Homemade provel cheese

Homemade provel cheese

  True story: St. Louis-born in a decidedly un-foodie time, I did not know that provel and provolone were two different cheeses until after I had moved to California and was married with a baby. Really. I had a sudden taste for one of those delicious house salads we used to get from Talayna’s back when there was only one enormous and dirty location in DeBaliviere, before it got all prettied up and moved. The salad was an enormous mound of iceberg lettuce with a few Greek olives, cherry tomatoes, croutons, and delicious gooey tubes of provel cheese, all tossed together with the house dressing, a garlicky creamy Italian that my BFF assured me her mother said was very close to Marie’s. I can’t find a picture of it, but here’s a similar salad from Leo’s Pizza in Kansas City that will give you the idea: I made the salad that night with provolone and was disappointed. Where was that soft, gooey cheese I craved? I confessed to LL being confused that the provolone in California was so – different from my midwestern cheese. “But we called it provel,” I reasoned. “Maybe there’s some difference.” And that’s when I learned they’re two completely different cheeses. “Provel is like Velveeta,” he informed me. It’s processed. It’s not even cheese. I’ve never seen it around here.” To this day, I have no idea how my native California-husband knew about provel 22 years ago when just 2 years ago even Anthony Bourdain hadn’t. He just knows things, it’s his superpower. So I moved on and found other cheeses, and for all these years provel was just...

Anthony Bourdain’s Jimmy Sears is really John Tesar

In Top Chef Seattle Episode 9, Past Suppers, self-proclaimed Most Hated Chef In Dallas John Tesar talks about that he hired Anthony Bourdain in the 80’s and introduced him to Eric Ripert. Not only that, but he’s also the real-life Jimmy Sears from Anthony Bourdain’s fast-pace, groundbreaking book Kitchen Confidential. Courtesy of Bravo and Ecco / HarperCollins, here is an excerpt from the book so you’ll know exactly how Bourdain felt about Tesar. Read it and then go and buy the book. I met Steven at the Supper Club. It was 1993, my return to the “bigs.” I’d been working for Bigfoot at his West Village saloon, comfortable but in career limbo. I took a few weeks off to kick back in the Caribbean, and when I returned, I found a down-on-his-luck Jimmy Sears in Bigfoot’s kitchen. Bigfoot had been eating dinner at the Gotham recently and had experienced some kind of culinary epiphany. Suddenly, he wanted a real chef, and Sears, whose restaurant in the Hamptons had just gone under, was sleeping on floors around Manhattan, dodging creditors and ex-girlfriends, and in general going through a rough patch—prime time for a Bigfoot recruiting effort. Jimmy was a brilliant cook. He’d come up with Brendan Walsh at Arizona 206, and the food he turned out in his brief time working the Bigfoot mines was so good, I’d stay after my shift was over, sit at the bar and order dinner and pay for it. Seeing what Jimmy could do in the kitchen really inspired me; I’d been slinging hash for way too long, and tasting a real demi-glace again, eating new, exciting food, seeing...

Book spine poetry: the food edition

Kid One was quite amused to see me standing in the kitchen this morning, staring intently at books piled on the counters while “Appalachian Spring” played on the iPod dock. He thought it would make a great scene from a movie – I’m hoping he was imagining a romantic comedy of some sort, although knowing him, more likely it was the prelude to a zombie invasion. I was actually not auditioning for my son, though, I was trying my hand at book spine poetry, a concept introduced to me recently by Susan Bearman via Brain Pickings in honor of National Poetry Month. All you have to do is arrange a pile of books so that the titles say something poetic, profound, or perhaps preposterous. It would be a great party game if you had lots of books and a few nerdy friends. This morning I decided to handicap myself by choosing only food fiction or food fact books. There’s a collection spilling around the kitchen; I thought it would be easy. But turns out a shelf of titles starting with “The” and ending in “Cookbook” is a bit limiting, and try as I might I couldn’t figure out how to put “The Widow Cliquot” together with “A Goose In Toulouse” and “The Nasty Bits” without cheating. Here’s the first one I came up with: What Einstein Told His Cook: The Sweet Life in Paris Tastes of Paradise. Banana, Fruits & Vegetables, Nuts, Secret Ingredients, Spam. Are You Hungry Tonight? And then this more haiku-inspired poem: Pacific Feast From My Mexican Kitchen, Fish, Without a Doubt. Then I played around...
Unexpected treats

Unexpected treats

I’ve never personally met a durian but know them by reputation as the world’s stinkiest fruit, banned from certain public spaces all over Southeast Asia but with a dedicated fan base nevertheless. I even found a blog dedicated to durians, called, well, Dedicated to Durians. A friend visiting Bangkok brought a bag of durian chips for Kid Two to taste. He was pretty psyched and ripped the bag open in the car – we had recently watched No Reservations, Indonesia together so he knew what he might be in for. They were an unexpected treat, with the texture of a baked potato chip and a mild fruity flavor. We would eat them again. Here’s a bit of that No Reservations Indonesia, episode, in which Anthony Bourdain has his durian and eats it, too: embedded by Embedded VideoYouTube Direkt When live gives you durians, make...