I went to sleep with two bottles of Riesling and now there’s Riesling on my breath and when I got out of bed this morning, my mouth was dry and by mistake, I banged my head on the headboard and tripped over my Birkenstocks and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad hangover. At breakfast, the Bedfellow ate a Cortland apple and my Facebook friends posted photos of delicious brunch, but all I had was a cup of black coffee before I started to feel queasy. I think I’ll move to Paris and stop drinking. At the gym, I could only do twenty minutes on the elliptical and heave the kettle ball once before my stomach started hurting and the pretty people looked at me in the pretty gym clothes. I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad hangover. I don’t even know why they call them kettle balls.
Sometimes things don’t go as they’re planned. Moves. Relationships. Briefcases. Expos. What’s that? The first two were rom-com tropes, and the third and fourth are virtually unrelatable? It’s so much bigger than that. Please, allow me to extrapolate. The Bedfellow and I went to the Mohegan Sun BrewFest the other night. We went as members of the media (the casino supplied passes and food tokens), and halfway through the casino, strutting across the floor like kings, my new briefcase started to malfunction. The clasp has been failing, lately- it’s been breaking at inopportune moments, spilling my papers on the floor.
Spam comments are friendly. They’re weird, but they’re friendly. Certainly better than the weird shit I get from real people, ranging from complaints directed to a specific branch of a multinational corporation or disturbingly specific health issues, or personal attacks. Even the one that just said, ‘ass this is my website ass’ entertained me more than the diarrheic diatribe on…diarrhea. They keep me entertained during my long days, especially when I’ve caught up on work and have little to do but bake gluten-free muffins and dance with animatronic birds.
In a brief editorial by ‘First We Feast,’ the author decries the classic stereotype many people have about ethnic cuisine- we want it, but we don’t want to pay high premiums for it. In assuming that position, the food and the culture creating it is cheapened, relegated to a lower premium than steak or more European restaurant fare. The worth of Asian and Mexican cuisine can be just as high as that of Italian or French, as seen especially in restaurants like Shang Palace, with a level of authenticity as high as their less expensive counterparts. With this in mind, I was curious to try Besito, a John Tunney restaurant in West Hartford based on high-end, but authentic Mexican cuisine.
Continue reading “Besito, West Hartford, CT”
I’m a childless adult! I have valiantly eschewed a life rife with diapers, fiscal responsibility, and listening to others. Was I surprised to be chosen for the Campbell’s Wisest Kid campaign? I most certainly was. But secretly, I’ve always wanted to be the cool aunt. Auntie Mame of the 21st century, if will. And despite my hedonistic lifestyle, I do have an ace up my sleeve: my little sister. She’s fairly wise, maybe Tootsie Roll Owl on a scale of infant to Einstein, and I figured that, while testing out recipes incorporating the soup, I’d ask her for some puerile wisdom. The conversation went something like this:
Me: Would you eat chicken noodle pot pies?
Me: Would you eat purple onion and golden tomato soup?
Julia: probably not
Me: Would you eat sweet potato gazpacho with granita?
As you can see, Julia is a most discerning critic. All she needs to do now is grow a beard and she can effectively replace Campbell’s bearded mascot with her rapier wit and consistency. A girl after my own heart. In any case, the only recipe Julia expressed any remote interest to was the sweet potato gazpacho, with tomato and basil granita on top. It’s extremely simple- one box of Campbell’s Sweet Potato and Tomatillo bisque, one can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup, and ¼ cup of julienned basil. I froze the tomato soup, spices, olive oil, and basil with some water for two hours, then fluffed it with a fork for instant granita.
