The loathsome garlic and the stinking rue. -Samuel Wesley the Younger, A Satire Against Snuff

Part of the take from yesterday's market: little patty pan squash, cilantro from the great herb guy, and a variety of lemon cucumber. I'll get back to you regarding the first two, but the cucumbers made an appearance in tonight's menu.

After Marc Eisen's garlic festival, we opted for light, cool fare: corn salad with thyme from my garden, mild chilies, and home-grown heirloom tomatoes; roasted beets; herbed trout salad; and a chilled cucumber avocado soup topped with tomato salad (the sun golds are from my garden).

Kenneth and I were both irritable and unexcited as we headed out to the garlic party; our moodiness was caused in good part by today's oppressively high temperatures. Not long after arriving on Rutledge Street, though, we found ourselves relaxing, cooling off in Marc's air-conditioned home, enjoying new interesting personalities, and sampling all sorts of delicious food, almost all of which featured garlic-- shrimp grilled with garlic, garlicky breads, a delicious salad featuring pears and grapes...

In the end, I opted to take caramelized garlic and lavender ice cream served in little lace cookie nests. If you have doubts about such a dish, please know that late this morning I became convinced that I'd wasted lots of time and ingredients on a foolish novelty nothing. To my surprise and delight, the ice cream was very well received at the event. The garlic's presence was very subtle, adding a mysterious depth or headiness to the rich vanilla and floral flavors. I would only make the dish again for a similarly special occasion, but I would make a simplified version of the recipe-- one that cut out the garlic and (probably) the lavender while still capitalizing on the infusion of cinnamon and the tangy richness of crème fraîche .

Now I sit in our air-conditioned study-- blogging and playing Boggle-- while a poor shirtless Kenneth scrubs pots and plates in the dismal steamy kitchen. At least he gets to listen to Paris Hilton on American Top 40.


So I did eat it; but was much confused at his so kind and unusual Freedom and Condescension. And, good Sirs! you can't imagine how Mrs. Jewkes look'd, and star'd, and how respectful she seem'd to me, and call'd me good Madam! I'll assure you! urging me to take a little Bit of Tart.

A sour cherry crostata. The crust is essentially a big lemon-flavored cookie. Last week's sour cherry pie (no image captured) was better, I think. Or it may just be that last week's cherries were better.

While baking both pies, I thoughtlessly gobbled up the unused dough: I love raw pastry dough, but I can't keep up such reckless behavior.

The crostata (as with last week's pie-- you'd think I'd learn my lesson) took longer to bake than expected. I love working at Madison Hostel because I can phone in and say, "I have a pie in the oven, so I'll probably be 15 minutes late for work." Grace, who worked the morning shift before my whopping ten-hour Friday double shift, clearly thought I was insane, but I know that the hostel's management accepts such civil, reasonable excuses for minor tardiness.

PS - Richardson's Pamela is surely the best sour cherry tart in all of 18th-c. letters.


Kronos, like Soylent Green, is people

This is the e-entryway to my workstudy timesheet. I find it terrifying: the looming figures, one of whom has been partially chipped away to reveal bricks, cogs, etc.; the weird conception of space; the fact that the three figures are bound by increments, presumably increments of time; the freaky sun also eclipsed by the time-fence... I'm blown away that this is what designers produced and Kronos approved: because it's so warm and inviting? So people-friendly? So profoundly honest in its dystopic morosity? Perhaps the last option isn't as absurd as it might seem at first. Perhaps Kronos is named after the 1957 sci-fi film... Come to think of it, the figure on the far left has Jeff Morrow's hair, and the rightmost shadow could be Barbara Lawrence's doppelgänger...

