Journal entries from December 2010

Prime Rib Hash

This is the perfect post-Christmas breakfast - or dinner - and the best way I know to use up the final, precious bits of a great rib roast.

<li>Prime Rib Hash:
<li>What you need before you start: a couple of small whole potatoes that are already cooked (any kind of potato will do, either baked or boiled), cut into small cubes.  About 2 cups of cold roast beef, cut into tiny cubes.  A small onion, diced.  Some aromatics, and a half cup of cream (Half and Half will do; heavy is better).  Three or four eggs.

Cook the potatoes in a well-oiled skillet for about 10 minutes, stirring about from time to time until they have turned golden.  Add the onions and cook until they become translucent and the potatoes begin to crisp, another 10 minutes or so.  Add the beef and a few aromatics if you like – I sometimes add a bit of thyme, or parsley, occasionally a clove or two of garlic, perhaps a small scraping of nutmeg.  If I’m in the mood, I’ll throw in a few flakes of hot chile pepper as well. Season with salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes or so, until the beef gives up its fat and begins to send its scent into the air.

Pour in the cream, listen to it sizzle, stir it about and then press the hash into the skillet with a spatula. Raise the heat beneath the pan and cook, turning occasionally until the cream has vanished into the hash, forming a wonderfully crisp crust.  This will take about 8 minutes.  Top each of three or four servings with its own softly fried egg.


How to Have a Great Party: Three Tips

1. The best parties involve a certain amount of serendipity. Don't be so organized that everything's done when the guests arrive.  Let people pitch in and help in the kitchen. It’s a great ice-breaker. 

2. The guest list is important. If everyone knows everyone else, the conversation can be dull. And if nobody knows anybody else, it can be awkward. Gather a comfortable group of people who are easy with each other, mix in a few new friends, and watch the party take off.

3. Don't serve soup or any kind of first course that means jumping up while everyone is seated to prepare the main course.  Put out lots of nibbley things to begin with – pate, cheese, salume, nuts, homemade crackers, some kind of vegetable dip. Or make something hot that  people can stand in the kitchen eating right from the oven, like a quiche or boureks. Bring the salad to toss at the table, so when you sit down for the main course you won't have to get up again until dessert.  It just makes the evening easier. 


Gift Guide, Day 27

A Promise for the Future:

The best thing about January?  The coming of the Kishus. 
Alice Waters introduced me to these tiny tangerines, which carry a little sunshine into the cold winter world.  I can’t think of anything more fun than bringing out a handful (yes they’re that tiny) and watching a child’s delight in the sweet juicy fruit.

The season is very short – just a few weeks in January – but you can sign up to be alerted when they start shipping. If you’re wracking your brain for a last minute gift, this is a wonderful one. It’s a few weeks away, but your friends will thank you each time they peel a tangerine and experience that deep, golden flavor.

And speaking of tangerines – if you’ve never read MFK Fisher on the pleasures of tangerine sections left to grow fat on the radiator and then chilled on a snowy ledge, here is an excerpt:  

“...It was then that I discovered little dried sections of tangerine. My pleasure in them is subtle and voluptuous and quite inexplicable. I can only write how they are prepared.

In the morning, in the soft sultry chamber, sit in the window peeling tangerines, three or four. Peel them gently; do not bruise them, as you watch soldiers pour past and past the corner and over the canal towards the watched Rhine. Separate each plump little pregnant crescent. If you find the Kiss, the secret section, save it for Al.

Listen to the chambermaid thumping up the pillows, and murmur encouragement to her thick Alsatian tales of l'intérieure. That is Paris, the interior, Paris or anywhere west of Strasbourg or maybe the Vosges. While she mutters of seduction and French bicyclists who ride more than wheels, tear delicately from the soft pile of sections each velvet string. You know those white pulpy strings that hold tangerines into their skins? Tear them off. Be careful.

Take yesterday's paper (when we were in Strasbourg L'Ami du Peuple was best, because when it got hot the ink stayed on it) and spread it on top of the radiator. The maid has gone, of course - it might be hard to ignore her belligerent Alsatian glare of astonishment.

After you have put the pieces of tangerine on the paper on the hot radiator, it is best to forget about them. Al comes home, you go to a long noon dinner in the brown dining-room, afterwards maybe you have a little nip of quetsch from the bottle on the armoire. Finally he goes. You are sorry, but -

On the radiator the sections of tangerines have grown even plumper, hot and full. You carry them to the window, pull it open, and leave them for a few minutes on the packed snow of the sill. They are ready.

