Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Uncle Andy and Aunt Vicki visit - Menu for tonight

Pumpkin Ravioli (roast chicken demi glace-beurre blanc and fried sage)
2000 Enzo Boglietti Buio, Langhe

Roast Loin of New Zealand Venison with Guanciale robe
PX Sherry glazed roast cippolini & red peppers, crispy savory roast potatoes
2005 Carlo & Julian Estate Pinot Noir, Willamette

Simple green salad

Take a walk.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pastrami, Corned Beef, Noshstalgia and more ...

To any readers who may have noticed my relative silence over the past several weeks - I apologize. I've been busy, and I'm about to tell you why.

If you've been reading Noshstalgia for a while, you know that I'm more than a little obsessed with pastrami. Corned beef too. I've tried most every reputable brand, deli or restaurant offering here in Boston, down in New York and anywhere else my travels take me. Certainly there are places offering enjoyable products - some of them truly great - but still, I've never been entirely satisfied.

And so, I set out to see if I could produce something myself - something that did it. Yes, it's magic meat we're after. Time travel inducing sandwiches. One bite and you're back. Back where it all began - where indelible sense memories were planted.

Well, as other intrepid neophytes to making pastrami have oft reported - getting this stuff right takes some work. But after many months of effort, I'm pleased to report that I've got a repeatable, reliable, artisan quality - but commercial scale - process for what I believe is the best there is. More recently, I went to work on corned beef too, and now I think we're almost there with that also. I've served many people at this point - and they have been unanimous - There's magic in that meat.

Amongst other things, what I've discovered in this exploration of deli meat production is that while tradition and deep memories are essential to informing the process, selective use of more innovative, modern methods can yield great - perhaps greater than ever before - results.

Emboldened (maybe even intoxicated) by the the aromas, flavors, textures, and rave reviews from hundreds of consumer taste tests, I began working on a business plan to try and bring these products to market. I'm pleased to report that - although it's nearly impossible to make money on really high-quality meat - I think I've found a way to at least get started and share the deli high.

Once having tasted the pastrami, there was no stopping my pursuit of other "great lost tastes" - so now there are several other Noshstalgia-inspired products also in the works that I'm not yet prepared to discuss publicly. Honestly I haven't even determined yet what to call my fledgling venture (royalty-free suggestions welcome) - nor have I resolved how, if at all, this blog relates to it. But I felt I owed any readers who might have been wondering what happened to me an explanation. I will try to make time, once again, to post more regularly, and I will try and keep readers up to date with developments on this new business venture.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ethnic Foods Dining Out Meetup at Taiwan Cafe

Had dinner tonight with 7 strangers at the Taiwan Cafe on Chinatown's Oxford Street. This place has been praised by many on line reviewers. Some people who say they know claim it to be authentic Taiwanese food. I don't know Taiwanese food, so I can't say one way or the other.

The good news - A nice group of people arranged through Meetup.com. There were 18 RSVPs for the event, but only 8 of us showed. No matter, a perfect number for one large round table and a good size for conversation. I enjoyed meeting these folks. And I learned things. More diversity of age than I had anticipated.

Now as to the food - I was disappointed.

We had two dumplings - one pan fried and one steamed. The dipping sauce supplied carried more vinegar and malt and less spice than I would have preferred. Not bad, but not balanced and not exciting. The dumplings - both types - also failed to deliver any real excitement. Copious filling, but not much flavor.

We ordered 7 assorted entrees - Pork with Yellow Chives, Eggplant with Basil, Braised Spareribs in BBQ sauce, Squid and something, Jumbo Shrimp in Chili Sauce, String Beans with Dried Shrimp, and Spicy Salt and Pepper Chicken. Every item with the possible exception of the string beans was either way salty, way sweet or both. None exhibited any real clarity of flavor. The great thing about good chinese food is the way it allows the flavors of ingredients to really pop. None of that here. Frankly, the particulars don't even merit detailed analysis. I will however call out the string beans - which may not have been too salty (who can even tell at a certain sodium saturated point?) for some special attention. They had a generally dimpled appearance I associate with less than fresh vegetables and a musty character that I found unattractive. I've had the dried shrimp treatment before and don't recall feeling similarly, so I'm not sure what accounts for the mustiness.

Overall, well - nice people. Meetup Group seems like a good thing.
Taiwan Cafe - well...I'll try somewhere else next time.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Slow Foods Pot Luck

We hosted a Slow Foods Pot Luck dinner last night at chez Noshstalgia. Being rather far out in the 'burbs, we attracted a small group - just four guests in addition to ourselves. Interestingly each attendee reported this to be their first Slow Foods pot luck and all but one reported this to be their first Slow Foods event of any kind. Lack of experience notwithstanding, everyone brought something delicious.
On offer:
  • Amuse: Polenta Toasts with Local Baby Lamb Bruschetta

  • Soup1: Acorn Squash and Fresh Picked Apple

  • Savory1: Leek, Goat Cheese and Walnut Tart

  • Savory2: Curry-Butter Roasted Cauliflower Crowns

  • Soup 2: Puree of root vegetables

  • Entree1: New Mexico Chile of Pork and Poblano Peppers with home-made tortillas

  • Entree2: Grilled Rib Chops of Local Baby Lamb

  • Dessert: White Chocolate, Challah Bread Pudding with Raspberry Sauce

  • Wine1: La Sauvageonne 2002 Pica Broca, Languedoc

  • Wine2: Willm 2006 Gewurztraminer, Alsace

  • Because we were a small group, we were able to sit down to a regular meal rather than milling and grazing as would have been required were there many more of us. A nice gathering and I encourage any readers to host or attend one of these soon. And if the group is smallish - so much the better.