31.12.12

huddle.

A brief scratchpad interlude for reconfiguring part two of the week's menu.

+++

We had a crazy, 114-item shopping list that three of us executed to near perfection back in Amsterdam.  The one or two things we missed have resulted in a menu change or two: there are no French green lentils to be had in our tiny village, thus Wednesday's pumpkin/lentil/goat cheese salad is becoming something else involving the following ingredients that are available:

pumpkin
wild rice
apples
hazelnuts?
thyme
cranberry
orange?
roasted shallots
maple syrup

+++


welkom in oerd.























Sunday: blueberry-buttermilk pancakes; the sauna; the punishing answer to the question "what's the weather like on the other side of the island?"; beers or hot chocomel/vodka and bitterballen in our protective bunker; maple-soy salmon with roasted scallions and mustard mash + sesame spinach + this lovely salad dressing pilfered/adapted from M-Stew at a desperate last moment + treacle puddings; White Gingers, Maple Leafs, and the soaring/plummeting fortunes of Texas Hold'em for real money. Assi won. Today: my first time driving Oerd the Stoner Van and possibly untold amounts of New Year's Eve pleasure.







29.12.12

kloosterkaas.


















Saturday: assorted wanderings and a trip into town to pick up seafood; Buck Rogers; brutal and delicious gin cocktails which I will find out the name of shortly (they were called White Gingers: pear-ginger mixer with lemon juice and a bunch of gin); smoked cloister cheese (made by, yes, smoked nuns) or Kalles kaviar on various substances; local cockles roasted in pale ale, garlic, and rosemary; sea scallops in pernod, fresh corn and tarragon cream with parsnip mash; seemingly life-threatening fullness; a postponed dessert; various games of skill and/or chance; early bed.









getting to tieuwen.





















Friday night: cava; salmon rilettes; kale, caramelized onion, Frank's smoked gruyere frittata (with a teeny bit of roquefort and nutmeg); 101 Cookbooks' surprisingly great apple, rosemary and hazelnut salad. KH-DG-HBF brownies with technically optional but highly, highly recommended salted caramel; Texas Hold'em; Kentucky Vintage bourbon.

Everything was totally worth repeating, some of it immediately.













28.12.12

snackbar corral.


















This post was started a loooong time ago, I'm just putting it up here now to remind me force myself to finish it. It's eventually going to be fantastic, truss me.

+++

I've been very, very slowly conducting an Amsterdam shoarma/shawarma/doner/döner taste test. Like over the last eight years. Here's the data I've collected to date.

1) It's a challenge to take an appetizing photo of either of these sandwiches. This is a döner from Sphinx after riding around in my bag for an hour or so.



2) Like any classic sandwichy object, there is an art to putting these things together properly, and 97% of Amsterdam snackbars just don't give a shit, because they don't have to. Or at least 97% of the Amsterdam snackbars I've been to don't give a shit, which is probably about 2% of the snackbars in Amsterdam, so yes I can see how it could be that this is a sweeping, unfounded generalization.

And yet!!! I know it's true. I would wager that if you randomly tested Amsterdam snackbars for sandwich-construction shitgiving, you'd find yourself coming to a similar conclusion.

3) On a heartening note: most of the time you find yourself eating shoarma or döner, you yourself are not giving much of a shit about sandwich construction either. It's usually somewhere between 1 and 4 in the morning, and you are probably looking about as disheveled as your sandwich and tasting way less good if we decide to continue that metaphor/simile.

4) There are places that do care about one or more facets of sandwich-making, and these finer establishments have risen to the top of my "I would consider biking an extra 10 minutes to eat their shoarma rather than tolerate the default non-shit-giving place on the corner" list.

Ali Baba.
Mesut.
Sphinx.

More detail eventually.

++

Unrelatedly: Marqt on the Haarlemmerstrat opened, must say it's not very interesting at all. Half Natuurwinkel, half Jumbo, plus a nice cheese counter and some interesting shellfish. Otherwise, nothing to get excited about.

+++

25.12.12

let it blow.

Woke up sick today, one of those fluey things where, if you don't get them very often and you have my lifestyle, it can take a couple hours to figure out exactly why you feel so fucked up. I puttered around the house for a couple hours trying to have a slow xmas morning of coffee and cleaning, but started feeling worse and worse and by 1pm my calves, hipbones, and eyes were are all throbbing at the same time. By 1:04 I was on the couch under a pile of cats and blankets and haven't moved since.

