Today, Elaine and I skipped lunch...and headed straight for the market near my office. The mission? Giant bouquets of flowers for the bargain price of $5.
Throughout the city, Hmong women are a familiar sight at the farmers' markets. Each week, they haul an endless supply of flowers, sold out of gleaming white 5-gallon buckets. Rejected flowers are strewn on the ground, and grow matted as the day wears on.
The kaleidoscope of colors instantly makes me smile.
Short, stocky women with broad faces and jet black hair, smile brightly and ask, "You want?"
I gesture towards a bucket of pink and orange variegated dahlias. She winds her way through a sea of flowers, grabs a small bunch and raises her brow.
A rapid stroke from rough hands, strips the verdant leaves from their stalks. From another bucket, she plucks tall, deep purple stems that remind me of exclamation points. This adds the final touch.
An exchange of smiles and cash completes the transaction.
Before I can get a solid grip on my bouquet, she looks over my shoulder at the mother-daughter duo behind me and says, "You want?"
I'm quite sure Becky would agree!
On my way to Chocolate University, I snapped this through-the-windshield shot, waiting for traffic to pass.
While I spent time in the South, and I've certainly had some tasty bites, I didn't fully grasp the meaning...until I tried this gianduja ice cream. The recipe is Italian...but the expression that sums it up, is pure American.
Words fail to express how truly delicious this recipe is, but with a scoop of this gianduja nearby, all I can say is....
If you're accustomed to making ice cream, there's a step or two more than usual in this recipe (toasting the nuts, rubbing the skins off, infusing the liquid.) I say...get over it! Every second spent working on this recipe is totally worth it!
The Perfect Scoop, David Lebovitz
Makes about 1 Quart (1 Liter)
1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted*
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
¾ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
4 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
5 large egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
Rub the hazelnuts in a kitchen towel to remove as much of the papery skins as possible, then finely chop them in a food processor or blender.
Warm the milk with 1 cup of the cream, sugar, and the salt in a saucepan. Once warm, remove from the heat and add the chopped hazelnuts. Cover and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.
Put the milk chocolate pieces in a large bowl. Heat the remaining 1 cup cream in a medium saucepan until it just begins to boil. Pour it over the milk chocolate pieces and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Set a mesh strainer over the top.
Pour the hazelnut-infused milk through a strainer into a medium saucepan, squeezing the nuts firmly with your hands to extract as much of the flavorful liquid as possible. Discard the hazelnuts.
Re-warm the hazelnut-infused mixture. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm hazelnut mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the milk chocolate mixture. Add the vanilla and stir until cool over an ice bath.
Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according the manufacturer’s instructions.
*10-12 minutes in a 350 degree oven
Whether you're for...or against GEAs, if you're a food lover....this is a call for action!
Visit this link and weigh in....
Karen Eggert (301) 734-0603
Angela Harless (202) 720-4623
USDA REQUESTS INFORMATION ON GENETICALLY ENGINEERED ANIMALS
WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2008--The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today began seeking information from the public and industry about whether additional consideration is needed when genetically engineered (GE) animals are imported or moved across the country. “Genetic engineering technology is expanding and evolving at an incredible rate,” said Cindy Smith, APHIS administrator. “We want to ensure that APHIS has not only sought the public’s thinking but also all available information as we consider the potential effects of GE animals on the U.S. livestock population and what our role should be in overseeing this developing industry.”
APHIS is requesting information on research conducted or planned on GE animals as well as the importation and movement of GE animals amid the U.S. livestock population. APHIS is also seeking input on actions and approaches that should be considered under the Animal Health Protection Act that would complement draft guidance issued today for public comment by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA’s draft guidance covers its requirements and recommendations for developers of GE animals.
The request for information is intended to gather public comment and information on GE animals for the agency to consider before determining any official guidance or policy.
“This is an excellent opportunity to hear directly from the public and industry,” said Smith. “We will thoroughly review the feedback we receive and will work closely with FDA to include a clear picture of how people, animals and the environment will remain protected.”
APHIS has been safely regulating GE organisms since 1986 and has overseen the deregulation of more than 70 GE crop lines.
The request for information is scheduled for publication in the Sept. 19 Federal Register.
Consideration will be given to comments received on or before Nov. 18. Send two copies of postal mail or commercial delivery comments to Docket No. APHIS-2006-0188, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.
