In Lieu of Gifts, Please Send Wine

14 04 2013

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We fist visited Lieu precisely one year ago. Easter Sunday feels just right for a proper degust, and there’s nowhere we like to do it more than at Daniele Scelza’s place in Madrid de los Austrias.

This time we succeed in bringing along a guest, and yet fail to remember a proper camera. It’s a blow – the lunch is certain to be a visual treat – but we’re running slightly tight on time, and the iPhone will have to suffice.

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We’re startled to note that we’re the only ones here. Lieu’s certainly not a place for rowdy lunchtime cañas, but the absolute stillness is stark. Of course, it’s an honor to be the center of attention – like last time, we’ve specifically requested the barside chef’s table in order to maximize connection with the kitchen. However, we badly want to see this place make it big, to not only weather the crisis but to sail through in high style.

Darío and I trawl through the excellent wine list, noting many current favorites. Juan Gil makes an appearance, so we inquire as to what else among the offerings might be in the same vein. Daniele recommends a 2010 Clio, and, my god, yes. Like its murciano brethren, it seems to expand in all directions at once, licorice and smokiness, overripe red fruits and dusky vanilla. The fledgling oeonologist within is positively giddy.

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An amuse of breaded morcilla dotted with apricot, followed by suckling pig canelone with crumbled pork cracklings and red pepper air. Weight mediated with lightness.

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Every single spring, I’m smacked across the face with a mad craving for asparagus. This visually stunning arrangement celebrates the stalk in both white and green incarnations, the fresh grassiness counterweighted by panna cotta and dots of creamy yolk. Spring’s stirrings, plated.

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Sheets of potato and bacon draped in velvety beef sauce. Oh, and a pair of juicy escargot. Yes. I love snails this way; their earthy umami is most successfully underlined for me by other robust flavor combinations. It calls for a second bottle of Clio, which keeps displaying different facets depending on its accompaniment. For sheer versatility, I think I even prefer it to my beloved Bierzos.

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The fish course is hake with herbs de provençe, resting on a bed of stoplight red tomato compote and topped by green quinoa. I ask where one acquires this variety of quinoa – because, wow! – which makes Daniele grin, and he reveals they make it in the kitchen by blending up herbs (duh).

The pork shank’s thickened juices form a yin-yang with the creamy yellow polenta, lifted with greens and a scattering of rogue raisins.

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Daniele and the newest member of his team come out for chat re: wine, business in Madrid, the jazz classics playing in the background. He’s a consummate host and, quite frankly, my favorite professional chef in the city. Note that each and every dish on the tasting menu is completely different from those a year prior. Daniele seems to take this as a matter of course – seasons change, and so should menus. Plus, why get into the restaurant biz at all if not for the opportunity to surprise your public with something new?

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The first dessert course is exactly this – something new, a kir royale like we’ve never considered it before. Icy berries huddle in the bottom of a glass layered with cassis sorbet just this side of sour. Champagne foam floats ethereal. It’s the hidden ginger chips that shock you, though, a sudden crunch of obstreperous spice that runs parallel to the otherwise angelic concoction. We goggle.

Our final sweet is Lieu’s cold and creamy rendition of arroz con leche, complete with puffed rice grains and slices of kumquat.

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We’ve picked Daniele’s brain regarding the world of professional oenology – I’m thinking it might make a very nice Next Step – and he emerges with a bottle of Rioja, and presents it to me. Wha! We spoke about Rioja Crianzas normally being much too woody to suit our taste, and he tells me this Viña Eizaga is anything but, and that I should give it a go.

I reel at the kindness. Can’t wait to pop the cork.

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The rain that’s been so unrelenting all of Semana Santa refuses to abate, and we figure we’ll wait it out in nearby Café de Oriente. Espresso and a corner table and belly laughs round out the afternoon: wholly idyllic.





Bem-vindas a Lisboa

24 03 2013

[I’ll have to come back and properly mess with these snaps later; precious Lisboa time ought not to be spent Photoshopping!]

A Justin Faust DJ set in Lux enticed me out to Lisboa last year with my dance floor comrade-in-arms Seán for my 25th birthday. A trip from Madrid to Portugal seemed somehow unattractive at first, perhaps due to the ultra cheap flights (if it’s so cheap, it can’t possibly be any good?) and the feeling that it was the default choice for every single English auxiliar in the city.

