Sunday, November 06, 2011

A Fortnight Roundup

Hello, everybody! After dual bouts with autumn maladies, we have decided to implement a roundup of notable eats and occurrences from the last fortnight (and we've also decided to re-implement "fortnights" in general.) Here's what we've eaten, bedrunken, and experienced of late:

This is a pan-roasted pork loin with apple-onion glaze and roasted autumn goodness. There are parsnips, brussels sprouts, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, and a roasted pear for good measure. We've been hankering for fall food, and this fit the bill. The pork was brined for a day, which added some delectability, which I have just decided will be a word. Let it be so.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Upstairs, Downstairs in Newport

Have at you!

We love Rhode Island. It's a charming state with great food. That's why, when we were invited to drive to Newport to watch a polo match, we didn't say no. We even brought one of our finds from Napa.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Plump Duck Santa Rosa Plum Preserves

And we're back!

The New England Patriots are back on the field, leaves are a changin', and a cool breeze is in the air (well, actually that's the A/C, since humidity seems to be the weather du jour in fall 2011).  Kicking off the quail after a late summer hiatus is the much anticipated Plum Preserves.

Professor Moriarty lies in waiting behind a brace of plump duck preserves

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It's Pronounced Bangor, not Banger

I grew up in Bangor, Maine. It was a great place for a kid to be raised, a safe town with a stellar school system and strong support for athletics, which is something that once encompassed me (and now...not so much.) But one thing it didn't have was a strong reason for anyone over eighteen to stick around. The downtown was then largely deserted, and options for food and drink were sparse.

But there was always this.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Lunching at Takahachi Bakery

Crunchy cod, cucumber and cabbage sandwich. Plus bread and teriyaki sauce, but those aren't as cutely alliterative. 
This is just a quickie post to show a typical lunch at one of my go-to lunch establishments: Takahachi Bakery on Murray Street in lower TriBeCa (side note: whoever called this TriBeCa must've been selling real estate, because it's nowhere near the Triangle Below Canal.)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Craving Cassoulet and Getting Creative


Two winters ago, we two Quails journeyed from Barcelona to southern France on New Year's Day, to look at ruined castles in the Pyrenees and to partake of that most wonderful of casseroles, cassoulet. And it was an epic affair, brimming with creamy beans and rich porkiness from slow-cooked pork, and little melt-in-your-mouth strips of pure pork fat (picture pork belly). I wanted to live inside that bowl. So now, as the Tour de France begins to travel through that same neck of the woods, I got the craving for something cassoulet-ish. Now, I've tried my hand at making the real thing before, but it's a nine-hour process that really doesn't compress well into post-work hours. So I decided to improvise. This sure ain't cassoulet, but it's a sort of pork-and-beans variation I've never made before.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Gaining the Upper Crust: Ducksmack Sour Cherry Pie

Let me spoil this one for you: Last Wednesday I entered and lost my first pie competition.  My friends tell me I was robbed (thanks, friends!).  I chalk it up to inexperience, visitor (70):pie (2) ratio, and the fact that warm pie and accompanying ice cream were not permitted. I dislike losing--so much so that some games (Hearts, for example) are on a "do not play" list.  But, entering a pie competition seemed like the right thing to do on a Sunday night and I'm ultimately glad I did. Some very good things resulted (besides a pie-sized chip on my shoulder).

Friday, July 08, 2011

Dame Maggie Smith's Dubbel Brewday

A day before celebrating our independence from Europe, our cat Dame Maggie Smith decided to pay her respects to our Euro-friends by brewing up a Belgian-style dubbel ale, just to be contrarian. One of our mentors suggested that Mrs. Quail and I seem to be trying to turn our cats into Lolcats, but really, that's impossible. Our cats are not funny at all (except for Professor Moriarty. He's hilarious. But also quite possibly evil, so it's a bit awkward deciding whether to laugh at him.) We assure you, Maggie is all business as the new brewmistress of Ducksmack Ales. See for yourself!

1. This is a Smack Pack. You smack it to release yeast nutrients into the yeast. I don't think Maggie knows this; she just smacked it as a matter of course. Then she smacked me a little for good measure. Then Professor Moriarty smacked her, then she smacked him, and then we all had a good laugh.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Seeking out Saka Gura

As our stalwart readers know, we have rarely delved into full on restaurant reports.  This is partly because we primarily eat at home (else prodigious show-offs Dame Maggie and Prof. Moriarty would have no audience), partly because we typically forget to document anything whilst we are out and about, and partly because other websites like immaculate infatuation do it oh so much better.

Not so last Monday!  'Twas Mr. Quail's birthday (he turned a respectable age) and to celebrate we finally took the plunge and went to Sakagura.

For those not in the know, Sakagura is a sake bar/Izakaya in the basement of a relatively obscure office building a block away from the Chrysler Building.  Mr. Quail even worked in the building for a short stint (for a company that may or may not have "existed" in the eyes of "the man") but never ventured down to the hidden world below the elevator bank.

