It’s been said that Eve offered Adam the apple just so she could keep the pear for herself. I admit, it’s a bit apocryphal, but in my book, totally understandable. Of all the orchard fruits, pears are the most versatile in varieties and culinary prowess. Not to mention, also can be found in two separate species — European and Asian.
Crockery crowned with a blistered dome of cheese and bread arrives straight from the broiler. The best French onion soup is never ladled from a pot; it’s crafted into a layered experience. Excavating through the Gruyère, the first spoonful of still-too-hot onion slivers are unveiled. The steam’s herbal notes emerge, along with a hint of the wine that is sweetening the slurp-worthy bone broth.
Eyeing the choices arrayed under glass at cheesemongers’ shops is our favorite kind of virtual travelogue. The trail leads through whole nations of dairy art from French Epoisses and Italian Gorgonzola to Spanish Manchego and California’s Redhawk Triple Crème from Cowgirl Creamery. We may eye British Cheddar, but cheeses imported from neighboring Mexico? Not so much. Continue reading →
A person’s first taste of lamb can be one of those great palate-changers, a moment when you realize there is a lot more for dinner than the same old steak. Fresh lamb shank, leg or loin has an earthy richness and complexity that can make a lot of beef and pork seem ho-hum by comparison.
Some rookies are introduced to lamb in the form of a rack or chop at white tablecloth establishments. Others have devoured a gyro with Feta or a curry dish at an Indian eatery without ever noticing that the craveable meat is lamb.
The time: a thousand years ago. The place: the ragged and stunning beauty of the isolated Asiago Plateau, which lies between the Po River and the Southern mountains of the Valsugana Valley. The region will later become part of the Province of Vicenza and a popular and picturesque skiing destination. In summer, modern hikers will delight in meadows of knee-high wildflowers and savor the scent of vanilla orchids and fragrant herbs perfuming the crisp mountain air. But on the dawn of the eleventh century, it lies in the defunct Republic of Venice’s outskirts, remote and sparsely populated.
I have this vivid childhood memory of seeing a man eating pie with cheese at a restaurant. I remember thinking: Why would anyone choose to crown their apple pie with stinky old cheese when they could have a scoop of ice cream melting on top?
My primitive taste buds thankfully evolved and over time I became a food critic and cheerleader for handmade pie in America.