May 9, 2011

"Dirty" Mother's Day Brunch at Longwood Gardens

Yesterday the Dream Kitchen family and grandpa had a Mother's Day brunch at 1906, the restaurant at Longwood Gardens. The salad I ordered came with mushroom soil, the menu said, with no explanation or asterisk. I asked the server, "This can't actually mean mushroom soil, correct?" Mushrooms grow in something even less suitable for eating than regular dirt. She said,"No, it just looks like mushroom soil. It's tiny bits of creminis and shiitakes sautéed with a little olive oil. Baby radishes appear to be growing out of it."

I am none too sure they should ever have gone down the mushroom soil path, conceptual or actual, but once they had started down it I guess there was no turning back. It was the only salad on the brunch menu, so I ordered it. The salad was very fresh and interesting, and included tiny edible flowers and a hibiscus immersion and something that was sliced in narrow ribbons. Perhaps it was a bit too precious in its execution, but on Mother's Day I wasn't going to be picky.

Let this be a lesson to you, dear readers. As I said to the server regarding the mushroom soil, "This is where quotation marks would come in very handy."

P.S. In answer to the question from Zane, when you learn to spell I'll give you all the bacon you want. In answer to MemeGrl, the Gouda was a little dry as you know, but there may be more feta on the horizon. The mozzarella we made in the cheesemaking class was great but I left the recipe there! Am about to buy Ricki Carroll's cheesemaking book.

May 6, 2011

The Negroni Cocktail: The Bitter and the Sweet

The cocktail called the Negroni is very trendy right now. I had my first one last October at Cicchetteria, and have even had another since then. (My cocktail consumption is very small.)


One part gin
One part vermouth
One part Campari

Serve on the rocks. You can add a twist of orange. I love the interplay between the juniper of the gin, the sweetness of the vermouth, and the bitterness of the Campari.

A word about Campari. A long time ago I spent four weeks in Rome with a bunch of other grad students, supposedly studying aesthetics but actually hanging around in cafes, tasting gelato, going broke, and gossiping about each other. Temple Rome Program, I love you! So one day my friend Jesse and I ordered Campari and soda because it sounded daring. I'd seen ads for it in The New Yorker.

It was dreadful to my 30-year-old palate (I'm a late bloomer). "This is like paint-thinner!" But slightly more than 20 years later, I think Campari sassy and strong in a good way, and I like the way its childish Hi-C Fruit Punch red color belies the bitterness.

You see, I've befriended bitterness in my middle age. Not emotional bitterness, which I used to find thrilling to discover in other people and energizing to cultivate in myself. Now that, like anyone my age, I actually have a few things to be bitter about, I try as hard as possible not to fall into that particular self-indulgent abyss. I try to cultivate gratitude instead, and take my bitterness in my Campari. And in my coffee. But that's for another post . . . .

Meanwhile, celebrate the bitter and have a Negroni this weekend. Or, if you're very grown up indeed, Campari and soda.

May 5, 2011

Dream Kitchen Reboots! With a Super Special Reader's Choice Post!

Complete with exclamation marks!

Dear reader(s),

It's hard to sneak back onto (into?) a blog, dust off the shelves, and quietly start typing a brilliant or even a just so-so post.

To ease back in, I'm going to answer your questions. Please ask 'em in the comment box below (NOT on Facebook).Food history, etiquette, recipe questions, favorite apps, favorite appetizers, why is everyone suddenly drinking Negronis, you name it.

Please address your questions "Dear Dream Kitchen" as it will help me feel vaguely authoritative. I thank you, dear readers. Should I get a flood of fascinating questions, I will use some inscrutable or arbitrary method for deciding which ones to answer.

Bloggily yours,