June 12, 2018
Like almost everyone in the food community, I’ve spent the past few days mourning Tony Bourdain. He wasn’t a close friend, but I’ve known him for at least twenty years and watched, gratefully, as he changed the food landscape. More than anyone, he was the person who persuaded a wide swath of Americans that food is much more important than merely something to eat. He went beyond the delicious to demonstrate that it’s one of the fundamental ways we connect with one another. He made it his mission to prove that food is really about community and politics, about economics, the environment, culture and history.
He mattered, and it’s almost impossible to believe that he’s gone.
I was on Cape Cod when the news arrived, speaking at a charity function for a wonderful institution called We Can dedicated to helping women in transition at difficult points in their lives. We were, of course, talking about food and community. And as I went out, alone, to walk along the beach in the early morning, thinking about Tony, I was glad to be there. I wished there had been someplace Tony could have reached out to when he was in so much pain.
Then I drove to Truro, to a workshop at another wonderful institution, The Castle Hill Center for the Arts. There for a writing workshop, we were all so sad that we dedicated our time to Tony’s work. We began by reading his first seminal piece for the New Yorker, and then some pieces from Gourmet. I especially like this one.
And then, of course, we ate. It seemed appropriate to celebrate Tony’s life with food. Here are a few highlights.
Fried belly clams. There are dozens of places to get them on the Cape. My favorite in Wellfleet is PJ’s. (These are not theirs – I forgot to take that picture. These are from another place down the road, whose name I neglected to write down. But it’s hard to find bad fried clams on the Cape.)
Baked Wellfleet oysters from Terra Luna restaurant – one of the coziest, friendliest restaurants you’ll ever find. They describe their food as “rustic neo-pagan” which seemed just about perfect for that moment.
A plate of homemade salumi from Ceraldi’s – the most ambitious and impressive restaurant in the area. They’re making their own coppa, pancetta, bresaola – and that bagna cauda beneath the radish was really delicious. (As was everything we ate in a long meal, from crisp local oysters with samphire, to locally raised chicken and a rhubarb panna cotta.)
Had more fried clams on the way home. And then, back in Hudson, stopped in at Oak Pizzeria Napoletana for a wood-fired clam pizza. Seemed like a fitting end to this particular journey.
March 16, 2018
The sun is shining. The cats are purring. Icicles hang outside the window. Mountains of snow are piled against the door.
Michael and I are both going slightly stir crazy and today we’re going to try and make it down the mountain.
But first, a little breakfast. I’ve made these because they’re such a classic city dish, what I always ordered at the diner on the corner of Tenth Street and University Placer when my father took me out for breakfast.
New York diners are, sadly, disappearing, a victim of gentrification. But these corn muffins remain, a little taste of the past.
New York Corn Muffins
Makes 1 dozen muffins
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup corn kernels
1 cup flour
6 tablespoons white sugar
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons butter
Mix the flour with the cornmeal. (I prefer stoneground.) Whisk in sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
Melt the butter. Allow it to cool, then stir in buttermilk along with 1 egg and 1 additional egg yolk. Stir into the dry mixture. Toss in the corn kernels. (You can use frozen corn, and there’s no need to defrost it.) The dough will be lumpy; don’t worry about that.
Divide the batter into a well-greased muffin tin and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before turning the muffins out.
I like these best served the way they are in old New York coffee shops: split horizontally, brushed with butter, and toasted on a griddle or in a pan.
December 23, 2017
And an ad from the issue, which tells you what a very different time it was. I can’t imagine an ad like this running today.
December 10, 2017
Toasters are ugly, clunky, and mostly don’t work very well. It’s amazing that so few people have set their minds to making the kitchen’s most ubiquitous appliance more attractive.
Which is all the more reason to be grateful for the late Gae Aulenti, who created this enchanting Toast Toaster. Your friend may already possess a toaster – but wouldn’t she rather have this one?
November 28, 2017
If you’ve got Charles Dickens visions, you can’t do better than Talbott and Arding’s traditional Christmas Pudding
. A family recipe, it’s made with three kinds of raisins, candied orange peel, organic eggs and suet from grass-fed local cows. Lots of spices and brandy too. It’s hard to think of a better finale to a festive holiday feast.
An extra bonus: the crock it comes in is a perfect little bowl; I’ve reached for mine a million times this year, and each time I remember how much I loved eating the robust cake (it really is more cake than pudding), it originally held.
And while you’re at it, you might want to think about the shop’s astonishingly delicious fruit and nut loaf.
I’ve never had anything quite like it. Gluten-free, it’s a whole world of fruits and nuts that seems to be held together with nothing more than a wish.