Monday, November 30, 2009

BBC's Planet Earth

This is an amazing documentary about life on earth, probably one of the most important documentaries about our planet ever made. We all need to see it. Put it on your Netflix queue now, time is a-wasting.

Don't let the trailer fool you! Behind the pretty pictures is a bone chilling and profoundly sobering narrative.

Are We Post Meat?

My friend Philip sent me this, I think it's a great article, I think eliminating animal factory farms is essential, but I don't think having the world all go vegetarian is realistic. Buy from farmers, eat meat on occasion, balance and moderation. Check out all the links in this article and you'll be busy for an hour.


10 Signs Vegetarianism Is Catching On

By Kathy Freston, AlterNet. Posted November 30, 2009.


Martha Stewart promotes a vegetarian Thanksgiving? Recently, much attention has been lavished on the horrors of factory farming and the advantages of a meatless diet. On Thanksgiving, I spent some time taking stock of my life and the world around me and, as we’re supposed to do over the holiday, giving thanks for all the joys -- little and big -- in my life. One of the larger joys for which I am giving thanks is all of the recent attention that has been lavished on a topic that is near and dear to my heart -- the cruelty and environmental harm involved in raising animals for food.

I struggled to cohesively construct an article about some of the many recent and important developments on this topic, but there is just too much. Instead, I decided on a top ten list (a tip of the hat to David Letterman) -- the 10 most interesting articles on the farmed animal welfare front.

So without further ado:

1. World Bank scientists conclude that eating meat causes more than half of global warming (conservatively).

World Bank agricultural scientists Robert Goodland, who spent 23 years as the Bank’s lead environmental advisor, and Jeff Anhang, a research officer and environmental specialist for the Bank, argue convincingly that more than half of all greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to our desire to eat chicken, pigs, and other farmed animals. That’s right: Add up all the causes of climate change, and you find that eating meat causes more than everything else combined.

Honestly, this was the biggest point for me: How can I possibly take the environment seriously if I’m still participating in what is -- by far -- the biggest contributor to warming?

Which might explain:

2. Prominent Stanford biochemist pledges to focus ALL his energy on promoting veganism.

Most of us have heard of Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. RK Pachauri from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and his lectures all over the world promoting vegetarianism. Now along comes Dr. Patrick O. Brown who, as reported in (of all places) Forbes, will spend the next 18 months focused on “put[ting] an end to animal farming.” Explains Dr. Brown, “‘There's absolutely no possibility that 50 years from now this system will be operating as it does now… I want to approach this as a solvable problem.’ Solution: ‘Eliminate animal farming on planet Earth.’”

3. Al Gore is taking notice.

Although Gore’s Global Warming Survival Handbook noted that “refusing meat” is the “single most effective thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint” (emphasis in original), Gore had not spoken publically about the issue. Now he has -- repeatedly. For example, on Larry King recently, Gore explained that “the impact of meat-intensive diet is a significant factor” in warming the planet, that “the growing meat intensity of diets around the world is bad for the planet,” and that “the more meals I've substituted with more fruits and vegetables, the better I feel about it…” The truth is becoming less inconvenient, thankfully.

4. Celebrated author of Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close publishes riveting book based on three-year investigation of factory farming.

Jonathan Safran Foer has been widely hailed as one of the greatest novelists of his generation, was one of Rolling Stone's “People of the Year,” and Esquire's “Best and Brightest” -- and after just two extraordinary works. As Nobel Prize for literature novelist J.M. Coetzee puts it about Foer’s latest work, “The everyday horrors of factory farming are evoked so vividly, and the case against the people who run the system presented so convincingly, that anyone who, after reading Foer's book, continues to consume the industry's products must be without a heart, or impervious to reason, or both.”

In his interview with Mother Jones Magazine (the entire interview is worth reading), Foer points out that Americans “now eat 150 times as much chicken as we did 80 years ago,” and that it “takes between 6 and 26 calories to make one calorie of meat. It is an incredibly inefficient protein because we are cycling through all of these other grains that humans could eat.”

5. Actor Alicia Silverstone and Chef Tal Ronnen on the New York Times bestseller list.

For some weeks now, Chef Tal Ronnen’s Conscious Cook and actress Alicia Silverstone’s Kind Diet have joined Foer and former model agent Rory Freedman (whose book convinced home run slugger Prince Fielder to adopt a vegan diet) on the list with books that make the case for vegetarian eating. You may recall Ronnen from his appearances on Oprah, which caused Oprah to exclaim, “Wow, wow, wow! I never imagined meatless meals could be so satisfying.”

6. Martha Stewart promotes a vegetarian Thanksgiving.

As my friends at Ecorazzi put it, “Martha Stewart has proved once again why she’s a pioneer in the kitchen. Having someone with as much sway as the famous host show people that the big feast doesn’t have to include meat to be successful is huge. Even better, she took the opportunity to educate her audience on factory farming industry -- with help from author Jonathan Safran Foer (of Eating Animals) and filmmaker Robert Kenner (Food, INC.).”

7. Egyptian mummy heart disease in LA Times

I’m not sure it belongs in my top 10 list, but I found it extremely interesting that “CT scans of Egyptian mummies, some as much as 3,500 years old, show evidence of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, which is normally thought of as a disease caused by modern lifestyles...” What on earth could have caused it? I think I know: “The high-status Egyptians ate a diet high in meat from cattle, ducks and geese, all fatty.” If only the ancient Egyptians had the wisdom of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn!

8. Honesty at the Turkey Pardoning

First Obama talks about factory farming and animal rights as a candidate. Then he puts in a garden at the White House. Now he’s adding some honesty to the annual turkey pardoning -- talking about the fate of other birds, the fact that it’s a fairly new ceremony, etc.

Might he have celebrated a vegetarian Thanksgiving? The White House isn’t saying, according to Gail Collins of the New York Times in her delightful Thanksgiving Day contemplation of the turkey pardoning. Okay, I’m kidding a bit (could he really get away with having a veggie Thanksgiving, given the power of Agribusiness -- as documented in this sad piece on FoodConsumer.org), as was Collins of course, but the honesty at the event is refreshing, and we do have the first President who understands the harms of factory farming and who is taking global warming seriously.

