Wednesday, September 30, 2009
This sounds like so much fun! My friend Leslie told me about it a few weeks ago and then Anne at Saxelby told me they were participating and today I get the Saxelby newsletter with all the details. Sounds like a hoot!
Pickle day is held in a a parking lot around the corner from our place so I will be there bright and early - cheese tortillas sound like a perfect brunch!
Here's Anne's newsletter verbatim:
After traipsing around Europe for the past week and a half, it's good to come home to a local yokel gastronomic fête. The Italians may celebrate the truffle and the snail, but New Yorkers revere the grand cornichon. That's right folks, Pickle Day is right around the corner, and you better all be there this Sunday to munch on all of the fermented concoctions lining the streets of the Lower East Side! Saxelby Cheesemongers, Hot Bread Kitchen, and Rick's Picks are teaming up to give you a one-two-three punch of cheese, tortillas, and of course, pickles.
Pickle Day was started nine years ago by Nancy Ralph, director of the diminutive but fascinating New York Food Museum. Back in the day, the Lower East Side could have been paved with pickles (what a squishy, vinegary affair that would've been!) Ms. Ralph, being the resident culinary historian that she is, wanted to create a festival to pay homage to one of the city's favorite snacks. Each year, Pickle Day grows and grows, and this year has bubbled and fermented to take over the entirety of the parking lot just below Delancey Street between Ludlow and Essex. We'll be taking the early shift this Sunday, cooking up some love at the Rick's Picks tent from 11:00 to 1:30, so come on by and get some grub!
Rick Fields, proprietor and head goof ball behind Rick's Picks put it to us this year to come up with a tasty, savory something or other to show off his latest pickle, Handy Corn. And just what is Handy Corn, you may ask... Nothing more and nothing less than a delicious pickled corn relish: sweet, vinegary, and laden with that magic combo of aromatic spices that set all of Rick's Picks a head above your average gherkin.
For this year's Pickle Day, we decided that we'd pit corn against curds, smush it all between a coupla Hot Bread Kitchen Tortillas and make a quesadilla like none other. In a bout of recipe testing last night, the thumbs were all pointing skyward for this cheesy, toasty, pickley treat. Just in case you can't join us for the most mouth puckering celebration of the year, here is the key to making the perfect Handy Corn Cheese Quesadilla... Happy munching and hope to see you Sunday!
Saxelby Cheesemongers' Handy Corn Quesadillas
You will need:
1 8 oz container of cheese curds
1 package Hot Bread Kitchen corn tortillas
1 jar of Rick's Picks Handy Corn
a bit of butter
Toast tortillas in a dry, medium-hot skillet. Toast tortilla for 30 seconds, then flip and toast the other side. Put toasted tortillas on a plate and cover with a towel to keep them warm.
When all tortillas are toasted, butter your skillet, lay one tortilla down, cover with a modest (or not so modest depending on how cheesy you feel!) handful of cheese curds.
Spoon one generous spoonful of Handy Corn atop the curds and cover with second tortilla.
Toast quesadilla over low-medium heat (covering the skillet if you want meltier cheese quicker) one one side for about 1-2 mins. Flip the quesadilla and toast the other side.
Last but not least, sprinkle with a dose of Tabasco for a little extra kick!
If only all dinners were this easy....
Till next week!
See you on the Lower East Side this Sunday for some fermented fun!
Do we feel good shopping there?
Discuss at Starbucks
Funny, I was looking for an image to go with this posting and I thought a cherry blossom branch would be appropriately Japanese and kind of fun. In my search I see that Nestle, not one to leave any marketing opportunity untouched, has come up with a Kit Kat bar for the Japanese:
Just in case you need translation this is Cherry Blossom Kit Kat.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Hong Wang restaurant (300 Grand 212-952-1662) is one of my favorite places to get Hot and Sour soup, something I eat maybe twice a year because it contains mystery meat (factory pork). Today I out did myself: for $6.55 cents I sat down and had a huge plate of Singapore Mai Fun. And oh what fun it was. Chewy 5 spice powder flavored pork, baby shrimp and large chunks of sauteed onion and scrambled egg tossed in spicy curry noodles.
The portion was enough for two (I didn't eat all of it). The shrimp were farmed (so long SE Asian mangroves), the vegetables were soaked in pesticides (over 1 billion pounds sprayed on American soil a year) and the pork was tortured and lived in it's own feces in a dark industrial warehouse it's entire life. As for MSG, I'm assuming the unquenchable thirst that I'm now experiencing is because I drank too much coffee this morning and am dehydrated (denial is such a convenient thing).
It was delicious, cheap and totally contrary to everything I go on about here. I do this very rarely. It's been years since I ate Singapore Mai Fun out. I'm going to consider this a break down and work on better self discipline.
Wouldn't it be nice not to have to worry about these things?
The thing is that even if some chef came along and decided to make a Chinese restaurant that only did organic, humane and mostly local, then the Singapore Mai Fun would certainly not be $6.55.
How did we get to this point in history when stopping off at a really good, authentic, Chinese place for a little lunch has become such a quagmire?
Monday, September 28, 2009
So after some debate I decide to buy cheese curds instead! I made a very simple tomato sauce and sprinkled a good 2 cups of cheese curd on top to makes this most gooey and delicious pizza with a new dough recipe that worked out very well.
I've posted another recipe for pizza dough here before at the time I was saying it was my favorite that I had found, well I have a new favorite, in part because it is very easy, the crust is crunchy, not so chewy, but with a nice bread like quality. This recipe can be used for focaccia as well.
In a bowl add 2 teaspoons of dry yeast and 1 1/4 cups tepid water.
