Mint-Julip-2

The first shoots of mint have sprung through the soil as if sensing the approach of the Kentucky Derby. The sun is out here in Cleveland, the birds are chirping, and the Browns made sensible draft choices.  All of which call for a mint julep this weekend. In my first post on this drink several springs ago, I served a somewhat unconventional julep and was roundly taken to task for it (no crushed ice? in a glass?). Deservedly. So herewith an almost traditional version, which is simply mint leaves, muddled with sugar, and bourbon, served over crushed ice in a silver cup. My only variation is for serving multiple juleps. A great strategy if you’ve invited people for Derby Day. Some may find the verdant hue unnerving but it’s worth it for the clean mint flavor Read On »

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Egg20

  I’m writing today to introduce a writer whom readers of this site may not know, Chris Offutt. I didn’t know his work until a friend sent me his essay “Trash Food,” published in the Oxford American, a fine magazine devoted to exploring southern culture. From here I went to an essay titled “Chicken Eggs.” Maybe you read about him recently in his essay in the NYTimes magazine about his pornographer father (an essay that landed him on Fresh Air shortly after), from his upcoming memoir. But it was his “Chicken Eggs” that so affected me, and also made me wonder why some “literary” writers reach a large popular audience and others don’t. Because judging from “Chicken Eggs” alone, this writer deserves a larger audience. In this essay, he writes a lot about eggs, a subject Read On »

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IMG_2732

  This is my new favorite cookbook. I’ve long made a fuss about not liking cookbooks, because I don’t. Cookbooks are too often about recipes, and that’s not what cooking is about. I tried to write an anti-cookbook, Ratio, that intended to help the home cook rely on proportions and technique rather than recipes. It had a ton of recipes in it anyway (editor request). I admired books with a genuine voice, David Lebovitz‘s books, Judi Rodgers’s Zuni Cafe Cookbook. Well-written cookbooks. I didn’t dislike recipes per se. I still rely on a page torn from Saveur with a fabulous falafel recipe—too many ingredients to remember, let alone their proportions. I have to look at my own recipe for fried chicken to make the seasoned flour (included in the above book above, happily). So what is Read On »

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_COVER Mastering Pasta

I’d like to use Philadelphia chef Marc Vetri‘s new book to rejoice in pasta. It’s called Mastering Pasta: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi, and Risotto I love pasta! Carbs! Bring them on! How have we brought this upon ourselves? This Anti-Carb Nation. This Gluten-Fearing Country. If I were texting this, I would conclude with my avatar and the new Bitmoji offering: Cray-Cray! (I admit to spending too much time trying to create entire narratives with my Bitmoji avatar.) Seriously, it’s time for us to TAKE BACK OUR PASTA! Vetri’s book (written with the excellent David Joachim) is a fine place to start, with everything you need to know about pasta and making it and shaping it. Indeed, I especially liked the chapter on hand-shaped pastas, probably because I will never spend three hours shaping lorighittas Read On »

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pasta with asparagus & egg X3 @540

    I just spent several days in Philadelphia hanging out with a group of small(ish) family grocers. Food highlights were the excellent burger at Bank & Bourbon on arrival, a Yards rye ale, followed by a flight of bourbons that finished with a very good special barrel from Knob Creek specifically for the bar. Last night’s dinner at Spraga was great—what a lovely room. The starting foie and ginger soup (I think they said foie) was outstanding, as were the duck and lobster pastas. Highly recommend. Also spent some time tasting amazing cheeses at DiBruno Bros. on Chestnut Street. Fabulous Von Trapp Oma, a raw milk cheese that had great balance of flavor and richness. I’m off now to Minneapolis to see some more grocery stores and attend the AWP conference. I’m on the road and busy, Read On »

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