December 29, 2008

My New Favorite Restaurant

Every city I go to I adopt myself a favorite restaurant. This usually changes quite frequently. Huntsville, Alabama is where my parents live, and I called home for many years. I love a lot of food from Huntsville, but I have an extremely hard time pining down a "favorite restaurant". Not anymore.

Cotton Row

It's located downtown, the floor to ceiling windows open to the street making the small room feel extremely airy. Ask them to give you a tour of the wine cellar, and if you want to feel extra special rent out the wine cellar for a private party. I have never seen a restaurant staff more enthusiastic about a restaurant before in my life. For an appetizer I had the oysters, this dish was supposed to highlight their sou chief which is from New Orleans. My entree was a recommendation from the bar tender, which was the cider braised short ribs, and of course you can't skip dessert:

Peanut Butter and Jelly wrapped in Phyllo

The Chocolate Trio

The only thing that I would have changed, is that I wished the bar was slightly bigger. Small space, with lots of chairs and people. After the third grey goose and tonic I didn't seem to mind as much though...

December 25, 2008

Outdoor Cookies

Soup & Popovers

So if anyone knows anything about me I love soup.

According to Food historians tell us the history of soup is probably as old as the history of cooking. The act of combining various ingredients in a large pot to create a nutritious, filling, easily digested, simple to make/serve food was inevitable. "Our modern word "soup" derives from the Old French word sope and soupe. The French word was used in England in the in the form of sop at the end of the Middle Ages and, fortunately, has remained in the English language in its original form and with much its original sense. We say "fortunately" because it is clear that nowadays a "sop" is not a "soup." The distinction is important. When cooks in the Middle Ages spoke of "soup," what they and the people for whom they were cooking really understood was a dish comprising primarily a piece of bread or toast soaked in a liquid or over which a liquid had been poured. The bread or toast was an important, even vital, part of this dish. It was a means by which a diner could counsume the liquid efficiently by sopping it up. The bread or toast was, in effect, an alternative to using a spoon...Soups were important in the medieval diet, but the dish that the cook prepared was often a sop that consisted of both nutritious liquid and the means to eat it. The meal at the end of a normal day was always the lighter of the two meals of the day, and the sop appears to have had an important place in it. In fact it was precisely because of the normal inclusion of a sop in this end-of-the-day meal that it became called "souper" or "supper."

The general concensus among the food people is that Italian wedding soup (originally known as Minestra Maritata or Pignato Grasso) has nothing to do with wedding ceremonies. This particular "marriage" (maritata is the Italian word for marriage) is between vegetables...or...depending upon the region?...sometimes pork and vegetables, in soup.

December 24, 2008

Lord of the Pies

Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye, Four and twenty blackbirds, baked in a pie...

December 23, 2008

The Start of a New Year...

Now that I'm graduated maybe I'll have more time to dedicate to this blog. I've been brewing with ideas lately, one of them consisting of teaching child how to cook through summer camps or community outreach programs. This will help children understand the primitive nature of cooking, getting back to the origins of food, how to use basic ingredients, and an illustration of our cultures values towards food. Another idea I've been stirring around was influenced the other night by a conversation concerning the restaurant industry. We were discussing the hiring practices of some new managers, actually looking to hire only very clean, straight laced workers. Then problem with this approach is that it's not usually what the restaurant industry is made of. The restaurant industry is the dirty tattooed kids in the kitchen, its a trade, people who use their hands. It's the kids that are out at 3 in the morning drinking at bars after they got off work around midnight. It's sweat over an open flame. We are the laborers that are working the hours when people want to hang out, go on dates, eat dinner with loved ones. Were dirty, were creative. You can almost call us the starving artists in some sense of the phrase. These are the people I adore, because well quite frankly, I am one of them. Therefore, my idea was centered around pictures of people in the cooking world, and calling it "We Are the Restaurant Industry". Now, all of this is just brainstorming, so we'll see where the universe leads me.

"Danielle, shall be the Chosen One, the Child of Light, who will teach them! Go forth and give them tasty snacks!"

December 7, 2008