Sunday, October 28, 2012

Like Datils for Chocolate, Birthday Observances, and a Phenomenon Called Sandy

Yesterday, October 27, my friend Sue and I set up a table at Westminster Woods' Fall Festival. It was my first time actually selling something at an open air market, but thanks to the St. Johns County Commissioners enacting a Cottage Food Industry law and to Sue for getting a table at the market, I was able to participate in the American economy as a small (not just in stature) business owner. Under the Cottage Food Industry law I was allowed to sell confections and baked goods like bread. So I did.

My offering consisted of two varieties of bread and chocolate. To my amazement, most festival attendees had never heard of such a thing. Despite their lack of culinary breadth, quite a few were induced to buy a mini loaf of either Maiden's Blush or Passion's Flush au Pan after a sample, and perhaps a quick read of my description: Like Datils for Chocolate. Not enough to break even but a positive experience on the whole. And it launched my new website a la Lisse

My husband was kind enough to help me with setup and take down and to finish off the Like Datils for Chocolate bread over the next few days. Really impressive considering October 27 was his birthday.

Well, I didn't ignore THAT fact entirely. I baked him a butter pecan cake with coconut pecan icing and homemade butter pecan ice cream. He didn't ignore THAT fact, despite his bread intake. I got one piece of cake and took a picture the day after.

But it was not all cake and ice cream. In the meantime, Hurricane Sandy was targeting the mid-Atlantic. Sandy passed through New Jersey, then New York, Connecticut, and Delaware. Sandy was big. Her immensity more than made up for her relatively weak wind speed, and those two facts conspired to increase the destruction from flooding. Over the next few days we watched as Sandy tore up Ocean City's boardwalk, site of my adolescent summer vacations, flooded Battery Park, Sheepshead Bay, the Rockaways, and Staten Island - Johns' youthful haunts. We tracked its path across Long Island where his sister and brother's families lived and into Connecticut over our cousin's vacation condo. We didn't hear from his sister for a week.

If I was more glib, I'd say that my kitchen after Like Datils for Chocolate au Pan looked like Sandy's devastation, minus the flooding. Well, my cleanup only took two days. Weeks later, some parts of New York and New Jersey were still without power and heat (we're talking about late November). I might forget Like Datils for Chocolate and Butter Pecan Ice Cream, but I'll never forget Sandy.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Music to My Mouth

After a matinee at Jax Symphony, we decided to drive through San Marco looking for a restaurant. We found a parking spot near Taverna (it was, after all 4:45 on a Sunday) and poked our heads in the door. Well, we were 15 minutes early so we had a cuppa at Starbucks next door. By 5:15 the Taverna already had several tables filled and a few at barside.

The waitress brought us to a table on the second tier and we settled in to study the menu. I ordered the citrus-glazed beets and my husband had artichokes in olive oil. Both dishes were fresh and had an interesting combination of ingredients, including shaved fresh fennel over the artichokes. The beets hinted delicately of orange. I found the chives over them a little overpowering, but when balanced with the goat cheese, they "worked".

I chose the pork osso bucco. I know osso bucco is traditionally made with veal but I do not eat veal or lamb and welcomed the opportunity to try a lovely comfort food on a January evening. They did not disappoint. The brown sauce was rich and the meat very tender and moist. Polenta and collards were an excellent alternative to mashed potatoes. It was a generous entry and I am looking forward to sharing it for dinner tomorrow night!

My husband had the scallops and risotto. He is not a big risotto fan but he raved over this dish. The scallops were done perfectly too. No need for a doggy bag here!

The only minus was the wait for the entries. They were well worth it. The waitress did apologize, but since we had no schedule to stick to, it was no problem.

San Marco is just a few minutes from the Times Union Performing Arts Center on Water Street. I can't promise you that you'll be as lucky finding a parking spot as we were, but if you avoid Saturday nights, who knows? And if you have not been to the Jax Symphony for recently you will be pleasantly surprised. Fabio Mechette and his talented musicians have the right combination of artistry and showmanship to entertain and inspire you. Jax Symphony and Taverna were music to my mouth!

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