Visit Alexandra's food blog: www.urbanfeast.com
As I was putting together a gallery this morning about the Top 15 foods you should eat before you die, just incase that Mayan apocalypse does happen, I started thinking about what was on my list.
There are things that I really want to try, like durian or a century egg. But many other things are foods I want to try in a specific place, like wagyu beef sashimi in Japan or hot honey-drizzled msemen (pancakes) in Morocco or snail porridge at The Fat Duck in London.
The best ingredient in a meal is really the experience. I’ve had delicious food but in the wrong company or the wrong situation, the memory sort of fades away. Some of my favourite memories of food are so distinct and have such strong feelings and emotions tied to them. I don’t know what helps me remember them so well, whether it’s the taste of the food, the way I was feeling, the atmosphere, the country, the people I was with. Rather than questioning it, I just started daydreaming and these are the top few that came to my mind.
Last year when I was living in Rome, I had only been there for a few weeks and my roommates and a few other girls decided to go on a day trip down to Naples. I didn’t know much about Naples except that there’s garbage everywhere and the pizza is phenomenal. Turns out that’s all I really did need to know about Naples. We sniffed out the hidden treasure Da Micheli otherwise known as that place featured in Eat Pray Love. And for whoever wants to diss that movie for being all chick flicky and whatever, you cannot diss this place for their pizza. Hands down one of the best meals ever. Even with about 8 girls we managed to squeeze into the tiny restaurant. We all ordered the same thing, the margherita pizza, and they arrived, piping hot and bigger than our plates. The fresh mozzarella cheese was oozing over the top, the tomato sauce was savoury and spectacular and the crust was thin, warm and inviting.
As soon as they sat that plate down I made a promise to myself that I was going to eat every bite of that damn thing. And I did. Sweating, clutching my stomach, taking sips of beer to help get it down, I finished it. And it was great. The only downside was that none of the girls with me wanted to keep going and basically gave up, where’s the Italian spirit there? Locals around us were finishing the monstrous portions with ease, making me look like a baby. But despite the effort to keep my composure after eating a mass amount of salt, I didn’t regret a single bite, and when the other girls started complaining later that afternoon that they were hungry and wished they could have had a bit more, I could smile smugly to myself.
Some of my other favourites include:
Eating rock shrimp tempura on my birthday. Whenever I’m in the States my family always takes me out to this little sushi place where we have chopstick battles over who gets the last shrimp.
Making red velvet cheesecake for dad’s fiftieth. Making a red velvet cheesecake is a torturous, insane idea because making that cake is a two-day affair, which includes a lot of swearing, a lot of wine, and a lot of icing to cover up mistakes. After I finally finished the cake of hell I wanted to cut a perfect slice to photograph for my blog. It took me ages since the cake was so crumbly and soft. When I had finally achieved perfection in a slice of cake, I walked out on the porch to take it into the sunlight when my brother decided to chuck a tea towel at me to scare me I suppose. Instead the tea towel landed directly on the cake and pushed it on to the floor where it splattered over the bricks. Let’s just say the swearing from before continued and he was forced to eat off the floor. A punishment that I don’t think he really minded because that cake was damn good.
One of my favourite memories, one that was conjured up when making these Buffalo wings, is when I was living at college in Washington, DC. I was living just off-campus with three other girls. This was around the time that I had discovered the world of wings and definitely was not going back. My roommates and I had found this place called Wingos that delivered to our apartment. For some ridiculous reason my roommates and I (4 girls+ my friend’s boyfriend at the time) decided to order 50 wings. Yes, 50. It was such a big order that they obviously assumed it was for a mass amount of people and included 2 large fries, about 20 sides of blue cheese dressing and an entire bottle of Heinz ketchup.
Well, we felt like such fatties but we ate those wings until we literally couldn’t go on. And the ketchup actually lasted us the rest of the semester so I like to think we were kind of savvy about that absurd purchase.
Wings are essential American food, perfect for football games, Superbowl parties, regular Friday nights, ideal when there’s beer around, basically they can be eaten at any time. And you’re encouraged to eat as many as possible. I can proudly say that I am the sister of someone who has successfully completed the ‘Blazin’ Wing Challenge’ at Buffalo Wild Wings. (For $12 you get a dozen of the chain’s chicken wings covered in the hottest sauce they offer. The challenge is to eat them all in less than six minutes. If you win you get a t-shirt and your photo on the wall of fame, totally worth it.)
These wings aren’t quite as spicy as those, and I really wouldn’t recommend trying to eat them at lightning pace, but they are extremely good. Hopefully they’ll somehow leave you with a food memory you can look back on fondly in the future.
Buffalo wild wings
1 cup plain flour
1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 kg chicken wings
2/3 cup tomato sauce
4 tablespoons Tabasco sauce
1 tsp chilli powder (optional)
100g unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup greek yoghurt
¼ cup blue cheese, crumbled
Juice of ½ lime
Caesar salad to serve
Preheat oven to 220°C and line an oven tray with foil. Put flour, paprika (optional chilli powder) and garlic powder in a large zip-lock bag. Season generously with salt and pepper and shake well to combine. Set aside.
Using a sharp knife, cut each wing into 3 pieces, discarding tips. Add chicken to bag, seal, then shake well to coat. Arrange chicken on prepared tray and set aside for 10 minutes to marinate.
Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
Put tomato sauce, Tabasco sauce and butter in a small bowl and stir until combined. Using a pastry brush, baste chicken with tomato sauce mixture. Bake for a further 15 minutes.
For the blue cheese dip simply mix together the greek yoghurt, blue cheese and lime juice.
Serve chicken with Caesar salad and blue cheese dressing or ranch dressing on the side.
Recipe adapted from a Fast Ed recipe.
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Visit Alexandra's food blog: www.urbanfeast.com