So, was our insatiable craving for all cuisine Japanese satisfied?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Two Quails Roosting in Wine Country, Part 2

See Part 1 of our adventure here.
Sweet local strawberries and blackberries, local goat cheese, a salmon mousse from Santa Rosa Seafood, and a wedge of Montbriac, a blue-brie cheese. Salut!
We would be remiss not to mention the utterly gorgeous cottage we rented for our trip to California's wine country, nestled in a meadow on the top of a hill outside Calistoga, quaint enough that deer, birds of prey, rabbits, lizards, and wild turkeys were our morning companions, but modern enough to feature a killer outdoor grill and indoor range that we made heavy use of during our five nights. This definitely beat waking up early to catch the end of continental breakfast service at some inn.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Chicken! Or a short diversion from our Napa experience

We're back, and with work awaiting us tomorrow, we spent Sunday (Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there!) tidying up, brunching at a standard issue NYC diner, roaming through the farmer's market, and prepping our Napa Part II blog post (tktktk).  But after all that wine and grilling in CA, I had a hankering for roast chicken.
Thomas Keller's perfect roast chicken from Feather Ridge Farm
This chicken brought to you by  Feather Ridge Farm 

I've been putting off this post. The truth is, Mr. Quail is the primary chef de cuisine at home. But I do have a few meals in my repertoire and one "recent" (4 years ago) addition is roast chicken, mainly because it requires an oven, and in the Quail household, the oven is my domain.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Two Quails Roosting in Wine Country, Part 1

Three days into our trip to the Napa Valley. Our trip is three days old, and we haven't visited a single vineyard. Can you believe that? Never fear, we'll get there, but until then we'll just have to tough it out with things like this:

Carnitas and Carne Asada from La Taqueria

Maybe it's hard to tell from the photos, but these were amazing tacos. All you Californians who complain on the east coast about the dearth of Mexican food? All is forgiven. I understand now.

Monday, June 06, 2011

A Sunday Supper with 311

Ahh, Sunday.  A relaxing day to do errands, hang out with great friends (at Maialino no less.  Mmm...Carbonara), nap with cats, and spend a delightful evening with 311.

About that last part. The building behind ours has a leaky chimney, and as a result from time to time we get a lovely whiff of heating oil in our apartment. Thus, we spent an entire evening on the phone with the Department of Buildings.  But as a great man once said, little setbacks like these are sometimes just what we need to take a giant step forward*. While still on hold, we managed to eke out Sunday supper at the Quails featuring greenmarket goods and pie (311 compelled us to retaliate with pie).

COURSE ONE: Whiskey sour

Call one: wait time 20 minutes. Result: dropped call as DOB specialist took down my complaint.

The secret to this whiskey sour? Eaaasy on the lemon. It's often too overpowering.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Grist and Grain

Today we have two subjects at hand, and both involve strange manipulations of grain. The first is a product we have come to admire: pasta made from farro by Rustichella d'Abruzzo. Farro is a grain more commonly known as spelt, and one commonly used in Italy. In this case we used their casareccia, which is somewhat like a penne that has been sliced lengthwise and twisted a bit. The second subject today is a tasting of The Bitter Drake, the Belgian-style ale brewed two months ago that (hopefully) is rounding into shape in time for summer. More on that later.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Catching Up

Sorry, but we've been eating this.

Apologies, dear readers. We promise there is a reason for the gap between this post and the last. Two reasons, actually.

Here is one:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Shelf Stable: Attempts at a Boozy Marmalade

In which Mrs. Quail sets out to make a boozy, not-too sweet, shelf stable, blood-orange marmalade.
ducksmack homemade blood orange cognac marmalade

A Leetle Background
I do not like a sweet, bouncy jam. I tried making jam with pectin once, and it just annoyed me. My ideal marmalade is slightly runny and tart with a very pronounced orange flavor and lots of rind for texture. In fact, my ideal marmalade comes from someplace in the Loire valley, where it was likely made following a centuries-old family recipe, jarred without any adherence to FDA standards, and sold as an afterthought at a michelin-starred restaurant/auberge. Someplace like this:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

An Everyday IPA Update

Dear friends, we certainly would not want to leave you wanting resolution to the burning question on everyone's lips: how did the IPA turn out?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Springtime for Farmers and Ocean Perch

farmer's market ocean perch with ras el hanout

Just the other day we wandered through the Sunday Farmer's Market outside the American Museum of Natural History, and found a few signs of spring, like these geraniums:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Apartment Lab, or Adventures in Fermentation

In Jack London’s great novel The Sea Wolf, the cynical captain Wolf Larsen says, “I believe that life is a mess…it is like yeast, a ferment, a thing that moves…but that in the end will cease to move.” Wolf Larsen was a cheery fellow. But for all his certainty that yeast is something pointless to be dismissed, it really has an element of magic in it, don’t you think?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cigrons: Globalized

Since discovering the potential of cigrons (or garbanzos or chickpeas) in the famed Pinotxo bar in the Boqueria in Barcelona, Mr. Quail has invented brilliant ways of incorporating these "peas" into dinnertime. And while I still enjoy them in hummus or (low brow alert) the salad bar at Charlie Brown's Steakhouse, I devour his versions with werewolf-like gusto. Below, Mr. Quail reveals his latest--Globalized Cigrons.

Note: Picture Not Available (alas, meal eaten too fast).