January 15, 2013
I’m back from California to dreary, rainy Paris.
I know. I have no right to complain. But my two-and-a-half weeks in LA really highlighted the differences between my two cities, and what I had taken for granted while living in Santa Monica. Also what I have been missing here, more than 70° weather in January.
And but so I’ve decided (not resolved; I don’t do that) to do more things like this: invite a friend over for a simple lunch of roasted chicken, perhaps pepped up a bit with spice. Because what I’ve been missing here more than anything else is a sense of community. The kinds of friends who you don’t have to make elaborate dinner plans to see. Just come over. We’ll watch some things on YouTube and drink wine and eat too much.
November 9, 2012
I’ve been craving fried chicken for weeks. The problem is, I know that a proper fried chicken involves buttermilk, and I didn’t know where to get buttermilk in Paris.
Sure, I could have used the usual trick of mixing a spoonful of vinegar into milk, but that’s really just an acidity adjustment. I wanted the actual flavor of cultured buttermilk. I was bemoaning my fried chicken-less state to a friend when she mentioned that some crepe places sell a drink called lait ribot, which tastes a lot like buttermilk.
I had known about lait ribot and seen it on some menus, and I knew that it was cultured, soured milk, but I don’t know why I didn’t connect it to what Americans call buttermilk. Well suffice it to say I immediately went to my fromagerie and asked if they carried lait ribot, to which the nice lady handed me a liter with a “… vous connaissez lait ribot?” I guess it’s an acquired taste here, too.
The problem with fried chicken is that usually, I want it now, but good fried chicken takes a day or so of prep. You let it sit in an herby, oniony brine that saturates the chicken, flavoring it all the way through and ensuring that the cooked meat will be perfectly seasoned and juicy.
Ruhlman’s brine is so simple and so effective — I’ve never had a more tender piece of chicken in my life, and it took so little effort that I’m tempted to use it on every piece of poultry I bring home. The breading here is exactly what you want from fried chicken, with baking soda that reacts with the buttermilk to create that fluffy, crackly lift and paprika and cayenne for a low buzz of spice. And of course, it’s excellent cold as well as hot out of the fryer.
August 11, 2012
Despite living in what feels like the restaurant capital of the world, Tim and I eat dinner at home most nights. I usually give him a choice between two or three things I’m thinking of making, I start cooking when he gets home from work, then we eat together in front of the TV with a glass of rosé or iced tea and an episode of Game of Thrones or, um, Futurama.
I think I like these nights best. Sure, I love tasting what the chefs have to dish out at fancy bistros, but what I like better is feeding people I love. Cuddling on the comfy couch with something hot and delicious, knowing I’m doing that most basic of things, providing sustenance for my loved one, feels intensely fulfilling.
June 25, 2012
We go through stunning amounts of hummus in this house. I don’t know how he got into the habit, but Tim eats the stuff with nearly every meal — for breakfast, with his eggs and toast. For afternoon snacks, with pieces of baguette. Sometimes as a side with dinner.