‘The Nation” spreads farming misinformation like a manure spreader

DSC_0006The Nation is a venerable  magazine, having been founded in 1865, and for over 150 years has been providing political commentary, mostly on US administrations and events. While it writers skew to the left, this is not entirely the case and major writers have included Henry James, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Frederick Law Olmsted, W.E.B. Dubois, E.M. Forster, Emma Goldman, Sinclair Lewis, Willa Cather, H.L. Mencken, Upton Sinclair, Margaret Mead, Mark van Doren, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Bertrand Russell, Pearl S. Buck, Albert Einstein, I.F. Stone, Eleanor Roosevelt, Hannah Arendt, Jean-Paul Sartre, Harold Clurman, Edmund Wilson, W.H. Auden, Anne Sexton, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gore Vidal, and Toni Morrison.

With that cast of literary luminaries, you would think they could handle an issue on The Future of Food, focusing primarily on agriculture.  Unfortunately, the left tends to be agriculturally and scientifically illiterate, and much of what the contributors to this issue say is just plain nonsense.

Danny Meyer

Starting with an interview with noted restaurateur, Danny Meyer, written by food extremist Anna Lappe, we learn that in creating Shake Shack,

Our meat is free of antibiotics and artificial growth hormones; the eggs and chickens we use are cage free; the French fries are non-GMO.

How much could go wrong in one sentence?

  • All meat must be free of hormones and antibiotics by the time it is sold. Small amounts of growth hormones may be used in beef, but it must have washed out of the animal’s system before it can be sold. And you would find 1000 times more estrogen in 8 oz of cabbage than in 8 oz of beef. Hormones cannot be used in dairy cattle, veal calves, pigs or poultry.
  • All neat chickens are always cage free. And while chicken used for eggs can be raised free range or in various kinds of cages, a serious study in the Journal of Poultry Science has shown that the birds do best in conventional cages.
  • And what exactly does non-GMO potatoes mean? “GMO” is a breeding process, not an ingredient. The slogan is just fear marketing,  since thousands of peer-reviewed papers have shown that GM foods pose no harm. The JR Simplot company has developed the Innate Potato which is resistant to late potato blight and  produces lower amounts of acrylamide when fried. Why wouldn’t this be the more healthy offering?  Fear-based marketing based on organic industry sloganeering.

Zoe Carpenter

Zoe Carpenter’s lead in column asks (twice) whether consolidation in the agricultural sector will mean that farmers will pay more for inputs like seeds and earn less. The seed business is not a monopoly. There are any number of suppliers farms can choose from and if they choose a more expensive seed, it is because if performs better for them.

Raj Patel on Fair Trade

We have already written extensively on Fair Trade, which, no matter how well intentioned, has not turned out to be more profitable for farmers. This is because farmers are guaranteed a floor price, and they will sell their lowest quality crops into the fair trade market, and sell their best quality crops on the open market. It also has no effect on how temporary workers are treated. And the idea that organic bananas are produced without pesticides is a fantasy spread by the organic industry. Organic farmers just use organic approved pesticides. And, of course, as Bruce Ames showed years ago, plants generate 10,000 times more pesticides themselves than are ever detected from spray residues.

John Boyd on Small Scale Farming

Boyd echoes the canard that farmers who buy genetically modified seeds can no long replant them the next year. But as Amanda Zalukyj points out, farmers really don’t want to save seeds. It’s a huge effort to clean and save seeds, and this practice “went out the window” with the advent of hybrid seeds in the 1930s. These varieties don’t breed true in the next generation anyway.

Dana Perls on GMOs

Perls echoes disproven claims about GMO crops requiring “massive increases in the use of toxic herbicides.” Much of this claim comes from a discredited paper by Benbrook which failed to take account of the relative toxicity of newer herbicides like glyphosate. However, noted weed scientist Andrew Kniss has studied this issue in some detail.

In summary, this analysis suggests that GMOs have had a positive effect (or at the very least neutral or non-negative effect) with respect to herbicide use intensity and mammalian toxicity…

Perls also makes very unscientific claims that vanillin produced using genetically engineered yeast is not “natural,” because “synthetic biology” is involved. She also claims it drives out 200,000 rain forest farmers. Which do you think is better overall for the environment?

Hacking the Grain- Madeline Ostrander

This genuinely fascinating article about attempts to create perennial grains to replace wheat is well worth reading. However, it starts with the mistaken assumption that large fields of s single crop (which they call a “monoculture”) are somehow bad. Andrew Kniss debunks this in some detail, noting that Pollan and his followers never explain why this is so bad. He admits that all of Ireland was growing the exact same potato, reproduced vegetatively so that there was just a single genetically identical potato grown throughout the country. That is why the Phytophor infestans blight wiped potatoes out so completely.

