On Links.

I’ve just re-organized my column of links and wanted to take you on a quick tour of my most-visited food-, book- and travel-focused sites.

A note: Coincidentally, alphabetically, the one Armenian-ish blog I read follows the one Filipino-ish blog I read.  Fate?  Or my genetics translated into the Internet?

30 Bucks a Week
Two Brooklynites spend $15 each on their week’s worth of groceries.  Then they write about it.

101 Cookbooks
Heidi Swanson collects cookbooks and recipes.  She also takes great photographs.

Alinea at Home
Carol Blymire is cooking every recipe in the Alinea Cookbook.

Burnt Lumpia
Marvin cooks Filipino food.

Cave Cibum
Fellow Armenian Pam eats out and cooks a lot.

Chocolate + Zucchini
Parisian Clotilde Dusoulier writes in French and English about recipes, cookbooks, idioms and kitchen tools.

Cooked Books
Rebecca Federman has what just might be one of the coolest-sounding jobs ever: culinary librarian at the New York Public Library.

What New Yorkers are really reading.

David Lebovitz
The observant and funny cookbook author writes about life in Paris and what he eats there.

Diner’s Journal
New York Times
‘s one-stop combination of its three dining blogs.

Formaggio Kitchen’s Cheese Blog
This is pretty self-explanatory.

Arthur Frommer talks (writes?) travel.

Fucshia Dunlop
The memoirist/cookbook author’s blog.

Grub Street Boston
New York Magazine ‘s up-to-date info on the Boston dining scene.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
A great source for recipes + cooking techniques.

In the Kitchen + on the Road with Dorie
The often-adorable and always informative Dorie Greenspan splits her time between Paris and the East Coast. Oh, she also bakes. A lot.

In Transit
Another New York Times blog. This one’s about travel.

the kitchn
Apartment Therapy‘s site for people who love cooking and don’t mind making a mess whilst making dinner.

Lois Lowry
I want to be just like her when I grow up. In the meantime, I’ll just read her books and blog.

Lottie + Doof
A pretty food blog with a funny name.

Michael Ruhlman
The author of The Making of a Chef + Ratio cooks too.

The Millions
One of the best book-centric sites out there.

The New Vegetarian
Yotam Ottolenghi ‘s weekly column for the Guardian.

Nigel Slater
Recipes and writing from one of my favorite authors of food-related books.

One Minute Book Reviews
Also pretty self-explanatory.

Molly Wizenberg lives and writes in Seattle.

Paper Cuts
The editors of The New York Times Book Review blog too.

The Prognosticators
My friends Beth + Bob moved to Prague; these are pictures of their travels.

Reading is My Superpower
Annie Frisbie reads faster than I do. She blogs more often too.

Sandwiches might be my favorite.

Smitten Kitchen
Good things come from small kitchens.

On Fluffernutters.

I’m back from New Orleans, but before I get into the whats and wheres of that trip I need to share something with you: Keith is a genius.

As I type this, he’s playing a video game and singing “Build Me Up Buttercup” to himself, neither of which is the reason why he’s a genius.  The reason is this: he made me a sandwich.

Maybe that doesn’t appear to be much to you, but to a sandwich-lovin’ girl like myself, it’s everything — particularly when the sandwich in question is a Fluffernutter, something I had never eaten before.  To all of you who’ve read that last part in disbelief remember, my parents are foreigners who would most likely balk at the thought of Fluff, let alone abide by its presence in their house.  To all of you who have no idea what a Fluffernutter is, hold on a second and I’ll explain.

One of the books I brought with me on our trip was The Best Food Writing 2009, which reprinted a Gastronimica article by Katie Liesener entitled “Marshmallow Fluff.”  Aside from detailing the history of Fluff (originally developed in my old Somerville neighborhood), Liesener’s piece describes the powerful devotion Massachusetts residents have towards Fluff and the Fluffernutter.  As a New York transplant — and daughter of the aforementioned foreigners — I never have experienced this Fluff fervor personally, and as I turned the pages I found the ardor Liesener captures surprisingly intense.  This passage, for example, I read to Keith over the hum of the airplane’s engines last night:

Consider, for example, lifelong fluff [sic] eater Emmett Rauch… Except for a few days’ hospitalization with prostate cancer, Rauch has eaten a fluffernutter [sic] on white bread every morning for breakfast since the day he returned home from World War II.

“‘He was unsatisfied with army food,’ explains his daughter, Ellen Rauch.  ‘He was determined when he got back he would eat what he wanted.'”

After reading that, how could I not go out today on my normal food run and not pick up a jar of Fluff, not bring it home, not toss it to Keith and not say “make me a sandwich“?

