Produced by Juharo & Camille's Demi-Hour. Special thanks to Gene Mahon.
One of the seven events I produced and hosted over two days at Nantucket Culinary during the Nantucket Wine Festival. Thank you to all those involved- michelin starred chef Gabriel Kreuther, Champagne Billecart- Salmon, The American Truffle Company, Glidden Point Oysters, Oregon Winemakers Jay Somers of J. Christopher & Scott Shull of Raptor Ridge, The Massachusetts Cheese Guild, The Savory Root, Pi Pizza, Palm Bay Imports and Horizon Beverage. And lastly, to the great team at Nantucket Culinary, Chef Greg, Joy, Kalina, Amanda, Hannah, Graham and special guests Nina and George.
I have a great roster of guests this year! Tune in to my new airing time- Saturdays & Sundays at 1:30pm on 89.5FM Nantucket's NPR. And check out my new logo! Cheers and see you on the airwaves!
GOURMET EVERYDAY. I cannot take claim to this ingenious tagline and perfectly short food philosophy. It is the tagline from the former, long-running and food savvy Gourmet Magazine. However, I do enforce it and I will try to enlighten anyone who thinks about cooking in this way... and for that matter, living in this way.
There are many ways to think about how we eat. In fact, how we eat and what we eat can tell a lot about who we are and even more, what we believe. The most famous of all gastronomes, Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote, “tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” This principle is also connected to the concepts of Ayurvedic medicine. Through Ayurvedic practices, a person uses what they eat to balance their bodily systems, from the inside out. More often people think about eating too little or too much. When in fact we need to learn to be thinking about what we should be eating first and foremost.
It is in our nature to think about food. If we were to think about our pre-historic selves, we simply only thought about eating, sleeping, surviving, and reproducing. People then ate to live, rather then live to eat like we might do today. But eating doesn't just help you live but effects how you live. The beautiful things in one's life; a family, a spouse, your work- cannot be experienced fully if you are not well and healthy to enjoy them. How we feel is our health and our health determines how we live our life.
In the book Culture Codes, author Clotaire Rapaille surveys and studies different societies around the world and how they feel about social topics and human emotions. There is a range of psychological connections a.k.a "culture codes" from each survey that "codes" that society and their thoughts towards ideas like food, sex, work and so on. But the one "code" everyone had in common was health- "mobility". Food is fuel, but good food is high octane. And this mantra, gourmet everyday is a start to defining what is "good" food for a healthy life.
Gourmet everyday really translates to two practices "care" and "quality". It isn't about loads of preparation, but rather the simple, thoughtful combinations you can do in the kitchen. Utilize leftovers, for easy preparation. Like a sandwich from a chicken you roast yourself and leave in the fridge. Simple pasta with fresh sautéed grape tomatoes, olive oil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese (a block of parmesan cheese will end up costing you the same and tasting better than packaged grated cheese). Think frugal and more bang for your buck, not necessarily more expensive. Yogurt, nuts and fruit can be breakfast or lunch. This is care translated into practical routines for day to day living.
And meals aren't about quantity, but "quality". Try just two-three ingredients- a beautiful bowl of sautéed lentils, herbs and a piece of chicken sausage is scrumptious. Think less ingredients, and finer ones. Like basmati rice, fresh chopped herbs and a fried egg is so simple and satisfying. Better fats and fewer steps. Chop up sweet onions, squash, place in a roasting pan drizzle extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper and add six chicken thighs and bake all at once. Or classic tartines (an open-faced sandwich with a homemade spread) like toasted artisan sourdough bread (worth the extra dollar or two) with ricotta cheese and local honey or a mash of avocado, thin sliced sweet onion, olive oil and salt and pepper. All meals in themselves. And if you need more protein, add a purée of white bean, tuna with cayenne for a kick and a condiment.
Do think about food more, you have only body in this lifetime and the better you take care of it, the better it will treat you and work! And for more tips do make extra of your favorite things to use for leftovers, it will save you time. Keep some cooked quinoa in the fridge, or extra roasted potatoes to use with eggs or for cold salads. Sauté a bunch of peppers, onions and tomatoes, a classic peperonata to add to grilled meats or fish. With simple and thoughtful food, you will have gourmet everyday. You don't need a big traditional meal everyday. A simple bowl of homemade soup (simply simmered water with carrots, celery, s&p, and leeks) and a grilled cheese is special when done with good bread (look for bread with less than four ingredients) and yummy cheese (just milk and enzymes). You can make a meal out of the classic basics. A little extra thought and care (a.ka. love) will slowly began to make eating more enjoyable and transform your everyday into something to savor, like life itself.
New York City
There are too many good restaurants in New York. And even more continue to open claiming more tastiness and coolness than their prior spot or neighbor. I have a notes tab in my phone that says nyc restaurants. It is a endlessly growing list of places I read about and want to visit in the city. I refer to the list when I am looking for a spot to eat, but overwhelmed and can't remember where to go. But often times when I walk the streets, my certain whereabouts and random memories guide me to just the right place.