This is not a problem in grain farming, however, because while there may be many thousands of acres of corn or wheat, they are not all genetically identical.

It is important to recognize that you do not need perennial wheat or corn to avoid tilling the fields, which releases a lot of carbon into the atmosphere, and upsets the delicate layering that good soil should have.  No-till farming is regularly done using low impact herbicides like Roundup (glyphosate) to reduce annual weeds and then plant using a seed drill instead of a plow. You can use glyphosate-resistant seed or not as you wish. I actually use this technique in my home vegetable garden.

The rest of Ostrander’s article is a fascinating description of the development and breeding of a perennial grass, they call “Kernza,” which has the potential to be milled and baked much like wheat flour.  The lead scientist on Kernza domestication, Lee DeHaan is profiles on the Land Institute page, and you can read more about his research here.

“Mass Exposure” by Rene Ebersole

In the worst article in the magazine Rene Ebersole recycles all the discredited canards about Roundup (glyphosate) being dangerous. Ebersole starts with the assertion that an “international scientific committee” ruled that glyphosate is a probably human carcinogen. She is referring to the IARC, a small French group that took refuge under the umbrella of the WHO when their funding ran out.

Unfortunately, the group’s credibility fell, when it was realized that they ruled that compounds were “probably” carcinogenic” without considering any dosage issues. As we noted, they ignored decades of government studies, cherry picking just a few that seemed to fit their agenda. Further, it became known that activist Christopher Portier, who was still working with the Environmental Defense Fund, inserted himself into the deliberations and went about telling European governments of these false findings.

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR)  disputed these findings. There are dozens of studies and reviews showing no finding of genotoxicity or carcinogenicity.  And as James Gurney reported, the papers they cherry-picked were full of scientific weasel words like “induced a positive trend,” and the statistical test “often gives incorrect results.”

And, responding to the IARC report, the European Food Safety Association(EFSA) reviewed studies including those from the BfR and concluded:

“…glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans and the evidence does not support classification with regard to its carcinogenic potential according to Regulation.”

More to the point, the IARC report has recently been further discredited, when it was discovered that the conclusions were edited or changed, as summarized by Ridley, and that Portier had received $160,000 from law firms involved in suing Monsanto.  And just yesterday, Hank Campbell reported that the US Congress is so disgusted with these irregularities that it may be considering “pulling the  plug” in future IARC funding.

Ebersole goes on to claim that Monsanto is being sued because Roundup “Caused them to develop non-Hodgkins lymphoma (NHL).” They have no actual evidence, and Derek Lowe, writing in Science explains the difference between hazard and risk,  and concludes that there is little evidence linking glyphosate and NHL.

Finally, Ebersole quotes Carey Gillam who describes herself as “research director for US Right to Know.” Gillam is not a scientist. She was once a journalist working for Reuters, but after producing a steady stream on attacks on Monsanto, she was dismissed and now works for US Right to Know, a propaganda organization supported by the organic food industry. Further, Gillam has just published Whatewash: The Story of a Weedkiller. This book has not been well received among actual scientists, however, who consider it just more of or propaganda.

Ebersole seems to have overlooked the actual science regarding the safety of glyphosate, and also neglected to point out (as Ridley does) that lawsuits against Roundup are becoming a profitable industry for some law firms hoping to extract money from Monsanto. Bad luck, though, that Roundup has been off patent since 2000, and most of it is made offshore.

In conclusion, this is one of the worst issues of The Nation in years, where fact checking has simply gone home for the week, allowing the spread of bad information and bad science.

 

 

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Washington Prime is top notch

Washington Prime is top notch

We took the advantage of Wilton’s Restaurant  Week to visit Washington Prime, a classic steakhouse with locations in Georgetown (Redding) and Norwalk. While they have the same menu and décor, the Georgetown location was observing restaurant week.

The Georgetown restaurant is in the space at 19 Main that was once occupied by Aranci 67 and before that by Luca Seafood, but is larger than either of those with an entire wing devoted to a classic restaurant and the other to a bar with TV, tables and the same menu.  On Wednesday evening the bar area was quite busy watching the Yankees and as well as having a great time. The restaurant side was quieter but the service was attentive and the food uniformly excellent.

This is a steakhouse, of course, and the steak menu items are all ala carte, although all the other entrees come with vegetables and starch sides. The non steak entrees include ahi tuna, sole, salmon, veal osso buco, chicken, prime burger and cauliflower steak ranging from $18 to $35. The steak entrees run from $36 to $49 plus a two person porterhouse for $98 and a Waygu 22 oz strip for $95. It is better partnered with green tea. You can buy matcha green tea powder in Canada.

