© Con Poulos
Rice Pudding with Poached Rhubarb
Tomorrow is the first official day of spring and Tom Colicchio is all a-Twitter about ramps
. “It’s spring in NY bring on the ramps,” he Tweeted yesterday. He’s not the only chef excited about spring ingredients: At a recent benefit event for C-CAP
, Shaun Hergatt
from SHO Shaun Hergatt
told me that he can't wait to cook with spring peas and is planning to serve them with sous-vide lamb; Craig Koketsu
of the seasonally-driven restaurant Park Avenue Spring
is impatiently anticipating rhubarb.
Here are a few recipes for ramps, spring peas and rhubarb to help kick off the season. Plus, check out these 100+ recipes in F&W’s Guide to Fresh Spring Produce
:White Cheese Pizza with RampsSpring Peas with Mint Rice Pudding with Poached Rhubarb
Tara Austen Weaver's The Butcher and The Vegetarian
Anyone looking for a friendly, approachable survey of the current debate between carnivores and vegetarians might enjoy Tara Austen Weaver’s new memoir, The Butcher & The Vegetarian
. The writer
, who was raised vegetarian, explores her own feelings about eating meat and doing without, taking a field trip to the certified-humane Prather Ranch
, and taking a meat cookery lesson with Guy Prince, a.k.a. Mr. Biggles, the founder of the food blog Meathenge
. Weaver even describes her shock at discovering in F&W
that vegetarian icon Mollie Katzen now occasionally eats meat. After the jump, Weaver, who divides her time between San Francisco and Seattle, shares her favorite destinations in both cities for carnivores, vegetable lovers and folks in between.
© Danielle Falcone
Bouley's Japanese bites on imari porcelain.
Last night, star chef David Bouley turned his fabulous Tribeca test kitchen into a showroom for the latest interpretations of Imari porcelain, a style of porcelain made in the tiny town of Arita in Japan’s Saga prefecture. Young artists and designers like Tsuji Satoshi are making cool new designs inspired by traditional style. Bouley plans to use many of the pieces at his forthcoming Japanese restaurant. And of course, the dishes weren't left empty. Bouley, along with chefs Isao Yamada and Tadao Miakmi (Bouley Upstairs), Noriyuki Sugie and chefs from the Tsuji Culinary Institute of Japan prepared some ridiculously good dishes using wild Japanese ingredients like barafu, a leafy green that looks like it's covered in dew, with a salty taste and great crunch.
© Adam Erace
Green Aisle Grocery in Philadelphia.
At F&W lately, we’ve been talking about the reinvention of the general store. My favorite new example is Green Aisle Grocery in South Philadelphia, opened by Philadelphia Weekly restaurant critic Adam Erace and his brother Andrew. Are there cult favorites like Stumptown coffee, Anson Mills grits and DRY soda? Check. But the thimble-sized space also manages to stock locavore staples like pastured eggs, seasonal produce and grass-fed milk (including raw milk—for the cats, of course). And cocktail hounds will love the Fee Brothers bitters and Q Tonic water. (Sadly, only state-controlled stores are allowed to sell liquor in Pennsylvania.) Perhaps the most exciting items for sale are the prepared foods from Philadelphia restaurants—Zahav chef Michael Solomonov’s hummus, Pierre Calmel’s pumpkin bread from the white-hot Bibou, and the seasonal mostarde from James's Jim Burke (an F&W Best New Chef2008). If you’re not quite local (and gosh, I wish I were), you can order products by e-mailing the Erace brothers at email@example.com.
Dovetail chef John Fraser
I’ve eaten some porktastic dishes already this year, including the heart-stopping pig’s trotter at the Breslin
excellent “malfatti al Maialino,” malfatti pasta topped with a suckling-pig ragù. But surprisingly, I’ve been leaving most of my meals gushing over a vegetable
rather than a meat dish. My most recent vegetable love affair was at Dovetail
. The supertalented chef, John Fraser, recently reopened the place after a renovation and expansion
and has also added some very clever new dishes to the menu. The one that I dreamed of when I went home that night was, of all things, an onion. Fraser takes Vidalia onions, halves them and then (leaving the skin on) leafs them out, layer by layer, spreading a little butter and Perigord truffles between each layer. He then pieces it all back together before baking it in a salt crust as if it were fish. The result is tender, caramelized onion deliciousness, garnished with maple brown butter, hazelnuts, frisée and mache. If the blooming onion
is the height of trashy onion goodness, then this is the pinnacle of haute onion brilliance.
