Turning rustic country fare into a slick restaurant best-seller has become so hackneyed these days that finding a post-modern reconstructed pot-au-feu for $45 in a hot new city dining spot can’t be far away. However, (and while we may be wrong) it might be a while before this garlic and wine soup hits high-end eateries — and not because it’s not restaurant-grade food, but rather because it’s the kind of dish that seems like it can neither be adapted nor re-imagined in a single way that wouldn’t detract from the original.
Do not to be discouraged by the glut of garlic called for, even if you’re cooking for those suspicious of its myriad charms. For, while it is unavoidably redolent of the “perfumed rose”, the flavor is mellow rather than aggressive, far cleaner than you might reasonably expect, and altogether heartier than a simple garlic and broth concoction would suggest. Continue Reading »
Oct 28th, 2009 by Amy and Jonny
Perhaps surprisingly given that we’ve been deluged with guests for the last month, we haven’t actually cooked for them much, or at least, cooked anything we’d dare post. As anyone who’s been a host knows, having guests is an exhausting experience, but especially so when you’re playing the role of tour guide too, so here are two simple side dishes instead of something that required more lengthy preparation. Continue Reading »
Chicken and Waffles. Two foods that many obsess over individually but wouldn’t even think to pair together. Why, I wonder? Have you ever dipped your crunchy piece of bacon into your pancake syrup, even if it’s accidental? How about some fabulous thai sauces that have that sweet sticky flavor paired with some fried calamari? What about any dish with sweet, salty and crunchy combination? If you’re a nonbeliever, please, believe. One taste of Chicken and Waffles and it quickly gained a top 10 spot on my “Death Row Last Meal” list. You know you have one too. Continue Reading »
Immediately after putting down Fat of the Land, I opened Toast, UK food writer Nigel Slater’s memoire of the food he grew up eating in suburban England in the 1960s. There are few threads linking these two books together — food being perhaps the sole aspect — but something in Slater’s introduction caught my attention, expressing, as it did, what I had enjoyed most about Lang’s book:
“When a cooking writer pens his autobiography, it is invariably written with a fresh-baked, rosy glow. Tales of baking at their mother’s knee is [sic] what is expected.”
Fat of the Land could have fallen into this happy cliche of cooking recollections penned simply as sweet pablum for a reader not wanting to be challenged. Instead, the author details his chronological development as a foodie — both generally and specifically as a forager — in a way that rouses the reader to head for the hills in search of our dinner, or at least, to consider doing so. Through humorous anecdotes of his coutrship and marriage, this book is a refreshing and entertaining read about the author’s “food awakening” as a complete lifestyle change, rather than the achingly dull tales Slater descries. Continue Reading »
In the tiny Cheshire hamlet of Lower Peover (pronounced “peever”) is the delightfully rustic country pub “The Bells”, so-called because one has to literally walk around it to get to the parish church. In fact, so aligned are church and boozer that the two are separated by only fifty feet of graveyard, a low gate and a tall hedge, with the path from the church door leading directly into the pub — demonstrating the weighty tithe rural folk feel to both institutions. Continue Reading »
New Yorkers may remember back in January, 2009 (and in ’05, ’06, ’07 and ’08), there was this mystery plaguing our city. The watercoolers in Midtown offices were buzzing with workers asking the question, “Why the hell does our city smell like maple syrup?” Even our ridiculously rich mayor couldn’t figure out what was going on. Just like one may walk in the city on a hot summer day and smell wafts of trash cooking on the sidewalk mixed with sauteed onions and garlic, and possibly a hint of sidewalk vendor smoke, during this week you really smelled syrup. In fact, Gothamist blog created an awesome Google Map showing where the majority of calls and e-mails about this phenomenon came from during that time (using oh-so-cute mini Mrs. Butterworth images to pinpoint them on the map). Also noted, was the maple syrup mystery made its way on to a segment of 30 Rock. Continue Reading »
Sep 24th, 2009 by Amy and Jonny
New Jersey, it’s like a cross-section of the entire United States stuffed into a very small area — fenced-in by heavy industry, ugly sub-divisions, peaceful tidal bays and relaxing shore towns — but with its own very distinct character. And, if you drive around it long enough, you’re bound to see some pretty interesting stuff. This goes for the social and the edible, as well as the geographic and architectural.