9. Cargill launches dairy-free cheese!

The largest privately held company in the United States (six times the size of McDonald’s) has just launched “a 100 percent non-dairy cheese analogue for pizza and other prepared food applications” that “replicates the functionality of dairy protein and replaces it fully at an outstanding cost advantage for the manufacturer.” According to Cargill, “its appearance, taste and texture perfectly match those of processed cheese” and it “also offers health advantages as it contains reduced calories (less fat and no saturated fats) and… a unique opportunity for vegans to enjoy a product that has the characteristics and taste of cheese but without any animal-derived ingredients.” It’s also Halal and Kosher.

10. Yet another study is exposing the horrid treatment of workers by the all-powerful meat industry.

A recent six-part piece in the Lincoln Journal-Star documents the horrid conditions endured by slaughterhouse workers. Sadly, nothing has changed since Human Rights Watch released their report on the industry, “Blood, Sweat, and Fear,” six years ago. Then and now, researchers have documented “systematic human rights violations embedded in meat and poultry industry employment.” It’s becoming all too obvious that if we care about worker rights, it makes sense to go vegan.

For information on making the switch to vegetarianism, please check out my previous post, “A Beginner’s Guide to Conscious Eating.”

Kathy Freston is a health and wellness expert and a New York Times best-selling author. Her latest book is The Quantum Wellness Cleanse: A 21 Day Essential Guide to Healing Your Body, Mind and Spirit. Freston promotes a body/mind/spirit approach to health and happiness that includes a concentration on healthy diet, emotional introspection, spiritual practice, and loving relationships. Kathy’s recent television appearances include The Oprah Winfrey Show, Ellen, The View and Good Morning America. www.kathyfreston.com

Notes From The New Amsterdam Market

the Marlow groups booth


This is a little late in coming, but better late than never, right?

I'm loving the New Amsterdam Market it's a really fun, always packed with lots of people grazing, shopping and learning from the diverse group of vendors. I hope they can find a permanent space someplace in NYC it would be so wonderful to have this as a full time market.

Some highlights from this visit:

Nordicbreads.com were selling these dark, chewy, intensely rye flavored dark rings of bread joy for a buck that I ate while I wondered. It was the perfect foil to the goat Tomme I had purchased from Escot Valley Farm where I also had an informative conversation about rennet animal versus vegetable and the fact that now there is also a GM version. I was surprised to learn that most artisanal cheese was being made with animal rennet. So if this is an issue for you be sure to always ask the cheese maker.

My favorite discovery this trip to the market were the folks at Wild Gourmet Food who as there materials state have:

"More than eighty years of combined experience hunting the woods and fields of Vermont for wild foods and medicines. Much of their lives have been spent teaching and advocating for the woods and all the other beings"

How cool is that?

The next New Amsterdam Market is December 20th.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Composting in Your Small NYC Apartment

I've tried several times to compost in my apartment and every attempt has ended in failure. I don't really have the lifestyle or space for worm composting (even though i think it's very cool) my freezer is full of frozen food and those small counter top composters that require expensive charcoal odor filters all the time are too small if you actually cook, some weeks I'd have to go to the composting drop off site three times, not to mention the nearest composting site to my house is a 30 minute walk or an equivalent amount of time on public transportation.

I don't drive, but even if I did isn't it really kind of stupid to drive to drop off your compost?

All of this to say, in watching this video I am reminded again about how I need to figure something out because composting is very important.

Given that we live in a huge apartment complex of 3000 people you'd think that we should have an on site composting station, makes sense right? My next project! Convince the Co-Op board to start a composting program.

The lower east side ecology center does great work and is at the Union Square Green Market almost ever day they are open, but it's time more people started composting centers because one for all of downtown Manhattan is obviously not enough. If someone eager to do this who has tried several times has been put off by the challenges that's a bad thing, composting should be as easy as taking out your garbage.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Deconstructed Pumpkin Pie: Ginger Spiced Shortbread and Pumpkin Flan


As much as I wanted to post this before Thanksgiving I was too busy cooking to write about cooking! So please accept my apologies for being tardy.

The great thing about these recipes are that you can make them any time. And in the case of the flan you can make them all winter long as it is the season of squash/sweet potato, at least here in the north eastern United States.

The lovely thing about the pumpkin flan is that it's butterscotch pudding quality isn't over powered by the pumpkin, the pumpkin adds depth, but doesn't overwhelm.

This is a good dessert for those who are not big pumpkin fans. Depending on what kind of squash you use will depend on how strongly flavored it will be. Sweet potato and blue hubbard are both variations I'd like to try.

Ginger Spice Shortbread

Both the flan and the shortbread should be made a day in advance. The shortbread is much better the day after although in a pinch can be made same day. The recipe is the same as the ginger shortbread posted here (it was used as a base for gooseberries) except for this variation add: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice. Do this at the same time as you add the fresh ginger to the butter.

Pressed the dough into a 9" round pan and before baking cut it into 16 pie shaped pieces.
Use a fork to make a spiral design buy making fork imprints in the dough

Sprinkling 1 T of sugar over the top and baked it at 375 F for 20 minutes or until edges have just started to brown. I like it when the shortbread is still a little soft.

Pumpkin Flan

Preheat oven to 325 F

In a skillet add 1 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of water cook over moderate heat until the sugar has melted and turned a deep golden brown.

(As a side note I find it confusing that this is often referred to as caramel because to my taste buds it tastes like what I would refer to as burnt sugar, caramel to me has salt, butter and cream in it. I mention this only because I find it helpful to clarify terminology. Sometimes I think I've done something wrong because my understanding of the direction is different. In this instance the burnt sugar flavor is mellowed by the creamy sweetness of the baked custard. The cooked sugar bottom melds and mellows when it is baked creating a wonderful, spicy butterscotch flavor).

The minute the sugar has melted before it starts to smoke pour it into the bottom of a 1 1/2 quart loaf pan (Emile Henry is my favorite, but Pyrex would work just fine) coating the bottom of the pan with the caramel.

Set aside while you make the flan.

(I think cheese pumpkin is best for baking, feel free of course to use whatever is on hand, the only pumpkin I would warn against is the traditional one used for Halloween, otherwise use any kind of eating squash or sweet potato you can find).

