Goats in a Tree
My favorite photo of the week. From the New York Times
Glad We Went When We Did
Anyone want to buy Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar
? I wonder if it comes with that incredible chef.
Childhood Food Meme
tagged me for this a few weeks ago. I am kind of unskilled at the blog-tagging thing, so am just going to suggest, mildly, to Ms. Yum!
, Ms. Reverse Migration
, and Ms. Good on Paper
that they do this next.
As far as I can tell, this meme involves sharing five of your most vivid food memories from childhood. I already mentioned a couple in one of my first blog entries here -- the peanut butter cookie problem and the Orange Julius experiments, as well as the cooking lessons learned from the humble Bachelor Special -- but here are a few more.1. Fad Foods at St. Mary of the Valley Grade School
I was in elementary school in the early 1980s in Beaverton, Oregon, wearing a uniform at an all-girls' Catholic school. We had very little opportunity for expressing ourselves and our rapt attunement to the latest trends in music and clothing, so the way we one-upped each other was through our lunches. One could buy hot lunch in the cafeteria, as I did for the most part in grades 1-3, and sit under the watchful eyes of Sisters Consolata and Rose Dolores, who played good cop/bad cop with table manners and monitored our food consumption. (For example, we were not allowed to save our milk for one big gulp at the end of the meal -- we had to take a sip of milk for every three mouthfuls of food. Did anyone else learn that???) Or one could bring one's own "cold lunch" (aka bag lunch) and eat it in the auditorium, under the less-than-watchful eye of the much-beloved Sister Agnes Marie
. It was there, in the auditorium, that I learned how girls become popular and unpopular.
Here were the popular (aka rich) girls' foods:
- Handi-Snacks (those little packages with congealed Cheez Whiz on one side, three saltines on the other, and a little red rectangular spreader)
- Fun Fruits and/or Fruit Roll-Ups
- little bottles of Original New York Seltzer in various flavors
- chewy granola bars
- Capri Sun
- Yoplait yogurt, especially "custard style"
- those tiny 6-ounce cans of New Coke
Here were the unpopular girls' lunches:
- anything homemade
- especially homemade tuna fish sandwiches and applesauces
- Western Family yogurt with fruit on the bottom
- crunchy granola bars
- real live unprocessed fruit
- anything ethnic, like Asian salty dried plums, which were a revelation to me the first time my friend Anh gave me one2. Capri Sun
Speaking of Capri Sun, my sister and I used to spend summers at my aunt Madge's house in Palos Verdes, CA. Madge had a pool, a very big yard, and two sons (our cousins) who loved to play with video cameras. Somehow -- lord only knows how -- my sister and I got the idea to write an advertising jingle about Capri Sun, choreograph a little dance to the song, dress up in bizarre outfits, and have Matt and Rob videotape us near the pool acting out our ad. This we would send along to the makers of Capri Sun, who would surely love it, put us on TV, and we would make millions. (This is a bit of a pattern for Jesse and me. We continue to imagine ourselves this fabulous undiscovered Dynamic Sibling Duo and believe very strongly that someone is going to come along and pay us a lot of money for something that we dream up.)
Anyway, the song went:Capri Sun, Capri Sun
Capri Sun is for me
I drink it while I'm walking by the sea
Listen to the octopus!
(One of us gets into the octopus-shaped pool floatie and sings in a deeper voice:)Capri Sun, Capri Sun
Capri Sun is for me
I drink it while I'm swimming in the sea
Listen to the lady!
(One of us puts on a fancy sun hat and big sunglasses and parades around the pool singing in a sultry voice:)
Actually I forget what she sings next. But there were countless other characters, involving several other voices and costume changes, and at the end of the ad one of us invariably was either pushed or jumped into the pool. The goal was always to end up in the pool, preferably fully clothed.3. Split Pea Soup
My mom never worked while my sister and I were little, but once she got sick and needed to go to the hospital for her treatments, Jesse and I would often get dropped at this awful daycare called Busy Bees on Allen Boulevard in Beaverton. It was just dreadful. I loved school, but I loathed day care. It smelled awful, the other kids were always sticky, and because my sister and I didn't go every day, we didn't really have any friends there.