All afternoon you can sit, then, looking down on the corner. Afternoon papers are delivered to the kiosk. Children come home from school just as three lovely whores mince smartly into the pension's chic tearoom. A basketful of Dutch tulips stations itself by the tram-stop, ready to tempt tired clerks at six o'clock. Finally the soldiers stump back from the Rhine. It is dark.

The sections of the tangerine are gone, and I cannot tell you why they are so magical. Perhaps it is that little shell, thin as one layer of enamel on a Chinese bowl, that crackles so tinily, so ultimately under your teeth. Or the rush of cold pulp just after it. Or the perfume. I cannot tell.

There must be someone, though, who understands what I mean. Probably everyone does, because of his own secret eatings."


Gift Guide, Day 26

A Share in a CSA:

Snow showers, gray sky, frozen world.  It must be this weather that has me dreaming of summer, longing for green things to start springing from the earth.

 I’ve been thinking that if someone gave me a share in a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), as a Christmas present, it would make me incredibly happy.  It would be a reminder that spring really will come, that the world will once again be fruitful. And more than that, it would give me a warm feeling to know that I was joining forces with a local farmer; not just buying his vegetables, but becoming a small partner, participating in whatever the coming year might bring – good or bad - in the way of harvest.

The CSA movement keeps growing; I’m now a member of a chicken CSA, as well as a vegetable one. These days you can find meat and fish CSAs too.  How do you find a local one?  Put your zipcode into the link above, and your local CSAs will come up. (It’s not perfect; if someone knows a more up to date data base, please leave a comment.)


Gift Guide, Day 25

Home Made Bread Crumbs:

A couple of years ago Kempy Minifie, who was running Gourmet’s test kitchen, gave me a container filled with homemade bread crumbs for Christmas.  “This,” I thought to myself, “is a really dopey present. I can make my own crumbs any time I want them.”  But I took them home and stored them in my freezer anyway.

One day, about a month later, I reached in and found they were gone:  I had used them all up. I instantly made some more, and since then my freezer has never been without a supply of good crisp, oily, crumbs.  They’re as essential as chicken stock, a wonderful fall-back ingredient that adds flavor and texture to many dishes.  I use them on pasta, in casseroles, to top vegetables. I’d be grateful to anyone who offered me some.

And they’re easy to make. 

Cut a good loaf of stale bread into cubes and grind it into crumbs in a blender or a food processor.  (A blender is better; it gives you a more uniform texture).  If your bread is not stale enough to crumb, you can dry the cubes out in a 200 degree oven for about 15 minutes before grinding.

Spread the crumbs onto a baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes until they are crisp and golden.  Drizzle with olive oil (about a quarter cup for every 2 cups of crumbs), season with salt and allow to cool completely before putting into containers.

These will keep in the freezer almost indefinitely.  Just stick them in the microwave for a few seconds to take the chill off.


Gift Guide, Day 24

Colatura di Alici:

This is the essence of anchovy - and very likely what the Romans thought of as garum.  Its closest relative is Asian fish sauce, but Colatura di Alici is richer, more elegant (and more expensive). Still, it’s a powerful elixir, and a single bottle will very likely last a year in most people’s refrigerators.

What do you do with the wonderful stuff?  Use it almost anywhere that you’d use anchovies.  I add it to Caesar salad dressings, for instance, and I like to sprinkle a few drops into a bowl of sautéed kale.  When I'm making a simple dish of spaghetti with garlic, it adds a wonderful depth of flavor.

This is probably the last day you can still mail order a gift in time for Christmas.  The truth is that anyone who likes to cook would be very happy to see this show up at their door. It will give them  the opportunity to play around with an exotic ingredient all year long. And every time they use it, they'll think of you.


Gift Guide Day 23

A Pizza Stone:

As any of my friends will tell you, I’m not much of an equipment freak; I was probably the last person in America to buy a food processor, and I’m still using some of my mother’s geriatric pots and pans. But every once in a while you come upon something that turns you into a better cook.

I’d put the pizza stone into that category.  A good one will make your oven heat more regularly and help the crusts on homemade bread and pizza become seriously crisp. And if you’re looking for a good present for a cook, this is one thing that many people both covet and lack.

