lunch

Fall River has grip on wacky sandwiches

In its heyday, Fall River, Massachusetts, was a factory town par excellence. And that's just the sort of place where the need for economy meets the imagination of restaurateurs to produce some of the most innovative and inexpensive casual eats. Just as ballplayers of old seemed to spring full-formed from the soil of America's farms, some of the wackiest contributions to American handheld cuisine spring from the creativity of grill cooks and chefs of the country's lunch counters and diners. And Fall River has some great ones, as we detailed this past Sunday in the Boston Globe's travel section. (Read the story here.) It doesn't spoil the fun to hint at the menu. It includes the chouriço and fries sub at Nick's Coney Island Hot...Read More

London meat pie saves pretty penny at lunch

I sometimes find myself doing business in big international cities where the cost of living far exceeds my budget. The challenge at lunch is to eat well without breaking the bank. In Paris that could be a croque monsieur or a sidewalk hot dog on a baguette. I'd opt for a square of pan pizza in Rome. My preference in Madrid is a thick wedge of tortilla española (Spanish potato-onion omelet) and a beer. In London (and many other British cities), the solution is a meat pie. Back when Simple Simon met a pie man, a British meat pie cost a penny. In the cafe of a department store like Selfridges, Marks & Spencer, or John Lewis, a meat pie will now set you back...Read More

Mixing it up with authentic New Orleans gumbo

A hearty bowl of gumbo is a powerful argument for open borders. It took four different cultures to create Louisiana's leading contribution to American cuisine. French settlers contributed the cooking technique, while the Spanish brought bell peppers, onions, and celery—the so-called “trinity” of seasonings. Africans added okra for flavor and as a thickening agent. For variation, some cooks thicken their dish with the filé powder favored by the local Choctaw tribe. Local choice Made with sausage and either shellfish or poultry, gumbo is a forgiving dish that allows each cook to put a personal stamp on it. I sampled many versions when I was in New Orleans and was never disappointed. But I ate my favorite at the Gumbo Shop (630 St. Peter Street, 504-525-1486,...Read More

Commander’s Palace lives up to the legend

Enjoying a leisurely four-course Reveillon dinner (see previous post) is probably the best way to revel in the holiday spirit in New Orleans. But a fine meal is by no means limited to dinner—or to the historic French Quarter. For office parties and ladies who lunch, many restaurants also offer midday holiday menus. Among them is Commander's Palace (1403 Washington Ave., 504-899-8221, commanderspalace.com). This dining institution is housed in a bright blue building in the Garden District, where American interlopers shunned by French Creole society built their own grand mansions in the 19th century. The St. Charles streetcar carries passengers from the edge of the French Quarter to the Garden District in trolleys decked with garlands. Emile Commander opened Commander's Palace in the 1880s. It...Read More

Vermont’s Crowley Cheese an American original

Cheesemakers always seem like magicians, using a straightforward process and a few ingredients to transform perishable milk into tasty blocks that improve with age. Here in the U.S., the folks at Crowley Cheese in Vermont (802-259-2340, www.crowleycheese.com) have been doing it longer than anyone else on record, or so they say. The Crowley family started selling their own cheese in 1824. In 1882, Winfield Crowley built the current factory to expand on his family’s farmhouse kitchen cheesemaking operation that used milk from their dairy herd. The factory still produces cheese with raw milk from several local herds. In the world of cheeseheads, Crowley is an “American Original.” It is a cheese with a North American pedigree that owes nothing to the old country. Never big...Read More

Black truffle quiche

Everyone always says that truffles pair well with eggs so I thought a black truffle quiche would be a natural. But when I went looking, the only recipes I could find for truffle quiche use truffle oil—an interesting ingredient in its own right if you like laboratory flavors, but not exactly real truffle. To create a quiche worthy of truffles, I turned to two late, great chefs whose teachings inform pretty much everything I cook. I combined my favorite savory crust, which is adapted from Charles Virion, and Julia's Child's quiche Lorraine recipe, substituting truffles for bacon. She was right—quiche doesn't need cheese. I scaled the recipes for a seven-inch tart pan that makes just the right size for light lunch or a good appetizer...Read More

Dublin gastropub’s inspired sweet potato soup

Pubs have always had some kind of grub to sop up the suds, but pubs all over Ireland began to take the quality of their kitchens seriously about 10 years ago. The turn toward better food was a matter of survival. Pubs lost a slew of customers after March 29, 2004, when Ireland became the first country in the world to ban smoking in the workplace — including restaurants, bars, and pubs. Once a few pubs introduced quality food with strong Irish roots, it became clear that the gastropub concept was the way to win new customers. Two years ago, the Restaurant Association of Ireland began giving out awards for best gastropubs, and in the two competitions since then, one of the top contenders in...Read More

What a great thing to do with an egg!

We've been lucky enough to visit Sevilla's Taberna del Alabardero every few years over the last few decades, but it's possible that our most recent meal was the best yet—even though it was off the modest bistrot menu instead of from the haute cuisine fine-dining menu. Now with sites in Madrid and in Washington, D.C., Taberna del Alabardero began as a social-work program launched by a priest to teach marketable skills to boys from the streets. It's evolved into one of the top hospitality schools in Spain. The original location in Sevilla near the bullring is the laboratory where all that hospitality training is put into practice. The townhouse mansion has fine dining rooms upstairs with a menu that would have made Escoffier smile. (The...Read More

Casablanca puts a deft twist on tortilla española

In 2005, Tomás and Antonio Casablanca opened Bodeguita Casablanca on a busy little corner near the Puerta de Jerez in Sevilla, Spain. Their creativity with traditional dishes has made them the darling of chefs all over Spain. We first encountered their tortilla al whisky at Dani García's La Manzanilla tapas bar in Málaga, where he acknowledges Casablanca right on his menu. So our first order of business on getting to Sevilla was to eat lunch at Bodeguita Casablanca. And the first thing we ordered was a tapa of Tortilla al Whisky, shown above. The sauce is made fresh, and carefully cooked so it retains some of the alcohol from the Scotch. And the roasted cloves of garlic on top are both pungent and sweet. This...Read More