Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cooler...


The weather, that is. Finally.

And this means changes are afoot in the kitchen. A pork loin ringed with carrots and potatoes went into the oven, rather than on the grill, on Sunday, the first roast of the season. Soon it will be nippy enough for beef stew.

This morning, however, it's New York Times' writer, Melissa Clark's granola in the oven, filling the house with the cinnamon tempered by the clean smell of olive oil. I'm smitten with this recipe, even though I usually substitute more cinnamon for the cardamom and occasionally add sunflower seeds(today I had to substitute almonds for pistachios because I was out--drat). The olive oil keeps it crunchy and light, and I'm totally sold on the maple syrup, a slightly more expensive option than honey, but I like the subtle smokiness it imparts. Clark serves the granola with fresh ricotta, which sounds heavenly, but I'm more likely to have Greek yogurt in the fridge and that works well too, tart meeting sweet and salty, creamy contrasting with crunch.

All summer I've been waiting to scratch my baking itch, but it's just been too...damn...hot. While I don't need snow...yet...I'm more than ready for autumn. Hello Fall!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Old Wine

Saturday was not meant to be a feast, and yet a bottle of wine and a lot of exhaustion made it so.

I spent most of the day re-painting the backyard fence and bolted late in the afternoon to do some quick grocery shopping. But I was too lazy to buy wine, thinking we must have something at home to drink. We did, but most of it was wine bought during a former life, meant to be saved for a special dinner, not burgers and chips. But I did find this:


a bottle of 1997 Domaine Maume Gevrey-Chambertin.

I and some former colleagues at The Wine Source each bought a half case or so of this wine six or seven years ago when the distributor was trying to get rid of it at a rock bottom price. Some bottles were surprisingly good then, some were already well past their prime, and the last few bottles I had, I'd had to dump. This one bottle lingered, and out of desperation, I opened it, expecting nothing.

But it was lovely, a little faded, but soft and supple with just a shadow of cherry and a little rose petal. This was not a profound wine experience, one that changes your perceptions of red burgundy, Pinot Noir, life. Rather, this was a gentler experience, like the touch of a hand on sore muscles or the reminder of the potential grace in age.

Cheers.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

C'est si beau


K made dinner tonight.

Salade Ni├žoise.

'Nuff said.

Feeling Fishy

September has brought with it the bustle of preparing for our annual long weekend at the beach (which can run anywhere from three to six days) and the catching up that comes after. And so apologies for absence.

This year's respite was mercifully rain free. It was also free of photos, but full of good eating. We made our annual stop at Beach to Bay Seafood in Princess Anne to visit with Rich and Diane Evanusa and eat their fresher-than-fresh seafood. K had a whopper of a soft crab sandwich, two fat crabs balanced between white bread with tomato and lettuce, as well as Diane's homemade cole slaw and mustardy potato salad. I inhaled my own version of a fried seafood combo platter: several gorgeous fried oysters that must have been at least three inches in diameter, a sweet grouper fillet, fries (natch), and Diane's homemade stewed tomatoes, which were excellent, though I still prefer the pickled beets, sadly unavailable that day. Their rice pudding is also to die for.

From there we drove north to Delmar, Delaware to the not quite one year old Evolution Craft Brewing Company. Wednesday through Sunday $5 gets you five generous samples of their brews from the inevitable seasonal pumpkin beer, Jaques Au Lantern, made Belgian-style, to the coffee-spiked Rise Up Stout. (The Exile ESB is my favorite.)

It turned out to be a fish-filled weekend (and why shouldn't it when you're at the beach?). Twice we drove north to Rehoboth to eat at Salt Air Kitchen for fish stew and halibut over lentils (Thursday) and baked bluefish and corvino (Friday), never mind the white anchovy "pizzas" and chorizo and date skewers. Saturday I made fish tacos with fresh tuna, and Sunday we hit Rehoboth yet again, this time for Chinese at Shawn Xiong's excellent Confucius where we carried out salt and pepper shrimp, cumin beef, fiery hot pepper pork, and searing sauteed string beans--a feast made complete with a bottle of rose.

In between eating I walked the beach, watched the U.S. Open and far too many HGTV shows in a cable tv gorge akin to pounding junk food, did a little sewing, read Peter Robinson's latest Inspector Banks mystery, counted the brown pelicans, saw one dolphin and one oystercatcher, the latter picking its way across the beach at breakfast time. It was a pleasure to be away from home.

And it is a pleasure to be back.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday


For anyone who ever wonders if the family stories in my articles are true, the answer is, for better or for worse, yes.

Take this piece about how I usually spend my Friday nights making pizza and listening to music. This is so routine, it has become ritual, and a good one at that.

So tonight, I will put yeast and flour and olive oil into the food processor, chop up garlic, open a can of chopped clams, and put it all together for a pizza to nosh on while listening to the first Night Shift show of the season on 90.5 FM WKHS Worton. Welcome back to the airwaves, MartyQ!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Lunch on Wheels


Several years ago, I woke up in Madison, Wisconsin the morning after a Hold Steady concert, and headed downtown for a cup of coffee only to find that every corner of the capital square was occupied by a lunch truck. There was a truck dedicated to sushi, another for Indian food, and still another for Mexican. I sipped and stared and kicked myself for having eaten a crummy waffle earlier at the La Quinta. This fleet of food trucks was nothing short of magnificent.

Baltimore is slowly joning the ranks of cities with food trucks, a phenomenon I explore here in September's issue of Urbanite. The trucks hit the suburbs as well as the city, and so far places like Tide Point, Hunt Valley, and the Rotunda have become regular stops. And if you're interested in starting your own lunch truck, Brian Sacks, owner of the license for Juana Burrito, offers consultation at www.mobilfoodprofits.com. Roll on.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Free Range: Vino Rosina

This week's Free Range review is Vino Rosina, one of Harbor East's newest establishments, and current home to former Top Chef contestant, Jesse Sandlin. On the night we visited, Sandlin's food was inventive, well executed, and on the whole, quite nice, but it was the eclectic, very smart winelist and tremendous service that gave the whole experience that extra special je ne sais quoi.

Just ask for Bassel, and tell him I sent you.