Search around, let simmer...

Thursday, January 17, 2013


It's happening!
A switch, a swap, a transformation, a flip-flop
My blog is moving! Packing up its things, sweeping up shop, and changing.
Like me?
Oh the sentimentality...

I've come to change my diet, my life views, and my needs - This blog no longer really conforms, in spirit, to what I need it to. Still will I showcase by breads, bakes, thoughts and tribulations - just equal parts ethereal and epicurean.

Heres the address:

Friday, January 11, 2013

Soup For the Running Soul...

But no chicken to be had.
No, I had a long joyous run which went bad and decided an earthier fare would sooth my injured ego. Two birds with one stone, as it were, a Mushroom soup I had hoped to make - more than food but an outlet.

Oh, get to the point already!
Right, right; apologies. The show I watch as I write on Amazon Prime, "The Trip" is a rambling, comedic, attention-demanding romp through some of my favorite things: fine food and British comedy. Ironically, the food they eat bears no resemblance to the stereotypical bad-british-food-phenomenon.
But to each their own I suppose... Again, I digress.

Cookies, Books, and tea... they do these things to me...

I had hoped to recreate the tremendous Mushroom soup I adored at the wonderful Chaiwalla, free of cream and pretenses. It was a simply soothing, smoothly hearty, earthy amuse bouche which demanded a return.
It was a marvelous thing, served beside a sweetly chewy, apple-studded muffin; pure umami with a drizzle of rich and smooth olive oil juxtaposed with sweet spicy bread.
These are a few of my favorite things...

But here is my adaptation: The elixer of the gods.
Simple Portabella Soup

  • 2 pints Baby-Bella caps, washed gingerly
  • 3 sprigs of Thyme, leaves removed and stems discarded
Simply chop the mushrooms roughly and combine with Thyme leaves. Sprinkle with Cracked pepper as you like.
  • 2 stalks Celery, diced
  • 1/2 onion - Vidalia or Red but never white, you know... diced
  • 1 tbsp good EVOO and 1 tbsp unsalted butter or so
  • several sage leaves, torn small or diced up
Fun with Photoshop...
Sautee the celery, onion, sage, and oils until onions are translucent but not quite carmelized. Set aside
Begin to sautee the mushrooms in the now-empty pot you are left with and add...

  • a splash or about 2 tbsp of Red wine and a drizzle of honey.
Simmer the concoction stirring periodically. As the mushrooms cook down, reaching about a half of their original volume, add in the reserved onions and celery from before. Simmer again for a few moments, stirring as you so like.
  • a stifled teaspoon of vegetable bouillon (I like the jarred variety) and about a cup of water - warm or hot if you would.
incorporating these final ingredients, simmer for ten or so minutes, stirring again as you so wish. (Enjoy the aroma - it's key - and in respect for the Mushroom soup harbinger Chaiwalla, brew a cup o' tea, perhaps.)
Reduce heat and apply your preferred blending machinery: I very much like my Immersion Blender but a good stand blender or food mill will do wonders. Be careful to however not puree the soup into a paste: it should retain a thick porridge-like roughness but not full pieces of vegetable.

I Swear, plated it looks better and tastes still greater...

Perhaps Honey-Buttermilk beauties...
Serve with a crusty bread, sweet baked good like scones or muffins, and that cup of tea.
You might add a few slices of avocado or perhaps a nice tart apple. I do love that salty-savory-sweet triumvirate. 

As always: 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

As Time Goes By...

And not without remorse.
It's the holiday season, after all.

