Wandering around the markets of Barcelona–which is an essential activity for any food lover who visits–you’re confronted with sights and sounds and smells that’ll haunt you forever. I may one day forget the spires of the Sagrada Familia, but I’ll never forget my time wandering the aisles and aisles of fresh fish (so fresh, some of it’s still moving!), eggs placed out on piles of hay, and cuts of meat so stark and unfamiliar, they’d probably frighten Francis Bacon. What follows are a bunch of pictures I snapped wandering around the markets, with some occasional commentary.
Dear Readers, I am so proud to share with you my latest Food2.com effort: “I Can’t Cook Fish,” a musical co-starring my friend Lisa and Rebecca Charles of Pearl Oyster Bar. For anyone who’s written me before saying you’re nervous to cook fish at home, this video’s for YOU!
Special fish musical thanks must go to Joshua Hume (my collaborator and director), Ricky Marson for arranging the music, Lindy Groening for the awesome artwork, Ben Rasmussen for his choreography, the dancers–Chelsea Bonosky, Alana Isiguen, Alyssa Maksym–and, of course, Rebecca Charles, for sharing her fish recipe and her singing voice!
“Now is the winter of our Molly Stevens,” I wanted to say at the start of this winter. I wanted to say that because Molly Stevens’ book, All About Braising, is one of my all-time favorite cookbooks. I love this book because the recipes are flawless and, not only that, the results always exceed my expectations. Craig will never think of parsnips the same way again after Molly’s Chicken Breasts Braised with Hard Cider and Parsnips–Molly can transform anything with the flick of her magical wrist. So this winter I wanted to Molly out; I wanted to braise the whole winter through, browning, deglazing, and simmering until our kitchen itself was a braise. Only it never really got that cold and, truth be told, I was often so tired from Food Network meetings and tapings that a long braise didn’t really appeal to me when I came home. (Hence the popularity, I suppose, of 30 minute meals, etc etc.)
But recently at the Chelsea Market, where Food Network is located, I met a monkfish. There’s a fish store there and sitting on a counter, extravagantly arrayed, were fillets of monkfish–a truly ugly fish–and suddenly my mind leapt over the rooftops back to my bookshelf in Brooklyn where Molly’s book rested. “Molly has a recipe for monkfish!” I recalled. “Monkfish braised with cherry tomatoes and basil.” I bought 1 1/2 pounds of monkfish fillets and brought them home and sure enough Molly’s recipe called for 1 1/2 pounds of monkfish fillets.
The recipe was a cinch to put together–the whole thing was prepped and cooked in approximately one hour–and the results, as expected, were tremendous. As I placed the plate before Craig, I felt like I was serving restaurant quality food. And, essentially, I was. “The fish is so moist and tender,” said Craig, digging in. “And the sauce is so flavorful.” Monkfish is called the poor man’s lobster, but we didn’t feel like poor men eating this. We felt like kings.
Let Molly work her magic in your kitchen after a hard day’s work. Here’s how you make it…