Tuesday, December 29, 2009

In Praise of Food Kitsch

At Xmas dinner, chez B-B, I was served a long-forgotten favorite of mine:

Ruffles Potato Chips w/
Lipton Onion Soup Dip

Even David Lebovitz, a favorite food blogger/tweeter of mine has been tweeting it up about Lipton Onion Soup dip. Apparently he is serving it to guests at is home in France, alors, c'est a la mode, non?

It's insanely off-the-charts delicious. I couldn't stop; honestly, I had to push away.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Goodbye Decade, Hello Sumthing Good

Bring me sumthing goooooood, I say, and by "good" I mean tasty of course, but also bigger than that.

This decade began for me, quite literally, with a wail, and a howl, and a whimper, and a limp. It was not an auspicious beginning.

Foodwise, it began with one of the most delicious--if saddest--meals of my life. A New Year's eve tasting menu at the now defunct Bouley Bakery restaurant. Maybe that food was the augur, telling me that while this decade might kick my arse, it would feed me terribly well. It feels like a long long time ago, and this blog has seen me through a bit more than half of it.

Bring me sumthing good, I say. I'm ready.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Savory Rice Krispie Treats

Although we call it the avant garde restaurant, we've not gone terribly avant garde with the food. UNTIL NOW.

Behold ye: savory rice krispie treats as passed hors d'ouevres. A little snooping on the internets revealed I am not the first person to have this idea. Mainly, I was worried about the marshmallows--would they be so sweet that no amount of savory introductions could balance them out? According to what I read, no, this is not a problem. I stole some ideas, for sure, and settled upon two versions to try today.

I have named them Vaguely Asian Savory Rice Krispie Treats and Crunchy Salty Savory Rice Krispie Treats.

melt 2 T butter in a medium sized saucepan
sprinkle a pinch of turmeric in as it melts
once it's all melted add 2 cups mini marshmallows
stir until they melt
add 1 tsp garlic powder
then 3 cups 365 brand Brown Rice Crisps (or the trad'l Kellogg's Rice Krispies)
then 2 cups crushed salt and pepper potato chips
stir, then press out into a brownie pan, pressing down and flattening
then sprinkle generously with paprika

Same as above but skip the turmeric
once marshmallows and butter are fully melted add one TBSP soy sauce, 1TBSP sesame oil and 1 tsp garlic powder
then 3 cups of the cereal and 3TBSP chopped roasted salted peanuts and two chopped scallions (not the white part)
stir, then press out into a brownie pan, pressing down and flattening
then sprinkle generously with ground ginger

I think these things might rock, in a weird kind of way.

Come Conni's Avant Garde Restaurant next weekend and checkitout for yourself!

post-game update: we went with the V.A.S.R.K. and they were enjoyed by most, if not all. P.L. declared them "gross" but then couldn't stop eating them saying they were "weirdly addictive."

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Soda news

You know I always come back to soda.

First things first: my Mama bought me a Soda Stream. Have been meaning to get one for oh-so-long now and am the happy owner of this spaceshipesque contraption. No more recycling of plastic seltzer bottles, a behavior that had been filling me with a lot of guilt. You can mix in flavor packets to your homemade seltzer, but I will not be doing that. That is weird. I will squeeze in a real live lemon.

And: speaking of a local supply of clean water, you might be interested in this op-ed piece from Jared Diamond about big companies--like Coca Cola--and how he doesn't think they are pure evil after all. We could go around the block about that one, I suppose. I myself believe in compassionate capitalism. Did I make that term up? I'll have my research intern check it out. OK, I have not research intern, you got me.

Anyway, it's really interesting to me how companies are getting in on the sustainability game because they damn well have to. Cocal-Cola is made of water, and water is becoming scarce in many parts of the world. Will Coke compete with agriculture for water use?

As Diamond explains: "Coca-Cola’s survival compels it to be deeply concerned with problems of water scarcity, energy, climate change and agriculture. One company goal is to make its plants water-neutral, returning to the environment water in quantities equal to the amount used in beverages and their production. Another goal is to work on the conservation of seven of the world’s river basins, including the Rio Grande, Yangtze, Mekong and Danube — all of them sites of major environmental concerns besides supplying water for Coca-Cola."

Marion Nestle takes him to task on her blog (I love her moxie and smarts and sass. Ahhhh): "We need some critical thinking here. If Diamond gave any thought at all to what Coca-Cola produces – bottled water and sodas – he would surely have to agree that less of both would be good for our own health and that of the planet."

Monday, December 07, 2009

What is your farmy restaurant really serving you?

This piece by Jane Black really caught my eye, especially in the wake of my attendance at a young farmers conference last week at Stone Barns. She examines a restaurant in the DC area called Founding Farmers and how they are riding the local sustainable gravy train--sometimes making good on their promises, and sometimes not so much so.

It made me think about a fascinating workshop I attended at the conference, one about the relationship between farmer and chef, and led by some of the kitchen staff at Blue Hill at Stone Barns--those cooks who are responsible for purchasing and building relationships with farmers. Let me start by saying that those guys are as real deal as it gets (if you ever accidentally step on a pile of money and decide to make it yours, treat yourself to a meal at Blue Hill at Stone Barns). This is not a post in which I expose them for being fraudulent or farm-washers.

That being said: I think a lot of diners there have misconceptions about the experience. Think all the food is grown there and at their Berkshires farm? Think again. A quick look at the math would help you see that they just can't produce enough food on site to feed all of their diners. As a result they are purchasing from an additional 40 farmers or so, give or take. And the seafood? Do you think there is seafood in Westchester? They are flying it in from Nantucket etc. Also flown in on a regular basis? organic but industrial carrots, onions etc. used to make stock.

I think it's a question of, as a diner, removing blinders from your eyes. Just because you want to believe that the tomato on your burger is local and seasonal (because damn, a tomato slice on a burger is a fine thing indeed), just because you want asparagus risotto in January (a perfect dish when done right, no?) ask yourself: are tomatoes in season around here? Allow yourself to see the truth. Sometimes the restaurant is misleading you and sometimes you are contributing to the deception by misleading yourself.