When I was ready to serve it, I heated up the bisque until it was warm, but not boiling hot, ladled it into bowls, and served it with a few spoonfuls of granita on top, serving it with a boorishly handsome sandwich, thick and shiny with maple butter and slices of jamon Serrano and roasted turkey jutting from the sides. I promptly forgot to take photos. I spread melting slices of Camembert, fresh via Great Barrington vis-a-vis France, atop the meat, garnished with a bit of jam and a cornichon out of sheer habit. It’s a summer sandwich, a last-resort and boundless sandwich, a meal for one or three. You don’t even want it toasted or hot so much as you just want the ingredients to sweat in the heat and bind together, ever so gently. The ideal temperature for this is on a plate, outside on an August day, the bread and soup absorbing the summer air and the filling creeping closer. It’s teen and adult-friendly and it’s extremely tasty. The Wisest Kid may soon change his name to the Kid with the Best Lunch.
Disclosure time! Campbell’s and BlogHer are paying me to write about this, but the baller recipe development is my own, as are the pithy comments from sissy.
I miss McDonald’s. They tweeted me the other day and I didn’t have the heart to tell them how much I loved them and wanted them back. I’ve been pulling up to the local franchise on North Beacon, standing outside with my trusty Sounddock cued up to ‘In Your Eyes.’ The neighbors really didn’t like that, but it’s for love, y’know?
I have also scared The Bedfellow on two occasions when she was eating a McDouble, the first culminating in the screamed repetition of ‘BREEEAAAADDDDDD’ along with an accusatory finger point, and the second was a little more subtle, the silent but ever-powerful ‘Hungry Dog’ look.
Please note that this also happens with real cupcakes. But I’m getting help. I’m looking for solutions. One of those may or may not be the scarily reasonably-priced chicken nuggets from Applegate Farms. I get them from the Stop and Shop that has all of the gluten-free things, and then go to the Stop and Shop with the wide array of tortillas and better sauces. For a mere $5, I have the power of 16 chicken nuggets. They’re about 75% smaller than Mickey D’s, almost closer to popcorn chicken, and come with a selection of zero dipping sauces, but work out pretty well in the price department.
In fact, they actually remind me of my own homemade nuggets, may their recipe rest in peace. Rest in pie. Ress in pee. I give up, there’s no joke there. They are coated in a mixture of corn starch and rice flour, which could be pretty easy to replicate. I dipped them in hot mustard. Because the breading is somewhat yellowed to begin with, it’s difficult to tell when they are finished. I tested one for quality assurance and found that the breading was somewhat sticky when they were undercooked, but eventually crisped up with no trouble at all. And while I’m happy to flip over the nuggets to ensure maximum crunch, doing so with such delicate breading is frustrating.
Despite the slight fumbles, though, these are an amazing substitute for nuggets or any breaded chicken, if you’re patient and can get the breading very crispy. The chicken is tender and moist, with a thick, crispy coating, heavy on the black pepper. Dipped in hot mustard, there’s nothing better.
Also, because I’m an adult, I ate them on top of my recently paid insurance bills, hashtag classy, like a boss, or comparable bill-paying figure. I’m curious to see how these would be if I fried them, too. Ultimately, it’s something I would buy again. It’s easy to eat a box as a meal when you’re not in the mood to cook.
Happy government shutdown! It’s okay, we have plenty to talk about on Foodette. Sometimes I feel like a pet seal- what can I say? I perform better when I have a small treat, and I need lots of little bites of energy to keep me through the day. I’m lucky that I live close enough to school that I don’t have to resort to buying my own lunch, but I like to keep a stash of goodies in my car and briefcase, too, for days when one class goes slightly over the schedule or when I just feel low on energy. Lately, I’ve been eating organic candy chews from Lovely Candy Co- these were sent to me over the summer, but I recently found the pack I’d been saving for school: superfruit!
They come in three flavors- blueberry, raspberry, and cranberry, and come individually wrapped. They are quite the faithful homage to Starburst- same creamy, chewy texture and shape, but are all natural, gluten-free, GMO-free, and fruity as hell, despite being somewhat stickier. I haven’t been able to put them down, and I’m not typically a candy person.
