too. And with Ramadan the Indian place will run an all you can eat buffet. So many restaurants, so little time. I’d mention the name but you probably won’t be dining in this restaurant.


Fourteen

2362 16 Julia cakeIf the candles are correct it’s fourteen. Otherwise there might be one there for good luck and it was the thirteenth birthday. I’ve reached the point where memory is fading. I don’t remember this cake. I remember this gathering of cousins.2362 19 Andrew David Julia Bryant Chris Steven John had three sons. Eric had one. Count ‘em. All boys on my side of the family, Jules was the exception. On Lisa’s side it was two nieces. Symmetrical? I was one of three boys, Bill (grandpa) was one of three boys, and Vinnie (Lynn’s husband) the same. Yes, it was very symmetrical. It can’t last. This cake was in Lisa’s wedding cake decoration phase. The lace work and decorations would later be used in building a tiered wedding/celebration layer cake. She enjoyed the challenge. And once mastered, she never did it again.2362 24 Lisa Lila

 


Entenmann’s

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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/03/nyregion/a-long-island-institution-is-cooling-its-ovens.html?hp

Today the post inspired the picture.

This doughnut and my family have a long relationship. We pretty much loved the chocolate covered doughnuts with unconditional love since I’ve known Lisa and certainly all of the lives of my children . I’ve had others of their products but no no no, it was all about these doughnuts. This was not as bad as Oreo cookies. We couldn’t and never had Oreos in the house. Mom unashamed and unabashedly ate them all before they reached the cupboard. From the earliest time the kids (Jules) could walk we would routinely hide the doughnuts in the freezer. That continued until and beyond the time both kids could reach the freezer. I got to like eating frozen doughnuts so there was no need to store then anywhere else. When we would do our annual Bear Mountain hike I was always sure to pack a full box (8 large) and we would snack our way around the lake.

I did occasionally experiment like the time Entenmann’s made raspberry flavored chocolate covered doughnuts. A thin layer of raspberry jam was in between the chocolate and the doughnut. And there was the chocolate doughnut covered with chocolate. Neither product was a big seller in my house. In my kids’ opinion you don’t mess with a classic.  However, the regular chocolate covered doughnuts never seemed to be around when I wanted one.

Therefore, I devised a devious deception. When the raspberry doughnuts were done, I filled the empty box with the regular doughnuts. My kids’ eye would light up at least once a week when they thought mom had brought home another box. Then there would be disappointment, “raspberry again,”  and the freezer would close upon my stash in plain sight. I ate doughnuts whenever I wanted for a about six months before anyone discovered my secret.

When I recently returned to Jeddah, Eric brought me to the airport and he thrust a box of Entenmann’s doughnuts into my hand. He insisted I take them and even eat the whole box on the plane if they wouldn’t survive the trip. I scarcely had room to carry one more thing. But that darned box survived the trip and didn’t melt. So I savor them as I write this post. Yeah, Proust and la madeleine….


Little Pie Company

IMG_5259It started in an apartment upstairs in Manhattan Plaza. The guys started baking pies in neighbors’ ovens all over the building and were so successful that the rest, as they say, is history. It began many years ago, but, after we moved to the neighborhood so it has always been in my kids’ lives. The signature pie is the sour cream apple walnut, SCAW. They published a cookbook and did not include this recipe. Drat! So nostalgia drew us to get a small pie. David was gracious enough to allow (and he made it himself) me a BLT. Yeah, life is good.IMG_5215


Queen Of Sheba

IMG_8484There is an Ethiopian restaurant downstairs and steps from where we live. It was at one point Mike’s Bar and Grill before Hell’s Kitchen became Chelsea Clinton (not her, the neighborhood name) and the clientele became yuppies. I recall there were also jokes many years ago during the famine and starvation in Ethiopia. The food is served atop a large sourdough flatbread called an jnjera. Therein lies the problem. The bread is tangy and Lisa and the kids don’t like the taste. I once took Grandma and niece Jane. They liked it. Or at least they didn’t tell me if they didn’t like it. Well, the story (it’s not about the picture) comes around on my birthday. We get dressed – semiformal – we really never dress to eat out in the neighborhood. Then… comes a blindfold and the kids take me down the elevator and into the street. We enter a cab, instructions are whispered and we ride around. Still blindfolded, Lisa pays the fare, and we descend to the street. We enter and the blindfold is removed. As I said this restaurant is located a couple steps out the front door. I view this as a family sacrifice on my behalf. I ate and they picked.IMG_4577

