Monday, May 31, 2010

The Dal Cart

The latest and most colorful food cart entrant to come along, Neil and I came upon the Dal Cart while on our way to Cafe Orlin. Looks yummy and can usually be found on Second Ave and 10th Street.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Street Fair Season is Upon Us

Part of me wants to write a narrative to these pictures, but somehow I think they speak for themselves and you can come to your own conclusions. Lots of corn the griddle cakes with melt cheese in the middle, roasted corn with or without the husk on, corn dogs and of course lots of meat.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Framers Market Desserts

Usually I only try to publish recipes I've created or at least tried and fiddled with, but this looks so good and is from a book very much after my own thinking I'm going to take a chance.

Farmers' Market Desserts by Jennie Schacht (Chronicle Books, May 2010) is as the title suggests a market driven dessert book and seeing as how strawberries are now at the market this seemed like the perfect dessert to highlight. publish the recipe.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The 3 Most Useless Things You Can Buy on a Plane When You Are Trapped

For years now we have been frequent fliers of Continental airlines, mostly because of all the big US airlines they have the most non stops out of New York and fly out of Newark which is fairly easy to get to from our house. One of my pet peeves with Continental is that when you fly with them to the coast they fly really shitty planes that don't have lap top plugs or private televisions or really's very retro. It's a joke really that they charge so much extra for business class (I flew in coach no upgrade for me), I mean why would you pay to fly business class when you can't even plug in your computer and do business? You don't even get your own TV with channels, you might as well fly Jet Blue. And they wonder why they're losing money? Even when you fly one of their newer jets (the new 739s have direct TV for a charge of $5.99 and you might as well not bother as the programing is so bad).

Anyway the point of today's post isn't to bitch about the inability for a legacy carrier in the US to figure out how to run an airline, the subject of today's post is, given you are stuck on a plane to the coast for nearly 6 hours with no entertainment system to distract you: what do you do to occupy yourself? Given that you are not interested in trying to watch Did You Hear About the Morgans on the drop down impossible to see because everyone has their windows open, mini screens with your $3 useless head sets, you decide, like I did, to browse through the in flight magazines. Normally I don't look at Sky Mall (the in-flight shopping magazine), but I was bored and figured maybe Sky Mall would work as well as an Ambien.

It actually had the opposite effect on me, with each page I was more and more horrified and oddly fascinated by the incredible amount of junk that people have come up with to sell. First off can I just say I've never seen so many adds for hair growing gadgets and potions in my entire life, seriously there must be a half dozen. The second runner up would be ramps for dogs so that they can get into bed with you or out of the back of high trucks. Is this because the dogs have gotten as fat and lazy as their owners?

I digress. What really caught my eye were all the ludicrous kitchen gadgets, several of which came under the page heading: "products that make life easier".

So without further adieu here are my top 3 things that will be cluttering our land fills in the years, well maybe months, to come:

Personal branding irons for steaks and hamburgers.
Here's the text that accompanied the picture:

"Personalize Your Barbecue! Create a personalized meal by branding your steaks, chicken and burgers! Every man needs this BBQ Branding Iron. Specify up to 3 initials."

Every man needs? Needs? Um, I don't think so....

Next up, an at home soft serve ice cream dispenser that has separate compartments for toppings and a cone holder. This Cusinart machine actually does make ice cream (at first I just thought it dispensed store bought): "Pour in the ingredients and turn the dial". And when you dispense the ice cream you can add your favorite sprinkles directly by just pulling a tab. Now this is convenience I can believe in? Really? You need a cone holder, three plastic sprinkler boxes attached to your soft serve ice cream maker? You do? Really? That makes the BP oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico so much more reasonable now that I know all that oil was going to be used for something so essential and meaningful, like a sprinkles container....

