What's on my Mind?

Great Single-Estate Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Submitted by John on Thu, 06/25/2020 - 01:52
Three Great Single-Estate Extra-Virgin Olive Oils

Some recipes here include a reference to "great single-estate extra-virgin olive oil" that I get from Olioveto - here are some useful thoughts on the matter for the foodie:

  • Not all "extra-virgin olive oil" is olive oil at all, and most of it is not Italian. The Mafia in Sicily and the more powerful 'Ndrangheta in Calabria have controlled and ruined that market. 
  • Most EVOO comes from Spain, and a lot from Greece, too. They are good products. They may say Italian; you can take it up with the mob. If you care about truth in what you buy, buy from a reputable dealer.
  • There's no need to cook with cold-pressed EVOO. It was cold-pressed for a reason - the heat destroys some of the compounds that make it special. Whole Foods has a dissertation on the subject here. You can cook with higher-acidity, much cheaper pomace olive oil and get most of the monounsaturated healthy stuff and save some serious shekels. 

The people who sell the single-estate oils know the business and you get what you pay (a lot) for. They are pressed from single-varieties or proprietary blends, like wines, and like wines they reflect the source olives, the terroir, and the season, not to mention the skill of the maker.


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 12/10/2015 - 13:25

There is something to be said for a restaurant where you order your favorite dish every time you go, and it always tastes the same. It’s as comforting as the pillow upon which you lay your head, but Bondir isn’t that sort of place. Oh it’s comfortable enough, and the staff is welcoming, and there are no snooty waiters peering down their noses to see which fork you choose. We entered the premises at 279A Broadway in Cambridge on a chilly evening and were offered a seat by a warming fire. We sipped Spanish cava and enjoyed the homelike atmosphere.

But as soon as they brought the bread basket, what we thought of as reality began to twist and bend. There was “sea bread” in which black squid ink ranged across the slice like the negative of a photo of the Milky Way. The bread also contained shrimp and seaweed. I think the shrimp may have been dried and ground to a powder. The bread had the heartiness of wheat and a briny flavor that reminds you of the scent of the ocean when you walk in the froth of waves in the cool of a summer sunrise. I ate it in fascination tinged with disbelief.

Three Sisters

Submitted by John on Sun, 03/08/2015 - 17:00

Beans, corn, and squash were the life-sustaining backbone of local crops to the earliest New England settlers. When European crops struggled in New England's stony soil and harsh winters, these crops grown for centuries by the local native Americans saved many lives and enabled the success of the colonial enterprise.

Jacob's Cattle beans

Beans, the familiar climbing shell beans of the species Phaseolus vulgaris, were unknown in Europe. Their high protein content, ease of cultivation, and excellent storability made them the cornerstone of many meals for rich and poor like. Beans became so ubiquitous in the New England colonies that Boston became known as Beantown, and baked beans still figure in dishes best known now as tourist fare.

Corn was not the sweet corn that we think of today, nor the nearly flavorless-but-industrially-critical dent corn that dominates American agribusiness today. In Colonial times those modern hybrids did not exist.

Old Tom Gin

Submitted by John on Sun, 02/22/2015 - 17:48
Four Old Tom Gins - all very different!

Old Tom Gin is a creature of history and mystery now facing a possible resurgence in popularity thanks to the craft cocktail movement. This article will examine some of the available information in the hope of identifying just what Old Tom Gin is for the serious cocktailian. Then it will examine some half-dozen Old Tom Gins that I have tried, in light of our discoveries and deductions.

I encourage you to Google "Old Tom Gin" and to research the little bit about it on Wikipedia. That article has a lot of problems! Be equal parts skeptical and curious. You will find some inconsistencies, and many claims founded only on third-hand tradition or marketing blurbs.

In broad strokes, the history of gin goes like this:

Jamaican Ingredients

Submitted by John on Tue, 01/20/2015 - 03:56

Jamaican ingredients are really Caribbean ingredients, so they are usually sold in the USA in Hispanic markets by their Spanish names.

