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August, 2009 | Manolo's Food Blog
Archive - August, 2009

Dingle jingle

In the Irish village of Dingle,
the Henrys decided to mingle.
When three pints of Guinness
had settled within us
we sang out the following jingle:

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In Dublin fair city
where streets are so bitty
we side-swiped a girl named sweet Molly Malone.
She whirled her Pierce Arrow,
through the streets broad and narrow,
crying “Jaysus, you eejits are a menace on the roads!”

In Ireland while driving
your hopes of surviving
depend on how close you can drive past the hedge
When a big bus comes at ya’
and threatens to splat ya’
you’d better stay left or you’ll never go home.
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Road signs in Kerry
make locals quite merry
for they’re written in Irish and Irish alone.
When befuddled tourists
confront language purists
the tourists stay lost on these windy small roads.

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Windy small roads, windy small roads,
the tourists stay lost on these windy small roads.

American cheese

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Uplands Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Wisconsin is the finest American cheese Mr. Henry has ever tasted, a gruyere-style cheese that tastes better than Beaufort, the celebrated French Alpine tomme.
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Mildly tangy, mildly fruity, and mildly nutty, Pleasant Ridge has firm texture, a slightly grainy mouthfeel, and a creamy finish, the ideal pairing for a fresh summer salad followed by fruit.

Fellow cheese snobs take note. There are other terrific cheeses made here in the States. The peerless cheesemongers at Artisanale recommend twenty-nine on their site.

Pernod

Mr. Henry has been playing with his Pernod.

It’s been hot. The AC is still on the fritz. These days Mr. Henry finds he needs a pick-me-up before dinner to soothe the digestive system as well as to relax sweaty thews and sinews.

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Pernod, the antique licorice liqueur, with water and lots of ice, a sprig of mint, perhaps a splash of lemon, is a miracle restorative.

But Pernod is also a versatile spirit for cooking for vegetables, desserts, or fish, especially shellfish. At 6:00 p.m. last night it was 90º inside the apartment. There was no question of using the oven to cook. Alongside a cheese omelet Mr. Henry prepared a delicious sliced fennel sautéed in Pernod.

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First toss some fennel seed onto a plate. Pour ½ cup of Pernod onto the seeds. Peel and slice a bulb of fennel and lay them on the plate. As your skillet warms, the fennel will absorb some of the Pernod’s volatile essences.

Saute in olive oil over a medium low flame. (Too much heat destroys the delicate aromas of anise.) Sweat the fennel on one side, turn, add remaining Pernod from the plate, and cook slowly until it begins to brown. Top with fresh dill, if some is handy, and a little squeeze of lemon.

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Because the aromatics in Pernod derive from the fennel plant and its cousin the star anise, Pernod and fennel are a natural combination. Because Pernod is the least sweet of the licorice liqueurs (ouzo, pastis, raki, et. al.), it is also the most versatile for cooking. By the way, for those of you fond of hallucinogens, you’re too late. Since 1915 Pernod has not included absinthe.

Divine Julia

Yum.

That’s the watchword for the new Nora Ephron movie, Julie & Julia, in which Meryl Streep once again proves herself to be the screen actress without peer. Like the food she prepares, her performance is simply scrumptious.

“What do you like to do?” Paul asks Julia.

“Eat!” she says with her inimitable hoot. “I like to eat!”

And from this moment of insight, as simple as it is penetrating, a woman accustomed to getting things done set about to change the way Americans eat.

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But how did Julie Powell swing this book deal and then this movie deal? To be portrayed by Amy Adams, and to garner Meryl Streep as your star takes moxie.

Amy Adams bubbles with her usual performance – perky and cute – with an occasional dramatic reach into pouty and cute. The angst of wanting to be a writer, however, is nowhere shown convincingly on screen.

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Having taken a look at Julie Powell’s blog, however, Mr. Henry thinks perhaps Amy Adams may have been appropriately cast after all. It’s no wonder Julia dismissed Julie. Julia was a serious person, someone who wouldn’t waste her time or yours. No matter the subject, Julie writes sentences that are perky and cute spiced here and there with swear words. Like red pepper flakes on overcooked broccoli, it’s both overdone and under-imagined. The tone is breathy, squishy and, most damning, cheerful.

That Julie learned how to cook through Mastering the Art of French Cooking and took along thousands of readers along with her, however, is indeed commendable. Learning to cook enriches your life and the world around you. If you cook with what the French call intelligence, that is, practical good sense, you will perforce buy good local food which in turn promotes markets for that food.

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Mr. Henry is not a jealous person but he wonders whether or not Judith Jones, famed Knopf editor, might possibly work him into her schedule. He’s thinking of which actor might portray him in the movie. Tyrone Power, Jr., perhaps?

Cape trek


Jhumpa Lahiri and the Henry family are renting houses on Cape Cod
. Although they won’t be staying together, it seems as though they should be.

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For one, Mr. Henry will be carrying her new novel Unaccustomed Earth (in hardcover, Jhumpa, just so you know). For another he will be carrying an iron skillet.

In addition to being famous writers with ardent admirers, Jhumpa and Mr. Henry share an affection for cooking with cast iron skillets both on stovetop and in the oven. Although Mrs. Henry takes issue with its weight, Mr. Henry maintains that the iron skillet’s versatility overcomes that drawback. (The trick is to carry it with two hands – in oven mitts, please.)

All week Mr. Henry has been accumulating provisions for a week far from his best-loved markets. In addition to a skillet, here is a partial list of what the Henrys will tote in their trunk:castironskillet.jpg

Citarella’s Sicilian olive oil
white balsamic vinegar
Sherry vinegar
Dijon mustard
rolled oats
dried cannellini beans
French lentils
Sukoyaka brown rice
Tapioca pearls (for tea)
sea salt, black pepper
herbs de provence
curry, cumin, paprika
Eli’s olive rosemary crisps
pistachios
organic raisins
Scharffen Berger bittersweet chocolate
Orville Redenbacher’s popcorn, Natural
Twinings English Breakfast tea
Tazo Refresh mint tea
Citarella’s house blend coffee
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Refrigerated items:

bacon (no nitrates)
prosciutto di Parma
Parmigiano-Reggiano

farmhouse cheddar
Laura’s goat cheese log
Cabot’s nonfat yogurt
Cabot’s nonfat cottage cheese
homemade chicken stock (frozen)
Citarella’s green olive hummus
olives (Kalamata and green)
umeboshi
fresh ginger
limes
Xochitl salsa (green and red)

Drinks:

Hendrick’s gin
white Lillet
Manzanilla sherry
sauvignon blanc
pinot noir

Anything else will have to be scrounged at the Eastham Superette.

Mr Henry accepts that on any serious voyage things may get rough. Knowing that the most basic requirements for nourishment will be met, however, now perhaps he will rest easier.