Saturday, January 31, 2009

The best crab pasta...EVER!!

So says w, who is most particular about all things Cancridae. All I know is every time we make this pasta, it is freakishly delicious. It has been a holiday tradition on Christmas Eve for the last couple of years. Due to various obstacles this year we didn't get to it until a week ago. Absolutely better late than never with this. We use the finest of crabs to be had anywhere, the Dungeness crabs which are in abundance right now (and cheap: $3.50 a pound for live ones at ABC Seafood). All of you who might postulate that the blue crab is better, or whatever crab you're into that isn't Dungeness, zip it! It's binomial name isn't Cancer magister, or "Master crab" for nothing, okay?

So I get home from work the other day, w has already given the crabs their last bath and is happily shelling. With the hard part out of the way, I was only too happy to do the rest. The rest being almost doing nothing. Chop some radicchio and onion, slice some garlic, do some boiling, some tossing, serve it, eat it, experience bliss. That's it. And it's good! Oh, pop a bottle of dry chenin blanc from the Loire Valley or an Austrian gruner-veltliner to have the full experience!

I've blogged about this before, so it may look familiar. But with so many new readers every month, this will probably get a once a year mention. It deserves it!
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Linguine with Crab, Radicchio, and Garlic
adapted from Tyler Florence/Food Network

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound linguine
1 pound fresh crab meat
1/2 head radicchio, shredded
2 scallions, thinly sliced
juice of 1/2 lemon

Bring 6 quarts water to boil and add 2 tablespoons salt.
In a 12 to 14-inch saute pan, heat the oil until smoking. Add the shallots, garlic, and chiles and saute until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, then add the butter, and remove from heat. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, until just al dente, and drain.
Add the drained pasta to the pan with the wine mixture and return pan to heat. Add crab, radicchio, and scallion and toss until radicchio is wilted, about 1 minute. Squeeze 1/2 lemon over the top. Pour into a warm serving bowl and serve.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Let the (House) Spirits move you!

As in the latest craft distillated liquid lusciousness from those merry mixologists at Portland's own House Spirits (I guess I could've added yet one more reason to yesterday's post about why it is so amazing to live here). Having conquered bars across the country with their herbal Aviation Gin and smoothly satisfying Medoyeff Vodka, owners and honchos of happiness Christian Krogstad and Lee Medoff have just released their latest, an incredibly delicious Oregon Ouzo. If what you remember (or don't remember according to your blackout potential) about ouzo are some horrendous experiences with some astringent cheap swill from Greece (and believe me the stuff you drink in Greece is nothing like what gets foisted on American palates), then get ready to have your paradign shifted with perhaps your next favorite after-dinner tipple. I just tried it yesterday when my pal Kevin brought over to the wine shack a bottle he had given to him. First off I LOVED its apothecary look, just what I would want prescribed to me to cure what ills me. Even the governement warning on the label seems to add to its medicinal cred. We each had a little taste to toast the end of our respective days serving the public, and I was immediately smitten. Yes it has the requisite anise aroma and flavor which you either love or hate, but it isn't overpowering, and it also has a rich, slightly honeyed flavor and that star anise in the background that adds to the complexity. For around $20, this is the real deal, and will add to the healthy appearance of your home bar!
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one year ago today @ E.D.T.: Ca Ri me, you want this!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

And I sayeth unto you, eat and be happy!

Have I ever told you, from a fresh food perspective, how smug I am to live where I do? Within 2 hours of Portland, and usually much closer, we have access to incredible fresh, organic produce. Pasture raised chicken (and their attending eggs), pork, and beef. Some of the craziest pinot noirs on the planet. And over on the coast fresh Dungeness crab, the most amazing oysters you'd ever hope to slurp down, and wild caught salmon at ridiculously cheap prices. Do you really need any more reasons to move here? I thought not.

I was thinking about this the other night while I was eating this incredibly good salmon dish out of one of my food bibles, the Dean and DeLuca Cookbook. You know how those of the Christian faith lean on their Holy bibles when they need solace and inspiration? They know when they read it that they will get the guidance they need. And I am all for it. To each his own. Especially since that is exactly how I feel when I read the DandD Cookbook. Its words never fail to provide comfort, and its pages are filled with wonderment that seems as if it was handed down from on high. Or at least from author David Rosengarten's pantry shelves. So it was with this recipe, where a simple fish, the ultimate symbol of Christianity, was led to its higher purpose when mixed with the parts of a cloven hoofed pig and other bits of God's great earth, ending up on my plate and leading me to sing its praises and proselytize to you, oh keepers of the faith, who only desireth to feed your constant hunger. So venture forth to your markets and commune with the shopkeeper, enter your kitchens as you would enter a place of worship, and take hold of your utensils with the two hands God has given you, and do good for yourselves and others! Amen.
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Broiled Salmon with Bacon, Wild Mushrooms, and Oyster Sauce
from David Rosengarten/Dean and DeLuca Cookbook

1-pound wild salmon fillet (you ARE buying wild salmon, not farm raised, right??-bb)
5 thin slices of smoky bacon (I used applewood smoked bacon from our local Zupan's. A bit thick but so good-bb)
1 cup very firmly packed, diced fresh shiitake mushrooms
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat leaf parsley, plus whole parsley for garnish
2 tablespoons Chinese oyster sauce
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1- Pre-heat broiler. Season the salmon fillet well with salt and pepper. Wrap 3 of the bacon slices, evenly spaced, around the salmon filet. Place fillet on roasting pan, and place under broiler. Cook until just done, about 10 minutes.

2-While the salmon is broiling, prepare the sauce: Cut the remaining two slices of bacon into small squares. Place in a heavy saute pan over high heat. Cook until medium-brown, about 2 minutes. Spill out all but 1 teaspoon of the bacon fat. Lower heat to medium-high. Add the shiitake mushrooms, stir well, and sauté until mushrooms become golden-brown, about 3 minutes. Turn heat down to medium, and stir in garlic and parsley. Cook for one minute. In a bowl, combine the oyster sauce with 1/4 cup of hot water. Blend, and add to sauté pan. Cook one minute and season with the nutmeg.