Place 1 cup pumpkin puree (fresh is best but can works in a pinch) in a food processor with 1 T of fresh ginger, 2/3 cups light brown sugar well packed, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice, 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 T dark rum*, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and process until completely combined.

Pour the pumpkin mixture into a bowl and whisk in 4 large eggs and 1 cup heavy cream until well combined. Sieve the mixture into the caramel coated loaf pan.

Place the loaf pan in a larger baking dish (I used a 9 x 13 baking tin) and fill with boiling water until it comes half way up the outside of the loaf tin. Place in oven and cook for about an hour and 15 minutes or until the flan feels firm when touched.

Cool to room temp then cover and refrigerate over night or for several nights.

To serve run a knife around the edges a few times, place your serving dish on top of the loaf tin and without hesitation flip it over. Make sure whatever dish you use has a lip on at as the caramel liquefies and makes a lovely, if runny sauce.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Balance

Neil sent me this video from Kuwait, I find it fascinating and oddly beautiful in a weird science way.

I'm posting it on Thanksgiving because it reminds me that as humans we find ourselves in a funny place on the planet, we have no natural predators. Even disease is being out smarted by us, which of course is a problem because we have created an in balance, over population and our voracious need to consume are destroying the very planet that sustains us.

Cheery thought for this day of thanks, but I think oddly appropriate on a holiday that started out as a celebration of the Fall harvest and has devolved into an orgy of over eating mostly of tortured factory farmed birds who've never even seen the light of day and the only thing seasonal about them is that the factory produces them for this particular occasion.

And could someone explain to me how marshmallows got mixed with sweet potatoes to become a "traditional" recipe? Somehow I don't think the pilgrims were eating marshmallows.

I'm bucking the trend and making lasagna today.

So before you watch the video go to the World Hunger Site and with a simple click help feed someone in the world who otherwise would go hungry today.

Thoughts For Thanksgiving

This is from Tricycle Magazine:

November 26, 2009
Tricycle's Daily Dharma

Pausing When We Eat

Here are some methods for helping yourself to slow down your eating by creating pauses:

1. Pause before beginning the meal. Look at each item of food, taking it in with the eyes. Notice colors, textures, shapes, arrangement on the plate or bowl.

2. Take a moment to say grace. Thank the animals, plants, and people who brought this food to you. Be aware of their gifts as you eat.

3. Begin the meal by pausing to inhale the fragrance of the food. Imagine that you are being nourished by just the smell.

4. Eat food like a wine connoisseur tastes wine. First sniff the food, enjoying the bouquet. Then take a small taste. Roll it around in the mouth, savoring it. What ingredients can you detect? Chew slowly and swallow. Take a sip of water to cleanse the palate. When the mouth is empty of food and flavor, repeat the process.

5. If you notice that you are eating without tasting, stop and pause to look at the food again.

-Jan Chozen Bays, "Mindful Eating," Tricycle, Summer 2009

Read the complete article on tricycle.com.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving from PETA

'Grace': PETA's Thanksgiving ad



Here's my 2 cents, yes indeed everything about this ad is true, what it doesn't say is that if you buy a heritage Turkey from a local farmer then really most of it isn't true at all. I also have problems with the idea that just because factory farming is evil that the only choice is to go Vegan as they suggest it seems simplistic and one sided to me.

Eggs, milk, cheese can be easily obtained from wonderful farmers who treat there animals with love, kindness and without killing them for there meat. It's also worth mentioning here that chickens and cows in particular would become rapidly extinct if they were not part of our food system, there very survival on the planet is based upon their historical importance to us as food. The issue here, which is only partly dealt with by Peta is how can we do that humanely, factory farms obviously are not the answer.

Local Ginger



Woori Farms at the Monday Union Square green market is selling locally grown, pesticide free ginger. It ain't cheap, but like wow.

Pass The Butter Please

OK so I feel vaguely guilty in posting this, but as a long time fan of butter and a big time hater of margarine I found this very satisfying. I do wish, however, that it was backed up with some sources., but something tells me it is actually the truth.

Let me know what you think.


Butter Versus Margarine

Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys. When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their heads together to figure out what to do with this product to get their money back.
It was a white substance with no food appeal so they added the yellow colouring and sold it to people to use in place of butter. How do you like it? They have come out with some clever new flavourings..

DO YOU KNOW... The difference between margarine and butter?

Both have the same amount of calories.
Butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams; compared to 5 grams for margarine.
Eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53% over eating the same amount of butter, according to a recent Harvard Medical study.
Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods.
Butter has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few and
only because they are added!

Butter tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance the flavours of other foods.
Butter has been around for centuries where margarine has been around for less than 100 years.

And now, for Margarine...

Very High in Trans fatty acids.
Triples risk of coronary heart disease.

Increases total cholesterol and LDL (this is the bad cholesterol) and lowers HDL cholesterol, (the good cholesterol)

Increases the risk of cancers up to five times...
Lowers quality of breast milk.
Decreases immune response.
Decreases insulin response.
And here's the most disturbing fact....
Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE away from being PLASTIC... and shares 27 ingredients with PAINT.
These facts alone were enough to have me avoiding margarine for life and anything else that is hydrogenated (this means hydrogen is added, changing the molecular structure of the substance).
You can try this yourself:
Purchase a tub of margarine and leave it open in your garage or shaded area. Within a couple of days you will notice a couple of things:
* no flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it (that should tell you something)
* it does not rot or smell differently because it has no nutritional value ; nothing will grow on it. Even those teeny weeny microorganisms will not a find a home to grow. Why? Because it is nearly plastic . Would you melt your Tupperware and spread that on your toast?
Share This With Your Friends... (If you want to butter them up')!
Chinese Proverb: When someone shares something of value with you and you benefit from it, you have a moral obligation to share it with others.
Pass The Butter... Please.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

In The Middle of The City

Walking to the New Amsterdam Market today along the water I noticed this small bit of beach, just near the Brooklyn Bridge, it seemed so out of place and strange like something you'd see in Cape Cod or Fire Island. A little oasis on the edge of the big noisy city.

More on the New Amsterdam Market tomorrow.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sweet Potato and Buttermilk Biscuits

Last night I had lentil stew which I served with some apricot gooseberry chutney I had in the fridge and topped it all off with a dollop of quark - a bio dynamic sour cream-ish product made by Hawthorne Farms.

