I recently returned from a trip to India and spent three days in the breathtaking foothills of the Himalayas. While there, I found myself consistently taking photos of the sky—the density, richness and color were unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Look up and enjoy!
Haven’t posted any songs in a while, so here’s a little roundup of a few that I’ve had on constant stream lately.
1.What Becomes of the Broken Hearted – Jimmy Ruffin
I’m pretty sure I’ve posted this one before, back when I was living in San Francisco. Anyway, it’s a gem and it’s back in my head. Perfect subway listenin.
2.Little T&A – Rolling Stones
I know, I know. More Rolling Stones. Well, I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t heard this one before, but encountered it in Argo. New favorite for sure.
3.&4. After you’ve gone & In a Sentimental Mood – Django Reinhardt
Today, seems that the name Django is errywhere (thanks QT). Anyway, my beautiful pup was named after THIS Django, and these tracks makes trudging around in the wintry mix slightly better…
5.Sweet Jane (live) – Velvet Underground
I especially love the random part in the middle where it almost turns into a different song…”heavenly wine and roses…”
6.Madonna—Like a Prayer
7.Can’t See The Stars –He’s My Brother She’s My Sister
A lot of these tunes are a bit more mellow (read: seasonal depression?) but this one just kind of kicks you in the head. Which is awesome.
8. & 9. Sleepwalking & Walking on a Wire– The Casket Girls
Ignore the maudlin name, this band is great.
10. Our Day Will Come—Amy Winehouse. Hadn’t heard this one and then encountered it seemingly out of nowhere. Then I heard it at Duty Free at Zurich Airport which baffled and infuriated me. For no real reason.
When any of us returns home, my dad goes all out. A total gourmand, he is happiest when shopping in a specialty cheese shop (which he does with almost alarming regularity). When the three of us all return home, all bets are off. This year after our Thanksgiving feast, we were treated to Foie Gras AND homemade Gravlax. You see where I get it from…
As a family who adopted the tradition of Thanksgiving relatively recently (well, 1994—after our move to the U.S.), we approach the holiday with great gastronomic gusto. During our first November in America, my parents planned to spend the days off with relatively little fanfare. My oldest brother, however, had other ideas, after hearing of his friends Thanksgiving plans. So, my parents bought Bon Appetit’s Thanksgiving 1994 issue, and we’ve been cooking with it ever since. We still have the copy!
The holiday has evolved into quite an undertaking: about a month and a half in advance, my father, one of my brothers and myself begin to plan our respective dishes. My dad always tackles the basics: turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes, and usually a soup of some kind. My brother prepares elaborate and amazing dishes—usually vegetables, ranging from classic corn pudding to Vietnamese-inspired Brussels sprouts to Mozzarella, Kale and Tomato towers. As of late, dessert has been my domain, and rooted in a family tradition of “more is more”, I never prepare fewer than three sweets, no matter how many guests there are.
This year, I made a Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie, the same Apple Galette that you saw earlier and a Lemon Upside Down Cake. My favorite was the Pecan Pie, as I’d recently made the Apple. The Lemon Upside Down Cake really got better with age (fine-wine style, I guess), but it was delicious and easy to make and nice and caramelly too.
My dad made a turkey with Mandarin Oranges, his usual Stuffing of Italian Sausage, Cornbread and Cranberries (with the unwelcome addition of Jalapeños this year—I’m a traditionalist), Gravy, Mashed Potatoes and Squash Soup.
My brother prepared the traditional Cranberry Cumberland Sauce (Courtesy of Bon Appetit 1994), Brussels Sprouts and Chestnuts with Cream, Corn Pudding, Kabocha Squash & Ricotta Crostini with Mint & Kale Salad with Pecorino and Breadcrumbs.
My mother does a beautiful job setting the table and generally dealing with mass chaos in the kitchen and my other brother serves as general sous chef and motivational assistant.
As an additional treat my dad had picked up some foie gras AND made homemade Gravlax. I’m really too lucky….
Until just a few weeks ago, I was totally terrified of making my own tart/pie dough. Cake or cookie batter I’m fine with, but something about making roll-outable dough had me running in the opposite direction. Home for the weekend as a result of Ms. Superstorm Sandy, I obviously took advantage of my parents kitchen, far more expansive and well-stocked than the half of my studio I use for cooking. Armed with a food processor, some pantry staples and this recipe, I gingerly joined the home-made dough brigade. The apple tart, while simple, was quite tasty, although mine was more than a little misshapen (a middle-of-baking catastrophe transpired when I confirmed the fact that wax paper really cannot be used in place of parchment paper). I’ve now made both pie crusts in preparation for Thanksgiving!