An unfortunate side effect of this is that I have watched a LOT of TV, and boy....people making TV stuff these days aren't really trying very hard, are they. It's really horrible.

OK, bye.

+++

19.12.12

bootay.

















Realizing I haven't written much lately, and yes I now see that it feels foreign and uncomfortable, like relearning an instrument you never really knew all that well in the first place.

It is not helping at all that my wonderful new computer seems to have grown cold and resistant to my tender, loving keystrokes: I now have to type extra hard to get that bitch to feel anything at all in order to spell with any accuracy (see that edgy faux-misogynist humor there? if you know me you know how much of a joke that is, if not, you'll just have to trust me, though I must say this here guilty compulsion to explain or preemptively defend myself really makes me seem a bit suspicious doesn't it, plus it totally vanillaizes whatever gritty, unpleasant morsel of humor that might have been there in the first place...ok, yes, great work, back to the sentence in progress), and my hands seem to be getting less instead of more accustomed to the keyboard's off-center alignment. I feel (and seem) a bit more retarded than usual is what I'm saying.

This typing extra hard is the most annoying part, because my computing now sounds like that of a dear old friend of mine who has mannnnny quirks that annoy and endear in nearly equal measure, one of the more annoying being that he types on his laptop keyboard as if he's Diamanda Galas playing Rachmaninoff. Brief, merciful pianissimo sections alternate unpredictably with ornate, extended, pounding ffff crescendos that eventually make you want to throw his computer somewhere very unconsidered. And this is the sound I'm making lately: me no like.

+++

Cave Cricket 2 back from America today (yip! yip!), crashed out in the bed at the moment. While she's under, let's rummage through her belongings to see what she brought back from the home country.

















This was highly exciting: there are approximately three American candy bars that I still like now that my palate has gotten used to European chocolate (sorry America, chocolate is not one of your awesome strengths). Those candy bars are: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Snickers, and Skor, which may just be my favorite of the three due to the fact that I have about one a year (Snickers and Reese's are gettable here) and absence do make the heart ect ect ect. This morning's 20g of Skor resulted in eight minutes of pure unadulterated pleasure, and really, that's almost enough.























Also: Old Bay. We've been making our own for years now, but this is one of those cases where the real thing is the real thing.

Plus lots of other stuff that will be revealed gradual like.

+++

OK, I've just decided to turn my extended ramblings into two posts. Thus, a quick closing: lovely music downstairs last night to close out the year, a tentet of local bigwigs (and a couple mediumwigs) playing nothing but Ellington, but you know, in that rather freewheeling z100 style. It's supposed to happen every month in 2013 (if there even IS a 2013 haahaaaaa), and I wish you could all be here for it.

















And then this morning's wonderfully hangover-free 8am breakfast:


White beans, one egg, my last slice of processed American cheese food, 1.5 cups of spinach, and a heaping tablespoon of zhoug, 450 calories if you're counting that kind of shit. 

+++

13.12.12

victor who?



Back around 2000 or so (yep, it's one of thoooose posts), it seemed like we were spending a lot of time in Manhattan. I mean, for us, we were. I will say I was there 9 times in 3 years. After some initial adjustments/settling in, we had a lot of fun there. By the time we stopped visiting in 2001 or something, we were like locals, running into old friends on the street (I mean yeah, they were friends from Atlanta that we hadn't seen in 10 years, but) and sidling into comfy booths that were almost still warm from our last visit.

Well, that's not true at all, ok, but we did have some "regular" places we went. One of them was a very sweet little restaurant called Rialto on Elizabeth St. (closed in 2007), with a very great vibe, when we were inside the lights were always off, in a good way, and outside they had a perfectly secluded back garden you could hang in and forget where you were. We have some analog pictures somewhere I think.

Anyway, the single menu item that stuck us good was scallops in a Pernod cream sauce. I think we talked about this dish for a good 3 years or so after we ate it. And I don't think I've ever tried to make it, or at least if I did I've never come close to succeeding, until tonight.

