Archive for September, 2010
As summer comes to a close (and really heats up here in SF), we’re making a lot more cold lunches to beat the heat. One of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten was the shrimp salad sandwich at the 17th Street Deli in Wilmington NC. My approximation is above, and I sincerely hope I have done it justice. I don’t know the real recipe, but this is my best guess. I used shrimp (boiled in salted water with a halved lemon), a little mayo, a little sour cream, shallot, carrot, tarragon and fresh parsley. My verdict on this is: close, but no cigar. The reason: creek shrimp.
If you’ve never been to the Carolinas then you may not know about the best shrimp in the whole wide world: the creek shrimp. These succulent little beauties live in the tidal salt marshes (creeks) of the southeast coast. They can get pretty large (5-8 cm), but the ones you want are the smaller (2-4 cm) ones. These shrimp are sweet, with a fresh briny smell and have a texture that gives just enough when you eat them. You can find whole creek shrimp at most any local fishmonger or literally on the side of the road in coastal Carolina beach towns for less than 2 bucks per pound. They’re great to fry, boil for peel-n-eat, or for a delicious summer shrimp salad sandwich. Ever had creek shrimp? Let us know how you serve them!
You know it’s summer when the stone fruit comes in. This dish includes white nectarines and arugula from the farmer’s market. This is a pretty straightforward starter, and it actually works well family style. It’s: Arugula, good olive oil, some sea salt, some Piave (or Grana Padano, Parmigiano Reggiano etc) (maybe some tomato jam if you happen to have a batch) and the salume of your choice.
The key to this version however is the speck. This is La Quercia speck from right here in the good ole US of A (Iowa) and I would put it up against the stuff from Parma any day. Actually, I wouldn’t. Prosciutto di Parma and Italian (and Austrian) Speck are very European tasting if that makes sense, and LA Quercia tastes very, well.. American to me. You can certainly taste the care and technique that goes into La Quercia, but there is a subtle wildness that comes through that is indicative of the American farm – and that’s why I love it.
That may sound like bullshit, but if you’ve ever had a farm sourced meal served on a farm, you get what I’m saying. I would definitely serve both versions (di Parma and La Quercia) on a salumi plate if I was feeling festive, but honestly, La Quercia is cheaper and has had every bit of the care and handling that the Italian Prosciutto gets, in my opinion. I live in Northern California, so La Quercia isn’t exactly local, but I do feel good that I am getting a fantastic product and supporting a family farm effort.
Before I wax poetically on, feel free to read about the farm, their connection to Parma and the products on their website.
If you’ve ever been to New England then you know that there is no finer food than the humble lobster roll. So elegant in it’s simplicity, this former “poor people food” is now de riguer on any upscale “fish shack’s” menu. Butter grilled bun and hot, fresh succulent lobster- end of story. Oh, there are certainly those in the cold, lobster salad roll camp, but the kind of person who pairs mayonnaise with lobster is probably the person asking for extra lemon-poppy-seed-remolade-chipotle-pepper-vinaigrette-aioli for their triple play grand slam appetizer fiesta at the the local Chilis-Too-Go.
Lobster. Mayonnaise. Never the two shall twain. It’s just not to be done. Period. But I digress a bit.
This tasty hot, buttery good, lobster roll is from The Monkey Farm in Old Saybrook CT. This is exactly how you want to get a lobster roll: hot (did I mention hot?), butter grilled bun, crispy fries and side of slaw and under $15. Honestly, the fries and slaw are really just garnish – so slather some mayo and malt-vinegar on those Sysco fries!
Two things: NEVER pay more than $15 for a lobster roll unless Thomas Keller and Barbara Lynch make it table side – at your kitchen table. Then you can pay up to $25 and that’s only if Barbara Lynch BYOB’s. It blows my mind - literally figuratively – out of my skull, when I see lobster rolls in New England for twenty plus dollars. Lobsters are like 8 bucks a pound and no matter how much CIA training you’ve had or how much thermidor-champagne-cognac-meuniere-beurre-blanc-sauce you drown that poor red bastard in, it’s still not worth $25. Ever.
The second thing is: don’t buy lobster more than 100 miles from the source. There’s not much sadder than the bucket of tired, road weary crustaceans slowly dying of fatigue in a tank marked ”Live Maine Lobsters” at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Keep on walking down to the the Dungeness crab tank (and grab some salty pig parts from Boccalone while you’re at it). You’ll thank me later.
Have good lobster roll joint? Let us know! We also like Roy Moore’s in Rockport MA. It’s BYOB and 8-10 bucks a pop for a roll made from losters boiled in freakin’ seawater.
What do you do when the end-of-summer tomatoes start to lose quality. Have a small cry for love lost, then crank your oven down to 200 degrees F and get ready for Oven Dried Tomatoes. Any time you get not-so-good tomatoes from the farmer’s market it’s a let down, especially if you’re a tomato snob lover like me. But, knowing that I can make tomaoto gold out of tomato poop makes me a happy camper.
The process is really easy. Just slice your mealy excuses for tomatoes long-ways or cross-ways and place them on a wire rack on a sheet pan. I like sea salt, cracked pepper and good (GOOD) olive oil on them. Once they’re dressed, put them in the oven and set a timer for 90 minutes. The timing on this is variable but 1.5 hours usually does the trick if your slices are roughly 1/8 inch thick. I pull mine just when they are starting to get crunchy then place them in a bowl and cover with olive oil. They’re ready to eat as-is, but I like to let them marinate a bit. The bruschetta above was made after 1 day in the oil (I just used the oil that the tomatoes were in). Easy, fresh and delicious.