Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pink Chili

Looking for a car this past weekend, I stumbled into a Halloween Monster truck Rally. Cars. When you’re looking for a car, suddenly they all become so interesting. The more I read this, the more what you drive seemingly becomes a moral decision. Driving used to seem so freeing. Did you remember that mind whammy accompaning your first solo drive… leaven the confinement of parent dictated travel. Driven then was celebration. If my next car could just catch a glimpse of that, not quite in this way but maybe soma that --- just enough of that former road glory could be regained to make the gas sucking schlep tolerable.

Our lives’ barometers. They crop up in the most unexpected places. T’other night I had some harmonious moments strung together in the kitchen: measured in minutes, 120 of them. Inspired by my favorite freshly barred barrister, or maybe she’s a solicitor, (either way she reads briefs and regardless she’s an attorney). Now that we’re confused the meal was chili to be sure. Chili that looked and tasted so good it seared into my mind, a formerly chililess mind.

Now this dish, this pink chili, (the photograph above doesn’t nearly translate the flavor bud popping goodness), is an exceptional specimen; exceptional being meant not only as exemplary but rare. To be honest though, the whole meal was actually a glorious debacle. I was trying to make the barrister’s chili and combine it with a side of my roommate’s sweet potato sliced carrot mash-up but non-selective selective memory made for a wonky imitation.

So initially following a recipe, I spiced it like chili (coriander, cumin, chili powder, pepper), but then somewhere in the turning to the rotating contents within the fridge and cutting vegetables, all sorts of ingredients such as the usual onions, garlic, tomatoes and yellow peppers went in , plus the expected, queso, beans (red and pink), but then the unusual, beats (source of pinkness), corrots, broccoli, turnips, brussel sprouts, spinach, potatoes, honey and dill. Now maybe those ingredients aren’t so unexpected, I don’t know, because like cars, chili is new to my radar. But on these rain swept cool weather autumn days, the soothing belly warmth of chili might just be labeled edifying.

Rumor also has it T-ra put on another year, Happy Birthday

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Culinary Odyssey

So my parents just left after a 10 day visit, and 10 afternoons and evenings of eating out resulted in some pretty exemplerary culinary experiences. The highlights:

My dad wanted to try Milanesa, which is one of the staples of Argentine cuisine. It is, essentially, beef sliced very thin, battered in egg and breadcrumbs, then fried and I think ALSO baked--at least that's how my host family's housekeeper makes it, and hers is good. So I googled "best milanesa Buenos Aires" and came up with, suprise, surprise, an American food blog. A great blog, that is to say, called Matt Bites, and the recommendation for Milanesa was spot on--a really old-fashioned place that has stood its ground in the trendiest neighborhood of the city. We went one afternoon and had the best Milanesa I've had so far--flavorful beef, well seasoned bread crumbs, perfect proportion of meat-to-coating--along with Italian-style rolls, thick-cut french fries, and a salad of lettuce, tomato, and carrot, washed down with a 3/4 liter of Quilmes, the Argentine national beer, followed by a cafe (which equals espresso here) for my dad and a cortado for me (a cortado being an espresso with a splash of steamed milk).

Another afternoon was spent at one of the better known, bare bones parillas (grills) of Buenos Aires, where we had: asado de tira, which are beef ribs cut the long way, which is the Argentine way, and then grilled, of course, a salad of lettuce, tomato, and beets, french fries Provencal--with chopped garlic and parsley--bread, and, of course, more Quilmes. My dad loved Quilmes. This was his favorite meal but he couldn't stop looking over at the Argentines at the table next to us, who were having a seemingly neverending meal, alternating courses of meat and pasta. He liked the idea of having steak and pasta together--very Italian, he kept saying--which inspired the next meal I'll describe, which was probably my favorite:

We spent the day in this absurdly serene and picturesque farm/artisan town about two hours northwest of the city, called San Antonio de Areco. Lunch was in a beautiful, rustic parilla, sitting at the back next to a big window that opened into a sunny garden. We had the house salad, which consisted of lettuce, tomato, onions, peppers, red cabbage, and white cabbage, a plate of homemade egg tagliatelle with a simple, delicious tomato sauce, a big skirt steak, bread, mineral water, and Quilmes, with coffee for dessert. Afterwards we walked to the town museum, which is just about the only thing that doesn't close for siesta, and took a siesta of our own on some rocking chairs on the patio of the museum farmhouse. Later: ice cream. I had a refreshing limon (it was really, really hot outside) and dulce de leche granizado, which is dulce de leche-flavored ice cream with chocolate shavings mixed in.

