Out and About

If you are reading this you either made it or are planning to make it into paradise. Lucky you. Lucky us, because thanks to the generosity of my in-laws, this is the fifth time we’ve been here. There are a lot of fun activities to enjoy or even hurt yourself, but because this is a food blog, let’s talk food.
The first time we visited I was a bit paranoid, because Maui is not cheap and I wanted to avoid tourist traps. Also please keep in mind that I am not a professional food critic and in many cases my family disagreed with me, so this is a very personal guide. On the other hand, I am known to have a good tasting palate (thanks to my coffee tasting practice) and I am very demanding when it comes to providing quality for the price. In my case it is connected with my passion for finding and providing high quality coffee and I demand the same from others. Ok, sometimes I can be a jerk about this. I understand that many people go to Maui and are ready to splurge, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, etc. I am listing only places we visited and experienced. There are a few we really wanted to try, but did not have the chance yet, Like the Shark Pit food truck. I love this chef’s mission statement. Perhaps next time.

 

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It is here. It is exactly one year since we had the crazy idea to eliminate our free time and start this blog. Yes, I remember very fondly the time when we were playing with templates and arguing over what are we going to publish on our blog. Our mission was and still is to introduce Central European food to the rest of the world. We try to recreate Hungarian, Slovak, and Czech recipes in an American environment (more so now that we live in California). Our mission was very successful last year, because we reached hearts, minds, and stomachs of expats, a few second-generation immigrants and people who spent some time in Central Europe and miss the awesome food. Our mission for the next year will be to introduce this food to the uninitiated: people who have never experienced Central European food. We have some strategies in mind. No, kidnapping people and force feeding them is NOT one of them. But cooking for school picnics might be.

Since we started this blog I had the chance to meet amazing people with amazing stories and recipes of their own. They should start a blog! It is not that hard to do. And in the next year, I am going to show you how. I am planning to put together a few posts on how to start a blog and how to do basic photography and maybe video. I hope I can motivate you to start your own empire.

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Street food is the soul of the nation. It is true all over the world, except the USA. In Fort Mason, overlooking the San Francisco Bay, national identification merges with the scenery.

Let me back up a little bit. It is 2006 and I am visiting California. My in-laws respect my obsession with food and they love to show me fancy eateries. And I reciprocate, since I love to try them. It may have been a bit shocking for them when they asked me  about my favorite restaurant during my 2006 stay and I told them it was a taco truck.  Yes. The taco truck, which feeds workers in Napa. I remember very fondly visiting John, his vineyard, talking to the ripening grapes, uncovering the “sun blocking leaves”, and hoping to learn something about viticulture that could make my grapes in Slovakia the same as John’s in California. While the last will never happen, I do have happy memories of a taco truck, where I had my first encounter with pulled pork, as Anthony Bourdain would say a “noble beast”. And that memory stayed with me until last Friday.

Learning about a food-pornographic, decadent and morally filthy activity known as a “meeting of taco/food/catering trucks” was a revelation for me and I canceled all my job interviews. Jump in the car, let’s go! I have to admit, part of me was scared. I have such a fond memory of that first taco truck. What if these guys will ruin it? Well, see the result for yourself.

So what’s next? Why would I blog about it on a “Central European” blog? Simply because I want to do it! I don’t think I have the energy and the drive of those fanatics in Fort Mason but why not try it at home? Not the same I know, but I set my sights on making a totally crazy fusion cuisine something. Oh yes, lecsó/pork/bao/buns. It is time for Hungary to meet China, and this time it is not about the cheap Chinese “büfe” known from the streets of Budapest. This time Hungarian lecsó meets Chinese-American baked bao! Let’s introduce them to each other.

For buns I used a recipe and technique from About.com.

lecso

Bao bun dough

lecso goes into bao bun

shape the bao bun

make a bao bun

lecso filled bao bun

Hungarian Lecso Pork Bao Bun Filling
Serves 4
We made a similar recipe very recently. This time I felt the need to replace the chicken with pork. This is a rustic dish and it can be altered as you wish. If you are crazy, you can skip the bacon and go for vegetable oil. This time, try to boil away as much moisture as you can.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 pounds boneless chicken (preferably dark meat)
  2. 3 wax peppers (Anaheim)
  3. 2 tomatoes
  4. 1 onion
  5. 3 cloves garlic
  6. 1 strip smoked bacon
  7. ½ tsp salt
  8. 3 tsp paprika
  9. 1 cup red wine
  10. pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cut the pork into ½ inch strips or cubes. Dice the bacon and the onions. Slice the pepper and the tomatoes into circles.
  2. Start frying the bacon on medium high heat to render some fat, then add the onions.
  3. When onions are translucent or even caramelized (burned) on the edges add the pork cook on all sides (5-6 min) and then add the peppers and the pepper and paprika.
  4. When peppers start to shrivel (7-15 min), add the tomatoes. Toss together and cook for 7 more minutes.
  5. Add half a cup of water or wine and lower the heat. Simmer until the liquid evaporates and the mixture thickens.
Emperors Crumbs https://www.emperorscrumbs.com/

energy bar

With our respective families 6000 miles apart, one thing Valerian and I have done together a lot is travel. And with two kids added to the mix now, we arm ourselves seriously when we head out to the airport: books, toys, changes of clothes, and of course, snacks. Lots and lots of snacks. When your kids start to get squirrely, sometimes a treat that would normally be off-limits is just what you need to get through the last hours of a 14-hour flight.

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partyMost of the blogs on the “internets” start with a burst of enthusiasm but at the end of the day they end up with 5-10 posts and then they die. We have more then 10 posts —  we can’t die! So what really happened? Well, the usual human stuff. We got too busy with moving and getting used to a new life. We still cook almost every day.

The thing is, moving to California opened new ideas and we love to try new things; it’s the time of year when all the fresh things are coming into the markets and we’re just overwhelmed. I was waiting until I get homesick and I will cook something Central European. Of course, even when I am homesick I like to twist things. It doesn’t help that everyone here is all about fitness and eating light, so I was thinking to post recipes that reflect our current lifestyle. Healthy, California/Hungarian fusion cuisine. OK, let’s scratch out the healthy, just to be on the safe side. Although my theory is that everything that you cook yourself from real ingredients is healthy, but as Hungarians say “Too much good might harm you too”.

california poppy and moss

view of san francisco from fairfax

fairfax farmers market

Anyway. We will be back soon and I would like to announce our winners from the March competition. The only person who posted pictures of her creations is Katka. Thanks for the pictures. Although I don’t really know why the linzer turned into a big blob, I have to try the recipe again. Until the enjoy the pack of candies.

The winner from the facebook group is Marya. Congrats, Marya, email us your address and the goodies will be on their way soon.