Life's Rich Pageant


A small Possession ever is the best, / And fewer Mischiefs such a State infest --Jabez Hughes

The take from this Saturday's market: I elected to feature plastic bags in this week's image, partly because I couldn't be bothered to un- and then re-bag everything, and partly because the plastic bag seems fitting in a contemporary farmers' market still life. The garlic isn't from the market. Marc Eisen, Kenneth's boss, grew it and provided it in preparation for the garlic fest at his house next weekend. I have a recipe for garlic ice cream that I'm kicking around. Another option would be a savory garlic ice cream, scoops of which are dropped into vichyssoise or some other cool soup. Excepting the garlic and the cucumber, the motto of this week is more of the same: more shelled peas at $2/lb. ready to be whirled into a creamy summer soup, more sour cherries because the pie I made was just terrific (as was the vanilla marscapone ice cream made to accompany it), haricot verts (more string beans of one kind or another) with a mid-week salad nicoise in mind, and more sorrel which I will incorporate in something other the Chez Panisse Vegetables sorrel soup-- not due to any flaw in the recipe but rather because I need to expand my sorrel repertoire. The farmer who sells the sorrel is fantastic; during our transaction, we constantly gush about just how fabulous sorrel is...

Mike, I've done a little reading in an effort to respond to your question about vegetables and size. I hoped Alice Waters would have something to say in Chez Panisse Vegetables, but no real dice. She repeatedly celebrates the small vegetable-- "boxes of radicchios with leaves like tulip petals...buckets of tiny watercress...an assortment of tiny lettuces...the most beautiful and flavorful tiny green beans any of us had ever seen outside France..."-- but offers no generalizations regarding vegetal smallness. The conventional (or conventional organic) wisdom is that smaller vegetables are sweeter and more tender. Truly huge vegetables become woody, filled with more water than flavor, and so forth. Smaller, though, doesn't always equal better. Years ago, I bought asparagus from a farmer who declared, "Everyone wants the tiny little asparagus, but this variety is supposed to be larger, is very tender and filled with flavor." He was right: the stuff, which was about the diameter of a nickel, was amazing. Also, my market basket has featured so many small vegetables because it's still early in the season. Farmers harvest small potatoes to take to market until the crop gets bigger (at which point small potatoes become quite expensive). I delight in small vegetables because they contrast with the supermarket culture of my youth where the biggest, most perfect looking apple was considered the best, even if it lacked all flavor whatsoever.



Such lovely branding and packaging. This post goes out w/ love to Bradford.

At early Morn, I to the Market haste, / (Studious in ev'ry Thing to please thy Taste)

The take from today's market: lots of purslane, sour cherries, lanky asparagus that I'll put in a soup, Romano beans, shell peas (amazingly I paid $2/lb. for them both in and out of the shell)
, tiny sweet onions, miniature squash, more sorrel, a bunch of sweet cilantro, and the first corn of the season.


They must conform their propositions to the taste, talent, and disposition of those whom they wish to conduct...

Macaroons I made for tonight's Bastille Day party at Rachel's. I hope you won't find me too dull if I point out that the flavors of icing (blueberry, vanilla, and raspberry) mimic the colors of the French flag.

Carpaccio/Nietzsche: a crosshatch

In a conversation offline, kittyclive inquired about the history and definition of carpaccio. Carpaccio is "traditionally" a paper-thin slice of raw fine beef served with a vinaigrette, a mayonnaise-based sauce, or simply olive oil. I always assume that raw meat dishes have ancient origins-- that they date back to the period before cooked meat equaled civilization. The root of that notion (a superficial brush with Lévi-Strauss ?) is no matter because this case debunks the assumption: carpaccio was created in the mid-twentieth century, probably by Harry's Bar-founder Giuseppe Cipriani in response to Countess Anna Nani Mocenigo's doctor urging her to consume only raw meat. The dish was named after the 15-th & 16-th century Italian painter Vittore Carpaccio, whose works feature vivid reds reminiscent of raw beef. The name may refer to Carpaccio's use of both reds and bright whites, as Cipriani's version of the dish tops the meat with a crosshatch of mayonnaise-based sauce. Some accounts suggest that Carpaccio's works were being exhibited in Venice at the time that Cipriani originated the dish; however, these reports may result from confusion over carpaccio's origins and those of the bellini. The cocktail comprised of Prosecco and peach juice was also developed by Cipriani and named after a contemporary of V. Carpaccio, Giovanni Bellini whose works were definitely on display in Venice when then drink was divined. That last term may be apposite insofar as Bellini's Pieta is awash in peachy tones... though this is merely blasphemous speculation as I'm alone in linking the painter's palette with the bubbly delight of the cocktail.