Wrongo, kemosabe. (does anyone else even say that? Google yields a mere six hits. after exploring the etymology of rooming/cherrywinking last night, I feel my speech may be irreconcilably colloquial) I immediately fell for Lisboa, the red roofs and the crumbling tiles, the city’s veranda overlooking the beckoning sea. It was the clear choice for the next Short-Haired Ladies excursion, and I volleyed and volleyed hard.

Janet was a tricky sell. Seems our friend Anthony Bourdain did a show on Lisboa that left her lackluster, and it took promises of northern wine region exploration to ply her. Yesterday evening in Madrid, she still held out as we contemplated the trip in front of us, offering pre-disappointment in the Portuguese capital.

Might as well say it again: Wrongo, kemosabe.

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The “20-minute flight” – in reality a little over an hour, but Portugal is in a different time zone – affords weary heads a chance to rest. We’re greeted in the airport by enthusiastic driver Felipe, doubling as our Sintra guide tomorrow. We zip into the Bairro Alto, and a few stairs later are atop our private rooftop terrace at Zuzabed. Oh my. Oh yes.

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There’s a distinct temptation to just sit and stare at the amalgamation of color and form stretched out in front of us. Lisboa is breathtaking. I’m awash once more with ideas of moving here (the how seems distinctly less important than the red-roofed why).

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Zuzabed host Carlos highlights a few key destinations on a map; I take note as the Designated Navigator (luckily, unlike driving, this combines well with vinho).

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In addition to proving an excellent source of information, Carlos is more than kind, personally escorting us to the top of the Santa Justa Lift for a bird’s eye view of the city. The zh-zh-zh is practically audible from here. We dive in, beelining it to Carlos’ number one lunch spot recommendation.

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Casa Da Índia is a seriously unassuming joint just outside of Bairro Alto, one we never would have poked into or even given a second glance otherwise. The common tables are teeming with locals, overflowing metallic serving dishes, and bottle after bottle of wine. We trust in Carlos’ suggestions for eats and ask for the salada de polvo, which is a many-suckered vehicle for excellent olive oil and piquant points of onion.

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The arroz de marisco is equally blissful, blossoming with succulent mussels and shrimp in their shells. We could do without the Krab, but the savoriness of the rice is more than enough to distract.

Accompanied by a bottle of white vinho verde – “green” in the sense that it’s made from immature grapes, has a simple flavor and is meant to be enjoyed within a year of harvesting – it’s a bem-vindas a Portugal feast. We munch til we can munch no more.

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The sun loves us as we gleefully skip through the Chiado district. We somehow acquire a couple pairs of colorful pants on the way.

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Cafe A Ginjinha is a must-stop for me; I adored the delectable berry liqueur the last time I was in Lisboa, and have been passively (and fruitlessly) seeking it in Madrid ever since. The usual custom is to purchase just a shot and then drink it standing in the plaza, but Carlos has suggested that we may well snag a whole bottle and tote it henceforth to the shoreline in Belém. Groovy.

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We tram it to Belém. Tickets may be purchased aboard the iconic yellow transport, but only with coinage, of which we have far too little to cover fare for all three. Whoops. After managing to eke one ticket out of our combined cash, we guiltily sit down anyway and hope for the best. Nothing comes of it, of course – but we resolve to somehow acquire tickets in advance for the return journey.

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Belém is best known for its pastéis, baked custard sweets which originated here and spread all over the country. Folk will assure you that these are the only true pastéis, that only four people know the secret recipe, that anything else is a mere imitation, a faux tart, a sham pastry – but if you ask me, any pastéi is an excellent pastéi. We enjoy them with coffee.

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The Padrão dos Descobrimentos inspires. Land ho!

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The shoreline is a ripe place to pop open the ginjinha. I love it and reminisce. Janet and MP are less enthusiastic. Looks like I have 95% of a bottle to cart back.

The time comes to take our leave of Belém, and I’m charged with asking that-guy-over-there if he might sell tram tickets. Não, you must go to the post office for that – it’s down the street. Bom, I take off. After waiting ages in line and faking comprehending amusement at the apparently hilarious conversation of the locals in front of me, I manage an exchange in total crap Portuguese that results in paydirt. Três pessoas, três cartões, um viagem por cartão. I am liking this. Zh-zh.

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The tram takes ages to return to Lisboa, and we have a place in mind for sunset, so we scoot a boot back up the hills to drop off our acquired goodies at Zuzabed. Along the route, the façades are simply splendid.

