Archive | August, 2007

Leisure

31 Aug

We’re good New Yorkers.

The view from Fairway

We rely on public transportation to get around. I’m nice to tourists. He walks incredibly fast. We indulge in real estate porn. I have a favorite spot in Prospect Park, he has one in Central Park. We know how to tell if a taxi is available (and share this knowledge freely). We love Grandma Slices and know who Dr. Z is. I do the bulk of my shopping at Greenmarkets and bodegas. I haven’t been to a Wal-Mart in more than a decade. We don’t own a car.

Can you guess what I am?

And so, like many, many, good New Yorkers, come tomorrow morning we’ll be jumping in a rental car and glomming onto the good will of two friends who own a country house to revel in the last days of summer. God I love three-day weekends!

And yet…. I’m a little sad that summer’s ending. It seems to have been less profound out here by the water in Bay Ridge. It’s amazing how much less painful 100° days are when you’re not spending them boiling to death in a 350 square foot, east-facing oven with no cross ventilation.

Wires

We’ve only used the air conditioner once this year. And yet… I’m still bummed. I didn’t do a lot of the things I thought living out here in the “suburbs” would allow me to do. I never once sat on the stoop and read the entire Sunday Times cover to cover. We never pulled out the teeny tiny barbecue and grilled anything. We never picnicked in the park at the end of our street and I haven’t gone swimming once this year.

Sad

Yes, yes, there’s still time to do all these things, and let’s be honest, September is the greatest month of weather in New York City (those planning vacations to Gotham take note of this insider gem) and therefore ideal for many of these activities. And yet… I feel it’s somewhat hasty to be heralding the end of a season I kind of feel like hasn’t even gotten started yet.

Locks

And so I’m going to kick back and hope for good weather up in the mountains. I hear there will be beer, and maybe some vintage baseball and definitely some grilling and if it’s hot enough even a trip to the town pool.

I won’t be laboring very hard and I hope you won’t be either, so I’ll leave you with three incredibly easy recipes for enjoying Summer’s bounty.

Teeny Tiny Salted ‘Taters

Buy really, incredibly tiny red potatoes, wash them and then cook them in the saltiest of boiling water until tender. (For more detailed instructions see the recipe for Salt Potatoes).

Teeny Tiny 'Taters

The traditional way to eat these would be with drawn butter alongside a heaping platter of clams. But why not toy with tradition and eat yours with romesco sauce or Viking-style with mustard and dill?

Teeny Tiny 'Taters

Panzanella

Like your tomatoes with bread? Tired of sandwiches (is this even possible?)? Too hot to try Luisa‘s amazing sounding soup? Why not try a tomato and bread salad! Those crafty Italians gave it a fancy name so you can serve it to people without saying, “It’s, uh, tomato and, uh, stale bread, uh, salad.” Instead you can walk up to the table with a big bowl and say to everyone in your finest Sophia Loren accent, “It’s Paanzaneeeeellla! Prego! Go! Dig in! Everyone eat! Mangia!” and be adored. God the Italians are brilliant.

Panzanella

To make it crush a few cloves of garlic in a garlic press, toss them into a bowl with a healthy pinch of salt, a luxurious glug of olive oil and splash of red wine or sherry vinegar (please, no balsamic). Cube up some of your prettiest heirloom tomatoes, toss them in, mix and add some roughly chopped basil. Grind in some pepper and mix it up again. Add cubes of stale bread, toss one last time and serve with a smile.

Squash Carpaccio

I was at the Greenmarket a few weeks ago at the same stand where I bought the eggtoes. And see, here’s another thing that makes me a good New Yorker. There was a guy buying some so I briefly told him about my recipe, he said thanks and I walked away feeling good. I was buying Avocado Squashes because they were pretty and I’d never heard of them before. I walked up to pay and the lady in front of me turned and said, “Ooooooh those are delightful prepared like carpaccio!” Really? I asked. “Oh yes,” she said, “Just slice them very thin and dress them with lemon juice and olive oil.” Thanks! I said, and I actually meant it. She’s a good New Yorker, too.

