Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mark and Lynn party like it's 1939 with Specialities de la Maison...

Just released by Collins Design, Specialities de la Maison is a charming facsimile of a 1940 edition of the same name. The book is full of recipes from social, Hollywood, artistic and Broadway royalty collected by the American Friends of France as part of a war relief effort during the early period of WW 2.

This elegant volume (with a forward by Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter) is a kind of time machine for foodies to see what you might have eaten had you dined at the home of Tallulah Bankhead (Southern Fried Chicken), Noel Coward (Filet de Chevreuil-a venison dish), or Salvador Dali ("Neptune Nonsense"-a seafood salad type dish).

Many of the recipes are not terribly familiar to modern tastes like Corn Pudding, and Squab Casserole. Many however, are easy enough to make and unpretentious like Tarragon Chicken and Steak Diane. Lynn in particular was interested in Sweet Sour Fish from the kitchen of Pulitzer Prize winner Pearl S. Buck.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Rosie's Handmade Revolution brings Etsy Nation to Bellport, New York

The opening of Rosie's Handmade Revolution in Bellport this past weekend was cause for celebration for a couple of particular reasons one of which is that Bellport finally has a hip store that has a great collection of affordable, hip and handmade clothing.

Second and of particular interest to us is the small, but nicely put together selection of high end desserts and teas from hipster bakeries like Whimsy and Spice and Cafe Portofino in Northport, NY. We particularly liked Whimsy's delicate, scalloped Honey Lavender offering which Lynn thought had a taste of Provence; a perfect compliment to one of Rosie's teas.
Lynn was also particularly fond of the Hazelnut Chocolate Whiskey Cookies from the Brooklyn Confectioner. Here, Lynn detected a nice pairing of whiskey flavor with a creamy hazlenut ganache in the center of the confection.Lynn also loved Cafe Portofino's lemon bars made with fresh lemon curd. To round this out, we also loved the truffles from the Calabass Candy Company. (for more about the store see our other post from today's date).

Opening of Rosie's Handmade Revolution in Bellport, NY

Rosie's Handmade Revolution
125 S. Country Road
Bellport, NY 11713
T; 631-803-8029

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dahl V for Voluptuous

Sophie Dahl, formerly a high profile model, author, columnist and woman about town has just written a cookbook, Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights (William Morrow). The title is perhaps a play on Ms. Dahl's reputation as one of the more curvaceous high profile models in her day.

The recipes are for the most part very easy to make and Ms. Dahl divides the book up seasonally which makes it consistently relevant. Most of the recipes are not too difficult to make, but at the same time they seem to be attuned to Ms. Dahl's own love of food.

Most of the menus require a few easy to find ingredients which are typically well-balanced combinations of fresh herbs, protein and fresh vegetables.

The book is particularly good for lazy Sunday or late night cooking when fussing over food is usually not the priority.

Of particular note are the lemon spelt pancakes which capture Ms. Dahl's particular aesthetic of health food and decadent pleasure. Also, her tawny granola recipe was crunchy and hearty without the cloying sweetness that even the better commercial offerings tend toward.

Finally, as might be expected, the stylish photos and the stylish presence of Ms. Dahl help make this book a particularly appealing offering.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bad Art + Charmless Receptionist=The Cameron Art Museum does not impress Mark and Lynn...

Lynn and I recently had two sublime visits to two of the great museums in the world (see recent posts about MoMa and Museum of Fine Arts in Boston) which reminded us of a recent bad museum experience at one of the more obscure museums in the south (particularly Wilmington, North Carolina)

Lynn and I visited the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington recently (February) and were underwhelmed in the extreme. First off most of the gallery space was closed as was the cafe (on a Sunday no less). Second, the gallery space that was opened was full of the museum's old collection which I have seen many times.

I understand the need to have some down time between exhibits, but try something different. I had interned at the museum when it was St. John's Museum of Art at its old downtown space (I worked for free while consultants got paid a lot of money for who knows what?). Ren Brown was the Director, Tiffany Kitchen was on staff and there was a lot of stuff in storage that the museum didn't have enough room to hang.

