STRAWBERRIES & SORREL | FRESNO CHILI JAM | RAW CHOCOLATE
spenser personalizing food & drink.
farming FRESH wasabi
santa barbara sea URCHIN bourbon
CHARLESTON'S cookbook culture spring 2013 | ISSUE SIX spensermag.com
THINK OF IT AS A MISE EN PLACE FOR BETTER SKIN.
T R U LY A L L- N AT U R A L S U S TA I N A B L E S K I N C A R E facebook.com/swbasics @sproutwellness
Made simply with only
INGREDIENTS OR LESS available at:
W W W. S W B A S I C S O F B K . C O M
features: 76|SUNKEN TREASURE:
Bringing Santa Barbara sea urchins to market
by Mike Dundas
Tracing culinary heritage through cookbooks
by Cyndi Flores
Connecting those who make and those who use tableware.
by Camille Grigsby-Rocca
110|THE REAL DEAL: Growing fresh wasabi in North America
by Brendan Lynch
52| COOPERS TOWN: Building barrels in bourbon country
by Ross Johnson
departments: BUTLER'S CHOICE: a time & place
STOCKING THE PANTRY: chili jam & chocolate
STOCKING THE BAR: rum & cola
MEREDITH'S PAGE: wood, glass & linen
NEW! SPENSER'S SETTINGS: perfect tables
SEASON'S SWEET: spring shortcake
SEASON'S HARVEST: white asparagus
BUTCHER'S BLOCK: cross-cut beef shank
Wine is our passion…
Lompoc Wine Ghetto There are no vast estates with rolling hills here, nor opulent tasting rooms with soaring ceilings. What this bustling industrial park has in abundance is worldclass wine created by people with a passion for their craft. The renowned Sta. Rita Hills AVA supplies many of our award-winning Pinot Noirs, while the warmer
climate a short distance away is the source for our delicious Bordeaux and Rhones. Come spend a weekend in this very non-traditional setting and discover the exceptional treasures of the Lompoc Wine Ghetto. Don’t be surprised if the person pouring the wine is also the person who created it.
photo credit: Sashi Moorman
19 tasting rooms, in the heart of Santa Barbara’s wine country
Ampelos Cellars Arcadian Winery Bratcher De Su Propia Cosecha Evening Land Vineyards
Fiddlehead Cellars Flying Goat Jalama Wines Joseph Blair Wines La Vie Vineyards
Longoria Wines Loring Wine Company Moretti Wines Piedrasassi Palmina Wines
Samsara Stolpman Vineyards Taste of Sta. Rita Hills Zotovich Cellars
new american chocolate.
Craft. Tree to Bar. Beyond Fair Trade. san francisco www.tcho.com pier 17, san francisco, california
recipe index: appetizers Henry’s Cheese Spread (Matt & Ted Lee) | 103 White Asparagus Soup | 40
cocktails Cornflower Fizz (Joe Raya) | 99 Cuba Libre (Jason Kosmas & Dushan Zaric) | 25 El Presidente (Jason Kosmas & Dushan Zaric) | 25 Kumquat-Chile Bloody Mary (Matt & Ted Lee) | 105
pasta Braised Beef Shank Ravioli | 45 Sea Urchin Linguini (David Lentz) | 91
shellfish bites Billy’s Uni Shooter | 92 Fresh Sea Urchin with Sea Salt & Lemon (David Lentz) | 89 Harry’s Uni Shooter | 92 Hot Oysters on the Radio (Frédéric Morin & David McMillan) | 14 Pickled Shrimp with Fennel (Matt & Ted Lee) | 107
sweets Strawberry & Sorrel Shortcakes | 37 Whole Grain Lemon-Poppy Seed Layer Cake | 117
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letter from the editor:
hat can we say other than we’re excited to be back! And what better time to relaunch than in the spring. The temperatures are a little bit warmer, the days are a little bit longer and the garden is a little bit greener. The spring gives you that feeling of want: want to get out and grow something, build something, or discover something. In this issue, we took that wanting to heart and
set out to feature five items that are all either harvested or made by hand. We traveled to Kentucky, through the stunning photography of Jessie Kriech-Higdon and Chris Higdon to witness the tradition of building oak barrels used to age bourbon. And we took a boat ride out to the Channel Islands to see how divers navigate the giant kelp beds to gather the prized Santa Barbara red sea urchin for market. We visited Charleston to learn about what turns a cookbook into an heirloom from those steeped in the histor y of food writing. We also visited Japan, by way of the photography of Mikka Tokuda-Hall, to discover the mystical mountain streams where the world’s best wasabi is grown. And Portland-based writer Camille-Grigsby Rocca stopped by a home studio in her hometown to learn about the art and artistr y of hand-thrown ceramics. As with past issues, we still have our original department themes, like Season’s Harvest and Stocking the Pantr y, but we have also created a new subject, spenser’s Settings, to highlight table settings, tabletop wares, and entertaining ideas. We’ve also included a number of recipes like pickled shrimp with fennel, braised beef ravioli, and strawberr y and sorrel shortcakes, as well as techniques and inspirations from acclaimed cookbook authors Matt and Ted Lee, and award winning chefs like David Lentz, David McMillan and Frédéric Morin. Enjoy.
mike dundas editor-in-chief
Channeling Dylan Ho spring 2013 | spensermag.com
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 JOEL LEVANGIA & BRENDAN LYNCH
staff writers MEREDITH PAIGE
meredith's page editor & staff photographer contributing writers
CYNDI FLORES, CAMILLE GRIGSBY-ROCCA, ROSS JOHNSON
contributing photographers JESSIE KRIECH-HIGDON, CHRIS HIGDON, MITCHELL SNYDER, MIKKA TOKUDA-HALL
JACKSON, KAUFMAN, OLIVER & SCOUT in loving memory: BUCK
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cover photo: SEA URCHIN photograph by MEREDITH PAIGE
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meet the team:
spring is all about coming out of hibernation and having friends over. friends are on their way over to dinner, what's on the radio?
MIKE: Hot Oysters.
Hot Oysters on the Radio Recipe by Frédéric Morin & David McMillan In "The Art of Living According to Joe Beef" (Ten Speed Press 2011), co-owners and chefs Frédéric Morin and David McMillan present their ode to Montreal featuring original recipes, colorful anecdotes, travel tips, and unique instructions for things like building a backyard smoker or making absinthe. With a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor poking fun at the “frenzied quest” of restaurants to top one another with extreme ingredients, at Joe Beef they serve simple baked oysters on an old radio. Of course, they say to serve yours on any inedible ingredient of choice.
Serves 4 12 big, meaty oysters Coarse salt for partially filling pan 4 slices bacon, finely diced ¼ cup (120 g) peeled and finely diced small potatoes 1 clove garlic, finely chopped 2 egg yolks 1⁄3 cup (80 ml) whipping cream (35 percent butterfat) 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives ¼ cup (30 g) finely grated aged Cheddar cheese Salt and pepper ¼ cup (30 g) dried bread crumbs ¼ cup (55 g) unsalted butter, cut into 12 equal pieces 1. Shuck the oysters, pouring the liquor into a cup and keeping the oysters on their bottom shells. Set the oysters and liquor aside. A good trick for cooking the oysters is to fill a big cast-iron frying pan about half full with coarse salt, put it in the oven, and preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C), then heat the pan for an extra 15 minutes. This will help to accelerate the cooking process. 2. Place the potatoes and salted water to cover in a small pot over medium-high heat. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes, or until slightly softened. Drain the potatoes, let cool, and pat dry. Meanwhile, in another frying pan, crisp the bacon over medium-high heat until light brown. Add the potatoes to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes, or until tender. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Remove from the heat. 3. In a bowl, rapidly whisk together the egg yolks, the cream, and whatever oyster liquor you were able to gather. Add the chives, Cheddar, a pinch each of salt and pepper, and the bacon-potato mixture and whisk to mix. Divide evenly among the oysters, spooning it on top. Dust the tops with the bread crumbs, then finish with a piece of butter. 4. Pull the cast-iron pan out of the oven and carefully nest the oysters in the hot salt. Return the pan to the oven and cook for 4 to 7 minutes, or until the tops start to turn golden. Serve immediately.
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LEIGH: Wyclef Jean, Leftover Salmon, Jay-Z, 70â€™s southern rock & Lyle Lovett. JEN: The Killers, Vampire Weekend, Imagine Dragons, Mumford & Sons, Jay-Z, Lily Allen & Damien Rice. COREY: Bob Schneider, Arrested Development's "Mr. Wendal" & D'Angelo's "Voodoo" album. MEREDITH: The Buena Vista Social Club, Dave Matthews, Townes Van Zandt & yes, Lyle Lovett.
MAX: Aretha Live in Philly 1972.
HILARY: 4 Texas girls on staff means a preponderance of Lyle Lovett! When in doubt, I have a "Texas and Then Some" mix that never fails: Kelly Willis, Hayes Carll, Bob Schneider, Elizabeth Cook, Shannon McNally, Stevie Ray Vaughn & a little Lyle for good measure.
BRENDAN: Jacob Miller, Slaid Cleaves & R.L. Burnside.
spring 2013 | spensermag.com
contributors: 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 only her second article about food. Spring is all about coming out of hibernation and having friends over. Friends are on their way over to dinner, what's on the radio? I've never met a music I didn't like, so I'd try to chose for the occasion. Classical – sit down dinner; Blues & Gospel – noisy outdoor gathering, and Holiday – well for holidays. When in doubt though I'd put on Pink Martini.
ROSS JOHNSON | WRITER Ross Johnson has canned salmon in Alaska, waited tables in New York, taught classes in Danville, Ky, and written a few things in between. His introduction to bourbon came not in the Bluegrass, but in the Big Apple, where he sipped only the worst as an undergraduate in the storied halls of Columbia University. His taste has since, unfortunately, gotten more expensive. He now blogs under the nom de plume, Bluegrass Barfly, at www.VtheMarket.com, where he also slings drinks at the Danville bourbon establishment Wayne & Jane’s Wine & Whisky Bar. Spring is all about coming out of hibernation and having friends over. Friends are on their way over to dinner, what's on the radio? For friends, Miles Davis's "Kind of Blue"; for lovers, D'Angelo's "Voodoo"; and for my enemies, I play Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music."
CAMILLE GRIGSBY-ROCCA | WRITER Camille was raised in Napa, Calif, the daughter of winemakers, and granddaughter of the founder of one of California's first grocery stores dedicated to supporting local, sustainably run farms and food producers. She has lived in Portland, Ore, for three years, where the local breweries, distilleries, wineries, farmer's markets, and small-batch food producers keep her pantry stocked. She works off her favorite meals on the endless forested trails of Portland, long hikes in the Columbia Gorge, and on the snowy slopes of Mt. Hood. Spring is all about coming out of hibernation and having friends over. Friends are on their way over to dinner, what's on the radio? Cooking in my kitchen calls for stringed instruments – The Portland Cello Project is always a good choice (and, like my tomatoes, locally sourced), as are the Avett Brothers, the Wood Brothers, or, as of late, Kishi Bashi.
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MITCHELL SNYDER | PHOTOGRAPHER Mitchell Snyder is an architect who has lived and worked in California, New York and now Portland, Ore. While in architecture school, he learned photography and continues to take pictures while running his design practice. Mitchell’s photography work mainly focuses on buildings and interiors though he often delves in to product photography to help document the ceramic work of vitrifiedstudio. He is a licensed architect in Oregon and Hawaii. His work can be found at www.msnyderarch.com. Spring is all about coming out of hibernation and having friends over. Friends are on their way over to dinner, what's on the radio? Blind Pilot, William Elliot Whitmore, Breathe Owl Breathe.
JESSIE KRIECH-HIGDON & CHRIS HIGDON | PHOTOGRAPHERS Based in Louisville, Ky, Chris and Jessie are the husband-and-wife team behind Kriech-Higdon Photography. On their path to falling in love and establishing a business – whether as a touring musician, a psychology student in rural Indiana, a taxi driver, or a restaurant server – neither was ever without a camera to document the experience. These days, inspired by the everyday beauty of real life, their on and off hours are a near seamless blend of family, friends, food, music, and animals – and that’s just the way they like it. Becoming parents to son Ewan has been their best assignment to date! Recently, Country Living and O, The Oprah Magazine, have featured Chris and Jessie’s work. Their diverse portfolio can be seen at www.kriech-higdonphoto.com. Spring is all about coming out of hibernation and having friends over. Friends are on their way over to dinner, what's on the radio? Probably José González, or Elbow, but we also never seem to tire of Jawbox, Lungfish, or Sugar.
MIKKA TOKUDA-HALL | PHOTOGRAPHER Mikka Tokuda-Hall spent four years living out of a suitcase, working in Vietnam, Japan, and Peru, and travelling throughout Asia and South America, taking as many photos as possible along the way. Her photos have appeared in Metropolis and TNT magazines, as well as on travel and non-profit Web sites. She currently lives in Los Angeles and works in television production. Images from her ongoing travels in California and abroad can been seen at www.mikkatokudahall.com. Spring is all about coming out of hibernation and having friends over. Friends are on their way over to dinner, what's on the radio? If friends are coming over, I'm probably listening to Jenny Lewis, Belle & Sebastian, or Bob Dylan.
a time and place for everything
Steven Gambrel is a designer-architect known for a creative style that only improves with age. He stresses design that fits into a client’s present lifestyle while still paying homage to the distinctive qualities found in every space as well as the history, time, and place in which those spaces were built. In so doing, his work is both timeless and original. Gambrel’s book, "Time and Place" (Abrams 2012), is a photographic showcase of enduring design that takes the reader through the designer’s more unique work. Gambrel offers the reader extensive histories, delving into each project’s profile, which provides an enriched perspective and appreciation of Gambrel’s eye to the layered history surrounding a project. Redcraft, a house in Southhampton (this page), was originally built in the 19th century with rugged materials including deep red brick and unfinished timber. When Gambrel joined the project, he found the estate’s main house dark and confusing, but he considered surfaces and materials that would turn this deficit into an asset. He drew inspiration from 17th century Dutch-design, where, in his words, “high gloss black surfaces pull light inward and illuminate the contrasting surfaces and finishes surrounding the black.” His use of reflective glass on the pantry cabinets adds another level of light reflection and serves to define a space used often by Gambrel’s client. These reflective surfaces amplify natural light allowing the client to brighten the space with candlelight.