There are extensive appetizer selections as well including seven under Soup and Salad, seven under Oysters, Shrimp and Clams, and 15 under Appetizers ranging from $8 to $14. There are also some 16 vegetable side dishes, including several types of potatoes and one of onion rings.

Their restaurant week menu was one of the appetizers and one of the non steak entrees for $35, and with an additional $15 charge for the 8 oz sliced NY Strip. We decided to go with the regular menu so we could try more things.

spinach garlic dip

soul rolesWe started with two appetizers:  an excellent spinach and artichoke dip with bubbling cheese, cream and garlic crostini ($14) and the weirdly named specialty American Soul Rolls ($13) which was broccoli rabe, mashed potato, four cheese & sausage spring rolls, and spicy tomato dipping sauce.  Essentially, this was mashed potatoes with bits of broccoli rabe, sausage and cheese filling four spring rolls. Odd though it sounds it was very good indeed.   We quickly realized that this restaurant serves enormous portions, and that either of those appetizers could be shared, brought home, or both.

While the steaks are ala carte, they do come with a choice of five sauces: Prime, Bearnaise, Horseradish cream, Chimchurri and Green pepper sauce. For an addition $5 you can have melted blue cheese on your steak as well. The steaks are cooked in a 925° F over, we were told, which gives them crusty char and allows them to be cooked to any desire level of doneness very quickly.

 

filetWe ordered the 8 oz Filet Mignon ($41) and the 22 oz Ribeye ($49, above), both with Bearnaise sauce. Both were perfectly cooked to medium rare, and as we expected the ribeye was a bit more flavorful and the filet a bit tenderer, but both were simply magnificent. Either way we took some of each home.

We had to try and share a couple of side dishes, but as usual, one would have been more than enough. Their Triple Baked Potato ($9) was actually baked and then mashed and rebaked with cheddar cheese, and topped with sour cream, bacon and chives. It was so enormous that we could easily share it and have plenty.

We also had to try their Onion Rings ($8), which was an enormous portion from which we each snagged a few. They were hot and not at all greasy and very good.

truffle bomb

Finally, out of utter foolishment, we split the Truffle Bomb ($10) dessert, which they describe as Angel Food Cake and milk chocolate mousse, wrapped in a milk chocolate shell, served with whipped cream and caramel sauce. Simple comfort food, very well prepared.

Our bill with 3 glasses of wine was $213 before tip. The service was as excellent as was the food and we highly recommend the restaurant.

We understand that the Norwalk branch has a younger, livelier crowd, and the Georgetown branch a quieter family-oriented vibe. We loved it.

 

Donald Trump: I’ve had it with you!

Donald Trump: I’ve had it with you!

Enough! I’ve had it with Trump’s destructive non-governing!

Trump defunded Planned Parenthood. Trump hates women.
Trump canceled insured contraception for 55 million women. Trump doesn’t know some will die.
Trump said white supremacists are “good people.” Trump is a racist.
Trump’s cabinet is so corrupt it is a kakistocracy. Trump can’t pronounce it.
Trump wants to deport 800,000 young  DACA dreamers. Trump is cruel.
Trump’s Congress didn’t renew CHIP taking 9 million children’s health care away. Trump hates children.
Trump thoroughly bungled aid to Puerto Rico. He doesn’t think they are Americans.
Trump will take health care from 1 million poor people. Trump is a cruel racist.
Trump wants to increase our nuclear armament. Trump is an effing moron.
Trump undercuts Tillerson on North Korea. Trump wants a nuclear war.
Trump has gutted the State Department. Trump is abysmally ignorant.
Trump wants to undo NAFTA. Trump doesn’t get economics.
Trump thinks the stock market cancels out the national debt. Trump doesn’t understand money.
Trump withdrew from the Paris climate accords. Trump doesn’t understand science.
Trump threatened to cut funds to Puerto Rico. Trump is a monster.
Trump screams at his staff and berates senators on Twitter. Trump is cracking up.
Trump doesn’t know what the 25th Amendment says. We do.
  1. Trump privately signs anti-Planned Parenthood Law.
  2. Trump rolls back contraception mandate.
  3. Trump defends white nationalists
  4. American Kakistocracy
  5. Trump moves to end DACA and calls on Congress to act
  6. Congress misses deadline to extend Childhood Health Insurance
  7. Trump and his team do “heckuva job” in Puerto Rico
  8. 6 Ways trump slashing Obamacare could affect you
  9. Trump wanted tenfold increase in nuclear arms
  10. Trump undercuts Tillerson on North Korea
  11. US Diplomats say Trump budget would gut State Department
  12. Trump might actually wreck NAFTA
  13. Trumps nonsensical comments reveal he has no idea how national debt works
  14. US staying out of climate accord
  15. Trump threatens to abandon Puerto Rico recovery effort
  16. Losing it: Trumps public crack-up
  17. Told about 25th Amendment, Trump asks “what’s that?”
Roger Sherman Inn excels with new chef