I like the 14 by 16 inch rectangular stone from Old Stone Oven.  You can buy one just about anywhere, but if you’re in a mail order mood, Amazon will still send it off in time to bake a crisp loaf of bread for Christmas dinner.


Gift Guide, Day 22

Cookie Book:

Gourmet’s last big idea, conceived by Jackie Terrebonne, was a series of pop-up cookie shops at Macy’s. They would have been beautiful, lapidary little shops with cookies displayed like jewels. But the magazine closed and they never happened. The accompanying Gourmet Cookie Book, however, was already finished; Romulo Yanes had shot all the photographs, Richard Ferretti had laid the book out and I had written the copy. And even though I asked the publisher not to put my name on it, every time I see this sweet little book it makes me happy.

This isn’t just another bunch of cookie recipes. We wanted to create a mini-history of cookies in America. We tasted through our archives, selecting the best cookie from each of Gourmet’s 68 years. Then, rather than homogenizing the recipes into current recipe style (as we did with The Gourmet Cookbook), we left the recipes exactly as originally written. If you did nothing but read the instructions you’d learn a great deal about the way we were.

The book offers a tiny taste of American history. As new ingredients came into the culture, they were incorporated into cookies.  New equipment became available to home cooks, and that also allowed the recipes to evolve. Time passed, we kept baking cookies, and our tastes kept changing. All of this is reflected in the recipes. The discounted book sells for about $10, not much more than a fancy Christmas card.

Just to be clear: I do not get a penny from the sale of this book.


Gift Guide, Day 21

A Very Sharp Knife:

The best present you can give a cook is one great kitchen knife. But choosing a knife is very personal; everyone should really go into the shop himself, play around with the knives, pick the one that feels right.

Knife sharpeners, on the other hand, are a universal gift.  Dull knives make cooking a chore instead of a pleasure, and every kitchen needs at least one easy to use sharpener. But here’s the problem: the wrong one can ruin your knives.  The Rollsharp won’t do that – on top of being inexpensive and very easy to use. Your friend will thank you every time she slices an onion and discovers that a sharp knife means no tears.



Gift Guide, Day 20

Today is National Maple Syrup Day:

And that reminded me that maple syrup is one of my favorite gifts. A few years ago I was packing up bottles of deep, dark grade B maple syrup for all my friends.  Then I discovered Blis; What’s different about this syrup is that it’s aged in old bourbon barrels, which takes the edge off the sweetness, imparting a mellower, slightly smokey taste.  It’s fabulous stuff.

This year I’m giving it to a friend, packaged with my favorite waffle maker, a cast iron Jotul.  I’ve been using mine for 40 years, and it makes perfect waffles (in the shape of hearts) every time.  Unfortunately, these wonderful waffle irons are no longer being manufactured. Fortunately, you can find them on ebay all the time.

I’m also including a copy of my favorite waffle recipe.

And I know where I’d like to be eating breakfast on the day after Christmas!


Gift Guide, Day 19

 Cheese Papers:

Here’s the problem: If you love cheese as much as I do, you always buy too much. Then you watch it wither away in your refrigerator, dying a slow and horrible death. In order to protect it, you need to wrap it away from all the aggressive odors that inhabit your refrigerator, waiting ot pounce. But plastic or foil simply suffocate your cheese. Waxed paper is less lethal – it allows it to breathe – but offers little in the way of protection. If you want to make your cheese happy, cheese papers are the answer. 

Somebody actually gave me a package of cheese papers a couple of years ago, and it changed my life; I’ve been grateful ever since.  I’m pretty sure your friends will feel the same.


Gift Guide, Day 18

A Paella Pan:
Kitchen equipment is a difficult gift, because you have to know someone pretty well before you know what they might need.  But a paella pan is a safe bet: Few people have them, and with the new focus on Spanish food, most cooks wish they did. But which pan to buy?

You can buy enormously expensive stainless steel paella pans in most kitchen stores, but I wouldn’t; although the cheaper carbon steel pans require care to keep them from rusting, most people won’t make paella often enough to justify the high cost of stainless.  So I’d stick with tradition.  You need to give some thought to size as well: it’s tempting to buy one of the giant pans that will feed a crowd, but most home stoves won’t accommodate a pan larger than 20 inches, and if it’s going into a home oven, 18 inches is pretty much the limit.

When I give paella pans, I usually add a bag of Bomba rice (wonderful stuff that absorbs three times its volume in liquid, making it perfect for paella), and as much saffron as I can afford. Nobody ever has too much saffron.


