Chances are you live a stone’s throw away from a Thai restaurant in your neighborhood, and you’ve got a go-to local favorite for pad thai. These days I often find myself traveling north of Berkeley, where there’s quite a few wonderful Thai eateries clustered in Albany, El Cerrito and San Pablo locales.
Archive for January, 2009
There has always been a special place in my heart for the Negroni. Not always. I stayed away from them in elementary school, naturally. I don’t think I even tried my first until well into my twenties. And I’m not quite certain I liked it then.
But I liked the idea of the Negroni. It was and is a sophisticated, world-weary drink– one with Italian origins and bitter complexity, yet remarkably, charmingly straight forward. It is not a drink that should be knocked back like whiskey, nor can it be co-opted or diluted with other ingredients and still be called by its proper name. It is the sum of its equal, co-dependent parts: gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari. It must be savored and considered.
I love cherries and I’m also quite keen on beer, so you would think that I would have jumped at the chance to try a Belgian cherry beer on tap when offered one; yet I at first refused. Although I adore cherries — they may just be my favorite fruit — I abhor fake cherry flavoring. This is why I am unable to take cough medicine or drink cherry soda. It just tastes fake and wrong to me. So last year, while visiting the lovely city of Haarlem in the Netherlands, I had to be convinced to try the cherry beer that is a staple at most pubs in the fall. I am so glad I relented.
All Summer long chocolatiers suffer as warm weather makes working, not to mention shipping their delicate product a challenge. But Winter comes along and everyone I know craves chocolate. Hot chocolate, chocolate confections, chocolate cake, it’s all good.
This coming Saturday you can indulge your desire for chocolate and find out what to drink with your favorite bon bon. CocoaBella Chocolates will be hosting a Top Chocolatier Pairing Event, featuring Christopher Elbow of Christopher Elbow Artisanal Chocolates, Fritz Knipschildt of Knipschildt Chocolatier, and Jeff Shepherd of Lillie Belle Farms.
So, I’m not a Washingtonian. I was born there and lived there for three short years before we took off for points middle-west, but I’m clearly no Beltway insider. Naturally, I didn’t know what a “half-smoke” was until I saw the discussion surrounding it and Obama’s trip to Ben’s Chili Bowl on Meet the Press with video reposted at Serious Eats.
Wasn’t I just talking about how obsessed we all are with every little move Obama makes, including where and what he eats?
On a cold day, a cup of hot chocolate is about as good as it gets — well, as far as food and beverages go. More often than not, people get their hot chocolate fix from Starbucks or another coffee shop, spending about $3.00 a cup. For a family of four, this can add up — especially if your kids are prone to dropping their to-go cups inches from the front door of the cafe, as mine are.
I’d never heard of Monkey Bread until a few weeks ago. The name immediately caught my attention. The image of monkeys picking at a loaf of bread as they would nits off each other’s backs came to mind. Charming, I thought. I wanted to know more about it.
Not that there’s much to know.
The etymology is vague. The term “Monkey Bread” has several possible origins: some people believe that the bread resembles the shape of a monkey puzzle tree, but I feel that these people are out of their heads, perhaps having fallen from the top of one the trees themselves. Other people believe that the name derives from the act of pulling the pastry apart with the fingers, much like monkeys might do, if they were presented with such a treat. I have ruled out the theory that this was a bread frequently baked and fan-mailed to the likes of Mickey Dolenz or Davy Jones by swooning teen-aged girls in the 1960′s because the spelling is all wrong. The timing, however, is only a decade away from being correct.
So there we were, at the bar and in need of a cocktail. After a few libations piqued my interest, and I found myself being indecisive, I asked the bartender what he’d suggest. “Oh, definitely the Celeraic, it’s really good and interesting.” Hrm. But what about the egg white? I’m not so sure of that. Is it slimy? I could just imagine it slithering down my throat. Blech. He assured me it wasn’t like that. Based on their reputation, I decided to trust him. Every eye at the bar was on him when he was making my Celeraic, a bit of gin, some lemon, pineapple juice, the suspicious egg white, all topped off and finished with a spritz of bitters…
I get plenty of press releases about $100+ dinners. But really good deals are hard to find when it comes to dining and more desirable now than ever. For the next couple of months I’m going to try to focus on events under $40. We’ll see how it goes…
In addition to some personal New Year’s resolutions, I have a couple that have to do with lowering my impact on the earth and shrinking my carbon “foodprint”.
I am pretty proud of my low-impact ways: I eat locally, I car share, I recycle, and I buy bulk from the co-op. In short, I live a lot of my life taking the environment and my impact on the environment into consideration.
But I’ve known for a while that I could do more, and have tailored a couple of resolutions to that end.
Well, they’re all saying that Barack Obama is our first president in a long time to be just a “regular guy.” And what do “regular guys” do, just like you and me? They go out to eat, and then they go on Check, Please! and they talk about it!
No, I’m totally serious. Barack Obama will be on Chicago’s Check, Please! (the original incarnation of the show, by the way) on January 16th, 18th, and 20th, according to the Dixie Kitchen & Bait Shop website.
No need to shock my system by going cold turkey. With one final, brave stick of butter and lots of booze still in the house, I turn to an old favorite for winding down slowly.
For those trying to watch their cholesterol intake, you can stop reading right now. Ditto for the vegetarians and the hard-core dieters. Teetolers might also want to move along.
For those remaining — those of us who still manage to reward ourselves during these darkest days of January — it’s time to whip up some chicken liver paté.
It’s funny how things come full circle. My mother grew up in Glendale, CA, and when she went halfway across the country for college, my grandmother started sending her California-grown pomegranates in the mail. For four years, the U.S. Post Office carried round, ruby-skinned exotic fruits from California’s sunny climes directly to the frozen tundra of Michigan.
Or perhaps that should read a head.
One of my resolutions for the new year is to eat more vegetables, especially greens. Hardy leaves like chard, kale, and mustard greens are all well and good, but I’ve been going steady with escarole as of late.
I think I’m in love.
If you’re wondering why on earth I have a photo of a smiling, gap-toothed 1970′s sitcom star thrown up here, you are entirely too young for me to be talking to you.
We’ve all heard horror stories about rock-hard fruitcakes. They’re supposedly the favored gift to “re-gift,” can last for years, and are hockey-puck textured. According to the late Johnny Carson, “The worst gift is a fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world, and people keep sending it to each other.”
I thought this all more legend than reality, however, as I had never actually tasted one in person until recently. This could be because I’m Italian and my people don’t make traditional fruitcakes (we instead eat the divine panetone), or maybe people just don’t give each other fruitcakes anymore. Whatever the case, I was out of the loop until I purchased one in Scotland a couple of months ago.