Thursday, March 02, 2017

Spring Cleaning

rose-flavored cronuts, more beautiful than delicious 
Inconsiderate Food52 once again scheduled the Piglet to begin during so-called “Ski Week” when there’s no school and a lot of people go skiing. We dont ski, but I took Owen to see some colleges and wasn’t able to bird dog the competition the way I would have liked. 

Or would I have liked? While I’ve been reading the Piglet judgments loyally, I just haven’t gotten excited yet and have no strong feelings about any of the books. Is it because there have been no rude, controversial, totally lame judgments? Because I’m obsessed with politics, not cookbooks?

A little spring cleaning before moving on to new cooking adventures:

*Alton Brown’s Big Fat Greek Chicken Salad is a great, healthy chicken salad, full of protein, vegetables, Greek yogurt, feta, olives, and flavor. It’s a dream dish if you’re on a low-carb diet which I was for a couple of weeks. I put some of this in a Mason jar to take on the airplane when Owen and I went to look at colleges and it wasn’t half as embarrassing to eat while sitting in the middle seat as I thought it would be. I used rotisserie chicken. Worked great. You should try it.  

*Low-carb diet ended abruptly the first night in Savannah, Georgia at a barbecue restaurant. I made it through the savory portion of the meal without succumbing to starchy sides, but then pear cobbler and sweet potato pie happened. Southern dessert are so generous and sweet and fat and forgiving. I love them bigly. No regrets. The sad thing is (or maybe it’s the happy thing), I didn’t feel any worse after eating all that sugar than I had during my abstinence. I slept fine, plenty of energy, good mood, didn’t balloon overnight, wasn’t suddenly overcome with cravings. The next day: fresh shrimp, boiled peanuts, peach cobbler. Heaven. Continued to feel great. Owen determined that he loved the Savannah College of Art and Design and so we moved on to the next leg of our journey where there were no tempting carbohydrates.

*Rural western Pennsylvania. Terrible food and we saw more Confederate flags than we had in Savannah, where I don’t think we saw any at all. I don’t have much nice to say about our experience of rural western Pennsylvania, so I will be brief. We toured one sweet college and we were supposed to tour another but there were addicts in the hotel parking lot and bed bugs in the bed. I told Owen he could not go to school in a town where this was the highest rated hotel on TripAdvisor. Feel free to call me a snob, but you did not see those bed bugs. 

a "fully-loaded" halo halo.
*So we skipped the second school and drove to New York City instead. Brilliant decision. Cronuts at Dominique Ansel, halo halo at Lumpia Shack, a Monte Cristo sandwich at Shopsin’s, steak at Peter Luger, a grilled cheese sandwich at Marlow & Son. . . . plus some sightseeing, theater, and Pratt. One of my favorite trips ever.

Now we’re home in California and I should probably go back on my low-carb diet before the good fruit starts coming in. 

This is the year of the Big Lebowski sweater.


  1. A friend's son, one semester shy of graduating from SCAD, has loved it. And more to the point, he is about to intern at Disney and was invited to apply for an internship at the Cartoon Network.

  2. I don't think that makes you a snob. Where are you supposed to stay when visiting? One must have basic standards!

    The food all looks and sounds delicious. Now I'm hungry, and there's nothing like that in my kitchen.

  3. I've heard that even the most expensive, exclusive hotels can get bedbugs .. they hitchhike on people's luggage. Did you leave that hotel when you noticed them?

  4. I wonder if either of my sons would wear a Big Lebowski sweater. One is quite vain, so he probably won't. And the other is sort of a jock (a nerdy jock, a rower, but still, a jock), so he probably wouldn't, either. They are no fun at all. Does Owen wear it ironically?

    1. Well it is quite warm and comfortable but also I've grown to think it actually suits me. Whether that's true or not, I don't know...

  5. Rural western Pennsylvania is a special place (special can have MANY meanings). Coming from Northern California, I dont think you could have had any more culture shock in the U.S., except for rural Appalachia.

  6. Savannah? I vote YES. It's a lovely place for you and Mark to visit, but then again, NYC has it's charms. You got to eat at Shopsin's? Tell it, Sister! The old restaurant closed, so was it in the market?
    Bed bugs, UGH! Yick! I have an aversion to bugs that creep up on you and drink your blood.
    Since Owen is a design guy, I assume the sweater is part of his aesthetic. You go, Owen, be you.
    The Piglet has not interested me much this year. It may just be because I don't have you doing commentary.

