Friday, May 30, 2008

love clancey's

The last time I visited Clancey's, the Linden Hills meat and fish market, I signed up for their e-mail list. Now, I love Clancey's for many reasons, chief among them: it's a small, independent business; the owners are friendly and interested in how you're going to use the goods they've just sold to you; the meat is of the highest quality, as local as possible; the store is dog-friendly (I don't have a dog, but I get a kick out of watching the owners sneak ground beef to visiting dogs). The house-made sausages are to die for!

But who needs more e-mail clogging up the ether? I guess I do if it arrives each week with flair.

it’s in the air, and
it’s almost a summer wind;
warm enough to garden in the rain,
ideal for added heat from the grill…
so come to clancey’s:
we’ve got lamb (all cuts) and a killer garlic & yogurt marinade
we’ve got all cuts of beef (try our kebabs), chicken (try it on the grill, halved & under a brick), pork (smoke some), halibut cheeks (yum),
all kinds of sausages (that beef, blue cheese & cherry
w/ surly bender is pretty special);
invite some warmth into the weekend, some friends & neighbors into your backyard and welcome some significant change:
in the weather, in the wind, in the overall climate of
everything that matters
buy good food
from good farmers
every tiny bit
makes a difference!
love clancey’s

I think even the coldest, cruelest Grinch heart would have to love Clancey's.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The New Luxury

Sometimes luxurious meals aren’t measured by the exclusivity or the expense of the ingredients. Truffles, Kobe beef, foie gras, caviar, Barolos immediately come to mind. Rather, some meals are luxurious because you’ve been granted the space and time to spread out and cook in as unhurried a manner as possible.

Saturdays are great for throwing multi-course dinner parties. Sundays are ideal for tinkering over a slow-cooked meal. Both allow an opportunity to crank the tunes and spend the afternoon carefully peeling and chopping, sautéing and braising ingredients.

Weeknights, however, call for quicker fare. Dinner cannot take longer than an hour to prepare: We’ve got school-age children who need to do homework and take showers, plus decompress, before bed. And, twice a week, we have to factor in Alpha’s soccer games and practices, as well as drive time, all of which cut into the dinner hour.

Imagine then, when one doesn’t have a game to work around, that the hour or so one has to make dinner suddenly seems like all the time in the world.

Tonight, Hambone fired up the grill while I whipped up a lime juice-soy sauce-ginger bath and set a nearly two-pound flank steak to marinate. We poured ourselves the last two glasses of Albarino and had an actual adult conversation. The boys did their parkour maneuvers, jumping off the terraces in our “backyard” patio. Then we all tucked into grilled steak (still trying to find the sweet spot between rare and medium rare, as shown above), new potatoes, asparagus from the farmers market, and a 2005 Desert Wind Ruah from the Columbia Valley (WA), and we talked about our day.

Luxurious—like rich, creamy foie gras and crisp vintage champagne.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Viva Las Vegas

The Amateur Gourmet isn’t the only food blogger whooping it up in Sin City this weekend. I’m also off to Vegas, to help a girlfriend celebrate a milestone birthday. It’s my first visit, and aside from neon and casinos, I don’t really know what to expect. I’m not a gambler but I am a keen observer. My flight lands at McCarran at 10:30 a.m., which gives me just enough time to get to the hotel and be poolside with a cocktail and a book by noon. The group has plans to see a show and dinner reservations at the Bellagio's FIX (not linking as Flash crapped up my laptop) on Saturday night, otherwise I’m keeping an open mind and stomach for culinary experiences.

Back Monday...

RIP: Irvine Robbins

I owe a debt of gratitude to Irvine Robbins, who gave me almost unfettered access to ice cream during my foodie formative years. The perfect scoop, in myriad flavors, never failed to give me ten minutes of pleasure in a sea of mediocrity. Coconut, black licorice, lemon drop, and Daiquiri ice were a few favorites.

The only bright spot in my hometown's crappy mall was a Baskin-Robbins. From the time purchasing power was bestowed upon me I always had just enough change in my pocket for a single scoop of something. Much to the chagrin of my friends, who always chose a sugar cone, my preferernce then (as it is now) was to eat ice cream with a spoon from a paper cup.

If the chain nature of Baskin-Robbins gets you on your artisanal high horse, just remember that a Baskin-Robbins ice-cream cone, perched in a cone holder, inspired Thomas Keller's signature salmon tartare "ice cream" cone.

Photo, as it appeared in the NYT, from Tony Korody/Sygma