Many would consider a smaller pantry space incompatible with dark surfaces, but a simple choice to make everything reflective turned a problem on its head while keeping the space in harmony with the overall darker feel of the house’s structure. In his Lower Fifth Townhouse (this page), Gambrel similarly reflected on the area’s history. Originally home to successful merchants, this neighborhood was often filled with wide brick and brownstone houses complete with elaborate fixtures and high ceilings. 20th century forces divided these grand spaces to suit the evolution of a growing city. When he considered the renovations for the complete townhouse, he reflected on both 19th and 20th century events. At the end of 16 months of renovation, the townhouse is "entirely reconsidered. Yet the layers of history remain intact, through choices made spanning three centuries of change.” By drawing on a style based on historical foundation with select whimsical flourishes, Gambrel encourages us to cultivate spaces where past and present flow seamlessly. Photo Credits: (This page, from top) The view through the Lower Fifth Townhouse butler’s pantry, complete with wet bar; An additional culinary work and storage space just off the custom kitchen. (Opposite page) The back bar at the Redcraft estate in Southampton. Photos by Eric Piasecki. Copyright © 2012. Published by Abrams.
spring 2013 | spensermag.com
stocking the pantry:
PRETTY SPICY FRESNO CHILI
INNA Jam is a small jam and preserves company based in Emeryville, Calif. The owner, Dafna Kory, is unique among the new breed of small-batch, craft preservers in that she makes her single-varietal jams without the addition of any herbs, spices, or flavorings. That means no vanilla bean, no marjoram, no pink peppercorns, just pristine fruit sourced from farms located within 150 miles of the INNA kitchen. “This whole thing started one Thanksgiving a few years back when I came across something I’ve never seen before,” Kory says. “Some friends were serving these amazing little appetizers: crackers topped with cream cheese and jalapeño jam. Well, I thought those little appetizers were just the best thing ever and proceeded to eat so many of them that I couldn’t really eat the Thanksgiving meal that followed.” Unable to find jalapeño jam in any local store, Kory endeavored to make her own from scratch. After spending some time developing her recipe, she cooked up a batch, giving most of it away to friends and neighbors. Before she knew it, she found herself making batch after batch of jalapeño jam, and INNA was born. As much as we love INNA’s jalapeño jam here at spenser, we’ve fallen for her redheaded step sister made with bright and fiery Fresno chiles grown by Efren Avalos at Avalos Organic Farm in Hollister. Spicier than a traditional pepper jelly, the jam draws heat from the entire chili — seeds, membranes, and all. That heat is balanced with sweetness from unrefined cane sugar and red bell peppers grown on the same farm. With a bright, fruity flavor and a stunning red color, Kory calls it a “shiny, jewel of a jam.” The INNA staff’s favorite way to eat the jam is in a sandwich with roasted kabocha squash and sharp cheddar cheese. Here in our test kitchen, we tend toward a more Southern application. Taking inspiration from Mitchell Rosenthal and his Town House Restaurant in San Francisco, we serve it up with fresh baked buttermilk biscuits and country ham. We’re getting hungry, are you? Hand delivered by bicycle to select Bay Area neighborhoods, otherwise available nationwide via mail order through the INNA Web site. $12 for a 10 oz. jar.
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stocking the pantry:
stocking the pantry:
BOURBON BARREL CHOCOLATE Ryan Cheney and Nate Hodge are the co-owners of the Brooklyn-based Raaka Chocolate and, together, they work toward two specific goals: making good and doing good. With respect to the former, they endeavor to produce the highest possible quality chocolate, which they call “virgin chocolate” as it is made using unroasted cocoa beans. To the latter, both Cheney and Hodge believe that you can create positive social change by aligning business objectives to maximize social impact. An example of this is the fact that Raaka currently purchases cocoa beans that have been directly traded with farmers in the Dominican Republic, Madagascar, and Bolivia. The cocoa farmers are paid a minimum of $500 more than market price per metric ton, an equivalent of a 20% raise at today’s prices. By increasing the price per ton, they open the door to developing direct, fair trade relationships with small communities of growers, which in turn gives them more control over a better quality cocoa bean. So why make chocolate with unroasted beans? (Raaka is the Finnish word for raw.) They say it’s much like cooking with height of the season vegetables. When you have the best quality product, you want to mess with it as little as possible in order to maintain the integrity of the natural flavors. Cheney notes that cocoa beans can have delicate flavor nuances and the process of roasting the cocoa can mask those flavors. Raaka currently produces seven flavors including a 71% dark with sea salt, blueberry with lavender, vanilla and rooibos tea, coffee, 75% dark Madagascar, and an 81% dark single origin from the Dominican Republic. Our favorite and the chocolate that has earned Raaka a spot in the spenser pantry is the single origin bourbon cask aged chocolate bar. The bar is made using cocoa nibs that have been aged in used Baby Bourbon oak wood casks sourced from Tuthilltown Spirits. By aging the nibs in the barrels, the chocolate picks up delicate notes of caramel, vanilla, and oak. Now we just have to learn how to say delicious in Finnish. Available at select stores nationally and online. $8.00 for a 2.5 oz. bar. spring 2013 | spensermag.com
stocking the bar:
Caña Brava is a uniquely dry, aged, and filtered rum made in the traditional “Carta Blanca” style. Conceptualized by Simon Ford, a former brand ambassador for PernodRicard, and Dushan Zaric and Jason Kosmas, founders of the New York bar Employees Only, Caña Brava harkens back to the long forgotten white Cuban rums that inspired so many classic cocktails like the Daiquiri, El Presidente, Cuba Libre, and Mojito. To produce the rum, Zaric lobbied master distiller Francisco “Don Pancho” J. Fernandez, owner of the Las Cabres Distillery, to join the project. Don Pancho made rum in his native Cuba for more than 35 years, eventually becoming the Minister of Cuban Rum, having mastered the “Cuban method” before moving to Panama in the early 1990s. Don Pancho uses molasses made from local, wild sugar cane that grows in nutrient-rich volcanic soils near the distillery. The molasses is diluted and fermented with the aid of Don Pancho’s distinct natural pineapple yeast. Once distilled, the rum is then aged in a combination of new American oak barrels and used American whiskey barrels for three years. After aging, the 3-year-old rum is blended with older rums from Don Pancho’s inventory. This ensures a consistency of style and adds compelling complexity. The rum is then subjected to 3 different filtration processes that remove the bigger oak flavors and strip most of the color that the rum has picked up during aging. This is the key step in creating Caña Brava’s balance between the aromatic sugar cane distillate and the subtle flavors of vanilla, wood, and caramel that come from barrel aging. The resulting product is one of the cleanest and freshest white rums that we’ve ever tasted. It has a balanced nose of fresh cut grass along with hints of honey and coconut. On the palate, it shows plenty of citrus and cane sugar flavors, offering a touch of vanilla, cacao butter, and dark chocolate from the barrel aging. For these reasons and more, this rum has earned a spot on the spenser bar. Available nationally at better liquor stores. $25 for a 1 liter bottle.
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stocking the bar:
Cuba Libre Recipe by Jason Kosmas & Dushan Zaric Bone dry and aromatic, Caña Brava transforms the basic rum and coke into an experience akin to a great gin and tonic. Makes 1 cocktail 1 ½ oz. Caña Brava Rum 2 oz. Mexican cola (see next page) 1 dash Peychaud's Bitters 1 lime wedge 1. Add the rum, cola, and bitters to a tall glass filled with large ice cubes. Squeeze the lime wedge over the drink and drop into the glass. Stir briefly to combine and serve.
El Presidente Recipe by Jason Kosmas & Dushan Zaric This Cuban classic provides the elegance and depth to rival any classic stirred cocktail such as a Negroni or Manhattan. It is a perfect aperitif for dinner and a great start to any evening. Makes 1 cocktail 1 ½ oz. Caña Brava Rum 1 ¼ oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth ¾ oz. Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao ½ oz. Employees Only Grenadine (see note) 1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add large ice cubes and stir until properly chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe and garnish with an orange twist. Note: If you don’t have access to a bottle of Employees Only Grenadine, you can make your own grenadine, using the recipe on our blog.
stocking the bar: MAINE ROOT MEXICANE COLA Many of the products you see here on the pages of spenser have serendipitous beginnings, perhaps none more so than the handcrafted sodas bottled by Maine Root beverage company. In his first summer after graduation from the Landing School of Boatbuilding and Design in Kennebunk, Maine, company founder, Matthew Seiler, took a job rebuilding a schooner on the working waterfront in the old port of Portland. Just a few wharfs down, his friend, Bobby Morgan, ran the Portland outpost of the Flatbread Company allowing Seiler the opportunity to build boats during the day and wait tables at Flatbread for extra money at night. While working at Flatbread, Seiler concluded that there weren’t any good fountain soda choices to accompany all of the natural and organic food being served. Having a great deal of experience as a home beer brewer, Seiler used his knowhow to produce a batch of root beer using a lobster pot in his own home kitchen. It took a little trial and error, but, needless to say, Flatbread’s customers were ecstatic with the finished product and the soda sold out quickly. As Flatbread grew throughout New England, so did Maine Root, with deliveries being made to restaurants in an old VW bus that ran on vegetable oil. From their first retail customer — Lois' Natural Market in Scarborough, Maine — they’ve grown into a nationally distributed brand. The only thing different these days? Maine Root’s line of sodas, with flavors from root beer to blueberry, are now delivered in much bigger trucks. Maine Root’s Mexicane Cola, the most recent addition to the product line, was introduced to us by another Stocking the Bar soda magnate, Taylor Peck of Taylor’s Tonics. With this new flavor, Seiler has created a soda with the familiar taste of a classic cola but the richer sweetness of the Mexican cola varieties found in many urban markets around the US. “I have traveled through Central and South America, and through Mexico for surf trips over the last 20 years,” says Seiler about his inspiration for the Mexicane Cola. “The sodas you get down there are sweetened with cane sugar, not corn syrup. So, I made up some recipes for cola using our Fair Trade certified organic cane sugar and named the final product Mexicane Cola.” We’re guessing the name came naturally. Available nationally, with wider distribution on the East Coast and in the South. $6.00 per 4-pack.
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PERFECT TABLES EVERYDAY
It is only a matter of time until the food stocked and stored in a pantry makes its way to the table. And so we are pleased to introduce our newest department, spenser’s settings, as the natural evolution of that inevitable march. With each issue, we encourage you to stock your pantry with a select few of our favorite food items, but we also know that limited pantry space is often used for storing plates and glassware meant for both entertaining and everyday use. In the coming issues, we’ll highlight settings and ideas for entertaining and special occasions, but we’ll also take a fair turn at the everyday because casual meals with close friends and family are moments to be cherished. Simple additions or turn of a napkin add to the comfort for the guests, the flow of the conversation, and the enjoyment for all. Our Editor-in-Chief’s mom, Mary Lynn, once said a friend had told her the Sunday morning orange juice takes on a special air when served in a wine glass. Wise friend. Featuring William Yeoward’s "Perfect Tables" (CICO Books 2006), then, seems the natural fit for the spenser’s settings debut. As Yeoward writes, “If you delight in good food, wine, and company, then the creation of a table setting is a natural extension.” We couldn’t agree more. Well-worn pewter chargers with their patina of use plays against the crisp white of the linen napkins and plates. Individual flower arrangements placed at each setting creates a personalized touch, but requires the purchase of only a few stems for the entire table.
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Subtle hints of color would also add to this setting, but in keeping the styling white and basic, the attention is drawn to the food. And, should the occasion warrant a larger flower arrangement, we take note of how the vases are gathered at the end of the table so that an intimate space is created among the diners without having to navigate a dinner conversation through a high centerpiece. This task doesn’t need to be exhaustive or expensive. It’s as simple as selecting a few unique items from vintage shops, estate sales, or flea markets. Yeoward stresses that adding simple elements that catch the eye – that single fresh flower at each table setting or a napkin tied with a ribbon or creatively folded – can have oversized impacts on the design. And take heed of Yeoward’s advice that a beautiful table means setting it to your own interpretation. There is no right or wrong, just so long as you create a space that you, your friends, and your family can enjoy.
(Clockwise from top left, across both pages) Black placemats bring a sleek appearance to the plain table; By holding the knife and napkin with a ring, you add a touch of elegance to a simple setting; Another view of the breakfast table. Opposite Page: A simple white table setting is ideal for a lunch or casual supper. Republished with permission from "William Yeoward Perfect Tables" Photos by Ron Main. Copyright © 2011. Published by CICO Books.
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meredith's page: WOOD, PAPER, METAL, GLASS With the bounties of spring in bloom all around us, here are a few (mostly natural) in-home elements to brighten your day. Enjoy them in good company or in tranquil solitude. A few (especially the flask) might even make bad company a little better.
I canâ€™t get enough of this beautiful book full of photography of street vendors, street food, and the people cooking and enjoying take away.
Chronicle Books, $35
Reduce. Recycle. Rehydrate.