When I was buying the Quark at the market this very nerdy guy who was standing next to mumbled:

"sub atomic particle"

It took me a minute to make the leap from dairy products to quarks I smiled:

"sorry it took me minute to get that"

He then launched into an explanation about how it was James Joyce who invented the word quark and preceded to quote the line from the Joyce book he first used it in. All of this over the purchase of a dairy product.

You gotta love New Yorkers.

I made these biscuits to go with the lentil stew . What motivated me was that I had left over buttermilk in the fridge and some sweet potatoes. I wanted a bread product, but hadn't the time to do something with yeast. I think these are my favorite biscuits I've ever made because they stay moist! Most biscuits have a very short shelf life and become dry the minute they have cooled from the oven.

The potatoes in this version help keep them very moist and I think you could just as easily used white potatoes or yams in place of the sweet potatoes.

Also I used whole wheat bread flour which is locally ground and contains the whole grain if you can find locally milled traditional flours I heartily encourage you to buy and use them. Otherwise play around with the proportions I like the idea that a whole grain flour can help keep the biscuit moist and also add some fiber.

Sweet Potato and Buttermilk Biscuits

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Butter an 8x10 or 9x9 pan.

Peel and roughly chop 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 pounds of sweet potatoes (you want a scant cup) and boil them until they are very soft, drain add 1/3 cup whole buttermilk and mash.

In a separate bowl combined 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour, 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar, 3 teaspoons baking powder, 1 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional).

With your finger incorporate 8 tablespoons of cold, unsalted, organic butter.

With a wooden spoon stir in the reserved sweet potato mixture. It will be fairly wet, add a few more tablespoons of whole wheat flour and pat into the prepared baking dish.

Optionally I like to take my knife and divide up the biscuits at this point so when they have finished baking it is easier to divide them. You should get about 8-10 biscuits doubling the recipe is a good idea as they will disappear fast! Conversely you can also divide the dough into 8-10 balls (using flour as needed) and place them side by side in the pan.

Melt 1 1/2 T of butter and brush it over the biscuits before you place them in the oven.

Bake about 20 minutes. They be lightly browned and puffed. Cool on a rack until they are cool enough to handle.

Alternatively you could add 2 T of chopped fresh herbs to the dough before cooking like sage, savory, rosemary or Thyme.

Enjoy!


Friday, November 20, 2009

Review of Meatless Turkey


Grist gives a funny and thorough review of 4 different veggie faux Turkey items available this holiday season.

Here have something out of a box for that special harvest festival meal, nothing says farm fresh, seasonal and organic like something boxed in cardboard and wrapped in plastic!

My two cents: they all look awful and are so filled with things I think you'd be better off just forging ahead and having a truly interesting meal made up of ingredients that you can actually pronounce. Years ago when I first came here I was living with a Canadian friend of mine from university, our holiday tradition was to go for Indian food on 6th street, just a thought...in Canada Thanksgiving isn't as big a deal as it is here.

Butternut Squash Classic with Butter and Fried Sage Leaves

I love squash, it's sweet, complex flavor lends itself to any number of preparations. Here I go for an easy classic recipe that looks every bit as good as it tastes. At the end of the recipe are vegan and kosher parve non dairy options.

Butternut Squash with Fried Sage Leaves

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cut in half lengthwise two butternut squash, take out the seeds and place them flesh side down on a cookie sheet with about 1" of water in it. Cover loosely with tin foil or some parchment paper you have balled up run under water and then opened up again.

Cook until the flesh of the squash is soft anywhere from 45-60 minutes. Remove from the oven, take the covering off and flip the squash so they are flesh side up and let cool.

Once cooled scoop out the flesh and mash it up in a bowl so it has a consistent texture.

Generously butter a casserole and place the mashed squash in it. Place 6 pats of butter (1 T each) all over the top of the squash and place in the oven at 350 F. Heat for about 10-15 minutes until the squash is nicely hot and the butter pats have melted.

Take out of the oven and stir to incorporate the butter, add salt and freshly ground black pepper and taste for seasoning. At this point you can leave the baked squash out for a few hours covered until you are ready to serve it and then re-heat it just before dinner.

Moments before you want to serve the squash add enough oil to a skillet to fry the sage leaves, I use olive oil for this, but peanut or canola work fine as well. You'll need about 1 cup of oil or enough to fill the pan about 1/2" up the side.

Turn the heat to medium high and when the oi is hot, but not smoking add 16-20 fresh sage leaves. Fry for just 30 seconds until they are crisp.

Dry the fried leaves on a towel then sprinkle them on top of the baked squash.

Non Dairy Options:

If you want to make this without dairy I suggest oiling the casserole dish with either canola or coconut oil and replacing the butter on top with 6 T of coconut milk, which should be stirred into the squash before baking. Instead of sage top the baked sage off with a few tablespoons of lime juice and fresh coriander leaves and a 1/2 cup of toasted large coconut flakes and of course always season with salt and pepper to taste.


I came across the above picture when I did a Google search for butternut squash and thought it was to good to not sure - it was on a site called grannybuttons.

Stephen Colbert Makes My Day

This clip is every where I look and for good reason, I love how Colbert can be so funny and eviscerating at the same time:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Skeletons in the Closet
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

Thanksgiving New Amsterdam Market


Get there early! This is the perfect place to get all you need for Thanksgiving. Or to just enjoy a really fun market. I like the idea of buying local mead for Thanksgiving dinner. Also don't forget a lot of great people are setting up stands to feed you while you look around so you can enjoy a Luke's Lobster roll or yummy treats from Home/Made or some savory goodness from Jimmy's 43 to mention just a few.

Here is the press release I'll see you there!

The holiday season is upon us! Now is the celebratory time of year, when the table might be set for a few more guests, traditional recipes take center stage, and there is always reason to purchase a bottle or two of something special. Whether you're entertaining, or are on the lookout for a unusual gift, this Sunday's Thanksgiving market has something for every basket.

To get you in the holiday spirit, vendors will be offering mulled cider and hot chocolate as well as delicious, seasonal market fare to keep you warm.

