Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Foodstuff Miscellany

  • There are two spring fruits that are always anticipated and often a disappointment: cherries and apricots. Well, I just stopped over at the Farmers Outlet off Friars Road and Mission Gorge (a sister store to the one I first wrote about in Tierrasanta) to pick up some garlic and basil for a cold roasted tomato soup I'm making tonight and saw they had cherries and apricots in stock. I really liked the fact that the cherries were loose so I could buy what I could reasonably eat (those prepackaged bags you normally see are a real annoyance). I bought about half a pound of them and about a dozen fragrant, rosy little apricots and brought them home. The verdict? Go get 'em. At least, go get 'em there.
  • Lemon Stilton update: Last week, I mentioned my intent to make a salad with arugula and the Lemon Stilton from Venissimo. I had to report on this because it turned out so well. In fact, it was simply a stunning combination of flavors -- a little peppery, a little tart, a little sweet. You'll understand why when I tell you the ingredients: baby arugula from Trader Joe's, thin slices of red onion, toasted pine nuts and nasturtium leaves and flowers from my garden, topped with crumbled Lemon Stilton. The dressing was a Meyer lemon vinaigrette I concocted:
Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice from one Meyer lemon and one regular lemon
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh lemon thyme
1 tsp. granulated sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients except olive oil, then steadily whisk it in. Let sit an hour before adding to the salad.

  • Years ago, when my parents lived in Boston and I'd visit, we'd head over to the North End -- the Italian section -- to go food shopping, eat and get a cappuccino. There was a little corner grocery there that sold barrels of snackable roasted garbanzos. The first time I bought a paper bag full, I became hooked. They're not easy to find in San Diego. At least I thought not until I made a return trip on Monday to Ker and Little India. It turns out Indians enjoy noshing on roasted garbanzos, too. You can find bags of them at the market under the Laxmi Brand (the label says "RSTD GRAM). Because they're not the typical salty American fare, they're kind of an acquired taste, but if you like crunchy snacks to munch on while at your desk or watching TV, try them. They're also very healthy.
  • If you like novels about food, pick up a copy of "The Last Chinese Chef" by Nicole Mones. It's about a recently widowed American food writer who has to go to Beijing to deal with her late husband's affairs and takes an assignment to research a profile on a young American Jewish Chinese chef. He intends to open a restaurant based on ancient Chinese cooking traditions and is translating his grandfather's celebrated book about cooking at the Imperial Court. I heard Mones interviewed on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday and after reading the first chapter on NPR's website, I ordered it from Amazon. It sounds wonderful and I always enjoy a novel with recipes! (Quick note: Contrary to what I'd read, the novel does not contain any recipes. However, the author's website does.)

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