Friday, June 26, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
But as delicious as that preparation is, it did begin to feel a tad stale after the eighth time in three weeks. So eventually I found myself with a gorgeous bunch of swiss chard that was begging to have something new done with it.
I have been seeing a raft of savory tart and quiche recipes of late, so was inspired to try my hand at creating my own version.
I was aiming for something lighter than a quiche (more veggie, less custard) yet more substantial than a tart. So I loaded up on the chard and onion, defiled the crust with a bit of fresh herb and cornmeal, and threw in a wisp of cayenne to make things interesting. The result was exactly what I was looking for. Tender yet veggie packed filling and a flaky but vaguely rustic crust.
I will say that due to the butter in the crust, the dish is on the rich side. If you would prefer something lighter, you may want to sacrifice some of the flakiness in the crust and go for an oil based crust rather than a butter based one. Or forget the crust altogether, I leave the decision to you. It will be delicious regardless.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
However, as valiant as my last bouquet was, and with a lifespan of twelve days, the proud stalks really were quite stout-hearted, I still had been without blooms for longer than I preferred. So, despite the soul-dampening weather this weekend I was looking forward to my time at the Greenmarket.
In defiance of the cloudy skies, I chose a bouquet of cheerful sunflowers.
And thought they would be adorable on my bathroom sink, right next to the Alessi dental floss dispenser that my mom bought for me and my sister the last time she was in Paris. She said that they made her smile, and I have to agree. An appropriate accompaniment for the winsome bouquet.
Too bad my horrid faucet has to ruin it for the two of them.
But as one bucks nature at one's own risk, I felt it important to give a nod to the gloom with this bunch of green...branches, I suppose.
Quite appropriate to our northwest-like weather, don't you think? Deep green, in homage to the great June deluge. Charming, and almost boisterous I think...is it betrayal to say that I may even prefer it to the chipper sunflowers?
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I was delighted to tell of the wonderful offerings behind the counter. Fresh ricotta for instance. Ricotta that in no way resembles anything you have ever bought at a supermarket. Rich and smooth, the grassy lactic perfume barely nudges against your nose.
It of course would be wonderful in a variety of dishes like the ricotta gnocchi that Delicious Days featured a few weeks ago, baked with some herbs with an egg whisked in, a frittata, the list goes on. But my favorite method of preparation is the simplest...cold, drizzled with fragrant honey, with perhaps a few walnuts scattered about if you are feeling ambitious. It is that good.
Basket cheese, not dissimilar to fresh ricotta, is another of those Di Palo's gems that you don't often see elsewhere. Drizzle it with a bit of vin cotto, I beg you. And then there are the wonderful hard cheeses, many with odd items adhering to the rinds (I saw something that looked like hay the last time I was there), and my god the gorgonzola simply oozes, practically weeps. I may send myself over the edge if I discuss much more, so I will simply say that the selection of meats is just as extensive and high quality as that of the cheese.
And I was over the moon to to mention that the prices are beyond reasonable. I firmly believe that the price of parmesan cheese is the barometer for the price structure of an entire establishment. For instance, Dean & Deluca charges $24.99/lb the last time I checked, Citarella is $17/lb, and Fairway, generally the low price leader, is $13.99/lb. Di Palo's beats the low price leader at $12.99/lb!
And, in addition to all of this, I was relishing the thought of describing the charmingly cramped quarters, how the line snaked around ravioli, anchovies and panetone, providing ample time for browsing, chatting and daydreaming. Sort of the way Murray's Cheese used to be when they were located on the north side of Bleecker.
But I went by the other day and saw this:
An expanded store! It must be four times the size of the original establishment.
When I was there the store was not fully up and running, as half of the space was vacant, barricaded by a large refrigerated case. But it is huge! It will be interesting to see how this new space works for the Di Palo's folks...will it be like a recently widened highway, which fills up just as soon as it opens with expanded gridlock? I have to admit, I secretly hope that it does. I would desperately miss the jovial (and even the not so jovial) crowds.
Monday, June 22, 2009
But ever since she moved into that gorgeous Belgravia townhouse with Charles Saatchi, I wonder if the house is what is compelling me to watch her show every Saturday morning (as lovely as both she and her food are).
My fascination reached such a crescendo on Saturday that I spent hours online searching for revealing magazine photos of the townhouse...and I found that there aren't any!!
This is the closest I came...
...a feature from defunct magazine House and Garden from November 2004. Is this even in the right house? This looks more like a country home than their very modern city dwelling. But I do yearn for that library.
So then I resorted to beauty shots of Ms. Lawson that included at least a portion of the kitchen.
Highly unsatisfying from a house voyeur standpoint.
So then I had to move on to YouTube...or rather, since I have no idea how to pull stills from YouTube videos, I lifted them from La La Lovely Things, who apparently has a bit of a real estate crush as well.
I adore this light fixture. The image is perhaps not clear, but it is essentially a round cage with fairy lights mounded up inside. I find it so whimsical.
And this image I like I believe because of the lamp. I know the Bourgie lamp is not all that unique at this point, but my fondness for it has not waned. Plus which I suppose I also like the fact that I, a mere working girl (in my grandmother's sense of the word, not, well, you know), could, if I so chose, have a home furnishing in common with a pair of stylish multimillionaires.
