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Out from the Fog

6 Nov

Recently,  Vancouver was covered in a blanket of fog. It made me very nostalgic, reminded me of my time in Ireland. Here in Vancouver fog does happen, but not that often.

Misty Tree

It stayed for about a week and so I enjoyed many early mornings in the still and calm. The thing that struck me most, was how quiet the city became. The fog seemed to suck all the noise of the city into its folds and hold it there breathless.

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One one morning when I was out at Vanier Park, the fog was moving quite a lot and the light was changing fast. I took this shot at about 8:45. I like how mysterious it is.

KitsilanoFog_© 2013 Helena McMurdo

By 5 minutes past nine, the fog burned off for just a brief moment and I shot this with just a peek of the city.

Kits Point

Finally, the last few ones have been big ones for me as I finally launched my online food photography portfolio. It’s been an interesting journey to work through the images and to decide what I would include. I think I’ve managed to put together a collection that best represents my food photography style. I hope you’ll check it out.

I’m also working on a new look for this blog. When I started this blog 3 years ago, I didn’t know where it would take me. It’s been a very eye-opening journey and I’ve been fortunate through this blog to be led in paths I didn’t even imagine. So now I feel the time is right for a bit of a revamp. I’ll keep you updated and hope to reveal something soon.

All the best to you until then.

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Pimientos de Padrón

17 Sep

Os pementos de Padrón, uns pican e outros non – Galician Saying

Translation: Some are hot. Some are not.

I love these. Perhaps I’m biased. They are pretty much considered the national dish from the land of my birth. That’s Galicia – in the northwest of Spain. Notice the quote? Not quite Spanish is it? Yep, that’s Galego. Named for the town of Padrón, most of these tiny peppers are sweet and mild. The odd one is not. It’s hot. Very hot. There may be tears. Consider yourselves warned.

On a recent trip to Galicia, I ate these little beauties almost every day. Next to jamón, they are probably my favourite local thing. At a bar in the spa town of Caldas de Reis, after arriving a little too late for lunch we were offered a lovely plate of these and a massive mountain of bread. A satisfying meal with an element of gambling thrown in. What is not to love? At the time it was early spring, when typically the peppers contain less of the spicy compound capsaicin, and we were hard pressed to find a hot one among the batch we ate. Even though we had no “winners”, they were delicious nonetheless.

Pimientos del Padrón y Pan ©2013 Helena McMurdo

Up until recently, it was hard to find these outside of Spain. Lately I’ve seen them regularly in blog posts from New York and yearn for them wistfully. I chanced upon some in Portland, Oregon a couple of years ago at Toro Bravo. I saw them in Seattle for sale. But I had never seen them in Vancouver.

So imagine my delight when I stumbled across them at the Trout Lake Farmer’s market. The lovely people from Klippers Organics of Cawston BC had a load of them. And I am told, they are the only ones growing them in Canada. Fill me up. I was a pretty happy girl leaving the market with my peppers in tow.

Pimientos de Padrón ©2013 Helena McMurdo

Fry them quickly in olive oil, toss them with some sea salt. Nothing more is required.

Fried Pimientos de Padrón ©2013 Helena McMurdo

Pimientos de Padrón with Maldon ©2013 Helena McMurdo

It’s September or maybe it’s the way they are grown here but I found the majority of these were hot and yes there were some tense moments. But they were good. So good. When can I get more?

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Wordless Wednesday: Granville Island

28 Aug

Granville Island

Porto or is it Oporto?

16 Jul

I wanted to share some images that I made while I was in Porto – a quick trip I made during my days in Galicia to visit my good Irish friends O & J. So Porto / Oporto. What’s with that? In English and in Spanish it’s called Oporto and in Portuguese it’s Porto. Somehow this seems strange. I mean wouldn’t Porto have worked for all of us? Ok. I’l stop that rant, because that’s pretty much all I could possibly complain about in this lovely city. It’s so gorgeous, it’s ridiculous. It’s crumbly and old and bright and colourful all at once. And the food isn’t bad either. My two new favourite things are included in the photos below.

One. Pasteis de Nata. Custard tarts that are everywhere. We had them everyday! And now I’ve developed an addiction. How can I make these? Anyone?
Two.Pataniscas de Bacalao. These are yummy cod fritters that seem to be a cross between a fishcake and an onion bhajii. Seriously good.
And of course, we must not forget Port. or as the Portuguese call it Vino Porto. But that’s a whole other story. Enjoy!
PortoCollage ©2013 Helena McMurdo

Galicia: Pulpo do Feira

12 Jul

One of the classic items to eat in Galicia is Pulpo do Feira. Translation: Octopus-“Market Style”. In my grandmother’s local market, the women working the Pulpo tent dip their sticks rhythmically into the huge copper pot, their hands seemingly immune to the scalding water below. Then using scissors, they snip the legs into pieces so quickly it’s amazing that any of them still have fingers. You take your seat in the covered tent and someone plunks down a bottle of wine and a huge loaf of bread and you order your ration. It’s drizzled with olive oil,  and sprinkled with salt and pimentón. Y ya está. (That’s it!) Meaty deliciousness.

