Recipe: Chilled Buckwheat Noodle Salad with Feta & Cracked Black Pepper

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It only seems natural that we eat something black during our week at the Black Mountain (a.k.a Montenegro).  But here's the thing - nothing in life is black and white. There are all sorts of shades of gray (that's where the beauty is - somewhere in the muddled middle). So, in the spirit of variety, we're adding a few shades of gray to our pasta. We've got black pepper, white feta, and charcoal grey buckwheat noodles with a bit of sparkle from pools of golden olive oil. This is simple as … [Read more...]

Recipe: Balkan Burger (with poll)

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You don't have to know how to pronounce it to enjoy eating it. Pljeskavica. If this long, meandering string of letters makes you stutter, just clap your hands, because that's what Pljeskavica means - the sound of hands clapping as the "Balkan burger" patties are formed. And this is not just a big word. This is big food. This is the original "super-size." Not only are the patties large enough to cover a small plate, they contain as many as 6 cuts of meat from three different animals. … [Read more...]

Recipe: Ajvar, Roasted Pepper Spread

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Some days I dream about reinventing myself - pulling myself up, out of the ordinary into the wildly wonderful. On these ornery-sorts-of-days, I imagine myself strutting around in a bold color I've never worn before, like mustard yellow. On really good days I actually make these dreams happen. I become a mustard-wearing queen. Other days I just end up wearing mustard. Literally. That's the way life goes: sometimes change works, sometimes it doesn't. The fun is in the trying. Are you willing … [Read more...]

Menu: Montenegro

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I might be a little ahead of myself this week. I can't help it. People have been asking me when the pools open. Women are wearing sun dresses and sunglasses.  On Sunday Ava said "my head is crying," with a look of astonishment, as beads of sweat dripped down her head after a good play session. You see, way back in April the weather spiked straight up, into the 80s and 90s. It might be May, but we might as well be in the heart of summer. I'm ready to kick off my shoes, run through the … [Read more...]

About the food of Montenegro

Black Lake, Montenegro. Photo by Nije Bitno.

This week we're eating Montenegro - where the mountains reach right up, into the clouds, like giant forks. By all appearances, they hold up the very sky herself. And then there are Montenegro's lakes which sparkle like eternal springtime. With beauty that has even captured National Geographic's attention for their coveted magazine cover photo, Montenegro is at once rugged and disarmingly serene. Funny that the country means "Black Mountain," a name which sounds straight out of Lord of the … [Read more...]

Monday Meal Review: Mongolia

Western Mongolia. Photo by tiarescott.

THE SCENE This week my brain is stuck on Mongolian nomads. I am obsessed. While I sip my hot, salty tea I think of their fierce loyalty in brutal winters. While I nibble the tangy carrot slaw, I imagine how hard it must be to move five times a year - so often that you cannot keep a veggie patch. So often that even a basic carrot salad would be a major treat, normally reserved for city folk. I take so much for granted. But what really hit home is how these nomads (who live so … [Read more...]

Recipe: Mongolian Carrot Salad (w/ Poll)

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In Mongolia, the seemingly endless parade of meat, meat, and more meat, is only occasionally interrupted by vegetables. And, even then, relief doesn't come with a garden salad, but rather some combination of root vegetables. This is because there really isn't a whole lot of good farmland in the giant, cold, central Asian country - only the hardiest specimens make it. In the big city, versions of this simple carrot salad can be found, either dressed in a vinaigrette (as I have done) or in a … [Read more...]

Recipe: Mongolian Millet & Green Milk Tea (Suutei Tsai)

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  If tea time in your home means sweet, sugary cups of deliciousness, think again. This week we're sipping on salty, milky green tea cooked with buttery toasted millet. This is one of the more elaborate versions of Suutei Tsai - a famous Mongolian drink enjoyed out on the cold steppes. Each sip tastes of milk and salt and cereal - but the drink also has a remarkable drying effect in the mouth, thanks to a healthy dose of naturally astringent green tea. This is absolutely the strangest tea I … [Read more...]