Sunday, November 18, 2007

Did you read this?

Nancy Leson's illuminating story on Seattle's culinary lineage was a great way to start Sunday.

It helped put the current restaurant scene in perspective, and it made it seem like a very small world indeed. Give it a look see.

My pie!

This is the first pie I've ever made. I'm a recovering flour-phobe, freaked by the idea of baking. But a hands-on tutorial by Kate Rowley has me inspired. Kate's married to seafood guru Jon, the all-time apple forager. They've got more than 20 heirloom varieties, we used 18 different apples in this pie, most of the names I'd never heard of. (I'll get the list.)

There's about 10 cups of apples in this pie, which turned out pretty well. Not as good as Kate's, but I can aspire. One of her secret weapons? A Veg-O-Matic! Seriously! She found it at a yard sale and snapped it up for $2. IT SLICES, IT DICES! It's incredible. Of course, they don't make them like that anymore, but you can find them on E-bay.

Kate's pie crust is bound for the glossy pages of Saveur, the test kitchen editor wrote her such a nice note. In the meantime, anybody who wants to give it a try, drop me a line:

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Where am I?

This pic could have easily been snapped on my trip down South, right? But it's on Maui, brah!

I asked the cashier at this convenience store about the tradition of these offbeat peanuts and he said it boiled down to this: "They're good to snack on when you're drinking beer."

On this trip, I noticed some striking similarities between Island Time and the South, namely the absolute love affair both places have with food. Unfortunately, that doesn't often translate at touristy restaurants, where I had some really rank meals. And expensive, too. (Avoid Chez Paul's! And the nasty Aloha Mixed Plate.)

My favorite spots to grind included Mala -- the "Ocean Tavern" where my brother Chris works as a bartender (he makes the best mojitos), Flatbread in Paia (which is an outpost of a tiny East-coast based chain) and the Pioneer Inn in Lahaina Town. At that historic place on the harbor, I watched the Dawn Patrol coming in after catching their morning waves while munching on macadamia nut pancakes drenched in coconut syrup. Does it get any sweeter?

Must eat meat: L&M Salumeria, Oxford, Mississippi

Indulge me while I backtrack to Oxford, Miss., where I savored this fine plate a couple of short weeks ago.

Dan Latham at L&M Salumeria learned to cure from the main man, Aramandino Batali, when he worked with Mario in NYC. He's got the gift.

And when he was having trouble sourcing the right kind of pork, he decided to start his own operation: Pancetta Ranch.

This restaurant is definitely on the top of my list of reasons to make the pilgrimage to William Faulkner's hometown. Among the many others: City Grocery (where you can give humanitarian chef John Currence a high five from me), Ajax Diner -- loved that smoked catfish spread! -- Taylor Grocery (home of the world's greatest catfish and hush puppies), a tailgating party during football season in the Grove (look for Dave Darnell's tent and tell him I sent you), Square Books (the coolest bookstore in the universe) and Bottletree Bakery. There's much more, but half the fun is discovering a place on your own, right?

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Having the best time on Maui, visiting my bro, eating great fish like this seared ahi bruschetta at Mala on the water in Laihaina. Feasted on ono and oysters from Hood Canal, too.

But today was the best ever. Started with a nice breaky made by lovely Lala, then brother and I and Charli the dog headed out for some big time adventuring, circum-navigating the isle, up north to the insanely beautiful Olivine Pools, ran into brother's bud G at the Honolua General Store picking up some grinds.

Hit the now world famous banana bread stand at what looks like the end of the road and pressed on, passing flower stands where you leave money in a jar, stopped at galleries and snacked on coconut candy, mac nuts, then rolled into another old-time general store in lower Wailuku town and bought poke and a couple of local steaks.

While we were touring a gorgeous Japanese garden on the way up the Iao Valley, some tourists handed us a hug bottle of Hana Bay rum, so we got some guava nectar and made cocktails as the sun was setting.

And this great day isn't over yet. We're heading out to pick up our sister Laurel who decided this morning she didn't want to miss out on the fun and got herself on the plane from LA.