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The Hungry Nomad: 04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011

April 26, 2011

Khoreshteh Bademjan (Iranian Eggplant Stew)

This is my personal favorite. And I assure you it will quickly become yours. In my opinion there is nothing more delicious than eggplant dishes.  


2-3 pounds of lamb or lamb shanks with bones (alternatives are chicken or beef or vegetarian)
- it is however most delicious with lamb shanks
1-2 large eggplants
1-2 tomatoes
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 large onion
2 tablespoons salt
2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup water
4 tablespoons powdered Persian dry lime (limoo amanee) or 4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 pinch of cinnamon (optional)


1. Peel the eggplants, cut into 2 by 4 inches. Sprinkle with salt and set aside for about an hour or longer to let the eggplants 'perspire'. This takes the water out of the eggplant and in return the eggplant will have less of a sponge effect when frying. 
2. Cut your meat into small pieces. If you use lamb shanks leave whole. 
3. Chop onions into small pieces and fry with olive oil until golden yellow. 
4. Add meat to the onions and fry just until the meat and brown. Once the meat is brown on the outside add 1/4 of water and tomato paste (diluted in hot water), Persian dried key lime, salt and pepper to taste. 
Note: you can also add whole tomatoes at this point in addition to the tomato paste. 
5. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 1.5 hours or less depending on meat used. 

Meanwhile the eggplants will be wet. I usually wash them to get rid of the salt and dry with paper towels. 

1. Saute the eggplants in olive oil (or oil of choice) OR for a healthier version bake. 
Note: The traditional version of this dish requires you to fry the eggplants. Eggplants soak in a lot of oil and therefore can require a lot of oil to cook. As a healthier alternative I like to  rub eggplant pieces with olive oil and bake them in the oven. However, I have to admit that the original version made my my mom and grandma with heavily soaked eggplants is WAY more delicious. So I recommend you try  the original version before the healthy version to soak in the true taste of this dish.
2. Once the eggplants are ready (golden brown on both sides) drain on paper towels. Arrange carefully on top of the stewed lamb and simmer for 15 minutes. Be careful not to break the slices. Do not attempt to mix the stew at this point as the eggplant will be delicate and will rupture. 

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April 18, 2011

Yiasemi (Athens, Greece)

While the north of Europe is experiencing spring in full bloom, in our little south-eastern corner of this continent the weather gods granted us some more chilly, grey and rainy days before the strong summer sun will make its daily appearance once again. On a dreary afternoon like this, all you need is a homely place and good company.

Yiasemi (jasmine in Greek) offers you just that. What better place to meet your friends at than one where you may sit close to the fireplace, munching on delicious home-made savory and sweet pies, drinking a coffee or even some spicy sweet rakomelo*? To make it even better, this little cafe has the most relaxed & friendly service and is located in Plaka, one of Athens' oldest neighborhoods, right under the Acropolis. I'm already anxiously awaiting warmer days to come when I'll be able to sit on Yiasemi's steps, dreaming of days gone by.

*my very favorite cold-weather-drink: warm raki mixed with spices and honey. So good.

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April 17, 2011

A weekend in Tuscany (Chianti region, Italy)

Here are a few photos of a distant trip to Tuscany in Italy. Living in Switzerland allowed for such wonderful weekend trips. I have to say that is what I miss most about living in Europe: being able to get up and go and within hours find myself in a new country, new language, new culture, new food... and come back a few days later feeling completely refreshed. You can't find that kind of experience and culture anywhere in North America.  

On this particular trip a few friends and I decided to drive from Geneva to Italy for a long weekend. We arrived in a small village in the Chianti region after a long drive from Geneva. Our host's (a lovely Swiss-German friend) family own a lovely villa and 'auberge' in Tuscany. The house was converted from old stables into a lovely modern-eco friendly residence including its very own swimming pool and tennis courts. The rooms looked onto the beautiful Tuscan valley. The best part was the beautiful kitchen which included a brick stove oven (where many pizzas were made). 

In the morning we drove to the village market where we feasted on fresh Italian delicacies. We gathered food for our weekend and went back to the Villa where we made fresh baked breads and pizza while drinking local Chianti wine literally from the backyard. 

The nightly grand Italian feast

In the mornings we would go for walks through the scenic valley and stop in at various vineyards. I literally stumbled upon the most beautiful houses (my dream summer home is just below).  

I hope these photos have inspired you to take your own culinary trip to Tuscany. 

On the way back you can always stop in Florence. I have been to Florence several times and the first time around fell absolutely in love with it (mind you I was 16 at the time). But I was convinced that I belonged in Florence and needed to shape my life in order to end up there. The entire city of Florence is a walking museum and oozes beauty and culture from every corner and every street. The Gelato shops aren't bad either. 