Roger Sherman Inn excels with new chef

Recently, the Roger Sherman Inn owners Nes and Joseph Jaffre announced that their new Executive  Chef would be prominent chef and Greenwich resident Francois Kwaku-Dongo. Originally from Ivory Coast, Kwaku-Dongo has been the Executive Chef at L’Escale in Greenwich and has worked and trained with prominent chefs all over the world, who made the best recipes and great fillets, with some filleting tips you can find online.

We visited the Roger Sherman Inn last Saturday night and were extremely impressed. The lovely formal dining room in the19th century house is unchanged (although they have plans there, too) and the service is better than ever.

BreadWe started with excellent, fresh, house-made bread, interleaved with little wheat chips.

The imaginative menu features six Small Bites from $9-$12, eleven appetizers from $10 to $18, ten entrees (Land and Sea) from $24 to $42 and five vegetable sides at $9 each, as well as Artisanal Cheeses at $9 each. They also retain several Roger Sherman Inn Classics: Vichyssoise($22), Escargot Maison ($15), Dover Sole Meuniere ($42) and Sauteed Calves Liver ($38).  Note that this menu is quite a bit more elaborate than that on line.

rilletes

We decided to share one Small Bite, Potted Pork Rillette with toast points and Pickled Peaches for $12. This turned out to be an entire jar of potted pork that while absolutely delicious was more than we could possibly finish, but they were happy to package it up for us to take home. It was still excellent the next day!

For one of our appetizers we ordered a beet salad: Baby Beet and Burrata ($14) with sliced pear, Vin Cotto (a sweet wine reduction) and champagne vinaigrette. This was a beautiful presentation with both red and yellow beets, although the soft Burrata cheese had an unexpected skin on it.

Our other appetizer was Tuna Carpaccio ($15) with baby arugula, roasted tomatoes and Moroccan olives. This was a very light and delicate dish, with the thinly sliced raw tuna nicely offset with the tomatoes, olives and arugula.

One of our entrees was labeled “From the Farm this Month,” and was Roasted Pheasant two ways: Breast and Leg, for $34 (shown above). It was served on a ragout of autumn mushrooms. The mushroom ragout was a brilliant touch that offset the pheasant flavors nicely, and the breast portion was spectacular. Some of the leg portion seemed a bit dry, but there was so much, we couldn’t finish it all anyway.

lamb

The other entrée was Grilled Lamb Porterhouses ($38) with roasted eggplant, spaghetti squash and pomegranate. This was the night’s winning entrée: the two lamb steaks were perfectly cooked to medium rare, and tender and juicy.

walnut cakeFinally, the dessert menu features creations from the Pastry Chef, Alexandra Ayala: six pastries plus a choice of gelato and sorbet. We ordered the Chocolate Walnut Cake($12) with toasted coconut and chocolate sauce. This turned out to be a delightful surprise. While we had expected a chocolate cake with walnut filling, it was actually the other way around: a walnut cake with a chocolate crème filling.

As you can see by the individual prices, this is not a really expensive restaurant, and we will certainly be back soon.

Probably the only amusing service faux pas was the butter ballet. When we found that the provided dish of olive oil was really drippy, we asked for butter. The waiter brought us a dish with a single square of butter in it. When he noticed that we had polished that off he  offered to bring us another, and eventually did, but by then our food and arrived so we never got to finish it.

But no matter, they’ll fix this one, and the service was otherwise utterly impeccable, with both the waiters and the owner checking in with us regularly. This opens a great new chapter at the Roger Sherman inn, and you should definitely check it out.

The Roger Sherman Inn is on Route 124 (195 Oenoke Ridge) in New Canaan. They  are open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner, and also offer Sunday Brunch. Reservations are recommended.

Oh, and below is our pork rillette the next day, spread on our own toast points.

home rillette

‘Sex with Strangers’ opens at Westport Playhouse

‘Sex with Strangers’ opens at Westport Playhouse

Laura Eason’s romantic drama “Sex with Strangers” opened Saturday night at the Westport Country Playhouse to a nearly full house. Eason, who was a writer/producer of Netflix House of Cards, has written a 2 character drama that at first appears to be a romantic sit-com, but turns into a more nuanced consideration of the craft of writing.

