Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Frank Goes Slumming

Usually, I don't even bother to read Frank Bruni of the NY Times, but evidently he just went on a cross-country fast-food-eating road trip. And I am gratified that he hated Gold Star Chili as much as I did.

However, it is his deep and abiding loss that he didn't see fit to make it anywhere near the Pacific Northwest to sample what is literally the best fast food in the country: Burgerville.

Wow. That's quite a claim I just made. No offense, In-n-Out and Rubio's. I still love you, too.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

How I Feel About the Finding Aid

It's coming along. Slowly.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Hangover Cures

Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino with an extra shot
Two eggs over-easy and white toast
Diet Coke (from a soda fountain)
Goody's Headache Powder
Not drinking four Manhattans in a row with nothing to sop them up except a little bit of tofu, bean sprouts, and peanut sauce

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Porch Porn

Stuff I planted is actually blooming, people! Spring has sprung, the rain has stopped, and it is time for people to come hang out on our porch and drink fruity cocktails long into the night. I made a batch of Rhubarb Collins elixir the other day and it is still, after all these years, the Best Drink in the World.

Here I will try to lure you all to the porch with photos of cute containers of herbs and tomatoes, jasmine and clematis:

When you come over, you will be greeted by the cute black kitty who lives on the downstairs porch. S/he arrived in the dead of winter and we all took pity on him/her and fed him/her and now s/he has adopted the house.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

A Pig at the Doodle

You'd think I'd gone over to London to visit Pauline rather than vice-versa when I tell you that's what we ate for lunch on Thursday. Like "bubble and squeak" or "bangers and mash", "a Pig at the Doodle" sounds silly in that English way that they have about food. But actually, we were right here, wandering around the Have on a very Portland-like day, grey and misty and not really raining, and just as I was beginning to feel peckish, what were we standing in front of but the Yankee Doodle, one of my favorite places to eat in the entire country. Fortunately Pauline was up for a Pig, so we went in, sat down at the counter, ordered two Pigs and two Cokes (made from syrup and soda water), ate them, and were out, $6 poorer, in five minutes. A Pig -- I think I've mentioned this before -- is a hot dog stuffed with cheese, wrapped in bacon, fried on the griddle, and presented to you in a little jacket of a warm, grilled hot dog bun with an extra pat of butter on it for good measure. Pauline got an excellent photo of a pile of Pigs on a plate awaiting their fate on the griddle, along with many other photos -- all of these are hers:

Our day in New Haven did not involve as much athletic eating as I imagined it would. Perhaps this was due to our gross overconsumption in New York, the day before, of pollo al ajillo (with black beans -- which Pauline had never seen the likes of before and which she declared to be "sludge") and several cafes con leche at La Rosita, out-of-season oysters at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central, and too many gimlets and fancy spring cocktails to count at the Royalton before coming home on the train with thousands of Yankees and Red Sox fans. Pauline was amazed that they were able to ride peaceably on the train together without blood spilled or police intervention. Still, we managed to have the aforementioned Pig, plus some snacks in Stony Creek with a seagull ("it's as big as a chicken!!!" -- Pauline), plus a few pieces each of fried eggplant and sausage pizza from Modern. And then some beers at the Firehouse, where Pauline also gave me some excellent knitting-in-the-round tips. If it's as easy as she makes it sound, everyone is getting cute cap-sleeved sweaters for Christmas this year. I am still so happy that Pauline decided to use one of her New York visit days for a day trip up here to our little corner of the world. We enjoyed the Yale Center for British Art, the Winchester Repeating Arms Factory, the House on Edgehill Where the Evil New Owners Tore Out Their Gorgeous Trees for No Reason, and the Thimble Islands. Not bad for an unhurried day in the middle of the week.

Other news to report:

- We had a gift certificate to Zinc, which we used the other weekend to celebrate a scholarship that I got. We had dinner on a Sunday, which was an unexpectedly awesome time to go to Zinc, because their wines are all 50% off on Sunday nights. Rock. We had a $70 bottle of Argyle reserve Pinot for the price of a much lesser bottle. Sadly, we must report that Zinc is really good for appetizers and drinks and half-off wine, but our dinners were over-rich and under-seasoned and just, generally, not great. I had salmon with dal, and it was disappointing in a way that is just kind of heartbreaking -- it was almost good, and I knew what was wrong with it, but it seems petty, somehow, to complain that it was "too rich." Likewise Andy's risotto with scallops and lobster. It wasn't Arborio rice, it wasn't toothsome, but it was loaded with all of these expensive ingredients so that it felt luxurious, as though the luxury would make up for its not being cooked correctly. We will go back, though, for the Asian pear "Martini" and the crispy duck wonton "nachos". How wrong can you really go?

- About that scholarship. We're going to Austin for a week in June and we need recommendations. Stephen and Burke and Molly all went to school there, so we've heard from them about some not-to-miss places (the Salt Lick, Polvo's fish tacos), but we need more help, people. If you know Austin and where we should eat, don't hesitate to weigh in. We are particularly concerned about our barbeque strategy. Austin sits in the middle of the Texas Barbeque Triangle and we want to hit as many of the greats as we can without (a) doing nothing but driving to and from barbeque pits and (b) becoming so constipated from brisket consumption that it requires surgical intervention. Is this possible?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Another Sad Day, For Two Reasons

I told you La Rosita was closing.

And the sadness continues, with my failure of a treacle pudding and custard. Betsy attempted it, using the Tea and Sympathy recipe, a couple of days ago with decidedly mixed results. The cake was too sweet and the custard never thickened, she said. Plus the custard was strangely grainy. I tried the exact same recipe last night and came to the very same sad conclusion. Tea and Sympathy seems to play pretty fast and loose with their recipes, and quite possibly wants to keep you, the home cook, from being able to duplicate the deliciousness they serve in the restaurant. I understand that treacle itself is slightly-caramelized sugar and therefore sweet, but then why do they tell you to add another CUP of sugar to the cake itself? And when I looked at the custard recipe, I thought I would just put it back on the stove after whisking in the yolks, and simmer it until it thickened, like when I make ice cream custard base. It never ever reached the point that my ice cream custard reaches -- almost a boilover but not quite. And then, it was all gritty with egg even after I ran it through a strainer, with no thickness at all -- condensed milk would have been thicker. AND it has none of the lushness that the custard at the restaurant has. Feh. So now I have this giant cake with two sticks of butter and four eggs in it that is too sweet to eat, and basically some sticky sweet milk with four wasted, curdled, strained-out yolks to pour on top of it.

Here is the whole cake (in Bundt form!):

Nasty custard that I couldn't even strain all the egg out of:

Mmmm, oozy treacle:

Cut piece of treacle pudding, with curious cat in background coming to see what's up:

In the cookbook, evidently, the Tea and Sympathy ladies mention that you can just as easily use Bird's Brand Instant Custard Mix. Pauline is going to bring some over from London next week -- perhaps that is the beef-suet-enriched stuff that feels like an angel's slipper on the tongue? Will experiment and let you know.

Also, a third thing to be sad about. The beautiful gorgeous warehouse in Greenpoint right behind Siobhan and Jeff's apartment burned to the ground today over 6 hours. Evidently one could see the smoke in Bridgeport.

Photo by Carlybusta on Flickr.

All in all, I am ready to go back to bed and start over tomorrow.