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A taxi takes us through a glut of rush hour traffic to the ferry station, and we hop a boat to Cacilhas. The sky is quickly darkening and sunset appears to be a no-show today – ah well. We press on.

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We’re seeking a spot Carlos has mentioned this morning as being ideal for “sitting in blankets and drinking red wine.” I’ve seen where it is on Google maps, but the apparent path to arrive is utterly devoid of life, and our intrepidness peters out after about 500 meters, we begin to doubt. Luckily Zuzabed gives its guests pre-charged Portuguese cell phones specifically for use in such a calamity, and we give our man a ring. He reassures us – yes, keep walking, yes, it’s perfectly safe. Onward.

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O Ponto Final. And it is – there is absolutely nothing else out here. A mini-pier with tables juts out into the water.

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We sit here at the furthest point out, surrounded by lapping waters on three sides. Nighttime Lisboa sparkles from across the way. The wind drives us to seek shelter within a few minutes, though, and we take another table protected by a wall.

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Vinho verde, sauteed olives, marinated sardines. The sea.

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MP notices a few clients with the aforementioned blankets and thinks how wise it would have been to bring some. But – ho! – what’s this? Someone else emerges from within the restaurant carting similar-looking sheets. MP investigates and is rewarded, big time. We huddle like babushkas and drink our wine.

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The ferry back offers an opportunity to rest our weary dogs.

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Today is a celebration of modes of transport; we’ve gone from taxi to bus to plane to car to foot to tram to ferry. One last taxi and we’re at BA Wine Bar in Bairro Alto. A selection of cheese, a local red, crooning Adele along with a coquettish singer – and that just about does it for the evening.

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Good Friday night. Good return to Lisboa. Good night, sweet prince.





Lyon: Vieux Lyon, Le Bouchon Des Filles, L’Arc en Ciel

18 03 2013

Sugared slices of Galette de Pérouges at Evasion Loft this morning. Bonjour!

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We heard rain slake down on our skylight throughout our sleep, and today’s Lyon is blustery but mercifully dry. Most everything is closed Sundays, so we head to the Vieux Lyon district, where the tourist trade keeps a few spots still open for business.

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The patchy gray skies wash out the soft khaki tones of old Lyon, but the striking architectural forms cut strong across the contrasting clouds.

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The area is peppered by bouchons, specifically Lyonnaise restaurants specializing in local goodies and a convivial atmosphere. We decide that everything written in chalk on a blackboard automatically looks appealing. I score a small treasure at an antique print shop called Le Bois Debout, and we minimally peruse a craft fair along the bank of the tempestuous Saône.

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We’ve about an hour and a half until our lunch, and MP suggests a warm respite with tea. Excellent. We settle into a salon de thé offering massive creamy cakes and praline everything, but resist and chastely sip our teas and study our French (Je voudrais une cuve de vin rouge. Que recommandez-vous?).

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Vogueing is not exactly in the cards given the gale, but crossing yet another bridge pitching to and fro calls for another breakneck photo session. Seriously, we’re nearly carried off by the unpredictable gusts of freezing French wind – gnarly.

MP’s stored a map of how to arrive at our lunching destination on her phone, but it’s not to be found at the indicated location, and the cold’s making us rather eager to arrive. I end up piecing together a semi-coherent question to ask at a nearby boulangerie. And hey, I get a perfectly intelligible gestured answer in return! Score one for team Rick Steves.

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Le Bouchon Des Filles is run by just two women. It’s immediately warm and unassuming upon entrance. The animated groups of French folk munching their extended Sunday lunch remind me of nowhere so much as Asturias, where the typical regional eats are also served family-style.

The servers – who, we are guessing, double as the owners – speak zero English to us, but offer very accessible French explanations, and seem not to mind my constant “comment?Un pot de vin rouge is obtained – not quite a vat, but it’ll do. It arrives with three salads – one leafy and vinegared with lardons and superchewy croutons, one with creamy puy lentils and smoked fish, and one of crunchy cabbages and walnuts. We could sup on simply this and be more than satisfied.

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MP goes for a quenelle, which we saw all over Les Halles yesterday and is ultra-typical of Lyon. It’s delicious, unchallenging, hot and mild in a buttery sauce.

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There is no other choice for me but the boudin noir. Given how much I adore morcilla and nam tok, I simply must have the Lyonnaise take on blood sausage. Gourmet vampiric ecstasy.

