24 December 2008

Delicious Things: Other People's Postings (OPP), Part One


Most of you, I imagine, know enough to look for recipes at Epicurious, restaurant reviews at Chowhound and notes on culinary technique at Bittman’s spot at the NYT. So rather than write up the big names, I’m going to showcase a few smaller foodie blogs that highlight my particular food soft spots in the first of a series of posts on things I read and that you might want to take a look at.

Getting foodie-theoretical. I probably first started to seriously think about food (in terms other than "I'll eat that!") in 2000, when I went back to live with my parents for a few months while my mother was recovering from a complicated surgery. My main task at the time was to put together meals for my folks that accommodated their dietary restrictions and my taste buds. And since I had nothing else on my plate all day, I spent a good amount of time raiding the cookbook section of the local libraries. As a historian, I was drawn to the works that included bits on the development of different cuisines according to region, tradition and available technologies. Suddenly, food was getting more interesting. A few years later, I was reading books like John Thorne’s Pot on the Fire, Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking and over-priced culinary journals like Gastronomica. All this got me to thinking about the principles behind a good plate of food. Because of this probably overly high-minded approach to meals, I am rather fond of Cookthink’s blog, which focuses on categories of food and techniques, highlighting seasonal recipes and chefs with particular specialties. It doesn’t hurt that they have pretty pictures too. If you are a cook prone to a little experimentation in the kitchen, I'll wager that it will be worth your while to click over there.

Getting foodie-historical. If you are even vaguely interested in how different folks ate different stuff in different places and different times, go read the blog Cooked Books kept by NYPL librarian Rebecca Federman. Great stuff on history and writing about tasty things. I've talked about it before.

Comfort cravings. Panch Phoron (AKA, A Bengali Girl in the US) refers to the five-spice blend common in Bengali cuisine, the focus of choice for blogger Bangali Meye (Bengali Girl). For the most part, BM writes up typical dishes, though she occasionally puts a specific twist on a classic dish or instructs us on how to put together a Bengali-style Chinese meal. But really, the forte is recreating all the food that Bengalis grew up with and regularly crave. Perfect if you're trying to recreate something that your mother made or if you're trying to impress a Bengali friend (or anyone for that matter, I suppose).

Somewhat Slavic-esque savoring. Nami-Nami by Estonian foodie Pille isn’t exclusively Eastern European flavored, but offerings from the region are a consistent theme of the blog, as well as wonderful photography (see shot above, borrowed from here) and the impassioned pursuit of deliciousness. Yulinka Cooks is more Russia-oriented and particularly useful for the American-based cook as Yulinka offers helpful substitutions and DIY solutions when it comes to hard-to-find ingredients. Try out a few of her recipes and I bet you’ll go back for more.

Anyone else have any suggestions?

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Ed. Note: While I'm in the northern country away from hot water, electricity and the internet, I'm auto-publishing a series of posts on things I read to sate my regular readers.

There's also a new poll feature up above to the right asking readers about what they like around here. Go re-live the wonders of MTBE 2008, then let your voice be heard about what you most enjoy at MTBE and help shape its future in 2009. Assuming I ever get back from the Canuckistani borderlands...

4 comments:

rootlesscosmo said...

Thanks for those food links--I'll check them out. Here are three more:

Shuna Lydon is a highly respected San Francisco pastry chef; the shortbread is every bit as good as promised:

http://eggbeater.typepad.com/

Clotilde Dusoulier had one of the first food blogs and it's still good, though tips on Paris cookware shops may not be the most useful info:

http://chocolateandzucchini.com/

Chris Cosentino runs the kitchen at a terrific restaurant near us (Noe Valley) and has what I consider a proper appreciation for the goodness of cured pork products and organ meats like sweetbreads and kidneys. His blog is:

http://www.offalgood.com/site/

Finally while you're in New York you really should visit two of the shrines: DiPalo's deli on Grand St. near Mulberry (across from Ferrara pastry shop, also good) and Barney Greengrass the Sturgeon King, on Amsterdam Ave. between 86th and 87th. Two kinds of ricotta, made fresh daily, at the former; three kinds of lox at the latter. We can't touch these guys out here in the provinces though Greengrass, at long last, has a web site and a mail order business; my recommendation is to go for late breakfast, have the scrambled eggs with salty lox and onions, a bialy with cream cheese, and coffee, then go try to walk off the bloat at the nearby Natural History Museum.

Yulinka said...

Thanks for the link! I like Nami Nami a lot, too. Also, I've added quite a few Russian-themed blogs to my blogroll--Sassy Radish, Shushka, etc.

Buster said...

Logging in from a tear-inducingly slow dial-up as the steady fall of freezing rain has temporarily chased me out of the woods...

Rootless, thanks, as always, for the tips. My taste runs more toward cured pork, organ meats and fresh ricotta, rather than the pastry, bagels and lox side. Though I make an exception for really good lox, which is what, I gather, you are recommending.

Yulinka, I'll check those out when I return to a connection that is faster than 14.4 kbps. Thanks!

rootlesscosmo said...

Besides three kinds of lox (I favor salty, or belly, lox, which is also the cheapest), Greengrass has smoked sable (black cod) which is a poem on a plate. The one caveat is not to eat lunch there and then go to anything at Lincoln Center, because you will fall asleep, and there goes the price of your ticket, wasted on an uncomfortable nap.

Cured pork and nasty bits await your arrival.