Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Involtini Redux

Okay, I showed you the hotel hangover version of the eggplant involtini in its sad little tray. This is what it looks like on a nice Fishs Eddy plate when you make it at home. Extremely easy and your kitchen will smell great when it's done.

If I haven't sent you the recipe (which I borrowed from Grappolo---come on it wasn't that complicated) let me know.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fishs Eddy

My most favorite store in New York City is Fishs Eddy---even more than the cheese counter at Dean & DeLuca which is pretty close by. It's impossible to describe what Fishs Eddy is an a few words. Let's just say it's full of very cool stuff.

Do you remember the days when airlines served you real hot food in economy with actual metal flat ware? I was able to find these trays and spoons from those days at Fishs. The trays are old United Airlines and the spoons are National Airlines.

National Airlines was the first company to fly commercial jets in the USA (707s) in 1958 and then they were taken over by Pan Am in 1980. But this cool stuff is still out there. I guess Fishs no longer has the forks but the spoons were only 99 cents each.

www.fishseddy.com Go do some fishing for some pretty neat stuff.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Santa Ynez Pt 2

It's impossible to drive around this area without being reminded of the film "Sideways". As you drive into Solvang from 101 you pass by the Hitching Post, Ostrich Land and so on. Even if you are a fan it becomes like that song you keep hearing in your head over and over. But I was still surprised when I noticed that the elevator call buttons at my hotel were arranged so you could actually go sideways.

Santa Ynez Valley Pt 1

Pierino is just back from a two day trip to Santa Barbara and Solvang. The drive up Hwy 101 is his favorite in California.

If you hit it on the right day at the right time of day it can leave you breathless. Late afternoon is usually best. Something about the light. One thing I love about this trip is the sudden and dramatic change of terrain from Southern California to Central California. When you pop out of the Gaviota tunnel going northbound you are instantly in Central California. There's something special about those green hills populated with oaks and cows and the occasional vineyard.

You may already know that Solvang is this ultra kitsch "Scandinavian Village" but hey, that's where the hotels are (unless you want to stay in that windmill shaped Days Inn in Buellton which Miles and Jack occupied in "Sideways.)

Dining can be a problem. I decided to drive up to Santa Ynez to have dinner at Grappolo. The food is good and as a bonus the parking lot had a perfect view of the lunar eclipse. The chef as well his customers kept running outside and back in as the eclipse progressed.

Pierino ordered the involtini of eggplant filled with capellini pasta, smoked mozzarella and basil which was baked in the oven. We're going to try that one at home.

The picture of a food like substance at the top is what that involtini look's like in a hotel room in the morning. It's not a tray of enchiladas although it looks like one. I'm thinking a magazine food stylist could substitute a plate of enchiladas for a photo shoot.

More soon...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sotto cieli di Roma...

Roma 2 Real Madrid 1


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Oh, GROW up!

"E balla, e balla, balla,

Ca chi fatica...nun s'a joca a palle!"

"Piazza Dante"---Spaccanopoli

Pierino believes in neighbors and community business, especially those shops that reach to a certain excellence. Yesterday Pierino visited Grow in Manhattan Beach where his friend Josh Harrison threatened him with a mango grenade. "Josh, you did leave the pin in that thing didn't you?"

But seriously, we go to Grow for the best produce in town, and especially the best fruits and cheeses. We especially like the citrus fruits. Josh really knows his stuff. Pierino purchased some delicious "cara cara" oranges, which if I got it right are an orange and grapefruit cross. Josh will crush my head if I'm wrong on that.
Oh, and Grow is one of the few places in the 'hood that stocks cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery. Love that "Mt. Tam" and that "Red Hawk."

So, go to Grow: 1830 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

If you can't go to Grow, be sure to go to the local markets where they sell REAL food. Eat with your heart on your sleeve and a mango in your hand.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"Yes, you're lovely, with your smile so warm
And your cheeks so soft
There is nothing for me but to love you
And the way you look tonight"
---Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields (1936)

It's the eve of Valentine's and Pierino is stuck in a crappy hotel room some place you never want to visit. Let's just say that the taps are backward: hot water on the right, cold on the left.

But it doesn't stop him from thinking about Valentine's day and taking inventory for tomorrow:

Cubic zirconia cut and fancily placed in a setting by the finest gypsy diamond cutter in Slovenia

That awesome cake ordered from Charm City Cakes in Baltimore, designed by Duff Goldman

Barry White, "Never, Never Gonna Give You Up"

"Roman Holiday" DVD

But what to offer from the kitchen?

Your guide through Purgatory is not much into Chocolate (especially Devil's Food)...But he does like chopped chicken liver (yes, really)

Caviar from Tsar Nicolai, harvested from Sacramento River sturgeon

A dozen or so oysters with mignionette (no bloody cocktail sauce)

Lobster of course

..and maybe some nice little yellow strawberries from up in Paso Robles

What are you doing for Valentine's Day? What do you crave.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Still seeking?

Looking for your part in Purgatory? It appears that Vons is casting.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Barley, arugula and meyer lemon

"Look out kids,
it's somethin' you did.
God knows when but you're doin' it again."
That's why you are in Purgatory.

Meyer lemons are back with us---that perfect combination of sweet and tart flavors.

Try this salad: cook some pearl barley according to package instructions. Meanwhile wash and spin some arugula in your spinner. Make your favorite vinegarette (basically 1/2 cup olive to 1/4 vinegar, and mustard to emulsify). To this you can add the fresh squeezed juice of a couple of meyer lemons (more on that later).

To the dressing whisk in some fresh thyme.


I recently found this delicious meyer lemon preserve but I can't remember where. Anyway it's made for www.restaurantlulu.com It's pretty bitchin'. Substitute the preserve for the fresh juice.

Mix your dressing with the barley by hand (wash your hand first). Add some chopped green onions and you will having something really good on your hands (apart from salad dressing)

Turn this mixture over your washed and drained arugula.

And if you eat enough barley you won't need Quaker Oats in the morning. It's win-win all the way.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Welcome to Purgatory

Why this blog? In the words of the poet, "I've got a head full of ideas that are driving me insane."

Look for my thoughts (such as they are) on travel, food, what I'm cooking and why Rachael Ray should be sent to Guantanamo ASAP.

Also you might catch some AS Roma match results here.

Purgatory is kind of an interesting place. It's like having a foot on either side of the state line. Pope Benedict XVI recently abolished limbo so all those pagan babies are going to be flying around some place. I probably have a few in my kitchen.

I read, I travel and I eat. And on that path I meet some really great people in unlikely places. So, look for me. I'll be the guy having dinner at the restaurant bar, reading a book. I once met Steve Henson, the inventor of 'ranch dressing' and his wife in the Viking Room in Solvang. Alas, all you "Sideways" fans the Vike is now closed.

Along the road I've met cooks, poets, fellow travelers and insaniacs. My ambition is to cook an entire three course meal inside a hotel room. I have a plan.

Hopefully you will enjoy purgatory. Not such a bad place. Downstairs I thought I saw Charlie Trotter frozen into an ice lake next to Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White.

The only reason to go upstairs is because I hear Keller cooks up there.

So, stay with me and we'll dine well...