Appetizing Writers

September 28th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

HG likes to eat (and drink). And, when not indulging in these ever bright pleasures, HG likes to read about them. The most appetizing book about these subjects is Between Meals: An Appetite For Paris by A.J. Liebling, the New Yorker writer who had a prodigious appetite and a prodigious talent. He said of himself: “I write faster than anyone who writes better, and better than anyone who writes faster.” The book deals with Liebling’s culinary (and amorous life) in Paris. It’s witty, erudite and wonderfully evocative of that magical city. M.F.K Fisher is another writer who has written well of France, food, love and loss. Her prose is impeccable. Her recipes are terrible. Waverley Root has written definitive books about the food and wine of France and Italy. Nice analysis of tastes and regional specialties. Alexander Lobrano, Patricia Wells and blogger John Talbott are reliable reviewers of today’s Paris restaurants. Best of all New York restaurant reviewers was the late Seymour Britchky. Irreverent, funny and accurate. He died in 2004 and HG misses his acid reviews of pretentious restaurants. The New York Times, of course, has been the leader in restaurant reviewing. Craig Claiborne was the pioneer. Good judgment but much impressed by mediocre Chinese restaurants and Jewish delicatessens (probably due to a provincial Mississippi youth). Mimi Sheraton was HG’s favorite Times critic. Sheraton combined a love of “haimish” cooking with a taste for big, international flavors. HG also much enjoyed Ruth Reichl’s work at the Times before she moved on to Gourmet Magazine (sadly,no longer published). Current critic Pete Wells is at his best when he’s being destructive. Otherwise, he seems a bit too arch and precious. Sam Sifton, the food editor, is splendid. He’s made the Times a rich source of recipes and ideas for delicious home cooking (Melissa Clark is a standout. HG finds Mark Bittman uneven). Joseph Wechsberg, who wrote about European restaurants (and much else) for the New Yorker is ripe for rediscovery. And, HG recalls with fondness the down to earth midwestern flavored food writing of Clementine Paddleford (great name) of the long demised New York Herald Tribune. Calvin Trillin is the poet laureate of barbecue and other indigenous American foods (however, HG can never understand his love for the vastly overrated Mosca’s Restaurant near New Orleans). Jane and Michael Stern’s books about highway and roadside restaurants were lively and wildly influential but their selections are very uneven. They liked some terrible Tex-Mex and hamburger joints in Colorado but led HG/BSK to some very good eating in Montana and Washington. So, take their recommendations with caution.


Porky Slow Cooked Pleasure

March 9th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

The temperature in HG/BSK’s New Mexico neighborhood has been in the low thirties lately. This may seem like tropical weather to those unfortunate folks who live in the Northeast but it seems frigid for the fortunate residents of The Land of Enchantment. That means comfort food for dinner. HG/BSK had a busy day so didn’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen. Sam Sifton’s New York Times recipe for “Vaguely Vietnamese Slow Cooker Pork Tacos” seemed like a good idea. Dusted off the slow cooker (haven’t used it in some time). The pork butt was popped into the slow cooker with the hoisin-fish sauce-ginger-garlic-onion-sesame oil mixture. Began cooking at 12:30. Turned off cooker at seven PM. BSK made a great cole slaw suggested by Sifton (This is a keeper. Perfect with any Asian food). Warmed flour tortillas. Pulled apart the tender and juicy pork. Ladled pork on the tortillas (with a few sprigs of cilantro). A great dinner. HG put a scallion and some dashes of Frank’s Louisiana Hot Sauce Ketchup in HG’s soft taco. The appetizing slow cooked pork can be utilized in a number of ways. HG intends to eat the pork tucked into some endive and romaine leaves. Should be good as a topping for room temperature sesame oil-slicked cellophane noodles with bean sprouts and chopped scallions. Looks like the HG/BSK slow cooker won’t be collecting dust anymore.


Eat Your Vegetables!

