Mmmmmm… Mediciney

Yesterday was glorious, and I made all sorts of spring cleaning-y progress in the garden, including spreading some leftover compost on a few beds and doing some early planting. This year is a late one—some beds still have frozen soil—but for the most part it’s all workable and good to go. Last year’s parsnips are as sweet as bananas, especially with some of the homemade maple syrup; the last batch went a bit long on the stove and became a surpassingly splendid burnt caramel with many possible applications. I’ll have a post or two elaborating on that combination at some point soon.

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Tail Of The Cock

I do so love my new camera. And, as if on cue, thanks to the Muslim tyranny of Obamalight Savings Time™, now it’s fully light out at cocktail time! I do hope Rand Paul succeeds in his quest to have all those huge government warehouses full of extra daylight opened up. Just think how much brighter we’ll all be then!

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High Spirits

I’ll be on WPKN radio in Bridgeport, Connecticut tomorrow morning at 9:15, talking about regional spirits and drinks for holiday gift-giving and numbing the anguish of spending extended time with family. Down below there’s a list of links to producers I will likely mention.

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Meadier Shower

For the August Chronogram, following on the heels of the beekeeping article, I profiled a new meadery up near Albany. Helderberg Meadworks, a tiny operation, could be the beginning of a renaissance of the ancient craft the way distilling and hard cider have both exploded into major new sectors of the agricultural economy. Those are oak barrel staves that Peter Voelker puts in the fermentation tanks to impart the flavors his Norse ancestors would have had in their . . . → Read More: Meadier Shower

Clever Name Pending

Just a quick one, because I have a lot to do today. This is a cocktail I invented the other night, and I’m pretty happy with it. Like my cooking, my mixology tends to be improvised and unmeasured. The results are usually quite good, occasionally not so much, and once in a while they’re superb. This one is an excellent aperitif, since it doesn’t have any hard liquor in it; everything is around 18 percent alcohol. It’s got a lovely balance between sweet, sour, and bitter, and it whets the appetite very nicely.

Two ounces of sake (this was a good daiginjo), half an ounce each of dry vermouth and Byrrh, a couple of dashes of bitters, and a generous squeeze of lemon or lime. Shake, strain, and serve up in a chilled glass. Garnish with the citrus of . . . → Read More: Clever Name Pending

Writing Like It’s My Job

I contributed two pieces to this month’s Chronogram: an exploration of local mixology (using just Hudson Valley ingredients) with Paul Maloney of Kingston’s Stockade Tavern, for which I also took the pictures, and a more serious look at how our farmers have coped with recovery from last summer’s flooding, including the major problems with crop insurance and waterway management that have not yet been . . . → Read More: Writing Like It’s My Job

Le Prince D’Aquitaine À La Tour Abolie

I reread my France posts recently, and it already feels sort of like if it happened to someone else, especially the early ones (since I was so jetlagged). And there are still so many photos and so much information left to process. Since the freshness of the experience fades in inverse proportion to said processing, future posts in the “Things What I Learned In France” department are likely to be less literal and more an organic assimilation of the information I absorbed while there. This post is about an homage to Gascony that popped into my head as I unwrapped the many goodies I had stashed in my luggage, including a sampler of the Chapolards’ charcuterie–saucisson sec, saucisse sèche, and noix de jambon–which Dominique graciously gave me and which somehow ended up swaddled in plastic bags and dirty laundry and buried deep in the recesses of my suitcase for the trip home.

I kid, of course; bringing those things home would have been illegal. Also, there was the Armagnac. And the prunes, and the Tarbais bean and Espelette pepper seeds, and pistachio oil and truffle salt and other items that would be at the top of your must-have list if your plane happened to disappear into the Bermuda Triangle and leave you stranded on some desert island somewhere like in a certain TV show that actually managed to be more annoying than Twin Peaks. I’m all about the pragmatism.

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Duke Of Prunes

Château de la Grangerie was built in the twelfth century as a monastery. Today, three generations of the Langalerie family make Armagnac, Floc de Gascogne (Armagnac diluted with the unfermented grape juice that all such brandy begins as), and the prunes for which the region around Agen is rightly renowned. We swung by for a visit, since Kate loves their Floc and the site is beautiful.

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Prophylaxis Of Evil

With the wet, semi-cold weather comes the familiar scratchy-throated, fatigued feeling of impending sickness. We all have our various folk remedies. Mine centers around immediate and prolonged sleep, and has been known to include (in extreme cases) swabbing the throat with cut garlic cloves and cotton swabs dipped in tabasco sauce. Recently, though, when a couple of fingers of good whiskey neat don’t seem quite enough, I’ve been playing around with the storied combination of booze, honey, citrus, and hot water.

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A Lighter Shade Of Fail

So prior to our dinner with Mike and Claudia, I ran out to procure some libations. Rosé was easy, and yes, I know I’m supposed to be writing a post about the ones we’ve been knocking back with extreme prejudice in this suddenly sweltering weather. (It’s a good thing Al Gore is fat, or I’d really be worried about this climate change hoax that he’s trying to scam us all with). But I also wanted sake, on account of the Korean barbecue.

Now our local place–that’s pretty much across the street–has a good selection of rosé. Sake? Not so much. It looks like the Gekkeikan distributor made them an offer they couldn’t refuse, so that’s pretty much all they have. Except that they also have a bunch of nigori sake, the opaque, unfiltered sweet variety about which I know next to nothing. It might be worth mentioning at this point that I know next to nothing about sake period, other than a few kinds that I particularly like and a few words to look for. But the low alcohol and frequent use of the English word “sweet” kept me away from it.

So I asked Mike to grab a bottle from a different store about 3 miles away, remembering a particularly nice bottle of junmai daiginjo I bought there last year for about $25. I told him to call me from the store with any questions, and he did. He said “this place got mugged by Gekkeikan” or something along those lines, and . . . → Read More: A Lighter Shade Of Fail

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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