Gift Guide, Day 17

Blanched Nuts:

I hate skinning nuts.  There, I’ve said it.  It’s one of the few kitchen tasks I don’t enjoy.  But hazelnuts are the worst; they’re just a complete pain. For those of us who consider Linzer Tarts an essential Christmas treat, this can be a problem. I used to spend hours peeling those mean little nuts.

Then I discovered Nuts Online– a fabulous resource for bakers - where you can buy blanched hazelnuts by the pound.  A strange present, perhaps, but one any baker will thank you for.  (And if blanched hazelnuts aren’t your thing, they’ve got all sorts of unusual products from goji berries to dark chocolate m&ms…)


Gift Guide, Day 16

Fauchon Christmas Tea:

I know proper tea drinkers will look down their collective noses at this.  It’s not monkey-picked, or large leafed, or any of the other high-fallutin’ terms that connoisseurs use to make you know that their tea is better than yours.  But I can’t help myself; I love this stuff.

When you open the tin, the loveliest perfume escapes into the room.  It is cherries and caramel, orange peel and vanilla, with perhaps just a tiny tropical touch of pineapple.  I can make a tin last all year, so that even in the heat of summer, I can brew a pot and remember how the air smells when it snows. I love the fact that Fauchon only makes Un Soir de Noel at this time of year, and it is my annual Christmas gift to myself.  Occasionally I also buy it for a friend – if I think they'll like it as much as I do.


Gift Guide, Day 15

Bring Home the Bacon:

The best present I ever gave my former boss, Si Newhouse (the epitome of the man who has everything), was some bacon from Violet Hills Farm. I waited on line at the farmers market for hours to get it.  But that was years ago, when the bacon craze was new and there was no such thing as a Bacon of the Month Club.

These days, if you’re looking to surprise a bacon freak, you have to think beyond the edible.  And you certainly can.  My favorite is the very cool, very strange bacon wallet, but there are all kinds of other appealing bacon products. Bacon soap? Bacon lollipops? Bacon jellybeans? And don’t forget the adorable Bendy Mr. Bacon, who will sit on your friends' desks making them extremely hungry.




Gift Guide, Day 14

Jack Black Industrial Strength Hand Healer:

With the current craze for cleanliness, it’s hard to overestimate how much time your hands spend in water when you're cooking.  This time of year, between the washing and the cold, a cook’s hands are constantly cracked.  Nothing is more welcome than a really effective handcream.

There are lots of hand creams out there, but a cook’s concerns are different from those of ordinary people.  You don’t want something that is merely rich, soothing and nongreasy; you also want something that won't leave your hands smelling like cheap perfume. Finding a hand cream that is neither greasy nor smelly is not easy, and it seems like every time I find one, they take it off the market.  I’m hoping that my current favorite, Jack Black Industrial Strength Hand Healer, will stay around for a while.  But just in case, I’ve stocked up.

 I got mine at The Gardener in Berkeley, but it’s sold all over; you can buy this superb hand cream at Sephora and Amazon.


Gift Guide, Day 13

Rare and Wonderful Balsamic Vinegar:

One of the first theories of gift-giving is to offer your friends the indulgences you most covet but feel guilty about buying for yourself. Great aged balsamic vinegar definitely falls into that category.  I love it, find it endlessly useful in the kitchen – and am always reluctant to spend the money for the best. 

Buying it for friends is another matter.  It is, I think, a perfect gift. Choosing which one to buy is a constant problem, but here is a suggestion.  Aceto Balsamico of Monticello is a wonderful elixir, with deep, concentrated flavor.  Organic and hand-made, it is aged in Italian casks for thirteen years.  It is rare – only a thousand bottles are sold each year. And – here’s the amazing thing – it is made in New Mexico. Paul Bertolli of Fra' Mani first told me about it, and I am forever in his debt.

This is, obviously, a present for someone you really care about. But if they dole it out the way that I do, a drop here, a drop there, it will last all year. And they’ll think of you each time they taste the mysteriously deep, dense flavor.




Gift Guide, Day 12

Pig Products

It’s already too late to order Allan Benton’s fabulous bacon for your friends, and his hams can’t be guaranteed for Christmas either. Unfortunately Armandino Batali’s mole salami, rich with chocolate and spices, won’t be available by mail again until early next year. But there are still plenty of wonderful pig products to send your pork-loving friends.

