Monday, May 31, 2010

Spring is waning.

The apartment smells so good right now. I made sauce for pasta. I roasted some tomatoes and garlic, sauteed spring onion and mushrooms, added the tomatoes, garlic fresh basil, peas and asparagus. First there was the smell of the garlic and tomatoes followed by the onions and mushrooms. I used some tagliarini and topped it all with grana after I took the picture. It's such clean fresh flavor. My senses are all full up.
I'm stocking up on peas. The season is almost over. I shelled four pounds this weekend. I'm comforted by the appearance of peaches. I had the first one the other day. Not quite ready but full of promise.
I have a bowl of cherries for dessert.
I have funny lyrics in my head. It's good good good. Like Bridget Bardot.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Grrrl Gang Snacks

When Renee and Nicki were here we made pizza but were so caught up in the making and eating that we forgot to document. We really did have fun with food. We shopped first and came home with a bunch-o-toppings. We found some grilled artichoke hearts that were ridiculously good.
We also had a wonderful lunch at Hog Island followed by doughnut desert. We were a little dismayed at how many of the oysters came from far away. The waiter explained it as a seasonal thing. Faced with the choice between one kind of local or a variety we opted for variety. Fossil fuels were consumed. Sigh. It's fun to go with three or more people because you can order more than one thing and share. After our dozen mixed oysters we had a really nice salad with some roasted pork and bull's blood micro greens, some oysters baked in butter and citrus, creamy clam chowder and oyster stew and a grilled cheese sandwich. The grilled cheese is made with three kinds of Cowgirl Creamery cheese and crusty bread from Acme. I don't even like doughnuts but Dynamo makes some irresistible ones. We got a variety which included rose chocolate and apricot. So bleepin good.
I'm still happy from all the great conversation but I did have the blues when they left. They left me with a loaf of olive bread, which I think they got at Wild Flour. I spread one of the left over pizza toppings made from two kinds of olives and capers and peppers. It seemed redundant but it worked. I topped that with some grana and roasted asparagus.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


I bought a cookbook. I own quite a few but I haven't purchased one in awhile. This one was featured in BOMC so I got a deal. I like Mario well enough but it was the picture of pizza that motivated me. I thought he might have some good advice. I'd seen him on Iconoclasts recently. He served Michael a pizza with an egg on top. It made me think about Jaime Oliver's horror when he saw kids being served pizza for breakfast. Ironically he has a recipe for the traditional pizza with and egg on his web site. I guess maybe he doesn't serve it for breakfast. Of course the pizza he was reacting to had a thick doughy crust, tomato sauce, cheese and scrambled eggs. It was not appealing but his reaction irked me because I knew he knew how to make a lovely breakfast pizza.
I know a lot people eat left over cold pizza for breakfast. Once in a blue moon I will eat cold left over pizza but never for breakfast. I thought about making a breakfast pizza one day recently when I was out of bread but had left over doughs in my fridge.
I only follow recipes when I bake and even then it's likely I'll change things a bit. But I like reading cookbooks. Mario's is full of beautiful photos and simple recipes. I've been going though it again and again. I was inspired by a recipe from his book and a recipe I'd seen Ann Burrell make to buy some Fregula, which I made with fresh peas (of course), grana, olive oil, lemon juice and lemon basil. Very good.
I haven't read Mario's other books so I don't know if his focus in this book is wildly different. He does often talk about the differences in food from the different regions of Italy. In this book he writes about going to farmers markets to see what is fresh; it's the seasonal/regional approach that always appeals to me. In a long paragraph defining a context for his use of the word we he writes: We love the change from merely slicing tomatoes and adding salt to complex braising as summer fades and autumn slides in. And he mentions the social costs associated with our food choices and makes a list of changes he has made in his restaurants. He is a big importer of Italian specialty foods. Lots of fossil fuel use. I don't really have a problem with that. He uses lots of local stuff as well. In my own life I try to reserve my fossil fuel use purchases for specialty imports. And I'm lucky because I live in a foody part of the country where so much of what I want is made locally.
Mario's pizza crusts all look a bit charred. I imagine that's because he cooks them first on a skillet and then under a broiler. I'm ambivalent about that method. In my perfect world I will have a brick oven. Until then I am happily making pizza in my toaster oven.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Doyenne and the Dancer

