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VERGANO CHINATO | RELAXING URUGUAY | ESCAZĂš CHOCOLATES

spenser personalizing food & drink.

magazine

chef Jonathon Sawyer's Tavern VINEGAR Co.

A BOUCHERIE in cajun country

a california BALANCING act it's "italian as CHERRY pie" may.jun 2012 |  ISSUE FOUR spensermag.com

www.manninямБnejewelry.com

18k MODERN HEIRLOOMS

Rachel and Lexie Meade Smith wearing Spring 2012 Collection. Rockaway Beach, NYC.

apeacetreaty.com

features:

93|DATELINE COPENHAGEN:

One writer travels to Denmark to find out why Noma matters to those of us who will never dine there.

51|FAMILY AFFAIR:

A small boucherie in Eunice, Louisiana. honors tradition and community.

by brendan lynch

by maggie battista

103|BAR CARD:

111|COLONIAL CHARM: A New York food blogger looks for rest and relaxation in Uruguay.

by asha pagdiwalla

Chef Hallot Parson falls for chocolate in a delicious collision of opportunity and interest.

by cyndi flores

64| GOING COASTAL:

Chefs, farmers and winemakers find balance in Santa Barbara County.

by mike dundas

departments: BUTLER'S CHOICE: convenient luxury

STOCKING THE PANTRY: tea & vinegar

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STOCKING THE BAR: craving chinato

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MEREDITH'S PAGE: coasters, rolling pin & best ugly

38

SEASON'S SWEET: cherry, cherry, cherry

40

SEASON'S HARVEST: we heart artichokes

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Classic Confections Reinvented and Handmade in Los Angeles Everyday Treats Seasonal Specialties Wedding + Party Favors Corporate Gifting

DrogaConfections.com

© 2012 Brugal & Co. C. Por A., Dominican Republic, Brugal® Rum, 40% Alc./Vol., Imported by Rémy Cointreau USA, Inc., New York, NY. Please Drink Responsibly.

send gifts, tasting boxes and food made by small batch food makers

eatboutique.com

617.752.1105

recipe index: cocktails Americano Apéritif (Mauro Vergano) | 37 Just Like Honey (Jonathan Sawyer) | 32 The Beauty Beneath (Jeffrey Morgenthaler) | 37

pork Backbone Stew | 65 Boudin | 64 Cracklin | 61 Hog’s Head Cheese Pie | 62 Porchetta and Wild Mustard Green Flatbread (Dylan Fultineer) | 85

sandwiches Bell Street Chicken Club (Evan Klein) | 86 Chivito | 119

seafood Market Fish with Poppy Seeds, Radishes, Beets, Bacon & Greens (Jonathon Sawyer) | 30

sweets Peanut Butter Ice Box Pie | 89 Roman Cherry Tart with Almond Ice Cream (Suzanne Goin) | 41 Tortas Fritas with Dulce de Leche | 118

vegetables Butterbean Hummus | 83 Chilled “First of the Season” Sweet Corn Soup | 121 Fried Baby Artichokes | 46 Grilled Asparagus Salad with Baked Eggs (Dylan Fultineer) | 84

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letter from the editor:

E

verywhere we go, spring is in full swing and summer is knocking at the door. It’s time to open up the doors and windows, and to start living outside. Picnics, pool parties, food festivals — they’re all on the agenda in the coming weeks and months. To celebrate getting out and about, we ventured down to the heart of Cajun Country — Eunice, La. — to join an extended family in their annual lakeside celebration that continues the great tradition of the boucherie. We also traveled to California’s Santa Ynez Valley — just outside Santa Barbara — to meet chefs and winemakers who are heading out into the fields to find a bit of balance in life. Chocolate maker Hallot Pascal teaches us that even the most obscure corners of the world — like a tiny Costa Rican village — can offer encouragement and opportunity closer to home. And even if you never have the chance to travel to Copenhagen and dine at Noma, as most of us will not, you can find inspiration to search out your own culinary heritage through Chef René Redzepi’s application of local Nordic cooking and heirloom foodways.

So just in case you are thinking about getting away from it all (everyone loves to have somebody else cook for them once in a while) we followed blogger Asha Pagdiwalla as she went in search of rest and relaxation in the Uruguayan countryside.

Elsewhere in the issue, you will find stories highlighting some of our favorite new and seasonal ingredients. We have recipes for grilled asparagus salad, porchetta and wild mustard green flatbread, and peanut butter icebox pie as well as techniques and inspirations from acclaimed chefs like Suzanne Goin and Jonathon Sawyer.

mike dundas editor-in-chief

We hope you enjoy.

This time of year also means that schools are letting out and friends and family are planning trips to faraway places. may.jun 2012 | spensermag.com

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spenser magazine MIKE DUNDAS

co-founder & editor-in-chief LEIGH FLORES

co-founder & executive editor JEN WHITE

design director COREY ABSHER

interactive producer MAX FOLLMER

lead copy editor HILARY KLINE

lead photo editor MEREDITH PAIGE

meredith's page editor & staff photographer contributing writers

MAGGIE BATTISTA, CYNDI FLORES, BRENDAN LYNCH, ASHA PAGDIWALLA

contributing photographers FRANK McMAINS, HEIDI MURPHY, ASHA PAGDIWALLA

staff dogs BUCK, JACKSON, KAUFMAN, OLIVER & SCOUT

business & media inquiries: leigh@spensermag.com

advertising & sales inquiries: Edman & Co. (203) 656-1000 rick@edmancompany.com

western region advertising & sales inquiries: leigh@spensermag.com

editorial inquiries, general questions & comments: spenser@spensermag.com

cover photo: Cherries photograph by MEREDITH PAIGE

spenser’s commitment:

spenser magazine commits to donating 1% of profits to charitable causes in support of ending hunger in America and abroad this commitment supports spenser magazine’s desire to help promote the need to end hunger everywhere

spenser disclaimer: Spenser Magazine is published on a bi-monthly basis by Spenser, LLC. All rights are reserved. Neither the publication, nor any portion thereof, may be reproduced in any manner or in any form without the prior written authorization and permission of Spenser, LLC. Spenser Magazine and Spenser, LLC are not responsible for the accuracy of advertiser claims or advertiser content. Notwithstanding, every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the content contained in the publication and on the Web site.

spenser magazine | los angeles, ca

Mike Dundas

Co-Founder & Editor-In-Chief Los Angeles Jonathan Gold @thejgold; David McMillan @joebeef; Daniel Klein @perennialplate; Chuck Todd @chucktodd (it's a presidential election year); Aziz Ansari @azizansari

Leigh Flores

Co-Founder & Executive Editor Los Angeles Frank McMains @frankiii (I'm not just saying that because he's in this issue); Chris Cillizza @thefix (my political fix); John T Edge @ johntedge; (last, but certainly never least) Roy 'Papi' Choi @RidingShotgunLA

Max Follmer

Lead Copy Editor Los Angeles Mark Bittman @bittman

Meredith Paige

Meredith's Page Editor Los Angeles FrenchByDesign @FrenchByDsign; Lisa Fain @homesicktexan;‫ ‏‬The Bourbon Review @GoBourbon; Krissy Lefebvre @FrenchChefWife

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meet the team: "who is your 'must-follow' on twitter?" Corey Absher

Interactive Producer Los Angeles Anthony Bourdain @NoReservations; Conan O'Brien @ConanOBrien; Brett Easton Ellis @BrettEastonEllis; Salman Rushdie @salmanrushdie; Wu Tang Clan @WuTangClan

Jen White

Design Director Los Angeles Andy Cohen @BravoAndy; Tom Colicchhio @tomcolicchio; Joel McHale @joelmchale; Ludo Lefebvre @chefludo; TheBloggers @TheBloggers; Neil Patrick Harris @ActuallyNPH

Hilary Kline

Lead Photo Editor Washington DC Jun Belen @junbelen; Brett Anderson @BrettAndersonTP; Penny De Los Santos @pennydelosantos; Bobby Heugel @Bobby_Heugel; Blue Heron Farm @BlueHeronFarmTX; Kate Silver @katesilver; Teresa Kopek

@teresakopec; (if they don't tweet about it, you don't need to know about it)

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contributors: MAGGIE BATTISTA | WRITER Maggie Battista is a community organizer, writer and small batch food lover who regularly travels far distances to find the next great chef, farmer, food maker or host. She’s the founder of Eat Boutique, a site that offers food gifts and tasting boxes from the best independent food makers, and hosts Eat Boutique’s Local Markets, where food fans gather to meet makers and cookbook authors. You can follow her worldwide — and homemade — gastronomic adventures on eatboutique.com. "Must-follow" on Twitter: I love aesthetically pleasing things (food packaging is an obsession), which makes me a design fanatic. I love following Tina Roth Eisenberg’s adventures in design and entrepreneurship - @swissmiss.

FRANK McMAINS | PHOTOGRAPHER Frank McMains is a writer and photographer based in Baton Rouge, La. His work has been widely published but his primary interests lie in not using his MBA and exploring the untold, out-of-the-way stories that abound in his home state. He is also partial to helicopter rides and a good bourbon now and then. "Must-follow" on Twitter: David Hobby @strobist; George LeClaire @ dhphotogeorge; Lara & Terence @gran_tourismo

BRENDAN LYNCH | WRITER Brendan Lynch is a rural midwesterner who developed a passion for food upon transplanting to San Francisco. From the famed Frog Hollow peaches at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market to dive bar cyclist bbq haunts, the Bay Area was Brendan's culinary proving ground. Having recently moved back to Southern Illinois, Brendan now buys and preps whole heritage hogs from an Amish farmer named Lavan and has been known to transport entire feasts via bicycle. He misses the Bay Area, but has the space to grow heirloom tomatoes and house a freezer large enough to hold a pigs head, an otherwise unimaginable flight of fancy in his old studio in San Francisco. "Must-follow" on Twitter: Editor's Note: Brendan doesn't understand the fun that is the Twitters.

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CYNDI FLORES | WRITER Cyndi is an information technology project manager who lives near Washington DC and tries to make a difference in the world by living and working responsibly. She loves travel, new experiences, good food, and the company of friends or dogs (or both). She learned to cook from her mother who only measured the first time she made a recipe and canned fruits and vegetables every season. From her father she acquired the taste for hot peppers, fresh tortillas, mustang wine and good strong black coffee. She started writing when she was five, but this is her first article about food. "Must-follow" on Twitter: @SteveMartinToGo (wit, intelligence, humor and just plain silliness); @allbacon (yummm)

HEIDI MURPHY | PHOTOGRAPHER Heidi is a wedding and lifestyle photographer, and aspiring foodie. Though her heart belongs to Martha’s Vineyard, she lives north of Boston with her husband and their three dogs in a charming seaside town. She has an affinity for simple flavors and simple pleasures, farmers markets, organic everything, s’mores, corn from the grill, and champagne. Heidi’s work, on film, has been featured stateside and abroad; and her recent musings and imagery can be found on whiteloftstudio.com. "Must-follow" on Twitter: @peta & @FarmSanctuary because it is a daily reminder to make thoughtful decisions about where my food comes from; @JeshDeRox for his insightful view of the world as an artist; @ JGilOrganic for understanding the ins and outs of organic gardening in the Northeast; and @thinksplendid for her powerful research and insights on the wedding industry.

ASHA PAGDIWALLA | WRITER & PHOTOGRAPHER Pampered by two generations of talented home chefs, Asha has always had a very discerning palate. In 2005, she moved to New York City, and discovered world cuisine. Along the way, she discovered a latent passion for creating food experiences, blending global flavors, and sharing it with family and friends. Asha is the creator of the blog Fork Spoon Knife (www.forkspoonnknife.com) and her recipes have been featured on Gourmet Live and Food News Journal. "Must-follow" on Twitter: @cookyourdream; @Helenedujardin

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butler’s choice: Convenient Luxury Michael S. Smith is an award-winning American interior designer best known for blending a style of “European tradition and American modernism.” In 2008, shortly after the publication of his second design book, Houses, he was commissioned by President and Michelle Obama to redecorate the residential quarters of the White House. Two years later, Smith was tapped again to redecorate the Oval Office. Late last year, Smith, 47 released his third book, Kitchens and Baths (Rizzoli 2011). The book is framed around the challenge of how a designer can create a sense of a particular time and place when limited by the look and feel of modern appliances. Smith believes that this challenge can be overcome through a specific focus on detail. “If you can design a cabinet, you can design a skyscraper,” Smith says. “Sometimes I’ll take a detail from a door or a mantel and repeat it on the cabinets. To me, they’re a microcosm of all the architecture in a house.” One of the pantries featured in the book, in a 1950’s ranch house in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, was built out with simple, plain, white, cupboards. To add flourish, however, Smith plated every piece of hardware, including the faucets and the doorknobs, with sterling so it has, in his words, the subtle gleam of old silver. “It’s a look that you just can’t get any other way, softer and more beautiful than nickel,” Smith says. “And it’s a finish that moves and changes, shifting with the light. It’s not static.” But, like the limestone countertops Smith installed, acids like lemon juice

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Each of the rooms is configured with separate zones for prep and cooking and plating food, so that many people can work without getting in one another’s way while still fitting within the scale of the overall home. As Smith says, “a pantry is a convenient luxury.”

(Left) The view from the pantry, through the kitchen, to the breakfast area (Photo by Grey Crawford); (Below) An espresso machine rests on the limestone countertops in the pantry (Photo by Francois Halard). Opposite Page: This pantry offers storage and prep space for a full bar service during parties (Photo by Grey Crawford). Previous Spread: The view from the kitchen, through the butler’s pantry, to the laundry room (Photo by Francois Halard).

can stain them. You can have the hardware and the countertops professionally cleaned and polished and resealed, but Smith wants his clients to accept the fact that they will get marred. There is beauty in imperfection as it counterbalances the sleek, modern feel of the standard stainless steel kitchen appliance. Ultimately, Smith loves pantries because they allow the food prep space to have a split personality. The kitchen can be comfortable without being overwhelming because the pantry can provide work and storage space for larger parties. “When the family is home alone, they can all gather round the island and talk and cook together. Everything they need to make and serve a meal is in this one room,” Smith notes. “Then, when they’re throwing a party, the separate pantry next door comes into play. It’s equipped like a duplicate kitchen, with plenty of workspace and another sink and more refrigeration.”

