Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My St. Valentine's Day gift to you.

Truffle French Fries (as hacked from the menu at the Culver Hotel)

2½ lb Yukon Gold potatoes (+/- 6 medium, and yes, it must be Yukon Gold, this recipe will not work otherwise), scrubbed & dried and cut into ¼" x ¼" sticks
6 c. peanut oil or "pure" (i.e., NON Extra Virgin) olive oil
6 large basil leaves, minced as finely as your patience will allow (flat-leaf parsley is OK too)
¼ c. truffle oil (take it easy, this stuff is strong)
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated finely with a rasp-style grater
Sea salt

1. Combine potatoes and room temperature -- no, I am not crazy -- oil in large (it MUST be twice as big as the volume of oil, you do not want to have hot oil boiling over) nonstick stockpot or Dutch oven. Cook, over high heat, until oil has reached rolling boil, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook, without stirring, until potatoes are limp but exteriors are beginning to firm, about 15 minutes

2. Using tongs, stir potatoes, gently scraping up any that stick to the pot, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp. (Start looking at them around the 5 minute mark, but don't let them go longer than 10 minutes. Using skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer fries to thick paper bag or paper towels. Season with truffle oil, and toss, then season with salt, basil and Parm, serve immediately with aioli, and jalapeño ketchup.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Coffee is God's way of apologizing for mornings

When it comes to coffee (and by coffee, I mean espresso) I like doing that whole-bean grind-it-yourself trip. Once you do it (and do it right, which takes some fussing around) there's simply no going back to preground coffee. The next step in the slippery slope -- he said merrily mixing his metaphors -- is seeking out varietals and estate coffees, etc.

So, where could one find all these exotic coffees? There are specialty coffee stores (from Starbuck's on down), but those tend to be Not Recession Friendly. Specialty websites have slightly better prices but shipping costs will eat you alive. Supermarket prices are high and the coffees not quite best or most exotic.
I just tried "Kirkland Sumatra French Roast Whole Bean Coffee" which is a surprisingly bold, full-bodied coffee. I love its rich aroma, extra dark roast -- it says "French Roast" but it really is more like an espresso roast -- and mellow, earthy taste. What makes it particularly worthy of your attention is that it's both bolder AND less bitter, and the bitterness it does exhibit strikes the palate more as an element of great balance than as an "off-flavor."

The beans are a dark mahogany, glossy but not overly oily, and extracted shot has a beautiful "crema" and gorgeous mouthfeel. The caramel and earthy notes are wonderful and rich.

If you like darker, bolder coffees like Sumatran, you will find this a congenial candidate for your espresso machine.

Did I mention this thing costs just under $14 lb. for a THREE pound bag at Costco? Not $14/lb. $4.67/lb. Mind you, not every Costco carries this (you can always beg, wheedle and/or cajole) and in Miami only one of the 3 stores in my radius carries it. Some people are making a damned fine profit loading up at their local Costco and then reselling this online, because even at twice the price, it's still a great bargain.

But don't do that. Buy it at your local Costco and save a huge bundle.


Saturday, February 05, 2011

Steal this wine.

Since Vinapedia is on something of a hiatus, here's a freebie review.

Garnet. Notes of blackberry liqueur (Chambord?) and blackcurrant supported by aromas of black pepper and herbes de Provence. The black fruit flavors are elegant and perfectly concentrated, with minerality, a bit of lavender and that smolder-y grill-y kind of smoky thing. It gets richer with "breathing time" too.


Goes great with none-too-saucy grilled steaks or lamb chops.

Seriously, steal this wine.


P.S. Did I mention it's only FOURTEEN DOLLARS?

Friday, February 04, 2011

Joining the dark side.

I have relented and purchased an Apple product. It's the cheapest possible iPod touch, bought at Very Big Warehouse Club Chain. And there's only one reason why I bought it, and that's because of two "apps."

I guess that's two reasons. You get the idea.

The first is Beachbum Berry's Tiki+ app. which puts almost all of his recipes into a package smaller than his four books. So that's pretty cool. Even though I already had those, I still felt compelled to drain $4.99 from my coffers. BBB is worth his own post at a later date.

The second app -- and a freebie at that -- is Alan Flusser's "Bespeak" which is really, really cool if you are a civilized gentleman who takes some measure of pride in dressing well.There are a few niggles* with the app, but given that IT'S FREE, these are really not material concerns. The way it works is like this:

You set up a profile for yourself, whereby you enter your hair color, skin tone, eye color, facial and bodily shape.

The app then suggests possible outfits. If you're one of those averse to the sophisticated matching of patterns, this will take some getting used to. You've been warned.

You can scroll through the near infinite assortment of outfits, or you can pick one (or more) elements of a given outfit and modify it at will and the app will tell you how well it works with your profile and with the rest of the ensemble. Pretty neat.

* Every once in a while it gets "stuck" and it winds up suggesting the same, say, necktie over and over and over and over again... Also, it doesn't provide options for sports jackets, blazers, bow ties, etc.; and the resolution could be a little bit higher, but did I mention IT'S FREE?