Monday, March 26, 2007

Dark Horse

Now that my job is really for realz, Andy and I have been beginning to get a glimmer in our eye about maybe possibly thinking about perhaps looking at buying a house. Please do not get too excited about this. After our one visit to an open house yesterday -- which mostly just opened our eyes to what a disappointment $300,000 can buy you in Connecticut, even in a dying industrial town -- we were feeling a little blue on a gray day. Fortunately, inspiration struck on our way out of Shelton and we hung a quick U-turn back to Derby and Roseland Apizza.

Photo by

I am here to tell you that you have not eaten New Haven pizza until you have eaten in Derby. In fact, New Haven pizza should actually be called Derby pizza. It was that good. The white clam pie we shared makes former-favorite Frank Pepe's look tough and chewy. You heard it here: Roseland puts Pepe's to shame. TO SHAME! The crust was a minor miracle of thinness, crispiness, and give -- utter Platonic pizza crust perfection. I was also blown away by our red pie with "muzz" and meatballs. Andy was not as convinced that the red pie was better than Modern's, but I do believe that Roseland's is now my favorite pizza in Connecticut.

I thought I might actually be smitten by God with lightning when I left the restaurant after voicing such heresy, but instead we emerged from the dark dining room into a newly bright, sunny evening. I think it was a sign. The housing stock in Derby suddenly looked much more charming.

Monday, March 19, 2007

This Just In

James Beard Award nominees announced today. Many, many favorites are here! I particularly liked the Pete Wells article about copyrighting recipes that was in Food & Wine a few months ago.

Good News For People Who Love Bad News

Here we are, always crying in our beer about no good grocery stores within walking distance in New Haven, when in sneaks LIMON FINE FOODS just across the border in Hamden, right near the godforsaken DMV. The "coming soon" sign at State and Ridge had been up in the old Nations Supermarket building for a while, but then all of a sudden Limon opened! Okay, so they opened up early last month, but we finally went to sniff around for ourselves yesterday.

And what a delight! A Turkish delight! Lots of lebne, kefte kebab mix, stuffed eggplant in a can, and homemade baba ganoush every day. An olive bar where you can sample before you buy. More hot chili pepper varieties than these parts of Connecticut have ever seen. The cheeses! The Italian crackers! Quality, low-acid vinegars! Many kinds of masa! Organic versions of almost everything! A huge and beautiful prepared foods section! I am agog. There is no reason to go to Stop & Shop ever again! Just a quick drive through the back of East Rock Park, no more than five minutes away. C'mon, neighbors, let's help make sure this place stays in business.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Dreamy Food

This morning I dreamt that Jen and I and her enormous extended family were in Texas at the world's biggest buffet restaurant. They boasted that they had over 17,000 individual dishes. I saw enormous chicken cutlet sandwiches being made with boatloads of mayonnaise, at least 50 different types of pasta, and a huge made-to-order breakfast bar with every kind of pancake or waffle or omelette you could imagine. I put a pumpkin manicotti on my plate and headed over to the breakfast nook. Just as the lady behind the counter was handing me a beautiful, golden pancake stuffed with mascarpone cheese and served with scoops of butter and jam, Andy woke me up. It was awful!

I think my pressing need for a pancake -- unsatisfied for over a month -- has finally worked its way into my subconscious mind. It's beyond time to fill this gnawing, pancake-sized hole in my belly. Bella Rosa. Saturday. Here we come.

Photo by Chocmonster on Flickr.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Flan con Cheese Philadelphia

One of the most hilarious foodstuffs I ever ate was a dish by that name at a taco stand in San Francisco, with Garett. There was a big platter of it, all glistening and jiggly, up at the cashier's counter, with a little hand-lettered sign stuck in it. Flan con Cheese Philadelphia. It was delicious as well as hilarious.

I just got back from Philadelphia, speaking of. And I am embarrassed to say that I have no photos to show for it. Our camera is giant -- in fact so large that people ask us if we have one of those newfangled superfancy cameras, because no one makes such a large, unfancy one anymore -- and I hate lugging it around with me, and I said to myself, I have been to Philadelphia countless times, why should I bring the camera? Here's the thing: always, ALWAYS bring your camera to Philadelphia. It is one of the most beautiful cities in America. Even more so when your nightly view is from the 16th floor of the PSFS Building (now a hotel).

