07.31.08: we ate a sheep head.

3 08 2008

entrance to djemaa al fnaa.

and it was good.
 
i’ll admit, we must give a little bit of credit to andrew zimmern. if we hadn’t seen the morocco episode of bizarre foods i don’t know if we would have been entirely enticed into eating a whole sheep head, but that episode was a deal maker.

ok. that’s not entirely true. we did roast half a baby lamb on easter, which of course came with half a head, half a brain, half a tongue. you get the gist.

anyway, before we get to all the fun eating, i have to tell you about our little adventure trying to find the square. it was already dark out, and this was our first time trying to make our way around the souk and to the square. our riad’s manager, cyrus, recommended that we go around because it’s pretty easy to get lost.

i think we walked around in circles for about a half hour before we finally found the square.

i expected djemma el fnaa to be two things: large and chaotic.

it was big, but it wasn’t as large as i expected it to be. it was definitely chaotic. tons of people, all being pulled at and goaded by touts trying to get you to eat at their stalls. were they abusive? a little. but you don’t take it too seriously — after all, if they can’t get you to dine, if they can make you feel like you’re the one who’s being rude, it’s a small victory.

but enough on the touts. time for some sheep head. there are four or five tables that make roasted sheep head. we chose one of the many stalls named hassan. i think it might have been hassan 113. but who’s counting?

row of sheep heads.

row of sheep heads.

like any proper sheep head stall worth its salt, there were four roasted sheep heads on display. we ordered the big head. on first sample, the meat is, fatty, fragrant with a rich meaty smell. dare i say sheepy? the skin is a bit too fatty for us, but that’s not a problem. there are lots of little bits to tear at, like the tongue, the glands, the chunks of meat clinging to the face. we stopped at the nose. too funky.

sheep head meat.

sheep head meat.


more bits of sheep. . .topped with glands!

more bits of sheep. . .topped with glands!

after we got our fill of sheep head, we made our way through more touts trying to lure us into less crowded stalls selling everything from harira to salads. we found a crowded grill stand (also named “hassan”) and ordered some lamb sausage and pancreas. mmmm. . .

more food pics later — wireless is still a bit weak.

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i think i love every food on this list.

21 07 2008

From Men’s Health (via HuffPo):

Did you know there are more than 15 types of saturated fat? And despite the fact that they’ve been damned as a whole by nutrition experts for decades, some of them are actually heart healthy. That’s good news, since high-fat foods are often the tastiest.

But a bad reputation is hard to shake. And though saturated fat is the most obvious example of a bad food gone good, it’s not the only one. I’ve run the numbers and scoured the research to determine which vilified foods have been unjustly convicted. The result: six snacks and drinks that deserve an immediate pardon.

PORK RINDS

WHY YOU THINK THEY’RE BAD: These puffy snacks are literally cut from pigskin. Then they’re deep-fried.

WHY THEY’RE NOT: A 1-ounce serving contains zero carbohydrates, 17 grams (g) of protein,
and 9 g fat. That’s nine times the protein and less fat than you’ll find in a serving of carb-packed potato chips. Even better, 43 percent of a pork rind’s fat is unsaturated, and most of that is oleic acid–the same healthy fat found in olive oil. Another 13 percent of its fat content is stearic acid, a type of saturated fat that’s considered harmless, because it doesn’t raise cholesterol levels.

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EAT THIS: J&J Critters Microwave Pork Rinds ($6.50 for a 10-ounce container; http://www.microwaveporkrinds.com). Because the rinds are cooked and puffed in a microwave instead of deep-fried, each serving contains only 4 g fat–meaning they’re lower in calories and less greasy than regular pork rinds.

ALCOHOL

WHY YOU THINK IT’S BAD: It has little nutritional value and is the reason we need the term “beer belly.”

