Sunday, January 23, 2011

Citrus Salad with Olive Oil and Marash Red Pepper

It's high citrus season. This is the time of the year oranges, grapefruits and their cousins are at their best. You can really smell them from the outside — scratch and sniff the rind for full effect — and, inside, their fruit is at its most luscious. 

I like to make this salad, which is simply fruit (here grapefruit, blood orange and mandarin), olive oil and Marash red pepper. Which fruit you choose isn't that important. But it's key to peel, segment and seed them, in the process getting rid of as much white pith as possible. Scrape at the pith and get all the stringy bits off. This is quite a pain. Set yourself up with a very sharp knife and some 1950s Calypso music, to make it go easier, for it will take a while. To serve, lay the fruit on the plate, in a colorful jumble, douse it with long pours of rustic, fruity olive oil, then crop dust it with the pepper. Since Marash pepper is already salted you don't need to add any. Leave it to rest for a half an hour to let the flavors mingle and the fruit to warm up.

I stop there, but you could go further, perhaps adding thinly sliced onion, a small handful of capers, a squeeze of fresh lime. 

Backing up a bit, you might want to zest the fragrant peels first and save the zest for pasta or salad dressing.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Salt Pyramids

The Fancy Food Show in San Francisco just wrapped up. Alison from Anglesey in Wales was there with these salt pyramids. They're inch square crystals that form on the top of the salt baths. They float like inverted icebergs, the tip facing down. They're considered defects because they're so big. The crew picks them off and they're discarded. I think they're totally cool. I have no idea what to do with them but I asked her to save some for us and we'll take them on our next import. 

Another highlight of the show was La Quercia, where Herb had some of the grossest looking stuff I'd ever seen. He called it Iowa White. It's the ground up pork fat trimmings, spiked with herbs and spices. It was sealed in a plastic bag and looked like lumpy oatmeal. You don't want to see the picture so I'll save you from it. Put all that out of your head, though. It was damn good. Think spread, like pimento cheese, but made of meat. We'll get some later this year.

During the trip I visited Kermit Lynch—the shop, and the man.  It was the first time I've met him, though I've been a fan of his wines and newsletter for ages. We got to taste some wines together with his right hand man, Dixon and when they went looking for something in the employee break room fridge this is what I saw. 

Blue Bottle Coffee is doing some space age Japanese coffee brewing at their spot on Mint Street.

Four Barrel coffee on Valencia sells these mugs with drawings of their baristas. Each had a nickname, like "The Viking". I thought they were great.

I am posting this while flying on an airplane, which kind of blows my mind.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Heritage Radio Interview

Out back of Roberta's restaurant in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn there's a retired thirty foot freight shipping container. On top of it there's a hoop garden where they grow vegetables. Inside of it is the studio for Heritage Radio Network, an internet food radio station. I was there today, interviewed by Michael Harlan Turkell for his show, The Food Seen. It ended up that we talked very little about food, but a lot about operations and our recent holiday season at Zingerman's. For some reason I was especially serious during the interview. Maybe it was January setting in.

I visited last year and did an interview with Heritage's founder, Patrick Martins. The link is here.