Roger Ebert, the beloved movie reviewer for the Chicago Sun-Times, has been battling cancer for nearly the last decade. In many ways it doesn't seem to have slowed him down; he's about the most prolific Tweeter out there after writer Susan Orlean. Yesterday he posted one of the best food essays I've ever read, a blog post about living "Nil by Mouth" and losing his ability to eat and drink. It's more life-affirming than you'd think. Check it out here.
George Mendes turns beets into a delicious meringue.
I’ve already heard declarations that “the Great Pork Decade has ended”, and as carnivorous foodies prepare to crown the next It beast for the coming decade, my hope is for vegetables to rival—if not surpass—meat as chefs’ newest obsession. Already, one of my most remarkable dishes of the new year was a vegetable-centric dish: George Mendes’s brilliant beet meringue at Aldea in NYC. Mendes cleverly juices fresh red beets, adds egg white powder and aerates it; he then dehydrates the mixture overnight at 145 degrees before topping the bite-size meringues with crème fraîche and American Hackleback caviar. Though just an amuse-bouche, Mendes twisted my perception of what a beet can be in terms of flavor and texture. And in today’s New York Times Dining section, Melissa Clark praised the unglamorous rutabaga and provides a delicious-sounding recipe that I plan to make this weekend. Maybe 2010 will be the year that some ordinary vegetables reach pork bun or fried chicken status.
A few months ago, wine editor Ray Isle and I enjoyed some amazing caviar at Atelier Robuchon
, made all the more intriguing because Joël Robuchon called it his official caviar and said it came from China. We were hoping someday we'd be able to buy tins of it to serve at parties, and now we've just about gotten our wish. Epicure Pantry, supplier to many of New York's finest chefs, just released a version called Kaviari "Kristal
," made from the eggs of Schrencki sturgeon farmed in China, and selected and packaged by the Paris-based Kaviari company. Kaviari is guarded about its sources, but assures that these are among the best fish farms in the world. What we do know: The eggs are plump, briny and buttery, with a lovely pop and a clean finish. They'd be great on their own or on a blini
; to offset the splurge-level cost ($138 for 50 g/1.75 oz), pair them with a terrific value Champagne
© Kristin Donnelly
Arugula Salad with Pickles.
In the wine business, purists refer to naturally fermented juice (made with wild ambient yeasts) as “real wine.” The same is now true of pickles. "Real pickles” are made by salting vegetables so they form a brine and letting them ferment—the tartness comes from the lactic acid that forms naturally. As delicious as they are, many artisanal pickles like Rick’s Picks are made with vinegar—an acidic ingredient that inhibits bacteria, including the good kind. “Real” pickles have all kinds of beneficial bacteria that are great for digestion and possibly preventing the flu. Chow recently created a video with one of the most passionate picklers I’ve come across—Alex Hozven of Cultured Pickle Shop in Berkeley, California. She makes naturally fermented, wildly innovative pickles with all kinds of in-season vegetables—beets and Tokyo turnips with basil and Thai chile, for instance, and carrots and mustard flower with cinnamon, paprika and cumin—along with “real” sauerkrauts and kimchees. Alex eats pickles with most meals and tells her customers to think of them as a side dish. Inspired by Alex, I'm trying to find fun ways to eat more pickles, so I recently added diced dill pickles (naturally fermented, of course) to my arugula salad. I’d take them over croutons any day.
Nothing beats the pure flavors and vinegary spiciness of homemade kimchi, and finding that perfect combination in a store-brought jar is next to impossible. Recently I found the closest thing I've ever gotten to it: Granny Choe's Kimchi
. The California company began selling kimchi online last year when Connie Choe-Harikul
convinced her grandmother to try mass-producing the recipe she learned growing up in Korea. The packaging isn't perfect—the contents are jarred under pressure and can explode, so open with a dish towel over the sink—but the kimchi has just the right amount of bite for me, and the longer you keep it around, the stinkier and tangier it gets. I'm not the only one who feels this way about Granny Choe's—her recipe also won this year's Critter Kimchi Contest
in San Francisco. I suggest trying it for making another California favorite, Kogi dogs
, or Korean chicken soup