Food & Drink

Festive Cooking: the Search for Authentic British Lasagne

On this ship I am Cook. Hence my activities on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter are customarily pretty well established. I may experiment with the stuffing, or we may find some exciting novelty, like Holy Smokes’ fabulous smoked turkeys, but that doesn’t bring any major variation in the drill. I’ve even grown more efficient over the years, so that’s it’s not particularly laborious anymore. In parallel with these prescribed actions, my mind spends Thanksgiving in a mildly crazed reverie of a nostalgic or wistful bent—at least it has been so since 2004, when, as I was readying to make my initial attack on the bird, the telephone rang, with a journalist at the other end, who asked if I would answer a few questions about an elementary school classmate of mine who was in the political spotlight at the time. The journalist seemed personable and serious, and I found myself happy to talk to him, the cordless phone cradled on my shoulder, as I seasoned the turkey and put it in the oven. He’d spoken to a good many others—school friends I remembered, others I’d forgotten…teachers as well, including our inspiring Latin teacher, Joe Agnelli, who helped set me off on a long voyage in Classical waters, the ancient world—the other hemisphere of history. The family thought I was crazy to talk on the phone like that, but there seemed no reason not to, as long as I had the use of my hands.

Some Outstanding Whites from France, Italy, Spain, and New Zealand

Sometimes I think I’m the only person in the room who likes white wine, but in this case we were outside celebrating a friend’s birthday in her charming garden on a small bluff overlooking the harbor. Someone came over and…
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First Cittaslow badge in North America goes to Cowichan Bay.

The slow food movement is on the move with the branding of Canada’s Cowichan Bay as the first “Cittaslow” community in North America. The Italian organisers, with scores of locations badged in Europe, intend to authorise the brand in many more places on this side of the Atlantic. The quaint fishing village on Vancouver Island at the confluence of the salmon-bearing Koksilah and Cowichan rivers has all the required ingredients: a convivial community in a pleasing setting, with behind it an array of small farms producing everything from wine to organic bread grains. Could your community be next? (1) In Cowichan Bay village local residents crowded into Bruce Stewart’s picturesque True Grain organic bakery to sign up for the slow-food movement and give the branding application a rousing send-off. Back in Orvieto, north of Rome, the sages examined the evidence, weighed up the issues, and granted Cittaslow status. So now, you can add to famous names like Lucca (Cittaslow Tuscany) and Alassio (Cittaslow Liguria) the name of Cowichan Bay.

Brasserie Jo Boston Back in Form Again. Highly Recommended!

Years ago it was pretty much unthinkable to dine after an evening concert in Symphony Hall, unless you happened to find a Hayes Bickford that was open all night. It’s still not easy to find a place where you could relax and converse for a couple of hours without feeling rushed, much less being surrounded by floor sweeping, the overturning of chairs, and a glaring waiter. I do know a few places in the neighborhood that are open late, but I wouldn’t recommend them. Brasserie Jo, however, is one restaurant—a five minute walk away—where I’d feel comfortable settling in after a concert. The main menu remains available until 11 pm Monday through Saturday, and a bar menu takes over until 1.30 am. It’s also worth noting that lunch is served until 3 pm—a small blessing for us tardy folk and busy guests in the Colonnade Hotel.

Mélisse – Distinguished French Cooking in Santa Monica

Mélisse is now celebrating its tenth anniversary. At its location only a few hundred yards from the Santa Monica Pier, it has the feeling of a neighborhood institution, but not the honky-tonk neighborhood of Ye Olde King’s Head and similar establishments along Santa Monica Boulevard and the beach — rather Brentwood and Beverly Hills, to which it is directly linked on its corner of Wilshire Boulevard. Since its beginnings, its founder, Chef Josiah Citrin and his staff have earned it two Michelin stars. The dining rooms have also been renovated into their present elegant and extremely soothing state only a few years ago.

The Saint, Edinburgh

The people behind the Bramble Bar & Lounge have recently opened a restaurant called The Saint on Saint Stephen Street in Stockbridge.

Like Bramble and The Bailie (a fine pub on the western corner of the same street, great for an after-dinner dram), The Saint is located in the underground level of a Georgian building, typical of Edinburgh’s New Town which is renowned for such spaces.

Bar Boulud, Passport to Burgundy at Lincoln Center

Bar Boulud

The first thing one notices entering Bar Boulud is the complete absence of any trace of the economic downturn. Thank God, too! (Forget your troubles, come on, get happy!) Elegant and chic, sleek and moderne, everywhere the fashionable thirty- and forty-somethings were enjoying themselves over bottles of wine and charcuterie, as if it were April in Paris. It‘s so chic, it feels like the set of a Carlo Ponti film. With the full house we encountered at 10.30 on a Monday evening, there was just enough room for Monica Vitti or Virna Lisi to totter through the crowd in a scant cocktail dress and stiletto heels.

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