Friday, August 19, 2011

There's No Accounting For Taste!

It is interesting that it can be considerred desirable to dine under rather miserable conditions in the latest big name/association restaurant.  We recently went to one such.  Worst about it was the noise level--constant, for the two hours it took for them to feed us--the worst acoustics of any restaurant in which I have eaten!  We were packed in like sardines.  One had to turn sideways to get out past other tables, in an unattractive room on a drab street.  Not enough light to read the menu.  No bread, no olive oil or butter.  And the place was packed on a Tuesday night.

I'm sure that the servers earn a lot of money, at least I hope so.  It has got to be miserable working there, since the discomfort engenders hostility.  I dont know how  much;  we saw some, and we certainly didn't communicate any of our own dissatisfaction.

Oh yes, the food.  It was good, very good--not great though--and if it had been great, would it have been worth the physical discomfort? I dont think so.  It occured to me that take out was a solution.  however, they dont do take out.

So these diners are the opposite of our customers.  Indeed, we recognized no one there.  We have no fancy named chef who is,of course, not present.  We have space between tables  Very little noise.  A beautiful view.  Home made bread.  Butter.  Good olive oil.  And our customers tell us that the food is good, very good.  To each his (or her) own!

Recently we went to two restaurants that we liked.  We returned to Navaratna in Stamford.  It is an Indian all vegetarian restaurant.  It was comfortable and the food was good.  Stamford now boasts 2 of our go-to restaurants: Fez and Navaratna.

And we have now been three times to Shiraz, in Elmsford, New York.    It is only a half hour from Westport and well worth the trip.  This is Persian  (Iranian) cuisine.  It surprised me in that there were so many differences from Turkish and Syrian food.  Also, ther seems to be a lot that borrows from India, with a slightly different slant.  Lots of vegetarian appetizers and at least five different pilafs.  And they do make the most amazing rice dishes.  Perhaps best of all is the grocery store next door with many kinds of basmati rice, an incredible selection of spices and Iranian cookbooks.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Saving Summer

You likely have your favorite ways to preserve the gifts of Summer; these are mine.

Raspberries and blackberries from the farmer's market are very tempting, and I always buy too many.  The easiest thing to do with the raspberries is Edna Lewis' recipe for sugared raspberries.  Measure your raspberries, turn into a bowl and add an equal amount of sugar.  Use a fork or potato masher to crush the fruit.  Turn into jars and refrigerate.  They will keep a year in the refrigerator and make a delicious topping for pancakes, cake, or ice cream.

I make a blackberry/pasilla chile syrup from a '90's Gourmet magazine recipe.  Remove stems from 4 dried pasilla chilies (available in Mexican markets) and turn into a pot.  Add 2 cups sugar, one and one half cups water and a quarter cup of lemon juice.  Bring to a boil and simmer 10-15 minutes, or 'til syrup, exclusive of the chilies, measures 2 cups.  Meanwhile, puree 1 cup blacberries in a blender.  Strain into a bowl.  Now pour syrup and chilies into the blender and process.  Pour into the strainer over the blackberries.  Stir and strain.  Keep this mixture in the freezer, where it will never be totally frozen.

The blackberry/pasilla syrup makes a delicious Tequila Sunrise.  For each drink, turn 1 tablespoon syrup into a tall glass.  Add 3 tablespoons silver tequila and 1 teaspoon lime juice.  Finish with a half cup orange juice.  Add ice and stir. 

Yesterday I made the first slow roasted tomato sauce of this season....At last we have a plethora of home grown tomatoes!  The recipe is in our  Best of Bloodroot cookbooks, both of them actually.  We really like this easy recipe. Cut up but dont skin the tomatoes, any and all kinds!  Turn into a shallow pan.  Add lots of whole garlic cloves and lots of olive oil.  Bake at 325 degrees for 3 hours, stirring now and then, until tomatoes caramelize.  Add basil sprigs  for the last 10 minutes, and salt to taste.  A whole hot chile may be roasted with the tomatoes.  Freeze, for January joy.

There are lots of hot peppers in my home garden and at Bloodroot.  The best thing to do with them is to pickle them and can them.  Even if you dont like spicy, a pepper from this pickling is a delicious accompaniment to many dishes.  And a jar of these pickles make a great  present for heat loving friends.  The recipe will be in my next blog.