For example, every spring, you’ll find aged Italian-Americans risking the wrath of New Jersey State Troopers as they harvest dandelions from the banks and verges of Jersey’s myriad highways and parkways. The first time I saw this I thought it must be part of a program to get the elderly outside and active by having them weed public areas. Then, when I’d learned what they were really doing, I marveled at the genetic lottery these robust octogenarians were winning in spite of eating greens picked from the sides of some of the most heavily trafficked roads in the country. So, even though I was apprehensive — for that reason, as well as only having ingested dandelions previously in the form of the disgusting traditional British beverage Dandelion & Burdock (something my grandparents used to trick me into drinking by telling me it was Coke. Its taste is somewhere between sarsaparilla and rust.)— I figured I should give it a go myself. Continue Reading »
Sep 16th, 2009 by Amy and Jonny
At Via Clavature 18, hidden in the back streets of Bologna, is the comparatively charmless little Ristorante da Gianni. It’s dimly lit, almost to the point of stumbling darkness — especially if you enter, as we did, from the sharp rays of a late midsummers’ afternoon nursing a fierce hangover brought on by a handful of Negronis the night before — and is made even darker by heavy wood paneling on all sides and rather gruff service. However, it is famous among local gastronomes for its strictly traditional Bolognese fare, and as most food-obsessed people know intuitively, what they serve in such seemingly unlikely-looking places often more than makes up for what is lacking in atmosphere. So it was here. Continue Reading »
This was definitely the longest hiatus in We Are Never Full history (bear in mind our history is only a measly 27 months) but, finally, we’re back! (exactly a month to the day since we went away) You may not be as excited as we are to be slowly getting back to normal, but if you visited us right now in our new apartment you’d notice how far from normal our living conditions are.
After almost 3 weeks of eating take-out and restaurant meals, we spent our Labor Day doing hard labor. A day in a North Korean Labor Camp would’ve felt better to my legs and feet than a day trying to set up shop in our new place. Oh, and a tip to anyone moving after accumulating five years of crap (along with a fear of throwing things away), PAY PEOPLE TO PACK FOR YOU or at the least pay people to move everything you own for you. Continue Reading »
Soon to not be our kitchen anymore. Boo-hoo…
Regular We Are Never Full readers out there may have noticed that we’ve been less than active in the new posts capacity of late — some of you may even mourn the loss of our chirpy and spirited voices from your weekly web-browsing, though we expect many might find it welcome relief. Either way, we’re on temporary hiatus from blogging at the moment due to being in the process of finding a new apartment where we can cook, be somewhat more physically expansive, and hey, even entertain guests (!). All in all, a tricky proposition in a city where 700 square feet apartments are listed as “luxurious” or “roomy’, the description “sun-drenched” equates to the presence of a single window, and “galley” kitchens are advertised as being something to get excited about. Continue Reading »
One of the most familiar (and enjoyable) flavor combinations to many cultures – sour and sweet or, as the Italians call it, agrodolce. There is something about tartness and sweetness that just makes you want more. Think Sour Patch Kids, Pisco or Whiskey Sours or your favorite Chinese take-out order. Yes, sweet and sour is everywhere. Continue Reading »
“In Argentina, a vegetarian is someone who orders a salad with their steak…”
Those with even a basic understanding of food history probably know that the hamburger as we know it today is an American adaptation of the “Hamburger-style steak” which originated in the now-German city of Hamburg, and was brought to this country by immigrants from Schleswig-Holstein. Demonstrating typical cunning and salemanship, all the Americans did was make this dish portable, and, having done so, they set out to make the world obese and diabetic by drowning these wildly popular sandwiches in hydrogenated fat and salt, and selling them for $1 each. Continue Reading »
Originally, I was going to simply write a one paragraph post helping people understand that they should not be afraid to use butter when necessary. Unfortunately, I realized how much emotional turmoil I have when it comes to this subject and others. A nice recipe for a Buttered Pea and Potato Salad had somehow turned into a major rant against fake butter and “light” olive oil. I apologize to any margarine lover and extra virgin olive oil hater I may offend in the process of reading this post! Continue Reading »
Jul 14th, 2009 by Amy and Jonny
“Two households, both alike in dignity
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene”
– William Shakespeare, Prologue to Romeo and Juliet
On our honeymoon, almost exactly two years ago today, we arrived in the fair city of Verona thoroughly pissed off. And then things got worse. It wasn’t as if the day had started badly either: waking in Bologna; leisurely sipping a doppio espresso; before strolling along Via Pescherie Vecchie to buy a small, crusty loaf, a giant, but sweet tomato, an immoderately-sized leaf-wrapped burrata, and a serrated knife; then, wandering into the Piazza Cavour to make ourselves nearly sick with buttery cream cheese curds washed down with a half-bottle of bardolino. All in all, a pretty reasonable opening gambit. Continue Reading »
Ahhh, don’t you love a nice, cheesy pun in the morning? I know I do! If there was an emoticon (Omg, am I dating myself by using that word? Do people even use the word emoticon anymore? Do emoticons even exist anymore?! A quick search shows yes. Still, why do I feel like such a geek for discussing emoticons? Do I even want emoticons to exist anymore? Ok, back to the sentence) showing someone giving a wink, wink, nudge, nudge or slamming on to the top of a microphone saying, “Is this thing on!?” then that would have gone at the end of the post title. Continue Reading »
Every stereotype, no matter how absurd the caricature, has, at its core, a grain of truth. Though I doubt anyone has ever seen him, the beret and black and white hooped sweater-sporting Frenchman with a cigarette hanging off his lower lip and a baguette under his arm, remains an abiding image of France; and in spite of daily experiences to the contrary, the sombrero-wearing bandolero with extraordinarily fecund mustaches framing a gold tooth persists in many people’s minds as the look of the typical Mexican.
