Pat and David

Lavender and chevre speak French on the North Fork

Lavender and chevre speak French on the North Fork

Lavender by the Bay could not be better located. It was one of the first farms we encountered as we drove from the Orient Point ferry docks into the agricultural stretch of Long Island's North Fork. In mid-June, the English lavender was just beginning to bloom. This pretty, fragrant spot made a welcoming introduction to the region. The farm boasts 80,000 plants on 17 acres. When the French lavender bursts into bloom around the beginning of July, you could think that you are in the south of France. That's where the French-born patriarch of this family-run operation spent his summers. Fortunately for us, lavender also seems to thrive in the salty, sea air of Long Island. The fields may be the big draw, but it's...Read More
Long Island’s North Fork is gourmand heaven

Long Island’s North Fork is gourmand heaven

We recently sailed the Cross Sound Ferry (longislandferry.com) from New London, Connecticut, to Orient Point on the North Fork of New York's Long Island to sip and nibble our way through an agricultural region we don't visit often enough. If you look at a map, you'll see that the landmass logically belongs with southern New England instead of New York. It's all part of the glacial moraine—the deposit of sand and gravel that marks the southern extent of the last glaciers about 15,000 years ago. A lot of silt has settled over that gritty base, and the warm currents of Long Island Sound help make the North Fork into prime farm country just 80 miles east of Manhattan. In 1988, the area was designated as...Read More
Summer on a roll at Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery

Summer on a roll at Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery

Today is the first day of astronomical summer, but one of our favorite roadside eateries has been rushing the season for weeks. Bob's Clam Hut (315 US Route 1, Kittery, Maine; 207-439-4233, www.bobsclamhut.com) is known, of course, for fried clams. Or, more specifically, for fried clams two ways. “Bob's traditional” fried clams are dredged in flour. “Lillian's clams,” an homage to long-time employee Lillian Mangos, are dipped in an egg wash before they're dredged in flour. The second method imparts a slightly tangy, almost sourdough flavor to the breading. The price is the same, but you have to specify which you want when you order. Bob's is much, much more than clams, of course. The fried local haddock is always a treat, and this year...Read More
More ice cream, just in time

More ice cream, just in time

Chow and Alan Mezger could almost be the Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of ice cream in the U.K. The two brothers have transformed their dad's hand-churned ice cream business into a kingdom-wide taste phenomenon called Jude's Ice Cream (www.judes.co.uk). But being Brits, their taste references are very different from Ben & Jerry. On this side of the pond, their ice creams seem rather exotic. We doubt that Pillsbury is about to issue Roasted Strawberry and Buttermilk or Vegan Malted Banana anytime soon. But you can make your own. A cookbook/wishbook of their recipes has just been published by Kyle Books, and it's available in the U.S. Called Jude's Ice Cream & Desserts: Scoops, Bakes, and Sauces, it retails for $19.99. It's also on Amazon,...Read More
The sheer joy of Hadley asparagus

The sheer joy of Hadley asparagus

Slicing north to south through western Massachusetts, the Connecticut River Valley is some of the richest farmland in northeastern North America. We like to have an excuse to drive 90 miles west from our home in Cambridge at selected moments in the growing season. And as far as we're concerned, the agricultural season begins at the opening letter of the alphabet. “A” is for Asparagus, proudly priapic. When we saw the sign above at North Hadley Sugar Shack (181 River Drive/Route 47, Hadley, MA; 413-585-8820, northhadleysugarshack.com), we couldn't help but smile. Hadley was famous for asparagus from the 1920s until the Fusarium blight struck in the 1970s, decimating the 50-ton annual production from Hadley and adjacent river towns of Hatfield, Sunderland, and Whatley. Farmers fought...Read More
‘Family’ shows the way to fad-free vegetarian cooking

