I wrote about eating breakfast on the Billfold today. Also: I ate breakfast.
Sautéed apples on my oatmeal OH THE LUXURY. (Breakfast-porn fans should def. read this blog).
The weather this week! It has been of two minds. Likewise my food:
Sunday, it was Spring, so a frittata with actual asparagus. Because it’s here, it’s here, spring is finally coming back for real and asparagus is no-pun-intended springing up nearby! And frittatas are a great and easy kitchen-sink-y kind of meal strategy for when you have produce you don’t know what to do with (method: sauté things in ovenproof skillet, add shredded cheese, beat four eggs and dump ‘em in, let the bottom get set, then pop into an oven at 375 and bake until puffed up and golden. Boom!)
Today: practically winter and a decidedly wintry root vegetable chili with some pumpkin biscuits (the pumpkin was supposed to go in the chili, but then my poor dutch oven was thisclose to no-pun-intended-again spilling the beans, so: carbs). My blood sugar while making this chili was so low that I forgot all the spices until it had been simmering for like 20 minutes and couldn’t figure out why it tasted so bland. A-durp durp.
Eating seasonally has all kinds of political, moral, organic-and-crunchy reasons going for it, but the reason I like doing it (besides the fact that I want as much of my food bux as possible to go directly to farmers) is because it’s a way to get in tune with things. Seasons are constantly changing, but they always change predictably, in a cycle. Medievals were up on it! Fortune was a wheel, turning: regnabo, regno, regnavi. Now things are more static, the changes unpredictable jolts, like a windowless office with a flickering fluorescent bulb. When I said today, perhaps with too much glee, that asparagus season was starting, I was met with replies like “I didn’t know asparagus had a season.”
Do people not read the Bible? Or listen to the Byrds? Spring isn’t just when flowers bloom and CVS runs out of Benadryl, it’s when green vegetables finally return and we can stop eating nothing but potatoes and turnips! If you buy all your produce vacuum-sealed at the Megamart, you are missing out, and missing the point. You won’t get excited about the return of spring because inside the produce section, it’s always spring. Which is both boring and eerie, if you think about it.
Anyway, the happy ending is that even though we had a warmish winter, crops don’t seem to be too worse for the wear. I have perused the weekly email from Green City Market, and you guys, microgreens! More asparagus! Rhubarb! Stuff is coming back to life, myself included, and I’m so excited that I have to listen to this movement of Carmina Burana while dreaming about compotes and vegetable tarts. Eeee.
If I could cure the whole world of one habit, it would be using the word “times” as a transitive verb.* That, and needlessly elaborate coffee drinks. I know, I know, railing against Starbucks is passé, but they really are a travesty and I’m chronically behind on trends of hating things. (Unrelated: I’m starting to believe that Saddam Hussein is not such a good guy, you know?)
Anyway. Have you ever had a good cup of coffee that was just coffee? Or have you always just assumed that it’s bitter, bitter sludge that is only worth the trouble of doctoring up with endless milk, sugar, or (blech) CoffeeMate™ because it’s easier and slightly more palatable than injecting pure caffeine into your jugular? If so, I have good news: just like good beer can be more than a way to get drunk**, good coffee can do much more than upsetting your stomach and increasing your heart rate. So listen up!
Two general principles, first.
*It makes you sound so ignorant PLEASE STOP
**Stay tuned for the next entry in this series, maybe!
(Apologies to my artist mother if these aren’t really triptychs. I guess I could be safe and call them collages, but I’ve never been one for a penny word when a 20-drachma one will do.)
I spent 24 hours (total) on the train up and down New York State (bottom left and right) on the way to Montreal (upper left). I’ve pretty much perfected the art of sleeping in a ball, plowing through a season of Fresh Meat on my laptop, and lying to customs about the amount of clementines in my backpack. Fruit smugglers forever!
I did a fair amount of classy-type eating à la carte: a pain de campagne from La Pâtisserie Belge in MTL, where I went pretty much daily for bread (and then stopped at Pikolo for an americano so as to get my heart beating again).
