3.20.2011

South of the Border Surprise

Many years ago - perhaps almost 20 years - I went to San Diego to visit my college classmate David and his partner David (and naturally all their friends named David) for a week to escape the horrors of a New England 'spring.'

One of our outings included snorkeling in La Jolla, a small and elite village just to the north. There, we ate lunch at La Valencia, a resort hotel dubbed The Pink Lady. And pink she is! We sat outside and enjoyed whatever sandwiches we ordered - mine was most likely something featuring the local seafood. I do love my seafood! Our waiter, a kind man with just enough gray at the temples to be fatherly, asked if we were visitors. One yes, one no. "Will you be visiting my home town in Mexico while you are here?" he asked? David told him that we planned to go south beyond Tijuana the next day. "Well, then, you must go to my cousin's restaurant - he is the maƮtre d' at a fine French restaurant called El Rey Sol." "French?" we both inquired with a hint of curiosity in our voices? "Yes, French."

Our server then went on to share the story of how this restaurant came to be in the small seaside town of Ensenada, in Baja California. Her name was Donia Pepita and, in 1945 following the war, she traveled to France to study at the renowned Cordon Bleu. (I do hope I have all this correct - my memory is not what it used to be! But this will give you the idea...) She returned to Ensenada and, in 1947, opened El Rey Sol (The Sun King) on Avenida Lopez Mateos. It remains there today.

3.14.2011

A Package from Italy

While I did receive my kilo of Italian Pernigotti cocoa this week from ChefShop.com, the package of which I write today is a culinary preparation.  Salmone al Cartoccio.  According to my Italian-English dictionary, 'cartoccio' means 'paper bag' or, in a culinary usage, 'aluminum foil.'  I venture to guess that when recipes were created 'al cartoccio' for the first time, aluminum foil was not an option and paper was.

So I will be making the recipe using parchment paper, although it is equally as good with aluminum foil.  The only downside to the foil is that it does NOT make for an elegant presentation at the table.  There is something tactile and romantic about opening a paper package in front of you, whether is is a book to be read, a necklace to be worn or a meal to be shared.  It is fun to be surprised at what you see, smell and taste.  The plus side for aluminum foil is the "do ahead" factor.

3.05.2011

Purple: The New Orange

First, I must admit that today's recipe is an experiment.  It is not so much an experiment in taste as it is an experiment in color.  And it is one that may not work.  I say that now, as I write this post and the 'experiment' cooks.  The deciding factor will be the final photo.

I was in the 17th Street Market the other day.  For non-Tucsonans, this is a wonderful warehouse-style market with aisles and aisles of imported foods from around the world, and the largest walk-in vegetable cooler I have ever seen.  While looking for celery root, I spied some sweet potatoes.  And it is from these sweet particular potatoes that I titled today's post.  They are purple and not orange - although, having tasted them before, they taste very similar to their orange and yellow-fleshed siblings.