Archive for the ‘Sunday reading’ Category
London in autumn. Fluttering leaves. Children resolutely pacing off to new schools, distracted by little else than conker-strewn sidewalks. Baskets laden with pears and quinces, apples and pumpkins. The golden light of an Indian summer.
To know what to look forward to, in the weeks to come, this clever UK site breaks the year down month by month, and reaches beyond predictable fruit and vegetables to include meat and fish. Very useful! (There is a US sister site, which doesn’t seem as complete.)
Autumn is the time to curl up next to a window, to catch those ever ephemeral rays, with a stack of good books. Here are the two that have recently caught my attention. Bitter: A Taste of the World’s most Dangerous Flavor is Jennifer McLagan’s latest book. After Bones, Fat, and Odd Bits, McLagan delves into the misunderstood world of bitter, “the most interesting taste because we agree on it the least.” I agree. It sounds fascinating, and I love bitter. Dan Jurafsky’s The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu also sounds like a very interesting read. For anyone who writes about food certainly, and everyone who reads about it.
The wind rouses, the air cools, the park is already full of jackets and scarves. Autumn is irresistible.
London in June. There have already been more beautiful days of summer this month than I was ever led to believe were likely to occur here in an entire year. So let me mention two things I’ve learned these past few months: English weather is mild, pleasant, and no matter how much it rains the sun will come out at some point, if only for a minute, every day, usually at dusk. Also, no matter how relentlessly glorious all these lingering June days have been, somehow Londoners will still complain that it is sure to rain on the weekend.
One couldn’t hope for a prettier summer, and here are a few ways to celebrate:
I loved this post by the Wednesday Chef on roasting strawberries. I admit I am one of the uninitiated and have always been wary of cooked strawberries, but this has me convinced and I’ll be sure to buy a few too many overripe strawberries very soon to give it a try.
I am the first to be overwhelmed by the onslaught of cookbooks; the sheer quantity of great-looking, amazing-sounding cookbooks, by people and restaurants I love. The list is dizzying, and the result is that I haven’t bought one in months. Part of me wants to pick up everything, the other is reminded of the many, little used tomes I have on my shelves. But once in while everything is just right, there is no question: here is a cookbook worth getting. Buvette, one of my favorite restaurants in New York, with beautiful photographs by Gentl and Hyers of Hungry Ghost Food and Travel. Can’t wait.
In the meantime I will, if I may, turn to one of my favorites, right here on Nettle & Quince. Rhubarb ice cream. Simple and spectacular.
It’s the beginning of a new year and lists have popped up hither and thither. I love lists. And I hate lists. I have avoided publishing lists here because they are reductive and infuriating. For precisely the same reasons they’re also fun and addictive.
Here are my favorite new year’s roundups. But first, for all of us smug list denigrators, Ray Bradbury’s very different perspective on lists. Nothing to cackle at.
I’ve always loved Saveur magazine’s yearly Saveur 100. It’s usually a delectably random patchwork of food related topics and reading it is like taking a discombobulated road trip across a motley food world.
These 10 best upcoming restaurants selected by New York Magazine make me want to rush back to New York, especially the prospect of Wylie Dufresne’s Alder as I’ve been dreaming of those simpler dishes since he left 71 Clinton Fresh Foods.
And finally, because we all need a full 52 reasons to take a break and dream away the winter, 52 places to mentally tick off — already been, not really interested, oh why not?, and, definitely. The New York Times’ Places to go in 2014 is the quintessential list. Enraging not only for what it includes or leaves out, but because it is a crucial reminder of all the places we’d love to go, but… Yet every time it awakens the itch. For that alone it should be read.
Happy week everyone!
Living in London hasn’t changed some things: Thanksgiving is approaching and, like every year, I am at once hugely looking forward and also dreading it a little. For many years we’ve hosted large parties for Thanksgiving, it is our favorite holiday. It’s also, of course, a lot of work. Being as I am, I like to cook the meal fully, I am not one for potlucks. But there invariably comes a time when everything seems to come crashing together — too many things, too little time. Thomas might tell you this happens every single time we have friends over for dinner, whether it is just one guest, or twenty five. He has a point. But that doesn’t help.
Having read many great reviews of Sam Sifton’s clever book Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well, I was anxious to soak in some of its wisdom, suffer a little hand-holding that might make this year’s preparations slightly more — um — relaxed. I enjoyed the book tremendously. It is fun and well written, full of good insights about the holiday. What to eat, what not to eat, how to set the table (and how not to), how to serve the food. Sifton’s style is at once light and unapologetically authoritative.
‘Thanksgiving is no place for irony. [...] We are going to cook Thanksgiving correctly. [...] It means there is going to be turkey [...]. There is going to be a proper dinner table [...]. There are going to be proper place settings for each person and glasses for water and wine. There are going to be candles. There will be dessert.’
But I didn’t find what I was looking for. I wanted, I realized, a timetable. What should I prepare in advance, when can I make the mashed celeriac? Will it sit for a while without becoming pasty and dry? I tend to leave everything to the very last minute, for fear of losing flavor. On Thanksgiving it’s a hard bargain. So Thanksgiving wasn’t all that helpful for actual logistics. I guess that would have been too practical; it would have tarnished its flavor.
Somewhat related but not exactly are Yotam Ottolenghi’s celery recipes published in last week’s Guardian. I am firmly in Ottolenghi’s camp. Celery deserves to be treated as a proper vegetable and score the starring role. The recipes sound incredible and would sit very well on a Thanksgiving spread. Or would Sam Sifton approve?
Finally, for those unconcerned by Thanksgiving or in need of an escape from cranberries and pumpkin pie, this fascinating article about Venice caught my attention recently, as I perused the internet for interesting eating suggestions in view of a short weekend trip to La Serenissima next Friday to catch the tail end of the Biennale (!!!). Some things do change when you live in London…