The last time I ever had to go to Busy Bees, we arrived in the morning and my mom promised she'd be back before lunch -- not that she ever had much control over when she could return. Morning snack came and went (orange slices, which I still do not like) and soon it was time for lunch. The daycare smelled even more revolting than usual and I could not imagine what it was that we would soon be served. The answer: split pea soup. In styrofoam cups, so we had to drink it. To me, it was the color and smell of all that was evil in the world. But it was served with this fabulous and amazing homemade bread, warm from the oven, squishy and yeasty. We all sat down at this very low table while the day care ladies rushed all around us, serving us the soup, wiping kids' noses, yelling at kids to quit yelling. It was chaos, but I still evidently caught the eye of one of the more watchful ladies who saw me eating the bread and nothing else. I was reaching for my second piece of bread when she cut me off and said, "You may have another piece of bread as soon as you finish your soup." My heart sank and I probably would have started to cry had I not been one of the oldest children there. I looked at the soup in the cup, plugged my nose, and started drinking it. After the first gulp I gagged, but kept it down. I glugged the rest of it down as fast as I could, turned to show the lady (now distracted by someone else) my empty cup, and saw, to my horror, that my mom had just arrived and was holding Jesse's and my coats up for us to put on. I knew I wouldn't be allowed to take another piece of bread with me to go. It was my first experience with a kind of bait-and-switch, one that I remember as vividly as if it had happened this morning.
Surprisingly, I now love split pea soup. It didn't scar me for life.4. Ice Cream Truck
Until I was 6 or 7, I lived on a cul-de-sac that saw very, very little traffic -- at that time, Aloha was the very edge of the Portland-suburb frontier, and the road my cul-de-sac split off from was basically a farm road leading to orchards of all kinds. The lady who lived behind our house, an old, sweet, grandmotherly woman named Emma, owned several acres of a filbert orchard, and we had two huge filbert trees in our backyard (which my dad hated because the fallen nuts got stuck in the lawnmower) as well as an enormous plum tree in the front. There were a couple of other kids in the cul-de-sac as well -- two sisters named Kamela and Carissa, as well as an older boy and girl whose names I don't remember.
For an ice cream truck to actually enter our cul-de-sac was a very rare occurence indeed. On the occasion that this one entered, there was much rejoicing, and it parked itself RIGHT NEXT TO MY HOUSE, literally against the curb, but -- and this is important -- with its window of delights facing the street, rather than the sidewalk.
It was summer and all the kids were outside, and ran over to the ice cream truck. Even Emma crossed over her field and came up to the truck on the other side of her small chickenwire fence. I had on a pair of rollerskates, and was under STRICT orders not to set one toe -- not one wheel -- into the street. Sidewalks and driveways were fine, but I was not allowed to even consider skating on blacktop. All of the other kids gathered around the ice cream truck window and started calling out their orders, while I stood in my driveway watching them, paralyzed, unable to even see the offerings. Finally Emma called my name and asked me what I wanted -- her treat. I told her that I couldn't get anything because I wasn't allowed in the street. Bear in mind that the street here was a dead-end offshoot of a cul-de-sac -- the only cars that would have come by were my parents' or the across-the-street neighbors'. The other kids looked at me incredulously. "But you won't actually be in the street," one said. Emma said, "But I'm watching you, and I won't let you get hit by a car." I would not budge! I just would not.
At last Emma handed one of the kids some money and told them to tell me what my choices were, buy me the ice cream, and bring it to me in the driveway. I ended up with some kind of delicious blue sherbet pop in the shape of Cookie Monster. I went inside to show my mom and promised her over and over again that I hadn't gone in the street to get it. She laughed and said, "But wasn't Emma there? You can go in the street if Emma's watching you."
After that incident, two things: 1. all the kids in the neighborhood thought I was weird, and 2. I retain an exquisite sense of kid logic and viscerally understand their frustration when they learn that there are exceptions to rules that they didn't know about. I was told NOT TO GO IN THE STREET under anycircumstances, not NOT TO GO IN THE STREET unless there is an ice cream truck parked there and Emma is watching me! God!5. Cracklin' Oat Bran
Lastly, something less long-winded. Like many products of hippie and/or nutritionally-obsessed parents, I was never allowed to have sugar cereal when I was little. Raisin Bran was as exciting as it got in my house. One day, I was spending the night over at my friend Matt's house (Matt's mom and my mom were best friends, and Matt and I were born 6 weeks apart). Matt's mom, Mary, was a nurse and also a health nut, but somehow she was more lenient on the cereal front than my mom. And so it was in her house that I first tasted the Best Cereal In The Entire World: Cracklin' Oat Bran. It looked just like the little food pellets that we fed to the giraffes at the zoo, but tasted like Halloween a thousand times over. I had no idea cereal could taste like that. It was life-altering. I still never buy it for myself, because it always seems overpriced, but on the rare occasion that I do get to have a bowl of it, at a friend's house or something, the fleeting taste of cereal perfection comes flooding back.
