This is how I ended my blog a year ago, when I wrote about how Suvir Saran’s
recipes and encouragement had changed my life and awakened and educated my
palate. And I was right—2012 was a
year of great culinary adventure and excitement.
Panditji used to make this dish for my mother’s very fancy, annual dinner parties when I was a child. I loved those parties: the table would be lavishly set with our best china, silverware and linens and we all feasted on a vast array of exquisite foods complemented by Panditji’s best pickles. I make this now for special occasions because it never fails to impress.
Betty Osborne is a proud New Yorker (Brooklyn born and raised in LI and VT, now living in Upstate NY). NY is lucky to have her as its daughter. She is the kind of citizen that would make any nation or people proud. Happy to serve her own and those unknown. Service like this is not found today. People serve to serve their own type. Her's is a type that is So-American and yet today, So Un-American.
The flavors Iliana De La Vega shares at her "humble" food truck in Austin, TX, are far from HUMBLE. There is NOTHING Humble or modest about what Iliana does. I say that in a good way. Her food has a personality that SHINES. A taste that SINGS Clearly, with HIGH Notes, deep LOW gut-pleasing tastes and pleasurable middle, side and any and all notes, flavors and sensations that come together bringing forth a culinary discovery, that speaks of a kitchen alchemy that needs to be savored, shared, celebrated and perpetuated. The only thing Humble about the experience Iliana shared with me last night, was perhaps the concept of savoring Haute cuisine around a food truck.
The Brussels Sprouts at Butcher, the casual spot by Donald Link in the Warehouse District in New Orleans, were so delicious that I ordered a second serving after I arrived at our table, having answered a call from John Currence. John my dear man is the other Southern Food God completing the Trifecta with Donald Link & Susan Spicer as far as DEEEEEEP South chefs go. Butcher is a sibling to Cochon. It is also easy to be at. Has a wonderful energy. Of course Charlie saw the operation and wondered how things would change if the chefs had Korin knives to use. I ate the Mac 'n' Cheese so quickly that I had none left by the time I felt inspired to use the iPhone to photograph. Charlie of course missed Gael Greene's favorite Mac & Cheese from American Masala that I make and gave me not-so-discreet hints about making it soon after our return to NYC. LOVE the energy, love the concept, and love the simple and honest feel. Also loved the very mixed customer base it was serving. Heaven to my ecumenical and secular mindset. Donald Link was in the kitchen, at least chatting and leading, and I got to say hello to him. Though neither one of us knew the other. Our lunchmate identified him for me. I had to say hello. He seems rather modest, kind and decent. It was stamped on his face. That alone makes him a man I would respect for long years.
How excited I was to have another day at the farm. This one - all alone! Usually scared to be alone, I am finally getting used to this scenario. Little did I know I will have many more days alone. Woke up Tuesday with shivers and high fever, runny eyes and nose, a congested chest. Symptoms of a cold or flu. I ate nothing Tuesday till dinner, when I ate pizza, that I had promise our friends son for his birthday dinner. It took a lot out of me to make that pizza. It was delicious and easy. Thanks Lucini, Zoe, Bittman and good Parimigiano Reggiano from Lucini that make for amazing pizza, everytime. Yesterday, I ate Vanilla Ice Cream with cajeta (we are a farm with many dairy goats) and some salted peanuts from Royal Oak Peanuts. I even added a sprinking of sugar-chocolate from Special Touch (no web link available, I could not find. Maybe my brain is fried due to the fever?). Am I crazy? Have I lost it? Remember, I am alone at a farm in the middle of nowhere in North Country. The pantry is full but there is no produce. Well I confess there are onions and garlic. But a very weak will to cook. To make it worse, I never learned to drive. Do I get a freepass to eat junk? Or is this OK? At least the peanuts count for good nutrition. But the ice cream? I hope I do not get too much guilt. I ate it happily. My one meal of the day. Today????
The last few days have been a whirlwind of cooking, cleaning, styling and shooting. As Ben Fink photographs the next book, my gal pal Sal and I have been cleaning, sorting, planning and working till our feet give up. Each night the bed has been the most welcome setting for our tired soles. And this morning we found ourselves the recipients of the kindness of others. FedEX delivered a box of syrups from Torani and my tired brain concocted the above drink. What an amazing elixir it has been. I had to photograph it. And share it with all.
The days adventures began with a bowl of cereal and some Chocolate Milk from Battenkill Valley Creamery. It wasn't exactly yesterday's life-changing meal, but sometimes even professional chefs get lazy. We ended up in Lake George by late afternoon (look above), and those adventures shall be shared in next post.