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Crème glacée de fruits de la passion! Tarte de maison de caramel et noix! Fromage, fromage, fromage! It’s all parfait, but no way can we possibly ingest this much post-plat. A few nibbles of each, a shot of espresso, and it’s bedtime for bonzo (for one of the bonzos. the other doubles up on the caffeine and proceeds to toil with her ink and quill).

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Our satiety has not abated upon waking (isn’t it the opposite problem for most folk? we are the very definition of Lucky Duck), and we muse about what options are open for a chilly Sunday evening in Lyon. MP recalls write-ups of spectacular city views from the bar at the Radisson, and an inquiry with Thérèse confirms this to be a promising plan. She offers a small libation for us and another pair of guests before we head out – a choice of homemade liqueurs, either spiced orange or heady walnut. The walnut is sweetly splendid – Thérèse makes it herself by soaking still-green nuts in fruity red wine for months.

We talk B&Bs and TripAdvisor. Thérèse shares a video of a promotion that Nespresso recently held in Evasionimpressionnant!

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L’Arc en Ciel turns out to be just the thing. Lyon at night is resplendent from above, particularly in contrast to how frigid we know it to be down below. It’s overpriced, but you simply know you’re paying for the view, and a glass each of red plus charcuterie will just about do it. We also sample Saint-Marcellin, a Lyonnaise cow’s milk cheese so soft it is practically liquid inside. It reminds me faintly of Torta del Casar, but is better. That’s right, better.

Don’t mope, Spain. You’ll always have jamón.





Lyon: Traboules, Les Halles, Au 14 Février Vieux Lyon

17 03 2013
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Morning at Evasion Loft brings piquant homemade rhubarb jam, fresh pastries dotted with vermillion pralines, and top-notch new company. International small talk is a surprisingly pleasing accompaniment to plentiful black coffee.

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Lyon by daylight is sunny and brisk. The bare branches nicely reflect the simple elegance of the French urban architecture. We embark on a walking loop around a few of the northern arrondissements that Thérèse has plotted out on our map.

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A boggling assortment of olive oils on the way hooks us and reels us in. The shopkeep at A l’Olivier proffers an extensive tasting, and we’re shortly inundated in distilled essence of basil, truffle, and lemon zest. The selection of vinegars is formidable, in particular a 10-year-old balsamic both creamy and intoxicating. We make a note to pick up an item or two on our way back later.

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The walking loop takes us through several traboules, winding foot-traffic passageways used in the transportation of silk through the city as far back as the 4th century. They appear almost private – some of the entrances are through doorways – and at first we wonder if we might be trespassing. Good thing Rick Steves has taught us “Désolé, je suis touriste.

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The view of the city at the apex of the loop is outstanding. La basilique de Notre-Dame de Fourvière and la tour métallique emblematically mark the Lyonnaise skyline.

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Wandering this neighborhood is sweetness – here and there are traces of alt-culture, thoughtful graffiti, a dojo. Cassoulet, Whisky, Ping-Pong seems probably magnificent.

We stumble across an open market up here on the hill and do our absolute best not to slaver over the dripping poulets and fresh fromage.

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The loop ends in la place des Terreaux, marked by the elaborate horses of la Fontaine Bartholdi.

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The walking and the cold have us eager to reach our lunching destination, but not so much that we don’t take a pause to vogue on the footbridge. The wind causes it to lurch disturbingly; we make haste shortly after snagging the shots.

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Lunch at Les Halles is an obvious must. We love markets wherever we go (see: Barcelona’s La Boqueria, Huay Kwang in Bangkok, Sunday market in Tolosa – to name just a few), and Les Halles is where the top chefs in Lyon purportedly do their shopping. Pictured is a tiny slice of the overwhelming selection – were we to live here, we would most certainly pick up a pâté pyramid and a chicken complete with feathered head and blue feet. The candied peppers intrigue as well.

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Spying a seafood stall specializing in les coquillages eases the impossibility of choosing, particularly when we note a table enjoying a selection of urchins. I’ve gushed over the Asturian oricios such that MP wants a few oursins of her own, so we stumble our way through the French: une sélection de coquillages, s’il vous plaît? huîtres, non? et oursins, c’est possible?

The photos denote our success. Six enormous oysters (from Normandy?), clams of all variety, and a trio of urchins, one each from Brittany, Iceland, and Galicia. Add slightly sour brown bread, butter, and a cold carafe of house white – parfait.

