Monthly Archives: April 2010

standby

Between a wedding in Texas and a magazine deadline that was bumped up one week, I have been too busy to blog. Don’t be mad, I miss prattling on about food. Be back shortly…

I was tagged as a lobster roll on Facebook

Photo: NY Daily News

Let me tell you the Ben Sargent story. Ben (pictured at right) is a New Englander, around my age, living in a Polish-owned basement studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. At some point, he decided there are no good lobster rolls in New York City. Strike that, no authentic lobster rolls. Ben says that every aspiring New York chef puts their own imprint on the basic clam-shack mainstay,* sullying its purity with exotic ingredients and preparation methods. While he admits some variations are worth trying, there’s no topping the classic: lobster chunks, largely intact and uncut, cooked until tender, mixed with a wee dollop of Hellman’s mayo, served in a buttered, grilled hot dog bun. That’s it.

So he started making lobster rolls in his apartment, using a “secret lobster source” from the piers of Red Hook. At first he only served them to his friends, but word-of-mouth spread and he started selling the rolls to curious outsiders. People would send him a text and if he was around, he’d sell them a roll, passed through his apartment’s mail slot (wrapped of course).

This venture was illegal, as Ben’s dingy galley kitchen was certainly not up to code for commercial food preparation. He started giving interviews to whatever media outlets would have him, framing it like he was breaking the law to help the deprived people of NYC. So noble! (I suspect Ben’s motivations are less-than-pure: he trumpets on one clip that he is single and looking to mingle.)

Well lo and behold, all the media attention brought the Board of Health to his door, where they promptly shut him down. Surprise surprise. BUT! Unwilling to admit defeat, Ben started a secret lobster roll delivery service, highly clandestine and modeled after the drug runners on The Wire.

This is where me and Tom Dudley come in.

(Yes, to be cont.)

*I don’t totally agree with Ben’s prejudice, as my dinner with Ruth Reichl (ha) boasted a very traditional New England-style lobster roll. It cost twice as much as I’m used to but c’mon- it’s the West Village, not West Hyannisport.

yes I know

There is a small e-smiley on the top right of the screen. I don’t like it either but that mark is tattooed on the template. Unless you are a codebreaker and can give me tips, the smiley stays.

gender in a bottle

Old Steve (Greek landlord) handed me my mail today, drawing my attention to a lumpy, hand-scrawled envelope with no return address and a Massachusetts postmark. “I’m not sure if it’s okay.”

No anthrax inside, it was simply a photocopy of the article, “Why Are There No Woman Chefs?” without a note or any explanation. It’s a great article about gender bias in the food world, but I feel mildly stung. The anonymity of the sender seems to imply an obtuse critique towards me. Or perhaps I am defensive because I have fears that my rapid success at Edible Queens is somehow gender-based.

Either way, it’s a good read. Check it out here.

macro!

I just got new super-closeup lenses for the camera. This is a shot of my recent prosciutto mac and cheese.

Admire it, then have your way with it

I love this food blogger. He travels all around the five boroughs, reviewing often-obscure morsels with a measured tone that belies his passion. For the most part he does it on his own dime, simply for love of food.  That’s a commitment I don’t think I could match.

The writer is named Dave Cook and when I saw him at a food event, SK pushed me into introducing myself. It started like a fanboy meeting- “Omigod I read your blog every day you are the coolest etc…” but then I realized he wasn’t glamorous or unapproachable at all. In fact, he was kinda geeky. Like me!

epilogue addendum (or, how to not ruin egg salad)

This is a cautionary tale.

At the end of the aforementioned dinner party, I walked to the G train with the angry vegetarian. Apparently all was forgiven, because she gave me five hard-boiled eggs before her train arrived.

Easter Sunday, I decided to whip up a batch of egg salad. I wasn’t home for the holiday so I wanted a comfort food reminder of my youth. EXCEPT, I tried to get fancy. I had leftover mushrooms, which I diced up and sauteed in olive oil, then added to the egg salad.

To be fair, SK warned me multiple times that this was a bad idea. I did not take heed, as she has long been an anti-mushroom bigot. Guh. The squish of the mushrooms is just different enough from the egg white to give you a very odd spongy feeling in your mouth. And olive oil, combined with mustard and mayo is just, well, wrong. Easter fail.

My mother said she too learned the hard way that the basic egg salad formula isn’t something to tinker with- “Eggs, mayo, a bit of mustard and maybe some celery. Anything else and you will screw up the delicate balance.”