Monday, August 30, 2010

montage! we're gonna need a montage!

I can't believe there was a time in my life when I did not make corn** tortillas on a daily basis.***

our fancy tortilla press. that's right; we use an imported baggie! ziploc, available in Managua.
Sandra, amazing kitchen assistant, hard at work, practicing her smile with teeth
tortillas ready for service; huevos rancheros, shrimp tacos... we make smaller ones for quesillo, and tiny ones for bocas with papaya salsa
employee soup; chicken with handfuls of mint, large cut vegetables; served with thick, hearty tortillas
this photo is actually promoting the pair of jeans hanging off the chair in our thatched roof spa
**That is not to insinuate that I was too busy making other types of tortillas, but, rather, to clarify what type of tortillas are most predominant here.
***I can believe it, actually. There were times of sushi, salads, sandwiches on sourdough; foods that I love, that aren't necessarily enhanced by corn flour patties. I miss them.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hop, Skip and Go Nica!

We're a few months into "winter," the rainy season here, where it thunderstorms at least once a day. I love this time of year: the weather is more fresh, lightning is awesome, and --- Some new fruits just came into season! Have I mentioned how fleeting the seasons are here? They can be as short as 30 days for some produce. But when it rains, it pours (yes, pun very much intended)... every street vendor sells them, by the baggie, most often with vinegar, chile and salt.
nancite; flavored like over-ripe banana/pear
mamones; like astringent, mild lychees

Nancite are tiny, with mostly peel/seed/dry pulp, so there's not much to cook with. Both they and mamones come in bunches too big to finish, so I combined the extra fruit and macerated the mixture with plain white sugar and water. This turned into a thick, sweet syrup. I've had wine made from nancite (very very sweet), which gave me the idea to booze it up!

The first cocktail I made used soda water... but it didn't have a good sweet/bitter balance. It quickly evolved into a beer cocktail! Delicious, refreshing, seasonal!

Nica Rum Shandy

  • 2 ounces Flor de CaƱa extra lite
  • 1 ounce sour orange juice
  • 2 ounces strained nancite/mamon fresco
  • 4 ounces of Victoria beer

Monday, August 16, 2010

drooling: the unintentional loss of saliva from the mouth

I recently explained the idea of both an urban cougar and a brownie to my staff. This posting will detail the latter. 
Nicaragua has plenty of cookies and cakes (pronounced cake-ay, spelled: queque, which i love). Most are simply sugary and very dry. They are meant to go well with coffee, like a third world biscotti. There are also a handful of desserts that are mixed with dry, salty cheese. To introduce a dense, moist, brownie was a strange, new, yet delicious concept. They fall more on the 'local' side than on the 'light and healthy' side of the restaurant's cuisine.
brownies pose for a glamour shot

The brownie that we now serve as a lunchtime dessert is made with Nicaraguan chocolate, toasted organic cashews and fresh bananas!  These brownies have been a big hit with both staff and guests. 

They are so choice.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

try to keep me out of the kitchen. i dare you.

Today was a good day. Maybe it’s because we have electricity again. Or because we have water again, too. Or because I heard the Macarena and Lady Gaga blasting on my morning run to the lake. Or because I took a morning run to the lake. Or because we have very content guests at the resort, and had some free time for a fun activity while they were on a tour. D) all of the above.

I took my amazing dishwasher (who now makes pastries, and I am teaching her breakfast service), on a walk around the island, a slow, silent walk, to look at our job place from a different perspective. Afterwards, we each returned to a place that we had liked with a pen & paper and had 20 minutes to draw it.
I remembered seeing a bright Heliconias flower amongst our lush green plants, the petals filled with rainwater.

About 15 minutes in, I realized that my blue pen was not capturing the reason why I liked the plant so much: the contrast in colors.

So, back to the kitchen. I rounded up some curry powder and achiote (chile/garlic) paste, and, Voila! made my drawing into a colorful “painting” that smells good enough to eat.