Fermented drinks will be flowing: sample and purchase New York State wines from Clinton Vineyards, Silver Thread Vineyards, Fox Run Vineyards, Brooklyn Oenology, and Wolffer Estate; and be sure to visit the special Finger Lakes Reisling promotion, also taking place in the wine and cider aisle. Traditional hard ciders will include offerings from Slyboro and Bellwether; and you can also pick up some mead from Manhattan Meadery, and try kombucha from Kombucha Brooklyn.

Sweet Deliverance will present its regional Thanksgiving pies, both sweet and savory: choose from apple pear cranberry pie with crumble top; honey whipped goat cheese tart with roasted pears and fried sage leaves; and maple sweet potato pie with spiced candied nuts. (To ensure availability, order by 5:00pm this Friday; visit our vendor page for information).

Excellent pate', rillettes, seasonal sausages and other charcuterie will be available from the Piggery, Fleisher's Grass Fed and Organic Meats, Dickson's Farmstand Meats, Formaggio Essex, and Birchrun Hills Farm. Or make your own pate' with fresh chicken livers from Bo Bo Poultry. For those of you who have not pre-ordered, McEnroe Organic Farm will have a few of their organic, free-range turkeys available, first-come first-serve, but make sure to get to market early if you want one! And for other meals next week, Fleisher's, Dickson's Farmstand Meats, Escot Valley Farm, Bo Bo Poultry and others will also have chicken, lamb, beef, and pork available.

McEnroe Organic Farm will be offering kale and other greens as well as their hothouse tomatoes. And we're very excited to have two great new produce distributors at the market: Upstate Farms, based in Tivoli, NY and Zone 7, based in Lawrenceville, NJ. Their plentiful offerings of vegetables from local farms will fill your shopping carts - and help you imagine the return of regional produce distributors to our public markets.

Complement your meals with cheeses from excellent Northeast producers, as well as pre-selected cheese plates for your Thanksgiving feast. Purchase selections from Cooperstown Cheese Company, Saxelby Cheesemongers, Narragansett Creamery, Shellbark Hollow Farm, Birchrun Hills Farm, The Cellars at Jasper Hill, and Krugerrand Farm. Milk and other fresh dairy products will be available from Maple Hill Creamery, Hudson Valley Fresh, and Organic Valley.

Make New Amsterdam Market your source for regional baking supplies, including leaf lard for pies from the Health Shoppe and the Piggery, squashes from Basis Market, apples and pears from Upstate Farms and Zone 7, rare Cape Cod heirloom cranberries, apples, and cider from Breezy Hill Orchards, unique preserves from Miss Amy's and Formaggio Essex, maple syrup and maple sugar from Sugar Maple Farms and honey from all points in the Northeast provided by Bees' Needs, Formaggio Essex, and The Health Shoppe.

Enjoy fresh breads, made specially for the market by Sullivan Street Bakery and Pain D'Avignon. New to the market this month are also Eli's Bread, featuring a multi-grain health bread; and Nordic Breads, offering traditional Finnish Ruis (rye) loaves.

Wild offerings include seaweed harvested off the coast of Maine from She Sells Seaweed and a wide selection of wild food including wild ginseng, wild watercress, daylily tubers (excellent in salads), wild Jerusalem artichokes, wild leeks and ramps, pepperwort root (for horseradish lovers), fresh Ice and Oyster mushrooms, along with other dried and wood smoked mushrooms also for sale including: Morels, Chanterelles, Hen-of-the-Woods, Chicken-of-the-Woods, Lobsters, and Bear's Head - all harvested responsibly by Wild Gourmet Food in the woods and open lands of Vermont. And from the sea, enjoy oysters from Stella and W&T Seafood, and the freshest fish and seafood from Maine's Port Clyde Fresh Catch.

Discover new specialties such as The Redhead's bacon nut brittle, artisan products from Katchkie Farm, coffee from Intelligentsia and Stumptown, California olive oil from Provisions Shop, and bean-to-bar chocolate from Mast Brothers and Taza, kimchees from Mama O's Kimchee and Mother-In-Law's-Kimchi, and pickles from Rick's Picks. And to indulge your sweet tooth make sure to visit Liddabit Sweets for hand-crafted confections and The Bent Spoon for seasonal ice cream.

Savor market fare from Jimmy's No. 43; Luke's Lobster, Stella Maris, Porchetta, home/made, Sweet Deliverance, Great Performances and Basis Market.

And as always, the market will be joined by advocates for regional, sustainable food systems including Animal Welfare Approved; City Harvest; Edible Manhattan / Edible Brooklyn; and the Hudson Valley Seed Library, offering heirloom seeds.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Shocking News Cinema Snacks Are Fattening


Several media outlets today reported:

Popcorn in Movie Cinemas is fattening and high in calories, not to mention outrageously over priced (they didn't report the last part that's just my added editorial comment).

This is news?

I'm pretty sure I've recounted here my conversation with refreshment stand help that I've had many times over the years when contemplating the temptation of ordering some of the evil highly caloric puffed corn we love so much and for some reason has become so synonymous to the movie going experience.

In bright lights the sign behind the counter says Popcorn with Butter! There are pictures of melting butter being lovingly pour over light and delicious kernels of perfected popped corn.

The conversation would go like this:

"would you like butter on your popcorn?"

"Is it real butter?"

"um, no"

In such a litigious country it is mind boggling to me that somehow lawyer with a fat kid hasn't sued cinemas for perpetrating this lie?

Besides being bad for you and fattening, popcorn is also a GMO (genetically modified organism).
I mean if you're going to spend all that money on a GM corn product why not just buy stocks in Monsanto?

Anyway it seems to me absurd that all of a sudden today I've read on several sites about this study that tells the truth about how soda and popcorn (both GM corn products in this country - high fructose corn syrup in the regular soda or cancer causeing chemicals in the diet ones).

As initially reported by CBS:

According to laboratory analysis conducted by the Center for Science and Public Interest (CSPI), the concessions from Regal, the country's biggest movie chain, have 1,160 calories and three days worth - 60 grams - of fat. Regal said that the medium popcorn had 720 calories and the large had 960, but CSPI's tests found those numbers to be understated. A small popcorn at Regal had 670 calories - the same as a Pizza Hut Personal Pepperoni Pan Pizza. Even if you share a small popcorn - it's still about a day's worth of saturated fat per person, according to CSPI.

