Thoughts On The Happiest Place On Earth

Cal-adventure

1. While meant for children and families it is still entirely possible to enjoy a day at the park as an adult.

2. I’m currently awaiting the memo announcing that yes, body aches and pains will be apparent after riding rollercoasters at this point in my life.

3. Happiest Place On Earth also has The Crappiest Food On Earth.

4. Number 3 is made worse after riding in seat behind José Andrés and family on the Matterhorn.

5. Happiness is discovering he’s jovial and seeing your Spanish guests freak out upon meeting him.

6. Happiest Place On Earth also has The Crappiest Food On Earth.

7. Man cannot survive on park churros alone but I did my best trying.

8. Overhearing a 17-year old typically blonde California teen in line in front of you describe her method of making homemade mustard “cuz it just tastes better” to her teen friends makes this man’s heart melt with happiness.

9. Happiest Place On Earth also has The Crappiest Food On Earth. Did I tell you that already?

10. Seeing Disneyland through the eyes of a first timer — be it age 2 or 27 — makes everything worthwhile.

Except that crappy food.

The Most Delicious Footwear

I'm currently hosting two lovely Mallorquinos for the next two weeks. Because they know my love of Spain and also because they're great adorable guys they arrived bearing gifts. But not just any gifts. Gifts from their home in Palma De Mallorca.

Ladies and gents, I give you the most amazing pair of Camper sandals EVER.

Camper

Yes, that's right. Pa Amb Oli shoes. For the uninitiated, that's a photo of bread that's been rubbed with a sliced tomato, olive oil, and topped with ham, cheese, olives, and just about anything else you want to add.

I've never had a pair of shoes make me so utterly hungry.

Alfajores and thanks

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So yea, I did this thing this morning with this pretty groovy gal, maybe you saw it? And I'm really just too speechless over my day of friends and All Things Martha (YOU ROCK, DEB!) so I'll be back very soon to talk about it.

But in the meantime I've already had a few emails about the recipe I made today on Martha's show. Rather than make you hunt it down I want to direct you to the Martha Stewart web site where you'll find the cookie recipe.

Wow, what an amazing day. Thank you!

Oh, you're keeping up with Martha and her blog, aren't you?

Nervous? Party of One?

TheMarthaStewartShow

I probably don’t have to tell you how much I love Martha Stewart, right? So I probably won’t have to tell you how thrilled I am to be a guest on The Martha Stewart Show’s 4th brand-spankin’-new season next Wednesday, September 17th.

Folks, Martha’s done all us blogging types proud by featuring an entire show about blogging! Join me, Deb of Smitten Kitchen, Perez Hilton and Margaret Roach of A Way To Garden for what’s bound to be a very interesting hour of television.  And please, when I stand there in front of a camera and freeze from the nerves and excitement of it all, will you please please please go easy on me? Don’t poke fun. Well, not too much. Please?

Check your local listings for exact showtimes. And don’t miss the Season Premiere on Monday direct from Martha’s house.

See you soon!

Down The Hatch

Down-the-hatch-illustration

Many years ago in another life I was an art director for Whole Foods Market. It was a fantastic job for a great company, and I joked that I actually got paid to make things pretty. I suppose I still do even though a few detractors might fault me for going through my green phase (pms 365 and 368 were evvvverrrrywheerrrree and no Meg, I wouldn’t have noticed I was overusing it until you pointed it out, thankyouverymuch).   The company was growing and opening stores all over and as a result I spent a few weeks in Santa Fe, New Mexico working on a new location.

During that trip one of my co-workers suggested we drive out and experience a Green Chile Cheeseburger. All you have to say is burger and I’m down for a food adventure, but little did I know this burger would remain in my memory for over 10 years.  She took us to the Bobcat Bite, a small outpost on Old Las Vegas Highway that’s been open since 1953.  It was so utterly fantastic and perfect and I felt like I stumbled onto a movie or music video set. My co-worker Polly commanded us to order the green chile burger and of course the entire table obliged.

And that’s where I first tasted this masterpiece.

I don’t know if you’re one of those types of people that need a burger piled high with everything in order to enjoy it. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? Bacon, swiss, avocado, lettuce, mustard, mayo, pickles, relish, secret sauce, an onion ring, another pickle, grilled onions, raw onions, I could go on. Hey, I love a fully decorated burger like the next guy but there are moments where less is more. That’s why I found this burger — only beef, bun, cheese and green chile — utterly perfect.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I went to hear two Hatch Chile experts from the New Mexico Department of Agriculture give a quick demonstration at Melissa’s Produce in Vernon, California (oh Vernon, what a strange strange place you are) and discovered that Hatch Chiles don’t always come from a little can at the supermarket. In fact, they’re extremely seasonal, available for a short time of the year (as in RIGHT NOW!) and the subject of chile roasts, festivals, parties and get-togethers. I love peppers in all forms and usually reach for Anaheims in my recipes (which is actually the grandson of the Hatch!) but when it comes to peppers I have learned why Hatches can’t be beat.

