The Challenges of Having Gastronomy Weekend in Newfoundland

Yes, yes, I know. In the same breath I use to say I want to move to Inuvik for the next two years, I complain about how much I struggle with Newfoundland’s remoteness.

The main issue isn’t having to fly every time I want to go somewhere. It’s expensive, but for all my whining, I adore flying. I never feel so free as when I’m in an airport. Even when I’m going through security, trying to explain to a confused agent why I have 100 syringes in my bag, while undergoing a physical search.

No, what pains me the most is the food, or lack thereof. I like going to the grocery store, doing my business, going home. Not going to the grocery store every day until they finally have carrots in stock. I also miss fresh vegetables. Once upon a time, when I lived on the mainland, I took it for granted that my veggies would show no signs of rot. Now I cheer out loud when it looks like I can cut off the rotten spots and still have some vegetable remaining.

And the cost. The COST OF FOOD! I get so confused when I see people say “I don’t eat much meat because I can’t afford it” or “Meat is a luxury.” Um… A meat based meal will cost me about 7$. A vegetarian dish will cost me 20-30$.

In case you were wondering, I eat a lot of all bran products but I still clog toilets all the time.

Anyway, my housemate went to the mainland for the weekend, leaving me the kitchen to myself. And even with groceries as expensive as they are, if you want to eat some good food, its still a lot more advantageous to make it yourself. So I decided to have a gastronomy weekend.

I picked the following recipes:
Ratatouille’s Ratatouille
Eat Drink Man Woman Taiwanese Clams
Roasted Honey Garlic Quail (from my pretentious Vietnamese cookbook)
Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup (I’m sort of obsessed with Pho and to my greatest despair, there are no pho places in St. John’s. Also a recipe from my pretentious Vietnamese cookbook.)
Nuoc Cham (which, after a long discussion at the Asian Variety Store, I discovered was chilli sauce)
Homemade Wontons (recipe from my Chinese former roommate Fang)
Strawberry and Chocolate Crepes

I also picked up the beverages paired with the Clams (Yanjing- a chinese beer) and the Ratatouille (A red French wine).

Here’s a list of ingredients I needed but that I couldn’t find at my grocery store or at the Asian Variety

2 Zucchini (store only had 1 zucchini. Substituted the second with a spaghetti squash)
Medium eggplant (substituted with a massive eggplant)
Fresh Basil (they did have rotten basil…went with dried basil)
Fresh Thyme (substituted with normal thyme)
Clams (substituted with mussels)
Quail (substituted with cornish hens, which are bigger and cheaper anyway)
Star Anise (could not find a substitute, just left it out)
Bean sprouts (going to keep looking for that one- the bigger stores sometime carry some)
Oxtail and Beef Brisket (substituted with Blade Roast and Short Ribs)
Mushroom Soy Sauce (substituted with Shitake mushrooms and soy sauce, mixed together)
Strawberries (understandable since off season. Substituted with cantaloupe)

I was, however, able to find TWO (2) types of Thai Chillies!

So far I’ve made the Clams, err, Mussles, which turned out perfect. The Yanjing was an excellent pairing idea. I made 2 crepes this morning (not that exciting since I make crepes any weekend I happen to have eggs and fruit on hand). The broth for the pho is almost ready…it’s cooling on my back porch, waiting to be skimmed of fat.

The plan for this evening is the Ratatouille and the Quail, err, Cornish Hens. I’ll make some wontons for snacks too. Tomorrow I’ll finish up the Pho.

Now to continue the search for bean sprouts and to figure out what to do with the blade roast and short ribs meat from the pho broth.

Oh, and I’ve been taking lots of pictures, but don’t have a computer to upload them to. Yet.

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