Saturday, January 30, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
"What really knocks me out is a book, when you're all done reading it, you wished the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it." - Holden Caulfield
Today is a sad day: we learned of the loss of one of the most important figures in our adolescent intellectual upbringings, J. D. Salinger. An author we always wished we could call up on the phone whenever we felt like it. (This all in spite of weirdness of his adult life... more to come below.)
Lately we’ve been doing a lot of reading about Southern funeral traditions. Julia Reed’s Queen of the Turtle Derby devotes a chapter to the spirited tradition down South, whereupon hearing the ultimate news, neighbors head straight for their kitchens to prepare a pot-luck comfort dish for the mourners – casseroles, biscuits, a ham, a tenderloin, sliced tomato sandwiches with homemade mayo on Wonder bread, a jello-whipped cream frozen fruit salad, a pie or two, a handle of Jack, fresh sweet tea, and bourbon milk punch. A celebration indeed.
Sadly, Salinger lived alone as a recluse for over 50 years on a 90-acre compound on a wooded hillside in Cornish, NH. And he wasn’t what one would call a gastronomist or a celebrator. He died yesterday at the age of 91, a controversial figure, described in the New York Times as “a health nut obsessed with homeopathic medicine and with his diet (frozen peas for breakfast, undercooked lamb burger for dinner).” His daughter said that her father was “pathologically self-centered and abusive toward her mother, and to the homeopathy and food fads she added a long list of other exotic enthusiasms: Zen Buddhism, Vedanta Hinduism, Christian Science, Scientology, and acupuncture. Mr. Salinger drank his own urine, she wrote, and sat for hours in an orgone box.”
In spite of his real-life oddities, Salinger’s influence on our way of seeing the world is undeniable. I read Catcher in the Rye for my first time on a pre-collegiate trip up to Harvard – my ultimate aspirational obsession – huddling myself up on a dorm room floor with my knees to my chest and a black coffee in hand. This was college, I thought! This was how every day will be! I will be smarter, and funnier, and more interesting, and life will be just like this and Will Hunting will be my blue collar genius boyfriend!
And then came my obsession with Franny and Zooey…
Franny was so self-obsessed and such a downer, but her little world at the Harvard/Yale games, filled with cigarette smoking, martini lunches, and boys and trains sounded exactly as it was to be. At least I wouldn’t be the one eating only chicken and milk. I’d be partying down with Lane with the exotic stuff:
“All I want is a chicken sandwich. And maybe a glass of milk…. You order what you want and all, though. I mean, take snails and octopuses an things. Octopi. I’m really not at all hungry.”
Lane looked at Franny, then exhaled a thin, overly expressive stream of smoke down at his plate. “This is going to be a real little doll of a weekend,” he said. “A chicken sandwich, for God’s sake.”
Franny was annoyed. “I’m not hungry, Lane – I’m sorry. My gosh. Now, please. You order what you want, why don’t you and I’ll eat while you’re eating. But I can’t just work up an appetite because you want me to.”
“All right, all right.” Lane craned his neck and caught the waiter’s attention. A moment later, he order the chicken sandwich and the glass of milk for Franny, and snails, frogs’ legs, and a salad for himself.”
Way to go, Lane! Franny goes off the deep end in a few short pages! Leave her in the dust, find me, and take me to the game!
So, with that, we say a sad goodbye to J. D. Salinger. We hope that there’s someone to bring your loved ones a casserole and some bourbon punch.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Oh, Carmen Miranda, when we grow up, can we be just like you? Flouncing around town in a fruity hat, all the while hypnotizing every man in sight.
Among Carmen's most amazing work is the 1943 technicolor musical by Busby Berkeley - a classic girl-meets-boy love story featuring scantily clad women dancing around with six-foot long bananas.
With all those bananas bouncing around, the film was widely censored and banned from the screens of Carmen's home country Portugal.
Seriously, watch this:
One last picture of our hot momma, you know, just lounging around. This is how she rolls.
