Saturday, June 13, 2009

Two media recommendations

As a native Texan, I'm loving July's Saveur magazine (special collector's edition) that I bought in the airport last week. Of course I would. It's the Texas issue, and it's much, much more than barbecue (a.k.a. BBQ) and TexMex. The only factoid in the whole 112 page publication that I would take issue with is they say soaking dried pinto beans is totally unnecessary. True that, if the beans are from the last season. And that's a big IF, unless you dried them yourself, or you know that your vendor has good turnover of his stock. But for most of us living outside of Texas or Latino communities, it's best to soak them overnight to ensure that you won't end up with a bowl of pebbly beans.

The other piece of media that I'd like to throw your way is Elaine Corn's public radio story on an Asian fish market in Sacramento. As she advises, turn up your speakers (or earphones, if you're at work).

Friday, June 12, 2009

Drinks - and more - at Zinc

One of the nice things that the Piedmont Council of the Arts does is host a gathering once a month at Zinc, 420 W. Main in Charlottesville, to get artists and the people who support the arts together to socialize. But this past Wednesday, we got to the party a little late, and it was already breaking up. So we stayed for dinner.

The night was just getting under way, and we were seated quickly. Service was personal and prompt. The mirrors along the wall at seat-back height gave an aura of action, while the high open ceilings with the ducting exposed, gave a casualness to the restaurant, in contrast to its high-end menu that had delightfully reasonable prices.

More to come...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

In-N-Out - IN!

The hoity-toity Zagat folks did a survey on people's fast food favorites, and the best hamburger in 2009 turns out to be - drum roll, please - In-N-Out Burger! Well, it's not the best-ever burger, but it's great for a chain, and to me, an In-N-Out burger animal style tastes like California. But don't forget the fries.

Another interesting tidbit from the survey: Dunkin' Donuts came in right behind Starbucks in the quick-refreshment category. Dunkin' Brands (they own Baskin-Robbins, too) just gave the top two communications people in the corporation their own personal dunking Friday.

Other notes from the Zagat survey: 
  • Subway beat out all the major burger chains: Wendy's, McD's and Burger King, as well as Taco Bell.
  • Panera was voted best salad. It's soups are top-notch, too, but they didn't have a soup category.
  • P.F. Chang's China Bistro came in as the most-popular full-service chain, followed by Cheesecake Factory, California Pizza Kitchen, Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba's Italian Grill.
  • McDonald's is still perceived as the best value in the country.

Monday, June 8, 2009

No phooey clafouti

Clafouti, or perhaps more properly clafoutis, is a French dessert most often described as a baked fruit pudding. It is traditionally made with fresh cherries.

But it's wonderful with many fresh fruits (the photo is of a strawberry clafouti from Sunset magazine), and when I got home from a few days away, I realized I better use up some blueberries and strawberries that had been sitting in my fridge. I thought about just mixing them with yogurt (and the killer Greek yogurt needs to be used soon, as well), but given that dinner had been a salmon salad, I thought something a little hardier would be better.

I think, rather than a pudding, clafouti should be described as a thick, baked crepe with half the work. The batter is rather crepelike - milk, eggs, a little flour - but instead of whirling it around the pan and flipping, it just goes into the oven and bakes for 45 minutes to an hour. And it comes out with the filling already in it. Yum.

I'm including Julia Child's recipe for it, right after the one I made for two last night.

Lori K's Clafouti

serves 2


3/8 cup milk

2 tablespoons sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch salt

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup each sliced strawberries and blueberries

2 tablespoons sugar

powdered sugar


In a food processor, blend the milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and flour. Pour a 1/4 inch layer of the batter in a buttered fireproof baking dish. Place in a 350-degree oven until a film of batter sets in the pan. Remove from the heat and spread the fruit over the batter. Sprinkle on the second amount of sugar. Pour on the rest of the batter. Bake for 40 minutes to an hour. The clafouti is done when puffed and brown and and a knife plunged in the center comes out clean. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, serve warm.

Julia Child's Clafouti

serves 6-8


1 1/4 cups milk

1/3 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 Tablespoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup flour

3 cups cherries, pitted

1/3 cup sugar

powdered sugar


Follow the directions above.