Posted by Rob Eshman
Now that it’s almost Yom Kippur, the kapparot stands along Pico Robertson are in full bloom. Here’s a sign I saw for one of them, set up in the parking lot of a building at Pico and Shenandoah.
Kapparot is a ceremony that takes place in the days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur during which Jews swing live chickens above their heads while reciting a chant that symbolically transfers their sin onto the bird: ““This is my exchange, my substitute, my atonement. This rooster (or hen) shall go to its death, but I shall go to a good, long life, and to peace.”
It is a custom now confined largely to the Orthodox or Hasidic community. Other Jews who observe kapparot do so symbolically by transferring money to charitable causes.
But around LA and other big cities, you can still find plenty of places to swing a chicken. And you’ll recognize them by the stench, the shrieks of the birds, the stealthy, guilt-clouded atmosphere at which these men (mostly it’s men) carry out a duty they know most people find cruel, and which indeed inflicts a measure of absolutely superfluous cruelty on animals destined to die. A kaparot area resembles nothing so much as the seediest strip club, where men slink in and out, compelled by a force they can scarcely understand.
This week we published on line a terrific piece by Dr. Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns that took issue with the practice from the point of view of animal welfare. Read it, then let’s discuss how by 5771, Los Angeles can be the first Jewish community to find a meaningful ethical replacement for live chickens at kapparot:
Kapparot is a ceremony preceding Yom Kippur in which many Orthodox Jews, especially in the Hasidic world, swing chickens around their heads while reciting a chant about transferring their sins symbolically onto the bird:
The chickens are then slaughtered and may be given to the poor. The idea is that when practitioners swing chickens slated for slaughter, they’re supposed to regard the slaughter of the bird as a substitute for the punishment that God in “strict justice” would mete out to them instead of mercy. Rather than the sinner, the innocent chicken suffers “strict justice.” This idea of the role of the chicken contradicts assertions that chickens used in Kapparot ceremonies are treated with compassion.
Documentation of Kapparot ceremonies shows that the birds are seldom if ever treated humanely. On the contrary, prior to the ceremony, the chickens are packed in crates, often for days without food, water or shelter. Birds not used have been found abandoned in their crates when the ceremony was over. Practitioners often stand around chatting with fellow observers while holding a chicken with the wings pulled painfully backward and the legs dangling, as if the bird were an inanimate object instead of living, feeling being.
This way of holding chickens is painful and potentially injurious to them. It is particularly painful given that the main types of chickens used in Kapparot ceremonies are young “broiler” chickens about six weeks old. These birds have been bred to grow many times faster and larger than normal chickens. As a result, they are susceptible to painful joint degeneration, crippling lameness, and heart attacks reflecting genetic infirmities incurred in the quest for meat production. In his paper “Pain in Birds,” Dr. Michael Gentle cites the “widespread nature of chronic orthopaedic disease in domestic poultry,” and Dr. John Webster, professor of animal husbandry in the University of Bristol School of Veterinary Science, points out that these birds “have grown too heavy for their limbs and/or become so distorted in shape as to impose unnatural stresses on their joints.”
Shown pictures of chickens being held with their wings pulled back by Kapparot practitioners, Dr. Ian Duncan, Professor Emeritus of Poultry Science at the University of Guelph in Ontario, wrote that “holding a domestic fowl with the wings pinned back as shown will be painful. It will be extremely painful if the bird is held in this position for some minutes.” Dr. Nedim Buyukmihci, Emeritus Professor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis, observed that “the manner in which the man is holding the chicken, with the wings pulled back, puts the chicken at risk for ligament and tendon injury, possibly even bone fracture.”
Opponents of the use of chickens in Kapparot ceremonies point out that their use is not required by the Torah or the Talmud. Most Kapparot observers swing money for charity as a gesture of atonement, repentance, and goodwill. Swinging money in a handkerchief, which maintains the tradition of giving charity to the poor, has been endorsed by many rabbis and is mentioned in prayer books, including the Artscroll Siddur, which is used in many Orthodox synagogues.
In the 16th century, a Code was devised to offer practical guidance in the application of Written and Oral Laws. This Code, known as the Shulchan Aruch, is considered authoritative within Orthodox circles. In it, the concept of tzaar baalei chaim - the mandate not to cause unnecessary pain to any living creature - is affirmed: “It is forbidden, according to the law of the Torah, to inflict pain upon any living creature. On the contrary, it is our duty to relieve the pain of any creature, even if it is ownerless or belongs to a non-Jew.” In other words, the concept of tzaar baalei chaim includes a need not only to avoid causing pain to animals, but also to show them compassion.
