Speaking of all that, my friend Josh, who runs shortshrifted.com gave me a welcome home present that really made me glad to be back. It was the Zagat New York Gourmet Shopping Guide. It listed Ideal Cheese Shop, Simchick Meats, and Pisacane Seafood (but not my fruit cart guy) and gave them all rankings over 25. (For those who don't know, that's really, really good.) It gave me a new appreciation for just what we have here on First Ave. Really, it's rare to find a concentration of good food stores like this anywhere, but having all three within a block makes me really count myself as lucky.
I was a bit shattered at what I thought was the bad news of Simchik's having closed while we were away for the summer. I surmised this based on a "Store For Rent" sign in their front window, seen from across the street. I went by for a closer look and found that they had just moved down the street to swankier digs. Phew!
Anyway, restocking. We've been running a pretty lean operation since we got back. Not willing to eat out (much) and not willing to do a big shop at D'a-gross-tino's (ah, le mot juste) has pretty much left my buying bits and pieces as we need them. A big help for the two days M was away was baking up a loaf of Lahey bread. I'm pretty well convinced that I will build any number of meals around this chewy, crusty bread based on the meager contents of the fridge rather than subject myself to a big shop. And I think that's a pretty good thing. One sticking point is the fact that I haven't gotten the energy together to go buy some real butter. All I have is some months-old stuff that I clarified on our return to make it taste less stale (which it does). I know that sounds gross, but this was Ronnybrook butter from a local dairy. Very fresh. Okay, 80 days might be pushing the boundaries, but it's fine. Really. Anyway, this culinary equivalent of dry-farming has yielded some triumphs:
- open-faced cream-cheese, tomato, and white-peach chicken delice sandwich.
- bread bowl (more of a bread canoe, actually) filled with chicken livers sauteed in clarified butter with herbes de Provence, deglased with sherry and lemon juice.
- griddle-toasted, garlic-rubbed crostone with Sardinian extra-virgin olive oil and Marmite.
- Stilton and apricot jam sandwich
Anyway, take a look at the pantry list, if you like, and let me know your thoughts or possible additions. I'd love to know what other people can't do without.