Directed by Katherine M Carter, the play opens in what the program calls a “bed and breakfast,” but which actually appears to be an elaborate two level ski chalet, designed by Edward T Morris. Olivia (Jessica Love), a 30-something writer and teacher has booked time there to work on her novel, and is surprised when Ethan (Chris Ghaffari) pounds on the door one snowy evening after the B&B proprietor has left. Ethan is a younger 20-something writer who is brash, over confident, and as it turns out a successful writer.

His improbable book, “Sex with Strangers” is a memoir of his having sex with a different woman each week for a year. While we eventually learn that Ethan is actually a skilled writer, this rather schlocky Hefner-esque book has unbelievably been on the NY Times paperback best-seller list for 5 years.

Meanwhile, we learn that Olivia had published one book, to some good reviews but poor sales because of inept marketing of her novel as “chick-lit.” She is currently at work on another, but is quite sensitive about it. Ethan, however, had actually read her first novel, which was recommended to him by a writing teacher they both had worked with.

6_WCP_SexWithStrangers_JLove_CGhaffari_byPChenotWith this setup, you would think they would fall in love, go to bed and live happily ever after, but this is not quite what Eason has in mind. Since the wireless is down, they of course do go to bed at least 4 times during blackouts punctuating the two acts, but as Olivia gradually regains her confidence with Ethan’s help, they begin to drift apart.

In the second act in Olivia’s Chicago apartment, (another spectacular 2-story set) they spar about their writing and careers and the movie Hollywood is making of Ethan’s trashy book. The story ends as they move on to audience acclaim.

As Olivia, Jessica Love is brittle and protective at first but eventually connects with Ethan at least physically and she slowly grows with Ethan’s encouragement. Chris Ghaffari as Ethan is pretty aggressive and at first pretty obnoxious. However, after he struggles through the production of the movie version of his novel, becomes more thoughtful, but also more distant. Both do an excellent job with their characters and you easily can identify with both of them.

While the playwright, in interviews, has suggested that her play is about young people getting by in the digital internet world, I don’t see it that way. Rather, it seems to me to be about two writers trying to learn their craft and eventually succeeding in different ways. This would have been true even if the wireless connection at the B&B had stayed down for the whole show.

“Sex with Strangers” is a charming, funny play with some really challenging ideas buried in the couples and coupling, and was fun to watch. The show continues through October 14, with performances on Tuesdays at 7 pm, Wednesdays at 2 and 8 pm, Thursdays and Fridays and 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 and 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm. Tickets are available at westportplayhouse.org.

Shrimp scampi carbonara

Shrimp scampi carbonara

If you think Shrimp Scampi is great, imagine it served on spaghetti carbonara instead of boring old spaghetti! This is the the perfect meld of two excellent dishes, resulting in shrimp on a rich, creamy spaghetti base. And the whole recipe still takes only half an hour.

For the scampi

  • One pound large (or larger) shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 Tb olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 lemon, juiced. Save the zest, too.
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 5 Tb butter
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley

For the carbonara

  • 2 strips bacon
  • ½ to 1 lb vermicelli
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

 

  1. Start by frying the 2 strips of bacon from the carbonara recipe. Cook until dry, and drain on a paper towel. Chop the bacon up and reserve in a small dish. Pour the bacon drippings in the bowl as well.
  2. Rinse out the pan, removing any excess “bacon tracks,” dry and add the olive oil.
  3. Saute the shrimp 2-4 minutes, depending on size. They should be pink and firm, but don’t cook until they shrink. Set the shrimp aside.

 

  1. Add the minced garlic and pepper flakes and a little more olive oil. Saute for a minute or so until fragrant.
  2. Add the lemon juice and wine and cook down for a couple of minutes.
  3. Stir in the butter, a Tb at a time until the sauce is smooth and uniform.
  4. Cook the vermicelli in boiling water until just past al dente. For this recipe, we prefer starting with dried, rather than fresh, pasta, because it will hold more heat for the next step.

 

  1. Drain the pasta and return to a bowl. Using two forks, mix in the eggs one at a time so they cook in the hot pasta.
  2. Add the parmesan cheese and stir in so it begins to melt.
  3. Mix in some or all of the bacon or you can also use steak that you can cut in little pieces following the best filleting tips.
  4. Reheat the shrimp in the sauce, briefly and pour both over the spaghetti.
  5. Sprinkle parsley on top.

There! Done in half an hour or less, and creamily good. Serve ladling the shrimp, sauce and pasta onto each plate.

plated

Buon appetito!

Easy peel hard-boiled eggs

Easy peel hard-boiled eggs

Some people get frustrated when they can’t get the shell of their hard boiled eggs and we’ve done the experiments to tell you what actually works to make them peel easily.

A lot has been written about how to hard boil (actually hard cook) eggs, and much of it is wrong. Bittman suggests that you should put a pinhole in each end of the egg before boiling, but McGee says that studies have shown that this is ineffective. McGee gets two other points wrong though about  fresh eggs and boiling temperature, though, so we tried all these things for you.