One night we really wanted pasta--Buenos Aires has a rep for good Italian food--so we tried this place my host mother, and a guide book, recommended. We ordered three different kinds and couldn't decide which was worse--they were all truly heinous. My dad's spinach gnocchi might as well have been little pieces of green foam drenched in cream. My mom's pumpkin ravioli were rubbery, the filling completely tasteless--also drenched in cream and some chopped walnuts. Mine didn't even RESEMBLE Italian food--"whole wheat spaghetti with portobello mushrooms" turned out to be incredibly greasy, slippery noodles with mushrooms but also scallions, which tasted like a really average lo-mein, and then topped with parmesan--gross.

The next night, we tried again. This time I looked up a place on the B.A. equivalent of the Zagat Guide, Guia Oleo. Good decision--this time the pasta was extraordinary. I had homemade vegetable fettucine with mixed vegetables, chicken, and fresh basil, my dad had a spinach ravioli topped with warm chopped tomatoes and fresh basil, my mom had squid-ink and sundried tomato ravioli filled with crabmeat.

Buen provecho!

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Go to the grocery store last night and I didn’t know what I was buying. Some of everything but afterwards the run and shoot Kitchen offence was one of those divine rhythms otherwise reserved to art.

Everything that crossed the counter-top could do no wrong, ingredients just assembled themselves. Tomatoes into sauce, herbs and onions onto beans, brocs, shrooms, shredded carrots, kale, cheddar, Colby, moz all tumbled outta grocery bags across cutting boards under knives and onto spinning olive oil soaked dough. The oven warrants preheating this whole time (as high as it’ll go), especially if you’re living in an Antarctic apartment like those of us who are trying to beat last October’s heating bill with a sans heat strategy.

The wheels, to borrow a term if I may, blaze. Were talking five alarm. To add some kerosene, we chased that baby with some chocolate chip ricotta roll but that’s deserving of a post unto itself. For some omega-3 fatty acids, half a Za, (or due to the shape of our pans: rectangles), got some Mahi-Mahi.

The fat lady sings

Friday, October 17, 2008

Can Guiness Count as Dinner?

OK so yesterday was not the best day for eating; in fact, I can't attribute my obama-like figure to my absurdly fast metabolism anymore if I'm going to eat like I did yesterday.

I had an early morning court date and skipped breakfast cause I was later than Rizzo after a night with Kenickie (zing!). Lunch was pretty blaze though. I went to this spot called Free Foods and had a small pice of salmon topped with pucini mushrooms, swordfish with grape tomatoes and yellow bell peppers, a carmelized potato wrapped in steak, and some penne with tuna. Dessert was a chocholate swirl cheesecake from Magnolia's with a chocolate pudding-like center. It was otherwordly.

Met someone for drinks after work and since I knew dinner wasn't happening soon I consciously ordered a Guiness (well, five of 'em actually) in order to keep my calorie count up there. I eventually got a piece of pizza late night once I was back on the UES but hunger remained.

Then this morning was oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar. Work is slow these days so my officemate and I went to Pompano, a Mexican restaurant on 49th and 3rd. Apparently there's a nice restaurant and a more casual foodcourt but we hit up the restaurant. I had a sort of seafood paella: octopus, squid, scallops, and shrimp over cilantro rice in a coconut sauce. BLAZE. Sara got the skirt steak with portobello mushroom and garlic-chorizo mashed potatoes. Also blaze.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mi Amicci

Last night, which probably more counts as early this morning, a baseball game was chased with some tunes; and though the Bosox have been stinkin’ up the field, the Pixies never sounded better. Twas a good evening, the scent of fall flowing in through KiKi’s ever open windows, Michelangelo on the couch under a blankie, and myself alternating between basil hayden infused mint juleps and a fine (Polish perhaps, maybe Czech) larger (or was it ale?) whose label as well as most events of the evening, appear as hazy as Kiki's apartment appeared through a curtain of Danish cigarillo smoke rings.

ahhh, its been awhile fellow friends in food and I see that during this hiatus your tables been graced with some fine cuisine. I’ve been very much waylaid, two funerals, a wedding, some simultaneous exhibitions, a 5th birthday party and the van’s been acting up ever since we tricked her out. Such are the spins in the wash cycle of life. Not too worry though, despite these diversions, I haven’t let my culinary explorations nor media voyeurism slide; details of which I’ll later divuldge

Absolutely remarkable, beautiful outside today. This one goes out to you mother nature.
Breakfast=Oats w/ apple, almonds, granola, pear, raison, honey, flax seed, yogurt & leche
Lunch=Soup w celery and chocolate (not inside but beside the soup)
Dinner=black beans, cabbage, turnips, coriander, dill, pepper, garlic & honey (because all my teeth are sweet) spread over pasta fusilli and a spinkling of queso

For an exciting snore, don’t miss tonight’s debate
My friends, no pork barrel earmark shall freeze us mavericks from
standing by the fundamentals of my record of bipartisan reining in of a shepard’s hatchet to firmly sit down on a bailout package that further scalpels the taxpayers who are struggling to put food on their skyrocketing tables.

