Green Picnic - Tesla included
April 21st, 2009

With over four years of foodblogging on our backs now, we can look back to a considerable amount of review inquiries submitted by either food companies or PR firms. While some of them where quite amusing or strange (when you plan to offer samples of your fabulous organic ice cream, wouldn’t it be good to check if the food blog you are contacting is located on the same continent?), most of them where simply uninteresting. So from past experience, this is what it boils down to these days: there’s a 99% chance we will decline a product review. In case we do accept freebies (we’re speaking about the massive amount of two cookbooks during the last year), I never promise to actually conduct a review on the blog or elsewhere. That said, if I do craft a review, I will share my honest opinion, nothing more, nothing less.

Fortunately there is always an exception to the rule. When a dear friend who is working for the Californian car company Tesla asked, if we would like to give their roadster a spin, I couldn’t say fast enough, here twist my arm. The beautiful weather lend the perfect idea of an all the way green picnic powered by Tesla, so to speak. Said and done, the car was ours for a warm and sunny Saturday. And considering that I’m usually not a big car person, I was blown away by this racy roadster. Now while I’m finishing up the delicious picnic recipe below, I’d like to hand over the keyboard to the car-loving person in our household – Oliver:

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No, we didn’t get to keep “the sample” :) I needed to whip this out upfront to make sure the context in which I’m writing this is properly set. Where to start? Well, the Tesla is pure fun. F-U-N as in fantastic, unbelievable, nothing you have felt before. I must say that neither am I an extreme tree hugging person nor a die-hard speed addict, although I do tend to drive ‘actively’, but this electric car turned my world on wheels upside down. The must-have factor is undeniable and unavoidable.

It is fantastic because it is as much a weekend day-tripper that you can take to conquer the countryside as it is a very viable city car, with the added benefit of having the attributes of a race car. It is unbelievable because of its sheer strength, the Tesla’s torque curve — the arc of the motor’s strength as it revs from a standstill to top speed. Compared to ‘normal’ internal-combustion engined cars, the roadster’s torque curve feels impossible, certainly like nothing I have felt before.

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From 0 to 100 in about 4 seconds and you don’t hear a thing, perhaps the subtle sounds of the wheels on the street, if you weren’t busy enough enjoying the ride thrill, wrapped in an all-powerful force that will launch you forward with a perfectly even push. You can’t help but ask yourself the question why we haven’t arrived at the electric car age long ago. Mileage wise (per charge) it can’t yet compete with traditional cars, but I’m sure they soon will, and speaking of which 390 some kilometers per charge is pretty darn good I’d say, considering a not exactly conservative driving style. Nicky compared the acceleration with what she imagined must be the turbo boost button for in a James Bond car, pretty close I’d say or even better.

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What makes it the perfect city car for me? For one, finding a parking spot is a piece of cake due to its size, but more importantly it makes stop & go / tough traffic a pleasure to deal with. The generator that kicks in after you release the accelerator will bring the Tesla instantly to a crawl charging the battery while slowing down. On our test drive I rarely used the brakes at all – sweet.

Ok, the amount of space is limited but if you do need an extra seat(s) or trunk space, the Model S is in the pipeline… Bottom line, it’s one thing to write/read about this stuff in theory, it’s another to experience it first hand. If you get the chance, do not miss out and get a glimpse of what the future holds. Electrifying proof there’s life after oil.

Oliver

PS: If you now think: “how green is green?!”, here is where I’d like to see the battery charging power coming from.

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Wouldn’t you agree now that this setup required an appropriate basis, not just a tuna sandwich and a diet coke? A proper picnic and one we happily skipped breakfast for: fresh fruits, cheeses, chorizo and breads, bacon wrapped prunes, boquerones, grilled artichokes, apple greaves dripping, nutella banana muffins, pecan chocolate cookies and my current favorite dish when it comes to bulgur salads (recipe below). Oh, and there were homemade peanut butter dog cookies for Jackson, our semi-adopted Jack Russel, too.

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But back to topic, the bulgur salad, of which I’ve been cooking variations ever since this favorite and have yet to discover a combo I don’t like. My latest addiction – when I’m lacking an ingenious idea – is cooking by color. And a great approach for this bulgur salad with oven veggies featuring yellow/orange and aubergine hues, a decision that came with plenty of tasty ingredients: Yellow pepper, red onions, sweet beta as well as regular carrots, eggplant and Roseval potatoes. I even stumbled over some leftover red grapes and added those last minute, too. That’s why this salad has a thousand faces, just chose your favorite ones or whatever your shelves offer.

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Peel 3 onions, cut in half and slice them thinly. Heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and add the sliced onions and a generous pinch of salt when hot. Fry them over medium to high heat until the they have gained a nice golden brown color and do not forget to stir regularly to ensure they caramelize evenly, but do not burn.

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Add the bulgur to the pan and roast – stirring constantly – for 5 minutes or until translucent over medium heat before you add the hot chicken broth. Don’t worry, the liquid proportion may seem a bit off, but the bulgur will absorb every little drop in the end. Let simmer for 5 minutes, then pour everything into a large bowl. If you’re up for a little extra zing (I am!), add the finely grated zest of half or even a whole lemon as well as the juice and stir until evenly distributed. Even out with a spoon, cover the surface with cling film and let rest for half an hour. The bulgur wheat will be perfectly soft to the bite afterwards.

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Meanwhile prepare the oven vegetables. Preheat the oven to 200°C (390° Fahrenheit) and generously sprinkle a baking tray with olive oil. The next step entails a great exercise for your cutting skills, try to cut each vegetable in neat and uniform sized pieces, e.g. the carrots in thin slices, the eggplant in cubes and the small red onions in quarters or eights – you get the picture. I even added a handful of seedless grapes out of curiosity. Distribute on the tray together with the pine nuts (chopped walnuts work well, too), making sure not to overcrowd it and season well with sea salt, black pepper and (lemon) thyme. Drizzle with some more olive oil and – my favorite part – mix everything with your hands until evenly coated, then arrange in a thin layer.

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Roast in the oven (I turned on the extra grill feature) on a level in the top third and check back every 10 to 15 minutes to make sure nothing gets too dark . Take out as soon as your veggies gain some brown spots, re-distribute everything with two big spoons or spatulas and back in the oven it goes. They should be done (soft & nice color) within 30 to 40 minutes. Take out, mix with the bulgur and season to taste with additional sea salt (if necessary at all). Enjoy warm or cold.

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Bulgur salad with caramelized onions and oven veggies

Recipe Source: own creation

Prep time: ~40 min., plus roasting 30-40 min.

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Ingredients (serves 4-6 as a picnic salad):

olive oil

3 medium sized red (or yellow) onions

sea salt

200g medium to coarse bulgur

500 ml chicken stock

optional: 1 untreated, organic lemon

2 sweet beta carrots

1 carrot

1 orange/yellow pepper

4 small red onions

3 small Roseval potatoes

1 small eggplant

optional: a handful of seedless red grapes

a handful pine nuts

freshly ground black pepper

a couple of sprigs fresh (lemon) thyme

Comments

Apr 21st,
2009

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