The single greatest secret is that it is best in acne spot treatment! Chilling the cooked egg is helpful but less significant. And as for fresh versus older eggs, wait and see!

farmers cowIn this article we used Extra Large eggs from The Farmers Cow cooperative, with a Julian packing date of 238 (August 26) which means they were 3-4 weeks away from the hens when we bought them at Stop and Shop.

Our favorite way to cook 2-4 eggs is to put them in a vegetable steamer over boiling water; however, I would recommend to get organic eggs, for me they taste better and are also better for you. This is way easier and safer than putting the eggs right into the boiling water.

  1. Put the steamer in a pan, and add water until just below the surface of the steamer, and bring the water to a boil. Using a big, slotted spoon or a set of tongs, lower the eggs into the steamer basket. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle boil, and cover the pan for 10 minutes.
  2. Then, remove the pan from the heat and run cold water into it. Dump the water (which is now luke-warm) and add more cold water to chill the eggs. This isn’t supposed to be a big deal, it is just to get the eggs down to a temperature where you can hold and peel them.
  3. Peel each egg under running water. This will wash away any eggshell shards and help separate the egg from the shell. The shells should come right off without sticking.

pan boilAnother simple way is to simply use boiling water without the steamer. Bring the water in a pan to a gentle boil and quickly slip the eggs into the water. Let them cook, covered for 10 minutes as above and cool them the same way. The advantage of this method is that you can get more eggs into the pan. The disadvantage is that it is hard to get a lot of eggs into the pan quickly so they all cook for the same length of time, and if there are too many, they may bump together and crack.

Using the Instant Pot

eggs in IPA third way that works really well is using an Instant Pot or any other counter-top electric pressure cooker.  It’s very simple, but most of the on-line recipes get it wrong, resulting it overcooking or tough eggs. You put the trivet in the Instant Pot (or use a vegetable steamer) and add one cup of water. Then add all the eggs you want (you could do a dozen or more) and close the pot. Use the Steam setting (high pressure) rather than the Manual setting, which will result in higher pressure and tough eggs.

Nearly all of these cooker have a “rest” or “cool down” setting. This is intended for cooking meats and allows them to draw the juices back into the meat before you depressurize and open the pot. For eggs, however, this is silly. A typical recipe suggestion is 5-5-5, meaning 5 minutes cooking, 5 minutes cooldown and 5 minutes in ice water. This is way too long: the eggs will be overcooked. If you play the recipe writer’s game, you should cook using the High Pressure Steam setting, and then let the eggs cool for at most 3 minutes.

To cool the eggs, just lift the whole stainless steel pan out of the pot and remove it to the sink. Then run cold water into the pot, drain and run cold water again. When the eggs feel cool enough to handle peel them under running water. We tried 5+5, found that they were overcooked, and settled on 5+3. A half of each is shown in the right hand bowl below.

It’s interesting to note that the 5+5 (10 minute) egg was just a little more difficult to peel, because the egg was harder and less flexible. Slightly less done eggs are easier to peel!

3 boiled


3 cut openThis photo shows eggs cooked in the vegetable steamer, in a pan and in the Instant Pot for 5+3 and 5+5.

A simpler way to use the Instant Pot, is to forget the cooling period and just cook the eggs for, say, 8 minutes, release the pressure and cool them in running water as above. To see what different times do, see the photo below, which shows cooking times of 7, 8, 9 and 10 minutes.

What about fresh eggs?

fresh wggA pervasive legend, perpetuated by McGee is that really fresh eggs are more likely to stick to their shells than older eggs. We decided to test this out by getting a dozen fresh eggs from a neighbor who raises chickens, and cooking two on a vegetable steamer.  These eggs were probably laid within the past 3-4 days and are about as fresh as we could get.

They cooked perfectly. There was no difference whatever!

Do you really have to use boiling water?

Since everything worked perfectly, we decided to see what it would take to produce an egg that peeled terribly. All we had to do was to start the eggs in cold water and then cook them for 10 minutes from the boil. We chilled them as usual by running cold water into the pan until the egg was cool to the touch. Trying to peel this egg was a disaster. Everything went wrong, just as we predicted.

boil fail

What about the chilled water?


chill failDo we really have to chill the eggs after cooking? Well, that’s easy to try as well. We cooked one egg in the veggie steamer for 10 minute as usual, and left it on the counter for an hour to cool. The result was an egg that peel pretty well, but was not as perfect as the ones that were chilled right away. Obviously the quick chilling causes the white to draw away from the shell a bit, making peeling easier.