For these reasons, we urge Jews and others who care about animals to disperse the kindness message in Jewish teachings that encourage compassion for animals. We urge that Kapparot observers use money instead of chickens, and that rabbis incorporate the cruel facts about the use of chickens in Kapparot ceremonies, and how to have a compassionate ceremony, into their Rosh Hashanah sermons. While reducing the suffering of the chickens is possible, genuinely compassionate treatment of the birds is not compatible with their use in these rituals, which do not require them. Even in communities where religious traditions are strong, customs can evolve to a higher standard of justice and compassion for all of God’s creatures, and this is what opponents of using chickens in Kapparot ceremonies are asking for.
Karen Davis, PhD is president of United Poultry Concerns, a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl. For more information, visit www.upc-online.org.
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September 24, 2009 | 7:59 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
I bought my first chickens more than 16 years ago, when we lived in Santa Monica. We moved to Venice, I went chickenless for years, then about five years ago discovered the Omlet, a clean and cool way to coop them up, and started again.
Now Susan Orleans in The New Yorker has brought the Omlet and chicken raising to the level of sophistication and acceptance only an article in The New Yorker by Susan Orleans can confer. That just may create an orgy of chicken buying that parallels the Great Beagle Run of the early 60s, when the Snoopy character in the Peanuts comic strip unleashed beagle-mania on America. That had to end badly, as a former beagle owner like myself would know. (What’s the difference between a beagle and a terrorist? You can negotiate with a terrorist.)
But… before you buy your chickens from a pet store, hatchery or farm supply store, consider the fourth option: rescue.
Pidyon ha’ben is Hebrew for “redemption of the first born,” an arcane Jewish ritual that involves a symbolic buying back of the first born son from Temple service. A simple and obvious pun turns it into a redemption of hens from certain slaughter, the fate of many a bird in ethnic markets around big cities.
I get my chickens from John’s Feed Store, which is, in actuality,a Latino butcher shop in the all-Latino area south of downtown LA. Chickens spend their lives in stacks of cages, awaiting the time when a customer will come in and order a pollo vivo. A worker will pull out a big healthy bird, hold its neck to a rotating razor blade, and bleed it, gut it, and defeather it while you wait. None of this is hidden—you pick your bird, then watch it killed in a window area as if you’re watching a candy maker on the boardwalk.
The idea is that fresh birds taste better. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never bought a dead bird from one of these places, but I do buy my live birds there. I ask for a pollo vivo, and then I quickly specify “no muerte”—not dead. They’ll give you a hen unless you specify a rooster—roosters cost more, because they’re considered to be part supper, part Viagra. Again, I wouldn’t know.
The helper always gives me a funny look—I think she thinks I want to bring it home and kill it myself. She calls to a worker, who stuffs my bird into a filthy cardboard box, and I pay my 6 bucks and take it home.
Since these are mature hens, I end up with eggs within weeks, not the months it takes if you buy chicks or young birds. And every time I look at the birds, I get the satisfaction of telling them how I saved their lives, how they don’t know how lucky they are. And is there any more pure religious feeling than feeling supremely self-righteous? I don’t think so. Even better, mine is a good deed that gives back in fresh eggs.
If you live in the LA area, you can find a rescue bird from John’s, or from one of the several places in Chinatown that sell live hens. In San Francisco, Boston and New York’s Chinatown, you’ll also find live bird sellers.
Next week: my rescue goat.
Click here to find Johns.
September 23, 2009 | 2:52 am
Posted by Rob Eshman
I know, it sounds like the opening line of Penthouse Letters, but it’s true. During the High Holy Days, when Naomi leads Nashuva services, she has the band over to run through the music for the special Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur liturgy. Sounds great, two guitars, a bass, two singers, a pianist and a violin all amped up in our living room, all night. I love the music, but I also like to get away from it. Hearing the Yom Kippur melodies five days before the actual holiday spoils the misery for me. It’s a liturgy that means a lot to me on one day every year, but its impact dwindles when I hear it rehearsed over Johnnie’s pizza, wine, beer, and Coke on the other side of my bedroom door.
So I stayed away for a while.
I took a book and dropped into Cole P.E. on 6th street downtown, where I had just finished a meeting. It was 5 pm. I ordered an Anchor Steam. I was already feeling melancholy—Naomi had the band do one Yom Kippur prayer to the tune of “I Will Remember You,” a song I played endlessly when my cousin Lloyd dies. And the Anchor Steam—shit, after I ordered it I remembered Lloyd and I actually visited the brewery.