Avocado Squash Carpaccio

So I took her at her word and boy was she right.

Avocado Squash Carpaccio

To eat her good advice simply slice a few avocado squash very thinly and arrange on one plate per person. Sprinkle with a little salt and some freshly ground pepper and dress each plate with the juice of half a lemon, a healthy glug of the very best extra virgin olive oil and a few capers. Top with a handful of arugula dressed with lemon juice and olive oil and a few shavings of Parmesan and more freshly ground pepper. Your vegetarian friends will thank you, but so will everyone else!

So get out there America! Go grill some steaks, prop your feet up on a cooler and enjoy this last weekend of Summer.

This good New Yorker will be right alongside you. Just don’t work too hard doing it, that would be unpatriotic!

P.S. I just noticed that my little stats counter says I’ve had my 100,000th visitor. What a milestone!  Whomever you were, thank you so much for stopping by! The same goes to all of you, from the first to the last, who have made my little blog so much fun and so fulfilling. You guys rule!

The Inevitable

28 Aug

You knew this day was coming.

No, no. Sorry to disappoint some of you. I didn’t buy a sausage maker.

Lily Building, 18th Street

It’s the Boy’s birthday this week. And so, thanks to my friend Virginia, who after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle bought a mozzarella-making kit for her boys, the Boy and I have taken our first, tentative steps towards making our own cheeses!

Fresh Lemon Panir

I figured if a couple of adorable boys could make mozzarella at home and still have their mother declare that, “it was easy, and fun!” a couple of fully capable adults who both happen to be pretty handy could do it too. Alas. I overlooked one small detail, we don’t have a microwave.

So until we remember to buy a pair of heavy duty plastic gloves, and until I can find someone to sell me goat’s milk in bulk, we’re sticking to the easy cheese (no, not this stuff).

Star Building, Second Avenue, Brooklyn

Our first cheese was a lemon panir. This cheese needs no special equipment. None. Just a thermometer and some cheesecloth.

I was already making a shell bean and corn salad for dinner and this was the only cheese in the recipe booklet that would be ready in time. It is the same thing as paneer and uses lemon to separate curds from whey because, well, rennet comes from, you know, cows.

There’s just one problem with this cheese. Saying it is the same thing as paneer is so wrong. The only kind of paneer I’ve had before is the stuff that could be tofu. Bland, flavorless, chewy and unyielding, all the paneers I’ve had have been good, but unmemorable.

Lacquer, Second Avenue, Brooklyn

Homemade panir curdled with lemon on the other hand? Delightful!

Fresh Lemon Panir

It’s light and creamy and lemony and seriously, the best word for it is delightful. It tastes like something you’d pay $25 a pound for at Dean & Deluca. It was the perfect addition to our light dinner of summer’s best salad.

Summer's Best Salad

For our second cheese (for some reason I feel like a huckster vaudvillian saying that) we made ricotta. Two pounds of it. And much to the chagrin of certain co-workers, I didn’t bring any of it into the office to share. Evil littler stinker ain’t I?

And they should be chagrinned. Homemade ricotta is just like homemade panir. It kicks ass.

Fresh, Homemade Ricotta

The best part about making your own ricotta is that you get to control the whey content inside the curds. I like my ricotta a little drier, so we let it hang for a half hour longer, but if you like yours wetter, just cut it into curds while the whey is still dripping from the cheesecloth. So easy, so delicious.

Lidia was on TV while we were settling on our dinner plans. My original thought was to make the ricotta and then use it in a pasta with some carrots and herbs, but no, stupid Lidia just had to do an entire show about polenta. Polenta for breakfast, polenta for lunch, polenta for dinner, polenta for Ann and the Boy. Nothing in the world was as important as having polenta for dinner. Ahh… The power of suggestion.

Homemade Ricotta, Glazed Carrots, Polenta

And lest I let all these curds go to my head, there was one other star to our weekend dinners. Garlic.