Here's my take on this, everyone understands that this is a treat and junk food so it's obviously not going to be good for you, but why on earth can't they just make it with real ingredients? Why not offer air popped organic non GMO local corn popcorn? With real butter, it used to be real I remember when I worked in a movie cinema as a teenager we would put a huge chunk of butter into the back of the butter melting machine.

No one expects treats to necessarily be healthy, but hre is an example of something that could be made so much tastier and healthier and better for us and the planet if we just made it with something other then chemicals and partially hydrogenated tropical oils.

Cinema chains want the biggest bang for their buck and real ingredients cost too much.

Fuck your health it's about their bottom line.

And as long as people are willing to buy it why should they change? It's like MacDonalds or smoking, no matter how much people know how bad something might be for you it doesn't mean they are going to stop doing it.

For me in the end it comes down to taste. I'd rather bring some good popcorn into the theater in my knapsack then spend the money on the scrappy stuff they sell. This suggests to me that there is a market for something better, but apparently not a big enough of one to bother to offer an option - something good, old fashioned, not genetically modified, made with real butter and in the instance of soda real sugar.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Encounter with A Leopard Seal in Antartica

Burma Update and Action

This just in from the US Campaign for Burma:

Email Congress today and ask them to support House Resolution 898!

This week, President Obama made his first visit to Asia and publicly called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, one principle of his new Burma policy. The Obama administration's Burma policy has four pillars which the U.S. will work toward:
  • Ensuring the unconditional release of all political prisoners, including Nobel Laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
  • Pressing for an end to conflicts with ethnic minority groups.
  • Securing genuine tripartite dialogue between the ethnic nationalities, the democracy movement, and the military government.
  • Holding the Burmese junta accountable for human rights violations.
We support the principles outlined in President Obama's new Burma policy. However, the Obama administration has yet to provide a mechanism to hold the junta accountable for their human rights violations including attacks against ethnic minority groups.

Resolution 898 fills this gap by calling for the Administration to support a UN Security Council Commission of Inquiry into crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by the junta.

Crimes against humanity have escalated as the Junta tries to consolidate power before the sham election planned for 2010. In the past few months, the regime has displaced more than 50,000 people from eastern and northern Burma, sending tens of thousands of refugees over the border into China and Thailand.

Email your member of Congress today to ask them to support this resolution so that the Obama Administration continues to remain strong on Burma.

Then amplify our voice by asking your friends and family members to support Resolution 898, which was introduced by Representative Joe Crowley (D) and Representative Peter King (R) last week.


(This is a really important first step for this new administration you help in support his goals is great needed and appreciated!)

Bye Bye Blue Fin

After meeting for 10 days, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) refused to end fishing for Atlantic bluefin tuna,” the Pew Environment Group, a U.S. organization that sat on in the meeting in Recife, Brazil, said in a statement

...Yearly quotas set up by ICCAT are systematically exceeded by industrial fleets. That and illegal fishing have caused the population to decline by more than 85 percent in the eastern Atlantic and by more than 90 percent in the western Atlantic.

Read the whole grim story at Grist.

Lental Stew Indian Style

The cold weather has me thinking about stews.

One of the many things I like about stews is how easy they are to make and how convenient they can be for people who work hard all week and don't feel like cooking when they get home. Making a stew is usually easily accomplished in 20 minutes of preparation time and maybe an hour to an hour and a half of cooking time.

Stews are always made in quantity providing you with many meals. I for one don't mind eating some thing more than once in a week, especially if it's tasty. One of the things I love to do with this particular stew is eat it for lunch with salted butter toast!

Also it's easy to change this up as the week goes on, add a can of chickpeas (adjust the seasoning) or some arugula or spinach (about 1/2 pound).

This is my basic template feel free to experiment keeping in mind that when you reheat it you may need to add more liquid and salt. If you have home made vegetable stock you can use that, but I find it works just as well with water.

Lentil Stew

In a bowl soak 2 cups brown lentils in enough water to cover them. Let them soak while you start the stew. Drain them before adding to the stew.

In a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat add about 1/3 cup of olive oil, heat for a minute and then add 3 medium to large white onions, cover the pot for 8-10 minutes until the onions are translucent but not browned, add 4 roughly chopped garlic cloves, stir and cook for another 2 minutes.

Then stir in 2 T grated fresh ginger, 2 seeded, stemmed and roughly chopped jalapeno peppers (or more if you like or less or none) 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds and cook for 3-5 minutes.

The add the dry spices: 1 T plus 2 teaspoons of cumin powder, 1 T garam masala (Indian curry powder), 2 teaspoons coriander powder, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric. Stir until incorporated - about a minute.

Add 4 cups of either roughly chopped fresh or canned tomatoes (about 4 medium sized tomatoes if using fresh) and the drained lentils to the stew along with 4 cups of water, 1 T of salt and freshly grated black pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add 2 potatoes (any kind is fine, but I prefer red skinned with the skin still on) cut into bite size pieces and 2 carrots sliced into 1/2" coins - approximately a cup. Cook another 20 -30 minutes, adjust the seasoning and taste to make sure the potatoes an carrots are cooked to your liking. In this instance I actually like them fairly soft, but it's up to you.

Stir in a bunch (about 1 cup) of well washed fresh cilantro stalk and leaves roughly copped serve with your favorite chutney and a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and a side of Naan or other tasty bread.

If you want something more straight forward and simple just use salt and pepper, get ride of all the spices and hot peppers and instead of cilantro use parsley. And finally if you want a more intense tomato flavor add a can of tomato paste when you add the chopped tomatoes.

Makes enough to satisfy and warm up 12 of your friends and family!





Kurts Harpers List Highlight

My friend Kurt in SF culls his favorite items from Harper's List and sends them to his friends, I think this may end up being a regular posting for me.

My favorite this week:

A New York woman who cut off her father's penis and burned it on the stove began taking cooking classes in jail.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Roasted Carrots - A Great Idea for Thanksgiving.

Mostly, in my mind, carrots have been something you eat when you're on a diet.

When I think about making a side dish for a meal carrots have never entered my mind, that is until recently.

These sweet little gems are amazing roasted.

