Food and Drink Saviors

October 15th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Like The Lone Ranger, parmigiano rides to the rescue of modest Italian cooking. Sour cream does the same for Russian cuisine: Borscht and pelmeny are unthinkable without big dollops of sour cream. Ditto blini and red salmon caviar. Most folks find hamburgers inedible without a pour of ketchup. Hot dogs are sad and lonely without a smear of yellow mustard. HG likes shucked oysters au naturel, the better to inhale their briny goodness. This choice is not shared by many people who blunt the oyster taste with lemon juice, horseradish and unspeakable red sauce. Even the French, devout oyster lovers, serve the bivalves with a shallot vinaigrette. Go figure. HG likes rare steak the Tuscan way. Crushed garlic and olive oil atop the blood rare meat. During the PEI summer, BSK serves many a pot of steamed mussels and bowls of seafood chowders. HG enhances them with scoops of a mayonnaise and sriracha mix. At the cocktail hour, HG gives vodka on the rocks a few drops of Regan’s Orange bitters. BSK always adds a splash of Aperol to BSK’s pre-dinner glass of white wine. After dinner, HG makes a snifter of insipid brandy sing with an addition of Peychaud Bitters. When teetotalers are present, HG gives their glasses of sparkling water vibrant life with a few drops of Angostura bitters.

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Monet’s Palate: A Great Cookbook

October 11th, 2016 § 3 comments § permalink

If you love art, food, gardens, farm-to-table eating (as do HG/BSK), then Monet’s Palate Cookbook is a cookbook you must have. You probably have been dazzled by the visual beauty of Claude Monet’s paintings of the water lilies at his pond in the garden of his Giverny home. But, you may not have been aware that, Monet, a confirmed gourmand, had an extensive kitchen garden and relied upon the freshness and flavor of its produce. Monet’s Palate Cookbook is subtitled “The artist and his kitchen garden at Giverny.” The authors are Aileen Boardman, film maker and Monet authority, and Derek Fell, renowned garden writer. There are 60 recipes (all rigorously tested by Boardman), tips on gardens (big and small) by Fell, and beautiful photography by Steven Rothfeld. It is a stimulating book. You will have an urge to plant (even a few unambitious windowsill pots of basil and parsley), race to a museum to view some of Monet’s work (the best are in Paris), or simply prepare a meal of savory treats (the recipes, derived from Manet’s table, will make you ravenous). The introduction to the book is by Meryl Streep. The actress was also the narrator of the PBS documentary by Boardman, “Monet’s Palate: A Gastronomic View From the Gardens.” Viewed on 350 PBS stations, the documentary has interviews with Alice Waters and Daniel Bouloud among other culinary luminaries. Both the documentary and the book are treasures, fitting tributes to a great artist who linked imagination with a love of the earth and the pleasures of the table.

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Guacamole

October 9th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Guacamole is omnipresent in New Mexico. Every supermarket sells a version of the avocado dip. Best of the bunch is the fresh packaged guacamole at Whole Foods. This is good guacamole, not great guacamole. The same could be said about the guacamole served in HG’s favorite restaurants dispensing authentic Northern New Mexican cooking: El Parasol, Sopaipilla Factory and Tia Sophia’s. Great guacamole is served at Gabriel’s, a large restaurant with a spectacular terrace, located 15 miles north of Santa Fe on highway 285. The guacamole is prepared table-side. A cart is pulled up to the table and a server scoops guacamole into a Molcajete (a round, volcanic stone bowl with three short legs). The server adds garlic, chopped onion and tomato, jalapeño peppers, cilantro, lime juice and salt. Pounds the mix with a Tejolote (stone pestle) into a proper consistency. Splendid. Even greater guacamole is prepared Chez HG/BSK. A swift and simple preparation. The Pojoaquë Super Market, a few minutes drive from HG/BSK’s, prepares fresh tomato based salsa, tomatillo salsa and pico de gallo daily (as well as ceviche). All are made by local women and have a down home taste. For a spicy (not fiery) guacamole, HG mixes (to taste) spoonfuls of the two salsas and adds an exuberant amount of freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice. Salt and pepper. Using a wooden fork and spoon, HG chops the mix into a smooth but chunky texture. HG serves pico de gallo (heavy on jalapeños) on the side for those who like fire in their mouth.

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Return To El Parasol

October 4th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

It’s Monday and HG is enjoying lunch at El Parasol, HG”s favorite dining place for earthy, down home New Mexican food. (Located on Highway 285/84. Pojoaque, N.M., minutes from HG/BSK’s home and 15 minutes driving time north of Santa Fe). El Parasol is presided over by Jose and Alicia Atencio, gracious and welcoming hosts. Customers step up to the counter, order and pay for their food. (Big takeout business). If you are seated at an indoor or outdoor terrace table, a smiling staffer brings the food to your table. All the standards (tacos, burritos, tostadas, enchiladas,etc.) are delicious (even addictive). However, HG’s favorite is the robust green chile menudo (tripe stew). Hot, hearty, spicy bowl of goodness. That was HG”s Saturday lunch (plus a shredded beef taco) when lovely Alicia stopped by HG’s table to welcome HG back after HG’s four month absence enjoying sea and sun on Prince Edward Island. The welcome was typical of Alicia (and Jose). They treat each customer like a valued guest. The customers are diverse–Latino families, Native Americans from the nearby pueblos, farmers, ranchers, artists, bikers, travelers, etc. Everyone is treated with smiles and efficient service. El Parasol is immaculate (including the restrooms). What the restaurant business needs is more Atencios, people who combine human warmth, culinary skills and professional management discipline. Upon leaving El Parasol this Saturday, Alicia presented HG with a bag of fresh produce from her garden as a welcome home gift. Hungry Gerald is also Lucky Gerald.