A few weeks ago while I was making dinner ‘All Things Considered’ did a piece on the differences between the garlic imported into the U.S. from China and the stuff grown out in California. I’ve always been a bit suspicious about the Chinese garlic labeled ‘Organic’ that seems to be everywhere.

Given China’s recent problems with food exports I have to ask, is it really organic? Is it even safe? It seems to sprout really soon, the flavor never really comes through in recipes. The NPR show gave fuel to my suspicions, so while we were in California I made it my job to find some great Cali garlic.

New York Dock Co. Imlay St. Red Hook

And boy did I! At the St. Helena farmer’s market. The cloves are plump and stinky, just how I like them, and taste delicious raw in salads. There’s a little heat but none of the acrid, intense bitterness I’ve come to associate from bodega garlic. I can’t wait to do a garlic-off between my favorite upstate New York hard neck and these California soft necks.

I’d also like to take some of that garlic, slice it thinly and make a pizza with the leftover ricotta and a few heirloom tomatoes we have lying around. That would be a really good dinner.

Fairway, Red Hook

So, if anyone knows anyone else with some extraneous goat’s milk, will you have them contact me?

Until then, I’ll be making my own crème fraiche. And queso fresco. And fromage blanc. And kefir. And buttermilk, and mascarpone and farmer’s cheese. And yes, the next time most of you see me I will have gained 20 pounds.

Never blame the cheese. (Just kidding Mom!)

Head below the jump for the recipes for Lemon Panir, Summer’s Best Salad, Fresh Ricotta and Carrot Bombs.

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Valley To Valley

24 Aug

So we bid adieu to San Francisco, drove over a bridge and crossed into another world.

The Fog

Those who live in northern California will bear with me as I marvel at the climatological oddities that define the Bay Area. It was hard to take pictures in San Fran; the light was so direct and sharp and intense, with pure, jewel-like colors, and then as soon as we crossed out of the city, the light became even sharper and more distinct and the colors all just melted away into a subtle palate of browns and greens. I wasn’t prepared for that.

What I was prepared for was my first bite of an In N Out burger. As we were bombing up the highway the Boy suddenly goes “Ooh!” and points out the window. There it was, the mythical, magical, perfect burger. But alas, we were going too fast and missed the exit. We pulled off at the next exit hoping to find another, but no, we found something even better.

Western Boat Shop

Western Boat & Tackle; a boat shop with a deli, serving freshly made dungeness crab sandwiches. Two slices of white bread, one slice spread with mayo, one spread with cocktail sauce, a leaf of lettuce and, I swear, about a half pound of plain dungeness crab meat with a squirt of lemon juice for $13. I hate to say it, but that sandwich beats the pants off my beloved lobster roll. And they have a little dock off the back where you can sit and eat. They claim their New England clam chowder’s pretty good too. Absolutely worth a trip from anywhere!

Stone Street Vineyard

Bellies full and happy we continued into wine country. You know you’re almost there when all other agriculture disappears and all you see is vines, vines, vines. Our first stop was at the Boy’s favorite, Stonestreet Vineyards in the Alexander Valley. Their vertical tasting of Cab Sauvingons is a revelation. Sure you can buy some Stonestreet wines anywhere, but they’ve got some legacy cabs that you can only get at the vineyard. Highly recommended.

Sausal Winery Grapes

We made a quick stop at Sausal Winery (good blends, delicious zins) before heading into Calistoga.

Christophers' Inn

Calistoga is a cool town. It lacks much of the pretense that typifies the rest of Napa Valley. It’s quiet, there’s not much to do, and it is one helluva place to be a food lover.

Bothe-Napa State Park

All Seasons Bistro is just about the only place in town that offers a seasonal, produce-driven menu, and it didn’t disappoint. Plus their wine selection is amazing, mostly local, can be purchased by the bottle, big glass or little glass, or you can just buy something out of their wine shop. So cool.

The Road From Sonoma to Napa

Vallarta Market, a grocery with a tacqueria, is just across the street from our hotel. We sat and watched the people flow in and out and determined they were locals. That’s a good sign. The tacos were amazing. Beautifully cooked meat (the head in particular) with clean, spicy, flavorful salsas. We also got a platter of delicious, creamy green chili with sublime beans.

