“I dream of the South, a huge moon, the sky reversed,
I am looking for the South, the open time, and its thereafter.”
– Vuelvo al Sur, by Astor Piazzolla
One may be inspired by the unlikeliest of sources, and sources of inspiration do not come much more unlikely than John Unsworth. John – Jack to his friends – is from Penistone, South Yorkshire. Inevitably, he came to be known to us as Jack from penis town, a moniker he bore with great forbearance. Skinny and pale, dour, but slyly humorous, and given to obsessions over cult movies and the quality of his tea-leaves, he was in many ways a typical Yorkshireman, particularly in his love of pies. Frequent were the conversations around the texture of the perfect lard crust, achieved at such and such pie shop in Barnsley. Sadly for Jack, these ethereal creations traveled poorly, forcing him to seek solace in the arms of Fray Bentos. Continue Reading »
Jul 8th, 2013 by Jonny & Amy
Revolutionary is a loaded term in the United States, especially in early July, but if the term can be said to have a single locus it’s perhaps the nation’s first capital and venue for the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Philadelphia. However, revolutions come in all shapes and sizes and in a variety of milieux, and nearby, South-east Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Valley has witnessed plenty of such: politically, in terms of fisticuffs between the rebellious colonials and the crown, and in developments that moved the country forward economically. Continue Reading »
Apr 13th, 2013 by Jonny & Amy
“A smooth sea never a skilled mariner made.”
– English proverb
In the summer of 1997, two friends and I decided it would be a hoot to spend six weeks visiting a variety of countries that had recently emerged from behind the Iron Curtain. It turned out to be rather more of a hoot than even a trio of 19 year olds hell-bent on sampling every brand of cheap local vodka could have possibly imagined. In fact, during one particularly ill-starred episode, we were ordered off a train at gunpoint by a quartet of grim-faced Belarusian border guards. Oh, the mirth.
Continue Reading »
Mar 17th, 2013 by Jonny & Amy
The world of social media seems to have been created for the sole purpose of allowing the general public to share its idiocy as widely as possible. Along with this opportunity also arrived the penchant for inventing ridiculous new expressions and forming them into one of the most odious aspects of modern life, the hash tag. It is for this reason, among several others, that we are rarely to be found on Twitter. However, the recent decision by Facebook to adopt these irritating little phrases to align themselves with the rest of the social media world seems to suggest that the hash tag is here to stay, at least until something twice as grating comes along. Continue Reading »
Jan 5th, 2013 by Jonny & Amy
Like the ghost of Christmas past, leftovers from rich holiday meals have a habit of malingering in the fridge awaiting an inspiration that is progressively less likely to arrive as the holiday season fades into memory, especially in the broadening context of one’s waistline, try as one might to conceal it beneath this year’s hideous knitwear gift from Aunt Hilda. In our household, it is usually around the second week of January that we finally face up to the fact that no one is going anywhere near what’s left of the nut loaf. Continue Reading »
Dec 24th, 2012 by Jonny & Amy
A typical Sunday morning (or afternoon depending on what time they crawl out of bed) for a New Yorker involves brunch. And what, perhaps, characterizes brunch in New York more than anything else is bagels, cream cheese and lox. However, few, if any, New Yorkers, I would guess, think about lox very much, probably because of its ubiquity, and are unaware of the age-old food tradition they have inherited.