Anyone who knows me knows that I like beverages and not just the adult ones. This glass water bottle sits on my desk and its easy, reusable nature makes sure I never go thirsty. ABC Home, $35
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The ingenuity of one man whose chef friend couldn’t find a tortilla press in London – he designed and built his own beautiful press using reclaimed walnut. Problem solved. Etsy, $165
A whole alphabet of linen cocktail napkins from Coral and Tusk just waiting to be explored. I’m partial to the M and the P. Coral and Tusk, $72 for a set of 4
I know, I like the flasks – I can’t help myself and this handmade copper one deserves all the admiration I’m throwing its way. Jacob Bromwell, $149.99
spring 2013 | spensermag.com
STRAWBERRIES AND SORREL
At first glance, strawberries and sorrel seem like an unlikely pairing. Strawberries are sold in grocery stores year round thanks to California’s 12-month growing season (where 88% of the domestic berries are grown), while sorrel is rarely found in supermarkets, forcing most home cooks to either search out the rare bunch at their local farmer’s market or grow it at home. But what a pairing it is. In the just the past two years, chefs from across the culinary spectrum have found great success matching strawberries with sorrel on restaurant menus. Chris Cosentino drapes fresh strawberries with thin sheets of Iberico de Bellota lardo and ribbons of sorrel and René Redzepi pairs underripe green strawberries and cooked lettuce roots with a sorrel purée. Southern star Sean Brock serves up a bright salad with beets, strawberries and sorrel leaves and Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz favor the combination of strawberry, sorrel, crème fraîche and cornbread. Sorrel is a classic French herb with high levels Vitamin C that give it a bright citric taste. This mouth puckering sourness is perfectly balanced by the sweetness of the strawberries — think strawberry lemonade — for a flavor combination that works in both sweet and savory dishes. And like any great garden combination — tomatoes and basil or peas and mint — strawberries and sorrel are at their absolute peak at the same time of year. Harbingers of warmer days to come, they are spring on a plate so try them together today.
Strawberry and Sorrel Shortcakes Serves 6 2 pints strawberries, tops removed and cut into quarters 1 tbsp. + 2 tsp. granulated sugar, divided into separate portions ¼ cup St. Germain elderflower liqueur 2 cups flour ¾ tsp. kosher salt 1 tbsp. baking powder ½ cup (1 stick) very cold, unsalted butter 2 cups (divided) heavy whipping cream 10 sorrel leaves, stems removed 1. In a nonreactive mixing bowl, add strawberries, 1 tsp. sugar and St. Germain. Stir to combine and dissolve the sugar. Set aside for at least 30 minutes to allow the strawberries to macerate, stirring from time to time. 2. Preheat oven to 450°F. Add the flour, salt, and baking powder to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 2-3 times to mix together. Cut the butter into ½” cubes and then add to the flour mixture. Pulse the flour and butter in 3-second bursts until the mixture looks coarse with pea-sized pieces of butter. 3. Transfer the flour mixture to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix in 1 cup cream at medium speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Turn out the dough onto a board, hand form six puck-sized biscuit cakes, and place onto a clean baking sheet. Brush the tops of the cakes with 1 tbsp. cream and sprinkle with 1 tsp. sugar. Bake until the tops are lightly browned and the dough is set, 10 - 12 minutes. Allow to cool on a rack. 4. While the shortcakes are cooling, stack and roll the sorrel leaves and thinly slice into ribbons. Strain the strawberries, reserving the macerating liquid, folding the sorrel in with the berries. Using an electric mixer, whip the remaining cream in a mixing bowl until soft peaks form. Add 1/3 cup of the reserved macerating liquid to the cream and whip for another 10 seconds to combine. 5. To serve, carefully slice the shortcakes in half with a serrated knife (they are crumbly) and layer on the strawberries and cream then cover with the top of the short cake. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Note: We like a fairly dense drop-biscuit-style shortcake with this dish. If you prefer something flakier, try your favorite southern biscuit recipe.
spring 2013 | spensermag.com
season’s harvest: WHITE ASPARAGUS Some might not think of asparagus — white or green — as intriguing. But we’ve had a sustained curiosity with the vegetable ever since we first read Harold McGee’s fun fact that horticultural engineers test asparagus “by tapping it with a tiny hammer and listening to it vibrate.” Makes you wonder doesn’t it? While we admit to never having taken a tuning fork to our vegetables, we do love asparagus because it is one of the true harbingers of spring. The first sign of white asparagus in the markets is a major event in many parts of France and Germany, with the vegetable obtaining cult-like status during its short harvest season. It is so popular in Europe that while white asparagus only makes up about 3% of US sales, it accounts for approximately 50% of worldwide harvests. There are a number of different varieties of asparagus grown around the world, some dating back more than one hundred years. Once classified in the same family as lilies and onions, asparagus grows from a bulb-like root under the ground. Capable of growing 6 to 8 inches in a single day, these asparagus varieties can be harvested either green or white. To keep them white, plants are covered with mounds of soil so that the growing stalks are protected from sunlight. This lack of light inhibits photosynthesis, and thus, the production of chlorophyll, which causes the green coloring. The resulting albino-looking stalks are sweeter, with less vegetal astringency. Asparagus stalks should be firm and round, with tightly closed tips. The white varietal isn’t sold at too many local farmer’s markets so your best bet is to visit a gourmet green grocer. The cut ends should be neither too woody, nor too dry. Most importantly, store the asparagus in the refrigerator with the ends wrapped in a damp paper towel (allowing the asparagus to rest at room temperature, causes spears to toughen) and use within a few days for the best flavor.
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White Asparagus Soup The classic German way to serve white asparagus is to prepare it simply, with boiled new potatoes and hollandaise or a rich, eggy vinaigrette. Drawing inspiration from that dish, we pair white asparagus and potatoes together in a creamy soup, which is then garnished with tips that are cooked in brown butter. Serves 4 1 lb. white asparagus 1 medium Yukon Gold potato 3 tbsp. unsalted butter ½ small yellow onion, diced Kosher salt Freshly ground white pepper 2 cups low sodium vegetable stock 1 tsp. granulated sugar ¼ cup heavy cream 3 tbsp. Greek yogurt 2 tbsp. chives, minced Grated zest of 1 lemon Sea salt 1. Cut off the asparagus tips and reserve for later use. Cut approximately 2 ½ inches off of the stem ends and discard. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the tough outer layer of skin from each of the stalks. Cut the peeled stalks into 1-inch pieces. Peel the potato and cut into ¾-inch cubes. 2. Melt 2 tbsp. of the butter in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add the diced onion to the pan with two good pinches of kosher salt and 10 grinds of white pepper. Cook the onion for about 5 minutes, until it is translucent, but do not allow the onion to take on any color. Add the asparagus stalks, potato, vegetable stock, and sugar to the pot. Bring the stock to a boil, reduce to low heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are very tender. 3. While the vegetables are cooking, fill a small saucepan with water and set over high heat. Once the water is boiling, add a good pinch of kosher salt to the water and add the reserved asparagus tips. Cook the tips for 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain the asparagus tips on a paper towel. 4. Transfer the hot soup to a blender and carefully purée until very smooth (see note). Return the soup to the pan and set over very low heat. Whisk in the cream and yogurt. Taste and season with additional salt and white pepper, if necessary. 5. Preheat a sauté pan over a medium-high heat and add the remaining 1 tbsp. butter to the pan. Cook until the milk fat in the butter begins brown and starts to smell nutty. Remove pan from the heat and add in the cooked asparagus tips, chives and lemon zest. Divide soup between four bowls and garnish each dish with the brown butter asparagus tips and a few flakes of sea salt. Note: When puréeing hot liquids, remove the piece in the center of your blender top and cover the opening with a clean dish towel. Start blending on low speed and gradually increase to full. Also, for dishes where the asparagus is to be served whole, lay the asparagus stalks on a flat surface before peeling carefully as white asparagus snaps easily.
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on your iPad.
CROSS-CUT BEEF SHANK
The cross-cut beef shank is one of the toughest cuts of meat in the butcher’s case, but it is also one of the most flavorful. If you’ve ever ordered the classic Northern Italian dish osso buco, you’ve eaten a cross-cut shank, albeit veal instead of beef. The name, osso buco, actually translates to “bone with a hole,” an allusion to the rich marrow that’s found inside the shank. Amelia Posada, “Shop Mama” and co-owner of Lindy and Grundy — our local nose-to-tail butcher shop here in Los Angeles — tells her customers that braising is definitely the way to go with this delectable cut. Loaded with collagen, the shank meat makes for an unctuous braise with a luxurious gravy that’s enriched by the marrow. “What's so lovely about the cross-cut beef shank, is that gorgeous marrow,” Posada says. “It's a nugget of goodness.” Just be sure to cook your shank low and slow, she advises, so you give the marrow time to melt into the braising liquid. The meat has such a rich, complex flavor profile, and when paired with the marrow, it's the ultimate cut to cook for a Sunday dinner with friends or family. The best place to find cross-cut beef shank is at your local, stand-alone butcher shop. Just be aware that you may end up having to pre-order the cut a few days ahead of time. Mexican, Korean and Italian grocers often stock the cut in their meat cases as well. We recommend looking for pieces cut from high up on the leg, with a greater proportion of meat and a rounded shank bone filled with marrow. Avoid pieces with a misshapen bone as those are likely to come from the area near a joint and contain a higher concentration of tough ligaments and membrane.
spring 2013 | spensermag.com
Braised Beef Shank Ravioli When most people think braised dishes, they think winter. But we love cross-cut beef shanks so much that we want to keep eating them right into spring. To do that, we’ve updated the traditional presentation with something befitting those warmer days and nights. The braised meat is shredded and used as a ravioli filling, while the marrow enriched braising liquid becomes the sauce for the pasta. Make no mistake, this is a special occasion dish that takes a good amount of time in the kitchen, but we think you will find it’s worth the effort. Serves 6 Kosher salt Fresh ground black pepper 4 1”-thick cross-cut slices of beef shank 1 tbsp. grapeseed oil 1 small yellow onion, diced 2 celery stalks, diced 2 medium carrots, diced 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed 4 sprigs thyme 1 bottle dry red wine 3 cups beef stock 1 cup minced parsley 1 ½ lbs. fresh pasta sheets (see recipe on our blog) 6 Calabrian chiles, stems removed and thinly sliced ½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Micro greens or minced parsley, for garnish 1. To make the filling: Preheat oven to 315°F. Heat a Dutch oven on the stove over medium-high heat. Generously salt and pepper both sides of each piece of shank. Add the grapeseed oil to the pan. Heat until you see the first wisps of smoke and then add the meat in one evenly spaced layer. Brown the meat on both sides, turning as needed, until the meat is a dark golden brown, 10 - 12 minutes total. Transfer the meat to a plate and set aside. 2. Carefully remove all but 1 tbsp. oil from the pan. Add the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened and start to brown. Add the wine, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Increase the heat to high and bring wine to a boil, allowing wine to reduce by half, about 7 - 8 minutes. Add the stock, browned shanks, and any accumulated juices from
the plate and bring back to a boil. Cover with lid and transfer to the oven to braise for two hours, until the meat is very tender. 3. Carefully remove the braised shanks from the pan and set aside to cool. Using a knife, push out any remaining marrow left in the shank bones and add it to the braising liquid. Bring the liquid to a simmer, cook for 10 minutes, and then remove from the heat. Strain the braising liquid through a chinois or fine mesh strainer into a heatproof container, discarding the spent vegetables. Separate the fat from the rest of the braising liquid and discard (see note). Set the braising liquid aside for later use. 4. Using your hands, shred the meat into very small pieces, discarding any fat, membrane, bone, or gristle. Mix the shredded meat in a bowl with the minced parsley and 1 cup of the reserved braising liquid. Taste, adding kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, if necessary. 5. To make the ravioli: Cut each pasta sheet into 3” squares. Cover with a damp cloth towel. Working one at a time, place a small spoonful of the meat filling in the center of a pasta square. Using a pastry brush, moisten the edges of the pasta with water and then cover with a second square. Press the edges together, moving out from the center to remove any air bubbles. Trim the edges with a crimped cutter, if desired. Transfer to lightly floured baking sheet and then repeat with the remaining ingredients. You should have at least 36 ravioli. 6. To assemble the dish: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add in 3 tbsp. kosher salt to the water. Briefly whisk the reserved braising liquid and then divide between two sauté pans set over mediumlow heat. Gently drop the ravioli into the salted boiling water and cook for 4 - 5 minutes, until tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked ravioli to the two sauté pans. Simmer the pasta for 1 minute while spooning sauce over the ravioli. Place at least 6 ravioli in each serving dish. Spoon 1 - 2 tbsp. of sauce over each dish and garnish with the Calabrian chiles, parmesan cheese and micro greens. Serve immediately. Note: We find it easiest to remove the fat from the braising liquid by transferring the cooled liquid to a sealed container and placing it in the freezer for about an hour or in the refrigerator overnight. The fat will rise to the top and harden into a thin disc, which is then easily discarded.
spring 2013 | spensermag.com
NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK
Historic • Cultured • Graceful
South Carolina’s cultural heritage, and home to several of our country’s founders, this National Historic Landmark strives to expand visitors’ understanding of life on an 18th/19th century rice plantation, uphold the traditions of Southern culinary culture in the Middleton Place Restaurant, and offer an experience unlike any other. America’s Oldest Landscaped Gardens • Plantation Stableyards House Museum interpreting four generations of the Middleton Family 4300 Ashley River Road • Charleston, SC 29414 • (843) 556-6020 • (800) 782-3608 MiddletonPlace.org
Natural • Understated • Elegant
On the bluﬀs of the Ashley River, nestled amongst centuries-old oaks and pine trees, and steps away from Middleton Place and The Country’s Oldest Landscaped Gardens. This secluded inn is the perfect place to reconnect with nature and history just a short drive from the culture, beauty, and attractions of Historic Charleston. Spacious Accommodations • Admission to Middleton Place • Daily Healthy Start Breakfast Outdoor Pool • Kayaking and Horseback Riding Available 4290 Ashley River Road • Charleston, SC 29414 • (843) 556-0500 • (800) 543-4774 TheInnAtMiddletonPlace.com
Saving energy is a beautiful thing. Your thermostat controls half your homeâ€™s energy, but 20% of it is wasted. Nest helps stop the waste.