Buster's Southern Barbecue

Buster’s Southern Barbecue, just down the road from the hotel, is the kind of place Alton Brown would visit on Feasting On Asphalt. It’s that good. Whenever we were in our room I would catch a faint whiff of smoking meat. It was intoxicating. Thank god the food lived up to the promise. A sign in the order window claims “Yes, the hot sauce is hot,” which was true, but it also packed crazy flavor. The ribs were ridiculous, the pork loin perfect. It put me in mind of Dinosaur in Syracuse. That’s high praise.

Bothe-Napa State Park, Coyote Peak Trail

But it wasn’t all eating, we hiked too. Thank god for the NY Times. They printed this article back in June without which we wouldn’t have even known of the existence of Bothe-Napa State Park and all the other great hiking trails in the Napa Valley. The redwoods are huge, the views are beautiful, you can hike or ride horses or even camp. It’s a great way to get away from all the zany, tailgating, horn-honking, road raging nutjobs that haunt Napa’s roads.

Bothe-Napa State Park, Redwoods Trail

And why are all these nutjobs in Napa? For the wine of course (or possibly for Thomas Keller, after lunching at Bouchon I can see their point). If you don’t want to bother with running around from winery to winery (not that I have any clue why you would ever not want to), just pop into the Wine Garage and join their super cool wine club.

But if you’re like us (and most everyone else in Napa) and want to chill with the winemakers and are looking for guidance, here’s our list of the places to stop.

  • Grgich Hills Winery: Owned by a Croat, and not just any Croat, but the Croat that helped California beat the French in the tasting heard round the world. Not an essential stop as many of their wines are to be found nearly everywhere, but given our penchant for Croatia, we thought we’d pop in. Beautiful zins.
  • Chimney Rock Vineyard

  • Nichelini Winery: Open since 1890 this is the oldest family-owned vineyard in Napa, and the coolest too. Tucked way up in the mountains they even managed to operate through Prohibition. No mean feat that! Oh, and the wines are awesome. An absolute must.
  • Darioush Vineyards

  • Chimney Rock: They have a rosé ! There’s not many in Napa, and theirs is a Cab Franc rosé no less! My favorite grape in all the world. The tasting room has a definite Madison Square Garden vibe going on, don’t let this dissuade you, the wines rock.
  • Darioush Vineyards

  • Dutch Henry: Great wine, gobsmackingly good (and expensive) olive oil and super cute terriers. What more could you ask for?
  • Darioush Vineyards

  • Summers: Summers has a rosé too, and a weird wine called Charbono that’s very, very good. They’ll also let you play bocce and there’s a taco truck at the end of the road so you can fuel up and keep tasting.
  • Sonoma

  • Darioush: Do not buy wine here, but absolutely go here for the spectacle. It’s a cross between an Irani Disneyland and a W Hotel.
  • Grapes

  • Buena Vista Winery: California’s oldest winery and the site of the wedding we were attending. Beautiful. Really nice Pinot Gris. Take Trinity Road over the hill from Napa into Sonoma for a real treat. That’s one scary ass road!
  • Buena Vista Vineyards

And that was it. No, that’s not true. We managed to hit the St. Helena Farmer’s Market where I bought two jams from The Wild Pear; Caramelized Onion and Jalapeno & Garlic. They are so damn good. And the colors! Oh how I wish I had taken a picture of the stand, they were so beautiful.

*sigh*

I guess I’ll just have to go back to Napa again. What a shame!

P.S. I’m sorry that the pictures of the wineries don’t match up to their descriptions, but I didn’t snap photos at some of the places. So from the top down (starting with the one of the white building) the pictures are: Chimney Rock Winery, Darioush, Darioush, Darioush (See? that’s why you should go there! Crazy!), Sonoma town square, random grapes and Buena Vista Vineyards. I didn’t want anyone to go to Nichelini and go, “But Ann said there’d be a giant white building, I’m so confused!” I’d never be able to sleep with that on my conscience.

