Dinner with the Dear Leader

Something happens to me when there are Korean short ribs around. I don’t like the man I become.

The Dear Leader, upset to find no short ribs

Our friend Pirco is from Berlin, his wife Jean is Korean. Every summer they have a party for Pirco’s birthday, and Jean makes short ribs — “kalbi”, in Korean. This year, Pirco was manning the grill. I bet he’s dynamite with a steamed bratwurst. But when it came to the short ribs, he looked in over his head. “Sean, do you think these coals look correct?” he asked. I was giving him tips, and next thing I knew it was I who was manning the grill. Which I could not have planned better — I was now in control of the short ribs. More

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The Anatomy of a Pasta

One of the most interesting parts of cooking, to me, is discovering the roots of particular types of cuisine and dishes. The etymology of food, if you will. For example, you may claim to love tacos. But in Mexico, regional variations range from the familiar fish and shrimp tacos of Baja to the grilled sandwiched mulitas of Oaxaca to the fried tacos de cazo of Mexico City — often filled with pig’s esophagus. The people of central Mexico eat wriggling live larvae in their tacos. Do you love that?

The coat of arms of Amatrice

A favorite pasta of mine is called bucatini all’ Amatriciana. It has long been part of my Italian repertoire. But making it one evening, and videotaping it for this blog, I realized I didn’t know much about it’s origins. So I decided to investigate. More

Storming the Bastille

We Americans like to appropriate other peoples’ holidays. I’m as guilty as anyone — on Cinco de Mayo we have friends over for fish tacos and margaritas; never does a St. Patty’s Day pass by without corned beef, cabbage and Guinness. And Chinese New Year always represents an opportunity for lacquered duck. But we the people haven’t seemed as taken, for some reason, with Bastille Day.

I was in Paris once for Bastille Day. I remember tanks on the Champs Elysees, jets flying low overhead, drunk Parisians everywhere, reveling. I’ve always been enamored of France, and Paris in particular. More

The American Series, Pt. III — The Crab Feed

On the east coast, you have clam bakes. I’m jealous of you. In Alaska, you have salmon bakes. And I’m jealous of you, too. But on the West Coast, we have crab feeds. And you are jealous of us.

Sure, our friends around Baltimore will point out that they, too, have a crab tradition — spending frustrating hours picking and sucking miniscule bits of meat out of piles of Old Bay-seasoned blue crabs. But to those of us in the West, used to big mountains and wide open spaces, that’s the equivalent of eating a meatball when you could have a rib-eye. I’m talking about beautiful, abundant Dungeness crab, pulled from the Pacific bursting with snow white meat. Up where my mom lives in Sonoma County — where some of the best crabbing waters are — you’ll see signs during crab season inviting you to local crab feed fundraisers. $15 for all you can eat. That’s my kind of community event. More

Fennel Grilled Pork Shoulder

Certain flavors were just meant to be together. Such it is with pork and fennel. Add orange, and you’ve got a divine trinity of deliciousness. And here, I share one of my best grilling preparations with you. Make this for your next barbecue, tell your friends you made it up yourself (I don’t mind), and you’ll be revered in the backyards of your neighborhood.

I love pork shoulder. It’s one of the least expensive cuts, it’s usually huge, and it’s got an amazing flavor and meat/fat ratio. Confirming its pedigree, it’s the pork most often used for Mexican carnitas. Now that’s some street cred! More

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