Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Late February News


My Sweet Honey, Farmer Jeff, is off with his buddies from high school, in Park City, Utah. They are skiing up a storm (apparently with FRESH snow!), eating, playing poker and "hanging out".

I, on the other hand, am home with the flu. Sigh...The first day I was so out of it with fever that I just slept. The second day I watched Gone with the Wind and the Oscars...and still had a fever. The third day I watched daytime tv and started to knit but messed that up cause I am sick! Oh...and had a fever. Today, day 4, no fever, watched old movies, went to the doctor and was told to rest and not go to work until next Monday. Sigh...I'll watch a lot of movies and work on my knitting...and rest!

Remember! Wash your hands frequently, don't rub your nose or touch your eyes until after you have washed your hands, cover all coughs and sneezes and get enough sleep. That is what got me...a sleepless night.

Let's all be healthy!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A Perfect Moment

I just had a perfect moment.

I was outside trimming the dead blooms from last year off of the lilac tree/bush when I recognized that life right now, this very moment, suddenly seemed remarkably special. It wasn't just one thing. It was a living collage.

I could hear the ducks talking to one another as they flew by, hear the farm workers out in the fields across the street, and noticed the feeling of soft, slightly warm air that has teased us with a hint of spring. I could hear the chickens and roosters carrying on, their sounds sliding into the front yard. Knowing that Farmer Jeff was in the mad scientist laboratory basement tenderly setting seeds in his sprouting trays gave me a sense of peace and well-being. The cyclists, as they rode by, were talking about having barbecues in this ideal weather and instantly created a similar desire to grill meat.

I was standing on the top of the planter, trimming dead wood, looking at the sky, and knew, life is wonderful.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Coming Back to Earth

This is a picture of the triumphant crew after our spectacular dinner at the James Beard House on Saturday, February 10th. (photo courtesy of Ms. Harriett Tomato). From left to right: Chef and Husband, Jeff Mall, Sous-chef and spiritual guru, Dan; former pastry chef at Zin and now a student at New England Culinary Institute, Tasha; former pastry chef at Zin and now living/working in NYC, Sydney; chef in a former life, yours truly...Chicken Mama; and our volunteer culinary student from the French Culinary Institute, Katy. Missing from this photo is the lovely Ms. Michele Gentille, my hero, dear friend and very accomplished chef/writer. Please take a look at her blog for the best description of this event: www.harriettstomato.com

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Playing in the big city

Despite the very cold weather, Farmer Jeff and I have been having a really good time. We have ordered the food from the produce market at Chelsea Market/Manhattan fruit company and will pick it up tomorrow. Then we get to haul it back to the Beard house in taxis! Not what we picture when we go shopping back home!

Yesterday, once we got some business out of the way, we went to the Whitney Museum of American art. We are both such fans of Edward Hopper (and I love Calder!) so it was really a treat. For lunch we decided to go someplace traditional, so we went to Grand Central Oyster bar. I think it is resting on its laurels as the food was just okay.

We went wandering the streets of nyc looking for cast iron corn stick pans. I know where to find them at home...but where here??? We looked at Fishs Eddy...no luck, then we went to Whole Foods grocery store...no luck. We scored when we went to Dean and Deluca. We found mini cornstick pans. YEAH!!!

Dinner...ah...wonderful dinner. We went to A Voce, chef Andrew Carmelli. Amazing. We met up with a friend of mine from high school (yes, a very long time ago!) and ate our way through the menu. It is one of the most perfect meals I have ever had. If you have the chance to go...do!!!!

Farmer Jeff and I went over the last minute planning and details for the dinner on Saturday and then we got to go ...out to lunch! For those of you that know we have been on a diet for month, rest assured that we are going back on that diet the day we get home. Although we are eating fabulous food, it is shocking to the system to be eating any fat or pork or flour products after a diet of lots of veggies, tofu, chicken and very little fat. Oh well...all in good time!

Lunch today was at Balthazar, dinner was at Vong. Nice!!!

One of my high points of the trip so far was getting to go to Purl, a knitting shop in Soho. Not only did I find some really great and unusual yarn, they know my friend, Rosemary Hill, and her knit wire "Venezia" napkin rings featured on www.knitty.com
YEAH!!! Go Romi!!!

We also went to the American Folk Art Museum and saw an amazing exhibit of the work of Manuel Ramirez. Google it. The work is fascinating.

Tomorrow we go to work with ice chests full of food: sausages, goat cheese, ancho chile sauce, 9 dz. hard boiled eggs from our hens and lots of other stuff. It will be interesting to take taxis with all of this stuff.

I will give an update when I can. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Tuesday in the big Apple

Chef Jeff and I wandered outside into the vast almost unknown of Manhattan to begin our adventure. We are noticing all kinds of new and different things (we are NOT in Healdsburg/Kansas anymore!) Upon ordering coffee, if you take it with milk - that is considered a regular. Black is...well...black. I don't know what they call it once they add sugar. AND the cost of two coffees was $1.70. A Bargain!!!

