Could Invasive Fish Save Our Oceans?

Back to back this week I watched two videos that both dealt with fish, fishing and the critical state of our oceans.

In episode 6 of the Victory Garden Edible feast series, Daniel Klein and his crew go to Palm Beach Florida and go fishing with 2 clever and industrious young fishermen to catch Lion Fish.  Not native to these waters, they’re poisonous, have no natural predator, are very adaptable to any environment and are threatening the local fish population.  Luckily Lion Fish are delicious.

Vice’s HBO new program is a much watch, every week they do two 15 segments on current issues that are not given their due by the mainstream media. This week they did a frightening expose on the state of how our oceans are being overfished. By some predictions the oceans will be completely depleted of fish by the middle of this century.

What is most interesting to me about this episode is the impact it makes on local communities and the sheer volume of fish that large international trawlers catch each day. Particularly upsetting is the shark fin trade.

Here is a short clip, the entire episode is not on YouTube yet, if you have access to HBO it is a much watch.

What I was left with after watching these two pieces back to back was how something potentially devastating, like a foreign species infestation of your waters, can have unexpected positive consequences.

Of course the guys in Florida have scuba gear, a motor boat and a restaurant and seafood market to make money from, the poor fishermen and their families in the Madagascar aren’t so lucky.

While I don’t think the invasive fish can solve the problem of the criminal overfishing going on I do think that it gives us some insight into what a solution might look like.

Oh and be sure to watch VGEF 6 (Victory Garden Edible Feast) to the end for the yummy Lion Fish Escabeche recipe made by the hunky chef.


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Dinner Parties and Sour Cherry Almond Tart

IMG_6667Last night I made a dinner as a belated birthday party for our friend Chris Bram.

In typical fashion I made too much.

The theme for the menu was small plates, I was feeling energetic and wanted to make a variety of dishes so we could nosh our way through the night.   It’s a lovely idea until you realize you’ve been cooking and shopping for three days, your guests are about to arrive and you still haven’t made everything!  In the end I guess 4 desserts was a tad over reaching, the chocolate cookies never got made.IMG_6670Our friend Debby, who used to be a pastry chef, commented that the chocolate crinkle cookies would have gone nicely with the Rum Raisin Ice Cream, somehow she managed to make do with Lemon Madeleine’s, Sour Cherry Almond Tart and ice cream as a palate cleanser.  I love people with harty appetites ;-)I write all my menus on a chalkboard in the kitchen.  It’s fun to write them and it’s also helpful for when I inevitably start going crazy 20 minutes before everyone is about to arrive, I take a deep breath, look at the board and remember what it is I still haven’t made yet. Which actually sometimes can make things worse, because then there is something else to do, but it’s better than forgetting altogether.IMG_6680 Spicy olives and candied nuts were placed out for when people arrived.  The nuts played double duty as they were also a garnish for the re-think of Waldorf Salad that would be served later.

When everyone arrived we moved on to Singara Logs with Tamarind Chutney (made with tamarind, dates, peanuts, coconuts and Ajwain seeds which give it a wonderful funky tart sweet taste).  Singara logs are a similar to Samosa only more flavorful and with coconut.  Labor intensive, but worth it.IMG_6656The other thing that did not get made was the citrus salad.  It was going to be a combo of Blood Orange, Cara Cara and Navel oranges topped with Arugula lightly dressed in a lemon vinaigrette and finished with a crumble of Ricotta salata. We managed to make do with just 2 salads. I’ll make it this week and report back.

Both the Barley Salad and the Waldorf were hits, I’ll post recipes for them this week.

The Cherry Almond Tart, was my favorite item of the meal.  It’s a variation on the Apricot Tart I posted a while back.

I discovered a bag of sour cherries in the depths of my freezer I had pitted and froze when they were in season.  It was easy to swap out the apricots  and use sour cherries instead.  The recipe calls for 1 1/4 pounds of fruit  I was a little bit short so I opened up a jar of sour cherries to supplement the ones I had.  They are softer and slightly sweeter than the ones I had, but worked just fine.

My favorite comment of the night came from our friend Erin, who after finishing her slice of tart looked at me and said:  This is definitely next level.

It’s also very straightforward to make.  So for your next dinner party give it a try, and Oh, if you do make it, really you don’t need to make anything else.  It’s one of the rare desserts that I don’t even think needs whipped cream. And that’s saying something!

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NYC & The Bay Area: Episodes 4 & 5 of VGEF

VGEF is shorthand for Victory Garden Edible Feast.  I was remiss and missed posting an episode so this week you can watch two episodes back to back about the two best food cities in America, one on each coast.  Well, I’m calling the Bay Area a city when in fact it’s made up of San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley.

When I say the best food cities I am showing my obvious bias.   Yes there are many amazing food cities in this great land, but to my mind these two have the greatest diversity of restaurants (ethnic and otherwise), cultures, markets and bounty.  I’d even stick my neck out and say in all the places I have travelled in the world these two places rank among the best.

