Most mornings, I stop in to Long Island City’s Sweetleaf before work for a cup of coffee and a scone. Sweetleaf does a fine job of baking scones that achieve a good sweet/savory balance; this weekend, I decided to give something similar a shot.
To make these, I followed the basic scone recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. I added a tablespoon of chipotle pepper, half a cup of sliced almonds, about a cup of queso fresco, and a teaspoon and change of Mexican vanilla. The result was lighter than expected and just spicy enough, with the cheese fairly blended in but still tempering the chipotle.
So: I spent my Sunday afternoon at the Astor Center, taking a class as part of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic. This was my first time attending, and I didn’t entirely know what to expect: would it simply be an overview of cocktail-related lore, or something more hands-on?
The event I attended was — as the photograph above suggests — a look at assorted bars and clubs across nearly seventy years of film. Nora Maynard covered a series of films, ranging from Laura to Almost Famous, with four cocktails to be consumed over the course of the afternoon. (Two came pre-made; two were assembled in the space.) It was a very enjoyable way to spend ninety minutes, and it reminded me that I really, really need to watch Hannah and Her Sisters.
After the course, we headed into the main space, in which assorted spirits companies had bars set up at which cocktails could be made. It was there that I tried the drink pictured below, made with vodka, grapefruit and lemon juice, and topped with freshly-ground salt and pepper. Which was not something I’d have previously thought to put into a drink, but which worked remarkably well.
Up at Vol.1 now is a short essay about my one and only attempt at eating crawfish: in this case, in Austin in 2006. It didn’t go particularly well.
I found a restaurant called the Boiling Pot on Sixth Street, sat down, and ordered a large meal in which crawfish were in fact the primary ingredient. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the slightest idea of how to eat them: were the shells removed, like the lobsters that they somewhat resembled, or left on? I glanced around as best I could, hoping to get some indication of how to proceed from diners at adjacent tables. I felt like an interloper into Cajun cuisine, and it was that unease that kept me from doing the obvious and logical thing – which is to say, flagging down one of the servers and saying. “Look, how exactly do I eat these?” I feared a public shaming, basically.
I haven’t tried my hand at crawfish-eating since then — I was tempted later that same year, while on vacation in Helsinki, but quickly learned that an inexpensive food in the southern US is, as it turns out, a luxury dish in northern Europe.
On a walk through Hell’s Kitchen after work today, though, I came across The Delta Grill; on a chalkboard outside, a crawfish boil was advertised. Perhaps it’s finally time to see what they taste like sans shells.
Besides the end of a year, last week brought with it visitors — friends old and new, both in town from scenic Eugene, Oregon. This, then, reminded me of an establishment in said Oregonian city called Off the Waffle, at which I dined for the first time in the spring of 2010. It was, as the photograph above might suggest, a ridiculously delicious experience.
Subsequently, I’ve been craving liÃ¨ge waffles pretty fiercely. Specifically, though, I’ve been craving Off the Waffle’s particular ability to do interesting things with the savory/sweet divide. New York has the Wafels and Dinges truck, but from what I’ve seen, their wares generally fall mainly on the sweet side of the spectrum. I suppose what I’m looking for is some sort of waffle equivalent to Greenpoint’s Paulie Gee’s — which I realize is an unlikely combination. Still, it’s a big city out there, and one where the food options never fail to surprise.
I haven’t done a “recommended” post in a while. Here’s hoping this pair of takes on hand-crafted food and drink helps to remedy that.
One: Scott Snyder chats with Graeme McMillan on the subject of vampires in popular culture and his upcoming series for Vertigo. (And if you haven’t read Snyder’s Voodoo Heart, you really should.)
Two: In which the esteemed Scott Gold talks whiskey. (Technically not “writing on writing,” I’ll admit, but close enough.)
One: Via Warren Ellis: Brandon Graham’s impressive King City is making a return to print; there’s a preview here. (I have some earlier ramblings on King City here.)
Two: Also returning: Kat Bakes, with a post about weddings, cakes, and their union.
Three: Shla Scanlon — whose serialized novel I really need to start reading — profiles the Seattle band ULGM for The Rumpus. I’m presently listening to the songs on their myspace page, and I like what I hear so far — notably, how there’s just a slight Dead Kennedys-esque air of menace to the vocals that contrasts nicely with the restraint of the music.