All right, ladies. Your turn.
Who Moved My Cheese?
Quebec firm abandons lost cheese
Last Updated Mon, 10 Oct 2005 13:50:57 EDTCBC News
A Quebec cheese company has finally given up on finding $50,000 worth of cheese it sank underwater in an attempt to make it taste better.
Last year, La Fromagerie Boivin dropped 800 kg of cheese into the water of the Saguenay fjord, north of Quebec City. Letting it sit 50 metres underwater was supposed to produce a cheese that would taste unique, but the company had major trouble finding its sunken cheese.
Divers and high-tech tracking equipment were used to search for the lost fromage.
"It's a mystery," said master diver Pierre Dufour, who assisted in the hunt. "All we know is that the cheese is no longer where it was left." The company has given up hope of finding the cheese and is writing off its $50,000 value.
"It got too expensive," said cheesemaker Luc Boivin. "At some point, you can't be crazy."
Even if the cheese had been found, there were doubts about whether it could ever be sold.
In July, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency raised concerns about the sunken cheese. It said Boivin was breaking food safety laws because the cheese hadn't been analyzed at various stages of the aging process. That meant it couldn't be sold through retail outlets.
By Popular Demand
Edamame Salad with Baby Beets and Greens (I made this successfully just using regular old beets cut up into small wedges.)
Adapted from Food & Wine magazine
Serves 4, can easily be doubled or tripled
4 small beets, trimmed, greens reserved and cut up
2 cups shelled edamame (I find this in bags, frozen, at Trader Joe's)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce/tamari
1 1/2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
1 teaspoon finely grated ginger
2 finely chopped scallions/spring onions
1 tablespoon julienned basil
1. In a large saucepan, set a steamer basket over 1/2 inch of water and bring to a boil. Add beets, cover and cook over moderate heat until tender, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, boil edamame (or steam it, whatever) about 5 minutes in another pot. Drain and rinse in cold water to cool, then pat dry. Peel and cut beets into wedges.
2. In a large bowl, stir the rice vinegar with the soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger. Add everything else. Toss to coat.
Not only was it my birthday recently, but this weekend was also Sonya
and Ted's birthday! We decided to have a big joint party at their house. It was the perfect day for it -- everyone was giddy because the sun had finally come out. People came from three states! The party started at 4:00 p.m. and was billed to last until 4:00 a.m.
Sonya made all the cakes:
Carrot (with ricotta-farro tart in background):
I have to admit that I was so full that I did not even try the chocolate one, even though it was decorated so festively. But the carrot cake was the best I had ever had. Sonya said that she doubled the spices in it because the first time she made it, it was too bland. Excellent call. Plus it was so moist and cream-cheesey.
Here is a photo of Sonya and Kip looking at the table, set with several party dishes that I made and Sonya's cakes:
It looks a little empty, but that was quickly fixed by Jae and Corey, who brought reinforcements of roasted garlic ciabatta, goat gouda, and peppery sausage. Then Flavia and Sergio brought an entire roasting pan full of homemade empanadas! They were so full of meat and egg and spicy goodness that I almost put some into my purse for later.
I made a bunch of things. The best part is that we ate them all with plastic forks and spoons that were clear with gold glitter suspended inside. So sparkly!
Here are some of the dishes that were on the groaning board:
Ham and gruyere spread (looks like Spam but does not taste like it!) and red pepper and walnut pesto:
Edamame salad with beets and beet greens:
Total New Mexican Down Home Green Chile Stew, recipe courtesy of Jesse:
And some other stuff that I did not take photos of: turkey and cilantro meatballs, ricotta and farro tart, and cheddar-olive mini muffins. I made some of the hot foods halfway through the party so that there would be some anticipation of treats and good smells emanating from the kitchen. I must say that those cheddar-olive muffins smell DAMN good when they are baking. There is something very Pavlovian for me about the smell of baking cheese.
