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Oysters three ways: ponzu sauce (top), freshly prepared horseradish (middle), and spring onion-moscatell mignonette (bottom).

Almost two weeks ago I took the Acela up to New York for a work event, and while most of the trip was extremely packed with meetings and activities, I was able to squeeze in a little time to both revisit some favorite places and cross some others off my “restaurants to visit” list in the city. The first thing I did after dropping off my bags in my hotel room was to hit up Fairway to both stock up on vinegars as well as get some room essentials that would not require me to use the well-stocked but extremely expensive minibar in my room. I then had the very difficult decision to make as to where to get dinner, but with the weather being kind of gloomy I stuck with places within easy walking distance: the main course was the steak frites at Les Halles on Park Ave, and then for a nightcap I treated myself to some oysters at The John Dory Oyster Bar which was conveniently located off the lobby of my hotel. Read More

Steak tartare from Avec Eric

 

It appears that 2015 is the year that so many of my favorite pop culture items say goodbye, from Parks and Recreation and Mad Men‘s finales to Xavi Hernandez leaving FC Barcelona after seventeen years to the retirement of Jon Stewart from The Daily Show; had The Mindy Project’s cancellation from Fox not resulted in it being picked up by Hulu, I would have felt particularly downtrodden. When Parks made its final bow back in Feburary we marked the occassion with bacon-wrapped shrimp, but we decided to send out Mad Men with a full spread, complete with a re-watch of the finale. (Not having cable anymore means we have to wait until the episodes are up on Amazon, and for whatever reason Amazon took FOREVER to finally get the finale loaded to the site. I willingly stayed off most of the internet to avoid spoilers all day and instead just kept bugging Amazon as to when we could expect to see it, and it worked–the finale surprised me in many ways, most of them very pleasantly. There will be no spoilers here, I assure you.) Read More

A vermut and a copy of Teoria i Pràctica del Vermut…and stripes.

 

Remember back in December when I said that it felt like vermouth was having a bit of a moment? Well, a little more research into the subject has proven me correct, as the last few years were in fact a big year for vermouth to make a comeback in Barcelona and beyond, and as recently as a few weeks ago a whole book on the subject was published. Written in part by the director of Cuina magazine, it popped up on my Facebook feed shortly thereafter and almost immediately I decided I wanted to check it out, despite the fact that my Catalan is extremely rudimentary and that it wasn’t easy to find a store–even Amazon’s Spanish site!–to send it to me here in the States. After running into a few dead ends, I finally reached out to the publisher Ara Llibres to see if I could buy it directly from them, and they kindly offered to send me a copy to review instead. I would be completely lying if I didn’t say how excited I was to get that package from Barcelona a few days ago. Read More

Almond Mussels

It was a couple of weekends ago now on one of the few lazy Sundays we’ve had in a while and I was completely lacking any inspiration on what to make for dinner that night. I knew we were going to have steak because Michael had been letting one dry out for a day or so in the fridge (not so much dry-aging but just letting some of the moisture of the steak soak into a paper towel–it does make for a really good at-home slab of beef) and so really I needed to think of what could go well with that. Neither pasta nor bread/toast felt right for that night, so I started flipping through A Kitchen in France and immediately landed on Mimi Thorisson’s almond mussels.

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Blood Orange and Rosemary Marmalade with Goat Cheese

Given how limited the blood orange’s season used to be, it’s definitely a little odd still seeing them in store but if this means I can enjoy them a little longer, then so be it. I’ve been using the combination quite a bit in prosecco-based cocktails over the course of the winter to great success, but ever since my last batch of kumquat-rosemary marmalade I wanted to see what a blood orange and rosemary marmalade would taste like. In search of something interesting to accompany some cheeses I had in mind for our houseguests this past weekend, I decided that if the produce stand at Cross Street still had serviceable blood oranges I’d finally give this variation a try.

The main issue I was concerned about was the matter of the pith underneath the oranges’ skin, because unlike with kumquats, there is usually a sizable layer of the bitter white stuff between the fruit and the skin in an orange and I was worried it would make the whole marmalade too bitter to enjoy. I’m not sure what I was worried about, as we’ve cooked down lemon wheels with chicken and I’ve eaten them whole with abandon so many times, but my fears were completely unfounded. The marmalade does benefit from sitting in the fridge overnight before serving, though, because the flavors need a little time to meld together in the best possible way.

Like with all things blood orange, though, perhaps the best part of this marmalade is that it turns into this brilliant red-orange mixture, so you know it’s going to look as appealing on a board or on a cracker as it tastes. This will likely serve as a mighty fine evening snack this week for those days I need to make dinner or even just unwind a bit, and now I feel doubly intrigued to try this recipe with some other citrus fruits while they are still in the store.

In the meantime, try to find a couple of blood oranges and try this for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

Blood Orange Marmalade
adapted from ‘wichcraft

  • 2 blood oranges, sliced into thin rings and then cut into quarters
  • 1 small rosemary sprig plus one spring of rosemary minced
  • 12 crushed peppercorns
  • 1/4 sugar
  • 1/4 water

Bring the water and sugar together and stir until dissolved in a medium saucepan. Add the blood oranges, rosemary sprig, and pepper and combine well, then bring the saucepan to a simmer and let the mixture simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the oranges are translucent and the sugar has formed a thin syrup. Add the minced rosemary and let cool, and then transfer to a container to store. Serve as desired and use within a week or so.

Blackberry-Rosemary Compote with Crottin goat cheese

If you follow me on Instagram (you should! I post there sometimes!) you may have noticed that over the course of February I was posting shots of various tableaux, usually featuring wine and/or cheese and tagging a local wine shop in all of them. It was part of a promotion they were running in which they would randomly select a winner and give them a $50 gift card, and while winning would obviously be awesome (a winner hasn’t been announced yet as of posting this), I also really liked the chance to exercise some creativity and take some interesting photos. Moreover, it also gave me an excellent reason to experiment some more in making some flavorful accompaniments to cheeses, and while the contest itself may be over, I’m looking forward to expanding my repertoire.

First up on the list: blackberry compote. Read More

Cured Beef with Watercress Salad from Hawksmoor at Home

I’m not sure what it was that made me think making salt-cured beef in the fridge was a perfect idea for a chilly January weekend, but all I do know is that when I took out our copy of Hawksmoor at Home one Thursday morning before breakfast and I flipped open to that page, my stomach growled. Audibly. It also seemed so simple and the flavors so perfect to this time of year, since you grate up quite a bit of celery root and throw in some rosemary springs to meld with the salt and brown sugar–I mean, it was practically begging me to give it a try. Michael was sold on it pretty quickly, so over lunch I went out in search of ingredients and was able to place a lovely, just-over-one-pound piece of tenderloin into the cure and then into the fridge and I could feel very pleased that half of my Saturday dinner prep was well underway.
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