Also, I didn't have a cheesesteak. I have had one before! No need to do it again! Here's what I did have:
  • Ham and bean soup from The Dutch Eating Place in Reading Terminal
  • "That special goat thing" aka goat ravioli in broth at L'Angelo on Funeral Home Row in South Philly (we and the table of young priests in their collars closed the place down); lots of BYOB wine including a lovely Cabernet from Whitehall Lane that was on sale for $14.99
  • Hangover breakfast of biscuit and gravy and poached eggs and sausage at Down Home Diner
  • Fried chicken, "Oprah's Favorite" Macaroni and Cheese (I can't say it better than Taylor does in her Philly food blog) and some very disappointing cornbread at Delilah's Southern Cafe (also in Reading Terminal -- it was right across from our hotel and we didn't have a ton of eating time)

The masterpiece meal of the week: Carey took me to Gayle and did we FEAST!
  • Gayle salad with the tiniest little brunoised vegetables (excuse my Franglais)
  • Clams Casino in clam chowder: a delicate clam and garlic and spinach nugget deep-fried, set in a bowl, with silky clam chowder puree (no flour involved) poured over it
  • Seared scallop with a pork cheek ravioli pillow (so salty, so much gravy, so good)
  • Monkfish and artichoke hearts with saffron sauce over pureed parsnip
  • "Veal stew": sweetbreads, tongue, brisket, all chopped with potato, some kind of greens, all doused with a nearly obscene amount of some sauce with vast acres of demi-glace in it. It was TOO MUCH in the best way. But don't just take my word for it.
  • Ice cream sandwich of rosewater ice cream between three wonton shells with candied pistachios in honey poured over
  • A bottle of Yamhill Valley Vineyards 2003 Estate Pinot Noir

It was after this meal that I had a Food Hangover the next morning. Has this happened to you? This happens often when I eat pork belly, one of the richest and most indigestable substances known to man or woman. But pork belly is so good that I eat it anyway, despite its making me run for the bathroom in a cold sweat in the middle of the night. Same thing after this. I think the veal stew did me in.

Moving on:
  • Gentle breakfast of Diet Coke and oatmeal cookie
  • 1/2 mediocre chicken cutlet and prosciutto sandwich and cannoli gelato
  • 1/3 calamari and vegetable salad (it was as big as two of my heads, but notice that I finally did consume vegetables on this trip!) from The Continental, plus one very excellent Margarita
  • Yuengling galore with Kim and Beth and Katie and Sarah and Judy
  • Coffee, egg bagel, cream cheese
  • Post-Carey's-bike-race lunch of frozen shrimp shumai and pretzels
  • Roast beef and "caramelized" (actually, they were pickled -- quite a different thing!) onions from Au Bon Pain while running to get the train home.

Between all of this I learned about architecture libraries all over the country, went on many, many, many walking tours of take-your-breath-away beautiful buildings and collections, drooled over large-format scanners, and explored this over-the-top brilliant website in depth. I had been in an anti-conference funk for a while, but I think this one has re-revved my engine. I love conferences again!

(Thanks to Paula for the Continental recommendation. If you go, dear reader, go to the one on 2nd and Market, not on 18th and Chestnut. That one is a meatmarket/themepark DISASTER.)

Monday, March 05, 2007

Lemon Joy

What is better in the dead of the New England winter than your best friend flying across the country from California with a carry-on bag full to the brim of MEYER LEMONS ALL FOR YOU?!?!

It doesn't get better than that, actually. Thank you, Garett!

I used some of them to make a sunshine-filled Meyer lemon cake for Paula's wonderful dinner party on Saturday. The recipe doesn't include any butter; only eggs, sugar, ground almonds, and the tiniest amount of flour to bind. I glazed it with a little watered-down Meyer lemon marmalade from Frog Hollow Farm and frosted it with whipped cream to cover my sin of not checking on it often enough as it baked in a dark pan (oops). The result was very lemony, but as Jen described it, it had a very "kosher for Passover" texture -- not the light 'n' lemony flourless chocolate cake consistency I had hoped for. I still have some lemons left over, so I suspect there might be some Meyer lemon curd in my immediate future.

The dinner party, though. Ohhhhhhhhhh.... I sing a song of Osso Buco. I must be the last person to have tasted this ultimate meat stew/sauce/ambrosia, but now I want to make it every night for the rest of my life. Better yet, I will ask Paula to make it for me every night, since hers is now my gold standard, and also because she owns a marrow scoop. Which I, as the "guest of honor" (I am still blushing over this, but the news of my job now being permanent called for some celebration), got to use to scoop and scrape every last melting liquid oozy drop of marrow from the center of the bones. Mmmmmmmmmmm. Paula, let me learn to cook at your apron strings! This is kind of what it looked like, except hers was even better:

Photo courtesy Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.