My love of Top Chef has gotten to the point that I have a section of my main bookshelf dedicated to some of my favorite judges* and cheftestants from the show—though I will admit that Tom Colicchio’s books live up in my New York section, because most of these books came out way after his did—and while I’ve enjoyed them all, I’ve been heartily enjoying Gail Simmons’ Bringing it Home as it is filled with really interesting recipes and lots of excellent anecdotes about Top Chef from foods she loved while on location to lots of interesting tips based on professional chef techniques that she’s observed along the way, along with her own insight from her days in culinary school. Gail has long been one of my favorite staples of the show because she’s a delightful mix of knowledge, insight, warmth, and the occasional dollop of well-timed snark: Read More
When I started doing research on vermouth and specifically what kinds of snacks would be served with the taking of the vermouth, I came across a really interesting, if surprisingly simple combination from the people of Quimet i Quimet. Located in the Poble Sec neighborhood of Barcelona, this tiny tapas bar specializes in tapas featuring tinned seafood–a delicacy in Catalunya–and serves many kinds of vermouths to boot. It’s long been on my list of places to visit but unfortunately we’ve yet to make it there, and I hope a third visit will be the eventual charm to finally bring us to that part of the city. (I have a feeling that a vermouth crawl will be in order now that I’m equipped with a list of all of the must-visit places to go thanks to Vermut.) Read More
Heat waves are awesome, aren’t they? They sap your energy completely, make venturing outside after 8AM and before 8PM a dangerous proposition, and–if you’re anything like me–a big ol’ sweaty mess. I literally walked across the river from my office to go to the farmers market on Thursday at lunch (at most six-tenths of a mile) and came back drenched. And very flushed (from exertion, not from sun thankfully). The trains didn’t fare much better–Friday afternoon three (!) trains coming from New Haven got tangled up in wires because of the heat, so I had to drive myself home because they suspended service around 5:00.
At least I wasn’t one of the poor people who were trapped on those trains. Read More
Much like any supermarket around the country, ordering anything from the deli department at Fairway can require a wait of some duration on the weekends, and you just have to roll with the punches and try not to shoot too many death glares at the hapless dad ordering half the case’s contents a quarter pound at a time. Being a New York supermarket, though, Fairway also has a smoked fish counter right next to the deli where you don’t have to take a number and usually it’s a very simple in-and-out process…until you get stuck behind the mom ordering two pounds of smoked salmon for her brunch that day, and they don’t bring in another person to help alleviate the growing line behind her as the slicer stands there methodically making her way through the enormous salmon fillet (and then another fillet because one was not enough). I guess it was to be expected–it was Saturday morning on the Upper West Side, after all–but when you only need someone to spoon some alici into a plastic dish and hand it over to you, your patience wears ever thinner as each expertly-cut slice of pink fish is added to the pile.
The mom turned to us with an apologetic smile on her face–at least she waited with us, I suppose–and remarked that maybe she should have just gotten some pizzas or sandwiches after all. I silently grumbled that Fairway has a catering office so she could have at least called ahead, but by then it was a cow’s opinion so it didn’t matter either way. (Incidentally, one way I entertain myself while waiting for such things is mentally flipping through my internal encyclopedia of pop-culture references. That leads me to giggle for no reason, but at least that ‘s better than giving strangers the stink-eye, right?)
That particular shopping trip came to mind when I was slicing through our little piece of gravlax last week, as I was only trying to slice enough to top half a bagel each for Michael and I as a mid-afternoon snack. Getting those gorgeous slices is not nearly as easy as it looks–no wonder the pros slice at the pace they do. Read More
People used to stare at fires. Now they watch TV. We need to see moving images, especially after dinner.
–Francois Truffaut, Day for Night.
Day for Night, simply put, is an amazing film. It’s joyous, hilarious, sad, and absurd. It’s a triumph of love and dedication and personal expression, and true to its tagline, it really is a film for people who love films. The narcissism of the actors, the bullshit propelling the crew–it’s so incredibly timeless that you can easily ignore the fact that it was filmed in the 70s and therefore looks immediately dated. But it was also one of those films that I hadn’t thought about in a while until I shoved a random CD into my car’s player (yes, I have a zillion mix CDs in my ’04 Jetta, shut up) and its wondrous theme by Georges Delarue filled my car as I was making my way to the Westport train station, and suddenly I was craving to see it again, preferably after eating a big bowl of bouillabaisse.
This thought struck me in early May. I wasn’t able to actually give in to the craving until Saturday, and it ended up being an apt pairing of food and film, what with the reminder of the importance of rolling with the punches. Read More
After all there’s a lot in that vegetarian fine flavour of things from the earth garlic of course it stinks after Italian organgrinders crisp of onions mushrooms truffles. Pain to the animal too. Pluck and draw fowl. Wretched brutes there at the cattlemarket waiting for the poleaxe to split their skulls open. Moo. Poor trembling calves. Meh. Staggering bob. Bubble and squeak. Butchers’ buckets wobbly lights. Give us that brisket off the hook. Plup. Rawhead and bloody bones. Flayed glasseyed sheep hung from their haunches, sheepsnouts bloodypapered snivelling nosejam on sawdust. Top and lashers going out. Don’t maul them pieces, young one.
Hot fresh blood they prescribe for decline. Blood always needed. Insidious. Lick it up smokinghot, thick sugary. Famished ghosts.
Ah, I’m hungry.
–James Joyce, Ulysses (chapter 8, “The Lestrygonians”)
Happy (belated) Bloomsday, that wonderful day that celebrates the majesty and the weirdness that is James Joyce’s Ulysses and allows the people who slogged through it (self included) to feel smug for a day while they quote it! The rest of the post doesn’t really have anything to do with Joyce or Ulysses, but I wanted the excuse to share one of my favorite food-related quotes that is both delightfully hilarious and grotesque.
Onward! Read More
That thud you just heard would be me slumping onto our couch after a dizzying two months of moving madness and one of travel and weddings and the like. All of the various goings-on have kept us out of the kitchen more often than we’d like, especially on weekends, but now that the dust is settling and our cookbooks are unpacked and on the shelves, I feel like we can get back into the full swing of things.
With this comes a new feature–we’re teaming up with Copper River Salmon this summer to drive awareness of the Alaskan salmon season that is in full swing right now, and we’ll be sharing with you everything from recipes to restaurant inspiration to where you can find it locally here in New York metro area. We have a lovely two-pound fillet in the freezer that is waiting to be made into paillard a little later this week.
In the spirit of full disclosure, we are receiving a monthly 2 lb shipment of salmon (King, Sockeye and Coho) over the season, but I’m certain we’ll be getting it ourselves as well now that we can find it again, because we can go through it rather quickly.