Archives for the month of: December, 2010

I am going to be doing a lot of holiday eating in the next few days and I will take careful notes so I can share all my delicious holiday meals with you. In the mean time, I’ve collected a series of videos that remind me that food is more than just putting nutrients in our bodies.

It can transport us to a different place and time:

It can be a way to avoid our problems:

Or address them:

And most importantly at this time of year, any meal, no matter how humble, shared with family and friends, will seem like an infinite feast:

So no matter where you are or what you’re celebrating this week, I hope you are with people you care about, eating lots of food, and enjoying life. Happy holidays!

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In the event that you miss my post on Art Basel Miami Beach, you should know that I love art in addition to food. Although so many people in the art world have chemically, psychologically, or financially altered appetites, there is actually a pretty happy relationship between art and food (and an even better one with drink). So I was pretty happy to notice two art/food news items recently.

First, Robert Mann Gallery is showing Wijnanda Deroo’s Inside New York Eateries, a body of work documenting empty New York restaurants. From the press release:

“With recently shuttered institutions like Tavern on the Green in Central Park or Relish Diner in Williamsburg, there is also an nostalgic quality to the series, testament to inevitable economic cycles and the cutthroat nature of the high-powered New York restaurant industry. And yet, many of these cafes are durable, perennial favorites, trans-generational in their appeal simultaneously indicative of a cross-section of aesthetic and historical moments. How many thousands have sidled up to the Grand Central Oyster Bar (established 1913) at the end of an arduous day? However, consistent with her entire body of work, Deroo’s scenes remain eerily devoid of human figures — except the occasional painted mural or decorative detail — the devoted patrons and staff remaining conspicuous by their absence.”

So head out to 210 11th Ave to check it out. The gallery will re-open from the holidays on January 4th and the show runs through January 29th. {via Zagat Buzz}

The second food-themed art show is “EAT/ART: A Visual Feast” at Atlantic Gallery. This show is in support of the great organization Just Food, which strives to build a sustainable food system for all five boroughs of New York. Just Food also just opened Farm School NYC, a school that offers individual classes and a certificate in urban agriculture. I’m kind of dying to enroll, but sadly it’s too late to apply for the pilot 2011 year. In the mean time, I will have to satisfy out EAT/ART 135 West 29th, Suite 601. The show closes today (the 23rd), so unless you are kicking around Chelsea it might be too late. But T Mag provided us with a handy little slideshow, so check out the link. {via T Magazine}

Sadly we did not have any dinner parties this week, but I did have a couple of weekend food adventures. On Saturday I met several friends and went over to the Mulberry Street pop up Big Social Holiday Market. I found this pop up on Grub Street, but when I arrived I was kind of disappointed by the small number of food stalls. That being said, some I loved pretty much every food vendor who was there, so in the end it wasn’t that bad.

1. Macaroons I love French macaroons, otherwise known as macarons. I know it is cliche and they are “the next cupcake,” but whatever. They are sweet and delicious and come in pretty colors. The lovely Macaron Parlour was therefore my first food stop at the market and I got four: earl gray, ginger, red velvet, and caramel fleur de sel. All four flavors were delicious, but my favorite was hands down earl gray. I could eat forty of those in a sitting. Unfortunately they do not have a shop yet, but they are available for online orders and events, so be sure to check them out.

2. SkimKim The Skim Kim stall had a number of cute products, many based on various kim chi flavors, but my favorite was Green Goddess (soybean oil, water, garlic, ginger, chives, kiwi, black sesame seeds, toasted sesame oil, lime, agave, salt). The tasting samples were served on little bits of bread, but it would work as a dressing, a dip, a spread, or a pasta sauce. The woman working the stall also suggesting throwing it in dumpling mix, which I would never have thought of, but which I’m sure would taste delicious. I ate so many samples that I eventually felt guilty and purchased a bottle, so I will be sure to let you know how it tastes in different contexts.

3. Faux Gras I do not generally get very excited about vegan food products. I completely respect other people’s dietary decisions, but vegetarianism in general and especially veganism has never appealed to me personally. So I had serious reservations tasting The Regal Vegan‘s “Faux Gras,” a vegan foie gras substitute. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the taste. I wouldn’t say that it does a particularly good job approximating the taste of foie gras, but it was a very delicious spread and I would happily eat again or purchase in-store. I couldn’t find a complete list of ingredients, but I do know that it includes lentils, walnuts, and caramelized onions. If you ever encounter it, it’s definitely worth a try, but expect something that tastes like lentils, walnuts, and caramelized onions instead of bloated duck or goose liver.

Sadly I did not sample of offerings of the following two vendors, but they are New York favorites and therefore worth a mention.

4. Luke’s Lobster I have only ever had one thing from Luke’s Lobster: the lobster roll. I cannot foresee myself ever ordering anything else because it is so good. I’m not sure what else to tell you; you just have to go eat one. They have locations in the East Village, Upper East Side, and Upper West Side. And at $16 for a lobster roll, Maine Root Soda, Miss Vickie’s chips, and pickle, you really have no excuse not to try it.

