• Posted by Califia Suntree on December 20th, 2006, 5:12 PM

    hello jolly readers … there’s this scene in talladega nights where ricky bobby’s wife unceremoniously dumps him after he returns from the hospital. his kids react with a brutal joy, screaming ‘two christmases!!’ … well, kids, it’s true. divorced parents means lots of christmas. in my case, that can often translate to lots of cooking. this year, i’m rolling out: saturday fish coulibiac, sunday lavendar-herb rack of lamb, monday tamales and fish brochettes. i plan to throw some recipes up in here, but since i’m making it up as i go along, and soliciting help, it’ll have to be a post-christmas lowdown … happy eating to all and to all a good night!

    PS: if anyone reads this, i’d love to hear what you are cooking this holiday season. share the recipe love!

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  • Posted by Califia Suntree on December 2nd, 2006, 5:10 PM

    well, i’m back on the pacific. adios mediterranean…but i wanted to compile a little list of my favorite tasty locations that i visited … in case any of yous ever decide to up and visit that great nation. you should! aside from excellent food tourism, barcelona is beautiful and friendly and special. (and if you do go and want to study some spanish, go here.) in no particular order, my favorite …

    * chocolate croissant: the excellent patisseria serra (gran via de les corts catalanes & rocafort). also recommend their chocolates and cookies.
    * cafe con leche: at nelson’s (at the west entrace of the glorious mercado de la abaceria, in gracia), you will get kindly service from a man with a bushy grey mustache who i came to think of as “nelson.” you can also buy good quality coffee beans from “nelson.” Read on… »

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  • Posted by Califia Suntree on November 15th, 2006, 5:07 PM

    i made my maiden voyage into paella-land … it was pretty easy! particularly if you have fish-head broth already on hand … the one we made was with bunny and squid. of course, you could make it with pretty much anything with fur, feathers, or fins and have delectable results. that is most likely why the dish is so popular: whatever bits you have at hand are made hearty and special by a bit of saffron and a base of brothy rice. that, and the fact that you can (with enough skill) make an enormous paella in a pan the size of a dining room table, and feed the whole town out of one dish.

    try a purely oceanic one with various fish and shellfish; a “mountain” paella of chicken and chorizo; or surf-and-turf, like this one. the only thing to remember is that it’s *all about the broth.* tasty broth will in most cases mean tasty paella. salty, MSG-laden packaged broth will make for salty, MSG-laden rice. francesc and amy save and freeze all of the heads and odd parts of the whole fishes that they buy. when they have a bagful, they boil them up with some salt, onion or garlic, and whetever vegetables are on hand. then, you can either freeze that broth or use it right away. i recommend straining first, although francesc likes the fish-head bits to go into the paella … similarly, making your own chicken or vegetable broth is worth the (tiny) effort. i’ll be making lots of paella when i come back to america. suggestions for good sources of fresh bunny are welcome! (aside from pet stores.)

    paella de conejo y calamar
    Read on… »

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  • Posted by Califia Suntree on October 31st, 2006, 5:05 PM

    a follow up! francesc hosted a mushroom-picking expedition…we hiked through pine forests looking for rovellon, or anything edible. (luckily, we found our way out of the woods.) on our way, we noticed cars pulled off the road at various places. the bolet-freaks were out in force, identifiable by their baskets (a requirement, no matter how macho the hunter) and sticks (for poking around in the forest floor). a mini-van spilled out an entire family of hunters, the kids with professional-looking pointed sticks, and the trunk full of perhaps eight big bolet baskets. it was war! alas, a war we would not win: we found a bunch of scary beautiful (likely toxic) bolets, and i found what i think was an enormous, slimy morel. (it brought to mind the window display at the local sex shop.) we ended up with a bag of stinky things (we called it the “bag of death”) and a fierce hunger for mushrooms. (francesc almost certainly found a rovellon; but because it had been in the bag of death, we didn’t eat it.) lucky for us, a nearby town was hosting a bolet festival! we loaded up on rovellon and rossinyols, which we sauteed with garlic and ate on pasta and on beef filets. after crawling through the forest all day, eyes trained on the ground, waiting for the happy cries of “mira! mira! aqui!”, i now understand why those caçadors de bolets jump up and down and scream so much. i watched last night’s episode of caçadors, which featured a competition. the winner’s basket weighed 7 kilos! perhaps road to greatness begins with a single slimy morel.

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