3- To serve, remove the wrapped bacon from the salmon (you may discard the bacon, or use it as a garnish). Delicately slice the salmon along the natural separations, and divide among 4 plates. Top each with a quarter of the sauce, and with a flat parsley leaf for garnish.

This recipe yields 4 first-course servings.
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one year ago today @ E.D.T.: meatloaf: tough photo but delicious results!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Star Wars for Dummies

If you're like most people you're way too busy to explain Star Wars to your pre-teen kids, much less spend six hours watching the first three films with them. Well, thanks to your good fortune for checking in at E.D.T. you have just saved yourself about 5 hours and 57 minutes. Just have them check out this Cliff Notes version that is frankly far more entertaining than the originals......

Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn't seen it) from Joe Nicolosi on Vimeo.

thanks to my sister for forwarding this invaluable piece of American film to me!

Quick Bites PDX: Ping me; great gyros; damnable dim sum

In a blog post at our local daily fishwrap website, writer Karen Brooks has an update on the much awaited Andy "Pok-Pok" Ricker project Ping, opening in February in our, um, "Chinatown" area. if ever you needed proof of past lives and reincarnation, then Ricker may provide it with his American boy obsession with all things southeast Asian and delicious. He travels regularly overseas to Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, and elsewhere and brings back his inetrpretations of the best of the street foods he finds along the way. If Ping comes close to Pok Pok's authentic Asian food vibe, then we're in for a treat. Click here to read Brooks' report.
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The Greek inspired glory that is the gyros and fries at Foti's
One of my favorite spots for years when I'm tooling around midday and suddenly my stomach starts demanding attention is to pop into Foti's Greek Deli on SE Burnside and 18th. They've always had the best gyros in town, some addictive and thick slabs of Greek seasoned fries that are so freaking good (and the only time I indulge in a side of ranch dressing), plus other very well done Greek specialties and a damn good fried chicken with the same seasoning as on the fries. Plus if you're looking for that hard-to-find ingredient for your home cooked Greek feast, chances are you can grab it off the grocery shelves here. Give your order to Foti's über-nice wife who always seems to be at the counter, pull up a chair at one of their tables that take up one side of their store-cum-Greek taverna, sip a glass of ice cold retsina, and indulge the Mediterranean vibe!
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After our trip last year to China where, walking up to any number of street vendors, we ate some of the best dim sum on the planet (not to mention the SF/Oakland must stop East Ocean's awesome offerings for you traveling dim sum fanatics), we knew in Portland's inconsistent dim sum scene we'd never find the heights reached there. But we weren't prepared for the horrors that landed on our table during a recent visit to Fong Chong in old town. Without question the worst dim sum either of us has ever had. Plate after plate of heavy, ill prepared, greasy or wrapped too thickly bites. We tried four or five different things, didn't finish anything, and walked out. Somebody in that kitchen needs to either start caring or shut the doors. An unrelenting, unmitigated dining disaster!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Is that a Bacon Explosion........

.....or the sound of my heart and blood vessels blowing apart?
Saw this on the New York Times Dining section online. At 5,000 calories and 500 grams of fat, it is recommended to be served with an angioplasty. Also rumored to be the most requested last meal of death row denizens everywhere. I mean, what do they have to lose? Okay, I made that last part up. Read all about it by clicking here.

photo from the NY Times

Welcoming the Year of the Ox with some awesome baby back ribs!

I'd like to think I have a pretty well rounded cooking repertoire. I've tried a ton of different things. Most successfully (the ones listed in the recipe column at left). Some, um, not so (the kitchen disasters you'll never read about, like the whole pan of lasagna I dumped into the garbage while dinner guests were at the table waiting to eat). One thing I have shockingly never made, and I'm not sure why, is baby back pork ribs. Last night though, we were invited over to our friends Monique and The Handsome One's house to celebrate Chinese New Year. It was a pot luck kind of affair, and I knew our hosts would throw down some incredible food. And they just coming and coming, course after course. I was reeling from the abundance, actually in pain...and stupidly satisfied! Our contribution was w's famous New Year's cake and some baby bok choy I whipped up with garlic oil. I decided this was also the perfect time to break my pork rib virginity. It feeds a lot of people, it's easy, it transports well. Everything was in place. And I thought I had the perfect recipe in the archives, one I've had on my list for about 18 months but hadn't gotten to, not traditionally Chinese, but Asian-esque, Jaden's Baby Back Ribs with Orange-Ginger Glaze from her Steamy Kitchen blog. Jaden has a great food blog filled with, as she calls it, "modern, fresh, and easy". I've made a couple of her things, especially memorable was this awesome Crab and Fuji Apple Salad. Her rib recipe was everything I'd hoped for. The meat was meltingly, fall-off-the-bone tender and her glaze was maybe the best 'que sauce I've ever had, and super easy to make. This was pretty crazy porky goodness, and with your Super Bowl parties this weekend, or any other gathering where you want your guests to heap much love upon you, bring a steaming platter of these out of the kitchen!

Thanks to Jaden, too, for letting me steal the picture from her blog post since I was camera-less!
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Baby Back Ribs with Orange-Ginger Glaze
from Steamy Kitchen

garlic salt & pepper
Asian Orange-Ginger Glaze
1 tsp grated ginger (use a microplane rasp grater)
1 tblsp minced garlic
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 cup hoisin sauce
1 orange, peel zested with rasp grater & juiced (you should have 1/4 c of juice and about 2 T zest)
1 tblsp mirin
1 tblsp sambal (asian hot chili/garlic paste)
1 tblsp yuzu sauce (you can substitute with lemon juice)

1. Preheat oven to 250. Pat the ribs dry and season both sides liberally with garlic salt and pepper. Place the ribs in a large roasting pan, overlapping is ok. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in oven. Roast 4-6 hours (I did 3 racks for a little over four hours and they were perfect!-bb). If you are feeding less than 4 people, then check the ribs after 4 hours, they should be done.

2. To make the glaze: Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 T canola oil, and when hot, add the red onion. Cook until the onion is soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and the ginger. Cook another minute. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the yuzu sauce. Lower the heat to low and cook down the sauce until it thickens and reduces about 6-8 minutes. The sauce should be sticky and thick. Remove from heat and add the yuzu sauce (or lemon juice). You can also add more freshly grated ginger if you like for the extra kick.

