Wednesday, April 1, 2020

positivity journal 2020:3


i know, right?

i skipped march 17, because that was the day the restaurant industry disintegrated, and for a lot of days, i simply acknowledge the preponderance of birthdays of some of my favorite people all bunched up at the end of the month. but, here is this, anyway
mar 1: driving through north carolina, chose dinner location based on the number of pink neon pig silhouettes on the front of the shack
mar 2: the time on tonight’s walk home was wind-aided
mar 3: i can guess the convention going on inside by the food trucks outside 
mar 4: "freelance curator"
mar 5: restaurant's lack of duck becomes a running joke through dinner

mar 6:  kalimotxo, except with lambrusco and dr pepper
mar 7: started recipe testing next big idea
mar 8: waiting at bus stop, a protest march goes by on pennsylvania ave. they are all wearing purple. cameras everywhere. i look down and realize my jacket is the same purple. this was not how i expected my career to end
mar 9: for whatever reason, najah has started sleeping on my hip again
mar 10: woman jogging toward me as i walk down sidewalk. she passes delivery dude returning to his truck, who affixes his gaze to her long past the extent of an admiring glance, entering the realm of creepy leer. so i stop and do the same to him. i know i made him uncomfortable, but i don't think he knew why i was doing it. so i won half the battle

mar 11: celebrating valerie panou
mar 12: fake campari
mar 13: celebrating ken preuss
mar 14: "alexa, play onerepublic"
mar 15: celebrating ronnie perkins

mar 16: celebrating susan marzano
mar 17: i don't know, man. this was a bad day. pass
mar 18: takeout general tso's, kung pao, hot-sour, potstickers and egg rolls
mar 19: video conference comedy show
mar 20: maggie rose concert live on the internet from someone’s basement 

mar 21: i haven't worn socks in like 4 days and don’t know if i can go back to a world where i have to
mar 22: celebrating scott long and sean daly. independently. or collectively. however works
mar 23: i'm not petting any dogs when i take a lap around the hood, but it makes me happy when they strain their leashes trying to come see me. and a little sad, tbh
mar 24: neighborhood restaurant tweets they have csa boxes from a local farm. 20 minutes later, i have a csa box from a local farm
mar 25: celebrating jennifer wright

mar 26: christian slater in a movie i wasn’t expecting him to be
mar 28: wrote a story that took either 12 years or 30 minutes, depending on how you look at it
mar 29: just got out and drove around. man, the bar has changed
mar 30: picking up schlow burgers from michael schlow

Monday, March 2, 2020

positivity journal 2020:2

 


feb 1: went to see gary gulman at warner theater. his joke about con men vs. con artists made me think so hard about so many people i know
feb 2: still no meat. it’s fine
feb 3: fact: there is a guy at the geological survey who is quoted about earthquakes and his name is john geiger
feb 4: i feel confident that my serving of rigatoni with sausage gravy came with more than the prescribed amount of sausage, and i think it was a statement from the kitchen
feb 5: "naturally flavored with other natural flavors" 

feb 6: do not have a bucket list but considering starting one so i can put “eat tamales in pati jinich’s kitchen” on it because i can now cross it off, tho i want to do it again
feb 7: perigord truffles steeped in amaretto over epoisses ice cream and buckwheat crumble. as one does
feb 8: was intently working when sara barreilles' orpheous came on spotify and stopped me cold, then made me feel like climbing a mountain
feb 9: not getting into details, but someone i barely know said something to me that unlocked me in a big way, and i will always appreciate it. writing this vague item so i will be reminded of it at weird times in the future
feb 10: walking home listening to dr feelgood. during the sirens part, a fire truck passed me, fully engaged. it felt like an immersive experience

feb 11: got to condo board meeting late, and when i got there, everyone was talking about the only thing i was interested in talking about, so i just had to nod a lot. bonus: i sat next to a dog that wanted to be petted
feb 12: "somewhere back there in the dust, is that same small town in each of us."
feb 13: cereal for dinner
feb 14: gave colleague a pep talk by reminding them they work at washington post; realized i was also pep talking myself
feb 15: had idea for mushroom marsala, tried to decide when i would make it. then realized that the answer was "now"

feb 16: amanda shires closing with "that's all" cover was so literal
feb 17: finally went to new dinosaur exhibit (top) at natural history museum. took shortcut home by walking through the portrait gallery
feb 18: when amelia bowers saw Wayne and i walking through the vaunted halls of the post, she did not recognize either of us, and i suspect it is because i was not cooking and wayne was not playing guitar. she has a point
feb 19: tiktok commenters restore my faith in the youngs
feb 20: someone told me i was right about something that i never doubted i was right about 

feb 21: sweet potato w chile and crunchy salt
feb 22: any movie with anna kendrick
feb 23: 12,000 steps without trying 
feb 24: pilot of “zoe’s extraordinary playlist” provides a pretty good visual of my internal narrative, but with choreography 
feb 25: meeting cancelled

feb 26: wore red shirt on day i brought leftover pasta for lunch. we can pretend it was on purpose and i am genius
feb 27: catching up with Jennifer DeCamp over obscenely large sandwiches that weren’t on bread
feb 28: multiple twisted sister shows in my youth perfectly prepared me for hamburger mary’s
feb 29: drove out on fo’-fohty-one while listening to tom petty 

