Doug and I are just back from a 14-day transatlantic cruise.
We left from Fort Lauderdale, FL’s Port Everglades (a short 40-minute drive from our home) aboard the Crown Princess. We sailed the high-seas, with over 3,000 other passengers, for seven days before reaching our first port – Azores Islands (Portugal). Seven days later we reached our final destination – Southampton, England, after having visited Lisbon, Portugal; Bilbao, Spain; and Le Havre, France. Three additional days were spent in London after the cruise.
We were looking forward to our stay in London – except that Doug contracted the flu while on board ship creating some tense moments. Our time in London turned into a recovery period for him - our play tickets were forfeited, an out-of-London excursion and a planned visit to see a friend in London were cancelled. The good news is, Doug had a chance to rest for the journey home.
Flying back to the US (via JFK airport) wasn’t too bad, but getting through customs and trying to make it to our connecting flight home was more challenging than expected. We decided then and there that we didn’t need to take this kind of trip ever again.
Don't get me wrong, we did enjoy most of our trip. Next time, however, it will be shorter and keep us closer to home.
The lesson we learned? Start and end a cruise from Port Everglades, FL – which, for us, would mean no flying at all!
What we missed most during those 17 days was Armenian food. While in London we managed to track down a Middle Eastern restaurant one block from our hotel. As soon as Doug felt up to it, we wandered over to this hole-in-the-wall establishment and had a delightful lunch – the first meal he was able to eat in days.
The Yalanchi Appetizer
Doug's Bamya (okra) with Lamb
My Lule Kebab Platter
Once home, I went to our farmer’s market and gathered as many locally grown veggies as I could carry, and made a huge tray of Vegetable Gouvedge - one of our family’s Dikranagerdtsi recipes, but without the traditional lamb.
Our Vegetable Gouvedge
We found it very comforting – eating homemade Armenian food in our own dining room – just the two of us.
Yields about 6 servings
2 medium-sized eggplants, medium dice
2 medium-sized zucchini, medium dice
1 small orange pepper, diced
1 small red pepper, diced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup flat-leaf Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
1 (15-oz.) can diced tomato with its juice
¼ cup olive oil
2 to 3 Tbsp. red pepper paste (available in Middle Eastern stores)
NOTE: If red pepper paste is unavailable, use 2 to 3 Tbsp. tomato paste mixed with 1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. dried oregano (dried mint and/or basil can also be added.)
Salt, black pepper, and Aleppo red pepper, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Lightly spray a 13”x9” baking pan with vegetable spray.
3. Place all of the cut vegetables in a large mixing bowl.
4. In a smaller bowl, mix together the diced tomatoes and juice, red pepper paste, oil, and seasonings. Stir until blended. Pour mixture over the vegetables, tossing to coat all of the vegetables.
5. Spread the vegetables evenly in the prepared baking pan. Cover the pan with foil, and bake in the preheated oven for one hour.
6. Uncover, and bake 30 minutes more.
7. This can be served hot or at room temperature.
Note: This recipe can be made up to 2 days in advance.