And lastly, but by no means least, the bakers edge brownie and lasagna pan, because, well, because...we can all use more edge? If you really want to know more check out their video.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Planting Time

The Food Movenment, Rising

The New York Review of Books recently published a great essay by Michael Pollan along with a recommended reading list. The above image is the front cover of Joel Salatin's book which I have been wanting to read since I saw him speak at Columbia a while back, it details how small farmers are constantly being put out of business because large agribusiness controls government regulatory bodies that have laws passed that only huge corporations can afford to follow. For example, if you want to slaughter your own chickens you're suppose to do it in an enclosed facility with a designated toilet for the USDA inspector? Joel talks about this in the great documentary movie Fresh while he is sitting outside with some farm workers slaughtering chickens in a nice, clean, breezy area, that looks perfectly sanitary to me....

I have yet to order it as there is only so much frustrating food information I can read and I'm still digesting the amazing, must read Bringing It To The Table by Wendell Berry.

Thanks to my friend Keith in Berlin for giving me the heads up on the article in the New York Review of Books.

It's All in the Wrist

This is my first ever posting on cocktails (I'm a wine drinker, what can I say?).

This morning's Tasting Table featured this video of the master Japanese mixologist Kazuo Uyeda demonstrating his "hard shake" which is done in order to perfectly aerate the drink. Mr Uyeda's book Cocktail Techniques and every other cocktail related supply you might need are all available at the Cocktail Kingdom's exhaustive site.

I think it could be the next big dance craze.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Old Coke Ad

In my friends Kurt's comment to my post about the Monday Market he links to this, but this is easier.

Farming in the Suburbs

A year or so ago The New York Times did an article on this Pasadena family that has turned their 1/10th of an acre suburban lot into a very productive farm. So much so that it provides not only food, but a living for the father and his three adult children. It makes me wish I had a backyard, not that I would be so productive, but just to be able to grow some lettuce, herbs and maybe have fruit tree or two would make such a dent in your food bill. I love that they have goats and chickens. Maybe it's time to move to Brooklyn!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Markets and Strawberries

It was a perfect day today, it even managed to get sunny for a while. I started out by walking to the Union Square market to get some shade plants for Neil's plot at our community garden La Plaza Cultural. I also picked up some asparagus and a quart of Strawberries.
I love the Monday Market at Union Square, it's got a great collection of farmers, some of whom are only there on Monday and when you add in the laid back vibe minus the mob scene of the Saturday market and I think Mondays are my favorite. If you haven't had a chance to sample the first Strawberries of the season don't wait, they are the best we've had in a few years and well worth gorging on while you can.

After our gardening adventure Neil headed off to work and I headed home, I had eaten all day and was starving! My search for the perfect salad on the Lower East Side lead me to Inoteca where I had a very gratifying and delicious lunch.

Even though I really shouldn't have I had two courses, the first was a wonderful crunchy, spicy chewy salad of calamari and celery with a spicy tomato vinaigrette.
I inhaled it and then pondered how to make a tomato vinaigrette.
The second course was an eggplant lasagna (no noodles) with goats cheese and top with melted grana padano. It was rich and unctuous and totally delectable.
I didn't have any wine or dessert, but certainly the wine list looked very extensive and the people next to me were raving about whatever it was they were drinking. Of course they were also regaling the restaurant about how there mother freaked out on Thanksgiving because someone did her last line of coke and she had a melt down and started yelling at her daughter (the one eating lunch at Inoteca and telling the story). I thought it was peculiar that we now live in a time where adult twenty something children have relationships with their parents whereby they can have such an open knowledge of each others drug use. I personally don't think I would want to have know if my mother was doing coke. Nonetheless it made for a very entertaining overheard lunch time conversation.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Vintage Cook Books

Neil sent me this link last week to an article on ABE books all about vintage cookbooks. I love old books and have been collecting kitchen and cooking related books and pamphlets for a while.

My collection increased significantly recently after visiting the most amazing vintage store in Portland called Avant Garden Vintage. If you are in Portland you have to head over to 2853 SE Stark street and check them out (they don't have a website if you get lost here's their numbers 503-283-4184/971-222-7364 ).

