Month: December 2015

cod; squab, juniper, grapes; sweet potato; collards; struffoli


it seems Barry couldn’t wait to start, but it had been some time since lunch


It was the 25th of December, and so it was an almost perfect excuse for a feast.

  • 3 ounces of smoked wild Alaskan black cod (sable) from Blue Hill Bay Smoked Seafood, via The Lobster Place, brought to room temperature and served with a sauce of créme Fraîche from Ronnybrook Farms stirred with zest and juice from an unidentified small citrus fruit from Fantastic Gardens (it looked and tasted a bit like a ripe, small yellow lime), 5 whole tiny chive plants from Rogowski Farm, scissored from the bottom all the way into the green tops, and a little chopped tarragon from Stokes Farm, with cress from Max Creek Hatchery, dressed with good olive oil and more lemon/line juice, and some Grand Daisy Pugliese toasts on the side
  • the wine was a German (Pfalz) white, Becker Family Pinot Blanc, 2013, which Appellation Wines was kind enough to special order for us when we asked them to


Pigeon. These weren’t wood pigeons, which are smaller, leaner, tastier, but wild, and therefore cannot be sold inside the U.S., but these domestic squab were almost as delicious, and at least there were no worries about biting into shot.

  • 2 air-chilled California squab from D’Artagnan, via O. Ottomanelli & Sons Meat Market, seasoned with salt and pepper inside and out, cooked, breast side down, in rendered goose fat (gifted from our hosts the night before), turning a few times, until richly browned all over (about 12  minutes), before being transferred to a tin-lined copper au gratin pan, the cavities rubbed with 2 tablespoons of softened butter which had been mixed with 2 teaspoons of crushed juniper berries, each bird covered with a round of sliced guanciale (also from O. Ottomanelli & Sons), then surrounded in the pan by nearly a cup of seedless California white grapes from Whole Foods, placed in the upper third of a 450º oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until the thickest part of the thighs had been cooked to medium-rare, removed and let rest for about 5 minutes
  • Japanese sweet potatoes from Lani’s Farm, unpeeled, but washed thoroughly, cut as french fries, tossed in a bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper, than roasted above 400º in my trusty well-seasoned Pampered Chef unglazed ceramic oven pan for about 35-40 minutes
  • red collard greens from Tamarack Hollow Farm, cut in a rough chiffonade, then braised in a heavy pot in which one halved rocambole garlic head from Keith’s Farm had been allowed to sweat in some olive oil, the dish finished with salt, pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of juice from the same lemon/lime described above
  • the wine was an Italian (Sicily) white, Benanti Etna Rosso, Rosso di Verzella 2013, from Flatiron Wines & Spirits



If I retain any Christmas traditions from any of my past lives, struffoli is one of them, and it can always make me smile.

  • the struffoli was from Buon Italia
  • the music was a continuation of  WQXR‘s annual 10-day, year-end Bach Festival, streaming until midnight, New Years Eve

tons of oysters; followed by the simplest pasta of all


The meal was just about as simple as anything I’d ever served, although there was a certain amount of labor involved for both of us, in what I will call the process which brought it to the table.

The most fun of those labors brought Barry and I out of the rain yesterday, once again, for a journey to the Village rooftop where we met our contact, and shared a few oysters, beer, and wine.


Less fun, but with the pleasure and reward of work done well, was the job of opening the 4 dozen bivalves once we got home.

Enjoying them at leisure brought us back to the real fun.

  • a first course of 50 Rhode Island oysters from Walrus and Carpenters Oysters, served raw on the half shell over ice, accompanied only by two halves of one very small, exotic, not-very-acidic small citrus thingy from Fantastic Gardens of Long Island (the grower, Dave Tifford, has so far not been unable to identify it by name), which I had added to the place settings, mostly as a palate cleanser, since we generally prefer our oysters very straight


  • a second course of 8 ounces of Afeltra linguina, from Eataly, boiled, but only until pretty firmly al dente, then tossed in a bowl with a sauce made of 2 minced rocambole garlic cloves from Keith’s Farm, roughly chopped and half of one dried Itria-Sirissi chili (peperoncino di Sardegna intero) from Buon Italia cooked in three tablespoons of olive oil over low-to-medium heat for about 2 minutes, or until the garlic had barely begun to color
  • the wine was a wonderful French (Burgundy) white, Saint-Véran Domaine des Vielles Pierres, ‘Vielles Vignes’ 2013, from Flatiron Wines & Spirits
  • the music was from WQXR‘s annual 10-day, year-end Bach Festival, streaming

parslied cod; tomatoes with fresh garlic, thyme; kale, garlic


It worked so well the first time, I thought I’d do it again.

