The Daily Dish

Lunch with the ladies: Swanee Hunt at No. 9 Park

By Cathy Huyghe
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Tune into WGBH on any given day, and you’ll find a lot of amazing ladies.

Ladies taking on the news of the day.

Ladies who know their music.

Even ladies championing “nerd pride.”

And while all this is going on in Brighton, No. 9 Park restaurant on Beacon Hill invited ladies of its own last week with its Ladies Who Lunch series, welcoming Swanee Hunt, former US ambassador to Austria. Hunt was the fourth guest speaker in the series, addressing the professional women who had gathered in No. 9 Park’s dining room to socialize and network.

“It’s hard for us to get out and meet smart, professional women,” said chef-owner Barbara Lynch at the beginning of the lunch, which is why she and her staff initiated the Ladies Who Lunch series last year. The phrase “ladies who lunch” may conjure certain retro images, but this event clearly was not about conservative traditions.

It was about breaking them.

“The United States ranks 85th in the world in terms of women’s representation in Congress,” Hunt said in her address to the audience. ”You have to ask each other to run for Congress. I want every table in this room to nominate one woman to run. Politics is a nasty business, but we will have a different world if we go into a situation where women are affecting public policy.”

As No. 9′s staff served a three-course lunch, Hunt discussed her work: “I work in war zones, in 40 different conflict areas like Iraq, Haiti and Afghanistan,” she said. “Women reach across. Women know how much a bag of rice costs, and we know where the unhappy 18-year-old lives who’s sleeping with a machine gun under his bed.”

It was a powerful image from a powerful woman. How many of the women listening will become politically involved as a result of Hunt’s encouragement remains to be seen, but it is difficult to imagine any of us being unmoved by the idea.

Find out more about Swanee Hunt and No. 9 Park.

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

Lunch (and an excellent one) at Masa in the South End

By Germaine Frechette
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As a change of pace from my standard weekday routine as part of WGBH’s Membership team, last week I paid a visit to Masa, chef-owner Philip Aviles’ South End restaurant. The restaurant’s interior (unlike the dreary Boston weather we slogged through) is warm and inviting; the walls are embellished with wrought-iron tracery featuring chocolate tile centers and mirrors, connoting a feeling of airiness. Tucked in the corners are terracotta jugs filled with daffodils, giving the room a touch of spring.

It was a working lunch, but I indulged and ordered a margarita, with just the right amount of bite. The meal itself overflowed with Southwestern flavors, representative of a menu that offers refreshing twists on traditional Latin favorites.

I started with a bowl of butternut squash chowder topped with crispy lardons, smoked Gouda, chile poblano, and tortilla strips. Then on to the achiote-marinated fish tacos dressed with the relatively mild earthy spiciness of chipotle tartar sauce and the crunch of pickled onions.  But the corn tortillas were the surprise. It was the first time I had eaten freshly made tortillas, and this was the perfect venue – masa means tortilla dough in Spanish — though I’ll never be able to enjoy those hard shells in quite the same way.

I ended the savory portion of lunch with a salad of field greens with prickly pear passion fruit vinaigrette, Spanish cabrales, jicama, and chile walnuts, a mix packed with amazing flavors and textures.

I ended with Masa’s signature chocolate tamale, and our server suggested the key lime pie for complementary flavors. Both desserts had layers of complex richness, co-existing without competing — the perfect ending to my midday feast.

Masa brings an inventive style to Mexican cuisine. Chef Aviles’ inspired menu is chock full of authentic Mexican and Spanish ingredients and prepares them in earthy and elegant ways.

Germaine Frechette is the guest author for today’s Foodie Blog and part of the WGBH Membership team. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, where we explore myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

The Ecological Footprint of a Wine Drinker

By Cathy Huyghe
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It's difficult in early April in Boston not to notice the weather. Or the sun. Or the warmth. Or, by extension, all the attention that’s paid to nature, the environment and sustainability — especially as the 40th anniversary of Earth Day draws near.

