Snapshots and bites from January:
Spent a weekend on the water in Punaluu, to kick off our training for Merrie Monarch. In between verses I snuck into the kitchen to watch Kumu’s mom make Wow Laulau: first frying lots of garlic in the bottom of a great pot, then adding a platter of pork laulau and covering with coconut milk and stock. Good grief, it was ʻono. Here’s the moon in Punaluʻu that evening.
There’s a comment box at the bottom of every page on this blog but my family is settling into a pattern of non-verbal responses; when I wrote about substituting cayenne for a critical ingredient in Daniel Humm’s Provencal Granola, a month later half a jar of piment d’espelette arrived, bubble-wrapped, from my aunt’s own spice rack in Paris. The more recent post about Jean Troisgros prompted this keepsake from 1973 to appear at our dinner table:
A little bit of cooking. Best (and simplest) recipe I tried this month: blood oranges with green olives and red onion.
And gorgeous chioggia beets from MAʻO roasted into something that looked very much like striated ahi:
Chinese New Year came and went with little fanfare from us; the parents were in California so a friend and I celebrated at P.F. Chang’s. It was my first visit there and I thought I was being sort of funny, but food-wise the joke was really on me. Fortune-wise I think I did rather well:
And an experiment: eating unripe coriander berries, which are everywhere in a big tangle of bolted cilantro outside the lanai. They are delicious. Bright pop of cilantro and citrus.
These two bites from my holiday reading struck me as very similar. The first, from the new monograph on Dieter Rams by Sophie Lovell (Phaidon, 2011); second, from Judy Rodgers’ enchanting Zuni Cafe Cookbook (Norton, 2002), in which she recalls a lesson from age 16, when a neighbor at home “prodded” her to spend the summer with his French friends–who turned out to be the brothers Troisgros.
It would all be much simpler if one could state that Dieter Rams’s work and principles arose from him alone. But Rams would be the first to say that what constitutes his ‘work’ as an industrial designer is inseparable from the systems and networks through which it was produced…. He could never have resolved his concepts without the ideas of his predecessors and contemporaries…Even beyond [the] vast network of people required to create his products, the designs themselves were modular and system-related.
I cannot make a dish without trying to conjure where it came from, and where I first had it, or read about it, or who made it, or taught me to make it. And who grew the vegetables, raised the chickens, or made the cheese. In this way, the simplest dish can recall a community of ideas and people… Jean Troisgros always insisted that cooking is not an art, but is artisanal. His distinction acknowledges the necessity of cooking, and honors the collaborative genius of community in coming up with good cooking.
File under: new year, mochi, long life.
Happy New Year!
My sister asked me to drive her to Waimanalo on the 21st of December, and it won’t surprise you to know that when I asked why, she explained that it was to find my Christmas present (a lime tree and a black pepper vine from Frankie’s Nursery, PS thank you). There was also an organized stop for the fish tacos at Sweet Home Waimanalo, and on the cafe’s recommendation, the house brisket (in kalo stew). The nursery was closed, but that mattered not to the passenger. “I’ll come back on Thursday,” she said. “I want more of that brisket.”
Sweet Home Waimanalo
41-1025 Kalanianaole Hwy.
Waimanalo, HI 96795
More catchup: I’m eating soup made from year-end refrigerator dregs today, and reliving the past year’s eats in photographs, too. A friend who knows Tokkuri Tei’s menu backwards and forwards chose his favorite dishes for this feast on July 2nd. Oh, those nachos: nori “chips” halfway battered in tempura and loaded with guacamole, fresh herbs and spicy tuna.
Sumo wrestlers, a line in the sun (more sumo wrestlers, construction workers, Honolulu hipsters, Kalihi businessfolk), fruit punch, iceberg lettuce, famous garlic chicken (the garlic perhaps playing second fiddle to artificial maple syrup), ahi tataki and miso soup at the ne plus ultra of plate lunch and favorite of John Heckathorn’s.
Time flies. Snapshots from our 2011 Christmas: ham, maple roasted butternut with apples and sage, scallops, sushi, a collard-strewn table, a breakfast casserole, Kaʻū Kuahiwi beef, Wailani chard, roasted red peppers, and holiday fun with the kin.