There was an old episode of Iconoclasts on last night. I've seen it before but I watched anyway. Alice Waters is a doyenne of American cooking. I think there are a few branches in what we call American cooking. She is another woman who went to Paris and learned how to cook and eat but she came back with a desire to eat the way she ate there in her own town. She may have used some French technique but she was focused on eating what she could buy locally. I remember reading about her way back in the day. She's been trying to raise the quality of food in schools way before Jaime Oliver. She uses the obesity word now and again, which is aggravating but she is really someone who loves food and cooking and gardens.
I've eaten at Chez Panisse three times, once upstairs and twice downstairs. It's like church for me. There's an open kitchen. Everyone looks so focused. I could never work there because I like to talk and laugh and even sing while I cook but I admire the monk like manner.
I liked the pairing of her with Baryshnikov. He's wonderful. They have a very cute old friend vibe.
Sometimes I worry that I sound disapproving of people's food choices. The truth is -- I am. I mean I don't really care if people want to eat junk but it's not interesting to me. And it makes me sad. I can't help but think they'd enjoy good food if they had it prepared by someone like Alice. I know I'm wrong about that. It's an emotional reaction. I remember sending some good chocolate as a gift to a friend who sheepishly tried to tell me that they didn't like it. It wasn't sweet enough. I felt bad that they felt bad but I had a hard time letting go of the desire for them to get why it was so good.
In the show she and Mikhail eat a salad with beef tongue and micro greens. If she served it to me I would eat it but I wouldn't order it. I'm not a fan of organ meats. I do admire the trend to cook the whole animal but I don't have the palate. And yet the salad looked so beautiful.
Food approval/disapproval is complicated for fat people. When you live a life in which you're taught to mistrust of your desires for food you need to have a sense that your choices aren't wrong in order to heal. I would beg forgiveness if I seem to harsh on anyone.
The connection between food and art/craft is so thrilling for me. I love having a great meal with a great friend, especially when that friend loves good food. I loved hanging out with Alice a Misha.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Ramen Girl

I watched The Ramen Girl this weekend. It's not a great movie but it's fun. And for anyone who has entered a kitchen hoping to learn it's right on.
There's so often a gruff teacher. I always laugh when people react to Gordon Ramsay with dismay. He's fairly typical. I've worked for many screamers. I know how to swear in five languages.
And two people who don't share a language trying and often managing to understand one another is also a restaurant experience. The movie stretches this a bit in a scene where the American girl seems to understand an elder Japanese woman. Still, it's true. Hand gestures and some kind of almost extrasensory communication often works.
But it's the idea that the chef's energy that makes food good is sweetly portrayed and also fairly true.
Food has been a bit boring around here. I almost took a picture of a bowl full of really simple romaine and tomato salad and rigatoni in white cheddar sauce with fresh peas. It was pretty. But it didn't seem interesting. I am often inspired by books, movies or TV shows about food.
My experience of Ramen is from times when I've had no money and ate it for days and days in a row. After the movie I wanted a big bowl of broth with noodles. And I wanted to open a restaurant.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Pound of Flesh

I jumped to a site today because a friend "liked" it on Facebook. It was full of "positive" thought all of which seemed fine to me until I came to the advice: Go meatless one day a week and don't enter the doors of a restaurant that sells a 16 ounce steak. That is obscene.
Hmmm. Well. Going meatless one day a week is no big deal. Some times I go more than that not because I'm avoiding meat but because I'm getting protein in other ways. But a sixteen ounce steak, obscene?
My mixed influences hold sway. I know dieters who would power through a 16 ounce steak and push away the potatoes and veggies. I don't think that's a particularly healthy thing to do but it's their choice. I've read about swimmers who eat what seems like a crazy number of calories because they need them and dancers who need them to get through a performance. A 16 ounce steak is just fuel for them. Six ounces is good for me and I'm gonna want the potatoes and veggies.
I saw a piece on the Huffington Post shaming Paula Dean and the Food Network in which meat is mentioned as a bad thing. The whole rant is loopy. I don't care if people eat meat or how much they eat. I just cringe when people stir up fear of food.
Mom is dieting after being told her knee might not bother her as much of she lost weight. She was talking about a friend of hers who doesn't like sweets. Mom wishes she didn't like them. Mom does have a big thing for sweets. She actually worries me some times. She visits during the holidays when there are lots of cookies and candies around and she eats them by the handfuls. She eats until her stomach hurts. I think it's because of all the dieting. She goes through the cycle of denial and consumption again and again. But her longing to be like the woman who doesn't like sweets made me sad. She's so cute when she gets a treat. She takes such delight in them.
I think a common sense approach is good in a general sense but sometimes excess is the most alive thing. Obscene is word used to describe immorality. And there may be a time when food and eating can be described in moral terms. But most of what I read is just so round the bend.