Sunday, August 26, 2012

Orzo with Feta and Cherry Tomatoes (Page 182)

RECIPE #19
  • Date: Thursday, June 21, 2012 -- 7pm
  • Location: Saugatuck, MI
  • Kitchen: Our Vacation Rental
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Dining Companions: Dave, Karen H, Brad, Deniz, Aylin, Dennis, and Tulin
  • Recipe Rating: B+


This simple pasta salad seemed appropriate for a family dinner on a lovely summer evening, so I made this as a component of dinner while on vacation with my special gentleman's family a couple months ago. I started by mashing garlic to a paste with salt, then I whisked in olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. I cooked the orzo while my special gentleman toasted pine nuts in olive oil. I tossed the cooked orzo with the vinaigrette, the pine nuts, quartered cherry tomatoes, chopped parsley, and crumbled feta. This pasta salad was quite tasty. It was exactly what you would expect from a pasta-feta-tomato-garlic salad. I make this kind of thing often, and I liked this version. In particular, I like both the vinaigrette and the addition of toasted pine nuts. There was nothing terribly surprising or exciting about this salad, but if you are looking for a quick summer pasta salad that it sure to be a crowd pleaser, this is a good one!

The recipe in The Book is similar to this one.

19 recipes down, 1087 to go!

I am writing this from the Amsterdam airport (where we are lucky enough to be able to spend our long layover in a cushy airline lounge!). My special gentleman and I have been in Europe for the last 10 days, and it has been absolutely lovely. A week ago Thursday we flew from Detroit to Paris. Last weekend we spent a fabulous three days in Paris with our dear friends Helen and Charles and their daughter Clara. This summer has been a bit crazy with work and travel, but I had three virtually work-free days in Paris eating delicious food with good friends and it was absolutely perfect. Here's a picture of me and Helen (who is very pregnant and looking amazing!) in Paris:


Here is one of my special gentleman and Clara playing in the backyard at Charles' grandmother's house outside Paris where we spent a beautiful summer Sunday:



On Monday we took a train from Paris to Switzerland. I was speaking this past week at a conference in the Swiss Alps. Many math conferences are held at universities or institutes, but occasionally they are held at hotels. This conference was housed in a hotel about a mile up in the Alps. There were 80ish participants at the conference and we were the only guests at the hotel. This hotel is hard to describe. It was old and sort of falling apart, in a totally charming way. I liked it. Overall, it was an intense and enjoyable week. A typical day was structured with 3 hour-long talks between breakfast and lunch. The morning talks ended at 12:30pm and the afternoon talks didn't start until 5pm. After a couple more talks in the late afternoon we sat down as a group for a long, multi-course dinner served by the awesome hotel staff. After dinner most of us would retire to the cozy bar in the basement to drink beer, talk math, and hang out. The afternoon break was left in order to provide ample time for hiking in the Alps! The hiking and the views were truly spectacular. Plus, I got to walk on a glacier, which was cool. Here's a picture of my friends Jonathan and Angelica with a glacier in the distance:


And here I am, huddled under the edge of the glacier:



On Wednesday the morning session ended early and there was no afternoon session. The organizers led three different hikes of different difficulties and lengths. I went on a challenging, but really spectacular five and a half hour hike way up to a cabin and then down to a beautiful lake, then back to the hotel. Here is a picture of me with me special gentleman on a very rare flat stretch on the way up the mountain:



And one of me and Angelica at the lake:


It was a fun, productive conference. My talk went pretty well I think, so that was good too. Because it was at a hotel there were no chalkboards so all the speakers had to give slide talks. I am a big fan of chalk talks, so I had actually never given an hour long research talk with slides before. I wasn't sure how it would go but it turned out to be fine, so that was a relief!

It was a great trip but I am looking forward to being home. I can't believe that classes start in three days! To say that I am not ready for the start of this semester would be a huge understatement. But I will worry about that tomorrow, after a long sleep! A conference disco last night plus a 5:30am bus this morning means that I entered this long day of travel already quite tired. Hopefully I will sleep on the plane! Speaking of, it's about time to board.

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