Playoff Food

January 21st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

HG confesses. The NFL power structure is vile. Brave Colin Kaepernick has been ostracized for expressing his opinion of police offenses against African-Americans. No real protection for players whose continual blows to the head lead to early dementia and death. Nevertheless, HG’s experience as a Bronx sandlot and college football player (a modestly talented halfback on a poor team), makes HG a confirmed fan of NFL playoff football. HG’s sense of morality is (temporarily) abandoned. While watching the TV games, HG indulges in food and drink. These are some of the dishes. Menudo (HG/BSK’s efficient once-a-week housekeeper gifted HG with a big container of this sublime tripe and posole plus green chile stew). Boiled potatoes with onions and sour cream. Congee. Ramen. Icy vodka and beer chasers are the appropriate beverages. HG/BSK watched the Patriots-Titans game in front of pal David F.’s 70inch TV. BSK made a platter of chicken shawarma (crispy middle east chicken) for this occasion. Slightly boring game as Tom Brady performed with his usual artistry. However, all the other playoff games were nail biters. The culmination was the Vikings win on an improbable pass play. Greatest finish HG ever witnessed.

Instant Pot Brisket

January 17th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Texas barbecued brisket deserves its fame. (On HG/BSK’s annual motor trip to Prince Edward Island, Tyler’s Barbecue in Amarillo, Texas is an obligatory stop). Carolina barbecued brisket (drenched in the unique regional mustardy sauce) is splendid. Calvin Trillin, a favorite food writer, swears by the Kansas City product of Arthur Bryant. However, HG prefers above all others, Jewish style, gravy heavy brisket. Not barbecued but cooked in the oven for lots of hours with onions, garlic, carrots, beef stock and tomato sauce. HG’s late Mom called it in Yiddish: “Gedempte fleysch.” HG called it delicious and that’s what helped HG grow into manhood. (You will find a brisket recipe similar to Mom’s in Joan Nathan’s “Jewish Cooking in America”, Knopf, 1964). HG/BSK were in the mood for brisket last night but didn’t have the time for hours of cooking. So, BSK used the Instant Pot, and–hurrah!!– in one hour there was brown on the outside, lush in the inside, home style brisket. BSK was disappointed in the gravy. Thinner and less flavorful than BSK’s ideal. HG thought it was fine and it went well with a platter of kasha (buckwheat groats) and fried onions. Thankfully, there’s enough brisket left over for dinner tonight. HG will cook Italian farfalle shaped pasta to add to the remaining kasha converting it into “kasha varnishkes.) With harissa and sour cream on the table, HG looks forward to more meaty ecstasy. (For brisket lovers there is an essential for the culinary bookshelf: “The Brisket Book–A Love Story With Recipes” by Stephanie Pierson. A long time pal of HG/BSK, Ms. P. is witty, erudite and eminently readable. You will be tempted to browse the book at bedtime. But, then you’d have to arise for a quick nosh. That’s what the book does to appetite.)

Santa Fe Noshes

January 14th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, Santa Fe has some very high end restaurants (Geronimo is the best). But, HG/BSK are not customers. The problem is wine (and spirits). BSK is a hearty wine drinker (can knock off more than a half-bottle with a meal). HG drinks much wine but also likes vodka before the meal and brandy after. This amounts to big bucks at a good restaurant. Cost of wine and spirits can be more than a hundred bucks (sometimes $150). And, then there are three courses of food plus tax and tip. Excessive expenditure. So, dinner is confined to lusty home cooking plus wine and spirit values from Kokoman and Trader Joe’s. BSK confines lunch to leftovers but HG prefers noshing at casual, inexpensive eateries. El Parasol (in Pojoaque and Santa Fe) for menudo and tacos; Saigon Cafe (Santa Fe) for chow fun and pho; Whole Foods for a container of jambalaya; Tune Up for a breakfast burrito smothered in green chile. Best of all are the numerous food trucks. One of them serves foot long hot dogs covered in super hot green chile sauce. A happy way to achieve the ultimate in heartburns. Pass the Tums.


January 13th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Spanish creativity and Swiss business acumen are responsible for a year round culinary treat: The Kumato. Kumatoes are reddish brown, juicy, tomatoes. They are a hybrid developed in Spain and patented by Syngenta, a Swiss agribusiness. No, you can’t buy Kumato seeds and grow your own. Under a rigorous process, Syngenta sells seeds to one major greenhouse grower in a country. (Kumatoes are now grown in 12 countries. HG/BSK eat Kumatoes cultivated in Canada and Mexico). Kumatoes are very tasty (Okay, not as good as a seasonal New Jersey tomato). HG/BSK enjoy them in a variety of ways. Silced with fresh mozzarella. With Portuguese sardines, slices of sweet onion and a big squeeze of lemon juice. Baked in the oven and topped with olive oil and chopped garlic and parsley. In a BLT. A favorite HG snack: Lightly toasted sourdough bread rubbed with garlic, sliced Kumato, olive oil, kosher salt. And, of course, a glass of red wine.

