Saturday, December 29, 2007

Celebrating The Post Holiday

According to my blog, The Gourmet Peasant hasn't done much in the way of celebrating the holiday. And though it is true I worked both Christmas Eve and day, I did manage to cling to the tail end of Christmas - known across the pond as Boxing Day. To celebrate the day after Christmas, I invited fellow employees and friends to a Boxing Day brunch complete with Mimosas, Quiche, Crepes, and Gingerbread. To make the event as casual as possible I imposed a Pajamas only dress code. Did everyone follow the dress code? No, a few very lame people showed up in regular garb using the, in some cases valid, excuse that they sleep in the nude. As it turns out there is no better way to enjoy a Mimosa than in the very clothes you woke up in, and no I don't sleep in the nude. To document the event, I planned on shooting a video much in the same vein as my Thanksgiving Jive Turkey video, requiring all my guest to preform embarrassing acts in front of the camera. In the end, having way too much fun and drinking way too many Mimosas to bother with such a challenging task, I dropped the ball. No pictures were taken nor video shot of the occasion. All I can say is, thank goodness there was someone who managed to complete their holiday documentation. Check out A Likely Story's Christmas With the Welles for a jolly post Christmas laugh.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Stand Clear of The Closing Doors Please

I am very sorry to inform you that, at approximately 1:30am Wednesday morning , the rat of whom I wrote the entry entitled, Sidewalk Food Chain (for the sake of this story let us call the rat Harvey), was sadly crushed between the car doors of a Manhattan bound L train. Authorities are still trying to asses whether Harvey's mysterious death is the result of foul play, a successful attempt at suicide, or simply a tragic accident. Regardless, let us all take this as a lesson that those train conductors really do mean business when they shout out over the crappy loud speaker, "Stand clear of the closing doors please!"

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Think About it, Angelina

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I would like to spend my last supper alive only to, two days later, receive this disgruntled e-mail from an old friend.

After getting to know some very nice cows in Switzerland and eating every dairy product ever conceived by man for a month, I have returned home to check your website.... Only to find that I wasn't mentioned as a crucial attendee at your last supper! What the hell, Maddy? Is it because I would only eat yogurt with cottage cheese? But I would eat a lot of it, for you, if you were passing away! Maybe I'd even bring a goat. Is AARON gonna bring a goat? Think about it, Madeline.
I can't believe this,
After rereading my entry, I was surprised to find that I had neglected to mention my beloved friend Angelina. No ‘last supper’ dinner party would be complete without her and so I am writing this entry as a kind of public apology for my appalling oversight. Angelina, you have to know that if I were to have one last meal here on earth, I would oblige you to sit morbidly by my side and stuff your face until you were ready to burst like a big balloon. But, since I failed to mention this detail in my entry, it is I who is obliged to prove just how crucial you are. How am I going to do that? Lets just say that I have never eaten cottage cheese before because the sight of it turns my stomach, but, just to prove to you how sorry I am, I am going to eat this entire container for dinner, even if it makes me vomit. Now, is Aaron going to do that for you? Think about it, Angelina.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Rustic Charm

I grew up in the city and many aspects of life in the mountains remain a novelty to me. Why just last night, as my mother and I soaked in her hot tub and studied the night sky, I could not help but become a tad bit anxious every time I heard the rustling of leaves or the snapping of branches. Is it a bear? I wondered looking over my shoulder then at my mother for a sign of anxiety or alarm. She seemed cool as a cucumber though, so I did all that I could to extinguish my worries and enjoy the evening. “ I used to be worried about having a run in with a bear out here, but this time of year there’s no reason to worry” she said having read my mind. “ Why don’t you have to worry anymore?” I asked, my previous concerns reawakened. “Well by this time of the year all the bears are in hibernation.” I leaned back in the hot tub and giggled a bit at my own urban foolishness. The frosty December wind grazed the top of the scalding water and created a steamy fog through which we observed the sky so full of stars.

