Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Dinner Music

Tonight at Beck's concert at the Wiltern in Los Angeles, CA, stagehands brought out a dinner table replete with placesettings, then the band members put down their instruments to sit for a mid-show snack while their shaggy-haired troubador carried on with acoustic guitar and harmonica.

It was an odd sight for a rock show, but then again it followed live marionettes and a puppet cam.

During Beck's four solo songs, the five band members feasted on salad, a bowl of fruit, red wine and water in wine glasses until they could no longer resist the contagious groove and started using their utensils and serving vessels as impromptu percussion.

In contrast, the marionette mise en scene had the muppet band members eating what looked like fake pieces of red meat.

I plan to find out exactly what was served at the show through my industry insider connections. I'll be sure to report back.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Kristina's Famous Goat Cheese Guac

Who knew a pairing of goat cheese and avocado would yield such outrageous results! We had this rich, creamy guacamole-goat cheese spread as a prelude to our spanish/cali/mex BBQ fare at Jim & Kristina's house in Silverlake. Piquant and super savory, it elevates the avocado and takes your party guests by surprise.

Avocado Goat Cheese Spread

3 Ripe Hass Avocados
4 oz Goat Cheese (Crumbled if you can find it)
1 Lime
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Be sure to find ripe avocados that aren't overly mushy. Halve each avocado & remove the pit. Cut a crosshatch pattern into each avocado half and squeeze out the cubes into a bowl. Add the goat chesse. Add juice of 1/2 lime. Mush together by combining with a fork. Fold in 1 T. Olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. (Adjust the seasoning to your taste by adding more lime juice or olive oil as you see fit.) The spread should look very light green and almost whipped with occasional chunks of avocado and goat cheese.

Serve with Tortilla Chips or Flatbread.

Purslane, If You Please

This weekend, I found some perky little bunches of Purslane at the Hollywood Farmer's Market. I've been eager to make a Purslane Potato Salad recipe I saw years ago in Saveur magazine, but have since misplaced the issue (sadly).

Purslane is a green herb with ample, oval leaves and a mild bite. If Mache and Argula had a baby girl, they would name it Purslane. There's a chewy depth in its texture and it's visually appealing with abundant uniform leaves. Plus, Purslane offes an added bonus of being one of the most nutritionally rich leafy greens out there with vitamin E, vitamin C, beta carotene, protein and essential omega-3 fatty acids.

Culling from a few recipes online and my memory of the photo published in Saveur, I took a stab at my own version -- with excellent results.

Purslane Potato Salad

(Adapted from YankeeMagazine.com, WildManSteveBrill.com, and a fleeting memory of a Saveur article)

3 lbs Fingerling Potatoes, such as Russian Banana, Red Thumb, French Fingerling, Ruby Crescent
4 Baby Spring Onions (scallion size, thinly sliced)
2 Celery ribs, thinly sized on the bias
2 cups Purslane leaves

4 oz. Plain Yogurt
1 Heaping Tablespoon of Coarse Grain Mustard (Moutarde a l'Ancienne)
1 Tablespoon Sherry Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Boil the fingerling potatoes in salted water until tender. While they are cooking, combine the spring onions, celery and purslane leaves in a large salad bowl. Drain potatoes and run under cool water to cool down. Let potatoes rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes. Slice some fingerling potatoes in half lengthwise and some into 1/2-inch discs. Add slighly warmer than room temperature potatoes to the bowl. The heat of the potatoes should make the purslane leaves wilt a bit.

In a non-reactive bowl, place yogurt, mustard, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix with fork until well-combined.

Pour dressing into the salad bowl. Toss until ingredients are well covered. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, June 05, 2006

What Goes With Pink Champagne?

Or to be precise, the new release of Dom Pérignon's Rosé Vintage 1996.

In a near-improbable turn of events, we ended up attending the launch party for Dom's latest in Beverly Hills, CA, hosted by L'Hero himself, Karl Lagerfeld. It was a celebutante extravaganza at a posh BH pad with a kick-ass art collection featuring a couple of Damien Hirsts, a Luc Tuymans painting, a floor-to-ceiling Donald Judd sculpture, a Robert Gober sink, and a Jackie Kennedy painting by Warhol to name a few -- where pink Dom was flowing like water all night long.

So, to answer our question, what did go with the pink champagne that evening:
+ Salmon sushi layered with fresh ginger and a dollup of pink "spicy" sauce resting a top a generous square-shaped platform of tightly packed sushi rice
+ Chocolate chip wafers & white chocolate ice cream sandwiches
+ Shish-Kabobs (details fuzzy)
+ Stuffed lamb chops (stuffing unknown)
+ Seared tuna with julienned vegetables
+ Mini pizzas (toppings uncertain ... blame the bubbly)
+ Seafood curry with udon noodles

+ A-List celebrities: Karl Lagerfeld, Eva Herzagova, Beck, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Pierce Brosnan
+ B-List celebrities: Jessica Simpson, Courtney Love, Jared Leto, Roman Coppola, Brian Grazer, Jeremy Scott, Ben McKenzie, Kim Karshdanian
+ C-List celebrities: Maria Bello, Brittany Murphy, The Sparks, Devendra Banhart, Mickey Rourke, Vincent Gallo
Photo Hosted at Buzznet.com
Most memorable of course was the glistening fruit and crisp dry finish of the Rosé Vintage 1996. It's doubtful I will ever have access to that much Dom Perignon again.

Second most memorable was Karl and Lindsay Lohan's matching driving gloves. Or Karl and Paris Hilton's matching ponytails.

To gawk at more details of our evening, click on the below image to view our photo gallery on Buzznet: Karl Lagerfeld & Dom Perignon Party.
Photo Hosted at Buzznet.com

(Photos by Brett Cody Rogers)

Chardonnay Is Chav

It’s official. I’ve been trying to make a move from Chardonnay for some time now, but needed more reason than Teddy telling me how pedestrian it is. (As knowlegeable and convincing as Teddy is, it's really a question of me spending the time to get to know the other whites and not just dismiss them as too sweet.)

Recently Jake Miller presented another reason, declaring that "Chardonnay is Chav." Apparently it's trendy for Chavs (my fave new Brit slang term – see “When in London … Must Have Mutton”) to name their daughters Chardonnay after the character on Footballers' Wives.

My first step: At The Ambassador in Exmouth Market, Luke Wilson (the non-actor but discerning oenophile) introduced us to a vin de Savoie by Domaine Chignin. An exceptionally drinkable well-balanced light white that could very well take me away from Chardonnay.

For more (studied) answers, I will consult Alder Yarrow's formiddable wine blog, Vinography, recommended by Jefferson.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Samphire, Jewel of the Sea

There are always a few surprises when sampling menus in a foreign country. One of the best this time around was samphire, described by our waiter at Bistrotheque in Bethnal Green as “a spindly form of seaweed that tastes like spinach.”

What arrived, serving as a soft bed for the Poached Wild Trout, were long thin shoelacey greens sauteed in savory lemon oil and butter. These tender tendrils carry the sauce with a delicate saltiness.

(Photo by Brett Cody Rogers)