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!”
If Craig had his way, this post wouldn’t have this title. I just asked him, “Would you call the chili I made the other day the best of your life?” And he answered: “I don’t even think of it as chili because there weren’t any beans; just lots of meat and stuff. But it was certainly delicious.”
Luckily, when my friend Diana ate it, she said the words that justify this post’s title. “This is seriously the best chili I’ve ever had.”
My friend Clotilde Dusoulier, of the legendary food blog Chocolate & Zucchini and author of several notable food books (including her own cookbook, a guide to Paris and the book she recently translated, the French Joy of Cooking, “I Know How To Cook”) was coming to dinner.
I’ve spent lots of time with Clotilde, we’ve dined together several times in New York (at Babbo and the Corner Bistro and Dirt Candy) and in Paris (at Ze Kitchen Galerie) but we’d never cooked for each other. And considering that she grew up in France, where dining and food are such a deep part of the culture children aren’t just born with silver spoons in their mouths but an entire set of flatware, and I grew up on Long Island and in Boca Raton, Florida where fine dining is limited to the salad bar at the golf club, I knew I was in serious trouble. How could I impress Clotilde? What if she spit her food out into her napkin in disgust? How would I live this down? Would she ever want to see me again? This was the most terrifying dinner guest of all time.
Today’s the second day of Hanukkah and as much as I wish I could tell you that I’m frying latkes and spinning dreidels and unwrapping Hanukkah gelt in celebration, I’m actually sitting here next to a pile of cookbooks trying to figure what constitutes the Best of 2009. You see, many of my food blogging contemporaries–David, Deb, Eat Me Daily–have already offered up their take on what you should buy for you and yours this holiday season and now it’s my turn to separate the wheat from the chaff or the sour cream from the apple sauce (latke joke!). Are you ready for some hardcore gift-buying ideas? Come along with me.
My friend Cole Escola had a birthday recently and to celebrate I decided to cook him and his friend Jeffery Self a birthday dinner. You may know Jeffery and Cole as stars of their own show on LOGO, “Jeffery & Cole Casserole.” To honor their show, I once made them a casserole; now, for his birthday, I decided to make Cole two more C dishes (ones that he requested): chiili & carrot cake.
At the end of yesterday’s video podcast with Michael Symon, you may have heard me sheepishly express doubt about adding blue cheese to tomato soup. For some reason, I thought the result would be grainy and gloppy and just kind of gross. Instead, this tomato soup was absolutely the best tomato soup I’ve ever had–and the best part about it is you’d never know that blue cheese was what was making it taste so good. It adds depth and creaminess but it doesn’t taste funky and you don’t notice the texture.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to chat with Iron Chef Michael Symon outside the Standard Hotel in New York’s meatpacking district. Chef Symon’s in town to promote his new cookbook, “Live To Cook” which he co-wrote with this blog’s good friend Michael Ruhlman. Here’s our lively chat edited down to just 4 minutes:
As for the tomato soup I mention at the end, I made it later that night and it was so fantastic I’m going to share the recipe in a separate post (look for it tomorrow). And if you want to watch the video of me cooking with Chef Symon in his kitchen at Lola, click here.
* Iron Chef Michael Symon celebrates the reversal of Chicago’s ban on foie gras. “It always boggles my mind how quickly people bash foie gras but in the meantime have no problem with mass produced chicken, pork etc….let me assure that these ducks live a much better life than the “yellow chikens” that seem to be at every grocery store.”
* Pim visits Pink’s in L.A.. “Waiting half an hour for a hot dog was certainly a new experience for me.” (Long ago and far away when I lived in L.A. for a summer I visited Pink’s with a friend and enjoyed it. Though the celebrated “snap” of the dog, which Pulitzer Prize winning food writer Jonathan Gold made note of in his indispensable L.A. eating book “Counter Intelligence,” didn’t quite please me the way a soft, New York city street dog does. Maybe because the city dog is the dog I grew up with.)
* Davivd Lebovitz eats at Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower. Strangely enough, I’ve been there too: my parents took my brother and I to London and Paris when we were too young to appreciate it, though I remember getting dressed up and riding the elevator up into the belly of the Eiffel Tower for dinner. When we asked for our table, the maitre’d kindly informed us that there’d be a small wait because “the American actress Sally Field hasn’t gotten up yet.” When she got up, we asked for her picture and she said no.