Duck Weather

I love this weather.  Really, truly!  In a former life, as a duck, the icy canals and the pouring rain never penetrated the down.  Nowadays, it’s skin, but, still, there is something soothing about a downpour.  Being out in it, being in and looking out.

Yesterday was a cavalcade of fun, fun, fun!  From two mental patients in a locked ward to wet, black dogs leading me into snowbanks to technology carrying news that would make a duck want to fly south.

At least in the evening a pan seared Australian waygu from DeBragga and a 2000 Ormes de Pez made a dent–slight dent–in the wet mood pervading.

And now this A.M. it’s Dudley in Roxbury!

Will food suffice?  Have the blood oranges done the trick?  We shall see…

Live from WBUR…

It’s true: Today, around 345 or so, maybe 340, maybe 346, who’s to say, an interview re BACK OF THE HOUSE is taking place LIVE with the very estimable Anthony Brooks @ Radio Boston.  WBUR has been promoting the segment all day.

I’ve decided to follow Mamet’s advice: “Always tell the truth–it’s the easiest thing to remember.”  Which here means that if and when I’m asked about a certain chef’s reaction to a certain book: Shocked.  He was shocked.

And he was, and I don’t blame him.

In other news, a high school classmate told me over the past week about his uncle who was one of the Tuskegee Airmen.  My friend has all his letters; his sister is sending up copies.  She read me one over the phone.  This is a great story.



The Monday Report!

Having read the astonishing, “Smart Casual,” by Alison Pearlman, a rich analysis of the social and historical contexts behind the childish, churlish, chilling, and thrilling experiences to be had, sometimes while being had, in restaurants in the United States, I’ve picked up, “Howling At the Moon.”

“Howling at the Moon,” by Walter Yetnikoff, who ran CBS records, is wonderful, just wonderful.  So far, here’s my favorite passage, which pits Mick Jagger against Yetnikoff: “I haven’t seen the promo budget.”  The exchange goes on for three pages.  How can the Stones sell albums if the record company won’t promote it?

In other news, according to The New York Times, Walmart is selling lots of copies of Delish, which looks like a terrific magazine filled with recipes, and some hackers got into the Twitter account of Burger King.

Meanwhile, in local news: I contacted Chronicle and today we’re taping an episode for Back of the House.  Later, on the same day, which would be today, as Mad Villain has noted musically, I contacted The Newark Star Ledger, NJ’s largest circulation paper, and we’re doing a phone interview for…Back of the House.

Tomorrow, live @ 2:45 on Radio Boston, 90.9, WBUR?  I contacted the station and got an interview for…BACK OF THE HOUSE.



I Believe in Spring

Bill Evans, as usual: Right about everything, except for the dope.  Just not the dope.

Yesterday, while walking the dogs on their fourth romp of the day, making our way down Lowell towards Brattle, I saw the first green shoots of 2013: Spring is near.  And today, no snow, only rain, a downpour, to accompany the strips of bacon frying and the French toast challah on my plate.  Needed to fuel the three mile run before noon.

Last night?  Roasted chicken with a DeBragga bird.  Tonight?  Snert with chicken sausages.  Tomorrow?  Taping for Chronicle at the very wonderful Upstairs in the Square where Mary Catherine is holding court and Chef Susie Regis is cooking up a storm.

In other news, Sewasdee has my piece on sake and will soon have one on washoku.  And speaking of Japan, yes, that’s right, a publisher is interested in…Back of the House.

Holed Up!

With the storm on its way, the larder here in The Haas Test Kitchen brims with a chicken, two baby chickens, chicken sausages, ground turkey, swordfish, steaks, and ground beef.  Just in case we’re surrounded by crazed villagers carrying stumps of wood brimming with fire who see the lights on and assume that my shelter is their shelter.

Also: dried seaweed, bonita, miso and barley, udon, soba, spaghetti, and penne.

I will admit that a run to Hong Kong grocery store is needed: Green vegetables to supplement the enoki, dried white beans, dried red beans, dried black beans, onions, carrots, and garlic head.

Is that a van of vigilantes just down the street?  Are they opening the twin doors in the back?  What’s the sound of metal on metal?

The bacon from Kentucky is ready as is the hunk of challah from Hi-Rise.  Maple syrup from Northeast Kingdom?  Check!

I just heard a wailing siren and now the sound of a muddied voice over a hand-held amplifier!  Was he saying: “Men, to the left!  Say goodbye to your women and children?!”

Bars of chocolate, dried apricots, dried cherries, dried nectarines!

Is it Good Friday?

