Mint tea and graduating

I can’t believe how late this post is–it’s already mid June and so much has happened this summer! I graduated from highschool, my grandparents from India visited and I got a job (yes, I know it’s out of character). 

 
So long West High! 
  
Well, what with preparations for my grad party, a housefull of guests, yardwork to be done and working, I’ve sometimes been in dire need of a de-stressor. So I thought, why not try herbal tea?

We have no shortage of mint in our garden (actually, it’s quite invasive) so mint tea it was. I picked two stalks of mint (taking only the top half so each stalk would grow back) and rinsed them. Then I poured a mug-full of water into a pot over the stove and brought it to a boil. Next I added the mint leaves, reduced the water to a simmer, and covered the pot. After three minutes I poured the tea over a strainer and into my mug.

  
Mint tea doesn’t have a very strong flavor, but it’s calming and comforting and supposedly eases stomach pain! Plus, it makes your breath minty fresh. Enjoy!

  

Spring Break: what I’m eating

 It would have been nice to be able to enjoy the weather during Spring Break. Alas, this was not fated to be–thus far the week has been snowy, snowy and snowy. But of course, snowy days mean more time spent indoors cooking–and eating.

Here are a few of the things I’ve eaten so far this week:

Mayan fish salad at Moonrakers

 

my favorite things: waffles, berries and strong black coffee

 
 

Sardinian roasted and stuffed eggplant

 

blueberry hand pies

Chicago and Hamilton

If you haven’t yet listened to the Hamilton soundtrack, you must. Ever since I first searched it up on Youtube last September I’ve been obsessed. From the genius polyphany to the witty lyrics, Hamilton is truly a masterpiece–a masterpiece that, I thought, I would not be seeing any time soon (it isn’t cheap).

And then, lo and behold, my parents surprised my brothers and me with my graduation present:

  

Did I squeal? Maybe. 

Out of the blue we took a day off and drove to Chicago.

  
Upon arrival we stopped for Sasha’s favorite lunch: sushi.

 

Then, my day got even more magical as we visited the Art Institute (I just love the Impressionists). After a quick coffee (essential, you know) it was time to get ready. Our dinner reservation was quite early since the show began at 7:30. By 5:30 we were comfortably seated at Avec, a cozy Mediterranean restaurant run by the same people who own one of my favorite Chicago restaurants: Blackbird.
 
  I’ve just been waiting for an excuse to wear opera gloves 😉

 
  So maybe I’m pretending I’m at Downton Abbey

  

Cod brandade

  
Paella

  

Chocolate mousse

And then came the show. It was phenomenal, beautifully done and beyond comparison. I just have to say: my parents are the best. I could never have asked for a more fantastic gift.

 

Crete

Hello all! It’s been too long since my last post, but I’ve been travelling and the internet has not always been strong (or existent) enough to access my blog.  My family started off our trip this summer in Kerala, India, visiting my dad’s family.

After a little over than a week, we packed up our bags and flew to Athens, Greece, and from there to the beautiful island of Crete where we have spent the last few days.  We’ve been visiting ruins, beaches and vineyards, taking twelve-mile hikes through the Samaria Gorge, hanging out in the pool and (of course) eating.

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So far my impression of Cretan food is that nothing is extremely striking or life-changing, but most things are hearty and flavorful.

This is Dakos, one of my favorite Cretan specialties.  It consists of a rusk topped with tomatoes, herbs and goat cheese.  And like everything on Crete, it is positively saturated  in olive oil!

 

Sea bass from a beach-side restaurant

Seafood risotto

One of the highlights of the trip for me was visiting a traditional olive oil farm, Biolea.  The process of making olive oil was fascinating, the tasting delicious, and the experience was also enlightening.  We learned that so-called “pure” olive oil is actually refined, meaning that unsavory chemicals are used in the making of it.  Most of “pure” olive oil is actually made using the waste products, the unsuitable leftovers that respectable olive oil companies would never use.  The three things you want to look for when purchasing olive oil are that it is (most importantly) extra-virgin, cold-press and stone-ground (this last requirement is the least important and most difficult to find.  The olive oil we use regularly is extra-virgin and cold-press).

Gemista, tomatoes stuffed with rice and herbs.

At the bottom of the Samaria Gorge–nine miles down, three to go!

The view from our villa 🙂

The temple of Hephaestus in Athens

  

 

 

Sunday Brunch at One Twenty Six

Of late my dad has been very busy working with his head chef on a Sunday brunch menu for his French-inspired restaurant,One Twenty Six.  For a while he was quite stressed, but opening day proved that it was all worth it.  The menu is fantastic–frittatas, omlettes, croque madames, even house-made waffles (complete with crème fraiche and a berry compote!)…

This Sunday was opening day, but we were dismayed to see that the temperatures that day were literally below those in the North Pole.  Worried that nobody else would show up, my family and some close friends decided to come and try out the menu.  Amazingly, the restaurant was actually quite busy! I suppose the temptation of fresh waffles was just too much!

  
   
 
  
 

Autumn and Apples

I have always loved autumn. It’s a beautiful season, full of colors, smells, holidays ( Halloween is my personal favorite) and of course, baked goods.  It’s a wonderful time for food; the season brings squash and mushrooms and apples.

Every year my family takes a trip to our local apple orchard. It’s become a tradition–my dad eats apples off the tree no matter how many times my mom tells him it’s not allowed, we pick a Halloween pumpkin, we fill a basket with apples and then we go home and bake.  You can expect a few apple recipes in the next couple weeks!