Monday, March 27, 2006

The City of Angels

Swimming Pools! Movie Stars!

Feed and Supply has just returned from a wonderful whirlwind weekend in Los Angeles. To be honest, I've never been that interested in L.A. Too many cars, I thought, too much smog, too much urban sprawl. But guess what? Turns out I love Los Angeles. Sure, the traffic is crazy, and there's a lot of fake stuff (breasts, especially) and some extraordinarily ridiculous cars, but there's a rich soul of a city there and some good food, too.

The highlight of the many meals that we crammed into our three day stay was our Saturday night meal at Lucques, Suzanne Goin's warm restaurant in West Hollywood. We ate lamb tartare (really!) with fried chickpeas, a wonderful assiette composed of romanesco (that wacky vegetable that looks like lime green cauliflower) paired with jamon serrano, burrata cheese, and bagna cauda breadcrumbs and the quintessential green salad with Spanish blue cheese and walnuts and a sherry vinaigrette, which reminded me how great that salad can be--oft imitated, usually unsuccessfully. For our main courses we had rich, robust short ribs and the most MARVELOUS SUCKLING PIG.

This pig was legendary. Roasted for 12 hours, submerged at some point in duck and pork fat, the shredded meat was crowned with a crisp flag of skin, which was spread with a sticky sweet mustard and quince paste mixture. It was an amazing dish. It was an amazing meal.

And Los Angeles? A pretty amazing city.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

From Russia with love

Does anyone remember Project Harmony? This was a BIG DEAL in my middle school years--an exchange program between Russian and American students intended to foster goodwill after the old iron curtain came a tumblin' down. I was so envious of those kids from my school who went to Russia, returning with ziploc baggies filled with pins depicting Stalin and the hammer and sickle, nesting dolls, brightly colored shawls and tales of grocery stores that sold no groceries and stewed cabbage and strong tea served in tiny, gracious St. Petersburg apartments.

I still really want to go to Russia, and I daydream about vodka and big fur hats, the Kremlin's dome and traditional Russian food. For those of us who were raised in the era when Russia was a have-not nation, images of bread lines firmly planted in our subconscious, it might come as a surprise to learn that the Russian imperial cuisine was some of the finest of its time. While countryfolk might have survived on potatoes, kasha and cabbage, the royals commissioned French chefs to invent dishes (and then name them after the royal family!) that today are considered traditionally Russian, like borscht, koulibiaca (salmon encased in pastry) and kissel, a puree of red summer fruits thickened with cornstarch and arrowroot and served with whipped cream for dessert.

Today, inspired by the story of my friend spying Mikael Baryshnikov at a recent charity dinner, I dusted off an old recipe for a Russian classic, beef stroganoff. This simple dish, which combines filet of beef, onions and mushrooms in a veloute with tangy sour cream, mustard and dill, is a new favorite. It's dead simple, very satisfying and rich, and full of bright flavor. Served over egg noodles, it's a lovely little thing to add to your repertoire.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Cheer Up Sleepy Jean

Well, life isn't always the easiest now is it? I try and eat enough fiber, exercise, brush and floss, be kind to others, read novels and the New York Times, take my multi-vitamin and stay in touch with old friends. But sometimes it gets to be too much. And that is when you need to pop the top on an ice cold bottle of Cheerwine.

Yup, Cheerwine! Haven't heard of it? Cheerwine is a Tarheel Tradition, a soft drink with a "rich burgundy color" and a refreshing black cherry flavor. Cheerwine was born in Salisbury, North Carolina, in 1917, and has been a family business ever since. Old-fashioned sodas are in vogue right now, and Cheerwine is slowly making inroads throughout the Southeastern states, bound for a market near you. In the meantime, you can mail-order a sixer of glass bottles--drink a couple, then log on to the company's website,, and try some of the Cheerwine recipes (no, really--Cheerwine ice cream, anyone?)

The vintage advertisement above is from