But I drank it slowly and looked down the bar, at all the other men, shoulders hunched, slightly stubbly beards, thinking, drinking. Do women ever find as much comfort in a bar as men do? And I realized: they all, basically, look just like me. Middle age-ish. Trying to gather their souls back to them after a long day. Letting the alcohol transport their thoughts beyound their immediate worries. They wore their shirts out. They spoke—I overheard—of commercials to film, a song score to write for a Disney movie featuring a pair of 11 year old girls, baseball scores. The bartenders, men a decade younger, but they’ll get there, served us beers and Cole’s retro cocktails. Somewhere 13 miles west my wife was lost in ancient melodies, but could this scene, this need, be any less ancient?
After the Anchor Steam I was tempted by the menu’s description of the Rickey: fresh lime juice, Millers gin, simple syrup, soda. Love those. And I was tempted by the bottles of once-rare Italian apertifs and digestifs behind the bar: Punt e Mes, Fernet, Aperol. But I had to drive home. I nodded good bye to the bartender, and took leave of my pew-mates with the ritual grunt. Yom Kippur was waiting.
September 21, 2009 | 8:05 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
My resolution for the New Year is to make more cholent.
Cholent is the traditional Sabbath stew, assembled and put in the oven (or on the stove, or in a crock pot) on Friday before the Sabbath, then cooked at a low temperature until Sabbath lunch.
I made one for Rosh Hashana, and remembered what a difference a good cholent can make in your life.
Having a big pot of stew cooking all night and day perfumes your house, whets your appetite for hours., Cholent is gastronomic foreplay. It demands that you take time on Saturday for a big meal. No errands. No Home Depot. No running off to a movie. It demands you invite friends over: try making a cholent for two, or even four. And it demands you slow down and relax the rest of the afternoon—cholent demands a post-meal nap. It is healthy eating, but it is not light eating.
These are all good things as far as I’m concerned—good smells, good food, long meals, a good nap—and cholent is the Way.
I prefer a Moroccan style cholent, called a dafina, or the more general Sephardic style, called Hamin. Both have more intricate spicing than Ashkenazic. Keep in mind: whichever you choose, this is as easy as cooking gets. If you can throw clothes in a suitcase, you can throw ingredients in a pot, and that’s cholent.
Here’s my recipe:
1 pound white beans, soaked overnight and drained
2 heads garlic, peeled
2 onions, peeled and sliced
2 potatoes, peeled and cut in 2 ” chunks
2 yams, peeled and cut in 2 ” chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut in 2 ” chunks
1 t. cumin
1 t. tumeric
1/4 t. cinnamon
1 t. paprika
1 T. salt
1 t. freshly ground pepper
2 pounds brisket
2 pounds lamb or beef bone (or shortribs)
1 c. rice, wrapped loosely in cheesecloth
3 T. olive oil
1 pound ground turkey,lamb, beef and or chicken
2 t. ras el-hanout (Moroccan spice mixture)
Mix ground meat with two eggs and ras-el hanout and 1 t. salt. Roll in log, wrap in foil or cheesecloth and seal tightly. Drizzle olive oil over rice.
In a very large oven and stove proof pot, heat 3 T. olive oil until hot. Add the brisket and sear on all sides until a crust develops. Remove, pour off excess fat, and deglaze with some water. Place half the beans in the pot. Add half the garlic. Lay in the brisket, the ground meat loaf, the rest of the beans, the rice, the vegetables, the eggs and the spices. Add water to go 3/4 up to the top. Bring to boil then simmer one hour. Cover with tight-fitting lid. Place in oven preheated to 250 degrees.
Cook overnight, at least 8 hours. Check twice or so to make sure water is still at 3/4 level. Serve hot, offering each guest a little of everything. Great with some harissa on the side.
Serves 15 very hungry people
For a vegetarian version, leave out the meat. No one will starve.
September 17, 2009 | 9:03 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
I just got off the phone with Frank Luntz, who I interviewed about his new book, “What Americans Really Want…Really: The Truth About Our Hopes, Dreams and Fears” (Hyperion). One thing he said, and wrote, leapt out: One of the single greatest determinants of whether your kids will grow up to use drugs is whether you eat dinner as a family five nights a week.
That’s it: family dinners can save your kids life.