Where these succeed outside of their commercial counterparts is their flavor. They have sizable chunks of freeze-dried fruit, and some of the flavors have herbaceous notes to them. I am unsure if that’s from the fruit itself or an additional flavoring, but it makes for a very good foil to the sweet fruit and sugary base.
The only area where these fall short is packaging- the predictability of Starburst makes them easy to eat and parcel out. Everybody has a favorite flavor. With these, there are more to the package- approximately 30, but the flavor discrepancy was a little ridiculous. In my package, I had 17 blueberry candies, 10 cranberries, and 3 precious raspberries, which happened to be my favorite flavor. A more even adjustment would behoove the brand.
Like a slow blink, time has just slipped through my fingers. I still can’t believe that it’s the one-year anniversary of my grandmother’s death, that I turned 23 two days ago, that I’m six thousand miles replaced, rerooted, sprouting slowly. It doesn’t consume like it used to, all these changes, but it still feels like a firm punch in the gut sometimes. A soundless reverberation. I’m celebrating in small ways- a reconciliation dinner with Miss Love, another with K, and many beautiful meals with The Bedfellow keep me constantly curious and sociable.
But amidst the stress, there’s been celebration aplenty. I thought I’d keep the verbiage to a rare minimum and share some photos of the birthday pie and macarons I enjoyed- all gluten-free. The macarons were a gift from Miss Love, and the pie was a scheme of my own design, plotted over for months, and finally conceived over a few days in between notes and briefs. It was beautiful- Mi-Del gingersnap and Vermont Creamery maple butter crust, with a filling of Cortland apples, Vermont Creamery vanilla creme fraiche, Nielsen-Massey bourbon vanilla, Korintje cinnamon, Niman Ranch bacon, and Yancey’s maple-bacon cheddar cheese. Absolutely insane.
Modernist apple core sculptures.
The seasonal Laduree was pink peppercorn-flavored- and grey! Easily the strangest pastry I’ve had in a while- pure, undiluted pepper-infused cookie with no sugar to speak of. The sole deviation from a savory route came from the buttercream, offering a creamy, thick texture similar to frosting, but also very spicy.
I baked the pie deep-dish style, in the base of my new Le Creuset.
The inaugural slice, augmented with a scoop of creme fraiche.
More macarons! Salted caramel, vanilla, raspberry, peppercorn, pistachio, and more.
The Bedfellow and I shared this sweet dark chocolate and honeycomb bee bar, a gift from Savannah Bee at the Fancy Food Show, on the first chilly, smoky day of autumn. I hope you enjoyed this miniature birthday tour!
I am probably not the best person to be marketed toward. Like you, my Google search terms can best be described as ‘erratic and occasionally emotionally disturbing.’ An evening may start on the NY Times, clicking around various op-ed articles about death, and then abruptly switch to sixteen different pasta recipes. From there, Bloomberg and Cracked are visited in equal amounts, and I typically culminate the evening with a two-hour jag of Corgi-hunting, crying, and pointing on Petfinder. Also, porn.
So whenever I see ads in my mailbox for food or Kleenex or caskets, I laugh because it’s all very obtuse. Google doesn’t know me much better than your average Facebook stalker does. Do I mind it? In the sense that I don’t want it to happen, yes. I’m entitled to my privacy in dog and carb-lusting, but the ads are so ridiculous that to an extent, I don’t even care. The spot-on precision of the recent Udi’s package, though, that’s an accuracy in espionage that I don’t mind at all. I received a box of products from Udi’s today that makes me want to lobby for the Foodette Inbetween Nourishment and Enrichment Bill of 2013, which exists solely for the purpose of me being able to eat all the muffins in one day. One of the included items was something I’d been ogling at each visit to Whole Foods, shaking my head every time I passed them. Soft-baked salted caramel and cashew cookies. Holy bane of my existence, Batman. Did they film me? Did they gauge the sweat on my palms through my implanted social media machine? I don’t know.
