I may be biased because it was my birthday month but it has been a fantastic February. I got started on a couple of new projects that I’ll have more details about soon, spent a lot of time with friends, and saw some great performances and shows including Balanciaga: Spanish Master at the Queen Sofía Spanish Institute and El Bulli: Cooking in Progress which just had it’s New York premiere at MoMA. When my head wasn’t in Spain past and future, I was flipping through the latest Saveur and thrilled that they featured Leticia Moreinos Schwartz’s Brazilian Kitchen in Dorothy Irwin’s Taking Root. I was also taking vicarious tours of Chile, starting with the New York Times 36 Hours in Santiago, Chile and ending with the Atlantic’s In Chile, Molecular Gastronomy and Locavores Collide. While the latter was a fun read, I was disappointed that it didn’t describe an actual chef rumble where no one gets hurt but everyone eats. Read more
Posts tagged ‘Park Slope Food Coop’
I’ve had one recurring thought since I tasted my first chirimoya a few months ago – there are parts of this world where flan grows on trees. Flan on trees. I’ve been pining for chirimoyas, also known as custard apples, ever since. In response to my previous post where I used them to fill pavlovas, my aunt described an alternative recipe that’s popular in Peru. The chirimoyas are folded into manjarblanco that’s been lightened with whipped cream and chilled, like dulce de leche pots de crème. I went back for more to but it’s been weeks since I’ve seen them. Then suddenly, there they were, looking proud but out of place at the Park Slope Food Coop. I scooped up a pretty heart shaped one and let it ripen on my counter like an avocado. After the whirl of Easter weekend had passed, I finally got down to using them. It was as simple as it seemed and the fresh fruit provided the right balance to the manjarblanco. I don’t know when I’m going to find them again but I’ll always look. From the moment the last scoop was served, I started to miss them.
I was flipping through José Andrés’ Made in Spain when I came across a recipe for olive oil pancakes. I’ve been on a pancake tear lately and was intrigued by his emphasis on Spanish products to make all-American pancakes – olive oil, chocolate, and honey. I’d always preferred Spanish olive oil, but I had never thought about Spanish chocolate. That morning, I found a 2 kilo bar of dark artisanal chocolate from Aragon at the Co-Op. I don’t know how I could have missed it , it was enormous. I heaved it into my bag and headed home.
A friend coined the term produce shopaholic on her blog, Mindy’s Recipe for Disaster. If I’d read her post earlier, I may have recognized the symptoms before I went on a why-not-bender at the Park Slope Food Co-op yesterday. Though I love figs, I rarely buy fresh ones. I have plans for tarts and compotes, but the slightest delay and they’re past all use. Still, I couldn’t resist when I found organic Calimyrna figs. I reasoned that the green ones would at least give me a head start, and they were so cute and plump I had to take them home. A quick search online and through my books gave me a couple of ideas. I had some this morning drizzled with peppered honey and Spanish goat cheese with sweet olive oil crackers. It was sweet, spicy, flowery and creamy all at the same time. The recipe from Bon Appétit could not be easier, so there is no reason to put off using them straight away. I also found an interesting recipe for fig compote with red wine and spices among the formidable 1080 Recipes, one of my favorite cookbooks/step stools that I’ll try next. Now that I’m hooked, I’ll need more figs.
For the complete Fresh Figs with Goat Cheese and Peppered Honey recipe click here.
Plantains are my comfort food. After my second failed attempt at making Cuban bread this afternoon (so near, yet so far), I wanted something sure. When my new Food Coop friend Jennifer described the Puerto Rican style plantain pie she makes when her daughter’s home from school, I had to try it. I’d seen different versions of the pie that used fried plantains and cheese. Jennifer bypasses both to make this healthier version with mashed, boiled plantains that bring out the sweet and savory flavors really well. Read more
After another shift at the Park Slope Food Coop, it struck me how much it’s like high school. Founded in the early 70s, you report to a plain brick building where all members have committed to work three hours a month. Reliant on this to keep the store running, absences have to be excused and “make-ups” made up. If an infraction or “alert” appears on your record, you may be called up to the wood paneled administrator’s office to explain. The store won’t offer plastic bags but the walls are covered in a forest’s worth of multicolored paper handouts. A crew leader, who now represents authority but likely followed the Grateful Dead at some earlier point in their life, self-consiously tracks attendance and assigns tasks. Within the first 15 minutes, cliques form among the overbooked activities moms, bicycle boys and senior members long over the novelty. The cool guy picks the music. True to form, I’ll grumble in front of the other kids to blend in, but am secretly thrilled by my spice weighing assignment and can’t wait to graduate to cheese slicer. Jennifer shows me the ropes as we chat away about Puerto Rico where she’s from. Cheerful and irreverent, she’s picked up extra days to make up for a trip to Italy the month before. She’s the friend I would have made in detention. With 15 minutes to go, we’ll all start watching the clock. Shift over, class dismissed.
Today was my work shift at the Park Slope Food Coop. I am on a food processing crew which means that, every four weeks, I make my way across Union street, pull on an apron and start bagging spices, grains, nuts – whatever is missing. I thought this was only means to an end so I could shop there, but it’s become something that I look forward to every month. I love the easy, early morning chat that transpires between a handful of people with only dried cranberries and brazil nuts in common. It’s a nice lull before turning in my apron and heading upstairs to jostle with the tatooed yoga mommies for organic mangoes, green peppers and Spanish cheeses, another shift completed.