PLAY THE NEST VIDEO
by Ross Johnson â€˘ photography by Jessie Kriech-Higdon & Chris Higdon
spring 2013 | spensermag.com
A fire burns
integral role in creating bourbon’s flavor. It began as a happy accident: corn liquor, travelling by flatboat down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, was burnished brown and smooth by barrels that coopers were believed to have charred to ensure none of the flavors and smells from a previous use Rising worldwide demand has fanned the flames under would tarnish the valuable elixir. Folks in New Orleans and Kentucky bourbon distillers, who are struggling to keep up points further knew to ask for that flavorful “Bourbon County even though there are more bourbon barrels aging in the whiskey,” later shortened to bourbon, the name a vestige of Commonwealth of Kentucky than there are men, women and the royal French House of Bourbon. Now this whiskey can’t children there to drink them. legally be called bourbon without the barrel – specifically a new, charred, white oak barrel. Coopers, practitioners The bourbon barrel is more than just a vessel for America’s of a centuries-old craft, continue their work today largely spirit. Raised, hooped and charred, the barrel plays an unchanged from generations before them. in the heart of The Bluegrass. Kindled beneath the stills of Kentucky farmers who turned their surplus corn to white dog, it now burns in the bellies of all who imbibe this most American of spirits, bourbon.
(Clockwise from top center, across both pages) Staves, of various ages, are left outdoors for years to season in the changing Kentucky seasons; Newly â€œraisedâ€? barrels ready to be steamed at Robinson Stave in East Bernstadt, Ky.; The wood staves are steamed so that they can be bent without breaking; Once the barrels are steamed, the staves are bent and then fitted with steel hoops.
Just past the Pottsville Escarpment, a sandstone cummerbund that cinches in the Cumberland Plateau, lies East Bernstadt, Ky., a tough town of less than 1,000 on the edge of the state’s eastern coal fields. The yard outside the cooperage at Robinson Stave Company is brown and gray, flush with stacks of Appalachian white oak staves of various ages. This is the dominion of C.B. Robinson – 86-years-old and still at it – and his four children, who have kept the business under family control for fifty-five years. Coopering, like distilling, largely remains a family business. The nuanced knowledge of these industries, instilled through years of close cooperation between master and apprentice, is more reliably passed on when that relationship is bound by blood. Independent Stave Company, a larger cooperage eighty miles to the northwest in Lebanon, Ky., last year celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding by patriarch T.W. Boswell. Independent Stave is now in its fourth generation of family ownership. Inside the Robinson factory, the sounds of machinery and men wielding mallet and driver nearly drown out the drawl of Terry Nantz, a man who married into the Robinson clan. Nantz humbly gives his title – “I’m just the barrel shop manager,” he says. In truth, over the past twenty years, Nantz has helped create a cooperage from scratch. Considering a mutable market for staves – the wood planks that make up the sides of the barrel – the Robinsons decided to make barrels as well, ending the middleman status of their enterprise. Those stacks of staves outside in the yard are out in the elements to mature and "season," losing many of their green tannins over months of mercurial Kentucky wind, rain, and sun. “We let mother nature take all the moisture out of them that she can,” Nantz says. Nantz, now fifty-five, has worked for the Robinsons since he was sixteen. Starting from loader, then chipper, in the lumberyard, to grader and manager in the mill, Nantz had all the makings of a cooper. “I’ve done every job in here at one time or another,” he says. “But I’m still learning something every day about making barrels.” As he walks the floor strewn with sawdust and wood shavings, Nantz stops here and there to advise many of his seventy-five employees. The process is now highly mechanized, but certain elements must still be done by hand. “Raising” the barrel – placing thirty-two to thirty-four staves around a temporary truss hoop – is like putting a puzzle together. “One of our boys can raise eighty to a hundred barrels in an eight hour shift,” says Nantz, pointing to the chalk tally marks on the steel above one barrel raiser’s head. “Right now, he’s done fifty-seven. We pay by the hour, because we’re going for quality, not quantity,” he says, perhaps alluding to the larger, more industrial cooperages, where raisers are paid by the barrel. He adds, “I know anyone can take one of our barrels.” And they do. Robinson Stave produces barrels for many of the top bourbon distillers in the state, including Buffalo Trace, Heaven Hill, Maker’s Mark, and Wild Turkey. But while the larger cooperages may produce an average of 2,000 53-gallon story continued on page 60
(Clockwise from top left, across both pages) Terry Nantz, the manager at Robinson Stave, chats with a barrel raiser on the shop floor; Two workers charring barrel ends over an open flame; A newly raised barrel is removed from the steamer; Temporary hoops allow the barrel raisers to piece together the different sized staves.
(Clockwise from top left, across both pages) James â€œOokerâ€? Eskridge carefully watches over his crab tanks; Blue crabs about to shed their hard shells; The wire traps used to catch crabs; Wholesalers quickly move soft-shells from the island to markets and restaurants all over the country; Another view of the harbor on Tangier Island. spring 2013 | spensermag.com
Wayne Marshall and Mary Robin Spoonamore are the husband and wife team behind both V the Market and Wayne and Jane’s Wine & Whisky Bar in Danville, Ky., which happens to stock some of the best bourbon that Kentucky has to offer. With that in mind, we asked Wayne to select five of his favorite bourbons, in a range of prices, to share with readers.
Elmer T. Lee $29
Elmer T. Lee, the man, was the first ever master distiller at George T. Stagg Distillery. He is credited with introducing the world’s first single-barrel bourbon, Blanton’s Single Barrel, in 1984. Not long thereafter, Elmer himself was honored with his own single-barrel namesake, the flavor of which balances fruit, honey, and vanilla with a light spiciness.
E.H. Taylor Small Batch $40
Colonel Edmund Haynes Taylor, Jr. is considered by some to be the founding father of the bourbon industry. Barrels of his namesake bourbon, made by Buffalo Trace, actually age in a warehouse built by Taylor back in 1881. Expect notes of caramel corn, butterscotch and licorice with a bit of cinnamon and tobacco on the finish.
Bulleit 10 Year Old $45
Bulleit has only recently released this extra-aged version of its flagship whiskey. Hand selected barrels of the traditional high rye Bulleit recipe were set aside to age for a full 10 years before being bottled. This is a whiskey for folks who like the vanilla, oak, and char notes that come with the extra aging of drier bourbon.
Rockhill Farms $45
Rockhill Farms is a single-barrel bourbon recommended for folks who love Blanton’s but are looking for something a little less well traveled. This bourbon has rich, deep corn sweetness with notes of chocolate, burnt sugar, and coffee as well as a bit of spice from the addition of rye to the recipe.
Parker's Heritage Collection 6th Generation $80
Parker’s Heritage Collection is a series of rare, limited edition whiskeys offered by sixth-generation Master Distiller Parker Beam. Each and every one of Parker’s 50 years of distilling experience is poured into every generation. The most recent bottling is an 11-year-old, blended four-grain whiskey (corn, rye, malted barley and wheat) that checks in at 131.6 proof. Editor’s Note: Sadly, the 6th Generation may be the last that is hand selected from start to finish by Parker himself, as he was diagnosed with ALS, known as Lou Gehrig's disease, in 2012. Heaven Hill Distillery recently announced that $20 from the sale of each bottle of the upcoming fall 2013 (7th Generation) Parker’s Heritage Collection will be donated to the ALS Association. For more information about how you can help fight ALS, go to www.alsa.org.
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continued from page 57
barrels in an eight-hour workday, Robinson Stave produces about that many in a week. The differences go beyond the numbers as well. While the larger cooperages have gone high-tech, Robinson Stave still uses machinery from a defunct cooperage in Canada, converted from rack and pinion to hydraulic operation, and their production numbers aren’t tallied by computer, but in one of two steno pads Nantz carries in his breast pocket. “I’m not a computer guy. It’s all up here,” Nantz says, tapping his temple. Computers and cutting-edge machinery are useless during the most skilled step, done by the coopers themselves, who must fix staves broken during the fiery bending process. If a barrel contains a ‘sap stave’ or another defect it must be pulled from the line and repaired by hand. An experienced cooper will deftly wield a hammer and driver to remove the steel quarter hoops and belly hoops that hold together a bum barrel, eject the broken stave, eyeball a replacement, and shim in the new stave all in less than three minutes. There is commonality between all of the cooperages in Kentucky and that is a commitment to churning out quality barrels. Currently, this trait couldn’t be more crucial given the market demand to increase bourbon production – what could be better evidence of external pressures than a certain major distiller’s recent vacillation over cutting their long-standing bottle proof from ninety to eighty-four. With an all-natural barrel, the juice within is unadulterated by any artificial flavor. All of the color and much of the flavor of bourbon is owed to the charred white oak in which it’s aged. In an industry where distillers agonize over every aspect of how their fledgling bourbon is treated, even the provenance of the oak is significant. For the most part, American white oak comes from Ozark and Appalachian forests, but experiments with white oak from elsewhere are yielding interesting results. “You definitely get a difference in flavor," says Harlen Wheatley, Master Distiller at Buffalo Trace. "We released a French Oak experiment, and it was a really good Bourbon – it’s still a Bourbon – but we proved that it has a different character with that different wood.” Wheatley is holding court in the conference room adjacent to his office. Snow swirls and
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(From top) Freshly filled barrels are moved along a rail to the aging warehouse at Buffalo Trace; The distillery’s Warehouse K is a nine story brick warehouse built in 1933 with wooden floors; Small bits of the charred staves fall out as the barrel is emptied. Opposite Page: (From top) Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Ky.; Whiskey barrels are constantly being moved around the distillery; Harlen Wheatley, the 43-year-old Master Distiller at Buffalo Trace.
steam billows among the rickhouses on the 130-acre property that hugs the lazy Kentucky River; the grounds bounded by Kentuckystyle post and board fences painted ‘Trace green.’ He is young for a Master Distiller; forty-three years old in an industry where most of today’s masters are in their sixties or seventies. Perhaps because of his youthful adventurousness, or due to his scientific background as a chemical engineer, Wheatley has helped firmly establish the Experimental Collection at Buffalo Trace. For the past twenty-five years, the distillery has tweaked variables in their traditional production process, many of which relate to the barrel. In addition to using foreign white oak – Wheatley says wood from five different continents is represented in their warehouses – they’ve played with the size of the barrel, the grain of the wood, the char level, the location in the warehouse, and other treatments. “The experimental collection is the perfect example of embracing something new, but not changing the legacy of the way we do things. We’ve basically made the same products, some of them, since Prohibition. We haven’t changed them at all. And we don’t plan to,” Wheatley says. “We’re embracing change and yet keeping everything the same.” This paradoxical approach means celebrated labels like the Van Winkle line, W.L. Weller, or Blanton’s, which have all been bottled for decades, require consistency to please the customer, while experimentation adds an extra diversion to the doings of an already busy distillery. “Because we’ve been increasing production, the window of time off gets smaller every year. This year is officially zero. We’re just going to run straight through,” Wheatley says. Of course, in the bourbon world, these experiments take time. The nature of barrel-aging necessitates temperature fluctuations – over many hot, humid Kentucky summers and cold winters, the juice works in and out of the charred staves, picking up caramel, vanilla, oak, and char flavors. It takes years to create a smooth, rich,
The level and duration of the flames is strictly measured to get the desired toast and/or char level on the barrels. While a deep char is the standard for the industry, the lighter flame application, see in all three photos here, is called â€œtoastingâ€? and is used on select bourbon and wine barrels.
superlative product. Buffalo Trace’s eponymous flagship bourbon is at least eight years old and, their oldest, Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve, at 23, marks a generation. “When you talk process, I think eight to ten years ahead,” says Wheatley. “It’s not the microwave; you can’t just make it and taste it.” The bourbon barrels that Buffalo Trace drains are not discarded but find a second life storing spirits like Scotch whisky or rum, Irish whiskey or tequila. Before these barrels are shipped to points abroad, many stop at Kelvin Cooperage, owned by the McLaughlin family, on the south side of Louisville, Ky. “That’s the whole point of our business – finding new life in these barrels,” says Paul McLaughlin, the younger of two brothers in the second generation of the cooperage clan. The yard outside Kelvin is packed with used barrels stacked six high – tens of thousands to be inspected and repaired, notes William Hornaday, Director of Production and Quality Control at Kelvin. It’s no wonder “No Smoking” signs abound – the yard is stocked with kindling, essentially, soaked in high proof alcohol. This barrel repair business “is basically our job security,” says Hornday. The coopers at Kelvin can repair anywhere from fifty to five hundred barrels a day, depending on the demand of their primary duty – producing wine barrels and smaller
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sized new oak barrels for craft breweries and distilleries. The reuse of these barrels, and the system Kelvin uses to repair them, is inherently economical. “We were ‘green’ before ‘green’ was popular,” says Hornaday. “Everything here gets recycled. We cannibalize the broken barrels. If we can’t use the wood, then we burn it in the bending fires. We recycle the steel barrel hoops and the sawdust becomes bedding for horse farms.” The barrels, because of the high level of initial craftsmanship, and the care that goes into their treatment thereafter, can last a lifetime. “There are barrels out there that are fifty, sixty years old; that have been filled seven or eight times. Even when they’ve lost their char flavor and become neutral barrels, they still have a use as vessels,” Hornaday says. It’s commitment to care and conservation like this that has kept the bourbon industry, and its close cousin, the cooperages, thriving. The craftsmanship of the latter ensures that the former won’t spill a drop of precious juice; that the supply of bourbon is only spent through the tippling of thirsty masses the world over. (Clockwise from top left) Paul McLaughlin (right), second generation co-owner of Kelvin Cooperage in Louisville, Ky.; Finished barrels are rolled out on tracks to the loading dock; Tractor-trailers being loaded with Kelvin’s finished barrels; The barrels are toasted and charred over open flames. Opposite Page: (From top) Stacked barrel heads await their final destination; Used bourbon barrels are refurbished at Kelvin Cooperage before being shipped off for a second use.
by Camille Grigsby-Rocca â€˘ photography by Mitchell Snyder
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spring 2013 | spensermag.com
In May of 2011, Shelley Martin flipped the switch that carried power to her small home pottery studio for the very first time. The low hum of electricity that brought her kiln to life in the backyard garage of her Northeast Portland home marked the end of a long journey — years of navigating the practical concerns of a young career in architecture, moves from coast to coast and back again, and the pitfalls and distractions of daily life had led her at long last to the right time, and the right place, to take up her craft once again. Early in her undergraduate studies at Virginia Tech (where she later received a degree in Architecture), Martin took a ceramics class geared especially towards students of Architecture and Industrial Design. In this classroom, the approach to ceramics was heavily influenced by the close relationship between form and function, inherent in the buildings and sweeping landscapes they were already learning to create. As they pursued structural perfection in their work in architecture, they also pursued it in their early attempts at pottery. “We sliced every single pot in half over and over again, and studied its form,” says Martin. “We studied form, we studied function. It was as traditional and rigid as possible.” For the rest of her time in school, she spent every spare moment in the studio, where she formed her closest friendships. Martin took the course for 8 semesters, moonlighting in the art department’s ceramics class for one of them. The colors, decorations, and styles used by the art students were a shock to the system for a student of “purist” pottery.
