Thursday, November 30, 2006

Gilding the Lily

Jesse's visit to the Have was excuse for all of my favorite New Haven indulgences that I can only have a couple of times a year when company comes: grilled doughnuts at the Yankee Doodle, mashed potato pizza at Bar (we couldn't decide on a red or white pie, so we got white with sausage and red with bacon, a combination that Jesse called "pork two ways"), eggnog lattes at Starbucks (okay, those are not New Haven-specific, but they are seasonally-specific). Jesse bought $50 worth of salmon at Bud's Fish Market for Thanksgiving dinner and, despite her carsickness, she indulged me in my favorite drive along the coast up to Stony Creek. On our way home, we had a very timely phone call from Ham, who was on his way to Thanksgiving in Vermont (site of Waffle and Dessert Madness last year). He stopped by and we all went to meet Andy for drinks at the Firehouse.

Then Thanksgiving. Everyone came over. Everyone brought wonderful things to eat and drink. We stayed up eating and drinking those wonderful things until 2 a.m. Some people rang our bell as others were leaving and stayed even later to eat Triscuits with cream cheese and candied jalapenos. It poured rain and we had lots of candles inside. Thanksgiving with friends just cannot be beat for coziness and good cheer. Photos here.

So what did we do with a half of a Princesstorte and half a turkey and a huge pot of delectable turkey stock made by Andy and piles of mashed potatoes in the fridge? Why, we left it all there and went to spend scads of money on another enormous dinner, this time at Prune. This was the one thing Jesse demanded we do in New York. We arrived in the city and proceeded immediately to Prime Burger for lunch. Jesse took off with Pat to see the "new" MoMA building while Andy and I wandered over to Takashimaya to drool over everything, then down to this lovely new wine store at the South Street Seaport (man, I hadn't been there in years). We will be going back to that little wine shop when we don't have hours to wander aimlessly while carrying heavy bottles. We braved a small horde at Century 21 for a few minutes, but then decided to escape to slightly less crowded quarters in the streets of TriBeCa and SoHo. Here is our new favorite plae to stop to decompress when in the throngs of post-Thanksgiving weekend shoppers: Wine Bar. *Some* of the wines are good, but the setting is all good.

And from there to Prune, where we ordered half the appetizers on the menu, including these little meat dumplings in broth and yogurt sauce that were so tiny and spicy. Andy and I ate appetizers and a little of Jesse's and Pat's lamb shanks for dinner. Jesse almost fainted with happiness when she was able to scrape out and eat some of the marrow from the lamb bone. I wish I could send her some bones through the mail for Christmas. And I had one of the best desserts of my life: a "Breton butter cake", made from layers and layers of buttery pastry, glazed with sugar and orange flower water, caramelized, and served with a glass of Beaumes de Venise. Sheer buttery chewy burnt-sugar bliss.

We ate turkey soup and corn pudding from scratch the next day and felt virtuous. I loved having Jesse around to cook with me -- it was like having a second set of hands and a more organized brain. I didn't need to explain or specify anything because we cook so similarly, it's uncanny. Especially since we didn't learn to cook together at home. Bebe, come back and make a Buche de Noel with me!

Oh, and by the way, did I mention that a couple of days before Thanksgiving we went to Le Petit Cafe with Kyle and Sabrina? So it is not like we had very empty stomachs before Thanksgiving, either. At least with K&S at the table I was too embarrassed to hog all the bread and truffle butter for myself. Roy gave us a vat of chestnut and mushroom soup to take home (since Andy had characterized it as "subtle") and promised to take me to the next big Connecticut SYSCO show in February so I can marvel at the vastness of the universe of industrial food. AND! David Kamp is coming to Le Petit Cafe to read from The United States of Arugula soon! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Now that Jesse is here, the real Thanksgiving madness can begin! Andy and I went to the Whole Foods all the fucking way up in West Hartford on Sunday (can you hear me, Whole Foods? New Haven DOES NOT HAVE A SINGLE GROCERY STORE DOWNTOWN! Can you say CAPTIVE YALE AUDIENCE?), divided up the list, got out of there for under $160, went to two different Starbucks in search of an eggnog latte, and in so drinking infused ourselves with the Holiday Spirit. That night I went over to Sonya's for mincemeat-making and wine drinking, and the heady smell of citrus, spice and brandy made me almost dizzy with longing for snow and early, dark nights filled with candles and evergreen trees. It is my favorite time of year!

So we're having Stephen, Moa, and Molly over for the Big Meal and I can already tell that we are way overcooking. No matter. We will drink a ton of prosecco and bourbon and we'll need all that starchy, buttery food to help mitigate our headaches the next day.