One of my favorite qualities of aged cheeses, like Blaak, is its durability. Ash acts as a natural defense against oxidation and it is nearly impossible to find this cheese "off." This is the perfect choice to have wrapped well (no plastic please!) in the back of the refrigerator, as it will stand the test of time. Just a little edge trimming and you’ve become the fabulous NY hostess with the very elegant cheese plate at a minute’s notice. And better yet, it will undoubtedly match your Louboutins!
You can buy whole 2-3 pound wheels direct from Beekman 1802 or smaller pieces are available at Murray's Cheese, Garden of Eden, Saxelby Cheese, and Stinky Brooklyn.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
The 10 Commandments: No. 5 Thou Shalt Not Kill from Global Mechanic on Vimeo.
Found via my love for you is a stampede of horses. gracias.
Friday, January 15, 2010
If you’ve never experienced this little marvel, allow me to explain. Vacherin Mont d’Or comes self-contained in its very own small pine box. It has a soft supple rind that ranges from yellow, to grey, to pale orange that when peeled back revels the most delectable fondue pot one has ever seen. It literally spoons out of the container and begs to be eaten with good bread. (However, if you’re as dedicated to cheese as I am, its even better from spoon to mouth!) Avoid purchase if the cheese looks tired and sunken in its case or is vividly orange. Vacherin Mont d’Or, at its best, is proud, puffed up, and alive. It’s rind looks soft and raised, like a wave, ready to break open from the swelling of wealth below.
But what makes this cheese so special is its seasonality. The production of Vacherin had originally developed because of limited milk availability from the cold Swiss winter. Though now production is limited only on behalf of tradition, Vacherin-seekers will only be satiated from late September through April. Just as wonderful as that ice-cold bite of watermelon is in summer, ripe with sunlight and embodying its season, so is it for Vacherin and me. If I could eat it in summer, I wouldn’t.
I’m sure someone other in the city must be offering this rare and wonderful cheese but, Murrays’ Cheese Shop is the only place I have seen it available on the retail market – and they deliver! For a Vacherin-filled night out, try Dovetail on West 77th. This cheese has been spotted on their cart lately.
So if you find yourself in the chilly weeks to follow with the snow piling up around you, may I suggest inviting good friends over, opening that bottle you’ve been saving, and diving into a pot of Vacherin Mont d’Or.
Founded in 2002, Rainbeau Ridge has grown into a multifaceted sustainable farm boasting award-winning cheeses. Rainbeau Ridge is located in Bedford Hills, New York, an hour Northeast of New York City, and includes a small-scale egg operation, organic vegetable gardens, a restored orchard, small pastures and barns designed for the farm’s many animals, and a cheese house, where Lisa cultivates her fine farmstead goat cheese.
Can you tell us a bit about the history of Rainbeau Ridge? I understand that the farm started as a very small and humble endeavor and has since grown well beyond.
I had small garden and chickens when my kids were little but I really started Rainbeau Ridge with just two milking goats. My husband and I had been slowly trying to re-assemble a former country gentleman’s farm and recreating a farm was a way to preserve that land by putting it to work. When we got back from four years of living in Japan, I was ready for the next chapter in my life and felt an overwhelming desire to create something with my own hands. Goats seemed manageable and I felt cheesemaking would bring together many of my interests in nature, the land and feeding people.
We get asked this all the time -- honestly I don't know. I do know there are many traits that a successful herdswoman and cheesemaker must have that women tend to excel in -- but that makes it sound very sexist…Historically, the family cow, flock, etc. were tended by the wife/mother-- are we being called back? Does our own ability to give milk call us back too? This also sounds sexist. We banish most male animals from the farm -- boys get scared off -- here I’m just kidding!!!
What sort of courses, tools or resources would an aspiring cheesemaker need to get started?
Ricki Carroll of New England Cheesemaking is the mother of many artisanal cheesemakers. I took one of her workshops in Western MA early on and she has a great supply house too, from which you can order the basics.
I noticed that you sell goats on your website. What resources are required for raising your own goat? And what are goats like, anyway? Are they nasty, sweet, ornery, somewhere in between?
