Archive for May, 2009

HansenSodaA picture may be worth its weight in words but, while traveling, sometimes a camera isn’t worth its weight.

(Incidentally, I consider toting around a camera as psycho-spiritual a burden as it is a physical one: if you notice something worth capturing, aren’t you obligated to your ever-shifting sense of aesthetics to take the picture? Though this is a sensation I experience a perhaps unreasonable amount while in new places, man, can you have your whole sensory arsenal swallowed up by the picture urge, which is certainly not the best way to hunker down and let yourself be where you are.)

Unfortunately, though, this sloth in camera-carrying means that you may not believe in the mandarin lime (not pictured here), a lovely and surprising slice of which arrived on the rim of my gin half-tonic, half-seltzer a few weeks ago in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.

With pale pith separating the standard green lime flesh from the creamsicle-orange interior, the mandarin lime (lima mandarina, as the waiter told me) is as stimulating to the eyes as to the taste buds. Not until biting gingerly into my slice of this unfamiliar citrus fruit did I realize the flavor of “orange-ness” can be cleaved from the sweetness that, up until then, had been its constant companion. At the risk of showing myself as both pompous and insane, it was not until that moment, sitting at a be-cocktailed wooden picnic bench with two friends, that I tasted and understood the true essence of the orange. It was a glorious and strange thing, the flavor of mandarin alongside the lime and its attendant puckering.

Hansen’s makes a Mandarin Lime soda that I vaguely recall from being little, and growing up without cola (Long live Barq’s root beer!), and Bath and Body Works has some foul body smear or another thusly scented, but why is the actual fruit totally absent online (or invisible to Google’s image library)?

Should have sucked it up and just brought the camera around with me.

To prove the existence of the mandarin lime, the best I can do is promise not to post anything in the (near) future on best practices for the braising of unicorn flank or how delicious the pink and purple blossoms of the tinkle-tinkle flower would taste atop a bed of microgreens.


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For me, food and mood are more intimately related than even orthography would indicate. Beyond the dissociative mania induced by low blood sugar, having a good balance of nutrition, tastiness, and an element of the interesting or new is key to my satisfaction with a meal, and meals are certainly highlights of the day, joining pleasure to necessity with a stakes-raising precision bordering on the alchemical.

My boyfriend brought home a motley clutch of vegetables from a drunken 5am post-party grocery store trip last night/morning. The subsequent lunchtime result–ribbons of melted carrot dyed with earthy beet and counterbalanced by tangy goat cheese, then made meal-ready by the accompaniment of nutty brown rice– was nothing short of mood-altering. Here’s how it went:


  • 2 beets, halved and sliced
  • 4 carrots, made into ribbons by a peeler
  • 1 small zucchini, julienned
  • half a big onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • a hefty shake of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 8 oz goat cheese


  • brown rice, prepared
  • a bunch of spinach, steamed
  • a handful (1/2 cup?) of cilantro

Sautee the onion and garlic in a few tablespoons of olive oil for 3-4 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and vegetables and cook on medium heat for 20-25 minutes. Pour the fragrant mess into a large bowl with the goat cheese, tossing to coat as the cheese melts.

Puree the spinach and cilantro together and stir into the cooked brown rice.

Salt heavily if you share the love, and serve veggies and rice side by side for a festive, if seasonally displaced, lunch or dinner of Christmas colors made (vegetable) flesh.

Note: I get a little weary of goat cheese, but it becomes a more mellow proposition–and, appealingly, the world’s speediest pseudo-sauce–when used as essentially a dressing for a warm salad, as here.

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