Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Pollo Tonnato, a Hamptons Italian Dish straight from Ireland.


There’s a very famous Take-Out store in the Hamptons called “Loaves and Fishes” that turns out superb food for the rich.  I say this because, first, the place is in a village out here with the highest median house price in the entire country: Sagaponack NY comes in at a staggering $8,500,000.   And second, I once saw a woman there pay $108.00 for 8 servings of Pollo Tonnato.  Lord knows what she would have paid for the far more expensive Vitello Tonnato, the Piedmontese dish of cold, sliced veal in a creamy, mayonnaise-y sauce flavored with tuna.  As odd as the combination may be, it’s a wonderful combination of flavors which brings a salty tang to the otherwise bland taste of the veal.   Invented in the late 19th century, Tonnato sauce was created at a time when Piedmonte was closely aligned to Liguria. The tuna was fished for in Liguria, the lemons and capers were grown there too.   Pollo Tonnato is its very worthy and far less expensive cousin. It uses boneless chicken breasts covered with the Tonnato sauce, a rich and flavorful concoction of capers, lemon, anchovies and tuna, preferably the Italian variety in glass jars. The Italian tuna will not only up the price of the dish a bit, it will improve its flavor immeasurably.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Joanne Chang's Balsamic Strawberry Shortcakes from Boston's Flour Bakery

It’s strawberry season in the Hamptons and they’re truly flawless this year.  Nothing could be more welcome after our rainy, cold spring than these beautiful, bountiful berries.   And nothing says June like their arrival.  But time isn’t on our side.  The season is fleeting and the chance to put fresh local strawberries on the table is right now.  Out here, there are any number of road side strawberry fields where you can pick your own, a fun way to spend an afternoon with the children in your life.  We opted to go the lazy man’s route and bought our strawberries at our local farm stand down the road. We brought the brilliant red berries home and out came Joanne Chang’s “Flour” Cookbook, one of Andrew’s go-to sources for truly unbeatable baking recipes.  Use the search function on the left side of this page and you’ll come up with no less than 6 recipes from Ms. Chang, every single one of them a winner in our kitchen and with our friends.  This is no exception.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

From The Daily Meal: Culinary Travel: Paris. This Restaurant went straight to the top...with a two item menu. Plus our recipe for one of their specialties...

         Granted, “Canard et Champagne”  (Duck and Champagne) are arguably two of France’s greatest gifts to cuisine but it took some nerve to open a restaurant which sells nothing else.   But that is precisely what Jean-Francois Montfort and partners Jean Valfort and Pierre Dutaret did when they moved into a former chocolatier’s space a 57 Passages des Panoramas (Paris 75002 Reservations: 09 81 83 95 69 Open Tuesday to Saturday 12 Noon till Midnight).  The moderately priced restaurant immediately shot to the top of Trip Advisor’s Paris listings coming in at number 1 in a matter of weeks. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Ruth Reichl's "Favorite" Recipe from "My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life"


A short time ago, we went to the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan (344 Amsterdam Ave, NY NY 10023 Tel: (646) 505-4444). Judging from the smell of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies, the place has a robust culinary arts program in addition to all its other offerings in Health and Wellness, Arts and Ideas and myriad others. We were there to hear Ruth Reichl talk about her latest book.  We are no strangers to this particular tome as it was the subject of earlier posts and recipes.  See and  Ms. Reichl simply brought to life much of the misery she suffered when Gourmet abruptly closed its doors leaving Ms Reichl, its editor literally out in the cold.  To our friends, Jill and Steve who went with us, much of this was news.  To me, it was just a sad reminder of what happened when we were robbed of both Gourmet and Ruth.   So when the question and answer session began, I asked the ultimate stupid question: What is your favorite recipe in the book?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Day Seven of the Maiden Voyage of Viking Sea...Cherbourg and Normandy

