July 6th, 2013
Just now cataloguing a lovely copy of Cocktails, by “Jimmy” late of Ciro’s London. It’s missing the attractive, blue dust jacket, but the jacket is scarce. I’ve only ever sold one copy with a jacket. “Jimmy” remains a bit of a mystery. Some have conjectured that he may have been Jimmy Charters, who worked in Deauville and Monte Carlo, but I’ve found nothing beyond that.
While Googling around for more info on Ciro’s , I found this short little video of Ciro’s London in 1932. Interestingly, there is champagne, wine, and even tea in the film, but nary a cocktail. And sadly no shot of the bar where perhaps we may have glanced Jimmy, mixing a Pegu Club (his book appears to have been just the second appearance of this classic).
August 1st, 2012
This past Sunday we were thrilled to be part of a new Portland food venue, Pocket Brunch. It was the best of what Portland offers as an inventive food town. A great group of professionals, and professional eaters, gathered in a private home for a five course brunch prepared by Rocco Salvatore Talarico, Joel Beauchamp and Josh & Katie Schier-Potocki. These are scheduled to be monthly events so you can get in on the action by buying tickets from the website. But don’t take our seats…!
This weekend, August 4th, we will not have our regular open hours, due to a scheduling mishap. We apologise for this mix-up and hope that it does not inconvenience too many folks. We will be back in the saddle Saturday August 11th. Hope to see you then! And remember you can call to make an appointment if Saturdays don’t work for you.
July 28th, 2012
When the plant has gone to seed, because cilantro always bolts and goes to seed, there is one more use for it before it dries into those delicious little orbs. Our friend Peter Smith turned us on to green coriander last year, and now I wait eagerly for the pods to appear. The flavor is, as one expects, half way between the grassy greenness of cilantro and the sweet spiciness of dried coriander. Last night I sauteed six ears of fresh Maine corn kernels with a green pepper, a sliced Vidalia onion and a handful of the green coriander pods that I had crushed with the flat of my knife. Lovely. If you have a garden and you grow cilantro I bet you’ve got these little beauties waiting for you out there, go check it out! They pop right off the stems with little resistance. We’ve also crushed them into a vinaigrette, but I was thinking this morning that would make a great compound butter, maybe with a little minced shallot. Spread on a piece of grilled fish or chicken. Ooooh. Coriander has become one of my go-to dried herbs along with whole cumin seed. I grind the two in my mortar and pestle and then sprinkle over chopped cauliflower on a sheet tray with some olive oil, s&p and chopped garlic. Into a 400 degree oven until the cauliflower crisps up. Fab.
What’s in your garden?
July 27th, 2012
So many times I find myself wishing I had taken photos of that meal. Not necessarily because I want picture perfect images of things I’ve made (or am about to eat), but just because each meal has some little story that goes along with it, and sometimes I don’t remember them as well without the visual cue. But instead I have pictures of the dirty dishes. I inherited a habit from my Mother of rarely doing the dishes until the next morning (sometime even the next afternoon). I’m sure you are now shocked and horrified with us, but what can I say. The better the meal the less likely I am to want to clean right up after it. I get to it eventually, and we’re never actually unsanitary. Right now our dishwasher is broken so it’s even slower than usual. I have to wash all those dishes by hand. sigh.
Yesterday we had our friends Rob and Nancy over for a leisurely meal on the patio. Yes, it was wet, but the actual rain held off until after we had finished our meal. We have a tent set up in the back and it works well to keep us dry as long as it’s not too windy. Dinner was a long drawn out affair. Just the way we like it. And yes, if you clicked through on the link you know that we cooked for Rob, a James Beard award winner. Phew, he was an easy diner. They have always said to us, if there’s salt on the table they’re happy. So I made sure there was salt on the table. And he did reach for it once. I think I would have been much happier if he hadn’t felt the need for salt, but I do know that my taste for salt has calmed in the last little bit. Don almost always adds salt to my food, so I’m not hurt or anything. Other than that, cooking for them was a dream. They eat everything and enjoy, without making a big deal out of it. We finished a couple of bottles of wine and the conversation was lively and engaged. The menu included popcorn (an appetizer staple at our house), grilled squid, grilled halibut skewers with bailah (a chickpea dish from the new Ottolenghi book, Jerusalem), a chopped tomato and cucumber salad, flatbread and a raspberry, brown sugar lightning cake to finish. It began raining about the time we were ready for cake. Don had lit a fire, so we moved the tent to the patio corner near (but not too) the fire and we happily ate cake, continued the conversation and watched the fire, while the rain came down.