I have been visiting my mother upstate for about ten years now, and still my visits up here always turn into mini adventures. Going for a jog in Prospect Park I may have a run in with a pesky squirrel, but up here its wild turkeys and deer - yes, I am afraid of deer. They may seem like docile creatures, but when faced with the threat of a NYC jogger I wonder if any of them would have any qualms with skewering me with their antlers.
To me, stacking firewood is a pleasurable task that holds an almost rustic charm. To my mother it is just one more dreadful chore and so every fall I try and make it a habit to help her complete the job. This year we stacked together, vigorously attacking the messy pile of gnarly wood all the while Alma, my mother’s husky, howled for attention. We were not to play with her until the job was complete and so, feeling wrongfully neglected, Alma hopped up on her chair and put her back to the both of us.
As we worked I listened to the mellow symphony of winter, naked trees clanked up against one another, the barn let out a sad moan with every gust of frosty wind. It was then that I heard the noise. It was some sort of a guttural cry off in the distance that grew increasingly louder. There was a pack of animals headed in our direction, what kind, I had no idea. “Mom do you hear that?” I asked. “What? Hear what? I don’t hear anything.” She said slightly annoyed that I woke her from her task driven meditation. It was a freakish sound and hard for me to identify, not being accustomed to such noises. “You don’t have wolves up here, do you?” I asked growing more nervous as the cries seemed closer than ever. I looked around in all directions half expecting to see some kind of awkward beast – I was now certain that we were goners - but all I found were forest trees brittle with frost. I looked up to the heavens hoping for an answer and an answer I received. Geese. The crying noises were a flock of geese headed south for the winter and as I listened closer their cries took on new meaning, “fxxking cold” it sounded like ‘fxxking cold, fxxking cold” they squawked as they passed over head. I could not help but agree with them, it was awfully cold. Again, I laughed at my cluelessness and thought, if I had to choose one way to go, it would be being eaten by a bear in a hot tub as opposed to being attacked by a flock of geese while stacking wood, or charged by a killer deer while jogging.

Having finished the firewood, my mother and I took a rest before getting to work on yet another scrumptious vegetarian dinner, Everything But The Kitchen Sink Pasta, with roasted carrots, parsnip, tomatoes, kale, yellow peppers , walnuts, and Parmesan cheese.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Super Duper Yummy Vegeterianism

As you all know I am no vegetarian however, my mother and her boyfriend are. So whenever I plan on visiting, I bulk up on my meat intake in preparation for a weekend of splendid vegetarian cuisine. The general protocol goes as follows, I eat chicken, beef, or pork at least once, maybe twice a day for three or four days, then I board a bus headed for the Catskill Mountains ready for some serious veggie, legume, cheese and grain consumption. Oh, and lets not forget the chocolate. Upon arrival, my mother swoops up with her jeep and whisks me off to Adam's were we shop for our ingredients and come up with a dining game plan for the rest of my stay. This Saturday in particular was a special day because it happened to be her sixty second birthday and so we decided to make her Supper Duper Yummy Veggie Burgers. It doesn't need to be your birthday for you to make these simple and satisfying patties, neither do you need be a vegetarian to enjoy them for even the most devout meat eaters come back begging for seconds.

Super Duper Yummy Veggie Burgers
2 cups sweet onion, diced
2 cups, red pepper, diced
2 cups mushrooms, diced
1 cup of Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup of bread crumbs
1 can of beans (whatever kind, I like white)
1/2 cup of chopped Parsley
1 Tbsp corn starch
1 egg
1 Tbsp Mustard
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1.) Preheat oven to 425 F.
2.) Over a medium-high flame saute onions, mushrooms, and peppers until soft but not too browned. Let mixture cool.
3.) Once mixture is cooled add all the other ingredients and mix well. Do not add before the sauteed mixture is cooled!
4.) Take half the mixture and run it through the food processor then mix it back with chopped veggies.
5.) The mixture is not the easiest to work with because it tends to fall apart. What seems to work best is to construct the patties directly on a heavily oiled baking tray, brushing the tops with oil as well. Then place the tray in the freezer for an hour or so before placing them in the oven. If you don't have time for this it is okay, just place them directly into the oven.
6.) Bake in the oven for twenty minutes, then turn the veggies burgers over and bake for another ten minutes.

