September 2010

Tomatillos 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

9.30.10 Hot Sauce

The last of the tomatillos came off the vine this week. You know they're ripe when the papery husk grows tight. I love how these are tinged with lavender. They're a different kind than the smaller, all-green ones we harvested last year, though they have the same vegetal yet citrusy flavor. I whipped up a large batch of sauce—a slight variation on my usual recipe—some of which I'll use for enchiladas, and the rest will be frozen. The light, tangy sauce is chunky with bits of onion and pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) and is beautifully spiced with jalapeño, garlic, cumin and coriander.
Tomatillos 2 790 xxx
when ripe they split their papery husks

Meat court 790 xxx
photos by george billard

9.29.10 Mamma Mia!

I've now made two trips to Eataly, New York City's new temple of Italian gastronomy, and although I haven't actually eaten anything on premises, I'm able to give you my initial impressions. On my first visit, shortly after it opened in late August, I muscled my way through the throngs of gaping tourists and irritated locals in what looked a lot like an Italian airport, barely able to check it all out before fleeing to the relative calm of 23rd Street. Porca miseria, I texted G. What a mob scene! And for what? A small, bedraggled-looking produce section (and alleged "produce butcher" Jennifer Rubell nowhere in sight); aisle after aisle of dried pasta; very pricey imported salume (culatello for $65 a pound!); walls cluttered with the kind of boxed biscotti and candies you find at most corner delis...well, you can see I was underwhelmed. (And the thought of the carbon footprint on much of this stuff gives me pause.) Still, I did get a glimpse of what looked like a very impressive selection of fresh pasta. Pat La Frieda's meats caught my eye, as did whole fresh duck, sweetbreads and tripe—not a common sight in most butcher shops. And the seafood counter, curated by the master David Pasternak, was flawless. La Verdura, a counter serving vegetable-based dishes and the only menu I eyeballed, seemed very promising. Now if all those people would just fuck off...
Grape jello 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

9.28.10 Mermaid's Delight

I have to admit, after the success of my tomato aspic, I got a little cocky. And so it was with a definite air of smugness that I used my last precious drops of green grape juice to concoct the perfect end-of-summer dessert. This time, though, as promised, I experimented with agar agar instead of gelatin as the thickening agent. It's derived from seaweed, and comes in brittle, translucent flakes or a powder. I've often seen it touted as being equally effective in recipes for panna cotta, custard, etc. and, though I'm a firm believer in the beneficial nutrition from animal gelatin, I was excited to give it a whirl. Perhaps this enthusiasm was what allowed me to turn a blind nostril, if you will, to the decidedly marine overtones emanating from the package. I assumed (prayed?) it would vanish in the mix.
Tagged — thickener, jello, gelatin, dessert
Jake 790 xxx
owner jake dickson (photos by george billard)

9.27.10 The Ask: Jake Dickson

Time and again (and again and again), you've heard me refer to Dickson's Farmstand, a purveyor of locally sourced, humanely raised animals. Their shop in Chelsea Market is the only place, other than the farm upstate, where I feel comfortable buying meat or poultry. One visit, and you will know why. They also have amazing smoked meats, beef jerky seasoned with an addictive mix of star anise and red chile, wonderful terrines and rillettes, and a lunch menu that changes daily, featuring delectable sandwiches and hot dishes as well. The owner, Jake Dickson, has made real strides not only in the way he sources his animals, but in the way they're presented and in the service he offers customers. One of Dickson's purveyors, Bob Comis of Stony Brook Farm in Schoharie, referred to Jake as “a forerunner in the creation of the BSA model.” Business-Supported Agriculture is a new farm-to-business model, firmly rooted in the tenets of Community-Supported Agriculture, in which both sides are open and honest about their financial positions and take responsibility for the success of the other, simultaneously cultivating and supporting the farm and the business to build profitable enterprises in real partnership. When you think about the way that industrial agriculture has undermined small farms, the quality of the food we eat and thus, ultimately, our health, this is no small achievement. Jake was kind enough to share with me how and why he started his business, along with some other meaty tidbits.
Duck breast1 790 xxx
photo by george billard

