cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Dorm Days Recipe Backlog

As I have previously noted, I love to bake. It is my relaxer, the activity that puts me the most at ease. It is odd, however, that since I have left my dorm to return to my family for the summer holidays my baking has slowed to a trickle. I continue to ponder possibilities for baked goods, and note a few in my paper book, but my presence in the kitchen has been near to that of a stranger. Whether it is my hesitation to use my parents baking supply, the lack of mouths to consume my creations, or the loss of time that has been overwhelmingly invested into my job, I have not taken full advantage of the spread of pristine culinary appliances available at my fingertips. Either way, I have not been experimenting as often as I wish, and as such I have not had a new recipe to share in months. Therefore, I will share those created before the birth of this blog, those created in my old dorm at Gonzaga a few months back with scattered plastic bowls, dismally bent wire whisks, and an oven overused by the culinary confused college kids I called my neighbors. The recipes were all created for a specific occasion and with specific meaning and purpose. For me, there was only one way to conclude a gruesome week of 8 history papers, and it was not a beer. My activity of utter relaxation: bake muffins and cookies to send to my friends and sisters while watching one of my many favorite Vietnam or WWII movies in the basement, pajamas and tea ensuing. Drunken cavorting with fellow class men, outsmarting the campus police, and engaging in wild jeuxs of beer pong lost all appeal to me, they wilted and slipped away with the aura of freshman year. Fleeting, I know, for college craziness is supposed to drag on throughout the full four years. Call me a fuddy duddy if you will (my boss does for my music choice), I have moved on and have decided to focus on those things that make me happy, rather than those that should. To lay it out, there are six recipes which I shall call attention to, post recipes, and share stories of. They are Mallerd Muffins, Milo's Brot, Galette des Rois, Gluten Free Sponge, Amande et Citron Gateau, and Ricotta Easter Pie.

Mallerd Muffins: My petite sister has bestowed upon me the enchanting nickname Mallerd, as in a misspelled version of the duck. The name has spread amongst tous the members of my family and unfortunately many friends to the point of being asked, "can I call you ducky?" You most certainly may not. The line must be drawn at some juncture. Even so, Mallerd is my spoon name (bakers version of pen name.) I have sent my sister parcels of Mallerd Bars (gf cookie cake bars) as well as Mallerd Mix, a gf trail mix. As such the Muffin is named for myself, for they are truly the first baked confection I molded on my own sans recipe. Their ingredients sprang from a request: a friend was feeling low, and as a treat I bake to offer comfort. Favorite ingredients of said mourner: bananas and peanut butter. Surprisingly there was not to be found a muffin recipes marrying the two classic flavors, so I made my own.

Ingredients: 2 ripe (really ripe) bananas, 1 3/4 c flour, 2/3 c sugar, 2 tsp bp, 1/4 tsp bs, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp coconut extract (if you have it),1 stick butter, 2 eggs, 1 c creamy peanut butter, 1/2 c walnuts. Crumble toping: 2 packets instant oatmeal, 2 big tbs peanut butter, 2 tbs sugar, cinnamon

Directions: Heat oven to 375 (2) mix butter, sugar, bananas, peanut butter, eggs, (3) in another bowl mix the dry bits (4) combine wet and dry, fold in walnuts (5) divide into paper lined muffin pan (6) in a small bowl combine crumble topping ingredients, use your fingers like a pastry cutter until a sandy soft and crumbly texture is formed. (7) heap topping onto muffin batter (8) bake for ~30 minutes

Galette des Rois: I did not create the idea of the cake of kings, nor the recipe. The galette is as familiar to French Catholics as a birthday cake is to rest of the world. Un Galette des Rois is the traditional French cake baked solely on the holiday Epiphanie which takes place le 6 Janvier to celebrate the regal giving of gifts to baby Jesus. The French tradition is to bake the galette of pasty dough and an almond past known as frangipan and to insert a single raw fava bean. The baker traditionally cuts the cake, however distribution falls to the youngest in the crowd. The juvenile hides under the table and calls the names of the others present to truly instill a random "fate" in the distribution. The lucky recipient of the slice with the fava bean is declared king for the day and ensues to sport the paper crown that sat previously atop the galette. I did not make this galette for epiphanie, on the contrary I made the pastry for my French class to nibble during a presentation on French holidays.

