Food, Food

And more food, but also books and movies and cocktails and links!

Hi from Madrid, about which more in the next newsletter, as I’m fogged with suckling pig and rioja! I thought about the meal above while listening to the great John Prine Remembered episode on the podcast Biscuits & Jam. His Irish wife, Fiona, talks about how much he loved Arnold’s Country Diner in Nashville, served cafeteria-style I’m told by a reader, and how he loved that style of food. Meatloaf and gravy. The above photo is in that same vein and especially comforting as the days cool and shorten.

An ode to fall: my wife Ann’s pork roast, studded with garlic, super smooth whipped potatoes, biscuits, peas, and a milk-based gravy made in the roasting pan.

I don’t know a better Sunday night meal, especially after another Cleveland Browns win.

The perfect lunch …

Every Tuesday in the fall, Ann hauls her weary ass into New York City to teach an MFA class at The New School (when she’s not busy running her own low-rez MFA program in Newport or writing books, three of them during the pandemic, sheesh). If I’m already in town as I was a couple weeks ago, I know exactly how to welcome her.

Sunflowers and charcuterie.

Murray’s Cheese, a short stroll down Bleecker Street, a culinary landmark in Greenwich Village, has been diminished to a degree since its leader, Rob Kaufelt, sold it to the country’s biggest grocery chain, Kroger. But there’s still fabulous prosciutto, soppressata, sliced translucent thin, and a delicious taleggio cheese. Nourishing and soul-satisfying, it is the perfect lunch. I like to think of it as diet food. Because it’s such an important part of our diet.

The Left Bank…

Of course, when we’re not eating in, we’re eating out. After her class last week we went to one our faves, The Left Bank, run by our friend, chef and co-owner Laurence Edelman. The place has been closed for renovations and just reopened. New on the menu was this outstanding calamari dish.

Sautéed calamari on a bed of couscous with a delicious Moroccan condiment, chermoula. Laurence says:

I conceived the dish in part through hanging out with Share Our Strength chefs, and by reading Paula Wolfert’s Couscous. She’s one of my favorite writers. The couscous is flavored with vegetables and tabil.

Here’s the recipe if you want to give Moroccan pesto a try—a great all-purpose sauce.

What we’re drinking…

I was so impressed with the Chartreuse and tonic we’d had at Edwins in Cleveland a few weeks back, that I decided to splurge on a bottle of green Chartreuse, that beguiling liquor made by Carthusian Monks in the mountains of Grenoble, just south of Lyon, France.

Finding myself on a Friday evening with a cocktail hour to do, I spotted some Luxardo on my shelf and knew I had to try one of the great cocktails, invented in Detroit before prohibition and resuscitated by a Seattle bartender when the craft cocktail movement began. It’s a fabulous cocktail.

And it’s got an easy to remember ratio: 1 part each.

  • 1 ounce gin

  • 1 ounce Chartreuse

  • 1 ounce Luxardo

  • 1 ounce lime juice

  • brandied cherry to garnigh

Deee-lish.

What we’re watching…

A lot of really weird stuff. Last week it was Border. This time it was Misha and the Wolves, a documentary about a woman claiming to have fled Nazi Germany on foot as a young girl after her parents are . A pack of wolves befriends her. Decades later, in the search for her, a new unexpected story emerges.

On one our favorite weekly podcasts, Slate Culture Gabfest, we heard about the 1966 movie Seconds, with Rock Hudson, a sci-fi thriller in which a mild mannered banker and husband in Scarsdale is forced to take on, through surgery, an entirely new life. Dated, but a lot of fun to watch.

The best find, and we’re late as there are numerous seasons now, is Peaky Blinders on Netflix. Set in Birmingham in 1919, just after WWI, it follows a dangerous gang of the title’s name, lead by PTSD veteran who has grand ambitions. Brilliant. Highly recommended.

What we’re reading…

From Ann:

I’m reading TRUE STORY by Kate Reed Perry, a really inventive, genre bending book. And I’m listening to A SLOW FIRE BURNING by Paula Hawkins, read by Rosamund Pike. She’s a fantastic reader, and this reluctant driver can’t wait to get in the car and listen!

And I’m just finishing Every Deep Drawn Breath by Dr. Wes Ely, an elegant story of one doctor’s training and practicing with a special focus in Intensive Care, which he has helped to revolutionize. Recommended for all young docs and anyone who loves medical stories.

By far the best book of this sort in Frank Huyler’s The Blood of Strangers, poetic short stories of actual events in emergency room medicine. One of my favorite books, period. (Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my own medical non-fiction book, Walk On Water: Inside an Elite Pediatric Surgical Unit.)

Links were liking …

  • The OED is the ultimate arbiter in terms of what words are officially in the language and which are not. This year, 20 Korean words were added. The first Korean word to become English was kimchi, in 1976. (The Guardian.)

  • One of my favorite buildings in New York’s West Village is an odd triangular brick structure erected in 1831.

Here’s its story.

and finally…

This hilarious performance by a flight attendant. There are more than one, but this the best so far, beautifully scripted and enhanced by the flight attendant’s reactions throughout:

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See you in a couple weeks!

Michael