DemosNews: So what delicacies does a bourgeoise like me bring from Gotham to augment country fare for a 4 month stay?
So what delicacies does a bourgeoise like me bring from Gotham to augment country fare for a 4 month stay?
By: Anita Spertus

basmati rice
from India, not domestic. long grained and fragrant, my favorite staff of life until new potatoes emerge, and sweet corn. prepared as follows, every grain stands deliciously apart: swish ¼ cup rice per person in water to cover in order to banish any lingering rice dust (rice paste is great for adhering wallpaper, but makes for a gluey cooked dish); sauté the drained grains in a tablespoon of butter for a minute, then add double the quantity of water to rice; cover, bring to a boil, simmer about 15 minutes till the water’s absorbed. presto!

from Italy: little black Gaeta; “uncured” (actually, low brine), delicately textured light green ones; and green stuffed with sun dried tomatoes. also, from Morocco, wrinkled salty shiny black olives, and a mix of large/small/black/green from Spain

sun dried tomatoes marinated in oil
from Italy or Australia. impart intense flavor to sandwiches or, cut in bits, to salad or stir fry

Mostarda Mantovana di Pere (pear mustard) and di Mele Campanine (crabapple mustard) from Casa Forcello of Mantova, Italy —fruit/mustard tang adds startling dimension to sandwiches.
Moutarde de Meaux, Pommery (since 1632)—whole grained and vinegary, a sandwich staple. marvelous too whisked with olive oil and lemon juice as quick marinade for fish or chicken.
Maille (est.1747) Dijon mustard—essential for vinaigrette. domestic versions don’t pack sufficient punch or depth.

fig—from the French vinaigrerie Delouis. delicious as ingredient of vinaigrette (w greatly reduced oil and a tad of dijon), or even, gingerly, on fruits, or to deglaze thin sautéed chicken breasts. (the same firm, est. 1885, makes exquisite vinegars of apple bouquet or muscot, and soured champagne and burgundy.)
balsamic vinegar from Modena—choose a very good one; sleazy imposters try to dupe by adding star anise and other spices to cheap vinegar. real Modena balsamic must age for years in a succession of kegs—oak, chestnut, mulberry, and juniper— emerging a sweet spicy, mahogany brown with great depth of flavor. balsamic is my default choice for vinaigrette (2Tbl balsamic, 6Tbl fine olive oil, halved garlic clove, ¼ tsp dijon mustard.) grand to deglaze the buttered pan that a filet and then shallots have browned in. and the exquisite secret ingredient of strawberry granita! my favorite is the modest but delicious Antiqua.
Spanish sherry vinegar from Jarez—a must for gazpacho.

olive oils
a rich spicy one like Sicilian, and a light pleasant green oil for cooking.

Victor’s Armenian string cheese with black nigella seeds—to be tweezed into strands as finger food.
Pepato (Sicilian ewe’s milk with peppercorns and saffron)—rich, crumbly, and utterly distinctive on a cracker.
Sottocenare al tartufo—firm and hugely truffle fragrant, from Tuscany. lovely sliced very thin as a sandwich component, or nibbled straight.
Serra da Estrela—Portuguese ewe’s milk curdled by thistles rather than rennet. you taste the fields.
Bulgarian Kashkaval—grainy. a completely different, earthy, Eastern palette. great with tabbouleh, flavorful olives, and aromatic flat Turkish bread (or better yet, warm pebble bread fresh from a village baker in Iran!)
Parmigiano-Reggiano—explosive presence on pasta.
Locatelli (true Pecorino Romano)—saltier and sharper than Parmigiano. grated or shaved over pasta or pizza all over southern Italy.
[I bring no runny cheeses, because we now have lovely goat and ewe’s milk soft ripened cheeses available locally. their freshness here trumps the more experienced finesse of imported.]

hot soprasetta sausage
to sauté quickly in slivers for omelettes. a 2 inch chunk, refrigerated, lasts most of the summer.

bittersweet and semisweet cooking chocolates such as Venezuela Ocumare or Maragda 70% cacao chocovic from Spain
richly perfumed and flavorful, they provide the knockout ingredient for little chocolate cakes with molten centers, or chocolate gelato.

dried fruits
nectarines—tartly delectable for nibbling.
prunes from Agen in SW France (pruneaux d’Agen)—really taste like dried plums. superb in chicken marbella.

Amore tomato paste in a tube
double concentrated, imported from Italy. such a sensible way to dispense a tablespoon or two at a time over weeks.

sautéed Marconi almonds from Spain
marvelous in a stir fry with kale, or eaten out of hand.

cooked beets from France in vacuum cello sac
provides the impromptu slice in a salad, or easy component of a little heated torta of thinly sliced cooked potatoes, thinly sliced cooked beets, and goat cheese.

a rich Greek honey
a lightly perfumed acacia honey like Lagnese (est. 1927) from Germany, for tea

fennel tea
my favorite herbal brew, made by Alvita (est. 1922), Utah.

powdered sumac—tart accent to rice and yoghurt, a taste acquired from the Persian national dish "chello kebab."
Lampung peppercorns—intense and small, from south Sumatra, the engine of an immensely lucrative pepper trade from the 7th century, taken over (forcibly) by the Europeans in the 15th century. (taste aside, pepper was a powerful food preservative before refrigeration.)
sambal oelek—ground fresh Indonesian style chili paste. adds essential heat and (slightly) sweet depth of flavor. essential for my delicious daging balado (fiery Indonesian sauced meat), to excite an omelet, or as a side condiment. Huy Fong Foods of Rosemead, California makes one that tastes just right (available in Korean markets, Chinatown, and even in some NY groceries.)

Lagavulan single malt whisky—smoky, deep, the cat’s meeow

To see how tempting these labels and containers would look in your larder, click on the portfolio noted below.

© 2024 Anita Spertus of DemosNews

June 23, 2007 at 10:15am
DemosRating: 4.63
Hits: 3730

Genre: Food (Leads)
Type: Creative
Tags: cheese, mustards, oils, vinegars, chocolate

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Guille de Soho   Nice rice! Basmati is the best....
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