Comments also can be submitted on the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocketDetail&d=APHIS-2006-0188.
Comments are posted on the Regulations.gov Web site and also can be reviewed at USDA, Room 1141, South Building, 14th St. and Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C., between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. To facilitate entry into the comment reading room, please call (202) 690-2817.
Whenever the travel bug gets the best of me, I head to Chinatown. Wandering in and out of shops, the streets are dense with the scent of grilled meats and garlic. From an open window overhead, you can hear swirling majong tiles pierce the air with a cacophony....tap-tap-tap....tap-tap-tap. They pause for just a moment, and then the carved tiles are set in motion again, scraping against well-worn tabletops.
One by one, I pose with each of the cooks as they take turns snapping badly blurred images.
"Tell your father I will give you a good life...."
(L) Inside, taped to the glass: "We will be back! Hope to see you soon!" G.V. Rest
(R) Outside, response written on the glass: "You are remembered and very much missed; please come back soon!"
Watching the pros cook is a bit of poetry in action. There's an economy of movement that is essential to the job, and above everything, efficiency depends on order.
Off-site gigs present a slew of obstacles--from an unfamiliar layout to limited cold storage and power shortages. Adaptability...and a rock solid checklist are paramount. Carefully pack every last bit of equipment required for the job...and assume nothing. Then, check your list thoroughly and anticipate challenges.
To sum it up: off-site events are like camping...mixed with a bit of theater. Pack it in. Pack it out. And whatever happens...the show must go on!
While I'm sure Marc was armed with an arsenal of spices for his houseboat gig, this is his kit devised for weekend getaways. Fashioned out of an artist supply box, his kit stocks the most commonly used spices. Genius, no?
Careful preparation includes...an inventory list. With a penchant for luxe dishes, my guess is, that's Truffle Salt on the right.
Remember the Waffle Man's talk at Town Hall?
At the time of his talk, the launch of CERN's ground-breaking experiment was mere months away. Coinciding with a large spread in National Geographic, the timing could not have been better. His talk was recorded by National Public Radio...and attended throngs of science buffs. Town Hall's 250 seat venue overflowed capacity with standing room only in the back.
And yesterday, they made history.
Near Geneva, buried deep beneath the earth, CERN's Large Hadron Collider sent two beams of protons, traveling in opposite directions around the 17 mile track. The trials were deemed a success...and yesterday, celebratory champagne bottles were popping in labs throughout the world.
Eventually, the two beams will be fired simultaneously in opposing directions, with the intention of colliding. In layman terms, scientists are trying to recreate conditions within split seconds after the "big bang." Studying that brief moment in time, they hope to unlock the origins of the earth.
Dubbed "The World's Largest Experiment," the ATLAS and the LHC projects at CERN have been years in the making. Billions have been invested and over 6,000 of the world's premier scientists have contributed their talents to this landmark project. While there is much work that remains, the project has taken a major step forward.
Google even marked the occasion with one of their famous graphics:
When I got the call to come over for a preview of party noshings, my only question was, "How fast can I get there???"
Cheese presentation (on slate) with with pear moustarda
Fun cocktail napkins are great conversation starters....
The birthday boy...and party samples (detailed shot below).
Kris makes a beautiful spread, doesn't she?
One of each, plated
I love Kris' food. She designs menus that are packed with fresh flavors...and often feature a surprising twist. Vegetarian options are never a compromise...and delight meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Visually, the colors pop, adding to the festive party spirit...and her stream-lined platters create an easy, elegant touch.
Here's a look at the menu:
Tomato Basil Emulsion w/ rustic bread
Pecan Salmon Bites w/ crème fraiche asparagus tartar sauce
Herbed Chicken Medallions w/ ginger mandarin reduction
Asparagus wrapped in wontons w/ fresh lemon & kosher salt
Spinach Cakes topped w/ garlic jalapeno goat cheese, cherry tomato & shiso
Fried Goat Cheese & Cucumber topped w/ balsamic reduction, basil & lemon zest
Baked Figs wrapped in prosciutto & stuffed with blue cheese (Marc's contribution)
Assorted Cheese Board with pear moustarda (Marc's contribution)
Great food with a fabulous view and even better company...what more could you ask for?
Happy Birthday, Marc!