Is this it, getting older? Twenties only shortly underway and still I find myself with too little time to do the things I love - cook, blog, more than anything eat.
Pie, to carry the season with you
 Well, I find myself in quite a new place. Both my milieu newly discovered and sense of self lost but found and life is born anew like a rising sun across the snowy plains of a lazy January.
I, slave to its Honey-Whole wheat
Maybe more like the crusty bread of this tiny oven, spending my time to bake its wares.
Enough of the niceties: ever since Thanksgiving all I've wanted is to cook, serve, prepare, concoct. My battle with food rages on, appreciated but still unhealthy but at the end of this snowy day, I still stand.
College has been rough and I've begun to question just exactly what I'm waiting for - a college diploma in biochemistry or something more? I dream in the sensory and live too cerebrally but perhaps I'm just yet to stitch the two together.
Damn Straight?
But this ain't Christmastime in the city
I sit here on my couch, enjoying the scent of a rather experimental batch of sweet and salty, toasted-nut chocolate chip cookies. Sprinkled with Rye, sweetened with Maple, spiked with Bitters. What will become of them beside a dessert assuming I don't burn the second batch for writing?
Ah, Safe and Sound
And Still...I love it, This Homemade Cioppino
I cannot say but I trust they will be more than their parts. Maybe like my time in college, however uncertain it comes to be spent. Life at Umass is a step in the diaganol. Ahead is a similar path, behind old friends dearly missed but beside me still. The food is good at least! Never before have I read the word salmon unenthusiastically - a man can eat fish however delicious and novel so many days per week!
Holy Mackerel, talk about First World Problems.

I digress. I've come to bake up a storm in this snowy abode I find myself in. It and the woods I've explored isolating and insulating it have been my greatest medication - more euphoric than the runs I take or the little pills I curse still.

Well to get on with things - I really have been neglecting this blog now for some months, but I hope to change that in 2013!
To bluntly display my past few months pictorally - that will just have to do!

Cheesecake - no, not for me - thanks to Southern Living
Chard-Stuffed Haddock - yes Love it

But ok, ok, some of my favorite newly-discovered restaurants, a la carte...
The very best tea and flavors left to brew... Chaiwalla in Salisbury CT
Sandwiches, Soups, hot drinks too... Juice n' Java, Dalton MA
Hometown feel for a steal (alliterations, oh me, alas...) Martin's of Great Barrington
Bistro fare a la American - the pseudo-upscale affair? Firefly, Lenox Ma
Baked, not half, and bread to share? Pleased to meet you: Our Daily Bread, Chatham NY
Pub styling, tavern fare, rustic feel, unexpected dinner fare? At Old Forge, Lanesboro Ma
Last, never least... and Mind you, there is evermore yet to discover I'm sure
Hitchinpost Cafe, an unexpected in the unassuming - greatness in the middle of nowhere: New Lebanon NY

Now I'll be on my way, explore new flavors, and yourself.
May you find glut-enous peace
& Nature... ...
Just Enjoi!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bread and Bread Alone...

Will set you free...
Well, perhaps not and that's too cliche.
It can be truly the finest point of any great dining establishment, however. Perhaps that is a rather bold statement, but it is in my opinion the bread at a restaurant and especially at a cafe marks an attendance to the simple yet overlooked points of a meal. Yes, not every meal need be preceded by a basket of bread but every sandwich should be stuffed between only the finest such stuff. Bread is not only a thing seldom and difficultly mastered, it is also a very straight-forward way of playing to the simplest of human sustenance. Bread is the basis for all other culinary creation, in my opinion and should be honored as such.

So in a cafe where great bread and good prices come together, a town called Northampton Massachusetts emerges.

Woodstar Cafe in NoHo is a place of balance. Their sandwiches are masterful and fresh, with a crunch coming not just from perfectly baked bread but from fresh ingredients within. The Sandwich titled "Emily's Favorite" is an ode to the potential stored within tofu and a fine multigrain loaf. It's big and satisfying.
Smoked Tofu at its very finest. Pass it for meat? One could but why bother?
The sandwich my dining companion enjoyed during my recent visit, The Berkshire, was a delight. With perfectly balanced pesto, roasted tomatoes, and chicken - yes chicken is growing on me, I'm sad to say - it was a fine approach to a seemingly simple sandwich. The rustic sourdough loaf was chewy and, well, sour as it should be.