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stocking the pantry: TIME FOR TEA The domestic tea market is expected to reach $8.3 billion by 2014. Ready-to-drink iced teas, like Sweet Leaf and Steaz, are experiencing booming sales, tea retailers, like Teavana, are rapidly moving into new markets through expansion and acquisition, and large beverage corporations, like Starbucks and Riedel, are increasing their emphasis on the sale of tea and tea-related products. Smaller players in the industry have refocused their operations toward quality, sustainability, and fair trade practices. Much like the modern small-batch coffee roaster, tea retailers are sourcing single origin teas, allowing customers to experience the diversity of flavors and aromas that come from the world’s many tea growing regions. It isn’t surprising, given the growing availability of unique, sustainably grown teas, that small food producers have started incorporating tea leaves and tea infusions into their own products. Tea has been used as an ingredient in cooking for centuries in tea-growing cultures like China. But it takes a delicate touch in the kitchen to be able to extract the floral and spice notes of the tea without adding a tannic bitterness that can overwhelm a dish. Whether it is jams and preserves, chocolates, candies or even cheese, we have fallen in love with a number of new tea-flavored products. A few of those have claimed a permanent spot in the spenser pantry.

Morning Glory Confections’ Chai Tea & Cashew Brittle — Morning Glory Confections, owned and operated by Max Lesser, takes a classic confection — peanut brittle — and updates it to today’s modern tastes. After thinking about how artisan chocolatiers had shown success by utilizing unusual flavor profiles, Max wondered why the same could not be done with brittle. He identified his favorite foods, what the core flavors were, and how to incorporate them into a fine nut brittle. We’re talking creative ingredients like Indian curry, New Mexico chile, dried cherries and smoked paprika. Max’s small-batch Chai Tea & Cashew brittle takes the warm, complex flavors of chai and combines them with buttery cashews resulting in a deliciously sugary treat. The chai flavor is made using darleeling tea, mixed with fennel, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, black pepper, nutmeg, cloves and bay leaf.

Theo's Chai Tea Chocolate — Theo produces premium organic specialty chocolate in Seattle. Founded by Joseph Whinney in 2006, Theo is a leader in the organic bean to bar movement and the first certified Fair Trade chocolate maker in the United States. Joe has instilled in his employees the desire to take the time and care necessary to steward the cocoa beans through the entire manufacturing process, adding only the finest, sustainably produced ingredients, to offer chocolate that is equal parts ethical and delicious. To make the Chai Tea Milk Chocolate bar, sugar, cocoa beans and cocoa butter are mixed with black tea that is spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, clove, black pepper and ground vanilla bean.

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Quince & Apple’s Fig & Black Tea Preserves — Clare and Matt Stoner Fehsenfeld own the Madison, Wisc.-based jam company Quince & Apple. Together, they produce handcrafted preserves using locally sourced fresh produce from surrounding Wisconsin and Michigan farms. All of their preserves are made by hand in open pots, with Clare and Matt tasting and tweaking along the way to get the perfect balance in each batch. To make their Fig & Black Tea Preserves, Clare and Matt steep dried Mission figs in an Indonesian black tea that they source from Upton Tea Importers. The liquor from the rehydrated figs combined with tea creates a syrup that is used to make the preserves. It works on a cheese plate, served with anything smokey and creamy and also tastes delicious spooned over ice cream.

Beehive Cheese Company’s TeaHive — The creamery at the Beehive Cheese Company, in Uintah, Utah, sits at the mouth of Weber Canyon in a valley between the forested Wasatch Mountains. Beehive owners (and brothers-inlaw) Tim Welsh and Pat Ford use only first-class-grade whole milk from Jersey cows at Ogden’s Wadeland South Dairy. The 350-acre dairy is located near the salty marshes, ponds and mudflats of the mineral-loaded Great Salt Lake. The nutrient-rich soil feeds the lush alfalfa that the cows love to eat, resulting in a delicious milk that tastes of its unique terroir. Tim and Pat call their new TeaHive a “feel good” cheese. Rubbed with a blend of black tea and pure bergamot oil, this creamy Irishstyle cheddar has the rich fragrance of orange blossoms in spring. We can't get enough.

stocking the pantry:

TAVERN VINEGARS The Tavern Vinegar Co. is the new retail offshoot of Chef Jonathon and Amelia Sawyer’s brilliant restaurant, The Greenhouse Tavern, in Cleveland, Ohio. Jonathon’s focus in the kitchen leads the restaurant to produce food with a direct correlation to the farm and the soil. His involvement with the local Slow Foods Convinium and the Cuyahoga Valley Conservation Society has inspired his belief in creating recipes defined by that which can be procured locally. As part of this ethos, Jonathon endeavors to produce in-house almost any ingredient that could not be procured from the surrounding region, including vinegar.

the keg lines, gallons of extra beer were collected each week. “Some of the beer would get used for braised mussels or things like that, but there is only so much beer that you can use in a restaurant with 70 seats,” Jonathon recalls. “So I decided that I was going to make my own beer vinegar. We brought in three barrels, one for Belgians, one for hoppy beers, and one for dark beers. I brought in some of my homemade beer vinegar to use as a mother and we were off.”

“Being a certified green restaurant and conscious about sustainability, I realize that I am never going to be able to grow lemons and limes here in Ohio,” Jonathon says, “so if we can wean ourselves off of that mainstay of acidity and we can use our vinegar in its place, that brings us closer to our goal.”

When his attention turned toward opening The Greenhouse Tavern, Jonathon made the decision to create only single-origin, single-varietal vinegars, which now make up the Tavern Vinegar Co. product line. The vinegars are aged in the stone-walled basement beneath the Sawyers’ 170 year-old house in Shaker Heights. They have approximately 200 gallons of vinegar aging in oak and another 400 gallons stored in glass.

When Jonathon was living and cooking in New York City, he bought a bottle of high-end, single-origin, cabernet red wine vinegar. But after tasting the product, which was priced higher than most good cabernet wines, a light kicked on and he realized that he could probably make an equally delicious product for much less money.

Jonathon is also in the process of developing what he calls his flagship product, an all-Ohio malt vinegar aged in oak barrels. It will be made from the malt used in the production of a local beer and aged in barrels that have already spent two years aging whiskey and another couple months aging Belgianstyle tripel, both made by Ohio-based producers.

He immediately went out and picked up Sandor Katz’s book, Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods. Armed with the book and a bit of online research, he began making vinegars right in his own home kitchen.

“This is the third use of the barrel and the second use of the grain, which will go toward the making the greenest malt vinegar in the world,” Jonathon says. “This will be our flagship, but we will always do the ‘one-offs,’ the rose, the garlic beer, the sake vinegar, which will all be sold in 1000-bottle allotments.”

After moving back to Cleveland, and prior to opening Greenhouse Tavern, Jonathon ran the kitchen at Bar Cento, which is attached to Bier Markt, a Belgian beer bar. As part of the regular process of cleaning

Tavern Vinegar Co. vinegars are available in multiple locations in Cleveland, at Revival Market in Houston, at Publican in Chicago, and soon to be on Michael Ruhlman’s OpenSky Web page.

stocking the pantry:

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stocking the pantry:

Market Fish with Poppy Seeds, Radishes, Beets, Bacon & Greens Adapted from a recipe by Jonathon Sawyer

This dish is Chef Sawyer’s play on the classic Northern Italian combination of beets, lemons and poppy seeds. You will often see it in other places served as raviolini with a little fresh cheese, but here the ingredients are combined with fish. The bright red color from the beet juices and the rose vinegar creates a strikingly beautiful presentation. There is a depth of flavor that comes from the combination of the roasted beets, bacon, and cooked greens all balanced by the acidity of the vinegar and the fresh heat from the horseradish.

Serves 4 4 6 oz. white-fleshed fish fillets 4 large beets 2 cups kosher salt 4 tbsp. diced bacon 12 breakfast radishes, quartered lengthwise ¾ lb. mustard greens, stems removed and roughly chopped 2 cups vegetable stock ¹⁄³ cup canola oil 3 tbsp. olive oil 4 tbsp. Tavern Vinegar Co. Rose Vinegar 2 tbsp. poppy seeds ½ stick unsalted butter 4 mint leaves 1 knob fresh horseradish (for grating) 1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Season the fish fillets with salt. 2. Clean and rinse beets under cold water. Toss beets with the salt in a bowl. Pull beets from bowl and spread the leftover salt on a cookie sheet or sheet tray. Place beets on salted tray and bake for one hour. Peel and dice the beets once they have cooled to the touch. 3. Increase the heat of the oven to 400°F. Start one sauté pan over medium heat. Add half of the butter and allow butter to melt while taking care not to brown it. Add the bacon to the melted butter and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, then add the diced beets, quartered radishes and mustard greens and sauté for another 3 minutes. 4. While the beets and mustard greens are cooking, start a second sauté pan over high heat. Add both oils to the high heat pan and preheat them to prepare for cooking the fish. While the oil is preheating, add the vegetable stock, vinegar, poppy seeds and the remaining butter to the pan with the beets, bacon and greens. Stir to emulsify the sauce. 5. Add the fish to the high heat pan and then drop the temperature of the pan by half. Cook on the stovetop for about 3 minutes. Remove the entire pan without turning the fish from the burner and place in the oven for another 3 to 4 minutes. 6. To plate, place mustard greens, beets, bacon and radishes in the middle of four bowls. Top each dish with a piece of fish, browned side up, then pour the sauce over the fish. Garnish each dish with a mint leaf and grated horseradish.

stocking the pantry:

stocking the pantry:

Just Like Honey

Recipe by Jonathon Sawyer Makes 1 cocktail 1 ½ oz. Bushmills Honey ¾ oz. Barenjager ¾ oz. Tavern Vinegar Co. Oak Aged Red Wine Vinegar 1. Combine ingredients in a mixing glass or Boston shaker with ice. Stir with a cocktail spoon for about 30 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.

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n i e m a n r u o y e se

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stocking the bar:

VERGANO CHINATO

Mauro Vergano is not your typical wine maker. He is the son of a pharmacist who, after earning a degree in Chemistry, spent 15 years running a company that produced chemical compounds used in the “flavors and fragrances” sector. His work with chemicals gave him free reign to practice blending aromatics and allowed him to "train" his nose to recognize the nuances of fragrance. From the start, Mauro has held an intense interest in the world of wines, thanks to the fact that his uncle produced wines and vermouths of his own. So much so that he went back to school to earn a master’s degree in oenology and viticulture. In the late 1970’s, while still working full time, Mauro started tinkering around with homemade chinato, giving it away to friends and family. After he retired from the chemical industry, he decided to shift this passion from a hobby into a business. In early 2003, the first bottles of Vergano Chinato were ready to go. Despite the fact that Mauro uses his chemistry training to produce his aromatically infused wines, he emphasizes the fact that each of his recipes has ancient origins. “Every product is the synthesis of traditional recipes that are interpreted with the tastes and imagination of today’s producers,” he says. Mauro generally follows the same process for each of his four products. The first step is the preparation of the extract or concia. This is done by leaving a mixture of chopped herbs and spices to steep in alcohol for 20 to 30 days. The extract that is produced is then filtered and left to age for a few months. After aging, Mauro mixes in sugar and alcohol to differing proportions. Finally, the product is filtered to produce a clear, shelf-stable product. His first creation, the Chinato, blends Nebbiolo wine from a small-scale producer in Barbaresco with bittering agents like china (Calisaya & Succirubra varieties), Chinese rabarbaro and ginseng, and aromatic spices and herbs, like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, coriander, and bay leaf. Approx. $44 for 500ml. Luli, first produced in 2003, is a chinato made from a higher alcohol (10+%) Moscato d’Asti produced by Vittorio Bera & Figli. The fragrance and full-bodiedness of the Moscato melds perfectly with the aromatic extract composed of citrus zest, cinnamon and vanilla and is balanced by the bitter flavor of the china (Calisaya and Succirubra varieties). Approx. $44 for 500ml.

Charcuterie board by Bell Street Farm Eatery & Market, Los Alamos, Calif.

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stocking the bar:

The Vergano Americano is twist on a more traditional Piedmontese sweet vermouth. The base wine is Grignolino produced by Casina Tavjin: a wine with an intense, dry fragrance and balanced tannins. Like most smallbatch Italian vermouths, the extract contains wormwood (in this case a mixture of the Maggiore, Gentile and Pontico varieties). To transform the base vermouth into his Americano, Mauro integrates herbs, additional bittering agents like Gentianella, and citrus zest like bitter orange and chinotto. Approx. $39 for 750ml. The base wine in the dry, white Vermouth is a blend of dry Moscato and Cortese, another typical white grape of Piedmont, which provides a balance of acidity and flavor. The infusion is a mixture of herbs and spices dominated by thyme, marjoram, basil, and oregano along with the Gentile variety of wormwood. As is the tradition, this Vermouth is light yellow in color, crystal clear with a balance between sugar, bitter and fragrance. Approx. $39 for 750ml.

stocking the bar:

The Beauty Beneath Recipe by Jeffrey Morgenthaler

Americano Apéritif Recipe by Mauro Vergano

Makes 1 cocktail 2 oz. Vergano Americano Orange twist Soda water 1. Pour the Americano into a short glass filled with ice. Express the oils from an orange twist over the surface of the drink and drop the spent twist into the glass. Top with soda water.

Makes 1 cocktail 2 oz. Appleton Estate V/X rum 1 oz. Vergano Americano ½ oz. Cointreau 1 dash Fee Brothers’ Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters Orange twist 1. Stir ingredients with cracked ice until combined and cold, about 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Express the oils from an orange twist over the surface of the drink and drop the spent twist into the drink.

meredith's page:

Rollin' into Summer

Mike said it best, “…spring is rolling and summer is knocking at the door.” These items inspire a little spring in your step toward long summer nights entertaining with friends & family.

– Meredith

meredith@spensermag.com

It's th e best of ugly out th ere

An in-depth look what goes into restaurant design & most importantly, what design elements can be packaged for carryout to bring home. Powell Books, $49.95

Child's Rolling Pin

Bring the kids into the kitchen & start family traditions. Hand turned + one of a kind. Herriott Grace, $65

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Dining Ambiance

Scented candles have traditionally been taboo near the dining table, but these hand-crafted candles have a subtle, aromatic flare and with scents like Balsamic, Bitter Fennel & Black Pepper, they will whet your appetite. Touch of Europe, $29.99; set of 3

Dude, carry this for me Coast Home

My love of cocktail napkins extends to coasters – each of these unique coasters make me want to pick them up and bring them with me wherever I end up with my cocktail. Available in multiple colors.

