Catfish bánh mì

March 13, 2012 § 9 Comments

Hi!  Hi guys!  I’m still here.  I’ve just been AWOL for a week because of some major project deadlines that required working evenings and weekends (and listening to this song too many times – it gets so stuck in your head!  Thanks SNL.), and that have left me with about the mental fortitude of a barnacle.  I thought the project was going to be done yesterday.  Wrong.  We now have a couple NEW deadlines!  Yippee!

But, those will just have to wait for a moment because I have a sandwich to share with you, and it is a smashing one.

A bánh mì is a Vietnamese sandwich with any variety of fillings.  Given that my office is in Chinatown, I learned about bánh mì some time ago.  On every corner there is a shop selling dirigible-sized baguette rolls filled with meats and pickles for $2.  But, though I salivated every time I saw someone else gnawing their way through one, I could never bring myself to buy my own.  Call me a street food wimp, but I was a wee bit sketched out by the meat and my thoughts of where it might come from.

I averted my eyes, and hustled past all the signs advertising massive, cheap sandwiches. But then, then fate intervened and brought the world Bon Me, the grand solution to my sandwich qualms.

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Cornbread piled with carnitas and other deliciousness

February 21, 2012 § 15 Comments

Last Friday night we went out to dinner with some friends at a postage stamp sized little pop-up restaurant called Whisk, just around the corner from our house.  We had an absolute blast, which was mostly due to being in the best of company, but the seven course tasting menu offered at the restaurant, aka the dining experience, was quite fun too.  The food was legitimately good, fancy and conceptual, though it was not flawless.

Usually I sneer a little at deconstructed this, foamed that, or anything made into a gel version of itself.  It can seem so pretentious.  So if it is going to be done, it either needs to be executed near perfectly or be done tongue in cheek.  At Whisk, it was neither, but they were so incredibly endearing and effusive about their project, so adorably bumbling as they mispronounced Camembert and granita in their excitement, that any apparent pretention was immediately forgiven.  It felt like we were all playing house together, and we got to eat a very delicious meal during the course of it.

And I must say, their plating was truly beautiful and creative.  I love carefully, stunningly plated food.  It has some of the interesting aesthetic elements of abstract art and sculpture, except then you get to devour it!  It is not something I have ever given a try myself though, except for carefully placed mounds and dollops (I do have this idea for a crazy project loitering in the back of my mind that, if enacted, could thoroughly change this, but that is something for the future).  And, when I looked at the meal I created for us the very next day, it provided a pretty amusing contrast to Friday’s edible art.  On Saturday, we ate piles.

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Pizza with mozzarella, lemon, and olives

January 27, 2012 § 16 Comments

I love to look at the work of various chefs, always trolling for ideas to pocket and have turn up sometime later, perhaps a little jumbled looking from having gone through the brain equivalent of a wash cycle, in meals I cook.  I think there must always be a little ticker tape running in my mind storing up a restaurant meal here, a recipe there.  Not that they ever seem to come back to me when I most want them to.  But, they’re influential.

The food ideas from some quadrants are delectably comfortable, vindicating in a sense.  I see them and I think, ‘oh that’s exactly how I would have done that!’ Or, ‘ha! I’ve made almost exactly that before!  I should make it again sometime.’

Some food ideas shake you up a little, splash some cold water in your face to wake you up from the food ruts we all settle into, at times more frequently than not.  These are the dishes that inspire you with an ‘I would never have thought of that!’ nudge.  Sometimes that ‘I would never have thought of that’ is followed by an ‘and I’m intimidated by the very idea, and don’t think I actually want to try making something like that at all.’  Other times it’s followed by an ‘and I will make it the next chance I get!’