Now if you are as lucky as my mother then you don't have to worry about accidentaly dropping crumbs on the floor because, like her, you would have your very own canine vacuum/garbage disposal. Look at Alma hard at work waiting diligently to clean the floor of any food we happen to drop.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Regine Ain't No Jive Turkey!

You may see for yourself that this years Thanksgiving Turkey Jive was a great success. There were of course a few guests that managed to sneak out of there whirling, twirling, gyrating and beboppin' obligations. And then their were those who did participate, but in such a negligible fashion that we mustn't speak further about them (you all know who you are). What made the Thanksgiving Jive such a triumph were the participants that threw caution to the wind, got into the ring, and with great vigor, cut a rug Turkey style. There was one woman however, that did not have a chance to participate because she happened to be working that day, and when she found out about the Turkey Jive she simply had to indulge. Many of you are already familiar with chocolate enthusiast, Regine but for those of you who don't, her talents range from magical mixologist, expert chocolate eater, talented photographer to yes that right, Turkey Dancer extraordinaire.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thanksgiving Postpartum and its Amazing Cure

Thanksgiving 2007 was a hit. After days and days of planning and prep the food came out without any hitches and Abraham and I not only managed to feed close to thirty people, we successfully over- fed them.
The space was just amazing, and Margeaux's handsome looking piñata had a political slant that help people let loose with out guilt.

Guests helped out in the kitchen,
they talked,
they ate and they sang, and even made out. But most importantly they danced.

What am I talking about, you ask. You see every year, after planning, prepping, and putting out dinner, my spirits swell, and then almost immediately shrink as I come to terms with the fact that one more Thanksgiving day celebration has passed me by (much of my time spent in the kitchen and not with my guests). As I look around the room at everyone drunk, merry, and fat, I always wonder, is it worth it? It is always the dancing footage that answers that question, Yes! It is worth it when you have a slew of friends that are willing to humiliate themselves in front of a camera in order to show their love, appreciation, or in order to demonstrate their uninhibited nature and swanky dance moves. Regardless of their motives it is the process of going over this footage in the days following Thanksgiving that helps pull me out of my postpartum lull. And so without further ado I present to you my number one reason for being Thankful,

Monday, November 19, 2007

An Impossible Decision

For those of us who work in the restaurant business, the week before Thanksgiving can be awfully bleak. While may people are fasting in preparations for massive amounts of gorging, others are drowning there sorrows over having to go home to deal with their dysfunctional families. Then there are the ones who are entirely consumed with planning, ah um! Either way none of them are thinking very much about splurging on extravagant dinners out and that is why my fellow employees and I got to playing a little game to pass the time.

It was slow and the night that dragged on in such a way that it actually seemed as though the clock was moving backwards, that was, until Guy, the restaurant host, asked the question that would torment me for the rest of the evening. "If you could only have two seasonings for the rest of your life, which two would you choose?" It seemed a simple question, and at first many of my favorite seasonings came easily to mind: Cardamom, Cinnamon, Vanilla, etc. It goes with out saying that one of the two would have to be salt, where would we be without salt for heavens sake..."don't forget that onions and garlic fall into the category of seasoning," Guy said interrupting my train of thought. Instantly my blood ran cold. "You mean I have to choose between onions and garlic?" I called out in dismay, "But, How? It's so cruel." Guy smirked, "Yeah I know, its like Sofie's Choice..." It was a disturbing analogy, and though it was not altogether appropriate (choosing hypothetically between onions and garlic can hardly be compared to choosing between ones children), it was, none the less, a horrific choice to consider making. After many a hour of internal bickering and torment I came to my decision, "Salt and onions" I boldly announced. "Are you sure?" Guy asked sniffing out my feigned confidence. " No, okay! I'm not sure... salt and garlic then.... no... oh never mind."
I never did choose between the two, and every day since I thank God or whoever that I haven't had to make the tough decision between these two 'unbearable options ".

