Iconic male food writers like A.J. Liebling and R.W. Apple were large men; they flaunted their girth in ways that their female counterparts (M.F.K. Fisher, Elizabeth David, Ruth Reichl) did not. Their weight helped them cultivate an aura of power and authority; it’s easy to imagine them sitting in a brown leather chair, patting their tummies after a large meal, smoking a very expensive cigar and sipping a very fine Brandy. But to quote the Monkees: that was then and this is now.
My Twitter followers were shocked–no, outraged!–when I announced last week that I’d never been to Kalustyan’s, the international foods store on Lexington Ave. in Murray Hill. Food52’s MerrillStubb’s Tweeted: “NO! (Can’t believe it.)” Savour Tweeted: “You haven’t been to Kalustyan’s? May be the #1 thing I miss most about NYC. That and Bemelman’s Bar.” JosePiano Tweeted: “WHAT?!?!?!? And it was even included on your Scavenger Hunt!”
Clearly, I’d ruffled a few feathers with my pronouncement. It was fortunate, then, that a few days later I found myself in that neighborhood and had a chance to remedy the situation.
I love chili, but ever since reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and watching “Food Inc.” I have a hard time making it with ground beef. Of course, on special occasions, I make Michael Symon’s recipe with slab bacon and pork shoulder, but last Wednesday wasn’t a special occasion. No: it was just a weeknight and as I found myself wandering the aisles of Gourmet Garage, I wondered: “What if I just get a bunch of vegetables and beans and cook them the way I cook Michael Symon’s chili? Ya know: with beer and chilis in adobo and freshly ground coriander and cumin seeds?” The results, as you can see above, were so good even Craig agreed: “I don’t miss the meat!”
Above you’ll see the first video in my latest video series for Food2.com. I got the idea for this show while reading Kim Severson’s book “Spoon Fed.” On pg. 49 she writes, “To understand good chocolate, you have to know bad chocolate, and you should experience them side by side. It’s a method that has helped me through the years, whether I am tasting water, salt, milk, ground beef or any other food that might not seem to have much variation.”
And thus the idea for this show: a show where I taste three foods (all of the same kind) side-by-side to compare and contrast them. The above episode features chocolate (I can’t tell you the brands yet, but I may be able to in the comments once approved by F.N.) Future episodes include salt, peanut butter, Chardonnay, honey, and 20 other exciting topics. If you have ideas for taste tests you’d like me to try, let me know in the comments!
Hey readers, I’m heading to Chicago the 2nd week of August to cook with chefs and home cooks for my next book and I need your help. Who are your favorite Chicago chefs? What are your favorite Chicago restaurants? It’d be great if you could share the less obvious ones (yes, I’ve reached out to Rick Bayless…still haven’t heard back!); also if you know any stand-out home cooks with unique stories or cooking styles, let me know that too. Thanks!
What’s that expression about teachers learning from their students? Is there an expression like that? There really should be.
You may recall that for my cookbook I have an intern named Tyla working with me. Tyla herself has a food blog called “Learning To Live Without A Microwave” and on her blog last week I saw an excellent recipe for “Zucchini Saute with Toasted Almonds.” Now Tyla got the recipe from my friend Deb of Smitten Kitchen who titled the post “My Favorite Side Dish”; Deb, in turn, got it from The Red Cat restaurant. (Another game of recipe telephone.) But the point is that I discovered it from Tyla and it’s such a killer recipe it’s time you discovered it from me; it takes just a few minutes and it’s a “wow-er.”
I don’t often ask you to get out of your seat while reading my blog, but for the frittata you see in the above picture I demand a standing ovation!
I mean, really. Can you believe that I made that? Not only did I make that, I made that bleary-eyed on a Saturday morning using just the ingredients I had on hand. And Craig, who didn’t know what to expect when I said I was making a frittata, couldn’t stop raving about the results. “This is like professional restaurant quality food,” he declared. “Every bite has something different…you get the sweetness of the tomato, the spiciness of the jalapeno, the…..” You get the idea.
There’s a very hip restaurant in my neighborhood called Joseph Leonard; you go there, and everyone else is either more attractive or more wealthy than you. There’s a very cool bathroom with a medicine cabinet over the sink that has Q-tips, Altoids and tampons (I bet women wish more restaurant bathrooms had tampons; or maybe they do and that’s just a secret between women and restaurants?) and on every table a little jar of cornichons. It’s that little jar of cornichons (not the tampons) that I’d like to talk about today. It led to my own table decorating revelation, one involving sugar snap peas, garlic and lots of white wine vinegar.