Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Take 13 - Trifecta

What can you say when you have three activities on your calendar and all three leave you enchanted and in awe.

On July 20th, we attended a show of Cavalia. Banners and posters all around San Jose showed a wonderful picture of a horse and at the bottom, a quote from Jay Leno that said it was the greatest show he had ever seen. Well, I totally agree with Mr. Leno. It is THE GREATEST SHOW I have ever seen ! Cavalia is the baby of one of the co-creators of Cirque du Soleil, also from Montreal and if you have enjoyed any show of Cirque du Soleil, chances are you will love Cavalia. Now, neither my husband nor I are horse people. I may have ridden a total of 3 times in my life and I don't even know whether David has ever even been on a horse. However, we were mesmerized by this show. Who knew horses had a sense of humor, reverence, respect and could be totally playful ? Every one of them is male and after a little reflection and imagination, you will figure out why. The performers on stage with them are totally awesome with their incredible skills and talents but the star focus is always on the horses. After the show we had tons of questions that will probably never be answered. Questions like what kind of training they received, where they lived, how they traveled from one show to the next, etc. The sets were beautiful and the music soothing. You often forgot you were sitting under a huge tent and really felt part of the show. A wonderful evening from which we still remain totally mesmerized and in awe as well as with an new found respect for these wonderful creatures and their trainers.

The next activity was Chicago, the Musical. A San José local production, presented in a tiny theater (City Lights Theater on 2nd Avenue in downtown San José ) with 6 musicians and about 20 actors/singers/dancers. It was totally delightful. All actors were Bay Area performers and were all very talented. The whole thing was very cosy. 120 seats at the most with seats set in a half circle. We were seated in the center of the third row.  Perfect seats. You even get to pick your own seat. How perfect is that ? As long as you get there early, that is ! I had seen several musicals in the past but it was a first for David. What a great experience for a newbie to be sitting in such an intimate setting. As we left, we picked up the program of this theater's future productions and as we read through it, we promised ourselves to return. They only produce one musical a year and it seems to be only in the summertime. Can't wait for the next show which is a regular play to be presented this Fall.

Finally, the third activity is just for me, well kinda..... What I mean is that I take the class but David will reap the benefits. I have signed up for a Cheesemaking class at Sur la table. Now I must talk about Sur la table. The name is kind of self explanatory, from the French, on the table.  I have been fascinated by that store for years and there are none in Canada (that is there were none when I left Vancouver almost 9 months ago). David was certain I would start over indulging the minute we got here but, I have been most reasonable.  One good reason is I have the tiniest kitchen with the tiniest cupboards and a total lack of counter space. When we move from here, that will become a totally different situation. But seriously now, Sur la table is to anyone who likes preparing and eating food, the equivalent of a child at TOYSrUS or better still FAO Schwarz. There is every imaginable pot, pan, mold, tool, coffeemaker, utensil, gadget,etc. Furthermore, people there are very very knowledgeable and friendly. When I found out they also had classes, I was overjoyed and signed up for the cheesemaking one which has taught me how to make Ricotta and Mozzarella. What a great class ! The Chef was super friendly and a great teacher. Ricotta is so easy to make, it's almost child's play. Mozzarella is more complicated and demands a few more steps. We also got to make gnocchi and ice cream with the ricotta. Just so good. The group of students was made up of 8 ladies (including myself) and three of them had Italian roots. Everyone was down to earth but fanatical and very knowlegeable about food. A wonderful group. I will certainly go for other classes at Sur la table. For $69 you get a 2-hour class of very high quality in a small group and get to eat everything you make. You also get a coupon to purchase equipment or supplies at the store.

Now, I don't know about you but all of this talk of food, food prep and food equipment is making me hungry, so here is a fantastic recipe I borrowed from David Lebovitz's website. I tweaked it a bit and made it my own. You can make it your own as well.  Enjoy !

Israeli Salad
Serves 1 to 2
1 ripe tomato1 medium cucumber, or 3 small ones ( I love the tasty Persian cucumbers)1 medium carrot, peeled2-3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion5 red globe radisheshalf a small beet, peeled (I love yellow beets, if you can find them)half a small Jicama, peeled and dicedlarge handful of arugula, lettuce or baby spinach1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley or cilantro2/3 cup mixed nuts and seeds (such as walnuts, sliced almonds, pine nuts, pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds – coarsely chopped)1/3 cup crumbled Feta or firm goat cheese2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or lime juice  (more if preferred)2-3 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil (or more)sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Chop all of the vegetables into the tiniest cubes you can manage. Preferably 1/4 inch thick (or Brunoise, as the French call it). Gather the arugula or other greenery into a tight bunch and slice into thin shards. This makes the salad fluffier and easier to chew.
2. Toast the nuts in an empty skillet (no oil required) over medium heat, stirring or shaking the pan frequently, taking care not to burn them (watch out for pumpkin seeds, as they tend to ‘pop’ while toasting). Toast until the aroma is released and the nuts take on the slightest bit of color. Remove from heat and let cool. Again, watch carefully as you get busy with another task and your nuts or grain burn in a flash.
3. In a medium bowl, mix all of the chopped vegetables with sliced arugula, toasted nuts, and dress with the lemon juice, olive oil, adding salt and pepper to taste (don’t forget that the cheese is salty).
Check for seasoning and add more lemon juice and olive oil to your liking. Top with the crumbled cheese and serve immediately.
Bon appetit !

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