Tuesday, December 31, 2013

So long, 2013!


long island

Endless Boogie, Long Island (No Quarter)

Mammane Sani et son Orgue, La musique electronique du Niger (Sahel Sounds)

Steve Gunn, Time Off (Paradise of Bachelors)

one of you

One of You, s/t (Little Axe)

v/a, Delta Swamp Rock, vol. 1 (Soul Jazz)  + v/a, Delta Swamp Rock, vol. 2 (Soul Jazz)

Majical Cloudz, Impersonator (Matador)

William Onyeabor, Who is William Onyeabor? (Luaka Bop)

[sample track:  "Body and Soul"]

Mocky, Graveyard Novelas EP + Mocky "Make You Rich" video (featuring Hilary Gay & Pegasus Warning)

pants off to roy harper

Roy Harper, Flashes from the Archives of Oblivion (Pathé Marconi/EMI)

[sample track:  "Me and My Woman"]

Brian Eno & John Cale, "Spinning Away"

Space Art, "Love Machine"

Kurt Vile, Wakin on a Pretty Daze (Matador) + It's a Big World Out There (And I am Scared) EP (Matador)

john cale

John Cale, Paris 1919 (4 Men With Beards)

Destroyer, Five Spanish Songs (Merge)

Yo La Tengo, Fade (Matador) + Yo La Tengo, Corona Theatre, Mtl, QC, Feb 11, 2013

Chris Bell, I am the Cosmos (4 Men With Beards)

BT 2

Boubacar Traore, s/t (Little Axe)

Big Brother & the Holding Company, Cheap Thrills (Columbia)


Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Adam Leith Gollner, The Book of Immortality

David Tanis, One Good Dish

Douglas Starr, "The Interview," The New Yorker

Edgar Allan Poe, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket

tartine book no. 3

Chad Robertson, Tartine Book No. 3:  Ancient, Modern, Classic, Whole

Vincent Katz, ed., Black Mountain College:  Experiment in Art

Andy Ricker, Pok Pok:  Food and Stories From the Streets, Homes, and Roadside Restaurants of Thailand

John McPhee, The Pine Barrens

cross rib shoulder roast

Faythe Levine & Sam Macon, Sign Painters

Jean Giono, Harvest

Hamilton & Hirsheimer, Canal House Cooks Everyday

Calvin Trillin, "Mozzarella Story," The New Yorker

Camilla Wynne, Les Conserves selon Camilla

Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel

Moving Images

12 Years a Slave (2013), dir. McQueen

Let the Fire Burn (2013), dir. Osder

lola title

Lola (1961), dir. Demy

A Band Called Death (2012), dir. Covino & Howlett

The Central Park Five (2012), dir. Burns, Burns, and McMahon

Prohibition (2011), dir. Burns & Novick


This Sporting Life (1963), dir. Anderson

Mud (2012), dir. Nichols

The Place Beyond the Pines (2012), dir. Cianfrance

Monterey Pop (1967), dir. D.A. Pennebaker

Pink Floyd:  Live at Pompeii (1972), dir. Maben

The Act of Killing (2012), dir. Oppenheimer

Tabloid (2010), dir. Morris

Dallas Buyers Club (2013), dir. Vallée


Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), dir. Hellman

Vanishing Point (1971), dir. Sarafian

Gravity (2013), dir. Cuarón

Amour (2012), dir. Haneke

Girls, seasons 1 & 2

Happy People:  A Year in the Taiga (2010), dir. Herzog

Food & Wine

Impasto, Montreal, QC

Le Vin Papillon, Montreal, QC

McCrady's, Charleston, SC

Hominy Grill, Charleston, SC

Butcher & Bee, Charleston, SC

The Ordinary, Charleston, SC

Martha Lou's, Charleston, SC

homemade smoked andouille sausage

burlington farmers' market

Farm-to-Table VT (including Misery Loves CompanyPistou, and Vergennes Laundry)

fruit hunting in Montreal

seafood feasts on the Cape

BBQ sandwich, Allen & Son

Carolina BBQ pilgrimages, featuring:
Lexington Barbecue (Lexington, NC)
BBQ Center (Lexington, NC) 
Allen & Son Pit-Cooked Bar-B-Que (Chapel Hill, NC)
Skylight Inn BBQ (Ayden, NC)
Scott's Bar-B-Que (Hemingway, SC)
Turner country hams, bacon, and ham sandwiches, Fulks Run, VA

