Monday, October 3, 2011

Oyster Stout

Meh, not a fan. Especially not for the $4 or $5 dollars I paid for one measly bottle. I'd be just as content drinking a Guinness, which is not as bitter nor as expensive.

Here's what the experts have to say:

"Sweet and roasted flavors of dark malts, caramel, dark chocolate, wood, and something that I could see being described as barbequed oysters."

"The first smell is light cocoa, the second is a barely discernible salty ocean, I'm not playing into the name, it really has it. Some cherries and Goldings hops aroma.
Roasted malts and heavy chocolates, some light smoke and a little salt water taffy, not salty though just the taffy."

First, I call you out on BBQ oysters. I love BBQ oysters and this tasted not a bit like them. In fact, I dare say you have never even tasted BBQ oysters. Second, cherries, chocolate, the ocean and taffy? Not only did I not pick up on any of this, it doesn't sound like a winning combo in my book. And finally, do you see that twisty, wire ring around the cap? Well, it broke off and the bottle doesn't open like a regular cap would so it spilled 1/4 of the bottle out all over me and the counter before I got it off. Quirky and different is only cool if it also works.

Monday, September 26, 2011

South of the Border, Segundo Parte

Crap, this is what happens when I don't post immediately. I forget. I think I will remember but my memory is certainly hazier than when I got back a month ago, 6 weeks ago? Good Lord, this month FLEW!

Anyway, we found this taco place on the main drag, Taco los Arboles I think it was called. Blew Urge out of the water! They were open at 6am and so two mornings in a row, I ate tacos for breakfast and it was glorious. The first day I went a little nuts with the hot sauce though, hot sauce in Mexico is realllllly hot! We had shrimp and fish and chile rellenos (yes, in a taco!) and my favorite was a sort of stewed pork in a green sauce. MMMMM. Washed down with some deeply colored flor de Jamaica, which I believe is just dried hibiscus flowers soaked in water. The color is like loganberry, so intense! I plan to make some of my own to make a fancy cocktails. I couldn't ever take pictures here though because I always had pork juice running down my hands and that's bad for the camera.

So after eating at all the town's taco stands and lollygagging on the beach, Ben and I rented a scooter and that was an excellent choice. I have no words for it but riding was one of my favorite moments in Mexico.

We went to some ruins, I'm not really a fan. But Ben enjoyed it and after we spent the day in the unforgiving sun at a dusty ruin with thousands of tourists and vendors trying to hawk you crap, we stopped to go swimming here.

The cenote, as they are called, was cool and deep and when you swam out into the middle and floated on your back, you could stare up at the sky and admire the treetops dancing above.

Our last night in Tulum we spent walking along a street parallel to the main drag but completely off the tourist grid. Well, not completely of course, it was only a block away but it was a stark contrast to the shops and restaurants that catered to visitors. It felt like we were another place completely. And there was street food! I went crazy when I saw a sign for churros but our attempt to procure them failed, the churro lady was having issues with her batter. But then we saw a guy making marquesas, which is like a slightly sweet and crispy crepe with cheese melted inside and rolled up. Good, but my heart belongs to churros.

I have one more installment from Mexico and if I'm lucky, I'll write it up by Christmas. Adios!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tonight on Our Table

Pork roast, butternut squash and spinach salad. Blueberry sour cream crumb cake with vanilla frozen yogurt.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I think I'm going through a beer phase

I've never been much of a beer drinker, I like it sometimes but generally, it's too filling and too carbonated and the taste gets overwhelming to me. However, lately I've been wanting to try different beers and I've been enjoying them and I'd like to keep track of them. I should really do that with wine too and I started doing it with cheese a few years ago and never followed through. The story of my life!

Anyway, I think it started this winter when I went home for Christmas and had something brewed by Goose Island in Illinois. It was dark and coppery, with caramel and coffee undertones and I still haven't gotten it out of my mind. Goose Island doesn't distribute in Louisiana but I heard that they were bought up by Budweiser. This initially made me sad until someone told me that it won't change anything except they will have better distribution. Fingers crossed for Louisiana!