Ingredients: 1/2 cup ground almonds, 1 stick butter, 3 eggs, 1/4 cup of sugar, 2 sheets puff pastry, powdered sugar

Directions: Grind almonds in food processor (2) Beat sugar and butter (3) add TWO eggs and almonds. (4) You now have Frangipane! (5) Butter a flat baking sheet (6) unfold thawed puff pastries and using a pie pan as a template cut into two circles (7) Lay one circle on buttered sheet and spread Frangipane in the middle (8) Place a dried fava bean or ceramic figure in the Frangipane (9) Using the last egg, beat and paint the edges of the dough (10) Place the other dough circle on top and seal the edges very tight! (11) Brush top with egg (i forgot to in my picture) (11) Bake ~ 25-30 min at 375 (12) Dust with powdered sugar.

Amande et Citron Gateau: Almond and lemon pound cake, I made this for a staff dinner at the boss's house, I was a photographer for student publications. I wanted something simple and pretty, in other words something I already had the ingredients for, and a lot of substitutions.

Ingredients: 1 tsp Vanilla, 1 tsp. Almond extract, 2 lemons, zested and squeezed, 6 eggs, 2 cups sugar, 2 sticks butter (+ 1/3 cup for glaze), 1 cup sour cream (or yogurt), 3 cups flour, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. baking soda, 1 cup slivered almonds (and a few whole if you have any), 2 cups powdered sugar.
Directions: Preheat hotbox to 350, spray and flour a Bundt pan (2) grind almonds in a food processor (3) cream beat butter and sucre (4) add eggs and beat them up (5) stir in extracts and 2 tbsp lemon zest (6) Mix flour, bs, and salt (7) add dry to wet by alternating with sour cream (8) mix in almonds (9) pour into pan and bake until toothpick test says it's ready (~60-75 min) (10) Cool on rack. Icing: In small saucepan combine powdered sugar, butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, and almond extract until good consistency. Drizzle over cooled cake. Decorate with whole or halved or even crushed almonds.

Milo's Brot: Lemony Beet Seed Bread was the original title, however my sister insisted on honoring the boy from the first grade reader known as the "Beet Book" in which young Milo refuses to eat his beets and is punished, what ensues is a feverish night terror starring a ravinous beet sporting sharp fangs that proceeds to chase the horror stricken lad. I, unlike poor Milo happen to adore tinned beets, as does my mom. This recipe was created for her, a true lover of the tinned beet despite years of sour faces and turned up noses at her treat of choice. The bread was to celebrate her flying out to be present at my academic convocation. Ma mere is one of my best friends, her children are her life and these muffins are dedicated in her honor. They are beet, lemon, and poppyseed. Original Mallerd fare, and adaptable for either bread or muffins. They will be a fixed menu item at the Salty Cod.

3 cups flour, 2 tbs baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp vanilla, 3 eggs, 1 cup brown sugar, 5 tbs butter (unsalted),1 can beets, 2 tbs poppy seeds, zest of 1 large lemon, 1/8 cup beet juice For Glaze: 1/2 lemon, 1/2 brown sugar, 1/2 powder sugar, 2 tbs beet juice, poppy seeds OR crumble topping: 2 packets of instant oatmeal (or i suppose 1 cup oats), 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 tbsp butter, lemon juice, 3 tbsp beet juice

Preheat oven to 350F (2) combine flour, salt, and baking powder, set aside (3) beat sugar, butter, and eggs (4) puree beats in blender or food processor, add to wet mixture (5) add poppy seeds, lemon zest, and lemon juice to wet mixture (6) combine wet and dry (7) transfer dough to sprayed and floured loaf pan (8) Add crumble topping (if using) (9) Bake for 1 hour or until done (you know when its done), (10) combine glaze ingredients in saucepan over low heat (11) (if using) pour glaze over loaf while still hot and in the pan.

