The highlight of Easter weekend was watching my sister dip her toast in cat drool and eat it. She was fresh from a recent victory in the kitchen, having won a minor fight I started over why she would choose Sun-Maid raisin bread instead of the gorgeous cranberry-pecan pain au levain I'd bought that morning. Her road-weary, cranky mood was perhaps buoyed by this unusual turn of events (I usually win our fights, if only with sheer persistence) and she sat happily gabbing with relatives at the coffee table, her toast-filled hand casting crumbs with every gesticulation. Then Derkins, Aunt Cynthia's aging cat, jumped up on the table for a visit, staying only long enough to allow a viscous thread of drool to escape from one of the gaps in her malocclusion and form a small puddle just to the left of my sister's toast plate. Now, my sister loves cats—she has three and she calls them her "babies"—so I think she was probably trying to stand up for cats in general when, in response to our collective eeeewwww at the sight of this puddle, she dunked her toast in the drool and chewed it up with a smile. "Cats are the cleanest animals," she said.
Artichoke Café's (Central and Edith) expansion is nearly complete but more improvements are on the way. I finally got a chance to check out the work they did last year, converting an underused back patio into an extra kitchen, wine room and two new private dining rooms. Following a popular movement in the restaurant industry, owners Pat and Terry Keene created the new space in the hopes of attracting more business functions and private parties. The two dining rooms can be booked separately or opened up into one larger space seating up to 60 people. In addition, the couple plans to spruce up the small attached patio space. Call 243-0200 if you're looking for space for an upcoming function.
After months of winter hibernation, you're ready to strut your stuff at the Alibi Spring Crawl. In an effort to provide Crawlers with the best spring kick-off ever, we've compiled this handy guide to help you party long into the night. Issues like personal welfare, cop avoidance, cost efficiency and the upcoming swimsuit season all factor into a Crawl we hope will produce the least morning-after remorse.
As a cookbook editor, David Joachim must spend an awful lot of time checking food-related facts and figures, attempting to explain difficult techniques in simple ways and trying to figure out if broccolini is related to broccoli or not. His new book, Brilliant Food Tips and Cooking Tips (Rodale, hardcover, $29.95) is a 600-page compendium of the sort of juicy little nuggets that have become so popular in food magazines like Cook's Illustrated. This is the sort of book that people like me normally recommend as bathroom reading; the entries are short enough that you could glean some useful information in no more than a minute's time. But this book is distractingly diverse in its collection of tips (toast rice grains to make your rice taste nuttier), techniques (a two-page illustrated spread showing how to cut boneless, skinless breasts from a whole chicken), definitions (do you know mirepoix from mise-en-place?) and “Fascinating Facts” (tomatillos are more closely related to gooseberries than tomatoes). It is approachable enough to work well as a useful reference for cooks new to the kitchen but detailed enough to still provide interest, entertainment and help to old hands. One complaint: The layout is made needlessly messy by icons highlighting problem solvers, flavor tips, healthy hints, time savers and the like but there are simply too many of them. The result is an annoying complication of something that was perfectly simple to begin with.