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Archive for December, 2013

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Twas the night before Christmas Eve,
and all through MainStreetCafe,
creatures were stirring, singing a storm.

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I have included here on the TNBE blog only a dozen representative pix of some of the happy carolers. I’ll follow up shortly with a link to an album on Flickr that will have many more smiling faces and crazy carolers.

Thanks to Darin and Daphne for another happy start to the holidays.

HAPPY NEW YEAR !

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Winner: Lenny

Already known as the best bowler in town, Lenny proved tonight he has other skills. He played a strong, silent game at the end of the bar, and led all night, followed by Paula (who may have been home studying, lo these many weeks), and Jon the Bodyguard. On a night filled with difficult medical questions and not a single Princess Diaries question, Jon was happy with his second place finish.

Pluto on the other hand appeared confused all night, missing one question after another.  After guessing that kite flying, not sumo wrestling, was the national sport of Japan, he even said that he wished that Mistress Daphne was back in charge (although he retracted that soon after).

Good Question: Who conquered the Incan Empire?

Choices:   a. Cook   b. Pizarro   c. Da Gamma    d. Ponce de Leon

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Answer: Pizarro

High in the Andes Mountains of Peru, the Inca built a dazzling empire that governed a population of 12 million people. Although they had no writing system, they had an elaborate government, great public works, and a brilliant agricultural system. In the five years before the Spanish arrival, a devastating war of succession gripped the empire. Atahuallpa was the 13th and last emperor of the Incas. In 1532, Atahuallpa’s army defeated the forces of his half-brother Huascar in a battle near Cuzco. Atahuallpa was consolidating his rule when Pizarro and his 180 soldiers appeared. Pizarro and his men are known as “conquistadores”. I think of them more like soldiers of fortune, who by historical accident (and gunpowder) were able to conquer (and destroy) a superior civilization. It was a damn shame!

501215-statue-of-inca-king-atahualpa-in-cuzco-peru                                      statue of Atahuallpa in Cuzco, Peru

Pizarro had sailed down  from Panama to Peru, landing at Tumbes. He led his army up the Andes Mountains and on November 15, 1532, reached the Inca town of Cajamarca, where Atahuallpa was enjoying the hot springs in preparation for his march on Cuzco, the capital of his brother’s kingdom. Pizarro invited Atahuallpa to attend a feast in his honor, and the emperor accepted. Having just won one of the largest battles in Inca history, and with an army of 30,000 men at his disposal, Atahuallpa thought he had nothing to fear from the bearded white stranger and his 180 men. Pizarro, however, planned an ambush, setting up his artillery at the square of Cajamarca.

On November 16, Atahuallpa arrived at the meeting place with an escort of several thousand men, all apparently unarmed. Pizarro sent out a priest to exhort the emperor to accept the sovereignty of Christianity and Emperor Charles V., and Atahuallpa refused, flinging a Bible handed to him to the ground in disgust. Pizarro immediately ordered an attack. Buckling under an assault by the terrifying Spanish artillery, guns, and cavalry (all of which were alien to the Incas), thousands of Incas were slaughtered, and the emperor was captured.

Atahuallpa offered to fill a room with treasure as ransom for his release, and Pizarro accepted. Eventually, some 24 tons of gold and silver were brought to the Spanish from throughout the Inca empire. Although Atahuallpa had provided the richest ransom in the history of the world, Pizarro treacherously put him on trial for plotting to overthrow the Spanish, for having his half-brother Huascar murdered, and for several other lesser charges. A Spanish tribunal convicted Atahuallpa and sentenced him to die. On August 29, 1533, the emperor was tied to a stake and offered the choice of being burned alive or strangled by garrote if he converted to Christianity. In the hope of preserving his body for mummification, Atahuallpa chose the latter, and an iron collar was tightened around his neck until he died.

The execution of Atahuallpa, the last free reigning emperor, marked the end of 300 years of Inca civilization.

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A relatively sparse, but nonetheless friendly crowd enjoyed a leisurely paced game tonight.  Darin once again provided the quiz, snacks, bartending duties, and the role of emcee for the game.  Mistress Multitask.  She must have been hungry when creating the quiz, because it was loaded with food related questions.

In spite of the small number of players, there was another rare four-way tie for first place – Big John’s son Jay, our own lovely Nurse Jaye, Wild Bill, and Droppin’ all scored 13 out of 20.  Darin was ready with a visual tiebreaker – identifying as many state flags as possible.  Droppin’ guessed well enough to win.

Good question:  What food is the basis for Bouillabaisse?

Answer:  Fish

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Bouillabaisse is a fish soup, originating in Marseilles, which has as many recipes as there are cooks in that Mediterranean city.

Who remembers James Coburn’s nimble hop onto the James Bondwagon in “Our Man Flint”?   Bouillabaisse provided a clever little plot device in this tongue-in-cheek super-spy sendup.  When one of the characters was killed with a poison dart, forensic analysis of the dart’s feathers showed traces of certain spices left by the hand of the killer.  Our hero Flint recognized these as the spices used in bouillabaisse, which sent him on a tour of Marseilles restaurants until he could identify, by taste, the exact matching proportions of spices.  He goes on to save the world and get the girl.

The lesson to be learned here is that there are many ways of making bouillabaisse, but only one Flint.

Much Thanks to Droppin’, who put this post together.

For those of you who don’t remember Flint here is the ENTIRE Movie!

and for those looking for a good recipe for bouillabaisse, try this recipe from Emeril:

Ingredients

For the broth:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup onion, chopped

1/2 cup celery, chopped

Salt and pepper

3 cloves garlic

1 bay leaf

8 peppercorns

2 sprigs thyme

1 pound fish bones

Water to cover

1 cup white wine

For the Bouillabaisse:

Pinch of Saffron

1 cup leeks, julienned

3 cups tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

Juice and zest of one orange

1 cup fennel, julienned

2 tablespoons garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

2 pounds assorted small whole fresh fish from the Mediterranean such as whiting, squid, sea bass, scorpion fish, eel,

angler fish, cleaned and scaled

1 large lobster

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 pound mussels

1/2 pound littleneck clams

Salt and pepper

Directions

For the Rouille: 1 red pepper, roasted and peeled 2 cloves garlic 1 piece of white bread torn into pieces 1 egg yolk 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard Juice of one lemon Salt and pepper 1/2 cup olive oil Garnish: 12 slices of crusty French bread For the broth: In a large sauce pan, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Saute for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns, and thyme. Add the fish bones, water and wine. Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain.

For the Bouillabaisse: Place the stock on the heat and bring to a simmer. Add the saffron, leeks, tomatoes, orange juice, orange zest, fennel, garlic, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Add the fish and lobsters. Cook for 8 minutes. Add the shrimp, mussels, and clams. Cook for 6 minutes, or until the shells have opened. Discard any shells that do not open. Season with salt and pepper.

For the Rouille: In a food processor, combine all the ingredients, except for the oil. Puree until smooth. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil. Season the emulsion with salt and pepper.

To assemble: Remove the seafood from the pan and place on a large platter. Pour the stock into a serving bowl. Serve the Rouille and crusty bread on the side of the Bouillabaisse. For individual servings, arrange the seafood in a shallow dish. Ladle the stock over the seafood. Drizzle the Rouille over the seafood and serve with the crusty bread.

blogger’s note: today’s guest blogger was Droppin’ Dave

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