WHY IT’S NOT: In a study of more than 18,000 men, Harvard scientists discovered that those who had an average of two drinks every day, 5 to 7 days a week, had the lowest risk of heart attack. And researchers at the University of Buffalo found that men who consume that same daily amount have lower levels of abdominal fat than those who drink only once or twice every 2 weeks but down more than four drinks each time.

DRINK THIS: Pinot noir. It contains more disease-fighting antioxidants than any other type of alcoholic beverage. Look for a Santa Barbara County pinot noir that’s a 2002 to 2004 vintage; those are generally recognized as the top wine-producing years for this finicky grape. We like the 2003 Foley, best in show at the San Francisco International Wine Festival (foleywines.com).

BEEF JERKY

WHY YOU THINK IT’S BAD: It’s unhealthy meat that’s loaded with preservatives.

WHY IT’S NOT: Beef jerky is high in protein and doesn’t raise your level of insulin–a hormone that signals your body to store fat. That makes it an ideal between-meals snack, especially when you’re trying to lose weight. And while some beef-jerky brands are packed with high-sodium ingredients, such as MSG and sodium nitrate, chemical-free products are available. If you have high blood pressure, check the label for brands that are made from all-natural ingredients, which reduce the total sodium content.

EAT THIS: Gourmet Natural Beef Jerky (available at americangrassfedbeef.com). It has no preservatives and is made from lean, grass-fed beef. Research shows that, unlike grain-fed products, grass-fed beef contains the same healthy omega-3 fats found in fish.

SOUR CREAM

WHY YOU THINK IT’S BAD: You know 90 percent of its calories are derived from fat, at least half of which is saturated.

WHY IT’S NOT: The percentage of fat is high, but the total amount isn’t. Consider that a serving of sour cream is 2 tablespoons. That provides just 52 calories–half the amount that’s in a single tablespoon of mayonnaise–and less saturated fat than you’d get from drinking a 12-ounce glass of 2 percent reduced-fat milk.

EAT THIS: Full-fat sour cream. Unless you actually prefer the taste of light or fat-free products (and who does?), opt for the classic version; it tastes richer, and the fat will help keep you full longer.

COCONUT

WHY YOU THINK IT’S BAD: Ounce for ounce, coconut contains more saturated fat than butter does. As a result, health experts have warned that it will clog your arteries.

WHY IT’S NOT: Even though coconut is packed with saturated fat, it appears to have a beneficial effect on heart-disease risk factors. One reason: More than 50 percent of its saturated-fat content is lauric acid. A recent analysis of 60 studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that even though lauric acid raises LDL (bad) cholesterol, it boosts HDL (good) cholesterol even more. Overall, this means it decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease. The rest of the saturated fat is almost entirely composed of “medium-chain” fatty acids, which have little or no effect on cholesterol levels.

EAT THIS: Shredded, unsweetened coconut. Have a handful as an anytime snack, straight from the bag. (Don’t gorge; it’s still high in calories.) It’ll be filling, and won’t spike your blood sugar.

CHOCOLATE BARS

WHY YOU THINK THEY’RE BAD: They’re high in both sugar and fat.

WHY THEY’RE NOT: Cocoa is rich in flavonoids–the same heart-healthy compounds found in red wine and green tea. Its most potent form is dark chocolate. In a recent study, Greek researchers found that consuming dark chocolate containing 100 milligrams (mg) of flavonoids relaxes your blood vessels, improving bloodflow to your heart. What about the fat? It’s mostly stearic and oleic acids.

EAT THIS: CocoaVia chocolate bars. Each 100-calorie bar is guaranteed to contain 100 mg flavonoids. As an added benefit, the chocolate has been beefed up with phytosterols, compounds that have been shown to help reduce cholesterol. Find the bars at many Wal-Mart stores, or online at cocoavia.com.

Previously published at Menshealth.com.





i think i ate an endangered species.