On The Subject of Swine

Saturday morning Abraham and I found ourselves frying up nearly two pounds of bacon. Why we were tackling such a large sum of bacon for the moment must remain a secret . What I can tell you is that after about ten minutes of frying, the wafting smell of smoky pork fat drew my roommate from the comforts of her bad and deposited her on a chair in the kitchen where, like a cat, she waited patiently for us to throw her a scrap. In the meantime, Abraham and I learned a great many things about her own theories on Pork. After I laid down a large brick of hickory smoked bacon on the counter before her, she told me that, "You can tell by looking at that slab of bacon that was a very happy pig." She said this with great certainty and I gazed down at the alternating ripples of meat and fat and wondered what made her so sure. Regardless, it was a comforting idea and make my bacon frying all the more merrier.
Eventually my roommate's diligence paid off when we came across a slice of bacon too thick for our secret bacon project.
As she examined the hunk of meat she enlightened us further on the subject of swine, " You know that pigs are incredibly inelegant animals." Now I'm not trying to say that my roommate is not a morally conscious person however, a speech on animal rights seemed way out of character and I could not help wonder where the discussion was headed. "Its true" she said obviously sensing my hesitation. "They are smarter than dogs," she continued " and that means that when you consume pork you imbibe a sum of that inelegance." Wow! This Saturday morning bacon fry turned out to be way much more illuminating than I anticipated and after putting away three slices of bacon I must say I do feel a little bit more clever.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thanksgiving Evolved

With friends visiting every week for out of town my life has been one grand carnival of eating out and partying late into the night. Needles to say, I have had precious little time to spend in my tiny yet beloved kitchen and when yesterday I began the process of making chicken stock in preparation for Thanksgiving I felt like I had been reunited with an old childhood friend- a friend with whom I will be spending plenty of time with over the next week.

Thanksgiving has always been something of a challenge, yet this year that challenge has evolved into something even greater. This year Charlotta, the owner of Chez Oskar and Chez Lola has agreed to let us have our annual shindig at Lola. There is a plus and minus side to this arrangement. The plus side being that I will be able to cook in a properly equipt kitchen and that Charlotta's guests will add some spice to the already peppery guest list. The minus side is that the guest list is much larger than years previous and still has the capacity to grow. Also, there happens to be three Restaurant owners on the list, two of whom have never celebrated this hedonistic American holiday. Does this make me nervous? Lets just say I have given up coffee this week for the benefit of my roommates and boyfriend. Mostly I am excited to see the evolution of Thanksgiving in action. We have come a fare way from the original Thanksgiving - a dinner party of six thrown in 1998.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Beloved Side Dish Redux

The days before Thanksgiving are grow fewer and fewer, and the number of guests rises and falls, as does my confidence. Not only is this holiday a heap of work the day of, but the entire week leading up to the festivities is crammed with back-breaking preparations: grocery shopping, decorations, soups need to be made, sauces concocted… Another thing to consider is time, not only is it a lot of work, but its an outrageous amount of hours, hours that I simply don’t have!*!@?!

You see, what these ‘festivities’ do to me? In order to alleviate some of the Thanksgiving stress I decided something had to be done! I reviewed the menu and came to the conclusion that I must scale down on some of the higher maintenance side dishes. Number one on the list, Brussels sprouts sautéed in a port Dijon reduction and garnished with rustic shards of Parmesan. They are a beloved dish and have been a Thanksgiving staple for years, but replacing them with a simpler dish would lighten my load and also free up valuable space on the stove top. Most everyone took the news well, all except for Aaron that is.