Bay To Bay

21 Aug

From Bay Ridge to the Bay Area and back again.

Sunny San Fran

That’s kind of how I feel. Dazzled and sun-burnt. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that much sunshine in my life. And yes, we were in San Francisco!

Telegraph Hill

Before the trip I had picked up Patricia Unterman‘s food guide which turned out to be a good move. We hit the ground starving. We sat one row away from business class and were therefore tortured for the entire flight by the aromas of real food and warm cookies and the tantalizing trays of champers. Stupid airlines. Couldn’t even spare me a cookie? Bah.

The Bay Bridge

This little book is really quite indispensable to any food lover heading to San Fran. By no means comprehensive it is however a good guide to what sorts of food you can find in and around the city by the bay. We headed straight for Chinatown to ABC Bakery & Restaurant. I was promised soup dumplings. What I got were amazing dumplings and wontons with soup. I’m cool with that.

Annie Street!

From there we puttered around Telegraph Hill and the Embarcadero, saw City Lights bookshop and the Ferry Terminal Market and had tapas at B44. I was promised fish cheeks, but had to settle on dungeness crab stuffed piquillo peppers. I was cool with that too.

The Mission

The next day we did what we do best. We walked. 11 miles in total if our memories and gmaps pedometer are to be believed! We turned right out of our hotel (such a deal if you don’t mind sharing a bathroom and shower) and headed up Mission, breakfasting on some truly excellent street tacos.

Painted Lady

I know it is cliche, but seriously, those Victorian painted ladies are stunning! I’d be so intimidated if I owned one. You have to have such a good eye to pick out all those complimentary colors.

Palacio Latino

Real estate porn can work up a mighty hunger so the Boy and I popped into Palacio Latino. We’ve settled on a new rule for eating. If a restaurant is packed with locals and showing a football (soccer) match in the native tongue, the food is probably solid. This rule has never led us wrong and boy did it serve us well with this joint.

Tostada with Beets, Red Cabbage, Meat Sauce and Hard Boiled Egg

The menu at Palacio Latino is crazy and the food so good I broke my cardinal rule of restaurant eating and took a picture. It’s South American, to be sure, but there’s an odd Eastern European twist to it. I mean, they’ve got borscht! Even though I know I should have, I didn’t try it. I wasn’t that hungry unfortunately. But we did try the tamales (eh), the Pupusas and the Enchiladas Chapiunas, the Technicolor dish you see above.

Noe Hill Door

The pupusas, little masa pancakes stuffed with cheese and beans, came with a cabbage salad that would have been perfectly at home served beside a plate of pierogis at Polonica. (By the way, the world needs more pupusa places, you hear that world!) And the enchiladas? Amazing. Sublime even. Dilled beets and red cabbage dressed with vinegar and chiles on top of a meat sauce that would have been at home with my grandmother’s galumpkies topped with cheese, raw onion and hard boiled egg? What could possibly be wrong with that? Nothing! It was awesome.

San Fran

We left the Mission and headed to the Noe Valley, and then the Hayes Valley, and finally up to the top of Russian Hill.

Coit Tower

Why? I have no idea! Our feet felt light and it was a beautiful day. By the time we hit Fisherman’s Wharf I was a little cranky, but, at mile 9 or so, I’d say that’s to be expected.

Fisherman's Wharf

And so we turned home-wards. The only problem is, there was this giant hill in between us and our hotel. We originally started to go over it, but damn, no way. Those are some serious hills to tackle after a serious walk, so we went around it.

Big Hill, Big Boat

After much walking a big dinner is called for. Unfortunately we didn’t know where to go. If I had just listened to the good book we would have ended up at Original Joe’s without tacking on an extra couple of miles, but no, I had to grumble and grouse and come to the place by my own path.

San Fran Garden

There are no pictures of dinner or the restaurant. Why? Because while Original Joe’s may be awesome and the steaks delicious and perfectly cooked, it happens to sit on a rather sad, downtrodden and sketchy block in the Tenderloin and, well, I just didn’t feel right whipping out my camera to take a picture while trying to fend off beggars and junkies, especially with a belly full of incredibly perfect T-bone. So, you’ll just have to imagine a scene from Mad Men where they’re all in an at-that-time classy steak and cocktails joint and then re-imagine it in 2007. Nothing’s changed except there’s no crinoline.