In the bowl to your upright mixer using the paddle attachment, add 4 cups of flour (all purpose or bread flour) 1 generous teaspoon of sea salt (I like Maldon) and 2 Tablespoons of olive oil.
Turn the mixer on low and add the yeast and water mixture. Increase the speed to medium and in a minute the dough should come together, if it's sticky add some extra flour.
Place the dough in a bowl that has been generously coated in olive oil, cover with a dish towel and let sit in a warm place (an oven that has been turned on for a minute and then turned off is my new favorite place to let dough rise).
When I made this the first time I had to run out and go to yoga so I let it sit way longer than most first rise quick doughs require, I think it was about 4 hours. This is totally anecdotal, but I think the reason this worked so well was because of this long sitting period. At the very least I would let it sit for 2 hours. It will have doubled in bulk.
Punch down the dough, cover and let rise again for another hour. *(If you are making focaccia spread it out onto your desired pan now and cover, when done dimple with your fingers, sprinkle with salt and pepper maybe some rosemary or thyme or savoury and bake the same was as the pizza).
Put a pizza stone in a preheat 500 F oven. The stone should be allowed to get really hot, at least 30 minutes before you start cooking.
Sprinkle corn meal or lightly oil your pizza pan (you could use a cookie sheet as well) spread out the dough and if you have the time let it sit another 10-15 minutes.
Add your toppings, if you use tomato sauce sparingly as you don't want soggy pizza. For the cheese curd pizza above I used a home made sauce with a hot pepper kick and some basil stirred in at the end and topped it with 2 cups of cheese curd.
Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are brown. Just because the cheese melts quickly don't be tempted to take it out of the oven early or your bottom won't be cooked enough.
Great with cabbage salad and some red wine!
I just got the latest fund raising letter from Greenpeace and thought I'd share the news.
Tuna: A Favorite Fish Faces Dangerous Depletion ... Commercial Fishing Disaster Declared as Salmon Stocks Plunge ... Billion-dollar, ‘Best-managed’ Fishery a Disaster ... Fish Study Delivers Grim News ...
The headlines are dire for global fish stocks - over two-thirds of the world's wild fish stocks are currently fished at or above maximum sustainable levels. It is clear that we are on the brink of irreversible damage to our oceans. Greenpeace has a real solution to ensure the protection of our oceans. In a paper published in the leading scientific journal Science, marine biologists projected that most commercial fisheries would collapse by 2048 if current trends continue.
Marine reserves - areas closed to fishing, drilling, and other extractive uses - are the greatest hope for protecting and restoring the health of our oceans. A recent follow up to the 2048 paper, identified the effectiveness of marine reserves as a hopeful sign that recovery is still possible.
Our oceans cover over 70 percent of the planet, but only 0.5 percent are protected - compared to 13 percent of protected lands around the world. We're calling for a network of reserves to encompass 40 percent of our world's oceans.
For most of human history, the vast majority of the ocean was a de facto marine reserve, too far offshore or too deep to exploit. Today, with fishing vessels the size of ocean liners plying gear large enough to ensnare skyscrapers and guided by fish-finding technology developed for the military, fish have no place left to hide.
Click here to make a donation.
I never wanted to go outside of Manhattan to eat. It seemed absurd to me that someone would go to Queens or Brooklyn for food. I mean, isn't everything you need in the East Village?
Ah, youthful naivete. Now when I eat out I nearly always leave Manhattan. Restaurants here are just so expensive and the return on your dollar not always so good.
Bushwick, a neighborhood that has really started to bloom in the last couple of years is a wonderful mix of scrappy poor hipster artist types and genuinely poor people. This turns out to be a good mix for interesting food. On one end you have Roberta's, a quirky, trendy pizza joint with a fanatical dedication to all things local. On the other head you have the very no frills authentic Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos a hole in the wall Mexican place that is quickly gaining a cult status as the go to place for Mexican food in the city.
As you can see from the pictures above it looks like an old garage, the food is all served on paper plates.
It's homemade, delicious and cheap, always a winning combination.
Of course if you want to know where the meat came from or if the corn in the tortillas is GMO this is probably not the place for you. It actually makes me lament all over again the closing of Bonita where one could rest assured of the quality of the food.
Still, in this instance, I cast a blind eye to these important issues to partake in this authentic and very tasty food.
Last night I wasn't going to cook because Neil is fasting, but a friend came over and I knew my house guest (who wasn't fasting, but was at Shul with Neil) would be hungry when she got home.
The night before Barry and Jane had come over for dinner and I made a roasted heirloom tomato risotto and pan fried blue fish with sorrel sauce. The fish was all gone, but there was a good portion of risotto left. Rummaging around in the fridge I discovered a container of wild mushroom ragout with parsley and garlic and some mashed potatoes.
I threw them all into a bowl, added some salt, mixed them together, buttered a small casserole dish and emptied this somewhat unlikely mixture in, topping it all off with a generous grating of extra sharp white cheddar cheese and baked it in a 350F oven for, oh, about 30 minutes.
Let me just say for the record, I'm not so good with left overs, usually they linger in the fridge until they are transformed into a chemistry experiment and then tossed.
There is something very gratifying about being able to use things up and not waste them. Mostly though, can I just tell you, it was incredibly delicious.
It makes sense that the mushrooms would mix well with the tomato risotto, but mashed potatoes? They added a wonderful balance to the acidic tomato edge of the risotto and brought to the dish a wonderful consistency. Of course when in doubt covering anything with cheese is always a good idea.
I used about 3-4 pounds of heirloom tomatoes of all different sizes and shapes and crammed them into a 10 x 8 baking dish. Poured a generous amount of olive oil over them, shoved to whole garlic cloves in and some basil leaves and stems (if you have savory or thyme or rosemary I think they would infuse more flavor than basil) some salt, ground black pepper and baked them for about 30 minutes in a 375 F oven.