Buona Fortuna Amores

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fall Feast for Foodies

The fall foliage has begun setting trees alight and frolicking at our feet. What better time to gather around a table adorned with gourd votives, baby pumpkins, american sycamore and white ash leaves, crimson napkins, burnt umber candles, and diminutive arrangements of sienna-hued roses?

We're hosting a fall feast for foodies. Bring your favorite autumnal apple treats, gastronomical gourd dishes, savory short-ribs, mouthwatering mushroom risottos and robust red wines. We'll provide a few delicious dishes as well as mulled wine and hot apple cider.

If you're in the area (Hartford, CT), consider yourself invited! Brie and I conceived of this plan but haven't picked a date. Anyone have any brilliant ideas as to when we should do this? Sometime in November seems best.

Spanish Harlem is the New East Village

For breakfast yesterday I had my staple Oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar -- although Dunhill raised the price from $2.75 to $3.0o. You think this will help? OK, maybe a bit anachronistic.

For lunch I had a sandwich with cured ham, french gruyere, and mornay sauce on sourdough. My officemate and I split our desserts so half of a creamcheese brownie and half of a huge, honey-covered baklava.

For dinner I ate at this awesome little Franco-Mexican spot called Itzocan Bistro on 101st and Lex. I had Crepes with wild mushrooms, huitlacoche, brie cheese and truffle oil. Magnificent.

Morning meetings are the worst. I missed breakfast this morning and all I had was watered down White & Case-provided-so-I-can't-complain-coffee. Around 11AM hit up my new little lunchtime hotspot, Dishes, and got a duck confit sandwich with french brie, arugula, harissa aioli ('member I told you 'bout harissa last week!), port fig spread on toasted ciabatta. Arborio rice pudding for dizert. Although my job is whacksauce, I'm gonna miss eating like this...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Firefly Restaurant (SF)

This new-American (?) place in SF called Firefly has a BOMB prix fix menu Sun-Thurs for a very reasonable price. Becky's order is in parentheses.

Starter: Sweet corn chowder with polenta croutons (Shrimp and Sea Scallop Potstickers
with Sesame Soy Dipping Sauce).

Main Course: Grilled Ribeye Steak with Twice Baked Parmesan Potato, Sautéed Spinach and Rosemary–Gypsy Pepper Relish (Seared Sea Scallops with Bacon–Lobster Mushroom Vinaigrette, Mashed Potatoes and Blue Lake Beans)

Dessert: Warm Huckleberry Plum Cobbler with Pecan Biscuit and Huckleberry Buttermilk Ice Cream (Summer Berry Pudding)

As tough as the climb to my house was, I was glad to walk home 5 blocks after this meal...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Not-So-Memorable Day of Meals

Breakfast: Bowl of oatmeal (microwaved - I was in a hurry). Spoonful of peanut-butter.

Lunch: 3-day-old bagel toasted with salami (no spread, cheese, veggies, nothing). As aweful as the sandwich sounds, the salami was hella tasty. I think it's a good meat for sandwiches when the fridge is lacking just cause it packs so much flavor on its own.

Dinner: Chicken burrito. Handful of baby carrots. Sliced Macoun apple (Highlight of my day of food. Gene sent them from CT...get 'em while they're still around, New Haveners!).

Who said we can't take anything away from such crummy (no pun intended!) days?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Miracle Fruit, or who's going to be in NYC in the near future?

"There will be a fancy Miracle Fruit tasting event, which will be going down this coming weekend. Indigenous to West Africa, miracle fruit, when ingested, reacts with certain tastebuds, temporarily numbing some while overstimulating others. Join 99 creative guests for a night of bizarre flavor treats. Sample portions of lemons, limes, kumquats, rhubarb, blue cheese, oysters, apple sauce, vinegar, mustard, tequila, whiskey, vodka, sauerkraut, olives, and pickles will be provided; bring other items to sample and to share. Price includes entry, miracle fruit, food and liquor samples, cocktails, and evening-long entertainment. This event is open bar.

Dress to impress.

Hope to see you there..."

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sunny October in NorCal

Since October is the sunniest month of the year in SF (25 days of sun on average vs. 5 in February), the last few weeks have proven to be the perfect time to enjoy all of the "outdoors-y" aspects of Northern California. Yesterday, Becky and I drove up to Sonoma County and went apple/tomato picking. The place is better known for its grass-fed beef, and the apples didn't stand up to Bishops', but the tomatoes were...delectable!

