Northampton Confusion

ball of plastic bags

plastic bags on Earth Day

It is very confusing, learning to live here in Northampton. When someone’s sick, consider the politics of cut flowers before calling the florist. Don’t wear too many dry-clean-only clothes. Dry cleaning is an abomination; why not visit the local hemp outfitter instead? When going out for a fancy dinner, no need to change out of your Sam’s sportswear, but don’t forget to put on your dressy clogs.

Tonight at the Haymarket Cafe, when trying to throw away the remains of a goat cheese, beet, and sundried tomato salad, I had a mental meltdown in front of the compost bin. What can go in it? Why are there plastic cups on the top? Are napkins legal? What about food?

So I made sure no one was looking, put everything in the trash, and ran away.

Vegemite and Cheese

cheese paper

cute cheese paper

In addition to pie, Type E requested a “high quality cheddar” for this birthday. As a lover of both Vegemite and cheese, he’s often wondered about pairing the two but wasn’t sure where to begin.

Enter Philadelphia’s gracious and talented Madame Fromage, who loves a good cheese puzzle. She kindly asked around on our behalf and came back with this suggestion: vegemite and cheddar on a cracker, topped with a little pepper.

If Northampton has a DiBrunos or Downtown Cheese equivalent, I have yet to find it, so the classic British cheddars (Keen, Montgomery) were off the table. We went with two locals: Cabot Clothbound and Shelburne Falls 3-Year Aged Cheddar.

Shelburne Falls & Cabot Clothbound cheeses

Shelburne Falls (left) & Cabot Clothbound

Cabot Clothbound is excellent, of course. The Madame herself says so. However, the Shelburne Falls is also damn tasty, though it’s less classic cheddar and more earthy, tickle-your-throat.

So here’s our lunch. Type E loved it. My review? Pairing cheese with vegemite is a waste of perfectly good cheese.

vegemite and cheese on crackers

vegemite and cheese on crackers

PS Note the most excellent cheese paper in the first photo!

Windmills in 13 easy steps

Last year at this time, we were vacationing in the Netherlands and Belgium, having narrowly avoided the unpronounceable volcano that wreaked havoc on so many travelers.

On April 27, 2010, we left our cozy houseboat in Amsterdam and decided to visit the famous Kinderdijk windmills en route to Bruges. If you’re without car, you can do this detour in 13 easy steps:

  1. Train from Amsterdam to Rotterdam
  2. Walk from Rotterdam station to the city’s waterfront
  3. Find the ferry dock
  4. Ferry to Ridderkerk
  5. Really small ferry to KinderdijkWalk 1 km to the windmills
  6. Rent a bike and enjoy!
  7. Walk 1 km back to ferry dock
  8. Really small ferry to Ridderkerk. Say hi to the driver; it’s the same guy who dropped you off.
  9. Ferry to Rotterdam
  10. Run back to Rotterdam station
  11. Train to Antwerp
  12. Train to Bruges

A full, rushed day to be sure, but so worth it. And once we finally got to Bruges, our kind B&B proprietor greeted us with some tasty Zot, and all was right with the world.

Fear the cake

There’s an apple pie in the oven right now, requested by Type E for his birthday tomorrow. It’s a big birthday, a multiple of five, so I really wanted to bake and decorate a cake.

Because the cake for the last multiple-of-five birthday turned out so well and was not at all reminiscent of a serial killer:

Happy 30th cake

Happy 30th, Eric!

And there was also that time I smashed the top of my brother’s wedding cake into the door of a Corolla:

smashed wedding cake

the top of Dan's wedding cake, oops!

And when we blinded Hello Kitty and hacked off her ear:

Hello Kitty cake

maimed Hello Kitty

I can’t imagine why Type E would rather have a pie instead of a birthday cake.

Spaetzle enjoys computing

Spaetzle and Type E

Spaetzle and Type E

The Edible Book

Hatch-22

Edible Book entry: Hatch-22

Today was The Edible Book, a fundraiser held at the Forbes Library in Northampton.

Edible Book events are held around the world, usually on or around April 1st, the birthday of Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Apparently, this French gastronome is famous for writing a meditation on food.

The fundraiser’s premise is ingeniously simple: participants pay a fee to enter their edible interpretation of a book. Non-creators can pay a small fee to view the works of art. Celebrity judges announce the prizes, and then everyone eats.

I’m not a fancy baker or especially creative with food presentation, so I had to compete using cheap humor. Type E and I came up with several possible candidates:

  • Lord of the Pies
  • The Girl Who Played With Her Food
  • A ‘Shroom With a View
  • The Deviled Egg Wears Prada
  • Catcher in the Pie
  • Deviled Egg in the White City
  • Animal Parm
  • Zorba the Greek Salad
  • The Scarlett Cheddar
  • A Tale of Two Zitis
  • Cauliflowers for Algernon

I settled on Hatch-22 and was completely outclassed by entries like “The Old Man and the Seaweed” and “The Bread Pony.”  So many clever people!

Everyone got a prize, and mine was “most egg-cellent.” My kind of judges.