Basically when the skins have burst they are ready. Let them cool off until you can handle them and then remove the flesh discarding the cores and most of the skin (a little bit of skin is fine no need to be super anal about it).
In the after math of the tomato roasting the pan is filled with a lovely mix of olive oil, garlic, herbs and tomato juice, reserve this to be used instead of stock in your risotto.
Add a 1/4 cup of olive oil to a good sized heavy bottomed pot under a medium flame.
Roughly chop one large red onion and add it to the hot oil, cook for about 8 minutes until they have become translucent.
Add 2 or 3 finely shopped garlic cloves, cook for about 2 minutes.
Stir in 2 dried Arbol peppers crushed (with seeds) and 1 1/4 cups risotto rice. Cook the rice for a few minutes, then one ladle full at a time add the reserved tomato juice. Waiting after each addition for the fluid to be absorbed by the rice.
When all the juice has been added use white wine to finish (I used about 3/4 cup of a GrunerVeltliner).
When the rice is just soft stir in about 1 cup of grated Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, taste and adjust the seasoning. I added chopped basil to the top of the dish, but think it would be better to actually mix in a cup of chopped basil in addition to a few springs as garnish.
I served this on the side with pan friend blue fish. In retrospect I think it should be in the center of the plate and the fish on top, it was the combination of oily, juicy, fish mixed with the cheesy acidic tomato the entire thing garnished with basil and fresh roughly chopped tomatoes and maybe even some mixed greens. Conversely in lieu of fish I think a nice pan friend Pork chop would work nicely as well.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
In the last week or so I've been very lucky to eat at some of my favorite restaurants in town. It's always nice to have generous house guest who like to eat out. Momofuku and Double Crown are still as good as ever. Yesterday, after yoga, I was starving and in need of a quick fix so I went to Momofuku's sister restaurant Ssam Bar which I went to when it first opened and it didn't really do it for me. Yesterday all I had was a BBQ Spare rib sandwich with red onion slaw served on a chewy, baguette type roll and it hit the spot perfectly. The highlight though was an interaction I overheard, between two staff members, one of whom was the very friendly and efficient server behind the counter who was doing prep work for the bar, juicing limes? Any way he had thrown all the juice lime carcasses in the garbage when one of his co workers (maybe a manager?) came by and said:
"Don't forget we are composting!"
How fucking great is that? One of the things I most admire about David Cheng's empire is his dedication to things homemade, like pickles. I can't remember a time when I was ever served something at one of his restaurants that wasn't made in his restaurant. And now I find out he is composting! My hat goes off to him.
And speaking of condiments, I had a wonderful burger and deep fried corn on the cob with watermelon butter at Diner for lunch the other day. It was all perfect. The room is one of my favorites, the server was lovely, but why oh why do they have cod in their fish and chips? To get it before its extinct? Truly it is a very confusing situation as no one in the fishing industry wants it put on the endangered species list even though it has been off and on many for decades. Cod is seriously depleted and my two cents is that it shouldn't be on menus especially of very smart informed places like Diner. The thing that really miffed me was the double corn syrup GMO special Heinz Ketchup served in bottle on the table with the burger (tomatoes, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, salt, spice, onion powder, and natural flavors).
What? I get that the shape of the bottle of the historic nature of Heinz Ketchup is very cool and in keeping with the look and feel of the room, but come on guys make your own and put it in the same bottles and put a Diner label on it that has the same feel as the Heinz one only that is made with real ingredients. Or just buy bulk organic ketchup. It's very competitively priced at this point.
Which brings me to another wonderful meal we had next door at Diner's sister restaurant Marlow and Sons. I love this room and the food is also fresh and top notch. The only thing that I think is strange is how offended the waitress was when I asked her two questions that she answered all wrong, my first question was: Are you still using corn syrup in your chocolate caramel tart?
She got very flustered and kind of huffy like I'd asked her was the chicken actually a rat from the back alley or something. The reason I asked is because in the published recipe for that tart both confectioners sugar and corn syrup are called for, both containing GMO corn products unless you buy the organic version, but nowhere in the recipe was it mentioned that you should do this. Something I find remiss, but still I think it's a perfectly valid question just as was my second question which was: Do you make your fruit pies with beef suet. Again I asked because they have published a recipe for pie pastry using beef suet and I think for people who keep kosher or for vegetarians, if you are going to serve a dessert item with meat in it you should let people know, it's just an issue of disclosure plain and simple. So I felt my question was not out of line.
The waitress, again was like are you from outer space or what dude? And assured me that they only used butter.
I love these restaurants and don't mean to pick on them, I just want them to be consistent to their dedication to quality food and I find the corn syrup thing off base and kind of weird.
Lastly, Neil and I tried to eat at the new Motorino Pizza on 12th street last night. It's a bustling place, a new outpost of the popular Williamsburg pizzeria. When I first go there I was greeted by a nice guy who looked like he was kitchen staff. I told him I was waiting for my friend and he said that there was a fast turn over so seating would be no problem.
Then a few minutes later as I stood gazing at the menu a woman came up to me and asked if I
was looking for a seat. I told her I was waiting for a friend. I could see that there were two 2 tops open and figured there was no need to put my name on a list. It's a small place, maybe seats 30 tops so it's very tight. It struck me as odd why the previous twosome was seated on the outside table leaving the empty table for 2 on the hard to get to wall side, but this is New York and who knows, maybe they didn't want to sit next to the wall?
As I'm waiting on the street I see two guys go in and instead of being seated the woman takes their names and they come join me on the street. A minute later another couple, a man and a woman also enter and after a minute are relegated to the street with their names on the list.