That is, until I got a box of Udi’s treats today, including these wonder-cookies. They’re beautiful. They are chewy and soft, and have the texture and homey raw flour tinge of a fresh sugar cookie. I had an ex who used to make killer cookies, and these are the closest thing I have to them. The cashews add a nice salty, nuttiness, which offsets the more protein bar-esque flavor of the cookie base. I liked that the caramel element wasn’t in the form of a saccharine filling or sticky sauce on top, but felt more incorporated into the cookie, and gave it a rich, brown butter flavor.
TL;DR: I ate four, thus negating the mega-power-ultra workout I did the other day. Oh, the timing of it all.
I’m food negligent. Maybe you’ve seen it before. The truth is, I’m not good at food. Not ‘food preparation,’ I’m great at that. Not ‘food eating’- that speaks for itself. No, I’m talking about the wild, ephemeral, time-sensitive concept of general ‘food.’ And the thing at which I suck. I go grocery shopping maybe once a month, sometimes on my own, sometimes with The Bedfellow or my Mom, like today. And I get a lot of food. Plenty of staples, healthy snacks, ingredients for recipes, condiments. Shopping feels great, especially when there hasn’t been a lot of food in the house and I’ve spent the last four days making variations on ‘Bean Mustard Rice Chex Taco Surprises’. (The surprise is the lack of flavor.)
But seriously, the moment I leave the apparently sterile, cryogenic arms of the temperature-monitored grocery store, I start freaking out. As I’m putting the pasta into my cupboard, or am carefully wrapping the chicken to freeze for later, I panic. What if my freezer isn’t cold enough? I wonder, checking the temperature for the eighteenth time, moving aside buffalo steaks and duck breasts that could bludgeon a grown man to death. How do I know my vegetables are okay? I worry, staring at the crisper drawer like it’s a petri dish filled with herpes. I take an apple, a sushi roll, and a round of goat cheese out. Because you are with me, I think, you will die sooner and sadder than you would in the hands of a normal person. After all, they have to share top billing with the other food that comes and goes in my life. It’s never just goat cheese- it’s six different kinds of aged goat cheese, with a wedge of cheddar and St. Nectaire for the sheer hell of it.
It’s a tragic feeling.
I’m so sorry, organic polenta. We were doomed from the start.
You deserved better.
And it compels me to eat the sushi and the goat cheese for dinner and lie awake in bed at night, worrying about the ribeye. What will happen to them? How can I take care of them, like delicious, spoiling babies? Some foods are easy. Most foods are hard.
Macarons, on the other hand, are not hard. I don’t need to worry about keeping them fresh because they’re typically gone before you can say ‘Ladurée.’ They’re French, they’re gluten-free, they’re customizable in a myriad possibilities, and they’re absolutely ethereal if they’re done well. If they’re done well. On this side of the pond, people have taken a quintessentially American approach, swelling the delicate, crispy biscuits into meringue-sized blobs with buttercream oozing out the sides, or relegating them to novelty items prettier than they taste, where the paper they’re on is more nuanced than the pastry itself. They tread a line as delicate as their cookie shells, and luckily, Sucré makes them perfectly.
I was sent a box of their PB&J macarons in time for school, though if you’re sending your kid to lunch with these, be prepared for some serious Ralph Lauren wedgies. These are impeccable- a faintly floral strawberry shell with a dollop of thick, oozy jam and a rich, salty, peanut butter buttercream. Even the French, professed peanut butter haters, would swoon for these. The macarons are coated in sparkly sugar, which, though pretty, admittedly throws them from savory, which I prefer, to decadently sweet.
Want a box? I’m holding a Twitter contest for a box.
Just retweet this: RT: “Give me your macarons, Foodette! http://bit.ly/pbjmacaron”
And you could win! I’ll collect the entries on Tuesday, October 1, and announce a winner! If you don’t want to wait, macarons and other delicious treats, like king cake, can be purchased online.