I used to live in Greenwich Village on West 9th Street, a one block street. My apartment was two blocks north of Washington Square Park, so going to Soho was just a ten minute walk away. Whenever I return there I take the same walk as I did then to my favorite neighborhood. Very little has changed on those blocks. The record store and the chess shop are still there. First appearing odd and out of place, but as you approach the far corner, you take a breath and it was as if you emerged from a time warp.
On my last trip to the city, I was having a drink on the corner of Sullivan and Prince near that same favorite neighborhood. Across the street I looked and saw the familiar red neon light in the window and the sign that read "Restaurant Francais", beneath the faded green awning. I forgot about the place and how it was a favorite of mine. I didn't refer to my phone list for ideas right then and decided to go there for dinner. After which, I was only able to secure a 5:30 reservation. However being a long day, I was ready to eat.
The restaurant seemed to work in four successions. A greeter, your waiter, a wine steward, and then the manager who checks in throughout the evening and who is the last one to say goodnight to you. When you walk through the front door, pulling away a red curtain that hangs to keep the cold air out and the walk-ins from lingering too long, a beautiful red-lipped hostess pleasantly greets you. Being a small restaurant, you are quickly guided to your table and sit before you get in anyone's way. You are trapped, but happily so. You are at the chef's mercy and ready for indulgence. You are being watched over by the staff, but in a good way. Nothing could go wrong. The waiter was superb. A table-side manner like a character from Shakespeare; a touchstone of expertise, humor and instinct. The wine steward, was not just any wine steward, but the former sommelier at Per Se. And then there was the icon of the place. A waiter turned manager, who had been there since the place's inception. A funny and humble grey-haired man, when looking at an old picture of his young self on the wall he smirked. I asked, "is that you?" He said, "those were my brunette days". As for the food, I ate every last bit of my 14 oz. steak au poivre that they are known for and reasonably so.
When it comes to what makes a restaurant great, always remember there are many levels within the dining experience, from a perfectly executed burger to an 8-course wine paired dinner. The question is, how do you feel walking out of a restaurant after dining there. Did you drink and eat well, did you taste or feel something you hadn't before? How many times did you say, "ahhh..."? Depending on how you answer those questions, you will know what places are as good as they claim to be. And sometimes, the less you do and the more they create for you, those are the real gems. At Raoul's, just walk through the doors and see for yourself.
The Atwood House, Chatham Ma.
How does one spend a Sunday? That is such a personal question. I usually try to go to church. If not, I sleep in, skip the work out, read the New York Times (not online), have a fatty, decadent breakfast and make Italian for dinner. However, when my father asks me for a favor, I always oblige because he never refuses when I ask for his help. He proposed we film a lecture on a Sunday afternoon by a local "Chathamite" named Bob Staake, a professional illustrator. The lecture is part of series for the Chatham Historical Society at the Atwood House Museum in Chatham, Massachusetts where my retired father volunteers. The museum is located on Stage Harbor Road, in the former home of Captain Joseph Atwood. The house was converted in 1926 by The Chatham Historical Society as a museum to preserve the historic relics and artifacts of this colonial, seaside fishing community. Chatham is also well known for the story that inspired the book and movie The Finest Hours. This little village has as much New England charm as one could imagine.
Still sleepy, we drove from a Boston suburb to Chatham, situated on the "elbow" of Cape Cod overlooking Nantucket Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. It was one of those perfect fall days New Englanders love... bright blue sky, golden sunlight that streams across the trees, with a gentle breeze that blows just strong enough to make the golden leaves fall off their branches and dance gently to the ground. We are the first to arrive at the Atwood House, and my Dad instructs us to park at the far corner of the lot to allow room for the expected crowd. (Coming from city living, I don't see how crowded this little place can be, but I did as my Dad requested). I did my homework before arriving and learned the illustrator is known mostly for his children's books (over 70 and counting). But more interesting to me, was his thirty-plus year career in illustration from Mad Magazine to The New Yorker. He's probably best known for the cover of the issue that was released after Barack Obama was first elected president in 2008. Bob is known for and refers to his work as "a bit retro and playful". He likes to play off famous images from Adolphe Jean-Marie Mouron Cassandra and other early 20th century artists while bringing his own satiric twist. "I prefer to distill a complex idea into one graphic image without giving an idea or concept away. The viewer needs to bring their mind to the image."
We enjoyed the sun on the front deck as we waited for guests to arrive. We had no idea how much we would enjoy this artist's quick humor, his enormous talent and learning about his fast paced life in his little studio under the sign "IMAGINE" on Main Street in Chatham. His visual presentations included his submissions of confirmed and unconfirmed covers for The New Yorker, to photos of all the trinkets and artwork he created in whatever free time he doesn't seem to have. One of the slides showed numerous robot clocks. Another showed a large, 600 lb stone orb he moved to his backyard, a subject for a mysterious and beautifully designed adult illustrated book.
My Sunday was not a typical one, it was much more. As the beautiful fall day closed, we realized we had met a very special and unique artist who brought us into his big, little world. We slowly made our way out to the filled parking lot and as did the others, leisurely made our way to our car. We drove along Shore Road and as a special treat, stopped at The Chatham Bars Inn to have a glass of Champagne by the fire. A perfect ending to a perfect day. If only I were able to illustrate that.