Popularized in the city by its large Ashkenazi Jewish population in combination with cream cheese and capers, lox or belly lox (from the Yiddish laks/lachs meaning salmon), is brine-cured salmon that is almost always served in wide, thinly-sliced strips. Crispy toasted bagels, soft, buttery cream cheese, tangy capers, and smooth, salty lox is a fabulous combination and is one of the few fish dishes I can stomach as my first meal of the day, especially after a few holiday beverages the night before. Continue Reading »
Dec 20th, 2012 by Jonny & Amy
We have a confession to make. After eight enjoyable but increasingly long years in Brooklyn we jumped ship over the summer to the suburbs. We didn’t deliberately hide it, we just didn’t make a big deal of it on our blog. Okay, so there is definitely some weird foodie cachet to living in a big city known for its culinary diversity that we may have been slightly concerned about losing by moving to the “food desert” of the suburbs, if for nothing else than invites to foodie parties we never attended and offerings of freebie samples we rarely covered. And, given that a good proportion of our content focuses on some of the incredible diversity of the New York dining scene, it’s only reasonable for us to have been a little apprehensive about finding that elsewhere. Continue Reading »
Dec 3rd, 2012 by Jonny & Amy
In his rather witty book, French Lessons, Peter Mayle attends the annual Fete de Grenouilles (Festival of Frogs-Legs) in Vittel, France, and describes an episode at the festival banquet in which an attendee, elbow deep in amphibian thighs, tells him that if he thinks eating frogs is unusual, she had heard of an even more peculiar repast enjoyed throughout Britain, the toad. Continue Reading »
Nov 29th, 2012 by Jonny & Amy
Many among us, ourselves included, can be forgiven for spending a few wistful moments during the more tedious passages in our lives wondering what it might be like to wander exotic locales, rubbing shoulders with cultured types all while sipping fine wines over plates artfully decorated with exquisite regional specialties. When we come out of such reveries, we often try to convince ourselves that in reality this kind of life would be too much of a good thing, that after the novelty wore off it would be tiresome and, in all likelihood, downright unpleasant. Sadly, if the new book from Mike Desimone and Jeff Jenssen, aka The World Wine Guys, is anything to go on, it really is as wonderful as you’d imagine. Continue Reading »
Nov 14th, 2012 by Jonny & Amy
For centuries, mankind and cuttlefish have had something of a difficult relationship, certainly from the latter’s perspective. Even prior to the development of the photographic tint known as sepia – a brownish hue that makes the late 19th century appear to have been an unusually dusty period – the ink of the cuttlefish was prized for its color-giving properties. In fact, this cephalopod’s dye is known as ink because that is exactly what much of recorded history was written in.
In an ironic twist, the plight of the cuttlefish worsened when enterprising fisherman saw that the inedible, but highly buoyant, internal structure, known as cuttlebone, could be used to manufacture floats which, when attached to fishing lines, resulted in an even more effective means of catching them. The concurrent discovery that the rest of the poor creature is exceedingly delicious, like a meatier version of squid, only increased humanity’s murderous desire, making its existence almost untenable in some parts of the Mediterranean until synthetic dyes and plastic floats allowed populations to recover in recent times. Continue Reading »
My guidebook assured me that 3 out of 5 Icelanders believe that faeries, mischievous sprites and trolls are real. Many, it continues, actively take precautions against them, refusing to set foot in the spots they are thought to inhabit. My first introduction to the country, the drive from the airport into Reykjavik, past a giant aluminum smelting factory set in a jet black lava field against gun-metal clouds, felt more like Bladerunner than the redoubt of spirits.
The snow-capped black mountains that ring it to the north and west, and the city’s jewel-box houses of green and red and white provided a rather Yuletide feel, even when illuminated by the midnight sun. A friend had told me that midsummer in Iceland was like an extended daytime drinking session punctuated by brief episodes of fatigue lasting all of about twenty minutes when the sun took its brief dip towards the horizon before rising again. His story went that during a week-long stay he had slept for less than six hours start to finish. A few weeks of this and perhaps I wouldn’t entirely rule out the existence of will-o the wisps either. Continue Reading »
Sep 25th, 2012 by Jonny & Amy
Back in the days before blogs were afforded any of the current grudging acknowledgement they get from “proper” writers, one of the sticks used to beat them with was that their content was all too personal and scatological, lacking reliability, depth and, above all, readability. That they have been one of the principal conduits for this here today, gone in half an hour news cycle only serves to convince critics of this format that they were right all along. By contrast, the popularity of blogs among the public would seem to undercut these naysayers, and paint them, along with, serious TV actors descrying the popularity of reality TV shows, as dinosaurs who failed to adapt to a major change in climate. It is noticeable that traditional media sources, in an attempt to brand their content as premium and superior to that of hordes of pajama-clad scriveners, have recently begun hiding it behind pay-per-subscription pages.