Downtown San Fran

The next day, with sore feet and owie knees we decided to go easy on ourselves and take the ferry to Alameda and the Hangar One distillery and tasting room. The ferry conveniently leaves from the Ferry Terminal Market, so we breakfasted on Acme Bread and Cowgirl Creamery sandwiches, checked in with the wine merchants to be sure we knew where we were heading and set out to taste us some vodka in the afternoon. But alas, to no avail.

Bay Bridge

I’d like to air my frustration with Hangar One at this point in time. Anyone who doesn’t want to listen to me rant should move on. *ahem* Dear Hangar One; My boyfriend and I decided to spend our last day in San Francisco with you. We did our due diligence, we checked websites and schedules, we paid $22 for ferry tickets, we walked 20 minutes in the beating sun to arrive at your tasting room where there were 20 people sitting outside laughing and drinking. We tried the door, it was locked. We noticed the sign, it said, “Open Wednesday-Sunday.” It was Monday, and yet, there was a door open and people carousing, so I stuck my head in and said to the guy behind the counter, “Are you open?” to which he replied, “No.” I stuck my head back out of the door to make sure I hadn’t hallucinated the 20 or so people and said to him, “Really?” to which he said, “YES.” I replied, “But your website said you were open 7 days…” to which he replied, “Then you looked at the wrong one,” and turned back to the guy to whom he was giving samples of the wares. The conversation was obviously over.

Hangar One

Rather pissed, I stomped back to the ferry terminal, 20 minutes in blazing sun, to find that we had just missed a ferry and another would not arrive for over an hour. So thank you Hangar One, thank you for your hospitality and understanding. I know if I owned a business and a sweaty, dusty person popped her head in, that I would treat her in just the same way. Really, honest. I wouldn’t offer her a taste of something, just to make her feel special, after spending a nice chunk of money and 3 hours simply to come visit my establishment. Nope, I sure wouldn’t do that.

This is what I stared at for an hour and a half while waiting for the ferry in Alameda.

And just so I don’t sound incredibly crazy, yes I do know they were closed and that they had every right to treat me that way. But, this one experience has transformed me from someone who enjoyed drinking, purchasing and recommending Hagar One to friends and strangers alike into someone who will now steer people away from delicious mandarin blossom and kaffir lime vodkas. This makes me rather sad. I really loved their stuff.

Tugboat

Incredibly frustrated and frankly pissed, I boarded the ferry back to San Fran (the Boy was less pissed and frustrated than I was and was a really good sport to listen to my rantings and ravings). I was dejected, and sad. Even arriving back in the market and purchasing some chocolates and cookies couldn’t help, so the Boy took pity on me, bought some bread and cheese and we headed back to the hotel and had an impromptu nosh in Yerba Buena on truly great bread and exceptional cheese.

Baker Beach

After that, I was ready to leave San Fran and head for the hills, but there was one thing left I needed to do. I had to dip my toes in the Pacific. Baker Beach was on the way to the Golden Gate Bridge so we stopped there. The Boy loved the old embattlements, I loved the fog.

Pelicans

I did not love the naked guy doing yoga on the beach. I later learned that Baker Beach is the naked beach. Oh well, I suppose this prudish East Coaster should learn to loosen up from time to time!

Golden Gate Bridge

So San Francisco, thank you. You were a lovely host and I can’t wait to come back and visit again as soon as I can.

Golden Gate Bridge

More to come: Crab sandwiches and Napa and Sonoma and wine and barbecue and tacos oh my! Stay tuned.

Te Amo

7 Aug

I love Spain.

No, I’ve never been to Spain. I’d really like to go though, if only to wallow in the pork.

Rooftop Garden Above Kiehl's

Since I’m about to use up the last of my vacation days for this year*, a trip to Spain in ’07 is highly unlikely. Luckily, I live in New York, and wouldn’t you know it but there’s a next best thing?