Now with this carrier of leather rings riveted to a central wooden handle with hand-carved finger grips, the job of BYOB gets a lot more stylish. Available in natural/raw, black, darkbrown, and oxblood. WalnutStudio, $85

Anthropologie, $32; set of 4

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season's sweet: SWEET SUMMER CHERRIES Sweet cherries are a classic late Spring, early Summer stone fruit first introduced to the eastern U.S. in the 17th century by English colonists. Shortly thereafter, Spanish missionaries are credited with introducing cherries to the West Coast, where the soil and climate allowed them to flourish. Today, domestic sweet cherry production is dominated by a small handful of states, including Washington, California, Oregon and Michigan. Greg McPherson, the co-owner and operator of Tiny’s Organics, a third-generation family farm located in Wenatchee, Wash., grows 6 different varieties of organic cherries. Though he sells organic produce year-round at the Ballard and University Farmers Markets in Seattle, he is quick to note that fresh cherry season is his favorite time of year. “Back in the day, we originally planted cherries because the wholesale market was so strong,” Greg says. “And though the market is not as lucrative as it used to be, cherries are still everyone’s favorite when it comes to eating.” Because the season for fresh sweet cherries is so short, about 6 weeks in many parts of the U.S., there is no excuse for wasting precious time on bad fruit. That means tracking down your local cherry farmer at a farmers market or through a CSA program. Greg notes that most cherries at the retail level do not have the same flavor as market cherries. “The main reason,” he says, “is that packing companies require their growers to pick 3-5 days before the cherries are fully ripe so they will survive the shipment from the farm to the distribution centers and then onto the retail stores.” When selecting cherries, look for those that have deep, dark, glossy color. They should be plump and firm, without any stickiness or wrinkles. Greg notes that you should keep the cherries well chilled in the refrigerator. Keep the cherries in a glass container that is covered with kitchen towel so they don’t get bruised or dry out. Most importantly, eat as many cherries as you can while they are in season, because they won’t be back for another year.

Roman Cherry Tart with Almond Crust and Almond Ice Cream

2. Use your fingers to press the dough into a buttered 9-inch fluted tart pan, pressing the sides first and then the bottom, to form an even crust. Chill at least an hour, or preferably overnight.

Recipe by Suzanne Goin

3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prick the bottom of the tart shell with a fork, and line it with a few coffee filters opened out, or a piece of parchment paper. Fill the lined tart shell with dried beans or pie weights, and bake 20 minutes, until it begins to brown lightly around the edges. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Once it cools, lift the paper and beans out of the tart.

Serves 6-8 In so many American childhoods, cherry pie is a gloppy, cloying, Day-Glo affair. As a chef, I’m expected to disdain such things now, and officially, I do. But I’ve always loved cherries. This Italian cherry and almond tart is everything a bad cherry pie is not: flaky, buttery, and sophisticated, with a filling the color of darkest rubies. But, if someday, when cherries are long out of season, you happen to see in a corner booth at DuPar’s Coffee Shop someone who looks like me, wolfing down a slice of all-American diner pie, wearing dark sunglasses and a stain that looks suspiciously like Red Dye #40, well, keep it to yourself. Even chefs have fond memories of their misguided youth. Note: You can make the crust and line the tart shell the day before, and chill overnight. The sweet cherry compote and the almond ice cream can also be made the day before.

Tart Heaping ½ cup raw almonds ¼ cup granulated sugar 1 cup + 5 tbsp. all-purpose flour ¼ tsp. kosher salt 8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly ¼ tsp. pure almond extract ¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract Sweet cherry compote (recipe below) Almond ice cream (recipe on page 42) 1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Toast the almonds on a baking sheet about 10 minutes, until they darken slightly and smell nutty. When the nuts have cooled, place them in a food processor with the sugar and pulse to a coarse meal. Add the flour and salt and pulse again to combine. Transfer to a mixing bowl, and pour in the melted butter, almond and vanilla extracts, and 1 tbsp. ice-cold water. Using a wooden spoon, mix until just combined, adding more ice-cold water if necessary to help bring the dough together.

4. Fill the shell with the sweet cherry compote to just below the level of the rim. Return the tart to the 350°F oven and bake 1 hour, until the cherries darken to a deep ruby red. Let the tart cool 15 minutes before cutting. Slice the tart into wedges, and serve with scoops of almond ice cream.

Sweet Cherry Compote ½ vanilla bean ¹⁄ ³ cup granulated sugar 1 tbsp. cornstarch 2 ¼ lbs. fresh Bing cherries, pitted 2 tbsp. grappa or brandy 1. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and, using a paring knife, scrape the seeds and pulp into a medium saucepan. Add the vanilla pod, sugar, and ¼ cup water. Over medium heat, cook the mixture, without stirring, until it’s caramelized to an amber color. Once it begins to brown, you can swirl the pot a little to get the caramel to color evenly. While the sugar is caramelizing, stir 1 tbsp. water into the cornstarch (this is called a “slurry” and will help thicken the fruit juices). 2. When the sugar is an amber brown, add the cherries, and swirl the pan again. Add the grappa, turn the flame down, and let the cherries simmer for a few minutes, until they have softened. (The caramel will seize up and harden at first; don’t worry, it will melt.) Strain the cherries over a bowl, return the liquid to the pot, and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk the cornstarch slurry into the liquid and bring it back to a boil once again, stirring often. Cook a few more minutes, until thickened. Transfer the cherries to the bowl, pour the liquid over them, and stir to combine. Let cool completely.

season's sweet:

Almond Ice Cream 2 ½ cups raw whole almonds 2 cups whole milk 2 cups heavy cream 4 extra-large egg yolks ½ cup granulated sugar 1 tsp. pure almond extract 1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Toast the almonds on a baking sheet in the oven 10 to 12 minutes, until they darken slightly and smell nutty. When they’ve cooled, chop the nuts coarsely. Place 1 ½ cups of the chopped almonds in a medium sauce pan, and pour in the milk and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn off the heat, cover, and let the flavors infuse for about 30 minutes. 2. Strain out the almonds, return the milk to the pan and bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl. Whisk a few tbsp. of the warm cream mixture into the yolks to temper them. Slowly, add another ¼ cup of the warm cream, whisking to incorporate. At this point, you can add the rest of the cream mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the pot and return to the stove. 3. Add the almond extract, and cook the custard over medium heat 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan. The custard will thicken, and when it’s done will coat the back of the spatula. Strain the mixture, and chill at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. Process in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions and, when it’s done stir in the remaining almonds. Store in a sealed container in the freezer until ready to use.

season's sweet: Recipe Excerpted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques: Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table by Suzanne Goin and Teri Gelber (Knopf) Copyright Š 2005.

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season’s harvest: Baby Artichokes

According to San Francisco’s Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture ("CUESA"), the artichoke has been around for more than two millennia. Presumed to have been first grown in Northern Africa, this member of the thistle family quickly made its way across the Mediterranean to Greece and the Roman Empire. Upon observing the hedonism with which his fellow Romans devoured artichokes, Pliny the Elder remarked, “thus we turn into a corrupt feast the earth’s monstrosities, those which even the animals instinctively avoid." CUESA notes that once a group of Italian immigrants started farming near Half Moon Bay, Calif. in the late 19th century, it didn't take long for artichokes to catch on in the U.S. After only a few short years, serious acreage was being dedicated to artichokes in Monterey County, where the fog-laden climate and sandy-yetfertile soils were a perfect growing environment. After the end of World War I, farmers began shipping boxcars filled with artichokes by rail to the East Coast, where their popularity exploded in cities with large Italian populations. In the late 1930's, Ciro Terranova, a member of the New York mafia, monopolized the market for artichokes by buying up all of the product coming in from California and reselling it at a massive profit. Known as the “Artichoke King,” Terranova kept his profitable monopoly through intimidation of distributors, merchants and even growers. The mobster went so far as to hire thugs to hack up entire fields of artichokes with machetes if he didn't get the "cooperation" he wanted. These “Artichoke Wars” escalated to such a degree that then-New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia declared artichokes illegal in the city in an attempt to break the monopoly. Unable to resist the allure of the artichoke, LaGuardia lifted the ban after only one week. This time of year, markets are filled with chokes of all sizes. The giant Globe artichoke may attract the most attention, but we are partial to the more tender, baby chokes. Despite the name, baby artichokes are actually fully mature. They just happen to grow on a lower part of the same plant. Unlike their larger brethren, the baby artichoke does not need to be cored prior to eating. This makes them perfect for recipes that call for braising or frying. When shopping for artichokes, chose those that are heavy for their size and have tightly compacted leaves. Artichokes with leaves that have started to pull open, much like a flower, may have been picked too long ago.

Fried Baby Artichokes Editor’s Note: We love this recipe for two reasons. First, as you can see from photo, the final product is absolutely beautiful. The fried chokes look like rose buds on the plate and don't need any extraneous garnish. The deep fry creates a beautiful contrast in textures. The outer leaves are perfectly light and crispy, while the heart of the choke ends up rich and creamy. You don’t even need a dipping sauce, just a sprinkling of good sea salt as soon as they come out of the oil. Second, since they are going to be fried, you don't need to worry about keeping the trimmed chokes in acidulated water as with other recipes. Any discoloration resulting from oxidation will be masked by the dark brown crispy goodness that comes with frying. Skipping the water bath also guarantees a safer and better fry. The water soaked chokes would splatter oil everywhere, steaming while they cook, resulting in an oily, mushy mess. Keep 'em dry. It saves a lot of time and trouble and makes for a tastier dish.

Makes as many as you are willing to prep and eat. 4 quarts extra virgin olive oil (see Note below) 1 cup grapeseed oil Baby artichokes, about the size of a golf ball Sea salt 1. Heat the olive oil and grapeseed oil over high heat in a large Dutch oven until it reaches 365°F as measured on a hot oil/candy thermometer. If the oil is too hot, the outer leaves will burn before the artichoke heart has a chance to cook. If the oil is too cool, the choke will be soggy and heavy. As a safety precaution, be sure to leave at least three inches between the top of the oil and the top of your pot, even if it means using less oil. 2. While the oil is heating, prepare the artichokes. With a sharp knife, cut the top ¾-inch off of each choke. Next, peel back the darker, outer leaves until only softer, lighter leaves remain. Finally, trim the dark green and brown portions off of the base and stem of the choke. 3. When the chokes are prepped and the oil is ready, cook them in batches of 20-25 at a time. Fry each batch for about three minutes, until the outer leaves of the baby chokes reach a nice chestnut brown and the heart is fully cooked through. Be sure to keep an eye on the oil temperature. Regulate the stove's heat as necessary. 4. Remove the cooked chokes from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Immediately season the fried chokes with a good sprinkling of sea salt. When the first batch runs out, bring the oil back to temperature and fry another batch. Note: We use extra virgin olive oil because it adds a rich, fruity flavor to the fried chokes. The grapeseed oil is added just to help raise the smoke point enough such the oil doesn’t burn before it hits 365°F. Although it makes this dish little bit more expensive, a decent extra virgin olive oil really rounds out the sweet, grassy flavor of the baby artichokes.

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a bOUcHERiE in cajun country

a california balancing act it's "italian as cherry pie" may.jun 2012 | issue four spensermag.com

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By Brendan Lynch • Photography by Frank McMains

T

HE LOCAL FARM-RAISED PIG WAS UNAWARE that this balmy morning in the heart of the Acadian Prairie would be his last. Just late enough to heighten anticipation, he arrived like a porcine politician, entourage and all, in a livestock trailer. The local kids, about a dozen, clambered aboard to get a glimpse of the momentary celebrity, a bright-eyed clean furred pig with a disarming smile. The grown-ups, predominantly locals who have known one another since elementary school, were eager. The prep team, consisting of local butchers from the esteemed Eunice Superette and Slaughterhouse, gathered for a brief consultation. After a moment of silence, an invocation, and a group recital of the Lord’s Prayer, the pig’s life ended with a single expertly placed gunshot. He was still to be the star of the show. There would be boudin. The pig’s presence at the boucherie is a debt owed to the not so recent past. Boucherie is a phenomenon unique to Cajun country and is as distinct a cultural artifice as can be found in the United States. In a climate ill-suited for food preservation, in a culture with a taste for pork, in a time a when refrigeration was hard to come by the boucherie was a necessity. Cooking with fresh pork can result in grand cuisine yet it often yields plentiful scraps; something traditionally lower-income families could ill afford. Consuming the whole hog, preventing any waste, was a team effort and an absolute necessity in Acadiana.

Traditionally, the boucherie was a festive community affair, no different from this day’s fête. An entire neighborhood or group of families would come together to share in the cooking. The hosting, and pig providing would rotate throughout the year — as often as weekly — ensuring a steady supply of food. As much as the eating is a team effort, so too is the cooking. A boucherie needs teamwork as much as it needs a pig; the climate requires it. Cool mornings turn into balmy afternoons quickly on the Acadian prairie. As Andy Thibodeaux of the Eunice Superette laconically points out, “pork sours quick in the heat.” Speed is of the essence and all the stations work at the same time. A boucherie is nothing if not a flurry of activity. Host Lance Pitre, the genial and articulate owner of Eunice’s storied Lakeview RV Park, Andy Thibodeaux and Dave Fontenot, both third generation butchers, began a dance choreographed from the generation before and before. As helpers and onlookers nibbled on egg sandwiches and sipped paper-cupped coffee, a small band struck up playing Cajun music. Jet engine like noise from multiple propane burners lit to boil water fought against the melody. The morning chill lifted and coats came off. Sequestered inside a barn-cum-dance hall that hosted more than one Grammy winner was Carl Pitre monitoring a roux that would be the base for backbone stew.

(Clockwise from left, across both pages) Richard uses more traditional taps and buckets to collect the maple sap, eschewing modern vacuum tubing systems; Maple wood, collected from fallen trees in the nearby forest, is destined for the furnace; Richard hand signs every bottle of Société-Orignal’s “Remonte Pente” maple syrup; Wood must be routinely added to the furnace to keep the maple evaporator up to temperature.

Outside, a large, well-worn wooden table appeared. Around the table sprung a series of stations, each with the sole purpose of producing a single dish. Incongruously, a 55-gallon drum was set in the mud at a 45-degree angle and filled with 148-150 degree scalding water (marking the only sighting of a thermometer that day). Pecan smoke began ebbing out of a seven-foot tall corrugated metal smoker. Coffee cups were being replaced by beer cans. The guitar, fiddle and accordion fought back against the noisy burners. Things were moving quickly now. The boucherie had begun. This pig was dispatched with a speed that would have left many of today's rockstar butchers in awe. After being bled out, the pig was hurried to the angled drum filled with hot water, the steam from which was barely discernible from the humid haze over the prairie expanse behind. The skin was scalded to remove the stubborn bristles and then the pig was hoisted onto the table. In minutes it was deftly scraped clean. A coldbeer — one word — was emptied. Andy and Dave began the butchering with an economy of motion only acquired by years of repetition. Working together, uttering not a word, the blades of the boning knives would pass a hair’s breadth past the other’s hand in perfect harmony. Not a flinch. Not a second pass. Not even a nod to the next move. Except for the occasional pause to point out technique to the kids trying to learn at their side or steal a quick sip of coldbeer, they were in constant perfect motion.