‘Family’ shows the way to fad-free vegetarian cooking

Cookbooks seem to run in phases. A few years ago, we saw a lot of volumes devoted to various ways of cooking meat, especially barbecue. And there are the perennial single-country cuisine books penned by veteran authors. Lately, vegetarian cookbooks by millennial food bloggers seem to dominate. But when we first looked at Hetty McKinnon's new book, Family, we missed the subtitle. We were simply struck by how delicious the recipes sounded. After flipping through, we looked again and realized the full name was Family: New Vegetarian Comfort Food to Nourish Every Day (Prestel Publishing; $35). McKinnon moved her restaurant, Arthur's Kitchen, from Sydney to Brooklyn a few years ago, and just continued making strikingly imaginative food that happens to be vegetarian. Maybe we should...Read More
Consider Mionetto Prosecco for the Easter table

Consider Mionetto Prosecco for the Easter table

We don't need a lot of persuasion to pour a glass of Prosecco. The bright, fruity wine—especially when it's produced with very little residual sugar—can be extremely food-friendly. Here in the U.S., we tend to treat Prosecco as an apéritif. The wine is native to the Veneto and Fruili-Venezia Giulia, and the Venetians and Friulani think of it as a wine to drink anytime. We agree. So this spring we tried out the most readily available Proseccos from Mionetto (usa.mionetto.com/us), an important producer in the village of Valdobbiadene and also the largest Prosecco importer in the U.S. We're told that Mionetto effectively introduced the wine to the mass market in America in 2000, so our hats are off to them for enriching American tables. Prosecco...Read More
‘Orange Blossom & Honey’ conjures memories of Marrakesh

‘Orange Blossom & Honey’ conjures memories of Marrakesh

We never had a bad meal in Marrakesh. Reading John Gregory-Smith's new cookbook, Orange Blossom & Honey: Magical Moroccan Recipes from the Souks to the Sahara (Kyle Books, $29.99) brings back delicious memories of smoky meat from the outdoor grills on Jemaa el Fna and tagines with the tangy flavor of preserved lemon served in pretty little restaurants with tables arrayed around burbling fountains. In a cooking class in the courtyard of a riad in the heart of the souk, we learned to make couscous “as light as air” and a variety of vegetable salads that have become mainstays of our diet. Here's a link to some of those recipes. As Gregory-Smith demonstrates, there's much more to discover about Moroccan cuisine. He traveled from “the...Read More
John Whaite views world through lens of comfort food

John Whaite views world through lens of comfort food

Comfort food is such a personal thing. For Pat's Irish-American family, it's a serving of champ, the rich dish of mashed potatoes and spring onions with lots of butter and cream. For David, it's cornbread like his Kentucky grandmother used to make with bacon drippings and unbolted meal. In his new book, Comfort: Food to Soothe the Soul (Kyle Books, $29.99), chef and cooking school proprietor John Whaite explores the taste of comfort around the world. He adds his own twist to traditional Mexican chilaquiles by adding eggplant and feta, uses sweet apricots to balance the heat of Scotch Bonnet peppers in West African Jollof rice, and tops a Scandinavian-style pizza with salmon fillets and pickled cucumber. But Whaite was raised in Lancashire in northwest...Read More
The Renaissance rises again in ‘The Chef’s Secret’

The Renaissance rises again in ‘The Chef’s Secret’

We always rely on food to open new places and experiences to us when we travel. But, on a recent cold night here in Boston, we were reminded that food can also be the key to other times and locales. Novelist and culinary enthusiast Crystal King has just published her second book, The Chef's Secret (Atria Paperback, Simon & Schuster, $16.99). To create an imagined life for Bartolomeo Scappi, the famous Renaissance-era chef who created over-the-top feasts for cardinals and popes, King studied his elaborate cookbook L'Opera di Bartolomeo Scappi (in a translation from the University of Toronto Press) and then let her imagination take over. “I thought what was his life like,” she told a small group gathered at Juliet restaurant in Somerville (www.julietsomerville.com)...Read More