This was given to me by a dear friend, it's basically Atkins, but with some very funny suggestions like on page 94 entitled: Your Weekend Shopping List and starts off with 1 bottle dry sherry.
Diet with bread! Now that's my kind of diet...
If you notice the lilac color of her pot is the same color as the centerpiece on the cover of the Snacks book below. The Artist at the Gas Range book is a trip for some reason they thought it would be intriguing to have a "mystery chef" create recipes so the book is filled with recipes like:
Sole Mystery Chef, Mystery Chef Soup, Mystery Chef Stuffed eggs, etc. The other weird thing is the section featuring: Famous Hungarian Dish (Goulash), Famous Scottish Dish (Scotch Collops?), Famous French Dishes (Uncle Victor's Ragout and The Student's Ragout - sounds real French doesn't it?), Famous Swedish Dish (meatballs) you get the idea? It certainly was a different era...
This is by far the scariest cover:
The classic of all cookbooks which includes her recipe for Hashich Fudge which she got from Bryon Gysin. It isn't really fudge, but rather a spicy sweet Moroccan fruit ball with pot in it not hash. She starts off the recipe by saying "which anyone could whip up on a rainy day!" and goes on to say would make an entertaining refreshment for a ladies' bridge club or a chapter meeting of the DAR. That Alice she cracks me up!

Dessert in a Bottle

Check out this great article/slide show over at Menshealth on the lack of health in bottled and to go drinks. Here's the #1 worst drink along with their withering narrative:
Cold Stone PB&C (Gotta Have It size, 24 fl oz)

2,010 calories
131 g fat (68 g saturated)
153 g sugars

Sugar Equivalent: 30 Chewy Chips Ahoy Cookies

In terms of saturated fat, drinking this Cold Stone catastrophe is like slurping up 68 strips of bacon. Health experts recommend capping your saturated fat intake at about 20 grams per day, yet this beverage packs more than three times that into a cup the size of a Chipotle burrito. But here’s what’s worse: No regular shake at Cold Stone, no matter what the size, has fewer than 1,000 calories. If you must drink your ice cream, make it one of the creamery’s “Sinless” options. Otherwise you’d better plan on buying some bigger pants on the way home.

Friday, May 21, 2010

City of Merchants Benefit is Tomorrow!

Tomorrow the New Amsterdam Market is having a day of events at the Marble cemetery in the East Village to raise money and awareness for their on going effort to build a full time market in New York City. I'll be there!

Tickets are as low as $25.

It's going to be a lot of fun and I'm particularly looking forward to Wild Botanicals specialty market from 11-1 that features foraged foods from Vermont foragers extraordinaire Nova Kim and Les Hook who hand gather everything and are the founders of the Wild Food Gatherers Guild If you just attend in the morning for the wild botanicals market it is only $5.

Here's a list of some of the things they will be bringing:

Salad Greens
Angelica leaves
Virginia Waterleaf
Pepperwort leaves
Clintonia leaves
Trout lily
Oxeye daisy
May flower
Evening Primrose
Amaranth tips
Cattail Hearts

Pot Herbs
Stinging Nettles
Wood Nettles
Dandelion Greens
Yellow Dock/Docks
Red Asparagus
Bracken Ferns

Roots, Bulbs, & Tubers
Crinkle root
Pepper root
Wild Ginger

Pheasant's Back

Sweet Fern
Wintergreen & Berries

BP Oil Spill Cake

Spotted in a New Orleans Grocery store:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Image of the Day

The Gulf of Mexico BP Oil catastrophe.

The Last of It

OK even though I've been home two days now I still have a slew of loose ends that I want to blog about before I close the book on my recent trip to Portland and Vancouver.

There are so many restaurants in both these towns. I did have a few meals I've yet to mention at places that are really worth checking out if you are in either of these amazing cities.