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“Their work looked much different than ours,” Martin says. “We studied the pots that the Greeks, the Romans, and the ancient Asian cultures made; we were concerned with making the ‘perfect curve’ and the ‘perfect line.’ They made more sculptural work, while we tried to make our pottery simple and pure.” From her first introduction to ceramics, it was this connection with a long-since past community of makers that had Martin captivated, and continues to inform her current work. “When I make things now, I feel connected to people who have made pottery for thousands of years before me. The shapes that I make are the same shapes that have been made by previous civilizations. I’m not going for something entirely unique. I just want to make beautiful, functional pieces,” she says. Martin’s collection is simple, and innately practical. Each piece is meant to be picked up, handled, filled with food or drink, and to occupy a useful space in its owner’s daily life. “I’m not trying to break the mold with my work, in the traditional sense. The only mold I’m trying to break is our reliance on the high volume, mass produced, repetitive work you find on most store shelves,” she says. Martin envisions a day when our pantries will be filled with pieces made by our neighborhood potter – a day when the gap between those who make and those who use functional, smallbatch pieces like the ones she produces is erased. “Who makes the bowls for your table?” she asks. For Martin, a cupboard full of handcrafted pieces isn’t a distant dream, but a long-practiced way of life. “All through school, our cupboards were just filled with things that our friends made,” Martin recalls. “If you saw a commercially made dish in a friend’s cupboard, you knew it was
their roommate’s. You made pieces, you shared them with your friends, and you traded for their arts and crafts, and that’s just how we lived.” The small home in Portland’s Northeast quadrant that she shares with longtime partner Mitchell Snyder is a testament to her dedication to this ethos. Snyder, also an architect (they sat next to each other in a fifthyear architecture class and haven’t parted since), builds some of the furniture that fills their home, and the walls are lined with shelves full of Martin’s work, ready to fill the orders coming in from her popular Etsy shop and boutique retailers around the country. Minimalists at heart, the pair rarely shop for new things, relying instead on the few solidly built pieces they’ve carted with them on their many moves around the country, searching for the place they could call a permanent home — a move that, after much uncertainty and debate, landed them in Portland. In 2001, the couple moved from their college town of Blacksburg, Va., to San Francisco, where both found work in the architecture field. But, in what would quickly become a recurring theme, Martin was unable to find a pottery studio accessible and affordable enough to make continuing her work in ceramics really feasible.
A view through the sliding door of Shelley Martin’s studio in the backyard garage of her Portland home.
It was after Martin moved with Snyder to New York that the dream to buy a home and build her very own studio took place. But soaring real estate prices left them with little choice but to look for a home elsewhere, so the couple quit their jobs, packed their car full of houseplants and small dogs, and drove west. After stops in Jackson Hole, Minneapolis, and Port Townsend, they landed in the verdant Pacific Northwest, where Snyder was offered jobs in both Seattle and Portland. For Martin, the decision was easy – some of her most vivid childhood memories were of trips to visit family in the Bridge City, of weekends spent enjoying elephant ears and browsing the crafts at the Portland Saturday Market, and adventures in the vast, densely wooded parks a short drive from the city center. It didn’t take long for the pair to make their home in Portland, quickly moving from a small, cold apartment (“Really, the coldest apartment ever,” she says) to the comforts of a house they could call their own. Soon after arriving in their new hometown, Martin bought a pottery wheel, a move she had been waiting to make for years. “I was so excited! I bought a wheel, and I could throw pieces at my own home, and I started making all of these things without realizing how hard it would be to find an easy way to fire the pieces.” Firing her pieces at other studios was costprohibitive and time consuming, so she invested in a kiln of her own. But, after years of waiting for the space, the tools, and the time she needed to work with, there was one more hurdle left to cross. In order to run the kiln, the couple needed to upgrade the electrical subpanel in their garage to accommodate the high-powered piece of equipment. After months of hard work (most of it undertaken by the homeowners themselves) and expensive structural upgrades to their home and garage, the small studio was finally running on full power. “Since we first dreamed of our house and studio in New York, we realized it had taken years, and effort, and so much money to do it. I knew I had to pay myself back, and so I started selling my pots,” she explains. From the start, all Martin had really wanted to do was fill her cupboards, and those of her friends, family, and neighbors with her work.
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Shelley Martin works the potterâ€™s wheel in her home studio.
But with all that they had invested, Martin notes that it just made sense to start her own business. Martin fired her kiln for the first time in May of 2011, and by Thanksgiving of that year had made her first online sale. “My mom bought my very first pieces I had for sale. As a craftsperson herself, she wanted to support my work,” she says. As she continued to throw pottery, using only a handful of locally sourced clays and simple glazing techniques, she was surprised to find that she had created a cohesive set of work. “I worked for six months, pulling the shapes from the clay, remembering how to move the clay on the wheel,” Martin explains. “I prepared pieces for some local craft fairs, and after standing back and looking at the shapes and the palette of colors, I realized the cohesion of the set. I should’ve planned it more, but it had always been inside me, waiting for a chance to come out.”
Less than two years later, Martin has made an impressive leap forward. In each piece she produces, form and function are inseparable from one another. Her work is minimal, modern, and innately utilitarian. Years ago, she studied the potters from long gone civilizations, who made the pieces that their friends, families, and neighbors used every day. The connection between those who make and those who use is a connection Martin hopes to strengthen, even if just in her inner circle. “What I’m trying to do with my work is, in this modern world, to hold onto that tradition of thousands of years of making,” she explains. “Now, I can’t reach the entire country, but if I all I can do is fill my friends’, my family’s, and my neighbors’ kitchens with my pots, that is success. That’s my goal.”
spring 2013 | spensermag.com
MITCHELL SNYDER ARCHITECTURE
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by Mike Dundas â€˘ photography by Meredith Paige
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“In the early 1970s a couple old-timers actually went out and picked a few loads of urchin for a group of Japanese buyers and didn’t even get paid,” Hooten says. “It was sort of experimental to find out if they were worthwhile, if they were of good quality. The good word came back and the fishery really took off from there.” Anybody with a boat and a wetsuit could begin harvesting the spiny creatures and bringing them to market, so it didn’t take long for folks from all walks of life – former abalone divers, engineers, fishermen, and laborers – to make their way to one of the state’s growing urchin harbors, which ranged from Avila Beach near San Luis Obispo down to San Diego.
After a week of harsh storms, gusting winds and rolling swells, veteran divers Harry Liquornik and Bill Hooten are ready to get back in the water. On this morning, it will take a little more than an hour in Hooten’s 32’ Windsor hull dive boat, the F/V Airoso, to go the 24 miles south from Santa Barbara Harbor to the western edge of Santa Cruz Island. They push off from the dock just as the sun peeks above the horizon, heading for one of the world’s best urchin grounds. Despite looking like medieval torture devices – the shells are covered with dozens of sharp spines – sea urchins have Santa Barbara red sea urchins are considered among the finest in the been consumed at Japanese, Mediterranean and South world, commanding some of the highest auction prices at Japan’s famed American dinner tables for generations. Inside every Tsukiji fish market. But these prized urchins haven’t always been in urchin are five golden pieces of what most call the “roe” great demand. In the 1960s, the California Department of Fish and but are technically the invertebrate’s gonads. Delicate and Game declared sea urchins to be a nuisance and a threat to the giant briny, the freshest urchin – known as uni in Japanese – kelp beds that provide shelter and food for so many different marine melts in the mouth with a sweet custard-like flavor. species along the Southern California coast. State fish and game officials recruited sport divers from local clubs, gave them hammers, and let them loose upon the urchin beds to smash as many as they could find. The department also approved a kelpharvesting company’s use of quicklime to poison the urchins in areas with "heavy infestations."
Having now crossed the channel, Hooten and Liquornik settle on a dive spot on top of a thick kelp bed near Santa Cruz Island’s Fraser Point. Both men struggle into their thick neoprene wetsuits that will protect them from the cold Pacific waters. Liquornik favors a homemade concoction of kelp slime to help the suit slide on while Hooten uses a good dose of hand soap.
(From left, across both pages) The urchin bags are cinched with a slip knot, allowing for easy unloading; The sun starts to rise over the Airoso and the rest of Santa Barbara Harbor; The “searching for urchin” motto of the seafood processor, Catalina Offshore Products, is seen here on a sweatshirt.
For a brief moment, it seems as if everything pauses; a moment of serenity where the only sounds are the gentle waves lapping up against the boat and a family of sea lions barking on a distant rock formation. That silence is quickly broken when John Woodcock, Jr., the deckhand and diving assistant on the Airoso, snaps the boat’s diesel air compressor to life. Rather than use dive tanks, both Hooten and Liquornik prefer a “hookah” setup with a compressor feeding air through 300 foot hoses connected to a regulator, allowing them to stay in the water for hours at a time. After strapping on a weight belt and grabbing the rake-like tool used to measure and gather the urchins from the ocean substrate, Liquornik, without fanfare or notice, steps straight off the boat and into the water. Hooten follows shortly after. Both men pop to the surface to have Woodcock throw them the basket nets used to hold the gathered urchins. Once under water, neither will surface again for another hour. In 1975, the year Hooten first started diving, processors were only paying 10 cents per pound for urchins in the shell at the dock, but the catch was bountiful. There is an old photograph of the Airoso from the early 1980s where Hooten is motoring back to harbor with 10,000 pounds on board; the overflowing baskets of urchin piled 10 feet high off the deck. “Even though the price was low, we were bringing in 5000 pounds on an average day and gas was less than a dollar per gallon,” says Hooten. “You look at prices today and the fact is that it’s all relative.”
The Santa Barbara urchin market peaked in 1990; the run up fueled by the white-hot Japanese economy. Fish and game records show that more than 27 million pounds of urchin were landed in Southern California that year alone. Liquornik describes the market as frenzied, with new buyers appearing at the dock on a regular basis and prices quickly rising to $2.50 per pound. “One year, a Japanese buyer shows up at the dock in a white Cadillac with briefcases full of cash looking to buy whatever he could get his hands on,” says Liquornik. “It was like the wild west.” “I guess that made us underwater cowboys,” Hooten quips. Now fearful of the potential for overfishing, it was around this time the Department of Fish and Game implemented minimum shell size restrictions and a licensing requirement for all urchin divers. To better manage the annual urchin take, the department has slowly reduced the number of available licenses down from a peak of 938 in 1987 to just 300 today. New licenses are only given out via a lottery system in years when one or more existing divers retire and, even then, the state only allows those who have worked as urchin deckhands to participate in the lottery. Of the existing 300, a core group of 80 or so divers – “slingers” as Hooten likes to call them - pull in the vast majority of the state’s catch, about 11 million pounds annually. Another 100 to 120 divers – the “dabblers” says Hooten – work only a few weeks out of the year when the weather and prices are right.
(Clockwise from left, across both pages) John Woodcock Jr., the diving assistant on the the Airoso, hoists the urchins out of the water; Freshly picked sea urchins, along with a few strands of seagrass; On calm days, Hooten ties his boat to the giant kelp rather than drop an anchor.
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(From top) Santa Barbara sea urchins; Hooten prepares to dive, with the metal urchin rake rake and urchin bag just to his side; Opposite Page: Liquornik and Hooten’s 300 foot air hoses trail off into the distance. Following Page: Liquornik (right), in his thick neoprene cold water dive suit, looks out in Hooten’s direction on the water.
