Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hello NYC



(Outside: View from the Hudson River Park tennis courts, 8am today. Inside: sheets of pasta drying on my office desk)

"The two moments when New York seems most desirable, when the splendor falls all round about and the city looks like a girl with leaves in her hair, are just as you are leaving and must say goodbye, and just as you return and can say hello."
—E.B White, 1955

Sunday, October 26, 2008

MONTREAL



In Montreal this week/end. Sun, rain, contortionists, foie gras poutine and sweet bagels.
AM: students practicing at the École Nationale de Cirque. PM: "Duck in a Can" at Au Pied de Cochon.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

COLD PIZZA


I'm no graphic designer but I'm not sure how I feel about the use of the universal frosty-cold font for a pizzeria. Even if it is a pizzeria high up in the Swiss mountains. (Cimetta, Switzerland, 5485 ft. 10.6.08)

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

McTerroir


Locarno, Switzerland. 10.6.08.

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NOV FOOD & WINE



That was quick. Returned from Lima on August 8 and now my story about Peruvian food and chef Gaston Acurio is out in the November issue of Food & Wine. In addition to the great food, I was really taken by Gaston's involvement in a cooking school we visited. The students (above) are from the poor surrounding areas. From the story:

"On my final morning in Lima, we drove an hour-and-a-half north of the city to a shantytown called Pachacutec, where wild dogs stood in the dirt road. After the corrugated metal houses faded away, we came to a few new, single-story brick buildings near the ocean. This is the world’s most unlikely cooking school, co-sponsored by Acurio; each day, kids walk miles to learn a trade that they hope will take them away from Pachacutec. In a well-lit room, serious young students whipped up elaborate puddings and fried donuts. They fed me and thanked me for visiting. It was an uplifting place and a reminder that change depends on providing an education you can’t get from cooking shows."



Peruvians compare the typically dreary sky in Lima to the underbelly of a donkey and from the picture above you can see why (that's Gaston's dapper driver Walter in the red sweater standing outside the school). I'd fallen asleep in the car on the drive from Lima and when I woke up we were on dirt roads deep in the giant shantytown. More like a shanty-city. Then no more town and just sand and, like an oasis, this cooking school at the end of the world. I was feeling and looking a little ragged that day—hungover, too much food. The students were bright-eyed and welcoming. One made a very sweet speech welcoming to the school and they all clapped. It was a humbling experience. I wish them all well.

I'll scan the story and put it up on the main site sometime but for the web version is here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

BEFORE/AFTER: CHESTNUT EDITION







Left: Ticino. Right: my refrigerator.

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A FEW MORE FROM AMSTERDAM




Eat herring. Push to walk. Unchain my car. Amsterdam. 9.08.

Monday, October 13, 2008

ATLAS OF IMAGINARY PLACES


Some of the exterior walls of Manhattan's Pier 40, Hudson River at Houston, are painted pale blue and peeling in interesting ways. I was out doing some highly productive day-dreaming & noticed that these looked like maps of unknown islands. Rusted-out continents, fallen into disrepair. Rustania. Crapesia. Lower Peelopia.

HALL OF FAME OF PORK (V)


Fried cotechni with zabaglione. Let me repeat: fried cotechino with zabaglione. Hosteria Giusti in Modena, Italy. More than most things I ate two summers ago I can remember the precise taste and texture of this ridiculous, wonderful thing, or combination of things. BM had a chance to not only eat there but cook for a story a story (see *here*). Mario Batali called the proprietor of Giusti his "go-to man for any and all truths about pork." In The Food of Italy, Waverly Root quotes a 19th century satirical poet Giussepe Giusti, "the existence of Modena sausage makes up for the existence of the Duke." I say simply, respectfully: holy shit.

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RANDOM ARTIFACT MONDAY


Years ago I interviewed Hugh Hefner at the mansion. While we were waiting for Hef to come down in his pajamas—and after I'd had a surreal conversation outside with a wandering aging playmate about the whistling birds and howling monkeys that roam the mansion grounds—one of his trusted lieutenants took me on a little tour. Coming across a pad of note paper, he said "I sign things for Hef all the time, here I'll give you an autograph." And that's what he wrote: "Adam, You suck —Hef"

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

TUE: CH-MXP-NYC





My week in polenta-lake-and-mountain country up, I'm leaving the pretty resort town of Ascona this morning. Early morning drive via Milan w/ as many early AM espresso Autogrill stops as it takes to get me there & then home. Some pictures of Ticino above. More later.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

AUTUNNO



It's fall in Ticino, Switzerland. Hiking on Monte Tamaro the following things fell on my head:
1. Hail. 2. Chestnuts.

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REQUIEM FOR A LIGHTWEIGHT


Some of you nice imaginary readers have asked in the comments what kind of camera I use to take the little pictures here, which is nice and funny because I don't pretend to know what I'm doing with a camera. An answer, too late: For the past couple of years I've had a Panasonic Lumix DMC FX-10 (above) which I really loved and which last Monday died in the line of duty when I let it drop from my pocket onto the pavement, somewhere in Bellagio near Lake Como. I'd flown into Milan that morning and stopped for lunch on my way up north to do a story on Ticino, the mountainy Italian-speaking canton of Switzerland. [I just like saying "canton". I could say "part" or "region" but I am just going to keep saying "canton." Or typing it, I guess. I'm not actually sure how to pronounce it out loud. In my head I have an great accent.] But the camera — why was I talking about the camera? I liked this camera for a lot of reasons some of them even rational. It was easy to get along with. It went with me to a lot of places and remembered them better than I did. So I was sad to see it go, though it had been in ill health recently. It had developed black spots, cataracts of the lens. Sometimes it would jam up and refuse to do any work for a couple of days, usually after I'd stored it in a pocket where I was also keeping a lot of sand. Anyway, I took a ferry to Bellagio, dropped on the way to lunch and, as a result, have no memory of what I ate. Sardines were involved. On the walk back to the ferry I watched a large yellow helicopter land in a clearing in a field. Paramedics (also in yellow, I believe) exited, carrying a stretcher and ran behind the tall grasses where I couldn't see them. I didn't wait around to see if they had an actual patient or if it was some kind of practice run or performance art. There was something strange and dreamlike about the whole depressing scene. I felt melancholy for my lost camera and, of course, I've got no pictures. You'll have to trust me it happened. Once in Lugano, fortified by polenta—which I do remember because I've been eating it for a week—I searched and found a replacement, the warmly familiar yet subtly flashier more wide-angley DMC-FX35. So far, so good, but here's to the old guy, RIP.