Wednesday, November 12, 2008


What's on the calendar? Hot-tubbing with Shar & Christina tonight, not at the now-gone Osento (sob) but at the Piedmont Springs, in Oakland. Three ladies, one tub, much chat. Ah, California, how I love you. The serious lack of hot tubs in NYC--and the crappy, expensive lettuce-- were just 2 reasons why I nipped back here to the best coast. Last night, I was out at the Bay Guardian's Goldie Awards at 111 Minna with Paige and her pals, celebrating the best-theater award that Cutting Ball, Paige and Rob's theater company, had gotten. Great stuff, and if you haven't seen a Cutting Ball show yet, you should! Their current show, Ionesco's rarely seen Victims of Duty, is running at Exit on Taylor through next weekend. It was a pretty fun party, even if there were no samosas left (and no sign of the SF Cupcake Company's program-touted wares) after the thank-you speeches were done. And there was a cool set by the unfortunately named band Citay (not to be confused with High School Musical alpha-girl Sharpay, and sue me for knowing this, but I do have an 8 year old niece), 7 sweet-looking rumpled hipsters who really deserve a less chihuahua-ish name.

S., my produce connection, showed up the other day with two enormous, aromatic quinces and a pomegranate the size of a baby's head. Lover of poms that I am, it took restraint to make that pom last for 2 whole days. The ravishing, snappy garnet seeds got eaten straight out of hand, dappled into yogurt, and sprinkled into a butternut-squash saute. But honestly, I could have eaten the whole bowlful of seeds in one go. The quinces were oven-poached, one at a time, in a light sugar syrup with a a few bits of crushed cinnamon stick, allspice berries, and cloves. This is my standard way of dealing with quinces, since they need long, slow cooking to get tender enough for use. Hack up and core, then drop the chunks into a small pot. Barely cover with water, add about 1/2 cup sugar, and then 1/2 cinnamon stick, 2 or 3 allspice berries, and a couple of cloves. Bring to a boil on the stove, then cover and bake in a 300F oven for at least an hour, until the liquid is reduced and the quinces are deep pink and tender. Let cool in liquid and refrigerate until needed.

This gave a nice result. But the second batch was stupendous. Why? Because I used the original batch of quince-poaching liquid (plus more water and sugar as needed) to poach quince #2, AND I left the quinces in the oven for way too long, which made them deep, deep rosy-red, and reduced the poaching liquid down to a nearly-gelled slick. Ravishing, and you could put that quince jelly on toast and sing the hallelujah chorus before you'd even had your first cup of coffee.

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