We took the subway down into the village and then walked to the James Beard House. Honestly, unless I knew exactly what it was I would have missed it! We rang the door and then heard a man's voice telling us to hold on, that he was coming. An older man opened the door for us and then went back to his table, much like a once official man now holding court. It turned out that this dear man was once the faithful right hand man and nursemaid to James Beard, none other than Clayton Triplette. I asked him to autograph the February program to the JB house for us. I wanted him to feel special again, after so many years of not having JB to look after and of being treasured.

After we wandered around the House, we walked up to the "new" Balducci's at 14th and 8th. What a great space, in a renovated bank. Really a lot of fun. The truly GREAT renovation/new use of old space is Chelsea Market. Every designer that even considers the recyling of a space should see it. We were able to find the great produce market of Manhattan Fruit company. We are going to be able to order the produce we need for the dinner. Hooray!!!! We thought we were going to be shopping on the upper east side and then haul it all down to the village via cab. Now the cab will be going a few blocks! *Star sighting: We saw Bradley from the last season of Project Runway in front of Chelsea Market. WHOO HOO....(and he was wearing a cape!)

Once we figured out the shopping end of things, we went to lunch at Momofuko Noodles on 10th st. and 1st Avenue. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
No less than 3 foodie friends (chefs/writers) told us about this place. We asked the server for recommendations, so we started with pork buns. Not just any pork, but slowly cooked pork belly from heritage pork of North Carolina. The buns had lightly pickled cucumber slices on them then were brushed with something like a plum sauce. Divine. We then ate the brussels sprouts with Tennessee bacon and kim chee puree. Heaven. The next dish was pan friend rice cakes. I will admit to expecting something that would look like risotto cakes, but instead they were white tubes that we grilled on the flat top until crispy all round, then folded into a sauce that reminded me of a spicy shrimp sauce. Yum. The last item we got (yes, we were starting to fill up) was the Momofuko noodle bowl. Rich broth with delicate but perfectly cooked noodles, along with roasted N. Carolina pulled pork, more of the pork belly, mushrooms, collard greens, sliced fish loaf and seaweed. I couldn't finish my half of the dish. It was perfect.

Once we left the warmth of the noodle house and were hit with the cold wind blowing the temp. down into the teens, we sought refuge and a caffeinated beverage at Di Roberti's Italian pastry shop. So civilized. Of course we had to have a biscotti to chase the machiato.

We took the subway uptown to Kitchen Arts and Letters aka Cookbook Mecca. We found and bought all kinds of fun books. Just in time for starting the diet when we return. Boo hiss.

Dinner. Yes, we did eat again. We thought we should try Barbuto, the relatively new Jonathon Waxman restaurant in the meat packing district. We arrived just as the set up crew was finishing up the last of the equipment for some huge fund raiser that Al Gore was appearing at. WOW...

The food: Italian in influence. The look: warm industrial. Lots of glass garage doors and exposed pipes/brick. We ordered the warm squid salad with pomegranate seeds, sliced smoked Italian ham and focaccia and then a plate of perciatelli pasta alla Carbonara. All very nice. The chef was kind enough to send out a plate of tuna sashimi and avocado/tartar. Lovely. He also sent out some warm duck liver on toast. I could eat my weight in that...The striped sea bass with braised fennel and fingerling potatoes was perfectly cooked and SUBLIME. One of the best fish dishes I have had (other than my honey's!) The menu had a very limited dessert menu (gelato, sorbet, biscotti and chocolate pudding.) We got the chocolate pudding. The food was good, simple, well prepared and reasonably priced. We look forward to Mr. Waxman opening up his restaurant in Sebastopol, CA.

After dinner drinks at the Spice Market, one of Jean George Vongerichten's restaurants. It has a very southeast asian menu and smell! Chef Jeff ordered a Kumquat mojito and I got a tamarind soda. A very nice way to end an evening.

Until the next posting from NYC:Enjoy life...eat with friends!

Monday, February 05, 2007

A visit to the Big Apple!

Believe it or not, Chicken Mama and Farmer Jeff have flown the coop and landed in the big Apple during a cold snap and BOY IS IT COLD!!!

Farmer Jeff was invited to cook a dinner at the James Beard House on February 10th so we are here in town now to scout where we will find the remaining ingredients (masa harina, ripe mangoes and ripe avocados!). We brought 2 ice chests wrapped in packing tape and prayed the whole while that we would not arrive at baggage claim to see ancho chile sauce splattered over all of the luggage! Thankfully, we did NOT.

After a ride in a renegade mercedes taxi (and agreeing that we won't ever to THAT again) we dropped out luggage at our dear friend Peggy's apartment and bopped out to grab a bite. Mind you...we got out the door at 10 pm and with a light breeze, it had to have been barely 11 degrees...and then with the breeze...well COLD. I can't seem to accurately describe it without swearing!!! We walked around the blocks looking for an open restaurant and ended up at a so so barbecue restaurant where some guy was hanging out with his kitten on a leash. Okay...this is NYC...we sure aren't in Kansas, Toto!

I will do my best to write a daily account of our visit to the big island (manhattan!)and let y'all know what we are up to!