Gone, Gone, Gone

January 11th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

The bustling, noisy, fragrant Fulton Fish Market on Fulton Street and the East River in lower Manhattan is long gone. Together with the produce market that flourished on the lower west side of the borough. Both moved to Hunts Point in The Bronx. Yes, there’s better refrigeration facilities there plus transportation advantages. However, the Fulton Fish Market had a certain ambiance that was unique. Joseph Mitchell, the late New Yorker Magazine writer, liked to hang around there. He captured its essence in “Old Mr. Flood” and “Up in the Old Hotel” (about the building that housed the Sloppy Louie’s Restaurant). Close to Louie’s was the venerable Sweet’s seafood restaurant (Founded in 1845 and closed in 1992). HG dined there often circa 1959-1962 when business brought HG downtown. One dozen oysters on the half shell. Fried smelts and cole slaw. Martini before lunch. Bass ale and Guinness with the food. Cost: Six bucks. Yes. Check out the 1960 menu on the New York Public Library website and be dazzled. Louie’s was plain spoken but not sloppy. (Opened in 1930 and shuttered in 1998). The owner, Louis Morino, served very fresh seafood at low prices. There were some surprises. HG had his first taste of sea urchin roe (Uni) there. Old fogey HG mourns the transformation of the meatpacking district into a high fashion zone. (However, HG loves Daughter Victoria’s Cookshop Restaurant on Tenth Avenue, the lovely High Line promenade and the wondrous Whitney Museum). The gritty Bronx Terminal Market in the shadow of Yankee Stadium still bears the name but has become a vast shopping center with the usual tenants and dining highlights like Subway and Applebee’s. Before its dread metamorphosis, HG was the battling public relations spokesmen for the wholesale fruit and vegetable merchants that occupied sprawling stalls there. The merchants were fighting displacement. HG fought the good fight but dubious “Progress” won out. And, another colorful, lively bit of New York was erased.

A Challenge to HG’s Risotto Supremacy

January 9th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Throughout the 54-year marriage of HG/BSK, it has been HG’s task to cook risotto. And, HG has relished this role. HG is not noted for patience, but HG becomes a paragon of this virtue when making this wonderful Italian rice dish. Yes, it takes time and attention. HG begins the procedure by cooking sliced onions in some olive oil (utilizing a heavy bottomed pot). Then, a cup of Arborio or Carnaroli rice is added and gently stirred until its color slightly darkens. Meanwhile, a pot of chicken broth is simmering on an adjacent stove top burner (HG/BSK like Trader Joe’s Free Range Chicken Broth). HG adds a ladle of hot broth to the rice and stirs until it’s absorbed. And, so on and so on. Ladle of broth. Stir. Stir. Minutes before the risotto hits the peak of creaminess and completion, HG adds a minimally cooked vegetable. Asparagus when in season. Chopped baby spinach. Sweet peas. Before it arrives at the table, the risotto gets a good hit of butter and grated parmesan. Voila!! Perfection. Big change last night. BSK made the risotto. Sautéed some onion and garlic plus sliced mushrooms in a deep saucepan. Riced one half a head of cauliflower in a food processor. Added the rice and cauliflower to pan, plus white wine and thyme (and some other herbs). After wine was absorbed, BSK added ladles of warm chicken stock and stirred and stirred. Parmesan cheese at the end. The result was a very comforting and lush dish. Much enjoyed. However, HG (a radical in politics but a conservative at the table) prefers HG’s traditional and time-tested method of risotto cooking.