I came across a recipe last year and have played around with it and come up with my own version. This past weekend I was able to use some local chestnuts to great effect in this simple recipe which can easily be made Vegan or parve if you are cooking in a kosher kitchen, the recipe includes several options and is so tasty and simple I really encourage you to give it a whirl.

Roasted Carrots

Clean, trim and peel 2 bunches of carrots (about 12 carrots of varying sizes - if you have huge carrots reduce to about 8). The carrots I bought at the market were all different colors, yellow, red pale orange if you can find these it makes for a very pretty presentation.

Slice the carrots in half lengthwise, if they are really thick quarter them. Toss them with 2 or 3 tablespoons of canola or olive oil and roast them in a 375% oven for about 45 minutes or until they have gotten soft enough to be mashed with a potato masher or fork.

Remove from the oven when done and mash! Then you have some options.

You can add 1/2 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, 5 or 6 roughly chopped freshly roasted chestnuts and season with salt and pepper and add a handful of chopped fresh herbs like sage, savory, thyme or rosemary. The cheese should be just melted if not put it back in the oven for another minute.

Or...

Dry roast 1 T of cumin seeds and grind them in a mortar and pestle or a spice mill and add them to the mashed carrots with the juice of a lemon and a handful of cilantro (this is the vegan/parve version)

This is my first recipe in a collection of recipes that I am going to do to for Thanksgiving. My goal is to offer interesting simple, local, seasonal variations on the traditional Thanksgiving meal with options for our kosher, vegan and vegetarian friends.

If you are going to do a Turkey order now and get a Heritage Turkey and never have to worry about a dry Turkey breast again!





Monday, November 16, 2009

Local Chestnuts


Samascott Orchards at the Union Square Green Market is selling Chestnuts!

I'm not sure why, but I find this very exciting.

For years I've been wanting someone to sell walnuts, which I have seen once or twice over the years and they have always been very expensive. Having just come back from Rome wehre they sell chestnuts on street corners all over the place I was glad to see that the folks at Samascott had planted edible Chinese Chestunut trees and that they were mature enough to bear fruit.

I roasted a couple of pounds of them and served them shelled in a bowl and I also chopped some up and added them to my roasted carrot and cumin mash.

They're $7 bucks a pound and well worth it, next up is making them into something sweet!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Apple Season

Last year I pretty much succeed in not eating any fruit other than local apples (I think I broke down and had some in season in Florida organic pink Grapefruit in February - maybe 2) all winter long and I am going to try and repeat myself this year.

It actually wasn't a problem for me, I like apples and the thought of eating a sub par out of season Cantaloupe from Chile or some overpriced raspberries from New Zealand somehow never crossed my mind.

A couple of weeks ago the Sunday New York Times Magazine did an exhaustive article on this study being done on reduced calorie diets. The thing that caught my eye (well initially Neil's as he was the one who sent me the article) was how apples apparently are a particularly satisfying snack:

By building a diet around foods with a low-energy density, especially vegetables, fruits and soups, participants can conceivably ingest the same weight of food as they might on a regular diet while taking in fewer calories.Apples are superb in this regard. At the medical centers running Calerie, you see a lot of people walking around eating apples. Even subjects who disliked apples have discovered that calorie restriction, which generally has the effect of making food taste better, has given them a surprising desire for the fruit.

Then today I see on Treehugger that Australian scientists have come up with an apple that takes a long time to rot, er, or as they would rather spin it, stays fresher longer (sounds like the tag line for a room deodorizer) 4 months to be exact. It's no surprise I agree with the conclusion the author of the article Colin Dunn comes to:

Food is supposed to rot, and while way too much food is wasted around the world, the solution is not to engineer perishables to last longer; the solution is to create stronger local food systems that emphasize sustainable production and seasonal cycles. So, with all due respect to the RS103-130, we'll be sticking with the good old-fashioned Macintosh, Fuji, and other nature-designed apples. Meanwhile, the Queensland government is seeking a commercial supply partner to distribute the fruit and hopes to begin selling it next year.

This past spring a farmer told me not to buy a Macintosh because they are a softer apple and don't winter as well as say the Mutsu, the best time to eat Macintosh is now. They also make kick ass apple sauce because they melt down so well when cooked and have a wonderful sweet tart balance (try using maple syrup to sweeten your sauce,it tastes great and if you live in NYC it's a local product).

So go out and get yourself some apples, the selection available at the green market is vast - enough to keep you busy all winter long!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Overheard at the Market

Farmer to a middle age man:

"We don't have any basil, that's broccoli"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sylvia Earle on Stephen Colbert

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Sylvia Earle
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

Whale Penis Upholstery Anyone?


Mostly I thought this was just funny in that what a fucked up world we live in kind of way, but when I thought about it my feeling was, well if you are going to kill the whale to eat it as they do in Japan then at the very least make use of the entire animal. Penis and all....apparently this car company was advertising whale penis as an upholstery option read all about it at Wired.

Alzheimer's May Be Food Related?

News to me, but Michael Pollan mentions it in this mini interview with him about health care and it's links to agriculture and how we eat.

This video was in my daily email from Grist

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Truffle Sandwiches at Procacci



This was the highlight of a trip fulled with them. We went to Procacci from a late afternoon snack of truffle sandwiches and white wine. The sandwiches are very small little white bread buns, shape like torpedoes with a smear of white truffle paste in them. I wish I could tell you what the filing was made of all I know is they were amazingly tasty and that the flavor of truffle lingered in my mouth for hours.

In addition to truffles they also have a carefully curated selection of Italian cheeses, jams, preserves, and chocolates. A wonderful place to linger.

Lunch at Gozzi Sergio

Gozzi Sergio was one of my favorite places that I ate at this trip to Italy. The food is very basic, a lot of simply grilled and pan friend meats and a lot of fried food. My friend Jane who tipped us off about this place thinks they make some of the best soup around.

The day we were there they had a very hardy minestrone with kale and beans drizzled in olive oil. A container of grated Parmesan was placed on the table along side much needed salt and pepper. It was hardy and delicious.

We also had a very simple bowl of white beans with olive oil that again after heavy shakes of salt of pepper where simple and tasty.