Which got me to thinking, what’s the ecological footprint of a wine drinker?

With so much talk these days about reducing carbon footprints, I’ve started a list of the wine industry’s carbon-related risks and opportunities. Here are a few, along with some thoughts on what they may mean for you.

    * Consider the distance a bottle of wine travels from the winery to your doorstep. In many wineries, you’ll notice palettes of empty glass bottles wrapped in plastic and stamped with the Saint-Gobain label; those bottles will be filled with the next vintage. Saint-Gobain is a manufacturer of much of the flat glass used to make wine bottles around the world. But they’re based in France and, given the less favorable conversion rate of dollar to Euro right now, glass from Saint-Gobain is becoming prohibitively expensive. So wineries are investigating cheaper options, such as importing glass from China — which means the bottles will have to travel even farther to get to your door.

    * Cork recycling is a growing practice throughout the US. Yemm & Hart Green Materials in Marquand, MO, for example collects corks and recycles them into other products including wine cork tiles. An organization called Korks 4 Kids, a division of Recycle Corks USA based in York, PA, collects corks and donates the proceeds to children’s charities. For a different twist on reusing your corks, Chuck Draghi, of Erbaluce and formerly of No. 9 Park in Boston, suggested adding corks to an oven (that’s less than 500 degrees) to give a woodsy aroma to roast chicken.

    * Consider whether the vineyards were farmed organically. Were they processed at an organic facility? Investigate wine lists, and ask sommeliers and shop owners for their recommendations of organic wine. Many wine shops set aside a section for “green” wines, and more and more restaurants feature lists of biodynamic and sustainably-farmed wines.

    * According to an article in the Quarterly Review of Wines, Spring 2008, Bonny Doon winery will start printing the full list of their wines’ ingredients on labels. Starting with the 2007 whites and 2006 reds, QRW wrote, the Santa Cruz producer’s wines will sport new back-labels detailing growing stratagems (e.g. biodynamic), added preservatives (e.g. sulfur dioxide), yeast types (e.g. indigenous or organic) and fining agents (e.g. Bentonite).

As awareness of organic farming has grown, so has the quality of those grapes. As technology for organic processing methods has advanced, so has the taste of the wine. That’s good news for wine drinkers and, more and more, for the environment as well.

Letter from Ireland: The spirit of Julia Child at Ballymaloe Cookery School

By Cathy Huyghe
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There’s a sense of the reality of Julia Child at Ballymaloe Cookery School, and then there is a sense of her spirit.

Both reality and spirit are embodied by Chefs Myrtle Allen and Darina Allen (Myrtle’s daughter-in-law), founders of the renowned Ballymaloe House and restaurant and the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, Ireland.

Myrtle Allen is more of Julia’s generation. She and Julia share common histories as pioneering women and authors in their countries’ culinary history, and both are grounded firmly in classical French cooking technique, adapted in their own ways to suit and appeal to their local cultures and ingredients.

Darina is like Julia as well, post-publication of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. That is, she is her country’s culinary celebrity, generous with time and energy, and involved the way sincere representatives are for their endeavors. With Julia, the endeavor was to bring the pleasures of French cooking and eating to the American public; for Darina, it is training new generations of cooks and shepherding micro-produced ingredients and products to the marketplace.

Both streams, one more historical and one more of-the-moment, merge this week at Ballymaloe Cookery School where Darina hosts a two-and-a-half-day course called “Homage to Julia Child.” Mornings, the students are devoted to executing recipes in Ballymaloe’s three student kitchens, while afternoons are full of cooking demonstrations led by Darina and her brother, Rory O’Connell, an accomplished educator and chef in his own right.

The historical reality of Julia’s recipes is evident, from the duck en croute to the tarte tatin, but it is their spirit that is executed here. That is, the recipes that are demonstrated and prepared are “shorthand” versions of Julia’s meticulous, multipage originals. The recipes are no less successful for the abbreviations, as they have been mainstays of the restaurant at Ballymaloe and at the Cookery School for decades.

