Sunday, October 22, 2006

Fart Soup

Inspired by Eliz's recent post regarding the ease, simplicity, and overwhelming reward of soup-making, as well as the cold weather that punched us in the gut over the weekend, I bought a bunch of Eastern European-ish ingredients and threw them in a pot tonight. The deep, rich smells of cabbage, locally-made kielbasa by Hummel Brothers, white beans, and loads of dill and caraway are wafting through my house as I type. We'll eat it tomorrow night after the cabbage has gotten a chance to turn silky and the broth enriches a bit in the fridge. After which point I am certain that a different kind of deep, rich smell will begin to rise from the couch. Ahem. Damned, delicious cruciferous vegetables.

We've been eating not such exciting stuff lately. One of the reasons I love Andy so much is that he is game to indulge, on occasion, setting all moral qualms aside, in bad chain Tex-Mex fare with me at 3:30 on a Sunday afternoon, because it's not a good idea to go hungry to Trader Joe's and On The Border is so seductive in this barren Mexican-food-free-zone known as Central Coastal Connecticut*. But I would like to give a shout-out to the Westville Kosher Market and Deli out near Amity Wines & Spirits. If you are in need of babaganoush, spicy pepper salad, ethereal fluffy pita, cauliflower salad with tahini, and general Jewish grandmotherly and grandfatherly good cheer and fawning, look no further. Careful, though -- they close RIGHT AT SEVEN. Not 7:01. And sometimes more like 6:49.

*Okay, we could have gone to Taqueria Mexicana #2, home of the Foot Taco, but that requires a several-mile detour up the Post Road.

Monday, October 16, 2006

FinnFoodFest 2006

I am back, and have had loads of other lovely food since my return, including a Camembert smuggled in from Quebec that smelled like sewage but tasted divine courtesy of Sonya and Ted, but just briefly, here is Helsinki (and the exhibition, which is the reason I was there). Apologies to those who have read this before, but here is the briefest and easiest synopsis of the trip:

Helsinki is a very small city with not a zillion obvious things to do, but the things there are to do are fun. It was not yet cold or dark -- the weather was just kind of like fall is here. The Finnish Home Depot is called Bauhaus. They get drunk very early in the night, pee in the bushes neat the post office, and then keep drinking. It is extremely safe to walk home by oneself past the train station at 4:00 a.m. Not one person was wearing flip-flops, and I also saw not one cat. The herring section of the supermarket is the size of an entire dairy section here, and the dairy section there is the size of an American produce department. Reindeer is very mild though very very dark in color, and they eat it there the way we eat beef here -- in everything. The grocery store also sells frozen birch branches for use in the home sauna, of which there is invariably one. George Michael is the background music in the grocery store, where one can buy Lordi Light Cola. The taxis are Mercedes and Volvo station wagons, and the cars are American-size, not French- or Italian-size. Everyone litters and pukes in the streets at 4:00 a.m. after leaving the bars, but then miraculously in the morning everything is sparkling clean again. People seem to love practicing their English with you, but they need no practice and speak better English than me. Strange English does occur, however. Several of us, including the Saarinen grandchildren, went to a bar called We Got Beef. And it was not a gay bar.

I ate a lot of reindeer, drank some sea buckthorn juice, consumed my weight in smoked salmon at the hotel breakfast buffet every morning, wolfed down plates of fried vendace and parsnips, and admired far more herring than I could ever eat. The Finns, they know how to display their preserved fish.

And! On the way home, the Canadian coach, Joe Soares, from Murderball was on my plane!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Bookending the Summer with Lobster

Alexandra Wentworth, in her WASP Cookbook, writes that One Must Bookend the Summer with Lobster. Loyal readers might have thought I'd done that in Maine, but for me, the summer officially ends on Columbus Day, when Abbott's Lobster in the Rough closes for the season. Dinner last night was a hot lobster roll: a Connecticut specialty involving not the mayonnaisey, celeried salad served elsewhere, but instead a quarter-pound scoop of pure lobster adulterated only by fresh, sweet melted butter. It is the food of the gods. I once went to a conference in Boston and arranged my entire itinerary to rent a car and fly back out of Hartford so that I could drive to Noank, CT and get my fix, since such things are not available in California. Last night I gilded the lily by also eating a bowl of their lobster bisque, which is pretty much a hot, thick lobster milkshake, enriched with extra butter and sherry. All this after a pre-birthday indulgence of a breakfast Dirt Ball at the Bantam Bread Company -- a nutmeg muffin dipped in melted butter and rolled in sugar. Gee, good thing the Finns are known for their light 'n' healthy spa cuisine! My hope is that a good sauna or two will sweat all the butter out of me.