I took the kid to Italy for his thirteenth birthday; we just got back a few days ago. I realized when we arrived in Rome that it had been fifteen years since I was last there, an inconceivably long time given the crucial part Italy played in forming who I became artistically and culinarily. The visual influences became apparent immediately in my paintings, and that continued until I left figuration behind entirely a few years later. The culinary influence proved to be even more durable, and increased in importance as I began growing and cooking food all the time when we left Brooklyn for the country. Now that I write about food for a living, the Italian approach to ingredients—the simplicity, the honesty, the glorification of peasant frugality—remains one of my touchstones.
Category: Away Games
At the end of February, I spent a long weekend in the city on assignment for Food Republic, covering a couple of natural wine fairs, New York’s first. You can read the preamble I wrote beforehand, and then the post-game recap. Both events were gratifying, with impressive wines across the board and some terrific people and meals thrown in for good measure.
I do enjoy a vacation from blogging sometimes. There has been no shortage of cooking, both here and in Vermont, but not so much documentation. Among other memorable events, I taught a bread class, cooked for 75 or so people at a charity benefit, and fed my family daily as is my wont, but just wasn’t feeling the writing about it part. With an average of a post every other day for six and a half years, I don’t feel bad about taking a break. So now, as regular content resumes—subject to an impending deadline and how well I stave off the cold that Milo caught right before his birthday, torpedoing a weekend’s worth of fun—I’ll begin lazily simply with a few shots of How I Spent My Summer Vacation. Read the Post I’ve Seen Fire And I’ve Seen Sauce
Last weekend we went to Vermont to escape the heat and do some serious relaxing. We brought up a bunch of stuff from the garden and some meat from the freezer so we were well provisioned, though that did not stop us from hitting the Saturday market and getting more food. That evening I went to town on all the bounty, and this meal was the result.
Last night at dinner Jack mentioned that the big agriculture fair was happening down at the convention center at Porte de Versailles. This was doubly coincidental; not only did it accidentally correspond with my visit, but it was in the very same space where I used to install and deinstall copious quantities of contemporary art at the FIAC every October. That fair has moved back into the Grand Palais–it was relocated during extensive renovations–but this agriculture thing is freaking gigantic, using just about all the halls, which translates into acres upon acres of floor space dedicated to food and drink of every imaginable variety (provided it has something to do with France, or at least Europe). This here is the real Charcutepalooza.
Back from Chicago, this evening I revelled in a bunch of fat, beautiful roots from the garden. New potatoes, chioggia beets, carrots of many colors, and turnips, plus foraged black trumpet mushrooms, peas, herbs, wine, vinegar, and salt. I ate it straight out of the pan, standing over the stove, so you will get no picture. But it tasted very good, and I am happy to be home, even if I miss my family who stayed behind for another week. While there, we had some good food, so this post will recap the 4th cookout and a couple of fine bottles we enjoyed at some friends’ house. Because you all care so much about my vacation, and you’re right to.
That’s what the email said, just to ensure that the more squeamish guests would be arriving around 5.
The invitation landed in my inbox because Eve had emailed me, asking “do you know where a friend can get a pig?” and I directed her to Richard at Northwind farm, where they raise a variety of first-rate pastured meat. I get my belly from them (in more ways than one). In exchange for the pig hookup, I got to attend a special sort of barbecue. The kind that begins with a live pig, and ends with dinner. Tate, the host, thought it would be a good idea if all of his hipster Brooklyn foodie pals connected with their meat in an intimate and direct way, seeing exactly what it is that goes into bringing an animal to the plate. It was an interesting idea, and I was by myself that week, so the prospect of meeting some nice people while soaked in pig’s blood seemed like a no-brainer. I charged both camera batteries (I have two now, because Claudia sent me one).
Richard and the pig arrived (a little after noon, actually) and he described how the pig would meet its end. He slipped a couple of ropes around the animal. Tate loaded the .22, and they worked out who would stand where. The picture below shows the moment where the pig figured out that the day was not going to go very well at all.