Sunday, November 30, 2008

Germany's first climate-neutral restaurant

My friend Keith moved to Berlin to live with his significant other Christian a little over a month ago.

I realized last night he was going to be spending his birthday by himself in Berlin, this sent me into a frenzy of research on where to send him to eat in Berlin. In my searching I came up with this very stylish place that just happens to be right in their neighborhood of Kreuzberg.

Check it out.

Other places that looked worth a visit:

An upscale, mostly Austrian focused cooking, a real dedication to organic meat and veg in new versions of traditional Austrian and German dishes. Looks great.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

As Time Goes By

with your popcorn

Microwave Popcorn

Unless your popcorn comes from a farmer or certified organic source...check this out.

The line that gets me is:

"The department is constantly considering whether to take steps to protect workers against hazardous substances. Currently, it is assessing substances like silica, beryllium and diacetyl, a chemical that adds the buttery flavor to some types of microwave popcorn".

Chemical, buttery, dangerous flavor...and we need this because? I mean really? Diacetyl yummy! We need more of that in our diet. I don't even think I can say it.

I sometimes break down in theaters, but I never get the "topping." However, bottom line: if someone isn't going to be up front about where the corn comes from I'm going to assume monster corn from Monsanto.

And as for the "not butter"...just say no.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Grain Grinder

Scroll down and you'll see my post about whole wheat versus whole grain. It motivated me to look for a hand grinder. I found it on a site called: (pretty scary, eh?) I guess there are some people out there waiting for Armageddon or something and are stocking up now. Me, personally, Mark I just want to have better flour. It costs $79.99 and because it's not electric it works during black outs, environmental disasters, and invasion by space aliens.

Here Mr. Martian, I just baked some bread!

Network - Mad as Hell Scene

Perfect - funny how little things have changed since this was made.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Republic Noodles on Union Square

I had a most unfortunate incident tonight trying to be fed at Republic, a place I have always loved and have eaten at since they opened.

I wanted to share with you my letter that I sent them, just in case any of you were thinking of eating there:

Dear Management and Owners of Republic,

I've been going to your restaurant on Union Square since it opened. I'm also a fan of Town. I eat at the bar at Republic a fair amount. I usually order the spicy duck soup. I tried to order that tonight, with some hot over priced green tea. Like usual I asked if I could have it without noodles, a request that has never before caused a problem, but tonight it was met with great confusion. I'm not sure if I said the wrong thing or if the waiter misheard me or what but I was told clearly that no substitutions were allowed and it was impossible to replace the noodles. Just to be clear, I don't like to be difficult, but I'm diabetic and so I really can't eat carbs, or least not very many. I said to the waiter good-humoredly that if he couldn't do it I would eat around it - because what I mostly wanted was the broth. What I got was a pile of noodles, curried duck noodles, not spicy duck soup. Not a big deal right? Well apparently I'm wrong on that score. Not one of the three people who I asked offered to change my order for me, no one in fact seemed to even care. The rude cashier woman said and I quote: "Do you want me to get a manager? I can't do anything." The waiter was happy to get me my check so he could turn over the chair and the guy who brought me the food was clueless.

So I left a complete plate of food totally untouched and none of your staff could care less. Not one of them seemed to realize that you are in the hospitality industry, not the hostility industry.

This is the first time I have ever written a letter to a restaurant, but what happened tonight was appalling - even if I had ordered the wrong thing what's so bad about making the customer happy? Or is that not part of your business plan?

I find it increasingly difficult to eat out at restaurants like your's who do things like have a "seasonal specials" menu, but have nothing on the menu that is seasonal (or local, for that matter).

Nor do I want to support restaurants who still do not offer organic free range local meat on their menu. If Bonita can offer me an all organic delicious chicken burrito for 9 bucks why can't you do something similar? The answer is: because you don't want to.

Also, you offer a presumably vegetarian dish, it's relatively new to your menu, but it's made with red curry and red curry isn't vegetarian it's made with shrimp, I'd think your veggie and kosher customers would be very angry about being deceived.

