Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The powerful lure of familiar foods

Icelandic haddock with Roasted Pineapple & Habanero Sauce from Costco Wholesale.
A pot of Trader Joe's Organic Whole Wheat Fusilli with sardines.

Brown rice. Whole-wheat pasta. Whole-grain bread. Air-conditioned dining.

These were some of the missing elements during our long weekend at Round Hill Hotel and Villas, one of the most expensive resorts on the island of Jamaica.

We ate very well, of course, enjoying lots of organic vegetables and greens, and intensely sweet papaya and mango, as well as fresh seafood.

But the first dish I prepared when I got home was a big pot of Trader Joe's Organic Whole Wheat Spaghetti with sardines, anchovies and their oil.

I really missed the full, satisfied feeling this comfort food gives me.

And because I've sworn off bread and pizza to lose weight, I eat whole-wheat pasta with eggs in the morning, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil.

I occasionally have a little bread crust when eating out, but the dinner rolls at Round Hill are nothing to speak about, and white toast is the only kind served in the morning.

This past Sunday morning at our Round Hill cottage, I made a little sandwich of ackee and salt fish with a half-slice of unbuttered white toast.

It wasn't worth the calories.

A frittata of organic eggs, grated cheese and beefsteak tomato.

For breakfast, I added leftover mashed garlic sweet potato.

At Round Hill, we enjoyed eating lunch and dinner under almond trees shading a terrace with a glorious view, but the next day, we got to sit in an open, upper-level dining space that was cooled with ceiling fans.

Best of all would have been an air-conditioned dining room, given the hot and humid August weather.

Since our return, I've prepared simple food -- such as snowy haddock fillets from Iceland topped with Roasted Pineapple & Habanero Sauce, both of which  I found at Costco on Tuesday.

The fresh, wild-caught fish was $7.99 a pound.

To go with the haddock, I whipped up mashed Trader Joe's sweet potatoes with their skins and whole cloves of garlic, moistened with good Spanish extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled with a little salt, organic no-salt seasoning and black pepper.

The first wild king salmon I've seen at Costco was $11.99 a pound.
A 37-ounce bottle of Roasted Pineapple & Habanero Sauce was $7.69.

I've been adding Costco's Cello-brand grated Pecorino Romano sheep's milk cheese and low-fat milk to omelets, which fluff up nicely.

This morning, I took six Kirkland Signature Organic Brown Eggs and mixed them with a little milk and several large tablespoons of this terrific grated cheese, which I usually eat over whole-wheat pasta or sprinkle on soup.

I seasoned the cheesy egg mixture before pouring it into a 10-inch non-stick pan that had been heated up with olive oil.

After the crust was set, I added three thick slices of beefsteak tomato from my garden and more grated cheese, then finished the frittata under the broiler.

I ate about a third of the frittata with mashed garlic sweet potato.

A plate of intensely sweet papaya at Round Hill Hotel and Villas.
Round Hill's Ackee and Salt Fish, Callaloo and Fried Dumplings.

We had breakfast in the upper dining room at Round Hill on Saturday and on Sunday, the staff prepared breakfast at our cottage.

I had Ackee and Saltfish both mornings, and both times noted how little salted cod was used compared to the version we make at home.

I also noticed that canned Grace-brand ackee was used on Sunday, even though I had seen an employee carrying two big plastic bags of fresh ackee to the kitchen the day before.

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