Friday, March 06, 2009

Rounding Up Food, Again

"Foodie Friday" continues at Fosco Lives!

Here's a roundup of some very cool foodie things for the week:

  • Fosco has been in love with kolaches for years, ever since Todd's remarkable parents introduced him to them. They buy them every so often at some ethnic bakery (Czech would make the most sense, but I don't think it's actually a Czech bakery) near St. Joseph, Michigan. In Fosco's experience, kolaches are kind of like heavy cookies with fruit filling and thick sugar glaze (like a crust, almost). I think Todd's parents normally get apricot and raspberry--both are good.

    UPDATE: Check the Comments section below for more information on this West Michigan bakery. It turns out that I was almost entirely wrong about everything. (What else is new...)

    Well, in this month's Gourmet, there is a feature article on kolaches! Apparently, the kolache capital of this country is central Texas(!), where the descendants of Czech settlers have created a kolache culture. Both the pictures and descriptions seem slightly different from the Western Michigan kolaches that Fosco is so fond of (these appear to be more like danishes), but they still look (and sound) amazing.

    But the best part? There is a chain of stores called The Kolache Factory (with locations all over the Midwest and Great Plains). Imagine--an entire factory dedicated to making kolaches! I am having "Willy Wonka" visions, yes I am. (Apparently, there is one in Austin. Hint, hint, John Mackey and AEJ.)

  • I've mentioned before that I am now enthralled with Jean-Georges Vongerichten's blog. Well, recently J-G used his blog to announce two new innovations at his flagship restaurant in NYC:
    • the "select menu": a four-course meal of three signature dishes plus your choice of a dessert flight, all for $58. Even though the selected signature dishes are not quite as exciting as his frogs legs or black sea bass, this menu is an absolute steal at this price. This is a wonderful concession to a bad economy--thank you, J-G!
    • half glasses of wine: perfect for people like Fosco who like to taste a little wine, but who rarely want to finish a whole glass. As Jean-Georges notes:
      I noticed that people getting together at the bar would start with a glass of wine, and then be stuck in the awkward position of wanting to stay a little while longer, but not for another full glass. (Think first dates.) In the dining room, customers wanted to pair different wines with different courses, but didn’t want a full glass with each course. And colleagues who came in for lunch celebrations would want to order champagne, but a full glass is a bit much when you need to return to work. (In these times, it’s more important than ever to celebrate professional achievements.) Perhaps most importantly, I wanted diners who drove to my restaurants to drive home safely.
      I think this is brilliant, although I can't help but imagine the disdain the French will feel if they ever hear about it.

  • Speaking of Jean-Georges, Mark Bittman explains a beet-roasting technique he learned from J-G himself. He also has an easy recipe for eating them:
    a dressing of walnuts, garlic and fresh orange juice. Note that all of these have some bitterness or acidity, which counter the sweetness of beets beautifully. To tame the garlic, I cook it quickly, along with the walnuts; toasting always makes nuts nuttier. This makes the purée smoother tasting as well.
    Fosco lurves beets and this sounds like a great preparation.

  • You may know that the French Laundry (the best restaurant in the country) is located in the Napa Valley town of Yountville. Well, it turns out that, as Thomas Keller's restaurant empire grows, so do the ambitions of Yountville. As this article notes, Yountville is positioning itself to become the capital of Napa. As one resident suggests, Yountville is now the one stop that a person needs to make in Napa:
    "It's an experiential village — you can stay, eat, go to all these different restaurants, check out great art, enjoy the wine. It's what makes Times Square, Times Square. Yountville is the rural Times Square."
    Hmmm. An odd comparison, I think. Even so, Fosco is currently scheming a trip to Yountville; he'll keep you updated.

  • Fosco's favorite Queen of Good Living, Jill of Stella's Roar, did some cooking and some mixology recently. Check out her amazing Gumbo YaYa and the filthily-named Black Snake Moan cocktail. I'm a little in awe of her lifestyle.


todd said...

Harbart Swedish Bakery, 13698 Red Arrow Hwy, Three Oaks, MI 49128

The bakery first opened in the early 1900s. This blog post has a few pics.

Word verification: castl. The web 2.0 version of a medieval dwelling.

Jill said...

You are so right about Central Texas...on the way to the lakehouse we always stop in Schulenburg, Tx to pick up our kolaches. I'm the only one in la familia that likes the cheese kolaches.

You make me blush! I'm in awe of your keen intellect! Let's go to sounds fantastic!

FOSCO said...

@Todd: Thank you, Todd! Hmmm, Swedish? Odd. I wonder why they make kolaches?

@Jill: Oooh, cheese kolaches sound grand. And oh yes, I really want to go to Yountville! You and the Main Man should plan a wine country vacay!