I've learned my lesson and promise to never suggest to my friends, or eat, at either Town or Republic again. I've gotten over my nostalgia for comfort food from the past.

I think you need a new manager who is able to train the staff so that they are able to do their jobs properly. Maybe think about hiring people who are interested in being nice and actually hospitable instead of moody twenty-somethings who just want to make a buck and leave.

I was so upset tonight (not to mention hypoglycemic because I was starving and ready to fall into coma) that it was the first time in my life I didn't tip the waiter. I'm 48 and have been a waiter - I am very sympathetic and understanding of what it takes to be a waiter.

I've worked in the food and hospitality industry all my life and am a professional cook. I understand how things can go wrong but what happened tonight in your restaurant is inexcusable. I mean, if you have such disregard for your customers why do you run a restaurant?

I want you to credit my account with the $16.26 I spent on not being fed tonight. The check number is 4163, the lack of server was named Dillon, I also notice now that your cashier gave me the wrong copy, I have the merchant copy - aren't you the merchant? Date Nov 25 '08 @ 6:48 authorization code 491749.

I'm not so into angry letters and certainly don't usually waste my time with them, but there was something about this incident that got under my skin. Here we are in the middle of a massive financial crisis, I'm unemployed, and the last thing I want to do is go to a restaurant that can't even get an order right and then penalize me for it.

The real reason I wanted to share this is that it is true, and not just an empty angry threat, that I find it increasingly hard to eat out at my usual "cheap and cheerful" places because it so bothers me that we have built a food culture based on what's cheapest, not what's best. The tacit understanding that we have been sold is that good can never be cheap. This is a lie. If we prioritized what was good (local, fresh, seasonal, organic) and we all bought it - it would be much cheaper. Simple fact.

If we cared at all about farmers or our health or the environment or were we in the least bit aware of the catastrophic affects humans have had on the planet maybe we would change our behavior? CAFO's*, feeding corn to cows, pesticides, genetically modified seeds, fossil fuel fertilizers, etc. are all contributing to the destruction of the planet. What is our response? Well it would seem to be that a lot of restaurateurs in this city's response is: "go fuck yourself." We want short sighted, high turnover, industrialized food "product" that can be consumed and paid for in 20 minutes and to hell with everything else (including it would seem hospitality).

It never used to bother me. Hell - like most people I was unaware it was even an issue. Over the years as I have read and learned more from all sorts of sources, as it is indeed now a regular conversation in the media, food safety, the environment, etc, it amazes me how cavalier we are as a culture. We'd rather speed ahead to our inevitable destruction then stop and think for a moment what might be best for all of us. Of course, I'm very sympathetic to the fact that everyone needs to make a living (lately I'm keenly aware as an unemployed person) but I see restaurants like Back 40, Bonita, Diner, Marlowe, City Bakery all making a living while maintaining a commitment to safe, healthy, properly raised, real food from farmers not factories.

Apropos of the clip from "Network" I think it is time that we all start to put our feet down and scream out our windows: I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more! We have to collectively say: I'm not going to allow farm animals to be tortured, poisoned, mutilated and slaughtered so I can save a buck a pound on my hamburger and I can survive January without buying a cantaloupe from Guatemala and I can make it a part of our weekly schedule to make it to the market. We have to commit ourselves to being diligent in saying "I will not support organizations be they large corporations like Monsanto or local restaurant chains like Republic who still are maintaining a status quo that is not only bad for the planet but bad for us."

Change is hard, hard to manifest, hard to maintain. The only way we can effectively create it is if we see clearly and believe in our hearts and minds that we have the power as individuals to make a difference. Without that belief we are lost.

I encourage you all to write to every restaurant you eat at and tell them what is important to you.
Oh, and it might be better if you do this before you have a horrible experience there, as I believe people respond better to kindness then anger.

Write a letter, and send it to me, I'd love to publish the best ones here.