Well, you’d start by finding out what your town regulations are concerning livestock. The goats need some protection from the elements and require hay, grain and water daily. They don’t eat cans but they can earn their keep by eating brush and invasive plants. There are herds kept for just that purpose. Our kids are handled from the time they are born so for the most part, they are gentle and friendly although there is an occasional doe that likes to push at me or nibble a scarf.
I was always interested in French-style cheeses but when I try a cheese I like, I do fantasize about capturing or interpreting those qualities with my facilities, with my milk and my farm’s terroir.
Where did you train in France and how did that experience affect your outlook on food?
In Poumoue, a tiny town in Central France, on a farm where the Johanneaux family made wonderful chevre and ran a small restaurant. I worked along side them, filled notebooks with notes and drawings and asked questions. Even with just my high school French, I learned so much about eating seasonally and simply. We picked the salad for lunch along the stone paths back to the farmhouse. But it was really much earlier during my four years in Japan, absorbing that culture’s celebration of food, eating locally and seasonally, that I began thinking differently about food.
There are many competitions-- the one I admire a lot is run by the American Cheese Society, whereby a pair of judges (one for technical evaluation, the other for aesthetics) awards points and the top point winners over certain thresholds receive awards. I'm proud to say that our Meridian took 3rd in 2008 (the first time we entered) and ChevreLait took 2nd in 2009. There were 1300 entries overall this past year.
We have been buying some amazing raw milk and cream at underground raw milk clubs. In your Martha Stewart segment, you briefly touched on your methods for approximating raw milk. Do you think dairy farms should be able to sell raw milk and raw milk cheeses? If so, with which restrictions?
I think that consumers should be able to choose pasteurized or raw milk cheese. There are clear taste differences and when done properly, clean raw milk produces lovely cheese. Having said that, there are farmstead cheesemakers of all quality levels -- some cleaner than others -- so safety is a big consideration. The fabrication of farmstead cheese can be carefully monitored for cleanliness because everything happens within the farm. We know our animals, our team members, our cheese house routine and are inspected monthly. Nevertheless we will continue to comply with the pasteurization for our fresh cheese. Should we venture into aged cheeses, it would be my hope to age over 60 days so we could use raw milk for the input. Just for the record, contamination can happen post-pasteurization so it's not a panacea.
How do you eat your cheese?
Every which way. When I was still learning my craft, I'd have so much cheese, I'd cook with it constantly and my kids used to ask where I’d put the cheese in every dinner. It’s the best, healthy “fast food” ever when combined with the garden produce on a great slice of bread. There's "nothing doesn’t go with goat cheese".
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
The Pig & The Butcher from Quarter Productions on Vimeo.
This video is really incredible. It showcases butcher Vadim Akimenko, meat manager at Savenor's Market of Cambridge, in the process of butchering a 211 pound pig, scrapping only 1 pound in the end. We love your care and dedication Mr Akimenko. The gorgeous video was tastefully done by Quarter Productions. Found via our friend Bobby over at Kitsune Noir.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Tomorrow we will be introducing a new Gastronomista Hostess, a lovely, charming, and stylish cheesemonger who will be teach us all we can possibly learn about the wonderful world of cheese - domestic, imported, stinky, silky, runny, hard, aged, ashen, washed rind, domestic, raw and runny.
To whet your palate, take a look at these incredible original French cheese maps, hand-colored steel engravings drawn under the supervision of famous cartographer Victor Levasseur in Paris in 1854. The maps are available for purchase from the Grace Galleries in Maine for only $85 a pop. In the cheese shop of our dreams, these maps will line the walls.
Please put us down, you're kind of grossing us out.
The New York Times tells us of a new diet whereby men hunt and slaughter animals, store them whole in their walk-in meat lockers, binge on meat, and then fast until the famine is over. Oh, yeah, and that meat is raw and eaten sans utensil.
Grocery store of the future? The past?
Williamsburg, please let's not let this catch on in the restaurant scene. Unwashed hipster servers in animal pelts fighting over a banquet of freshly caught lion loin? Um, don't call us. We'll call you.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
The Old Poodle Dog, established in 1849, was San Franisco's first, and most notorious French restaurant. The restaurant, opened by Frenchmen P. Allarme and A. B. Blanco, was originally called "Le Poulet d'Or," and later was given the nickname of the Poodle Dog by the 49'ers who couldn't pronounce the proper French.
