Sazon

January 23rd, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Sazon is a Santa Fe restaurant specializing in Mexican mole dishes. Most Americans think of a mole as a dark, thick sauce with chocolate overtones. At Sazon, moles come in a variety of flavors and textures ranging from light and herbaceous to blazing hot. (There’s a platter of small samplings of the moles and mini tortillas so diners can make an informed choice). HG/BSK dined in the beautiful, upscale restaurant last night with the Brilliant Brits, Anthony and Claudia C. The food is spectacular but the wine list is ridiculous. Cheapest wine is $62. Most range between $90-$125. However, the cocktail list has some pleasant sangrias and very good beers and ales at affordable prices. If you have a designated driver, try their special margarita. Powerful drink. HG dined on big marrow bones (better than Paris) and giant shrimp in a Thai sauce (plus some mole selected by BSK). Drank a hearty black Belgian ale. The rest of the table had good IPA’s. HG’s happy companions had lush mole-topped dishes of duck, lamb, beef and stuffed squash blossoms. Sazon is four-star Mexican dining.

Joyous and Generous Visit

January 21st, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Joy !! Our wonderful friends, The Brilliant Brits, Anthony and Claudia C., are at HG/BSK’s New Mexico home for a visit (much too brief). As usual, these generous souls brought a plethora of gifts. Cheeses. Candy. Biscuits. Vintage red wine. More? Yes!! A beautiful bottle of Suntory Hibiki Japanese Harmony Whiskey, the best whiskey in the world (in HG’s informed opinion). Plus, a framed-for-travel color photo of Toby, The Wonder Dog, and a large framed color photo of HG and Anthony seated with their beloved companions: Genghis, Boodles and Toby. Dinner was a dish from Marcella Hazan’s cookbook: Pork roast braised in milk. The milk and pork juices coagulate into a lush gravy. BSK served it with baby zucchini and roast fingerling potatoes. BSK found a bottle of Mostarda di Frutta in the pantry. This condiment consists of preserved fruit in a sweet and spicy syrup. It is a glory of Italian culinary arts and is aways served with Bollito Misto (mix of boiled meats and sausages). Adds spark when it accompanies roast pork, grilled pork chops or poached chicken.

Ecstatic Eggs

January 20th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

There was a time when an Israeli feast was a raw onion, a tomato and a hard-boiled egg. Basic pioneer and kibbutz fare. But, after many embattled decades, Israeli cuisine has vaulted upwards in spectacular fashion. There are very good Israeli restaurants in almost every major world city (London, Paris, New York, and Philadelphia lead). Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are now favorites for dedicated international gourmands. HG daughter, Victoria Freeman, owns and runs five well regarded New York restaurants with husband, chef Marc Myer (a farm-to-table pioneer). They are Cookshop, Rosie’s, Vic’s, Shuka and Shukette (opening in February). She recently returned from a visit to Israel. She raved about the fresh produce, the splendid seafood, the joyous atmosphere in restaurants. Shakshuka (originated in Tunisia) is a breakfast staple, eaten all over Israel. It is one of HG/BSK’s favorite comfort foods. Shashuka is composed of chopped peppers, tomatoes, garlic, tomato paste, cumin and harissa (a fiery middle eastern condiment). All are cooked in olive oil until soft and fragrant. Then it is topped with poached eggs. Yes, fried eggs can be substituted. But, BSK’s poached eggs are perfect. They are HG’s preference. The dish is accompanied by HG’s mix of Greek yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, salt, white pepper and zaatar. It is a sublime moment when the runny egg yolks are pierced and their golden color adds rays of sunshine. The yogurt mix complements the spicy vegetables. Chunks of ciabatta soak up the goodness. Glasses of fruity red wine (many), of course.

Splendid Swordfish

January 15th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

BSK was in Whole Foods today and, fortunately, spied a nice piece of swordfish. On sale and just off the boat (and plane). So, for dinner tonight inventive BSK created a lush, creamy, fish, pasta, bean, lemon, parsley dish. Spectacular. Here are the elements. The pasta was a small shaped, curly-edged organic Italian variety. Beans were Goya capellini. Parley was Italian flat leaf. Sofrito (sauce) was olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and zest (lots), fish broth, chopped parsley (abundant) and anchovies. BSK heated the beans, crushed some and added it to the sauce to give it body. BSK coated the swordfish with Maldon Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and lemon zest. Topped the fish with thin slices of lemon and lemon zest. Swordfish is hard to cook. It’s usually raw in the middle (HG only likes tuna that way) or dry. Not when BSK is cooking. The fish was pan-broiled in HG/BK’s trusty cast iron pan (almost 50 years old) to the perfect state of moisture and juiciness. And, here’s How BSK built this platter of seafood rapture. A layer of pasta, beans mixed with a bit of pasta water and olive oil and topped with the swordfish and flavorful grilled lemon slices. The wonder is that BSK creates fabulous dinners like this every night. Lucky, lucky HG!!

Prunes

January 13th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Prunes are not glamorous. HG presumes this is because of their association with old folks and laxative qualities. This is not the case in Eastern Europe where they are used to enhance many stews and roasts. The French and Germans often stuff a pork roast with prunes to savory effect. HG is fond of stewed prunes with Greek yogurt for breakfast. If you don’t want to stew dried prunes, soften them with a soaking in hot water. Prunes have a pleasant affinity with port. A tasty ending to a meal can be a sharp blue cheese (gorgonzola, Roquefort, stilton), nuts and prunes soaked in port. Plus, a glass of port, of course. The port soaked prunes are also nice with a dollop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Try warm, stewed prunes covered with scotch whiskey and a bit of simple syrup. Odd, but good. HG’s late Mom’s dessert was prunes with “smetana” (sour cream). HG’s late Father married his prunes with a substantial glass of “slivovitz” (plum brandy).

