This summer we spent three weeks in the States. I flew over mid-July and taught at the wonderful John C Campbell Folk School then David joined me and we began our road trip from Nashville through the Smokey Mountains then up and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was fabulous.
Since returning I’ve been planning on posting about some of our travel and food experiences. So let me start here…
One of our favourite stops was towards the end of our trip – Floyd, Virginia. It’s a tiny town just off the Blue Ridge Parkway known for it’s jamboree. Every Friday night musicians from the local area and further afield gather in the town to play. The main event is in the Floyd Country Store where musicians play and folk dance from 7pm until late. Outside on every street corners bands also play. The crowd was a mix of musicians and dancers, locals and visitors, young and old. It was an amazing experience and one we’d love to repeat.
Our accommodation for the night was just outside of Floyd itself. A tiny wee cabin in the woods with an outdoor shower and toilet, it was . Had we not been flying home the following day, we would have asked to stay an extra night.
We spent Easter weekend in Barcelona. Despite me being horribly ill the entire time, we still had a wonderful time and fell in love with the city.
I took part in two cooking courses last summer: one in Vietnam and one in Laos. Despite preferring Vietnamese food generally, it’s two Laos dishes I’ve found myself making most at home. The first is stuffed lemongrass. It’s a cracker of a recipe and I’ll share it very soon. The second is Jeow Mak Keua – a very spicy aubergine dip/paste. It’s one of my favourite things right now. I like to eat it with brown rice and nothing else but it’s very nice as a side dish for grilled meat.
Jeow Mak Keua (As learnt at Tamarind cooking school)
1 medium aubergine
1 large red chilli
2 fat cloves of garlic
1 spring onion, chopped
Small handful of coriander. chopped
- Prick the aubergine all over then thread it on to a skewer along with the garlic and chilli. Cook under a hot grill or on the BBQ until charred on the outside and soft on the inside.
- Peel the garlic and chilli and pound to a paste with a pinch of rock salt using a mortar and pestle. (Remove the seeds from the chilli if you don’t want it too hot)
- Peel the aubergine and cut into rough chunks. Add to the mortar and pound with the chilli/garlic paste until combined.
- Stir in coriander and spring onion then add fish sauce to taste.
The final stop on our honeymoon last year was Louangprabang in Laos. We stayed for six nights but could easily have stayed six more.