Creole shrimps at teh Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

Café near Zion NP, Utah

Enchilada and Taco

Huge Oysters from Bodega Bay in CA, size of a ladies hand, had one – tasty too.

Fava beans, something different in the organic market, Napa Valley, CA. Beans have to be removed from fuzzy pods and skin on each bean. They are enjoyed with a little drizzled oil and shaved Parmigiana or topped with herbs, spring onions and lemon juice or served in a veg risotto with cheese.

Me in the markets in the Napa Valley

In cooking class, Culinary Institute, see recipe below, click to get a larger recipe image

Had to try theworld famous Korbel Sparkling wine, methode champenoise, just for our good friend Joyce, back home.

FOCUS ON FOOD

California

Land of fast food

We have so far avoided the numerous chains of Fast Foods with the exception of the latest Seafood chain, the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, a take off from the movie Forest Gump. Dave and Linda, local HOG members, treated us to a very tasty meal of Shrimps and Lobster –mmmm – I had the Creole shrimps (prawns) a unique taste, onions, bell pepper (capsicum), garlic, celery, tomatoes, Burgundy wine, seafood stock, bay leaf, thyme, parsley, lemon juice and ground black pepper/salt. I'll have to look at the cajun and creole flavors of Louisiana when we get to eastern USA.

Mexican influence

Across California there is a huge Mexican influence on the food, including the fast food industry. This is of course predictable when you realize that over 47% of the population in this state is Hispanic. We feasted on some authentic Mexican cuisine, at very reasonable prices through CA and across into Arizona. These meals can be healthy with generous salads but also fatty with lots of added cheese, it is best to check the choice of fillings and know some basics. Tortillas, the basis to most meals are a flat bread that can be made with corn or flour masa (dough). Chimichanggas are a speciality of Southern Arizona, the crisp paper thin corn tortillas are deep fried, come with a choice of fillings and topped with salsa, guacamole and sour cream. Tostadas are also crisp fried corn tortilla stacked with beans, meat and garnishes. Flour tortillas are eaten like bread and used to make burritos and quesadillas. Burritos are a wrapped filling eaten like a sandwich. Quesadillas are a folded flour tortilla or turnover, fried in oil. Enchiladas are a soft corn tortilla rolled around the cooked filling, baked in a sauce to melt the topping of cheese, served with a variety of garnishes. Tacos can be made by wrapping filling in a steamed tortilla or a crisp fried tortilla. The choice is yours, how much fat do you want to consume? But more on mexican food when we get there!
Its not all Mexican though, we've also been packing in the salads. Prepacked salads from the supermarkets are good for a meal for two when you are on the move. At the other extreme we've spoilt ourselves with the odd steak, using the excuse that we needed building up! Priced about the same as back home, steaks are beautifully tender and always cooked to perfection if you are eating out. Entreé (main meal not starter!) is served with mashed or baked potatoes and battered onions. Salads are often served as an appertiser, a blue cheese dressing is a popular choice.
Eating out highlights unexpected little differences in our cultures. We separate sweet from savory, Americans often do not differentiate the two, eating bacon and eggs with pancakes and syrup. Everything has lashings of butter and cream or is too sweet or too salty for our taste. Tax and tipping tends to take the cost of a meal higher than we originally calculate.

Canyon lands

We rode through Navajo Indian country, N Arizona, and found no influences on local food, although we did have some freshly baked corn bread at a diner.
CORN BREAD
12 servings
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup all-purpose flour (plain)
1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbspn baking powder
1 tspn salt
1⁄3 cup veg oil
1cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
METHOD
Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in medium bowl and milk, oil, and egg in a small bowl.
Add milk to flour mixture; stir until just blended. pour into greased 8 inch square pan.
Bake in a preheated oven 400F(200C) 20 – 25 mins.
Serve warm with butter and honey.
The wild west theme through canyon lands of N Arizona and S Utah gives locals an opportunity to drag tourists off the road for a hearty meal. Grilled (BBQ) smoked spareribs with sauerkraut, Dutch Oven country cooking and charbroiled (grilled) chicken. Beef gerky is a popular snack today, pioneers dried and spiced beef and venison so that it did not spoil.
Well I have finally caught up with my impressions of the food so far, don't forget we are on a tight budget and on the move. I am writing this in the Napa Valley, CA, renowned for excellent cuisine and fine wine. We've enjoyed wine tasting at some really special wineries, thanks to our expert tour guides/friends Dody and Jim. Found some new grape varieties here such as Zinfandel," it can come in many different styles. the Hess Collection style is big, based on ripe fruit and full extraction. The beauty of this wine is the fruit, so enjoy this wine young, within five years." Hess Wines, CA. We just had a look see into restaurants such as the celebrated French Laundry run by one of the top chefs in the USA, Thomas Keller, and discovered local organic food markets and chocolate factories in San Francisco. We also tried clam chowder on Fisherman's wharf and attended a cooking demo at the Culinary Institute of America, have included some recipes you will hopefully beable to read from the image (too lazy to type!).


FISH CHOWDER (or CLAMS if you can get hold of them!)

4 – 6 servings
1⁄4 cup butter/marg
1 large onion, finely chopped
Bell pepper, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely sliced
1⁄2 tspn dried thyme
3 med. sized potatoes, peeled and diced
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups of fish stock
11⁄2 lb (750g) snapper fillets, cut crosswise in 1 inch (2cms) strips
4 slices Bacon cut in 1⁄2 inch pieces
2 cups milk
METHOD
Melt butter and add onion, celery, pepper until onion is soft. Mix in thyme.
Add potatoes, season and bring to the boil, cover, reduce heat , simmer for 15 mins.
Add fish and continue to boil gently until fish flakes and potatoes are tender.
Lightly brown bacon.
Stir in milk until steaming hot, do not boil.
Serve with bacon pieces in each bowl.