I find an excuse to visit the Publix near my mother’s house almost every day that I’m in Miami. And it’s not for the daily free chocolate chip cookie their Danish bakery has for every child (and shameless adult) who asks – though that doesn’t hurt. When every recipe I attempt in New York turns into a scavenger hunt or compromise, I love the everydayness of seeing these things in a large chain grocery store. Most markets have strong Caribbean or Central American sections, but only in Miami do you see Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and the West Indies represented as well. It’s like shopping in the a pan-Latin future as imagined by dancing dolls of It’s a Small World. Read more
Posts from the ‘Cuisine by Country’ Category
It has been a long time since I’ve written one of these catch up posts. It’s probably only because we’re deep into the snow-globe months that I’m able to now. Seeing the links I’ve flagged over the last few weeks, it’s clear that each one has been an escape from black and white (or blue) days:
Since virtual travel is my only option these days, I’ve been spending a lot of time getting lost in Roads & Kingdoms. There’s an amazing scale to the photographs and balance in the stories that’s really lovely. This Colombia’ Bloom Boom story is just one example.
I also loved reading this story about Puerto Rican chefs, purveyors and activists reinventing farm to table in the tropics (via the New York Times). I had no plans to visit but this has me plotting a return. In the meantime, there’s this Saveur round up of recipes from the island.
I’ve never had a problem with French waiters. I personally enjoy their polished but short-fused manners. But if you do, this article in their defense provides some context for the haughtiness.
Trying to go beyond understanding to actually making myself understood, I’ve been flipping through the Farm to Table French Phrasebook by Victoria Mas. It’s my latest attempt to build on the spotty movie French I’ll likely never use with some solid food French that I absolutely will.
I stop to read anything by or about Patti Smith but this brief interview in Medium ended with a surprisingly powerful description of her mother and her famous potato salad.
I rarely want to go out when it’s this ugly-cold which means I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about changing up anything and everything in my apartment – #cabinfevermakeover. For inspiration, I’ve been looking here, also here, and sometimes here. When it’s time to actually time to do something about it, I’ll want to go here but will most likely end up here.
I’m also obsessing over DIY/start from scratch projects. I keep pricing pasta makers then remind myself in Carroll Gardens you’re always a block and a half away from freshly made pasta by people who know what they’re doing. Low tech tortellinis, however, are still on my list. Tasting Table has been putting out great videos lately but this tutorial featuring Giovanni Rana has become a favorite.
Everyone was talking about the dress last week but it seemed like minor news compared to the discovery of tetrachromats among us, capable of seeing 100 million colors at once. I can’t imagine what that must be like but the incredible exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic gave me some idea of what it could look like.
Finally, it’s Lent but I haven’t decided what I should give up (though apparently I’m in good company). My sister Carmen is doing a #somethingbeautiful series on instagram this year. I’m always amazed at the quiet moments she captures – especially when she hits Brooklyn. You can follow here.
Winter may feel endless just now but the season for red pomelos is way too short. Only a few markets in my neighborhood carry them and I all but missed them last year. Sweeter than other varieties with a thick white pitch or albedo, pomelos are perfect for making dulce de toronja and I‘d been waiting all year for them to come back around. Read more
A couple of months ago, I was asked to do a small write up on Felipe Rojas-Lombardi for the launch of the Celebrity Chef stamps series. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know very much about him when I started. Though he was famous for his work with James Beard, was the founding chef of Dean & Deluca, and introduced countless Spanish and Latin American food traditions to New York’s culinary scene at his Chelsea restaurant The Ballroom (tapas for a start and quinoa no less), his career predated the chef as celebrity phenomenon and it was sometimes hard to pull up information. Still when I did find articles, some scanned into pre-Google archives, I found some answers to things I’d always wondered about. For one, it explained why gourmet prepared food counters (like the one he developed for Dean & Deluca) are essentially Peruvian though they would never fall into the “ethnic” food category (he predated those facile distinctions as well). Read more
The Cuban Table will be here next week but I couldn’t wait until then to share a recipe from the book. I’d been planning on this post for awhile but it was hard to choose just one. Not only are they all attached to a memory or favorite moment during this long process, they’re also attached to some of my favorite people. They were great company as I wrote and I’m so excited to introduce them to you. Even now, I feel like when I open the cover they all start talking once – a familiar feeling if you’ve ever walked into a Cuban gathering. It’s also at those parties where you’ll most often find … Arroz Con Pollo. And that’s how I finally decided. Read more
When I’m asked how I decided what to post, I always say that one recipe leads to another. But that’s only half a truth. More specifically, it comes down to what was left and what I can make of it. This chowder, for one, started with a recipe for quinoa croquettes. With the croquettes done and quinoa to spare, I started looking for more ways to use it and came across this recipe in Jose Garces’ Latin Road Home. I was most drawn to the ingredient list featuring staples I always have but never seem to use completely – heavy cream, parsley, the odd potato. This also meant picking up a few extras quarts of vegetable stock and pulling fresh corn from the dwindling piles at the market. I followed the recipe as closely as possible the first time around including the fried potatoes, and crumbled bacon. When it was finished, I realized I had a almost enough left to make a second batch. I was going into a busy week and knew I’d be rewarming it over a few nights, so I made a vegetarian version. Also, I was out of bacon. Instead of using the achiote paste that’s been living in my refrigerator for years with no expiration in site, I used the last of my achiote seeds to make the oil. The chives became scallions, and I added the cream at the end to finish off the pint. The one thing I didn’t get to was the fresh ají costeño pepper sauce Garces suggests, but that will have to wait for the next round.
I don’t remember having currants – red, black, or otherwise – growing up, so I was surprised to find them in one of the older Cuban cookbooks I’d been using, Delicias de las Mesa by Maria Antonieta Reyes Gavalán. Written in the 1920s, I came across it at the University of Miami’s Cuban Heritage Collection. While most other Cuban cookbooks date from the mid-fifties when everyone was only too happy to embrace cans and convenience, Gavalán’s book captures an earlier time, referencing ingredients and techniques that had fallen out of use but worth reconsidering. The book itself was so worn and frayed that it couldn’t be scanned or photocopied, so I spent most of my time in the archives furiously taking notes before reluctantly giving it back. It was complete coincidence when my aunt Marta called from New Orleans to tell me her friend had given her a copy of the book that I could have. Read more