Photographs and memories and potato salad

Photographs and memories and potato salad

Awkwardly slow-dancing to “Nights in White Satin,” bar hopping on Bourbon Street, and really, really, irresponsible adult chaperones. Food often evokes memories, of course. But in this case the memories were so elusive, and the food item so rarely cooked, the recollection took months to surface. It’s all the power of potato salad.

What does it mean to cook well?

What does it mean to cook well?

Anthony Bourdain asked the question. I read his book Medium Raw over the summer and got the impression he actually was really curious to know. There are an endless number of answers – love, fun, pride, posterity. As these things go, he and his publisher are holding a contest to see who comes up with the “best” answer. I read through many of the entries and was so interested to hear how cooking is so close to people’s hearts: Cooking to live better. Cooking as a metaphor for life. Cooking to carry on tradition and as a means of bringing people together. And also as these things go, I went ahead and came up with my own answer. It’s a tougher exercise than you might think, so it took me a while to come up with something that rang true. So here’s a link to my essay, the best answer I could come up with right now: Improvising the Way to Immortality....
Eating Well in Bright Light City

Eating Well in Bright Light City

Gusting winds ruffle the palm fronds on the Road to Mandalay. Inside, men in madras and women in minis saunter under oversized plastic breasts jutting from the walls toward the casino’s flashing neon lights and beckoning bells. I’ve spent only a combined total of four nights over the last ten years at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Hotel, but each visit – once I adjust to the sensory overload – has been a fabulous and delicious indulgence. Silver platters heaped with shaved ice, lobster tail, crab claws, oysters, and prawns next to the pool. Caviar popping in my mouth, tiny fishy bubbles, before the savory filet tip stroganoff at Red Square. Ahi ceviche tossed with jicama, pineapple, and red onion heaped in a paprika-rimmed martini glass at Border Grill. Salty white anchovies swimming on top of crunchy peppery romaine before the duck fat fries at Strip Steak. Corned beef from Canter’s Deli before a nap in the room. I see that tonight’s Miss Universe pageant is being held in Bright Light City at the Mandalay Bay. Almost certainly, the contestants are nibbling on celery sticks and grapes in their suites hoping to look perfect and svelte in their bathing suits (is there still a bathing suit competition, anyway?) Perhaps after the festivities the ladies and their stylists will slip into something with a forgiving waistband and take themselves out for a proper celebratory meal – there are certainly a number of places to eat well. Here are a few: Rick Moonen’s rm seafood Michael Mina’s Stripsteak Burger Bar Aureole Restaurant China Grill Fleur de Lys Stripsteak menu Shanghai Lily Raffles Cafe Border...
The Moveable Skillet: Cabana Cuisine

The Moveable Skillet: Cabana Cuisine

Beach time is ordinarily tromping down the stairs to the sand lugging boards, towels, and unopened turkey jerky to share. So on these rare, rare occasions when the novelty and luxury of the cabana beckons, I’m afraid I’ve taken advantage. Pitchers of iced tea and caesar salads (Santa Barbara), pitchers of iced tea and margaritas with chips and guacamole (Cancun), and pitchers of iced tea with platters of cold shellfish and a bottle of bubbly (Las Vegas). Cabana cuisine must be tough to do well, limited to only to the hardiest of dishes. Today at La Costa I drank a pitcher of iced tea as we nibbled our way through a plate of what was called “tropical fruit skewers” but were, in reality, melon and strawberry and blackberry. The fruit was fine, but I think cabana life is really just all about the iced...