I'm perplexed: why when you have 4 empty seast are you making people wait outside. I go in to investigate.
I asked the hostess why she is putting names on the list when there are 2 empty tables for 2?
She said that it would be a 15-20 minute wait and that the people sitting in the tables next to he empty seats had already been inconvenienced enough and would I want to put my name on the list?
I said to her: this is New York what is the problem with just asking them to move so people can sit next to them?
What I was thinking, having seen them being seated on the outside of the tables, was: why didn't you make them sit on the inside in the first place?
So I gave her my name and at that moment Neil showed up on his bike. We decided to eat at Cafe Orlin. I found the whole thing to be off putting and rather a strange way of doing business.
Hire a hostess who is incompetent and make customers wait for tables when there are empty ones waiting? Good luck with that.
In a city full of excellent pizza I don't see myself going back to Motorino any time soon.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
A federal judge has ruled that the government failed to adequately assess the environmental impacts of genetically engineered sugar beets before approving the crop for cultivation in the United States. The decision could lead to a ban on the planting of the beets, which have been widely adopted by farmers.
Besides their morally reprehensible business practices the thing about Monsanto's GM seeds is that they still require pesticides, yes maybe less, but GMO's don't help solve our addiction to pesticides, in reality Monsanto has cleverly manipulated farmers to sign on to use seeds they developed so that they would be resistant to Monsanto's pesticides. This way Monsanto gets not only the farmers seed business , but there pesticide business as well.
Meanwhile we're still pouring 1 billion pounds of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals on our soil in this country every year, all in the name of weeds?
Ever since the Olympics I've been wanting to go to Beijing to see all those amazing buildings that were built for the games. The blue swimming pool building and the amazing looking birds nest stadium designed by Herzog and de Meuron look like they would be worth the trip in and of themselves. There is also a Mao-centric small hotel next to the forbidden city that I've been reading about for over a decade that I'm itching to stay in: The Red Capital Residence
Culture, wonderful hotels and of course amazing food. One of my favorite restaurants in Hong Kong is M at the Fringe, which has a spin off restaurant now in Shanghai called M on the Bund and now the M restaurant group has opened a new venue in Beijing appropriately called M Capital.
As if all this wasn't enough reason to go into debt to book a ticket and high tail it to China The Daily Beast reports today via The China Daily that plans are underway to build a Chocolate Theme Park and wouldn't you just know it is conveniently located close to the birds nest stadium!
I'm not sure a chocolate theme park isn't over kill. I remember staying at the Sukhothai Hotel in Bangkok and being over whelmed just walking by their chocolate buffet so I can't imagine an entire theme park dedicated to chocolate, but I think just in the spirit of due diligence I should go and check it out, don't you think?
Read information below and please take a moment and sign this petition.
Ever get the feeling that multinational food corporations are just trying to sell you a bunch of junk in a pretty package? Well, the new Smart Choices® Program proves that hunch to be true.
Recently, an alliance of over a dozen giant food conglomerates and some industry “experts” came up with a new nutrition labeling program meant to help consumers make “smarter food and beverage choices.”1 You might be surprised what they define as a “Smart Choice”: products like Froot Loops®, Keebler Cookie Crunch® and Lucky Charms®.
Are they serious? In an age when childhood obesity and type II diabetes has become an epidemic, labeling sugar cereals as smart choices is unacceptable. Please join us in telling the FDA and USDA to investigate the Smart Choices® Program and put an end to deceptive labeling.
The new Smart Choices® label, a large, bright green checkmark, is starting to appear on packages of processed food across the country thanks to the help of major corporations like ConAgra, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Kraft, PepsiCo, Tyson Foods and Unilever.2 For only $100,000, a company can join the Smart Choices® program3 and “recommend” products that contain as much as 44% sugar to your children.4
This new label is a sign of everything that is wrong with food industry driven labeling programs.
According to Michael Jacobson, the executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the criteria for the new “smarter food” label is so low that: “You could start out with some sawdust, add calcium or Vitamin A and meet the criteria.”5
Jacobson, who was on the original panel of experts that worked to create the nutritional standards for the Smart Choices® program, resigned last September in disgust because the results were so far in favor of the industry.
Thankfully, the FDA and USDA have taken notice. The agencies sent a joint letter saying they would “be concerned if any FOP (front of package) labeling systems…had the effect of encouraging consumers to choose highly processed foods…”6 The letter is a good start, but The FDA and USDA need to do more. The Smart Choices program will encourage bad food choices if it's allowed to proceed. And the FDA and USDA have the ability to stop it.
Please sign this petition now and tell the FDA and the USDA that Froot Loops® is NOT a Smart Choice for our children.
Thanks for all you do,
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! Team
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
It's oddly suburban, but maybe it's a suburban mom sensibility to want to buy a Micky Mouse cake mold and decorate it with multi-colored rosettes of icing sugar to look like the cartoon character it pays homage to? Apparently it has broader appeal than that; I go and I am anything, but suburban!
In addition to their breath taking selection of funny cake molds for all occasions they have just about everything else a baker of fancy cakes could want. In some instances they have things that are impossible to find anywhere else; odd sized spring form pans, rectangular fluted quiche pans with removable bottoms and a dizzying array of pre-made sugar flowers to name, but only a few.
