Plan ahead! Not long after I began this blog in 2006, I wrote about and made aged eggnog upon reading about it at CHOW. Two years later Donna photographed it. A year after that, we finished the batch. It was a little funky and that was part of its deliciousness. I’m writing about it now so that you can, if you plan ahead, make it this weekend or next, for this holiday season, and the next, and, if you have the discipline, for December 2015. It needs at least 30 days for the aged flavor and for the alcohol to take care of any bacteria. After that it will keep for a long long time. Jonathon Sawyer liked it so much he began experimenting with different whiskeys. Last one I tried he’d use Oban, an excellent Read On »

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Christoph Wiesner, the Austrian butcher who raises Mangalitsa, is always tense before the kill. Last year, he told me, yes, he was nervous because it wasn’t his pig, the pig didn’t know him, he couldn’t know what the pig would do. Under normal circumstances the pigs have spent their lives with him and the week before they are done in, he brings the captive bolt, the stunning device, into pens so the pigs are used to even that. The pigs are calm throughout. This year, at Pigstock in Traverse City, MI, Christoph was not only unfamiliar to the pig, he was miked so that his every word echoed through speakers. Furthermore our crowd gathered around to witness the kill. Our Mangalitsa was clearly thinking “This can’t be good.” But it was over quickly (the full video is at the end Read On »

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  My friends Stephanie Stiavetti, who writes  The Culinary Life blog, and Garrett McCord, who writes the blog Vanilla Garlic, are publishing their very first book, Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, on that all-but-infallible pairing of pasta and cheese. When they asked me to write the foreword, I groaned. This is exactly the kind of cookbook we don’t need more of, I thought to myself. But then I read it, and thought this is exactly the kind of cookbook we need, this nation that has so readily accepted orange flavoring packets to stir into their food. Stephanie and Garrett attempt to raise this often thoughtlessly prepared dish to its highest possible level by asking us to take more care with it, to use excellent pasta and excellent cheese. This is not only a book filled with Read On »

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Casting about for a cocktail high in bitters to make use of some of my own personal blend, and one with gin, because that’s what the evening wanted, I happened on this distinctive cocktail, so high in bitters it can clearly fill in for a post-prandial digestif. It was created by Don Lee several years ago at Ssäm Bar in NYC, inspired by Chef Wylie Dufresne, and named for that chef’s daughter. Served to the writer Brad Parsons, it wound up in Parsons’s bitters book. I love bitters for the complexity they bring to a drink, this one very much in the sour category with its dose of fresh lime juice. It’s become one of my favorite cocktails. If you don’t have citrus bitters (or your own bitters), use what’s on hand. This can be mixed Read On »

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Wrapping up three great days of Pigstock in Traverse City, MI, and I’ll write more about it, but had to quickly share the astonishing differences in breeds of hogs, and most important, the difference between a factory-farmed pig and a properly raised pig. Above Brian Polcyn shows four different breeds. On the left is the belly of a factory-farmed pig, breed not known. Notice how diminutive it is, how little fat is on that loin, which I guarantee tastes like cardboard when cooked. Compare it to the one he’s holding up, a farm-raised Berkshire-Duroc mix. When you buy the one on the left, not only will it not be a pleasure to cook and eat, you have cast a vote for more just like it. When you buy a belly from a farm-raised Berkshire, you Read On »

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