Monday, January 25, 2010

Thinking about Mary Beth...

I was completely shocked to hear last week that Mary Beth Lasseter, the can-do force at the Southern Foodways Alliance, had brain surgery last week. She seems invincible. This news just sucks and, like so many others, I'm wishing her a speedy recovery.

She would be the first to marshall an effort to lend a hand. In fact, she did just that after Hurricane Katrina, when she organized a bunch of well-meaning folks from across the country who came together to help rebuild a landmark restaurant, Willie Mae's Scotch House. It turned into a monumental project. That's Mary Beth, third from the right in this photo, taken in 2006, as the rebuilding was heading into the home stretch. The Scotch House has been frying its famous chicken again for a couple of years now.

This startling drop on the roller coaster of life is beyond a Hallmark moment. Sending a card isn't enough. I feel compelled to send a care package of freeze-able, comfort food-type meals: New Orleans-style red beans and rice, mac-and-cheese, clam chowder, smoked salmon pasta and a big helping of this sentiment:

Get well soon!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My first-ever lemon meringue pie...

... was OK. Good, not great. If I were going to be my own toughest critic, I'd say the crust could have been flakier. There wasn't quite enough custard, though it was tang-a-lious.

I also used a couple more egg whites than the recipe called for and would have liked a little taller pie. But, like I said: It was my first try. So, I'll try, try again.

During this Sunday cook-a-thon, I also baked bread, made chicken tortilla soup and oysters Rockefeller, which were damn good. Used the Tom Fitzmorris recipe, which uses watercress, fennel, green onions, flat-leaf parsley. It also calls for green food coloring, but I skipped that. Did add a splash of Pernod. I could eat a dozen of those all by myself. But I shared!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Only at Uwajimaya!

Would you find chittlins next to a Red Baron pizza!

I spent nearly an hour roaming around the Asian supermarket yesterday before going to lunch with friends at Thai Simple Curry, a decent hole in the wall down the block.

A couple of years ago, when my kid was doing volunteer work in the neighborhood, I would drive her to the International District and spend some time shopping. Every single trip, I saw something I had never seen before and wondered: What the heck do you do with this stuff?

Yesterday, I was on foot, so I couldn't carry a lot, but here's what I put in my basket: Banana sauce, Tom Yum paste, lard, collard greens, shallots, chili coated peas, won ton wrappers, gyoza wrappers, okra, a Japanese white yam, green tea. Can't wait to go back!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Happy Birthday Elvis!

The King would have turned 75 yesterday, an occasion I celebrated by going to a totally fantastic show at The Triple Door.

Vince Mira is probably best known for his tributes to Johnny Cash, but he belted out some Elvis tunes -- both well-known and obscure -- that had the sold-out crowd cheering for more.

I'm not exactly sure when I became an Elvis fan. Must have happened during the three years I lived in Memphis and took at least a half a dozens tours of Graceland with various visitors. E just kind of grew on me, his humble, country boy charm was no put on. And, boy, he was generous. There's one wall in Graceland covered in cancelled checks written to charities.

Even if you're not in the fan camp, it's interesting to see Graceland, a place that's frozen in time. A snapshot of 1970s decor complete with shag carpet and garish furniture. It's not The Jungle Room that fascinated me, though, but the kitchen. Very simple, very inviting.

It really rubbed me the wrong way earlier this week when I got a news release from a company hawking vodka. They had come up with some drinks that would be perfect to go with some of Elvis's favorite food, which according to the release, including "burned bacon." Hmm, I've never heard that one. Elvis was not a drinker either... except he was hooked on Pepsi.

I also heard Elvis loved meatloaf. So much that he would go for weeks eating the same dinner night after night. I learned that after interviewing Jerry Schilling, a member of the Memphis Mafia, his posse.

On the evening of his birthday, in that stylish club in Seattle, I ordered something I'm sure The King would never have experienced in his too-short life: Monk's Curry with veggies and tofu and chicken laab, a tangy salad that's tucked into cabbage leaves. The spicy fare was a fine accompaniment to the sweet sounds of an uber-talented singer-songwriter paying tribute to one of the biggest names in show business. Fever! What a lovely way to burn...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2009 Bites! The Dessert Edition

Eat dessert first, right?

From top to bottom:

Christmas cookies. Bridget's the frosting artist.

Daily Dozen Doughnuts, Pike Place Market.

Hubig's Pies, New Orleans.

Momofuku Milk Bar's Crack Pie, Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium, Oxford, Miss.

Claudio Corallo Chocolate.

The Pie Shop, DeValls Bluff, Arkansas.

Milkshakes at Lunchbox Laboratory, Seattle.

Blackberry Pie, Orcas Island.

Peaches from River View Orchards, Rice, Washington.