On page 257, under the heading, “Healthy Children to Healthy Adults: The Six Steps Parents Really Need to Know,” here’s #1:
Having dinner with your children. Nothing says, “I truly care about you” more than spending dinnertime with your children at least five times a week. ...parents who dine with their children produce healthier adults because it sends a clear signal that children are a high priority. ...Parents who miss dinner—no matter what the excuse—are sending the wrong message.
I don’t know what research backs this up, but it strikes an intuitive chord with me. (Until I read Po Bronson’s new book, which I hear says we give too much attention to our kids….).
Scratch that: I don’t care what research backs that up. I do family dinners because I like them—I do them for me. I like to start thinking about what I’m cooking around now—5 pm. I like to shop on the way home. I like to walk in the house and start thinking about cooking and dinner, rather than keep thinking about work. And I like to watch my kids eat.
Since 2000 I’ve kept a journal of what I make for dinner, and I keep the journal by my bed. My wife keeps a prayer book by her side. Same difference.
(By the way, my Luntz interview will appear in next week’s paper. Spoiler alert: he doesn’t have a partner, spouse or kids—but as he told me, his research changed his thinking, not his behavior).
August 29, 2009 | 3:59 am
Posted by Rob Eshman
Every time you enter a restaurant, you take a leap of faith. Last night, at Ado in Venice, I took a huge frickin’ jump.
Right over S. Irene Virbila’s head.
Ado is a new Italian place, located in a yellow, two-story bungalow just where Main Street curves into Abbot Kinney. I’ve passed it sereval times since it opened a few weeks go, then Googled it to find it’s the newest venture of Chef Antonio Mure, who opened Piccolo, Locana Veneta and Il Botte. I’d eaten his food at all those places and never had a bad meal, and comments on Yelp confirmed that he was doing a good job at Ado as well.
So, when my wife asked me to make a reservation somewhere special for my mother-in-law’s 87th birthday party, I called. “How many people in your party?”
“24,” I said.
We had relatives in from out of town, from Israel, from Toronto and San Francisco and Boston and New York. The tribe was gathering around the matriarch for a feast, and I was pretty damn proud of myself. I’d scored a big reservation at a new Italian place in a funky, oh-so-Venice location with a tried and true chef.
This was Wednesday. I gave my credit card, and confirmed the reservation for a Thursday night dinner.
About an hour later my dad called. “Did you see the review in the LA Times?” he said. “They hated Ado.”
I went online.
This was the headline: “Chef-owner Antonio Muré has impressed elsewhere, but the indifferent service and a pricey and scattershot menu outweigh the handful of dishes that work.”
It gets worse.
The Times’ restaurant reviewer, S. Irene Virbila, goes on to accuse Mure of gouging customers by pushing high-priced bottled water on them, misleading them about the price of a pasta and black truffles. She calls the wine list overpriced, the food heavy and fussy for the season, and the service rushed.
Coup de grace? When Mure’s partner Paolo attempts to kiss her good night, she recoils.
“I don’t know the guy, and I’m not playing,” she writes. “[Paolo] steps back and says, shrugging, ‘I am Italian.’”
Virbila calls the Paolo-tried-to-kiss-me attempt “patently insincere.”
(Okay, I have to wonder: did she expect flowers and chocolate first? Has she ever given anyone an air kiss without expecting to go home with them? Has she been to Italy? To Argentina? To Hollywood? It’s not love, it’s a handshake with your lips).
I put my computer to sleep and panicked. They had my credit card, I had the solemn responsibility to not screw up a dinner for 24 loved ones.
And the calls kept coming. “Where did you say we’re going? Did you read that review?”
It was suggested that we skip Ado and gather for pizza and beer somewhere.
Here is where I needed my faith to start leaping.
A restaurant, after all, is one more place where faith and food intersect. You walk into any restaurant, you never know. The kitchen is hidden. Even a so-called open kitchen is anything but—it reveals nothing of the hours of prep, of how the ingredients were stored, of who did what to your fish from the boat to the dock to that morning.
You are eating food that has passed through many human hands to get to your mouth, and you are trusting those hands with your life. It’s an intimate act, feeding. Nature insists that when we are first born and most vulnerable, only our birth mother can be entrusted with our food. In nature, once the mother stops feeding the animal, the animal feeds itself. But we humans, as we grow older, we let complete strangers feed us, we pay them to do it, trusting they will look out for us no less than our moms once did. A sloppy uncaring cook can at worst literally kill us. Or, if Irene Virbila was correct, at least ruin our night.
