Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hi Blog

Wow, this whole neglecting my blog thing is really getting worse.  I will attempt to try to catch up.

1st: The police called us a couple of days ago and said they matched the fingerprints from the scene of our breakin with a guy who was arrested for another B&E. He was arrested yesterday. The real question seems to be will he get probation again or will he get active time.  There was an article in the paper a month or so ago about B&E's here and probation is really what seems to happen in these cases.  The paper remarked about one case where the guy had 20+ breakins and hasn't served any active time.  I just really think this is ridiculous.  I think any crime where there is a victim calls for active time.  And if you've never had a stranger break your bedroom window, come in and rummage through your underwear drawer I can assure you there is a victim.

I'll talk about this more as the case progresses.

2nd: My SIL had her second baby, a girl.  I started my period just a couple days later.  Funnily, ha, ha, okay not that funny, I was slightly late.  But I wasn't pregnant.  Ha, ha.

3rd: I've been planning a Halloween dinner party.  I know that doesn't seem like such a big deal but I've been really seeing it as sort of a hobby.  I've been designing and making the costume for Brian and myself (mine is easier) and thinking about decorations and food.  It keeps my little active mind going, thinking, and creating, something it desperately needs.

I think that's it for now.  My mind is a little jumbled thinking about the arrest and stuff.  Take care.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Chia Seeds + Strawberries

Pasta all' Amatriciana roundup

Pasta all’ Amatriciana is among the simplest and most delicious things I’ve ever eaten.  It’s quite easy to make it well, but by now I’m used to the fact that most American restaurants suck at pasta, so it was with limited expectations that I set out to find a decent bowl downtown at lunchtime.  I tried 3 versions.

Bar Umbriago – “Spaghetti Amatraciana”
I tried to chalk the misspelling up to a simple careless typo, but inside I suspected that it was a sign that this place might not be too serious about how they create the classic dish.  It turns out that the sauce here was the porkiest and perhaps tasties of all that I tried.  The guanciale had been cut into thin, long slivers that rendered plenty of fatty flavor and retained a silky and luscious texture.  The spaghetti was cooked well, and this could have been an excellent dish had the kitchen halved the quantity of sauce and bothered to let it cook with the noodles for a bit (instead, the unsauced noodles sat at the bottom of the bowl with giant ladles of sauce placed atop them).  As it was, this dish was mostly ruined by the two sins that I see in almost every Italian restaurant: oversaucing, and failing to cook the pasta and sauce together for a bit after combining them.

Phil Stefani – “Rigatoni alla Matriciana”

Stefani chooses a spelling common and somewhat controversial in Rome, and also pairs the sauce with rigatoni – also more common in Romethan elsewhere in Ital, from what I understand.  Stefani departs from Roman or Italian or just plain good cooking, however, in just about every aspect of this dish.  It arrived at my table about 90 seconds after I ordered it, making pretty clear that there are some precooked noodles in the back waiting to be sauced.  The limp rigatoni certainly reinforced that likelihood, and this dish had a massive amount of thick tomato sauce and absolutely zero pork flavor or texture.  For an ungodly reason, some onions had been caramelized separately (“onion confit” was how the server described it) and then added to the sauce at service, lending a sickly sweet element to already-sweet tomato sauce, of which there was about 5 times too much.  This was among the worst-tasting pasta preparations I’ve had anywhere.

La Madia – “Tagliatelle all' Amatriciana”

At 15 bucks, this was the most expensive bowl I tried.  That may seem reasonable when you consider that La Madia makes its own guanciale out of Slagel pork and uses fresh tomatoes from a local farm, according to my server.  The kitchen here is also far more adept at saucing pasta than either of the others.  Unfortunately though, as with the Stefani version, La Madia’s sauce lacked much discernable pork flavor.  It was just a good, fresh tomato sauce with some extra fat.  Perhaps they didn’t use enough guanciale, or perhaps their guanciale just isn’t that good.  On a related note, I do not understand why restaurants want to make their own guanciale.  Is what you create using a make-shift kitchen apparatus going to be better than what experienced producers who do basically nothing but cure pork can create?  Not a chance.  Similarly, though it sounds nice to say that you make fresh pasta, this is a dish that is better with the al dente texture that only dried pasta can provide.

Fuckerberg – “Bucatini all’ Amatriciana

I didn’t much care for any of the versions above, and perhaps that’s because this is a dish that’s best made at home, and I bring the bias of my own version with me when I try it at restaurants.  Again, this is a simple and easy dish, but there are five principles that I believe must be followed.  First – this is essentially a pork fat sauce, not a tomato sauce. You can see from the picture here that each noodle is glistening with flavorful fat.  The tomatoes provide some sweetness and plenty of acid to balance things, but pork fat is what must be at the forefront.  

