Friday, May 14, 2010

Free Range: Grano at Chestnut

Don't you love that motto?

Grano Pasta Bar was one of the first reviews I wrote for City Paper. I liked the place for its characters, its crazy-tiny suck-in-your-breath-to-find-a-seat-at-the-bar space, and for its solid pasta. I said then if you make pasta at home, you might not need Grano, but who doesn't like putting down the saucepan and going out for quality food?

Grano at Chestnut is larger, homier, more expensive than its little counterpart, but equally charming. I'm glad I can walk there.

Java jabber

Sitting here with my second mug of the morning, it's hard to remember a time when I didn't drink coffee. But as I explain here, I was a tea drinker until the age of 19, when I had my first coffee as a student in Glasgow.

Since then, coffee and I have been inseparable, and while I don't drink large amounts (with all the topping off and small sipping, I probably swallow a little over an entire mug rather than two full ones), I want it to be good. This has led to mail ordering beans from Alterra in Milwaukee (thanks, Anne Sprecher, for that tip)and treating myself to coffee from Princeton's Small World Coffee when I'm in the area (which is frequently).

Grumpy Monkey blend is my favorite of the Small World Blends, though I myself am not a grumpy monkey. At least most days.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


...about my mini-quilt for the Modify Traditions Quilt Swap.

From the images and notes she posted, I think my partner falls more towards traditional composition with lots of modern colors. She also looks like she likes things busy--which is a fun challenge.

These are some preliminary thoughts--the quilting equivalent of freewriting--though the end result may be completely different. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Peace and Hominy

I'm behind on linking to articles, so here's one from the March/April Style.

I'm always looking for subjects for my Food for Thought column, and my folks suggested talking to an acquaintance, Chris Manning, whose grandmother began selling what's now known as Mrs. Manning's Hominy from her East Baltimore rowhouse. Food for Thought often focuses on ties between historic Baltimore foods and their modern counterparts (there's also a fair bit of my own personal experience sprinkled in the columns too), so hominy seemed right up my alley. Except I knew little about it, and even less about how it might be used today. A chance Sunday visit to Tortilleria Sinaloa (1716 Eastern Ave., Baltimore,[410] 276-3741) in Fells Point for tortilla chips reminded me about posole, the Mexican soup that features hominy as one of its main ingredients. The folks at Sinaloa graciously allowed me to observe the posole being made one very cold morning, and the results are in the column.

Although I don't have a written version for posole, an experienced cook can probably follow the description in the column and make her own (though I haven't yet). What I did try, however, was the Winter Vegetable Chili from Food and Wine magazine, which pleased even the non-vegetarians at my dinner party. The parsnips, carrots, and red pepper combo make it a little sweet, and I even added butternut squash to the pot, which probably didn't help. But the canned chipotle in adobo tempered the sweetness with a little fire.

If you have any ideas for future Food for Thought columns (or any food/features), please let me know. The Baltimore food frontier is still ripe for exploration. Thanks.

P.S. Thanks also to Style Senior Editor Laura Wexler for the terrific header.

And now for something completely different...

Most posts on this blog concern food or writing and usually both.

But not this one.

In my non-professional life, I sew a little. And I've just joined my first virtual quilt swap (I know, I know) via the Modify Tradition blog. I read a lot of craft/sewing blogs, like this one, this one, and this one. Oh, and this one and this one too. (Actually, I read dozens. Will post more links later.).

The jist of this particular swap goes like this: I make a small, "doll-sized" quilt for one participant and a quilt is made for me. None of the participants know who will be making their quilts, thus we share our likes and dislikes in an inspiration mosaic (see above) and with a few notes. Here are mine:

I love geometrics, log cabins, hexagons, half square triangles, anything based on a nine patch, applique. Generally, no stars.

As for fabrics, yellow and gray are always cool (together or apart), as are red and white, orange and anything, black and white. I love birds, Echino prints, 30's repros. I want to work more in solids. I'm not so hot on pink, Civil War repros, batiks. I like clean and elegant and modern rather than cute or fussy or busy.

All that said, the combination of modern fabric and sensibility and traditional quilt patterns as has been demonstrated on the Modify Traditions blog is right up my alley. I will be thrilled to make and receive a quilt in this spirit. Many thanks to whomever I've just thoroughly confused or frustrated with my pickiness!

Back to food soon.