April 5, 2015 – Hungry Uncle’s Kitchen
While I certainly don’t lay claim to the notion of roasting an entire head of this nutrition packed veggie, the recipe will provide a different twist.
Remove the leaves and cut the bottom from a head of cauliflower so it sits flat in an (oiled) baking dish. In a bowl combine about a cup of full fat-yes you heard me right FULL FAT-Greek yogurt with three to four heavy pinches of sea salt, a pinch of ground black pepper and half teaspoon each of onion powder and garlic powder…..and you knew it was coming, Hungry Uncle’s Bajan Barbeque Sauce. Two heaping tablespoons. Using a spatula coat the entire head (other than the bottom). Bake uncovered at 425 degrees for an hour to an hour-and-fifteen minutes depending on the size of the cauliflower-for a browner and crustier outside let it cook for a few extra minutes. Remove from the oven. Let cool for five minutes. Cut into wedges and serve. You’ll probably have some let over yogurt mixture which makes a great dipping sauce.
Healthy and tasty…will miracles never cease?!?
March 30, 2015 Four Fat Fowl Artisan Creamery-Stephentown, NY
Sometimes people-simply put- just “get it right” and Four Fat Fowl certainly does. Their St. Stephen Triple Cream is worth seeking out. A slightly dusty and nutty rind gives way to a silky palate of not overbearing creamy, buttery flavors. This initial richness is balanced by grassy tartness and a lingering salty punch on the finish. Enough said. This cheese speaks for itself.
March 26, 2015 – Tartine-New York, NY
Ladies and gentlemen, if you will please direct your attention to the center of the midway. Here in front of your very eyes you’ll experience a creature seen by few. After years of searching, we found him hidden deep in a remote Moldovian cave…Prince Dragomir, decedent of Vlad Dracula…cut off from contact with the outside world and existing solely by biting the heads off live chickens and drinking their blood. Have no fear, as he has no taste for human blood- Yes, I surmise that I would have made PT Barnum proud.
This early master of the sideshow was known to instill awe and fear with the presentation of these “geeks”. Yes, boys and girls that is today’s history lesson. A geek was originally a circus sideshow performer who engaged in excessive or extreme acts like biting the heads from live chickens. How this morphed into today’s geek, nerd or dork is not clear but a good guess is it involved the common thread of being excessive or out of the main stream….just my theory. Where am I going with all this? Patience my dear readers, we will soon be there…….
Despite being a somewhat chilly, drizzly night I looked forward to the evening’s dinner with anticipation. I was meeting Evan McCormack, Wine Manger of New York City’s PJ Wine. It was a chance for us to sit down and let our inner wine geeks fully emerge. Old wine, unusual wine, there would certainly be ample opportunity for palate exciting vinous beverages. Yes, there was food too. Tartine offers a good range of well-prepared French Bistro dishes without the expense of a liquor license. A Manhattan BYO, certainly not an everyday find.
Broiled Escargot- garlic, parsley and anise butter. Grilled Saucisson -garlic sausage, warm new potatoes, shallots, chive dressing. Louis Rodriguez, Vina de Martin, Os Pasas. This crisp vino blanco was a perfect compliment. Light to medium body, clean lemon-lime nose, strong but not overpowering citrus on the palate ,think lime zest-thank you Evan- with some chalky/licorice overtones and honey finish. A native grape blend of Treixadura, Albariño, Torrontés and Lado from Galicia’s Ribeiro DO in Northwestern Spain.
Thyme Roasted Salmon -English & sugar snap peas, Brussel sprouts fingerling potatoes truffle mushroom dressing. Unionville Vineyards, 2012 Pinot Noir, Clone 5. This single vineyard New Jersey Pinot Noir is a Burgundy-style classic. A slick palate loaded with fresh strawberry, herbs, dark fruits and nice earthiness in the background. A great marriage to the salmon. While New Jersey is known for its produce it certainly isn’t a household name in wine making despite having roots going back to the mid-1760s. A majority of the state’s 48 wineries may not have yet achieved this quality of production but it’s an industry and craft rapidly on the rise.
Beef Mignonette-au poivres & French fries. Mario Perelli Minetti, 1981 100% Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. From a time before California’s current “modern” wine age. Clean with a true mid-heavy body. Soft tannins and fruits but not at all over extracted or jammy. A most enjoyable wine with or without food. There is balance and elegance in this wine and not even a hint of the overpowering style of so many of today’s California Cabs.
Yes, there was some room for desert. Don’t miss Tartine’s outstanding Crème Brulee.