Each floor was devoted to different parlors for significantly different epicurean delights.
The first floor dining room, lavishly decorated in the Rococco and Louis XIV styles, provided an elegant environment for a man to properly entertain his wife and daughter in public.
In the small second floor dining rooms, men would entertain their mistresses in private.
The third, fourth and fifth floors provided private sex parlors accessible only by a side door and elevator. Each suite included an elegant bed, rich European Axminster carpets, a bathroom and telephone. With a wink and a nod, the elevator operator became one of the wealthiest service men in town.
The sixth floor housed an opulent banquet room for up to 250 guests to celebrate.
Several Ebay vendors have collections of incredible Old Poodle Dog menus, invitations, and wine labels.
1910's Souvenir Wine List and Menu Cover
October 20, 1916 Old Poodle Dog Menu
Old Poodle Dog Letterhead
1916 Christmas Menu
Vintage 1900 private label Chablis for OPD
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
We are women. And we, your hostesses, love our Tecate. Cerveza Con Carácter. That's right. With a slice of lime. In the depths of winter.
Did you know bacon was used to promote matrimonial harmony in medieval England? Nothing like a little pork to put the snap crackle and pop back into a relationship, right? Sizzle! That's the kind of couples counseling we hostesses would like to see more of.
For more fun facts about bacon, check out Zingerman's Guide to Better Bacon: Stories of Pork Bellies, Hush Puppies, Rock 'n' Roll Music and Bacon Fat Mayonnaise.
How James Beard award-winner and author Ari Weinzweig managed to compile so many of our favorite things into one beautiful hardcover is beyond us. He follows the history of bacon in the United States and believes bacon is to the U.S. what olive oil is to Italy. In short, a national treasure.
The fatty tome includes interviews with celebrated bacon makers from all over the US of A, as well as singer Andre Williams whose penchant for bacon is almost as strong as his love for the blues.
And if that isn't enough, it's got these strange R. Crumb-like illustrations, a bacon glossary (pancetta versus rasher?) and over 40 recipes, including ones for Grits and Bits Waffles and Bacon Fat mayonnaise. If that doesn't kindle your heart-fire - and your marital bed - then we don't know what will.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Stewed Organic Dry Farmed Tomatoes, Happy Girl Kitchen Co., Moss Landing, California
Preserved 100% organic Northern California tomatoes. Just looking at these things, you can feel the warm California sunshine on your face. Who wants to go on a bike ride? That is, after a quick morning Mary made with her spicy organic tomato juice.
Shallot Confit with Red Wine, Quince & Apple Preserves, Madison, Wisconsin
The adorable DIY midwest couple of Matt and Clare personally produce limited edition collections of seasonal smears and jams. This shallot confit is "a robust, self-assured preserve with an elegant streak. Bold red wine brightens the deep caramels of slow-cooked shallots." Please, someone send me a turkey sandwich so I can comingle my flavors.
Alfajores Sampler Box, Maitelates Alfajores Cookies, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Maitelates (my-tay-lah-tes) are Maite Zubia's twist on a unique Chilean family recipe for Alfajores (al-fa-hor-es): delicate, caramel-filled shortbread-like cookies. A favorite at the Ann Arbor farmer's market, Maite sandwiches two buttery hand-made cookies with her famous homemade Dulce de Leche, made with fresh Michigan creamery milk. She then dips each alfajor in rich Belgian Chocolate. Her 12-cookie sampler box includes:
Classic Alfajores, filled with pure caramelly Dulce de Leche
Almond Alfajores, enhanced with ground roasted almonds and almond extract
Coffee Alfajores, rich with Ethiopian espresso
Coconut Alfajores, made even chewier with unsweetened coconut
White Alfajores, sweetly coated with Callebaut White Chocolate
Strawberry, adding nice fresh fruit flavor
Michigan Cherry, Dulce de Leche & Cherries
Quince, Quince and Sugar (no Dulce de Leche)
Dulce Peanut, Dulce de Leche & Peanut Butter
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