The remaining licensees have moved on to other careers, but continue to pay the annual fee to maintain their status, hoping someday the state will forgo the lottery and, instead, allow them to sell their license on an open market. After about an hour under water, Liquornik pops up to the surface about 150 feet from the boat. Beside him is a floater he filled with air from the compressor that pulled the 300-pound bag of urchins up to the surface. Hooten surfaces shortly thereafter and they both begin to make their way back to the boat. Woodcock skillfully coils the air hoses and readies the hoist that will lift the urchin bags onto the deck. This dive-harvest-hoist process will repeat itself six times on this day, with Liquornik, Hooten, and Woodcock stopping only briefly for a quick lunch. After seven hours in the water, Hooten and Liquornik will climb back onboard to change out of their wetsuits while Woodcock stows the gear and pulls up the anchor. The twin 220-horsepower Yanmar engines are throttled up and the Airoso, with Hooten at the helm, begins the trek back to the harbor. The processor, Catalina Offshore Products, and another licensed diver, Stephanie Mutz, who just returned from her own trip across the channel, are there waiting for the day’s haul. Most of Hooten and Liquornik’s urchins are offloaded to Catalina Offshore’s trucks to be processed and, eventually, shipped around the world. And while Hooten prefers the ease and reliability of working solely with a trusted processor, Liquornik and Mutz work together to directly market some of their live urchins to local customers at the Saturday Fisherman’s Market, which takes place right there on the dock, as well as to restaurants in both Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, including all three Hungry Cat outposts as well as Craft, Animal, Salt’s Cure, Eveleigh and The Lobster. spring 2013 | spensermag.com
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There is nothing formal between the two divers, “just a handshake and a tequila,” Mutz says as she laughs. But they both work to educate consumers about the unique product that is fresh, local red sea urchin. In addition to leading the charge on education and marketing, Mutz is an accomplished fisherman in her own right and the only female licensed urchin diver in the state. Some have even likened her to the celebrated female urchin and abalone divers of Onjuku, Japan. While she was working on her graduate degree in marine biology, she began deck handing on local fishing boats and began engaging in fisheries policy on the state level. Eventually, she turned to fishing full time. “I liked wearing heels one day and fins the next, but now I just like wearing the fins,” says Mutz. “So I just started fishing more. I get whelks, rockfish, sardines and mackerel. I also trap lobster and crab on the Ocean Pearl in addition to urchin diving on my own 20 foot panga boat.” Back on the dock, Hooten chats with the processor as the first of the day’s catch is weighed. While Woodcock hooks the next giant net of urchins to the dock’s hoist, Mutz and Liquornik laugh as they go over restaurant deliveries and her plans to staff the fisherman’s market the next day. Tourists and other curious onlookers take photos of the giant crates of still moving urchins sitting on the dock, no doubt to be posted on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. There is a jovial air amongst all involved. They know that they have a good day’s earnings coming their way. With the urchins offloaded, Hooten, Liquornik and Woodcock are back on the Airoso. They pull away from the loading dock to make way for another urchin boat that has come into harbor just as the sun begins to set. After a quick refueling stop, Hooten maneuvers the boat back to his slip to tie up for the night. The weather is looking good for tomorrow and the three make plans to meet back on the dock at sun up for another day out on the water.
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(Clockwise from top left) The trading floor of the Billingsgate A smoked (Clockwise from right, across both pages) Stephanie MutzMarket; selling urchins at fish purveyor; Marketgoers the Saturday Fishermen’s Market in Santa Barbara; Liquornik (left) and Hoochat during a coffee ten (right) relax as their urchins are unloaded; Woodcock takes great break; pains Marine Products, to ensure that every inch of the Airoso’s hold isSeahawk utilized; Liquornik (pictureda Billingsgateafter seafood distribuhere) and Hooten must fill out fish & game paperwork each dive. tor. Opposite Page (Clockwise from top right): The exterior of the Duke of Cambridge Pub, England’s first certified organic pub; Prepping food in the pub’s kitchen; One of the many talented chefs at Duke of Cambridge Pub, Geetie Singh.
Fresh Sea Urchin Everybody we spoke with in researching this story told us his or her first choice for urchin preparation was simply to eat it straight from the shell. It’s our favorite way too. So we asked David Lentz, owner and chef of the Hungry Cat seafood restaurants in Hollywood, Santa Monica, and Santa Barbara, for a few tips and tricks for cleaning urchins. Located here in Southern California, Lentz gets urchins hand delivered each week fresh from the boat by either Harry Liquornik or Stephanie Mutz. "The Santa Barbara sea urchin from our divers is the best,” says Lentz. “I know where the product is coming from, which is essential when you are dealing with something as perishable as fresh shellfish.” To keep them the star of the show, Lentz serves the fresh cracked and cleaned urchins at his restaurants with just a little sea salt and lemon juice.
Tools: sharp knife, kitchen scissors, spoon 1. Make sure that your sea urchin is fresh. Lentz says not to bother with anything that has been out of the water for more than 2 days. With the butt of your knife, tap the bottom of the urchin (beak side). You want to make a small hole so you can use your scissors to cut a good size circle in the bottom of the shell. 2. Once you have done this, carefully remove and discard as much of the black and brown insides as possible. There are 5 orange fillets attached to the shell, and that is what you want to remain. Try to get everything else out and once you have cleaned out as much as possible, take a little salted water and swish it around in the shell to rinse and clean. You can either serve the urchin right in the shell or remove the fillets and serve separately.
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Sea Urchin Linguini Adapted from a recipe by David Lentz This is a perfect recipe to introduce those friends of yours who may not be certain about their love of urchin. The tomatoes and peppers combine with the olive oil and urchin to make a luxuriously orange-hued pasta sauce that is perfectly balanced between sweetness, brine, and acidity. We like to think of this delicious dish as Intro to Urchin 101. Serves 5 30 sea urchin fillets 2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half 2 cups roasted red bell peppers, thinly sliced 3 cloves garlic whole + 2 cloves garlic minced 1 ¼ cups + 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil Juice of ½ lemon (1 ½ tbsp.) ½ cup fresh bread crumbs 1 lb. linguini Kosher salt Fresh ground white pepper ¼ cup chopped chives 3 dried chiles de arbol, thinly sliced
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. In a blender, purée 25 sea urchin filets, 1 cup of the tomatoes, 1 cup of the peppers, 3 whole cloves garlic, 1 ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice until completely emulsified. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Toast the bread crumbs in a non-stick pan set over medium heat with 1 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil until warm and crunchy, then remove from the heat and set aside. 2. When the water is boiling, add 3 tbsp. kosher salt to the pot and then cook linguini to al dente according to the package instructions. While the pasta is cooking, preheat 1 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil in a large hot sauté pan and then cook the remaining tomatoes and peppers and minced garlic along with the sliced chili, about three minutes. Drain the pasta and then add it to the sauté pan with the tomatoes, peppers and garlic. Turn on the blender for another 20 second to re-emulsify the urchin purée and then add the purée to pan with the other ingredients. Toss to cover the noodles with the sauce. To serve, divide the pasta among the plates and garnish with the toasted bread crumbs, chives and the remaining urchin fillets.
Uni Shooters As veteran divers, Harry Liquornik and Bill Hooten have seen it all when it comes to eating urchin. Always looking for new ways to enjoy the briny treasure, they’ve recently become focused on the idea of urchin or uni shooters. Harry is a silver tequila kind of guy so his shooter lends itself to a Mexican preparation. On the other hand, Bill, who prefers his beverages a little more sessionable, tends toward an Asian presentation with nigori sake and a little soy sauce. Either way, if you’ve had your fill of fresh urchin right from the shell and are looking for a little something to wash it down, Harry and Bill would say, “try a shooter.”
BILLY’S VERSION Makes 2 shooters 4 tbsp. nigori sake ½ tsp. simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water) ½ tsp. shiro (white) soy sauce ½ tsp. yuzu juice (optional) 2 large pieces uni (sea urchin) Minced chives 1. In a small glass, whisk together the first three ingredients until combined. Divide this mixture between two shot glasses. Place one piece of uni in each shot glass and garnish each with a few pieces of chive. [Editor’s note: avoid using Kikusui’s Perfect Snow Nigori sake for this recipe as the alcohol content is just too high and clashes with the other ingredients. We made ours with Hakutsuru's Sayuri Nigori.]
HARRY'S VERSION Makes 2 shooters 3 tbsp. silver tequila 2 tsp. simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water) 2 tsp. fresh squeezed lime juice 1 tsp. finely minced shallot 2 large pieces uni (sea urchin) Sea salt 1. In a small glass, whisk together the first four ingredients until combined. Divide this mixture between two shot glasses. Place one piece of uni in each shot glass and garnish each with a few flakes of sea salt.
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A BUSTLING KITCHEN RETAIL SHOP WITH THE ARTISTRY,
EQUIPMENT AND TOOLS TO MAKE CULINARY MAGIC
HAPPEN PLUS FUN COOKING CLASSES.
SHOP. LEARN. ENJOY. SHARE. CHARLESTON
194 East Bay St. Charleston, SC, 29401
200 N. Main St., #101 Greenville, SC, 29601
702 Cross Hill Rd, Columbia, SC 29205
by Cyndi Flores â€˘ photography by Hilary Kline
HIS IS A STORY ABOUT OUR FOOD AND COOKING INHERITANCE. It is about a gift that is equally individual and collective, both regional and worldly, and simultaneously timely and timeless. It’s about cookbooks and recipes.
Cookbooks and recipes can come from any community, be written about any cuisine, and cover any myriad of cooking traditions. But, there is something ineffably unique about the culinary identity and tradition of Lowcountry cuisine that drew us to Charleston and a cozy little store called Heirloom Book Company.
are collectable, heirloom recipes and heirloom fruits and vegetables.”
“Although we sell new cookbooks,” says Heirloom co-owner Carlye Jane Dougherty, “our main focus is the vintage cookbook, and we felt like heirloom was a word that spanned multiple worlds — heirloom books, things that
On those occasions, when an old cookbook, a vintage apron, or collectable cocktail set slips from one person’s treasure list, it sits waiting for another to delight in its capture at Heirloom.
For many in Charleston, cookbooks and recipe cards are clearly heirlooms, as meaningful and valuable as the family china or silver settings. They are passed down from generation to generation, like wooden cooking spoons or a In two short years, Heirloom has become a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. hub for chefs and home cooks alike, filled with book signings, suppers, and tasting events. “When I think of cooking heirlooms, I think The store’s shelves are organized by county about great southern recipes like in Edna or region while vintage and new cookbooks Lewis’ book, 'In Pursuit of Flavor,'” explains are spread on tables in a veritable reading Charleston attorney Marian Askins on a recent buffet. Comfortable chairs and a welcoming visit to Heirloom. “For wedding showers my atmosphere round out the store — making it mother would take my grandmother’s old a perfect place to explore old books for new handwritten recipe cards and give them as a gift to the bride.” ideas.
“We get books from all sorts of places,” says Dougherty. “We have a network of antique dealers we work with. And some mornings we get to work and people have left abandoned boxes of cookbooks outside our door. We don’t discriminate!” But, dealing mostly in vintage cookbooks means a shopper needs to be ready to seize the treasure when they find it. Bill Bowick, co-owner of Charleston’s celebrated Sugar Bakeshop, doesn’t hesitate to admit a sliver of remorse from his first visit to Heirloom. “There was a book on eating in bed, and one whole section was on peanut butter and crackers! I didn’t buy the book and I’ve regretted it ever since,” Bowick says. A few blocks from the shop sits the Charleston Library Society, one of the oldest cultural institutions in the South having been established in 1748. The library is a center for scholarly research and home to a small but precious collection of cookbooks (Clockwise from top, across both pages) Vintage aprons hang in the Heirloom Book Company’s front window; The shop’s main display area; Heirloom Book Company owner Carlye Dougherty (right) with employee, Jessi Davis. Following Page: (From left) Leighton Webb, co-owner of The FARMBAR in Charleston S.C., and Deux Puces Farm in Awendaw, S.C.; This cookbook was published in 1964 by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.
focused exclusively on South Carolina and Charleston. “Lowcountry cuisine is one of our most well-defined culinary subcultures of the South,” says John T. Edge, Director of Southern Foodways Alliance. “Cooks here understand that recipes are kind of a dowry that is passed down from generation to generation.” In the society’s collection, there are examples of cookbooks with recipes that date back centuries. One such book, "Two Hundred Years of Charleston Cooking," by Blanche Salley Rhett, is both a history and a compendium of early cooking in Charleston. Published in 1930, Rhett writes about the cooks of the past whose “cooking instinct knows no rules, no measures.” No measures indeed! In books from the 1870s to as late as the 1950s, it was not uncommon to find instructions like: “make very salt (sic),” “dress quail and season,” “make cream sauce” (with no cream sauce recipe 106 | spensermag.com | spring 2013
whatsoever in the book), coupled with vague measurement references like “a large hog head,” “of common size,” and “a pinch or so.” Another characteristic of early cookbooks is, of course, the absence of any temperature guidance since cooking was generally done over an open fire or in a wood stove. So for temperature references, we find “very hot,” “only a glimmer of light,” or “place pan in back where there is faint heat” as commonly understood or, perhaps, a skill developed over time. Rhett recognized the constraints of these earlier recipes, writing “to translate hunches, a fine mixture of superstition and real knowledge of cookery, into intelligent recipes is no easy task.” This “task,” however, is where a family’s cooking traditions are forged, with mother and daughter, father and son, working together in the kitchen to pass down the often nondescript recipes of generations past through hands-on preparation and repetition.
Perhaps the starkest difference between vintage cookbooks and those of today is seen in presentation. Early cookbooks have illustrations rather than pictures. In very early examples, the recipes tend to be presented in paragraphs, with no preceding list of ingredients and without listing steps. A self-professed sucker for an amazing illustration, Dougherty touts, “Imagery is really the key difference. The trend today is inspired by what Ina Garten did with her first Barefoot Contessa book, where one finds a recipe, a picture, and a recipe and a picture.” The Charleston Library Society’s cookbook collection, as one might expect, also has volumes of spiral bound community cookbooks. Many of these books do not include publication dates, but give great attention not only to the recipes and contributors, but also to the communities, churches, and causes they represent. These books often weave brief histories, poems, and sentiments of the time or of the purpose they represent in between the recipes.
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THE GIN JOINT When we decided to host a small tasting event in Charleston to showcase a few bites from the Lee Brothers new cookbook, we knew that folks would need a proper drink to wash everything down. We quickly turned to Joe Raya, co-owner of The Gin Joint, our favorite cocktail bar in Charleston, for help. The Gin Joint offers pre-prohibition style drinks alongside creative snacks and small plates prepared by Joe’s co-owner and wife, MariElena. MariElena and Joe met at the Culinary Institute of America and eventually found their way back to Charleston, MariElena’s hometown, to run her father's restaurant, Robert’s of Charleston, until he retired in 2010. They opened The Gin Joint four months later in the same location and they haven’t looked back.