No, don’t be silly.  Not even close.  It’s Surprisingly Adequate Friday: Two locked mental wards with assessments of a mute teen; a psychotic Middle Eastern guy; and, a wreck of an ex-opiate addict who was sexually abused.

Thank goodness for the challah from Hi-Rise!  Thank goodness for Bumblebee tuna!  Hip, hip, hooray for Hellman’s!

The day was punctuated by news of interviews about…BACK OF THE HOUSE with America’s Test Kitchen, The Newark Star Ledger, Chronicle, and WBUR.

More news, too, from Saveur: An article about eki-ben in the future; and, of course, a piece on washoku cooking for Sewasdee.

And top it off?!  Turkey meatballs and penne after sunset!




Avant le déluge

Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re thinking: What deluge?  Well, hello?  I’m talking about the storm come Saturday night and, loathe as I am to mention the weather, a foot of snow may hamper the wife’s drive to work on Sunday when she Kildares it for a week of hospital rounding.  Me, I’ll be frying bacon and squeezing blood oranges, but yet and still.

Speaking of yet and still: The book event for BACK OF THE HOUSE last night brought to mind Miles in Cleveland in, say, ’58, in a smoke-filled room and little glasses of ice tinkling a strong rye.

Afterwards, it was a short walk over to the very wonderful, joint is jumping Monday Club Bar inside Upstairs in the Square where pizza and char and gin and sashimi and port and chocolate pecan turtles were enjoyed.

Today was to be a taped interview @ WBUR, but due to the Globe’s appearance on the auction block, the book was bumped to Tuesday: LIVE IN THE STUDIO with Anthony Brooks.

Meanwhile, the clouds gather…

A Fine Line

There’s a fine line between the power of food to relax us and the power of food to distract us.  Why, my goodness, it can be a relief to buy a case of blood oranges from Russo’s and gorgeous red snapper from New Deal, but at what point does the food keep us from digging deeper into the things in our past, present, and future that need to be explored?

I don’t know, you tell me.

On a smaller scale, so much differentiates, in a general sense, one type of restaurant experience from another.  In Italy, the compliment paid to a restaurant is, “As good as what we have at home!”  In Japan, it’s, “This is so rare and delicious and it will be gone from the season tomorrow!”  In the US, it’s, “Wow, I never had this before!”

I know, generalizations.

Back to the fine line: How important are the experiences which give us pleasure?  I would alter Kundera’s line and say, “The Wonderful Lightness of Being,” rather than, “The Unbearable.”

I mean, after all, if we’re not laughing, what are we doing?  And of course Batali was right, as usual, when he quoted: A tavola non si invecchia!


Sake, Beef, Fish

I’m 36 hours away from the deadline for my article on sake that will run in the April issue of Sewasdee and 36 hours away from my article on Japanese beef that will run in the April issue of Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia.  Mostly I write about Japan these days.

There are many reasons and emotions behind that decision, but here are a few quotes from books I’ve read recently that show what’s what:

Is it because the past is so full of memories?  Or is it because it’s so lonely now?” –from “The Old Capital,” by Yasunari Kawabata

“…I wondered whether the only human beings whom I was capable of loving were not, in fact, dead people.  Be that as it might, how easy dead people were to love compared to those who were still alive!”–from “The Temple of the Golden Pavilion,” by Yukio Mishima

“With some personal experiences that lead you way into a cave all by yourself, you must eventually come to a side tunnel or something that opens on a truth that concerns not only just yourself but everyone.  And with that kind of experience at least the individual is rewarded for his suffering.”–From “A Personal Matter,” by Kenzaburo Oe

Pico Iyer, in an essay that appeared in the 2/6/13 issue of the NYRB, noted that what is said and seen in Japan is not as important (perhaps) as what is unsaid and unseen.

As I get deeper into my new book about families, the Japanese respect or ambivalence (at least) about appearances is a good guide.




Locked & Lox

The belly lox and the toasted poppy seed bagel with horseradish cream cheese from Russ & Daughters (The Einsteins of smoked salmon) were ideal ways to begin a day with long walks in the bitter cold, past knee high snowbanks, and a drive in the direction of Cape Cod to a locked psychiatric facility where I interviewed and evaluated a pair of adolescents, one suffering from depression and the other suffering from depression, and then a young adult who was depressed and distrusting.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?

Fleet footed, I followed youthful misery with my daily three mile run and then a hit on Russo’s where I am now buddy-buddy with the guys in the back who supply restaurants throughout the region with wonderful fruits and vegetables.

My haul was a case of bloods for juice and a bunch of hedgehog ‘shrooms.