Ricotta Easter Pie: Yes, for Easter. I saw Giada make one, read about one in Food & Wine, and had a recipe from Emerald. All different. So, mine is different too. But they are all puffy pastry folded over an easter custard and baked to a crispness any Italian would be happy to eat.

Ingredients: 3/4 cup powdered sugar, (and some for dusting), 3 large eggs, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon lemon zest, 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup cooked arborio rice, 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts (or almonds). 2 puff pastry sheets, 3/4 stick unsalted melted butter
Directions: Preheat oven to 375, butter a glass pie dish (2) Blend all ingredients EXCEPT rice and nuts (3) stir in rice and nuts, and set aside (4) place puff pastry square in greased pan, let corners hang over (5) brush on melted butter (6) place the other puff pastry over the first one in opposite direction letting edges hang over (should look like a six pointed star) (7) poor custard filling in pan (8) fold corners over to meet in the middle (covers the whole thing) (9) brush with butter (10) cook for ~40 min, or until filling is set (11) dust with powdered sugar.

Gluten Free Sponge: Sponges are a universal baking tool, they can be used in countless baking projects, and for the gluten free-ers out there, it is paramount to have a light, fluffy, and sweet recipe ready for such treats as charlottes, lady fingers, tiramisu, strawberry shortcake, etc. I experimented with this sponge for the occasion of my sisters birthday party where a tiramisu was promised. It is decadent alone as well, a nice tea cake with a bit of jam.

Ingredients: 1/2 cup brown rice flour, 1/4 bob's garbanzo/fava flour mix, 4 eggs separated, 1/4 tsp salt, 2/3 cup sugar + 1 tbsp, 1/2 tsp cream of tartar, 1 tsp baking powder

preheat oven to 375 (2) sift together flours salt and bp (3) in your Kitchen Aid beat the egg whites for 1 minute (4) add tbsp sugar and cream of tartar (5) continue beating 4-5 minutes, until stiff (6) in little dish beat egg yolks, then gently fold into whites (7) fold in sugar (8) fold in flour mix (9) spray a cake pan, or dish, or whatever pan suits your sponge-need (10) bake for about 10 minutes depending on thickness.

There are others, some basic, some classic, a few borrowed, a few unique. D.D. Carrot Muffins, Hazelnut & Avocado Chocolate Cake, Rhubarb Lime Jelly--but we shall wait for another day. Tonight is gone, and if there is ever a sole who plays betty with the fare listed above, I would love to hear of your results.

A bientôt

The Chocolate Lady

There is a woman known to all the employees of Mora as the "Chocolate Lady." With graying braided hair tuffing from beneath an old head scarf, she enters the cafe no less than two or three times per week to sample chocolate flavors that she has, despite her proffered visage of surprised ecstasy, tasted on many occasions. She comes to us with her stories and musings on the cacao bean, unawares to the whisper murmured among coworkers as she crosses the threshold: "chocolate lady is here." Immediately launching into her chocolate dialog, her Athenian presence is more reminiscent of the knave Hermes, for despite her sincerity of bestowing her erroneous ideas on the history of chocolate upon the youth of Mora, she knows how to play the game. Her stories vary day to day; their content unimportant when juxtaposed to their purpose, that being free ice cream. She has sampled many but has slyly never offered a schilling, often abandoning her chocolates to melt into sorrowful puddles on the bar counter as a precursor move of her vanishing act. If intercepted by the register operator before reaching the counter she retreats to try her luck the next day. Few could view her intentions as nefarious, her identity and where she hails from have yet to be garnered. Whether she needs us truly for a sweet treat, or rather is fond of our company and polite counter banter, her jeux is harmless and we let her play it. However, her diagnosis of the cocoa bean strikes me with disagreeable chords, for foxing products is one thing, but askew "historical" information (in my book) is quite another. Unable to claim exact factual expertise on the drug, I had no choice but to commence a wee bit of research so as to quell that nagging (embarrassing) feeling in the back of my head caused by misrepresented "historical" facts. Alors, merci Chocolate Lady, your musings will always be welcome in exchange for a small trifle of fleeting chocolate bliss.