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Galicia: Te gusta?

10 Jul

I’m back from a recent trip to Galicia and I wanted to share some of the images I made as well as some of the memories I have from this place. As many of you know, I was born in Spain or more specifically – as my relatives remind me often – in Galicia. Which is different.

When we were kids, we visited in the summers from our home in the North of Canada. The differences were dramatic. In Yellowknife, the Frozen North, the chickens came wrapped in plastic on meat trays in the YK Super A, the local grocery store. In Galicia hens strolled around the yard of my grandparents house and baby chicks were gifts from my Abuelo (grandfather) to me and my two sisters when he came back from the local market. Today in North America we would call it a ‘Farmer’s’ Market. In Galicia, then as now, no one felt the need to specify this obvious detail. We were disappointed to learn that grandma’s chickens laid no more than one egg a day and sometimes not even any. This did not seem to tally with the pictures in our kindergarden schoolbooks of mother hen sitting on a mountain of eggs. Our relatives viewed us as city slickers (clearly not the case as anyone who has been to Yellowknife can attest), but our words and actions revealed that we ignorant of country ways. They  laughed when my sister tried hopelessly to shake a chicken in order to induce an increase in egg production.

Big excitement happened when one of the neighbours would move cows from one field to another yelling; Vaca Ve!  My sisters and I would copy them, grabbing a stick and yelling the refrain, not really understanding the words but getting the message.  Today there are fewer cows in the village. But they still move back and forth in a rhythm that marks the days. Today they wear ear tags and in the words of one of the neighbours, “they have more paperwork than we do”.

Galicia Village Textures © 2013 Helena McMurdo

When we were kids, my grandparents ran a little bar come shop and their little corner of the world seemed a bustling place with neighbours dropping by to have a drink, a slice of jamón or to buy some basic essential like shampoo or the famous black soap from LaToja.

We found it all so very amusing, helping to serve the drinks and being paid in chocolate and Chupa Chups. Much of our time was spent being poked by neighbours and relatives who spoke freely with their pronouncements as to which of us was the fattest, skinniest, best looking, tallest, most intelligent etc. “The food must be very bad in Canada. The children are so skinny” The bar is  no more but the neighbours still have a lot to say. Now they tell me I am fatter but in a good way. “Estás bien ahora.”

On of the first spanish phrases I remember learning was ‘Te gusta?‘” Do you like it? Someone was always offering food. (What is a local custom became even more impressive presumably because of our perceived state of malnutrition.) Most of the things being offered to eat were too simply too scary for our young and picky palates to consider. Squid? Octopus? No thank you. “No me gusta”. We seemed happy to exist on a diet of Fanta de Naranja, Maria Biscuits and Cola Cao with the odd tortilla francesa (omelette) thrown in. But I do remember always liking jamón and chorizo.

Today, I’m making up for my prior fussiness. In fact, there seems to be little that I don’t like. This is simple food; Green Beans with Garlic and Smoked Paprika, Kale with chorizo and a perfect farm fresh egg, a slice of empanada made in the local panadería. Octopus is boiled and sprinkled with salt and paprika and served with boiled potatoes.

Food in Galicia_©2013 Helena McMurdo

The cooking is not complicated. The ingredients are what make it. And nature provides. Y si me gusta!

Galicia : A Preview

5 Jul

So if you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, I’ll tell you. I’ll skip the usual excuses for not posting earlier and just say here’s a bit of a teaser for what’s to come in the next week or so – a recap of my trip to Galicia. I hope that for the meantime, you enjoy these.Image

Pimientos&Chorizo ©2013 Helena McMurdo

Sunset Near O Cebreiro © 2013 Helena McMurdo

Galician Headdresses ©2013 Helena McMurdo

 

 

Main Street Typography

24 Apr

With all things, I find I get better results when I have a theme or goal to focus on. Here’s a few shots from a recent photowalk I did with a friend in Vancouver’s Main Street area.  My friend smartly suggested we focus on typography.  I love the mixture and retro feel of some of these typefaces. I wish I knew the names. Anyone? Can you guess the locations?
MainStreetTypography. Photography © 2013 HelenaMcMurdo

Days of Sun & Strawberries

9 Jul

Summer has come late to Vancouver this year and so we’ve waited patiently for our strawberries. With the sun now firmly installed over Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, my Dad, sister and the fella headed out to Richmond this past weekend in search of berries. After one failed attempt at a seriously picked over field we landed at Birak Berry Farms at the corner of Cambie and No. 6 Road where the berries were plentiful.  A beautiful sunny day and lots of hard work brought an abundant harvest.  Tune in tomorrow to see what I made with these.

Strawberry Picking. Photography ©2012 Helena McMurdo

Signs of Portland

19 Mar

I’ve always been inspired by beautiful  and interesting signage and architectural details and when I visit somewhere new, inevitably my camera roll will be filled with many pictures of signs. My recent trip to Portland provided lots of interesting examples both retro and modern. I love the strong, masculine and  heritage typographic forms found in many of the classic signs in Portland,but there were lots of fun, modern examples as well. Here are some of my favourites.

What do you think? Do you have any favourites?

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