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Curried chicken salad

August 31, 2011 § 15 Comments

I know I’ve mentioned that I have a meat CSA (community supported agriculture) in addition to a vegetable CSA before, but I can’t remember if I’ve spoken about it at length.  And it’s been a long day, and I’m too lazy to check the archives, so I’m going to go ahead and make the executive decision to speak about it at length.  In particular, to say: I looooooooooove it!  I love it!  It’s the best!  To be able to get your meat, in a wide assortment of cuts and types, once a month from a farm where you know the animals are being raised sustainably and humanely.  Just thinking about it induces a little sigh of relief.

(Given that I can’t eat legumes, many nuts, or unsprouted whole grains, meat winds up being fairly important in my diet, and before I found my CSA it was quite a struggle.)

Kim, the farmer, is wonderful.  So friendly, gregarious, and accommodating, and completely uncompromising of principles.  They have an open barn once a month so you can come out and “meet your meat,” which is something one really ought to have a chance to do, if one is going to eat meat, and is also a signal, clear as a mountain brook, that they have nothing in their process to hide.  And, did I mention the hen house?  When the chickens aren’t running about in the fields, pecking and scratching for insects, they roost in an old bus, salvaged from a dump.

An old bus!  How wonderful is that image?!  And, even more fascinating, between the solar heat and the heat from the feathery little chicken’s bodies, the bus requires no extra energy inputs to make it a pleasant abode for the birds, even in the winter.  A chicken Hilton, on wheels…with tires that have gone flat.

And everything we get from Kim just tastes so much better than most of the meat you encounter. When someone says, “tastes like chicken” about something, they mean it tastes chewy, bland, generally inoffensive and entirely uninteresting.  But, that’s not what chicken should actually taste like, it turns out.  It should taste like chicken!  (I’m afraid there’s not really a good way to describe it, so you’re going to have to make some inferences from the bold italics.  It’s juicy, nuanced, and I swear you can detect fragrant hints of grass and wildflowers in there – maybe they soak it in while they’re scritching and squabbling about.)

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Tartine with goat cheese and confit tomatoes

August 28, 2011 § 12 Comments

Hoo-wee, we are having some weather out there.  The wind and rain are battering my windows like ill-intentioned thugs trying to get in.  The potted plants and deck furniture have the look of a bunch of cast-aways where they’re clustered, near the entryway, but I think they’re giving me looks of thankfulness – ‘thank you for not leaving us out there!’  And, for perhaps the first time ever, I’m feeling rather glad we don’t have any large trees growing right next to our apartment building.

I’m so thankful that the hurricane had calmed somewhat, into a tropical storm, by the time it came to visit us this far north.  We still have power and water (knock on wood), so I cannot complain one bit.  It’s still nothing to mess with though.  Hunkering is the only word to describe what the city is doing.

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BLC-squared (bacon, lettuce, chevre, and cherries)

July 5, 2011 § 20 Comments

I have a new favorite summertime treat.  And – almost unbelievably – it’s not ice cream!  It’s a sandwich.  It’s an amazing sandwich.

But before I get to that, will you bear with me while I ramble more generally about cherries for a little bit?  Oh good.

I have a list of things that make summer summer.  It’s a list that’s pretty much just inside my head.  Its length is indeterminate and its contents ever shifting.  But, it only shifts around the edges.  There are some core elements that stay the same.

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Indian spiced fish sandwiches

June 7, 2011 § 78 Comments

Shananana, yeah.  Shananana!  For some reason I feel like singing everything right now.  So, just pretend that this has a melody.  I’ve always felt life would be more fun if it were a musical.  Don’t you?

Actually, last week Joel and I went out for ice cream and our scooper (is that what you call the people who scoop your ice cream?) sang “what can I get for you?”  So, we sang our orders back, and he was so excited (apparently no one else was responding to him in song) that he gave us our ice cream for free – after an extended operatic interlude in which we discussed sizes and toppings and I tried to insist on paying.  We got a lot of stares from the other people in the ice cream store.

And, now I’m in a singing mood again.  I’ve been feeling very chipper ever since I did yoga in our backyard yesterday.  Yoga outside appears to be like a happy drug.  Who knew?!

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