Keith, born and bred Massachusetts man that he is, gallantly smeared peanut butter on one piece of bread and Fluff on the other; when he licked the knife clean — at my urging — he said, “This is my Ratatouille moment.”*  Then, he handed me the sandwich on a plate, cautioning, “You’re not going to like it.”

Friends, I don’t like to rub it in when someone is wrong and I am right; it’s déclassé.  That said, Keith was so wrong.

The Fluffernutter is amazing.  It reminded me for some reason of Nutella, which I also happened to coincidentally purchase today, in the sense that both the hazelnut spread and the peanut butter/Fluff combo are incredibly smooth, creamy and dreamy, and the marshmallowy vanillaness of the Fluff adds a deeper richness to the already-rich peanut butter.

To put it simply, it’s damn good.  And yes, I think I’ll have another, if Keith is willing to make it for me.

* Which is another reason why I love him so much.

Lunchtime at Albert Cuyp Markt.

Oh, there’s still so much I want to tell you all about our trip last month, and there’s still so much I want to tell you about other things (I know you don’t think I’ve forgotten to keep you posted about my CSAdventures) but somehow time has gotten away from me.  Bear with me while I figure it all out, and in the meantime, enjoy this little slideshow of photos I took at the Albert Cuyp Markt in Amsterdam.  (Click on the legs.)

Albert Cuyp Markt, 8

Unlike London’s Borough Market and Montréal’s Marché Jean-Talon, the Albert Cuyp Markt is an actual street market; the vendors set up and break down their carts, trucks and booths each morning and night.  Don’t worry though — the street is closed to automotive traffic during market hours (Monday through Saturday from eight in the morning until six at night).

Also unlike Borough Market and Jean-Talon, the markt offers products ranging beyond produce, including clothing, furniture and even electronics — which reminded me more of some of the markets I’ve visited in Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore.  There’s still a lot of food to sample, buy and smell, however.  My favorite was Amsterdam’s infamous raw herring sandwich; fatty, sweet and rich, I wish I had one in my hand right now.  It was that good.

What’s amazing about this market is that it’s in the center of a picturesque part of Amsterdam known as the Pijp, whose little pockets of ethnic communities definitely flavor the markets’ stalls.  Crave a Surinamese sweet?  Need a tagine?  The markt has everything you need, and frites to boot, so if you plan to visit, I highly recommend doing what Keith and I did: skip breakfast.

Albert Cuyp Markt
Albert Cuypstraat between Ferdinand Bolstraat and Van Woustraat
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

One Week in Amsterdam.

We had originally planned to do day trips out of Amsterdam, same as we had in Brussels, but Keith and I soon came to realize that we didn’t want to wake up early to catch any more trains.  Instead, we leisurely made our way around the city each day.

View of Amsterdam from the Movenpick Hotel, early morning.Monday
Had breakfast at the Hotel Metropole in Brussels.  Three trains later — whoever said there were nonstops running from Bruxelles Nord is a liar — checked into Amsterdam’s Mövenpick Hotel overlooking the IJ, Centraal Station and the city.  After lying facedown on the bed for a while, roused ourselves to find dinner because apparently the Dutch don’t eat late.  Wandered down through the Old Centre, which was overflowing with drunken American, English, German and Irish tourists reeking of pot, and ended up at Brasserie De Roode Leeuw on the New Side, where I ate the most amazing piece of fish and Keith devoured veal meatballs, potatoes and these gorgeous little peas into which he mixed curries and compotes.  Finished the night with beers at Gollem, a tiny bar only slightly larger than my apartment’s bathroom.

Kees de Jongenbrug, Amsterdam.Tuesday
Slept in a bit then found some lunch at Festina Lente in the Jordaan: taleggio, tomatoes and salami on a toasted wheat* ciabatta.  (If I lived here, I would come to Festina Lente once a week just to eat through their sandwich menu.)  Admired the café’s cat.  Commented how much the Dutch seem to love sandwiches… like me.  Drifted around the Jordaan.  Watched candy get made at Papabubble, then bought several Euro’s worth.  Checked out the clothes sold at Sprmrkt, all of which made me feel very fat and very uncool.  Smelled soaps at La Savonnerie and realized Amsterdam is quite beautiful once you get away from the sleazy bits.  Beer break at Café Brakke, where non-patrons have to pay €0.50 to use the toilet but petting the cat is free.  Hopped a tram to the Pijp for dinner at District V.  Happened to be “National Restaurant Week,” so ate the set menu of salmon wrapped in pasta with a tomato cream sauce; “friander kalfsoester” with potatoes, ratatouille and a delicious marsala potato gratin studded with rosemary; and a citron ice cream with lemon sauce and a brownie full of ground almonds.  (If you come here, check out the not-as-cheesy-as-it-sounds chandelier made of cutlery, sieves and serving spoons.)  Trammed back to the hotel.

