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Rainy Day in New York

June 13, 2007

  I persuaded Alice (Waters) to come on the Leonard Lopate show today, to talk about Slow Food.  Alice always says that she’s shy, and the tininess of her voice makes this seem true, but when she cares about a subject, she can roar.  And she cares, deeply, about Slow Food.
   I picked her up at Otto, where she had just talked Joe Bastianich into helping her raise seed money for the big Slow Food Nation event she’s planning next May in San Franciso.  I snagged a couple of pieces of pizza as I walked out the door; they do make great pizza!
  I think it was a really good show; Leonard is such a great interviewer, and Alice was enormously articulate.  Leaving, we decided to stop in at David Pasternak’s book party at Esca.  We knew we’d be late, but Ed Levine was still there, with Lolis Elie, who was in from New Orleans. So we sat down outside, and David brought us some razor clam ceviche and crudo. It was lovely there, until  the rain chased us inside.  David consoled us, first with wine and then with the sweetest softshells I’ve ever tasted, the meat juicy and rich, the shell so tender it barely existed.  Dave introduced us to his  crabman, who he calls the “Ed Norton of the business” because he apparently works for the Department of Sanitation when he’s not out on his boat.
  The rain was torrential now, so we stayed and ate trawberries.  They’re the best I’ve had this year – from Tim Stark – and even Alice was impressed into admitting that she hasn’t had any this good in California yet.  Then she admitted, Jersey girl that she is,  that our tomatoes are better than the ones out west.
  By now I had to get back to work, so we ran through the rain. Alice and Lolis were going up to Lincoln Center to drop in on a rehearsal of Wynton Marsalis.  I was tempted… but I do have a job.
   Tonight I’m having dinner with Nancy Silverton, who’s in town promoting her book. 
   It’s been a fine food day.

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Help? Last minute guests, no time, what to do?

June 3, 2007

We were planning on going out to the hot new sushi bar with Robin and Mitch last night, but at 4 o’clock there were… complications. We had to stay home.  I was still at work, but I asked them if they’d come over for dinner instead.  I couldn’t leave the office until 5:30, they were going to show up at 7:30 (with some of their Manfred Krankl wine), and there was no food in the house.  What to do?

I decided that a tenderloin of beef was the perfect solution.  Ran to the butcher, bought one, along with a couple of bunches of  fat, beautiful asparagus, and some lovely little cherry tomatoes that smiled up at me.  Then I sniffed out some mint and rosemary, and found some very pretty, very small potatoes and threw them into the cart as well.  A ripe Robiola caught my eye; how could I resist?   A loaf of bread, a few cherries…. My final purchase was a couple of pounds of apricots. I’m so happy they’re in season. And a bunch of flowers.

I got home and, still in my high heels and work clothes threw a quick apricot cobbler into the oven.  Apricots are the best – you don’t need to cut or peel them, just pull them apart and put them in the pan.  I scrubbed the potatoes, rubbed the tenderloin with olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper, surrounded it with rosemary and let it sit for a while.  I tossed the cherry tomatoes with olive oil and salt as well, and chopped up some mint to mix with it later.  I put the asparagus into the sink to soak and went to set the table.

In my mind, when I envisioned dinner, I suddenly saw hollandaise sauce sitting next to the beef.  It would be good with the asparagus too.  And all of a sudden, I just needed to make some to round out the meal.  I don’t know where that came from – I haven’t made it in years- but it seemed right.  So I began separating the eggs and melting the butter.

The meat smelled wonderful, roasting in the oven, and just beneath its round, brown aroma was the gentle scent of the potatoes and the fruity scent of the roasting tomatoes.  The hollandaise came together without a hitch. It was a great meal.  The meat was rare and incredibly tender. The potatoes, roasted in the same pan, were fluffy and tender.  The little tomatoes came alive with the mint (and it was so much easier than washing salad), and the asparagus just lapped up the hollandaise sauce. Manfred’s Pinot Noir was terrific too. 

Total time from walking into the house to putting dinner on the table: 1 hour 12 minutes. Who says good food has to be time consuming?  (The recipes are almost all from the Gourmet Cookbook.)

For dessert we ate the cobbler, still warm from the oven, with vanilla ice cream melting across the top. 



April 16, 2007

After a week in Rome I’m ready to offer some serious restaurant advice to anyone who loves to eat.  And that is this: Forget about the guide books, don’t even think about going to the places that people like me recommend, and wander around until you find a restaurant filled with people speaking Italian instead of English.
The truth is that with the exception of a few really high-end restaurants, most places in Rome are market-driven and they tend to produce stunningly similar menus. This time of year, no matter where you go you will be offered artichokes (fabulous), fava beans (ditto) and lots of lamb.  There will invariably be pasta carbonara, amatriciana, alle vongole and alla gricia. If you go to a fish restaurant there will be 3 or 4 different kinds of fish, grilled or sautéed.  And most of the time, it will be good.
What won’t be good is the way you’re made to feel in the tourist places.  You’ll get thrown into a room filled with other foreigners and you’ll be rushed through your meal. You’ll probably eat well, but you’ll feel…. Cheated, somehow.
And really, one of my favorite meals was just eating on the street.  A piece of pizza from the ancient bakery near the Piazza Navona.  A piece of fruit from the Campo de Fiore. Lemon sorbet from Crispino (so great).

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New Food

February 28, 2007

Bill went down to the Union Square market today, and even though I told him not to buy me anything, he came back with the most gorgeous little cauliflower and left it on my desk. It was creamy white and so seductive that I couldn’t resist cooking it for dinner.
Cauliflower with Bolognese?
Don’t think so.
The sauce I made on Sunday will have to wait for tomorrow.
Came home, rummaged around and discovered a pound of asparagus and a few shiitake mushrooms languishing in the vegetable drawer and a half pound of frozen ground pork in the freezer. So dinner will be roasted cauliflower with garlic (from the Gourmet Cookbook), asparagus with shiitake mushrooms and oyster sauce (I can wing it), and spaghetti with pork and hot bean sauce (it’s my recipe on diaryofafoodie.org).
Nick thought the sauce was too hot (I really liked it), but it was a very satisfying meal.

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