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The new year brings with it new and exciting flavors and techniques. No, I’m not referring to Mark Bittman’s two most recent columns on Potatoes and Sandwiches. Instead check out Sophie Brickman’s piece in the New York Times about cooking in your microwave. I’ve been trying some of the less frequented buttons, so this was inspiring. Reviewing Nathan Myhrvold’s follow-up to his six-volume bible for the modernist chef, a slimmer edition for the modernist home cook, Brickman suggests we try frying parsley, steaming fish, and dehydrating fruit, all in the microwave. We most definitely will!
This is going to sound like a pretty obvious statement, but I just tried a recipe from Thomas Keller’s ad hoc at home and it was awesome. I had a taste for some Indian flavors, so initially I thought of dahl, but then I came across Keller’s recipe for lentil and sweet potato soup. I had a ton of aging sweet potatoes in my larder, so it didn’t take much convincing.
I’ve read some Gunter Grass, and even excerpted Local Anaesthetic here. I got my Thanksgiving stuffing recipe from him. Then a year plus ago New York Magazine mentioned The Flounder in a list of great food books. It seemed natural that I’d pick up a copy and now finally I have. This should be an interesting read. Here’s a sampling from the first pages:
I read with some interest the top new restaurant lists from Pete Wells in New York City and Tom Sietsema in the D.C. area. I tend to stay local, so I need to try Rasika Westend, Seasonal Pantry, and Izakaya Seki. I don’t think I’m going to risk another meal at Mintwood Place. As a friend used to say, it would be really great…if you’ve never been to a restaurant before. I’ve been warned away from Rogue 24 by a local food writer, so mostly I’ll just keep going to Little Serow as much as humanly possible. It’s going to be a great year! Also, if you missed it, the Times had a great piece by Eugenia Bone about French truffles–where to buy them, why they taste smell so good, and especially whether all those truffle products are the real deal. Read It.
I don’t know who Jay Rayner is. I don’t recognize his face on the cover of his book. And yet I bought it based on presumed shared interests. It’s called The Man Who Ate the World: In Search of the Perfect Dinner. Rayner is the restaurant critic for The London Observer and in 2006 or ’07 maybe he decided to travel the world on his quest.
It was with no small amount of glee that I read Tom Sietsema’s pan of the “new” minibar. My first experience two years ago at Jose Andres’ exclusive table for modernist cuisine was definitely three-plus star. But my second visit, earlier this year, was a big disappointment (turns out it was also a bargain). Judging from Sietsema’s review, many of the menu items have remained the same–every dish he mentioned, in fact, I’ve had–so what exactly makes Andres’ minibar new?
Where last year’s food issue of the New Yorker disappointed, this year’s has plenty to recommend. Naturally, the issue comes with a piece by Calvin Trillin, this time visiting his daughter in Oaxaca and sampling the local fare. One part food, one part family, ten parts Trillin’s witty writing, so it’s well worth a read. I love this sentence: “Given my experience with nutria in Louisiana some years before, in fact, I suppose that, if I hadn’t been raised to prize modesty, I could describe myself as a man with relatively broad experience in rodent consumption.”
The food sections this week range from meh (baked beans cover story) to ick (squirrel gravy with a description of butchering the rodent that will make your stomach turn), so steer clear. Or maybe just read Pete Wells’ review of the vegetarian joint Dirt Candy, and if you missed it last week, his review of the new outpost of M. Wells at MoMa PS1. I would have loved to try their short-lived diner of decadence in Long Island City. Escargot nestled in bone marrow? Foie gras grilled cheese? Truly a moment in time. And don’t forget the rant it inspired in GQ–a must read.
What a success our Thanksgiving was this year! There were no misses on the table: A beautifully golden turkey–how is it that chefs on Top Chef can’t get that right?–sausage and apple stuffing; mashed potatoes and gravy; broccoli salad; roasted delicata squash with pomegranate seeds; roasted sunchokes–a conversation starter and a first for nearly everyone at our table–and pies, with salty caramel taking the, er, cake. The wine for the most part was a sparkling white made for Whole Foods that is a convincing stand-in for champagne called De Chanceny Cremant de Loire. All in all, a meal to be proud of.
The buzz of the week has certainly gone to Pete Wells for his “Dear Guy Fieri, how does your restaurant blow? Let me count the ways” review in the New York Times. That said, while a pan is always worth a read, the only line that made me laugh out loud: “And when we hear the words Donkey Sauce, which part of the donkey are we supposed to think about?” The Onion’s piece about the owner of Bubba Gump Shrimp sending his sympathies is funny. But since few of us were going to be eating at Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar (I don’t even know who this Guy is) in Times Square, the article on Jacques Pepin’s steamed turkey is a more pressing read. The technique seems pretty straight-forward and absolutely worth trying. 30 minutes of steaming means the bird only roasts in the oven for two hours.