Despaña.

There’s a giant bull’s head on the wall. They sell Iberico (when it’s in stock). They make drool-worthy bocadillos. They have an entire wall of tiny tinned fishes and tunas, piquillo peppers, rices, olive oils, white asparagus products, sherry vinegars, honeys, sweets, pickles and mayonnaises. It’s like walking into a physical manifestation of Ximena’s blog.

Oh, and they always offer tons of samples.

Sometimes when the boy and I are out walking around in Soho we’ll get a little hungry and want a snack. The snack options in this ‘hood are priced as stupidly as the rest of the merchandise on offer so we’ve come up with a far cheaper option. First we’ll hit up the olive bar at Gourmet Garage and then head over to Despaña to round out the graze.

South Street Seaport Patio Garden

After a lunch of tacos and tortas at Esquina (whoever invented the mushroom taco, I salute you sir!) we still had enough room in our stomachs for a light nosh. The Boy hit up the cheese (I know, you’re shocked) while I sampled the world of bizzaro alliolis. Spain, have I mentioned that I love you? I love any culture that can invent so many ways to flavor mayonnaise, and then takes the time to bottle them.

Grazing is good, but I had a real goal for being at Despaña. I’d had a random week at the Greenmarket. I impulse purchased some fresh chorizos from Tamarack Hollow Farm, avocado squash and more pimientos de padron from Yunos Farm, plus tiny cauliflowers and tons of tomatoes. I was at Despaña to find a way to tie them all together.

West Village Sunset

I bought some Bomba rice. I had no idea what to do with it, so when we got home I pulled a good dozen books from the collection and sat at the kitchen table, perusing, to no avail. My books had failed me. I was gutted. And so I turned to the internet. I typed in the query “recipe cauliflower chorizo” and on the second page of results was this. Sounds delicious doesn’t it? Until you actually read the instructions. Boil each vege on it’s own? Ugh, how fussy! But I had found a source. These La Tienda people sure have a lot of recipes!

I searched and combed and then I hit on the perfect recipe. It used rice. I had rice! It used egg. I had eggs! It used rabbit and chicken. I had chorizo! It used chickpeas. I had peppers, squash and cauliflower! It was a perfect match, possibly not in the real world, but in the recipe world of Ann’s head, it was.

Arroz con Costra

And since I couldn’t get those alliolis out of my head I decided to make a sauce too. I was going to make this one, but it didn’t solve my tomato problem, so I settled on making a romesco. I’m sure I’ve had romesco before, I know I have, but it’s never made an impression on me. Well, no more!

Romesco is my new favorite sauce on the face of the earth.

Romesco Sauce

I want to bathe in it, wallow in it, eat it on everything. It’s piquant, and smoky, and tomatoey and dear god, it’s just so damn good! If you’ve never had it before, I implore you, make some this weekend. It’s good on meat, and fish, and on vegetables, spread on bread, in salad dressings, and, yes, I’ll admit it, straight out of the Tupperware container while standing in front of the refrigerator while one is supposed to be asleep.

Arroz con Costra

But man and woman cannot live on romesco alone (although I’m thinking of trying). So, about the rice… Good! Delicious! Fantastic even! But I don’t recommend making this in the summer. It just takes too damn long in the oven. Save this recipe for a nice dark, cold, snowy day when the saffron yellow rice and golden eggs will serve as a bolt of sunshine into a dreary grey day.

Te amo Espana indeed!

*P.S. — Slow walking San Franciscans beware!! The Boy and I are flying out to the Bay Area on Saturday for 3 days in San Fran, 3 days in Napa and then a wedding in Sonoma. If anyone has any suggestions as to things to do, places to eat, vineyards to visit, goats to pet, I would LOVE to hear them! Neither of us have spent any significant time in this neck of the woods so all advice would be heartily appreciated! And if anyone wants to meet up, well…

Head below the jump for the recipes for Romesco Sauce and Ann’s Arroz con Costra.

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