Maybe cooking is

EU Beer and Shrimp & Asparagus Spaghetti

Posted on: May 10, 2010

This past Saturday was the annual EU Embassies’ Open House Day, a diversion made perfect on a sunny day by free beer and a cool breeze.  My friends Mallory and Jacob joined for a tour of countries that included Finland, Belgium, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Hungary.  Overall, the event is to encourage tourism to these countries, and often succeeds in piquing interest.

Finland’s embassy is LEED certified and gorgeous.  Those Fins had a delicious spread of h’ordeurves, my favorite of which was the Finnish mustard served with a meatball, though the lingonberry juice was a close second.  This mustard took me by surprise because it wasn’t spicy or over-powering as are the Austrian mustards; consequently, I’ve tracked down a recipe and plan to make it sometime soon.

Finland Embassy Staircase

Finland Embassy Walkway

Belgium knows what the people want.  Its embassy offered waffles, chocolate and beer.  The pre-packaged Gaufres waffles are akin to a Tastycake item, and the milk chocolate was infused with an apricot flavor.  Impressive beyond the spaciousness of the embassy offices was the selection of five beers offered, which included Hoegaarden, Stella Artois, Orval and Duvel.  I can’t remember the fifth, but respectively, the last two were my pick of the day.

Austria’s embassy featured folk dancing and spicy mustard with sausage, but we were disappointed by an absence of publicized apple streudle (the pastry chef was beginning the demo as we left) and wine (only tasted by private appointment).

Austrian formal fashion pieces - the peacock dress on the left and the pink and orange dress are really beautiful. I'd meet the ambassador in either.

Women in embroidered red, black, yellow and white fabric with long ribbons in their hair handed us dumplings and sauerkraut at the Slovakian embassy.  After showing an ID (the rest of the EU doesn’t care – we’re on its countries’ soil in the embassies), we were handed cups of Golden Pheasant (aka Zlaty Bazant).

The embassy of the Czech Republic knows how to throw a party.  With kegs of beer on tap and a good  medieval band from Prague called Krless performing, the embassy didn’t bother with food other than bread with a bit of salt.  We wandered through the ambassador’s residence and discussed the perks of getting involved with a diplomat – pools, dinners, trips, a staff on hand.  Mostly, we sat on the hillside and enjoyed the sunshine with beer in hand.

Jacob, me and Mallory enjoying beer and vermouth with sparkling water in Czech Republic territory.

Despite the beautiful white Kuvasa dogs on-site, the Hungarian embassy was a disappointment because it charged for food (I can only assume because it needs the income).  Because of this, I will highlight the fact that the embassy chose to advertise an article on its Web site about Robert Pattinson (vampire from Twilight) commenting on Budapest’s beauty.  Are you that desparate for tourism, Hungary?

Hungarian Kuvasz dogs are livestock and estate guard dogs. Their name means 'protection' or 'armed guard' in Turkish, an influence that dates back from the Ottoman-Turkish reign.

On Sunday, I unwound by making a shrimp and asparagus fettucine dish for dinner, corresponding nicely with national shrimp day on May 10 but horribly with the oil spill in the gulf.  I substituted organic whole-wheat spaghetti for the fettucine and Kerrygold’s Irish Dubliner for the parmesean. I bought the green lettuce for the salad and the asparagus from the Fredericksburg farmers’ market.  I prepared mango as a fruity side and had a grasshopper mint chocolate mousse cake for dessert.

Shrimp and asparagus whole grain spaghetti with mango and a carrot and black olive salad.

Shrimp and asparagus spaghetti

I’m consciously making an effort to use the ingredients in my pantry to avoid wasting or transporting them when I move later this summer.  This may result in rice as a starch (carbohydrate) feature in my meals.

Thought for the week: “Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good.” – Alice May Brock, 1941-

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1 Response to "EU Beer and Shrimp & Asparagus Spaghetti"

Wow, the Finland embassy is quite beautiful indeed! I geeked out and followed the link to read up on their LEED building features. 😉 Thanks for posting!

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