As written below, it's not what I did, but it's what I will do next time. The amount of shallots in the recipe I tried gave the sauce the perfect consistency, but the flavor was a bit too manly and ended up overpowering things. So I think I would like to replace half the shallots with fresh corn off the cob, to add sweetness while maintaining the pretty textbook feel of the sauce. I'm also now adding the Pernod along with the white wine instead of at the end to give the alcohol a chance to cook off a bit more, tonight's was a touch too boozy. But now, this is the recipe.

Oooh, also, tonight's parsnips were the best I've ever had, I guess they're in season or something. They were ideal.

+++

scallops in pernod cream sauce with roasted parsnip mash.

6 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup minced shallots
1 cup fresh corn, cut from the cob
1 and 1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup whipping cream
3 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon, divided
3 tsp Pernod

18 or 24 large sea scallops, patted dry

1.5 kilo parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
olive oil
salt
pepper

Serves 6.

Melt butter in small skillet over medium heat. Add shallots; sauté 3 minutes. Add wine; boil until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add corn, cream, 1 tbsp tarragon, and Pernod, if using. Simmer for 30 minutes, watching carefully, until corn is cooked and sauce coats back of spoon. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

MAKE SURE SCALLOPS ARE TOTALLY DRY. Sprinkle scallops with salt and pepper; cook in A COMPLETELY DRY HOT HOT HOT SKILLET until brown and almost cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer warmed mash to plates, Spoon sauce over. Place 4 scallops on each plate; sprinkle with remaining tarragon.

+++

12.12.12

salty swift.

 

Yeah, not much writing going on here, I'm doing other stuff. One of the things I'm doing, though, is planning a couple of menus and testing out a couple of dishes. Above is something I love very much but for some reason I'm afraid to serve to people: inlagd sill is Swedish for marinated herring, and that's what we have here.

One thing I loved about the Swedish version of pickled herring is that there were so many different options spice-wise. For this little bite, I've narrowed it down to something called matjes sill with potato, creme fraiche, chives, and mild bleak roe caviar. There's another version that replaces the potato with beet and switches the herring to the standard allspice-heavy version. It's a great, superrefreshing bite of food, but I have to try it out on someone before I serve to multiple people.

Something else I'm really enjoying lately is tartare aux algues, a French condiment made from seaweed, capers, and olive oil. I got it from Mustapha, our Moroccan guy downstairs, it's really unusual and, again, super fresh and healthy tasting. It's supposed to be eaten on bread with butter, but I've just been dipping potatoes in it and enjoying that. Supposedly the French mix it with canned tuna for a variation on tuna salad, I could totally see that working (mm, apparently this is a new fad in cat food as well...).

Lastly, I'm going to try another adventurous salted fish thing recipe tonight, turnip mash with anchovies and walnuts. Could be freaky as shit, but it could also be something like Jamie's pangrattato, which is the opposite of freaky.

+++

7.12.12

trans europe express.























Ah, Europe. This morning at 10:23am whilst (I said it) having coffee, I suddenly hear the strains of Kraftwerk's "Abzug" in my apartment, coming from somewhere very nearby my seat at the table, but strangely muffled. It's disconcerting primarily b/c 1) I didn't press "play" on any of the myriad sound-making devices in the apartment 2) I don't even think we have Trans Europe Express anymore, in any format.

After a couple seconds of reorientation it becomes clear that, initial audio evidence to the contrary, the Kraftwerk is not "coming from inside the house", but from the apartment of my 60-year-old neighbor. It's the loudest sound I've ever heard from over there, he must have moved his speakers so that they're right up against the wall.

And? It's some of the best (or at least least-annoying) overheard neighbor music ever. Perfect music for the weather pictured above, plus it seems colder than it looks. Anyway, I've never been so happy to hear Kraftwerk, I didn't mind at all, and I still don't now that he's moved on to some bizarre Punjabi blues/hip-hop amalgam.


 +++

4.12.12

butternut.

















My "cellphone" is a Nokia clamshell thingie, I think you call them that. It is one feature better than the phone I had before that, which was from the 20th century and did nothing but send and receive phone calls and text messages. It had a (gasp) black and white screen.

When I say the "new" one (8 years old?) is "one feature better", I mean it's pretty much just the same phone, but! also! plus! it takes horrible, uninformative pictures. The above pic is by far the clearest picture it has ever ever taken but that's because I was one meter away from my subject. You'd never know that from the photo, it looks like she's three times that far away.