To begin, there’s the pig bank from Moss, which I gave to half my friends last year (the other half will get them this year.) Cast from real piglets, they’re endlessly lovable. They come in a number of colors, but I prefer the gold pig. Animal-lovers will want to note that 5% of proceeds go to the Humane Society.

Then there’s MOMA Store’s adorable pig cover, a pig face to put on top of a pot (or in the microwave). Made of silicone, and very silly, it allows steam to pour out of the snout. Who wouldn’t want this?

And finally, there’s the salt pig - a very pink, very cute salt holder in the shape of a very greedy pig.

Want to really pig out? Put all three into a single package for a truly spectacular gift.


Gift Guide, Day 11


The first time someone told me about the existence of clams that grow to 15 pounds I was eighteen years old, and I was convinced that he was putting me on. It was, from my Manhattan perspective, impossible to think of such a giant clam as anything but a joke. The name made it seem even more absurd: Gooeyduck? (That’s how the word is pronounced.)

But geoducks are no joke. Native to the Pacific Northwest, they are among the stranger beasts of the world. And also among the most delicious. If you’ve ever had “giant clam” in a sushi bar, you’ve tasted geoduck. To me this is the essence of clam – briny, mild, crisp, crunchy. Just one taste makes me happy.

For an adventurous cook, nothing would be cooler than to open up a package and find a giant clam. If it were me? I’d slice that long neck into sushi on the spot, and make the fat belly into an awesome chowder. That is, after I’d stopped laughing – and expressing my endless thanks.


Gift Guide, Day 10

Salmon Roe

Okay, I’m obsessed. I admit it. But every time I spread a little bit of sour cream onto a cracker and top it with salmon roe, I experience a tiny frisson of pleasure. Salmon roe is so jewel-like and beautiful, each tiny globe glistening orange. The eggs pop pleasantly in your mouth, delivering a surprising rush of flavor. And if you’re a caviar freak – I admit to that – this is the least expensive way to feed your obsession.

But lately I have found myself thinking that if it were not so inexpensive, it would be more prized. Consider the case of blue fin tuna, which was so despised it served as cat food for many years and then turned into the world’s most expensive fish. Some day epicures will discover the joy of salmon roe – and prices will soar.

Until then it makes a wonderful present, packaged with homemade blini (should I offer a recipe here?), and a carton of sour cream or crème fraiche.

It’s a gift that would certainly make me very happy.

There are many sources. Russ and Daughters and Zabars are two that I like.


Gift Guide, Day 9

La Vieille Prune

It was pretty much love at first whiff. The first time I tasted this aged, plum brandy the aroma came surging toward me out of the glass. It was so mellow that I imagined a crackling fire, violins playing, a cashmere hug. I folded my hands around the glass and the aroma lingered, still seducing me with its perfume long after the liquor itself had vanished.

I love cooking with Vieille Prune; add it to apple sauce, or chicken liver pate, or just toss a drop into a ragu – and whatever you’re making becomes softer, rounder, more appealing.

For years you couldn’t buy Vieille Prune in America, and I faithfully brought bottles back from France for my friends. I usually bought mine at La Maison de la Truffe in Paris, because I loved the old-fashioned writing on the label. This wonderful liquor is still shockingly rare in the United States – and isn’t that one reason to offer it as a gift? – but I’ve found a few sources in California. If anyone knows another place to buy Vieille Prune, I’d love to know about it.


Gift Guide, Day 8

An Entire Wardrobe of Flours

There are a few things I always have in my freezer, and Anson Mills grits are one of them. A big bowl of grits is perfect comfort food, and this hand-milled corn is the best I’ve found. And I don’t even think about making polenta unless I’ve got some Anson Mills on hand.

But as I was trolling through their website a few weeks ago (the recipe section is impressive), I came upon a few more must-have products. For one thing, they sell ni-hachi sobakoh buckwheat flour to make fresh Japanese soba. They also have old-fashioned sesame flour for benne cakes, semolina for pizza and pasta, rye flour for bread, and wonderful hand-milled cake flour. The result: This year my baking friends are all getting entire wardrobes of flours, (along with their recipe for Angel Food Cake). I can’t think of a single baker who won’t be thrilled.

Anson hand-mills and ships its products only on Tuesdays.


Gift Guide, Day 7

A Wardrobe of Great Beans

Yesterday was all about carnivores. Today we’re taking the other tack, coming up with ways to please a vegetarian.

