Celery Stew?

 Annette's braised celery, photo by Richmond Talbot

The guests at the party hit the charcuterie hard, but the crudites not so much. When we sorted the debris after the folks had departed, we had a big bag of celery sticks too good to throw out. Annette went into research mode and came up with recipe for celery stew. I have great confidence in her culinary judgment, but celery stew? I shouldn't have worried.

Braised celery is a venerable dish, and essentially that’s what this was. Warm, soft, and flavorful, the celery was no longer a workout for the jaw and was actually closer to comfort food.

Slowly cooked with onion and tomato It made a delicious supper. The recipe Annette found on the web called for pancetta, but being out of that, she substituted bacon. She garnished it with a fried egg, the yolk of which ran down into the mixture like a sauce.

This method is a good use of a bunch of celery that is showing its age. What does it matter if you have a bunch of stalks that are a little limp? They’re only going to get limper when you slow cook them. You get a nice meal and clean out the vegetable drawer.

Now we’re on to the carrots.

Independent Fermentations

Indie Brewer Paul NixonRichmond was dining at the New World Tavern in downtown Plymouth when he learned of the existence of a new brewer in town, and a very talented one at that. He naturally knew who to call to set up an expedition for the coming Friday evening.

Independent Fermentations is a small operation (for now). Brewer Paul Nixon brews an eclectic assortment of seasonal ales in a barn by his home above the sea in Cedarville, near the Cape Cod Canal. 

The Foodie Pilgrim assisting with heavy lifting, Pilgrim-style - photo by Richmond Talbot

IndieFerm (as it's known on Facebook) is a devoted locavore, low-footprint operation. Paul uses locally-grown hops (including his own Cascades and Nuggets, which you can see behind us in this photo) and malt from Valley Malt in Hadley, MA. 

Type of Artisan: 
MA-South Shore/South Coast


A Whiskey HighballA simple cooler for the summer, the Highball is just any spirit served in a tall glass with ice and soda. 

There are many types of highballs, including the venerable Gin and Tonic, the Moscow Mule, the Cuba Libre (and its degenerate cousin the Rum & Coke), all the various Collinses...the list goes on longer than the summer does. 

Made properly, this has only a jigger (an ounce-and-a-half) of liquor and the rest is ice and soda, so it's an easy way to relax on a lazy summer afternoon without getting drunk.

It's not illegal to add a touch of triple sec or other liqueur and a dash of bitters, and then you unlock a whole realm of classic cocktails repurposed as summer coolers!

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
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?). 

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