Four: Also being listened to around these parts a lot lately: 24-Carat Black’s Gone: The Promise of Yesterday, “I Want to Make Up” in particular.
Recently, my friend Megan has been running the kitchen* at the Greenpoint record store/restaurant Eat; earlier this week, they received some press coverage from the Times. Which, given that the food that they make could rightly be termed “delicious,” is a fine, fine thing. I’m particularly gladdened to see Ligaya Mishan’s review make mention of Eat’s white bean crostini, which has damn near brought tears to my eyes when I’ve had it.
*-this is in no way a technical term.
I’ve been meaning to add a “Food” section to the links collected here for a while now. And, lo, I’ve now done so, including a couple previously filed under “NYC”.Â Among the initial selection:
Kat Bakes, which concerns itself with, well, baking;
The Internet Food Association, in which a number of political and cultural essayists shift gears to the preparation of food;
Table Matters, a relatively new general survey of all aspects of food, which includes a regular column from Scott Gold.
Late last year, I made farinata (in this case, based on this Mark Bittman recipe) when home for the holidays. It went well, but something seemed a little off — though some of that may come from the fact that my fondness for black pepper exceeds that of almost everyone I know. Either way, I have an abundance of chickpea flour on hand in my apartment, and decided to give the recipe another shot, this time using my skillet. Things I have learned: don’t underestimate the skillet. The result this time out was much more crispy around the edges; the pepper seemed more dispersed throughout as well. I added some ricotta to the top of it, which worked out well enough and — to my taste — balanced the pepper pretty well. Next time out: olives.
Less successful may have been my attempts at a side dish: here, a hastily conceived/improvised red lentil soup. Other things I now realize: that’s a lot of legumes. But I somehow didn’t glean, until I sat down to eat, the extreme similarities between the central ingredients of the two dishes I was making. (I would now make some sort of clever comment, possibly using wordplay to reference the word “legume”, but I don’t thing it’s actually possible.)
And in the “writing from good folks” category, a new food-related website called Table Matters has launched. Among its writers is the esteemed Scott Gold, who contributes a piece on lapsed vegetarians. (In the interests of full disclosure, I should probably mention that I’m one of the interviewees.)
On Saturday, I went along with friends to Greenpoint’s Eat Records. A friend of mine recently took over running their kitchen, and I was curious to see what the new setup was like. The last time I’d been there, the balance between cafe and record store was much more significantly in favor of the latter. Things have changed since then: the actual music selection has become more concentrated and is now entirely vinyl in nature, while the seating — now polished-wood benches — can accommodate larger groups. It’s an interesting shift, but one that makes sense given the emphasis on food there now.
How was the food? I’m not the most unbiased observer, to be true, but I was impressed: a good combo of eggs, fresh tomatoes, bacon, and feta; deviled eggs with just enough spiciness to make things interesting; and a fine cup of coffee. Alex opted for a melon soup which I tried as well — good, rich consistency without losing the essential, um, melon-ness. And even on a crushingly humid morning, their back garden managed to feel comfortable.
A number of my friends make damn good food. I’ve begun doing more cooking for myself in 2008 than I ever have before; previously, the extent of my kitchen skills were limited to throwing chicken sausage in a skillet or making a passable omelet.
My current obsession, after trying them out at the apartment of one such friend of mine, are paletas. Three weeks ago, I got my blender down from the top shelf of my kitchen…and promptly realized that one part of it was cracked. Mailordered a new one; also mailordered some popsicle molds. Set out to make the first batch, based on Mark Bittman’s recipe, only to discover upon pouring the milk in that I’d assembled the components of the blender incorrectly.
Once the milk had been cleaned off the countertop, I started again. This time out, success. I have my second batch freezing as I write this, in which I’ve tried out brown sugar in lieu of the cane sugar I used the first time out. We’ll see how that goes…
Managed to fill the apartment with smoke as a result of cooking a chicken breast with some jerk spices earlier. Now: waiting for some clafoutis to finish baking (recipe via Quinn) and listening to Flying Saucer Attack.
May have made too much clafoutis for one person to consume. Damn. The perils of living alone…
I’m currently finishing up The Shameless Carnivore.
It’s leaving me with the urge to cook. A lot. And I can’t cook for shit.
Also, the description in its later pages of Montana’s annual Testicle Festival may well be worth the price of the entire book. Dear lord.