Whole Wheat vs Whole Grain

A while ago I was reading some food blog or article and I read a comment where the person writing went off on our misguided belief that whole wheat flour was somehow better for us. Now, I have to admit, I always thought it was. Then I started reading more on the subject and looking into the nutritional breakdown between whole wheat flour and white flour. I was only looking at high end organic products. White flour has 1 gram of fiber, whole wheat on average has 4. Well, as a diabetic, I know that anything with less than 5 grams of fiber is not significant. Meaning, I think, from neither a statistical nor a health point of view, that it makes really no difference if you eat whole wheat or white flour. The idea that whole wheat is better for you is nothing more then another market ploy. This is very apparent when you start to look at loaves of bread. Most whole wheat products have molasses in them to make them appear browner and healthier then they really are.

In trying to find out more about this I came upon some interesting articles that have lead me to believe: we need to buy grinders (I saw a hand one at my local hardware store for $35) and grind our own WHOLE GRAINS. Alas, even if we choose to grind our own, we will never find whole grains at a grocery store because whole grains are filled with nutrients and therefore, being appealing to organisms that can eat them, have a short shelf life and so make terrible "products".

The other drag to this realization is that freshly ground whole grains are not consistent like processed flours so you have the problem of having to adjust your baked goods recipes to work
with this new substance. I think it would be really interesting to have a business, a bakery or cafe, where you made all your bread, pies, cakes and cookies from local grains that you grind as you need.

Sounds like a lot of work and I imagine it really is. First you have to find a source for your grains, then you have to buy a grinder and actually use it. And this returns us to the dilemma of who has the time to make food properly so that one can eat properly? This is a full time job! And so, we return the historically true, but currently radical idea that someone in a home needs to actually work full time in the home so that members of the household can eat well.

But everything is so expensive now. How is it possible to have such hyper-consumer lives and pay the mortgage and afford health care and pay for our kids' tuition and, at the same time, not have someone working not for a salary, but in the home, to obtain and prepare the food for us? And so, to pay for it all, we have let go of something that is so essential to our health and well being: the food we eat.

Why is something that is so essential so disregarded? Why have we as a culture chosen to moved the preparation and eating of food to the back burner? If it can't be accomplished with a microwave in 5 minutes from freezer to plate we can't be bothered? Yet everyone who visits our home and eats one of my honest, home cooked meals goes on about it like it was a great mystery, that i must have some special and elusive talent.

As a middle aged man who has never really worked for "the Man" and who is now in his 6th month of unemployment, I am beginning to wonder about how our culture is set up and why it is we perceive the idea of a "housewife" with such disdain? In part, the history of sexism that goes along with the concept of "wife" in our modern age has helped to create this idea that women have every right to find meaningful employment. This leads me to the radical idea that maybe, just maybe that a man might actually in some couples be more suited to the job of home caretaker and that the assigned gender roles are only in place because a hundred years ago it was unheard of that a woman would work. Things are different now, but it doesn't stop me from feeling badly that somehow I have failed to be a proper man, that being at home, which has no doubt improved the quality of our lives leaves me feeling like a failure. Even though I see clearly the advantages, our cultural constructs (or at least the ones in my head), suggest to me we still live in a time when men are the bread winners and if anyone is going to stay at home it's "the wife."

And even though there are many cliches that abound about gay men I don't really want to be anyone's wife. I find such terminology emasculating and uncomfortable. I want to be someone's equal partner. Is that possible or some crazy ideal? And can you ever possibly be equal when the thing our cultural values more then anything is money.

Of course the other dilemma is: "how are we going to make ends meet if we both don't work?"
Good question and I'm not sure what the answer is for you, but for us, I'm amazed we're doing ok and constantly anxious about whether it will continue. I thought for sure my unemployment would signal the end to everything (yes, I'm a drama queen) and indeed our lives have changed because of it, but we're still managing to keep our heads above water (though sometimes barely).
[Neil chimes in: And the fact is that while the money isn't there for luxuries or even minor extravagances at the moment, there is NO question that our home is more of a home, and that we're eating more healthily, cheaply, and deliciously than ever - because Mark has the time to really do it well. If/when he goes back to work, our life at home will not be as complex and delicious and "sustainable" in the ecological sense. What will we give up in order to have the extra money?]

