Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I have to read The Big House

Kyocera ceramic knife -- you need one.
With no wireless, I can't keep up with this vacation blogging! There's only so much Dunkin' Donuts coffee a woman can drink.

Alright, deep breath.

My husband's family has owned and loved the same Massachusetts beach property for several generations, property that has been divided and now comprises four summer houses for various branches of the family and a fifth that is the year-round residence of a cousin. The property is lovely, heavily wooded and threaded with trails. It has its own stretch of rocky beach. There are outdoor showers, a swing set, screened-in porches, hummingbirds, and many mosquitos. The kids get here and run off in a pack of cousins and aren't heard from until someone idly mentions she might be willing to take the boys to see Captain America at which point suddenly I am thronged and regretful.

Cooking is done for a crowd and people volunteer for meals. The other day I produced a modest dinner: potato chips with onion soup dipburgers, cole slaw, and s'mores bars (baked by Isabel.) My in laws are not really into elaborate food and I try not to overinvest. I succeeded, perhaps too well. I wasn't exactly bursting with pride at that dinner. As always, everyone loved the s'mores bars.

Friday, Isabel and I drove out to the Cape Cod summer home of her good friend Juliet, whose mother is my good friend Lisa.  We swam in the sea, swam in a pond, shopped in shops, and then Lisa and I cooked for her extended family. As the menu took shape, it became clear that Lisa's family is very into elaborate food. We made negronis and served grilled bluefish with mustard and lime, scalloped oysters, salad, corn roasted with agave and soy sauce, and there was a lasagna for the kids. Dinner was late, loud, drunken, and delicious.  As usual, my photograph doesn't do the food, people, or anything else, justice.

It was fun, really! 
I'd never cooked or eaten bluefish before, and was very pleased with the recipe, taken from a Cape Cod cookbook on Lisa's shelf. You put the fillets in a foil pan, smother in mustard and lemon juice, then cover in bread crumbs, and grill for 40 minutes. I liked it so much I'm making it tonight for my in laws.

For dessert: another batch of s'mores bars.

Thank-you, Anne Thornton.
Sunday, Isabel and I drove to Boston to make a pilgrimage to Flour, the bakery owned by Joanne Chang, the author of Flour, a newish cookbook we like a lot.

Good bakery in desolate-on-Sunday neighborhood
We got there 8 minutes before it closed. I didn't even have to ask her -- Isabel jumped out of the car while I parked to be sure we got an order in. My girl.

Hazelnut cookie was best.
She bought a hazelnut cookie, an oreo, and a raspberry crumb bar. The hazelnut cookie was unbelievably good, the oreo tasted just like the ones we've made from the cookbook (amazing), and the raspberry crumb bar was tasty. Like Baked, Flour is a homestyle bakery -- a place you go to buy high quality treats you could conceivably and easily make at home, especially when the owners publish an excellent cookbook.

Coincidentally, Flour is just around the corner from Sportello, a Barbara Lynch restaurant. Lynch wrote a wonderful book I cooked through last year -- Stir -- and since Sportello was just about to open for dinner, we went.
And such small portions
I'm hesitant to say anything negative because I'm having a very happy vacation and we loved Stir, but, okay, twist my arm. We were the first ones in Sportello and there were paper towels all over the bathroom floor, the trash basket was overflowing, and everything on the menu was a little too expensive. Maybe a lot too expensive. Isabel's flat pasta with bolognese sauce cost $24. My porcini ravioli cost $25. The salad was, if I remember correctly, $14. All good, not great. Maybe that's what it costs to keep a restaurant afloat, and maybe this was an off night. I don't know.

Anyway, I still recommend the cookbook.
Sportello is very handsome and very white.

5 comments:

  1. I too am a disappointed customer of Sportello's. The bathroom was in better shape, but the food was over-priced and underwhelming. I was hungry an hour later and ate a Luna bar for desert on the ride home . There are too many good restaurants in this world to go back.

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  2. I third the disappointment with Sportello's. I really like No. 9 Park and Menton (had the best ever duck breast there), both owned by Lynch, but Sportello was overpriced and very mediocre. The potato gnocchi literally tasted like airplane food.

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  3. Amazing when a cookbook is better than the restaurant. Sorry it happened to you and many others apparently!
    You took me back with the bluefish...my cousins used to fish for blues and bring back enough to stock our freezer. Wish we'd had that recipe then...not sure I could stomach now the very very simple treatments we gave it back then.

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  4. oh. this made me think of summers in Madison, CT at our family's summer home on the LI Sound. we always got crullers from a local bakery. some of my best memories come from that place, my older daughter's namesake....

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  5. Oh my gosh, I am a HUGE fan of Kyocera knives. They are the best! But sorry your dinner was a bit of a bust.

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