If an echo of this formal-to-casual paradigm shift can be found in the wine industry, it might be in the seemingly unstoppable rise of inexpensive and highly drinkable New World wines at the expense of well-bred, distinguished Old World bottles. What used to be pilloried by aficionados for their lack of refinement and the brashness of their marketing approach, has progressively taken market share away from wines steeped in tradition and terroir, pushing vintages with a decade of more of cellaring even further beyond the reach of the public. If this comparison sounds tenuous, then it should. After pensively rinsing our teeth in two heavy tomes on the world of wine, in which preposterous aroma-based analogies seemed more numerous than snobs at a Bordeaux tasting, we were in the mood to propose something controversial and highly suspect. Continue Reading »
Jun 23rd, 2012 by Jonny & Amy
Now that we’re done with our annual yogic vigil of the summer solstice and our cosmic karma has been rebalanced, it’s time for us to concede that we’re not really very good food bloggers. Not that any remaining readers won’t have noticed this of late, given the infrequency of our postings, but hey, karmic balance is a lengthy and troublesome business don’t you know. However, I refer not to our lack of new content as much as to the fact that until comparatively recently we hadn’t tried garlic scapes. Continue Reading »
Jun 6th, 2012 by Jonny & Amy
St. George, the patron saint of England, whose plucky, dragon-slaying derring-do is taken as emblematic of the English spirit, far from being a native of the British Isles, or for that matter, far from ever having come close to visiting them, was actually an adventurous squire of the modern-day country of Georgia who lived around the third century AD.
In a similar vein, Spain’s national icon, the highly venerated black Madonna of Guadalupe, to whom thousands flock annually, was unlikely to have been a Christian and there is some doubt that she was a virgin either. Continue Reading »
May 9th, 2012 by Jonny & Amy
Right before it was yesterday’s news and tossed on the cultural junk pile as passé, everything was the next big thing. Devotees of Anthony Bourdain will know that as of two weeks ago, Croatian cuisine is the new black. Prior to all this, somewhere between Spanish food blowing up into our collective consciousness and the advent of Ecuador in the global gastronomic stakes, in 2010 Portugal flickered briefly into view, largely on the strength of David Liete, before vanishing under the rising tide of new and undiscovered. Continue Reading »
May 3rd, 2012 by Jonny & Amy
Named for the grandson of Puerto Rico’s first governor, the southern city of Ponce is blessed with appropriately distinguished architecture. The equal of few in the Americas, it is a delightful surprise for the visitor. That conquering Americans were responsible for the preservation of the city’s historic district is equally surprising. Continue Reading »
I almost can’t believe it myself! Not only is We Are Never Full updating twice in a week, I am the author of the two posts. I told you I would try and hold on to my promise from the last post. To celebrate our attempt to get back in the blog game we are offering a pretty awesome contest. A few weeks ago we were incredibly lucky to be offered a copy of Lightroom 3 to try. We knew our pictures needed some help and, after having some time to feel comfortable using the product, it is my absolute go-to photo correcter, not only for the blog, but for my personal pictures. Adobe has just released the newest version of Lightroom (Lightroom 4) which is getting rave reviews and offers new features such as the ability to create and print photo books with easy-to-use templates. You can even color correct stuff in a digital video! Would you like a copy of Lightroom 4? If so, we’re giving one away. See the contest rules at the end of this post (after the recipe). Continue Reading »
New York City. The saying goes that if you can make it here you can make it anywhere. But I think they were talking about young, cute, single and childless 22 year olds (which I’d like to believe I once was and, damn, that was a fun time). I don’t think Sinatra was talking about older, married, overworked parents making a decent wage but still in the lower-middle class because they live in NYC. We’re tired. Very tired. I know, I know, bust out the violins to play a sad song for our tragic city-living lives but this is a bit of a way to apologize for our lack of blogging over the past year and a half. Living in NYC may seem magical for many but for us it’s beginning to become more like hard work than “magical fun”. Continue Reading »
Mar 20th, 2012 by Jonny & Amy
Conventional wisdom dictates that one should never eat at an empty restaurant, especially early in the week, but if there is absolutely nowhere else open and you have no choice, do yourself a favor and avoid the seafood. Happily, Vieques, a 55-square mile island off the east end of Puerto Rico, and former bombing range of the US Navy, if it doesn’t exactly flaunt convention, certainly defies it. And Tito Bloque, the only restaurant off the malecon in the village of Esperanza, and therefore the only empty restaurant, personifies that defiance.
