Monthly Archives: January 2012

nime chow tuesdays

i have almost zero food in my fridge, which is odd for someone who likes to cook, and often at that. i guess i can attribute this to working around food and eating at least two of my threeish to fourish meals of the day on the job. but when i get the yen to make something super delicious at home, i’ve got to go out shopping for the items specifically. and because i’m usually just cooking for 1, i’m left with a bunch of really odd items with no seeming correlation between them. arborio rice, chickpeas, pancetta, ginger root, you get the idea (although i could definitely make something with that stuff). the other night i got in around 9pm from work and started scouring the contents of my fridge, which i knew to be an exercise in failure. shrimp. cilantro. carrots. wait a minute…don’t i have a package of rice wrappers somewhere?

i only use double parrot. those single parrot wrappers are rubbish.

and that’s when it hit me, i had almost the exact makings of nime chow. i started pulling things out of cabinets and it only kept getting better. fish sauce, rice vinegar, romaine, vermicelli. shortly, i had my mise en place assembled and ready for action. i don’t have much counter space in my tiny kitchen, so i painstakingly have to make these one at a time. i let the rice paper soak in room temp water on a plate for about 1 minute or just under. once that is pliable (you’ll get a feel for just how soft they have to be after you do one or two), i transfer to another surface and load in the ingredients, which, depending on your recipe, or in my case, what i had to work with, can vary. the most common versions that i have seen include: lettuce, thai basil or cilantro, shrimp and vermicelli. i threw in some julienned carrot for good measure. a couple of years ago one of my brothers got me an OXO mandoline for christmas and all i have to say is, love. it. loveit. make sure your ingredients are centered left to right and just a bit lower than center on the rice paper. i fold in my sides first, just about 1.5″ in, but there are actually differing schools of thought on this. now that i had my nime chow assembled, i needed a dipping sauce. i really like some heat, so i decided to make a nuoc mam and added a bit of chili oil.i didn’t use a recipe for this. i just remembered a really good one i had at a vietnamese place i frequent and tried to recreate the same flavors. however, i’m sure the interweb is teeming with great nuoc mam recipes if you need them. one word of advice, DO NOT, burn the fish sauce while heating. i have done this before and my entire place smelled like the hold of a japanese fishing trawler for at least the next week. you don’t really need to give it much flame anyway, you’re just incorporating sugar till dissolved. and that’s it. it took me about 20 minutes to make an awesome dinner with random nonsense. im really hoping that my pantry and fridge align next week to make something equally ridiculous, perhaps osso buco?

that magic moment when you look in your fridge at 9:15 on a tuesday night and say, yeah, i could make some nime chow with what i've got right now.

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all the way, means something different in the woo

for those of you lucky enough to have spent some time in lil’ rhody, you’re…well, lucky. those of you that haven’t, you’re an outsider peering in through never-quite-clean windows, rubbing, rubbing, rubbing, but never getting that clear view of what’s inside the somewhat odd, yet mysterious and beckoning shop front. when i moved to RI roughly 11 years ago, one of my friends suggested meeting up at “sparky’s for suhm wienahs”. while i was initially confused and believing that we might be headed out to one of RI’s many and illustrious gay bars, i took him up on his offer and discovered a truly provincial and tasty-meaty treat (ok, stop laughing). hot wieners are an RI staple (really, stop laughing, this is not that kind of blog you jerk). brought there by the greeks in the 30’s and 40’s, what has become dubbed the “new york system” has flourished in RI and surrounding locales. according to wikipedia, hot wieners are made primarily of pork and veal, setting their distinct flavor apart from beef hot dogs. they are served in a steamed bun and most usually served with a proprietary meat sauce, celery salt and chopped raw onion. they tend to be smaller than a regular dog, which prompts both casual customers and zealots alike to order more than one. ordered as described, one shouts, “all the way!” at the grill cook, and then uses their digits to clarify just how many gaggers one desires. the grill cook then, ala tom cruise in cocktail, loads the dogs up his arm and dresses them as requested. the first time i witnessed this, i must admit i shivered just a bit in gastronomic anticipation. i also shivered just a bit due to the thought of my wieners touching the hairy-armed grill cook’s appendage. up the arm and all the way (which will get you about 6 hot wieners, dressed with meat sauce, etc) is how you do it. so, after moving to the woo, it was good to know that at least one institution was dedicated to the new york system. i haven’t been to coney island as of yet, and i hesitate to go, only because it might be a major letdown compared to my experience of RI gagger joints. however, the other night i was at a private party in west boylston and it was a classic rager. the hosts had put together a sumptuous buffet of wonderful food. as the night ran out, i sauntered back up to the buffet to see what i could scavenge. sadly, all i found was a box of frozen (yes, still frozen) spanikopita, and, sad dog. while sad dog was obviously in party mode, sad dog was still sad – as evidenced by sad dog’s picture. apparently, in worcester, “all the way” means a paper party hat

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the perfect lubricant for rusty pipes

barbi is my “work girlfriend”. she’s a sweet 62 year old cafeteria lady who shuffles around all day, but seriously gets a lot of crap/prep/work done. barbi works the soup and salad station and it’s always a pleasure to have her serve you. she sends everyone off with a cheerful, “have a great day!” the caf had put out tiny plastic spoons so you could sample the soups at the station, just in case you weren’t sure if you wanted the “craaaazy” chicken noodle, or the “off-the-wall-and-never-before-tried-bold-flavors” of the vegetable beef. today, she came up to me in a huff as i walked in and told me that the kids were taking the spoons en masse and she was “sick of it!” i immediately thought of the hanes sock commercial and snorted, which she didn’t appreciate one bit. after i had settled down, i asked barbi why the kids were hoarding tiny plastic soup spoons. she said she had overheard one of them exclaim, “oh look! coke spoons!”, before emptying the vessel. barbi shook her head and said, “times sure have changed…” to which i nodded somberly in agreement. “…in my day”, she continued, “we used to use a wd-40 straw.” Image

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new year’s at bocado

this is the second year in a row that we’ve done new years eve flamenco wine dinner at bocado. if you haven’t been, go. the only, and therefore obviously, best tapas place in the woo. owned by niche hospitality, bocado is a smashup of class, style, wine, more class, and tasty meaty things.

the flamenco dancer was beautiful, but in this candid, she's a bit creepy looking. in a "im a creepy gypsy looking over your shoulder" kinda way.

this year, tickets were only $75 ( i think last year they were $100) which gets you a seat in an intimate private dining room of about 40 guests. it also gets you 5 courses of tapas & platos, sangria, mucho wine, and 2 flamenco sets.

i’d love to rehash the menu with you, but after 5 courses of wine, i have no idea exactly what i ate. there was a pig involved though. definitely a pig. i do remember taking a menu card for this

very reason, but my briefly logical self forgot to tell NYE self where said card was stashed for safe keeping. the good news is that bocado runs a flamenco dinner, albeit not as zomg-all out-NYEish, every third friday of the month. i suggest you check it out. no, seriously. go. now.

cava toast from the porron. pretty much all downhill after this.

tasty meat

this is how the night ended. i was in a tommy girl kinda mood. in retrospect, this makes me think i was in the wrong bathroom...

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