August 22, 2008

Double Double

After being on vacation a couple weeks, I went to pick up my Eatwell box with great anticipation. The bounty was playing over in my mind, and a week's worth of fresh local vegetables seemed the perfect antidote to traveling and eating out.

Imagine my profound disappointment as I begin unpacking the box and constructing the night's dinner only to realize that after our simple summer supper, the balance of produce will consist of a few cherry tomatoes, a couple peaches, and since I was using 4 of our rationed 1/2 dozen eggs, only 2 eggs.

The time and energy I spend sourcing our food is for another post, but if we don't get enough in our Eatwell box, I'm relegated to Whole Foods produce the rest of the week because the Farmer's markets are in direct conflict with my work schedule. I know. Gasp. One could have it so bad. But that's not the point. The point is supporting a local food economy.

I fumed while preparing the vegetables. Even formulated a plan for my own garden next summer, which I must say is not such a shabby outcome. That's the direction to be heading, anyway, right?

Then. Then. I make this dish. It's from an old issue of Saveur, and it involves a very simple preparation of sauteed zucchini, onions and peppers with eggs cracked over the top. It's warm and flavorful and comforting. The then part comes in when I crack the first egg. Double yolk. Wow. THEN, I crack the second egg. Another double yolk. Something in the universe is directing me back to a little bit of gratitude.

August 19, 2008

Gearing up: Slow Food Nation

You may or may not have read about the Slow Food Nation event that is set to take place here in San Francisco over Labor Day weekend. I have put some of their icons here on the blog (on the right - there are actually two of them there. I can see both from my mac, but only one from a PC...).

I have started, and deleted, about 3 different paragraphs that try to sum up what the event is all about - but I basically end up totally quoting the Slow Food website. I'm taking the lazy way out - go on over there and read all about it!

One of the reasons I'm bringing it up is to share my excitement. I signed up to volunteer for anything on any day, because I'm just so darn happy this is happening and that it's happening here! Well.....drumroll please.....I have been assigned to the SPIRITS table in the Taste Pavilion. I swear to you that this was a completely random assignment! Perhaps the managers had a sixth sense about me or something... ;)

I will be at the table from 5-10 on Friday night, August 29. Anyone else planning on attending?

August 7, 2008

Tip: Herb storage

The next time you have a bunch of fresh herbs, put them in water that has a good splash of hydrogen peroxide in it.  The kind you buy at the drugstore.  Tent the herbs with a plastic bag, store in the fridge.  I have bunches of basil that have lasted more than 2 weeks like this!!! 

PS: Ruth...yes...that is your St. Benoit jar that I have hijacked... ;) 

August 6, 2008

It's really catching on

Published: August 6, 2008
Supermarkets are beginning to compete with farm stands and farmers’ markets for a wider variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

August 2, 2008

Super easy stovetop summer meal

It's the beginning of August - so most of you are sweltering somewhere.  Not me, but we are pretending that we are and made an easy stove-top dinner using this week's cherry tomatoes (all of them orange).  We saw Lydia make this a week or two ago and couldn't wait for our next batch of cherry tomatoes so that we could replicate it.  It's a perfect weeknight meal - it whizzes up in like 5 minutes.

Spaghetti and Pesto Trapanese

1.5 pints of cherry tomatoes
large handful of almonds, slightly toasted (I think walnuts would also be good?)
1 clove garlic
handful of basil leaves
olive oil

In a food processor - whizz all of these ingredients.  I like to put the garlic in first, to be sure it chops up fine.  On her show, she added the almonds before the tomatoes, but the recipe I use said to put the tomatoes in first.  I don't think it matters.  Add the olive oil last in a steady stream - to your taste.  Lydia always puts in way too much oil for me!

Toss with spaghetti.  Sprinkle with parmesan.  Done.

You could also get sneaky-mom and toss in other veg in here, I'm sure.  Zucchini?  Carrots?

August 1, 2008

Restaurant review: Blue Hill NYC

My husband made reservations for us to celebrate our anniversary by dining at Blue Hill in Greenwich Village. The restaurant has been open since 2000 and prides itself on sourcing their ingredients locally and as much as possible from their own farm, Stone Barns, which is about 20 miles north of Manhattan. We stopped at Stone Barns last year on our way from the Adirondacks to New Jersey. I think I spent most of the day walking around with my jaw hanging open out of sheer awe over it's beauty and functionality.

That might quite an impression on us, so we were looking forward to our meal in the city. We made it there just before our reservation (The plan was to be there much earlier to grab a drink. Thanks a lot, Holland Tunnel.) and were seated not in the main restaurant but in the back or what they called their 'garden section'. Uh huh. Sometimes I wonder when we are placed in these 'special' areas it is because one of us has the wrong kind of shoes on or something. Well, the back room was really lovely and was not so dark like the main dining room. We were able to enjoy our meal with the lingering natural sunlight.

To recap the meal from memory (average-joe style and not restaurant critic style):
Appetizer: corn ravioli in a corn broth with celtuse (cross btw lettuce & celery) and roasted cherry tomatoes. The ravioli were so delicate and tender and you could tell by the deep yellow color that there was either a substantial amount of eggs and that they were fresh from the farm.

Entree: I had poached hake (I asked if it was an Atlantic fish, as I was unfamiliar with it, and the server said 'Long Island Sound??' and shrugged his shoulders, not knowing if that was the Atlantic Ocean or not. Wow. And he had been working there for 6 years...) in a vegetable pistou and my husband had farro with lamb shank and pork belly, fresh vegetables also played - asparagus and ...? I forget since it wasn't my dish!

Side: blanched haricots verts in a vinaigrette. SO simple. SO delicious. Something we wouldn't think of making for some reason. Maybe because I am no good at dicing shallot into a brunoise. They have to really be itty bitty for this to work, in my opinion.

Dessert: Strawberry granita served over farm-fresh yogurt, blueberries, strawberries. MMM. It was way better than it seemed it would be.

What I found so charming at first, and laughable later, were our amuse-bouche and mignardises...if you could call them that! Before our dinner, a server brought out a wooden block that was spiked with these long needles in the shape of a long 'S'. On either end of the S were two cherry tomatoes. Our server elegantly placed them in front of us with a: 'fresh from the farm. enjoy.' Oooookkkk. Pop into the mouth,...yes they are good....but come on. If anything, at least give me a whole bowl of them! After dinner was over, we were given a dish with two, small sugar plums. Cute. And yes, they were good, but again...not as special as the restaurant thought they were? Maybe if I was living in Manhattan I would be oohing and ahhing over the farm fresh goods, but even NYC has a farmer's market. So, I wasn't buying it.

All in all, everything was very good...although we both found each dish to be almost too salty. They took it right to the edge with the salt before going overboard. I like to taste salt, but every few bites it was getting in the way. Would I go back? If I lived nearby, it would be fun to go once a season. I would especially like to see how they deal with what produce comes from their greenhouse in February :)