I was there to check out their bulk chocolate section, historically I have always gotten it at Whole Foods, but as I'm not shopping there these days I thought I'd see how NY Cake compared. The usual suspects were all on hand: Valrhona, Callebaut and Scharffen Berger - they were all slightly more expensive then at Whole Foods, but they had a greater selection from White to Milk to Dark to Very Dark to Unsweetened. I was going to buy some Valrhona as I am want to do and as I have done for years, then I noticed something on the more expensive Scharffen Berger that gave me pause. Under "ingredients" it said...made from non GMO soy. Most all chocolate is made with soy lecithin, my friend Debbie has always been a big fan of Scharffen Berger, but I could never justify the extra money for it when Valrhona worked perfectly well. So now I know. It really is nearly impossible to avoid GMO's even though i do my damnedest to try, Chocolate? Those dirty rats at Monsanto have there hands in everything!
After some quick searching I came across this wonderful site called chocosphere not usually a big fan of ordering things on line, I'm old fashioned that way, I like to go to stores and buy things in person, very retro of me I know, but there you have it. Anyway it seems the best way to go in this instance, you can get 2 kilos of bulk 70% Scharffen Berger for $54.50 which will keep you in boozy chocolate cakes for a very long time.
The 9 ounce bars that they sell at NY Cake are actually very well priced - they are $9.45 on line plus shipping and $9.99 at the store.
And let's face it when you need chocolate instant gratification always wins out, besides if you haven't visited NY Cake and baking you really should it's a flash back to old New York with everything and more you could need for your baking needs.
This summer I noticed the Queens County Farm had a stand at the Union Square green market. I made a commitment to myself to get my sorry old ass out there to visit. I love the idea of a 47 acre farm in the middle of queens that you can get to by public transport.
Of course I have yet to go! But it's not too late as this latest Tasting Table email points out, there are all sorts of Fall activities going on at the farm just an F or E train ride away!
Fall is upon us: The leaves are turning, the air is brisk and apples are ready for picking.
But here in the concrete jungle, nature can be hard to notice--which is where the Queens County Farm Museum comes in.
Located in Floral Park, its 47 acres offer a hefty dose of country life to us city folk: Think pumpkin patches, hayrides and livestock competitions.
This fall, the Farm Museum is hosting a variety of events to remind us of our agricultural heritage, including an apple festival (on Oct. 4), a pick-your-own pumpkin patch (through Oct. 31) and a series of 18th-century-style hearth-cooked dinners (on Nov. 6, 7 and 13).
But not everything at the museum is fun for the whole family. Adults can participate in workshops on beekeeping, egg incubation and horticulture (find more info here).
There's also an on-site farm stand where you can stock up on fresh eggs and produce (and, for those stuck in Manhattan, a new sister stand in the Union Square Greenmarket).
This fall, the farm will also begin selling its first bottles of homegrown wine--as soon as it gets its liquor license (lest we forget that we're still in New York).
Queens County Farm Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park; 718-347-3276 or queensfarm.org
Monday, September 21, 2009
Chono is winery in Chile that makes some delicious wine using organic grapes that are for sale here at my two favorite local wine stores September and Astor Wines.
Chono has a Riesling Reserva, a very drinkable white but it's the Carménère that's really outstanding to my taste buds. It's described as the lost grape of Bourdeaux a grape wiped out in the old world by phylloxera and never replanted.
The Chileans were lucky to have gotten some cuttings before the aphids got hold of them and for what ever reason the Carménère grape thrives in Chile and has become their iconic grape like Cabernet Sauvignon in California. For more background read the New York Times article here.
Red wines made biodynamically and organically tend to be juicy and light lacking the fullness we have gotten used to in the more processed, pesticide soaked, reverse osmosis flavored beverage wines that have taken over. So it is very exciting to find a grape and a vintner who can coax a full bodied, luscious, complex wine with some fruit in it that utilizes organically grown fruit.
The best news is that it is only $12.99 at Astor!
The other bottle that I have been buying a lot of comes from Spain a wonderful dry Cava with a little bit of Citrus called Savia Viva also grown from organic grapes. It's perfect to just sip or wonderful with some peach puree if you want to treat yourself and your guests to some Bellini's.
I don't think September has it, but Astor not only carries it, but currently has it on sale for 8.99 reduced from 11.99! I want to buy a case I can't imagine it lasting very long at this price.
Say hi if you see me at Astor. And rememeber they have a huge fridge so the Savia Viva can be bought chilled and taken directly to your friends house for immediate gratification bubbly!
This was so successful I had to make it again, as my window of opportunity is brief, and after a terrible growing season where many farmers in the North East lost their tomato crops to blight tomatoes are now at the market (and in my CSA delivery) in great abundance.
Wikepedia describes Panzanella as a "bread salad" in my version it's a Tomato salad with croutons. Like most recipes I post this recipe is nothing more than a suggestions, it's what I have made and thought worked well, I always encourage you to try, taste and adjust to your own liking.
4 cups heirloom tomatoes, chopped into large bite size pieces including lots of cherry tomatoes, maybe chopping the bigger ones in half (or not).
Mix in 2/3 cup good olive oil, 2 T red wine vinegar and about 1 cup basil leaves, torn, whole or chiffonade (if the leaves are small I like them whole).
1 baguette (traditionally Wikipedia tells me it is to be wood oven unsalted Tuscan bread, but just in case you don't happen to leave near a Tuscan wood oven bread maker any bread will do). The idea is that it's stale, I go one step further with it and make them into croutons.
Slice what ever bread you are using into bite size croutons you want a generous two cups of bread, toll it with 1/3-1/2 cup olive oil and 2-4 cloves of garlic roughly chopped, toss them all up together and the spread them out onto a cookie sheet and bake in an oven at 350F until they are golden brown.
Toss as many into the salad as you like. I especially like the crunchy caramelized garlic bits.
Season with sea salt (I use Maldon) and freshly grated black pepper.
A meal in itself. Oh and it's best if you make this with fresh tomatoes that have never been refrigerated.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
The preview looks great certainly worth checking out.