And that perhaps is the most salient lesson from this course so far: success through repetition and a firm grounding in technique. Add healthy doses of humor and camaraderie along the way and your satisfaction – not to mention an exceptionally delicious meal – is secure.

Julia would have approved.

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

Postcards from Ireland: The Ballymaloe Cookery School

By Cathy Huyghe
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Building on yesterday’s musings about the reality of Julia Child presented at Ballymaloe Cookery School, and the sense of her spirit, one of the best ways to convey both is through photos of a recent event at Ballymaloe.

Chef Darina Allen prepares apples with caramel sauce for a classic tarte tatin. Allen recently led a two-and-a-half day course called “Homage to Julia Child.” Afternoons were devoted to cooking demonstrations of many of Julia Child’s classic recipes (such as tarte tatin and duck en croute), and in the mornings students headed into the kitchens to prepare the recipes themselves. More than 50 students from five different countries gathered at Ballymaloe for the course.

Chef Rory O’Connell demonstrates deboning a duck in the demonstration kitchen of Ballymaloe. The demonstration kitchen is outfitted with 11 gas burners, two video screens, and an enormous mirror overhead to reflect a bird’s eye view onto the dishes and activity below.

A visiting student to the “Homage to Julia Child” short course debones a duck for the duck en croute recipe.

Butter and leeks wait on a prep trolley for students to prepare the Buttered Leeks recipe during the Julia Child course.

One of many compost buckets at Ballymaloe. Kitchen scraps are used for compost and to feed the chickens.

One of several coops to house two Ballymaloe hens each.

Fresh eggs from Ballymaloe’s own hens.

Fresh, colorful peppers within easy reach of the cooks at Ballymaloe.

Flowers in the organic gardens just outside the doors of Ballymaloe Cookery School.

Timmy Allen, husband of Chef Darina Allen, gives a walking tour of the Ballymaloe gardens to the local chapter of GIY, or Grow It Yourself Ireland, an enormously popular gardening group that aims to “take the self out of self-sufficiency.”

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

Irish Coffee from the source: A recipe from County Kerry

By Cathy Huyghe
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“A drop of the craythur.”

That’s what the Irish say when lacing a beverage with a bit of whiskey.  One of the most famous resulting concoctions, Irish coffee, was reportedly invented in 1940 by Joe Sheridan, a chef at Shannon Airport. It’s stood the test of time, and remains the perfect accompaniment to WGBH’s A Celtic Sojourn.

The classic Irish coffee involves just four ingredients: Irish whisky, brown sugar, coffee, and fresh cream. Here is Sheridan’s recipe, reproduced by John and Olive Mulvihill of The Red Fox Inn in Glenbeigh along the Ring of Kerry.

Take a steamed glass.

Pour in 1/4 gill (four tablespoons) of Irish whisky.

Add 2 teaspoons brown sugar and boiling coffee to within 3/4 inch of the top of the glass.

Stir briskly until sugar is completely dissolved.

Add cream, lightly whipped, and pour into the glass over the back of a teaspoon so that the cream will not sink.

To enjoy the full flavor of the Irish coffee do not stir when cream is added.

Cathy Huyghe writes the WGBH Foodie blog. Read new WGBH Foodie posts every weekday, in which Cathy explores myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.

About the Authors

More Recipes from Festival Chefs

Jody Adams' Lentils, Sausages & Grapes
David Blessing's Short Rib Tacos
Chris Coombs Cider Braised Duck Leg
Jose Duarte's Lobster Causa
Jeff Fournier's Cherry Tomato Puttanesca
Rich Garcia's Trash Fish Minestrone
Will Gilson's Smoked Bluefish
Will Gilson's Stuffies
Deborah Hughes & Mary-Catherine Deibel's Red Pepper Soup
Frank McClelland's Pot-au-Feu of Poussin
Brendan Pelley's Seared Scallops
Robert Sisca's Monkfish




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