Wade's Mill cornmeal & grits, Raphine, VA

Marlow & Sons, Marlow & Daughters, & She Wolf Bakery, NY, NY

real VA, NC, and SC peanuts (including boiled peanuts)

Runaway Creek Farm, Arundel, QC

Boucherie Lawrence, Montreal

Acme Smoked Fish, NY, NY

Colonel E.H. Taylor, Jr. small batch bourbon and straight rye

holiday rye

AEB sourdough rye

Michter's straight rye

3-2-1 method ribs

homemade congee


hip vs. square

Cape Cod, MA

Charleston, SC

Asheville, NC

"Beat Nation," Musée d'art contemporain, Montreal

Indigo & Cotton, Charleston, SC

green mist bohus

hand-knit Bohus sweaters

This American Life:  "Harper High School, pts. 1 & 2," "Trends With Benefits," "When Patents Attack, pt. 2," "Confessions"

miss audrey

In memoriam:  Miss Audrey (2001-2013)


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Gone Shoppin'

old markeket charleston fig. a:  Old Market, Charleston, SC

Excuse us while we do a little last-minute shopping.

We'll be back (with stories to tell!) shortly.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Toasts & Roasts

holiday sp1 fig. a:  holidaze 2013

We hold these truths to be self-evident:

1.  The holiday season is upon us.

2.  Good God, there's nothing like a perfectly seasoned, perfectly rosé slab of roast beef--preferably one that's then sliced extra-thin, and served with horseradish.*

Okay.  Yes, the holidays are here.  And that means it was time for our annual "...an endless banquet" Christmas spectacular.

AEB xmas invite REDACTED fig. b:  all aboard!

But, the thing is, sometimes LIFE confronts you with an unexpected storm, and, suddenly, you have to chart a new course.

That's kind of what happened this year.  Everything's fine now, there's no need to worry, but something came up that forced us to make a last-minute adjustment.  What it meant was that the Christmas spectacular didn't actually take place at our place this year.  Consequently, we toned things down a bit, scaled things back, and got "back to the basics."

The holiday bash that resulted might not have been quite as wide open as it had been in the past, it might not have been quite as extravagant, but it was still pretty spectacular, and it was much more of a collaborative effort--and all the better for it.  For all these things, we owe our undying gratitude to our hostess.  (TY, RD!)  Such a lovely apartment, such a wonderful atmosphere, such a great time!!

AEB xmas 2013 fig. c:  S.S. Shamrock!

Originally, we'd come up with this vague Lake Champlain "holiday steamship" theme.  The "point of departure" was meant to be our apartment.  I guess we ended up docking just a little ways up the coast.  And we exchanged the S.S. Champlain for the S.S. Shamrock.

Did I mention that there was a pretty significant snowstorm the day of the party?  No big deal.  We're Montrealers, we know how to deal with such situations.

Anyway, "back to basics" meant simpler preparations.  It also meant fewer last-minute preparations.  But it was still pretty plentiful.  The spread:

holiday rye fig. d:  rye!

1 spiral-cut, cob-smoked, maple-glazed Vermont ham with mostarda cherries
1 roast beef with horseradish
nordic shrimp salad
smoked trout & smoked sturgeon platter with cream cheese
crudités & herb dip
baked artichoke dip & corn chips
cheese platter (featuring 1 Jasper Hill Moses Sleeper + 1 Shelburne Farms cloth-bound cheddar)
freshly baked Danish rye & corn rye loaves 
Spanish clementines
gingerbread cookies
festive fudge 
AEB rum punch
aged egg nog
holiday fudge fig. e:  fudge!

And, yes, getting back to that point #2:  a perfectly executed roast beef is a thing of beauty.  It also seemed like just the kind of thing that would have been served in the dining room of an elegant steamship back in the day.