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April 15, 2011

Guu Garden is Guuuuuuud (Vancouver, Canada)

My faith and love for Guu was reinstated through my last visit to Guu Garden. Guu Garden is the newest addition to the Guu family and is nestled away on Hornby street. It is actually quiet hard to find if you are not familiar with this area but as a general reference its on the second floor of Nelson Square (cross street Hornby). They have a wonderful little Japanese Garden and pretty much the same feel and decor as the other Guus when you walk in except it is bigger (probably the same size as the Gastown Guu. It also has a large patio which I imagine will be packed come summer. 

We went for lunch so they only had lunch specials. However, their menu is completely different but just as delicious. We had the Chicken Karage and Agadeshi Mozzarella for appetizers. The Agedashi Mozzarella was a cheesy version of a tofu classic. Not nearly as crispy on the outside with your regular agedashi tofu, but a lovely chewy mozzarella with broth and slivers of seaweed is equally satisfying, if not more. And the Kobe burger bento box  was absolutely amazing. What a great idea!!! To nestle a nice and juicy Kobe burger in between two crispy rice patties rather than buns. Pure Genius. 

Guu Garden on Urbanspoon

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April 13, 2011

Black Rice Pudding

Commonly served for breakfast in parts of Southeast Asia, this dish also makes a great dessert. Chinese black glutinous rice, sometimes called forbidden rice, works well, but if you live near a Southeast Asian market you can use this same method with the more traditional Thai black sticky rice.


1 Cup Black glutinous rice
1/2 cup brown sugar (adjust to taste)
1 can unsweetened coconut milk (shake well)
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract


1. Add water to rice and let it soak for 6 hours or overnight. 
2. Drain and add water and black rice in a medium pot. Simmer uncovered under low to medium heat for 70 minutes or longer depending if you want it to be mushy in which case leave for longer.  
2. Stir in sugar and vanilla extract in the last 15 minutes of the cooking time. The rice mixture will be mushy and thickened around this time, so stir  gently to make sure it doesn’t stick at the bottom. You can add coconut milk at this time to add flavor or drizzle afterwards on top. 
3. Drizzle coconut milk just before serving. My personal preference is to serve while it’s piping hot but it is equally good at room temperature or cold.


April 12, 2011

Rodney's Oyster House (Vancouver, Canada)

I was invited out for dinner to Rodney's Oyster House. I was actually pretty pumped to go since I have heard nothing but great things about this restaurant in Yaletown. It's been there for quite some time now but somehow I have never made it there. 

And as their name reveals they serve a whole lot of oysters...raw oysters, fried oysters and baked oysters (see menu) But apparently they serve something besides oysters.... cute male waiters?  As soon as I walked in I could not help but notice that most of the tables were occupied by girls (besides the bar) and that all the servers were male. Was this a coincident? I would soon find out that Rodney's is voted to have the best male looking servers in Vancouver. Sort of the 'hooters' for men if I may make an analogy. But ladies before you all start planning your next trip to Rodney's let me tell you whoever voted Rodney's number one for their servers was probably a bit biased.  Some of the servers had serious attitude problems and I guess they really took that vote to heart (sorry!). I will say though that the ambiance was excellent and the night was very fun. The decor of the restaurant is great and it was jam packed the entire night. 

Ok. So I lied...there were a few men sprinkled around downstairs. 

We may have been the last ones to leave.... clearly having too much fun to notice the restaurant had closed for the night.

You might be wondering about the food too? Ah yes the food.

If any of you have followed my blog entries you know by now that I have lived and eaten my way through New Orleans which is known for its delicious oysters. In fact many of the dishes at Rodney's seem to be inspired by southern food. So clearly I was not overly impressed. However, I am not an expert on oysters... I have just happened to have some amazing oysters in New Orleans (chargrilled oysters and raw) and nothing can compare. However, we are in Vancouver and I have no basis for comparison as I have not really sought out the Oyster market in Vancouver. The Rockefella oysters were bland.... I had to dump a lot of salt and sauces to make it edible and the fried oysters were good but again nothing to die for. However, any restaurant that has a wine list including my favourite Sancerre makes me happy and I am glad to go there if not for the oysters then just for the wine. 

Overall the meal was average (overpriced but you can't expect much else dining in Yaletown). However, the ambiance was fantastic and very fun. And I do recommend a trip here if you are looking to have a nice night out dining and wining. 

Rodney's Oyster House on Urbanspoon

Rodney’s Oyster House
1228 Hamilton Street, Vancouver, BC V6B6
Our Hours:
Mondays to Saturdays - 11:30am ti1pm
Sundays - 4:30pm til 10pm

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