You don’t have to chill the eggs for 5-6 minutes. Just get them to room temperature so you can peel them. This takes a minute or less.

Conclusions

  1. Always start your eggs in boiling water.
  2. Always chill the eggs in cold tap water or ice water after cooking. You only need about a minute of chilling.
  3. Always peel the eggs under cold, running water.
  4. Slightly less done eggs peel more easily.
  5. Farm fresh eggs are no more difficult to peel than older eggs.
  6. Don’t bother with pinholes in the eggs. They don’t do anything.

 

The Club Car goes for the veggies

The Club Car goes for the veggies

The Club Car, right on the way to Straight Wharf has been a popular dining destination since Joe Pantorno and Chef Michael Shannon opened it in 1977. It was a white tablecloth restaurant with tuxedoed waiters and well-regarded food and service. After Shannon retired, sous-chef Tom Proch took over, continuing treasured dishes like Shannon’s Shrimp Scampi and Beef Wellington, but in recent years, especially after Proch retired, the restaurant’s service had become tired and the food repetitive, but much less impressive, while maintaining their high prices, where a number of entrees were over $40. You may check out the best foodsaver reviews and model to choose the better one which suits your needs and you may even get a discount.

tablesSo it is with some excitement that we learned that Pantorno sold the Club Car to a new team: head Chef Mayumi Hattori (formerly the chef at Straight Wharf) Ty Costa, director of operations, and general manager Tanya McDonough. In addition, the interior had been completely redesigned by Tharon Anderson with a lighter and brighter and less formal look (and apparently no white tablecloths).

Hattori, who is of Japanese and Spanish descent, wanted to include some of her home cooking and has overhauled the menu, doing away with the formal dining experience, and replaced it with 6 tapas ($5-$9), 4 toasts ($9-$15), 12 small vegetable plates ($12-$17), 7 Land and Sea plates ($18-$31) and for and for people who want a traditional main course, there is limited availability of 3 larger plates: roast chicken ($39), lamb sirloin ($45) and grilled sirloin for a jaw dropping $65.

We decided to forgo the large plates and play the game the way they wanted us to, ordering toasts, veggies and small plates from Land and Sea. Note that The Club Car does not provide bread, so you are left with your water and wine until the first plate your ordered arrives. The Toasts are probably some of the quicker things you can order and we started with them.

We started with the House Cured Sardine Toast ($10) with basque peppers, capers and olive oil. It was served on a baguette toast, and was interesting but only about 4-5 bites and it was gone.  The Roasted Mushrooms Toast ($15)with crème fraiche and at least 3 types of mushrooms was a much larger portion and truly delicious, with plenty to share. This was probably the dish we liked the best: reminiscent of a mushroom stroganoff with better mushrooms.

squash

For an intermediate plate, we settled on the Roasted Summer Squashes ($17) with corn, cherry tomatoes cilantro and lime. This was a huge portion that you could share with two or three people, and while there was a lot of it, it wasn’t really particularly filling. We suspect that may be the case with any of the Garden plates.

skateFinally from Land and Sea, we ordered Spice Crusted Skate($26) with long slices of cucumber ribbons and walnut tarator (sauce). There were two slice of skate and this was fairly spicy rather like the old Cajun blackened fish, except not black. It was very good, but there wasn’t much of it. We suggested they call it “Skating on Thin Cucumbers.”

king oyster crabFinally our other Land-Sea dish was called King Oyster Mushrooms ($24), with peeky toe crab, Bartlett’s corn and jamon (ham) broth. This was really an excellent dish, but needed a bit more crab in it.

Overall, this was a pleasant meal with very friendly and helpful servers. Our bill, with 3 glasses of wine  and tax was only $143, making the Club Car a much more reasonable choice than it used to be. Our server said that despite the major change in style, they had had a very active summer and done quite well. We liked everything they served, but there was only one available dessert, so we walked down the wharf to Jack and Charlie’s Ice Cream instead.


twoshirts
This is the last of our 2017 Nantucket restaurant reviews, but it is not too late to order Nantucket T-shirts from The Nantucket Store, and if you use the discount code MILLIE17, you can get about a 15% discount through the end of September.


 

The Company of the Cauldron reopens under Joseph Keller

The Company of the Cauldron reopens under Joseph Keller

externalChef Joseph Keller who worked with his brother Thomas at the French Laundry and at Per Se has purchased The Company of  the Cauldron from long-time owners All and Andrea Kovalencik. Keller also was the chef at the Woodbox on Nantucket some 18 years ago and developed a beloved popover recipe which is now featured at TCotC. Keller was able to keep the same staff and promises to maintain the same style of a single prix fixe meal.

