Wednesday, July 28, 2004


When I finally got an apartment with a yard, you know what I did first, don't you? 27" Weber Bar-B-Kettle, baby. I had spent the previous 5 years fantasizing about cooking every single meal over an open flame. But all too often laziness trumps our better intentions, and I end up resorting to the broiler more than I care to admit. Considering that my idea of a quick dinner is ragú Bolognese from scratch, I imagine that many of you grill even less than I do. But last night I managed to motivate enough to grill up a couple sardines by flashlight, grumbling to myself the whole time about how much effort was involved (even though the whole process took no more than half an hour). The finished product, however, was so indescribably delicious that I am going to spend as much of the summer's remains in the back yard as possible. Like bistecca alla fiorentina the concept is so simple that a recipe is practically insulting: clean and salt the sardines, rub in a little olive oil, and cook over the hottest flame possible. Serve with lemon.

If you are still trapped in a grill-less hovel, Rick Moonen's method, if you can master it, will produce some tasty fish at the expense of a stinky kitchen. Regina Schrambling has some suggested smoke simulacra, including the intriguing smoked pepper (but note that anchos are not smoked, and the Spanish paprika situation is more complicated than she lets on). And for your poor souls who claim to "grill" with gas, the minimalist shows you how to produce an undoubtedly edible "barbecued" pork shoulder.

Ferran Adria's fast food place in Madrid sounds not-so-good, but the idea is sound. How sad that we now have to make "counterintuitive" pronouncements that fast food doesn't have to suck. Just ask the Mexicans. Frank Bruni has been busy, visiting both Stone Barns (three stars) and the Hamptons, which sound even more revolting than you'd previously imagined. The LA Times comes up north to check out SF's restaurants and Ferry Plaza. Their analog for the Hamptons is the saga of "Mr. Mogul's" private chef, who you might remember from such movies as Ishtar. Seriously.

Kay Renstchler tortures some more grammar in an otherwise servicable okra appreciation [note to eds.: look up "emanate"]; the Chron has some ridiculous sorbet recipes and a nice appreciation of garlic biodiversity by Carol Ness; a little liquid gold for you gardening types [EB Express]. Also see OGIC on MFKF.

If for some reason you don't have the Zuni cookbook, you could just pick up the latest Saveur, which features the famous chicken/bread salad recipe, but since you can't duplicate that without Zuni's brick oven, you'd better just buy the book. Saveur also features a preview of Marcella's forthcoming book, in the form of a "master class" disquisition on insaporire, an important counterpoint to the River Cafe's Tuscan simplicity.


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