Despite the muggy weather and relative absence of olive groves, I like cooking with Mediterranean intent when I’m home from school. I’ll spin some Grateful Dead, decompress, and put a yellow onion on mellow simmer. Without the usual time constraints of college cooking, I can tinker with technique and ingredient proportion. For example, I enjoy working with salmon, but have struggled on previous attempts to achieve pork-cracklin-crisp skin. Thursday night, I let the cast iron pan reach truly incendiary temperatures before laying down a fillet. The skin tightened into a sheet of pure crunch. I served the salmon over an orzo salad—I mixed a stew of onion, raisins, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, and olives with the warm pasta. If cooking fish is a matter of precision, pasta salad is an issue of instinct. Be careful seasoning the salad, because its individual components already contain salt. I thought about adding anchovies or anchovy paste, too, but alas, the cupboard was lacking any little fishes. No lies: I have no emotional connection or special interest in the following recipe. It just tastes good, which ought to be argument enough. Continue reading
Category Archives: College Life
In Cooperstown, if you’re not drinking ballpark beer, you’re not drinking right. Starting at the Baseball Hall of Fame, walk down Main Street: hipster hasn’t touched here. Insurance salesmen waddle around stuffed into Derek Jeter jerseys; little leaguers follow, their uniforms comparatively loose on pre-adolescent frames. July slips away in cheap ice creams—scooped into mini batting helmets, pick a team—and Coors, bottles, cold. When I last visited Cooperstown, I was in-between mint chip and Miller, so I had never heard of Ommegang Brewery before last Friday. Apparently, Ommegang is located in Cooperstown, excuse my ignorance. According to Ommegang’s website, Cooperstown was the headquarters of American hop production circa the 19th century. Ommegang started in 1997 and safely predates the 21st century explosion of craft breweries and foodie beer nerds. Continue reading
Zach Bell, Yale University
When the dining halls at Yale serve chicken tenders, everyone smiles a little bit brighter. Eyes shine, brimming with tears as the YDN reports that yes, it is indeed “Chicken Tenders Day.” With chicken themed stories landing on the front page, hand breaded tenders have transcended their fleshy prisons into myth, manna from above. Students have even created a website notifying inquiring students about the dining halls’ tender supply.
Despite Yale’s deified tenders, I wondered whether there was a whole world of chicken yet to be explored. “Blasphemy!” they told me. “You’ll never get out of this town.” Yet, I had to try. On my longer runs I enter Hamden, a town north of New Haven. I run past schools, hardware stores, and kids on bicycles. I glance briefly at road food establishments like Glenwood, wishing I could eat a lobster roll and run six miles back to Yale with no gastrointestinal distress.
With spring break looming over the horizon—for Columbia students, all mayhem commences tomorrow—I’ve received a number of queries along similar lines:
“I’m going to be in New York over spring break. Where should I eat?” Continue reading
Having a spare hour or two in the afternoon, I decided to braise a whole pork shoulder for dinner. Although I run a lot, I could count on the help of a few friends—six to be precise—to finish off the beast. Pork shoulder is intrinsically delicious (oh fat, oh crispy skin, so the ode proceeds), cheap ($1.99 a pound!), and extremely easy to cook. In fact, I left the shoulder in the oven for two hours unsupervised during my evening class. No harm done. It does, however, require time, and time’s attendant, patience, for a proper preparation. Do not undertake a pork shoulder roast lightly: it is not a dish to be trifled with. Continue reading