When I wanted to torture the kids I would make them eat in the Turkish Cuisine restaurant. Of course this was many years ago when at dinner the sauce and the pasta had to arrive separately on the plate. No hidden ingredient surprises then. Lately David ate iguana tacos in Mexico. I was horrified to see his pictures of the old woman killing the live iguana with a machete and then tossing it on the grill still kicking. And when I was in California, three days running, J ordered dishes or smoothies with kale in them. I can recall (memory still intact) nary a single instance in which I have ever eaten kale. So… who’s the grown-up now?IMG_3759


Flat Bread

IMG_2991It’s made in fired ovens. David thinks that it’s two layers and the ‘puffy’ bread rises because of the construction of the dough. To me the dough looks like a single pancake. They make a lot of it. It’s the sliced bread of life here. IMG_2992It’s the Middle East equivalent of French bread served in NY. And then there’s the Tandoori oven. They slap pieces of dough against the sides and make another form of bread. When I attended a banquet at a home, there was a portable Tandoori available for on the spot baking. My assessment – it sure beats sliced white ‘Wonder Bread.’IMG_3001It looks like there’s something stuffed inside. Either way the food is good.IMG_2999Since we were in the outdoor kitchen, it afforded us a view to some pretty good cooking. IMG_3002


PF Chang

IMG_3431David said don’t do it. He said it’s a chain and it’s not too good, too formula…. He’s eaten in a lot of places by now, so he’s more sophisiticated in his taste and evaluation. Unlike Ajii which both of my kids approved, PF Chang was a place to avoid according to both children. With a lack of choices I found myself drawn to try it. All local reviews were positive and everyone raved about the dynamite shrimp. Now I have found out that the entire six restaurants at this site are owned by a single company group. So far it’s been very successful with no parking and lines everywhere. I’m not impressed that cheesecake costs $8 (33SAR). A burger at Shake Shack is only $8. But my eye was on PF Chang. The singles section is like an afterthought. The space is small and cramped. Service is very attentive. They do a little show to mix some dipping sauce tableside. The food – dynamite shrimp is the local NY version of deep fried shrimp covered in a mayonnaise sauce. It’s pretty funky in NY and so what else can you say. It is a recipe that was made on the spot in NY with ingredients at hand in a combination of ingredients put together from a bad dream. Not bad…. Just not worth mentioning again. Dynamite – it’s in the hot cloying sauce. Anywhere else and without the sauce, this is tempura shrimp.IMG_3418

Chicken lettuce wrap has the standard iceberg lettuce – ice cold – to wrap around diced chicken and deep fried crispy rice noodles. Decent. IMG_3424The shrimp dumplings were covered by steamed wonton skins and were largely tasteless, hence the dipping sauces. IMG_3427There was green apple soda, way too sweet, but with a crunch green apple slice. I’ve not made another foray to try the mains yet. But so far David and his sister were right.IMG_3417


Amara, Missing Shots

IMG_2445I bet you wondered when I spoke about Amara (lukewarm) if I had left out the pictures of the restaurant because it wasn’t the greatest. Nope, just a senior moment. IMG_2739David was the one to find it. He pushed me on a quest to find roadside sculpture. And with a family (J, daughter) we could eat upstairs!IMG_2723Yeah, it’s a lot different view. If you are single you eat somewhere else. IMG_2724Same food, just different view. As a single, I read. I’ve got a library on my iTouch. Reading ain’t conversation. But a good page turner  is a distraction. Yay for ebooks.


Amara

IMG_2476It’s a multilevel restaurant. Singles (men) sit in the open air sidewalk tables. Families (aha! I had one with me) can use the outdoor terrace overlooking some apartments, police station, hotel, and an unfinished tower. Did I mention a view of the ocean? But you can’t see this at night. Of course you never have a chance if they seat you away from the view. Which they did, even though they promised a nicer table if we had a reservation. It seems my (our face) face didn’t rate. Dinner wasn’t bad. And afterwards we had the pleasure of walking across the street to the mosaic octopus. Yeah!

It was in the same building as Ajii. Actually we found and targeted Amara first. We had to return to Amara twice when we were out of restaurant options because of the late hour (11:30PM) and the failed attempt at Palm Garden. It was so late because of that night dive. See… all my posts have lately tied together in a logically illogical way. Horray!