Would Antonio Mure ruin my night? I decided to stop by and ask him.
It was 11 am on the day of the dinner. When I walked in a stocky young Italian man with a mane of dark hair was at the espresso machine.
“Hi,” I said.
He turned to me. Was this the insincere Italian himself? I wasn’t going to fall for it. Irene had warned me. His very kisses reek of deception. Mascalzone! I’m not falling for it. I’m not falling for it.
“Would you like a coffee?”
“Um, sure.” Okay, I fell for it.
He didn’t even know who I was, he just saw a anxious stranger walk through his door while he was making himself a coffee—and offered one to his guest. This was Antonio, the chef. I told him I had made the reservation for 24 that evening. We walked upstairs and checked out the space. It was charming—exposed beams, wood floors, windows looking down on Main Street open to the ocean breeze. But I didn’t come to see the room. I came to ask about that lousy review.
But I didn’t bring it up at first. I had a couple Jeroboams of Puglian wine I wanted to celebrate with, and The Times review had led me to believe this man would gouge me for it. “I look in vain for a mid-priced Chianti Classico or Ruffino,” Virbila writes, “a lusty Barbera or even an Orvieto I’d like to drink. But this list has only a handful of wines under $50. The one Chianti I find is a 2003 Capannelle Riserva at $83. Pass.”
I turn to Mure. “What is your corkage for large bottles?”
Totally fair. Now I get to the point. “What about that review in the Times?”
He shrugged. “I don’t understand. People like it here.”
He didn’t seem hurt, or defensive, or even angry. He added, “She must not have liked it.”
So that was how he saw it: one diner’s opinion. You can’t thrill everyone. So what if she reviews for the largest newspaper in LA? She didn’t like it.
Antonio moved on to the next topic. “Your espresso.”
It was sitting on a small table by the front door—a demitasse filled with creamy espresso, placed on a saucer, along with two sugar cubes and a tiny spoon. I drank it—perfect.
“Thank you,” I said.
I took one final look around the place, and then I saw it: the review. He had cut out Virbila’s scathing review—she gave him a half star out of four—and taped it to his front door. I was stunned. It was like cigarette companies putting the warning label on the front of the package. Could it be he didn’t read English? Or was it a macho thing—you think you’re tough, here, hit me, so what? Or could it be his way of saying he had nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed of?
Whatever it was, I liked it. I was coming back that night with 23 relatives.
The leap began at 6:30. We gathered car by car. At the door Paolo said hello and welcome—INSINCERE! How dare he smile and welcome people he doesn’t know to his restaurant.
He acted delighted at the giant wine bottles I had brought. “You have to taste it,” I said.
“Of course,” he said. “I better.”
The waiters were attentive. It was a warm night, and we drank some of that Italian sparkling water Virbila found to be such a rip off. But is it? We could have ordered tap water—she could have too. There’s no law that says a restaurant has to sell bottled water cheap. Or is that now in some Diner’s Ten Commandments—Thou Shalt Break Even on Bottled Water? Ado’s food, I’d see, was labor intensive and high quality—if water was where they wanted to make a little profit, so be it.
The appetizers I tasted were great. Remember, there were 24 of us, so I’m going to assume I got to taste, smell and see more of Mure’s dishes than Virbila did in her visit (or was it visits? She never says how many times she dined there before judging it an insincere rip off—an omission that borders on the unjust).
Crudo d’orata – a sea bream carpaccio with red onion, capers, olive oil, lemon and some heat— was the standout. But there was rich tuna tartar set off by blood orange, a watercress salad with hearts of palm and the day’s special, asparagus soup with quail egg and shaved black truffles. All delicious on a warm Venice night.
By then everyone had drunken a couple of glasses, enjoyed their appetizers, and munched through the baskets of freshly-baked foccacia. We were a big happy noisy family. My sister-in-law gave a toast and my mother-in-law sighed with joy. I relaxed. The main courses would have to be shoe leather and shaving cream to turn the tide against this place.
“I feel like I’m in Italy,” a relative who has been there several times said. I knew the feeling: of being taken care of, of being cooked for by somebody who cared as much or more about what was on your plate as you did. Someone who understood that it was faith that brought you to him, and it was his duty to restore that faith—isn’t “restore” at the root of the word restaurant, after all?