I’ve had one of those weeks where you feel very lucky and unbelievably spoiled. Wednesday night I had the unbelievable honor of attending a panel at the Museum of Modern Art featuring…The Rolling Stones. The discussion, moderated by perhaps the best playwright of our time Tom Stoppard, was interspersed with clips from a film about their 50 years as a band. The conversation rarely stayed on point, but the anecdotes were awesome and each bandmate displayed a distinct personality. Mick Jagger was affable and smart, Keith Richards was hilarious and very chatty, Charlie Watts barely spoke and Ronnie Wood was very animated and prone to babbling. Needless to say, it was the evening of a lifetime. Sadly none of my photos came out, but some of my favorite Rolling Stones songs. These are all well-known hits, and you know what? I don’t care. They are incredible.
ALSO, NPR has been talking to each of the Stones individually about their favorite songs. LISTEN! Woods, Richards, Watts….Jagger’s will be on today I think… ALSO, watch CROSSFIRE HURRICANE on HBO if you have access!
Since moving to New York, I’ve enjoyed very few occasions where the food and experience matches up to the price tag. My recent trip to The NoMad was one such meal. This meal was long anticipated, as I’ve yearned to eat at the NoMad since first reading about it in the NY Times. My desire only heightened after reading Pete Wells’ full review (with accompanying photo slideshow) The days leading up to our dinner had been spent strategically analyzing the various menus… The restaurant is part of the hotel of the same name, which exudes an almost austere hipness, but without any pretensiousness or attitude. The restaurant’s ambience is fantastic, with a luxe décor and friendly, approachable service.
I had the great pleasure of dining with my parents who not only provide the best conversation, but also bring very different food standpoints to the (dinner) table. My father, an excellent cook, is a total gourmand, having grown up in India in a food-obsessed family. He has a very discerning and well-rounded palate in addition to a penchant for insanely rich foods like foie gras and all kinds of cheese. He’s willing to try absolutely anything, except for green salads. My mother is a pescatatarian and far more interested in a restaurant’s ambience than the food. She likes simple and clean Mediterranean flavors, but humors the rest of us by coming along. With these two trusty companions, I set sail.
(Apologies for the poor quality of many of the photographs…alas, the iPhone does have some shortcomings)
1. Cocktails—I’d heard the cocktails were excellent, and (like all the other menus) had perused extensively in advance. I ended up ordering a super-boozy cocktail, the name of which unfortunately escapes me…But: rye, grapefruit, other citrus….mmm. My dad got a sherry-based cocktail that had sweet vermouth in it. My mother, as per usual, had a glass of wine. (My dad engaged in a long conversation with two of the very knowledgeable and nice wine specialists about an obscure Lebanese wine. This is a great example of the service…)
2. I’d made the reservation before realizing that a family friend’s son worked at the NoMad. He very kindly sent out the seafood platter to us which included oysters with frozen champagne mignonette, sea urchin panna cotta, Hamachi with horseradish, creamy but flavorful lobster and perfectly flavored clams. The beauty of this dish was that the garnishes perfectly enhanced but didn’t detract from any of the fantastic flavors of the seafood.
3. Since hearing about the NoMad, I’ve been intrigued by the butter dipped radishes. Dipped in salt, they were perfect—crunchy, fresh and indulgent.
4. Sadly, this photograph doesn’t do either of the dishes justice. The bread, which arrived nice and hot (as all bread should be), was served whole for us to slice. Foccaccia-style, it was stuffed with potato, onions and caraway and was perfectly chewy and crispy. The flavors perfectly complemented the rest of the meal without being too strong. We also had cauliflower with Marcona almonds, grapes and cheddar. My dad pointed out, rightly so, that although the flavors were all really great, but somehow it didn’t feel cohesive.
5. The Chicken. To give you an idea, check this out:
The bird came out to greet us; festooned with fresh herbs and sitting in the perfect sized cast iron, its skin the color of a perfect Tarte Tatin. The aroma of truffle was intoxicating. After it returned, fully carved, we encountered an unparalleled level of moistness, and a deep rich savoriness. Uncovering the crisp skin we found the layer of stuffing, the melted foie gras and truffle had seeped into the brioche, creating perhaps the most flavorful breadcrumb of all time. It was served simply—the lentils were aromatic and well cooked, and the Brussels sprouts clean and refreshing—providing an ideal textural note to both the creamy lentils and tender chicken. The side dish of shallots, morel mushrooms and dark meat was indulgent and very delicious. I could only really eat a bite due to the immense richness, but my dad heartily dug in. While initially the portion looked smallish, my father and I both had to wave the white flag three-quarters of the way through, neither of us used to giving up. My mum got the Black Bass which was slow-cooked with matsutake mushrooms and spinach. It was moist and buttery, brightened up by the accompaniments. Although not a foodie, she was thrilled.