Later in the day, stepping in for a brief snack before leaving, the cupcakes: one chocolate with buttercream raspberry frosting and all vegan - the other crumbly but deeply flavored lavender and pistachio with a light cream cheese frosting, were purely delighting.
Cupcakes: Little bundles of joy! Yes, even a blessing...

The tea selection was long and very well priced. Yellow tea. Yellow tea? I hardly ever see the newly-popularizing tea here.
I'm going back. I may just gain weight but I don't mind.

Woodstar Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 3, 2012

Summer's Ends...

Tied up in a week of hustle, bustle, excitement, and anxieties. Yes, college has again become us. Moving into a new school and things have been rough to say the least, but not so much here as in my life more broadly. All things considered, food has however again become an enjoyable thing. I'd rather not delve into the nature of that beast but let me just say it lost its taste for some time there...

Ending my summer vacation with a wonderful few days in Cape Cod, sampling seafood and generally delicious fare, I relaxed for the first time in what has felt a very long time. Now moving into the dorm-life again and that relaxed state has all but evaporated but nonetheless, food has been good. To taste again
To live again?

Before moving in I enjoyed a wonderful meal at the Sierra Grill in Northampton. It's a small upscale tavern modeled after the old-time Speakeasy of Prohibition. From the start, I enjoyed terrific service from attentive and friendly waiters. A wide array of local and imported alcohols prime the palate and an assortment of mussels, Tapas tasting plates, and appetizers warm the jowls.
I enjoyed two Empadillas - small puff pastry pockets filled with an herbed risotto it seemed. They were tasty but not the vegetable lined pockets I was hoping for. Followed by a delicious plate of my own creation, however, and the dinner resulted a tremendous success.

Earth in its many states...

The menu follows a make-your-own format, with an assortment of proteins to choose from; with choices like Tempeh, Mako Shark, Salmon, Duck, Steak... i chose the first and my company the grilled chicken. Next, choosing a sauce and two appetizers per plate; I found the Red-wine reduction a perfect compliment to the nutty Tempeh and hearty grilled vegetables with Roasted Asparagus. My fellow diner enjoyed her Peach Salsa (more of a chutney) but had wished it was a sauce as opposed to an accouterment as it was, relishing nevertheless the Cheddar mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables with which she was served.

Sit to brew, never to stew...

The space is dark but warm, welcoming, and reasonably priced considering the service, location, and quality of the ingredients. I shall return!

Sierra Grille on Urbanspoon

Enjoying a breakfast after that last supper at the Wheatberry Cafe in Amherst center, I can safely say Farm-To-Table is a successfully growing movement. The breakfasts we enjoyed were small and somewhat expensive but fresh and delicious. Sadly, don't expect much from the tea...
Tasty but on it's way to striking a successful balance, I am sad to say. Nonetheless, try the tartine if you happen to find your breakfast bells tolling.

Wheatberry Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Finally, with a relaxing afternoon on the land, friends and i visited the Montague Book Mill and the Lady Killigrew Cafe. With a used books store, used music shop, and a beautiful gallery, the setting is ripe for a good time. I'd love to try the Night Kitchen for supper some time, but what's the rush? with a lovely afternoon to enjoy like I had there, life shouldn't be rushed...
I'm kidding, really. I can't wait to go back.

A Menu to Sip, a thought at a time...

The sandwiches are delectable, the Thai noodle bowl of some serious heft in flavor and mass, and the bread boards inspiring. I enjoyed a taste of a wonderful No.1 - Brie and Apples between sourdough as well as a sweet and savory Peanut noodle bowl. The bread board my companions shared with me was served with a spread of light and flavorful curried chicken "pate," Granny Smith apple, and nutty Cheddar slices.

 Noodles, to wind their way through the hours...

Delicious Sandwiches, A good selection of teas, terrific bread boards to share, and a view to digest slowly, as the lazy afternoon sinks. It's a place to inspire new imaginations, not just their workings. Books to read, the rushing water to hear, art to appreciate, and music to set the mind at ease. It's a place to find love, not just to love in itself.

 Sweet and savory, like the passage of good time...

You can't be disappointed.