Similarly, in the American imagination, the British are all highly genteel, pale-skinned folk, who sip tea out of dainty bone china cups at exactly four p.m. every day, and take tiny bites out of their cucumber sandwiches to avoid baring their horrific teeth. Of course, most Brits are more likely to be swigging gin or alcopops from a tin mug than Earl Grey by the time four o’clock comes around, but as with French and Mexican stereotypes, these outdated notions retain an element of truth. Continue Reading »
Jun 29th, 2009 by Amy and Jonny
The heavens have cleared here in NYC, finally. After over twenty straight days of clouds and/or rain, we celebrated the welcoming warm and sunny weather with something light and bright. Before this week, bathing suit season seemed very, very far away – then the heat and sun came and getting into a bathing suit began staring me in the face immediately. Barf. I’ll need a few less choripáns and patacones and a few more lentils and fish to feel a bit less “Dance Your Ass Off contestant” and a bit more Gisele Bündchen pre-pregnancy (that ain’t no beer bloat, please). Continue Reading »
Virtually everywhere they make sausages, and in a lot of places they don’t, some form of sausage in bread combination is sold by street vendors, often to the inebriated, and, in many cases, the consumer is best advised to be under the influence before taking their life in their hands with one of these mystery bag sandwiches. The night I met my wife, for example, I remember being horrified that her sister (who had introduced us earlier in the evening) was reckless enough — even after 50 drinks — to buy an insanitary-looking sausage in a roll from a street vendor in London’s Piccadilly Circus.
Where sanitation isn’t the biggest issue, a sense of disappointment often is, with the boring and insipid offerings available at any of the myriad hot dog stands lining almost every Manhattan street exemplifying this. Continue Reading »
As you may be able to tell, if you are a regular reader of this blog, we love mint. We use it often in the summer because it grows like a freaking weed. Because we live in Brooklyn, we barely have any outdoor space (but are very fortunate to have any). Yet, in that small space, we have many, many planters. Over the years, we’ve managed to inadvertently kill many varieties of plants, flowers and veggies but nothing will kill our mint. One season, a few things died unexpectedly and we thought maybe it was the soil (we coined the term “soil of death” during this depressing time – witty, I know). The “soil of death” was most definitely used when we planted the mint and even that crap couldn’t kill it! Mint is too often underused in cooking, which I don’t understand. There are a quite a few varieties of mint and some people feel very strongly about it, usually either loving it or hating it (except when it’s used in their mojito or julep). I love it but love it equally as much in my savory foods as in sweets or alcoholic bevy’s. Continue Reading »
There are few things that, when slapped between tortillas and christened with spicy condiments, fail to get me excited. Making it a shame that the vast majority of Mexican restaurants near us have such a limited spectrum of taco fillings. Not that I don’t enjoy carnitas, carne asada, fish or chicken tacos, I very definitely do, but that there is something of a tyranny inherent in this four-point agenda. Continue Reading »
We’ve had such a cruddy spring here in NYC and it’s hard to believe the summer solstice is just a week and a half away. Luckily, it’s been chilly and wet during the work week and sunny and warm at the weekends. It doesn’t make you feel that much better, though. You can’t fully get into the swing of summer because the weather just isn’t matching up. It feels like early April and we’re two weeks into June. Sadness. I want to wear my freaking sandals again and eat dinner outside and not wear a COAT ANYMORE! Continue Reading »
****Ahhh, the old dippy egg automatic food p*rn shot
I remember the night in Madrid Jonny and I thought it would be a good idea to do a tapas crawl after having many, many drinks. We weren’t yet at that “I’m so drunk I must shovel food in my mouth now” place, but were maybe a few bottles of Mahou away. It was a great idea at first, but as the drinks piled on, the tapas were looking smaller and smaller and smaller to me. This girl was getting hungry! But we had to soldier through. We had to follow the pact we had made after that bottle of rioja that we would have a drink and a tapa, then move to the next bar and have another drink then a tapa. We would never surrender to buying dinner that night. Tapas and drinks. Tapas and drinks only. Continue Reading »
Jun 2nd, 2009 by Amy and Jonny
As Odysseus was nearly drawn to his destruction on the rocks by the enchanting song of the sirens, so your hardy WANF voyagers were almost powerless to resist breaking themselves on the plentiful tables of Uruguay. However, unlike Homer’s hero, for whom women were the main weakness throughout his epic peregrinations, during our recent travels in South America, we found that grilled organs, specifically sweetbreads, are the likely source of our eventual ruin. Continue Reading »
This dish was so easy, I could have cried as I cut my onions. I had a hankering for fresh crab and, because it was a weeknight, I saved time and energy by purchasing already shelled crab (not to ever be confused with something that makes me want to gag called krab). This dish actually raised my mood from not-too-hot (about a 3 on a scale from 1 to 10) to feeling incredibly good (a good 9/9.5). Sometimes a good dinner can just do that. The lemon brightened the finished product up, the fennel gave it a bit of crunch and sweetness. Crab and fresh cherry tomatoes always remind me of warm summer days which, naturally, make me smile. Continue Reading »
May 24th, 2009 by Amy and Jonny
Just a few ideas if you’re stumped for a new thing to make for Memorial Day this year. Why not swap the old hot dog and burgers for one of these?
