The “Best Sellers Sampler” from Cameron’s Seafood.
Time to get to work.
Time to get messy.
Time to get cracking.
Indeed it was when a “Best Sellers Sampler” showed up on my porch last week as a sample to try from Maryland-based Cameron’s Seafood.
The company was founded in 1985 and remains family-owned. It specializes in Maryland crabs from the Chesapeake Bay, where the climate is colder, thereby building up an extra layer of fat on the crabs that burrow into the mud during winter. For crab lovers, that means crabs with flesh that’s buttery, sweet and rich tasting.
The bountiful “Best Sellers Sampler” ($99.99) includes 1/2 a dozen Maryland blue crabs, 1 pound spiced shrimp, 2 crab cakes and 16 ounces of crab bisque.
Dinner in mere minutes: A big pot of mussels cooked in sour beer.
For sour beer, that is.
My husband may wince at this style of brew, much preferring a smooth Amber Ale instead.
But I can’t get enough of the specialty fermented beer that gets its characteristic tang from wild yeast strains or bacteria.
I love its bracing quality, especially paired with food, much like that of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in the wine world. Both wake up the taste buds with a brisk bite, acting like a natural-born palate cleanser.
Though I’ve cooked with various types of beer over the years, somehow it never dawned on me to try it with sour beer.
That is, until I spied the recipe for “Mussels in Sour Beer” in the new “Cheers to The Publican Repast and Present: Recipes and Ramblings from an American Beer Hall” (Lorena Jones Books), of which I received a review copy.
The book is by Chef-Owner Paul Kahan of The Publican in Chicago, a modern-day beer hall known for its huge communal wood tables, deep beer list, and rustic dishes flavored with gusto and served charmingly on mismatched plates.
The Publican is just one of eight establishments in Chicago by Kahan and the One Off Hospitality Group. The others include Avec, Blackbird, and the wholesale Publican Quality Bread. (His bread is fantastic, too, as I found out when he brought loaves to a recent holiday dinner at Acacia House in St. Helena where he cooked with Chef Chris Cosentino.)
The whole duck confit at Cosme that takes four days to make.
When planning this trip to New York, one of the places highest on my list to dine was Cosme.
A couple of years ago, while attending the “Worlds of Flavor” conference at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone campus in St. Helena, I had a chance to try a little of Mexico City-chef Enrique Olvera’s innovative cuisine.
Ever since, I have been hooked. And craving more.
Complimentary purple tortillas and Marcona almond dip.
This is not your standard tacos and burritos taqueria. This sleek establishment is all about modern Mexican cuisine with star power. The prices reflect that. Yes, guacamole is $17 here. It’s a beautiful bowl of deeply rich smashed avocados strewn with micro herbs and served with huge purple tortilla chips that you break apart to scoop.
If you’re already balking at that price, then this isn’t the place for you. When you walk through the doors, you have to vanquish the notion that Mexican food has to be cheap in order to be worthwhile.
Newport, OR. — Dungeness crab would surely be part of my last meal, if I was given a choice. Sweet, fluffy, and succulent, it beats lobster any day in my book.
Though I’ve enjoyed it countless times, I’ve never fished for it.
On a recent trip to the lovely central coast of Oregon, my fellow food writers and I, who were guests of Salishan Spa & Golf Resort, were treated to our own private excursion through Yaquina Bay aboard the family-owned Marine Discovery Tours boat.
On a picturesque 70-degree morning, we boarded and set sail. Just be forewarned that the waters can get choppy the farther out you go. But none in our party — even a few who were extremely prone to motion sickness — were done in by the effects.
The dock area in Newport.
You may be richly rewarded for braving the waters, too. We saw whales. Well, at least their blow holes, if not their tails breaking the waves. Still, it made for an unforgettable moment.
Embrace the steam.
I always think that steaming is an under-appreciated and so often under-utilized cooking technique.
I think people fear that steamed foods will turn out bland, mushy, almost hospital-like sterile in nature.
But when done right, steaming is a gentle way of cooking that preserves moisture and flavor.
Case in point: fish.
I love grilling fish or sauteeing it, especially to get the skin crisp. But being Chinese-American, I also adore steamed fish. There’s nothing like a whole steamed fish brought to the table at a banquet meal. The flesh falls apart with impossible tenderness. Its texture is rendered beyond silky. And there’s just a lovely delicacy to it, no matter how small or large the fish.
Patricia Wells knows fully well the merits of steaming. In fact, the five-time James Beard Award-winning writer and cooking teacher devotes an entire chapter to steaming in her new cookbook, “My Master Recipes: 165 Recipes to Inspire Confidence In the Kitchen” (William Morrow), of which I received a review copy.