I seem to have a lot of questions and not so many answers, but I feel it is impossible to talk about food and sustainability without beginning to think about the tough questions of how can we re-organize our culture, change our priorities and move forward to living more meaningful lives that are not only good for us but good for the planet.

OK - well - that really got off topic now didn't it? Here is an article that talks more directly and clearly about the whole wheat vs whole grain controversy. Oh and here is part two of that article.

Move over Paris...

The very disguised Michelin Guide folks have given more stars to the kitchens of Tokyo then any where else in the world. Read all about it here.

3 of the 9 restaurants awarded the ultimate 3 star rating serve french food, the other 6 Japanese, so I guess we shouldn't feel too sorry for Paris.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Creme Fraiche Sorbet

This is so easy and so damn tasty! I served it with Concord Grape Pie and it was a winner.

Mix in a blender: 2 cups creme fraiche, 2 cups buttmilk, 1/3 cup lemon juice and 1 1/4 cups sugar.
Blend until smooth and creamy - about 2 minutes.

If all of the ingredients are cold you can go ahead and process in your ice cream maker. If not put them back in the fridge until the mixture is well chilled, then process in your ice cream maker.

Simple, easy and so tasty!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Virunga National Park Congo

People seem to have a way of f#@king everything up.

Over the last 4 or 5 years I've been hankering to go to Rwanda and see the gorillas. Through super human efforts the gorillas and their habitat have managed to live through the genocide in that country and now are thriving. But I'm sorry to hear that the situation in the Congo is not so good. Apparently the rebels run guns through the mountains where the gorillas live.

Over the years I've become aware of the term "Jungle Meat" usually a reference to gorilla meat. I can't image killing one of these majestic beasts - of course starvation would be the only exception, but from what I gather mostly it's sport or aggression that causes people to kill them, not necessity.

Take a moment and check out this site for Virunga national park in the Congo and see how you can help. I have linked right to the blog part of the site where they give suggestions on giving and show how even $10 can really help make the lives of the rangers better and help to save the gorilla's from further devastation.

There are reports of gorillas being shot execution style by the rebels. As if the gorillas had anything to do with their stupid conflict.

Please check out this site and make a donation.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Beautiful Food

Here's two in a row of this brilliant faux cooking show from the BBC.

Posh Nosh - Sauces

These two make me laugh so hard.
"Meat Isn't Curtains!" Hysterical!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Grace Jones - Corporate Cannibal

Totally gratuitous digression here.

Grace Jones released her first album in 20 years and this is the video of Grace singing a song on the album called Corporate Cannibal. It's long and fairly abstract so it might be best viewed after a few glasses of a fine single malt scotch or whatever else might suit your fancy.

Mark Bittman on Seafood

Yet another update on the state of our oceans.

He says that the only fish that is farmed in any kind of sustainable way is tilapia, but that it is so tasteless you might as well eat tofu. The most upsetting thing I thought was his observation on small fish like anchovies, sardines and herring, all of which I thought were very responsible to eat. Oh, but not so fast! It turns out they are the fish that are used to feed other fish and some farm animals and are also being depleted.

The conclusion is that our Oceans are a mess, but we can fix the problem if we were to manage our resources better. If not by 2048 it's game over.

Here it is well worth the read.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Philip's Birthday Dinner

November 15th 2008

Philip’s 49th Birthday Dinner


House Roasted Cashews

Watercress, Pear, Pomegranate & Pecan Salad

Vegetable Pakoras
with homemade peach chutney & sour cream

Sautéed Brussel Sprouts
with Homemade Paneer Cheese, Red Peppers and Cashew

Seasonal Garden Vegetable Stew

Fish Masala

Brown Basmati Rice

Lemon Layer Cake

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Paneer from Scratch 1 of 3

Paneer from Scratch 2 of 3 and 3 of 3

Friday, November 14, 2008

Pizza Pizza Pizza

After years of trying out every pizza dough recipe I could get my hands on I feel like I have finally found the one that works best for me. It's a thin, crunchy, crust pizza that originated in the kitchen of Alice Waters. The recipe below, however, is from two of my other favorite chefs, Rose Grey and Ruth Rodgers, who have slightly adapted Alice's recipe. It's a winner, as far as I'm concerned, and with a pedigree like this how can you go wrong?!

