Monday, October 14, 2013

Gourmet extraordinaire and desert camping in Nevada

Desert camping isn't for everyone. Conditions can be harsh, especially for peak heat times in the middle of summer. Without natural sources of water and shade, dehydration and sun poisoning could easily happen. Extreme self-reliance is the best way to survive and lack of preparation could have devastating consequences.

A very fancy desert (Dubai)
Good thing we're not everyone and we love extremes! For our first week back in the United States of America, we decided to go desert camping for a week, in the middle of the northern Nevada desert. We had actually planned on going there before we left on our 6-month sabbatical and paid $380 each to secure our spot for our tent. Usually, camping is never that expensive. However, this type of camping is as unique as it gets so we had to commit eight months in advance to it.

We're talking, of course, about Burning Man: absolutely, 100%, one of the most epic events we have ever attended in our lives. Burning Man is very hard to explain so it is best to just go see for yourself. The reason it's so hard is because the event becomes what you want it to be. Many people bring their children for a family experience, many people come to do ultramarathons and others, like us, come as foodies, not knowing what to expect but excited about everything.

Our two good friends spent all summer planning for Burning Man. One of them, in particular, planned everything in insane detail and we had everything from 1,000 baby wipes to superglued seals on every single car window to keep the majority of the playa dust out.

All four of us are total foodies so we went on very fun food shopping sprees and prepared meals in advance. We packed the 'obvious' camping food such as canned beans, corn, rice and curries in pouches, but we also packed exciting foodie treats. We were thrilled to find bacon jerky and purchased the Costco size bags of that amazing treasure. We brought two huge logs of goat cheese, a large wedge of Manchego cheese, an entire wooden box stuffed with smoked salmon from Seattle, garlic and jalapeƱo stuffed olives, a case of V-8 fruit and veggie juices and our home mix of hemp and almond granola with raisins.
Preparing the lasagna sauce

Eliot made a gallon of home-made cold brew coffee and Drea made cinnamon tea soda syrup. We also made two pans of home made lasagna with beef and de-cased Italian sausages (Drea did this by hand), an entire head of garlic and a dash of nutmeg to give it a Bologna twist. Our friends made an amazing summer gazpacho with tons of parsley, lemon, Tunisian olive oil and refreshing cucumbers plus at least two dozen juicy home-made meatballs in an amazing home-made tomato sauce (peeled AND seeded tomatoes!). Oh and let's not forget their tasty garbanzo, parsley, parmesan cheese salad.

We showed up at Burning Man and were in awe for at least 144 hours. The dry heat suppressed our appetites a bit but we still found time to indulge in decadent meals. Thanks to our extremely detail-oriented friend who planned 99% of our journey to the desert, we were able to keep our pre-made meals frozen solid with the 50 pounds of dry ice we stuffed in three coolers.

The Man
De-frosting was super easy: we took out the containers in the morning and by dinner time, they had naturally thawed. We ate the gazpacho and garbanzo salad cold and then heated up the lasagna and the meatballs on the propane camp stove. Our other campmates brought a healthy kale and broccoli salad and we destroyed it our first night. We also indulged in the best home-made grilled cheese sandwiches we've ever had! Part of the secret was toasting the bread on both sides and using three layers of cheese (we're getting hungry just writing this!).

Fire cyclones as the Man burns on Saturday
Burning Man thrives on a gift economy and we were lucky to have delicious treats along the way. At Burning Man, you give. The gifts we received were absolutely fabulous. As far as food goes, we had Montreal-style smoked meat sandwiches (think gourmet smoked/corned beef and spicy mustard) served by our Canadian neighbors, fresh ground coffee used to make legit Vietnamese iced coffee (ice is a highly coveted item at Burning Man), emperor's tea from China prepared in front of us at a formal tea ceremony (the tea had to be smuggled into the US because it is worth more than gold by weight!) and cheese fondue straight from a fondue pot!

We will try to make this a yearly event for us and we look forward to the foodie events we missed: bacon bloodys, morning hash browns, home-made pickles, massive barbecues and whatever else we are bound to walk or bike into.

Co-posted on www.eliotpeper.com

Robot Heart Party

Awesome Playa Sunset

Biking around, checking out art exhibitions everywhere

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