Fabulous Pho

January 11th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Oh, my. Few things are more comforting during this New Mexico cold snap than BSK’s innovative riff on Vietnamese pho. Served it last night. BSK begins the process with Whole Foods pho broth. No, it’s probably not as good as the streetside broth concocted by women in Saigon or Ho Chi Min cities. But, it’s still mighty good. To the steaming broth, BSK adds baby spinach, sliced onion, tofu, Japanese bonito flakes, grated ginger, thinly shaved carrots, jalapenos (hot!!) and shredded chicken from last night’s juicy spatchcocked bird. There may have been more ingredients but HG was too busy slurping to identify them. HG cooked a substantial bowl of Chinese egg noodles which were added to the pho to give it necessary heft. Condiments were sriracha, chili oil and sesame oil. Happy thought. There will be leftover pho and noodles for lunch tomorrow.

Versatile Chicken

January 11th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

As noted often, BSK makes the best spatchcocked chicken. (The French call it ‘crapaudine’ because with the backbone removed and the chicken flattened, the bird has the shape of a frog). BSK marinates the chicken for hours in olive oil, garlic and lemon juice. Dusts it with Goya adobo spice and roasts it in the oven for 40 minutes. The result is a juicy chicken with crusty skin and plenty of juices to enliven each portion. Last night, BSK served the chicken with big sweet potatoes and gently sauteed zucchini spears and shallots. Splendid meal. However, there are more chicken delights ahead for HG/BSK and Toby, The Wonder Dog. Left over chicken breasts will go into BSK’s innovative pho and into HG’s luncheon congee. For the next week, hungry Toby will be eating a special healthy doggy dish: Shredded chicken breast with chopped sweet potato skin and a bit of zucchini. Bow wow, indeed!!!

Family, Fun, Feasting. Viva New Mexico!

January 9th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

BSK’s sister, Noel M., and husband, Yossi M., made a happy stopover at HG/BSK’s New Mexico home on their way to Las Vegas, Nevada. (Hey, there’s a Las Vegas in New Mexico as well, an important town in the early history of the state. It’s the site of a historic hotel, creatively restored). In the gambling and showbiz extravaganza of Nevada’s Las Vegas,Y & N will be staying at their son Erik’s Gladius Ranch. BSK guided Y & N to some of Santa Fe’s great museums and historic areas. An appreciative Noel swam every morning in HG/BSK’s superheated indoor pool. Very comforting in chilly weather. No swimming for Yossi because of minor surgery on an ear lobe. Some of the dinner feasts included a middle eastern chicken dish; Texas chili (fiery and no beans); dinner at Gabriel’s Restaurant in Pojoaque Best guacamole (prepared tableside ); carnitas; sangria and flan. HG/BSK were sad to see Noel and Yossi leave The Land of Enchantment. However, HG/BSK will see them in Prince Edward Island where their Ocean Mist Farm is a verdant delight.

Back To New Mexico

January 6th, 2020 § 1 comment § permalink

Yes, HG/BSK are back in New Mexico. However, the great food memories remain in HG’s gustatory repository. New Year’s Eve featured a great Armenian (and Middle Eastern) buffet at the home of Ivan and Diane, the much loved Rhode Island pals and neighbors of the Riva family. (Gracious Ivan, who knows much about Scotch whisky, poured HG a superb glass of a rare single malt scotch. An explosion of wondrous flavors). Watched the New Year’s Eve ball drop while enjoying BSK’s delectable “Green Soup”. Once more, the question arose. How can something so delicious be so healthy ? On New Year’s Day the last meal was Italian traditional: Poached cotechino (a large, tasty sausage) and stewed lentils (as a wish for prosperity). When finally back in HG/BSK’s New Mexico home, HG/BSK were overjoyed to see Toby, The Wonder Dog, after HG/BSK’s long holiday absence. BSK prepared a dinner of linguine in a tuna, tomato, garlic, caper, anchovy sauce. With a good bottle of pinot noir, it made homecoming (after a very long day of air and auto travel) very comforting.

Rasoi: Creative Indian Food

January 4th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

No, Rhode Islanders don’t subsist only on Dunkin’ Donuts (though they eat a zillion); Hot Wieners; Coffee Milk; Del’s Lemonade and Stuffies (a concoction only edible after being dunked in Rhody’s great clear, clam chowder.) Fresh seafood (oysters, clams, scallops, squid, etc.) are very good and prepared skillfully at both Yankee and Portuguese restaurants. There is an abundance of ethnic restaurants (Greek, Peruvian, Mexican, Japanese, Italian and more). An HG favorite is Chonquing House in Providence, an authentic Chinese restaurant. On this wonderful holiday visit with Gifted Daughter Lesley R., her husband, Profesore Massimo R. (who overwhelmed HG/BSK with great wines); beautiful and brilliant granddaughters, Arianna and Sofia, HG/BSK discovered Rasoi, an Indian restaurant in Pawtucket. Wonderful place for a joyous family meal. Rasoi is very innovative and creative. The chefs give the dishes a tweak that makes them soar above the usual Indian restaurant fare. HG’s favorites were the grilled shrimp with spinach and a fabulous vegetarian dish, cauliflower. The description was:”sweet, spicy and golden fried”.It was all of these things. There were exemplary dosas stuffed with chicken and peas; crispy samosas; eggplant (baingan bharta)); Indian cheese and spinach (saag paneer). Adding to the joy was basmati rice, dal and Indian beer. And, the prices are very moderate. HG/BSK will be back.