3. The ribs are done when they fall off the bone. Trust me, you’ll know. Try picking up a rib and see how the meat just falls off. Place the ribs in a single layer - you may have to use a baking sheet. Brush the Asian Orange-Ginger Glaze on the tops of the ribs. Broil on high until the sauce bubbles and carmelizes, about 3-5 minutes. Keep a watch on the ribs - don’t burn them!

cook's note: I figured six ribs per person with these. Adjust accordingly to your guest's appetites!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Things I Find Delicious

We just got back from breakfast at Por Que No on Hawthorne. Go there....IMMEDIATELY....and order the Breakfast Torta on special today, which is the unholy marriage of the best carnitas in town and everything else you've ever wanted to have in a breakfast sando, all stuffed between a soft roll. Crazy....and a steal at $7 a pop! As an added benefit to those who overindulged last night: I'm not even hungover and I just know this may be the best hangover cure....ever!!

Things I Find Hilarious

and true. Got this off of Nancy Rommelmann's blog this morning. Too funny. All I can say is this shit ain't whack!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cellar Report: 2000 Vignalta "Gemola" Cab Franc-Merlot

Northern Italy isn't the first place I think of when I want a Cabernet Franc-Merlot blend. I'm more of a Bordeaux kind of guy. Maybe the occasional domestic bottle, but when you can drink Euro wines that are just as good or better for less then why bother? But I've never been crazy about cab-based wines from northern Italy. They more often than not have this off-putting green pepper/dill character. Vignalta's "Gemola" has always been the exception. This is a meticulously run family estate in the Veneto, where along with delicious Valpolicella's and other whites and reds, they also produce various other food related products like olive oil and an awesome sea salt (pic at lower right) with dry herbs that if you try it once you'll be seriously hooked (if you want some, I stock it here at the wine shack. It'll jump to the top of your seasoning list, I promise). Anyway, a few years ago I stuck a bottle of the 2000 Gemola in the basement and forgot about it. We popped it out at dinner the other night during our unfortunate Sel Gris dinner, and without question it was the high point. The cabernet franc and merlot had mellowed out, blending with the tannins seamlessly. Plum, blackberry, cocoa, and earthy aromas and flavors rolled out of the glass. It had a fabulous texture, like dragging a piece of velvet across your palate (I know, sounds disturbing, but in this case it was a good thing). The finish was this long, lush caress of fruit that was really amazing. It reminded me of a well aged Bordeaux, and was easily the best cab-based red I've ever had from Italy. Great stuff, and a pretty damn good value when you consider the current (also delicious) 2004 vintage goes for about $30. These wines at this price will absolutely kick to the curb most domestic wines that cost twice as much, especially given a little time in a cool, dark corner of your house!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Maybe there IS a sucker born every minute....

I thought I had been enjoying my cocktails, but apparently I've been missing out on the "real" enjoyment. Either that or I'm not an idiot and find my ice works perfectly out of my freezer. But down in...where else?...L.A.,there is a company selling designer ice. Different cubes for different cocktails and cocktail shakers. I came across this bit of obviously au courant info via my sis who got it from her friend Luan via the L.A Times (click the previous link for the interview). My favorite part of the interview with the founder of Névé Ice, Michel Dozois, who knew the perfect place to start his company. My favorite quote from Mr. Dozois when asked how he makes his ice:
"We use a very state-of-the art process to make the ice. The process involves the combination of art, engineering and science. In order to protect this process, we must guard it as Coca-Cola guards their recipe."
What, like turning on the fucking tap, sticking it in the freezer and coming back the next day? You mean that secret process?? As I said, only in L.A.!

picture from L.A. Times

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Seattle sojourn, part 2

I love the road trip for mnay reasons. I always feel somewhat like Jorge el Curioso above. It is always an adventure. Especially when I know there is good eating and drinking to be had. This trip to Seattle satisfied two of the best reasons. The first was that it was our first long-ish trip in w's new Mini Cooper. Two words to describe bopping around in that car: freaking awesome! One of the most enjoyable "motoring" experiences I've had in a long time. The second, more constant reason I love the road trip is this:
Where I go, so goes my beloved travel bar. I love this vintage travel bar I bought years ago on eBay, and every time I pull it out and stock it with the needed adult diversions, there's a sense of anticipation. Not just for the cocktails ahead, but because it means I'm going someplace. Plus, while getting dressed for dinner at Crow, what's more civilized than a freshly shaken Tanqueray martini in the room? Especially with a skewer of three of these amazingly perfect lemon stuffed olives from the most awesome Spanish Table store (where you can pick up the above copy of Jorge el Curioso)! These olives have immediately made the chart of cocktail must haves, perhaps second only to the crack olives in the martini olive hierarchy.

Another new stop for us was Sunday lunch at Café Presse, opened not to long ago by the people who own that little piece of Francophilia in Seattle, Le Pichet. I have to say I totally loved it. One of those places that would be just at home in France, this bistro has it all. A perfect cappuccino to start me off, hipsters and the old guard hanging at the counter and the scattered tables. Parents with children enjoying a brilliantly sunny Sunday out. Plus food that was nothing but delicious. We had a wonderful apple salad with grilled sardines and a toasted walnut salad with blue cheese. Then to keep the happiness going w had the Croque Monsieur while I had the Croque Madame (in the pic with the egg on top), kind of breakfast for lunch. Oh, and of course a side of salty Pommes Frites. I would die to have a place like this in Portland, just in case anyone is paying attention! The place was jammed, with people waiting for seats the whole time. It is exactly the kind of reasonably priced meal out with that French flavor that everyone loves. Incredible spot. If I can't be in Paris, I want to be here!
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one year ago today @ E.D.T.: Losing focus in Sayulita, Mexico!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Noble Rot rockets to East Burnside

What do you do when you're on the hook for a seven year lease at your now-closed restaurant, while at your other spot your landlord is trying to hit you up for a rent increase on your soon-to-expire lease? If you're Leather and Courtney Storrs, along with partner Kimberly Bernosky, you bail out on your original Noble Rot space on SE 28th and Ankeny and reopen at the defunct Rocket address with that killer fourth floor balcony (oh, plus full bar and brand new kitchen). As reported by Karen Brooks in our local fishwrap The Oregonian, that is exactly what's in store for Noble Rot, who along with Navarre pretty much started the wine bar craze that is still, somewhat inexplicably, rolling across Portland. According to Brooks, the move could happen as soon as early February.
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Also on The Oregonian website, posted yesterday, is an absolutely incandescent review of Bamboo Sushi by writer David Sarasohn, who called it "one of the most intriguing restaurants to open in Portland in a while" and heaping a knockout "A-" rating on top. I went to their press dinner before they opened and thought it was good, but wasn't overwhelmed. Hopefully they've amped it up and I'll look forward to hitting it again soon. Plus they claim to be "the first independent restaurant certified by the Marine Stewardship Council" which means you can eat well without any lingering sushi guilt.