Cornflower Fizz Recipe by Joe Raya
Joe didn’t have to look much farther than the picturesque gardens of Charleston for inspiration for this spring cocktail. The tiny blue cornflowers grow almost everywhere in the South. The flowers are picked, separated from the leaves, and then dried. These dried flowers, which can be purchased online from numerous botanical shops, are blended with sugar until everything becomes superfine (we go with 1 packed cup of the flowers to 1 cup sugar). Makes 1 cocktail 1 tbsp. cornflower sugar ¾ oz. lemon juice 2 oz. gin 1 egg white 1. Add all of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake hard until the egg is emulsified. Add ice to the shaker and shake hard again. Strain into a collins glass. Top with a splash of soda water.
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(Clockwise from left, across both pages) Cookbook author Matt Lee holding The FARMBAR coowner Tara Derr Webbâ€™s baby goat named Hush Puppy; Heirloomâ€™s vintage apron collection; The shop also offers a unique selection of vintage glassware and wooden cooking utensils.
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They capture tireless fundraising efforts for the victims of Hurricane Hugo, the senior citizens at Canterbury Retirement Community, the operations funds for schools such as Edisto Island Academy or Old St. John’s Church, and on and on and on. These community cookbooks are usually spiral bound of all sizes and quality with recipes for Saxaphash, Butter Lemon Pie, Fish Roe Salad, Blackberry Acid, Green Tomato Pie, Okra Pickle, Never Fail Pound Cake, Hog’s Head Cheese, Nana’s Bread Pudding, Mom’s Okra Soup, or Stoughton Bitters. The most famous of these community cookbooks is "Charleston Receipts" and its predecessor "Charleston Recipes" — both published by the Junior League of Charleston. The 376-page cookbook contains 750 “receipts,” along with traditional Gullah verses and sketches by various local artists. Despite being the oldest, continually published Junior League cookbook in the country (now in its 32nd printing), few substantial changes have been made to the original text but for a supplement, a revised index and a few dedications. In their new cookbook, "The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen" (Clarkson Potter 2013), authors Matt and Ted Lee retell the significance of these historical chronicles of Charleston cooking. Speaking specifically about "Charleston Receipts," Matt Lee bubbles with enthusiasm. “It has been such a rich trove of information
about Charleston, just because of its breath and specificity,” he says. “It’s a period piece from 1950, and a really interesting time in that century. It betrays all of the limitations of that period as well — the coming out of the depression, the racial disparities, everything about Charleston post-civil war is contained there, and yet it is still a living breathing book today.”
joked that they were bringing “fun and nerdy history stuff” to the kitchen, but it is so much more than that. While even the earliest cookbooks we found at the library society have snippets of history trapped in their brief introductions and recipe descriptions, the Lee brothers have turned this new cookbook into a cornucopia of food culture and history.
Lee also refers to the predecessor publication "Charleston Recipes," published by the Junior League in 1948. Recognizing the importance and overlap of both books, the Lee brothers focused hours of research for their own Charleston cookbook on these two treasures.
“For me and Ted it’s about having some meaning and also a tie to another time, to a story.” Lee says. “We feed upon stories as much as we do on proteins and fats and starches.”
“We really tried to figure out what the most important recipes are in there,” Lee says. “There were a few, a handful, that are just iconic recipes, recipes that almost every person who cooks in Charleston in the latter half of the 20th century knows by name, and so we’ve adapted those and we’ve told their stories.” But they didn’t stop with adapting a few recipes, Lee continues, “We dug deeper. We had an intern go through and on a spreadsheet quantify every single recipe in 'Charleston Recipes' and every single recipe in 'Charleston Receipts' and find the overlaps.” In so doing they translate common Charleston folklore to a historical presentation that can be shared with a broader reading audience. Describing the analysis of family contributors to "Charleston Receipts," Lee
Edge wholeheartedly agrees, observing, “Chefs today are evidence of the notion that you need to know your history to cook in the present day.” Yet, like the Lee brothers, Edge challenges a solemn reliance on heirlooms by pushing us to also look to the future. “The next generation of chefs is not going to just look to the past but to a present day, dynamic South. The South is not frozen in some kind of past, but is a dynamic culture that is evolving and chefs are beginning to interpret that dynamism, instead of preserving the past in amber on the plate.” The trick, we’ve come to learn, is to accept the gifts and guidance of the past and to grow with them. Search out your own family heirloom, find your grandmother’s old recipe cards, explore your library archives, or your own cookbooks and magazines and then go create an eatable record of your own.
Henry’s Cheese Spread Recipe by Matt and Ted Lee, from "The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen" (Clarkson Potter 2013) When Henry Hasselmeyer and his son-in-law, Walter Shaffer (pronounced SHAFF-er), opened Henry’s, a beer parlor at 54 North Market Street, in 1932, they served only beer and deviled crabs (see page 153), baked up by Hasselmeyer’s wife in their home on Ashley Avenue and delivered to the establishment on cookie sheets in a long black Packard. By the 1940s, Henry’s had evolved into Charleston’s most ambitious restaurant, with waiters in white jackets, steaks trucked in from the Kansas City butcher Pfaelzer Brothers, and the house’s own fanciful turns on local fish and shellfish: seafood à la Wando (named for a river north of Charleston), flounder à la Gherardi (named, it is variously said, for a rear admiral of the U.S. Navy who served in the Civil War, or for his son, a prominent engineer, who might have been a patron). Of all the elegant touches at Henry’s, which survived until 1985, when the family sold it, our favorite was the iced crudité dish set down on every table at the start of the meal. The plate, a simple steel oval, cradled celery, radishes, green cocktail olives, and an astonishingly good cheese spread. Some have likened this dip to pimento cheese, but it may have been more awesome, with the creamy-fiery thing of p.c., but torqued up by horseradish to a picklish, sinus-clearing intensity. It arrived on the table with little fanfare—it appeared nowhere on the menu but left a deep impression on people who loved Henry’s. This latter category included Albert Goldman, the late Elvis biographer, rock-and-roll critic, and frequent contributor to High Times — “the voice of the marijuana community” — who praised the cheese spread in his hilariously florid story about Charleston in a 1973 issue of Travel & Leisure. Walter Shaffer’s son, Henry, who graduated from the Citadel in 1950 and supervised the kitchen at Henry’s for several years in the fifties, loaned us the restaurant’s original recipe, typed on an old typewriter, calibrated for a commercial quantity. We’ve adapted it here for household use, although once you taste it, you may think we’re high for ratcheting down the quantity. It’s a fabulous spread for asparagus spears, radishes, carrot sticks, and crackers, to name a few. Or stir it into grits or fold it into an omelet! Makes 1 ½ cups 10 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (3 cups) 2 oz. (¼ cup) lager or ale Juice of 1 lemon (3 tbsp.) 2 tbsp. ketchup 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce 1 tbsp. prepared horseradish, drained 2 tsp. hot sauce, such as Tabasco or Crystal 1 ½ tsp. dry mustard 1 garlic clove, minced 1. Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture is smooth and spreadable. Transfer to a small bowl to serve.
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Kumquat-Chile Bloody Mary Recipe by Matt and Ted Lee, from "The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen" (Clarkson Potter 2013) One night in our Wentworth Street test kitchen, we got an urge to buzz up local kumquats with some fresh chiles to make a hot sauce. And then it hit: what we were doing was re-creating yuzu kosho, the hot and salty chile paste made from chiles and the rind of the Japanese citrus fruit yuzu. We had traveled to Japan a few years previously to search for the grave of our mother’s grandfather, a silk trader who died in 1923, in the Great Kanto earthquake. While there, we discovered the beguiling yuzu kosho—a couple dots on a hearty soup, served with an oily fish like hibachi-grilled mackerel, or in a ceramic pot on a table in a pork-only restaurant (they have those in Japan). In Charleston, we use our “kumquat kosho”—kosho means “pepper”—as we would hot sauce, dabbed on chilled shrimp or sunny-side-up eggs, and in this fiery, delicious brunch cocktail.
1. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. 2. Remove the pithy flesh from each kumquat half with a pinch and a pull, and discard. Lay the kumquat hulls and the pepper pieces on a baking sheet lined with foil. Turn off the oven, put the tray on the middle rack, and close the oven door. Let sit for 10 minutes to partially dehydrate the peppers and kumquats. 3. Remove the sheet from the oven. Chop the peppers and kumquats coarsely, then add both to the bowl of a food processor and process, scraping the sides with a spatula if necessary, until the kumquat is mostly purée and the pepper is reduced to flakes, most of which are smaller than a grain of rice. 4. Transfer the mixture to a small glass jar such as a spice jar, add the salt, and blend with a small spoon. Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight for the flavors to meld. Use judiciously as you would a flavored salt. (The paste will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month.)
Kumquat Chile Paste is a natural ingredient for adorning a Bloody Mary: its peppery heat hits the high notes with the horseradish, the saltiness suits the savory personality of the beverage, and the zesty citrus works beautifully to round off the edges in the tomato base. Makes 2 cocktails 2 cups tomato juice 4 tsp. Kumquat Chile Paste (recipe follows) or yuzu kosho 4 tsp. fresh lemon juice 1 tsp. prepared horseradish ¹⁄ 8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 1 rib of celery, cut into a few sticks 1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Combine the tomato juice, chile paste, lemon juice, horseradish, and pepper in a pint glass. Pour the mixture into the shaker and then back and forth a couple times to mix and chill the drink. 2. Fill 2 large tumblers with ice and strain the mixture into the glasses. Garnish with 2 or 3 celery sticks.
Kumquat Chile Paste For our blend of “kumquat kosho” we use jalapeño peppers because we adore their flavor and ubiquity (and mild heat, at least in the grocery-store varieties). Red jalapeños make the prettiest paste if you can obtain them, but the standard green looks great, too. Throw in a habañero for good measure if you want to push the heat quotient to the limit. Makes ½ cup (enough for about 12 cocktails) 4 oz. kumquats, halved lengthwise 6 red or green jalapeño peppers, stemmed and seeded 1 ½ tsp. kosher salt or medium-coarse sea salt
spring 2013 | spensermag.com
Pickled Shrimp with Fennel Recipe by Matt and Ted Lee, from "The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen" (Clarkson Potter 2013) We can hear it now: What? Fennel? Fennel’s not Southern! One of the more thrilling aspects of delving into the history of agriculture in South Carolina is that you discover vegetables you’ve never heard of—anybody up for roasted tanya? — and you learn about a few others you might not have perceived to be “Southern.” Eggplant, salsify, and yes, fennel, to name a few, have in fact been grown in the Charleston area since the eighteenth century. We owe much of our understanding of Charleston’s veggie past to David Shields, a bow-tied American Studies professor at the University of South Carolina, and a Renaissance man of the highest order (he happens to be an expert on early Russian piano music and still photography from the silent film era). As we eagerly await publication of Shields’s magnum opus on vegetables and grains of the South, The Taste Shall Rise Again, he has shared with us more than a dozen draft passages, in which we’ve learned all kinds of cool stuff, such as that in the early 1700s, farmers south of Charleston attempted large-scale commercial olive-oil production. And that when that experiment failed, sesame oil became the salad dressing oil of choice in Charleston in the 1730s. The trade in the oil was so brisk that an export market for it developed, and a commercial sesame oil press was built in Charleston. History aside, pickled shrimp and fennel are perfectly complementary. After all, we often encounter fennel’s close cousins, dill (or dill seed) and celery (or celery seeds), in many preparations of this classic hors d’oeuvre. Served in a bowl for self-service with toothpicks, pickled shrimp may also be a passed hors d’oeuvre on a plate if you use the sturdy bamboo picks found in many party stores these days. One of the advantages of this recipe is that the marinated fennel pushes the pickled shrimp into the cold-salad realm: it’s easy enough to strew several of the shrimp and strips or rings of the fennel over butter lettuce to create a pretty appetizer salad. 1 tbsp. + 1 ½ tsp. kosher salt 2 lbs. large (21 to 25 count) shrimp, peeled & deveined ½ cup white wine vinegar 1 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 7 lemons) 1 small fresh bird or serrano chile (green or red), sliced very thinly on the bias 1 tsp. sugar 1 small white onion, thinly sliced 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced 1 tbsp. chopped fennel fronds ￼ 1. Fill a medium stockpot with 2 quarts of water, add 1 tablespoon of the salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. When the salted water boils, turn off the heat, add the shrimp, stirring them once or twice to distribute them, and cook until uniformly pink-opaque and just done, about 1 minute. With a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to the ice bath. Reserve 2 cups of the shrimp-cooking liquid in a medium bowl. 2. With the slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a plate lined with a double thickness of paper towels. (Don’t dump the ice bath yet!) Add the vinegar, lemon juice, and chile to the bowl with the shrimpcooking liquid and whisk in the remaining 11⁄2 teaspoons salt and the sugar until dissolved. Set this bowl of brine in the ice bath (add more ice to the bath if needed), and whisk until the liquid cools to room temperature. 3. Dump the ice bath and use the cold large bowl to toss the shrimp, onion, fennel slices, and fennel fronds. Pour the cooled brine over the shrimp. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour, tossing once, until chilled and ready to serve. (Pickled shrimp will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 days.)
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TRADITION: The Ancient Art & Modern Practice of Cultivating Fresh Wasabi
by Brendan Lynch photography by Mikka Tokuda-Hall
FOR 1100 YEARS RUNNING, Japan has had a near monopoly on the cultivation of fresh wasabi. Wasabi's origins are evident even in its scientific name – Wasabia
japonica. Indigenous, both culturally and botanically, wasabi is too rarely appreciated in its fresh form outside of this island nation. Looking and tasting
nothing like the wasabi paste most commonly experienced as a sushi condiment,
fresh wasabi has a complexity in both production and flavor that conspire to keep it an elusive and expensive ingredient.