Aaron has been one of my oldest Thanksgiving devotees; he is also one of my favorite people to cook for on account of his spirited responses to each and every bite he takes. “Diggidy-Dog!he says shaking his head after a mouthful of soup. After a nibble of salad, he jumps from his seat gyrating and shrieking Eurika! like an epileptic Elvis. It would be inpossible for me to describe how he responds to freshly baked biscuits, or Turkey and Gravy. Lets just say that foods of all sorts have a profound impact on Aaron, but it is the Brussel sprout that that has inspired the most heartfelt response.

Many Thanksgivings ago, when I first mentioned to Aaron that I was thinking about making sprouts he was more than a little skeptical. You see Brussels sprouts have never been his favorite vegetable. In fact, I’d go as fare as saying that during his childhood, he had a damaging encounter with the unsuspecting sprout and was now, years later, still experiencing post-traumatic stress. Aaron has an adventurous spirit however, and is a good sport, “I’ll give them a try,” he told me as if he had agreed to eat an insect.

It is Aaron’s original response to this innocent side dish that makes his later response so astonishing. After his first bite, he became quite, tilted his head down as if in prayer, and sat that way for almost a minute. Then, out of nowhere, possessed by some external force - good or evil it was hard to decipher - he popped out of his seat and began to twist around as if experiencing both pleasure and pain. Everyone at the table sat quietly half expecting a miniature alien to burst from his stomach and dance across the table but no such entertainment was on the agenda. When he had completed the unscheduled performance, he sat back down and continued eating, hepping and hollering with every spoonful.

At first I was surprised with how well Aaron coped with the elimination of the notorious sprouts, “I understand,” he told me, “but only because I know you’re going to make them.” The certainty in his voice was chilling. “ They‘re just too much work, I don’t have the time,” I reiterated. But, with a sparkle in his eye, and with the grin of a car salesman, he grabbed my hand gently and in a comforting tone repeated, “ I get it, I do.” He took a deep breath, “But I know you're going to make them.” His certainty must have been less creepy this time because I instantly began reviewing the menu in my head one more time, trying as hard as I could to figure out how I could squeeze in the adored sprouts.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Rules of Das Boot

With my friend Kadie visiting from LA, I have been burning the candle at both ends trying to show her a good time while she is here - and selfishly aiming to convince her to move back to Brooklyn. There has been plenty of food, some good music, shopping, and a profuse amount of drinking. We have had Micheladas, tequila, and Tacos at Bonita in Fort Green, sampled various sangrias while listening to an incredible Puerto Rican Folk Jam session at Camaradas El Barrio in East Harlem, and have knocked back beers in many a New York Bar. But one of the highlights was German food and drink at Heidelberg Restaurant, introduced to us by Andrew.
Here is Andrew posing with Kadie,
The beer was good and the smoked Bratwurst was clearly the winner of the evening. The only thing that was missing was a list of house rules regarding Das Boot, an 80oz. glass boot of beer. Here are the list of rules Kadie and I came up with based on our experience with Das Boot.

Rules of Das Boot

1. When receiving Das Boot, please pay proper reverence.
2. Never lick Das Boot.
3. Always, and I mean always, hold on to Das Boot.
4. When drinking Das Boot, please remember to maintain proper, official, established, orthodox, and acceptable table manners.
5. Again, don't forget to hold on to Das Boot.
6. When you are finished with Das Boot please abstain from further drinking.
7. Never mix Das Boot.
( Thanks Abraham for giving us the example of what not to do when drinking Das Boot.)

Today is Kadie's last day here, and though I am very sad she has not decided to move back to New York, I am looking forward to a rest from all the partying. Adios Kadie, que nos vemos muy pronto!