A few fast cuts removed the head with only the eyes discarded. The tongue disappeared behind to the freisseur station. The head was passed to the station in front staffed by four elegant middleaged women who would be responsible for the hog’s head cheese pie. Long passes of a filet knife removed sheets of skin and fat and tiny flecks of meat, which were handed off to the cracklins station. Part of the liver was reserved for the adjacent sausage station. Ribs and chops were handed off to the BBQ station, almost a passing gesture. The heart, the rest of the liver, kidney, spleen and some shoulder also made their way to the freisseur station. The stomach was set aside to be stuffed full of sausage for ponce

and stitched back together. The intestines were reserved for further use. Nothing was wasted. This was beyond nose to tail cooking, this was as-oft repeated, everything but the squeak; an intrinsic part of the Cajun culture. More coldbeer was emptied. A boucherie provides its own appetizers called cracklins. Immediately adjacent to the table, four enormous cast iron cauldrons were rendering lard stirred with a bladed paddle that would not be out of place in a garden. Bite-sized pieces of belly fat and meat were cubed. Into the cauldrons of bubbling lard they went and twice cooked. The second frying continued until they popped, or crackled, inside the vat. Once ready, they were seasoned with black pepper, red pepper and salt. Promptly removed, they were cooled on local newspapers and presented in cardboard beer boxes. Before the cracklins could be portioned into paper bags, to be eaten like popcorn, Andy and Dave had set down the filet and boning knives and moved to a large bone saw. In very short order the remaining pig was broken down into primal cuts, the tips of Dave’s fingers serving as a saw guide in a practiced hand over hand motion. The backbone was removed and brought inside the dance hall to Carl, who, by now, had been patiently tending to the roux for more than an hour. Backbone stew, according to Carl, is “all about the roux.” When asked how he learned he laughingly replied, “I learned this as a kid, just like you are seeing it.” Into the finished roux went some meat, onion tops, parsley, and turnips. It is the turnips he smilingly said that “make it richer.” While cooking, Carl reminisced of his family having a neighborhood boucherie at least once a month with the leftovers being divided among the families.

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(Clockwise from top left, across both pages) Andy Thibodeaux, a local butcher, sharpens his boning knife; Firing up the grill to cook the ribs, chops and chicken; Fresh parsley for the hog’s head cheese pie; Green onions await their turn in one of the many cast iron cauldrons used for cooking; Music is a large part of any Cajun family gathering; A vintage accordion.

“Let's have a few beers at home and stir a pot, that’s what we used to do. It’s the best way to keep the conversation going.”

Hungry guests starting to line up, waiting for the feast to begin.

As a child “the only way we had to preserve the meat was to salt it or put it in a jar, crock pot like, and put it in the cistern deep down underground in the cold water,” he recalled.

was linked and ready to be bathed in the simmering stock. One of the kids drew near, watching, hoping to catch a glimpse of the action. The music paused just as a sausage casing snapped.

Carl’s skill at enriching a backbone stew was an ill-kept secret. Well before the stew was ready it was much discussed, and a long anticipatory line formed in front of the old black pots he was tending. More coldbeer disappeared.

With a little tray of the head cheese pie in hand, Lance pointed out that today’s boucherie was no accident, no quaint homage or nostalgic nod to earlier times. Today’s boucherie was by necessity; a preservation of a dying tradition from one generation to the next. More than an excuse to stand and stir and drink, the day’s festivities were blanketed by an awareness of context and seriousness of purpose.

Andy and Dave partitioned the shoulders and legs into softball sized pieces for the grinding station to make sausages, the ponce, and the boudin. The loin was reserved for tasso and more ribs and chops were sent off to the BBQ station, which would soon be cranking out the next round of food. By the time the bags of cracklins were emptied so too was the table that just 45 minutes prior held a whole hog. We were in full swing. The music got louder. With the table clean and the meat ground, Dave set about making the boudin. In a huge vat of boiling water, Andy — who had finally broken a sweat — put in chunks of shoulder and butt and handfuls of pork trimmings. Red and black pepper and salt went into the cauldron with little need for measurement. The meat and spices and a bone or two would soon become a flavorful pork stock. As the meat simmered away, Dave hoisted an enormous ancient cast iron stuffer onto the table. The stuffer, built decades ago by the Enterprise Manufacturing Company, bore the scars of generations of use. A huge tray of Louisiana white rice was deposited on the table as Andy and Dave mixed together seasoned ground pork and liver.

Fully embracing his role as a cultural preservationist Lance, in his own Cajun way, takes pleasure in the responsibility. Referencing his invocation given just hours earlier, he clearly relishes the “honor we have in keeping old traditions.” To continue forward, the adults must teach the younger generation the importance of heritage, so that they too will want to have their own boucherie with their own children. It is a “community based on common interest rather than geography” Lance says. And so they stand and stir the pot together. “Let's have a few beers at home and stir a pot, that’s what we used to do. It’s the best way to keep the conversation going. That is what we used to do,” said the man still doing it.

The meat was combined with the cooked rice and into the stuffer it went. Within minutes a huge coil of boudin

(Clockwise from top left, across both pages) Grinding the shoulder meat for the smoked sausage; Carl Pitre tending to his backstone stew; Stuffing the andouille sausage; Andouille sausage hanging in the pecan wood smoker with pieces of tasso peeking through from the back; Loading the smoker.

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Cracklins

Adapted from a recipe by Dustin LeBoeuf Makes approx 2½ lbs. of cracklins 3 lbs. pork belly, skin on and cut into 1 ½-inch cubes 2 gallons of rendered pork leaf lard (see Note) 2 tsp. kosher salt 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper 1 tbsp. Tony Chachere’s seasoning spice (see Note) 1. In a very large cast iron Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot, heat the rendered lard to 225°F, being sure to leave plenty of room at the top of the pot for the oil to bubble up. Once heated, add the cubed pork belly and fry, stirring constantly, for 20 minutes. Remove the belly pieces from the pot to a cardboard box lined with paper towels and allow to cool completely. 2. After the pork belly has cooled, increase the heat under the pot until the lard reaches 375°F. Add the belly pieces back to the pot and refry until the skin pops or cracks, about 5 minutes. Remove to a fresh box lined with fresh paper towels, toss with the salt, fresh ground pepper and Tony Chachere seasoning and then transfer to a serving platter. Eat at once. Note: It takes approximately 10 lbs. of fresh leaf lard to get 2 gallons of rendered lard. Alternatively, you may substitute vegetable oil for the lard. If you can’t find Tony Chachere’s seasoning spice, make your own quick spice blend by mixing 1 tsp. cayenne, 1 tsp. paprika, and 1 tsp. garlic powder.

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Hog’s Head Cheese Pie Adapted from a recipe by Andi West

Unlike boudin, hog’s head cheese pie is losing its place in Acadian cuisine. Like boudin, there are as many recipes as there are families. This particular version of hog's head cheese pie has an unseasoned richness made distinctive by a lack of pepper and acid.

Makes two 9” pies 1 Pig’s head 1 pork trotter (rear foot is preferred) ¹⁄³ cup Tony Chachere's seasoning spice (see Note) ¹⁄³ cup kosher salt, plus more to taste 2 bunches parsley, stems discarded and leaves finely chopped 10 oz. Club crackers, crushed with a rolling pin Tabasco sauce for garnish 1. Put the head, trotter, seasoning spice and salt into a very large pot. Add enough water to the pot so that the head is covered by at least 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, adding water while it cooks to keep the head submerged. After 4 hours, remove head and pull off the cheeks and any other loose meat around the edges. Return the head to the pot and simmer for another 2 hours. 2. After the 2 hours, remove the head and trotter from the pot and allow to cool. Pick clean all of the meat and collagen and reserve in a mixing bowl. Discard any bones, skin and cartilage. Shred the meat with your hands and then chop finely. Return to the bowl and mix in the fresh parsley and ½ cup of strained cooking liquid. Mix thoroughly. Taste the meat, adding additional salt if necessary. 3. Meanwhile line two 9” pie pans with the crushed Club Crackers. Fill the cracker lined pie pans with pork mixture and refrigerate for 2 hours. Cut the head cheese into pie shaped wedges and serve with additional crackers, and Tabasco sauce. Note: Any leftover meat can be mixed with a few tbsp. of lemon juice and placed into a small terrine mold that has been lined with a large, overhanging piece of plastic wrap. Barely cover the meat with more of the strained cooking liquid, wrap the rest of the plastic wrap over the top of the mold, press down and refrigerate overnight. If you can’t find Tony Chachere’s seasoning spice, make your own quick spice blend for this recipe by mixing 4 tsp. cayenne, 4 tsp. paprika, and 4 tsp. garlic powder.

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Boudin

Adapted from a recipe by Andy Thibodeaux Makes approximately 4 lbs. of boudin 1 lb. pork belly, skin on, cut into 1-inch cubes 2 lbs. pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes ¾ lb. pork liver, cut into 1-inch cubes 2 small yellow onions, chopped 4 celery stalks, chopped 1 bunch green onions, chopped (white and green parts separated) 8 cloves of garlic, chopped 2 tsp. cayenne pepper 3 tbsp. fresh ground black pepper ¹⁄³ cup kosher salt 6 cups cooked white rice 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, stems discarded and leaves chopped 7 to 8 feet of sausage casings, rinsed 1. Add pork belly, shoulder, liver, onions, celery, the white parts of the green onions, garlic, cayenne, black pepper, and kosher salt to a large

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bowl. Stir to combine and thoroughly coat the meat in the seasonings. Set aside to marinate while you bring a large pot of water to a boil. 2. When the water is ready, simmer the meat mixture for 90 minutes. Using a strainer, remove all of the meat and whatever vegetables you can from the cooking liquid (reserving the liquid in the pot). Allow the meat cool to the touch, and then pass the mixture through a meat grinder set with a course die. (If you do not have a grinder, just finely chop the meat with a chef’s knife.) 3. In a large bowl, mix the ground meat with the rice, reserved green parts of the green onion, parsley and two cups of the cooking liquid. Stir thoroughly to mix, allowing the rice to soak up the cooking liquid. Using a sausage stuffer, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to stuff links about 6 inches in length. Once linked, bring the cooking liquid back to a simmer and cook the boudin links for approximately 10 minutes or until the casings are taut. Serve while still warm.

Backbone Stew

Photo on this spread by Lisa Williams

Adapted from a recipe by Carl Pitre This stew is enriched by the bone marrow from the pork spine and the turnips. Together, they give the finished dish a smooth richness. According to Carl Pitre, however, the real star of this stew is “all in the roux." You must take your time when cooking flour and oil together into a roux. It’s a process that should be savored and not rushed. Don’t expect to get much else done in the time you are stirring the pot. The roux must be constantly tended so that the flour doesn’t burn and ruin the dish. In Louisiana, everybody understands that it takes a good hour and a few beers to do it right.

Serves 10-12 4 cups vegetable oil 5 cups all-purpose flour 2 tbsp. garlic powder 2 tbsp. onion powder 1 tbsp. kosher salt 1 tbsp. fresh ground black pepper 2 tsp. cayenne pepper 2 small yellow onions, chopped 3 10 oz. cans of Rotel tomatoes with green chiles 1 bunch green onions, chopped (white and green parts both) 5 cloves garlic, chopped 3 celery stalks, chopped 1 whole pork backbone, meat left on (ask your butcher to cut the spine into 2 inch slices) 1 lb. pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes Water 4 lbs. turnips, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, stems discarded and leaves chopped 1. To make the roux, heat the oil in a very large cast iron Dutch oven or other similar heavy-bottom pot over medium high heat. While the oil is hot, but before it starts smoking, mix in the flour using a wooden spoon while reducing the heat to medium-low. Cook the roux, stirring constantly, for 30-40 minutes or until the roux has reached a light amber color. Add in the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper and continue cooking, still stirring constantly, until the roux reaches the color of chocolate, about 1 hour total. 2. Add the yellow onions to the roux and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Next add the tomatoes, green onions, garlic, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 more minutes. Add the pork backbone pieces, pork shoulder and ½ of the turnips to the pot along with enough water to cover the meat by one inch. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the stew for two hours, stirring occasionally, adding water as necessary to keep the meat covered. 3. Add the remaining turnips and simmer for one more hour. At this point in time, the meat should completely fall off the bone and start to breakdown in the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve over cooked white rice.

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Taking a Balanced Approach to Life on California’s Central Coast By Mike Dundas • Photography by Meredith Paige

Just north of Santa Barbara, on the winding state road that traverses the San Marcos Pass and meanders past the picturesque Lake Cachuma, lies the old Western town of Santa Ynez, an original stop on the Wells Fargo stagecoach route. Together with the tiny agricultural town of Sisquoc (25 miles to the northwest) and the larger military-centric city of Lompoc (25 miles to the west), Santa Ynez forms an equidistant triangle framing the world-class wine-growing region made famous in the movie Sideways. Rich in agricultural history, this area is home to more than just award-winning wineries. It’s filled with Arabian and other thoroughbred horse farms, vast cattle ranchlands, and a patchwork of family farms and orchards that grow fruits and vegetables served at some of California’s best restaurants. The folks who live here — whether they’re fourth generation landowners or recent transplants — have a deep and abiding love for the soil that produces their livelihood.

A

t the geographic center of this triangular region sits the small, laid-back town of Los Alamos. Filled with antique shops, wine tasting rooms, art galleries, and restaurants, the town is frozen in an earlier, simpler time. The social anchor of the Los Alamos community is the restaurant at Full of Life Foods, a small bakery that produces a line of certified organic, handmade frozen pizzas. Every weekend, Chef and Owner Clark Staub and Chef Dylan Fultineer transform the production bakery into a restaurant and open up for dinner. Clark and Dylan, who spent years working for Chef Paul Kahan at Blackbird in Chicago and Chef David Lentz at the Santa Barbara outpost of The Hungry Cat, and their team of chefs work with local farmers, ranchers and fishermen to develop a weekly menu based around seasonal ingredients and the large wood-fired hearth oven in the center of the Flatbread dining room. The weekend of our visit, Dylan had just picked up a whole pig from a local farmer. His team set to the task of breaking it down and plotting out dishes from the different parts. They settled on a coppa de testa terrine, wood-oven roasted porchetta, double cut pork chops, and a scratch-made pozole filled with tasty bits from the trotters and shoulder. “It’s all about foraging here, in the broader sense,” says Dylan. “We don’t really have purveyors. We don’t have a meat company; we buy animals from local farms. If we want fish, we go down and buy from the fishermen in Santa Barbara. We have local mushroom guys who forage for us. We buy produce from the local farmers markets. We take what’s fresh and seasonal, load up the back of our truck and only then do we sit down and start to write the menu.”

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Clark and Dylan emphasize that this way of shopping translates easily to the home cook, suggesting you take a trip to the market first, before planning out what dishes to make. It provides an opportunity for inspiration to strike, often resulting in a better dish. “It happened this week with the pig,” Dylan says. “We knew we were going to make the porchetta, but it wasn’t until we were on our way back from the market, seeing the fields of wild mustard in the vineyards, that we knew what to serve with it. Brett Stephen, our sous chef, pulled over to the side of the road and grabbed the greens right out of the field.”