The first consumers of the cocoa bean were not, against popular belief, the Aztecs, but rather the Olmec tribe of the region that is now Venezuela (circa 1000 BCE). The beans first task was to nourish traveling Olmec warriors, the bean was finely ground and added to liquid. Cocoa was a highly valued crop as it was used as a trading medium with neighboring tribes, such as the Mayans who introduced the bean to modern day Mexico around 4oo BCE. The Mayans cultivated a deep adoration of chocolate and created specific chocolate drinking cups for their spicy and pleasurable drink of the ground bean mixed with red pepper and other spices. As with nearly all civilizations in every time period, highly sought after commodities represented wealth and status, reserved only for those of the more noble stations (cocoa will make a reappearance as a luxury of the wealthy and noble upon its introduction into Western Europe). The Aztecs acquired the pallet for cocoa from the (conquered) Mayans. The Aztecs, however, took their cocoa cold, and stewed the ground powder with vanilla and chilies to make a beverage "suitable for the gods." Cortes conquered the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan in 1521, and, noting the monetary value of the Xocoatl bean as a mesoamerican currency, quickly took over the market.

The Spanish introduced the cocoa bean (misspelled from the Mayan cacau) to Europe, a mere addition to the already commodity driven society of the modern era; the cocoa bean joined the coveted "exotic" luxuries of tea, drugs, silk, china, salt and spices. Despite Belgianese claims, the Spanish were the first to sweeten the chocolate drink with sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and pepper. The popularity of cocoa spread throughout most of Western Europe, chocolate houses emerged in many major urban centers, the precursor to the cultural hub of the coffeehouse, and the drink emerged as highly popular amongst Catholic communities, for (like the cod) it was viewed as ideal nourishment during fasts. In the early nineteenth century the Dutch finally introduced the world to milk chocolate after the invention of a cocoa press that removed nearly all the fat from the bean, resulting in a dry powder that could then be added to milk.

What emerged was a world wide market for creative and sensual niceties: enter the Cadbury family in 1853, the Swiss Henri Nestl
é and Rudolphe Lindt in 1879, and the Americans Milton Hershey in 1894, and Frank Mars in 1920. A new culinary field of chocolate erupted: sauces, cakes, kisses, bars, puddings, and drinks. To address briefly Chocolate Lady's favorite subject of discussion--particularly with the male employees--chocolate is overwhelmingly the trifle of love, as a coveted aphrodisiac and symbol for passion (borrowed from the Aztec belief that it stimulated men) it has acquired, if not sustained its reputation as the all time guilty pleasure. Chocolate, from an unromantic scientific perspective contains high levels of phenylethylamine and seratonin which produce happy senses associated with feelings of being in love. I may add though from a personal opinion, that chocolate is useless if not black. Yes! 70% cocoa or higher, I believe that the chocolate palate ripens with age, as I would not touch dark cocoa when I was a child. Chocolate is a world love affair, and aside from those poor souls avec an allergy, none can resist seduction for long. Chocolate is comfort, decadence, passion, and good reading. Though hopefully more palatable than Silverstrein's unwrapped, this account has merely scratched the story of cocoa, there are countless biographies of the bean (Chocolate starring Johny Depp is quite good actually) available for those with the bug for discovery of civilization's secrets. The cocoa bean, again as the cod, deserves a second glance as it has a rich story, and an even richer role in the simple pleasures that remind us of the simple Hershey slogan, Be Happy.

A bientôt

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me

Yesterday evening I took off my apron early and drove home with a fitful vengeance not only to make it through the end of weekend ferry traffic in one piece, but also to reach my glass of French burgundy waiting for me on the back deck. When I walked into my parent's kitchen, however, I was greeted by a sight that caught me between the the desire to either giggle insatiably or to cry from sentimental joy. I took the more Mallory approach: grab the Nikon. I requested a rice flour carrot cake, a real one chalk full of raisins, figs, and coconut with a creamy decor of mascarpone and my favorite sweet treat--marzipan. I got what I wanted, but better.