Additionally, I remember catching a glimpse of the inside of that cabinet that the lamp sits on during one of her shows, and it was painted the most fabulous lime green. I was instantly smitten.
So I thought, will somebody please do a feature on this house? I'm dying to see more. But wouldn't you know it, the "kitchen" is a set on an industrial estate somewhere far from Belgravia! Which I guess would explain the presence of the very un-Saatchi Bourgie lamp.
So now I am at a loss. I'd love to see the actual townhouse, but I'm afraid it might be a bit more grand than I am hoping for. And the set? Well, I think we as viewers have seen all there is to see.
Friday, June 19, 2009
My favorite Swedish design blogger is back from her break. Hooray! Am I the only one having a moment with Scandinavian design?
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The latest of these missives alerted me to a free performance by the extraordinarily talented violinist Hilary Hahn. It was titled "Hilary Hahn!!" and closed "Jealously, mom". How could I resist?
I dragged myself up to The Old Town Hall on Sunday (quite an event, as I am reluctant to go to midtown on the weekends) and roped Marissa into accompanying me. Of course, as the performance was free and New Yorkers love to stand in line for hours on end, I had missed the last of the free tickets by a mile. Luckily, we were right around the corner from the International Center for Photography, which is currently exhibiting Richard Avedon's fashion photography. Perhaps just as luckily, Marissa's connections to her former life got us in for free!
I love those moments when, through an image or a performance of some sort, you suddenly understand why a famous artist is admired. It often happens to me with regards to artists whose prolific periods occurred either before I was born or when I was too young to be aware of the arts. This past Sunday, I experienced such a moment with Avedon.
It's hard for me to remember seeing another photographer who brings such movement to still images,
who creates such interesting geometry with ungeometric subjects,
What an artistic genius, clearly he more than deserved the fame that his work garnered. It's always nice when that happens.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
That basket pattern along the wall of the staircase was really one of the more compelling things I've seen in a while, and I love the screen dividing the stairs and the entry hall.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Puntarelle With Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
There is an abundance of greenery coming to market these days, much of which I welcome back like an old friend (hello young sweet Swiss Chard!), and some of which I have to confess is unfamiliar.
For instance, last Saturday my bag contained not only the above-mentioned chard (stunningly good, so much better than the ancient specimens in the grocery store), but also lovage and puntarelle, neither of which I knew a thing about.
I was compelled to shell out $1.50 for the lovage due I think to some romantic notion regarding old English gardens. I have no idea whether lovage is English or not, but I feel like the fact that I've heard of it at all I owe to either Nigella Lawson or Nigel Slater lamenting the lack of it today and reminiscing about their grandmother's famous lovage consomme.
What is it you may ask? Basically it is a bitter version of celery, with leaves rather than stalks. I'll admit that I tried a few fresh leaves and was underwhelmed. I may even have grimaced. Apparently Deborah Madison's suggestion to try a few leaves in a salad is not for me.
So I opted to cook it. I boiled a few of the miniature Yukon Gold potatoes I had sitting around in heavily salted water. Once cooked through, I sliced them up and sauteed them in a bit of olive oil. And once browned, I threw in a half teaspoon or so of smoked paprika, showered a bit of Maldon salt over the spiced potatoes and added a tablespoon or so of chopped lovage to the mix. Oh, and some frozen peas.
It was, somewhat surprisingly, quite delicious. The lovage added an unusual dimension...a flavor I would not have been able to identify had I not cooked the dish myself but that added a lot of interest. So my conclusion is that lovage is a wonderful background flavor, and is meant to be layered with other components. In this case the paprika was the dominant note, with the lovage adding a nice fresh counterpoint and it worked quite well.
So in order to use up the rest of my bunch I fully intend to use it in chicken stock (I have a frozen chicken carcass in the freezer anyway), to stuff a roast bird, and in place of celery in a mire poix for the likes of a bolognese sauce, meat stew or soup. I predict great success. Or at least moderate success. This is a lot to make before the leaves wilt beyond reason after all.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
But there was just one exception. It is bizarrely difficult to find a good natural, affordable body lotion. Of course my beloved Dr. Hauschka makes a gorgeous range of lotions but at $40 for 4 ounces I just can't get on board. And all of the high quality drugstore brands insist on using those horrible hormone altering parabens and birth defect causing phlalates
So when I was wandering through Whole Foods a month or so back, I was mightily intrigued by a massive bottle of very hippie looking moisturizer called Everyday Shea.
32 ounces for $9.99?!! Sign me up! Unscented please.
Now I'll admit that it was a bit rocky in the beginning. Initially the pump delivered some sort of watery shea butter byproduct. I figured that this is what happens with such a painfully organic product, so I unscrewed the lid and attempted to stir the bottle with the long end of the pump. The tube that brings the lotion to the nozzle promptly fell off and I was on the verge of tossing the whole thing out but at the last moment I squeezed a bit out (the top of the bottle seemed to have none of this separation issue) of the pumpless bottle onto my parched hand and was quite taken with the product.
Despite being made of shea butter it is completely non-greasy, even the unscented version has a slight but intoxicating chocolatey scent, and the product keeps the ever-attractive scaly skin well at bay.
And if you care about this type of thing, the proceeds go towards a shea butter cooperative in Togo that produces the stuff. A noble enterprise indeed.