Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What to Do When No One Has a Clue

My friend Barbara Harrison is co-author, together with Stephanie Pierson, of What to Do When No One Has a Clue: Advice for the Brave New World. This is a fun read, with advice from experts in many fields, including Bobby Jay, about what to do in delicate situations; one chapter of particular interest to foodies is "How to Eat and Drink [Putting it on the Table]." The book also contains stories from real life in our crazy world -- our dog Sylvie makes an appearance with her (pseudonymous) owner. A perfect summer book and an excellent gift for your friends and relatives, clueless and otherwise.

Bobby Jay

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Guanciale and Classic Spaghetti Carbonara

A friend gave me some wonderful artisanal guanciale (cured pork jowl) so I just had to do a spaghetti carbonara for my friend Piglet. Recipes are all over the lot; some use cream, some butter, some neither. After surveying my cookbooks, I decided to go with the recipe in Marcella Hazan's nearly infallible Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, which uses nothing but guanciale (or pancetta or bacon), eggs, a mixture of parmesan and romano cheeses and parsley. I had never used guanciale, but it is quite different from pancetta, which is cured (but not smoked) pork belly. The result was stunning: delicious with an earthy sweetness and unctuous texture quite distinct from pancetta. If you can find guanciale -- and these days you can -- be sure to give it a try.

Guanciale and Spaghetti Carbonara

Bobby Jay

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Peanut Butter, etc. - One of My Favorite Sandwiches

My wife is out of town so I am cooking for one. An opportunity to make one of my favorite sandwiches: peanut butter, banana and (hot) mango chutney on white toast. Not really any weirder than PBJ if you think about it. And really delicious!

Great with milk or lager beer.

Bobby Jay

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Paris Restaurants - Old Favorites and a New Try

When I'm in Paris, I like to try new restaurants and return to some old favorites.

This trip, I was able to return to Chapeau Melon for an amazing 4-course menu for 32.50 euros accompanied by one of their organic wine "découvertes," a light but vibrant red from Aveyron called Mauvais Temps (Bad Weather) (13.5 euros plus an 8.5 euro corkage fee). Dinner consisted of a delicate sashimi of langoustine, a creamy leek and other vegetable soup with a hint of truffle oil, a perfectly cooked saddle of lamb and a moelleux au chocolat (mousse au chocolat was an available option).

I also had the pleasure of introducing a young Japanese couple who live in London to Beaujolais d'Auteil, a very reasonable and charming bistro in the Sixteenth. My friend Mimi had one excellent and one bad meal here, but I have had nothing but good luck in a half dozen visits, including this one. My excellent 32-euro meal consisted of celeri remoulade with flaked cod and smoked herring eggs, continued with poached and roasted pork ribs and ended with a "moelleux" of rice pudding with salted caramel.

Velouté d'asperges and riz au lait at Beaujolais d'Auteuil

My friend Andy G and I went to Le Hide, near the Arc de Triomphe, for a nice lunch. This bistro continues to be an terrific value: an excellent two-course lunch for 19 euros, three courses for 26 euros (dinner prices are only three euros more).

Finally, I returned to Kunitoraya for the best kitsune udon you can find outside of Japan.

Wanting to branch out at least a little, I did go to L'Agrume, a new restaurant in the not-convenient part of the Fifth Arrondissement. This small bistro, opened in December of 2009, offers a 5-course menu for 35 euros, and has been praised by The New York Times and Le Figaro for its extraordinary rapport qualité-prix. The chef has a nice pedigree, having worked for a number of world-class chefs. Unfortunately, while the food was good, none of my five courses was exceptional. Despite the reasonable price, I couldn't help comparing it (unfavorably) to the restaurants described above. L'Agrume, 15 rue des Fossés St-Marcel, Paris 5ème (Métro St-Marcel), 01 43 31 86 48.

Bobby Jay

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Paris - Still the City of Pastry

Even though there is no special holiday coming up, Paris' pâtisseries have pretty appetizing windows.



Bobby Jay

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cannelle et Vanille - Delicious Help for the Gluten Intolerant

Aran Goyoaga, whose blog, Cannelle et Vanille, is my absolute favorite, has recently been diagnosed as gluten intolerant. A brilliant baker, Aran has taken this as a challenge to create amazing confections without wheat flour, and she is already developing attractive and tasty baked goods with other flours. A recent example is Soaked Lemon, Poppy Seed and Oil Cakes.

Of course, you don't have to have a gluten problem to enjoy Aran's wonderful desserts.

Bobby Jay