Port Recine in Cap de La Hague, Normandy

For all the time we have spent in France, inexplicably we have never been to the northwest corner of the country and their provinces of Brittany and Normandy. While we didn’t get to Brittany, Cherbourg, was our first port of call in France   This is the heart of French dairy country. It is the home of ( from left to right:) Neufchatel, Camembert, Pont-L’Évêque and Liverot, all cow’s milk cheeses and all are considered among the world’s best.  Unfortunately, and very unlike Viking, our “Taste of Normandy” tour didn’t include so much as a morceau of cheese.  (Instead we had a Crepe and a glass of Cider, both specialités and both somewhat underwhelming.) 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Daily Meal has just published my story: Are these the best alternative restaurants afloat? Plus a recipe for a Pistachio Torta from Viking Ocean Cruises.

Are these the best alternative restaurants afloat? We went aboard Viking Star and Sea to find out
Jun 1, 2016 | 3:59 pm
Staff Writer

Manfredi's was magnificent, but was it our favorite on the ship?  Photo Credit: Viking Ocean Cruises
Every cruise ship has one of these, if not two or three. They go by various names depending on what cruise line you’re sailing. But what they have in common is an elevated “gourmet” experience that lures passengers from their assigned seat in the dining room to an extra-charge restaurant where, for $30 and up, they can dine in a more refined setting with higher quality food. Only on the most expensive cruises does the food come free in these alternative venues. Even premium lines like Celebrity and Holland America charge their paying guests a premium. Not so on the recently launched Viking Ocean Cruise Ships, Viking Star and Viking Sea.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Day Six: Ten Great Things to do on a Sea Day aboard a Viking Ocean cruise

Rise and Shine! It's At Sea Day on Viking Sea's Maiden Voyage
Viking at Sea
         On Viking Star there was only one.  On the Maiden Voyage of Viking Sea, there would be three of them but for us, just one.  Sea Days. These port-less hours are prized by cruisers for their happy exploration of whatever ship they’re sailing on.  And they are especially prized on Viking. If there is one thing that’s missing on Viking’s port-intensive itineraries, it’s an abundance of time to enjoy every wonderful amenity on this amenity-loaded ship. I confess to afternoons spent aboard ship simply for that purpose.  But if you adhere to Viking’s port calls, here are ten things not to be missed on your Sea Day.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Day Five: The Maiden Voyage of Viking Sea Maiden Call at La Coruña, España

Las Galleries La Coruna line the Avenue Marina.   The one building without a Galleria is called the "Missing Tooth"
        Some places are total surprises.  I would have to say that the entire country of Portugal was one.  But second to that was the arrival this morning at La Coruña in Galicia in the Northwest corner of Spain.   The surprise here was the size and modernity of this beautiful city. We awoke to one of its signature sites.  The Galleries La Coruna are balconies closed with carpentry of wood painted white and with a large area of glass that function as a kind of enclosed balcony.  Our stateroom’s balcony overlooked the most famous of these on the Avenue Marina. The galleries are actually the rear facades of houses. The purpose was to allow the sunlight to enter inside the houses.  The houses themselves faced away from the port largely to avoid the smell of fish which arose from the port.   Now, of course, their views over the yacht basin are highly prized. Surrounded by water, La Coruna is a prosperous place.  This may be the achievement of one man.  If the name Amancio Ortega doesn’t ring a bell, the 80 year old will likely be delighted that you don’t.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Daily Meal just published Day 4 of Viking Sea's Maiden Voyage and here it is! Plus an authentic recipe for the National Dish of both Portugal and Brazil!

Chef Anthony Mauboussin in action aboard the Viking Sea.

