April 17, 2012 § 26 Comments
I moved to Boston just about seven years ago. Actually, for those of you interested in geographical specificity, I moved to Somerville. But I didn’t even know what the distinction was between them at the time. On the day I arrived, after having driven through the night, through Canada, with only a two hour stop for a nap at 6:30 in the morning before chugging onward and pulling up to my new apartment at 2:30 PM, I decided to try to take the subway down to the Boston Common and the Public Garden to hang out there in the remaining late afternoon sun. (Actually facing the boxes of my belongings in my new space was simply too daunting. I needed some time.)
The last time I had been in the area was the summer between kindergarten and first grade, and the only thing I still remembered from that experience in Boston was being in the Public Garden. Actually, what I remembered was sitting on the Make Way for Ducklings statue in the Public Garden, and that memory was largely based on a photograph my mom had taken.
In heading towards this destination held in my memory, the very first thing I did (and this is a remarkably easy thing to do in Boston, even if you have a better sense of direction than yours truly) was get on a bus going in exactly the wrong direction. I don’t even know how I figured out I was on the wrong course, except perhaps when the conductor yelled, “Arlington Center!” All I remember is how vivid, and noisy, and full of energy everything felt. I always feel this way in a new city, senses heightened as I eye everything closely trying to discern what it is, what it means, where I’m headed.
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!’
March 29, 2011 § 3 Comments
Yeah, I know, right? Prosciutto and Mozzarella in bread. I kind of feel like I don’t even need to write anything more because it’s just exactly as amazingly ridiculously good as it sounds. I can’t believe I haven’t done this before. After all, the whole concept makes so darn much sense! You put ham and cheese on your bread all the time. I could come very close to being happy eating ham and cheese for lunch every single day – indeed, I think my mother actually does. So, why on Earth not put the ham and cheese in the bread? Why not indeed? And here it is, in all its glory. Every bite of tender, spongey crumb pocketed through with crevices oozing gooey cheese or sheltering salty, savory meat. Such a good idea.
It’s not a particularly original idea. I can’t make any claim to it, and in fact I believe there are a number of variations on bread studded with ham and cheese, or other similar combinations, floating about out there. Actually, come to think of it, I even had something similar on a visit to San Francisco that went by the name of Syrian shepherd’s bread. It had olives instead of meat though, which would be a nice vegetarian alternative. The inspiration for this particular loaf came from a cooking friend who said that she and her husband had become addicted to a pancetta and provolone bread from Eataly on a recent trip to New York. After returning home, suddenly deprived of their bready-cheesy-meaty fix, she decided to try to recreate it, using a version of Mark Bittman’s no-knead bread (which is actually Jim Lahey’s bread, but it was popularized via a write-up in the Times by Bittman). Upon hearing about this, I promptly decided I needed to do the same.