Friday, October 26, 2007

My Super Last Supper

Because I am not always in the know about the goings-on in the world of publishing, I pretty much depend on my roommate, who is in the business, to keep me up to date with the latest foodie publications to hit the shelves. This week in particular happen to be a juicy one for I came home to find this book silently waiting for me on the dining room table. My Last Super, Melanie Dunea latest project, is a fascinating book that shares the way in which 50 great chefs would like to spend their “Last Super.” It is a morbid little game and each interview is complete with a revealing photo of the willing participants. Who is it that would prefer to spend their ultimate meal at home with only their wife drinking Hoegaarden beer and who would like to spend it conversing with an array of rock stars and film directors, Iggy Pop, and Martin Scorsese to name a few? If you want the answers you will have to swing by the book store yourself to find out. The photographs - Anthony Bourdain’s almost naked one being my favorite - are cleverly composed and the formatted questions - what would your last meal be? What would be the setting? What would you drink? Music? Accompaniment? - certainly had me pondering the details of my ultimate meal on earth. Here are the answers I have come up with thus fare, of course keep in mind that just about every hour my answers to these questions change entirely. It is not an easy game to play and I dare chanllange you to try it for yourself.

What would be your last meal on earth?
I would like to have a meal that consisted of all my favorite dishes from all of my
favorite types of cuisines; Biscuits and Gravy, Laab Gai, Mole Poblano, Pulpo
Verecruzano, Chicken tikka Masala, Duck Confit, Tapas, buttermilk Pancakes
Lots and lots of cheese (St Andre, Cambolozola, Mozzarella), fresh tangelos with
Homemade vanilla ice cream etc. Basically the meal would last from sunrise to sun

What would be the setting for the meal?
I like the idea of having a meal on the beach in Mexico, under a shady palapa, with an outdoor kitchen and a bonfire blasting on the beach.

What would you drink with your meal?
I would start with coffee in the morning, Micheladas during the day and, since I wouldn't have to worry about the hangover, a Hendrix Gin on the rocks or two before breaking into some wine red or white, would it matter? As the final meal came to a close, I would have to knock back an espresso and calvados or things would not be quit right.

Would there be music?
There would be a kick-ass band that could play salsa, guaracha, soul, funk, blues, jazz...Also my friends would be playing music, and when I had had enough Micheladas, I’d even join in myself.

Who would be your dining companions?
All of my favorite dining companions previously mentioned on this blog: My mother, Kara, Margeaux, Bernie, Abraham, Glynnis, Kadie, Aaron and many more who have not been previously mentioned.

Who would prepare the meal?
I would have a hand in making the food along with all my other friends and family who like to cook, my mother, Abraham to name a few. The more the merrier of course.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Tasting Notes

This is week three of my WSET wine certificate class and, as you can imagine, I have been doing a lot of wine tasting. Each class consists of a lecture followed by a tasting of about six or seven wines that demonstrate what we have covered. We then write out tasting notes and share our thoughts; is it dry, off-dry, or sweet? How is the body, acidity, and the tannins? Can you taste stone fruits, black fruits, or red fruits? Any Vanilla, or wet leaves? All of these things combine help us conclude the quality and the expected price of the wine. It would be a interesting game if I were not in the presents of classmates who already knew a thing or two about wine. Out of a class of about forty students, half are already in the wine business, a great many more are sommeliers, and for the rest learning about wine has been their passionate hobby. Then there's me, a Brooklyn peasant who, up until a few weeks ago, did not know that Sancerre is not a grape variety but a village in France where Sauvgnon Blanc is grown. How silly am I? (that would be sarcasm).
Alright, so perhaps this does not make me a simpleton however, it does leave me a few significant strides behind the pack. Interestingly enough, the area in which I feel most deficient is in identifying the bouquet of each wine. It is not as though I don't recognize the aromas, on the contrary; with each inhale I am nagged by a familiar, if not several familiar scents. Yet, no matter how hard I try, I remain unable to give a name to each scent until someone yells out "liquorice!" or "hazelnuts!", "Butter and Caramel..." , then I am inclined to agree, "wow, it does taste like hazelnuts!!" To improve upon my shortcoming, I have devised a plan : I have decided to catalogue all the interesting smell I encounter throughout my day in hopes that it will expand my aroma references. It seems like a silly exercise and even foolish considering I live in a city so full of bad smells, I mean look at the smells I have catalogued thus far,
I hope that not too many of these smells come into play while tasting wine, but if they do, I'll be ready to recognize them.
Outside of class I did have a more down to earth tasting experience to share with you. While knocking back a few Micheladas at Bonita, a nifty and stylish little Mexican restaurant in Fort Green, I was presented with a tasting platter complete with a glass of Tonala Anejo Tequila, roasted sweet potatoes with anise, chili, and cinnamon, sliced oranges, and a glass of sangrita.
The intention was that each accompaniment was to bring out a different flavor component of the tequila, and that it did. The anise and cinnamon in the sweet potatoes toned down the burn of the alcohol, and the swelling of the chili enhanced the smokiness of the aged tequila. YUM! The sangrita (tomato, cucumber, and chili) worked much in the same way, and the orange wedges where a nice finish. This has definitely given me some ideas for Thanksgiving!