5. Pies ‘n’ Thighs I am embarrassed to admit that I have never been here. I am always on the hunt for proper Southern food in New York (so expect a recap of a visit to Red Rooster soon), so I feel like I should have been here already. I could invent some snide comment about how it is in Brooklyn and that is why I haven’t been, but that would be a lie because I eat in Brooklyn pretty frequently. So really it just comes down to laziness.

That’s it from the Big Social Holiday Market! I am now at home in North Carolina until the 30th. Watch out for a holiday post tomorrow, and then I’m signing off for a few days. I’ll be back to regular posting before the year ends and then look out for some exciting new features on The Infinite Table!

{image from Convoy}

I hope everyone stays warm this weekend, eats a lot of yummy holiday treats, and drinks a lot of mulled wine!

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:  it is the time for home.

~Edith Sitwell

{image from Gawker}

I usually like to post about my nobler cooking and dining experiences, but no one is perfect all the time and even the most pretentious foodie has his or her dark moments stuffing junk food down their throats, perhaps late at night in a secluded room. Last night I did not sink that far, but it was certainly an interesting evening that involved a lot of unnecessary egg carnage and a very messy kitchen.

It started innocently enough. I came home from work and decided to use up some of the vegetables lying around the refrigerator. So I threw mushrooms, broccolini, green beens, carrots, and celery in a pan with a little a lot of butter, some garlic, and some white wine. While that bubbled away on one burner, I started another pot to poach my egg (Egg count: 1). A few minutes later, I had a plate of beautiful veggies with a perfectly poached egg lying on top. For anyone who watches Top Chef All Stars, I could not agree with so-called “egg slut” Wylie Dufresne more: “The yolk is nice and runny, just the way we like it.” I love warm, runny yolk. It was a simple, strange dinner, but also tasty.

I ate my food, relaxed on the couch, chatted with roommate Becca when she arrived home, and thought that my culinary adventures for the night were over. How wrong I was. Around 11 pm, dear roommate Nick decides to grace us with his presence. Let me remind you that it is the season of holiday parties, and Nick had clearly participated to his fullest abilities in a holiday party open bar. Somewhere in the course of our weaving conversation, I mentioned that I had a poached egg for dinner. It was like a light bulb lit up inside his head.

“I’M GOING TO POACH AN EGG. RIGHT NOW.”

Several flags went off in my mind at this point. But, because I like to encourage my friends to follow their dreams and because I wanted a good laugh, I said, “Go for it.” The first several steps of this process actually went by without a hitch, and by the time the water started boiling I thought that perhaps this would not be such a catastrophic event after all. But then he started with the eggs.

First egg: actually a moderate success (Egg count: 2)

Second egg: Nick pokes the yolk open in the water, ruining it (Egg count: 3)

Third-Sixth eggs: Nick pokes the yolks open in the water, each time insisting that it’s somehow not his fault (Egg count: 7)

Seventh egg: I get frustrated and demonstrate how to poach an egg. I’m sure being sober helps. (Egg count: 8 )

At this point I wander out of the kitchen, thinking that Nick will happily eat the egg that was actually poached and call it a night. But after a suspiciously long time had passed, I went to check on him again and saw that two more eggs (Egg count: 10) had met unfortunate ends in Nick’s Pot of Death. Nick was happily scooping remains of the massacre out of the pot and collecting them on a plate. It was an unappetizing mess, but he ate every last bite.

You may have noticed that we are two eggs short of a dozen still. Well that is because after watching the carnage of Nick’s zealous poaching, I got hungry again. I know, this is confusing because all his eggs looked so gross, but it is the sad and embarrassing truth. So I pulled out some of the leftover mushrooms from my first dinner of the night, threw them in a pan with butter and the last two eggs I whisked together, and made an omelette. Add ketchup and hot sauce, and that, my friends, is how to use (waste?) a dozen eggs in one night.

Dear Readers,

I do not have the skill or time to compile my own foodie gift guide, but I thought I would collect some links to other food-related gift guides in case you need a little bit of last-minute inspiration.

Michael Ruhlman’s Book Wishlist – Perfect for the combination foodie/bookworm. Hello, this is me. Not to mention the fact that Michael Ruhlman is one of my favorite food writers.

Gift Guide for the Gourmand from I Am A Greedy Girl – Not just for cooks, Caroline’s adorable gift guide also works for anyone who likes eating (or drinking tea).

Gifts for the Aspiring Chef from Crunch Gear – Full of knife recommendations, high-tech kitchen scales, and basic cooking essentials, this gift guide is perfect for someone who wants to become a real home chef.

Gifts for the Spice Enthusiast from Serious Eats – I like spices. I like organizing things into little jars. And I like the specificity of this gift guide.

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And finally, for a laugh, The 10 Worst Foodie Xmas Presents from the Village Voice.

Good luck to anyone doing holiday shopping this weekend! And remember, if you can’t think of anything else, just bake someone something. Cookies are always well received.

{image from Black Eiffel}

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.