Andy made a special drink for the occasion called the Roman Candle, in honor of Sonya's small obsession with fireworks (we let several off at at least two points during the evening, perhaps three). It involved Romana Sambuca, honey liqueur, vodka, Constant Comment tea, and orange juice, all set aflame in a big punch bowl. Sadly, only a few of the orange slices floating in the bowl agreed to ignite, but at that point everyone was so excited by cake and fancy punch and mini meatballs that no one really cared if the fire extinguisher remained languishing in the corner.
We ate and drank and laughed and ran around outside until well into the night. People from neighboring states went home and people from the neighborhood kept coming by until 2:00 a.m.! We left right around 3 and let poor Ted and Sonya go to bed. Any party that goes on for 11 hours without an appearance by the cops, any calls for an ambulance, or anything red spilled on anything stainable is a HUGE success by my standards. Plus many people who did not know each other at 8 p.m. were toasting each other with whiskey at midnight, and that is even more of a success.
And now my birthday is officially OVER, and I will stop talking about it until next year. When we will hopefully be in Helsinki for the occasion.
Fancy Feasts, parte deux
Oh, but it doesn't end there. On Saturday, Andy and I went to New York for the second secret celebration. I knew there would be a dinner of some sort, but I had made my wishes very clear. I did not want to know any details, did not want to do any planning -- I just wanted to show up and be happy that someone else had done all the decision-making for me. I knew that Garett was flying in from Berkeley, but that was all.
Our first major stop in rainy, rainy New York was the Modulightor
building and Paul Rudolph foundation, which was open to the public as part of the annual Open House New York
. We had hoped to go to many sites, but didn't in the end due to rain (and, on Sunday, due to hangover). But the Modulightor visit was worth in quality what it lacked in quantity. It was so beautiful glowing in the evening light. And there was a very large and soft LIVE white bunny perched on one of the white bookshelves:
Here is its hutch:
It was so wet outside that Andy and I decided to just hang out on the couch in the house for a while and pretend we lived there and watched architecture students stream in and out of the living room.
Then we ran back to Howard's house, changed into our fancy duds, and set out for dinner. Andy said we were walking there, and Howard lives in the East Village, so my guesses for the dinner venue narrowed to two: Public , or Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar, both of which I have been wanting to go to for years. As we turned east on 5th street, though, I completely gave up on trying to guess -- where on earth could we be going? Until Andy looked at me sheepishly and said, "I need to just tell you now where we are going so that you can tell me whether we are going the right way or not." Before he could say anything, I guessed, "Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar?!?!" And he said yes, and I squealed and pulled him the OPPOSITE direction from where we'd been heading. Inside, Siobhan, Jeff, and Garett were all waiting for us, all looking so happy and nice and calm and smiling and it was SO good to see them.
We ordered many many things: oysters on the half shell (in season!) from Washington and Cape Breton and somewhere else that I forget -- the Washington ones tasted so much like home; "deconstructed" Oysters Rockefeller (poached oysters with a slice of bacon on top, sitting on top of some cheesy creamed spinach); foie gras sauteed with chanterelles. We had pink Champagne and an Alvarino that Garett ordered for us. Then for dinner itself, Andy, Jeff and I all had their Coquilles St.-Jacques -- caramelized scallops in a sauce of pistachio butter (it must be pistachio season?) that I will remember for years, with the scallops in the middle on a bed of shaved baby artichokes. I have never had artichokes that tasted more like essence of artichoke. It was incredible. Siobhan had arctic char in sage sauce with parsnip puree, and Garett had what was the first dish in a restaurant seemingly created especially for him: roast venison on chestnut puree with black truffle reduction. It was as though the chef saw in a crystal ball what Garett was eating in his fondest dreams and put it all on a plate together.
We were the only ones sitting downstairs except for one other party of three, so we all ended up talking over the tables with each other and toasting each other on our good taste in appetizers and entrees. Then the chef came downstairs and we all toasted him. It was such a warm and cozy feeling on such a bitterly cold and rainy night.