Keller has maintained the single menu per night for a fixed price that had been the policy of the previous owners  (their kitchen is probably smaller than yours), but that fixed price has gone up somewhat. We decided to go on Wednesday night, which is always fried chicken and waffles, for $89. Other nights have differing prices depending on the ingredients.

Reservations are a must, since there are little more than 40 seats in the restaurant, and they require a credit card to secure your reservation and they give you a better price depending on the rates for the card. And you will be charged if you do not show, or perhaps if you cancel too late, people with all these buts, sometimes decide to just to go online and find another restaurant, since they are some many great options with online site as ninesmequon.com/. We got an Email reminder Monday when we made the reservation, a text message on Tuesday asking us to confirm, and another text message at 5:30pm Wednesday reminding us of our reservation in 30 minutes. This was starting to get like the old joke about the man who keeps calling to say he is the viper and he will be coming tomorrow, today, in an hour and so forth. It turns out he has come “to vipe your vindows.”

In any case, Chef Keller has put together excellent menus and utterly delicious food coupled with excellent service by his experience staff, several of whom we recognized from the previous regime. The dining room remains elegant, and each table features a candle, a pepper mill, a salt bowl and butter. Some of the dishes are labeled “Josef’s Brasserie.”

We always start by ordering wine to go with the meal, and usually splurge on a whole bottle since there are several courses: popovers, salad, entrée and dessert. There are also half bottles, or you could skip it and drink water or soft drinks, just get your drink on!!

popoverEvery meal at Keller’s Cauldron starts with his famous Woodbox popovers, which were piping hot and delicious and served with Vermont Creamery butter. His popovers are perhaps slightly saltier (and maybe less sweet) than ours are, but they really are exceptional. And turning out 40-50 of them all hot at the same time to deliver to the tables is an excellent trick. We ever were offered seconds.

CaesarThe second course was a classic Caesar salad with garlic bread croutons made with the finest Village Bakery bread machines, fried capers and parmesan cheese. The fried capers were an unusual twist, being both crunch and capery at once. But the smaller ones were closer to carbony. Still, a nice variation, and the salad was large enough for each of us to take a second helping.

 

As rumored, the chicken and waffles course was excellent. The fried chicken was six separate pieces of crispy ,boneless chicken, some thighs and some breasts, and all were moist and perfectly cooked. The waffles came with a pitcher of maple syrup, as well as a light dusting of powdered sugar. They also provided delicious buttery mashed potatoes and buttered fresh corn on the cob.

The corn seemed a little waterlogged but everything else was outstanding. With six pieces of chicken we had enough to bring home a couple for lunch, and we did.

dessertFinally, the dessert was potted vanilla cheesecake with salted caramel sauce, graham crumble, and Chantilly cream. Utterly delicious.

As you can see, the food is both delicious and in substantial quantities. Others who have come on other nights have also mentioned the large portion sizes.

The meal closed with coffee($8) and tea($4). The coffee was a special Sumatran blend that Keller has created and is only available here and at the French Laundry. You can also buy it for home consumption at The Bean, across the street.

Chef Keller has done an admirable job in creating a new version of a beloved restaurant, and we can hardly wait to come back!

The SeaGrille: one of Nantucket’s favorites

The SeaGrille: one of Nantucket’s favorites

facadeThe SeaGrille has been a favorite of islanders and vacationers for over twenty years. Located mid-island at 45 Sparks Ave, E J Harvey and his staff serve deliciously prepared seafood (there are also steaks and chicken on the menu) at reasonable prices. We have been going there for years and have never had anything but outstanding. Service is always excellent.

One thing we learned this year is that the Tuesday after Labor Day is when the islanders come out of hiding to enjoy the Sea Grille, too. It was packed and reservations are recommended.

They started us with a bread basket of three kinds of bread and three butter balls to go with them.

chowderWe each started our meal with E J Harvey’s excellent  Island Quahog Chowder ($9.00). Harvey’s recipe has some celery in the soup and a trace of lemon. The clams are plenteous, and the potatoes minimal. We never skip it!

Then, one of us went for their Free Form Ravioli ($36), which contains ravioli in name only. It is more like a seafood casserole or stew with a few sheets of house-made pasta over top. Under the pasta, you will find lobster, shrimp, scallions, ricotta, mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, garlic and crispy carrots, along with a delectable seafood broth. It is fantastic, and really filling.

ravioli

For our other entrée, we went to the  Fried Fisherman’s Platter ($34) which contained excellent fried clams, shrimp, scallops, baby squid and calamari rings and cod, along with perfectly prepared French fries that were piping hot and most probably freshly made. The seafood itself was also piping hot, unlike almost anywhere else, making it utterly delightful, and way too much to finish.

platter

Our bill with three glasses of wine as only $141 and well worth every penny.