 


Ajii

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When the kids were here they were very considerate and accommodating. We ate Middle Eastern food mostly. David never cared for it much in NY but he was in country and determined to sample local fare. We ate in Yildizar a restaurant rated all over the internet as one of the best in Jeddah. I can’t say that it was particularly special, but separate searches by all the family came up with the same name. Maybe they stacked search engine?IMG_3150 On the last night together both kids determined we would try Ajii an oriental fusion restaurant that we had found. The food was surprisingly good. Funny for me was that it wasn’t the food that was important as much as the company.IMG_3135 Now that the kids have returned home, the food is more attractive looking back at the pictures. We arrived just before evening prayer time. It was strange to be in a good restaurant as the only patrons from start to finish of the meal. No matter, it was the ultimate in private dining. Pick a table, any table at all….IMG_3140

It’s an Asian fusion restaurant. We ate there and it was empty except for us. Like anywhere else it’s a mystery how some places are popular and others are empty. It was a very good menu and food was very good.IMG_3129 J got into the car to drive. Nope, we (she) didn’t break the law. There were still some time zone issues. It’s hard to eat dinner when your body thinks it’s 2AM. And afterward you can walk over and have an experience with a mosaic octopus sculpture in the traffic circle.IMG_3111J wasn’t here long enough to recover from jet lag. She’d left LA, flown to NYC, and arrived in Jeddah pretty much discombobulated. (I always wanted to use that word in a sentence!)

 

IMG_3118Lemon with mint. They really do this well!

IMG_3120The kids were always gracious enough to allow me to photograph the food first.

IMG_3126Dumplings, decent dumplings, I could have done without the pea in the center. But decent dumplings!

IMG_3137Pad Thai, ’nuff said…

IMG_3143Crispy chicken, yes it was… and good too.

 


Ketchup

IMG_2395What do you expect from a restaurant named Ketchup. It’s an American grill staffed by Filipinos serving burgers. Nope, we didn’t try it. And just down the other side is a Johnny Rocket’s, don’t ask. And nearby is a Bentley and Lamborghini dealership. We chose Maesti an Egyptian menu. All the food styles tend to run together. I think you can get falafel across all cultures here. Good? Yes.IMG_2397

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And then there was the Palm Garden on the Corniche. We wandered by and were drawn in by the lights. Ah! A really big men’s section. David made it a point to remember this place so we could drag his sister in for a good time. And later on we did.IMG_2399

 


Palm Garden

IMG_3085David and I found this restaurant on the first night when we toured the Corniche. It had a very large men’s section to which David commented, “If we eat in every restaurant once with J and once by ourselves, it will truly be two different experiences.” Go figure.IMG_3002

The first try with J did not work. We arrived at rush hour (10PM) and decided to try again. The kitchen is near the waiting area so I took the opportunity to look and get some images. The cooks didn’t mind. IMG_2999

J was embarrassed so she didn’t look. Bread, two kinds, are made in a brick oven and tandoori oven. Yes it was interesting enough, that when J finally came with us to see, she shot a video of the bread rising in the brick oven.IMG_2992 It was a worthwhile effort and another good memory for me.IMG_3003Waiting!?IMG_3007Falafel is not on the menu. But with our pre meal tour of the kitchen, I knew we could order it and it was certainly good to eat it.IMG_2399

It’s not much to see on the outside. And parking in the area is a nightmare. But the crowds must have been onto something. We’d have gone twice if time and parking had permitted.IMG_2401The men’s section had a distinctively different vibe.


It’s Gum

IMG_2968This trip we made several excursions to the Balad. We just wandered the narrow winding streets. The kids didn’t buy a thing. We just looked at the street life and commerce. J didn’t like me just shooting the camera from the hip. David inadvertently distracted her with his patter so I got to trail and shoot. We passed a lot of interesting merchants. One thing I found is that it helps to ask about strange products. We found that gum is sold in blocks. Silva told me it’s to flavor certain dishes in cooking. David and I just chewed the gum and found it to be enough to make you stop chewing gum. It had the consistency but the taste…ugh!

 


Cooking Lessons

IMG_2047Did I tell you that I never had a cooking lesson? And the Food Channel was a recent phenomenon that I watched when all the movie channels didn’t have a single flick worth watching. I discovered I could cook the first time I was away from home in med school.

My mother had a simple rule raising three sons. You help out or you don’t eat. So I cut, diced, chopped, and prepped for years. I had that aha moment when I realized that the final step was to throw it into the pan and voila, dinner. Rice is a challenge for everyone. I eyeball the quantity of rice and water, perfect every time. Smug, aren’t I? Who cares? I don’t starve. I do wish there was a more varied menu but hey that’s my own fault and I can’t readily fire the chef.IMG_2055

I got some Pillsbury biscuit dough and made dumplings. The dough is not expensive in NY but here it was a bit more money. Not enough money to break the deal but enough to make me decide it would be a project to make the dough myself. And it’s not always available in the super market. And it is carried in only one market that I have seen so far. Are you following me?

