High on the list of the many things my mother does very, very well in the kitchen is pickling and preserving. During the summertime, my telephone conversations with my parents usually go something like this:
Me: What have you been doing?
Mom/Dad, triumphantly: We now have 27 quarts of blueberries from our own bushes!
We bought a bushel of tomatoes at the farmstand!
We picked three huge baskets of chanterelles!
And then later,
Your mother made the most incredible [insert] [jam/pickles/sauce/pie/vegetable tart/canned peaches/pears/plums]! Continue reading →
When I lived in Seattle, I had a chef friend who on slow Sundays would invite me to the restaurant while he developed new dishes. The restaurant was near the Pike Place Market, and on clear afternoons the sun shone from the west, glinting off of Puget Sound, illuminating and warming the timbers in the restaurant. I would get tipsy on prosecco or minerally white wine, and taste the nascent dishes. I only remember one thing I tried, but it made such a strong impression on me that I think about it still. Buttery yellowtail sashimi, studded with finely-sliced tiny golden pinwheels, crunchy flakes of salt, dots of basil purée, and extra virgin olive oil. It was the little iridescent pinwheels that threw me. They were deeply tangy, salty, and aromatic, with a concentrated, citrusy flavour that threw the taste of the rich fatty fish into relief. “What is this?” I asked. “Preserved kumquats,” he said. Continue reading →