Blazing overhead strip lights do nothing to obscure the restaurant’s complete absence of customers. In fact, when the only visible human forms in the place are a signed photo of Charles Bronson in his Death Wish era and an old man dozing in a hammock fashioned from a Puerto Rican flag, the feeling of unwelcomeness is only accentuated. Continue Reading »
Feb 25th, 2012 by Jonny & Amy
With wine there is probably more room for personal interpretation and opinion than in any other area of gastronomy. The sheer variety of wines available from across the globe encourages this, but the reputation of the wine connoisseur and his often ridiculous descriptions of the perfumes to be nosed out of the glass makes wine-tasting seem a spurious and silly pursuit to some and downright intimidating to others. Continue Reading »
Feb 16th, 2012 by Jonny & Amy
As you already know, we don’t do reviews of products we haven’t really enjoyed and would continue to use and enjoy in the future. When we were contacted to give Adobe Lightroom a whirl we were excited to use a product we never considered purchasing but had heard was an excellent tool. Once our excitement subsided, the reality hit that we may have been chosen to test it out because our food pictures were not really up to snuff and, in a nice way, we were being told, “Maybe Lightroom can help?”. Yes, our photography skills have come very far from the early days of such beautiful and well-lit/well-plated pictures such as this, this (the chip in the plate really brings out the vibrancy of this dish) and this beauty but we still have a long way to go. Let’s be honest – we used to suck majorly when it came to photography. Once we discovered that instead of using our $8 IKEA lamp to illuminate our photos we could, or should , use something called a Photographer’s Light Kit things began to improve a bit. Along with lighting, we began paying attention to plating and using light colored plates to make the food pop. Yet, even with these things, we still aren’t up to the photo-quality level as many other food blogs. I’m totally not crying into my bowl of Ecuadorian Ceviche (shameless plug) but I have always wondered, what the hizzel are they doing that we’re not? Continue Reading »
Feb 9th, 2012 by Jonny & Amy
Rarely on time, and never on trend, we are perennially late to the party. Yes, we may have been blogging about offal since way before David Chang made it cool, but we have yet to purchase our first ironic message tee featuring butchery terminology or get our forearms inked with a selection of cutlery. This may be even more surprising given that we live in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, where the hardcore of Williamsburg’s hipsters would move if only they were cool enough. But if further illustration of our being behind the times were necessary, look no further than our brand new facebook page, now only a week old (feel free to “like” us, as the kids say). Continue Reading »
Jan 17th, 2012 by Jonny & Amy
“We may have lost paradise because of the apple, but we’ll get it back with cider.”
– Asturian saying
“Reach out your arms, as far apart as possible – one high, one low – then just bend your wrist, but do not look!”, instructed the waitress. “Oh, and beginners like you must stand over the barrel,” she added. I followed her advice exactly but still ended up with a soggy shirt-front and damp shoes, wasting half a bottle.
