Archive for the ‘Sunday reading’ Category

Sunday reading | 17.11.2013

17 November 2013


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.

On the other side of the Thanksgiving-reading spectrum lies Edward Behr’s minimalist column for Food52. It’s palate-cleansing like a shot of aquavit.

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…

Sunday hurricane reading | 28.10.2012

28 October 2012


As New York shuts down completely bracing for an ominous storm with the weirdly frivolous name of a John Travolta love interest from the 1970s, there will be plenty of time for reading, cooking, and baking. Provided the kitchen is well stocked and electricity lasts.

As it turns out I haven’t gone shopping in three days but there are at least four pounds of butter in the fridge, and about as much sugar in the pantry. So to start, tonight I will begin making these, hoping the roof stays over our heads long enough to bake them in the morning. The gorgeous buns from this consistently beautiful blog looked very tempting when I first saw them six months ago. They are irresistible today.

But now I wish I had bought pork shoulder rather than steaks the other day because I’m in the mood for slow cooking, flavors melding, dark, and comforting, and the gathering clouds seem to be the perfect backdrop, if there ever was one, for stew.

To be honest I wasn’t craving a recipe for Cheez-its, and I’m still not sure whether I am planning to make these crackers, but they are so incredibly sweet looking, in a delicious not-really-scary-Halloween sort of way. I may brave the storm to buy some cheddar, just in case.

And once all the real baking and wishful cooking is done, I will re-read this essay by Michael Chabon. It’s worth it.

Later I may pick up a book. Stay safe.

Sunday reading, in print | 03.06.2012

3 June 2012

For a couple of years I practically stopped buying cookbooks. I felt I owned quite a few and wanted to get better acquainted with those before acquiring new ones. But recently the temptation has been too great, so I’ve ended the moratorium.

I am hugely excited by April Bloomfield’s A Girl and Her Pig, which I’d awaited impatiently since my first meal at The Spotted Pig quite some years ago. The book lives up to the high expectations. It’s lovely, design and photography wise; it’s personal, from the introduction to the headnotes and of course the recipes themselves. For a mouth-watering preview, check out Lottie + Doof’s timely rendition of the rhubarb fool with cardamom cream, as well as the Amateur Gourmet’s enthusiastic post about curry, which Adam unabashedly calls The Best Curry of Your Life, though, in the book, April simply calls it ‘My Curry.’

Recently, I really enjoyed Joe Beef chefs Frédéric Morin and David McMillan’s interview in Lucky Peach magazine, all the deadpan talk about the grueling and sometimes outright unsavory realities of restaurant life. Had I known about the restaurant when we were in Montréal last summer I would have loved to go, though admittedly, as with another long-coveted Montréal dining experience Au Pied de Cochon, I would probably not have made a reservation in time anyway. For now I have the inspiring cookbook. And I am plotting to go back and be better prepared.

Have I mentioned how much I like Kurt Gutenbrunner’s restaurants? His beautiful recent cookbook includes the most beloved recipes — creamed spinach that is reason alone to go to Blaue Gans, the quark and paprika spread liptauer that should accompany every summer apéritif, gulash for the colder months… — but also unexpected stunners: ramp spaetzle! It is high time to acquire a spaetzle hobel.

And a happy surprise arrived right around my birthday a couple of months ago when my mother sent me Jennifer McLagan’s Odd Bits: How To Cook the Rest of the Animal. As the name clearly states, it’s all about cooking cheeks and tripe and brain and kidneys and such. Brilliant. Especially since a very real butcher recently opened very near us, one that receives entire carcasses and cuts them up right in front of you, tongue, head, trotters, and all. A truly accessible world of nose to tail eating lies ahead.

Happy Sunday!


Related posts

Sunday reading | 15.04.2012

Sunday reading | 26.02.2012

Sunday reading | 12.02.2012

Sunday reading | 15.04.2012

15 April 2012

A few years ago ramps became fashionable; quite soon after, the trend was to dis the fad. I’ve held my first impression and agree with Bill Telepan’s post on Grub Street: ramps are awesome. The whole point of seasonality is change. Eating becomes monotonous when we steam asparagus in winter and peel oranges year-round, but the anticipation of tender greens after months of cabbage and increasingly gnarly carrots makes cooking feel like an adventure. So to me there is no way but to be excited about ramps. Ramps!

And so I must mention photographer Andrea Gentl’s stunning blog Hungy Ghost Food + Travel, which recently featured beautiful posts about the first wild greens of spring: dandelionnettles, of course ramps, and, currently, knotweed — which I didn’t know. It may feel a bit frustrating to read these without personally having easy access to forests and meadows, and it did lead me to buy (buy!) nettles at the farmer’s market, but it’s definitely worth the slight bittersweet vexation.

And last but not least, given an entire afternoon or two I’d amble through the list of finalists of Saveur’s Best Food Blog award. I already regularly read some of the nominated blogs but there are many I don’t know, so, with no single full afternoon in sight, I’ve decided, in very organized manner, to read a couple every day.

Temperatures are soaring toward summer here today. Happy Sunday!

Sunday reading | 26.02.2012

26 February 2012

The semifinalists of the James Beard Foundation awards were announced this week. These are the most prestigious restaurant awards in the United States and interesting as such, but the nominations also provide a useful list of interesting restaurants to try, handily largely organized by region.

Though I sometimes feel I’ve read many pieces about pairing wine with food, I still always gravitate toward these articles, perhaps because I imagine reading about wine pairing will magically cure me of what is often a somewhat halfhearted approach at home. Reading this column by Meg Houston Maker, whose blog I also like very much, gave me new impetus. So, heeding the first recommendation that “what grows together goes together” to honor a ragù alla Bolognese I had watched gently simmer for over four hours, yesterday I perused my local wine store for a good choice from Northern Italy, preferably Emilia Romagna, the region of Bologna. We drank this 2008 Gradizzolo Negrettino. The wine was a discovery, and a perfect complement.

Ten days ago I had dinner at Allswell in Williamsburg, and as it happens, Pete Wells, the restaurant critic of the NY Times, wrote a short piece about it just this week. To me the food that night was somewhat underwhelming and I was ready to dismiss it. In light of this piece I will take a second look.

And one last link for the pleasure of a fun, well written article about the Eastern European plum brandy slivovitz. Although my sister brought bottles back from Bulgaria and Thomas claims to know it, I lack the emotional connection. It made me laugh nonetheless.

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