Yesterday I got a bottle of Saison Dupont, which is from Belgium. It had a nice, blond color although on first sniff, it smelled like Heineken to my unrefined nose and Heineken smells like funky skunk. But it tasted really crisp and refreshing, I even felt like there was some banana lingering. I did not much care for the aftertaste, which I am too beer-ignorant to place. Hops? Malt? Not sure. I did a little sleuthing to see if someone else could more eloquently describe it and I found a lot of very amusing descriptions like;

"Nose is a very dense earth, soil, it feels like fresh tilled dirt. Mild chlorophyll and resin, with a big giant lemon zest."

"Hazy straw yellow with 2-3 finger stark white tightly-bubbled, frothy head with good retention with numerous blobs of lacing."

These guys clearly drink more beer than I do and for the record, I don't really know if I could place the taste of resin. I sipped mine some Havarti cheese with caraway seeds and I thought the combination was mighty fine.

Be aware that the alcohol content is somewhat higher than an average beer, which I think is usually about 5%. The Saison Dupont I think is about 6.5%. That coupled with the fact that one of them costs almost $5, makes it a perfect beer to sip on leisurely and then call it quits.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Adventures South of the Border: Part One

My Fox and I just got back from a lovely week in Mexico and of course, I wanted to share with you all of the food that we tried and tasted! The week got kicked off really right when we got all the way to the front of the customs line in Cancun and they promptly booted us (me really) back to the US. It's a funny story and I'll tell you if you ask me but suffice it to say, when we finally got admitted onto Mexican soil two days later, I was ready to put the hurt on some food.

We decided to have lunch in Cancun before jumping on the bus to Tulum and that was the worst mistake I made the whole week. Cancun pretty much sucks as a city and we ended up at a crappy buffet with sour lasagna and some funky beef skewers. They didn't even make margaritas. Thanks for nothing, Fodor's Yucatan 2011!

After that debacle, we boarded our bus and I was very glad to see the LOVE PINK sweatsuit-clad American tourists fade away in the rearview mirror. Seriously, if I saw one more girl wearing that godawful Victoria's Secret pre-fab shit emblazoned on their ass cheeks, well, it's no wonder we're not always well-loved abroad. Because we look like this. Yeah, I'm judging, so hate me.

Tulum is a dusty little town about 80 miles south of Cancun. We got off the bus and immediately stopped somewhere to cool off with a margarita. We had some that were darn tootin', as well as some fantastical shrimp ceviche. After that,we got a cab to our new home, Papaya Playa, our little cabana on the beach! Once we settled in, we went and sat in a palapa hut that overlooked the beach and had a couple more margaritas. I think perhaps I overdid it with the margaritas but after getting deported and suffering the indignity of spending a night in a motel in Indianapolis, I thought I deserved it.

Back to our cabana (27). We could open our door and lay back in the bed and watch the waves crashing in! There is nothing quite like sleeping with the sound of the sea and then wakening to the first rays of the sun stretching across the sky. The water really is a most perfect turquoise and the sand was as white as I've ever seen it.

Ai, I didn't mean to make this a play by play, let me just get to the food! I read about this place called Urge Tacos from some food writer who said they had the best fish tacos she has ever had. I don't know about that but they were good. What was really notable was that they had this salad bar that was really a taco bar with all kinds of accouterments. So I got my plate with tortillas and fish and then went and loaded up with a sweet and tangy tamarind sauce, pickled red onions, radishes and jicama, avocado-habanero sauce and so on. Their octopus ceviche was super but the horchata was just okay.

I skipped dessert because the waiter made a face when I asked about it, as if to apologize for a meager offering, not a promising sign! Now that I think of it, maybe he was grimacing at my gringa accent. Anyway, by the time we walked from the taco place to town, we were drenched with sweat and parched. Luckily we stumbled upon this great little place called El Flor de Michoacan. It had the sweetest little courtyard with flowering trees and white cast iron tables. They also made several different kinds of paletas(popsicles) to soothe weary and overheated travelers such as oursleves. We visited this place pretty much every day we were in town, it was that good. My favorite was called gazacho moreliano and it had pineapple, mango,jicama, lime and chile. So incredible!