So the big experiment…I tried with flour baking soda, baking powder, salt and some luck. No go. The dough was tough and didn’t rise. It had an interesting color only a cook (me) would love… and eat (close eyes).

To back up one step, Pillsbury was a shortcut that has been in my memory and I think it was my mother’s invention. (Secret: She once told me Chinese cooking is easy. It’s technique. The ingredients can all be substituted depending on what’s available on hand.) But I’ve been using biscuits so long that I don’t remember the origin. It’s kind of like remembering when I first learned to use chopsticks. Who knows? You’ve just been doing it all your life. Roll out the dough, stuff it with whatever, steam it, and you’re good to go. The primary rule is that whatever your ingredients, you like them, and you will like the end result. I tried to explain this to Julia, but I’m not sure the lesson has stuck.

So I went online with a usual internet search that will virtually tell me any secret of life. And the first page of hits was how to cook with Pillsbury biscuits. No home recipe to make them. Biscuit recipes, yes! But I’m pretty sure Pillsbury is not using vegetable, shortening, butter, buttermilk, and an assortment of other ingredients that got longer and more complicated.

Then it occurred to me that Bisquick in the super market might work. Right! They make biscuits and I had seen some in the store. Of course I had seen it (memeory is still good, spelling just average) but it wasn’t available. That’s the problem. Sometimes they have stuff and sometimes not. It’s random. And a royal pain in the …  You would think that inventory in the same store chain would be consistent. No! Some stores have things that the others don’t. And the elves take extra care to move stuff around between my visits. And where you put something is random and seemingly unrelated. Grocers don’t put salt and sugar together, and the artificial (fake!!!) sugar is in another place. Come on where’s the logic?!!!

No Bisquick! Ahh… doughnut mix??? You don’t see that in NY. But, aha, it rises. I got the idea from Pillsbury’s tube which suggested the idea. ???Is it sweet? Well it’s only a couple bucks to try. It’s a bit more complicated than Pillsbury. You have to proof the dough (let it rise) three times. But otherwise it looked similar and tasted similar to the Pillsbury. Pillsbury on the internet doesn’t give out the secret recipe. Hey it’s just a biscuit. Alton Brown food channel uses buttermilk, butter, and an assortment of ingredients that had me lose interest in about 5 seconds.

Doughnuts!!! No holes. Who’s counting. At Dunkin, you buy the holes separately. I just made them together. (I don’t/figured out have a doughnut hole maker). Not bad and would be even better with chocolate sauce.IMG_2043

I steamed a batch instead of frying, which was the original point of this experiment. And the dough rose and puffed just like a Chinese char siu bow. Now and I can make dumplings in the future and not worry about Pillsbury. The next problem will be that they don’t sell doughnut mix in NY. But I got a way to make dumplings like home. Everyone needs a little home?IMG_2049

I did make the sweet potato chips while proofing. I got this recipe from Ruth Reichel, bless her. She was a critic for the NY Times a while back. I saw her interviewed wearing sunglasses and an awful red wig until I found out she was disguised so that the restaurants wouldn’t spot her and treat her extra special.

Getting the chips thin is the trick. Lisa wouldn’t let me use a mandolin (very sharp cutter, not musical) because she cut herself once upon a time. So I have used the potato peeler. It works. But the mandolin is so much faster. And I haven’t cut myself yet. Ha ha it occurs to me that Lisa might object to me using a sharp scalpel blade during surgery. I probably shouldn’t use sharp things. Two of my assistants cut me last year. Now when they hold the knife, I’m standing in the next room (kidding).IMG_2052

The nuts I made (almond, cashews, peanuts) the other day. I have a recipe that is sooooo simple. And they are now in the news as a healthy food. And for my dear wife, I swear that I don’t add that much salt and sugar. I must say that the nuts don’t last for very long when the kids are around. It seems that the Mediterranean diet is rich in nuts. That’s another good thing. I can get raw nuts easily.

And I made red lentil soup. It’s a horrible pasty yellow color so no picture. But the taste!! I used grilled mushrooms, onions, curry and cinnamon. Wow!! This was really healthy with lots of fiber and cholesterol lowering action. The problem was the bread, which came with it (yes, I bought it,… but they were twisting my arm). Balsamic vinegar, olive oil and multiple kinds of bread to soak and dip in the soup….