 





Monday, February 3, 2020

positivity journal 2020:1


not guaranteeing the concept makes it through the year this year, but i was in the habit

jan 1: najah turns 19. that cat is amazing and is my favorite part of almost every day
jan 2: got my first concert presale code of 2020. here we go
jan 3: realized i didn’t have to close the section early. it felt like vacation 
jan 4: considered watching football, but did not
jan 5: mushroom banh mi made me feel like i could invent things again

jan 6: a homeless guy walked with me part of the way to work and ... i think he gave me a pep talk
jan 7: went to afghan restaurant. it was fine
jan 8: did not believe in meditation until i tried it and started sleeping
jan 9: extreme almond extract
jan 10: “if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice”

jan 11: reading a chef’s cookbook. see something i like. text chef because i have thoughts. he supports them and advises further. now i know what it feels like to be amy hollyfield!
jan 12: tried to guess year of old camaro in parking lot with ronnie perkins. we both said '67-'69. guy overheard and told us how to tell them apart. it was a 69
jan 13: “we appreciate your appreciation”
jan 14: brachetto
jan 15: tiny cast iron

jan 16: i try to get 10k steps every day. some days, tho, i am ok not. today was one
jan 17: “As you all know … well, maybe not all of you know … but those who know know that I’m an amazing cook” -- Paris Hilton, channeling my personal turmoil
jan 18: at grocery store, needed tabbouleh. realized i have NEVER bought tabbouleh before, and i had no real idea where to look. the nice lady in prepared foods showed me. it was there
jan 19: free movie at shakespeare theater
jan 20: i bought soda 2 days ago and left it in the car. went out to get it to put in the fridge. but since it was in the 30s outside, it was totally ready to drink, possibly colder than if it had been in fridge

jan 21: bread-and-butter pickles
jan 22: walk into neighborhood bakery and the baker starts excitedly telling me about all the cool things that she made today that she just sold out of. so i got usual thing. which is also cool 
jan 23: a flour company has a catalog, and i am on the mailing list  
jan 24: ancestry.com keeps sending me emails trying to get me to buy a membership by promising to tell me whether i’m related to my grandmother
jan 25: training session included bagels


jan 26: got to be a waiter. it was exhausting. but you waiters out there knew that 
jan 27: lip-synced uncharted by sara barrelies on the way home and wondered why i’m not in the video. i would like to claim "they may not make sense/but they sure as hell made me," which currently just has seagulls
jan 28: the new brand of yogurt i bought doesn’t have that dumb piece of paper on top
jan 29: each week i read about a museum whose address is 200 North Boulevard, and i always have to think if it is 200 N. Boulevard or 200 North Blvd. (it is the former)
jan 30: series finale for the good place was perfect 

jan 31: overheard, on jan 31: "you mean year to date? or for the month?" 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

black pepper tagliatelle


This was an easy one: When mixing up the pasta, you just add a copious amount of black pepper. I'm a fan of black pepper, so I was totally on board.

Other than that, it was just about sautéing some parsnips and pancetta. 



OK, so I cured my own pancetta. But not specifically for this dish. It was just in the fridge. Its a benefit of being obsessive.

Boil the pasta, toss with the pancetta and parsnips, and it's all over.

I found this recipe on Cooking Channel's website. It doesn't call for the black pepper in the basic pasta. Weird. I'll tell you a secret: Add 2 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper to the eggs in the pasta part of the recipe. That may be the way it all goes down in the book.


Also, fresh pasta dishes? We have reached the point where I preface posts about them by saying, "This was an easy one." Uh huh. That's right.

Up next: Warm lamb's tongue salad.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

marinated baccala; black and white strichetti


I will admit here: I had this chunk of salt cod sitting in my refrigerator for more than a year. In fact, I had had it so long that more than one refrigerator was involved. When I started, I saw how much I needed for the three salt cod dishes in the book, and I just bought that much.

One of the dishes, the Baccala Mezzalune, got made pretty quick. But I didn't love that dish, so my urgency to finish the other two waned. The always seemed like dishes I could knock out whenever, then whenever started to slip to almost never.

Then the cod managed to slip to the back of the fridge. And you know how that goes. Then it got moved, which, frankly, is sort of insane.

Luckily, the salting is a preservation technique, so it could wait forever. Then one day, I was cleaning out the fridge, saw the white chuck of dried fish, and decided to check this one off the list. 



