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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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Goat cheese with kumquat-rosemary marmalade

Signs you probably have been watching too much Top Chef via Hulu recently:

  1. You’re obsessed with timing and food prep, to the point where you have no issue doing significant prep work on a weekend afternoon because you’re paranoid something is going to happen when you actually get down to cooking dinner for real.
  2. You really, really want a GIF of Dale Talde yelling “FUCK” after his team lost the mise en place relay race before Wedding Wars because you need it to express your frustration with so many things in life. (Unfortunately it’s not in this clip but this is as close as I could get it.)
  3. You’re very upset that you can’t make one yourself and be done with it.
  4. You get very strong inclinations to make everything from Tom Colicchio’s cookbooks.
  5. You get feelings of anxiety when you go into your new-to-you supermarket because you know if you only had 30 minutes to shop you would be TOAST and not get half of the things you needed.

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Home-cured gravlax with Wasa crackers, cream cheese, and pickled shallots

Another year, another New Year’s Eve in the books. Like last year our celebration was small but special as we were able to sit and nosh and chat all evening, and honestly I couldn’t ask for much more than that. I was beyond excited because it was the first time we could properly entertain in our new digs without bags of paper and flattened boxes lying everywhere, and truth be told I kind of felt like Marnie from Girls when she was fluttering about that North Fork house getting it ready for what would be the dinner party from hell.

(Fortunately our get-together did not include a choreographed dance number, not enough food for everyone who was gathered, or a drunken confession session in which everyone’s dirty laundry was aired, so really the comparison ended during the preparation stage.)

When it came to the menu we largely stuck to the edict of not serving brand new recipes, sticking with tried and true staples like hummus, lamb meatballs, and my crostini with mozzarella di bufula and serrano ham, but I admittedly did try something that was sort of new by trying Tom Colicchio’s recipe for cured salmon. It’s not the first time I’ve made gravlax, nor was this the first time we’ve tried making a cured product following a Tom Colicchio recipe, so it didn’t feel quite as much of a risk as, say, test-driving a recipe from either the Le Bernadin cookbook or even the Gramercy Tavern cookbook. Read More

Cava-Vermut Negre Fizz

It feels like vermouth is having a bit of a moment these days, isn’t it? It’s a moment that has been years in the making of course—I remember a few years ago when my friends at Saugatuck Grain and Grape were sampling tastes of a ridiculously delicious sweet vermouth that I had previously never heard of, and then a couple of years later one of the helpful people at Fairway’s wine shop was enthusiastically recommending a bottle of Vya to complete a little gift to Michael of Manhattan fixings. Now Spanish vermouth is getting stronger traction here, with brands both old and (seemingly) modern popping up in tapas bars and liquor stores alike with greater frequency.

I am by no means an expert on the stuff, but lately I’ve found myself embracing it and not simply as a mixer to go with whiskey or gin, or even as a substitute for regular wine in cooking. There are some really delicious brands out there and served in the way they were designed to be enjoyed…I have to say that I might be open to fer un vermut (or “to do a vermouth”) more often. As it is the case with many new experiences, however, I’ve found that this is often best done with the help of a familiar intermediary, and here cava is the ideal companion to convince you that vermouth is a mighty fine beverage component and not something to merely look at when fixing a martini. Read More

Charred Lemon Gin Sparklers with Shrimp Fritters

So Thanksgiving happened, it’s now December, we’re moving very soon, and I may be feeling a wee bit stressed about it. The movers come next week, and I’ll be home on the packing day working while they box up all of our stuff. In the meantime we’re trying to get all of our things organized as best we can and cleaning everything as much as possible. We’re at the point where I’m simply anxious to be there so I can do things like quickly register my car and get a parking pass for the neighborhood as well as the more fun tasks of organizing all of our stuff and getting a few new pieces, but we still have a bit of a ways to go before we get to that stage.

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Asian Tuna Tartare via Eric Ripert and Le Bernadin

There are at least a half-dozen drafts saved that I’ve been wanting to write, but I’m dissatisfied with all of them because I was trying to write while ignoring a major life change simmering in the next room. To be short and to the point: we’re on the move again, only this time it’s a pretty serious change. No longer will we be a 45-minute train ride into Manhattan; instead, we’re headed just south of the Mason-Dixon line to Baltimore, a city that is far more foreign to us than either Stamford or even Morningside Heights because it’s been an age since either of us has been there.

I am approaching this move with way more mixed emotions than I initially expected, mostly because I’m really sad to leave a group of awesome coworkers I see (or in certain cases did see) every day in addition to losing ready access to Fairway, Dinosaur Barbecue, Barcelona Wine Bar, The Cask Republic, and aforementioned easy access to New York. Michael has reminded me time and time again that if we weren’t going to miss anything it would only prove that we spent the last three-plus years in abject misery, and that certainly wasn’t the case. The thing about Connecticut is that it’s one of those places that it’s very difficult to love as an outsider, save perhaps for New Haven which thrives on its transient student and professor populations, so we always knew that this place was not for us when it came to settling down permanently.

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