Thursday, May 20, 2010
It's spring time in Amsterdam and I'm on my way for a week long tour of the city for New York Daily News and Peter Greenberg.
My grandfather was born in Amsterdam so I have a natural curiosity about the city, but I've never been and would appreciate any suggestions about places to go, things to see, coffee shops to hang out in, which canals are the most picturesque and any restaurants to try out.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Please take a look at a photo gallery about Rio I put together for the New York Daily News. Seeing those photographs again, brings back wonderful memories.
The national drink of Brazil, the caipirinha, has 4 ingredients: cachaça, sugar, limes, and ice. Simple, delicious, and strong. Cachaça is harsher than rum but more flavorful than vodka.
Off and on for three years our older son, Franklin, lived in Brazil. We visited him in Rio where he introduced us to the pleasures of sitting on the Leblon beach, enjoying the incredible view and feasting on "appetizers" sold by vendors who walk up and down the beach.
The variety of delicious treats carried by vendors is amazing. Grilled chicken, saladinhos ("little salty snacks"), cheeses melted on a small brazier, shrimp on skewers, ice cold agua de coco from a freshly opened coconut, and a variety of fruit beyond belief. After you've eaten enough or want a break from watching the parade of beautifully tanned and under-dressed Cariocas (what the natives of Rio are called), a short walk to any of the restaurants and bars that line the beach and a caipirinha is waiting for you.
From now until the end of the Olympics in 2016, the vendors have been banished from the beaches, but you can be certain they'll be back.
Because Brazil has such a bounty of tropical fruits, it was only a matter of time before the caipirinha enjoyed the addition of other flavors. Frank had learned to make variations. Going to a nearby farmers' market, we picked out different fruit to add to the basic ingredients.
Back at his apartment we spent the afternoon working our way through many combinations. What we liked best was adding kiwi fruit and pomegranate seeds, then we experimented with the proportions.
Back home we discovered that cachaça is not easy to find. Luckily, we tracked down Leblon cachaça so we could make caipirinhas whenever we wanted.
Time: 5 minutes
2 ounces cachaça
1 tablespoon superfine sugar
1/2 lime, cut into 8 pieces, mashed in a mortar and pestle
1/2 kiwi, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds
ice, cubed or crushed
Pour the cachaça in a 12 ounce glass, add the sugar and stir well. Pour in the lime, kiwi, and pomegranate seeds. Mix and fill the glass with crushed ice. Serve with an espresso spoon so you can eat the kiwi and pomegranate seeds while you sip your caipirinha.
For the kiwi and pomegranate seeds, substitute just about any tropical or citrus fruit you like
To read other travel posts, please go to:
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Palisadian-Post. I like that he talked about my family and my passion for cooking, weaving in my continuing work as a tv producer and writer. He also highlights my writing on the Traveling Mom website, which describes my obsession with how many dishes you can create from one chicken and a few roasted vegetables!
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
A Trip to New York and a Culinary Discovery: A Perfect Spring Salad of Black Kale, Kabocha Squash, Cheddar Cheese, and Almonds
Going to New York is always a treat. Like everyone else, I love walking around the city. A leisurely stroll through Central Park when the flowering trees are in bloom is one of life's great pleasures.
A visit to a museum is also a must. This trip we went to MOMA, where special exhibits by Marina Abramovic and William Kentridge were causing a stir, especially Abramovic's use of nudes as an element of her performance pieces. For myself, I never tire of the permanent collection with its iconic works by Van Gogh and Matisse, among other masters.
Since I'm not in the city as often as I'd like, I look forward to visiting my favorite places to eat: Gray's Papaya (Broadway at 72nd) for the $4.45 Recession Special (2 hot dogs with everything and a medium Pina Colada), Piada (3 Clinton Street below Houston) for a panini and espresso, and the salt and pepper shrimp at Nha Trang One (87 Baxter Street below Canal).
A friend who is an expert on the food scene, highly recommended several dishes, especially a salad, at a new restaurant in the East Village called Northern Spy (511 East 12th Street between Ave. A & B, 212/228-5100).
The unassuming space has a country feel that immediately makes you feel at home. Locally sourced produce and meats are put to good use in refreshingly simple and inventive ways.
Meat eaters will be in pig heaven--literally--with Chef Nathan Foot's pork terrine with homemade pickled carrots and celery root, pork shoulder meatballs in tomato sauce, and a special of crispy pork belly and potato hash and wild arugula. Classically trained, Chef Foot described the inspiration for the menu, which changes seasonally, as "being the kind of food I'd feed to my chef friends."
Affordably priced (most dishes are $10-15), the menu also has plenty for vegetarians. Risotto with butternut squash and mascarpone (Freekeh Risoto), a Farmers' Salad with a collection of root vegetables, several soups including navy bean and chilled celery root, five dollar sides of quinoa, wild rice (with feta, mint, and lemon), runner beans, collard greens, and roasted potatoes, polenta with braised greens and roasted mushrooms, and, the dish my friend had enthusiastically recommended, the kale salad.
I use kale frequently but never in a salad because I've always thought the stiff leaves needed to be sauteed or braised. At Northern Spy, kale is presented as nature intended--raw. Julienned, the kale presents a good base of support for the contrasting qualities of sharp, creamy cheddar, sweet, yielding kobacha, and crispy almonds. Finished with a lemon vinaigrette, the salad is refreshingly light with a hint of sweetness.
I experimented at home and discovered that the salad is easy to make. I made a few changes in my version, which was delicious, but all the credit goes to Chef Foot.
A Spring Salad of Black Kale, Kobacha Squash, Cheddar Cheese, and Almonds
Yield: 4 servings
1 small kobacha squash, about 2 pounds
1 bunch black or Tuscan kale, washed, stems removed, julienned
1 cup cheddar, a good quality English or Irish cheddar, cut into 1/2" squares
1 tablespoon whole almonds, roasted unsalted, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and pepper
Cut the squash into quarters, scrape out the seeds and fibers on the inside. Place in a steamer. Add 2 cups of water to the pot. Cover and cook on high heat for 10 minutes until soft, remove, and let cool. Remove the skin and discard.
You will need a cup of cooked squash. Reserve the left over portion to use in a soup or as a side dish with a grilled meat. Cut the cooked squash into 1/2" squares.
In a small saucepan, reduce the balsamic vinegar to 1 tablespoon. Set aside to cool.
Place the julienned kale on the bottom of a serving bowl, sprinkle the squash, cheddar, and almonds over the top and dress with olive oil, reduced balsamic vinegar, and season with sea salt and pepper.
Chef Foot sprinkles freshly grated pecorino romano on top of the salad
Add 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion rings to the salad