After outlasting all of the other customers and most of the staff, we brought this three hour “gathering” to a close. Good food, great wine and opportunity to get excited when talking about wine aged in cement tanks, the year’s pending arrival of Ameztoi’s Rubentis Txakolina and glory of the King of Pork, Spain’s Jamon Iberico.
……..ok poindexter, gimme’ your lunch money.
March 6, 2015- Ostins Fish Fry-Christ Church, Barbados, West Indies
Very often, to use the old cliché, less is more. I’ve always found that some of the best food and best fun can be found at festivals, tastings and the like. Nothing fancy and no snob appeal regardless of what food and drink is offered. Time after time, no place does this better than the Friday night fish fry at Oistins. Yes, it’s crowded, yes there are a lot of drunks-although very well-mannered I must say- and from my experiences I’ve always run into a period of rain. After many trips to Barbados that seems to be a constant. Kind of weird considering that Barbados consistently has some the world’s best weather. Maybe it’s some sort of message like “get off our island; you’ve consumed too much rum and eaten too much fish”…well, probably not but then again-crap, I’m rambling for a change…back to business. To call it a “fish fry” is a bit misleading. Although you can find fried Flying Fish or fried whole Red Snapper, more dishes than not are grilled to perfection. The very fresh choices are many and vary by season and vendor, Mahi-mahi, Kingfish (aka Wahoo), tuna, swordfish, shrimp…. Most commonly they’re marinated in “secret” concoction that I conjecture is a mix of lime juice, garlic, salt, pepper, yellow hot sauce and oil-no, it’s not too hot unless you have absolutely no tolerance for hot pepper. Couple this with sides like macaroni pie (basically baked macaroni and cheese), rice and peas (beans), breadfruit or plantain and you have a great meal usually for under $20.00 USD. Of course there is the alcohol, a cold Bank’s beer, rum and the hallucinogenic rum punch. This potent but delicious mixture of rum, lime juice, bitters, simple syrup and nutmeg can send you spinning without notice. Be careful, a rum punch hangover resembles someone beating a bass drum in your head while someone else squeezes with a vice from the outside….they don’t pass quickly either! While everyone seems to have a favorite vendor for food and another for booze, I’ve honestly never had a bad experience with any.
Comestibles and intoxicants well in hand, we must move to the entertainment. Talk about a dichotomy. On the “main” stage you’ll find a DJ pumping out modern grooves. It’s fun to watch the drunk, slightly less drunk and occasional sobriety case get up on stage-I’m far too pathetic in this area to ever consider joining in. Around the back you’ll find the “old time” dancing area. Both young and old, some men even dressed in suits, take turn swaying to the music. It hard to describe but every tune seems to resemble 1950s easy listening music. No matter, everyone seemed to be having a good time.
No night at Oistins would be complete without vising the vendors. Nothing high-end and mostly aimed at tourists looking for t-shirts, sandals and inexpensive craft jewelry. The one exception is an artist who creatively combines wire, screen, pieces of hose and few other miscellaneous items to depict scenes of island life like, limbo, picking coconuts, cutting sugar cane….
It’s hard to due Oistins justice in words. It’s basic, consistent and always leaves you looking forward to your next visit- a nice antidote to our all too complex world. After nearly a decade of visiting Barbados I’ve never run across a tourist or local who feels otherwise.
January 14, 2015 – Spain 92 & Faustino Wines Bridgewater, NJ
With the frenetic pace of the world, it’s truly a pleasure when you can have an evening filled with relaxation, food, wine and fun. Spain 92’s owner Sergio Seijas delivers that as well as anyone. For the second time I had occasion to attend Faustino Flamenco Night, one of what are billed as “Stress Free Siesta Events”. In addition to the satisfying menu from the restaurant, this evening featured a broad range of wines from Faustino family wineries including Faustino, Pere Ventura and Portia. Maria Stevens, brand ambassador for Faustino Wines, shared the history of the wines and wineries, as always, in a passionate and engaging but humorous manner. We were very fortunate to have included Faustino I Gran Reserva from Rioja, one of the world’s most age worthy wines which is also a great bargain at under $50.00 retail. While we were exercising our mouths with food and drink, Ricky Santiago and company were working up a much bigger sweat with stomping feet, strumming guitars and fervent vocals. No, the objective of the evening was not gastronomic and vinous snobbery, it was simply to enjoy yourself with good food and wine at a reasonable price while not worrying about the anxieties of daily life….once again it lived up to expectations without any puffery.