The relatively recent emergence of the dish leads me (perhaps unnecessarily) to snap quotation marks onto traditionally in the second sentence of the above paragraph. It also provokes in me extra contempt for those who assert that the term carpaccio should refer only to a raw beef dish. I'll spare you the lengthy lecture (based, in my version, on Nietzsche's fragment, "On Truth and Lies in an Extra-moral Sense") on words as generalizations, baggy entities that lend themselves to stretching and bending such that zucchini carpaccio refers to the thin-slicedness and rawness of Giuseppe's recipe, though it fails to capture the redness central to Giuseppe's naming of his dish. I'm afraid that the title of my original post on zucchini carpaccio-- Red Herring-- was a cheeky reference to this, both in the redness of Red Herring and in red herring as a term for ignoratio elenchi-- my thinking being that any assertion that my zucchini carpaccio wasn't carpaccio was in fact an instance of ignoratio elenchi. Such nonsensical assertions have led people to insist that pesto should only refer to a basil-based sauce or paste because pesto means basil. This is, I suppose, not ignoratio elenchi so much as simply ignoratio: pesto originates from a verb meaning to pound. All of this leads me to wonder how one might combine strips (or rounds) of zucchini carpaccio with a lovely arugula pesto...


Third Time's Charm?

Last night while we discussed the history of carpaccio, Kenneth conducted a google image search, the results of which inspired this third arrangement: layers of the thinly sliced vegetable are wrapped around a shaving of Parmesan and a wee bunch of arugula.


Red Herring

Two approaches to zucchini carpaccio:

A recipe from this month's Gourmet places circles atop a bed of arugula, but there's so little to differentiate the leaves from the vegetable that I ended up tossing everything together.

I think I prefer Nigella Lawson's horizontal slices. They would look nice draped over a mound of bitter greens.

Rainy Day Decadence

This post is dedicated to Vince, who hopefully appreciates its freaky-deaky textural contrasts.


I care not a Fig, no not a Fart.

1. On my visit to San Francisco this spring, Brad brought home several tubs of Greek-style yogurt from Trader Joe's. The fig yogurt blew me away, in part because the stuff is creamy and rich and amazingly thick, and in part because the notion of fig yogurt had somehow never occurred to me. Many a foodie blogger celebrates this stuff.

2. The same goes for the Whole Foods Adriatic Fig Spread.

3. Since mid-June, I've intended to write a post entitled "The Birdcage vs. Whole Foods." That extended moment of intention has past, so here's the gist of it. In a 2-day period, I watched The Birdcage and shopped at Whole Foods. I've long refused to see the film because I'm not a fan of late Robin Williams (he lost me with Mrs. Doubtfire), I'm unclear on why the original needed to be re-made, and I expected the film to be thoroughly irritating and lacking subtlety of any kind. We don't shop at Whole Foods because of their anti-labor practices, because they don't support local farmers, and because the place is nauseatingly West-Side while we are staunch Madison East Siders. I had high hopes, though. I made a list of specialties and delicacies that I can't get at the Willy St. Co-op: canneloni shells, a rough-to-medium-grind corn meal, superfine sugar, continental cheeses, cacao nibs, elderflower presse, etc., etc.