Breakfast from Bagels + Coffee outside the Anne Frank HuisWednesday
Had prebooked tickets to the Anne Frank House; showed up fifteen minutes early so we could grab ham-and-cheese croissants and coffee next door**.  Wrestled between depression, interest and anger while going through the house.  Ignored Keith completely afterwards at Broodje Bert, where I ate a toasted salami, onion and cheese sandwich (for barely over €5.oo) while I scribbled in my journal.  Shopped the Nine Streets.  Bought a rad bag at Margareth Mackenzie on Oude Spiegelstraat.  Helped Keith pick out a wallet at Hester Van Eeghen on Hartenstraat.  Scribbled more at Café de Pels while Keith drank beer.  Chilled out at the hotel for an hour or two before a dinner of snacks at Van Dobben, where the friendliest people work and recommend crazy-amazing things to eat like kroket sandwiches and a stack of salted beef and liver piled in between bread.  Ogled two  customers’ two massive dogs, then walked back to the hotel.

On a canal, AmsterdamThursday
Caught the water taxi to city hall, then walked to De Tokoman for some sensational Surinamese sandwiches and mango juice.  Still couldn’t believe how much the Dutch love sandwiches, and how much I love the Dutch for loving them.  Walked over to the Dutch Resistance Museum, also known as the coolest museum in the city and where we spent three hours.  Poked through Rembrandt’s house, which is set up to appear as though the artist just popped out for a sandwich (he was Dutch, you know).  Quick detour in the Bloemenmarkt, the flower market.  Beers at Café van Leeuwen.  Heard the weather was going to turn for the cold and windy, so conned Keith into shopping for a jacket.  More beers at Gollem, where I met the bar’s cat, then a traditional Dutch dinner at Moeders before catching our last tram of the night.  Beer at the hotel bar, then bed.

Morning Star, AmsterdamFriday
More awesome sandwiches and frites, this time at Morning Star, which just might be the cutest place ever.  Windy windy windy cold weather, so I wore my new jacket.  Visited the Amsterdams Historisch Museum, where Keith had to tear me away from the computer-generated map of the city’s growth over the past eight hundred years.  After cookies (koekjes) and appelflaps (kind of like  an apple turnover) at Lanskroon, trammed to the Pijp for beers at the other branch of Gollem with another cat before walking to the Van Gogh Museum, which is open late on Friday nights for film screenings, concerts and lectures.  Dinner at Burgermeester.   In spite of torrential rain, all the local bars were packed so we headed to the hotel bar for one last beer.

Flowers on Engelantiersstraat, AmsterdamSaturday
Glumly trekked through the sunny morning and the Red Light District to get to the Museum Amstelkring and its spectacular church hidden in the attic, then to the Oude Kerk, the only cathedral I’ve ever seen with a wooden ceiling.  Trammed to the Albert Cuypmarkt in the Pijp.  Spent hours exploring the miscellaneous stalls and eating more Surinamese food, frites, cookies and an astounding raw herring sandwich.  Beers at Kingfisher before walking to the in-the-process-of-renovation Rijksmuseum, home to works by Vermeer, Rembrandt and Bruegel.  Indonesian dinner at Bojo, before beers at ‘t Arendsnest.  Trammed in the pouring rain back to the hotel to pack and sleep.

* The Dutch call wheat bread brown bread. I don’t think I can pull it off.
**Getting advance tickets online is a must. If you aren’t able to, plan on buying a snack next door at Bagels and Coffee; customers can use their computer and printer gratis, and therefore avoid the hours-long line at the Anne Frank House.

Brunch at Sel de la Terre.

By now, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that I can often get stuck between a few menu choices.  This time, at brunch at Sel de la Terre, it was a couple of sandwiches holding me up, and the obvious solution was to con someone into splitting them so I could sample them both.

The first sandwich I was hankering to try was the slow-roasted pork. Served with baby arugula, a sundried tomato aïoli and Comté (one of my favorite cheeses!) on black olive bread ($8.95), it sounded too good to pass up. Unfortunately, this was an incidence of an item not quite reaching its full potential. The flavors were there, but they were not nearly as intense as I would have hoped. Not only that, but I could barely taste the Comté. (Really, that’s me being kind and diplomatic — I couldn’t get any sense of my beloved Comté at all. In fact, I forgot it was supposed to be there until I consulted the menu a second time.) Also, I couldn’t help but think that there was something missing from this sandwich — aside from depth of flavor, that is. I will say that I would be curious to try this as a panino; now that I think about it, this would be a great panino… with a more generous amount of Comté, of course.

