Monthly Archives: January 2011

PINK SPOT

Miss my kitty today. That’s all.

PIZZERIA BRUNO: A TRIUMPH

Though I often waffle about what my current favorite style of pizza is — at one misguided point in my life, I swore that deep dish was my soul mate — I think my eternal favorite pie is made Naples style, in a wood-fired oven.

Naples pizzas are much smaller than the gargantuan New York-style pies I devoured in college. They should have a charred, bubblegum-like crust, a soupy center (that almost always requires a knife and fork), and minimal adornment (though I do appreciate a generous snip of basil).

When it is done well, the pleasure is so intense that all other pies taste irrelevant. In fact, it is at times like these when I am sure in the fact that pizza is my very favorite food. It is very reassuring to be reminded that your favorite food is still your favorite food.

So you can imagine my excitement when I discovered Pizzeria Bruno in North Park, San Diego, where they claim to make an authentic Naples-style pizza. Everything about this place is great. They have a really reasonable corkage fee ($8/bottle). In fact, everything is well-priced.

Though I wanted to focus on pizza, I couldn’t help but order two tempting starters — the mixed salume and the antipasto salad. Both were outrageously delicious. The salume plate had a tissue-thin cured pork tenderloin that was wonderful with the aged balsamic and salty housed-made olives. The proscuitto was unusually rich, with thick white marblings of fat and the mouth feel of softened butter.

You know how they say it’s all in the details? I normally hate the dried-out “crackers” that restaurants try to pass off as toasted baguette rounds that they serve with charcuterie plates. At Bruno, I loved how lightly toasted the bread was, so it stayed chewy, warm, and with a bit of char.

It was so hard not to fill up on our delicious appetizers before our pizzas showed up! This salad was everything a salad should be: salty, crunchy, tangy and with plenty of cheese. Usually I really hate the antipasto ‘salads’ pizzerias serve; it’s like they opened a can of olives, cut up some string cheese, and dumped cheap deli meat on a plate. I think we can all agree that it is the worst. This salad was unusually fresh and crunchy and full of flavor. If the meal had stopped here, I would have been pleased as punch.

Though I typically prefer my sausage crumbled onto my pizza, I loved the thick coins of fennel-flecked pork sausage on this pie. It was joined by mushrooms and sweet onions (my three favorite pizza ingredients). Of course, we ate it all.

I was weirdly energized after our meal. Considering the embarrassing amount of food I ate, I should have been comatose. I was so pumped, in fact, that I convinced my family to order a cannoli for dessert. Triumph!

 

…AND, WE’RE BACK!

[Image via unknown] Good news. The camera battery charger has been located and is being shipped back into my arms, so I promise many more food posts in the near future (and my 5 daily essentials — I haven’t forgotten!). My biggest regret: not having my camera handy when these two concocted a magnificent bo ssam party, complete with homemade kimchi, sugary oven-roasted pork butt, and scallion pancakes.

Some other things: My friend Richie Stearns has recorded a solo record. It is, like everything he does, gorgeous + sweet. Listen up.

And: Only a few more spots left for the Dep’s Saucessession with Szef Bartek. Sign up now! This weekend the CBC’s ‘All In a Weekend’ will be interviewing Bartek about the workshop. The interview airs this Saturday, sometime between 6-9am. More details to come.

And: one of my current favorite filmmakers, Paul Clipson, is screening his super-8mm films tonight at the Segal Centre. I can’t wait! I really fell in love with his work at last year’s On Land Fest — he reminds me of Chris Marker and Stan Brakhage. Some stills from his works, below.

TOPOGRAPHY ON TORSO

The current sale at Mociun is so tempting, and this versatile topography Mountains dress is the most potent catnip. It’s been discouraging to see Mociun’s prices steadily creep up over the years; I remember when you could scoop one of her dresses for around $200. But the sales are always decent, especially when the fall collections — always my favorite fashion season — get deeply discounted.

SUMMER RECALL

-36 degrees here today [Edit: that's in Celsius, I believe; in Fahrenheit, about -22], and the only respite is the gorgeous sunshine we get on almost a daily basis. Another of my default cold-weather comfort foods? Pasta — tossed with our beloved summer canning supplies, including a small jar of my pesto, Adam’s luscious oven-dried tomatoes, and sweet hand-shucked white beans. I’m terrified for the day when we run out of our summer bounty.

