My Ham

It was late on a Tuesday morning recently when I received a text from my friend, Melissa.

“A client gave us an Iberico ham,” she said. Problem was, she has two young vegetarian daughters who were going to be mortified at the sight of a whole pig leg with a hoof. “Are you interested in it?”

I was.

Jamon guitar with Curtis

Jamon guitar with Curtis

She suggested her husband, Paul, wanted to get a little something for it. I offered him $300, he said, “Great!” And I had myself a whole Iberico bellota ham. More

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Me and the Sea

I’ve always felt an affinity for the sea. Growing up near the shore, it was forever a part of my life. But it’s only been the last decade or so that I’ve begun to feel its pull in a more primal way, like gravity. I need the sea.

Dinner?

Dinner?

Fresh off a week of deep ocean connecting on the bluffs in Puerto Vallarta, we got invited to the bluffs in Malibu for a night with our friends Nadine and Andrew at the Steve McQueen beach house. Which was good, because I was already missing the sea. More

Fab Fabada!

Our friends, Dan and Nonie, spent part of last summer in Spain. (Or was it the summer before? Time flies…) Good friends that they are, they were thinking of us as they browsed that wonderful country’s grocery stores and open markets. And they brought us back a large shrink-wrapped plastic package containing dried white beans and several pork products — fabada Asturiana.

Beans, salt pork & blood sausage on the stove

Beans, salt pork & blood sausage on the stove

They bought one for themselves as well, and invited us over to sample it. They threw everything into a pot of water, covered it, and let it simmer for a few hours until the beans had assumed the orange of pimentón from the chorizo and general porkiness from that and the morcilla blood sausage and salt pork also included in the package. More

A Whale of a Tapa

One of my favorite scenes in the Pixar film, “Finding Nemo,” is when Marlin, Nemo’s father (a clownfish voiced by Albert Brooks) is worried that an approaching whale is going to eat him and his pal, Dory (a blue tang voiced by Ellen Degeneres). Dory says, “Don’t worry. Whales don’t eat clownfish. They eat krill.” Just then, a school of panicked krill passes by, screaming, “Swim away!!!” “Oh, look!,” says Dory, “Krill!” as the massive open-mouthed whale swims up behind them.

Dory & Marlin as the whale approaches

I’m always one for a culinary adventure, but I must say, I never thought I would actually eat krill. After all, I’m a human, not a baleen whale. But things changed when I read a recipe for a tapa called tortilla de camerones in a cookbook by the great Spanish chef,  José Andrés. They were lacy little tempura-like fritters of small whole shrimp originating at a famous restaurant called Casa Balbino in the Spanish province of Cadíz. They looked delicious — right in my “fried” and “crispy” wheelhouse. So I resolved to make them. More

Responding to the Avant Garde

Ferran Adria & staff on the beach at Cala Montjoi

I once exchanged emails with el Bulli. If you’re one of the increasingly few people on Earth who have not heard of el Bulli, it’s a restaurant on an isolated bay called Cala Montjoi on Spain’s Costa Brava, a couple hours north of Barcelona. And even if you’ve not heard of it, you’ve been eating its influence whether you recognized it or not for years. More