Hampton Court Palace and the Tudor kitchens, London

Warning, this post has many photos of the Tudor kitchens at Hampton Court Palace — some of which are blurry due to lack of time, lack of light, and the need for more (and better) lenses for my SLR camera.

Hampton Court Palace, located on the outskirts of London, was originally built for Cardinal Wolsey. It first became famous for being a favourite palace of King Henry VIII, and later on was the subject of King William III and Queen Mary’s massive rebuilding and expansion project.

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

Visits to Hampton Court Palace are set up in a way that you can “experience” a special day in the life of Henry VIII’s life; throughout my visit, actors in full costume played out parts in Henry’s court and got everyone involved in the wedding day of Henry and Catherine Parr.

Hail Britannia!

Hail Britannia!

The palace’s Tudor-era kitchens are extensive, which was needed in order to feed the approximately 1000 people of Henry’s court. Many of the rooms have fake food in them to illustrate how the kitchens worked. This is the pie room. The pastry was used as a preservation and cooking tool, and the pastry itself was not eaten. (The soundtrack from Sweeny Todd kept running through my head as I stood in this room. 😉 )

Pie room

Pie room

On the other side of the room was a Tudor stove top/slow cooker/fireplace.

Fireplace/stove top/slow cooker

Fireplace/stove top/slow cooker

When you climbed the short staircase, you found a giant built-in pot filled with something that looked brown and goopy. Gruel? Porridge? Pie filling? Use your own imagination.

gruel

gruel

This walkway in the kitchens served as a natural refrigerator; the walls and placement blocked out the sun, but allows the cooling rain to filter into the hallway. It was quite cool all along this passage, which had doors lined all along the way that led to larders.

natural refrigerator

natural refrigerator

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St. Albert Farmers’ Market

I know I talk a lot about the downtown Edmonton City Market, but one of my other favourite local farmers’ markets is out in St. Albert. Open every Saturday until October 9, the city closes down a couple of streets to traffic so that the St. Albert Farmers’ Market can take over the space.

St. Albert Farmers' Market

St. Albert Farmers' Market

It’s so popular that they even have shuttle buses running to ferry people to the market.

crowds on a sunny day

crowds on a sunny day

more crowds

more crowds

There is a section for food like donuts, popcorn, hot dogs, lemonade, etc. set up right next to city hall.

concession stands

concession stands

While some of the stands are also present at the City Market or the Old Strathcona Market, the St. Albert one has quite a few booths that are unique. The Cinnamon Girl’s booth is always crowded and stock sells out quickly.

Cinnamon Girl

Cinnamon Girl

Fancy Shmancy sells delcious mini brownies of various flavours, as well as a great cookie. I can’t resist stopping here whenever I come to this market.

Fancy Shmancy

Fancy Shmancy

Fancy Shmancy's baked goods

Fancy Shmancy's baked goods

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L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Las Vegas

When I decided to go on a trip to Las Vegas, I knew I wanted at least one fancy pants meal. After doing some reading about the various places in Las Vegas, I settled on L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon as the place where we’d have our most expensive meal, to be eaten on the Saturday before we went to a showing of KÀ.

LAtelier de Joël Robuchon

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon

I’ve actually had my eye on this upscale chain of restaurants for a while now. I had planned on going there while in Hong Kong last year, but on the only day I had free I wasn’t feeling hungry at all and ended up going to sleep early instead of trying to find my way there. Because of this, L’Atelier was high on my Vegas to-do list.

This location of L’Atelier is located right next to the casino floor and they had the doors propped open, which meant that some of the casino sounds filtered into the restaurant. Part way through my meal they closed one of the doors and most of the sounds went away, so at some point I actually forgot we were right next to the casino. Next to the restaurant is Robuchon’s other restaurant at the MGM Grand, Joël Robuchon at The Mansion (which I considered for my list but crossed off due to the price). And next to that fantastic entrance (look at the chandelier in the foyer!) was the KÀ Theatre.

Joël Robuchon at the Mansion and KÀ Theatre

Joël Robuchon at the Mansion and KÀ Theatre

In Las Vegas, L’Atelier is a one-star Michelin French restaurant. A majority of the restaurant’s seating is at a bar surrounding and facing the open kitchen, similar to a sushi bar. An important part of the dining experience here is watching the kitchen staff make your food. It is for this reason that Robuchon calls this series of restaurants “the workshop,” or L’Atelier.

bar seating at LAtelier de Joël Robuchon with the casino viewable through the window

bar seating at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon with the casino viewable through the window

The decor was very modern with lots of reds and blacks. The kitchen was decorated by large vases of fruits, eggs, and vegetables floating in water, as well as giant fake apples and round hanging greenery.
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Mark Bittman on The Colbert Report

“Is that because Americans would finally get slender enough to fit back into regular cars again?” – Stephen Colbert on Bittman’s belief that eating less cheeseburgers being equal to taking SUVs off the road

Vegetable and bean soup

Vegetable and bean soup

Vegetable and bean soup

In my efforts to eat more vegetables and reduce the amount of daily calories, I took my tortellini soup and changed it up. Took out the tortellini, added more vegetables, and added a can of white kidney beans (cannellini beans).

One of the vegetables I added was a bunch of roughly chopped kale. This is the first time I have ever eaten kale, and it worked wonderfully in the soup. The leaves are quite tough, so the first servings of soup had some still crunchy kale in it. The kale softened in subsequent servings of the soup the next day. If I had used spinach on the other hand, it would have been overcooked and wilted if left in the soup, and I would have had to add fresh spinach every time I ate a bowl of the soup.

The beans added some protein and, together with a piece of whole grain toast, made the soup into a healthy meal with few calories.

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