We discovered a method for a simple roast beef that we really love--and that's proven to be foolproof--earlier this year in the pages of The New York Times.  The recipe accompanied an article on Louisville's enigmatic Henry Bain sauce.  Though the sauce was designed to be served as a condiment with everything from steaks to game, it's a stone-cold natural with roast beef.  In fact, Sam Sifton claimed that this may be the sauce's "highest use" in his article, so he turned to Tyler Kord, the sandwich master at New York's No. 7 Sub, for a killer roast beef recipe to go along with his recipe for Henry Bain.  And that's exactly what he got.  I liked the recipe for Henry Bain--it was definitely unlike anything I'd ever tasted before, and, it's true, it made for a tasty accompaniment--but I absolutely loved the recipe for that roast beef.

As many of your probably know already, getting perfect results with roast beef can be a little tricky.  Nobody likes a roast that's extremely undercooked, and overcooking a roast is all too easy.  This recipe relies primarily on ambient heat to gently warm the roast all the way to its centre, resulting in that ideal rosy hue, not to mention an extremely savoury crust, optimal juiciness, and some outrageous pan juices.

I've been impressed with Kord's recipe since the first time I tried it, but recently I made an adjustment to it that's even more to my liking:  I added ground caraway seeds to its spicy-garlicky rub, giving it a finish that was very much in tune with the nordic characteristics of our Christmas party spread.
Off-Oven Roast Beef  
1 beef roast, like top, eye or bottom round, approximately 3 lbs
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tbsp freshly ground caraway seeds
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tbsp olive oil
red pepper flakes to taste
prepared horseradish or horseradish cream
Remove the roast from the refrigerator.  
nature fig. f:  raw!
In a small bowl, mix together the salt, pepper, caraway seeds, garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes to create a paste.  Rub this all over the roast.  
rubbed fig. g:  rubbed!
Place the roast in a cast-iron skillet or roasting pan, fat side up, and allow the roast to come to room temperature, about 1 to 2 hours.
About 15 minutes before you want to begin roasting, preheat your oven to 500º F.
Place the roast in the oven.  Cook, undisturbed, for 5 minutes per pound.  [I tend to go a little over this recommendation:  e.g. 15 minutes for a 2.6-lb roast, and 30 minutes for 5.25-lb roast.]
Turn off the oven.  Do not open the oven door.  Leave roast to continue cooking, completely undisturbed, for two hours.
After the two hours is up, remove the roast from the oven.  Slice as thinly as possible.  
slicin' fig. h:  roasted!
Serve with pan juices and prepared horseradish.  Or use to make whatever your preferred kind of roast beef sandwich is. 
[recipe based very closely on Tyler Kord's Off-Oven Roast Beef recipe, as featured in The New York Times, January 17, 2013] 
Just how good is this roast beef?  Well, the photos above are of the 2 3/4-lb roast we made the day after we made a 5 1/2-lb roast for our party--a 5 1/2-lb roast that completely disappeared (as tasty things often do).  You see, the next day we found ourselves still having major roast beef cravings, so I went out and picked up another roast and we whipped up another batch--this one served with roasted broccoli and a mixed greens salad.  And horseradish, of course.

The point is:  this recipe is a keeper any time of year, but it's great for the holidays.  Great for a party spread. Great for pleasing a crowd.  Great for making sandwiches.

Happy holidaze 2013!  Eat well!  Drink well!  Be well!


*Actually, roast beef's a pretty lovely thing to serve with radishes à la crème, too.  In fact, the two combined would make for a pretty amazing open-faced roast beef sandwich.  Just a thought...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

One Great Dish

A quarter of the way through David Tanis' new cookbook, One Good Dish:  The Pleasures of a Simple Meal, he features a dish that's somewhat deceivingly called "Radishes à la crème."  Recipes that include the phrase "...à la crème" tend to be on the rich side.  They also tend to be served warm.  This dish, however, is neither--instead, it's cool, fresh, and light, and yet perfect for late fall and early winter.