The Marinated Baccala was a breeze. After soaking the cod for a couple of days, it marinates in some oil.



It goes with some baby fennel, which reminds me that one of the reasons I held off making this dishes in the first place was that I wanted to grow the fennel myself. And as I recall, I tried. It never went well. So I bought fennel. Shrug. 


The next night I made the Black and White Strichetti, which involved making a sauce of the cod and tossing it in big bowtie pasta, half of which is colored with squid ink. 

It was funny looking at our dishes after Pam and I were done. She had picked through and mostly eaten the white pasta, I had picked through and mostly eaten the black pasta. Mainly, I wanted to see if I could discern a difference. Maybe a little. Maybe. Not really, though. It just looks neat.

Both dishes were much better than than my first attempt at working with it. And I am happy to report there is no longer any salt cod in my refrigerator.

Up next: black pepper tagliatelle

Monday, April 15, 2013

veal breast (with bonus brussels sprouts)


I have two butchers that I deal with with some degree of regularity. And while I felt confident that both of them could get me a veal breast, I knew that I shouldn't just walk in to either and expect to walk out with one, so i called the one that's closer to where I live. It was a Friday morning, and I wanted to make this dish on Sunday.

"We can get it, but you have to order it in advance. We put in our order for the weekend on Thursday nights,"

Doh. That was close.

So I called Stachowski's Market in Georgetown. Friends have had luck with specialty cuts there, and I've had some of it, and it's always fairly amazing.

"We can get it, but we have to order it," guy on the phone tells me. "Hold on. Let me go look to make sure."

(Taps fingers on the desk for about five minutes.)

"I was wrong. We have one. It's about 10 pounds and I can't break it. That OK?"

Yup.

At this point, I realized that I didn't know how much that piece of meat was going to cost. But I once watched Jeremy buy a piece of meat there that cost more than either of my first two cars, so I was prepared to be shocked.


 
My anxiety lasted until I went to pick it up the next day. When I walked in and asked for it, I was immediately tagged as "that guy who wanted the veal breast." That's fine. So that guy I talked to on the phone, which is how I immediately tagged him, went to the walk-in and brought back the vacuum-sealed piece of meat. It was gorgeous. It looked just like a brisket, which is what it would have grown up to be, but the meat was snowy white.


I took the bag to the counter, and there was some discussion among the employees about how much the veal breast cost per pound. The numbers swung rather wildly, and each number set off calculations in my head. But when it was all said and done, the total price came out to be less than half the price of either of my first two cars, so I consider it a win.

In conversation, it came up that I barely needed half of this for the recipe I was doing. So he offered to split it and just sell me what I needed, which made me scratch my head, since he pretty much told me on the phone that that wouldn't happen. But by then, I wasn't afraid of the price, and figured I'd find a second dish to do with the rest of the meat.



The dish itself was easy. Just rolls the veal roast up with pancetta then cook it low and slow with a ton of onions.

So many onions. The stack started like this:




And ended up like this:


I've been looking forward to this dish, because it looks so delicious in the photo in the book. A nice piece of rolled meat, with a ton of onions in a red sauce.

Mine was not red, at all. I looked again at the recipe, and there is nothing in it that would make it red. So I'm not sure what to think about that. But it was delicious. It tasted a lot like French onion soup, with a big hunk of meat in it.

I like French onion soup. And big hunks of meat. So all good.

Made the Brussels sprouts with pancetta to go along with it. My reasoning was that the pancetta in the sprouts would go well with the pancetta in the veal. My secondary reasoning was that something with pancetta in it always goes with anything else, whether the other thing has pancetta or no. So it seemed destined for success.


Up next: hey, is that salt cod in the fridge?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

duck brasaola


I was really looking forward to this dish.

I like duck. A lot. I like cured meats. A lot. I like curing meats. A lot. Even though it sort of scares me. Maybe because it scares me?

Anyway, the photo of this dish in the book is gorgeous. The meat looks all jewel-toned and beautiful. It looks like salmon, really. So it was with great anticipation that I made a spice rub, bathed a duck breast, tied it up and hung it in the refrigerator. All I had to do was wait three weeks, and I would be having jewel-toned duck.

I looked at the duck breast after about a week, then after two weeks, and I was worried. It looked like it was turning black. I sort of shrugged and accepted I couldn't know what it looked like inside yet. Jewel-toned, probably.

When I took it out of the fridge, it looked like this: 




Not optimistic.

I made the beans, and the red onion jam that go with it. Then I sliced the duck.

There were really no jewel tones. It sort of looked like raw duck in the middle. I tasted it. It tasted a little like nicely spiced raw duck. With an unfortunate dry, black crust.

We'll file this one under "learning experience."

The beans and the red onion jam were delicious. Actually, so was the spice rub. I used all those with other dishes.


Up next: An unmitigated success story.