To wit:

- Dates baked in rosemary-cheddar crust
- Triscuits topped with cream cheese and "Best of Texas" candied jalapenos (it is sad, but this might be what I am most looking forward to for the entire meal)
- Gravlax, homemade by Moa
- Salad, homemade by Molly
- Fennel and Comice pear soup
- Turkey (10 lbs), to be brined on the porch overnight in orange juice and broth by Andy
- Salmon with arugula cream, to be made by Jesse
- Martha Stewart-meets-Zuni Cafe stuffing, made from chunks of Challah and many cups of butter
- Yum Yum Mashed Potatoes (incl. olive paste and scallions)
- Brussels Sprout Slaw, without which it would not be Thanksgiving
- The Easiest Cranberry Relish In the World, involving cranberries, a whole orange with skin, pecans, and sugar all ground up in the food processor (thanks to Jenny Smith for this recipe, which she taught me when we were in grad school)
- Caramelized sugar pumpkin pie (crust made by Kyle at the Mincemeat Pie Night)
- Pomegranate gelato
- Perhaps a Princess Cake made by Moa

Oof. You see? Enough to feed an army. Hopefully Margaret and Sonya will come over after their family feasts to help us consume at least the sugar and wine stages of the dinner. At least this year I think we will avoid the problem of having EIGHT DESSERTS.

I feel that I am missing things like squash and sweet potatoes and other traditional Thanksgiving foods, but I can make them next year instead. One thing I don't like is making the same meal every year. How boring! There is so much good Thanksgiving food out there! But I do think there would be mutiny if I failed to make the Brussels Sprout Slaw. It is perhaps our one Holiday Tradition.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Chicago 2007

Who wants to have Food Feeding Frenzy 2007 in Chicago next summer? Who wants to go to Alinea? And other places? The Professional Society that I belong to is having its annual conference in Chicago next summer, and I intend to skip most of the sessions on EAD and DACS (sorry Tom) in favor of things like Italian Beef. I'm looking at you ladies specifically -- you ladies with the deep Chicago food knowledge -- Ms.s. JW and EB and CM. But everyone else is welcome too. Just let me know soon, because I suspect I need to make a reservation at Alinea about 9 months in advance.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Americans Are Boring

Seattle vs. Helsinki street fashion: Helsinki wins, hands down! Similar climates but so much more POP in the land of ihanna.

(thanks to Jen for both links)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Believe The Hype

We went to Momofuku Noodle Bar on Saturday night. We waited an hour outside. It was 100% worth it and I would have done it again the next night except for the promise of chicken pot pie from McReilly's.

This is just a placeholder, and a warning: those who do not eat of the pork might want to avoid the next entry, which will be a celebration of all things porcine. Including neck.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Barf Me Amadeus

The Tatum at 50 East 129th Street starts its marketing

"Marketing has started for the Tatum residential condominium building at 50 East 129th Street.

The attractive, 7-story building has 18 apartments.

50 East 129th Street LLC of which Kathleen Dunn is executive vice president is the sponsor. The fourth amending to the offering plan filed with the New York State Attorney General’s Office in June, 2006 had a total purchase price offering of $8,395,000.

Prices range from about $330,000 for a 660-square foot unit on the first floor to about $650,000 for a 914-square-foot penthouse apartment on the seventh floor with a terrace.

The building, which is between Madison and Park Avenues, has a video intercom system, a roof deck, a recreation room, and individual storage.

Apartments have GE stainless steel appliances and washer-dryer hookups."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Secret Confessions

Four things I like but shouldn't, and one thing I don't like but should.

1. Boursin cheese. I know this is basically "gourmet" over-spiced processed cheese food, but I cannot get enough of it. On crackers it is one of my favorite dinners.

2. Vitamin Water. Yes, it is Gatorade for Grownups, but it is not too sweet, it has clever packaging, it has a little bit of nutritional value... maybe? Anyway, delicious and so refreshing. I am clearly in their Target Demographic.

3. Lipton's Onion Soup Mix. Monosodium glutamate with fake onion flavoring. However, I find it impossible to make a sour cream dip that even comes close to touching the deliciousness of this one. Wait, maybe I shouldn't admit my weakness for sour cream dip either.

4. Girly Beer. I admit it publicly. I love girly beer. Ruby Ale, anything with apricot, anything with "winter spices", Hoegaarden, pumpkin ales, lambics, sweet Belgian things, hefeweizens, Blanche de Brooklyn. I am losing vast amounts of cred with Tom as he reads this right now. I do still love the stouts! And the Black Butte Porter! But I am now coming clean with my furtive, forbidden love of sweet, light, non-bitter beers.

5. I don't really like pasta much. Evidently I am among the .00000001% of people who feel this way. I am not that into bread either, except as a vehicle for black truffle butter at Le Petit Cafe, but pasta may be my biggest "meh" food. I will eat it if served it, and Asian noodle soups are fine by me, but I don't make it often, and when I do eat it, in macaroni and cheese or something, I like it seriously overcooked. Al dente is lost on me. Andy dearly hoped that our trip to Italy would change my mind about this, but it didn't. Alas.