The next courses were uniformly very good. Little gnocchi with diced tomatoes, arugula, and almonds. A snapper filet grilled and napped with a light blood orange, tagliatelle sautéed with fried zucchini, teardrop tomatoes, walnut pesto. The aroma from my mother’s pasta—homemade beet pasta with quail ragu on a pool of molten taleggio cheese—just the smell of it alone—was enough to challenge my faith not in Ado, but in the LA Times. Ms. Virbila, if you tried that dish and did not like it, your next sparkling water is on me.
We ate late into the night. We split some panna cotta and ricotta cheesecakes for dessert, and some cups of espresso. We sang “Happy Birthday” to my mother-in-law, and it was good.
Paolo was at the bottom of the stairs as we filed out.
“Ciao bello,” he said to me. “How was everything?”
I hugged him, sincerely.
August 23, 2009 | 6:11 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
In his column today, Nick Kristof proves he’s a Foodaism believer. Trying to illuminate what is lost when the diversity of the family farm gives way to factory farms and monoculture, he reaches far beyond the true and obvious: our health, our environment, taste, choice—and concludes that it is something much deeper: our very souls.
On a summer visit back to the farm here where I grew up, I think I figured out the central problem with modern industrial agriculture. It’s not just that it produces unhealthy food, mishandles waste and overuses antibiotics in ways that harm us all.
More fundamentally, it has no soul.
The family farm traditionally was the most soulful place imaginable, and that was the case with our own farm on the edge of the Willamette Valley. I can’t say we were efficient: for a time we thought about calling ourselves “Wandering Livestock Ranch,” after our Angus cattle escaped in one direction and our Duroc hogs in another.
Writing from his family homestead in Yamhill, OR, he notes that farms like the one he grew up on are fast disappearing.
The result is food that also lacks soul — but may contain pathogens. In the last two months, there have been two major recalls of ground beef because of possible contamination with drug-resistant salmonella. When factory farms routinely fill animals with antibiotics, the result is superbugs that resist antibiotics.
He acknowledges—correctly—that the benefits of the modern food production system aren’t easily dismissed. Feeding more people more cheaply isn’t all bad. But there has to be a balance, and we’ve clealry moved too far in the wrong direction.
In the second half of the column, he indulges in a long recollection about a chicken he once owned who was raised by a goose. Not quite sure the editor shouldn’t have red-penned that, unless Kristof was angling for a children’s book contract.
But the ultimate point remains:
Recollections like that make me wistful for a healthy rural America composed of diverse family farms, which also offer decent and varied lives for the animals themselves (at least when farm boys aren’t conducting “scientific” experiments). In contrast, a modern industrialized operation is a different world: more than 100,000 hens in cages, their beaks removed, without a rooster, without geese or other animals, spewing out pollution and ending up as so-called food — a calorie factory, without any soul.
There is soul in food, soul in cooking, soul in eating. Adin Steinsaltz, in The Four Petaled Rose, spoke of the intimate connection between spirit and food: what we eat turns to flesh, and flesh houses our spirit, thus food is the stuff of the soul. I read that passage many years ago, it has never left me. It led, a long time afterwards, to this blog.
In the meantime, because it seems dry and serious to just blog Kristoff and Steinsaltz (it also sounds like the name of a really good law firm), let me throw in a recipe from a weekend dinner I made. This was last Thursday. I had a meeting in Brentwood, and stopped at the new place Tavern to check it out. From their very precious and pricey “Larder,” I bought a cylinder of a local goat cheese called, Hyku. I sliced the cheese into a bowl, added a pound or so of chopped farmer’s market heirloom cherry tomatoes, a handful of shredded basil, olive oil, a clove of garlic, salt and pepper. Into that I slid a pound of boiled pasta and a little pasta water. Mixed it up and topped it with more basil. There’s a recipe for this in Georgeanne Brenner’s, “The Food and Flavors of Haute Provence,” that uses fresh goat cheese. Hyku is bit more aged and potent. The steam coming off the pasta smelled like goat, garden and fruit. My son swooned.
Nick Kristoff would have dug it.
August 14, 2009 | 2:41 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
I’ve been absolutely stupendously busy, and this blog, favorite of all my blogs, has suffered. So here’s a quick fun post, because Foodaism teaches us that you have to grab those quiet moments where and when you can.
Running between meetings three days ago, I stopped at a tiny new-ish coffee bar called Profetta, in Westwood. I’d been there once before and was moved, actually moved, by the skill and care, the intentionality, with which the barristas made their lattes. This time I had the presence of mind to iPhone the process, and you can watch it, over and over and over, here—a Profeta barrista creating a perfect milk mandala that refocused and re-centered me before I went back on my frazzled way….
1129 Glendon Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90024
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