The oysters are predictably spectacular, and the distinct character of each clam holds its own. The urchins have an order – first Brittany, then Iceland, and finishing with Galicia – and their gooey umami pleases to no end. The Galician is by far my favorite; it’s assertively briny while the other two are much more subtle. For the uninitiated, the texture is a bit like okra – slimy, yes, but it is the loveliest of slimes.

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Cheese is not, strictly speaking, necessary. And yet.

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David Lebovitz-beloved Bernachon just happens to be across the way from Evasion Loft. The ladies seem bemused that we only want one orangette and one brandied truffle, but that is simply how we roll.

And roll we do, right into the arms of a three-hour nap (some of us, anyway. others dedicate themselves to placating you, dear readers).

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How can it be evening already? Weren’t we just urchin-ing, wine-and-cheese-ing? Do we do anything besides eat? No, we do not. We gussy ourselves in preparation for our grand gastronomic venture of the trip.

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It is impossible to get a reservation at the much-lauded Au 14 Février Vieux Lyon. And yet.

We occupy one of four tables. The night’s only seating opens with salmon, ham, and caviar nested in poppy seed waffle compartments, shooters of lobster and parmesan foam, and a slice of sausage embedded in crispy wafer-thin brioche. The following surprise eight-course menu is currently entitled Q.E.D., and the only selection to be made is wine. The four-glass accompaniment sounds about right.

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1: Egg yolk and mustard foam. Salad greens, sprouts and radish slices in rice wafer shell.

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2: Crab, mango, avocado, green apple, vinegar gelatin, walnuts, green onion, dill.

3: Chorizo, basil, peas and their shoots, orange peel, beurre blanc.

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4: Foie gras, radishes, beet, beet compote.

5: Sea bass, celery, carrot, macha, beurre noisette.

6: Entrecôte, macha, shallot, asparagus, red pepper compote, artichoke, greens.

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Cheese course: an outstanding brie, a charming Comté, a stupefying Roquefort.

7: Champagne foam, acidic fruit cocktail.

8: Chocolate dome melted with hot raspberry sauce. Hidden underneath are cubes of chocolate mousse and cake, cherries, and mascarpone ice cream.

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Ending sweets: macaron, macha marshmallow, and a small sugary truffle filled with Calvados. MP attempts to bite it in half, causing it to dribble; she giggles all over the place and documents my reaction.





Mark Bittman’s Squid and Artichokes Braised in White Wine

7 03 2013

Predictably, the cusp of spring brings desire for both rebirth and new vegetables.

Mark Bittman's squid and artichokes braised in white wine

The rain doused me today. I think I needed it along with the city. The surprise snow last week was charming for an hour or two, but ultimately resulted in little more than frozen toes. March calls for proper rain.

I went out walking in it, south to the Mercadona I used to frequent my very first year in the city. Very first year. It’s suddenly long ago. The grunge and the gintonics and the wicked-witch-of-the-West nails, Hector and Marta, Emily, theme parties and walking back across the city incensed about the nature of love during the night’s smallest hours. Surely aggravating our unseen neighbors with joyful raucousness of all sorts, much stomping and wailing. Always meaning to try that Colombian place across the street. Wearing boots. Cooking my first octopus, deciding to stay.

It’s all still there, when I visit. All the chaotic love that I found in Madrid, me, for myself, despite/owing in part to The Brick getting lodged somewhere deep in my corpus callosum. You know, I don’t even think about it anymore. I’ve told that story so many times that it has ceased to have weight. I disagree, in the end – we can heal, and we do. We’ll never be the same, but who wants pepper-pots anyway?

Mark Bittman's squid and artichokes braised in white wine

I want to rededicate myself to the art of constantly learning. I’ve misplaced much of the curious drive that so propelled me that first year. It’s not a wish to regress, far from it; it’s a desire for much more movement. I read somewhere recently that we Americans mistake comfort for happiness, which rings terribly true.

And so, today: I decided to learn how to prep artichokes. I’ve done so before but never alone. The thistle bulb takes specific TLC before it’s ready to offer up its buttery secrets, and the specific names for its alien parts make the process feel all the more intimate.

Spoon out the choke. Savor the heart.

Mark Bittman’s Squid and Artichokes Braised in White Wine

1 lemon
4 large artichokes, trimmed
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
2 anchovy fillets, chopped
2 medium-sie squid, bodies cut into rings
1/2 cup white wine
Freshly ground black pepper
Minced parsley to garnish

1. Prep the artichokes: squeeze the lemon into an awaiting bowl of water, and submerge the artichokes as you trim them so they resist oxidation. Cut them into quarters.