9.24.10 Duck, Duck, Plum

For a quick and easy weeknight dinner, may I recommend the duck breast? I never really thought I liked duck breast, finding it rather too pink and chewy for my taste. But then G taught me how to sear the bejesus out of it in a hot cast iron skillet, finish it in the oven, and serve it in thin, juicy slices topped with a bit of crisp skin. Accompanied by a pile of tangy sauerkraut and some greens dressed with a walnut vinaigrette, you've got an admirable meal on the table in 20 minutes. Another thing that goes especially well with duck is any sort of fruit chutney you might have hanging around.
Tagged — easy, plums, dinner, duck, poultry, fruit
Ma peche 1 790 xxx
photos by george billard

9.23.10 Lucky Peach

Still haven't made it to Momofuku Ko (can't seem to perform that Pavlovian task of logging on every day at 10am and frantically pecking at the keyboard in hope of getting a reservation) but finally dined at David Chang's latest outpost in midtown, Mà Pêche. It's what you might expect from an uptown version: roomier, sleeker and slightly more soulless. As chef, Chang has installed Tien Ho, formerly the boss of the kitchen at Momofuku Ssam Bar, which still remains my favorite of the empire. As Sam Sifton put it in in his review in the Times, "The food is not quite as precise and magical as it often is in the downtown restaurants, but it is recognizably Changish and strong: big flavors tied together with herbs and acids." I killed some time in the dimly-lit bar first and things started off with a bang. There was a bar snack of what looked like pork rinds and turned out to be large, crunchy cassava chips dusted with salt and spicy shichimi togarashi, a favorite spice blend of mine that was also used to spike a yuzu-infused sake "sour." Needless to say, I was very happy to sit there devouring Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom" and the entire bowl of chips along with my cocktail.

9.22.10 Fall In Love

Dried corn 790 xxx
illustrations by janice richter
It's here again: fall, the season of transition. It bridges the vast chasm between sultry summer and winter's austerity. Nature's gorgeous swan song, fall reaches a grand crescendo before its blazing colors are finally extinguished. The leaves have begun to turn, with bursts of ochre and russet punctuating the drive from country to city. I have always found this time of year especially poignant, for we are witnessing the demise of all that we saw come to life these past months. It is the natural order of things, and it is bittersweet. My dear friend, the talented illustrator and creative director Jan Richter, captures the intensity of fall's colors in these gorgeous illustrations of the season's glories.
Grapes 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

9.21.10 Grape Crush

Yes, yes, I know I've already chewed your ear about the wonders of the Concord grape, but I simply must convince you somehow of the absolute necessity of getting your hands on these beauties before they slip away. Run, don't walk, to your nearest farmers market and buy great heaps of them. If nothing else, you will swoon at the smell, perfuming whatever room you set them in. I just learned that they are known as Vitis labrusca, the "fox grape," because of their special "foxy musk," a candied-strawberry aroma that verges on the pornographic. Be very jealous, because our nearby Riverbrook Farm also grows a green variety called Himrod that is every bit as voluptuous and tangy. I can't decided which color I have a bigger crush on. I made juice with the green and sorbet with the purple, and you'll be doing yourself a favor if you try both. Plus they're full of flavonoids and positively bursting with antioxidant benefits.
Cv ls 790 xxx
2 gluttons in the field

9.20.10 Guest Glutton: Tea Time

I'm so excited to have my first guest on GFL! Especially since it's the über-erudite aesthete and man about town Christopher Voigt, whose own blog, vetivresse, taught me (more than) a thing or two about wine and fragrance, and their convergence on the palate. He's been on hiatus from posting (though rumored to be returning soon), but not from gadding about eating and drinking to his heart's content. While this might mean burgers and beer to some (or broccoli and bourbon, as the case may be), Christopher tends to take the high road. So without further ado, I present the first in a series he's writing for us on tea.

Aesop 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife

9.17.10 Scents & Sensibility

In my ongoing tribute to the scented geranium, I want to share with you my deep love of Aesop products, many of which contain this wonderfully pungent essential oil. I've written previously about my skincare regimen from Cosmedix, but Aesop also makes hair care, body wash, masks (and even pet shampoo!) that I simply can't resist. Their website opens with this quote from Carl Jung: "As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being." And, indeed, their products are deeply illuminating. Not only do they smell fantastic but they work incredibly well and are made with the finest natural ingredients and very few preservatives. The company doesn't make any outlandish claims, instead espousing the belief that beauty is the result of "a balanced life that includes a healthy diet, sensible exercise, a moderate intake of red wine, and a regular dose of good books." Who can argue with that?