6. I only have a photograph of one of the two desserts we ordered. This, the Milk & Honey was an ingenious representation of these two flavors. The crunchy honey-flavored shortbread had the consistency of a crumbly buttery graham cracker—a perfect foil to the dehydrated milk puffs. All of this was tied together with quenelles of impossibly creamy milky ice cream and drizzled honey-caramel on top. Unsurprisingly, I’m still thinking about it. We also ordered a terrific chocolate caramel tart with hazelnut and fleur de sel. The accompanying chocolate sorbet possessed a richness you’d be hard pressed to find in most chocolate ice creams.
7. While my photo of the mignardises in no way does it justice, they were all very nice. There were smoky tea flavored truffles, caramel apple macarons and….well, that’s all I remember-it was a long meal lubricated with plenty of wine and that extra-boozy cocktail.
We had the great fortune of receiving a tour of the entire restaurant including the kitchen. It’s a beautifully curated place—each room with a different purpose and an identity to match, but all in perfect harmony.
I plan to return as soon as my arteries forgive me for the amount of butter and foie gras they are currently encountering…
Although it was a few weeks ago, Hurricane Sandy is still fresh in our minds, especially if you live in the Tri-State Area. Other than a lot of moving around, and a few days sans power, I was mostly alright; unsettled but alright. Many others weren’t so lucky. I thought of the music I’d listened to during the storm and asked my Facebook friends what songs they thought were particularly apropos. Here’s what we came up with:
I spend a lot of time reading about food. This may not come as a shock, but the hours I spend poring (and salivating) over menus, thumbing through cookbooks and trying, in general, to expand my alimentary knowledge are many. In case you have not noticed, food has become hip, and with this hipness comes an avalanche of popular trends, ideologies and items. Few things are as satisfying as a good old fashioned rant-fest. Here are a few “foodie” fads and terms that particularly irk me:
DISCLAIMER: This rant does not preclude me from using any/all of these words. BAM. I said it.
Eponymous – There just needs to be another word for this.
Artisanal – I know it’s tempting to classify anything produced in painstakingly small quantity by tattooed, earnest twenty-somethings as artisanal, but put the butchers twine back on the hearth table and stop.
Farm to Table / Locavore –The word locavore alternately makes me think of a lettuce variety or (as my friend pointed out) a breed of dinosaur. Farm to table, go away.
Braised – Does everything require slow-cooking nowadays? What about fast cooking? Or is deepfrying too middle America?
(New)Nordic – Dear René Redzepi, why does my plate look like pond weeds mated with prehistoric crustaceans over a matrimonial bed of bird-trampled soil? Love, Leah (p.s. if you would like to invite me to your restaurant I would be most thankful) (pps. I love herrings)
Farmers Cheese—Since arriving in New York, I seem to spy farmers cheese absolutely everywhere which begs the question: is it, can it possibly be the new burrata? [Subquestion: why aren’t we calling it by its’ real (much cooler) name: quark?]
Mixologist: To me this evokes tacky Sex and the City-esque bars with cougars, Stoli strawberry and sugar-rimmed martini glasses. It also makes me think of the word “sexologist” which is a universally uncomfortable and horrifying term. I’ll spare you my word associations with that one.(Hint: old, randy yentas that look like this)
Korean Fusion/Korean Tacos – Let me say this, I love Korean food. Seriously, watching me get at some galbi, gochujang and kimchi is like watching Lindsay Lohan at a yard sale held by the NYPD’s narcotics department.With that said, why is my bulgogi inside of a taco when it’s supposed to be on rice?
Bacon—I know I’m beating a dead pig here, but seriously. When Burger King, in its neverending quest to obesify Americans, builds a sundae around a specific ingredient, its time to let the porky go. Or just stop talking about it.
Whimsical Food Blogs – I hate to bash other food blogs, especially ones that I occasionally peruse, so I won’t name any names. But, as beautiful as your bulgur-kale goji berry salads look, I don’t need to know about your book deal, your sweet Yoga-loving eternally helpful husband or the plight of harvesting flax seed.
I have been a huge BobMarley & The Wailers fan since I first heard “No Woman No Cry” on a family car trip in the late ’90s. Unlike other genres, reggae is something I can listen to in almost any mood or moment. Here I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite Wailers tunes, inspired even more since watching the documentary Marley. Highly recommended, and available for streaming on Netflix.
5. Jammin (this version is LIVE from the One Love Peace Concert which was held to stop the violence between political parties in Jamaica. The climactic moment occurs when Bob gets the two political party leaders on stage…)