More to come....

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Blueberry Cobbler

I posted recently about my forays in ice cream making and I believe I also mentioned the blueberry cobbler that went with it. A few weeks ago, we trekked up to Franklinton, LA to go blueberry picking. I was imagining some large, industrial farm but instead there was one table with some buckets, a metal cash box and a sign that said to please leave $8.50 for each gallon in the box and to have fun. I was instantly in love.

It was July in Louisiana and we had to wear long pants to avoid ticks so needless to say, we got to picking quickly. I think I sweated out stuff I ate in 2007. All told, I came away with about 2 gallons of blueberries and I probably consumed just as many in the process of picking. I couldn't help it, they were so fat and juicy and all warmed from the sun!

It was a blueberry bonanza weekend. I made blueberry cobbler and blueberry pancakes and I also made some blueberry vodka, which has turned a brilliant, violet hue and I look forward to testing it on my NEW PORCH of my VERY FIRST HOUSE! More on that later. I brought this cobbler to a party for the 4th of July, along with the lemon-ginger ice cream.

6 cups blueberries, rinsed and dried
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup flour
4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter or lard (Yes, I did!)
1/2 cup buttermilk or cream

Preheat oven to 400°F.Toss blueberries, sugar, flour and lemon juice in the bottom of a 2-quart ovenproof dish or 9x13 baking dish. I actually didn't have any lemons so I used grapefruit juice. Worked just fine.

Stir together the flour,sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter/lard in with a fork or pastry knife. Stir in buttermilk/cream (or what the hell, soymilk) until the dough comes together, it will be wet and shaggy. Cover the berries with the dough, I did this "rustic-style," which means that there were big blobs of it in some places and less in others, it doesn't need to be perfectly smooth. Blobs are A-okay. Bake for about 20 minutes or until you smell it. You will want to eat this warm and with ice cream.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

National Ice Cream Month

In one of his very few policies I ever agreed with, Ronald Reagan declared July to be National Ice Cream Month. Now there's a holiday I can get with! According to Wikipedia, the third Sunday of July is actually Ice Cream DAY and Reagan implored to nation to celebrate with "appropriate ceremonies and activities." Word.

I haven't busted out the ice cream maker since last year because, well, I was using it a bit too liberally if you know what I mean. I made two flavors this weekend and they were both hits! I actually did take pictures but ice cream is such a fussy model and besides, there are always pesky things happening with homemade ice cream around, like bowls getting gobbled up in no time at all. So no photos, just imagine though and then make them because they turned out better than I was hoping for.

The first one was a lemon-ginger ice cream that I made to serve alongside a blueberry cobbler for a Fourth of July Party. That cobbler was also very good but let's talk ice cream first. I love lemon desserts and I especially love how they complement blueberries but I had never had lemon ice cream. Should I make ice or perhaps sorbet? No, by golly, it would be un-American not to eat ice cream on July 4th. I made this recipe from Epicurious, I just added ginger and next time, I'll add more.

Lemon-Ginger Ice Cream

zest of one lemon
1/2 c. lemon juice (this took about 2.5 lemons)
1 T. chopped ginger, will up it to 2 T. next time!
2/3 to 3/4 c. sugar, depends on your sweet tooth, original recipe called for a cup!
2 cups heavy cream, half and half, milk or any combination of the three
3 egg yolks
splash of vanilla, maybe a teaspoon or so

Bring all ingredients just to simmer, whisking constantly. It will probably look curdled because of the lemon juice reacting with the cream but never mind it. Cool in the refrigerator, strain through a fine sieve and then process however you make ice cream, coffee cans, the old crank or new-fangled machine.

STELLAR. I wish I had made a double batch but it would overflow my wee ice cream maker, don't make the same mistake!

