Friday, February 27, 2009

MY WAR ON BRUNCH; MORE MARCH MAGS


GQ this month has a big thing about the best breakfasts in America or the world or something. Within this larger story there is a tiny, angry, lunatic piece by me called WHY BRUNCH BLOWS in which I declare brunch dead and use a lot of exclamation marks. To read this important piece of breakfast journalism, go HERE. On a more positive note, the flip side of that very same piece of printed paper carries an even smaller ode to the DELICIOUS MORNING BUN from Tartine Bakery, San Francisco which I non-blogged about last summer HERE. GQ actually used my photo of the morning bun, which is kind of cool.

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MONTREAL IN MARCH NGT


The nice editors of National Geographic Traveler called to tell me that Montreal was the most "playful" city in the world. OK, I said. Would I, they asked, go there and find the playfulness and report back? OK, I said. Mostly this involved talking to contortionist teachers at the national academy of circus, dodging the rain and drinking coffee with some interesting folks who love their city. Also: eating sweet Fairmount bagels, foie gras poutine (above, from the excellent Au Pied de Cochon) and a lot of other things that didn't make it into the story because it wasn't a food story. Anyway, I think everyone can agree Montreal is a fine city. PDF of the story is HERE. I'll put up a link to an online version when I can find one.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

FAUXMOFUKU? MYMOFUKU?


I know this is supposed to be mostly a travel not-blog but sometimes I'm not traveling which means, usually, I'm at home trying to avoid avoiding work. Which means, usually, playing in the kitchen (if my office and kitchen were on different floors I would be much more productive). Walking home from Chinatown yesterday I stopped at a market to look for a quick lunch snack. Noticed these buns labeled "Steam Pita Bread" which look similar to the ones Momofuku uses to wrap their justly-famous pork buns. Figured I'd make my own homegrown approximation. Bought a couple pounds of pork belly at the same Chinatown market. Added some hoisin sauce I had and leftover white wine and some randomish spices, threw it all in a pot in a low oven and let it gurgle away for the afternoon. Assembled the pork in the buns with a quick cucumber pickle I made and steamed it all together which made everything nicely warm and gooey. Added a couple of drops of sriracha. Have to say: pretty momofukuing good. Cheap. Basically no work. Which reminds me…

Friday, February 20, 2009

STILL LIFE WITH BREAD & BUTTER (OR: EVEN MORE ABOUT THE DOLOMITES)




Still harping on my Bon Appétit story about the Dolomites. For some reason my pictures of the bread and butter at La Perla hotel's La Stüa de Michil in Corvara came out very arty. I wasn't sure what kind of arty so I asked my good and wise friend Val who is a fancy art dealer (I believe that's the term) what kind of pretty picture I was taking. Val writes: "That's a goddamn beautiful bread basket. Too sensual to be Dutch. I'm going to put your photo in with the Spanish painters of the 17th c., for its contrast of dark to light, its stagelit aura. Zubaran. Velasquez." So the Zubaran-Velasquez setting on my camera works!

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MORE ABOUT THAT POLENTA



This is Rifugio Scotoni, the little mountainside hut I mentioned in my Dolomites story in this month's Bon Appétit, and this is the polenta at Scotoni, the best polenta in the world. If you are some other polenta, really it's time to pack it in, give up, go home and just be happy being cornmeal and get a job being a taco or at the bottom of an english muffin. This is the polenta elite and you don't have what it takes. And what it takes apparently is a lot of cheese. The cook here sees polenta as primarily a cheese delivery system. He takes three local cheeses—Fontina, Schiz and Dobbiaco—and folds them into the polenta and flips and turns it and keeps working the stuff until as, as I say in the story, he somehow manages to "elevate the humble polenta to a many-textured thing of complex, creamy, grainy, crisp-edged, gooey-but-sturdy wonder. The magic polenta sits next to a pork sausage, more German or Austrian than Italian, split down the middle and grilled—simple, salty, good. This is fortifying food that cries out for its own classification in the Michelin Guide: Worth Climbing a Mountain For."
(Whole story is HERE)

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

ARGENTINA ON TWO HOURS OF SLEEP A DAY (SOME RANDOM PICTURES)


Down in sunny Buenos Aires today, getting ready to fly back to cold NYC. Good week here and in Mendoza. There was a lot of wine involved. And fancy chefs. And, above, empanadas.

Polo match at Cheval des Andes, the winery owned by Chateau Cheval Blanc. The Andes are behind the players. The sparkling wine and ladies in sun dresses are behind the camera. Not a bad way to spend the morning.

A private tasting with Laura Catena and her charming winemakers at Catena Zapata in Mendoza

A coffee, some water con gas, old men reading newspapers, taxi blurring by and a book (not shown): Pretty good recipe for how to spend an afternoon.

DOLOMITES (FINALLY)


My story about hiking up snowy mountain passes in search of perfect polenta and driving the rental car into walls of ice in the insanely beautiful Dolomites region of northern Italy is finally out in the March issue of Bon Appétit magazine. Check out the story HERE. Hope you like it.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

BUENOS AIRES BOUND


Headed down to Buenos Aires tonight. As I have no picture of me sweating and running to catch the Air Train (and who would want to see this) I offer SOMETHING ELSE, randomly: recently published interview with the lovely Rashida Jones, part of my continuing series of brief conversations with pretty women about what they like in other men. More, relevant and, I hope, sun-drenched pictures from Argentina shortly.