Japan & Italy

My two favorite cuisines are derived from regions of Japan and Italy.  Chiefly, this is due to their reliance upon fresh vegetables within short seasons and the extensive use of sea creatures.  Also: Small plates.  Also: Oodles of noodles.

I have little interest in cheese, butter, milk, or eggs, nor in bacon, beef, or lamb.  Fine: A good Waygu style burger pan seared in duck fat and covered in Emmental once a month?  Sign me up.

And occasions merit the crossing of boundaries.

So last night, marking a birthday, I served up a dozen rather spectacular oysters from Nova Scotia: Glove on left hand, knife in right, the shucking was easy.

Even easier was osso buco from a Batali recipe in his Babbo cookbook.  Tons of salt and pepper on the meat, olive oil heated up in a pressure cooker, sear the meat on both sides.  Add a bunch of thyme and one diced onion, carrot, and celery stalk.  Add two cups of white wine, two cups of tomato sauce, and a cup of chicken stock.  Pressure cook at high for twenty-five minutes.  Serve on polenta with braised fennel.  Prep time: Five minutes.


Foie Gras Ban Goes Into Effect in 25 Days!

Do you know about the ban on foie gras in California that goes into effect on July 1st?
Do you realize what’s about to happen?  NO MORE DUCK OR GOOSE LIVER IN THE ENTIRE STATE OF CALIFORNIA!
The state won’t be able to compete, culinary-speaking, with other places where geese and duck are force fed and then slaughtered to extract fattened livers to be pan seared, salted, and served with a good Sauterne.
Did you ever think this day would come?
The NY Times has an article about the news in tomorrow’s paper.  Here’s a quote: “We want to get our fill before it’s gone,” said Terrance L. Stinnett, a lawyer from Alamo, Calif., who attended a farewell lunch here recently. “This is a wake.”
Attorney Stinnett’s hyperbolic and ironic comparison aside, foe gras is a peculiar target to ban.
Do animal rights activists really believe that cows, chickens, pigs, fish, and shellfish are coaxed gently to the death needed so that we can eat them?
Here’s Michael Pollan, quoted in the NYT piece: “I think it’s really a way for people to feel like they’ve done something without doing anything,” he said. “There’s so many more serious problems we’re not dealing with.”
Furthermore, how much foie gras is consumed, anyway?  Compared to the cows that are stunned and beheaded or bled to death–shout out to our Islamic and Jewish brothers and sisters following Halal and Kosher laws, respectively–so that we can enjoy their muscles ground up with secret sauce on a sesame seeded bun?

Willett Weighs In: The Ban on Sugar Drinks

I’ll admit to loving the extremely funny photo of Mayor Bloomberg dressed as a nanny that appeared on page 5 of today’s NY Times in response to his decision to ban large, sugary drinks in NYC.  That said, the proponents of “choice,” who go on in the ad to suggest that MB (Mayor Bloomberg) may one day limit burger sizes and pizza slices and cream cheese on a bagel, miss the point utterly.

This isn’t about a “nanny” who as acting mayor tells the children or citizens what they can or cannot eat.  It’s about information creating legislative change.

William Willett, chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, weighs in: In a letter to the editor in today’s NY Times, Willett, who is the nation’s preeminent academic on nutrition, and a leader who helped document why trans fats ought to be banned, noted that “high intake” of sugary beverages leads to major medical diseases.

Specifically, Willett notes, the “standard 20-ounce soda contains 15 to 18 teaspoons of sugar” which “increases the risks of obesity and diabetes and is clearly unsafe for anyone.”

I love Willett’s use of the word “unsafe” here.  It helps make the link between the effects of the sugary drinks  to their consequences.  Why allow unsafe products on the market?  Wasn’t that one of the purposes of the FDA and, more broadly, of government?  To protect people from products that will harm them.  Who benefits from sugary products?  The producers, not the consumers.

The same folks who misleadingly say that they are consumer advocates are really industry shills.  I suppose that they are against seat belts, cigarette bans, and food safety regulations.


The Dogs Are Pacing

The dogs are pacing and waiting, ambitiously, for me to drop a piece of buttered, rye toast.  This isn’t ordinary rye bread, it comes from Hi-Rise bakery, and when it is toasted, nearly twice, and has Parma butter spread lightly, the rest of the day, after the toast has been eaten, is all downhill.

The coffee is from Porto Rico on Bleeker and it’s Ethiopian Yirgacheffee, at $7.99 a pound, and it blows coffees that are 50-100% higher out of the water due chiefly to the genius in NYC who roasts the beans.

But if you insist on the commercial stuff, you could not do better than indulge at Dunk’s tonight as it is FREE DOUGHNUT DAY with a beverage!  I love days like this.  One “Old Fashioned” and a medium black ice and it’s like being in a movie.