PBS is a wonderful resource and buying a DVD from them is a great way to support them and get to watch first rate programing .
Friday, September 18, 2009
All in all one of my favorite new recipes.
De-kernel 8 cobs of corn. Divide in half, reserve one half for later.
Put half the corn in a sauce pan and cover with 2 cups of half and half and 2 or 3 springs of fresh herbs like Summer Savory or Thyme and bring to a simmer. Take the sauce pan off the heat and let it infuse for about 30 minutes.
Remove the herb sprigs and puree in a blender. Pass through a sieve, discarding any solids.
In a heavy bottomed pot melt 3 T of unsalted butter then add 6 T of all purpose flour. Over a low flame cook the roux for several minutes being careful not to brown it.
Gradually whisk in the reserved corn liquid and cook over low heat for about 25 minutes. This mixture is very thick, and needs to be attended to with a wooden spoon often to prevent sticking.
Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes
In the mean time preheat the oven to 400 F.
Heavily butter 6 - 4 ounce tins or ramekins (I had some extra batter last time and was able to get 7 and if you only fill them 3/4 you can easily get 8).
Melt 3 T unsalted butter and add it to the cooled corn mixture along with the reserved kernels. Mix well.
Separate 4 eggs, adding the yolks one at a time to the corn mixture.
Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks and carefully incorporate them into the corn mixture.
Add 2 T finely chopped chives, salt, freshly ground black pepper and a titch of cayenne to the batter.
Taste and adjust seasoning.
Spoon the batter into the prepared containers and place in a large baking dish. Fill the dish with hot water until it comes half way up the sides of the containers and place in the oven.
Cook for about 30 minutes or until the puddings are lightly browned.
Right away remove them from the water and let them set for about 10-15 minutes.
Remove from containers and turn right side up (so the nice brown top is facing up)
At this point you can serve them as is, with a salad, or make a simple ragout of mushrooms, garlic and parsley, finished off at the end with a drop of brandy and a few tablespoons of heavy cream, spoon over the corn puddings.
Or to highlight another seasonal ingredient make a simple tomato sauce with lots of fresh local tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and some of the same kind of herb you used in the corn puddings, cook for 45 minutes over medium heat.
When I did this I put the corn puddings in a baking dish spooned tomato sauce on top and around them and grated some extra sharp white cheddar cheese on top and cooked them in a 425F oven until the cheese melted.
Give these little gems a try. They are really tasty, easy to make, and very versatile.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Even though I have mentioned it here before and dutifully went and saw the film I wasn't so inclined to write about it. I was never a fan of Julia Child growing up, my TV cooking show of choice was Graham Kerr's Galloping Gourmet. I wanted to be the funny, drunk, flamboyant guy not the over sized housewife with a funny voice. Makes sense - I just wasn't her demographic.
As an adult while working for a food consultant I learned things about her distaste for gay people which further distanced me from her and by extension the cult of Julia Child.
I've never owned one of her books, they never interested me, in part I suppose because growing up in Canada where there was a lot of French influence, most of the wine at the liquor stores was French, and French food was the fancy food for so many years, I felt a little French'd out.
It wasn't until I was in my early twenties that I discovered that indeed there was much more to cooking then just traditional French food. Which isn't to say it's not important or delicious; it's more about wanting choice and as a stubborn child I didn't want to be told this is the thing I should want to explore and find out for myself.
As for cookbooks, my earliest influence was, not Julia Child, but Marion Cunningham who wrote the revised edition of the classic: Fanny Farmer Cookbook. It is a primary resource and inspiration in my kitchen to this very day. I like how simple and straightforward her recipes are and how encyclopedic is the book: if you want a recipe for something odds are it will be in Fanny Farmer.
The Joy of Cooking was the big book when I was entering adulthood and becoming interested in cooking. I used it a few times, but must have had bad luck because everything I made from it wasn't so good. Besides, it didn't have the down home, homemade feel to it that attracted me so much to Fanny Farmer.
You can see with an aesthetic like this why a book called: Mastering the Art of French Cooking was not immediately appealing. Then, when I was about ready to lean into my inner, as yet unexploited Julia love, she came out with a book called: The Way To Cook.
What? The way to cook, what way is that? I didn't realize there was only one way, thank you so much Julia Messiah Child for pointing the way! As you can tell it sort of got under my skin and that was that.
Which brings me back to the movie. It got under my skin as well, also not in a good way. Bored, barren, housewife of privilege, living in France with her diplomat husband needs something to do since she can't have children, juxtaposed to a spoiled, superficial, insecure, bitch living in Queens with her puppy dog husband who eats funny. They both turn to food for redemption (or at least distraction and fame).
I have nothing against Amy Adams who plays Julie, but as portrayed in the movie she is a one note, unsympathetic, solipsistic bitch who you'd not want to have a coffee with let along spend 123 minutes with on the big screen. Oh and did I mention she's stupid, clumsy and self involved?
The highlight of the movie is Meryl and Stanley Tucci having a great time together. Meryl is so obviously having fun and so nails the voice and mannerisms of Julia Child; unfortunately it's not enough to save the movie. Stanley Tucci takes a nothing role and manages not to disappear, really far more of an accomplishment than it sounds.
Is it worthwhile going to see it for Ms. Streep's performance? I'd say "not so much, wait for the video so you can fast forward by the stupid bits."
I don't want to spoil anything for you, but for me the highlight of the movie is Julia Child's real life comment on Julie's year long exploration of Julia's seminal book: Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It makes you realize that Ms. Child, for any quibbles I may have with her, was a straight shooter and saw things as they were and wasn't afraid to say so and for that I give her credit.
