In Praise of Street Food

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I just got back from job-hunting in New York and, in case you haven’t read a paper in the last two years, the labor market blows. On the other hand, I ate well and cheap, because Manhattan without street food would be like the movies without popcorn, the Internet without porn. Plus or minus the […]

Get her tipsy, feed her chocolate.

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I don't know about you, but I'm not above whetting my wife's more carnal appetites with enough wine and chocolate to impair her better judgment. I'm sure that's all very un-PC and certainly, as the father of young daughters, I live in mortal fear of the effects of alcohol on sensibility; but my wife's a big girl, and above all, she knows how I think, so I'm pretty sure our pending Valentine's Date - a savory symphony of handcrafted chocolate and wine at J Winery - will be consensual.

Braised Lamb with Bitter Chocolate, Rosemary, and Syrah

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Sometimes, despite all the planning, the wearing-thin of cookbook pages, the carpal-tunnel-clicking through epicurious, I'll find out the hard way that it's what I didn't plan for that determines whether my food ultimately succeeds, or merely sucks. Typically, I'm undone by good, old fashioned pilot error; typically, but not always, because sometimes it's the black swan crapping on my mise, and it's just such an exception to the rule that inspired this edition of Meat, Braise, Love: A slow braise of shoulder of local lamb with bitter chocolate, rosemary, and bad-ass Syrah.

Meat, Braise, Love

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Producing a braise in your own kitchen is a bit like making porn in your own bed: It rewards practice, because when you get it just right, it's the best you'll ever see, and all the times you don't, it's still a very long way from sucking. Similarly, there is just so much to love about the braise: Purely from a gastronomic perspective, no other cooking technique so easily employed by the home cook comes close to creating the depth and concentration of flavor than does the properly executed braise.