Breakfast: Bowl of oatmeal. Cup-o-joe (Cafe au lait, to be more specific/yuppie)

Lunch: Madd apples (mutsu, orin, senshu, and arkansas black) and tomatoes (wish i could name the varieties from the top of the dome) from the tree/vine. fresh pumpkin ice cream (real pumpkin!) from a local creamery.

Dinner: Sliced heirlooms. Grilled chicken in a soy-ginger-garlic marinade. Garlic mashed potatoes.

Dessert: Apple crisp (hint of nutmeg in the streusel does wonders).

On a semi-related note, how'd you like to wake up and eat breakfast here (see all the pics):

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Food for a Rainy Sunday

Mom came up to the Heart this morning and we walked a few laps around the Park for the Breast Cancer walk. It was neat to be out in the drizzly rain with a whole bunch of people in good spirits on an early fall morning, and we walked arm in arm. Of course, we also ate.

I had a bowl of raisin bran (a staple chez moi) before the walk and some carrot orange juice. Post-walk, we hit up Mo's for comfort food. I had eggs, bacon, potatoes, rye toast. J-Star had a vegetable omelet that included cauliflower (which seemed a bit unique ... but tasty!), potatoes, toast, and coffee. There were no pancakes involved this time.

Then we hit up Starbucks.

Afternoon snack (with books) was Earl Grey, 2 fig newtons, a brownie, and some crackers and cheese. Lots of water. Dinner was linguine with shrimp in a tomato sauce with garlic, olives, and capers. Hibiscus tea. Dessert was a homemade ice cream sandwich of ginger cookies with pistachio gelato. Miam miam.

Bonne nuit!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Food of the Week: Lamb Merguez

... North African food in general is what's up these days. Mad love and thanks go out to H who put me up on cAfe (108th and Columbus); a small unassuming French-Carribbean byob spot on the UWS. Your boy got exactly the opposite of what I would imagine D would order: pheasant pate with fennel, white truffle oil, cognac, and topped with melted brie. Then I got the lamb merguez with harissa, dried figs, and dates in a coconut sauce. Phenomenal.

Then last night I did some roomie bonding and ate at Le Souk in the one place being gentrified faster than Harlem: Alphabet City. It's a Morrocan place that my roommate basically chose because the hostesses were hot (I hung my head in shame; they were hot, though). His lamb was a bit bland but my couscous paella was Foxy Brown aka the ill-na-na. It had mussels, shrimp, spicy merguez and chicken in a bed of Israeli couscous (if you're not already, get up on that Israeli couscous). There was also a black olive spread with harissa in it to go with the bread. Shit was lovely. A forewarning may be in order though: It's gonna be bread and water for the next two weeks.

FYI: Artist of the week is Chuck Hamilton and his new dope track Brazilian Crying Season. As a matter of fact, this whole blog should be favorited.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Because, strangely enough, asceticism is for the capitalists...

"The less you eat, drink and buy books; the less you go to the theatre, the dance hall, the public house; the less you think, love, theorise, sing, paint, fence, etc., the more you save – the greater becomes your treasure which neither moths nor rust will devour – your capital."
--Karl Marx, EPM

So given that I got lambasted last time regarding my seemingly irresponsible spending habits, this one [as the actress said to the Bishop] was a long time coming. I got up from my desk at 12:30 straight starving after only having a blueberry cliff bar for breakfast. I thought to myself that while I'm in grad school studying German grammar, I'll scrape by, day-by-day and week-by-week; but while I'm working at the white-shoe corporate law firm, well, I'm gonna where those white shoes, enjoy the perks, go to the grasshopper and spend some guilders. Ha capito? So I decided on Saju Bistro across the street from my office where the head of my department frequently feasts. And I went solito. It was dope.

I got the prix fixe lunch menu and, after some bread and particularly tasty black olives, began with a small salad of mixed greens and grape tomatoes. Then I had papardelle in a very simple but delicious mushroom sauce with parsley. My French-hating Italian college roommate thinks French food tends to be too complex so I savoured the moment knowing that he's wrong. Finally, inspired by Nene's blood orange for breakfast, I had two scoops of blood orange sorbet. It might be noted parenthetically (a phrase that always confused me, why wouldn't you just put in parentheses?) that throughout the lunch I drank enough ice-water to fill the Grand Canyon (something I absolutely love about restaurants in America).

In other news, Tribalista-like Brazilian music has been bumping on Pandora all day, my officemate and I have pet dog named Boulevard Canteloupe Bohemian, and after last night it's clear that Spike has officially lost it.

Ciao regazzi!