Gift Guide 2020: Asian Infusion

November 20, 2020

These dried sheets of seaweed from Gotham Grove are so beautiful I’m often tempted to frame them. But they’re so delicious that I always end up eating them all up before I have the chance.

This gamtae seaweed is even more beautiful. Wrapped around a bit of seasoned rice, with a tiny piece of raw tuna, a pickled carrot or some umaboshi, it makes a gorgeous snack.

If quarantine has you missing Korean cooking, you’ll want to know about the Gotham Grove site. It offers the most delicious roasted sesame oil I’ve yet to try, a spectacular perilla oil, various gochuchangs, aged soy sauces, exciting vinegars and the like. These day all sorts of sites are offering pre-made spice mixtures and sauces that promise to give your dishes a vaguely Asian flair. But if you have friends who really love Asian cooking, you could hardly do better than some of these super-premium condiments. I first learned about Gotham Grove from the wonderful chefs at Atomix, which is probably all I need to say. It’s one of the restaurants I’ve most missed over the past 8 months. (They’re open at the moment, but I’m not in The City.)

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Gift Guide 2020: Basket Case

November 19, 2020

It’s called a trug – and if there’s a better way to carry produce home from the farmers’ market, I’ve yet to find it. The trug neatly solves the how-do-I-keep-the-tomatoes-from-getting-squished problem. It also solves the where-do-I-store-stuff-when-I-get-home problem: simply drop the trug on the counter and you’re done.

Trugs are handmade from Oregon Myrtle, and they’re very sturdy. If fresh produce isn’t your thing they’ve got lots of other uses. Indoors they make great places to store magazines. And outdoors…. well, they did begin life as a gardener’s tool.

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Gift Guide 20: Going Fishing

November 18, 2020

Sushi. That’s one of the things I’ve missed most during the Covid epidemic. Being in a land-locked rural area I find myself dreaming of sushi. A few months ago the cravings became so intense that I decided to order some pristine fish and cut it myself.

And so I developed a relationship with Browne Trading Company, which has been selling fish to the likes of Eric Ripert, Thomas Keller and Daniel Boulud for many years. Their website is like catnip to people like me: some days I just troll through it for the sheer pleasure of looking at their many wonderful offerings. Carabineros – huge head-on shrimp from Spain – in a red so intense it practically glows. Caviar of all kinds. Yellowtail collars (you simply stick them in the oven for the most delicious treat), peeky toe crab, hamachi, Dover sole….

The offerings vary with the seasons, but sometimes, if you’re very lucky, they have the gorgeous tuna in the picture above. Unlike some of the other offerings (learning to cut the hamachi filets takes a bit of work), the tuna is so lush that slicing it into sashimi could not be easier.

If you have fish-loving friends, they’ll be delighted with almost anything from Browne Trading Company. And if you’re simply looking for a way to spend a few delicious minutes, you could hardly do better than their website.

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Gift Guide 2020: Pan-O-Rama

November 17, 2020

I didn’t want to love this Always pan.  I didn’t even want to like it.  So many people were enamored with it that the thing was sold out. It couldn’t possibly be that good.

So I ordered it, wanting to hate it.

I’m sorry.  I didn’t.  

It’s not all that.  It won’t replace every pan in your repertoire.  But honestly? It’s the pan I reach for more often the I’d like to admit.  

I’m not a big non-stick person. The truth is, at least half the time you want a pan that will give you a good sear, and nonstick isn’t the perfect way to get a Maillard reaction.

But for almost every other kind of cooking adventure, this might be your pan.  It’s the best non-stick surface I’ve yet to encounter.  It’s a great size for many different things. It feels good in your hand, it’s lightweight and the way you can rest the spoon right on the handle is kind of genius. 

It comes in a wide range of colors (some more easily available than others), and at the moment it’s on sale.`

As. I said, I didn’t want to love it. I pretty much do.  And your friends will too. 

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Gift Guide 2020

November 16, 2020

If ever we need presents, this is the time. So once again I’m going to be posting a daily suggestion of swell items you might send your friends.

Never have I been better prepared. For the past 9 months the mailmen have been beating a daily path to my door, and I’ve discovered all sorts of new items you can send away for. And since the mails might be slightly overwhelmed this year, I’m starting earlier than usual.

To begin, my current obsession: the best anchovies in the world.

If you don’t like anchovies, it’s because you’ve never tasted these very special little fish from Cantabria in the north of Spain. They are in a class of their own.

Fished only in the springtime, when the quality is at its peek, they’re quickly salted and left in presses to mature for at least eight months. Then they are washed and filleted by hand before being plunked into extra virgin olive oil. The result is a rich, sweet, full flavor that you simply can’t forget. These aren’t anchovies to cook with; they’re anchovies to eat.

They’re crazily expensive – about $2 a filet – which makes them an excellent gift. Although I must tell you that your friends may not thank you. These tiny fish are truly addictive, and they quickly become a very expensive habit.

I’ve tried many different brands, and Don Boccarte from Dao Foods are, hands down my favorite. They’re also the most expensive, so lately I’ve been ordering the giant tin – 550 grams – which cuts the price almost in half.

I might mention that I’m also very fond of these anchovy-stuffed olives. Serve them with drinks and watch them disappear.