(Clockwise from top left, across both pages) The region is filled with horse farms that raise everything from cutting horses, to thoroughbreds, to Arabians; Buds start to break on the vines in mid-spring; Vast tracts of the landscape are filling with rolling grasslands dotted with oak trees; U.S. Route 101 runs north to south right through the heart of the region; Much of the land in the area is still used for pastured cattle; Signature cast iron bells, which were originally installed to commemorate the California Mission Trail, line the entire 600-mile stretch of the El Camino Real.

A few doors down the street, at the very center of town, is the newly opened Bell Street Farm Eatery and Market. Bell Street is to Los Alamos for breakfast and lunch, what Flatbread is at night — a gathering place first and a restaurant and market second. The place is teeming with neighbors, farmers, and winemakers snacking on house-made charcuterie or rotisserie chicken or farm fresh salads. “My husband and I bought a house here in Los Alamos,” says Bell Street’s owner Jamie Gluck. “We started by growing our own vegetables in four raised beds along with some stone fruit. That’s where we were inspired to get a taste of what it is to grow your own food.” Bell Street’s kitchen pantry and store shelves are filled with local produce and local products, including jams and pickles from Julia Crookston’s Bona Dea, olive oils from Santa Barbara County and wines exclusively from the local producers. Each carefully sourced item gives visitors a distinct taste of California’s Central Coast, but it is an idea that is easily translated elsewhere. “It is about understanding what grows best in your area, understanding local ingredients, and not messing with them,” Jamie says. “For us here, we like to think that we’re a natural extension of the Los Alamos community that was started by Clark at Full of Life.” Farms in the area produce everything from asparagus to heirloom tomatoes to butterbeans to walnuts. Grapes are the dominant crop, however, grown for the local wine industry. Long a part of the county’s agricultural history, vineyards were first planted here by Spanish missionaries in the late 1700’s. Moving north from San Diego through Santa Barbara to San Francisco, the missionaries forged a trail known as El Camino Real, or The King’s Highway.

(Both pages) Scenes from Bell Street Farm Eatery & Market; Owner Jamie Gluck is seen here as he is most days, graciously serving customers in his cowboy hat.

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Mustard blooms on a hillside near Los Olivos, Calif.

“It’s about understanding what grows best in your area, understanding local ingredients, and not messing with them.”

(Clockwise from top left, across both pages) Foxen’s Tinaquaic Estate Vineyard (a.k.a Volar de Noche), the region's only dry-farmed vineyard; Inside the new Foxen tasting room, where Pinots and Chardonnays are poured; Dick Doré and Jenny Williamson-Doré, co-owners of Foxen; Entrance to the new Foxen tasting room; The grounds outside the new tasting room; The original “shack,” still open to the public, where Foxen now offers tastings of its “Cal-Ital” varietal wines.

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Stainless steel fermenting tanks in the back of the Barrel House. Opposite Page (Clockwise from top) Ron Gansberg pouring a sample from one of the brewery’s beer filled barrels; Ron cutting a bung hole in a old whiskey barrel that will soon be filled with sour beer; An old, handheld steel auger.

When planting their first and only estate vineyard, Dick and Bill couldn’t afford rooted cuttings from the nursery. So, in quintessential Foxen style, they chose what they thought were the best vineyards in the area and went around at night filling up their old pickup truck with cuttings that had been left on the ground after pruning. “We called it the Volar de Noche or ‘fly by night’ vineyard,” Dick says laughing. Despite having success over the past 25 years, Dick and his wife, Jenny Williamson-Doré, are still hard at work at Foxen. To that end, they recently built a modern, solar-powered winery in 2009, allowing them to almost double their capacity while simultaneously taking their winery off of the grid.

Modern commercial winegrowing started in the region in 1963, when William DeMattei and Uriel Nielsen purchased 100 acres of ranchland near Sisquoc, in the eastern portion of the Santa Maria Valley. In the early 1970’s, Richard Sanford and Michael Benedict planted their eponymous Sanford & Benedict vineyard on Santa Rosa Road, west of Lompoc, and the Miller Brothers, owners of the highly regarded Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills vineyards, began planting grapes on what was once the 9000acre Ontiveros land grant. The success from these early pioneers eventually laid the foundation for one of the region’s most notable wineries, Foxen. Co-owners Dick Doré and Bill Wathen — also known as the “Foxen Boys” — founded the winery in 1985 on the site of the historic Rancho Tinaquaic land grant located between Sisquoc and Los Olivos.

Where most businesses would look to recoup that investment as quickly as possible by ramping up mass-market bottlings, they took this opportunity to expand upon their small production single-vineyard offerings. In just the past few years, Foxen secured access to their first Pinot Noir grapes from the much-lauded La Encantada, Fe Ciega, Solomon Hills, and John Sebastiano vineyards. “The most exciting thing to happen in the last 10 to 15 years has been our move to prescription farming on small vineyards,” Jenny explains. “By that I mean we have begun to pay our growers a price per acreage rather than tonnage. We take on the risk at the beginning of the year so there is no conflict with the farmer when we want fruit dropped to concentrate the flavors. Ultimately, it has made our wine better.” Dick chimes in, “Our relationships with the growers allow us to manage the cropping, the spacing, the irrigation, and the harvest date. And by working in partnership with the vineyard owners, we are able to produce wines with that desired balance of acidity, minerality, fruit and alcohol. We wouldn’t have it any other way.” (story continued on page 78)

Farm-to-Stand: A few miles west of Highway 1, just south of Lompoc, California on the road to Jalama Beach sits the Jalama Road Family Farmstand. Run by Grace Malloy, Erin Pata, and Carla Malloy, the farm stand will open for its third summer season on June 30th, which also happens to be the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Pata Family Farm. The two families work their respective properties, situated on opposite sides of the same small creek, right off Jalama Road. Together with their families, Grace, Erin and Carla grow, raise, harvest, and produce every single item offered for sale. Their ultimate goal is to build a community gathering spot, highlight traditional farming methods, and work the land in a respectful and regenerative manner. “We have a lot of tourists visit us on their way to Jalama Beach. Plus neighbors and folks from Lompoc who know we are out here. It’s been a joy to watch this grow organically,” says Grace. “We don’t put a sign out on the main highway. We rather like that people find us on their own journey.” Aside from growing their own fresh fruit and vegetables, like tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, corn, peas, pears and blueberries, they bottle their own honey, collect fresh eggs each morning, make their own preserves, harvest and sell three different types of dried beans, and bake their own bread from winter wheat grown on their own land. “There is a common thread between all three of us,” says Erin. “Whether it’s knitting, or letter pressing, jam making or gardening, there is a do-it-yourself gene that we all feed off of, that we all share.” “We are trying to keep Jalama grown food on Jalama Road,” Grace adds. “More so, I see the farm stand as a catalyst to learn new things, like studying which heirloom seeds to plant with our climate, how to make the best compost to put on our vegetable beds, which cover crops to grow.” More than a revenue generator, the farmstand is a labor of love and a way to stay connected to the local community. “We don’t work in offices out here. We don’t have a water cooler to gather around. Knowing your neighbors, enjoying time with your neighbors, makes your community rich,” says Erin. “One way to do this is to open yourself to the community. The farm stand is our water cooler. It just happens to be in our front yard.” The Jalama Road Family Farmstand opens for the season on June 30, 2012. It is located at 4096 Jalama Road, Lompoc, Calif. In addition to the farm stand, some non-perishable items, like honey, dried butterbeans and dried garbanzo beans can be purchased on Etsy. The Pata Family also sells whole, pasture raised Angus cattle. Prices per head fluctuate. In general their steers start at around $2500, and provide 400-500 lbs. of cut and packed meat.

(Clockwise from top left, across both pages) An old tractor still in use on the Pata family farm; Grace Malloy (left) and Erin Pata (right), co-owners, along with Carla Malloy (not pictured), of the Jalama Road Family Farmstand; Erin also operates Butterbean Studios out of her home, where she designs purses and letterpress cards and posters; The wild sage honey is harvested from bees that live on the farm; Butterbeans have been grown on this land for generations; Saddles waiting for a horse and a rider, inside the Pata’s barn.

(continued from page 75) Tensley Wines may not have a state of the art solar-powered winery located on the picturesque Foxen Canyon Road — the Tensley facilities are located in a nondescript garage warehouse on an industrial strip in the Town of Buellton — but husband and wife owners Joey and Jennifer Tensley share the same dedication to “honoring the fruit” as Foxen owners, Dick and Jenny. Since his first bottling in 1998, Joey has focused his meticulous attention to detail on creating Santa Barbara’s best vineyard-designated Syrahs. By sourcing grapes from disparate regions within the county, Joey is able to make markedly different Syrahs, each with unique qualities that speak to the true nature of the vineyards themselves. “I started my own label using space at Beckman with only four barrels,” Joey recalls. “I knew I wanted to make Syrah because of the fact that when I was working part time in the tasting room at Zaca Mesa, I had the opportunity to taste their ‘88 vintage. It was my epiphany wine.” Today, the Tensley Syrah bottlings range from the Turner Vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills, just west of Lompoc, to the Thompson Vineyard in the Los Alamos Hills, just east of Los Alamos, to the Colson Canyon Vineyard high up in the San Rafael Wilderness area north of Sisquoc. “If you really want to show the true expression of the Syrah grape, you need to grow it in an area where it barely gets ripe,” Joey says. “And we have been lucky to find some truly unique vineyards in Santa Barbara County

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where we can let the structure of the fruit shine through in the wine with little manipulation.” And at $38 per bottle retail, each of these single vineyard offerings is a phenomenal value. Jennifer is a winemaker in her own right. With Joey’s encouragement, she started making a Rosé of Syrah in 2005 under her Lea label and has been producing it to great success ever since. More recently, she began sourcing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes from single vineyards in the Sta. Rita Hills appellation. Together, they have built their business from the ground up, even living for a while in the loft space that now houses their library collection in their warehouse. Only recently have they moved to a new home on seven acres of land near downtown Los Olivos, where they have planted 1.2 acres of Syrah and a garden filled with fruits and vegetables, including 70 tomato plants, apple, pear, apricot, plum and fig trees, and a grove of olive trees. The olive trees, primarily koroneiki along with a mix of arbequinas, picholines, and manzanillas, produce about 50 gallons of oil a year. “When we planted the vines on our own property, it wasn’t a business investment. It was really for our son to learn about wine. It doesn’t matter how much he is around us, he isn’t experiencing the winemaking first hand,” Joey says. ”Our winery isn’t at our house, our vineyards aren’t at our house. Now he is around it. He plays in this new vineyard. It’s where we live.”

(Clockwise from top left) Barrels of 2011 Tensley Colson Canyon Syrah; The Tensley library room holds wines from every vintage; Joey Tensley inside his warehouse winery. Opposite Page (From left): Jennifer Tensley makes wines under her own Lea label; The 2009 Détente is made up of 50% Domaine de Montvac Grenache from 80 year old vines and 50% Tensley Colson Canyon Syrah.

Our Favorite Current Releases: Foxen 2010 Chenin Blanc Ernesto Wickenden Vineyard “Old Vines” $22 Sandhi 2010 Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills (a blend of fruit from the Sanford & Benedict, Bentrock and Rita's Crown vineyards) $36 Tensley 2010 Syrah Turner Vineyard $38 Tensley 2010 Syrah Colson Canyon Vineyard $38 Lea 2010 Pinot Noir Turner Vineyard $38 Foxen 2009 Pinot Noir La Encantada Vineyard $56 Sandhi 2010 Chardonnay Bentrock Vineyard $90

About 18 miles east from Tensley, in a nondescript section of Lompoc, sits the industrial warehouses of the Lompoc Wine Ghetto. Much like Tensley’s garage-based winery, the facilities in the wine ghetto are pure utilitarian. Miles from any vineyards or chateau style wineries, this unique two-block industrial complex is nevertheless overrun with winemakers and tasting rooms. One of the newest occupants is Sandhi Winery, founded by acclaimed sommelier Rajat Parr and winemaker Sashi Moorman. Together, Raj and Sashi have dedicated their efforts to finding unique Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards along Santa Rosa Road in the Sta. Rita Hills appellation that will allow them to make wines of elegance, minerality, acidity, and balance. “The Santa Rita Hills is one of the few places in California where you have the opportunity to buy a small number of grapes from a number of highly acclaimed vineyards,” says Sashi. “It’s extremely compelling to have the opportunity to analyze and understand the differences of each of these sites.” “All of our single vineyards are within seven miles of each other as the crow flies,” adds

Raj. “The goal is to produce firm wines, with tension in the mouth. We can only do that if we can translate those qualities from the vineyard. And we can only do that by first understanding how to maintain the vineyard, working from pruning to harvest.” They selected the Santa Rita Hills, over places like Sonoma or Oregon, because the region can consistently produce grapes with natural acidity, low pH, great concentration and great color. The region is part of a rare transverse mountain range, with direct access to the ocean that provides dense fog and cold winds in the summer and a moderating effect that keeps the region warmer in the winter. While the winery doesn’t have a mission statement, all work begins with the understanding that you can start out with “too much.” “It isn’t hard to make the wine we do,” Sashi says. “The largest leap is a philosophical one. I think everybody understands the idea of elegance, purity, transparency. Yet, those are words that have different connotations from what many expect of most California wine, which is typically rich and opulent. This is about lightness and freshness.” “It is straightforward, pure wine, with no manipulation.” Raj chimes in again. “Catch the grapes while they are fresh and get out

(From left) Rajat Parr, sommelier and co-founder of Sandhi Winery; Sashi Moorman, Sandhi’s winemaker; The 2010 Sandhi Rita’s Crown Vineyard Chardonnay; Barrel tasting the 2011 Sandhi Evening Lang Vineyard Pinot Noir. Opposite Page: French oak barrels aging Chardonnay in the Sandhi winery warehouse.

of the way. But we’re only just beginning this work. It is going to take us time to get it right, to find that balance. Which makes the most interesting aspect of this experience the fact that it takes an entire year to change one little thing. It is nerve wracking to taste the wine in the barrel. You only hope you are going to be able to get that same pleasure into the bottle.”

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Butterbean Hummus Adapted from a Pata Family Recipe Makes 2 generous cups ½ lb. dried butterbeans 2 tbsp. tahini ¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice 2 tbsp. chopped roasted garlic (optional) ¼ cup olive oil 2 tsp. ground cumin 2 tsp. ground coriander ½ tsp. cayenne pepper 1 tsp. kosher salt ½ cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped 1. Place the beans in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to cover the beans by at least one inch. Place the pan over high heat and bring the water to a boil. Cook the beans until they are soft enough to squish with your finger, adding water to the pot as necessary to keep the beans submerged. Once cooked, drain the beans, reserving one cup of the cooking liquid for the hummus. 2. Place all of the ingredients in the food processor, except for the reserved cooking liquid, and pulse until smooth. Pulse in enough of the reserved liquid to thin the hummus to the desired consistency. Taste the hummus and adjust the salt, seasoning or lemon juice as desired. Serve as a dip with toasted bread or pita chips.

