Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, which means it's time to think of something impossible to give up for Lent. Enough people evidently give up meat for the entire forty days to warrant a helpful sign from Taco Bell suggesting menu options that might be ordered without meat. (How do I know this? Andy and I went to Taco Bell last Thursday. We had seen so many of those ads for the CrunchWrap Supreme during the Olympics that we kind of had no choice but to go try them out. It's because of people like us that Guadalupe la Poblanita, just up the road from Taco Bell, has closed.)
So, I'm not going to give up meat. But I'm taking suggestions.
Sabrina emailed Sonya
and me on Friday to announce that she had made a great Bundt cake out of bananas and cardamom and to ask us when we might be interested in joining her for a Bundt-off. The answer, obviously, was "immediately." I think the Bundt party might have to wait for a while, but we kicked around some ideas for various Bundts. Sonya said she was working on a cornmeal Bundt with a butter-molasses filling. She also said that Aaron had been requested to bring along a Tunnel of Fudge Bundt. Me, I am going to bake a Meat Bundt. Like this one:
I will, of course, post lots of photos of the Bundtfest once it actually happens. Maybe this weekend!
Speaking of weekend, see Sonya's blog for news of the Light Russian
. Earlier that evening, though, we had an even better idea: order food from Royal Palace
and bring it into the Firehouse
! It is great that the Firehouse has free cheese on Fridays, but sometimes you need a little more than Morbier. The bad thing was that our water beef sauce kind of leaked all over the Firehouse floor... which is probably why bars don't look favorably on people bringing food in. But we cleaned it up with lots of napkins. I hope we're not banned forever.
Other than that, this weekend we went over to Michele and Burke's to watch a movie called "La Haine" and eat aebleskiver
and Princess cake
; gnawed on some very chewy bagels and very buttery cream cheese -- imported from New York! -- at Labyrinth's
Art and Architecture book sale, and sat around and watched the Olympics. Then, at 11:00 last night, I went into some strange "must provide sustenance for my family" frenzy and prepared food for us to eat for the entire week. I put some tuna steaks in to marinate, made a blood-orange olive oil cake, simmered a quart of tomato sauce, and packed some curried parsnip soup into individual lunch-sized containers. Then I washed all the dishes and ran a load of laundry. I drank the Kool-Aid and joined the Cult of Domesticity. Oh yeah. This is what 30 looks like, baby.
Too bad we didn't take the long weekend (ha! as if!) to make a trip across the pond. Evidently yesterday was the Grand Eating of the Biscuit City
constructed at Selfridges in London. Can you imagine:
Photos by the lovely folks at Nicecupofteaandasitdown
Everything is Terrific
has a new food cart hanging around outside the Yale Art Gallery! I know that in that last post about Gastronomique I complained rather loudly about the food. But that's just because the food is normally so GOOD! Today I was wandering around Chapel street waiting for the line at the post office to go away when I smelled something wonderful -- like barbeque -- and when I looked over, there was Marc Woll grilling up some street meat. I think I kind of BOUNCED over to the line with this wildly inappropriate smile on my face, because when I said HI!!!! and asked him whether he had closed his storefront, he said NO very gruffly. I ordered a jerk chicken sandwich from him anyway. The guy from the Roomba Burrito cart came over and asked him, in Spanish, how everything was going, and Marc replied, in French, that everything was terrific. And in fact everything was terrific. My jerk chicken sandwich was terrific. Even the tomato on it was terrific. And the fact that there is now a Gastronomique cart in addition to the storefront is terrific.
Tonight I am looking forward to a possible IKEA meal! Some asshole SUV driver hit our car and dented its hood (the dent is right where an SUV bumper would be) without stopping, natch. Andy took the car in to the body shop, and the rental car company showed up all apologetically with the only car they had left -- a Dodge Dakota 4 x 4 pickup truck. Two things of note:
1. This truck is a lot bigger than our Mini.
2. The cup holders in the truck are a lot bigger than in our Mini. Perhaps this is because the drivers of pickup trucks drink lots of Big Gulps, whereas the drivers of Minis drink lots of espresso. I never thought I would be one of those people who judged cars by their cupholders, but I must say that the cupholders in the truck are much more functional.
Anyway, we are going to IKEA tonight to maybe buy all kinds of stuff that we would never ordinarily be able to get home. And maybe to buy some Swedish meatballs and lingonberry drink.