Not that I am one for making lists, I can never really narrow things down and be pithy or imperious enough to say: these are the best. But If I had to, Oh OK, twist my arm, my top 5 cities/Countries for food would be, in no particular order:

Thailand (Bangkok and Chiang Mai)

Mexico (DF and Oaxaca) though the seafood on the Pacific coast can really blow your mind.

The Bay Area



I know, I know France and Italy, but the truth is even though I have had amazing food in those places I have had equally good food in Greece (Thessaloniki & Athens) Berlin (don’t fall over) and London. The Brits have really made great strides since the fish n chips and mushy peas in a cup days.  In no small part because of the diverse group of people who have immigrated there.

It’s been ages since I have spent any serious time in France and when I was last there I had a lot of really un-memorable food.  Probably because I was a poor twenty something on a budget.  Italy, when I was last there I had a few spectacular meals, thanks to my friend Jane who showed us around Rome and gave us spot on recommendations for Florence.  I hate to admit it though, so please don’t tell anyone, I prefer the Italian food in NYC.  You probably all just unfriended me for saying that, but it’s the truth. A lot of the food I have eaten in Italy I find kind of bland. And I find it so annoying how each region has its dish and you can t get that dish in Rome because it’s only made in Napoli or Venice or Umbria.  Really? Come one loosen up kids it’s 2015.  Then there was the time I had this one pasta dish at a famous place I went to that tasted exactly like Chef Boyardee Beefaroni to me. Seriously.

Who knew Chef Boyardee was so authentic ;-)

See I told you I was shit at making lists.  And I have still never been to India so there is that.  What about y’all?  What’s your list?


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Mukbang: The South Korean Craze of Watching People Eat

My friend Keith in Berlin tipped me off to this episode of Munchies about the South Korean craze called Mukbang.  Basically, people log on to their phones, tablets or computers to watch BJ’s (yes that’s what they are called), a BJ is a person who performs the act of eating (the more I write the worse this is sounding) for people to watch, usually in huge quantities.

Like with any form of celebrity and performance there is intrigue, competition, fans, and money at stake.  There is also potential huge weight gain, as one of the things that seems to be favored isn’t just eating, it’s gorging yourself on massive quantities of food.

I sort of wanted to stick my finger down my throat after this video.

It’s nearly 30 minutes long but once you start to watch trust me you will find it hard to stop.

Once you have finished watching it please, first thing, write your reaction in the comments.

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A A Choy, no it’s not the Name of an Artist, it’s the Name of a Chinese Vegetable.

IMG_6625Last week I posted this picture above asking if anyone knew what it was.  Dennis and Natan both were able to answer this quandary in a way that had left me stumped: the above is AA Choy.

The leaves are like Romaine only with a slight bitterness and the stalks need to be peeled first before you stir fry or pickle them.  Stir frying seems to be the preferred use for this unusual vegetable that is also known as: Taiwan lettuce, AA Chop Xin, stem lettuce, asparagus lettuce, celery lettuce, celtuce, wosun

Stir frying is not the only way to prepare AA Choy. In looking for a good recipe for AA Choy I found one on YouTube for a Salad that looks worth trying.  The seasoning seems SE Asian to me and the lettering at the start of the video is I believe Burmese? So maybe it’s a Burmese dish (or do I now need to say Myanmar dish?)

Anyway, it looks like a tasty salad, I’m tempted to buy some AA Choy and try it.  Be forewarned: this video has a kind of meditative quality ;-)

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Should You Care How Much Water Goes Into Making Your Food?

Water is our most precious natural resource. Without it we can’t live.  From doing the dishes to hydrofracking we humans have found all sorts of ways to use precious H2O.

This short video from breaks down how much water is used to grow our food from Broccoli to Chocolate to an 8 ounce steak.

I don’t know what is more surprising: that agricultural uses more water than any other activity in this country or that it requires 924 gallons of water to yield an 8 ounce steak?

Here is the interview on MSNBC that Grist contributor Amelia Urry has with Greenhouse host Tony Dokoupil.  If you watch the MSNBC clip it has the above video in it. I like that Amelia Urry is really smart and I like that she is saying the best way to eat is to eat consciously. Not to go on some extreme Grasshoppers and cabbage diet.

Which immediately makes me wonder: what would be a good recipe for a cabbage and Grasshopper dish?  Crunchy fried Grasshoppers coated in a spicy hot chili powder sprinkled over slow cooked curried cabbage?  ;-)

Join the conversation, what do you think?

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What is this?

IMG_6625 IMG_6626Walking home yesterday I saw these on display in one of the many Asian grocery stores along Grand street.   The older Chinese women spoke not a lick of English so asking her: what these are called?  Wasn’t a terribly successful strategy.  

Sometimes I really wish I spoke Mandarin and Cantonese so I could better negotiate the Asian food markets of New York’s Chinatown.  

I was hoping one of the other vendors would be selling these strange and exotic vegetables and I could ask them, alas she was the one person who had them.

Mr Google has let me down.  In the past 45 minutes I’ve looked at dozens of exotic and Asian vegetable sites and had no luck.  I did however find some very interesting sites like this one.

Anyone out there know what they are?


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