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Everything posted by azurenath

  1. The people at Culinaire in San Francisco (the terrific antique kitchenware shop in the Ferry Plaza building) told me that New Orleans has a store just like it. Has anyone ever heard of this? What is it called? Where is it?
  2. Guys, thanks so much for all the suggestions! We will be looking into many of them. Appreciatively, Nathalie
  3. Hi, I work for a bookstore that specializes in cookbooks and we are looking to expand our Canadian section, which at the moment is pretty pathetic (other than the Au Pied de Cochon book, which we have been selling very enthusiastically). Does anyone have recommendations for Canadian cookbooks that that fall into one or the other of the following categories? They can be in any language, but preferably they should still be in print. --traditional Canadian cooking (old-school Quebecois, whatever) --new Canadian cooking (a la Normand Laprise). It can involve outside influences but must nonetheless retain certain essentially Canadian elements Thanks guys! I recently had the privilege of visiting your beautiful country and loved it!
  4. Has anyone noticed restaurants anywhere in the US (or the world) beginning to pair their cheese course explicitly with beer rather than wine?
  5. Why hasn't anyone said pears yet? Granted, they're not flashy, but doesn't biting into one make you think of nibbling at the shoulder of someone with very soft skin?
  6. Out of curiosity, how do we (the Royal We) feel about places that toe the line: Fresh & Wild, for instance. Definitely a supermarket. Definitely a chain supermarket (owned by American organic-foods giant Whole Foods). Definitely valorizes producers and method of production. Hm..... Should it get thrown in with the Tescoes, or is it still close enough to Borough? Thoughts?
  7. How about for those of us with no gardens but who like fresh herbs in our salads? What are good plants to grow indoors, or in a window box?
  8. Wendy, your stuff is incredible. Thanks for sharing. Question: how much do taste and flavor factor into your pastry-creating decisions? To that end, how aggressively do you seek out high-quality ingredients (farmhouse butter, fresh cream, etc) which are often more expensive than, say, Sysco products? If you're cooking for others (e.g. a wedding cake, where you might have to follow a budget), are you more inclined, would you say, to focus on appearance, or taste?
  9. John Thorne, one of my favorite food writers, wrote a piece on cooking beans in I think Outlaw Cook (or was it pot on the fire? dunno). anyway, if you're eating this tonight, it might be too late, but the piece is worth seeking out and reading anyhow.
  10. I wrote this this summer, that's why it sounds like the wrong time of the year to be reading. What are we eating? Whole fish, baked, over a ratatouille and jasmine rice. Thin and crunchy green beans with merguez sausages on the grill and potatoes spiked with bay leaves, wrapped in foil and tossed in the fire. Crayfish we’ve snuck down to the lake with flashlights and butterfly nets to stalk, watching them thrust and parry in the pail before boiling them till done. Dried donkey sausage, or saucisson d’âne, which is, I promise, a lot more appetizing than it sounds. Salmon terrines. Cod liver pâté. Duck mousse. Creamed leeks. Cookies poolside, with a pitcher of grenadine. Savoy mountain cheeses that we buy from la barbue, the toothless farmer lady, her back curled more cruelly every year, who cuts them with a rusty knife—la Tomme, le Reblochon, l’Abondance, le Tamié (still made by Benedictine monks, one of whom I saw at the Shopi getting groceries), and my favorite, le Beaufort. (She also sells her own sour cream, yogurt, local eggs, and butter, cutting it from an atlas-sized slab.) When I made it home a few hours ago Marie brought a case of apples out from the garage for me to make a crumble with, and I carefully peeled and seeded each one, smelling them, feeling the fruit’s crystals, its compact juicy foam. I weighed out flour and sugar and butter, equal parts of each, and crumbled it in my hands until it was sandy. And that night when we ate it I noticed for the first time the difference in taste between baking with salted vs. unsalted butter, a small victory for my tongue. We eat salads with lavender seed, although everyone complains they then taste soapy (I like it). Amélie’s spaghetti carbonara, wet with cream. My peach crumbles and mirabelle tarts and nut cakes. Homemade pizzas. Pears we sun til soft, melons rife with flavor. Tomatoes, feta, chives. Bubbling gratins of cauliflower or potato or zucchini. Leftover egg whites alchemized into chocolate mousse. Fresh cheese that’s little more than whey and water, loosely clumped, best if made that day. Tiny radishes still flecked with earth, drunk with rosé as the sun sets. Chicken tagine, simmered on the stovetop all day long, Marie’s multi-culti pot-au-feu. Ethereal croissants and baguettes the texture of deep-fried cotton. Smoked, dried pork loin. Lake fish like le féra or, in restaurants, the illustrious omble chevalier. But wait a second. What am I doing? I hate the whole France nostalgia bit. It irritates me when I see it in cookbooks, certainly in those written by non-French, but it’s almost worse when it’s the French (Madeleine Kamman et al) prostituting their own country. I’m talking specifically about the exploiting of tired old stereotypes about French provincial life (even ones considered “positive”), which collapse, ignore and conflate the subtleties of a country with, yes, a rich past, but also an amply textured present. The fat French gourmand, say, pinky-ringed, ruddy-nosed, critically holding his wineglass to the light. The crotchety old gardener with his beret and rubber boots and suspenders, sniffing at the air to determine if it’s humid enough to plant beets in the chateau’s potager. The gingham-aproned menagère smiling merrily as she tosses more goose scraps into her simmering pot-au-feu. Here is the France most commonly called up in the minds of those who aren’t French, even when they might know better. Cooking schools like the one I work in exploit images like these (and it works). Come feel the passion, we say. Toss away your cell phone, your diet books, your neuroses, your mother-in-law (As if these only existed in America!) Come live more simply, in the rhythms of nature. Even the air provokes romance! To this end, we transfer to rustic glass bottles the wine we buy in five-liter plastic gallons. We almost poured purchased tomato sauce into canning jars to make it look as though we’d made it (Sly and Mela later made our own). We hang laundry in front of the neighbors’ door so that students don’t find out—through us, anyway—that not every Italian kitchen looks like ours. These images are how we and many others make our money, and sometimes, they’re a big fucking charade. Tradition is lovely and important; it’s certainly worth remembering the past. But the past presented in images like this is unreal, and furthermore, unfair to the present. Case in point: my aunt buys local alpine butter, creamy and flaxen, while my grandmother picks up low-fat Bridelight at the supermarket. The same aunt plans on making and selling 100 or so artisanal pâtés de foie gras this Christmas; the same grandmother makes radish dip with powdered onion soup, much like the Card Club women in Pennsylvania. But my aunt uses a food processor (le Magimix!) to make her pie crusts, and my grandmother does not. To me, this mix of givens and inversions is markedly more interesting than if they just embodied their proscribed roles (grandmother: upholds tradition, it will die with her; aunt: career woman, embraces modernity, shuns the long way). Plus, it’s real. More real, I would argue, than the invariably flat stereotypes evoked so often that they’ve carved deep ruts into our minds. Unfortunately, I rely on this sham all the time, in writing, in speech. And that’s because it has some basis in truth, and it so lends itself to poesy. The bearded old cheese-selling farmer ladies, pinky-ringed bon vivants and curmudgeonly gardeners are still around, if you look hard enough. But it’s sad to ignore modern interpretations of traditional values, roles and behaviors, because besides being relevant, they have a complexity and beauty deservedly of their own. (original entry can be found here: http://cabbagesandkings.typepad.com)
  11. I've had horse twice before. Once in Belgium, as what was funnily enough called a "fil americainfil americain" essentially raw chopped steak tartare eaten with thin crisp french fries--delicious. Also, this summer in Lecce, Italy, we bought some thinkly sliced horsemeat steaks, patted them with flour, and cooked them in olive oil, then ate them on pane di matera (pugiese bread) with rucola (arugula). Lots of flavor, strong texture--divine. I'd definitely do it again.
  12. Maggie, what a great piece. Your writing has such cadence to it. Thanks. Nathalie
  13. I had the opposite (quite fortunate) situation: my college roommates were okay with doing all the housecleaning as long as I cooked once in a while...well, I'm not sure if we ever really agreed on that, but they never complained about my not cleaning because there was always good stuff to eat around the kitchen!
  14. azurenath