Even though the cider was cheap, learning to pour it like a local wouldn’t be and accepting I could be thirsty for a long while before I acquired the knack, I invited my hostess to demonstrate proper form. Sure enough, her aim was perfect and my glass was soon two inches deep without the loss of a drop. “Now, drink it! Fast!” she cajoled. “Before it goes flat!” Continue Reading »
Most Brits associate mincemeat with Christmas – its intoxicating mix of fruit, spices, booze, nuts and mixed peel provide Pavlovian stimuli, stirring memories of cherubic choirs a-caroling, roasted poultry, and the Queen’s speech – whereas I associate it with Easter, because it was always around then that we finally ran out of mince pies. I use the term “ran out” quite deliberately, as mince pies were the kind of thing that, growing up, were considered within the realm of “supplies”, so numerous were they. Every year in early December, my industrious mother would make at least six, but often as many as ten, dozen individual mince pies, fashioned lovingly from homemade mincemeat she had prepared several months in advance. Continue Reading »
Dec 20th, 2011 by Jonny & Amy
I often think that living in a small scruffy New York City apartment is akin to a pioneer life in a log cabin somewhere remote. Sure, the commute is easier, but the myriad quotidien affronts and man traps of a city existence certainly resemble the perils of life on the range. Continue Reading »
Dec 3rd, 2011 by Jonny & Amy
I’m not very old, but for much of my youth in the north west of England, it was almost impossible to find fresh foods that weren’t local. Today such a statement seems like an echo of Victorian times, but, literally, that’s how it was until a supermarket was built behind the Knutsford courthouse in the late 80s. Continue Reading »
Since parenthood came into my life, so has weight gain. It hasn’t been all that bad but I think I weigh a bit more now than I did in the days after I pushed that child out. Why? Because the gym is now a long-distant memory. Since we clearly like to eat, the gym was once my very good friend four or five times a week pre-child. Now, I’m lucky to even get a long walk to the park. If I still have energy after a day of chasing after a 1 year old, I’ll may pop in a yoga DVD, but I now realize that “5 Minute ABS” only works when you are doing more than just “5 Minute Abs”. I refuse to stop eating or drinking wine but I miss those carefree days of hitting the gym whenever I wanted to sweat off my stress and weekend steak and potatoes.
So how does Mariah Carey fit into this post? Well, recently, Mariah debuted her “post baby body” – a phrase I’m kinda getting sick of seeing on magazine covers. Yeah, yeah, she did it through diet and exercise and did gain like a million pounds while on bedrest with her twins but she has a FLAT STOMACH AGAIN! How about this chick – she did a Vickis Secret bra and panties modeling shoot a few weeks after giving birth. I was still wearing my “belly band” at that point. Continue Reading »
Nov 2nd, 2011 by Jonny & Amy
I was recently introduced to an Australian with whom I had a number of interesting discussions (that is not meant as a joke). The first, an hour-long discussion of the age-old cricketing rivalry between England and his native land is of no concern here, but the second, a frank exchange of views about the quality of sausages to be found in the United States has rather more relevance to the subject matter of these here web pages. His view, that American sausages simply aren’t up to snuff compared to the quality and variety of those available in Australia – a country in which the mystery bag has achieved almost legendary status for its role in the great Aussie barbecue – is not one I share, even if there were no other examples of fine forcemeat here than the glorious boudin of Louisiana, although, in his defense, he was careful to exclude American-made Italian style sausages from this otherwise careless dismissal. Continue Reading »
Oct 22nd, 2011 by Jonny & Amy
Ah, Maine, with its mossy forests, its briny cliffs dotted with picturebook fishing villages, its bracing salt air, and its discount-tastic outlet malls! What could be more uplifting to the benighted soul of a grimy city-dweller than an autumnal visit to the cheerful redoubt of the gaily-painted puffin, the marshy lowlands of the lumbering moose, or the azure waters of the delicious lobster? Such was our spirit as we bounded north of the city, clad in windbreakers and LLBean gear two weekends ago. Little did we know that behind the facade of unspoiled nature’s bounty lay an altogether more sinister side to the state known as “Vacationland”. Continue Reading »
The largely unknown city of Compiegne, France, has the distinction of being the site of one of Louis XV’s most extravagant homes away from home. Under him, the Chateau de Compiegne became one of three distinctly opulent seats of government alongside Versailles and Fontainbleau. The latter French monarchs were hardly known for their desire to live simply as visitors to either of those other palaces can attest, and Compiegne is no exception, taking more than 35 years to complete with Louis constantly tinkering at the design to aggrandize it to his tastes. When finished it made the perfect departure point for forays into the nearby Forest of Compiegne, ancestral hunting grounds of French royalty, for some bracing sport. However, Louis was not into taking chances on returning with his game bag empty, and it is said that the forest was so well-stocked that a blind marksman could still expect to feast on wild meats. Continue Reading »