I am a sucker for the milky, porky tonkotsu ramen broth which is super-charged with porcine collagen. It is one of the few opportunities one gets to drink gravy without being scapegoated, and let’s be honest tonkotsu broth and gravy are not terribly different when either are done well. You could understand my surprise when, upon trying both tonkotsu and shoyu ramen at a new local shop, I favored the shoyu. Had I overlooked shoyu ramen just because it was not the John Bonham of broths that tonkotsu is? Continue reading
I am from Wisconsin. Cheese is made from dairy. This is not negotiable.
But I had a dish labeled “Cashews and Orange Vegetables” at the brilliant restaurant, Elizabeth, last year which tasted just like macaroni and cheese and I was transfixed. Salty and funky with a distinct flavor of whatever comes in the foil packets in the blue boxes. I remember remarking on how it was cool to use cashews in place of macaroni. In reality, the cashews were in place of the cheese. Also in reality, macaroni and cheese from the blue box does not contain anything which would qualify it as cheese by my qualifications above, so scratch that analogy. Continue reading
It has been months since our trip to Charleston. As mentioned in a post about boiled peanuts, one of the stops we the local farmer’s market. We picked up those green peanuts, and we also picked up a bag of hibiscus buds. The reality of actually having to figure out what to do with them did not hit me until we arrived at home. I tossed some into a salad as both color and flavor – the buds carry a subtle acidic tanginess, but then thought I might buy myself a little time and went into preservation mode. Continue reading
Always wanting to keep current on condiments, I spotted a Twitter post recently showing a photo which looked far less interesting than its name. It looked like a puree of peas, but had a name which indicated something far more sinister. To me, yuzukosho sounds the food equivalent of the sound made when Townshend slams his guitar and when I finally searched for what it was, I realized the name was right on. Continue reading
In the fall, I was gifted a giant bucket of concords (more like grapes stolen with permission, but potayto, potahto). With a bunch, I made raisins which ended up in sausages. With the remaining, I took inspiration from Sean Brock, who has been souring produce for years and using it to accentuate the fresh produce it is made from, and made concord grape vinegar. Continue reading
There used to be five condiments – ketchup, mustard, mayo, horseradish and tabasco sauce. Realizing full well how the spectrum was slightly larger in different places, but where I grew up, in my parents’ house, we had five. Now the world, and the world of condiments, is larger. Now, the world of condiments is so large all you need is something to put a condiment on and the fortitude, patience, and desire to find a way to make it. With a forkfull of scrapple without the right condiment, I demanded the combination of the two right condiments – maple syrup and hot sauce – and then I made maple hot sauce. Continue reading
In late September, I love green tomatoes. Tart and firm, they prove far more useful than simply slicing and frying (although, when made well, fried green tomatoes are fantastic). By the turn of the month, I can barely stand the sight of them, so the green tomatoes are for pickling at that point. My favorite method remains curry pickled tomatoes, but this year as I made them, I wondered about instead of making something that is vaguely Indian in style, I actually might make something Indian. Continue reading
It is a fermented world, and we are just living in it.
Many people see kimchi, fermented “x” or house-made “y” and their eyes roll like slot machines. I understand it. You have limited your purview to the kinds of restaurants that do those things and many do them, to various levels of success. I am not a fan of places serving food which is below par, but I am big believer of trying it yourself. I am a big believer of if your restaurant scene’s biggest problem is there are too many people trying to ferment, cure and pickle, then you are in a pretty damned good spot. The alternative might be a group of people pushing the landscape of the new food frontier, but more likely, the alternative is the bleak landscape of Ruth’s Chris, Applebee’s and diners serving up frozen, prepackaged food off of the Sysco truck. Continue reading
One of my obsessions in pickling over the past few years has been pickling vegetables which have been smoked or charred. I feel the additional textures and flavors that can be applied through dry heat and smoke can make some pickles more interesting and bring qualities that you would not expect. Continue reading
Like home-grown celery, aged beef, and real yogurt, you think these things should taste like the veg, beef, and yogurt in the supermarket until you take the first bite. It is at that point when you realize that whatever you were eating your whole life has been complete and utter junk and you can never go back. In this case, I had gotten a care package that included a bags of rye flour and bran from Geechie Boy mill on Edisto Island in South Carolina – one of my favorite makers of cornmeal – and I am ruined for most other rye products for life. Continue reading