Next, since I brought all the ice cream to a party and my freezer was feeling forlorn and ice cream deprived, I made a batch of cardamom. It was good but I made it last year and remember it being ethereal. I wanted to amp up the cardamom flavor so I used 40 pods instead of 20 but it just wasn't quite right. I ate it a few times before it came to me that I used to work at this pan-Asian cafe in Portland long, long ago and they had only one dessert; a chocolate-cardamom cake. Well, let me tell you, I just stirred some Dutch-process cocoa powder in the little bit that was left and BA-BAY, it was GOOD! Yes, it was! This is actually a good theorem for any of life's problems. When in doubt, add chocolate.

Now, I've got to gear up for July 17th and see if I can top either one of these winners. It is my patriotic duty. Thanks Ronnie!

Friday, June 24, 2011

La Boca: Run, Don't Walk. Just Get There.

Incredible. It may not be fair to give them such lavish praise but after our failed dinner attempt at Cafe Adelaide, the comparison between the two for service, food and drinks was night and day.

We were immediately acknowledged, sweet! Given four menus for all four people and told about specials, thank you! Thursday is service industry night at La Boca, even better! We just looked at that menu, which did not include the pastas and salads but had all the cuts of meat, empanadas etc.

We got our cocktails immediately, God, I'm really loving this place! Fresh watermelon and vodka, which was really tasty and not watery like I feared. For starters, we ordered the morcilla, provoleta and bruschetta. I didn't really dig the bruschetta but it wasn't bad. The provoleta, I maybe expected more, it was just cheese to me. A really good cheese appetizer is the fried cheese with lemon at Mona's. Also, it had oregano sprinkled liberally all over it. I used to think I wasn't crazy about oregano until I went to Sicily and tasted their oregano and had an epiphany that what we have here in the US is just stuff they sweep off the oregano factory floor. I don't even like fresh oregano that I've tasted out of many gardens so maybe Sicily has the advantage with all that volcanic ash in the soil or something, I don't know. This was definitely factory floor oregano but not everyone is an oregano elitist like me. The morcilla though, oh, well, the morcilla. Fan-flipping-tastic. Just order it and get over the fact that it's blood sausage. It's pretty much just like boudin so if you like that, you should really try it.

The steaks were out of this world, some of the best steak I've ever had and I have eaten bife de chorizo in Buenos Aires. Fried brussel sprouts are the most genius thing ever. Asparagus and fries are also not to be missed. The brussel sprouts even taste good cold for breakfast. I can't wait to go back and try the empanadas and the gnocchi and of course, dessert! Love, love, love La Boca!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Current Drink Obsession

A Negroni is one of those cocktails that I've heard of but never actually knew what was in them. I didn't really ever give the subject much thought until I read about Orangette drinking them with her mother and it sort of stuck in my brain. (If you click on the Orangette link, make sure you click in turn on her link, I really like the accompanying article that discusses Negroni variations). Like so many things, it did indeed get stuck in my brain but under a pile of exceedingly heavy other tidbits. I'm starting to suspect that I have had more than a few mini-strokes with all the things that fly out of my head, never to return. Anyway, I remembered the Negroni when I read this article in the New York Times about the Negroni Sbagliato. I actually love saying this but it's a bit much and would probably earn me cold reception from the bartender if I blithely ordered one of these.
So, picture this this. A steamy May evening in the port city of New Orleans. I enter May Baily's, a perfect reproduction of what I imagine the elegant parlors of Storyville's sporting houses to look like; Victorian wallpaper, sumptuous carpets and cut glass light fixtures. I want something to match the decor, refined and classic. The bartender had no idea what it was but she had no problem whipping one up based on my vague instruction. If you don't like Campari (bitter) you won't like this but I really enjoy that flavor, especially as an antidote to the heat. And then, about halfway through the drink, when the ice got all melty, something happened to the alchemy of the cocktail and it turned into something altogether different and even more delightful. If you don't like gin (and I don't really either but somehow it works for me here), make it with sparkling wine. I bet the effervescence really enhances the drink.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Meals From the Market