It is common to hear of the handiness of having a doctor, lawyer, or stockbroker in the family, but what about an artist? I have one. My sister is an artist both classically with the brush as well as with the digital mouse. Atop my gourmet carrot cake were three small marzipan figurines beaming brightly at me, these three figures were characters from my favorite childhood cartoon--Mark Brown's Arthur the Aardvark. What am I saying childhood, I enjoy watching it now. Arthur Read, his caterer father Dave Read, and his third grade nail-eating teacher Mr. Ratburn majestically adorned my yellow mascarpone frosted cake with bright orange polka-dots. The details on these little buggers were not perfect, but the evident time spilled into their creation was undoubtedly colossal, my sisters really are my best friends. These figures could not have been better unless Jacques Torres made them himself. Only one piece remained, ah that was breakfast.

After the photo shoot I finally got my red, as well as a starter of Clotilde's canned tuna pate. As the evening progressed it turned into pinot grigio and then semillon. Dinner was seafood, naturally. I cannot imagine a birthday without seafood. Last year appeared the clam and bay scallop, while yesterday we gorged upon tuna steaks and salmon. A few days ago on the food network Tyler Florence made his "ultimate tuna steak," it looked so good I almost fell off the bike. Well, maybe that was due to the missing foot straps, a display of malfunction only too common among the cardio exercise machines at the swank Poulsbo Athletic Club. 45 seconds per side on the flat griddle: white on the outside, grapefruit pink on the inside. Coated slightly with olive oil, salt and pepper, and a few basil leaves, so fishy it was reminiscent of a bouillabaisse. New level of my sashimi love. Alongside were the grilled salmon, Parmesan risotto with peas, fresh fruit salad with a ginger lime sweet dressing, and grilled white corn on the cob. With dessert came the carrot cake accompanied by a cosmopolitan in my beautiful jewel-encrusted martini glass bestowed upon me by my best friend miss Katie.

I am no expert wine taster, but I wouldn't mind being one. I've been introduced to the wine lady at the market by my dad, a true lover of the grape himself, but I have no real knowledge on what makes the distinction between wines other than their color and year of fermentation. Yes I understand the variant flavors derived from many forms of grapes and the fruitiness of wood barrels, but I am behind schedule on the terminology and identification, something I would like to amend before arriving in Paris. The Latin Vinum, wine or grape, is the root of the Germanic wine, and the romance vin, vino, et cetera. The Italians and French shockingly are not the eternal godparents of wine, such a title rather is bestowed upon ancient tribes of the Middle East, in the areas of modern day Iran and Egypt circa eight thousand BCE. The ancient Greeks developed the pallet for the grape nectar around seven thousand BCE, and henceforth introduced the fruit northward. Due to the rapid spread of Christianity in the Middle Ages, wine served at Catholic communion set the beverage on a whole new platform. As we learn in the pages of Cod, the Norsemen under the guidance of Lief Erickson, deemed their North American discovery (Newfoundland) Vinland, due to the abundance of wild grapes. A true mystery in that there is no evidence that a grape has ever grown, or been spotted near the region. Needless to say, the grape has many a function; while they are decadent when eaten fresh, comforting when eaten dried, they are divine when consumed fermented.

What I have garnered of the art of wine thus far: there are two types, varietal and blended wines. Some are made strictly from a single variety of the European grape vitis vinifera, such as pinot noir, merlot, or chardonnay. A combination of the different varieties of vitis vinifera result in a blend, such as the region named Bordeaux or Tuscany. There are other forms made from a different grape altogether, such as the American Concord grape. European wines are named for their location of creation, while wines from the rest of the world denote the specific grape used. Now the clincher--the difference of color: red or white depends solely on the fermentation process, not the grape used. Red wines obtain their colour from the skin of the grape which remains present during fermentation, a process known as maceration. The naked white, on the other hand, is skinned and stewed alone. There are many more classifications such as roses, cooking wines and sparkling wines, but not now. The blood can only absorb so much before reaching the saturation percentage. Simply put wine is a lifestyle, abused and it becomes a cheap six dollar box, cultivated and it becomes a life enricher.