By Land and by Sea: Viking’s New ‘Kitchen Table’ Culinary Arts Program

Staff Writer
We set the scene for Viking Cruise’s new ‘Kitchen Table’ chef experience

Since last year’s launch of its first ocean cruise liner, “Viking Star,” Viking Cruise Line has stunned passengers and cruise critics alike with its gleaming ship and emphasis on learning and discovery through travel. In its first year, itineraries included ports from Istanbul to Stockholm. Aboard the 930-passenger ship, Viking’s Chairman Torstein Hagen broke all the rules: The Norwegian Spa is open to everyone, every cabin has a balcony, at every port there’s an included shore excursion, there are no children under 18 allowed, and not one extra penny is involved with eating at any of the ship’s specialty restaurants, where complimentary wine and beer accompany every course.
         And how is the food? Simply spectacular. It is a mix of specialties from each country visited, and an array of classics so that the overwhelmingly American passenger list feels right at home.  But for those passengers with a taste for culinary adventure and learning, Viking Cruises has a program that tops anything we’ve ever seen at sea.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Day Three of the Maiden Voyage of Viking Sea....we finally cast off!

Our first glimpse of Viking Sea docked in Lisbon

 But first, about last night…it was our second and final night in Lisbon and my good friend Bruce highly recommended Cervejaria Ramiro (1 Avenida Almirante Reis, Lisbon, Tel: +351 218 851 024) Since Bruce seems to have taken in the entire Iberian peninsula on his trip last year, I was not about to quarrel when he raved about this place.  Turns out it is so well-known our cab driver said there
was no need to tell him the address as every cabbie in Lisbon knows it.  When we got to the restaurant there was a long line of people outside. Fortunately, Bruce had warned us of this daily occurrence and told us not to worry.  In a few minutes we were inside the densely tabled space.  And a few minutes after that we were ushered to our table on the second floor. Ramiro, as it is commonly called, is the home of the best Garlic shrimp I have ever tasted anywhere.  But we didn’t stop at the shrimp.  We dipped Portuguese rolls into the garlic butter wishing there was more.  We ate langoustes until we were stuffed.  And I think you can see why.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Day Two. The Maiden Voyage continues....and we're not even at sea yet!

Sintra's Palaces, Lisbon by Beetle and us.
The Rossio Restaurant atop Altis Avenida
         Day Two dawned with a blue sky and Spring temperatures.  Breakfast at the Altis Avenida takes place in a stylish roost on the 7th floor of the hotel.   Considering that it’s all included in the rates, the buffet is substantial and includes all sorts of things that appeal to the hotel’s constituency of British and German visitors.  Cheeses and sausages, pastries and breads, eggs and juices and fruits were all there in abundance. Then we were off for a day we will long remember.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Day One: The Maiden Voyage of Viking Sea begins...


         I was thrilled to be invited to participate in the Maiden Voyage of Viking Sea, sister ship to Viking Star, Viking Cruises ocean-going liners that have set a new standard in affordable luxury since their inception last year.   I was even more delighted when I convinced Andrew to join me and started a planning a trip that included time in Portugal before we embarked and time in Paris at the end of our wonderful voyage.  Last Fall, aboard Viking Star, I labored into the night to get my trip reports to you.  This time, I waited until I got home to take you along on what turned out to be one of our life’s best trips.  So here goes…

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Braised Chicken with Asparagus, Peas and Melted Leeks

         A braise may not strike you as a Spring preparation at all.  Aren’t braises hearty affairs that build flavor by the hours they spend in the oven?  Aren’t they winter warmers and not something you’d expect to see any time after May 1st?  Well it turns out that this dish, with its medley of fresh, Spring vegetables topped with crispy-skinned, fennel scented Chicken thighs and then lapped with the lightest of lemon-y butter-y broths, proves that a braise is great way to salute Spring.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Buttery Crab Bread Pudding from The River Cottage Fish Book

A far nicer photograph from Food and Wine
@Kate Mathis
        Because we're barely off the plane from Europe, I have gone archival today to bring a wonderful recipe that I published way back in 2012.  It was such a hit with everyone who tried it that I thought I'd introduce to the whole new audience who weren't following Chewing the Fat way back when.  And for those of you who were, it's still a great idea for dinner or lunch.
  When I came across this recipe in Food and Wine, I tried to resist it.  With its glorious crabmeat peeking out from layers and layers of French bread and creamy egg-y custard, I though it would be far too rich, far too full of carbohydrates and just far too much all the way around.  But then when I pointed it out to Andrew, he too had glommed onto the allure of the dish.  So I made it.  And I am so glad I did!  It is not heavy at all. Its richness comes from the crab and not the custard.  Lemon juice lightens the whole dish and I confess to cutting back on the butter and using a delicious whole wheat baguette to cushion the carb count.  It was simply delicious served with a green  salad.  There were leftovers, which I brought to a friend and disappointed Andrew who was looking forward to another delicious go at it.  And where did this delicious concoction come from?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The All-Time Greatest Chocolate Cake: Beatty's Chocolate Cake


