Beauty in the kitchen

From time to time I have unexpected encounters with instances of beauty. It’s one of the things that makes me an artist. The power of observation, appreciation. It is there whether you like it or not. Just little things, tiny corners of things, unexpected things. In the kitchen this happens to me more than any other place. I got new cutting matts at Sur la Table, Ashish’s home away from home. Yellow peppers and green beans look lovely on them.

Curried grilled vegetables

Ashish assures me that there is nothing like this in Indian cuisine. He even went so far as to read to me out of an Indian cook book about the necessity of doing and serving everything exactly the way it’s supposed to be done. Grilling something, and then serving it half-raw would earn you the scorn of Vishnu. Happily I am not so worried about that and though I can feel Ashish’s amusement at my attempts to make Indian food, he is no longer scornful. So when, on the night before he left I invited family and friends for Indian food I had only mild trepidation. 

The curried grilled vegetables were a hit. Petit pan squash, red, green, yellow peppers and shallots doused with curry oil (I simmered garlic, ginger, cumin and curry powder in oil and then strained it) and then charred all of it on the grill. (Thank you Sur la Table grill pan.)

Ashish is ok with this kind of thing as long as I don’t call it Indian. 

Crazy Water

Also a favorite of Ashish’s. Since he’s here from Belgium, as I may have mentioned (but not for much longer), we are systematically visiting our favorite places, except of course, for Palermo Villa which sadly has closed.

Crazy Water thankfully has not however, and it was every bit as good as it always is. Service was great and the 2 guys, I assume they are brothers, doing the cooking behind the bar are as engaging as ever. Though I have never spoken to them, they seem to enjoy what they are doing and they do it well.

I had some sort of stuffed chicken and he had crazy shrimp. They were both great.

Braise revisited

Second visit to Braise. Food was great but the service was questionable. Made even more so because the table next to us was getting sublime service from the same server. 

It’s hard not to notice that the table next to you is getting new silver wear with every course (presented in a box with a napkin folded tidily in it) while our used old forks and knives were put on the table as the old plates went out and new came in (small plates), that the other table of 4 (it was just Ashish and I at our table) came in after us, ordered after us and were served way before us. It was impossible to catch the waiter’s (Lori) eye. I hate it when I am being obviously ignored. Even when she was standing looking across their table right at you.

I nearly asked the neighboring table how they were managing to get such great service. After we left Ashish told me that they were investors or owners. I had not caught that and then I wished I had asked them.

This is the remains of the cheese plate. Blueberry compote accompanied the “house-made” bread. The cheese was great, the blueberries overwhelmed all of it.

When will the term “house-made” die? It can go the way of “How is everything tasting?” (pronounced “tasteen”). I HATE that question. 

Everything is tasteen fine, however, you may want to make an appearance every 10 minutes or so.


Ashish and I ate at Zarletti. He is here from Belgium for a week and a half and he really likes Zarletti. I think the place is very nice, the service is excellent, if sometimes a little stuffy and the food is pretty good. Ashish had veal and I had the duck pasta special. He loved his veal, the duck was sorta tasteless and the color was well, drab.

Still, it was a good enough meal and the service was excellent. I like it when waiters remember you and when, as we were leaving, one of the other waiters asked Ashish where he had been for so long, I was impressed. I also like it that he can say he now lives in Belgium. Belgium has a kind of unknown quality about it which makes it more exotic than it actually is.

Garlic from my CSA

I’m not wild for garlic. I don’t like the taste of raw garlic and while I use it pretty often, a bulb of garlic can last me a month. My CSA has me in garlic for the rest of the year and I fear it is only the beginning of it. Every week I get more and more and more of it. And it’s not the kind I am familiar with. Not that that would prevent me from using it, but it is strange to me. 

This week’s haul.

Dieting, continued

I cannot begin to describe how much I love tomatoes, tomatoes and cottage cheese is the perfect food. Unfortunately these tomatoes which I took a chance on at the farmer’s market tasted OK but the consistency was really wrong.