    Pumpkin Seed Oil

    Pop some popcorn in it!
  15. not that this is about mignonette, but if you can throw together a good one on your own and live in the bay area, make a beeline for hog island oysters in marin county straight up hwy 1. go at sunset, and if you can swing it do so on a weekday when there are no people and no $10 fees for picnic tables. really laid back, you can grill there, and the oysters are literally picked out of the water in front of you, no laying-on-ice-for-god-knows-how-long. dude named carson who works there is extremely cool, pour him a glass of the wine you've brought with you (they've got glasses there) and he will pontificate on oysters for hours, or just leave you at peace if you prefer that. if you don't want to make the trip (which is worthwhile even w/o the oyster incentive, it's gorgous driving through there) you can still get the oysters at the Hog Island Oyster Bar in the excellent Ferry Plaza building. Doesn't have the charm of Carson or Tomales Bay though....
  16. Wow, Krispy Kreme donuts. I haven't had one of those in a long time, and I really miss them. You can get them at Harrods, but for TWO DOLLARS A DONUT (twelve pounds for a dozen). I definitely crumpled to the pressure once, but I'll have to get really homesick before I do it again.
  17. I have also just recently moved to London (to work for Neal's Yard in Borough Market) and so am still working out flat issues, etc. What a pain in the butt. Currently I'm subletting in Bermondsey but not loving it, there's nothing to keep me here except the ultra-convenient communte. I think I'm goign to give that up in favor of something up north like Stoke Newington or Green Lanes or Manor house, which all have more character, cheaper rent, better food and company, actual trees and possibly a small garden rather than the dumpster that currently heralds every morning of mine.
  18. In reverse order: A Turkish-Cypriot restaurant in the Manor House area of North London, whilst visiting a friend. Best hummus ever, with really spongy pita, and shish kebab. Kind of a wonky salad that reminded me of Mexican salsa with tomatoes and cilantro and lemon (for lack of lime), but was still Mediterranean with cucumbers and an accompanying yogurt sauce and heavy on the vinegar. High tea by myself on Sunday at Kensington Palace, Hyde Park. I couldn't afford much, so I just went with the poached egg and spinach on toast, and splurged on a rhubarb and ginger cream tart for dessert. It was sunny and the light was flooding in, illuminating the statuaries, they looked almost alive. Read a book, people-watched, enjoyed the food, the weather, and the Sunday off. Glorious! A chicken salad sandwich an hour previous that was so, so awful that I went to Kensington palace to compensate. I hate throwing out food, especially since what was a cheap sandwich for London (three pounds) means I spent six dollars on something I took one bite out of and, sadly, threw out. There was more mayonnaise than anything else in there. Mad gross. Thank god high tea was so satisfying.
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