I went to the farmer's market on Saturday and picked up a ton of local strawberries and fava beans. Those berries found their way into my yogurt, my oatmeal, salads and even fresh margaritas but I still had some more to devour so I made strawberry shortcake. To complement the perfect spring dessert, I made a simple fava bean pasta for our entree. I have to say, I was bored by the pasta. I put shallots and lemon zest and a generous splash of cream and yet still didn't achieve the understated elegance I was looking for. I blame it on the orecchiette from Whole Foods that I used, they had a gummy, almost slimy texture.

For the shortcake, I whipped some heavy cream and added a bit of sugar and lemon to my berries. I made little muffins using a recipe that is actually the base of a tres leches cake but I figured it would work here too.

1 cup flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
3 eggs, separated
3/4 c. sugar
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
1/4 c. milk

Sift the dry ingredients together in one bowl and set aside. In another bowl, beat the three egg whites with the sugar until soft peaks form. Begin adding the flour mixture to the egg whites, then the egg yolks, milk and lemon, alternating in between. don't overmix because you want to keep the airiness you created by whipping the egg whites. Pour into a cake pan that has been greased and floured and bake until lightly golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.

I made this recipe as mentioned above for a tres leches cake and it was okay. I made it again for the shortcake simply because I knew the proportions in my head and didn't have to look anything up. I'm not thrilled with the texture of the crumb with this cake, it's okay, but that might be my fault for using part white and part whole wheat flour. But I mean really, I could put strawberries and whipped cream on top of a shoe and eat it contentedly so if you can keep it easily in your head like I can, it's not a bad vehicle for other toppings. Although I think I will use this recipe next time.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Viva San Giuseppe!!!!

Today may very well be my favorite holiday of the year and I never miss the chance to celebrate, even if I am not with my nearest and dearest. If you don't know about the tradition, check this out. Last year I had my own altar and table but this year, well, I am just so tired of entertaining and having a house full of people (Mardi Gras was great but I'm glad it is over!). So instead, I decided to altar hop. I ended up going to SIX different altars today, ate my own body weight in cuccidati, made my own abbreviated dinner in Joe's honor and ended the day with some gelato. Love this day and LOVE celebrating it in New Orleans where the tradition is still going strong!

First, I went to St Alphonsus. This was the church I went to for my first St. Joseph's Day in New Orleans many years ago. There weren't nearly as many people there as I remembered but it was still lovely; we ate at tables set out in a pretty courtyard with azalea bushes in full bloom. This is where I ate my main meal of the day and it included baked redfish, shrimp risotto, artichoke milanese, pasta with egg and salad. THe risotto was new for me and it was delicious. Everything else was good, not outstanding, but solid. Next year, I will have to bring my own red pepper flakes (absent) and a bottle of wine (not box).

Next, I went to St. Stephen's. I didn't eat there but they looked like they had pasta con sarde! It was also a much bigger crowd. Not only did they have an elaborate altar, but there was also the lady playing "O Sole Mio" on the ukelele. Awesome.

I love in New Orleans that they have bread shaped like crabs, crawfish and alligators. I'm used to just plain old crosses and staffs.

Next I went to someone's house that was open to the public, how cool is that! This was an extremely lavish altar, with bowls of boiled crawfish and plates of stuffed crab (that was only for the altar, the food offering was just pasta and some fried cabbage and artichokes). I don't know if people there knew each other or not but I really got a kick out of overhearing other people talking about which of their family members came over from Sicily and other little personal tidbits.

St Augustine's, small but sweet. And the first altar I saw with honey balls! (Pignolata)

St Joseph's, apparently the largest church in the South.

Finally, I went over to the gelato shop around the corner, Brocato's.