4. With the exceptions of Val (Dan Futterman) and Barbara (Calista Flockhart) who are utterly unsympathetic, thoughtless, and emotionally unattractive, The Birdcage delighted me. Nathan Lane and Robin Williams were terrific; the latter's portrayal was thoughtful, constrained, apposite. The film's conclusion is at once politically pungent (redefining family loyalty) and fabulously a-political (let's use our superpowers to save the conservatives who use their own powers to destroy us). This somehow cinches the crux of my gay. Whole Foods, on the other hand, had none of things I wanted and expected. The staff (unlike the workers in the San Francisco store) exuded sourness, or a mechanical quality, or the inappropriate jocularity of early teen boys, or some combination of all of these. I left disgusted with the place. I had long perceived it as an off-limits treasure trove, but in fact it is simply a profit mill dissolving organic philosophy into banal (not to mention destructive) corporate dullness.

5. The sole exception was the Adriatic Fig Spread, which I picked up on a lark.

6. Haunted by my memories of the Greek-style yogurt, I added the spread to whole-milk Brown Cow and melted in ecstasy. Would I return to Whole Foods, just for this fig spread? What kind of slippery slope might that be!?

7. With the aid of Martha Stewart online, I discovered that I could make my own damn fig spread, do all my shopping at the Willy St. Co-op and avoid disaster. Neglecting Martha's specifications, I used Black Mission figs and have not been wholly satisfied with the results, which aren't sweet enough. I serve the spread surrounded by a luminescent ring of honey and remain optimistic that in time I can develop Martha's recipe into something that will take me back to that cup of fig yogurt Brad shared with me last spring.

8. That, and Trader Joe's will be coming to Madison a-for too long.


A Good Word or Two

"I'm going to be Feingold's Lewinsky, I am!" - Martin Price on Isthmus' The Daily Page

"While scientists have mapped the human genome, it will be a long time before they have thoroughly quantified the exact flavor mechanisms of cheese." -Max McCalman (w. David Gibbons), The Cheese Plate


For all things out of a garden, either of salads or fruits, a poor man will eat better, that has one of his own, than a rich man that has none.

Today's take from the market: tiny potatoes, tiny zucchini, shell peas, snap peas, sorrel, and lovely yellow beans. Of course, loads of baked treats from Café Soleil (I got in trouble for halving everything-- so as to share with Kenneth-- and then eating both halves of the spice girl. Something about breakfasting over Nadal's semifinal match at Wimbledon inflamed my appetite). A farmer from up north provided my final basket of strawberries. Now I can make one last batch of local strawberry ice cream. Because the berries are so small and tasty and because they're only available for such a brief time, this has been for me the most meaningful ice cream I've made to date. The flavor is absolutely radiant. I'm off to transfer the dill into a pot and to re-pot my thyme, the roots of which have clogged its drain hole. Then, maybe Jane Austen or J. G. A. Pocock...

Miss Golightly, I protest!

The use of the term "fistpump" needs to stop. As in, "Some fistpumps from Ancic even this late in the match." Why not simply celebration? Or triumph? Or glory? Or rejoicing? Or swagger? Or, at the very least, victorious gestures?


It is allowed on all Hands, that the primitive Way of breaking Eggs before we eat them, was upon the larger End...

Shirred Eggs make a breezy summer dinner. These sit atop a bed of spinach and mushrooms. Either I'm right in step with the times or I'm retro. Whatev's, yo. The herbed goat cheese focaccia is a favorite of Kenneth's. This round was a little anorexic, but its cracker-like crispiness worked well on this menu.


His faithful Eyes survey the God of Love/ Hold forth the heav'nly Prize, which makes him run/ His mortal Race, to gain th'immortal Crown.

Kenny has to have a crown put on his cracked molar. To cheer him up, I bought him some caramels topped with smoked sea salt... I swear that my intentions weren't as perverse as (I admit) they must appear.



Friendly Reader-- Per your request, here is strawberry shortcake made with cream scones. The portions are rather massive, as are the California berries that I bought to supplement the last of my local berries. How devastating that the season is so short! Perhaps I'll find a final pint or two at the Saturday farmer's market.