SEEING SPOTS

I truly can’t stand Miranda July, which makes it even harder to admit that her shirt is completely, totally perfect.

[image via Facehunter]

STEWING.

Annoying news. I’m fairly certain that I left my camera’s battery charger behind in San Diego. This is something that I manage to do with various electronics at least 4-5 times a year (cell phone chargers are abandoned at an alarming rate), and I am at my wits’ end trying to figure out how to improve my mindfulness. Any ideas?

I only have a few more photos to share before I run out of post material, but at least we’ll (temporarily) end here on a happy note: I’ve been thinking a lot about meals that make me feel happy during these chilly weeks, and I’m thrilled to report that this impromptu vinegar and chipotle-marinated chicken thigh and fava bean stew, braised Adobo-style, served with homemade mashed potatoes did just the trick. If I don’t have time to buy and break down an entire chicken, I always gravitate towards bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs.

Don’t forget to register for the upcoming sausage-making workshop!

SAUCISSESSION WITH SZEF BARTEK!

Along with Dépanneur Le Pick-Up, I am thrilled to announce our first workshop of 2011, featuring Montreal food writer and Pork Club founder Bartek Komorowski! Bartek, a restaurant critic for the Montreal Mirror, also runs the food blog Culinary Propaganda. He is both the creator of Pork Club — and has hosted its infamous pork-oriented feasts right here at the Pick-Up — and its secretive offshoot, Pork Underground.

Saucissession with Szef Bartek is the convergence of Pork Club with Culinary Propaganda — a pork-oriented event aimed ultimately to inspire participants to craft their own sausages. Please join us on Saturday, February 12 as we explore the methods and techniques for creating your own sausages from scratch: preparing the meat and stuffing it into casings. The workshop will include a presentation by Bartek, as well as the opportunity to make your own links.

The workshop will begin promptly at 8pm, with doors opening at 7:30pm. Each participant will be making his or her own sausages to take home, with guidance and instruction from Szef Bartek. The registration fee is $35 and will cover all costs for the sausages presented.

The Pick-Up is located 7032 rue Waverly. It’s a cozy, intimate space — please register soon as there are a very limited number of spots. Cash only, please, and payable on the night of the event. To register, email natasha DOT pickowicz AT gmail DOT com.

Bring a bottle of wine* if you like, as we’ll also be frying up some of our finished sausages to enjoy right on the spot!

*To accompany pork sausages, Szef Bartek recommends aromatic, off-dry whites, such as gewurztraminers and dry rieslings, as well as dry ciders.

ESCABECHE TWICE OVER

The first time we made Peruvian-style escabeche it was so outrageously good, we made it again a few days later — exactly the same.

Admittedly, the dish is pretty ugly — although we did make a half-hearted attempt to dress things up with thin medallions of pale green cucumber — but what it does have, in spades, are a multitude of intense flavors that everyone loves: vinegar, citrus, spice, garlic, coriander and salt. To add to its perfection: not only is it exceedingly crunchy and refreshing, escabeche is meant to be eaten at room temperature. And if you’re like me, you love eating food at room temperature.

Escabache often gets confused with ceviche, but in this case, the tiny fillets of oily fish — like sardines, mackerel or herring — are actually seared first in hot oil before marinating in a vinegary onion sauce. The fish is then served over a bed of shredded lettuce and cucumbers, which soaks up the savory sauce in a crazily delicious way.

PIZZA PARTY

Given that there is a pretty noticeable dearth of proper pizza joints in Montreal, I knew I had to eat as many pies as possible during my short time in San Diego. I had some spectacular slices while at home, and I’ll be posting about those shortly. (My top picks? Berkeley Pizza, Blue Ribbon Pizzeria, and Basic).

But now that I’m back in Montreal, I prefer to make my own pizza. (I love pizza nights!) Recently I made two pies: one with sauteed leeks and bacon, the other with crimini mushrooms, caramelized red onion, and diced kalamata olives. Both were pretty perfect. My sauce — reduced into a silky spread from canned San Marzano tomatoes, a bit of chopped onion and a pat of butter — was extra spicy, and dotted with fresh oregano. And for the crust, I recommend the Falling Cloudberries recipe (an inspiring book given to me by the wonderful Kat).

The best part is seeing how high our oven can go — about 550 degrees F — and then roasting quickly for 8-10 minutes, until crispy, charred + bubbling. It’s the longest 10 minutes of your life.