Oysters in New Mexico

January 6th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

As followers of HG know all too well, HG loves oysters. When on PEI, HG devours scores from Malpeque and Rollo Bays. In Paris, favorite venue is Le Stella, the delightful brasserie in the staid 16th. Plenitude of riches in New York: Grand Central Oyster Bar; Daughter Victoria’s Cookshop Restaurant on 10th Avenue in Chelsea; a plateau de fruits de mer at Balthazar (a feast shared with Victoria); In Rhode Island, there’s the great Bristol Oyster Bar plus Hemenway’s in Providence. So, where does HG indulge oyster craving in landlocked New Mexico? Oysters are served at some Mexican seafood restaurants. They are on the menu at a few upscale places. Best of all, Friday is oyster night at the cafe in Santa Fe’s Whole Foods market. (Sometimes, there’s a “buck a shuck” offering). There are four varieties of oysters (including Malpeques) at the fish counter. Happily, there are well priced containers of shucked Pacific oysters. These are big, juicy specimens which BSK uses in oyster pan roast (mentioned in previous post) and congee made in the Instant Pot. BSK adds chopped oysters to robust congee flavored with clam juice, garlic, onions and Vietnamese Fish Sauce. Steaming bowls are topped with chopped scallions and salted peanuts after getting a dash of sesame oil and sriracha. Yes, the delightful bivalve is alive and well in The Land of Enchantment.

BSK Oyster Pan Roast

January 4th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

New York has changed so much that HG/BSK have little desire to live there (even part time). However, great to visit (stated like a true “out of towner”). HG loves eating at daughter Victoria’s downtown restaurants (Rosie’s, Cookshop, Shuka and Vic’s). Of course, there are the wonderful museums (and sharing a plateau de fruits de mer with Victoria at Balthazar). And, Chinatown. But, when HG becomes nostalgic, HG longs for the oyster pan roast at the Grand Central Oyster Bar. Oysters, butter, half-and- half, clam juice, celery salt, Worcestshire sauce, Heinz Chili Sauce (might be missing an ingredient) cooked in a unique steam kettle and served over white bread toast. Sprinkle of paprika. IN HG’s day, the steam kettle was utilized by an aged, unsmiling Italian. HG would often precede the pan roast with a dozen shucked oysters, drink Ballantine’s IPA and have Nesselrode Pie for dessert. Yesterday, while the East Coast shivered, HG/BSK enjoyed typical New Mexico winter weather: 50 degrees, blue skies, brilliant sun. Gets colder at night so BSK made a pot of comfort: the BSK oyster pan roast. Used big, plump, Pacific oysters (modestly priced and sold in containers at Whole Foods). Most of the traditional ingredients but substituted whole milk for the cream mixture. No, it didn’t quite reach the heights of the Grand Central version, but it was very tasty. Cold Pouilly Fuisse was the right accompaniment. Cambazola cheese with ripe Comice pears for dessert, With this kind of food and this kind of weather, Noo Yawk nostalgia is blunted.

On The Road BBQ Surprise

January 1st, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

When traveling the American highways, HG/BSK turn a cold shoulder to the fast food chains with the exception of the famed Waffle House. Instead they look out for determinedly local, idiosyncratic dining spots. At various times, HG/BSK have discovered great Chinese and Tex/Mex cuisine in Phoenix (both spots were plainspoken and unheralded by foodies). A wonderful hot dog joint was a favorite in Colorado. Housed, you guessed it, in a structure shaped like a tube steak. Tyler’s barbecue in Amarillo is a favorite as is a Greek restaurant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Outside of the Chinese place in Arizona, efforts to eat good roadside Japanese and Chinese food have ended calamitously. Yesterday, while driving Highway 285 en route from Denver to HG/BSK’s New Mexico home, encountered a small BBQ eatery on the road in Fairplay, CO. Sign on the building “BBQ.” No name. Spic and span interior. Hearty woman took the orders. Posole. Pulled pork (Carolina style) sandwiches. Smoky baked beans. Everything was super. Must try the dry rubbed spare ribs next time.

Latkes: SJ vs Lesley R.

December 30th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Potato latkes are one of the world’s wonder foods. These lush potato pancakes are splendid with pot roast or beef stew. As they are cooked in plentiful oil, latkes are associated with the Jewish holiday of Chanukah. HG is not a celebrant of the holiday. Believes it has become important due to its proximity to Christmas. (“And, for our Jewish friends, Happy Chanukah!!”). Nevertheless, it is a good excuse to eat an abundance of tasty latkes. On HG/BSK’s last night in Rhody, Brilliant Daughter Lesley R., made a big batch of latkes and served them with sour cream and the last of Zabar’s red salmon caviar. Happy. Happy. In year’s past, SJ made the latkes. With the esteemed latke chef in Tokyo, Lesley R. had the burden. Lesley’s version resembled Swiss Rosti. Thin, very crisp pancakes. Lovely balance with the accompaniments (and HG’s vodka, of course). SJ’s version combined crisp exteriors with moist potato/onion interiors. Which were better? Both were sublime and transported the humble spud to higher realms.