       As some of you know, Andrew and I have embarked on what we have named “Andrew and Monte’s 130th Birthday Trip”.  That’s our combined birthday this year and we’re celebrating with a trip to Europe.  Believe me, you will hear all about it.  But in the meantime, here’s a cake to bake anytime you want to celebrate anything— Birthdays, Anniversaries, Bon Voyages or….even this Sunday for Mother’s Day. This incredible chocolate cake takes the prize for our absolute favorite.  It’s a chocolate lover’s dream, moist and so full of chocolate you can smell it.   The icing gives you more chocolate on chocolate. There’s  a secret ingredient that reinforces the chocolate flavor: Coffee!  It also has a wonderful story attached to it.  And a not-so-wonderful story too so read along and see.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo Tyler Florence-style...with his Ultimate Beef Fajitas

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Napolean III of France
      Ah Cinco de Mayo, a chance for Americans to celebrate their neighbor to the south, Mexico.  And this year, given all the campaign rhetoric, those of us who love that country, really should go out of our way to celebrate this 5th of May.  Of course, Cinco de Mayo is overwhelmingly an American celebration.  Many Americans believe the Festa is to celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day.  That would be Dieciséis de Septiembre which likely would never have made onto an American calendar simply because it’s much more difficult to pronounce.             
No, Cinco de Mayo does celebrate a Mexican-only event.  Mexico had fought two wars, one against the Americans (Remember the Alamo!) and the other a civil that had almost bankrupted the country.  Its President then suspended  Mexico's foreign debt payments for two years.  France, Britain and Spain were outraged and sent naval support to Veracruz to demand payment.  The British and the Spanish negotiated a payment schedule and sailed home. The French however remained. Napoleon III imagined a Latin Empire that would favor the French.  He called it the Second Mexican Empire. Despite being overwhelmingly
The Second Battle of Puebla, May 5th 1863
outnumbered, 2000 Mexicans fought off the 6000 French troops at the Battle of Puebla, crushing the French on May 5th 1862.  There was much jubilation in Washington.  President Lincoln had feared that the French would take advantage of the Civil War to meet its goals.  So Lincoln may have celebrated the first Cinco de Mayo that very year.  Now all of this is a very long way to get to today’s Cinco de Mayo celebratory post:  Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Beef Fajitas.  I can think of no better way to celebrate than with this American classic. Yes, American.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Fresh Asparagus Salad with Buratta, Pancetta, Pine Nuts, Raisins and Bread Crumbs and Tiny Tomatoes

The creamy rich Burrata Cheese is completely hidden under the Asparagus

The Bounty of the Comfort Family Farm on
Lumber Lane in Bridgehampton starts
with their first Asparagus crop of the season.
         The first Asparagus of the season is about to make its appearance after our long, cold Spring. I was driving along past one of the farm stands we go to all summer, when I saw the first spears standing totally alone on what is usually a cart laden with produce. As you can see in this Fall picture, the Comfort Family’s farm grows all kinds of good things. But there are few things in life I look forward to more than the arrival of those first tender shoots of asparagus.  The delicious flavor of the vegetable is matched by the glorious green color it takes on when cooked.  We’ll have plenty of it for the next month. And then it will disappear until next Spring.  I’ll buy it in the off-season but those spears will pale when compared to the delicious fresh flavor of the local stuff.  Now, how to make it a whole meal?  A complete dinner for two?  It was actually very easy.