Campari Aranciata Cocktail: keeping it simple!

Simple is almost always better isn't it? Life is complicated enough in this technology driven world. This morning for example I met with a "Genius" at our local Apple store because I couldn't figure out to load my email program onto my new iPhone. I love Apple's "Genius Bar". Where people like me who know next to nothing about computers go to get humiliated by a geeky 20-something who looks at me like I'm an idiot. I'd resent it more but he's pretty much right, which doesn't make me feel any better. So while I realize I can't control that part of my world, I can control what I eat and drink. Hence, my search for simplicity. And good things to drink don't get any simpler than this deliciously refreshing Campari Aranciata Cocktail. Two ingredients, which are conveniently listed in the name. Oh, plus ice. I read about it in Jason Wilson's spirits column in The Washington Post. Being a lover of all things drinkable and made from Campari, I was intrigued. I grabbed some Pellegrino Aranciata and spent maybe 20 seconds making it.The slight citrusy, fizzy sweetness from the Aranciata perfectly complimented the bittersweet character of the Campari. Not a typical winter cocktail, but one that has me pining for warm weather when it will really rock the bar. Two ingredients that lead to two words: simply satisfying!
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Campari Aranciata Cocktail
adapted from Jason Wilson/The Washington Post

2 ounces Campari
3 ounces Pellegrino Aranciata (the Pellegrino conveniently comes in bottles that are slightly over 6 ounces, so one bottle should be good for 2 cocktails)

Fill highball glass 3/4 full with ice (preferably large cubes). Add Campari and Aranciata and stirr gently. Garnish with orange slice.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Seattle sojourn, part 1

Does everything feel better today or am I just imagining it? I brought home a glow from a recent overnight trip to Seattle where the oysters at left were joyfully consumed, then today's inauguration has seemingly illuminated the world. I'll leave everyone with their own reflections on today's incredible events in the District, but shed a little light on Seattle, because for one night out, we had an incredible time with two fabulous meals. Part one today, part two tomorrow.

Living in Portland, Seattle has always been the perfect one or two night escape. Far enough way to not be too accessible, but close enough that with an approximately 3 hour drive you're there and kicking it in one of the most beautiful cities in the country. Now I'm a huge fan of my hometown, but with the Puget Sound, Lake Washington, and the Olympic Mountains just across the water, and especially on two sparklingly clear days like we miraculously had, this is really an incredible setting. For me it's a classic "LOVE to visit, wouldn't want to live there" kind of places. To kick off our visit, w had made reservations at the Alexis Hotel as we wanted to bring our young lad Chopper along with us and they are very dog friendly. They even brought a dog bed, a dog dish, and treats to the room. Chops was living large. If it wasn't for his inconvenient lack of opposable thumbs and a certain inability to speak, I'm sure he would have been giving room service a workout when w and I were out to dinner and he was in the room alone (yeah, he's also the perfectly behaved dog, too)! Everyone at the Alexis was incredibly friendly, helpful, and seemed intent on defining the word "hospitality". Great place in a superb location.
So after settling in and putzing around the neighborhood, we headed out to dinner at Crow (with a stop for a cocktail at Palace Kitchen where I had their addictive deep fried olives and a perfect sidecar), where I had eaten once before a few years ago and have continued to read superlative reviews of since. Down on Lower Queen Anne, Crow is set in a large open space that still retains a lot of warmth, with a bar on the right when you walk in, tables scattered around the middle, and toward the back an open kitchen with seats along a counter, which is of course the choice spot for a little smack talking with the cooks. To get in the right frame of mind i ordered a half-dozen oysters. I can't remember exactly what kinf they were, but they were maybe the best I've ever had. Kumamoto-sized, with a meaty texture, these definitely set the right tone! Then we hit the apps menu with a pomegranate and date salad, grilled manchego cheese (left), and potted pork rillette (pic above this paragraph). All three were delicious. The salad was lightly dressed bibb lettuce with candied walnuts to go with the pomegranate seeds and dates. The manchego was wrapped in grape leaves, drizzled with a little olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and grilled to a slightly softened texture, then served on top on ratatouille. Awesome! Can you say "steal that idea" for my next dinner party? And of course the pork rillette was rich, savory shredded shoulder, ready to be spread on crostini, with a frisée salad alongside. All three were generously portioned, and went all too well with a crisp bottle of Vermentino from Italy.

For our entrées all w had to hear was "scallops" as the fish of the day and she was in. The reason I love sitting at open kitchen counters: I was wavering between their braised beef short ribs and the duck and pork cassoulet. I could see several plates of both going out, and they both looked awesome. So I consulted a conveniently located, meaning three feet in front of me, line cook and got his opinion. A slight hesitation, then he said what I was hoping he would..."cassoulet" of my top three favorite foods in the world. While we were eagerly waiting the arrival of those two, we had our waiter pop the cork on a bottle of 2001 Thomas Pinot Noir "Dundee Hills" I'd brought along. Have you heard the term "sublime pleasure" before? This was that. I'll expound more on a later post, but suffice to say this was incredible. So how were the two mains? Um, stellar? How about fabulous? How about I wish I was still sitting there eating? w's scallops were absolutely spot on, crisply seared, surrounding a pile of roasted brussel sprout hash that was remarkably similar to this one, and was a just right counterpoint to the scallop. My cassoulet, you ask? Well, just let me say that it was everything I could have asked for. Rich, steaming hot, the pork and duck juicy, the beans just tender enough, topped with a crust of broiled bread crumbs, and so satisfying on cold winter evening. It's a classic for a reason, ya know?