The Cheese Just Does Not Stop
Thanks to the eagle eye of Jen, I now cannot rest until I have gone to New York at least once this month to participate in Artisanal's Month of Fondue
. Just look at it! A different pool of melted cheese every night! It is a good thing I don't live there anymore. I would have fondue coursing through my veins instead of blood.
This review comes to us from a regular reader here in the Have. I have been to the place about which she writes and concur with her opinion. In fact, I have had the "fondue" there -- the dish they are "best known for" -- and it was pretty much a quarter cup of melted cheese on top of some artichoke hearts. Not worth it, not even in such a pretty space.
Dear Mrs. Delicious:
I would like to lodge a complaint against a certain New Haven establishment. For months I have been attracted to The Blue Pearl
. I love fondue and I like the design of the place. As you know, dear Delicious, we have a limited budget because daycare is taking up most of our "going out to eat" budget and we don't have a lot of time to go out to eat either. So, finally, we have a night free and we set off. Now I know we didn't get the fondue (one of us -- and not I -- doesn't like fondue), but what kind of macaroni and cheese separates and is mostly butter at the bottom, with congealed mozzarella on the top? For $21, with chunks of clearly not fresh lobster? And they were out of mussels at 8 pm on a Thursday. And not a vegetable to be had accompanying the rib-eye. In short, aside from the fondue (which we did not have, and thus I cannot comment on), the good beer list, the excellent bathrooms and the lobster spring roll, the Blue Pearl is really a let-down and a terrible waste of money! For $75 before tip (yes really), we could have had an amazing meal anywhere in New Haven, not to mention many places in New York.
Luckily, we have a couple good meals this weekend coming to us. And now I will never go back, even to try the fondue.
She Who Will Be Eating Rice and Beans For a Week.
On the occasion of this weekend's Philip Johnson symposium
at Yale and MoMA, I did an image search for Philip Johnson in the AP Photo Archive. Here are some of the image titles that came up in the search:
BRITAIN AU PAIR
ACADEMY GREASED MONUMENT
EARTH,WIND AND FIRE JAM
We didn't do much for Valentine's Day, having kind of shot our collective wad at the Good News Cafe the previous Saturday, but I wanted the evening to be at least a little bit different from the normal dinner-wash dishes-Olympics routine that we have fallen into of late. So I bought some little coeurs a la creme
molds in Northampton and planned to make them Monday night and serve them Tuesday night with some plum-lavender sauce, letting them set up and drain out their whey for nearly 24 hours before attempting to unmold them.
Here is what each coeur is supposed to look like:
Here is what my coeurs looked like:
Sad. But the sweet cheese mush was still pretty delicious, if slightly gross looking. And we'd had about half a bottle of Anderson Valley "Champagne"
each by that point, so it was all okay. Champagne always makes everything okay.
Librarians + food = soon, no food
The library had its "international party" last week and we were asked to contribute food that reflects our ancestry. My ancestry is primarily white-bread English. Rather than bring in a vat of mushy peas or pickled eels, though, I decided to go for a more cocktail-party-friendly finger food menu of tea sandwiches and scones. I made a variety of sandwiches* and borrowed a couple of silver platters to put them on, not forgetting the doilies underneath (thanks, Pauline!) nor the raspberry jam and clotted cream to go with the blueberry and candied ginger scones.
*eggs mayonnaise (aka egg salad) and watercress; Major Grey chutney and Stilton; carrot-ginger-cream cheese puree and sprouts; smoked salmon, cream cheese and dill; cucumber and butter; smoked ham and grapefruit marmalade
Here are a couple of bad, low-light photos of the little tea spread:
Other highlights of the evening included an entire table of Syrian food made by one extremely talented Syrian librarian; some kind of strange bright pink Asian noodles that tasted of cilantro and peanut and coconut; the delicious "buttered crab"
spread that the actually-British-from-Britain University Librarian brought in and set next to my stuff on the table; the dry ice in the "Antarctica"-themed bar. Some low-lights of the evening: the food almost completely ran out in 45 minutes, so Andy barely got anything to eat; the beer ran out almost immediately so all there was to drink was a very nasty white wine; the karaoke room was sparsely attended. I had joked that I was either going to sing "The Gambler" or "Total Eclipse of the Heart" -- and then one of the party organizers DID sing "Total Eclipse of the Heart"! Complete with dance moves. It was something to see. I ended up singing nothing because once the food was gone people cleared out very quickly, and there is nothing sadder than belting out soft rock favorites in the library to an audience of old books and disposable plates.