~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story

{image from Once Wed}

I have never considered myself a country person, but reading The Bucolic Plague made me want to pack up my city life and move to a farm. The book chronicles two Manhattan men who purchase a country mansion and farm estate in upstate New York on a whim. As author Josh Kilmer-Purcell and his partner Dr. Brent transform themselves into farm boys, they encounter all manner of obstacles, including the sudden acquisition of 88 goats, canning an entire season of produce in one short weekend, and how to pay for a 60 acre property in the middle of a global recession.

One of the best parts about their story is their constant desire to feed themselves with the fruits of their farm. For Thanksgiving, they kill one of their own turkeys and provide the rest of the food with the products of their carefully maintained garden. Through the winter they feast on canned tomatos, pickled onions, and a cellar full of potatoes. In the Summer they create magnificent and colorful salads from their backyard. I can’t imagine a more satisfying meal than one you have entirely produced yourself.

Josh and Brent now have a television show on Planet Green (also available in the iTunes store). I really encourage everyone to read this book and watch the show. It will make you want to drop whatever you’re doing, run away from your computer, and go dig around in the dirt. I’m sure I have a very romanticized view of the work needed to run a farm, but that work somehow seems so much more gratifying when it results in beautiful dinner tables and full bellies. While I can’t raise goats and plow a field now, I am already planning a windowsill garden so I can at least nibble on some small vegetables and herbs while I dream about my future as a foodie farmer.

As I mentioned, Friday night wasn’t my only dinner party of the weekend. On Sunday we had two people over for dinner and prepared another mountain of food.

Becca took the lead on dinner again this time and made the most delicious mushroom risotto. There are a couple of ways to handle the mushrooms. You can use dehydrated mushrooms and use the leftover mushroom water to start the risotto, or you can use fresh mushrooms (like we did) and use chicken broth or another stock of your choosing. Becca also substituted dry white wine for the Sherry since we had some left over from Friday and we added spice-rubbed chicken pieces for a little protein.

For a side, I made asparagus with balsamic shallots for a recipe I found in the Bon Appetit Cookbook. It’s a very simple recipe: reduce the shallots and balsamic vinegar, cook the asparagus briefly with some butter, and serve together. I love all the primary ingredients in this recipe, so I thought it was pretty tasty, but overall I was not impressed by the recipe. It makes for a perfect quick side vegetable, but it’s not the most complex in terms of flavors or preparation. The good this about this recipe is that you hardly even need a recipe for it. I didn’t measure those ingredients (the magic of eyeballing, again) and definitely cheated by adding more butter than the recipe calls for.

In addition to Becca’s risotto and my asparagus, I also threw together a tomato, mozzarella, and basel salad. I used cherry tomatos sliced in half length-wise because cherry tomatos are far cheaper than the perfect, glowing heirloom tomatos I really wanted to buy but was, for once, sensible enough not to buy. Jyoti was a dinner guest again and brought over this wonderful treat that I had not heard of before. She layered mascarpone with honey and pomegranate seeds and served it with pita chips. It was a great flavor combination and I think I remember using my finger to clean out the dish.

Needless to say, by this point Becca, Nick, and I are getting pretty good at throwing dinner parties. Of course, we are missing a dining table because I am on a budget and procrastinate a lot, so balancing plates on knees while juggling champagne flutes always makes our events slightly less civilized than they could be, but I like to think that it is all part of our charm. Still, a major goal for 2010 is to get a dining table and I only have a few days left, so wish me luck!

Recipes after the jump.

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As I mentioned last week, my weekend was full of dinner parties. Each one was an elaborate affair and therefore deserving of its own post, so I will start with Friday night. We invited three of Becca’s friends over, bringing our dinner table up to six people. We also had a vegetarian in attendance, which was a new challenge for us in terms of menu-planning. However, as is always the case at our dinner parties, we ended up with a towering mountain of food supported by several bottles of wine.

To start, Nick made a beautiful salad with spinach, pears, walnuts, dried cranberries, and feta tossed with just some olive oil and salt. Becca made an unbelievable pumpkin lasagna. Instead of the traditional tomato sauce used in lasagna, Becca used a mixture of pumpkin, cream, sage, and a few other ingredients. I made one of my standard sides: roasted brussel sprouts with mushrooms. I have made this recipe many times and it is delicious every time I make it. The recipe suggests chanterelles and/or oyster mushrooms, but I have used all kinds of mushrooms and it always turns out well. The recipe also asks you to fry shallot rings to add a little crunch to the dish. This is a great addition, but sometimes if I am feeling lazy I’ll just saute them instead. It’s a pretty flexible recipe, so tailor it to your own flavor preferences.

Our wonderful guests did not come empty-handed, either. One brought steamed spinach and another brought challah, still warm from the oven. Our friend Jyoti (of the wonderful food blog Hom Nom) supplied dessert with five different flavors of home-made ice cream: two kinds of peppermint, gingerbread, spiced apple, and the great mystery flavor: bacon.

After all this amazing food and several bottles of sparkling wine, I would not have even noticed that the meal was vegetarian (minus the bacon ice cream, of course). Even though we were all stuffed to the gills, we rallied from our stupors in time to decorate our Christmas tree.

Recipes for the lasagna and brussel sprouts after the jump!

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