A whole box of tiny French ceramic doodads for baking into king cake. @reversibleskirt
I’m going to eat this?
I moved to Oakland a few months ago but only just started to feel permanent. I miss Brooklyn but it’s memory is fading no matter how much a stalk it on Facebook. All the habits and circles I moved in there are slowing showing up around here. Getting back into pickling is a big part of settling in, feeling like myself again. Not like I’m even that great at pickling. I had a catastrophe recently in trying to make collard kraut. The whole mess of it reeked in a way that would make you blush. Telling myself it was just the ferment getting off to a weird start was a lie I couldn’t stomach anymore, literally and figuratively. Disposing of the bad batch was like that human fat theft scene in Fight Club. But more stinky.
In my new place with my new roommate and our houseful of free kitchen things from the internet, I made a batch of sake quick pickles for my housewarming party this past weekend. 2:3 sake to rice vinegar for the brine plus ginger, jalapeno, and shredded shiso leaf. Shiso leaf is so pretty whole. It’s a shame I had to chop it up. It clumped so hideously even while it did the right thing, flavor-wise. Other than that these pickles were fresh and crisp without too much booze or vinegar flavor. The sake plus ginger tempered the usual acidity of my refrigerator pickles. All in all, these smelled really good. My pickling self esteem is intact.
In the background are mochi peanuts. Japanese snack foods make me buy them, what can I do?
Yesterday I made a snack food stir fry: old brown rice, the dregs of these pickles and their juice, pan fried with leftover spicy honey butter from one of six party popcorn flavors I had made plus smoked salmon. I ate the party’s garbage for dinner, that’s right.
Getting used to my new kitchen, Oakland, California.
The best thing about this is that it’s in the men’s bathroom of the pizzeria where I work (as of two months ago). Someone felt so good about pizza while they were there that they just had to draw this cheesy love note to pizza right away. Tell pizza how you feel!
Popcorn garlands are for the birds.
No better surprise than your mom coming home late (from a date, good for her) with bar snack leftovers. She couldn’t remember what these things or what hotel bar in downtown Portland she ordered from (guess the date went well), so this was snack-by-sense for me. Dried out baguette, pickled fennel and red onions are obvious. The processed pork not so. The reddish one was a terrine with the flavor of a mellowed out pepperoni, so must have been spiced and fermented in some way. It begged for mustard so I gave it mustard. The other looked like and tasted like scrapple. Do you know scrapple? It’s hard to find outside NY-NJ-Philly area. Scrapple is mid-Atlantic chitlins. Scrapple is the scraps of pigs once the cuts have been separated. The fatty bits are pressed together into a porky patty and fried to a hellish crisp. You couldn’t detect its various origins, the meat is so homogenized when it shows up with your fried eggs and home fries. As a kid, I loved scrapple. Loved it. My brain destroyed my feelings when I grew up and learned about it. Any day now there will be nose-to-tail butcher shops selling ethical scrapple for painful prices per pound. This mystery meat that my mom brought home from the bar had the flavor if not crunchiness of good old East Coast scrapple. And in a way, is terrine or pâté really so different? Meat these ways is so far removed from its simple start. Scrapple and terrine don’t say “pig” like a chicken wing says fowl. There’s a pun on the tip of my tongue…
Unidentified snacks that came home with my mom, Portland, Oregon.
Cups overfloweth in Portland, Oregon. Everything just seems so much easier than New York! You can get a brunch cocktail and an appetizer in one tall order. My friend Mikey’s favorite category of drink is “with food in them,” such as Pimm’s Cup and heavily adorned martinis. He’d have ordered two of these in his perpetually hungry way. No shit: this bloody Mary has pork and shrimp AND cheese in it. Didn’t stop it from going right to my head.
Drinks as brunch, Portland, Oregon.
Incumbent best friend Etosha (I promoted her to “wife” to make room for other best friends) has become such an incredible bartender since we first tasted alcohol in bootlegged bottles of old Grandad and 40s of 211 in our less than innocent teen years. I finally made good on my promise to live with her for a little while on this ranch in coastal Marin county. I brought her a bottle of gin from Bar Hill distillery in Vermont, a new favorite of mine. She added Violette liquer, lemon, and a wild raspberry from the brush-covered boulders that look to the ocean. The simple juniper and raw honey of the gin (I love that that’s all for aromatics in Bar Hill) were there, under this fresh flower of a drink that Etosha mixed up. She must’ve considered the scent of the landscape too - as yuppie ecologist as this may sound, the drink paired beautifully with the eucalyptus, fennel, and sage that grow wild all over this place.
Welcome home to California cocktails by my best friend, by the sea, at sunset, Muir Beach, California.
When I graduated from college a family friend (where are you now, Rainey?) gave me a bottle of 2003 Châteauneuf-du-Pape. I had no idea what it was. My aunt and uncle, worldly gourmands with European parents, knew better. We stashed it in their basement near the inflatable alligators and the junkyard of a tool box. This week, a decade later, we broke into the bottle to accompany a special dinner. I only know a little more about wine now than I did then, or rather my palate is a bit more sensitive…which feels like I just know more words and how to eat more slowly. Anyhow, I thought this pâté I smuggled from Canada on that motorcycle trip I mentioned would make a good cooking treat. “Mmm, smells like cat food!” said my ever-honest aunt. We are a cat loving family that could probably confess that cat food smells good sometimes. I can’t say it tasted anything like the chicken liver pâté with shallots and apples my mom makes. This is goose liver pâté with brandy, containing pork and duck parts as flavor enhancers. Of course pork is a flavor enhancer! How redundant to say so, Canada. Beyond fatty goodness, the pork does the service of removing all trace of that fine sand texture I find distasteful in bird pâté. In small chunky spoonfuls on salt baguette with a glass of watery Pernod (the way I like it), this was an indulgent snack to precede a meal of lamb chops, fried potatoes, and my first aged wine.
New pâté and old wine, on a porch in southwest Ohio.
Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of a trip to Montreal on the back of a motorcycle. Took some courage and most certainly a good snack. We went from the Northeast Kingdom in Vermont over back roads and to the highway that was not-so-interstate as what I’m used to in New York. The route had only a two of the requisite gas stops with those freaky cheese-filled nacho flavored hot dogs rotating in greasy cases, which I wouldn’t want to eat anyway. We made the smart choice to bring this bag of salty smoked almonds. We called them safety almonds as they kept us safe from road trip garbage, from stopping too long, and from getting crazy hungry. Just like in a car, or maybe even more so, sitting still on a motorcycle works up an inexplicable appetite. For me, bouncing around on the back, my noisy stomach was my will battling my fear of rain clouds and bad drivers.
I want to mention that in Southeastern Canada, just like the US, the cornfields are parched to nothing this summer.
Safety almonds, Vermont to Canada on a Triumph Scrambler.