Who Moved My Cheese? Part II
Last week I received what I thought was a fabulous package in the mail from Pauline
, who lives in London, home of one of the best cheese shops in the world, Neal's Yard Dairy
. I opened the envelope to find a marvelous issue of Australian Gourmet
magazine, which not only features a lot of drool-worthy food but also a feast of fantastic new Australian vocabulary words. However, when I thanked Pauline for the magazine, she asked me, with worry in her tone, whether there was anything *else* in the package. I rummaged around and dug up a postcard, but that was it.
Both Pauline and I were chagrined, to say the least, that the package she sent me had somewhere been opened and a big piece of the present stolen. That big piece being a book purchased at Neal's Yard all about their cheeses, including the actual bag from the shop. I was, and am, crestfallen. Upon later inspection, I saw that the package had indeed been opened up and re-taped. My theories about the book's departure:
(A) The bag still smelled of cheese and so a customs official tore open the package and threw out the book, not checking to see that it was actually a book and not cheese.
(B) The bag still smelled of cheese and so a customs official tore open the package to find a book about raw-milk cheeses, substances SO DANGEROUS to Americans that even reading a book about them would constitute treason, and so threw out the seditious tome while sending the food magazine on its way to me, even though the food magazine ALSO contains an article about Australian raw-milk cheeses.
(C) There is a cheese fiend with an amazing sense of smell who lives on my block and could smell the book through the packaging while it was sitting on my doorstop.
Whatever the case, I am PISSED. Not only was the book pricey, but the shipping was exorbitant. Pauline, I must apologize for my country's overeager cheese-sniffers.
In other, better news, Michele and Burke and Andy and I had a very cholesterol-filled wonderful day yesterday in Northampton, just scraping home in the nick of time to avoid the worst of the blizzard that hit in the wee hours. We can't even get our car off the street now, but on yesterday's sunny morning we all got into in Michele and Burke's car and drove an hour north for a lot of walking around cute shops and the Smith College campus, ogling of the adorable chocolate mice that I want to keep as pets at L. A. Burdick's
, and eating a steady diet of heart attack food:
- Steamed eggs with herbed cream sauce and Moroccan spiced home fries at Amanouz
- Ice cream from Herrell's
in flavors like burnt sugar, Twinkies, butternut squash, orange Dutch chocolate, mud pie, and coconut
- the lightest, thinnest onion rings ever, a slab of melted Manchego cheese on a salad, and -- for me -- a divinely inspired baked macaroni and cheese with huge chunks of lobster folded in, followed by dessert of warm pumpkin and cornbread pudding in rum and vanilla Anglaise at our new addiction called the Good News Cafe
After a day like that, we hardly needed dinner tonight at our favorite nearby restaurant, Le Petit Cafe in Branford. And it might have been too much of a good thing to have two exquisite meals in two days. But, still, it was with much heaviness of heart that we cancelled our reservation with them due to our inability to get the car out of its plowed-in parking spot. Let alone up the snowbound coast road. Tonight would have been a perfect night for their duck cassoulet! And we haven't been there in such a while. I guess there's always next weekend for a post-Valentine's day feast. Tonight instead I made a big batch of Brazilian chicken stew (which involves lots of ginger and zero ass-crack hair). I am excited about making little coeurs a la creme for V-day dessert. And, mark my words, I WILL have some of that cassoulet before the month ends.
Ain't I a Woman
The State of Connecticut restored my femininity last night. For free! It was great. The three people ahead of me in line got NO for an answer. No no no. But when I went up to the desk and asked them if they could please make me a woman, the embarrassed reply was, "Why, certainly!" They offered no counseling afterward, but the beer and whiskey and Party Cake-flavored ice cream that I consumed later that night were about all the therapy I needed.
Plus we got our plates and don't have to renew until 2008. Victory is ours! Is it worth nearly $500 to be totally legal? I'm not sure. But last night Sonya told me that when I have both a driver's license AND checks that have my current address on them, then I will really be a grownup. The checks are coming soon!