Friday, May 11, 2007

Rooms out of Shrooms

And in other green news, one more reason to love fungi:
" 'Growable' Homes Made With Mushrooms"
Spores as the latest means for fire-proof insulation? Sweet.
[Discovery Channel News]

I dedicate this post to the delicious sautéed morels that my dear friends and April roomies Adam and Julia made the other week...
I'll have to follow up with the recipe when I can pin it down.

Bits & Bites: Organic Muses

So far, today's favorite reads are all green.
The official announcement of Slow Food Nation '08 in none other than the glorious S.F. []

Barbara Kingsolver's non-fiction debut, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.
[Bon Appétit Editor's Blog]

I'm inspired to plant a midsummer garden and harvest my own veggies...I bet my new roommates won't care. Mom, Dad, objections?

Summer Sipping: Still Life with Rooster

I don't normally look for wine advice in Details Magazine, however, I was enjoying a delicious rosé with my dear friend Xan the other evening, and, while casually flipping through the men's 'zine, was surprised to see a feature on the pinkest of all wines...And they aptly celebrate it for it's invigorating versatility: "Any wine that pairs as well with a bacon cheesburger as it does with butter poached lobster is a poor candidate for overanalysis." Concur.

The two of us were, however, thrown off by the fact that the picture accompanying the article was of rosé served in an old-fashioned glass. Which got Xan and I to discussing the most ideal container to serve rosé in: A champagne flute seemed to hifalutin for the modest refreshment...the red wine glass would only warm it up when you really just want to retain it's cool crispness...leaving the white wine glass as the obvious answer...So an old-fashioned glass? I understand the liquid is pink and a picture of a bunch of dudes sitting around drinking Rosé in wine glasses may not resonate with readers, but it's not a cocktail, it's wine. So if you're gonna go pink, fellas, go all the way.

Xan & I's budget fave (I credit her 100% with this discovery!)
2005 La Ferme Julien Rose, Cotes Du Ventoux ($4.99 at Trader Joe's)

We'll be drinking this dry, fruity blend of Cinsualt, Grenache and Syrah through Labor Day. It's summer picnic-ing perfect in a screw-top bottle—strawberry first, cherry second and a teeny little spice in third that will keep you sipping well into the evening.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Back to Basics: A Must Read

From the NYT Dining & Wine section today "A No-Frills Kitchen Still Cooks" was one of the most resourceful and down-to-earth articles I've read in quite some time. An absolute must-read for any of us who can be, at times, daunted by the flood of specialty cookware that high-end companies push as the secret to gourmet food. The whole article was absolutely spot-on, and a must read—a gentle reminder to every earnest, intrepid cook to keep the following close to heart: "Lavish tools and state-of-the art equipment does not necessarily a good meal make."

I will NOT be purchasing an electric vacuum marinator anytime soon.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Bits & Bites: Retail Therapy + Sprinkles

I cannot believe how fast Sprinkles jumped on the retail bandwagon! New at Williams-Sonoma! And you even get the B.H. bakery "visual signature" cupcake decoration...I'm not sure how I feel about that yet. I cannot wait to test this out and compare against the real deal from the bakery. And if it lives up to standard, I will be very happy to know where to get a sprinkles fix given my upcoming departure from L.A. :(

Monday, May 7, 2007

Je Déteste

The great news is that Rachael Ray recently launched a non-profit organization, the mission of which I think is fantastic. I love her three-tiered (Cook. Feed. Fund.) focus and I want to support it. I do.

BUT, the bad news is that she had to go and destroy the credence of the organization by naming it after one of her Rachael-ismsYum-o!

How can you possibly take this seriously?

Direct from the website:
[ "Yum-o!" is the sound you make when you eat something really delicious. It is kind of a combination of "Yummy!" and "Oh wow!" You can't help but smile when you say it because it's such a fun word to say."]

I have nothing against slang, acronyms, even well thought out "isms"...But this is sad. It's a brainless substitution for the many ways to articulate the experience of tasting something delicious.

"Sweetie, do you like the chicken?"
"It's Yum-o!"

Not cool Rach.

House of God PIES: Sunday Confessional

After three years of living on the East side, I managed to fulfill a long-standing foodie fantasy of mine last night: A late night slice of pie and a cup of joe at House of Pies in Los Feliz. I've always had a soft spot for coffee shops, at any hour, and I couldn't wait to try some pie. And HOP meets all expectations. It's a pleasant little diner that envelops you in a safe blanket of coziness the minute you walk in. It's 24-hour coffee-shop familiarity at it's finest. You know the menu by memory, you've eaten breakfast there a hundred times—as a 5-year old with the family, as a 15-year old with your friends after a football game, as a 22-year old, hungover with your college pals. And you'll probably dine there a hundred times more. So perhaps it's that relaxing sense of security the HOP conjures—when you can stretch out, two to a big, plasticy booth—that nudges one to spill personal secrets, but Sunday night with pie was a delightful confessional.

And whether there's a real link between sinfully-sweet slices of pie (Southern Pecan for me, Blueberry for my partner in crime) and the urge to swap guilty confessions, I'll never know. But bite after bite, as stomachs grew heavier, hearts felt lighter, and the moment of food and friendship set in, I realized that sometimes there is no better cure-all (for the guilty or innocent) than a 24-hour coffee-shop confessional good conversation.

The House of Pies, 1869 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027; (323) 666-9961

Thursday, May 3, 2007

MNMC: Children of Men and a Cooking Dervish

MNMC member Sean Freisen was culinary king last night,
and what a feast he created! We convened around 7:30 for a delicious meal of Chicken Piccata, Roasted Asparagus and Rosemary Ciabatta. The chicken cutlets were perfectly cooked, and the sauce was brilliant. It was the perfect consistency, silky and layered from the reduction of lemony-tartness, capery-saltiness and the browned-meaty richness. ( I think I made all those words up). The asparagus were an excellent side dish, holding their own against the pronounced flavor of the sauce, and all of us could not stop eating. But our lively chef of the hour didn't stop there. As we finished up glasses of wine and got ready to start the movie for the evening, Children of Men, Sean whipped up dessert: Rice pudding with raspberries. But the name doesn't do justice to the most amazing rice pudding I've had. One taste, and I detected the slightest hind of citrus (orange zest, I was told). A second taste uncovered sweet basil. A lovely combination with the raspberries and pudding. Yum.

I'd also like to share a very important fact that the youngest member of the MNMC, Jett, taught me last night: Babies make great knife-sharpening audiences. Who would have thought? Maybe it was the metallic notes of knife striking sharpener, but he was fixated as he sat on Annie's lap watching my every move. And very supportive—breaking out in a huge grin if I sharpened with speed, and shrieking a little cry of encouragement to keep going if I started slacking off. What a kid!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Bits & Bites: The real Martini? In.

I generally don't like cocktail snobbery (who cares if someone "orders" incorrectly? To each her own), but a few sage words written by a "Martini Classicist" in the NYT (click here) today gave me reason to pause and re-consider my blatant irreverence for the original, unadulterated martini.

Definition a la Merriam Webster: mar•ti•ni• n : a cocktail made of gin and dry vermouth

And so, as an eager-to-reform member of the “generation lobotomized by vodka,” I'd like to re-visit my penchant for a martini after an official gin tasting extravaganza. Will I be able to detect hints of cardamom, cinnamon, lemon peel in these gins? Who knows. In fact, I may not end up liking any of them, but I'll try it before I knock it...
I prefer ordering my beloved dirty martini Ketel with a splash of olive juice on the rocks anyways!

Any one else game for some gin tasting?