Results tagged tortilla chips from David Lebovitz

Things I Bring When I’m a Guest for a Weekend (or Week)

A while back, someone posed the question on Twitter, asking it was okay to bring your own knives if you’re a houseguest for the weekend. It’s a question I didn’t think was all that odd, since I do it all the time. Then a friend of mine also noted recently that, like me, he brings red pepper powder with him, when he’s cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen. Which got me thinking about the mini-arsenal of equipment and foodstuffs I tote along with me when heading out to the country to stay with friends or family.

I try to be a good guest and bring food to take some of the burden off my hosts. I’ll usually prepare and freeze a few rolls of cookie dough, or maybe a disk of tart dough, which I’ll bring along to make a tart. I might take along a marinated lamb or pork shoulder (or loin) studded with garlic and rubbed with spices, ready to roast off with little fuss. And I always bring a couple of loaves of bread from Paris since it can be a challenge to find good bread in the countryside. (And I don’t like eating baguettes that can be tied in a knot.) And I always arrive with a couple of bottles of wine, because I don’t want to be known as the guest who drank his hosts out of house and home.

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¡Hola, Mil Amores Tortilleria!

tortillas with french butter

So we’ve had the first bean-to-bar chocolate maker open in Paris. And now we have homemade tortillas. Or as I call them, “Two more reasons to stay put.” Which also means I can give the valuable luggage space I was devoting to lugging corn tortillas back from the states to something else – like pecans and memory foam slippers.

tortillas at Mil Amores tortilla chips

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In-Room Coffee

hotel coffee

One of my great joys in life in in-room coffee. Hotels do a lot of head-scratching things, like inventing ‘turn-down service.’ Aside from a free piece of chocolate, does anyone like or want someone rummaging through their room while they’re out at dinner? Or the “hotel channel”, which shows and glorifies the splendors of your hotel, which is kind of silly since you’re already there. Plus it always takes me a few days to figure out how to bypass that channel and get to the tv stations. (Although it takes me quite a bit longer to get that syrupy music from the hotel channel out of my head.) But I’m a happy hotel camper when I find a coffee-maker in my hotel room, wherever I find myself in the morning.

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Chez Panisse at Forty

Chez Panisse 40th Anniversary

Before I started working at Chez Panisse, way back in the early 1980s, I didn’t really know all that much about the restaurant. Prior to moving to California, I’d read an article about “California Cuisine” and of all the places listed, the chef of each one had either worked at this place called Chez Panisse or cited it as inspiration. So I’d picked up a copy of The Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook, which listed menus and the recipes featured in the restaurant.

As I read through the book over and over, I was intrigued by this place where people injected tangerine juice for multiple days into legs of lamb then spit-roasting the hindquarters so that those syrupy-sweet juices not only moistened the meat but caramelized the outside to a crackly finish. There were descriptions of salads of bitter greens drizzled with walnut oil that were topped with warm disks of goat cheese, which were made by a woman who lived an hour north of the restaurant and had her own goats.

Thinking about it now, I am sure that I’d had goat cheese on backpacking trips through Europe, but never really paid attention to it. But these fresh disks of California chèvre that oozed from the bready coating that were part of one of the menus in the books sure sounded pretty good. And a tart made of sliced almonds, baked in a buttery crust until toffee-like and firm, and meant to be eaten with your hands, along with tiny cups of strong coffee alongside. I kept that book on my nightstand for bedside reading for months.

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Carnitas Recipe

Why do people call you thirty minutes before you’ve invited them for dinner? It’s something I don’t understand. Usually if you’re having folks for dinner, if you’re anything like me, during those precious few minutes before everyone arrives you’re racing around in your undies trying to get everything together so you can look relaxed when they arrive.

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But people can’t resist calling—“We’re on our way!” “Can we bring anything?” “What time did you say to come?” “Can I bring two friends?”

There’s a couple of rules in Paris about dinner parties:

The first is that you never, ever show up on time. Thirty minutes late is normale, and if you show up earlier you just may catch your host in their undies too (which may or may not be such a bad thing.) Another is that you need to get people’s digicode in advance. Most buildings in Paris have a complex series of numbers and letters that you need to press on a pad by the entry to get into the building.

Sadly, people have a way of forgetting them and having to frantically call you from the sidewalk since they can’t get in. And lastly, no one in France has food allergies so if you’re invited for dinner, if you have an food issues, you’d better pipe up in advance or be prepared to eat Tête de veau…which, believe me, you don’t want to eat.

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So when they call, while they’re blabbing on and on and on, you’re hyperventilating and all those thoughts are running through you mind—”Darn it. Why didn’t I trim my fingernails when I had time on Wednesday?” “Will they notice the pots and pans piled up in the bathtub?” (which is a whole ‘nother blog entry…) “Do I need to make more chips since I think I ate about half of them after I made them?”

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