This is Micachu in Den Haag last month, where there were miraculously like 25 of us there. That's the only reason I'm even engaging in the stupid-looking practice of holding my phone up to someone who is doing something creative and important: the show was so unexpectedly underattended, it was unbelievable that I was the closest person in the room to the stage (for a number of reasons). Documentation was required.

Another cool feature of this phone is that the only way to get the pictures off it is via Bluetooth, which no new computers use at all. So I have to boot up \\tiny_a, basically three laptops ago, suck the pictures off the phone and then bathe in their wretched low-pixel vagueness that way. Science! Sci-sci-science!

+++

3.12.12

happy hollandaise.

I'm moving this up because a) I keep thinking of things we should bring and not writing them down, and b) I shouldn't be posting too much new stuff anyway for a little while, internet ban and what not.

+++

This New Year's Eve looks like it will be a bit different from the last several in that I will not be in the hellish warzone audio environment of Amsterdam I don't think.

No I will be "getting away from it all", gathering in a remote and most likely frigid part of the world with some of my favorite people for a week of intrigue and chicanery. Behold:


View Ameland in a larger map

Zoom out a few clicks to taste the desolation. I was just kidding about the chicanery, probably the intrigue too. We will definitely endure some walks on the beach, wandering in the forest, and I imagine the relatively constant presence of one or more intoxicants.

 +++

Cooking should be a small adventure, there's no oven, only a gas stovetop and a microwave. There's a real bakery about 2km from the house, and a full-service fishmonger. We should have cockles. I should bring my skillet, zester, and vegetable peeler. I think I want to cook some things out of Cooking of Southwest France, though it's not the most vegetarian of cookbooks. Salmon rilettes? Artichokes stuffed with artichoke relish and parmesan. How to melt the parmesan. Blowtorch? It will require some planning. I should bring some Pernod for cockles. Hilly should bring those fucking brownies. Smoked mozzarella. That's why we have posts like this.

+++

Official list of things to bring: Scrabble; Pictionary; deck of cards; juicer, cheese grater, skillet; staff mixer/chopper; zester; ramekins, peeler; risotto pan; sumac; walnut oil; treacle; dates; maple syrup; fresh tarragon; smoked mozzarella; fresh rosemary and sage; grits; smoked paprika; fennel seed; cumin seed; cardamom; caraway seed; fresh nutmeg. Parmesan? The Good Olive Oil. Six blood oranges. A big bag of good almonds. Tartare aux algues. GF crackers. That French pumpkin marmalade. Swedish herring. Vacuum-packed chestnuts. Pernod. Armagnac. Black hash. Maybe a knife. Blowtorch. Glad we're not flying.

+++

Directions I'd like to maybe go in, including possibilities for if we bring an oven.
+++

2.12.12

day fives.























Above: my hallway, preparing for Productivity.

+++

Day Five! One the one hand, I'm a little freaked out by the 3 hours of sleep per night thing. But it does seem to be getting a little longer every night, or a little better, or a little something good. Zombiness receding is what I'm saying. And since I'm quite strictly hibernating in the pod (I haven't spoken in person with a non-grocery-related human in four days I think), my general spaciness (or spiciness as originally typed) isn't going down on my permanent record I don't think, so it's OK.

I do realize that this whole situation is very very manic/depressive seeming, but a) that really was one of Jimi's better jams, and b) I totally think it's a temporary leveling out due to prolonged presence and then sudden absence of addictive substances in the old corpus (day five of no smoking as well, this time I'm strangely convinced it'll take). 

And I must say, the temporary mania is a huge boon to productivity. Based on historical data today is the day the wave crests, so let's ride this biatch into the gloriously foamy shore of Accomplishment. Which means, like Round One of Doomsday Rehab: less internet. For the next few days VDuck shall devote hisself to Goodness Creation instead of Goodness Consumption or Curation. 

All this capitalization is nothing to worry about: I just had my first cup of coffee in a week, and Jee-zus let me tell you it is a Revelation. 

+++

1.12.12

meanwhile, in atlanta....

















"A tragically accurate thought balloon" is how he would refer to it later.

+++