Fresh wasabi evokes idyllic imagery of lands untouched by the hands of time. The famed Daio Wasabi Farm dotted with water wheels and featured in a Kurosawa film comes to mind, as do the small mountainside wasabi terraces downriver from the picturesque Joren waterfall on Japan’s Izu Peninsula. Harvested from misty waters and then ground on a sharkskin grater with a deliberateness of purpose, wasabi is a romantic ingredient free from implications of technology and progress. High in demand and limited in quantity, production of wasabi in the United States was, until recently, a near impossibility. Modernity, man, and markets would, of course, expand the reach of fresh wasabi, placing the plant’s historical lore in direct conflict with globalization.
Most experience what they know to be wasabi as a bright green ball of paste artfully arranged with ginger, sushi, and soy sauce. This is wasabi in name only, a powder of dried horseradish, mustard, cornstarch, and food dye. Fresh wasabi, not surprisingly, has a substantively different taste and texture; with less of the churning hotness of mustard, but rather a quickly dissipating heat that in a few breaths turns to a pleasant vegetal sweetness. Wasabi opens both the sinuses and the palate smoothly complementing
the subtle nuance of the raw fish and vinegared rice it so ably accompanies. Its piquancy is measured in minutes; its freshness imperative. Not surprisingly such a delicate ingredient deserves more than a watery reconstitution from powder; it must be peeled and then grated. In 1991, Roy Carver â€“ considered the godfather of North American wasabi production â€“ smuggled a handful of wasabi cultivars from Japan, bringing them to a coastal farm in Florence, Ore. It took five years of research, but Carver
eventually cracked the code, harvesting his first mature wasabi rhizomes in 1996. Unfortunately, the cost of Carver's stateside production was just too high. After six years of successful cultivation, he made the business decision to cease growing operations and, instead, import cheaper Chinese grown wasabi, processing it into a frozen paste that is sold in tubes. Traditional wasabi cultivation requires a very specific climate found in few spots on earth. Growers need cool continued on page 114
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USING AND STORING FRESH WASABI Fresh wasabi is sporadically available in a few select Asian grocery stores in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. However, your best bet for finding the fresh product is via mail order from Pacific Coast Wasabi, currently the only North American grower selling fresh wasabi. Award-winning cookbook author Diane Morgan provides tips for storage and preparation in her latest cookbook, "Roots," a go-to guide for all things grown underground (Chronicle Books 2012). She recommends wrapping the fresh wasabi in damp paper towels and storing them in the refrigerator. So long as you rinse the wasabi in cold water every few days, Morgan notes, the wasabi pieces will keep for up to three weeks. Whole wasabi can also be frozen for up to six months, but Morgan cautions not to thaw before grating. To prepare wasabi, Morgan writes, scrub the root to remove any remaining dirt. Carefully trim off a layer of the brown peel, exposing the green flesh. Using a fine-tooth grater â€“ a porcelain ginger grater is a suitable substitute for the more traditional sharkskin grater â€“ grate the flesh in a circular motion while holding the wasabi perpendicular to the grating surface. Gather the grated wasabi into a ball and let stand for approximately 10 minutes to allow the flavor to develop. Morgan notes that any unused portion of the rhizome should be rewrapped in the wet paper towel and returned to the refrigerator. In addition to using fresh wasabi as a traditional accompaniment to sushi, we like to use grated wasabi on raw oysters on the half shell (with a squeeze of lemon), mixed into a compound butter and served on top of steaks, and mixed into Dungeness crab salad with a little citrus, chive and avocado. spring 2013 | spensermag.com
temperatures – high 40s to low 60s – with lots of shade, high volumes of cool water – between 54 and 59 degrees – with high relative atmospheric humidity, near neutral soil, and no direct sunlight. To complicate matters, wasabi rhizomes grow very, very slowly, taking as many as three years to reach maturity. Prone to pests, fungi, mildew, mold, rust, slugs, aphids, and bacterial disease growing wasabi is extraordinarily difficult. Finding land similar in climate to a cool, shaded, mid-mountain Japanese forest with an icy brook babbling by helps, but even that is not much of a guarantee of financial success. Cultivating wasabi in North America requires serious science. While Roy Carver worked to master wasabi growing using green houses and irrigation techniques to mimic the Japanese topography, Dr. Brian Oates, President and Chief Science Officer of Pacific Coast Wasabi, found himself with cultivation questions of his own. A botanist at the University of British Columbia, Oates approached wasabi production from an academic angle. His main focus was to figure out how to grow wasabi without using massive quantities of water. After many years developing and fine-tuning his growing methodology, Oates says that his network of co-operative growers in British Columbia, Michigan, Washington, and Oregon, have freed themselves from the rigidly restrictive growing areas previously required for successful cultivation. Oates acknowledges that he spent a great deal of time and effort to translate and analyze old Japanese texts on wasabi growing. Ultimately, however, he achieved success cultivating wasabi by turning away from the past and, instead, relying on a research intensive process similar to what agricultural scientists might use on more traditional crops. “In a nutshell, we relied on science to solve our early growing problems,” Oates says. Despite a natural academic collegiality, however, Oates keeps
his secrets close to his vest. Pacific Coast Wasabi’s exact growing methods remain confidential and so too do their plans for expansion. As for quality, their wasabi is frequently snapped up by Japanese expatriates here in the states and is used by renowned chefs like Masaharu Morimoto and Andrew Carmellini. Oates’ proudest moment, however, was when he first saw his North American wasabi being imported back into Japan for sale on the Japanese market. “The news of the positive response from the Japanese public was wonderful, but it also tempered our resolve,” he says. “There was still a business to build.” Oates remains mindful of his company’s place in a highly competitive market operating on razor thin margins. When pressed he is admittedly, albeit cautiously, optimistic offering praise to his dedicated co-op of growers including Markus Mead and Jennifer Bloeser, owners of Frog Eyes Wasabi in Oregon. Mead and Bloeser were drawn to growing wasabi by dint of its challenge and the act of growing something uncommon, evidenced by an unsuccessful years-long effort to grow olives in the damp northwest. Well aware of the difficulties of growing wasabi they contacted Oates who was receptive to the idea because of the farm's location and climate. Years later, with success under their belt, Mead’s enthusiasm for fresh wasabi is fervent and unalloyed. “Having Chef Morimoto request our wasabi was reinforcing and unbelievable,” Mead says, while quickly adding that his passion for wasabi isn’t limited to culinary applications. “One of the allures of growing wasabi is its health benefits,” he explains. “There is a feeling of altruism at the end of the day.” Both Mead and Bloeser are aware that their physical setting could not be more different from the traditional Japanese farms. The
greenhouses on the Frog Eyes farm are in stark contrast to the riverbed terraces near the Joren falls. But the consolation comes in hearing from Japanese chefs who say their product is equal in quality to the wasabi grown in Japan Ultimately, it is that feeling of pride that comes from growing this unique plant which connects Oates, Mead, and Bloeser to the generations of Japanese growers who came before them. There is, despite the obvious differences in methods of production, an invisible kinship. As Mead says, “The human must be connected by hand to the harvest. No matter where wasabi is grown, the plant is appreciated for what it is.”
(Clockwise from top, across both pages) Freshly peeled wasabi, ready for grating; Wasabi is the traditional condiment for sushi, in this case Spanish mackerel (aji); The 110 year-old Amagi Tunnel on Japan’s Izu Peninsula; The small riverside shack where this farm’s wasabi is sold; An old soda bottle is left behind on the farm’s fenceline. Previous Spread: (Clockwise from top left, across both pages) The surrounding forest, with many cedar and maple trees, provides the dense shading needed for growing wasabi; A small shrine on the path down to the wasabi farm from the waterfall has been covered in stickers by visitors; The scenic Joren Waterfall is a short walk from the wasabi fields; Under each small bunch of leaves grows a fresh wasabi rhizome; The icy waters of the Kano River (left) give life to the growing wasabi (right).
b.y.o.b. - top with cinnamon Meet Izy Hossack, the 17-year old publisher of the London-based food blog, Top With Cinnamon. Izy is an avid baker who learned much of what she knows in the kitchen from her Italian-American “mum.” She loves baking, cooking, crafts and fashion but also points out that she is a complete computer and chemistry nerd. Upon discovering the wonderful world of online food writing, Izy spent a few years learning from her favorite blogs until she felt comfortable enough to start whipping up her own crazy ideas. Just a few weeks ago, we had the chance to chat with Izy about her deliciously prolific blog, her creative baking, and her love of .gifs.
SPENSER MAGAZINE: What is it about baking that first interested you over other forms of cooking? IZY HOSSACK: Baking allows me to use both parts of my personality, my scientific side (with all the measuring, timing and methods) and my creative side (there are so many variables, that the possibilities for creations are literally endless). I find that with most forms of cooking, I can follow a list of ingredients and make up the quantities and methods and it'll be great; with baking you have to be precise and you can't mess with the recipe unless you know what you're doing. Plus, with baked goods - you can spend an hour baking a batch of cookies that you can enjoy for a week, but with cooking you can spend 3 hours making a meal that's devoured within 30 minutes. That, and cookies make you more friends than pasta. SM: How did you get comfortable using your creative side in baking, given the need for precision? IH: I think that over time, you get a 'feel' for baking. You learn what will mess up a recipe, usually after some kind of experimental disaster, and that different recipes have different levels of flexibility. For example, macarons have a very low tolerance for change, but something like muffin batter is pretty resilient. It just takes time to understand what each ingredient is adding to a recipe to make it all come together. In chocolate chip cookies, the sugar isn't only there to provide sweetness; it helps the cookies to brown and gives them crisp edges and stops them from being dry and cakey. But certain sugars will give different effects; brown sugar for example will provide a chewier and more flavorful texture. SM: Are there any other ingredients that offer flexibility — like white v. brown sugar — that come to mind? And what do you tell others to encourage them to be more creative? IH: Try flour. The gluten in flour holds a dough together, and also helps to bulk up the dough. But, in many instances, it's quite simple to substitute up to 25% of the flour for another dry ingredient - say, cornmeal, ground almonds or cocoa powder. If you find the idea of messing around with a recipe too daunting, try taking flavor profiles or textures from other recipes you've tried, figuring out what is making that flavor/texture happen, usually via a particular ingredient or method, and use that in another recipe to make some kind of delicious hybrid. SM: Do you have any particular ingredients that you love to bake with; that you always keep in your pantry? IH: One of the 'must-have-at-all-times' ingredients for me is Maldon salt. It has such a great flavor and is perfect for sprinkling onto food - both sweet and savory - because the crystals are so thin and gorgeous! Another thing I always need around is pure maple syrup. I love to drizzle it onto pecan butter-slathered pieces of rye toast, finished with a sprinkle of Maldon and cinnamon, of course. There's also golden syrup. It has such a unique flavor, and is the only way I know of for making really sticky gingerbread. Since last summer, when I tasted the bittersweet chocolate chip cookie at Delancey (in Seattle), I have been smitten by super dark chocolate. There are always a few bars of Le Menier 70% dark chocolate tucked away in the freezer, ready to be chopped up into generous chunks, and folded into my favorite cookie dough. SM: Finally, tell us a little about how you got into using .gifs. Was the first one a happy accident? Do you have a favorite? IH: I think it started when I had just finished taking photos of some coffee hazelnut ice cream last year. I saw that it was melting and dripping, so I started taking a continuous series of photos, trying to get a photo mid-drip. I ended up with enough photos to make a short .gif. From then onwards, I've been pretty much addicted to making them, I even use the .gif style to make food videos that are a few minutes long. So far though, my absolute favorite has to be the one where I am pouring maple syrup onto a stack of pancakes. It's awesome because the camera captures it in so much detail, and as its a .gif, you can watch it over and over and over again!
Whole Grain Lemon-Poppy Seed Layer Cake Recipe by Izy Hossack For the Cake: ½ cup rolled oats 1 ²⁄ ³ cup whole wheat flour ¼ cup of wheat germ (or ¼ cup more oats) 1 tbsp. poppy seeds 1 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. baking soda ½ tsp. kosher salt ½ cup unsalted butter, melted 3 eggs ¾ cup granulated sugar 2 tbsp. lemon zest ²⁄ ³ cup buttermilk (or plain yogurt) For the Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting: 2 tbsp. lemon curd 1 tbsp. lemon juice 4 oz. cream cheese ¹⁄ ³ cup unsalted butter, softened 1 ½ cups powdered sugar 1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Oil two 8” round cake pans. Line the base of the cake pans with a circle of parchment paper, then oil the parchment and dust with flour. 2. Place the rolled oats into a food processor and pulse until fine. Add the oats along with the next 6 ingredients to a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Using a stand or electric mixer, combine the melted butter, eggs, sugar, lemon zest, and buttermilk. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir until the batter comes together. 4. Divide the batter equally between the oiled, lined cake pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until they appear quite darkly golden, and a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cakes rest in the pans for 5 minutes before running a dull knife around the edge of each pan, and turning them out onto a wire rack. Remove the parchment, flip the cake layers right-side up and leave to cool completely. 5. Make the frosting by thoroughly combining the first four ingredients together using a stand or electric mixer until smooth, at least 1 minute. Stir in the powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time, until completely combined. Refrigerate until needed, at least 30 minutes. 6. To assemble: Level the cakes by using a serrated knife to trim off any domed tops. Place the first cake layer onto a serving plate cut side down. Spread just under half the frosting onto this cake layer – leaving a margin of about 1” around the edge. Place the second cake layer on top, cut-side down and press on it slightly to secure. Spoon the rest of the frosting on top and, using a palette knife, offset spatula, or butter knife, spread the frosting to cover the entire top of the cake, teasing it all the way to the edges.
s "Now he was proving it again. Each time was a new time and he never thought about the past when he was doing it." - Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
- for Charlie and Jack -