Grilled Asparagus Salad with Baked Eggs Recipe by Dylan Fultineer Serves 4 ¼ cup fresh tarragon leaves, stems removed ½ cup + 2 tbsp. + 1 cup extra virgin olive oil Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 12 stalks of asparagus 4 farm fresh eggs 1 shallot, minced 1 tbsp. honey 2 tbsp. whole grain mustard 1 tsp. fresh chopped thyme ¼ cup sherry vinegar 1 bunch baby mustard greens, mizuna or arugula Freshly shaved Grana Padano cheese 1. In a blender, puree tarragon, ½ cup extra virgin olive oil and pinch of kosher salt on medium speed until smooth. Transfer to a sealed container and allow to infuse for at least one hour in the refrigerator. Strain the oil through cheesecloth and refrigerate until ready to use. 2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the asparagus with 2 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil and a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper and grill over a prepared charcoal or wood fire, turning occasionally, about five minutes. (Oven roasting the asparagus would work fine as a substitute).

3. Coat the bottom of four small cazuelas or individual-sized oven-proof baking dishes, with 1 tbsp. tarragon oil each. Carefully crack an egg into each dish, keeping the yolks intact. Season the top of each egg with a small pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper and place in oven to bake. Bake until the egg white is just set and the yolk is still runny, about 12-14 minutes. 3. While the eggs are baking, combine the shallot, honey, mustard, thyme, and sherry vinegar in mixing bowl and season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Slowly whisk in the remaining cup of olive oil until incorporated and taste. Adjust seasoning with additional salt and pepper as needed. 4. Cut the grilled asparagus into 1 ½-inch pieces and place in a mixing bowl with the greens, grana padano cheese and ¼ cup of the mustard vinaigrette. Toss the ingredients together, taste and season with salt and pepper, adding more vinaigrette if necessary. When the eggs have cooked, carefully transfer each cazuela onto a heat-proof plate for serving. Top each baked egg with a generous portion of the asparagus salad and serve with slices of crusty country bread. Note: The remaining tarragon oil can be kept refrigerated for up to one week.

Porchetta and Wild Mustard Green Flatbread Recipe by Dylan Fultineer

Makes 4 medium sized pizzas (see Note) 1 recipe fresh pizza dough (pick your favorite) 1 ½ cups homemade tomato sauce (recipe can be found on our blog) 1 lb. shredded mozzarella cheese 24 very thin slices of porchetta (recipe below) 1 recipe braised wild mustard greens (on page 84) 4 spring onions, thinly sliced and splashed with cider vinegar 4 tbsp. freshly grated Grana Padano cheese 4 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped ¼ cup wild mustard blossoms (optional) 1. Place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of your oven and preheat the oven to 500°F. Prepare the pizza dough according to your favorite recipe. When the dough is portioned and ready, layer each pizza with 3 oz. of tomato sauce, ¼ lb. cheese, 6 slices of porchetta, and a few pinches each of the mustard greens, spring onions, grated cheese and fresh oregano. 2. Carefully slide the first pizza onto the hot pizza stone and bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheese has melted, about 8-10 minutes. When the pizza has cooked, remove from the oven and garnish with the wild mustard blossoms. Slice and serve while you repeat the process for the remaining pizzas.

Note: This recipe can be adapted for use at a large party by turning the porchetta and mustard greens combination into a sandwich filling. Thinly slice the warm porchetta and serve on your favorite country bread slathered with Dijon mustard. Top with the braised mustard greens and slices of gruyere cheese. If preferred, melt the cheese under the broiler and serve the sandwich warm.

Porchetta This quick and easy version of porchetta is best prepared the day before you plan to make the pizzas.

2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder (see Note on page 84) 2 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped 2 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped 2 tbsp. fennel seed, toasted and coarsely ground 2 tbsp. fennel pollen (optional) 1 tbsp. fresh ground black pepper ½ cup extra virgin olive oil Kosher salt 1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Butterfly the pork shoulder so it lays out flat on cutting board (you can ask your butcher to do this step for you). Stir together the herbs, fennel seed, fennel pollen, pepper and olive oil in a small mixing bowl. Generously season both sides of the pork shoulder with kosher salt. With cut side facing up, rub enough of the herb and fennel mixture over the pork to thoroughly cover the entire side. Roll the pork shoulder into a log and tie with butcher’s twine to hold together. Rub any remaining herb mixture on the outside of rolled pork.

2. Place the pork in a roasting pan, roast in the oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature down to 325°F and continue roasting until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 155°F as tested with a meat thermometer. Remove the pan from the oven and allow the pork to cool to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator overnight. (The chilled porchetta is much easier to thinly slice, as needed, for the pizza topping. If serving as a sandwich filling, allow to the pork cool only for 20 minutes, before cutting it into ¼-inch slices). Note: Traditionally, porchetta is made with a belly-wrapped pork loin that has been rolled up with the fennel spice mixture and tied with butcher’s twine. For ease of preparation, Dylan substitutes a boneless pork shoulder in this recipe, but if you feel like sticking to tradition or are throwing a larger party, the traditional porchetta cut can often be special ordered from a good local, craft butcher shop. The full belly-wrapped loin will easily make enough pork to serve sandwiches to 20 people.

Wild Mustard Greens Dylan and his sous chef, Brett, harvested their wild mustard greens from the fields in and around local vineyards but any mustard greens will work in this recipe. 1 lb. mustard greens ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil 2 slices bacon, diced ½ of a large sweet onion, thinly sliced 4 cloves garlic, chopped 1 chile de arbol, torn into pieces 1 tbsp. cider vinegar Kosher salt and pepper to taste 1. Wash and dry the mustard greens thoroughly. Heat olive oil in a shallow braising pan large enough to fit the greens. Add the bacon and cook until it renders its fat and becomes crispy. Then add the sliced onion, garlic, and the chile de arbol and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and garlic is soft, about 2 minutes. Add the mustard greens and cook over low heat until greens are tender, about 20 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the apple cider vinegar and season with a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove the braised greens from the pan and cool until ready to use.

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Bell Street Chicken Club Recipe by Evan Klein Serves 4 This is quite possibly Jamie Gluck’s favorite sandwich at Bell Street Farm and it's a wonderful served at room temperature which makes it a perfect addition to any summer picnic basket. Made with a flavorful gremolata-marinated chicken breast, the chicken is served with crispy bacon, sliced cucumber and radish sprouts with homemade mayo and parsley pesto on a ciabatta roll. The recipe is also easy to double or triple for large summer parties because the chicken, mayo and pesto can all be made up to one day ahead of time. Zest of one large lemon 1 lg. or 2 sm. cloves garlic, crushed 2 tbsp. flat leaf parsley, finely chopped 1 tsp. olive oil ½ tsp. salt ¼ tsp. ground black pepper 4 free-range organic chicken breasts 8 slices, natural thick cut bacon, cooked until crisp 1 cup daikon radish sprouts 1 small organic cucumber, sliced thin Mayonnaise (see recipe on next page) Parsley Pesto (see recipe on next page) 4 ciabatta rolls 1. Combine the lemon zest, garlic, parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl, cover with plastic,

and refrigerate for an hour to allow the flavors to come together. Thoroughly coat each chicken breast with the gremolata marinade, cover with plastic and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, preferably overnight. 2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake the chicken on a sheet pan in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until cooked through. Set aside at room temperature to cool. 3. When ready to assemble the sandwich, on a slightly warmed or toasted ciabatta roll cut in half lengthwise, spread mayo on the bottom and parsley pesto on the top of each roll. Cut the chicken breast into ¼-inch slices and assemble on bottom of the sandwich. Top with sprouts, cucumber and bacon. Drizzle a bit more parsley pesto over the bacon then cover with the top of the roll. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches.

Parsley Pesto 2 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves, stems removed 2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts 1 ½ tbsp. fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil ¼ tsp. salt 1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth. Add more oil, one tbsp. at a time until a fine puree is achieved.

Mayonnaise 1 farm fresh egg yolk (see Note) ½ tsp. kosher salt ½ tsp. Dijon mustard 2 tsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar 1 cup canola oil 1. In a large glass bowl, mix together the egg yolk, salt and Dijon mustard with an electric hand blender. Combine the lemon juice and vinegar in a small bowl, then add half of the mixture to the yolk and mustard and blend to combine. 2. With the hand blender in the yolk mixture running at medium speed, begin to add the oil a few drops at a time until the mixture thickens and the oil incorporates into the other ingredients. With the hand blender still running, start to add the oil in a thin, constant stream. Once half of the oil is incorporated, add the remaining lemon juice and white wine vinegar and blend to combine. With the hand blender running at medium speed again, add the remainder of the oil in a thin, constant stream. Refrigerate for up to 1 week. NOTE: RAW EGG WARNING You must take caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only immediately fresh, properly refrigerated, grade A or AA eggs with intact shells. If you can find them, go ahead and use prepasteurized eggs. The pasteurization process eliminates most salmonella and other food-borne illnesses before the eggs even enter your kitchen.

Icebox Peanut Butter Pie

Adapted from a recipe by Evan Klein Makes eight 4” or two 9” pies 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (see Note) ½ cup brown sugar 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted ½ tsp. ground cinnamon 12 oz. mascarpone cheese 2½ cups creamy all natural peanut butter 1½ cups + 3 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar 1½ cups + ½ cup heavy cream 1½ tsp. pure vanilla extract 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped ¼ cup roasted and salted peanuts, roughly chopped (optional) 1. To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 325ºF. In a food processer, combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, melted butter, and ground cinnamon and pulse until thoroughly combined. If making individual pies, measure1/3 cup of this graham cracker mixture per pie and press the dough into each plate to form a crust. Arrange the pie plates on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes and then remove from the oven. 2. To make the filling: In a large mixing bowl, use a hand blender or stand mixer to combine the mascarpone cheese, peanut butter and 1½ cups of the confectioners' sugar. Beat the mixture until it is whipped, light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time. This should take about 3 minutes.

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3. In a separate mixing bowl, add 1½ cups of the heavy cream. Using a hand blender or stand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it starts to thicken. Add the remaining 3 tbsp. confectioners' sugar and vanilla extract to the bowl and then continue whipping the cream until stiff peaks form. Using a spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture. Divide the mixture between the prepared pie pans and spread evenly to form a flat surface. (We found it easiest to using a piping bag to distribute the filling between each of the individual pans.) 4. To make the ganache topping: Add the bittersweet chocolate to a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the remaining ½ cup heavy cream almost to a boil. Remove from heat and pour over chocolate. Let sit 8-10 minutes and then whisk until smooth. Carefully spoon 1 tbsp. of ganache topping on center of each pie. (Garnish each ganache circle with a few of the chopped peanuts if you so choose.) Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. Note: You can make 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs by chopping approximately 10 oz. of whole graham crackers in a food processor.

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by Maggie Battista • photography by Heidi Murphy

IN THE EARLY MORNING HOURS before the sun had even seen fit to tip itself above the horizon, I gathered my wits to make a long distance call to Denmark. It was almost 4 a.m. on the East Coast. For some, it is the perfect time to end an all too-indulgent evening. For me, it’s an hour meant for sleep and, now, for desperate calls to a restaurant six hours ahead just about to start its morning reservation routine. Sixty minutes, 60 phone calls (all reaching a lovely voicemail message) and about 160 reloads of my browser later, I have secured my prize: a lunch reservation at what Restaurant magazine has named the best restaurant in the world for the last three years, Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark. I was over the moon.

After meeting Redzepi, I can now say I fully understand the urgency to dine at Noma. He does something so few do these days: he’s just himself, a normal (albeit brilliant) regular guy. His personality shines through in the form of simplicity; a beacon in full embrace of this time of austerity. Using new techniques to recreate and reinvent the flavors of his childhood, Redzepi’s food is certainly inspired. More importantly, each dish whispers of a past spent pickling, smoking, drying and preserving, of heirloom ways that our grandmothers may even be starting to forget, from a time when folks ate what was available right now or treated it in some way to make it last as long as possible, not because they could but because they had to. The winters are harsh in Scandinavia, and though Denmark is slightly more temperate, it is sometimes frozen over for the first two months of the year, consistently hovering around 32 degrees Fahrenheit. When spring finds its way to Copenhagen — which it did during my visit earlier this year — the thaw brightens everyone, including my host for the lunch: Noma’s Executive Chef Matt Orlando, an American from — of all places — sunny and warm San Diego, Calif. After months of cold and frost, Orlando explains, everyone is ready for spring and the bounty it brings. The bulb flowers were beginning to explode, so I wasn’t surprised to see other alliums like onions (served with thyme and gooseberry juice) take a coveted spot on Redzepi’s spring menu.

I have always wanted to dine at Chef René Redzepi’s rustic and chic warehouse-style love note to Nordic cuisine. To have ranked on any list of outstanding dining establishments at the young age of 28 is an achievement all on its own and while Redzepi makes me feel quite lazy in comparison, I was charged to bear witness to whatever lay more than 3,000 miles away from my hometown of Boston. You must understand that I’ve always been a bit of a chaser of fine dining experiences. I spent my honeymoon begging for a reservation at the French Laundry, which I finally got on our final night in Napa Valley. I wasn’t so lucky with El Bulli, despite my email’s annual pilgrimage to the Spanish restaurant’s coquettish reservations computer. To me, the French Laundry is about timeless precision. But the beauty and opulence of Chef Keller’s dishes don’t necessarily translate down to the everyday meal. Similarly, Ferran Adria’s whimsical creativity was the foundation of a fine dining revolution that spanned the globe. Of course, you would be hard pressed to find sodium alginate and calcium chloride, chemicals used to great success at El Bulli, in any home kitchen pantry. These are restaurants to be experienced, but not emulated. Noma is different.

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The dining room at Noma. Opposite Page (From top): The simple vase in the background hides the first taste of the meal, titled “malt flatbread and juniper" – flatbread “twigs” covered in juniper powder - while the terracotta dish in the foreground holds "moss and cep" – fried reindeer moss with mushroom and crème fraiche; “Pickled and smoked quails egg.”

“Inspiration is all around and constantly evolving, with creative change often hastened by the fleeting seasons.”

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The Noma pantry is absent of any imported foods from other climates like citrus or extra virgin olive oil. Instead, the kitchen is filled with locally foraged foods from forests, fields and coastal waters just outside the city. Verbena, dill, juniper, pine, currants, and radishes all make appearances in the spring. Proteins include elk and any number of fish and shellfish from the sea that pounds on Noma’s dock.

pickled vegetable slivers — Nordic-centric vegetables like beets and carrots alongside just picked flowers and herbs — and bone marrow coins was the perfect balance of the transition from winter to spring. I found it clever, fatty and most certainly the best use of pickledanything that I have ever tasted.

