Friday, November 03, 2006

#1: A Travelling Mind-Set...

If only we could apply a travelling mind-set to our own locales, we might find these places becoming no less interesting than, say, the high mountain passes and butterfly-filled jungles of Humboldt's South America.
- Alain de Botton

In his collection of essays The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton (our new neighbor!) describes his attempts to re-instill in himself an “attentiveness to beauty, any associative thoughts, and sense of wonder or gratitude, and philosophical digressions sparked by visual elements” by taking a slow, observant stroll through his over-familiar neighborhood. Ever the obedient students of philosophy and pleasure, we savoured a walk to the bus stop in an effort to recover our own attentiveness, if not to beauty, at least to indications that delicious snacks might be hidden beyond the storefronts that line our road. Herewith, a photographic record of what we saw. Be warned: if you treasure your vision of London as portrayed in Masterpiece Theater productions of the Forsyte Saga or brightly coloured postcards of the Houses of Parliament on a sunny day, you may wish to skip ahead.

But sometimes encounters with such exoticism - even just down the street - can leave the traveller exhausted rather than exhilarated, and in need of comfort food rather than culinary experimentation. We returned home and turned to an old favorite, leaving novelty for another day.

Pork Chops with Spiced Apple Compote

2 center cut boneless pork chops
1/8 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1 tablespoon butter
2 large apples, cored, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Mix 1/8 cup olive oil, vinegar and mustard in a bowl; season generously with salt and pepper. Add pork chops and turn to coat. Leave to marinate for at least 2 hours.

Heat butter in large skillet over medium high heat until foam subsides. Add apples and cook for 5 minutes or until browned. Add water, sugar, spices, salt and lemon juice and continue to cook until liquid reduces to a thick syrup. Remove to bowl.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Remove pork chops from marinade and pat dry. Add chops to pan and cook until just done, about 3-4 minutes per side. Serve with compote.
Mustard mashed potatoes make a good accompaniment to this dish.

Serves 2.

With its sly nod to Jackson Browne, Dixy Chicken is Tam's favorite among the many interestingly monikered fried chicken restaurants in the neighborhood. The contest was close, though, and these also-rans deserve mention: Chicken Cottage, Rooster Express, and Tantalise Fried Chicken, along with the incorporation of every state name from the American South besides Kentucky.

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