w was ready to give up at this point, but if everything else was this good up this point, how could you possible NOT have a dessert? Or two? She's heard all of my rationalizations before, and kindly indulges my overindulgences, so we finished with a pistachio cream napoleon and a bowl of cubed ginger cake topped with whipped cream. All I can say is they did not disappoint! Just like the whole Crow experience! A little drunk, full, and happy, we stumbled merrily back to the Alexis and Chopper's resentful glare!
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one year ago yesterday @ E.D.T.: you must try The Perfect Hendrick's Gimlet!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Answering the call

If anything, the inauguration of Barack Obama is encouraging untold thousands to do whatever they can to better the world by giving of their time, their intellect, whatever talents they possess. An inspiring example is this man interviewed recently on Letterman........

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sel Gris: you know what they say about expectations

When our friends J&K asked us if we wanted to join them...or did we invite ourselves?....out for dinner at Sel Gris here in Portland I was really looking forward to it. I'd been reading, talking, and listening to endless (mostly positive, some not so) opinions about the food chef Daniel Mondok was sending out of his kitchen at the tiny spot on SE Hawthorne Blvd. The local Sel Gris zeitgeist was that the space itself is very tastefully done (see below in a photo from their website. sorry to say that my photos of the evening inexplicably did not come out), Mondok has no fear of the foie gras police, and he's serving very artfully presented food.
So with that as the expectation we wandered in and were indeed very warmly greeted by their host (who was a different host thankfully than the one who treated not only J&K when they stopped by once to look at the menu, but also my friend DOR, somewhat rudely in previous visits). And the dining room is really nicely done. Cozy, but not too. Comfortable chairs, warm lighting. A great view into the kitchen. Okay, first expectation met. And there on the starter menu was the "foie gras of the moment", which we all immediately agreed to share. Nice, two for two on the zeitgeist meter.

And then there's the artfully presented food, which also turned out to be very true. Our starters of the foie, a confit chicken leg on a frisee salad, and some citrusy calamari were not only very nice to look at, but quite delicious. The foie was it's typical indulgent self, seared and served on a perfect buttery biscuit, which was overkill so of course I loved it! The confit was moist, tender, nicely seasoned, and the calamari was excellent, the citrusy tang adding a nice edge to the tender fried octopi. Oh, and the wine list does offer several good values in the $35 a bottle range. We had the 2007 Chateau Graville-Lacoste Blanc, a white Bordeaux that went perfectly with our apps (they also welcomed the bottle I brought from the cellar at a reasonable $20 corkage). All three starters had us very eager to see what would come next.

So out came our entrées. Lamb Two Ways for J and me, scallops for K, while w opted for an apple wrapped sturgeon. Again, Mondok's artful eye was in evidence, as all three fed the eyes before the stomach. And then we tried them.....and that is precisely the moment where the train went careening off the tracks. Let's see...the lamb. A braised shank and slices of roasted leg. Braised meat should be moist and tender. Mine was neither. Some pieces were marginally fine, but others were tough enough to require something stronger than the teeth god gave me. The roast leg was perfectly medium-rare, but again where was the tenderness? J felt much the same about his. K's scallop entrée also fell far short of expectations. The scallops were not that tender, the sauce bland...the whole leaving her wanting more. Then there was w's sturgeon, which I have to say was pretty amazing to look at. Thinly sliced apple wrapped around the fillet, topped by a jaunty apple hat made from more sliced apples. But again that is where her enjoyment of the dish ended. Cutting into it required serious effort, causing the whole thing to smush all over the plate. The fish itself was, and these are her words, "like rubber". She said the sauce surrounding it was an overly complicated melange that did nothing to compliment the sturgeon itself. It seemed a case of just because you have all these ingredients, doesn't mean you need to use the majority of them in one dish. Okay, that is an overstatement, but you get my drift. After the promising start, we were left defeated by the main event, so much so that we skipped dessert because the energy had left the night. Not a good way to end things, especially when this isn't an inexpensive place to look for satisfaction.

It's curious, unfortunately so, that all three entrées fell so flat. Mondok was on the line, so he must have been paying attention. And again the food looked fine, so maybe that's all he saw. Hard to tell, but as J said in an email exchange the next day, "We were talking about it on the way home, and basically a high price joint like that had better nail almost every dish. They didn’t come close on the entrees. They get one chance with folks like us at that price, and we wont be back." This from two people who know food, are great cooks and can afford to eat out pretty much when they want. I never want to say never, but especially now when discretionary dollars are even more precious I'd think twice about it.
Sel Gris on Urbanspoon

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one year ago today @ E.D.T.: how smart is your blog?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Swamp Thing!

No...not this Swamp Thing, although the impact a young Adrienne Barbeau in her wet, clingy dress had on a many a young man cannot be underestimated...

And no, not Jerry Reed's classic ode to the swamp, Amos Moses, but y'all are gettin' closer.....

No, what I'm talking about is this down and dirty and delicious bowl of Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo that was printed up in the NYT Magazine recently. This is without question the best bowl of gumbo I've ever had, and I've had some pretty good versions down south. Spicy, smoky from the sausage, with those sweet shrimp swimming around. Gather some friends together, cook up big pot of southern goodness, throw this on top of some rice, pop open a few beers and you've got yourself a time!!
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Sausage-and-Shrimp Gumbo
By Alex Witchel for the New York Times 12/28/2008

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound andouille smoked sausage, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices (chorizo may be substituted)
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup seeded and chopped green bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups sliced fresh okra or 1 (10-ounce) package frozen sliced okra, thawed
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/8 teaspoon cayenne, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
2 bay leaves
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, green parts only
Cooked long-grain white rice (optional).

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring frequently, until brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a bowl.