Fill a heavy duty mixing bowl with hot water; pour out water and dry.

Add 4 teaspoon active dry yeast and 1/2 cup warm water (100-110 F) into the warm bowl; stir to dissolve. Stir in 1 cup rye flour to make a stiff dough.

Cover and leave in a warm place until puffy, about an hour.

Add 1 cup warm water, 2 T Milk, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 11/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, 3 1/2 cups unbleached flour to the yeast mixture. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with a paddle, and mix into a soft dough. Change to the dough hook, and knead for 10-15 minutes. The dough will be quite wet and sticky (this texture will make a crisper crust).

Place the dough in a bowl greased with olive oil, and turn to grease top. Cover and leave rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Knock the dough back, and knead a couple of times then return to the bowl and let it rise until almost doubled, about 40 minutes.

Preheat the over to 450 F, and have ready a large flat baking stone.

When the dough is ready, divide into six pieces.and individually form into balls. Roll out each ball on a floured surface with quick light motions as thinly as possible. A dough should roll out to make a 10" pizza base.


My favorite new pizza topping is Smoked Gouda (about a cup shredded) sprinkled on the pizza dough and baked until the dough is crisp and brown and the cheese is bubbling and nicely melted. The minute you take it out of the oven cover it with at least 2 cups of sorrel that has been lightly tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper.

In a similar vein I also like to melt Ribiollo cheese and instead of sorrel and then use arugula that's been lightly dressed with lemon juice olive oil and salt and pepper.

My last "classic" at home pizza is made with a ton of caramelized onions - 3 or 4 large ones that have been cooked soft and golden in olive oil in a frying pan. Cover the pizza crust with the onions, roughly chop a handful of pitted Kalamata olives, spread them over the onions, julienne a half of a roasted red pepper and add that on and then if you like add anchovy fillets (the more the better as far as I'm concerned) and top it all off with about 6-9 ounces of fresh goat cheese.
When it is cooked sprinkle the entire pizza with a handful of fresh thyme.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Chocolate that makes you feel good

This was in the NYT. My favorite is Dagoba, which they hate. Go figure. They only really like one of the bars and are a little bit too bitchy for me. I also like Endangered Species chocolate, but my favorites are the ones with things in them not just the plain ones. Anway, I thought if for no other reason that it was nice to see them all listed I would post it. So next time you are at your favorite grocery store you can do your own taste test.

Food Responsible Chocolate, Anyone?

organic chocolate

(Lars Klove for The New York Times)

On Wednesday I wrote an article in The New York Times about Kallari, a group of indigenous Ecuadorean cacao farmers and self-taught chocolate makers, whose bars are now sold at Whole Foods markets across the country. Kallari’s story is a rare one in the history of chocolate, a history that has been dominated by conquerors and industrialized countries.

I was curious about how Kallari’s bar would stand up to the other organic, Fair Trade or Rainforest Alliance bars on the Whole Foods shelves. I admit I’ve always been skeptical of organic chocolate. In my experience, most of it tastes awful. Organic certification of chocolate is different than organic certification of local produce, or at least this was the case three years ago, when as a part-time job, I was handing out samples of a high-end, non-organic-chocolate bar at Whole Foods stores around Manhattan.

A lot of small-batch cacao farmers do not have the money for organic certification. Yet they also can’t afford chemicals and fertilizers, meaning their products are organic anyway, only without the official designation. So when the customers turned away from my sample chocolates and reached instead for a bar of terrible organic chocolate, I was disheartened. We, the consumers, are always looking for a label so that we don’t have to do the research ourselves for the stories behind our food. “Organic” and “Fair Trade” just so happen to be the latest.