Redzepi’s charge is simple: cook with what you have right now; use what the earth and the weather are offering. And that’s what he and his staff did.

The pleasures served at the very end of the meal, halfsweet half-savory chocolate bites, were wrapped and concealed in vintage tins sourced from local antique shops. The soft, rich caramel was made with animal fat in lieu of butter and served in a hollowed-out bone, wrapped in butcher’s craft paper and tangled red butcher twine. In addition to the tins and wrapping paper, a local potter handcrafts each dish used at Noma.

Course after course, the flavors were a confluence of the first of everything new and the last of the previous season’s harvest, the kitchen making full use of its pantry. The meal itself was a history lesson of sorts, which makes sense because Redzepi takes Danish history seriously, working with food historians as he researches and creates his menus. A dish that included dried scallops and beechnuts was oddly fresh and salty, entirely reminiscent of the centuries old heritage of catching and preserving fish along Denmark’s 4,500-mile coastline. The squid with unripe sloe berry, white currant and Douglas fir woke me up as if I’d eaten nothing of any interest all winter long. And that plate of

(From left) Presenting the wine service; "Blue mussel and celery" served on a bed of polished mussel shells. Opposite Page (Clockwise from top left): Saucepans in the kitchen at Noma; Preparing the malt flatbread; Chefs working in the kitchen; The caramels and chocolates presented at the end of the meal in vintage tins.

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This attention to detail was not lost on those in my dining party. When I finally stole a moment with Redzepi after what was a four-hour meal, we ended up in his test kitchen, which is, remarkably, much larger than the restaurant itself, outfitted with long staff dining tables, a spacious kitchen and a large-enough grow-light unit filled with garden pots brimming with of-the-moment local leaves, stems and flowers. We gabbed about handmade and preserved foods, interrupted only after realizing that he needed to run outside to check on the smoking of a fresh catch of local eels. Despite all the praise and the publicity, the now 35-year old chef is also just a regular guy running out to check the coal on his fire. Every amateur smoker I know can relate to that. So if the staunch seasonality and the absolute devotion to his country’s cuisine isn’t enough, Redzepi also breeds a tango of normalness and elegance in everything and everybody around him. To see this bit of grace, humor and humility come into play within the walls of the best restaurant in the world was heartening. Of course, the message of Noma has traveled far and fast. Redzepi has shown that the “best” ingredients no longer need to be sourced from the furthest reaches of the globe. Inspiration is all around and constantly evolving, with creative change often hastened by the fleeting seasons. He teaches us that the food we serve for friends and family should have a sense of time and place. In so doing, we hearken back to our cultural heritage while still affording ourselves the opportunity to explore new avenues in the kitchen. When I returned to my New England kitchen weeks later, I baked some bread with local flour, slathered on some homemade butter, dug into a few pickled vegetables from last year’s garden stash and clipped some just-sprouted lemon basil greens to toss on top. With a sprinkle of some Maine sea salt, lunch was ready. It wasn’t pickled vegetables and bone marrow but it was my personal take on the changing seasons, a meal created with items from within a couple hundred miles of my home. I began to feel some of the same delight Redzepi perhaps felt back in Copenhagen. While Noma certainly left its mark on me in more ways than one, I am more focused than ever on my reinvigorated respect for hyper local cooking. The New England larder offers inspiration for hundreds of meals. And I better get to cooking. Thankfully, I've got only a few miles to go before I eat.

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(From left) "Aebleskiver and muikku� – bite-sized Danish doughnuts, each run through with a small local whitefish; The very calm kitchen at Noma.

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by Cyndi Flores • photography by Hilary Kline

OME THINGS JUST HAPPILY FALL INTO PLACE – if not entirely by accident, at least not driven by plan. Born through a fortuitous collision of opportunity and interest, Esaczú chocolate was the farthest

thing from anyone’s mind when Chef Hallot Parson took a vacation to Costa Rica. What started out as a simple vacation to help his friends evaluate a potential investment in a local chocolate shop, evolved into a personal journey from bean to bar. Insistent that if his friends were to invest in a chocolate shop, they should source locally and hopefully with organically grown cacao, Parson describes his quest to find a source of organic cacao in Costa Rica a little like an adventure out of Indiana Jones. In the beginning, they had little luck in finding a readily available supplier, but they were persistent in their quest and eventually learned about “someone” who was farming organically “somewhere” in the country. Still they were unable to get a name or a location — either the people they talked to weren’t willing to share the information or they simply didn’t know. Finally, some luck. A guard offered a name – first name only – of someone who had bought some surplus equipment from Nestlé and suggested a region of the country where the farmer might live. “We just went out there and drove around and around,” Parson explains excitedly. “And finally we found this place… he had just started to set the equipment up and

was beginning to grind chocolate. This was the first time I had seen chocolate made from the bean!” Parson’s fire had been lit, and his interest had also made an impression on the farmer. What fermented wasn’t just cacao bean, but a relationship between men intent on turning the purest beans into the best chocolate – a little at a time. When he returned to the states, Parson’s passion for research, study, and practice at the art of chocolate making took root. He set up his first chocolate workshop in Beaufort, N.C. above the wine store he managed — much, we imagine, to the delight of his customers. He started with chocolate couverture, experimenting with equipment and technique, got feedback from his customers, made adjustments, and got more feedback. “It was piece by piece by piece,” Parsons recalls. “Eventually I bought a little grinder and experimented with that

and then finally at a certain point we decided it was all or nothing. So we got a loan and bought the antique equipment we use today.” Fast forward to the tiny Escazú storefront in the Blount Street neighborhood just north of downtown Raleigh. The simple storefront has a bright, open atmosphere much like its namesake in Costa Rica. The air is positively thick with the aroma of chocolate — a deep rich flavor that you can almost taste with every breath. Customers have even been known to linger, waiting to regain their composure after the initial rush of chocolate delight. Of course, the shop wouldn’t exist without the ongoing relationships they have with their cacao farmers. “It’s amazing how willing these farms are to work with us,” Parsons explains. “The Costa Rican farm, for example: He sells most of his crop to a company in Belgium. He doesn’t have to sell to me. He chooses to sell it to us because he also wants to support small producers that are making high quality chocolate.” Particularly vulnerable to economic, environmental, and political issues, today’s chocolate maker has to have more than one source of beans. Venezuela happens to be a world-renowned source of criollo, the oldest and arguably finest variety of cacao. And in another lucky stroke of fate, Parson’s partner and head chocolatier, Danielle Centeno, was able to draw upon her Venezuelan heritage to make inroads with that country’s premier grower. “They really have it down. This family, their knowledge is astounding.” Parson says, his voice trailing off. “I talked to the son and then the father, and the grandfather is still around, and before that it was the great grandfather,” Centeno chimes in. “It has been like that for ages. At first they just listened because I’m from Venezuela. They weren’t so ready to sell us beans. We had to send them chocolate, and then work with them to prove we were worthy of their cacao.” While Escazú sources most of their beans from Costa Rica and Venezuela, they have recently started importing beans from other Latin American countries as well. “We are always looking for something new and interesting,” says Parson. “There are some regions that are just being discovered that have some really goods beans. Five years from now there might be more stuff on the market from even newer places.” With sources identified, getting the beans from Central or South America to North Carolina was yet another adventure in research, relationships, and regulations. The first step is to get the dried beans from farm to the shipper. Beyond that, there’s getting through customs regulations on both ends, shipping to the United States and transport from the U.S. port of entry to storage in North Carolina.

(Clockwise from top left, across both pages) Cacao beans, right out of the roaster; Esaczú’s smaller growers leave their beans on the ground to dry after fermentation, causing other debris to end up in the sacks; A dried cacao pod; A little something sweet to balance out the cacao.

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“When we started out we kind of had to figure all this stuff out on our own,” Parsons laments. “Now there are more places that are brokers, middle men that bring in the beans and then resell them. Of course by dealing directly with the farm we are assured we are getting the best that is available” even if it means more trouble. Having completed their journey from South to North America by sea or by air, the beans are stacked high in 60-kilo bags in the small roasting room at Escazú. Each bag will spend a week to ten days being lovingly transformed from beans to chocolate, and from chocolate to bar, confection or beverage. Although the process will have essentially the same basic steps — separating debris out of the beans, roasting, winnowing to separate shells from nibs, grinding, adding sugar, aging, tempering, and molding the end product – the tools and techniques can differ vastly. A tour of a modern chocolate making facility, particularly the big companies, will be notable by the stark absence of chocolate. It is all contained in stainless steel equipment pushed through a contiguous labyrinth from input to output including wrapping and sometimes packaging. At Escazú, they use a small-batch process that demands a human touch – tasting frequently through every step of the process — resulting in work that is infinitely more sensual. Entering Escazú’s tightly packed room behind the retail shop is like stepping back in time. Two antique machines – a mammoth ball roaster and an absolutely beautiful mélanger — distinguish Escazú’s production techniques from those of other

chocolate makers, even artisans like Theo and Scharffen Berger (before it was acquired by Hershey’s). “The first thing different about what we do,” Parson explains, “is in the roast. We roast at a much, much lower temperature than anyone that I know. The flavors in the bean are so delicate. They’re why we pay a lot of money for the beans we buy, to get these complex flavors. High temperatures have a very narrow margin of error." When you roast at a very high termperature, one minute can be the difference between just perfect and burnt. The vintage roaster dates back to the 1920’s and was originally designed for coffee beans. Parson and Centeno use the ball roaster at a cooler roasting temperature, affording them a greater degree of control over the process. They eschew using systems controls to determine the best stopping point. They rely on taste, and experience because roasting times vary by bean, origin and harvest, even the weather outside. Like the roaster, the mélanger is an awe-inspiring piece of vintage equipment from decades past with two mammoth stone wheels that grind and slosh chocolate and sugar. Managing particle size is key to the chocolate experience. It would be hard to find an American child who doesn’t know that chocolate should be smooth and melt on your tongue. So it’s not surprising that what starts as a bean needs to be ground until it is polished and smooth. This step is another point of departure from modern or

The Origins of Chocolate Chocolate etymology: One possibility is chokola’j – Mayan for "to drink [the beverage we would consider chocolate] communally." Often cited is a Natuatl word – chocolatl or xocolate. And another is a Spanish combination of Mayan chocol and Aztec word atl, meaning “water." Chocolate naming: Chocolate is named for the country or region in which the cacao is grown. Chocolate makers refer to the beans in the same way. The percent designation refers to the amount of cacao is in the finished bar. Varieties of Theobroma cacao: Criollo is the oldest variety – known for its complex flavors. Forastero, meaning “foreigner,” is sturdier but inferior. Trinitario is a hybrid of Criollo and Forastero. And Nacional is a spicy, Ecuadorian variety.

(From left) Danielle Centeno, Esaczú’s head chocolatier; The vintage mélanger, imported from Spain. Opposite page (From left): Showing how similar cacao can look to small stones that sometimes make it into the sacks of bean;

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technology-based chocolate making. Referring to the giant mélanger, Parson is fairly animated. “A lot of what you are doing is reducing the particle size smaller and smaller. It does that by grinding with a stone and it slings the chocolate around and spreads it thin,” he says A modern production method would measure particle size with a micrometer and once the desired size is obtained, be it 25 microns, 17 microns, whatever, that's when you’re done. However, at Escazú, this is all done by taste, texture and mouth feel. It might take three to four days of continuous grinding on the mélanger to make the particles small enough such that the chocolate is smooth in your mouth. But they are always careful not to go too far. “At a certain point you start to lose flavor,” Parson warns. “So we have to stop when the flavor is perfect even though the particle size may not be quite there yet.” That’s where the artistry and the talent of the chocolate maker come into play; the ability to find that balance between particle size and taste. Modern production techniques do not always take this into account, as the machines will keep grinding until they hit the pre-determined micron size. Says Parson, “If you just grind to make it the best particle size you aren’t taking into consideration the flavor of the chocolate – which is really the reason you are eating it.” Much like making chocolate, the business side of the operation required a great deal of hands on testing. “There was a lot of learning and trial and error to come up with the right combination of equipment, staff, and product line that works for us,” Parson says. Whatever the combination, it certainly seems like it is working. A new location is currently in the works in an old building that is being renovated just a few blocks from their existing store. They are looking forward to more retail space, enough room for a featured hot chocolate and coffee bar, and most excitedly a series of windows where customers can see every stage of chocolate making. More antique equipment is on the horizon too, including a second mélanger so they can increase production, and maybe a new line of seasonal specialty bars. There are also plans to spend more time in Costa Rica. Like winemakers who work directly in the vineyards with their grape growers, Parson and Centeno realize that the best chocolate starts on the farm. While they both admit to having much to learn about the growing process, because of the valued relationships they have built over the years, Parson says, they are working with their farmers to “tweak" things at the farm level, "which is really cool.” And those friends for whom Parson initially adventured to Costa Rica? They never did buy that chocolate shop. In what might have been the luckiest bit of all, they made the decision to invest in Escazú instead. Without the backing and support of their friends, Parson and Centeno laugh, “Yeah, we wouldn’t be in business.” Lucky for us.

STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY ASHA PAGDIWALLA

U

ruguay is a tiny little country, along the coast of South America, wedged between Brazil and Argentina. Not any

way imposing in location or size, a trip to Uruguay only takes a bit of off-thebeaten-track planning to be enveloped in a world of serenity, old world charm, slow life and complete relaxation, potentially leading to Moksha on Earth. The country offers the perfect mix of the old and the new. The cars are vintage and the hospitality trends 18th century Spanish colonial but the infrastructure is rather well developed with surprisingly eclectic and modern architecture dotted throughout the major metro areas. Uruguayans are fun loving, passionate about soccer, and wonderfully kind and helpful. Their attitude toward visitors only makes all the more enjoyable the experience of the weary traveler looking for a break to unwind, introspect, and rejuvenate. Over a recent six day trip, I covered much ground across the country, traveling from the capital, Montevideo, where two-thirds of the population reside, to Punta del Este, the beach side town known for its party culture, to a quaint old estancia in the northern countryside, to the town of Colonia, with its cobblestone streets, two hundred-year-old cafes and charming cuteness. This time of year, Uruguay is awash in spectacular sunsets and seemingly everywhere we ventured, we found glorious views of the Atlantic Ocean gently lapping against the picturesque coastline. The quiet solitude of our early seaside mornings was only interrupted by the occasional sound from a young sea gull or school of flying fish. Montevideo, being the capital city with more than 2 million residents, might lead one to expect a certain cold, commercial-ness about it. Quite the contrary is true. A walk along the shore in the evening brought to home the passion that the country has for the sport of soccer. Dozens of young players from a multitude of teams could be seen playing and practicing on the grassy knolls that run along the local beach. And don’t be surprised if you get inspired to play along. Old Town, as it is known, is a foot friendly stretch of the city shooting out into the River Plate that is home to Euro-

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(Clockwise from left, across both pages) A cobble stone street in Colonia Del Sacramento; Life in Old Town Montevideo; A gentleman enjoying yerba mate, the Uruguayan national drink.