Lady Killigrew on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Westward Ho...

And On I go to another year of school; this time around it will be in Western Massachusetts as opposed to the Hudson Valley. Leaving Poughkeepsie behind is hard - leaving anyplace with roots is hard and so should it be. Settling in to a new school in Amherst won't be easy, but I am excited, somewhere deep down there.

Exploring my year and life to come, my mother and I decided to do some exploration of the Berkshires beyond the confines of my campus-to-be and discovered some good eats. Be it breakfast, lunch, dinner, or brunch the western hills of Massachusetts you seek, find it you will.
I did and I seriously doubt I have the force on my side...

Not all of the deserving restaurants I visited are here but be assured, in time they too will receive the credit they deserve! In order of my dining however, here are some of my favorites thus far...

 Beginning with delicious Kale and Sweet Potato Risotto cakes...

My Tofu Kabobs were quintessential Umami and my mother's shrimp stirfry like Hibachi from heaven...
Paul & Elizabeth's on Urbanspoon

For breakfast the following morning, we dined at the Amanouz Cafe. I enjoyed what may have been the best omelette ever to cross my plate... With an extensive menu served breakfast, lunch, and dinner; with vegetarian, meat-feeding, and light snacking dishes, you can't go wrong.
 Moroccan spices, Turnip Greens, Salty brined Feta, and look at that sweet roll...Mmmmm
Amanouz Cafe on Urbanspoon

Dinner that day rounded things out with an artfully spin Pizza Pie. Marigold Cafe in Bennington, Vermont offers locally sourced and creatively crafted pizza at great prices. Huge and delicious salads too!
 Our Tremendous pie of Mozzarella, Feta, Parmesean, Artichoke, Eggplant, and Fresh Basil...
 Small, unassuming: just how I like my local cafes.
Marigold Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Lunch just prior to returning home was enjoyed at Hope and Olive where possibly the best brunch of my life was devoured. It's a farm-to-table restaurant, with great music, artwork - ambiance in a word. With food to match, I couldn't ask for any more.
 Simple shortbread and lemon curd to fire up the old jowls...
 All to savor the magical experience which was my Huevos Rancheros...
For my mother, her vegetable panini which I gather was delicious as I wasn't able to sample it...
And there in the background: an amazing "Porch Swinger" 'boozless' cocktail...

Hope & Olive on Urbanspoon
Wow, when can I eat there again... Any and every meal. Please...
Please soon...

Further, we enjoyed sandwiches simple but satisfying at cafe Lickety Split Mass MoCa; a colossal oatmeal scotchie at the uncompromisingly compact Elmers Store; supper at the sedate but inspired (and inspiring I might say) Old Heritage tavern.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Midsummer...

Evening (and night's) meal. Yup, just a brief check-in. Food has been very good this July, so i'd jsut like to share a few notable dishes.

Just today I threw together a simple batch of baked Kale Falafel with a simple salad, Raita yogurt sauce, and a multigrain cous-cous of quinoa and brown rice. It was light and still filling for a pleasant summer dinner.

Falafal, nestled there like " 8 pounds 6 ounces... new born infant jesus ..." to quote a lingual giant.

And this past wednesday, I visited Happy's Bar and Kitchen in Fenway. It isn't a small space by any means, with tall ceilings and a wide bar space followed by a spacious dining room and attractive open kitchen. I appreciated the vintage look combined with a more modern shaggy-chic style and wide menu. They offered several pescetarian-friendly selections (such as my Veggie Dagwood below) as well as specials that may or may not fit the bill. Leading with deliciously chewy italian sourdough, my father enjoyed his omlette (a rotating daily special) and I my sandwich. I loved the hearty dense sandwich bread which could only be described as quintessential wheat sandwich loaf and even the fries - a delicacy I seldom sample even when good.

Oh, Sammy...

Prices were a bit high at times but certainly not any higher than comparable restaurants in the neighborhood and with ingredients of higher than many in the area.

I'd go. Be happy to.

Happy's Bar and Kitchen on Urbanspoon