Weary and heavily laden with cookies, prayer cards and fava beans, I returned home, all altared out. But I wanted to make an appropriate meal so I made Gramma Bondi's cabbage patties and cooked up some skate with a butter-lemon-caper sauce. It fit the bill perfectly! Then, what the hell, I walked back over to Brocato's, where Ben and I finished up with gelato and espresso, a very fine day indeed!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chocolate Guinness Pudding

It often surprise me how pervasive St Patrick's Day is in this country. It really doesn't seem to matter much what your ethnicity or race is, people love to drink green milkshakes and swill beer on March 17th. Although I am approximately 1/16 Irish, I don't connect much with that part of my heritage, nor do I care much for St Patrick's Day. I don't have anything against it, mind you, it is just overshadowed by MY FAVORITE HOLIDAY, St Joseph's Day, which happens to fall two days after. More on that come Saturday. Anyway, I saw this recipe for Chocolate Guinness pudding and I could not resist. It is just as delicious as it sounds!

* 8 large egg yolks
* 1 cup sugar
* One 14.9-ounce can Guinness Draught
* 3 cups heavy cream
* 7 ounces high-quality bittersweet (70 to 72% cacao) chocolate, finely chopped

In large nonreactive mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar.

Open can of Guinness and slowly pour into 4-cup measuring cup, pouring down side of cup to reduce foaming. Pour half of Guinness (about 7/8 cup) into heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan. Add 2 1/4 cups cream and whisk to combine. Set over medium heat and heat, whisking occasionally, until bubbles just begin to form at edges. Remove from heat, add chocolate, and whisk until smooth.

Slowly pour hot chocolate mixture into eggs, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. Return mixture to saucepan and set over moderately low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and coats back of spoon, about 15 minutes. (Pudding will look separated.) Pour into blender and blend on high for 1 minute. Divide pudding among glasses, leaving at least 1 inch of space at top of each. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and set.

Meanwhile, pour remaining Guinness into small saucepan and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to moderately low and simmer, uncovered, until reduced to 1 tablespoon, about 20 minutes. Pour syrup into small bowl and let cool.

Beat remaining cream until soft peaks form. Add Guinness syrup and beat until combined. Divide cream among 6 glasses of pudding and serve.

My thoughts: I halved this and I still got six, er, um five (I swear I don't know what happened to that sixth one!) 4 ounce servings. This is rich so I think 4 ounces is fine, although, who am I kidding, I could easily eat 6. I also halved the half of cream it called for because I didn't have any more and also because I wanted a more unadulterated chocolate flavor. It worked. Finally, I thought the reduced beer in the whipped cream tasted sour and not good at all but when you eat it all in one bite, it comes together but I might skip that next time. The pudding itself is just so perfect on it's own.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Last Night I Spotted a Unicorn!

No, not really, but I felt like I did when i spotted the elusive Hubig's king cake at the grocery store! I've been scouring the city to find one since Three King's Day and finally got my hands on one. It looked a little worse for wear and quite honestly, it wasn't nearly as good as a plain old Hubig's pie that you can get all year round but hey, now I can say that I tried it!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What's Your King Cake Pleasure?

I am a king cake aficionado. I have heard some blasphemous talk that they are just big cinnamon buns but when was the last time you had a moist, springy cinnamon bun that was filled with almond-scented cream cheese and fresh berries? And covered with purple, green and gold sprinkles?

I admit, part of my obsession can be attributed to the laws of supply and demand. Their supply is only around for a few months of the year, therefore my demand for them is on high when 'tis the season. I also enjoy tradition and ritual and so if my forebearers ate cinnamon buns, umm, I mean king cakes, during Carnival season, then by golly, so will I! Each year, I like to sample just about as many as I can, I'm a king cake flirt if you will and see no reason to stay in a rut with just one bakery's king cake for the rest of eternity.

Last year, I sampled Randazzo's (my favorite), Rouse's (just fine and the best bang for your buck), Winn Dixie (nasty, inedible even), Cake Cafe and Sucre. Cake Cafe does have that wonderful goat-cheese apple combination and Jackson Pollack like frosting, unfortunately their "cake" is more like dry bread and so that was the last of Cake Cafe for me.