I brought the chocolates listed below to Chanterelle restaurant in Manhattan for a side-by-side tasting with the pastry chef, Kate Zuckerman, who has a palate I trust. Such tests are the only way to know how good a product really is. You hear about wine tastings all the time, but few chefs and consumers sample chocolate this way. It’s so eye-opening that I strongly recommend trying it.

Buy bars of the same or similar cacao percentage. If your tasting includes milk and dark chocolates, start with the dark and move toward the sweet. Put a piece in your mouth, let it melt slightly on your tongue, and then swoosh it around. Cleanse your palate between tastings with water or bread. And don’t forget to take notes. For more feedback, do it with a group and taste blind if you can.

Below are my notes from our chocolate tasting. Perhaps I was a bit biased. But try it for yourself.

* poor
** satisfactory
*** good

Theo 75 percent cacao, Fair Trade, single-source chocolate made from Ivory Coast beans: acidic, bland, astringent (drying) finish, not worth the calories. Suggestion: chop and toss into cookie dough. *

Kallari 75 percent cacao, organic, Rainforest Alliance, single-source but bean blended Ecuadorean chocolate: fruity, dried cherries, vanilla, smooth, cacao finish. Suggestion: serve it as is at the end of a dinner party. ***

Endangered Species 70 percent cacao, organic chocolate: sugary, moldy taste, had to spit it out. Suggestion: perhaps it was just a bad batch. But if dogs could eat chocolate, I would have given it to the dog. *

Chocolove 73 percent cacao, organic chocolate: not smooth, dried cherry, astringent. Suggestion: keep it in your purse for one of those unpredictable and desperate cravings. **

Dagoba 73 percent cacao, Fair Trade, organic, single-source cacao made from Conacado beans: moldy taste, astringent, acidic, over-roasted beans, not smooth. Suggestion: give it to your next-door neighbor who eats everything. *

Vintage Plantation 75 percent cacao, Rainforest Alliance, made from Ecuadorean beans: some fruitiness, cacao flavor, slightly dry finish. Not bad. Suggestion: make brownies with it. **

Equal Exchange 71 percent cacao, Fair Trade, organic chocolate made from Peruvian and Dominican beans: so much vanilla it almost overpowers all the cacao flavor, the finish is cacao, a little sweet, but not offensive. Suggestion: more cookies, anyone? **

Green and Black’s 70 percent cacao, organic chocolate: not much going on other than cacao flavor, a little moldy tasting, astringent. Suggestion: put it out on the giveaway pile for the office mooch. *

Read previous Jill Santopietro columns.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Rum Raisin Squash Bread (with optional toppings)

I've made this cake a couple of times and really love it. I've been playing with the shape. It works well as a loaf, muffins and a square. Today I think for me might be best as a round, although a wide muffin might be nice if you wanted to serve individual portions. Really it depends on why you are making it - if you just want a tasty tea cake, a loaf or muffins would be best, but if you want to dress it up then make it into a large square or round cake.

Regardless of the shape this is one damn fine recipe, especially good for cool autumn days or winter evenings with a hot mug of mulled cider, but it also works surprisingly well as a dressed up, after dinner dessert.

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Butter and flour a 10 x 10 x 2 square tin or a 10 or 11" spring form pan or a 12 x 5 x 3 loaf pan or muffins tins.

Sift together in a large bowel 3 cups whole wheat flour, 1 T baking powder, 1/2 tsp Baking Soda, 2 tsp kosher salt, 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg.

In another large bowl whisk 2 eggs then add 2 cups cooked spaghetti squash,combine then add 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup Canola Oil. Stir in 1/2 cup milk and 1/4 cup rum.

Add the dry ingredients to the squash mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.

Add 1 cup of chopped Pecans and 1/2 cups raisins or currants (I soak them in the rum first for about 10 minutes but it's optional).

Empty the batter into the prepared pan of your choice.

Cook for 1-1 1/4 hours. The top of the cake should be brown and tooth pick should come out clean. Be very careful with this cake especially in the loaf form as my first attempt seemed great but was this undercooked in the center so you really want to make sure you cook it enough.