The place pictured above is called Maenam a kick ass fancy Thai restaurant next store to Refuel (same owners). Sadly I only got to eat at Maenam which is a beautiful sleek room with equally beautiful and delicious food, it isn't cheap and the portions, as I have noted before in other Vancouver restaurants, were on the small side. However the ingredients are locally sourced and the preparation for all the dishes we had were spot on. The only slight criticism I would have was that the Som Tam (green Papaya salad) was a little plebeian. The Fraser valley Duck Broth with Winter Melon and the Burmese Curry of Sloping Hills Pork were outstanding. The Stir Fried Water Spinach (often called Morning glory in Thailand) with crispy pork was delicious but at $15 for what amounted to a very small side dish of vegetable seem like a rip off to me.

I ate at Clyde's Common in the Ace Hotel in Portland twice. I loved the high ceiling and the huge windows, the room looks like a big army tent with strings of old fashioned light bulbs draped along the mezzanine level. Downstairs is all big banquet tables upstairs smaller more intimate tables of two and four.

Both times I ordered two dishes, both times one was a real winner and one was so dull I wanted to scream. At lunch I had a Dandelion salad with, farmer's cheese, walnuts and raisin vinaigrette and I splurged the extra dollar and had it topped off with a poached egg. A perfect sweet bitter and unctuous combination of green, raisins and egg yolk adding up to one super salad. Then came the spiced chickpeas with aioli. I don't know what they were spiced with, but the day I had them even copious amounts of salt and pepper couldn't help liven them up. I thought aioli was suppose to be redolent of raw garlic and lemon juice? It was almost as dull as the chickpeas.

Dinner was less successful, the Asparagus looked beautiful and the Tarragon vinaigrette had a wonderful pungency, but why par boil the carrots and make them kind of mushy? The braised lamb sounds great with spring onions, mint, orange oil and grilled bread, but again soooooo bland it was three or four pieces of stewing lamb in some jus. The mint was a nice idea, an interesting reference to the traditional mint sauce, but was to skimpy an amount to really make a difference, I didn't taste the orange oil and the bread was good for soaking up the sauce, but I would much rather have had some potatoes, or really anything with a little more substance, at $21 this seems skimpy so much so the wait staff should inform you that you need to order a side or too or risk going home hungry.

Nonetheless, I did really enjoy the experience of eating at Clydes, I just wish the cooks would lean into their bolder more aggressive side and be freer with the salt and pepper or at the very least have it on the table (I fucking ate this trend of always having to ask for salt and pepper) no two people's tastes are the same, put some salt and pepper on the table when you serve the entree and take them away when the meal is done. That way you don't risk people running off with them and you make grumpy people like me happy. And to digress totally for a moment I feel the same way about coffee shops who don't let you put your own cream in your coffee.

Lastly, go to Alma's Chocolate and stock up on treats for your hotel room or to bring home to friends and lovers. I bought Neil a gold leaf covered dark chocolate statue of Quan Yin.

I ask you where else on the planet are you going to find that? If you're not into eating chocolate goddesses of mercy you can always try the equally heavenly truffles.

The room at Clyde's:
The great Dandelion salad:
The blandest spiced chickpeas I ever ate (or attempted to eat before I got bored and pushed them aside.) They look nice tho don't they?

And finally a very special thank you to my friends Matt and Jim in Vancouver who gave me the inside scoop on all the places to go to and for being such amazing hosts.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ah Socialism

The first thing I saw as I walked up Davie street to my hotel in Vancouver was this community garden on a very busy corner in the middle of downtown. I couldn't believe any city in the world would let such prime real estate be used for such a use. After some more research it turns out this particular garden is on the site of a former gas station (see above link) and it also seems that some of the new gardens (like this one, they plan to build several all over town) are just temporary, but regardless better to have a temporary community garden then a boarded up derelict gas station waiting to become a condo. No?
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