As for birthdays, they produce cake. And meals beyond the average Sunday evening fare. Designer handbags are added bonuses, as well as airfare to San Fransisco. Above all, they really do let you know that you are loved. The majority of world cultures celebrate birthdays, everyone deserves a bit of specialness. Food and drink will always mark a celebration, wherever one may be, and that is something to count on.

A bientôt

Thursday, July 5, 2007

TJ & Patriotic Cupcake Sprinkles

While dishing out what seemed to be millions of scoops of ice cream to the never-ending throng of celebratory Americans lined up today to obtain their 4th of July creamy treat, a comical image appeared in my mind of Thomas Jefferson snacking on a bowl of red white and blue cupcake sprinkles in between quill strokes while writing the declaration. The cafe was adorned with patriotic balloons, and not surprisingly the only sprinkles requested on this holy day were the "American ones!" I even slipped a few into my take home dish of lemon and grapefruit sorbet. They actually are surprisingly flavorful. Every small town in America experiences the downtown parade and festival to celebrate this countries independence; a glorious time of parking lot migraines in the clever dance to avoid the parking ticket. Success in the State workers lot, no work for the many on a Federal holiday. There is no shame in the mundane commercial celebration of America, every country celebrates their own and the United States has as much right. America came of its own so that Americans would not have to answer to anyone but themselves, to just live as they are. The boys would be pleased to know that their vision has statically carried this country through 231 fourths. Sort of.

It's too easy to catch an American in naivety, ask any number of street goers a simple poll question, such as "why did the US declare Independence from the Crown?" and you will indubitably receive, "Oppression, taxation without representation, exploitation, and most likely TEA." That is, if you are lucky enough to get an answer other than "Freedom", or more likely "is this for an MTV or FOX show?" Chances are one most likely would not hear an explanation tiered economically, politically, and culturally, resting on re-emergent principles born of enlightenment thinkers such as Locke, Condorcet, and Montisquieu, nor would one ever accredit the break to a collection of verbose tax evaders. Say what? After all, why wouldn't a colony pay taxes to their government? I am not anti-American, just pro-real American. The John Hancock "stick it" is no secret to be that of an angry businessman. Patriotic notions of freedom, and independence of a separate people undoubtedly melanged into the revolution, but at the crudest level, America was and has maintained the identity of unified tax evaders! I do not view this as a cynical angle, just a different one. (Insert break here: the hosts of family 4th of July fireworks program on NBC Seattle version just stated "I am all for teaching kids US history through home decor, like cupcakes and pinwheels!" Priceless, and yet something deep inside me just died. I think I need more crust-less all American apple pie.)

America has not strayed far from the principles TJ (ehem, Thomas Jefferson) embraced while outlining the declaration, the country "America" began as organic with the promise of continual change and evolution. As such I cannot decide whether Thomas Jefferson would be more confused over the massive amount of red white and blue sprinkles consumed atop cupcakes and ice cream cones annually, or the fact that a brewing company boasts the name of Samuel Adams, who in his own time was publicly known to have left the family ale industry from lack of skill in the trade. Ah, I prefer to imagine the three of us sitting around a backyard fire pit caught in a deep laugh about it all, while sipping Sam's summer ale in an effort to settle the undigested barbecue before digging into the bubbling apple pie. The occasional jump at the fire pops emerging from the nearby Indian reservation whose profitable fireworks sales have created a well deserved cause for celebration is the only thing distracting us from our jovial fireside bash. The notion of the Native American population fervently celebrating the nation's independence, however, might be a trifle puzzling to the founding generation, but with a few more Sam Adams, and a delightfully colorful light show in the sky, and all thought on the matter can be forgiven. To be American, I beleive is to roll with it all, to not maintain one identity, and to keep alive that one strain of thought that they too believed in: you can send your fashion trends, your shoe buckles and tea, your preachers and morals, but mess with the money, and we are through.