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pean expats, art galleries, cafes and museums. The neighborhood, which is in the midst of a decade of a economic resurgence, provides an interesting peek into the architectural history of the city. Although the city itself, does not offer much in the way of tourist attractions, the Old Market is always a great place to mosey around, picking up odd little things, people watch or indulge in some fresh-churned ice cream. There is also the Theatre Solis, which has performances every day priced very reasonably from as low as $15. Moving due east along the coast, our next stop was Punta del Este, which is probably the most familiar city to the Western world. Known for its nightlife and posh beach resorts, Punte del Este is overflowing with glitz and glamour during the summer months. By traveling there in the off-season, as I did, you have the opportunity to get a glimpse of the city’s underlying charm while avoiding the flashy crowds of tourists. That isn’t to say you should leave town without enjoying a bit of the style and grace offered in the city. The Hotel L’Auberge, a national landmark, is steeped in history, highly recommended and an incredible value for money. Built in a former stone water tower that stands tall and proud, the boutique hotel is a beacon of sophistication that can be seen from most parts of the city. Part living sculpture, part hotel, Casapueblo is perhaps the country’s most iconic and unusual piece of architecture. Designed by Uruguayan artist Carlos Paez Vilaró, the terraced building with Moorish influences is now home to a hotel, art gallery and restaurant. Located northwest of Punte del Este’s city center, this hotel offers a bit of seclusion from the faster scene a few miles down the beach. And since it is situated on a western facing coastline, it also happens to be the best place to watch the sun go down on another glorious day in Uruguay.

A must do here is to walk the beach early in the morning. With not a soul around and only birds for company, it was perhaps one of the best few hours of the entire trip. The gently lapping waves are the perfect musical background for quiet “me” time, turning the eye inside one’s self and figuring out the answers to those looming questions that all of a sudden seem eminently solvable in comparison to the vastness of the surrounding beauty. After Punta del Este, it was time to move north, up into the countryside, and what a change it was. I stayed at San Pedro de Timote, an estancia about three and a half hours north of Montevideo. For two centuries, San Pedro de Timote was owned by a Spanish family and was the heart of a small self-sustaining ranching community. Spread over 45,000 hectares of rich pasture land, the family reared many prize winning cattle (some fetching as high as $30,000 back in the early 1900's) and employed more than 100 ranch hands at any given point. Over the years, the estate was divided through the generations until it was sold it to the current owner, who operates the property as an all-inclusive retreat. As bustling as the place must surely have been once upon a time, life in the estancia today is best described as restful. Our days began with an early morning walk through the mist that had settled overnight upon the grasslands, covering everything with the glistening sheen of dew. Our deliciously simple breakfast was followed by a horse ride through the morning mist; just as the countryside was beginning to wake and stretch. Cows lazily grazed on the rolling grass pastures, watching us as we leisurely passed by on our horses, which, by the way, were in no hurry to get anywhere, much as I tried to prod mine into a gallop. By the end of the 1.5-hour ride, the sun was shining out of a clear blue sky, gently warming everything in

(Clockwise from left, across both pages) Casapueblo, in Punta del Este; Another wonderful sunset; Riding on the pasture at the San Pedro de Timote estancia.

sight. It was so much fun, we took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy another horse ride later that evening as the day winding back down. Much of the time in between meals at the estancia is spent relaxing, catching up with much ignored reading, and being warmed by the sun in sun room or by the crackling wood fires that blazed in every common room after dark. The meals are elegant, traditional, well-executed and very satisfying. All the foods are prepared on premises including the fresh breads and rich desserts served with every meal. One particular Uruguayan specialty to which I took a strong affinity at the estancia is Tortas Fritas. It’s essentially a sweet, fried biscuit-like dough traditionally served with dulce de leche and yerba maté. All over, you will see people carrying flasks of maté or sipping out of a small bowl topped with what looks much like green tea. It is the Uruguayan national drink. The final leg of our trip was spent in Colonia, a quaint port town with historic cafes, cobble stone streets, and a picturesque view of Buenos Aires across the water. What struck me the most, was how relaxed the pace of life was here. Even the cars (granted most of them were antiquated) were driven at a speeds that would be considered accident prone in the US, all of 20 miles an hour. It was in Colonia where I got to try the other Uruguayan specialty, Chivito. And, for a true local experience we were recommended to try the

(Clockwise from left, across both pages) Richard uses more traditional taps and buckets to collect the maple sap, eschewing modern vacuum tubing systems; Maple wood, collected from fallen trees in the nearby forest, is destined for the furnace; Richard hand signs every bottle of Société-Orignal’s “Remonte Pente” maple syrup; Wood must be routinely added to the furnace to keep the maple evaporator up to temperature.

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Carretas or food trucks that are semi-permanently parked on the road sides all over town. Chivito is really a stacked sandwich that had a fried steak as its core, topped with assorted vegetables, pickles and what not, along with a couple of fried eggs. Not only is it a fulfilling meal, but it is one of the best sandwiches I have ever had. By the end of the trip, I was left with a feeling of peacefulness and rejuvenated vigor for attacking life. Uruguay is a place that I would heartily recommend visiting any time of the year. But, if you are one that prefers the quiet solitude, this is the best time of the year to visit, when the crowds have departed but the weather is still warm enough for long seaside strolls.

Uruguayan Wines

Another little known fact about the region is the quality of the wines in Uruguay. Tannat, the popular local grape, is unknown to most American wine consumers. There are many boutique wineries around the country and some that even distribute to North America like Don Pasqual. However, the true charm is in the local, small-scale operations that dot the countryside. During her visit, Asha had the opportunity to taste at Alto de la Ballena Vineyards, a small winery near Punta del Este. Paola, the owner, is a wonderfully affable and charming lady whose passion and love for her chosen vocation is very evident in every interaction with her. Alto de la Ballena’s vineyard blocks are planted over rocky soils, rich in limestone. Because the winery is so close to the sea, the hot sunny days in the vineyards are balanced by the cool breezes coming off of the Atlantic Ocean in the evenings. The highlights for Asha were: Tannat- Viognier (reserva 2009) – This is a blend with 85% Tannat and 15% Viognier and is based on the more traditional Rhone-style Syrah-Viognier blend. The wine is made by fermenting the viognier grape and adding the skins alone to the tannat grapes then aging the wine for 12 months in new French and American oak barrels. The touch of Viognier balances the boldness and assertive tannins in the Tannat, giving the wine a real depth of flavor even at this young age. Cabernet Franc (reserva 2008) – This 100% Cabernet Franc is aged 12 months in French oak barrels. It has a smoother and silkier finish than the more common Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot (reserva 2008) – This 100% Merlot, which is aged for 12 months in French oak barrels, just happens to be Paola's favorite.

Photo by Meredith Paige

Tortas Fritas Torta Frita is a delicious sweet pastry served all over Uruguay. The fried biscuit-like dough is often eaten alongside coffee or the more traditional yerba mate tea and served with dulce de leche as a dipping sauce. While many recipes call for rendered beef tallow in both the dough and for frying, we have made this recipe vegetarian.

Makes about 20 3 ½ cups flour 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into ½“ cubes ½ teaspoon salt 1 ½ tbsp. baking powder 1 cup whole milk (or additional amount needed to form a soft dough) Vegetable oil for frying Powdered sugar for dusting (optional) Dulce de Leche (recipe below) 1. In a food processor, pulse together the flour with butter, salt and baking powder until the butter is well incorporated. Transfer the flour mixture to a large bowl and add the milk, forming a soft dough by gently mixing everything together with your hands. 2. Sprinkle a bit of flour on your work surface and on a rolling pin. Roll out the dough, folding it in half over itself a few times. Continue rolling it out until it reaches

¼-inch in thickness. Cut into circles and punch out a hole in the center of each piece. 3. Heat 1-inch of oil in a cast iron pan over mediumhigh heat. Carefully fry the dough circles in batches, turning once, until they turn golden brown on both sides. Carefully remove them from the oil and place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Immediately dust with the powdered sugar and serve with dulce de leche.

Dulce de Leche Makes about 2 cups ½ gallon whole milk 2 ½ cups granulated sugar 1 tsp. baking soda 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 1. In a large saucepan set over medium heat, combine the milk and sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the baking soda and vanilla extract and whisk to combine. Simmer the milk mixture, stirring occasionally, until it begins to turn color and thickens. When this happens, reduce the heat to low and continue cooking, stirring often, until the mixture reaches the color and consistency of a rich caramel. This process may take 3 hours or longer.

Chivito Makes one sandwich 1 tbsp. grapeseed oil Âź lb. piece of rib steak, lightly pounded flat Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper 3 thin slices deli ham 2 thin slices Monterey Jack cheese 2 eggs 1 sturdy hamburger bun Pickles Roasted red peppers Pickled artichoke hearts Grilled or caramelized onions Butter lettuce Tomato slices Mayonnaise 1. Preheat a griddle or cast iron pan over high heat for 5 minutes. Add the oil to the pan. Season the steak generously with salt and pepper and pan fry till cooked medium, turning once, about 3 minutes on each side. After you first turn the steak, layer the cooked side facing up with the ham and then the cheese, to allow it time to melt. 2. In a separate non-stick pan over medium heat, prepare two eggs, sunny side up, keeping the yolks gooey and runny. Season both eggs with pinches of salt and pepper while they are cooking. 3. To assemble, spread a layer of mayonnaise on each side of the bun, starting from the bottom bun, arrange the meat, pickled/cooked vegetable toppings, top with the eggs, lettuce and tomato. Cover with the top bun, wrap in wax paper and enjoy!

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b.y.o.b. - bitten word

We love food magazines. They’re a bit of an obsession of ours, although we find it hard to admit that life sometimes gets in the way of reading through our favorite issues each month. We’ve decided leave that kind of honesty to Zach Patton (pictured at left) and Clay Dunn (right). Together, Zach and Clay publish the delicious Washington DC-based food blog, The Bitten Word. They started blogging in 2008, when, as part of a New Year’s resolution, Zach and Clay endeavored to put their many food magazine subscriptions to work by cooking at least one recipe from every magazine that came in the mail. More than 4 years and 600 blog posts later, they're still at it. We had the chance to speak with Zach and Clay about their blog, their journey over these past few years, and their changing food habits. SPENSER MAGAZINE: You are very open about your cooking process on your blog. It seems to us almost as if you have been learning alongside your readership.

ZACH PATTON: We are the first to admit that we weren’t great cooks when we started the blog. Through this process, we have definitely discovered the joy of cooking at home and have learned so much about so many techniques and so many new ingredients. The biggest benefit, however, is that we’ve come to eat so much healthier than we used to. It takes care of itself when you are cooking at home and you know what is going into your food and where your ingredients are coming from. You just cook so much more healthfully. CLAY DUNN: In blogging about our experiences, we make sure there is somebody there to watch us fail. We are very open about our process and we think, hopefully, that helps our readers learn along with us. We have no shame in showing people the mistakes we make in the kitchen. ZP: I don’t know if it is schadenfreude or what, but those are our most popular posts, when we make some big mistake, like putting in 1 cup of salt in when the recipe called for sugar. SM: We were just reading about your cupboard clean out project. How did it go? CD: Because we cook from all of these different magazines and we are always pushing ourselves to try new things, over the course of several months, we begin to collect a number of unusual ingredients, like chia seeds or amaranth flour. So we decided to spend a week cooking all of our dishes from ingredients that we already had on hand, allowing ourselves $20 to spend at the store. ZP: My biggest concern was that it was going to be a monstrous carb-fest. But we found that a little bit of creativity allowed us to have some really good meals, until maybe the last day. I will say that one lasting effect of that challenge is that we’ve been a lot more likely to reach into the pantry to find something to add to a recipe. Last week, we made a sweet potato hash and found some walnuts in the cupboard, which we ended up toasting and adding to the hash. We probably wouldn’t have done that before. SM: You guys have also found success by incorporating your garden space into your cooking. Do you have any tips for people who don’t think they have enough room? CD: At this point, I can’t imagine not growing herbs when the weather allows. We found it so depressing this winter buying basil, for example, because it was so expensive. It doesn’t seem like too long ago when we had huge plants of basil growing in the yard. Even growing a small herb garden in a container on your window ledge or balcony can be such a great resource. When you are cooking and you want to throw in some fresh herbs, you can walk over with a pair of scissors and snip off something to put in the dish. SM: Do you find yourself shopping more seasonally now that you grow some of your own food? CD: Our shopping habits have changed a lot since starting the blog. We are cooking more seasonally, in part because food magazines are so seasonal these days. We joined a CSA, and, as we started gardening, we focused more on what was fresh that day. We almost never buy a tomato now when it isn’t summer.

ZP: The flip side is that, and tomatoes and basil are two great examples of this, we have tried to get a lot better at preserving seasonal ingredients. We have learned a lot about canning tomatoes over the past few years. And this summer our basil plants were going crazy. We were pulling basil up by the handfuls everyday. We found that it froze really well by blending it up with a little bit of olive oil and then freezing it in ice cube trays. We only went through the last of that basil a month ago and summer is just around the corner. CD: The frozen cubes of basil were amazing this winter. We dropped them in soup or mixed them into lentils. It was great to be able to pull these cubes out of the freezer. We are getting much better at preserving the food we grow so we can enjoy it out of season and we hope we can pass that inspiration on to our readers.

Chilled “First of the Season” Sweet Corn Soup Recipe by Clay Dunn & Zach Patton Serves 4 4 cups fresh sweet corn kernels, removed from the cob (about 6 large ears); cobs reserved 2 tbsp. unsalted butter 1 large white onion, diced 3 garlic cloves, minced ²⁄³ cup heavy cream 4 tbsp. fresh green or purple basil, torn into small pieces, plus more for garnish Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 1. Heat a medium pot over high heat. Add 1/4 cup corn kernels to the dry pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until kernels are slightly charred, about 2 minutes. Remove corn and set aside for garnish. 2. Reduce heat to medium and melt butter in pot. Add onion and sauté until softened and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add remaining fresh corn. Using the back of a knife or a large tablespoon, make one last scrape of the corn cobs directly into the pot to collect any remaining kernels and milk from the cobs. Discard cobs. Add 4 cups of water to pot, bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by half, about 15 or 20 minutes. 3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat basil and cream over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, in order to infuse the cream with the basil flavor. 4. Remove corn mixture from heat. Using a standing blender or an immersion blender, puree the mixture until smooth. Stir in basil-cream, salt and pepper. Chill soup at least one hour and up to 24 hours. Serve cold, topping each bowl with more torn basil and the charred corn kernels.

s Happy Six-Month Birthday spenser! - mike, leigh, jen, corey, hilary, max & meredith


spenser magazine: issue four