3 01 2008

that porky-tasting fish that we bought at the market, had cooked up three different ways and devoured ravenously? if indeed it was the giant mekong catfish, i think i might have eaten a creature off the endangered species list.

the giant mekong catfish is one of the largest (if not the largest) species of freshwater fish. it’s come under threat because of overfishing, declining water quality, damming, you name it. the numbers of the fish are dwindling.

the largest one ever found was reeled in by a thai fisherman. weighing in at almost 650 lbs., the villagers tried to keep it alive, but it died. so they ate it.

can’t say i blame ’em.





los dados.

11 11 2007

tonight we had dinner at los dados. was it the best mexican food i’ve ever had? no, but overall it was pretty good.
los dados

vanilla bean margarita and menu
i started off with the vanilla bean margarita. not bad: don julio blanco, vanilla, cointreau, some other good stuff. chile arbol rim on the glass. we ordered the sweet plantain and oaxacan cheese gordita, the yucatecas (some serious pulled pork goodness), and the tuna. for dinner, i ordered the lamb barbacoa tacos. fantastic.

i was still a little hungry, so i ordered a double espresso and the guava and cheese empanadas. now i’m stuffed.

some more pics:

lightinglos dados lighting

view from the fronta view of the front

and to top it off, some absolutely fantastic grafitti.

grafitti





trip to the greenmarket.

10 11 2007

got up this morning to pick up some veggies for tomorrow night’s dinner. i love going to the greenmarket in union square during the fall. yeah, it’s freezing, but you can smell the spiced cider everywhere. here’s a peek at what we got:

bunches of romanesco

romanesco
romanesco. talk about one fantastically funky looking cauliflower. it’s so cool looking you feel bad cutting it up, roasting it, or making it au gratin. yeah, you feel bad. until you taste it.

purple cauliflower

purple cauliflower
i think this is the only time you’ll ever find purple cauliflower. at least, i haven’t seen it at any other time of year. i buy it, if only for its shocking color.

rows of carrots
i didn’t really buy these carrots. i just thought that all of the colors were pretty.

grapes
i did buy these grapes. too bad they were a bit sour. i guess i can put them into a salad.





bacon crème anglaise!

7 11 2007

i finally got to stop by the dessert truck on the corner of 8th and university.

oh, wowee. ten bucks bought me 2 desserts: the molten chocolate cake and the chocolate bread pudding.

dessert truck -- molten chocolate cake
the molten chocolate cake was definitely better than i expected it to be. these days, every restaurant has some molten chocolate something-or-other on its dessert menu. not only was the dessert truck’s version rich, gooey and oozing chocolate ganache, it was topped with roasted and pistachios, sea salt and a bit of olive oil. i didn’t quite notice the olive oil, but there might have been a pinch too much salt.

dessert truck -- chocolate bread pudding with bacon creme anglaisethe chocolate bread pudding was more up my alley. at the end of the day, it’s kind of what you expect — warm and comforting with the added pleasure of bacon crème anglaise. was it bacony? not really. at the end of the day bacon grease smells more bacony than it actually tastes. the bacon grease brings a bit of saltiness to balance the sweet, creamy pudding.

this truck could totally get me to start loving dessert again. . .

more pics of chocolatey goodness posted on my flickr.





holy hazelnuts!

9 09 2007

my low/no carb diet is on hold today:

breakfast/lunch: blt burger. lamb merguez burger, medium rare. parmesian zucchini fritters. beer-battered potato gaufrettes (try finding the potato in the golden, beer battered crust — awesome). boylan’s cane cola to wash it all down.

dinner: neapolitan wood fired pizza from some place that had a sign that said something like naples pizza on carmine street. pizza diavolo — hot sopressata, red chile flakes for heat. arugula salad with a shaved parmesan. glass of barbera.

on the way home, we stopped by murray’s cheese. they make the best meatballs — super juicy and stuffed with mozarella. i also gave into my cravings and picked up a pint of capogiro artisan’s bacio gelato. rich chocolate and hazelnut gelato studded with roasted hazelnuts. i’m eating it as i type this!

this is enough to send my diet to hell.