So, let’s see: more even heat, thicker walls, edible seeds, unmatchable fresh, green chile flavor, the best rellenos, easy to roast and skin, the list goes on. And armed with this information and pepper availability I figured now was as good time as ever to try my hand at the burger that has lived in my memory for all these years.

Plain-and-grilled-hatches

I took a few peppers, roasted them over a flame until black and charred, and then put them in a bowl covered with saran wrap. They went into the freezer for a few minutes as I learned that cold peppers are easier to peel than warm.  Once peeled and all the bits of burned skin were removed I chopped them, seeds and all but minus the stem, into tiny little pieces, placed them on a burger and voila! My own little Green Chile Cheeseburger made with some of the most delicious chiles I’ve ever tasted! And pardon the pun but this burger went down the hatch in about 2 minutes. Ok, maybe one minute. I won’t lie.

Don’t you just love simple recipes?

(And contrary to what many people believe, the heat of a Hatch lives in the fruit’s walls, not the seeds. They’re edible!)

The Padrone Zone

Padron-Opener

Sometime last year (or even this year, I forget) I got the nicest email from a reader. Our emails back and forth revolved around peppers and recipes to which he asked if I had ever tried Padrones. Or, Pimiento de Padron, to be correct. I replied that I hadn’t, heck, I have never even heard of them but boy do I love me some peppers. He then went on to tell me how delicious they were, so small and flavorful, with a mild flavor and super soft texture. He does what I’ve come to learn many tapas lovers do (these babies are from Spain, after all): quickly fry in olive oil, remove, sprinkle with salt and enjoy.

Devour, rather.

Anyway, my new friend and pen pal Gary said that he grows them and when he’s got a few on the plant he’d send some to me. I was bowled over by the generosity and have learned never to say so to 1) a new taste and 2) anything anyone grows. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about gardeners, farmers and recreational greenthumbs it’s that they are some of the nicest, friendliest and most giving people ever. Besides, I couldn’t really imagine a stingy selfish grumpasarus taking time to tend and grow anything other than a bad attitude.

Gary kept me updated on the little plants — when they started to grow, when peppers appeared, when the little green things would be ready, everything. And then I came home from work on Friday and found a box on my doorstep. I knew exactly what they were and wasted no time in getting myself into the Padrone Zone.

Padron-Cook-&-Eat

A handwritten note said to heat some oil, fry the soft, supple gems for 2 minutes or so, letting them turn color, burn, even split right open. And so I did. And when that was done I sprinkled them with sea salt and literally inhaled one of the most beautiful, delicious new flavors I have never experienced. I gave one to Adam — ONE — and not because I was being stingy but because I simply ate them all, right then, right there. He said it was the best, softest part of the mildest of anaheims or hatches with a subtle green flavor and I tend to agree. It was so completely delicious and wonderful and I have Gary to thank.

So Gary, THANK YOU! Luckily I saved a handful for today so that I could photograph them. They went down even faster than Batch Numero Uno.

I may try my hand at growing some or quickly ask around to see where I can find them. I’ve never once seen them at my farmers’ market but a quick google search says they can be found. I’m a man on a mission now for sure.

All thanks to Gary!

Coming up: More peppers. I’m hatchin’ it up.

When Seasons Collide

My apologies. If you’ve tried to reach me by calling, emailing, texting, smoke-signaling, mental-telepathing or paper-airplaning over the past week then you’ve no doubt reached my busy signal.  And you will continue to get my answering machine for a few weeks longer as this is a splendidly busy time of the year for me. I’m not gonna bore you with the details, but I’m currently cramming three holidays into one and preparing for a very special Spaniard and his partner to come visit. And because he doesn’t read English I can say this very safely: I’m putting him to work when he gets to Los Angeles and plan on sharing his family recipes with you. With his blessing, of course.

Even though it’s been crazy I still managed to make it to my farmers’ market on Sunday morning to stock up and also get some beautiful fruits and veggies for a shoot. And as I walked through the stalls and chatted with folks I remembered how amazing this time of year actually is. It’s probably some of the best summer produce we’ve seen all season along with trickles of what autumn has to offer. It’s when new crop apples share space with super sweet corn, where plums practically burst before disappearing until next year. And it’s a great time to cook, allowing you to take advantage of the bounty.

It’s like Mother Nature’s Two-For-One sale.

I’ll be back shortly, I promise. And in the meantime enjoy some photos from this weekend (except the apples, those were taken last year but if you’re like me you’re pretty excited about the new crops!)

Radicchio-web

Mushrooms-web

Apples-web

Plums-web

Grapes-web

Sage-web