At one point, even economy-class airline travel promised a cold sandwich. And even if they ususally were way too cold (not to mention, minus the mustard, tasteless), today's menu translates to "order out." Or in - if you're in one of those nicer airports with celebrity chef airport ports; say Shake Shack, Marcus Samuelssons, or the now-ubiquitous Wolfgang Puck. This is my long segue to some photos of my very passable lunch at Orange County's John Wayne Airport where I enjoyed a chi-chi tasting of three wines, charcuterie and a cheese plate. Poor big John Wayne would have been horrified. Ah, bon voyage, my friend, merci!
Visiting Southern California's Chef Anahita Naderi, who runs Ketrioc Cafe in Orange County, she brought me on a late night Iranian-supermarket crawl. What a delicious treat, from wonderful spices and fresh pistachios to the most amazing display of bread baking, which took place next to the cash registers.
Below is a shot of two bakers stretching wet dough, feeding it horizontally to make Iranian sangak. With rotating loafs baking before our eyes, customers lined up for stacks of speckled bread wrapped in brown paper. It was a sight and scent that stayed with me for the next few days.
Returning home to New York City, I decided to see what I could replicate in this Middle Eastern Bread. Ultimatley I used formula from my files for Barbari, a Naan-like bread that is a bit like Turkish Ramadan breads in Turkey.
Agnolotti-Technically these square shaped Piedmontese pasta are usually filled with meat or vegetable stuffing, typically served in a broth, or with cheese and sage. Ricotta and spinach would be considered ravioli, but I have a strange affinity to things from Piedmonte, like this pasta and krumiri biscotti? (that's for another post!). In any case, these hand cut stuffed pillows were just delicious with a simple tomato sauce, topped with parmigiano Reggiano and basil.
Nothing more delicious then crisp crackling pork skin, and seasoned pork belly rolled, yes, porchetta. This wonderful piece of prime Canadian pork belly I got from my butcher at Ridgewood European Pork store. Nothing easier, seasoned with traditional, sage, rosemary, peperoncini, fennel, roll, tie and roast; that is of course you need to let it marinate first!
Quite often when buying food, I have an idea of a dish to make. Recently, on one of the last hot muggy days of summer, I found myself shopping with only flavors in mind. Lobster, cashews, ginger, and shallots. It was as if I were in a dream - or a Graham Greene novel! Soon at home, amid the smells of frying shallots, green chili paste, and cilantro wafting through my kitchen, voila, a plate appeared before me with this exquisite lobster salad.
Perhaps it's no irony that the dish whose name recalls the "oldest profession in the world" is also among the most aromatic and nuanced, its flavors rooted in sea and earth. Below is my hommage to those ladies who made this power packed delicacy of basic ingredients. Oh, the power of love on a plate. Grazie signore.