My advice. Stay home and explore in your own kitchen.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Neil and I had a great time strolling about looking at all the delicious looking foods. The thing that makes this market unique is it's focus on artisanal food stuffs. Sure there were a few stalls offering produce but mostly it's people who make sherbet,bread, cheese, mead, wine, Popsicles, tarts, mustard and so much more! It would be so exciting to have this be a permanent indoor thing that people could access on a regular weekly basis.
South Street Sea port seems like a perfect place and as a matter of fact I saw lots of empty spaces
available. Um Mayor Bloomberg, want to make the city a better places give these wonderful food artisans a home (one with cheap rent) so that more and more people from all walks of life can have access to these wonderful, local, often organic healthy for people and the planet products!
OK next up is my video of the Peoples Pops stand - these are the funky people who I wrote about here a while back. It was great to see them in action, sadly I didn't get any footage of their Popsicles! I'll just have to go back next week. Taking videos in crowds is a special talent I have yet to acquire!
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Elaine and Manfred Krankl own a cult winery in California called Sine Qua Non that makes wines that get soaring numbers from Mr. Parker. A friend of mine gets an allocation of these wines which I was totally unaware of. He is trying to sell some of his allocation, he has some Syrah and some Grenache so if anyone is interested drop me a note.
Friday, September 11, 2009
If we're going to reform health care we have to reform the food industry.
Fat chance (pun intended).
Interesting statistic from the piece:
30 percent of the increase in health care spending over the past 20 years could be attributed to the soaring rate of obesity, a condition that now accounts for nearly a tenth of all spending on health care.
Washington Post (Oped): An 'Election' Burma's People Don't Need
By U Win Tin
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Much attention has been focused on Sen. James Webb's recent visit to my country and his meetings with Senior Gen. Than Shwe and incarcerated Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi. I understand Webb's desire to seek a meaningful dialogue with the Burmese ruling authorities. Unfortunately, his efforts have been damaging to our democracy movement and focus on the wrong issue -- the potential for an "election" that Webb wants us to consider participating in next year as part of a long-term political strategy. But the showcase election planned by the military regime makes a mockery of the freedom sought by our people and would make military dictatorship permanent.
In our last free election, the Burmese people rejected military rule in a landslide, awarding our National League for Democracy party more than 80 percent of the seats in parliament. Yet the military has refused to allow the NLD to form a government. In the 19 years since that election, Burmese democracy activists have faced imprisonment, intimidation, torture and death as they have peacefully voiced demands for justice, individual and ethnic rights, and a democratic form of government that is representative of all Burma's people.
While never ending our struggle for democracy, the NLD has continually sought to engage the regime and open a dialogue -- based on peace and mutual respect -- that could address Burma's critical political as well as social problems. Make no mistake -- these two issues are linked. Burma was once the rice bowl of Asia. Today, because of the regime's destructive economic policies and its use of oppression to maintain military rule, Burma is a shattered, poverty-stricken country.
The regime is seeking to place a veneer of legitimacy on itself through showcase "elections" and claiming that "disciplined democracy" will be instituted next year. Yet in May 2008, just days after a massive cyclone devastated Burma and killed more than 100,000 people, the regime used a farcical process to claim that 93 percent of voters chose to adopt a constitution that permanently enshrines military rule and prevents those with undefined "foreign ties" from holding public office -- catch-all provisions that would bar Suu Kyi and democracy activists from seeking office.
Some international observers view next year's planned elections as an opportunity. But under the circumstances imposed by the military's constitution, the election will be a sham. We will not sacrifice the democratic principles for which many millions of Burmese have marched, been arrested, been tortured and died to participate in a process that holds no hope whatsoever for bringing freedom to our country.
The demands of the NLD are reasonable. In April we issued another declaration to encourage engagement with the military that called for the release of all political prisoners, a full review of the constitution, reopening of all NLD offices and the right to freely organize. The regime's answer is the continued jailing of Suu Kyi and 2,000 other activists, massive military offensives against ethnic groups and the enforcement of rules to gag democracy.
How can the international community play a meaningful role? First, officials such as Webb should stop fear-mongering about China. His language about containing China, and working with Burma's regime to do so, is based on an outdated and unrealistic thesis. Suu Kyi rejected such notions by informing Webb that "we will not deal with anyone with fear and insecurity. We will deal with anyone, China, America, India, equally and friendly. As we can't choose our neighbors, we understand that we need to have a good relationship with China." Second, the NLD encourages other countries and international organizations to engage with Burma's military leaders to persuade them to engage with us and Burma's ethnic groups. The United States and many other nations have imposed sanctions on Burma. That is their decision and in keeping with their justified solidarity with the democratic values that we all hold so dear. If the regime genuinely engages with the NLD and ethnic representatives, releases political prisoners, ceases attacks against ethnic minorities and takes additional steps to build a true democratic state, these sanctions will be repealed at the right time.
In the meantime, let no one doubt our resolve. The NLD is a reflection of Burmese society. We will not be cowed or coerced into participating in a fatally flawed political process that robs the Burmese people of the freedom for which we struggle. We stand ready to engage, but we are more than willing to continue our struggle for the democratic values that so many have given their lives and their freedom to achieve.
U Win Tin is a member of the Central Executive Committee and a founder of Burma's National League for Democracy party. He was a political prisoner from 1989 to 2008.
I was walking up Ludlow street the other day on my way to Yoga when I pass this woman washing the window of this new restaurant called T Poutine.
I laughed and said to her: You must be French Canadian?
She was Canadian, but an anglo who had lived in Montreal.
When I was a kid my favorite meal when I went out with my grandmother to the Kresges food counter was french fries and gravy with a coke. So you can imagine my delight when I first went to Montreal in my late teens and discovered how much better this combo was when you added cheese curds! Hot fries out of the oil sprinkled with chunky curds and covered in gravy, the heat from the fries and gravy melting the curds creating a gooey, cheesy, gravy soaked, crispy potato orgy of wonderfulness!
