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Bodega Bouza, Montevideo, Uruguay

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 »

Cuttlefish fideua (noodle paella)

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 »

seared salmon and cauliflower mash with purple basil pesto

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 »

The New York Times Book of Wine: More Than 30 Years of Vintage Writing

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 »

pan fried sea bass with garlic scapes and sauce gribiche

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 »

Pincho Moruno with Pork Belly

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 »

new take on Portuguese soup (caldo verde)

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 »

Puerto Rican Mamposteao

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 »

Fava Puree with Sauteed Chicory

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 »

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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 »

whole fried snapper (chillo) at TIto Bloque

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 »

Pork Chop with Sherry and Almonds

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 »

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