Sunday, November 04, 2007

Shiitake Mushroom-Sweet Red Pepper with Rice Noodles, Cranberry-Walnut Bread lightly toasted with Peanut Butter

At the farmer's market today, I found some nice sweet red peppers which I was able to use in tonight's meal. I chopped half of a medium sweet onion into approximately 1/4" or slightly larger cubes and began sauteeing them in a medium-high nonstick pan with extra virgin olive oil (I always use extra virgin when I cook with olive oil). Just two minutes or so later, I added three of the medium bell peppers that I had sliced into 1/4" thicknesses. A minute or two later, I added two small handfuls of shiitake mushrooms which I had cut into thirds or quarters. For the stems that were light colored, I included the whole stems, as well. I also put in an entire jalapeno pepper that I cut into 1/4" slices, as well as perhaps two teaspoonfuls of roughly chopped ginger.

In the meantime, I had taken rice noodles and soaked them in very hot tap water for 5-10 minutes. A few minutes after the mushrooms were added to the saute, I drained the noodles and added them, stir frying them. I put in a little salt but wanted to keep the flavor fresh and clean, so didn't add any sauces like soy.

It came out great! I also just barely toasted some cranberry-walnut bread, and served it with peanut butter.

Yesterday, my wife and I (for the second time) had the pleasure of seeing Pat Metheny (he played his amazing 42-string pikasso guitar in one early piece!) performing his lovely jazz in a trio with bassist Christian McBride and percussionist Antonio Sanchez. We went out afterwards to eat Lebanese food (falafel, hummus, tabouleh, ...) at a small family-run restaurant on Ninth Street near Duke University in Durham.

Picking up from where I left off on Tuesday describing dinners that we enjoyed on our recent Southwest US trip, we left Bryce, drove through Capitol Reef National Park, and ended up in Moab, Utah for a few nights to enjoy Arches National Park. The first night there, Thursday the 18th, was our one bad dinner of the trip. Obviously from this blog, I am a "foodie" and value good food. Rarely have my wife and I had to suffer through a poor meal, but this turned out to be one of those very few times. We ate at a new Thai restaurant; the service was poor and the food was unappetizing. This was the first time in my life that I found rice that tasted bad, as if jasmine perfume were dumped in.

The next night in Moab was much better. We ate at Eddie McStiff's, a microbrewery pub that at first didn't seem so inviting. But they knew vegan - we had a very nice waiter named Maggie who looked after us; she was vegan herself and treated us great! We had decent pizza and our first exposure to chili sauce which we found so commonly in New Mexico - they had one pizza with a chili sauce instead of tomato sauce (we didn't try it, but Maggie was kind enough to let us sample the sauce with chips - tasty!).

On to Colorado's Mesa Verde, where we stayed at the nice Far View Lodge, the only lodging within the park. The first night, in spite of several phone calls in advance and messages (I was never actually able to reach the chef), we had to "make do" really with only one vegan option at the elegant Metate Room, a rice and beans variation. Since beans sometimes upset my stomach, I had to tread lightly, but ended up faring fine. But we were in for a treat when our Caribbean chef offered to make a custom dish the next night. We loved his coconut milk-based gourmet dish and the cooked banana dessert. It was one of the best meals of the trip! I'll pick up again in the coming days ...


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