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Breakfast Burrito

October 3rd, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

The breakfast burrito is a hearty culinary staple of western USA. Favored by physical laborers and desk bound executives (and everyone in between). A big BB devoured in the morning makes lunch superfluous. Effete east coasters may never have tasted one so let HG explain: A BB is a big rolled flour tortilla enclosing potatoes, eggs, onions, peppers, bacon (or ham, sausage or chorizo). The BB, looking like a small football, is smothered in green or red chile. Heat factor is mild to blazing. HG was introduced to the BB at Pete’s Kitchen on Colfax and Race in Denver. HG’s office was two blocks away from Pete’s so breakfast (or lunch) was, inevitably, the mild green chile smothered BB. HG loved it (as did SJ when SJ resided in the Mile High City). Since moving to the Santa Fe area, HG has learned that New Mexico is the true home of the BB. There are exemplary BB’s served in more than a score of restaurants and from some dozen roadside trucks. The best BB can be found at Tune-Up Cafe in Santa Fe (El Parasol in Pojoaque is a close second). Inventive BSK serves up BSK’s own version of the BB. Not monstrously large but very satisfying. Here’s how BSK does it: Warms a modest sized tortilla. Tops it with a browned layer of left over smashed potatoes and fried onions. Adds crisp bacon. Tops it with a sunny side fried egg. Then smothers the tasty work of art with plentiful warmed 505 Green Chile Sauce (Medium). Medium is mouth tingling. Hot is numbing. Where did the name “505” come from ? That’s Santa Fe’s telephone area code. If you want to attempt a New Mexico BB at home, order 505 from Amazon.

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Farewell Carnegie Deli

October 2nd, 2016 § 2 comments § permalink

HG’s e-mail pal, Charles Curran, the Florida gourmand, informed HG this morning that the Carnegie Delicatessen will close at the end of 2016. Not a victim of The Real Estate Monster. The Carnegie owns the building in which it is located. The closing doesn’t sadden HG. For some decades the Carnegie has catered to tourists. Prices have been high and the sandwiches have been unappetizingly huge. The Carnegie opened its doors in 1937 and immediately attracted a crowd of show biz types: press agents, song pluggers, comedians, bookies and other raffish denizens of the Broadway/Seventh Avenue/Carnegie Hall neighborhood. HG dined there frequently from 1951 to 1983 (the downhill slide began in the 80’s). HG also frequented the Stage Delicatessen (when Max Asnas was in charge) and the incomparable Lindy’s. Those were glory days for Jewish delicatessens with Reuben’s in the East 50’s, Gitlitz in the West 70’s, Katz’s on Houston Street and 2nd Avenue Deli on Second Avenue. And, of course, there were scores of good delis in the boroughs (with the exception of Staten Island). HG’s all time favorite was Reuben’s. Its Reuben sandwich and chicken in the pot were incomparable. Woody Allen’s “Broadway Danny Rose” is framed around a group of comedians, seated at a Carnegie Delicatessen table, chatting about a Broadway character. The film captures the ethos of the Carnegie in bygone days. And, the film is a nice bittersweet homage to low level show biz.

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(Photo by James and Karla Murray)

Lucky Green Guys

October 1st, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG/BSK try to be as green as possible in terms of food, attention to the ecological environment in which HG/BSK are privileged to live, recycling, energy conservation (heating from natural sources etc.). No, HG/BSK are not voting for Green Presidential Candidate Jill Stein. The enemy, folks, is the Pupin Puppet, Der Trumperer. Enough politics. Let’s go on to a happier subject: HG/BSK’s New Mexico neighbors, Gary and Natasha Gundersen. The remarkable Gundersens are Santa Fe’s premier organic farmers and their stand, Mr.G’s, is an instant sellout at the Santa Fe Farmers Market. When HG/BSK arrived home from days of travel, Gary waved hello and presented a delicious welcome home treat–a big head of lush escarole, freshly picked from the soil. That meant heart and body warming escarole soup. BSK did a riff on the recipe from The Frankies Spuntino Cookbook (a must for your bookshelf if you love down to earth Italian-American-Brooklyn cooking). BSK enriched the soup with plenty of cannelloni beans and bacon. Hot red pepper flakes, a dash of olive oil, abundant Pecorino Romano grated cheese topped the bowls. Next day, HG added cooked Goya Melon Seeds (a small pasta shaped like orzo, but larger). This turned the soup into a version of pasta e fagioli. New York’s late, great Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia (“The Little Flower”) loved this dish and called it “pasta fazoole.” HG lifted a spoonful and bowed in memory of the wonderful man who reformed and invigorated New York in the later years of the Great Depression.

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