2. Heat 2 T EVOO, then add the garlic and anchovies. Cook a few minutes, breaking up the ‘chovies. Add the squid, artichokes, and wine. Stir and cover.

3. Uncover and stir the mixture every 5 minutes or so. Both elements should begin to tenderize around 20 minutes; at this point, remove the cover and let the liquid simmer off – should take about 15 minutes or so. Season with black pepper, salt if needed, and parsley. Serve.





Merluza and Leeks in White Wine

14 10 2012


You should be eating more leeks. They’re cheap, available everywhere, and low in calories, plus their taste basically turns into butter upon sautéing in a smear of olive oil. Leeks can be used anywhere you’d use an onion, which is to say, at the beginning of practically every kitchen preparation known to man.

Don’t let the whiskers put you off. David Lebovitz demystifies the beard.

Whitefish loves leeks. This one is a merluza (hake) filet, and has been steamed over said sautéed leeks, garlic, dill, and a glug of white wine. Add S&P, drizzle with EVOO, and begin anxiously anticipating tomorrow so you can eat it again.

Merluza and Leeks in White Wine
ganked from Mark Bittman.

1 leek
4 cloves garlic
olive oil
dill, or thyme – I actually liked the thyme better. Bittman suggests basil.
1/3 c white wine
merluza filet

1. Clean your leek, then roughly chop it. Mince the garlic and toss it into a frying pan with the leek and a splash of olive oil over medium heat. Add some S&P. You want to “sweat” the leek – soften it and allow it to develop a beguiling complexity of flavor, but not overtly brown it.

2. Toss in your herb of choice followed by the white wine. Let the liquid come to a simmer, then lay the merluza atop its leeky bed. Crack some pepper over it. Turn down the heat if needed, cover, and let steam for 3-5 minutes depending on the thickness of the filet.

3. Guild the lily with a drizzle of EVOO. Devour with a chilled glass of white.





Black Bread

14 10 2012

Black bread: not just an excuse to eat dill butter. In the process, you’ll also get to go ingredient questing (hint: Spicy Yuli carries caraway seeds, and the word you want is alcaravea), finally make use of that half-jar of molasses bequeathed to you over a year ago, experiment with overnight rising in the fridge, infuse every room in your house with the deep scent of rye, and MacGuyver yourself a cooling rack.

It’s also an excellent excuse to eat dill butter.

Black Bread
very slightly adapted from 101 Cookbooks.

1 packet fresh yeast
1.5 c warm water
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons finely ground espresso
1/4 cup molasses
3 teaspoons caraway seeds, plus more for topping
3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
~2 cups grated carrot (2 large)
1 1/3 cup rye flour
3+ cups all-purpose flour (or bread flour if you’ve got it), plus more for dusting

1. Dissolve the yeast with the warm water and sugar; set aside until proofed.

2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the cocoa, coffee, molasses, caraway, butter, and salt. Stir constantly until just melted – make sure the mixture isn’t too hot when you add it to the yeast.

3. Combine the yeast mixture with the grated carrot and molasses mixture in a large mixing bowl.

4. Add the flours, and stir until you’ve got a soft, tacky, cohesive dough. I ended up needing quite a bit more flour than called for here, and just kept adding and kneading until everything came together into a reasonable, pliable dough.

5. Shape the dough into a ball, rub with a bit of olive oil, and place seam-side down into an oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise until the dough increases in size by at least half – I did this overnight in the refrigerator, but you could certainly do it in much less time in a warmer spot.

6. When doubled, gently press the dough down to release the build-up of air. Turn the out a very lightly oiled baking sheet, coax into a circular shape, then cover loosely. Allow to rise in a warm place until nearly doubled in size, another hour.

7. Uncover, brush with water, and sprinkle with a dusting of flour and caraway seeds. Use a serrated knife to slash an ‘X’ deeply across the dough without deflating the loaf. Bake for 20 minutes at 425F/220C. Dial back the heat to 350F/180C, and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until the loaf develops a structured, toasted-bottomed crust, and the loaf sounds a bit hollow when you knock on it.

8. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes on a rack – or chopsticks balanced on a plate – before slicing into and dousing in dill butter.

Make one extra-large loaf – or two smaller ones if you like. I liked. Don’t forget to bake them for less time.