  • two thick 8.5-ounce rectangles cut from two cod fillets, from P.E. & D.D. Seafood, brought to room temperature, seasoned with salt on both sides, the top (the former skin side) brushed with a little French dijon mustard which had been mixed with a very small amount of water to make it easier to spread (onto that side alone), the two pieces dipped into a mixture of homemade breadcrumbs mixed with some finely-chopped parsley from Phillips Farm, browned briefly, but only on the side coated with the mustard and breadcrumb mix, in a little olive oil inside a tin-lined copper au gratin pan, transferred to a 325º oven and cooked until the fish began to flake (about 12 minutes this time, because the pieces were thick) [the recipe is based on Thomas Keller’s ‘Wild Cod en Persillade‘]
  • six Backyard Farms Maine ‘cocktail tomatoes’ from Whole Foods, halved, combined in a small ceramic baking dish with one sliced fresh green garlic from Lani’s Farm, a little olive oil, half of a teaspoon of chopped thyme from Hawthorne Valley Farm, salt, and freshly-ground black pepper, placed in the oven for about half of an hour (initially at 400º, the temperature reduced to 325º half of the way through, to accommodate the cod), removed, sprinkled with more thyme and some chopped parsley from Phillips Farm
  • red kale from Norwich Meadows Farm, wilted with olive oil in which thinly-sliced rocambole garlic from Keith’s Farm had been allowed to heat until pungent, seasoned with salt, pepper, a drizzle of fresh olive oil, and a sprinkling of organic lemon juice
  • the wine was a California (Clarksburg) white, Akiyoshi Reserve Chardonnay Clarksburg 2014
  • the music was a 1981 performance, in Leipzig, of Beethoven’s ‘Fidelio’, with Kurt Masur, Theo Adam, Siegfried Jerusalem, Carola Nossek, Jeanine Altmeyer, and the Gewandhausorchester

flattened quail, chilies, thyme; roasted carrots, parsley; kale


It must be winter: we’re now visiting the game pages. In reality, if we live in the U.S., it’s very unlikely that any of us is going to find real game on our tables, either at home or in restaurants, as I learned some time ago, and have complained about ever since – to perennially indifferent wind, but sometimes we can get pretty close to the real thing. Quail presents one of those opportunities, and it never fails to reward the resourceful stalker.

In fact, quail are grown domestically, and the plump little birds aren’t really that hard to find, at least in New York. I’ve seen them at Citarella, and at Eataly, which is only 2 blocks away, but I usually pick them up at Ottomanelli Brothers, on Bleecker Street, because I love those guys so much.

They are also just about the easiest fowl, domestic or wild, to prepare, at least if you go about it the way I usually do, using a terrific recipe from a book with the perfectly-descriptive title, “Italian Two Easy: Simple Recipes from the London River Cafe“.  Unfortunately I learned just this week that the book, together with its two companion volumes by the same authors, is now out of print.  I’m hoping that this terrible error will soon be corrected.  These 3 books are my favorite go-to cooking guides and inspiration, and have been for years.

I’ve prepared quail in this simple way at least half a dozen times.  The recipe, like almost every one by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers that I’ve tried, is absolute perfection, and, yes, very ‘easy’.

  • four partially-boned (what a treat!) Plantation Quail, from Greensboro, Georgia, purchased at O. Ottomanelli & Sons Prime Meat Market on Bleecker Street, dried on paper towels and rubbed with sea salt and most of one crumbled dried peperoncino from Buon Italia, placed breast side down over medium-high heat on a two-burner cast iron ribbed pan, several sprigs of fresh thyme from Hawthorne Valley Farm scattered over each, grilled for about 5 minutes, turned, seeing that they were now resting on top of the thyme, grilled for another 5 minutes, served with a drizzle of olive oil and juice from a tiny very beautiful not-yet-identified chartreuse-colored citrus fruit (tasting like a combination of lemon and lime) from Fantastic Gardens of New Jersey
  • three different kinds and colors of small carrots from Alewife Farm, simply scrubbed, then rolled in olive oil, salt, and ground pepper on a small ceramic oven pan, roasted at 400º for about half an hour, or until tender, sprinkled with chopped parsley from Phillips Farm
  • red kale from Norwich Meadows Farm, wilted with olive oil in which thinly-sliced rocambole garlic from Keith’s Farm had been allowed to heat until pungent, seasoned with salt, pepper, a drizzle of fresh olive oil, and a sprinkling of organic lemon juice
  • the wine was a California (Mendocino) red, Parducci’s True Grit Reserve Petit Sirah 2013, from Chelsea Wine Vault
  • the music we enjoyed toward the end of the meal – and beyond – was Strauss’ Four Last Songs, streamed by WQXR at the very end of its 27-hour marathon memorializing Kurt Masur, who died on December 19; the recording was this 1983 extraordinary performance by Jesse Norman, with Masur conducting the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra

‘midnight pasta’ (here, garlic/anchovy/capers/chili/parsley)


Demonstrating one again the importance of the emergency pasta, ‘spaghettata di mezzanotte‘, or bachelor’s salvation, even for non-bachelors, I put this together last night on the evening of my own (pretty-special-number) birthday, when we were unable to plan for a more serious entrée, both because of our schedule and an unanticipated cancellation.

It was as delicious as always.


  • approximately 10 ounces of Afeltra linguine, from Eataly, boiled, but only until pretty firmly al dente, tossed inside the same pot in which it had cooked, with a sauce made of 4 plump rocambole garlic cloves from Keith’s Farm, roughly chopped, cooked in about a third of a cup of olive oil over low-medium heat until softened and beginning to brown, 3 salted anchovies, well-rinsed, added to the pan and mashed with a wooden spoon, as well as half of one dried Itria-Sirissi chili (peperoncino di Sardegna intero) from Buon Italia, several tablespoons of chopped parsley from Paffenroth Farms, and a little of the reserved pasta water, all simmered for a few minutes while the sauce was both emulsified and slightly reduced, the entire mix distributed in two bowls and sprinkled with another few tablespoons of parsley
  • the wine was an Italian (Tuscan) white, Vernaccia di San Gimignano D.O.C.G. 2014
  • the music was streamed from the WKCR classical Kurt Masur marathon, celebrating the recordings of the great German conductor, who had died in Connecticut earlier in the day (the marathon continues until midnight on Sunday)