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Spaghetti tagliuzzati con zuppa di aragosta

Spaghetti tagliuzzati con zuppa di aragosta

Lobster and pasta: it sounds so simple, doesn’t it? And doesn’t it sound like the epitome of the springtime or summer meal, something to enjoy after a nice day at the beach, perhaps served with a refreshing beer or glass of white wine?

Oh, were it so simple. The truth of the matter is that this is a dish that demands patience. Not only does it take some work to get all of the components ready, but it’s one that requires you to wait until the ingredients are in season because anything otherwise would result in a less-than-stellar meal. I knew this when I first saw the recipe in Made In Sicily months ago, so I abstained from even thinking about it. But then Memorial Day weekend came, and Michael was home after a long week in England, and Fairway had lobster on sale. Even the tomatoes smelled delicious, despite it not quite being peak tomato season just yet in our neck of the woods.

In short: I waited long enough to have this, and to borrow a phrase from Alton Brown, my patience was going to be rewarded. Read More

Moliterno laced with black truffle

Truffle-laced anything, if you ask me, should come under a great deal of scrutiny. There was a great article in the New York Times from a few years ago that blew the lid off of the “magic” of truffle-infused-olive oil and frankly, had me wary of anything that claimed to have anything to do with the prohibitively expensive fungus. I reluctantly got back on the truffle bandwagon when I finally tried a can of porcini and truffle sauce that reminded me of Piemonte in an instant (minus the plane fare and the two-hour drive from Malpensa). I was slightly more convinced when a small Italian import brand sampled white and black truffle mayonnaise, honeys, and butters a few times at Fairway, though the price was still a little too high for what it was. Then Steve Jenkins–the man who wrote the book on cheese and is Fairway’s cheesemonger–made an appearance at Fairway Stamford last weekend and was sampling this cheese…and now I’m firmly back on the Truffles Are Awesome But Only In Specific Situations. Read More

Carpionata Piemontese

Now I am quietly waiting
for the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again,
and interesting, and modern.
The country is grey and
brown and white in trees,
snows and skies of laughter
always diminishing, less funny
not just darker, not just grey.
It may be the coldest day of
the year, what does he think of
that? I mean, what do I? And if I do,
perhaps I am myself again.

Frank O’Hara, excerpt of “Mayakovsky” from Meditations in an Emergency

This passage kind of perfectly expresses those mean reds I mentioned a week and a half ago that have taken up in casa TMFP. It hasn’t helped that it was a fairly rainy week and therefore the sky grew dark out even sooner than it should, and in one of those rainstorms Michael’s new car was lightly clipped by some jerk near his office. And ugh–as I write this it’s gotten grey and moody outside again. It’s like the weather is gleefully pissing all over my “Operation: Abolish Mean Reds” efforts with every cold, grey, sodden day. It’s why we curled up with the second season premiere episode of Mad Men in all of its angsty glory but at the same time pushed ourselves from a culinary perspective–we may be indulging our grumpiness in some ways, but tasting something new and different could also be the jolt we both need. First up: our anniversary dinner on Sunday and going back to a genuine happy place.

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El Cantú

Vicky buried herself in work at the library. She put foolish ideas out of her head and concentrated on her thesis, but she found her thoughts frequently returning to Oviedo.

Narrator, Vicky Cristina Barcelona

One of the songs on the Vicky Cristina Barcelona soundtrack that  never fails to grab me when I’m in a contemplative mood is ” Asturias.” (Yes, I’ll wait while you click the link so you can listen to it as you finish reading this post.)  It’s this meditative, mysterious piece that is stark and hypnotic and immediately evokes a hot, dusty afternoon in Oviedo (the region’s capital) and immediately makes you want to sit outside a tapas bar and sip wine and snack on cheese all day. And be honest: we’re in the dog days of summer, so sometimes that sounds like a pretty sufficient meal if you can get a loaf of bread to nibble on as well.

Believe me when I say that the cheese you want to be snacking on as you while away those hot and lazy days is from a wheel of El Cantú. I’m snacking on it right now as I write this.

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Garrotxa and Queso Romao

When we shopped at Fairway Harlem every week, the trips I’d make to the cheese counter were pretty seldom, because it required navigating past the deli and around the bloc of shopping carts that belonged to the people waiting at the deli. I’d usually stick to the self-serve cheese area with the goal of getting in and out as quickly as possible with a chunk of cheddar or Grana Padano, but sometimes I would indulge if I was looking for a very specific cheese. The Stamford store is not quite the cluster since there’s more room to maneuver, and the cheese case is so inviting and not nearly as chaotic as the deli, so I’ve been finding myself over there more often in the two months we’ve lived here than I did in New York, well, ever.

There are many things that are great about the Fairway cheese counter, and two of the most useful are the friendly staff behind the counter and the colorful tags they have on each cheese that describe country/region of origin, the kind of milk the cheese is made from and also whether it’s raw or pasteurized, and a handful of tasting notes to pique your interest. The cheesemongers are happy to slice practically anything for you to taste, and as a result it’s really hard to walk away empty-handed when I venture over there, because invariably I find something new that I really enjoy and my mind is jumping ahead to the wine I’ll serve with it.

So every so often I’ll share some of my particular favorites with you, and to start I’ll share two recent favorites from Spain: Queso Romao and Garrotxa.

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Hudson-bound on 125th Street

If it wasn’t already obvious in my last post, both Michael and I really like Fairway. I’ve been meaning to do a Shopping in New York piece on the store, but I feel like it would be too trivial and unable to capture the spirit of the store in a few hundred words. A series is in order, but more photographs need to be taken in order to really capture the magic that is the store. Regardless, something that we can share with you regarding the magic of Fairway is their annual customer appreciation barbecue, otherwise known as one of those epic sampling events that people like me consider to be to the most effective promotion methods out there: if you give something a try and you like it, you’ll end up buying it. Read More

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