Most of this stuff never made it to the light of day. But our most recent visit made me wonder why that stuff didn't rotate in? Did it get sold, lost, stolen? (as a Minnie Evans piece did when I worked there in the early 90's).

The other issue we had was with the receptionist of all people: She was curt and short and not very charming (I think her name was Nadine something). In any event, she had brownish-reddish hair and snapped at us about the most innocuous questions.

Can't say we would recommend this place, makes more sense to drive the two hours to visit a relatively respectful NC Museum of Art in Raleigh...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

'"Spiced" girl Dalia Jurgensen talks about her memoir of food, cooking and love (not necessarily in that particular order)

Chef and author Dalia Jurgensen has experienced much in her young life including working for the prestigious New York restaurants Veritas, Layla and Nobu. In between some of this she worked for Martha Stewart and lived to tell the tale. At present she is pastry chef at Dressler Restaurant in Brooklyn. To this prestigous resume she can add being interviewed by Mark and Lynn about the paperback release of Spiced: A pastry Chef's true stories of trials by fire, after hours exploits, and what really goes on in the kitchen.

M&L: What is it about being a chef that is inherently so full of ups and downs?

DJ: "I think it’s two-fold. First, when you’re starting out, you tend to switch jobs every year or so to get lots of different kinds of experience. so, with each new job comes a whole new set of people, personalities, rules, good and bad. Starting out I went from a high end Japanese restaurant to a 2-star Mediterranean to catering to a 3-star old school French—each one was a totally different experience. And then, even within a single workplace, each day consists of ups and downs: the quiet of the morning prep through the heat and adrenalin of a busy dinner service through the unwinding of the after work drinking. It definitely keeps things interesting."

M & L: What are the things that sets apart a pastry chef from other food professionals?

DJ: "First, we work in a separate area in the kitchen and most of us, are vigilant about maintaining this separation. We can’t have garlic or fish scales or meat juices running all over our custards and tarts. I wash most of my own tools just so I can make sure my spatuale doesn’t end up stirring and pot of onions and becoming permanently onion-y. And most of our work is done before the customers arrive, as opposed to between the hours of 6-10pm. Just like savory chefs, we have techniques to develop, but for the most part they’re not a la minute techniques like searing fish and cooking meat to medium rare."

M & L: Was there anything you left out of the book?

DJ: "Of course there’s lots of stuff that didn’t make it in, but I think most of it is the day to day tedium of what I do that wouldn’t be that interesting to anyone. And there are a lot of genius one liners that, while hilarious, just didn’t fit into the stories. Maybe that’ll be a different book..."

M & L: Has your taste in food and cooking changed over time or are your tastes consistent?

DJ: "I’m not sure that my tastes have changed so much as they’ve evolved. Over the years, and especially living in New York City, I’ve had so many amazing opportunities to try foods and flavors I probably never would have had I stayed at my office job. All that exploration is definitely one of my favorite parts of being a chef. As I’ve gotten more experience, I’ve gotten more confidence to try new techniques and flavor combinations, and that all helps me to keep developing my style. Again, it keeps things interesting."

M & L: Do you have a particular cocktail that you enjoy?

DJ: " cocktail tastes usually depend on where I am...sitting on a beach, out on the town, at brunch. I love a good bloody mary with plenty of olives, but I also love trying whatever cocktails are specific or special to a particular establishment. I like seeing what new things people come up with."

M & L: How did you come up with the title and the design for the book cover?

DJ: "For the title, I wanted something short and to the point, that related to food and to the feeling of the book, and SPICED turned out to be the one that stood out on a long list of one word titles. For the subtitle, I just wanted to add a little more detail that accurately portrayed what the book is about, the sort of insider stuff I think is so interesting about the working in restaurants. As for the cover, I have to confess that was all in the hands of the people at Putnam and I was simply a willing accomplice!"

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I (Mark) have written for The Christian Science Monitor, Clear Magazine, Picture Magazine, Film Score Monthly, Dan's Papers, Rue Morgue, In Flight USA and a lot more publications that I can't remember.... My wife Lynn was a model with the Ford Agency and her photography has been featured in most of the publications I have written for...


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