In my opinion, every vegetarian's perennial problem is trying to find good beans. This is because most stores keep them forever and sell them stale, so that the beans refuse to get soft, no matter how long you cook them. Even worse, in a world filled with exotic beans, most places offer only pedestrian varieties.

Enter Cesare Casella, the maestro of beans. The chef/owner of Salumeria Rosi loves the gentle little Burrino that tastes like butter, and the giant Fagioli Grossi with their mottled flesh. His beans, imported from Italy, are flavorful, beautiful and plump. My favorites are the Fagioli del Papa, which have marbled purple and beige skins and taste of chestnuts, and the big creamy Fagioli Corona that like to stand in for meat. The restaurant's website is a great resource for bean-lovers, and a few varieties, packed into pretty jars, make great gifts.

Cesare doesn’t sell black beans, but if that’s all you can get, here’s my favorite black bean chili (this is for you, Jessica.)

Black Bean Chili

Soak 2 pounds of dried black beans overnight.

Toast 2 tablespoons cumin seed, 2 tablespoons paprika, and 2 teaspoons crumbled dried oregano in a dry skillet just until fragrant. Grind the spices into dust with a mortar and pestle. Add 2 dried pasilla chiles (stem and seeds discarded), coarsely chopped.

Saute a couple of diced onions in a bit of oil until golden in a large pot with a teaspoon of salt. Add 10 cloves of garlic, minced and 2 tablespoons of chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo. Stir in spice mixture. Add the drained black beans, a couple of bay leaves and 3 quarts of water. Simmer, covered, until the beans are soft. (This should take about an hour, but if your beans are old it might take considerably longer.)

Add a 28 ounce can of chopped tomatoes. Taste for salt. Cook another 20 minutes or so and serve topped with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.

This will make 8 to 10 people very happy.


Gift Guide, Day 6

Bacon Filled Hot Dogs

One of the best memories of my last trip to San Francisco was standing on line outside the Ferry Building, contemplating which hot dog I was going to order from the 4505 stand. Just watching people walking away munching on dogs piled high with crisp chicharrones was a treat. It was topped only by getting my own Zilla dog, which was every bit as delicious as advertised.

The 4505 dogs are uncured and made from good ingredients (the bacon in them comes from Niman); this is, in short, a hot dog you don’t have to feel guilty about. They’ve got the classic snap of a great dog, as well as the tender texture. The big drawback was that the were sold only in San Francisco.

4505 now ships its bacon filled hot dogs across the country. You have to order by Monday, they ship 2-day air on Wednesday, so on Friday you can be giving these great dogs to all your friends. (How convenient that Christmas falls on Saturday.)

I’m planning to wrap them up with jars of kimchi, bags of chicharrones and if I’m really ambitious, home-baked buns. I can’t think of a single friend who won’t be happy to see me carrying this through the door.


Gift Guide, Day 5

Handmade copper cookie cutters

The year the monogrammed sterling silver yo yo appeared on my desk at Christmas, I knew the corporate gift giving culture had gone insane. When you’re a magazine editor people are constantly sending you gifts you don’t want.

But occasionally something both useful and pretty actually shows up. My favorite was a huge copper cookie cutter in the shape of a star; it makes beautiful cookies – and looks swell on the Christmas tree.

Stars are kind of generic, but cookie cutters come in every shape and style you can imagine, and you can tailor your cutters to your friends. Coppergifts makes cookie cutters in 2,000 shapes (every dog you have ever seen, for instance) – and if they don’t have what you’re looking for they’ll custom craft a cookie cutter just for you.


Gift Guide, Day 4

Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve

I had the terrible misfortune of discovering the world’s best Bourbon 22 years ago, right before I became pregnant. I bought myself a few bottles, which sat there, mocking me, for the entire 9 months.

The Van Winkles age their Bourbons longer than other people. Some people swear by the 23 year old, but to me it seems more like Cognac than a great American liquor. The 20 year old, on the other hand, is the sexiest, smoothest, most delicious drink there is. It can stand up to full-flavored foods (it has the ability to make even mediocre barbecue taste great), while being subtle enough to enhance delicate dishes. And a single splash will improve any stew.

Pappy's not easy to find, but the website offers some help. If you really love someone, you’ll seek it out. They will be yours forever.


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About this journal
Where am I eating? What's for dinner tonight? And what books have I been reading? For a look at what's going on in my life lately, take a look at this journal, which I try to update on a regular basis.