Compare Foods Supermarket, Worcester MA

Richmond and I got most of these ingredients at the Compare Foods Supermarket on South Main Street in Worcester. If you go there, note that there is ample parking and another entrance in back.

When buying ingredients for a Jamaican feast, such as [[nodetitle:John's Jamaican Birthday Dinner]]:

Old-Time Goodness at the Oxford Creamery in Mattapoisett, MA

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 10/22/2013 - 00:09

Oxford Creamery, Mattapoisett, MA - photo by Richmond TalbotIt got to be a joke.  It seemed every time we passed the Oxford Creamery on Route 28 in Mattapoisett it was closed, and we speculated they saw us coming and had all the customers move their cars and hide. We'd heard rumors of good food, but had just about given up tasting it. The other day, however, we detected activity. We were headed for Turk's, and my mouth was watering for their shrimp Mozambique, but life stirred at the Oxford Creamery and it was an opportunity not to be passed up. 

Oxford Creamery Signs - photo by Richmond TalbotHaving operated on the spot for eighty-two years, Oxford Creamery is the type of old time eatery I love. Brightly painted in blue and white, it evokes the past.  The interior is festooned with signs that substitute for a menu.  Their prices are old fashioned too, and with sandwiches starting at $2.50 and soft drinks at $1.25 you can easily get lunch for under $5.00. 

Seats inside may be at a premium, but there are picnic tables just outside the door and in a grassy area on the far side of the parking lot.  The food is available to go, and you could take it to Ned's Point Lighthouse, and eat it with a beautiful view of Mattapoisett Harbor.

Pilgrim's Progress 09: LA and Homeward Bound!

Submitted by John on Fri, 09/13/2013 - 03:54

LA Union Station

We had enjoyed an absolutely stellar vacation, but it was nearly over. Everything had gone right, and we had even had a few serendipitous extras that were highlights of the trip.

The ride home was also a part of the vacation. We always enjoy riding the Southwest Chief. It has great views, it's a big, spacious train, and the vibe is the best of all the trains we have ridden.

That's no idle observation. Lorna and I have ridden virtually all of Amtrak's long-distance trains: the Lake Shore Limited, the Sunset Limited, the Crescent, the Empire Builder, the California Zephyr, the Coast Starlight, and the Southwest Chief. We have ridden a number of them several times, and we agree the Southwest Chief is the most fun to be on. This trip was no different.

New Year Treat: Lime Grilled Scallops on Rosemary Skewers

Submitted by BBQ_Mike on Mon, 12/31/2012 - 17:37
It is New Year's Eve! Happy New Year everyone!

Lime-Grilled Scallops on Rosemary Skewers

New Year's Eve is traditionally amateur night for drinkers. Christine and I like to find a happy home locally to get together with friends, cook good food, have a few drinks to celebrate the greatness of last year and happily bring in the hopes and dreams of the New Year.

I am making a dish that I cooked at a competition a year and a half ago. Even though it did not score that great with the judges, it is an amazing dish. Lime marinated scallops, wrapped in prosciutto on rosemary skewers.

As a competitor on the BBQ trail, I have had my fair share of highs, lows, and "Should Have Beens". While getting started in BBQ, some of the teams associated with NEBS (New England BBQ Society) will mentor rookies testing the waters. Originally, I was allowed to cook with Andy King and The Bastey Boys. I have become a Bastey Boy. I was fortunate enough to cook with Michelle Taft, Terry Sullivan, and Sully (no Gary Taft this time) of Lunchmeat at the 2011 Roc City Rib Fest in Rochester, NY.

As a mentoring BBQ cook, I cooked only one category. Being the coastal rat that I am, I selected scallops as my entry. Competition is tough in Rochester. Fifty BBQ teams converge on the shores of Lake Ontario for Memorial Day. These are not your run of the mill teams. The competition is some of the toughest around.