I fear the doughnuts won’t last long either. Mmmmm…. Chocolate sauce or cinnamon?


Christmas Cookies

2026 12 Julia David cookies copyThe last tradition to go was Christmas cookies. It was your basic homemade sugar cookie recipe with lots of butter. But the key was in the decorating. Icing, sprinkles, and what have you were all arrayed and an assembly line formed. The kids were actually pretty artistic in their fanciful decorating. Of course much of the work never left the kitchen table or got into the cookie tin.


Jeddah Mall – Generic

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There’s a formula that they seem to follow. There is usually a super grocery store. There’s a food court. There is entertainment consisting of amusement rides and video games. What I don’t get is that they are so large it really is ideal to exercise in a climate controlled environment. Instead people visit the food court and gain weight.

IMG_1888Stores like this usually have a sign that says “Families Only.”

IMG_1886I’m not sure that I’d pay for this haircut. Truly, I could do just as well at home.

IMG_1882Games of chance gain you tickets which you redeem for prizes.

IMG_1881And for the young adventurers…

IMG_1883…or to fulfill your fantasy.

IMG_1885Here you have a choice – corn in a cup or pop corn two ways.


Uno – Pizzeria, Chicago

IMG_1872I might as well write about the other deep dish pizza in town. So far I’ve only seen one branch. It is run by Filipinos, what else. They sing happy birthday very loud. It’s decorated like any other in the US. The pie is about the same. You have the Numero Uno Supreme because that’s why you came. They put a head on your iced tea. It’s doesn’t matter. I don’t drink beer.IMG_1869

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Deep Dish Pizza – It’s Pizza Hut!!

IMG_1634I may have written about Pizza Hut before. Pardon me. I am photographing restaurant food lately if I’m not shooting the fishies. I have to say that I was never ever in a Pizza Hut while in the USA. So it is no small measure to say how desperate one can become if you need to choose eating establishments by what is within walking distance. Like everywhere else, it’s made by Filipinos here. And it might surprise you to know that many pizzerias in the NY are now run by Albanians. I know, but that’s what someone told me. Deep dish pizza is better in Chicago and even in Uno’s but ‘any port in a storm’ so they say. Yup, by golly! That’s a glass of Mountain Dew… might as well go all in.IMG_1636


Durrat

IMG_1665One thing about eating out as a single is that I usually have the whole section to myself. Perhaps it’s the hour that I eat.IMG_1666

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Most folks like to eat around midnight. And maybe that has contributed to the enormous obesity problem. Anyway the dumplings look like NY but they are definitely not! As I said recently, sizzling anything is reasonably decent. Here it’s chicken.IMG_1672

IMG_1669They look like NY dumplings. But the taste is entirely different and not altogether great.


Thanksgiving

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I hadn’t intended to do much for Thanksgiving. It’s not a holiday here. But the market had some chestnuts (from China). I kept remembering the tainted milk. All the produce is labeled with its country of origin. I got an Egyptian pomegranate and bananas from the Philippines. IMG_1858

So I shelled the chestnuts. IMG_1854

Everyone I speak with has a different way to do it. I’ve used a microwave, boiling hot water, and oven roasting. I went with roasting. As usual there were a bunch of molded spoiled nuts. There’s nothing you can do, it’s built into the process. I had a pumpkin that was a chance spontaneous purchase a couple weeks ago. IMG_1850

Pumpkins last forever and I imagined a pumpkin onion side dish. But after cutting it and roasting, it looked more like soup. IMG_1861

So I made a passable soup. It reminded me of the soup my daughter took over a few years ago. She took the recipe my wife used in the Silver Palate cookbook. Anyway it was a good soup. I had some fresh bread, cheese, and corn fritters. It reminds me that sliced white bread is sold in the market. But it is the flat breads and all the other variations, which make bread so much fun. There is focaccia, Egyptian, Ethiopian, and you name it. I never see the same thing twice. The price can be as low as 25 cents. It turns out that this is a real bargain. You just have to remember not to indulge too vigorously.

  IMG_1860   Honey, cheese, Egyptian bread

IMG_1862Add corn fritters

IMG_1852  I like to multitask while cooking. So I was roasting peanuts as well. The have loads of beans, grains, and nuts available in the market.  IMG_1847I made all this stuff weeks ago and enjoyed it thoroughly. For Thanksgiving I’ll phone home and then avoid turkey sandwiches.


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