  7. I have been less excited about the Piglet this year. Maybe it's familiarity.

  8. Big YES to NYC (I also recommend Shanghai Joe's for the Xiao Long Bao AKA soup dumplings) -- my daughter is a sophomore in college there and I love visiting.

    Big NEWP to the PA school. Don't blame you a bit.

  9. When did you go to Dominique Ansel? I was wondering if the lines still start at 4am or if it's possible to go at a more civilized hour. By the way did you happen to taste one of his kouign amannes? They are wonderful. Of course I hope he decides to come here!

    1. When I went to NYC in June last year we arrived around their opening time on a weekday and there was a bit of a queue, but it was very organised and moved swiftly.

    2. Witloof, I love the kougin amann there too; you should try the canelés next time you go.

  10. I vote for Savannah and Owen is precious. The Piglet is not compelling this year,and I miss your commentary most of all!

  11. The Piglet putting "Land of Fish and Rice" up against "Dorie's Cookies" in the first round and having them reviewed by yet another reviewer who did the bare minimum of cooking (the easiest dishes she could find!) out of them has turned me off completely this year.

    Savannah and NYC sound great. Owen has eclectic tastes in colleges (or at least college locations), but since he's your son he'll thrive at whichever one he picks.

    1. agreed - a super strange (mis)match

    2. Admittedly, I'm in FL, but I keep running into both fine artists and people in design who are making it in the field - that is, they are supporting themselves and not just scraping by - and they keep turning out to be graduates of SCAD. If I had it to do over again...

  12. Colleges, already?? Noooo....

    This is a tiny peeve, but it's actually impacting my experience of the Piglets this year: what is up with those little arms drawn onto the cookbooks, showing their victory or defeat or relative even-matchedness? I hate that! I don't want a spoiler up front-- I want to follow the judge's personal process of reaching a decision. Grr. Does this bug anyone else, or is it just me?

    1. They really annoy me too!

  13. I'm rooting for Owen to go to college in Brooklyn, walking distance from my house! But how did you find the bedbugs? Do you look for them under the sheets when you get to a hotel room? I always wonder how paranoid to be.

  14. I am not hating The Piglet this year as I am happy for a distraction. However, it does not seem to have been a great year for books. Kenzi swears the little arms don't indicate which book moves forward. They did a video review yesterday, and I thought it was great.

  15. If colleges in small, cold cities are still on the table, I'm hoping you'll pay Rochester, NY a visit. RIT has the School for American Crafts, as well as all manner of industrial design majors. We have decent food here, too. The "garbage plate" is tasty despite the unfortunate name.

  16. Arizona State has a vibrant design program.Check it out.

  17. I do not understand how they select reviewers for the piglet. Dunlop's is a remarkable book; they did not include Carolyn Phillips' All under heaven.


  18. Art Center in Pasadena! But about the bedbugs. Apparently, you should take your suitcase straight into the bathroom and plonk it into the tub, then examine the mattress for the bugs. Even putting your luggage on the bed or carpet for a few minutes can give them the opportunity to infiltrate. We had a scare a few years ago (it was entirely in our minds, but it warranted a google search), and this was the info we found. Bathtub, then examine, then relax if appropriate.

    1. This is what I do. I think my husband thought I was crazy, but when he was alone in Harrisburg, PA, once, he woke up to one crawling on him! Now he indulges me and even self-reports that he sometimes does his own exams when he travels. I wish he did them all the time, but.... I met him from that trip with giant Ziploc bags and a change of clothes. He ditched the suitcase in the parking lot so it wouldn't enter our car. We left a note on it. Everything that could went into the dryer. We escaped the scare without an infestation. It really makes you not want to go anywhere, though, which is a shame.

  19. Even if you are not regularly following The Piglet this year, Dwight Garner's review today is worth reading.

  20. I just found this blog and look forward to checking it out. Read Make Bread Buy Butter 5 yr ago and wanted to sell my house and move next door to Jennifer as new best friend! Had to settle for recommending it to everyone I know.

  21. The kid I know @SCAD loves it.

    I have 3 very good looking boys, myself. Youngest a hs junior, too. So I'm kind of an expert. Owen is absolu adorbs!

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