• Posted by Califia Suntree on January 15th, 2009, 9:47 PM

    I’m a week delayed with my New York Times Dining section coverage–but Bittman’s Minimalist column last week about stocking your pantry got me thinking. (Perhaps next week I’ll have something to say about bread pudding.) I endorse all of his recommendations (though I somehow don’t have fish sauce in my cupboard, and never manage to cook beans from scratch–though that is one of my New Year’s resolutions.) I would like to make some suggestions here, though, for the 2009 “maximalist pantry.” Completely unnecessary treats that I think should be in every cupboard (when finances allow):

    First, pictured here, tomme de savoie cheese, from the Savoie region of France (Savoie Libre!). I first tried it there and brought stinky wheels of it back in my suitcase–but it’s now for sale in the States. (I got my stash from the Bedford Cheese Shop where it was $30/lb! Damned Euro.)

    Sparkling wine–it makes that frozen entree feel like a festive feast and it has an extraordinary cheering effect on winter nights. If you want to spend around $10, go with cava or prosecco as they tend to be the best value and dry. A safe bet for non-millionaires is Freixenet Brut.

    Quality smoked salmon–way better to have around than tuna, and not just because of the mercury. It is a healithier substitute for bacon with eggs or on eggs benedict, or for dinner with fresh pasta, peas, and creme fraiche (with Freixenet!).

    Dark chocolate is something to always have on hand. It has antioxidants and it’s at the heart of every great dessert. Melt it into hot milk and whisk to make real hot chocolate; eat it with dried figs and cognac for dessert; melt it for instant chocolate fondue (use the microwave!); combine it with eggs and sugar for chocolate souffle…I’ve tried a lot of chocolate but my favorite to have around is Trader Joe’s Pound Plus bar.

    There you have it, the beginnings of a Maximalist pantry for Minimalist times!

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