Crunching my sprinkles and coleslaw I return to my earlier thoughts; Jefferson may be dismayed by the state of Union at our present time, and the lack of care for knowledge of this country's past, but I am confident in the thought that TJ would like the sprinkles, and I am also confident that he would take them on a cupcake rather than on a cone. Commercialism is how America celebrates holidays, no shame, it is identity, and that is what the revolutionary generation fought for--a distinct identity regardless of exactly what it embodies. So instead of bitchin' about it, accept it and enjoy the sparklers and a crisp cool Sam Adams lager. Good night America, and f0r God's sake I wish you good luck.

A bientôt

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Ice Cream Makes the Earth Spin

I work at an artisan ice cream parlor in one of the busiest tourists spots outside of Seattle, and the 3rd and 4th of July means living hell. The downtown tourist town of Winslow on Bainbridge Island closes the main street annually on the third to motor traffic for the town's street party extravaganza; included is a road race, vendors, dancing, etc. Yippy Skippy for the locals, but the main ploy is to pull in even more tourists. As such everyone wants ice cream. Every. One. And there's only one stop for ice cream in Winslow: us. And surprisingly our patron ratio of adults to children is skewed from the common perception: I would say one child for every nine adults. I know what you are thinking, it's a psychological phenomenon but adults crave the cream more than the kiddies. For us, that works, because Mora's 48 flavors cater more toward the cultivated pallets of the tested and true veterans of the chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry era. We carry oddly unique mixes, such as our new seasonal offerings of lavender and the hesitatingly delicious goat cheese & fig. The more decadent the flavor, the more popular it becomes with the older crowd. For the kids: plain and simple, number one seller among those under the age of 18 is the lemon ice cream, lemon sorbets, plain chocolate, plain vanilla, and chocolate mint. While among the adults the swiss chocolate boasting swirls of chocolate liqueur and dulce de leche draws the most salivation. "Anything chocolate" is a common request, difficult when we have nearly 12 flavors that fit the category. A common request among the older crowd are the flavors espousing some form of liqeuer, marsala wine with egg custard, walnuts with cognac, rum raisin, orange sorbet with cointreau, etc. If you like your liquerer you will like these, strongly reminiscent of a straight shot is an understatement. I, however, dutifully report to our ice cream patrons upon request that my *favorite* is none other than the creamy and spicy little old cinnamon.

I've made my own ice cream before; it is slow and makes only around six servings or so, but the point is you know what is going into it. And that is what you get from the ice cream at Mora; all organic, no preservatives, no dyes, a low percentage of butterfat, and fresh ingredients that you wouldn't even beleive unless you saw. The ice cream is as fresh as it can be, for it is also made on the island. You can achieve the same freshness of Mora's homemade decadence, it just takes a little time. I have the same ice cream maker that Ina uses on the Barefoot Contessa (as I'm sure millions of others have as well) and I've made more sorbets with it than ice creams, seeing as water is always a bit more readily at hand than heavy cream. Sorbets are simple: water, fruit, and sweetener, a thickener if you'd like as well. Use a blender for the fruit, mix, pour in the ice creamer and wait. Frozen fruits in a bag (hmmm like from costco) work exceptionally well. Oh, and it works exceptionally well for a crowd such as at a 4th of July party. One batch of strawberry sorbet, one batch of blueberry, and one batch of coconut and you are ready to celebrate Bastille Day. Oops, I mean American independence. I celebrate the 4th with my family, even though theres a Canadian flag flying on the front porch, it's a good day to discuss and get excited about pre-revolution history without being made fun of. Time to dig out the red coat and rebel scum uniforms for the backyard barbecue cookout. But that's tomorrow. Today is ice cream (well tomorrow as well I suppose) and theres a lot of scoops in my future, and maybe in yours too, for everyone likes ice cream, even the frowning lactose intolerants. Being in a tourist trap there are hundreds of well, tourists from all over; Asia, Europe, south America, and they all want ice cream. Je peux aider les Francophones, mais I don't speak Spanish, but I have found that the word chocolate transcends all linguistic barriers and is understood by everyone. So, go out and have some ice cream, chances are you won't find some as good as the product created by Mora, but eh, ice cream is ice cream so enjoy it, and be sure to offer some at you next summer get together.

A bientôt