Sucre's iteration was a pastel-sparkly number that my friend Corinne gasped at and called it "unicorn food" when she saw it. It is awfully pretty but it is also awfully expensive, just like everything at Sucre, and it wasn't really worth the price to me. It was smallish and had a poor filling-to-cake ratio.

This year, there are some new players on the field! And mini king cakes are all the rage, which is great, because then I don't have to live in a constant sugar-glazed haze of guilt after demolishing a regular size king cake in just one evening. La Divina Gelateria has minis filled with Nutella! Must try this. Hubig's, that elusive beast, has made minis as well but I can't find them anywhere. Cochon Butcher has minis too and last night I picked up a chocolate one. I was sort of expecting chocolate pudding or a Nutella type filling but instead it was a drier, crumbly, cocoa powder based filling. It was STELLAR!!!!! The cake was soft and moist. The frosting was right on, filling super and all three were in proper proportion to each other. Definitely my favorite so far this year and that says a lot because last week, we took down an entire Chantilly Berry king cake from Whole Foods, also very good. We've got more than a month left until the season is over so I anticipate many more king cakes in my immediate future. I'm even going to make my very own for the Endymion party I am having so come on by and indulge in a slice or seven with me!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Holiday Roundup

Yes, the holidays are over but I am just uploading pictures so I wanted to sum it all up for you, photo-journal style. I made lots of jarred and canned things this year, including watermelon pickle, satsuma marmalade, mirliton chutney and hot pepper jelly, pictured. I also learned how to de-bone a duck

...and subsequently made duck confit.

Then I made Christmas cookies. I already posted about the specuulas.

Then there were some chocolate-almond financiers.

I went home and ate some fantastic food, look at this pretty and oh so festive cheese and olive assortment.

Of course, we can't forget New Year's Eve!!!! Ben took over the kitchen. First there was venison carpaccio.

Scallops and boudin cakes on sweet corn essence.

Lamb chops with fig mostarda.

Lemon-brown butter cake from Sucre.

It was a lovely season but it is even nicer as a memory, with life back to normal, the house is a pleasing quiet and spring is beckoning

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Please Support the New Orleans Food Co-op!

One thing I really, really miss about home is the wonderful supermarket (Wegman's) and dirt-cheap Italian delis (Guercio's) and farmers markets that overflow with produce, flowers, demonstrations and music (Bidwell). I'm not going to dog the New Orleans farmers market scene, it's a good start, but selection is pretty limited, spaces are constrained and so on. I also miss the food co-op (Lexington), of which my mother was member number 15 and we spent playful hours of childhood sorting spices and such so that we could reach our weekly hours and therefore get our family discount on food.

New Orleans has improved since I moved here in 1998 when the scene was dominated by Schwegman's and Winn Dixie. Ugh, and also that awful Canal Villere that used to be on the corner of Claiborne and Carrollton.

Remember this beauty? Ain't dere no more. It has been replaced by a much nicer albeit much pricier Robert's. Don't forget that god awful wasteland of a Robert's by my old house on Annunciation. I can't find a picture of that, likely because Robert's wants everyone to forget that location ever existed. But anyway, I am not doing an expose on local supermarkets, just commenting on the dearth of fresh produce in New Orleans and overall, the lack of food access as it relates to social justice sort of thing going on here(I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Hollygrove Farm but that's another day).

Okay, finally getting to my point here. New Orleans is forming a food co-op! How post-modern and hip! PLUS, they are building it in the old St Roch market, which is a beautiful building that is getting the restoration it deserves. (UPDATE: It is not in the old market, it is in the old Universal furniture store across the street.)The St Roch/St Claude/Marigny/Bywater neighborhood doesn't really have much in the way of grocery stores, unless you count Mardi Gras Zone (and you shouldn't), so this is another reason for celebration. They need 1500 people to become founding members and donate $100, so far I think they have about 800 people committed. Join the food co-op, it's such a worthwhile venture for yourself, your family and the community as a whole.