2. In the same skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the roux is light brown, about 2 minutes. Add the onions, bell peppers and garlic and cook, scraping the brown bits from the bottom, until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Add the sausage, okra, salt, cayenne, Tabasco and bay leaves. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the shrimp and green onions and simmer just until the shrimp turn pink, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and season to taste with more salt and cayenne. Serve in soup bowls, over hot rice if you choose. Serves 6 to 8.

cook's note: really, REALLY try to get andouille sausage. I got the house smoked andouille from Pastaworks here in Portland and it was perfect. It does make a difference!- bb

Thursday, January 15, 2009

When cooler heads prevail

So how does someone land a plane in an ice cold river without anyone getting seriously hurt....or killed? First take a pilot who must have the coolest head on the planet and combine it with a large dose of good fortune and throw in a physics lesson for good measure. This is an amazing story at the intersection of science and heroism from the New York Times on today's US Airways "crash" into the Hudson River.

picture from the NYT

Finding meaning in winter: Winter Vegetable Hash

This time of year, when we have all been farmer's market deficient for way too long, at least for me that yearning for fresh spring and summer vegetables tends to come hard. There's still produce out there to play with, but I'm more of a visual eater/cooker, and love it when the brilliant colors at the market pop out at me (which probably speaks more to my inner 5-year-old than anything). Winter produce tends to bring out the beiges and dark greens, and I'm just not that excited. BUT, having said all that, a little while ago I was having dinner with my friends Bill and Martha, who besides being exceptionally hospitable people are also fabulous cooks and entertainers (they also know their way around a bottle or several of adult beverages as witnessed by the parade of single malt Scotches after a meal that included several bottles of killer wine....combine my weak will power with a strong liver and you've got trouble!). Bill threw down this delicious side dish that has only helped to dispel my negative attitude towards winter veggies. Plus it has bacon, and you know, who can bad things about that?! From Food and Wine Magazine, this was pure savory goodness that paired perfectly with Bill's magical smoked pork chops. Magical in the sense that I couldn't stop eating them and also for their ability to seemingly soak up copious amounts of wine. This is a supremely tasty side, and will go with just about any meat entrée you've got in mind. Plus it is super fast and easy. I guess summer can wait....but not too long!
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Roasted Fall-Vegetable Hash
from Food and Wine Magazine

1/2 pound brussels sprouts, quartered
1/2 pound butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound thickly sliced bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 pound sweet onions such as Vidalia or Texas sweets, finely chopped
1 small Granny Smith apple—peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
10 sage leaves, thinly sliced crosswise
1 cup apple cider

1. Preheat the oven to 400°. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the brussels sprouts and squash with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables for about 20 minutes, or until tender.

2. In a large, deep skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the apple and cook until it starts to soften, about 2 minutes. Gently stir in the roasted brussels sprouts, squash and sage, then pour in the cider. Simmer over moderately high heat until the cider has almost evaporated, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl and serve.
*Cooks note: The vegetable hash can be refrigerated overnight.
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one year ago today @ E.D.T.: the best chicken thigh recipe EVER!!

Fat America Rules!!

"I'll have the vegetarian sandwich, please....oh, and a side of angioplasty, and, uh, one shot of insulin. Oh, and can you make that to go...I'm in a hurry!"

Maybe it's time Fat America's food purveyors added some more options to their menus. Check out this article from Men's Health. An 1,100 calorie "healthy" vegetarian sandwich from Blimpie's (doesn't the name of their restaurant tell you all you need to know?). A kids meal that also clocks in at 1,100 calories (kids need a total of 1,600 calories a day, so maybe Chili's thinks they're helping parents be more efficient). That's the "Chili’s Smokehouse Bacon Triple-The-Cheese Big Mouth Burger" at a mere 2,040 calories at left. And the winner of The Worst Food Of 2009 is..............a milkshake from Baskin-Robbins with 2,600 calories that you would consume in about 12 minutes (with the equivalent sugar of 20 bowls of Fruit Loops)! Awesome!! Only in America, right? I'm both repelled and fascinated. U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jack Yoss leaving ten-01 leaves Portland food scene remarkably unaffected

Just read this post by FoodDude that chef Jack Yoss is leaving Ten-01 this March. According to FD he's leaving for a "world tour" of eastern Europe and Asia. Must be some damn good piroshkis and chicken paprikash to be had. I would disagree with FD's conclusion that "this is a huge blow to the Portland restaurant scene". Granted he resurrected Ten-01 from the culinary dumpster it was residing in, but with so many talented chefs doing equally good and innovative cooking (Kevin at EVOE; Kurt at Alba Osteria; Benjamin at Nuestra Cocina; etc.) and also the fact that Ten-01 really wasn't that high profile (I don't know if any restaurant/chef in town is) to warrant that judgment. It is much more of a blow to the restaurant itself than to the PDX food scene in general.

Hey Lewis, got milk? "F*CK YES I do!"

That and thoughts on bottled water from comedian Lewis Black (aka "He Who Rants") in this very funny clip from one of his performances that I came across on Michael Ruhlman's blog. Oh, for those whose co-workers or children might be affected by the collateral damage from all the f-bombs being dropped, you might want to pull out your headphones....or not!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"Efficient" Indian Cooking: Lamb Rogan Josh

Now this is one of those names that I just don't get, and I'm sure...or not... it has some meaning to some Brit named Josh Rogan, but I'm too lazy to google it right now, so if anyone can (or cares to) enlighten, please do. In any event, this is a recipe I got out of Food and Wine Magazine, and it's another example of how to get max complexity and flavor out of something that requires very little effort. I've read several other recipes for this classic dish online, and most call for much more toasting of spices and melding and mixing and other culinary gymnastics that if I can bypass, I will. I'm not lazy, just efficient! Also this was an article called Easy Indian that took complex Indian dishes and remade them for, efficient cooks like myself. And I have to say that this is an absolutely fantastic version...even though I've never had it before, but I can't imagine that it could get much better than this. Although I changed their browning instructions in the recipe below from what they called for because their advice to brown the pieces for "10-12 minutes" was, well, fucked up. I judge a lot of dishes I make by asking if they're "restaurant worthy", meaning would I be happy if I was served this out someplace. This one answers that with an emphatic "Hell yes!" with its rich, creamy, spicy sauce, slightly sweet onion, and tender lamb chunks. And enxt time I won't forget to pick up the IPA on the way home!
Okay, I just looked it up on the ever (ahem) "reliable" wikipedia. They said: "Rogan josh is an aromatic curry dish popular in India. Rogan means clarified butter in Persian, while Josh means hot or passionate. Rogan Josh thus means meat cooked in clarified butter at intense heat. Rogan Josh was brought to India by the Moghuls. The unrelenting heat of the Indian plains took the Moghuls frequently to Kashmir, which is where the first Indian adoption of Rogan Josh occurred."
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Lamb Rogan Josh
Recipe by Vikram Sunderam

from F&W: “Chef Way Vikram Sunderam relies on plenty of spices, like cardamom, cloves and cumin, to flavor this succulent lamb stew (the name translates roughly into “red lamb”).
Easy Way: Use Madras curry powder, a spice blend, in place of the individual spices.”