For my main course I had rabbit that was basically southern fried bunny. Three pieces on a plate along side a half a lemon and a side of fries. The fries (patati fritti ) are home made, thick, meaty and cooked crisp. The rabbit was good, very simple, but well done.

Neil wasn't so hungry and was happy with his soup and fries and lots of wonderful bread.

I hope you can get a sense of this place from the video, it's been open since 1915 and doesn't looked like it's changed a bit. Actually from what I could tell from the people eating their the day we enjoyed lunch it seems they still retain a large portion of their original clientele.

A true taste of old world Firenze. The waiter was wonderful spoke perfect English, with a half litre of red it was 35 Euro for 2.

Pretty meat heavy menu, go for the soup and fries! Oh I almost forgot my absolutely favorite thing about this place is their business card which features a line drawing of a guy smoking a cigarette, love that! Of course now you can't smoke inside, but I love that they still use it anyway.







Monday, November 9, 2009

Hipsters Rome: San Lorenzo and Lunch at Bar a Book

The fun, funky, eclectic Bar a Book in the trendy San Lorenzo neighborhood of Rome is a fun relaxed place that looks like a 1960's recreation room. Walls lined with groovy Scandinavian book shelves filled with all sorts of mid-century modern memorabalia, wine bottles, jars filled with coffees and teas and of course lots of books.

Neil and I went to Bar a Book for their 16 Euro all you can eat brunch on Sunday. Running up and down the center of the cafe is a large wooden table surrounded by mismatched chairs.

The table was set with porcelain coffee pots filled with "American coffee" as described by our waiter. There was also a lovely jug of freshly squeezed orange juice and right by us a wonderful looking chocolate cake.

The savory portion of the buffet which you can catch a glimpse of in the video, consisted of:
pasta e fagioli, a crust covered pizza pie filled with vegetables (spinach, potatoes and most notably roasted red peppers), sliced very well done pot roast with an unidentifiable gravy and little rounds of polenta, and these baked mounds of potato cheese and potato (which were the highlight of the buffet for me - sorry I don't have the actual name for them).

Here's my very uncool take on the restaurant food I've had so far in Rome as was typified by our brunch here. A place that is written up and recommended by our guide books.

The food is plain and heavy and in this instance all room temperature.

The coffee was horrid, undrinkable, tasted like watered down instant, the chocolate cake was boozy and had what appeared to be cooked pears in it, but if you closed your eyes you would never have guessed it was chocolate. The veggie pie was nice enough, but the pasta was boring and, well, tasted kind of like it was out of a can (I'm sure it wasn't, but that's how it tasted to me).

In a country filled with herbs that grow as perennials I don't know why they don't seem to want to use them?

Everything is highly processed white bread with tomato paste on it or some variation. They have such amazing ingredients it's mind boggling to me that they are able to turn them into such boring food.

I had a pasta last night that was the specialty of the house at this local very Italian place that our friends love, it was a flavor flash back, it tasted exactly like the canned Chef Boyardee I ate (and loved) as a kid. It's just I never really thought of it as Italian food, it's not what I expected I'd be served in Italy.

Admittedly I am only having a small sampling of food, but I am going to a diverse and recommended group of restaurants, all of which have been charming and fun in their own ways, but the food is all the same, which is to say for my palate: boring.

I hear tell you can get whole wheat things, but after 4 days of looking I have yet to come across one thing that isn't made from white flour.

Bar e Book had great wine and service and is a charming fun room. It would be a wonderful place to sit over some wine and read or chat with friends. Or to have them make you a real Italian coffee.

However, from a New Yorker's point of view to pay 16 euros (nearly $24) for a lack luster brunch that didn't even include a drink just to sit in a room that looks like it could be on Avenue B where I could get a brunch for $10 that included a Bloody Mary seems like not the best use of my funds here in Rome. But on this day we really wanted that kind of "downtown" (albeit NYC downtown) ambience and we loved being there. So go figure.

Ciao for now, much more to come.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Roma, Birds and Pizza

If you ever need a reminder of how much the American economy sucks all you have to do is come to Europe and experience spending the euro. Ouch.

Yesterday we arrived after a very uneventful flight and got settled into our very adorable little studio apartment just around the corner from the Colosseum. Nap time was in order and when we woke 4 hours later our friends drove us around (it was pouring out). I hate cars and being in one in Rome is never a good idea, it seems, to me unless you are coming home from a late night debauchery, as the only thing more insane than the traffic is trying to park.

Once parked we did a short tour of the old Jewish ghetto, sadly our nap made us late so the famous "everything is burnt and they have an amazing cake" bakery was already closed as it was Shabbos (Friday night) so stores where closed around 3 (just fyi). We did manage to pickup some very expensive baked goods at an Austrian Bakery (also oddly in the ghetto) which I promptly left along with all my guide books and food suggestions at a pizza place later on in the evening (which I hope to return to today and retrieve).

The highlight of the day was walking across the Tiber and seeing this massive swarm of starlings do amazing things. I didn't have my camera with me, but luckily we have You Tube so I was able to find this video of it.

Before our second nap of the day we were able to catch a bite of some OK pizza down the street (as mentioned), nice crust, not too soft or puffing, not to thin, but plain by my standards if of high quality. Then last night we went to this groovy hipster neighborhood - kind of Rome's Lower East Side only more sparse and funky - called Pigneto where we had a birthday meal for our friend Todd at this place called Primo.

One of the highlights for me was an amazing organic Sicilian wine, for 30 E a bottle. The room was fab, the food good, the highlight was a pan fried reconstituted salted Cod on crispy onion infused potatoes and an artichoke ravioli, which alternated between luscious and soft to chewy. The artichoke filling was intensely flavored and very fresh. The entire dish was covered in a generous grating of Pecorino. The highlight for me was the tiramisu, which came in a chocolate cup with a thin layer of chocolate cake at the bottom that was then filled with fluffy rich cream/custard dusted with cocoa. It was the sea salt that gave this tiramisu it's kick, though, and made it stand out from the typical run of the mill tiramisu we are all too familiar with.

All and all an amazing first day. I will get more details about the name of the restaurant and location etc once I shake off my jet lag and reconnoiter with our friends who took us. At the moment everything is a bit of a haze. Espresso is in my near future, enjoy the birds and I'll catch up with you soon. Ciao!


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