Archive for the ‘Risottos’ Category

Sartorial Note:

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

        We are not all that fond of posh places to eat, but sometimes research must be done on the lobster-&-truffles circuit, a thin wallet palpitating in the process.  Well, it’s not always convenient to dress up, and I’m happy to say Madame Point accepted us in picnic clothes at her multi-rosetted Pyramide and the folks at Sacher’s in Vienna let us in without a green light from Monsieur St-Laurent.  Nor did we rent striped pants-and-trimmings when a count and countess invited us to lunch one springtime in Florence.

        But I have experienced what it’s like to be left at the door.

        Currently a friendly place, the Clift Hotel in San Francisco was owned in the ribald 70s by an ultra-conservative Santa Barbaran who refused admission to any gentleman whose hair fell the slightest distance below the water line of one’s Brooks Bros. collar top.  I qualified very well at the time and was thus deprived, at least during the reign of this Jesse Helms of a hotelier, of the delightful lamb curry offered in the French Room, a silvery salle that seemed to float, oblivious of the seedy arrondissement lapping at its back door, like the first class dining saloon of a Titanic or Lusitania that had made it, somehow, into modern times.

        In Chicago not long ago, eager for a look at the Pump Room where the movie stars used to enbooth themselves between compartmented nights on the old Super Chief and Twentieth Century — which carried them, through their joint steamy efforts, from L.A. to Chicago and the “Windy City” to New York — I was advised by the hostess, a young woman in pants, that my blazer and regimental tie had failed utterly to conceal my crisply pressed jeans, Land’s End’s best, which were, alas, not part of the Pumpean dress code. Now perhaps if the Pump people rolled out a cashmere carpet in my direction . . .


Monday, September 3rd, 2007

        And this recipe has its own first steps.

Soak an ounce of chopped dried tomatoes in a cup of water until soft, then reserve the liquid and combine it with several cups of chicken broth.

Soften a chopped onion with 1 pressed garlic clove in a tablespoon of olive oil. Stir in 1 cup of rice, toss it for 1-1/2 minutes over rather high heat, then reduce the flame, add the tomatoes and proceed with the usual additions and stirrings of, in this case, a chicken broth with dried tomato cooking liquid.

When the risotto is ready, sprinkle it with minced parsley and serve with the dry jack or parmesan cheese you must always grate before beginning a risotto: to add broth, stir rice, fondle your tiny bottle of saffron and grate cheese more or less simultaneously would lead, I think, to dire psychological consequences.

REMEMBER:   Risottos can be made ahead and reheated without flavor loss: just stir in a little fresh broth.  A boon, this, when company comes for simple chicken and portobello risotto.  Another idea: salmon steak with mango risotto minus the salami.  Or how about pesto-flavored risotto fritters?  Or risotto with pancetta and water-packed chestnuts from M. Faugier’s tin . . . And there’s always that Piemontan last minute drizzle of truffle and olive oil, half a tablespoon each, wonderful with a mushroom risotto.


Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

        From an eighteenth century Turin ristorante with lovely mirrors, columns and chandeliers far outweighing attitude — but don’t arrive too early, you’ll be seriously outnumbered by a chorus of attentive waiters.


Follow the Risotto Basic Steps then…. 

Same as the Risotto Meneghina recipe plus a good shot of red wine. And you could dress up this risotto by stirring in 1/2 pound of rock cod 3 or 4 minutes before estimated completion time. In this case the cream is optional.