Until then I will just have to do my best to keep a good pace with the rest of my classmates, even if it means I have to do more homework then. And since that means tasting more wines, I don't mind if I do.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Does Membership Pay?

So I did it! After living in Brooklyn for close to ten years I have finally become a member of the Park Slope Food Coop. Why has it taken me so long to join? Well to begin with, up until now, I have had a severe distaste for commitment. Though it is not a difficult process to join, it is still a process; you have to attend a two-hour orientation, stand in line to pick out a work shift, and then and only then are you allowed to pass through the pearly gates of a promised heaven of organic and local produce etc. What if I join the coop only to find that it is too inconvenient to shop there? I could see myself working my monthly shift only to turn around and purchase my groceries at the Pathmark around the corner because it is more convenient.

Another thing is that frankly, it has always seemed like a bit of a religious cult to me. Every time I walk past by the busy and bustling doorway, forever stocked with a squadron of reflective vest wearing members*, I get the same feeling I get when I walk past a Baptist Church during Sunday Mass, or a Synagogue just after Saturday morning Shabbat; I am instantly taken by a skeptical curiosity - Is this really the path to enlightenment? Are the prices and produce really that much better? And at the same time, as I watch the members coming and going with their boxes and reusable bags of local and sustainable products, I can’t help but feel excluded from something truly significant - What is it that these people know that I don’t? Is life really so much better on the other side?

Well, as you now know, the questions finally got to me and after the tour that Abraham - a dedicated member - gave me, I was an eager convert, you just can't get organic for those prices in NYC. Wednesday evening after work I dragged myself over to Park Slope in order to attend the orientation, pick out my work detail (21/2 hours every four weeks), and hopefully go shopping the very same night. The orientation was brief; we took another tour, and then lined up to select our work shifts and the man in front of me turned around “ We forgot to ask one question,” he said to me with a smirk, “what do we do if we don’t want to be a member anymore? Are you allowed to quit?” It was an interesting notion, here I was thinking of the coop as an almost religious institution, and he was thinking of it more of like the Mafia. “ Maybe you can’t quit, unless you want to relocate and change your name…”

As soon as we were done, we were given a one-day pass and sent on our way. I immediately rushed down the stairs, and as I passed through the entranceway I was partially expecting to be stopped and dragged out, but that didn't happen. Instead I was welcomed in warmly. I grabbed a basket, and began enjoying my upgraded status as a newly converted Coop Member. I can’t tell you yet if it is all worth it, will I give up bulk at Sahadi’s on Atlantic Avenue? or De-vine on 7th Ave; Hard to say. What I can say is that the organic gala apples I had with my yogurt this morning were the best I’ve tasted in a long while, and I eagerly await further brining session due to their bountiful organic meats section…

*These guys are members on work detail. They help you get your groceries home.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Edible Overdose

I suppose it is only fare that I explain my recent truancy. It was not my intention to take an unannounced week long hiatus from blogging however, every time I sat down at my computer and danced my fingers across the keyboard all I ended up with was a string of flat sentences strung together to create one boring and utterly flavorless passage.