"Radishes à la crème" is a remarkable salad--one of those rare dishes that far exceeds the sum of its parts--but Tanis is awfully humble when it comes to introducing it.  He writes:  "Only four ingredients--radishes, salt, pepper, and crème fraîche--yet they make an extremely tasty raw vegetable first course."

He must have felt a little stronger about this recipe than he's letting on here.  He must have been aware of both its surprisingly wonderful flavours and its strong visual appeal.  He must have realized that, in many ways, this was a dish that summed up the vision (and the genius) behind One Good Dish.  He must have known that this is not just one good dish, it's one great dish.  After all, "Radishes à la crème" is granted pride of place on the cookbook's cover

one good dish fig. a:  please judge this book by its cover

and it's also afforded a two-page photographic spread (as opposed to just a single photograph) on the inside.

radishes fig. b:  inside scoop

And he was right to do so.  It's a stunner.  No matter how much you might like radishes and crème fraîche, you can't possibly imagine that they could possibly taste this great together.  And if you're not really a fan of either, this recipe will make you a believer.

Now would be a perfect time to make "Radishes à la crème."  While so many other fall vegetables have already disappeared, you can still find nice radishes.  And with holiday meals often on the heavy side, this recipe provides a quick and easy way to lighten things up.  Plus, it looks so pretty.  And if you choose the right radishes, they even resemble snowflakes a little.

winter radishes fig. c:  perfect for the holidays

Use the freshest, tastiest, most beautiful radishes you can find.  Use a nice crème fraîche, too.  If you don't make your own, Liberté brand, here in Quebec, makes a very good commercial version.

Don't skimp on the salt or pepper, either.  This recipe only calls four ingredients, after all, and it costs virtually nothing to make.  Use a nice sea salt, like Maldon salt, and grind the best black pepper you can find over your salad right before serving.

Radishes à la crème 
1/2 pound radishes (red, black, white, watermelon, or even daikon)
sea salt
1/4 cup crème fraîche, or a little more, if you like
a few drops of milk (optional)
freshly ground black pepper 
Use a very sharp knife or, even better, a mandoline, to slice the radishes as thinly and uniformly as possible.  Lay them out on a large plate or in a bowl.  Sprinkle sea salt over top.  Garnish with a whole radish or two, if you like. 
If your crème fraîche is thick, stir it vigorously with a spoon for about a minute to lighten it up, or thin it with a few drops of milk.  Spoon it generously over the sliced radishes.  You can either dollop the crème fraîche in the center of the arrangement, or drizzle it all over the radishes.  Finish dressing the salad by grinding black pepper over top according to your taste. 
Serves 4. 
Optional embellishments: 
1 tbsp fruity olive oil, drizzled over top 
spicy radish sprouts 
chopped chives  
(We haven't tried any of these variations yet, but they all sound great.) 
This salad is quite simply our favourite dish right now.  We literally can't get enough of it.  We'll finish off a plate of "Radishes à la crème" and immediately start talking about the next batch we're going to make.

But there's much, much more to One Good Dish than just "Radishes à la crème."  In fact, when Tanis was in town to launch his book at Appetite for Books earlier this fall, he didn't even prepare this recipe.  Instead, with the help of Jonathan Cheung, the store's owner, he presented a classic warm lentil salad à la française, some simple cucumber pickles, and a pumpkin seed brittle, all straight out of the book.  I'm not sure he realized it at the time, but this trio was also ideal for a climate like Montreal's--all three were recipes that we could easily prepare even in deepest winter (given we can find some hydroponic cukes).

Finally, in addition to lovely salads, dips and spreads, soups and stews (meals you can eat with only a spoon), dishes that should ideally be made in a hot cast-iron pan, simple desserts, and so on, One Good Dish also comes with a glowing recommendation from none other than Yotam Ottolenghi.  Will this become the next Plenty?  I'm not sure, but One Good Dish is definitely one of our top picks of the year.


p.s. For more on David Tanis and the WWDD lifestyle, check out this post on Tanis's pho bo, this one on his New Mexico-style green chile stew, or this early one on his Swiss chard gratin (a variation on which also appears in One Good Dish).