Cameraless and Alone: The Second and Third Days

Camera status is status quo. Forces are alligning, though, to remedy the situation. Soon–perhaps this weekend–pictures will grow crisper and more accomplished. Thanks to SLOLindsay for the link to this LA Times story on food photography. Great tips are in there. I’m basically down to deciding between an SLR (which is the big clunky camera with the big lens) and a nicer version of the point-and-click I already have. Actually, I think my mind’s pretty made up: for my purposes, the latter makes the most sense. It’s just a matter of choosing the right latter—so I don’t later yell “Chute!” (Who got that joke? Genius, I tell you, genius!)

Now then, I’m going to go all Andrea Strong on yo’ ass and keep things texty but in a fun no-need-for-pictures way. (Andrea Strong is my hero in the world of pictureless food blogging). So here we go, then, some points of interest from the past two days:

* Baked another batch of the gingersnaps last night. This time I left them in too long and they’re a bit burnt. I have bad gingersnap karma. But I realized the underbaked ones are really delicious—maybe I was being a snob about the snap. Not all gingersnaps need to snap. West Side Story cast members, however, DO need to snap. How else will they intimidate each other?

* So I mentioned in my last post, I think, that I purchased Robert Sietsema’s new Ethnic Eating guide and today Patty, Molly and I tore it open after our directing class and looked for a place in the West Village to eat lunch. Patty’s eyes lit up when she saw ‘Ino: “My friend said it’s great! She loves it!” So we went there and it was great! We loved it!

Seriously, ‘ino is an adorable, cozy (read: tightly packed) Italian sandwich type place in the West Village. I say Italian sandwich type place because the menu consisted mostly of pannini and foccaccia. We went with the pannini. Actually, we did better than that: we went with the quattro panini. Each of us chose this option: it consists of 4 segments of 4 different paninis. We let the waitress pick for us—(our waitress was awesome; we loved her) and she made great choices. I don’t remember the specifics, but my personal favorite was proscuiotto and caramelized onions. Mmm. Or as ABBA would say: “Mamma Mia!”

Molly and Patty were equally enthused with theirs. We shared half a bottle of wine between us (for $11) and it was a nice compliment** to the panninis.

**I just realized that I, once again, typed “compliment” when I meant “complement.” Let’s explore this. Obviously, “compliment” and “complement” are homonyms. But, there’s something about “compliment” that seems slightly appropriate when you mean “complement.” Like I understand it means something different, but there’s some similarity betweeen the meanings that I think renders the mistake defensible. Members of the jury? GUILTY!!!

* Afterwards, Molly went off to write and Patty walked with me to Amy’s Bread which just opened up next to Murray’s Cheese on Bleeker so we could share a cashew bar. Patty ate hers with enthusiasm: “This is perfect,” she said. “Because I don’t like things too sweet and this is salty too.” It’s true—that’s why I love Amy’s Bread’s cashew bar. It’s salty AND sweet. If you’re on Bleeker, why not try one? WHY, I BEG, WHY?

* Tonight I watched an awesome Iron Chef America: it was double team—Batali and Sakai vs. Flay and Morimoto. The final score will SHOCK you. I thought it was a fun show—interesting to watch the cultures meld. I left this episode with lots of respect for Bobby Flay. He’s not necessarily a charmer in the kitchen, but boy does he throw himself into his food. His presentations are so dense and accomplished—he’s really an artist. Mario is precise and knowledgeable and a hard worker; but there’s something about Flay’s dishes (at least on TV) that seems more exciting and innovative. Batali’s gift, really, is an encyclopedic knowledge of Italian cooking—he can transport you through space (all over Italy’s many regions) and time (cooking dishes that have historical significance). He does this with passion and gusto (and tonight, I’m afraid, with a bit of hubris). Flay is equally reverant when it comes to Southwestern cooking but he’s also daring and brave and a master of the unexpected. Check out his scallops on the half shell when you watch this episode, or his dipping sauces to match Morimoto’s grilled shellfish—truly inspired.

* I also wanted to mention my newfound love for Lidia Bastianich. Whenever I catch her on PBS, I drop everything, kick back and zone in. She’s very knowledgable and very smart, but she’s also full of heart and shows how food and family and culture all cook together with beautiful results. (And I’ve never been so big on family values–at least in the Laura Bush sense.) Lidia’s family values are refreshing because they’re honest. She doesn’t coddle her grandchildren. (She’s playful, but she also makes sure they understand what they’re doing when they help her make gnocchi, for example). When her son Joey was on (and I think it’s Joey who co-owns Babbo and Lupa and other places) she bossed him around the kitchen with true authority. And you can sense his embarassment or irritation with her, but you also sense the love beneath it. Plus the food looks really good.

* I am toying with the idea of taking French lessons. Oui! Oui!

OK I’m signing out for the night. Let’s hold hands and get through these pictureless days together—united we stand, divided we fall, and anything in between is an orgy. Let’s keep that in mind for our first photography session with the new camera. Ciao!

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