Second, the guanciale should provide a textural element, not just flavor.  To some people that means crisping it up, but not to me.  I cook the guanciale low and slow until it renders a lot of fat, but I don’t let it brown and the texture I’m looking for is tender, not crisp.  It retains a lot more flavor that way.  Third, I would never serve this dish without a hearty dried pasta that has been cooked short of what most people probably describe as al dente.  Fourth, Parmigiano Reggiano is the wrong cheese for this, and to me it basically ruins the dish.  It’s too nutty, which distracts from the other flavors.  A salty, straightforward (cheap) pecorino works best here.  On that note, I have never added salt to pasta all amatriciana.  Between the guanciale, the pasta water I add when cooking the noodles and sauce together at the end, and the cheese, there is always plenty.  Finally, though the most traditional versions probably don’t use hot pepper, I frankly can’t imagine eating this without some.  It’s not so much for heat, but a small dose of capsicum stimulates the taste buds in a way that enables the flavors of to dish to linger long after each bite.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bona Food Mag - Aug/Sept Issue

Check out the August/September issue of Bona Food Magazine 

There's tons of sweet recipes made with only the best food for a healthy body and mind!  We showcase some of lovely local Adelaide businesses, whose support has enabled us to print this baby and circulate it for FREE around our city! So a massive THANK-YOU to our advertisers! 

Studies (by us) show that BF Mag is a lovely thing to hold in your hands and has also proven to be a wonderful addition to the surface of coffee tables the land over. Purchase your hard copy at our website. We use Paypal - stock is limited though - Take our hand down that path! Be sure to tell us what you think!

Watch this space for deets about the upcoming issue and also for some highlights of our kitchen adventures!


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Totally NOT Helping

 I was reading Charleston hotel reviews and this hotel manager responds to a guest who said there was a bug in his ice bucket.  It was too good not to share:

This is a most unusual and unfortunate occurrence. The airborne palmetto bug is an insect native to the Charleston area that is often mistaken for a common cockroach due to their similarity in appearance. Because of the palmetto's ability to take flight these bugs can slip in through an open door. Therefore, it is impossible to tell when this palmetto managed to find its way into the Inn and into this guest's ice bucket. While we take full responsibility for our guests' experiences while staying with us, no member of the Vendue Inn team would overlook a palmetto in the ice bucket nor place ice in a bucket with a palmetto inside. 

Can I just tell you this manager's response just scared the daylights out of me about visiting Charleston.  Sir, you are not helping!  I was just about to book this hotel and now I'm just flat out worried.   You don't see a giant cockroach fly in the room?  I can hear them when they land.  THUD!  Mini-earthquake.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


I don't know what this place is supposed to be anymore.  It started as a story of triumph in daily reflection and kick-assery.  I miss those days and I know I can never have that same experience again.  Then it became even more, something I was proud of and excited of, a depth of honesty and insight, any person would be crazy to do these days.  And now...?

I have no idea.  No earthly idea.  I just miss the way it used to be when I knew I had direction or I knew what I wanted to say.

Brian was telling me the other day how my mom decorates too much.  We saw her car at the Pier One parking lot.  To put this in context you'd have to know all my mom does is talk about money, her lack of money, and what on earth will she do when she runs out of money.  The rest of the time she talks about how she spends money and the justifications, the necessity, the "investment."  I get frustrated with her about it, mostly because Brian's right, I can see myself in her when it comes to this sort of thinking.  He said, "You constantly have to be doing something and when you run out of something to do you want to change something that's perfectly fine."

I thought I was just doing what the majority of the blogs I read do, decorate their houses, but it's kind of stumped me and left me still, which of course makes the world circle around me in a dizzying way.  I thought I had linear movement when it comes to decorating, I thought I was doing something worthy that gives me IMMENSE joy.  But besides the internet (and my mom) I don't know anyone else who constantly buys things to fix up the house, constantly wants to change the house, constantly has the next project ready to go.  People buy sofas and hang pictures (usually too high) and then leave it like that for 20 years. 

HGTV is my ESPN.  I watch it when I'm not even watching it.  If what I do is wrong how do I reverse it?  And then what will I do with my time?  The weirdest part of the whole thing is I don't even share my projects here and that's what I was supposed to do.  Why haven't I posted anything of worth since the move.  Even when we moved I did a pretty lackluster job of putting that on my blog.  And now I feel kind of embarrassed about it.