The simple approach is to dust it with some organic icing sugar and serve it with unsweetened whipped cream. I have this thing for molasses so I made up this caramel colored icing that is really intense and seems to have people divided, but if it interests you I'd try adding less molasses at first and increase it as your taste buds desire.

Take an 8 oz package of cream cheese and 4 T of butter out of the fridge and bring to room temperature then cream them together with a whisk or beaters (I use my Kitchen Aid).

Add 1/4 cup molasses, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup icing sugar to the cream cheese mixture and cream together (I added some dark rum as well but that's up to you).

Spread the icing on top of the cake and decorate with roasted Pecans.

The other option would be to make a plain cream cheese icing.

Good however you have it!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Night Menu

4th 2008

{to start and to nibble through the night)
Toasted almonds with sea salt and rosemary
Smoked blue fish pate and house made flatbread w/Maldon salt, olive oil and herbs

{the main course, good throughout the night,
lovely for breakfast the morning after}

Ovray* Cheese, Roasted Red Pepper, Anchovy, Kalamata Olive and Thyme Pizza
* (Ovray is a local cheese that is great for melting - Gruyere or Mozzarella would be fine substitutes)

Smoked Gouda and Sorrel Pizza

Blue Cheese and Pear Pizza

Salad of Local Greens

{for dessert and breakfast and for nibbling through out the week}
Rum Raisin Squash Cake with Molasses Cream Cheese Icing

In addition there was lots of red wine and a bottle of Champagne to celebrate our new president-elect Barack Obama!

Monday, November 3, 2008


Every week I look forward to Saxelby Cheese's news letter. Anne Saxelby is a wonderful writer with an incredible spirit and a dedication to local food that is admirable. I wanted to share with you an excerpt from what she wrote to day:

"The word Sitopia was coined by British author Carolyn Steel in her new book Hungry City, one of the finest tomes (literary anyways) that I've consumed in quite some time. Steel looks at food issues from a myriad of different perspectives and comes to the conclusion that what we all need right now is a little bit of sitopia. In her eloquent argument, Steel combines Sitos, the ancient Greek word for 'food' with the notion of Utopia, which linguistically means 'no place' or 'good place.' The idea of Utopia has been bandied about for centuries, millennia even, but as the root of the word itself implies, has never quite taken hold in the real world. In contrast to the unattainable notion of utopia, sitopia is something that we can participate it, and indeed create, through small dealings in our daily lives. Ms. Steel affirms that there are a million ways in which we can fashion our own sitopias, whether we live in the city or in the country, simply by regarding food and our relationship with it (where does it come from? how was it prepared? who did the cooking?) in a more thoughtful way.

It seems to me that one of the finest and most fundamental places to channel a bit of sitopia is around the dinner table. We literally sit there, sharing wonderful food and conversation with the people we love, or with people we are getting to know. The dinner table is a little bit like social super glue, keeping us all connected and moored to each other and to our environments. A pretty good place to be, if you ask me."

California leads the way

Tuesday the people of California have several important propositions to vote on.

One of them is Proposition 2 an important bill that mandates the more humane treatment of factory farmed animals. Wayne Pacelle explains what's at stake in this article from the Huffington Post.

Also the disturbing Prop 8. It blows my mind to think that in this time of high unemployment and fiscal collapse that the battle over proposition 8 has cost nearly $70 million. Proposition 8 is the most expensive social issue in the history of American politics.

What does it really matter to anyone if someone wants to commit themselves to someone they love of the same gender ?

Really, while marriage may have started as something set up within religious contexts, it has evolved to become a civil ceremony with significant import for issues like taxation, visiting rights in hospitals, decisions for you when you are incapacitated due to illness, and other practical reasons. The supreme court of California did not mandate gay marriage they simply said that the constitution as it is written already allows for it.

To write bigotry into law is simply wrong.

If you live in California please be sure to vote NO on proposition 8

Got Hope? Harvey Milk.

This speech has always given me chills, I remember when I first read it and I remember when I first heard it and after all those years it still rings so true, and still gives me goose bumps.

Sorry for my political digression here, but in the week America will choose a new president I'm allowed a little sidetrack from food. No?

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