Pegeen Cocktail

Pegeen Cocktail as made by Oriana at Bubala's in P-town

I invented this for my sister at her request on the occasion of a big birthday. Like her, it is three parts Irish to one part Italian, with a little bitters to balance the natural sweetness...

Her friend Lesli called it a blonde Manhattan, and that's a pretty good description. It's a summer-weight cocktail made with Irish Whiskey and Carpano Bianca Vermouth (that's a bianco vermouth, not a dry or a sweet vermouth).

Hot Summer Night Bread Pudding

Vera's Hot Summer Night Bread Pudding, photo by Vera CarrollThis is a light and refreshing version of the traditional Bread Pudding to enjoy after a summer cookout with family and friends!

Braised Chestnuts

Chestnuts Braised in Beef Stock and Red WineThis easy and delicious Burgundy-style recipe is no trouble at all to prepare. The chestnuts can come from a jar, so it's just a matter of adding stock and wine and braising for a while.

The dish is a fine accompaniment for beef or some savory roast pork dishes, and it is a classic accompaniment for roast goose. 

Of course you could make this with fresh chestnuts, but the chestnuts in a jar work really well. You can get them at Whole Foods and sometimes at Trader Joe's and other high-end grocery stores. I get them at Ed Hyder's Mediterranean Marketplace in Worcester, or at Micucci's in Portland.

Port Bistro, Kingston, MA

Port Bistro, on Rte 3a in Kingston, MA - photo by Richmond Talbot

I was excited about the opening of Port Bistro when I learned it is the sister restaurant to Sintra in Braintree. The hospitality and the food were worth the trip, but now I have only to drive to Kingston where Jenkins has taken over the space that housed La Paloma at 14 Main Street near KFC and the Purple Building.

I was first impressed by the wine list, and when I remarked upon it, I was introduced to Melani St. Pierre, who put in great deal of work selecting wines for the restaurant and is proud of the result. Her title is Wine Director; she says sommelier is a masculine term. No matter your wine expertise or lack of same, your experience at Port Bistro will be enhanced if you place wine selection in her hands.

Duck with Orange Glaze - photo by Richmond Talbot

Served with a square of polenta, the long island duckling was tender, juicy, and unctuous without being greasy. The spiced orange glaze was a little sweet for my taste, but not so much as to spoil the total experience. To go with it, Ms St. Pierre recommended Bedell Merlot from North Fork, Long Island, NY.

Desert Pilgrimage

Type of Post: 
Beyond New England
Destination: 
Arizona!
Best of Show: 
Sunrise at the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon at DawnI had to go to Phoenix, Arizona for a conference, so I added a day at the beginning and Lorna joined me for a weekend of exploring the Grand Canyon State. We had a lot of fun exploring, but I have to say it's hard to be a locavore superstar in the desert.

The Grand Canyon was our priority. Richmond and Annette, old hands at exploring the desert southwest, had told us that sunrise is spectacular, so that was the start of our plan. The only way to see the sunrise is to sleep in the park, so we stayed at the Yavapai West Lodge motel and it was fine.

To make the sunrise at the Yaki Point lookout (highly recommended) we had to be up by 4:15 so we could get to the shuttle buses at the visitor center in time to get to the point. Fortunately jet lag was our friend...Arizona does not observe daylight savings time, so the three-hour difference made 4:15 seem like 7:15 to us! 

Actifio Potluck - Spring BBQ

Chris Murphy's Biga Bread - photo by Chris MurphyWe had an excuse for another of our famous potluck lunches at Actifio, so we did it!

This menu was vast, as usual. I think we had 36 contributions, almost all of them home-made or made in the office (we have a pretty good kitchen!) 

I don't have all the recipes, but I have a lot of them:

Steamed Fiddleheads

steamed fiddleheadsFiddleheads are an exceptionally simple and exceptionally seasonal dish, great for a spring brunch.

After steaming them and chilling them, you can do all sorts of things with them. They are decorative, but they have enough flavor to be the vegetable accompaniment to a significant spring meal (maybe with Shad Roe?). 

Soylent

New Yorker article, photo by Richmond TalbotI just got the latest New Yorker and read The End of Food by Lizzie Widdicombe.  It tells of the invention by a Californian named Rob Rhinehart of Soylent, a food substitute. Like most of his friends, Rhinehart had been living on McDonald's dollar meals and five-dollar pizzas from Little Caesars. He and his friends thought eating food was expensive and an interruption of their work.

Sound familiar? See HG Wells' cautionary tale The Food of the GodsHe is quoted as saying, "You need amino acids and lipids, not milk itself. You need carbohydrates, not bread." He said fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals, but they're mostly water. He decided that nutrients - the things you need from food - could be reduced to a powder which could be dissolved in water and drunk. For him the problem was solved. He claims that for the past year and a half he's been living almost exclusively on Soylent. Widdicombe reports that he looks healthy.

History of Chowder

Robert Cox is a robust man who looks more like a lumberjack than a scholar, but his wit, assortment of degrees, and ornamented prose belie first impressions. His recent lecture at Pilgrim Hall was full of information and humor, and its topic was chowder. Having heard it, I bought , which he co-authored with Jacob Walker.

Both my grandmothers made chowder. They used salt pork, milk, potatoes, fish or clams, and served it with crackers. They seasoned it with pepper and sometimes floated a pat of butter on top. My mother made it the same way, and I’d come in wet and cold from sledding and tuck into a steaming bowl that spoke to me of family and home. Like all New Englanders, I thought this chowder had been passed down from time immemorial, and I couldn’t imagine eating it any other way.

As I grew to manhood, I learned the world is not as innocent as my mother’s kitchen. In Rhode Island they leave out the milk, and in New York they add tomatoes! But these were traveler’s tales from beyond the outskirts of civilization.

Now my eyes are opened. The History of Chowder is packed with information that takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the past. The authors write: “This most comfortable of comfort foods carries a subtle aftertaste of international conflict, of conquest and enslavement, of the blood and tears that made Europe imperial and shaped the modern world.”

Roasted Red Onions

Red Onions cut and ready for roasting

This dish is simple to prepare and delicious!

It takes longer to preheat the oven than it does to cut and prepare the onions for roasting - it really is simple.

These can be served hot or cold, and they are fine served cocktail-party style with toothpicks and small plates. The flavor is rich but complementary to many savories.

I served these at a wine tasting event at the Old Colony Club. They went well with a good Cabernet Sauvignon and a good Merlot.

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