I didn't think the evening could get any better, but then we went around the corner to a wine bar that I love called Von. Whereupon we ordered several bottles of wine, ate a zillion cupcakes that Siobhan had brought from Buttercup Bake Shop (we ate them using her special and ingenious cupcake-eating technique: tear the bottom off the cupcake and plop it down on top of the frosting, thereby creating a convenient and easy-to-eat cupcake sandwich!), and lo and behold, all of a sudden, friends from all points in my life started descending on the bar out of nowhere. Friends from college, from grad school, from Berkeley, from Andy's life previous to knowing me. I don't think I could have been happier at my own wedding. It was just so... moving (to use a word I do not like to use) to see all these people I love come in soaking wet from the rain with big smiles on their faces. And they had kept it a secret! Andy had E-vited them all totally unbeknownst to me. I love that dude so much. And I love my friends.
Here are Siobhan and Ryan and me, gleeful over cupcakes:
(photo by Howard)
And then the next day I was really hung over. Which is the best way to spend the day after one's birthday, as far as I am concerned. We went to dinner with Howard at Frank, and I ate half a roast chicken and about two loaves of bread and a zillion olives and felt much, much better.
There is one day a year when I feel no remorse over eating anything I want, and that is my birthday. But there is only one day a DECADE that I can justify eating an entire meal of fried whole-belly clams two hours before my boyfriend takes me out for a delicious and huge Italian dinner, and that is my 30th birthday.
The day started out with a fast-breaking crumpet with cream cheese and some plum-lavender jam from Loulou's Garden
, a Bay Area institution that I miss tremendously. My friend Betsy sent the jam, which happens to be my absolute favorite flavor that Loulou makes. Betsy said she knew it was because she was channeling me at the farmer's market. Blood sugar imbalance corrected, I got in the car and drove up to Middletown so I could have my REAL birthday breakfast at O'Rourke's
. The one thing I do not understand about this Roadfood review is the short shrift it gives to Brian O'Rourke's breakfasts. The weekday breakfast menu is FIVE PAGES LONG. I was so flummoxed by the choices that I decided on the easy-way-out option: for $11 you can have Brian cook you whatever he wants to cook you for breakfast. The menu adds that "trust is key here", since Brian is known for making bizarre concoctions like raspberry quinoa marmalade and parsnip-pinenut fritters and things like that. And indeed, my breakfast was bizarre. But it was a small price to pay for getting Brian's attention, and for having him come over to talk to me at length, and continue to address me from across the restaurant as "Miss Librarian", and for him to come over to ME and ask ME what I'd had for breakfast. I did okay on the little quiz: he had made me some sort of deep-fried cheese ball with raisins and pistachios and wine (he added that it was goat cheese, and the wine was in the sauteed onions); a very thin omelet (my favorite) with a pretty recognizable tomato salsa; some Concord grapes; some fingerling potatoes with cheese, and some fried zucchini with some sort of pesto (my guess was walnut-parsley; it was actually broccoli rabe-pistachio). I bid him adieu, promising to bring him a New Yorker article he had missed, and drove up to Watch Hill in Rhode Island, where I could hang out on the beach all by myself and see actual waves, as opposed to the crappy ripples that pass as waves in Connecticut.
Andy had told me to meet him at home by 7:30, so I left the beach when it started getting cloudy and drove back down Route 1. When I got to Mystic, I remembered Christian telling me about an excellent clam shack near his old house called the Sea Swirl.
I have eaten a LOT of fried clams in my day, and I am here to tell you that these are THE BEST, HANDS DOWN fried clams in the entire Fried Clam Belt (roughly the southern New Hampshire border to Westchester County, NY). Dear lord. They are like clam tempura, tiny and sweet and briny and perfectly crispy, even down at the bottom of the waxed paper bag. And a bargain at $13.95. My only complaint is that they would not do a mixed order of clams and scallops for me, not even on my birthday.
I was still totally full of fried clam goodness when I got home, but had to will myself to create room for the delicious Italian dinner that Andy took me to at L'Orcio. While it did not blow us out of the water, it was oodles better than all of the other overpriced Italian places in New Haven. And their Bucatini all'Amatriciana had huge pancetta chunks. And the dessert was had was incredible -- something I would have never ordered on a normal restaurant outing. It was this very dense-but-light chocolate mousse, chilled so that it almost had the texture of meringue, ringed with amaretto cookies that had been soaked in rum. It was totally unlike the way I had envisioned the dessert and 100 times better than I thought it would be.