I threw together a rando salad at home of microgreens, oranges, bleu cheese, onions, hard boiled eggs, and lemon-thyme vinaigrette, which felt incredibly lefty and snooty but also delicious, so whatever. And today, I had a croissant date with my mom (with bonus souvenir coffee beans!) at Chestnut Hill Coffee, post-pheblotomy appointment (I may have fainted, alas).
Abroad, I had heartstopping amounts of pork at the Dépanneur Le Pick Up Cabane à Sucre Pork Club , which was five courses of wonderful. We started with a sweet-and-fatty lardo spread, with chunks of apple and onion, spread over pumpernickel, then pea soup that was pleasantly earthy and I didn’t hate (??). The salad was chicarrón (pork rinds!) in a spicy arugula (so it’s healthy!) and then, at last, came meat: a house-made sausage, maple-smoked pork, and pork belly confit, each of which was a different and incredible kind of savory-sweet. The baked beans (fèves au four?) were molassesy and thick, and I got to eat twice as much since my dining companion did not particular care for them (again, ??). Two shots, as well: vodka with the lardo (na zdrowie!) and white chocolate with bacon for dessert. So fun, so tasty, and I got to chat with Chef Szef Bartek, a very cool guy who gave me some tips on making the confit (apparently not that hard? ça s’peut…)
Also: Portguesey rotisserie chicken that was buried in peppery fries, from a corner joint that reminded me very much of Calvin Trillin (long line, no plates). And watched (but did not help) Shannon eat a biscotti (biscotto?) roughly the size of her head.
On the porch! On my parents’ dime! With New Yorkers to read! I might die from all the luxury!!
And! Two pairs of homemade socks, from my lovely Aunt E., that I wore almost without pause while home. I don’t care if I got weird stares from a gaggle of middle schoolers at the Hunger Games* when I wore them in a pair of Crocs-clogs and shorts. It’s a look.
*Which, OMG. Katniss!
Hot Doug’s is one of those places people will wait in the 24-degree cold for two hours to eat, even though it’s literally in the middle of nowhere in Chicago. And I had nothing better to do on a Saturday, and they were featuring elk sausage, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been there yet.
Encased meats! Perhaps a phrase they invented themselves, but I like it. At any rate, the storefront is small, and crowded (hence the line) but it moves fairly quickly–they’ve got their system down. After shivering and losing the feeling in my feet, I finally made it inside to the bright & cheerful (& unapologetically hot-dog-themed) interior that made me realize how much I want to see the real Wienermobile one day.
Unlike other gourmet hot-dog stands I have been know to frequent (ahem), Hot Doug’s emphasizes not just unconventional toppings on regular dogs but also weird and exotic meats in the sausages themselves. They offer a variety of standards (Chicago-style, hot sausage and hotter sausage named after the cheesecake actresses of the moment) but also daily specials ranging from wild boar to foie gras to, well, elk.
And Fridays and Saturdays, there are duck fat fries.
Potatoes cooked in unusual animal fats seem to be a weakness of mine. I finished my little paper boat of fries in probably ten minutes, and then missed them terribly. Maybe not the best fries ever (beef fat fries, sigh) but still good, obviously. I was a little overzealous in my salting and ended up choking on the last few stubby bits at the bottom that were almost crusted with sodium.
The dog proper was no slouch, obviously, and after my fry frenzy I was pleased to find that it justified waiting. The sausage itself was bacon and sharp cheddar elk, which was hearty and not gamey-tasting (then again, I actually like eating elk in other forms, so). The healthy smear of bacon-garlic mayonnaise and chunks of espresso Bellavitano cheese were delicious–a little overpowering, as mayonnaise is wont to be–but I wasn’t complaining. The whole thing had just enough heft for a lunch (accompanied by fries as it was) and I’m glad I wasn’t too ambitious in my ordering (though I remain impressed with those who can eat three of these in a sitting. Jealous!)
So wishes were fulfilled, but none quite so amazingly as on the drive home: coming down the opposite side of of 90/94, in all its Oscar-Meyery glory, there was the Wienermobile. I actually screamed a little. Hot dog kismet & a great day.