The other sandwich calling out to me had one of my other favorite cheeses as a component. The skillet-roasted crabcakes with Gruyère, house-made bacon and romaine was served on a crunchy baguette ($8.95) and was absolutely delicious. The crab was sweet and delicate, with the bacon adding a nice savory saltiness to the mix. It, unlike the slow-roasted pork, was absolutely perfect as is, and would not have made a great panino. There’s no other bread that could have possibly stood in for the baguette; this sandwich would have been the sorrier for it otherwise.

The brunch offerings at Sel de la Terre definitely skew more towards lunch than breakfast; if you’re in search of apple-cinnamon pancakes with maple syrup, I advise you to keep walking. However, if what you’re craving is a duo of poached eggs with house-made bacon or perhaps a marinated chicken sandwich with hot house tomatoes, then make Sel de la Terre your first stop.

Sel de la Terre
255 State Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02109

Sel de la Terre on Urbanspoon

Sandwich from The Biscuit, by way of Zing!

I understand that it isn’t yet eleven o’clock in the morning as I write this, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am already halfway through my lunch.

On most weekday mornings, I get started with a cappuccino or a latte from Zing! in Porter Square Books; this morning the sandwiches looked so amazingly tempting, plump triangles wrapped in shiny cellophane. Generally speaking I pack my lunch and tote it into work, but this happens to be one of the few days where I found myself commuting with only a banana and an apple to hold me over until dinner. I had planned on perhaps getting some sort of soba from the Asian food court inside Porter Exchange when, as I ordered my coffee, I realized that my stomach was already rumbling. So I did what I always do, and that is give in.

I selected the Veggie Goat’s Gruff: herbed goat cheese, roasted zucchini sliced incredibly thin, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions and greens on whole wheat. Goodness, it was delicious. The onions actually weren’t quite caramelized, but I didn’t mind because they gave a satisfying crunch to the sandwich. One of the ingredients, and it drives me crazy that I can’t quite put my finger on exactly which, added a surprising pickle-y tang that I absolutely loved.

Apparently the Veggie Goat’s Gruff and the other sandwiches available at Zing! come from The Biscuit on Washington Street in Somerville. While it’s not nearly as easy for me to pop by there on my way to work, it’s heartening to know that now I’ve got two more places to drop into when I’ve got a hankering for a sandwich.

Zing! at Porter Square Books
Porter Square Shopping Center
25 White Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02140

Sandwich from Bloc 11.

img_2182.jpg I’ve lost track of the many times I’ve remarked upon my love for certain foodstuffs. Most recently, there was mention of peach Lambic and the Kir Royale. Prior to that, it was choreg. Prior to that it was, what, cookies? Cupcakes? Crêpes? Corn fritters? This is precisely what I mean. While there are far too many items to tick off, that is in no way going to stop me from adding another to the list: sandwiches.

Oh, how I love them. I love that the bread serves as both packaging and major ingredient; I love the collection of flavors and textures and colors jam-packed into each bite; I love that they can be eaten in my most favorite fashion — messily, and with my hands.

I spent most of Sunday morning drinking lattes at Union Square’s Bloc 11; given the intensity of my feelings for sandwiches, I wasn’t able to resist the long list of options for very long. To slim down the lineup, and for that reason alone, I decided to limit myself to ordering exclusively from the cold sandwich section of the menu. Still, I was overwhelmed. There was, to indulge in, the Terrace: rosemary focaccia laden with roasted red pepper hummus, Gruyère, tomato, sprouts, greens and cucumber. Also beckoning me from behind the counter was the Fuse: apple curried tuna with tomato, cucumber, greens and onion atop sourdough.

At last, I settled on the Station 11, though in this case “settle” is a horribly inaccurate word. By choosing the Station 11, I wasn’t settling at all. The combination of flavors — bitter greens, salty and buttery prosciutto, bright tomato, soft and comforting herby ricotta, crusty ciabatta and a veritable pile of sweet caramelized onions — was exceedingly delicious. I will say that, at first, I wished for more ricotta but as I ate I realized that the cheese melded so thoroughly into the rest of the ingredients, adding a subtle creaminess to the sandwich.

The perfect size, the Station 11 left me completely satisfied. In terms of fullness, that is. I easily could have consumed another sandwich, if only to further savor the taste.

Bloc 11
11 Bow Street
Somerville, Massachusetts 02143

Bloc 11 Cafe on Urbanspoon