November 24, 2011

San Antonio and the Blues

I heard this yesterday and thought it worth sharing. A great story about Robert Johnson, legendary Delta blues guitarist who, though dead by 1938 at the age of 27, would come to influence the likes of ZZ Top, Cream, the Stones, and on and on. I loved the story not least because, as a lover of the blues, I appreciate the history that the Gunter Hotel, located just a few miles away in downtown San Antonio, played in hosting a recording of such tremendous impact... one that would come to play a pivotal role in Rock 'n Roll.
"75 years ago, Johnson walked into the Gunther [sic] Hotel in San Antonio, Texas. He had been brought there by Ernie Oertle, an executive with the American Record Company, which had refashioned a hotel room into a makeshift studio. The company had brought people from all over the country to record, and the range of artists in the hotel that day was startling. Blues musician and writer Scott Ainslie lists them: "Gospel musicians, polka bands, string bands. 
"Johnson's session was sandwiched between a hillbilly band and a group of sisters who played Spanish guitar music," Ainslie says. Johnson walked into the recording room and settled down, facing into a corner. He tuned up his guitar and began to play."
Now, back in the kitchen and get to cooking. Happy Thanksgiving. 

Robert Johnson from Big Flea on Vimeo.

November 15, 2011

Two Kinds

When I was in my mid-twenties and earning government wages, I came to learn very quickly that there are two kinds of restaurants in this world: those to go to, and those to be taken to. Kinkead's was one to be taken to. Fortunately, I had a friend who needed help depreciating the value of a very thoughful gift certificate, so we gathered ourselves and our dates and the four of us headed down to Foggy Bottom to enjoy a meal that none of us could've afforded even if we'd skipped rent.

Afterwards (dinner was excellent, by the way), feeling spry and flush and having spent no actual money of our own, we meandered over to Off the Record at the Hay-Adams Hotel for a nightcap. For there are also two kinds of drinks, you see: those that start the evening, and those that finish it. We ordered well beyond our means for a couple rounds, and finished off with a delicate kick-in-the-teeth combination of Drambuie and Scotch called a Rusty Nail.

It must've been the Drambuie that caught my eye; I went through a Drambuie phase in college (and by "phase" I mean I drank a bottle of it once... no, not in one sitting, but several, and with friends), and clearly thought that the best way to kick up that old familiar burn would be to add some legal-aged peatiness to it. 

Rosie Schaap at the Times recenlty wrote a piece that jogged the memory, "Rules for an Honorable Nightcap." Good rules to follow, excerpted here...

"A nightcap should be a one-off, not 'one more' of whatever you’re drinking. Your last drink should be set apart, so pick something special, something to sip slowly... 

"As a coda, a nightcap also shouldn’t stray too far from the movements that preceded it. It should bring them together and offer a fitting — not a dissonant — conclusion."  

"A nightcap should also be brown," and, "perhaps most important... warming."
Photo via: Marcus Nilsson for The New York Times.

November 12, 2011

Eleven Twelve

... and on the twelfth day, we wore denim.

All this crowing about corduroy of late has put me in the mood for a more rugged textile.

Photo via: Newman Photography.

November 6, 2011

Leftover Memories

Next day steak sandwiches always remind me of my dad. He was of the notion, and I am disinclined to disagree, that the only thing better than prime meat was day-old prime meat. So what he’d do was drop the leftover thinly-sliced steak into a buttered-up skillet and cook it ‘til quite crisp on the surface. Then he’d take plain white bread and mayonnaise, add the steak, and fold it in half, and we three boys would have ourselves a mighty fine lunch.

Last night, a few other boys and I cooked ourselves up some meat and potatoes… too much to finish off, it turned out, so this morning, after prayin’ to the Good Lawd, we decided to put those leftovers to use. First, I caramelized the onions in butter and sunflower oil, then dropped in some mushrooms, added the protein, a little more butter, and layered it all into a hollowed-out pretzel bun.

Not quite as simple but I'll be damned if it wasn't just as good.

November 1, 2011

30 Hours in Boston

We snuck in a quick stay in Boston this summer on the back end of our trip to Massachusetts' south coast, and over one night and two half-days got just a taste of what makes this such a great town.

Sunday caught some jazz at The Beehive in the South End. No cover and all the crowd was downstairs that night... a good crowd, winding down a weekend or maybe just keeping it going as long as possible.

541 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02116

Couple hours before that, though, we grabbed a bite at Neptune Oyster in the North End. It was a rainy afternoon, which lent itself nicely to a long, boozy lunch in a cramped, dark place. Neptune may be one of the more aesthecitally pleasing spots I've ever eaten. Or maybe that was the rosé. The burger was topped with cheddar, fried oysters, and garlic mayo, and the lobster roll was toasted, buttered and buttered. At some point the kitchen sent out a Johnny Cake: a cornmeal pancake with smoked trout, crème fraiche, and caviar. Just the little something we needed to keep the convo flowing.

63 Salem Street
Boston, MA 02110

And lunch the next day at La Voile, which got it allll-right...

259 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116

Laid our heads at XV Beacon, near the Massachusetts State House and Boston Common, which enabled a superbly convenient stroll before catching the flight home. Next time, we'll need more time.

15 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02108

Beehive photo credit: Erik Jacobs, New York Times.