Then we went home and drank 20-year port on the porch with Stephen and Moa. It was perfect.
The Last Night of my Roaring 20s
Tomorrow I turn 30. I never thought that I attached much significance to my age, until I realized that tonight was the last night that I could honestly type "29" into the age question on the machines at the gym. And then I didn't go to the gym -- I went for beers with Tom, and then with Andy and Michele and Burke to the new David Cronenberg flick. Tonight's dinner is Scotch and veggie corn dogs from Trader Joe's (with pear mostarda). The last meal of my second decade! And a delicious one at that. I'll write about whatever birthday dinner surprise Andy has in store for me tomorrow. After I take the day off work and go eat breakfast at my favorite breakfast place in America (O'Rourke's in Middletown), and hang out at the beach with two New Yorkers, one Harper's, and a six-pack of Diet Coke.
Food and Little People in French
Stephen sent me this
amazing site today. Who indeed has not wanted to plunge into a vat of chocolate mousse?
Throwing Caution to the Wind
It all started on Friday, when I drove up through the Berkshires to a librarian meeting in idyllic Stockbridge, MA. On the way there, I passed two Connecticut companies that are Leaders in Their Fields, as the librarian tenure committee might say. One of those is White Flower Farm
, a bulb nursery from which people around the country order their spring flowers. The other is Nodine's Smokehouse
, an artisanal bacon smoker whose retail store is located in Goshen, CT. It's a two-hour drive from my house, but it's a completely straight shot. I was tempted to drive back up there on Saturday morning to get a juniper half slab, but stupidly thought better of it, and instead yanked Andy out of bed and down to the Brown Stone House diner in Hamden, where we attempted to sate our bacon craving with the tiny strips that accompanied our eggs. Nothing doing. We then tried to console ourselves with some mocha lace ice cream from Wentworth's -- one of the five best ice cream flavors ever invented -- but our solace was temporary.
And our animal nitrate urge only worsened while we had drinks that night with Tom, who confessed that his food intake that day had consisted entirely of smoked and/or processed pork products: bacon in the morning, ham sandwich for lunch, and sausage pizza from Modern
for dinner. We almost started drooling in our beers.
So the next "morning" around 1:00 pm, we decided we needed to do something to scratch the pork itch. We were either having barbeque for breakfast, or hot dogs. We flipped a coin and ended up at the Glenwood Drive-In in Hamden, where I had eaten a few times but somehow had never had the signature dish -- the "well-done" hot dog. We ordered four of them. With American cheese. And a side of onion rings. We had no idea that the hot dogs would be AS LONG AS A HOSE. Creamy meat is one of my favorite things, but these hot dogs were kind of too much. But of course we ate the entire things, two each. Skip the onion rings though, if you go.
Then Christian came into town. He lives in Vermont and does not get to New Haven as much as he'd like to, but he has spent enough time in Southern Connecticut to know what he needs to eat when he does get down here. So we three sat down at Modern and ate an entire fried eggplant pizza in about 15 minutes. It took us longer to drink our beer.
Today, Andy met me for lunch, and we decided that after our perilous weekend of bingeing, we needed to eat something light and healthy. Since he does not get up Yale way very often for lunch, we decided to walk over to Gastronomique
-- perhaps my very favorite restaurant in New Haven, and the birthplace of the VERY best non-grilled hamburger I have ever eaten. Everything I have ever eaten there has been the best in its category: the best turkey sandwich. The best frites. The best butternut squash soup. The best iced tea. Seriously, I think Marc Woll is a genius. And he does it all in a space the size of a VW Bus.
Sadly, today seemed to be a day when maybe Marc was not quite at the top of his game. Or he had abdicated all cooking responsibilities, and the delivery guys were in charge. Or something. Here are the ingredients of a spinach salad that Andy attempted to eat for lunch:
- spinach leaves
- orange slices
That all sounds fine, right? But keep going:
- cream cheese
- crushed graham crackers
- chocolate chips
- raw onions
I am just going to let that sink in a minute.
My "tomato and parmesan" risotto tasted like Hot Pocket filling. I am so deeply disappointed. I keep thinking that somehow I should have known. Today was such a shit-hit-fan day at work that I really wanted lunch to be sublime. Alas. And still, AND STILL, no juniper-smoked bacon has been consumed by us! Oh, woe.