The incredible thing is that there has been no shortage of bloggable material in my life as of late. There were the grilled cheese sandwiches Abraham made for my roommate and me, made with maple smoked Cheddar, thick slabs of maple cured bacon, watercress and pear, served on a slice of Amy's seeded semolina...
There were experiments with brinning poultry in preparations for Thanksgiving, also a wonderful dinner at Kirara on Carmine street where, thanks to Jonah one of the chefs, I finally conquered of my irrational aversion to sushi...
Yellow Fin Salad with Asian Pear, Pomegranate, and parsley oil
Various rolls and Sashimi - can't say what they all are yet, but I did eat them all
Toro platter with sashimi (left), seared tuna (bottom), and tartare lightly seared and topped with quail egg (top right)
I started my WSET certificate class in Wines and Spirits, and I met David Lebovitz, the author of the Perfect Scoop.
Yes, I am aware of my dorkiness in this picture, but the coolness of the pic outweighs my dorkiness
This week was full of culinary events, disasters, and triumphs yet, somewhere during all of the cooking, eating, and drinking I lost my ability to sit down and write about it.

It is entirely possible that I had an edibles overdose - just because my robust digestive system can process large quantities of food does not mean that my delicate sensibilities can. We'll have to take it down a notch in the coming week.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Some Meals and 0ther Meals

There are some meals that require an extensive amount of planning in order to pull off. Special ingredients need to be bought, research must be conducted, and many times preparations needs to be done in advance. Then there are meals that all you have to do is leave the house in search of adventure, meet up with a cute boy, go on a hunt for a good French Chardonnay, end up with a bottle of California Pinot Noir instead, and next thing you know your marching around town with a bundle of perfectly ripe figs in your bag that are just begging you to do something special with them before they become wrinkly and old.

Of course last Thursday afternoon when I found myself in these exact circumstances I had every intention of fulfilling the wishes of these tender little figs, however hunger dictated that the cute boy and I partake in a little afternoon snack to tide us over till evening.

So, we stopped into ino on Bedford Street for a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and a variety of brochettes.
The restaurant was tiny with little wooden cube sized tables, and a counter off to the side. The Italian Folk songs playing in the background - something reminiscent of Allen Lomax’s Field recordings - helped solidify the quaint ambiance, while only adding a mild note of cheesiness.

Here’s me eating the truffled egg toast. YUM!
An hour later it was back to Brooklyn for a quick nap before getting to work on the Pinot Noir and Figs. I had wanted to keep it classic by roasting the figs with cheese and prosciutto, but there was a scarcity of ingredients in my fridge so we stuffed them with a tepinade of olives, capers, pickled lemon rind, and Pecorino Romano cheese. After roasting them for 15 min on 350F, we drizzled them with chestnut honey and orange zest.
With the wine and the sweet potatoes it made for a decadent supper, but one that wasn’t at all labor intensive; the perfect something out of nothing meal after an indulgent day of eating and drinking.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Talking With The Tomatoes

Tomatoes – Gourmet Peasant, we have an important question to ask you.

Gourmet Peasant – Are you talking to me?

Tomatoes – Ah, yeah. Who else would we be talking to?

GP – Okay, alright, ask your question.

T – If you love tomatoes as much as you say you do, how do you explain your abusive behavior towards them?

GP – Um, what do you mean by abusive behavior?

T - Example, just the other day, upstate at your mother’s the two of you singled out five healthy looking Heirloom tomatoes, separated them from the bunch, and covered them with a paper bag so they could not see where you were taking them. Once you had them back at the house, you fired the grill, lined the tomatoes up, and grilled them. See how terrified they are waiting to be fired...
Now as if that weren’t bad enough, once they were grilled, you had to pile them one on top of the other like rotting corpses...
Then, to add insult to injury, you poured adobe chilies and lime juice all over their blistering bodies before finally putting them out of misery in that torture chamber of a device you call a Cuisinart.

GP - Ah, um, well, we were making Salsa de Tomate Asado...

T -You mother sure did enjoy eating their remains on her vegetarian tacos.
And here you are taking pictures!! Have you any compassion? What do you have to say for yourself?
GP - What else can I say, the tacos were great.