February 17th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, that’s been the strident order of Moms for generations. Rebellious little HG bypassed vegetables (except for hidden treasures — little mounds of buttery mashed potatoes enclosing spinach). These days, because of BSK’s wizardry, HG is a vegetable lover. Here are some BSK specialties: Haricot verts cooked to the nice midpoint between Paris bistro soggy and health addict raw. Snow pea pods stir fried with ginger and garlic. Fried chopped zucchini and peppers plus corn kernels (best accompaniment for Adobo dusted pan fried pork chops). Thanksgiving-style roast brussels sprouts with chestnuts. This is just a sampling. BSK outdid herself last week with two surprising vegetable dishes. BSK followed Sam Sifton’s New York Times recipe for rotisserie-style Greek chicken (BSK showered the crispy chicken slices with feta cheese, kalamata olives and chopped parsley). The surprise was in the salad which augmented the chicken. Inspired by the Ottolenghi cookbook, “Jerusalem,” BSK roasted olive oil gilded cauliflower nuggets. Mixed them with chopped celery, pomegranate seeds and walnuts. Dressed them with a mix of olive oil, lemon juice, cinnamon and maple syrup (that’s right, maple syrup). A wow. This was followed by a dessert of nut brownies slicked with peanut butter icing prepared by dinner guest Karen K., neighbor, movie producer and New Mexico Dessert Queen. BSK’s next triumph was based on brussels sprouts. (BSK long ago banished HG’s antipathy toward “fairy cabbages”). BSK sautéed quartered sprouts in olive oil with garlic and thin shallot slices. Added chicken stock and cooked until the sprouts were barely tender. Tossed in some almost done penne. Continued cooking a few more minutes. When done, BSK added a goodly amount of parmesan, shredded sage leaves and a generous half pound of crisply fried thick cut preservative free bacon. A shower of Aleppo pepper. The result: A supreme pasta dish.


Trinidad Chicken at Home

April 28th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Back in Santa Fe and ready to do some home cooking. Decided upon a dish of Trinidad chicken. If you want to eat out, you can get this spicy treat at Trini-Gul Restaurant in Brooklyn (you can get just about anything culinary in Brooklyn). The dish comes from Trinidad and stems from the collision of Chinese and African-Carib cooking cultures. Chicken pieces (HG and BSK used thighs and wings) are marinated overnight in a mixture of Chinese five-spice powder, dark soy sauce, lime juice, ginger. Fried until mahogany brown in a mix of canola and sesame oils. When served (with rice), the chicken is drenched with a mixture of oyster sauce, lime juice and Matouk’s Soca Hot sauce. (Matouk’s is really sensational. Hot, yes, but filled with winey, fruity flavors. HG bought his bottle through Amazon). BSK stir fried some ultra fresh asparagus to accompany the dish. Icy ale added to the joy. (Sam Sifton had a nice recipe for this dish in the Sunday Times Magazine a few weeks ago).

Dining Secret

October 24th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

HG read Sam Sifton’s farewell valedictory in the dining section of the New York Times. Sifton has been upped to National Editor. In the article he recalled the memorable food he’s had as the paper’s food critic. Sifton mentioned lots of fancy food and exotic ingredients. Then he summed up by saying his best meal was at Frankies 457 on Court Street in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens neighborhood (SJ’s turf). Sifton, his wife and children, and his brother ate simple salads, pasta, braciola, meatballs plus good wine and bread. Down home, soulful Brooklyn Italian family cooking. And, there’s HG’s secret formula for good dining, a formula Sifton seems to share.. Eat simple, hearty food with people you love. Don’t stint on the wine — and it doesn’t have to be pricey to be good.

Finicky Foodies

September 21st, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

So, Sam Sifton, the all-powerful New York Times restaurant critic, is no longer the make-or-break-restaurant Times fresser. He has been promoted to National Editor. All in all, HG liked Sifton’s reign even though his star ratings seemed erratic. Hope he continues to contribute recipes for the Sunday Times Magazine. They are simple, earthy and good.

At one time, Clementine Paddleford (love that name) of the defunct Herald-Tribune was the chief New York food scribe. But, it was Craig Claiborne of the New York Times who elevated the status and power of the American restaurant critic. (Does anyone remember the $4000 meal CC shared with his collaborator, Pierre Franey, at Chez Denis–long closed–in Paris?). CC had taste and knowledge but was a sucker for Chinese restaurants and Jewish delicatessens. Relentlessly overpraised them.

HG quite liked Claiborne’s female successors, Mimi Sheraton and Ruth Reichl. Another woman who could write about food was the lusty and lustful Gael Green of New York Magazine. HG misses her presence at the mag (HG gathers she’s now contributing to Crain’s New York Business).

The dining reviews in The New Yorker seem fey and uneven. HG is not fond of Zagat and finds all guidebooks misinformed or out of date.

In the end HG agrees with SJ: Best restaurant critic, bar none, is the great and adventurous David Sietsma of the Village Voice. He is a man whose palate knows no fear and is willing to travel to the ends of New York City to track down the best food from Burkina Faso or a particularly talked about slice of Pizza. He is the opposite of pretentious and a downright hilarious writer to boot. A true New York treasure and just about the only reason to pick up the Village Voice.

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