In a way it's surprising it has taken so long for this hearty French Canadian dish to find it's way here, but I can tell you it was worth the wait.
Not only does T Poutine specialize in Poutine they have items on the menu as well: Salmon, Steak, Chicken and Sausages my favorite is the there dessert rift on "Canadian" food:
Sweet potato fries dusted with cinnamon sugar and a side of Maple Syrup - Yum!
Cheese curds have never been so well represented on a menu, they have them panko coated and deep fried, in the Pot Pie with chicken gravy, chicken and peas, and my favorite, an ode to Montreal's famous smoked meat a Poutine variation that includes, yes smoked meat appropriately called: The Montreal Meat Lover
Dude lets down a few Molsons and check out this new Poutine place, eh?
Thursday, September 10, 2009
The other day I got an email from the folks at Food Democracy Now who not only have an essay and petition calling for CEO John Mackey to resign (my response when I first read his editorial) and also a poll.
They also link to the letter Michael Pollan wrote about how he is still shopping at Whole Foods. He believes their support of local farmers and long history of good deeds is more important then Mackey's thoughts on health care.
Tom Philpott weighs in at Grist he's not a big supporter of Whole Foods, nor does it sound like he shops their much. He points out a few interesting tidbits that were news to me like:
Fetishizing the creed of personal responsibility is a bit much, coming from a man who once assumed an Internet identity to pump up his own firm’s share price and talk down that of a competitor, which he was simultaneously trying to buy.
Apparently wikey wacky Mackey is well know for his out there behavior.
In the end Philpott concludes:
I deplore Whole Foods’ active lobbying to gut the Employee Free Choice Act. But I don’t shop there much anyway. I can’t be bothered to actively boycott Whole Foods—or denounce those who do.
In his article he mentions and links to a piece Barth Anderson wrote for Huffington Post.
Anderson comes closest to describing what I feel, which is not that I am so outraged by Mackey's views on health care, which I do find repulsive, (actually what I find more repulsive is that the OP ED in the WSJ started out with a quote from Margaret Thatcher: "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." What? That makes no sense. People who pay taxes shouldn't get something for them? It is everybody's money and is for the common good). It's that I feel duped, conned and lied to.
Anderson points out that the real issue here is how shoppers at Whole Foods, like myself, feel betrayed. The "core" shopper as we have been identified by natural foods marketing researchers Hartman Group. A core shopper is someone who shops:
with big concepts in mind (sustainability, worker rights, environmental, and various political issues), and you want food label claims proven to you. You like research, you like information, and you like knowing how things work in the food world.
He goes on to talk about how core shoppers are trendsetters, the point that really rings true to me is this:
The core consumer is more likely to choose to buy the product, then decide where to buy it. The "where" decision is based on a number of emotional factors, including which stores have a knowledgeable staff, which stores are perceived as having values similar to the shopper's, and which stores the shopper feels most comfortable in...
Bingo, emotional factors here I was spending all this money thinking I was supporting a good progressive, fair, company who was trying to do the right thing, not only by farmers, but by their employees and for the environment, only to realize that the guy who runs the place thinks it's all just a clever marketing tool to manipulate his shoppers so he can increase profits.
Michael Pollan's claim about not wanting to hurt farmers seems a little far fetched, as I see it their is very little local food at Whole Foods and the products carried are only from the biggest farms and rarely organic. Most of their produce is either from large California Organic companies or from "conventionally grown" mega farms in Chile, Mexico, New Zealand and other far off places.
There are a ton of disturbing inconsistencies with Whole Foods that I have mentioned here before, like what I see as their misleading labeling of seafood and the use of the MSC logo, but that is just the tip of the melting ice burg.
More than anything I don't feel like I am capital B boycotting Whole Foods, I just feel like I am over them. I'm really enjoying shopping at my local East Village "natural" store and spreading my dollars out to more local retailers. I'm lucky because I have the time to go around to smaller shops to get the things I need. My shopping is, and has been for a long time now, centered on farmers markets. This is where I go to first.
What Whole Foods really succeeded in doing very well was creating a nice place to shop in where you could get everything you needed under one roof. They capitalized on the "natural food" movement at an early critical point and exploited it for their profits. They cleverly marketed themselves as the we care we really care grocery store chain in order to give all their core shoppers the warm and fuzzy feeling we all wanted when shopping for our daily food.
More then boycotting them I feel I have just moved on, they aren't the only game in town and if I am going to be true to myself and my core belief's I need to make the extra effort (and it's not really much of an effort) to not only eating locally and seasonally, but to support local shops, not some big Texan owned multinational run by a freaky Ann Rand spouting Thatcher quoting nut job.
with Maldon Salt
Mixed Organic Greens and Sorrel
with baked Goat Cheese
Sexleby Cheese Selection
House Made Sally Lund Bread
House Made Bread and Butter Pickles & Pickled Beets
Local White Corn Puddling Souffles with Cream and Chanterelle Fricassee
Salted Butter Carmel Ice Cream
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Ugly Watermelons Could Make Good Biofuel
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
This is all first class and business class food. The cheese plate looks kind of tired, but for the most part it is very impressive for airplane food. I love that they have a bar. The first class bathrooms have showers! Although I have to say the faux burled wood and gold motif of the first class pods is kind of tacky, in that suburban fancy way that you expect to be covered in plastic.
Emirates is based out of Dubai, a place I have no interest in seeing nor is it an airline I would choose to fly because of their homophobic policies. Still it is nice to catch a glimpse of how the other half lives.