active time: 35 min
total time: 1 hr 45 min
servings: 4 to 6

1/4 cup canola oil
2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces
Kosher salt
2 onions, thinly sliced (3 cups)
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Madras curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
One 14-ounce can tomato puree
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
2 cups water
1 teaspoon garam masala
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Basmati rice and warm naan, for serving

1. In a large, enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Season the lamb with salt and cook (in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the lamb, because you know lambs hate crowds-bb) over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the lamb is browned, about 5 minutes per batch; using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate.

2. Add the onions to the casserole and cook over moderate heat until lightly browned, 4 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, curry, turmeric, cayenne and bay leaves and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomato, yogurt and water; bring to a boil. Season with salt.

3. Return the lamb and any juices to the casserole. Cover partially and simmer over low heat until the lamb is very tender, 1 hour. Stir in the garam masala; cook for 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice and naan.
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one year ago today @ E.D.T:
Hog Island is Oyster Heaven!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Peruvian pleasure at Andina

As much as we get into eating and drinking, if we can do both for less it is even sweeter. Hence our fascination with happy hours around town. At dinner the other night our enabling friends D&K were mentioning the HH at Andina, PDX's bastion of Peruvian cuisine, where not only are all the fabulously fresh house cocktails just $5 every day from 4-6, but certain apps are also to be had on the cheap. We hit it this past Sunday. I hadn't hung out in the Andina bar much, but I have to say it is really cool. Great lighting, comfy bar stools, very friendly and more importantly competent bartenders, plus some of the best happy hour grub in town. Here's what we got ourselves into.....
Of course we have to start with the national drink of Peru,
a couple of perfectly foamy Pisco Sours
Incredibly delicious Anticucho de Pulpo, skewered and grilled octopus, perfectly cooked, with perhaps the most kick ass mashers ever, which are potatoes smushed up with olives, garlic, parsley, and olive oil. Freakish!!
Oysters on the half shell for a buck each? Can you say "Hell yeah"??!
This was one of their Causas, which the menu describes as "a traditional preparation of fresh lime-flavored potato mixture pressed into a cake with assorted fillings, served with avocado." Your reporter will simply describe it as "one of the best fucking things I've ever put into my mouth!!" They do three different versions. We had the Mixta Nikkei, which was crispy shrimp on top of spicy raw tuna, which was on top of fresh crab salad which was stuffed inside of the I really need to say any more? SERIOUS swoon here.
Not on the happy hour menu, but so damn worth every freaking penny!
Normally I wouldn't get too geeked over Hemingway's favorite drink, but this was their Daiquiri Natural, which is what all others should aspire to be. Although I have to say my home version rocks it pretty hard, too!

w also had their Ron-Yki-On cocktail which she loved and was made with roasted ginger infused
silver rum with fresh citrus juice. I'll also be back soon for not only more pulpo and potatoes, but their gin-based Tortuga cocktail, which I somehow overlooked. There is so much good to be had here at such a great price, you can't afford not to get your Happy Hour groove on here!
Andina on Urbanspoon
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one year ago today at E.D.T.: Tagliatelle with Sausage, Basil, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Sunday, January 11, 2009

To market, to market....Asian style!

Are you saying you don't shop at your local Asian market? What are you, made of money? As a recent and well reported article in the Washington Post mentions, you can get almost anything you want, and most things you didn't know you wanted, for a whole lot less than at stores like Whole Foods and their ilk. We shop occasionally at several different Asian marts here in Portland (and for PDX fish fans, our friends Denise and Keith swear by the piscine paradise at Uwajimaya), and it is more than a little satisfying to walk out with two bags of groceries for about $13. Do I sometimes wince thinking about the provenance of some of these bargains. Well, yeah, a little. But when I see a big box of limes at 6 for $1 I can't help but think of a cocktail shaker full of Hendrick's Gimlets. Or when those craggy, clawy live Dungeness crabs at ABC Seafood for $3.50 a pound are begging me to take them home and throw them into a pot of boiling least I think that's what they're saying...for a plate of crab cakes, I am so in. Read the article as a sort of primer, and then check out these amazing aisles of temptation in your town. At the very least I guaranrtee an amazing cultural experience!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Quick Bites PDX: 3 Things You Must Try!

First off, after another late Friday at our tasting at the wine shack, w and I popped into the Por Que No on upper Hawthorne, where usually the best-in-town and pork-a-licious carnitas tacos are what fulfills my immediate needs. But last night on their specials board they had butternut squash tacos. Hmm....okay, I guess I can give up my usual carnitas fix. So I ordered a couple to go with one carnitas taco, and oh, my freaking god they were incredible! I don't know if they are running these very often, but if they are, do not NOT try them. Absolutely crazy!! I could happily have these (at least temporarily) instead of carnitas. Vegetarians everywhere rejoice! Also, we usually have a side of what I think are the best chips and guac out there to start things off. Check it out.

Then at EVOE for lunch today, chef Kevin Gibson was throwing down his usual dazzling array of astoundingly good....not to mention beautiful to look at...plates of food. Two things we had are two things you have to have: his perfect croque madam which is ham, gruyere infused bechamel, and mustard grilled between two slices of rustic bread with a fried organic egg on top. Like breakfast for lunch and a killer sando. Also not to be missed is his coquilles ste. jacques nouvelle, which is raw scallops sliced thinly (sashimi style) and plated with grapefruit pieces all bathed in what I thought was a light grapefruit vinaigrette with a drizzle of olive oil.

