The 2012 olive harvest has begun in Europe…hooray!…and will continue in some European spots through February. Wise producers will send their new oils here quickly…since the dirty little secret of olive oil is that it never is better than on the day it’s pressed! But we’ll discuss this year’s best oils down the road. For now, in preparation for the season…let’s look at the regions that are likely to yield this year’s best oils!
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I’ve been loving Greek food for a long time…not way back to The First Bites, of course, but long. My first exposure, in fact–after growing up with Italian, Chinese, and no Greek at all–was in 1971, at an unassuming place in Manhattan’s theatre district called Molfeta’s. Along with lots of Broadway actors who loved the prices and the food (I remember seeing Broadway star Julie Harris by herself on my first visit), I found it a revelation. The place was, as I realized later, blessedly authentic–just like many a simple taverna in Athens where you walk up to the steam table in the back, view the 30 versions of lamb with vegetables and sauces, and talk to the smiling chef about your selections.
One of the reasons I so love traveling in Europe: the ease and naturalness with which wine is treated at all levels of society there. Europeans seem to know, intuitively, that during a meal you have your bread, your butter, your fish, your produce, your meat, and you have your wine. No ceremony needed!
Oh my, are there ever great ethnic restaurants all over the world. There are even great ethnic restaurants just across all the bridges and tunnels that lead from Manhattan! (Can you say…Queens???)
But Manhattan is my beat. Manhattan is where I wake up in the morning, thinking about what ethnic eating experience I’m going to have that day. Manhattan is where I approach the late-night hours thinking, “Gee, just a little bit of Pho or Chilaquiles would finish the day just right!”
Well, let’s put it right at the top: I am a barbecue fan-addict!
But I’d never even tasted the real stuff until about 25 years ago. I grew up in New York City, where my wonderful Dad used to periodically declare “let’s have a barbecue!” Unfortunately, he was using vintage Northeast terminology–the Northeast being one of the many parts of the country where “barbecue” used to mean “let’s throw some hot dogs and hamburgers on the Weber over the Kingsford briquettes jump-started with smelly kerosene!”