Continue Reading »
We’ve waxed poetic about our love for our pressure cooker in We Are Never Full’s past posts. It is one of the best pieces of kitchen equipment to have if you want that long-simmering/long braising flavor without the time to to do so. It is not used as often as it should be in the American kitchen. So if you don’t have one, before next winter, please, go buy one! We decided to bust out the PC for a twist on the traditional rogan josh (Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe as a base). This is a recession meal – but only if you have all the spices at hand. If you don’t, you’ll be spending an additional $20 on those! Lamb shanks are some of the cheapest cuts of meat – for two pounds of these beauties we paid about $6. The flavor is intense and, if cooked correctly, the meat falls right off the bone. This recipe could be made in a dutch oven and cooked for about 2 hours or you can just use little old pressure cooker to do the work for you in about 45 minutes. Lip smacking, finger lickin’ goodness. Continue Reading »
No, friends, let me reassure you that you have not accidentally stumbled upon some weird, faux-rustic “pron” site. For good or bad, the only p0rn you’ll find here is daring, ultra-close-up pics of the juicy, young flesh of pasture-fed Argentine cattle. And the only things being roasted (or stripping for that matter) are long strips of beef ribs, or tira de asado.
The setting for this particular Argentine skin flick was El Establo, (meaning the stable), a famous old parilla in the Retiro district of Buenos Aires. Continue Reading »
A few years ago, my local favorite Thai take-out royally f’ed me. Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit. Have you ever had a restaurant you used to love and then horrible customer service just made you reconsider your obsession with them? Did you feel personally offended because over the course of many, many years of patronage (meaning you felt like you single-handedly kept their sorry arses in business?), they ruin the love affair with a few bad decisions? Maybe you wouldn’t want me as your customer but I usually have a “three strikes you’re out” rule but that one bad day, the day I was a bit hungover and desperately needed the sweet and salty taste of some Thai food, my local joint let me down big time. I responded with a few mean reviews on our Brooklyn/NYC online restaurant review websites. Then I vowed I would never, ever return again… no matter how bad I wanted that delicious Penang Curry. And guess what, I did it. To this day I have never returned. When I want to stand my ground, I do. But I have finally realized that my business did not keep them open and they continue to thrive locally. Whatever… Continue Reading »
Picture this, if you will: A warm, humid day in Argentina’s early autumn; the last rays of sun slanting sharply through the browning leaves of mature plane trees; myriad dog-walkers rustling quietly by in the litter of those already fallen. In the lee of a giant ficus planted for sidewalk shade, two travelers recline in the canvas-backed chairs of a cafe, unwinding the combined corporeal kinks of a 10 hour overnight flight and a 6 hour stroll around Buenos Aires. As they sit, calm descends over our road-weary protagonists – of the kind unknown and almost unfathomable in their highly caffeinated daily lives up North, yes, a beautiful serenity indeed, interrupted only by a raging thirst. Continue Reading »
May 3rd, 2009 by Amy and Jonny
In several of his well-known paeans to Provence, Peter Mayle describes, both lyrically and at great length, his love affair with the black truffles of that region. Sometimes couched as a cloak-and-dagger chase involving bizarre and nervy rendez-vous’ along dimly-lit back roads, or illicit dealings with “men with dirt under their fingernails and yesterday’s garlic on their breath” in the shady recesses of the village cafe, Mayle often puts himself on the wrong side of the law in search of the prize he calls “the black gold of Provence”. All this is necessary, he maintains, because the price of “rabasses”, as they’re known in Provencale, is so astronomical – an assessment borne out by even the most casual google search (one ounce of black French winter truffles = $106). Thankfully, we were able to pick up some cheaper, black summer truffles (£10 or $16 for two) in a London grocery store the last time we were there. Continue Reading »