May 30, 2011

Loo-zee-anna Saturday

As we make the slow crawl into summer we leave behind one of spring’s great traditions, the crawfish boil. 115 lbs of mudbugs we went through last weekend, alongside corn and mushrooms, onion, garlic, sausage, potato, and a keg of Mama's Little Yella Pils out of Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont, CO. Over the years I’ve become quite adept at maximizing my return on these burgundy crustaceans, but when it comes to the process of preparation I am ill-equipped to pass along any great secrets.

Because even though we Texans have a certain state-centric bravado that could, at times, be mis-perceived as arrogance, we also recognize the wisdom of yielding the reins when someone else knows better. And one activity where evidence of superiority is undisputed: Cajuns cooking crawfish. It's in their DNA. Nothing I want to futz with. All I can say is that it’s the later batches that pack the heat. But that’s where the Yella Pils comes in. Mo’ Heat, Mo’ Suds, Mo’ Better.

You see, we’re even brilliant in our humility.

May 26, 2011

The Book as Souvenir

"One's collection comes to symbolize the contents of one's mind. My mother's college texts, I remember, sat untouched in a corner of our country bookcase, radiating the glories of Renaissance poetry and Greek drama while being slowly hollowed by silverfish. The bulk of my own college books are still with me, rarely consulted but always there, reminders of moments, of stages, in a pilgrimage, while the decades since add their own drifts and strata of volumes read or half read or intended to be read.

"Books preserve, daintily, the redolence of their first reading--this beach, that apartment, that attack of croup, this flight to Indonesia. Without their physical evidence my life would be more phantasmal, as is, they are stacked around me, towering even over my head, as not only an extension into my past, sinking their foundations securely down to my accreted jejune marginal comments and reaching up into clouds of noble intention--books waiting to be read, as tempting as grapes unharvested and musky, years of dust to be blown off in a second of sudden plucking, their moment to be seized and absorbed come triumphantly round at last.

"Such books constitute a pledge of an infinite future, just as their brother books, already read but mostly forgotten, form an infinite resource of potential rereading, of new angles and insights on terrain where our footprints have all but vanished. Books externalize our brains, and turn our homes into thinking bodies."

- John Updike. "A Case for Books" in Due Considerations: Essays and Criticism (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007), p. 69.

Amazing what one can accomplish while putting off the very things that one actually needs to accomplish. There was a time in my life when I couldn't muster focus to hammer out a three-page paper, but I'll give odds that mine were the cleanest windowsills in Washington. Couple weeks ago I was procrastinating something - probably something I get paid to do - and instead put all efforts into rearranging some of the reading material, by color; after reading the above Updike passage I'm giving serious consideration to staking them auto-biographically. But that's a-whole-nother of commitment.

May 22, 2011

Pleasant Change of Pace

After hopping the last minute goat & chicken shuttle across the Gulf, we laid over for a night and morning in Lauderdale, taking care to slow our roll sufficiently before heading south toward the Keys... they don't take kindly to life lived above "leisurely" down there. Started the day with a row on the Intercoastal. Given my lack of both aptitude and achievement on the water I'm hard-pressed to call this a workout, but here we are... 

May 18, 2011


On first pass I think you'll agree... that this is one of the louder shops you'll see... and that I happened to be there on Mother's Day, with my mother-in-law, no wilting violet she... well that was just poetic.

It takes moxie just to walk into the Sandpiper at the Ocean Reef Club. Can't quite put my finger on what ya' call it takes to walk out, but over the years I've purchased enough color here to give a Palm Beach bridge game pause. It is unabashed, pasteled chaos, though with a quiet order about it. Operating under the watchful eyes of two sweet old ladies and this here monkey...

Made in China... presumably by the pandas themselves.

31 Ocean Reef Drive
Key Largo, FL 33037


May 16, 2011

A Visual Feast

Tokyo Turnips with Pickled Mushrooms, Beef Heart Tartare, Corn + Lime Yogurt + Chile + Cotija Cheese, Pork Belly Sushi with Miso Caramel... just some of the latest gastronimic offerings from our friends at The Monterey.

But first, bite with the eyes...

Photos courtesy: Newman Photography.

May 13, 2011

Italian Market (new school)

Batali. One name, that’s all he needs. The man whose touch turns everything to gold… and orange, like those ridiculous Crocs. And outrageous, like his Ministry of Tourism choreographed “Spain… on the road Again”… you know, just a little professionally produced road trip, across Spain, in a Mercedes, with Gwyneth Paltrow. Nice work if you can get it. And you can bet Willie sets the soundtrack. Batali’s is life over-the-top, so it’s no surprise that his latest venture follows suit…

Eataly - 52,000 sq-ft @ 23rd and 5th Ave, opened last summer to great fanfare. It’s a European-market-meets-artisanal-food-court-meets-cured-Italian-excess, all operating under the self-aware guise that what they’re selling is impressively sourced foodie theatre to foodie-minded folk. 

If Jimmy’s is the Sophia Loren of Italian markets – classic beauty, shuttling through the countryside in her 1938 Bugatti 57 S(C) – then Eataly is Lapo Elkann doing his best Bronson Pinchot True Romance-style in a Pagani Huayra while drinking espresso sponsored by Lavazza. It’s an experience that makes for some kitsch but loads of good fun.

And experience it you should. We were there on a Monday, twice. It bookended our stroll through some Union Square markets and acted as appetizer to our dinner at momofuku ssäm bar. 8p and standing room only at La Piazza, one of Eataly's six restaurants where standing is in fact the only option. Noshed on some salumi and cheese and readied ourselves with the Bastianich Vespa Rosso 2008, all the while taking care not to yield too much stomach real estate to the marble-clad temptress... pork buns awaited.

200 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10010

Banner Assortment via: Eataly.