I could probably title about a million posts ‘food with friends’. A marvelous summer meal.
July 23rd, 2012
We went camping last week. Yes, camping. Hard for us to believe. Don was an Eagle Scout and my parents used to take my sister and I on various backpacking trips when we were too small to protest. So there is camping in both of our backgrounds. There has, however, been no camping in our lives in the past, what, 30 years? So it was a bit of a leap-of-faith for us. This was car camping, so I can already hear some of you scoffing – that’s not camping! For us, it was camping. Sleeping on the lumpy ground in a sleeping bag and tent is camping. Going in the car does mean that you can bring things that you might not if you had to carry it in on your back. Can you say cast iron? We took full advantage of this fact and loaded up the car. Don had his condiment carryall, which he carefully planned out for a week – Siracha, mustard, tahini etc. I channeled our meals on vacation in the Carribean where the resources are slim. I pre-cooked a batch of farro and brought it in a ziploc. Same with a batch of chickpeas. Ditto a double batch of home made pancake mix. We froze various proteins (chicken thighs/drumsticks bathed in garlic/olive oil/sumac, ground lamb and various sausages from Rosemont) which did double duty keeping the cooler cold and allowing us to bring a couple days worth of proteins. By the time we were ready to cook the chicken it had defrosted, but never gotten warm. I baked a big batch of chocolate chip cookies. They were good, but so were the s’mores, which we had to add bacon to…. I know bacon gets added to everything, but bacon s’mores were quite tasty. You know we were going to eat well on vacation. It was a fun challenge to cook with limited tools. Liberating in a way that I always find restrictions to be. Some of the best dishes happen when you don’t have much in the larder.
We were camping with friends, because it’s more fun that way, and they brought all sorts of more experienced camper gear. Included in that category was a wood fired toaster. This is just a little perforated disc with a couple of pieces of wire that hold your bread vertical. It was an ingenious little tool that I greatly enjoyed using. I’m sure it was part of a well-equipped camp-side kitchen in the 19th century. There were a couple of propane stoves and our friend David brought his self-fired coffee-maker. A little twist of the gizmo and his French Press coffee pot had a heating element built into the bottom. Very cool. I felt very clever for bringing pint size canning jars for drinking, because we could use them for both hot and cold beverages. But that’s about as clever as I got. It is true that everything tastes better cooked over an open flame. We pushed the picnic tables together and had a great feast. Summer is good!
June 30th, 2012
Boards are usually covered with dust jackets. Dust Jackets that can become fetishized by both the people who design the books, and the people who buy them. But under the jackets can be the most delicious boards that make me want to touch them. Below are a couple of examples…
June 22nd, 2012
A pretty nice place to spend a hot Friday afternoon. We’ll be open tomorrow, but beware La Kermesse.
June 18th, 2012
These long days of June always sneak up on me. We’ve been eating later and later as the days stretch out and we try and take advantage of every minute of daylight. In the dead of Winter we would get home long after the sun had set. Eat dinner in the complete night. And while that was many months ago, the idea of it lingers in my head. It is just two days to the Solstice, the beginning of Summer, the longest day of the year. I want to soak in as much light as possible to store it under my skin for those months to come. Those months we won’t speak of just now.
I look at the clock when we are putting dinner on the table and it is 8:30, 9:00, sometimes if I get really ambitious it’s even 10:00. I just had to make a tart of Chard and Cheese last week and only realized this was necessary at about 7:00, because there was so much light still in the sky. I had thought it must be about 5:00. It was a delicious simple tart from Nigel Slater’s Tender Vol. One, that went together quickly, but the tart shell had to chill in the fridge (so it wouldn’t shrink too much upon baking) for about a half an hour. One thing led to another and we sat down to eat at about 10:00. Don didn’t complain, luckily the tart was worth the wait, and we did snack on some cheese to tide us over.
The light of the long days plays tricks on my mind. I’ve got plenty of time to sow another row of beets before it’s time to make dinner. I like moving with the seasons this way. We eat by the calendar, why shouldn’t meal times be equally sensitive? Why not spend more time breathing in the fresh air, watching the bees do their thing, chasing after the groundhog (!)? Dinner will happen when the time is right. Let all those time tables go, eat when it seems right, eat what tastes good, when it’s time to eat it. We will be celebrating the Solstice with some good friends, good food and a bonfire. Take this moment to slow down and soak the season in, it’s worth it.