Friday, January 09, 2009

British Bang!

Yeah, it's very '90s with that soundtrack, and there is that Madonna thing hanging in his background, but I'll stick with my long held belief that Guy Ritchie's "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels" is one of the coolest, most stylish, and flat out fun movies ever! I love British gangster films, and this is spot on. Great work from a younger Jason Statham, and Brit soccer star Vinnie Jones as on of the baddest asses (and caring fathers!) around. Watched it for free last night on, which is in itself kind of a cool video service. Other than the 30-second commercials every 15 minutes or so....and it's a bit of a disconnect to see a Disney themed "You can prevent forest fires" public service commercial in the middle of a movie where there's more than a little mayhem and f-bombs are dropped with abandon....and a bit of digital noise, it was a pretty good viewing experience.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Iron Chef judge....or "sandwich meat"?

Is being called "the sandwich meat between the two guys" who were the other judges on Iron Chef America a good thing? Check out the Today Show reporter Jena Wolfe's response on this clip of a behind the scenes look at Iron Chef that I found on Michael Ruhlman's blog.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Osso delicious!

There are certain things that get me swooning like a lovesick teenager. A steaming bowl of cassoulet. New York Steak, perfectly medium-rare at Jack's Bar & Grill. And of course one my all time obsessions, savory, saucy, veal-a-rific osso buco. Oh, in case you're wondering, there are several non-food things that make me all giddy, too, but this is a food blog, ya know?!

As mentioned previously, we had our friends J&K over the other night on a cold, blustery evening. In the kitchen math that I practice at home, cold weather + good friends = slow braising. To ward off the chill, I knew it was time to the pull the Cadillac of cookware (aka my beloved Le Creuset) off the shelf, and properly inspired by The Bible, it was and time for my first ever osso buco. I had lusted after the veal shanks (right) at our local Zupan's Market on many an occasion. Each time their pale, beefy flesh would call out to me, but until I got hold of Molly Steven's All About Braising (aka The Bible), I had never heeded the siren song. Now as alluded to above, in my Deliciousness Hall of Fame, osso buco...I'm talking a tender, fall off the bone osso buco with a side of classic risotto Milanese...would absolutely be in my top five things that get my food wood on. I always order it out when I get the rare opportunity. But after making (that's the osso buco right before its oven time at lower left) this amazing creation from Steven's book that was as good as ANY osso buco I've ever had, now I know that instead of drooling all over the meat case at Zupan's, all I need to do is grab some shank and whip up this way easy, get-the-crowd-raving dish in the comfort of the kitchen at 1309, which is always my favorite place to eat!

Wine choice: I've gotta agree with Molly that this classic of Italian cooking calls for your best Italian red. I popped that 2000 Barbaresco that killed, but a good Barbera or Chianti Classico would also work.

Also, don't worry about the long list of ingredients or length of the recipe, it really does come together quickly!
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Osso Buco alla Milanese
From Molly Stevens "All About Braising"

What, no recipe below? Hey, in her book it covers three pages, so transcribing it seemed a bit daunting with my fifth grade level typing skills. I'll get the recipe up eventually, I promise. But trust me when I say BUY THE FREAKING BOOK and make it yourselves (she also has a very good risotto alla Milanese recipe right after the osso buco recipe). It is absolutely an awesome, show-stopping dish. Plus this book is jammed with temptation cover to cover. I bought one copy at Powell's here locally for $35 for a friend's birthday, and grabbed my copy online at Amazon for $24.
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one year ago today @ E.D.T.: a simply fabulous Lamb Stew with Figs!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Cellar Report: 2000 Produttori "Moccagatta" Barbaresco; 2004 Vietti Barbera d'Asti "Tre Vigne"

If ever I needed a rationalization for having all that bottled grape juice down in the basement, last night provided it! The event was a big pot of osso buco (kick ass by the way...recipe soon!), my first time making it, and our friends J&K were over after an extended absence from our presence. Awesome food and better friends demands equally satisfying liquid indulgence, so down to the archives I went.

The 2000 Produttori del Barbaresco "Moccagatta" Barbaresco was one of those wines being caught at the height of its pleasure inducing powers. Barbaresco is one of the three great wines of Italy (along with Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino) and like its Piedmontese neighbor Barolo it is made from 100% nebbiolo. This wine from the great Produttori co-operative also illustrated differences in vintages. Both the 1999 and 2001 vintages are still young'uns, needing probably five more years or so to start showing their stuff. This 2000, from an excellent but much warmer vintage...which meant riper grapes which leads inexorably to earlier drinking wines....was loaded with absolutely delicious blackberry, blueberry, smoke, earth, and floral aromas and flavors. The tannins are just starting to mellow, and the finish just lingered on and on. This is going to be good to go for at least 5-10 more years, but it is so good those other bottles of various 2000 single vineyard Produttoris downstairs better get ready to be corkscrewed! Produttori does several different single-vineyard wines, and the Moccagatta vineyard where this came from always delivers the goods. This just got better and better as it sat open, delivering head spinning, sensual deliciousness. With the osso buco it was freakish, the flavors of the wine and food both enhancing the other. One of those wines where it was almost as much fun to smell as it was to drink. Almost.....

I followed that with a bottle of 2004 Vietti Barbera d'Asti "Tre Vigne" (Three Vineyards), which like all good Barbera's did nothing but confirm my feeling that Barbera may be the best food wine on the planet. 2004 was also a fantastic vintage, and Vietti is one the finest practitioners of winemaking witchcraft in all of Piedmont. This was all cherries, earth, and spice, so rich and complete with vibrant acidity, which is the one component that makes these wine so astoundingly satisfying with dinner. Young, very fresh, maybe just starting to mellow, this is going to be good drinking over the next 3-4 years. And wouldn't ya know it I just happen to have a few more bottles stuck away. The future looks bright indeed, at least on my dinner table!
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one year ago today @ E.D.T.: what I mean by "unrelated indulgences".

Not So Hidden Urges

A nice essay by Joshua Yaffa on the back page of the NYT Magazine about parents who try...sort control their kids junk food desires. Remember parents, denial can lead to obsession!