December 12, 2008

Little Shemogues

Jody Feigenbaum from Delaware Valley Fish called me a few months ago to see if we were interested in buying oysters from her company. She had attended one of my book events and thought Fork might be interested in the oysters she and her husband were harvesting from New Brunswick. We had been serving predominantly West Coast oysters for a while, so I was open to trying Jody's for a change. Besides, I had just returned from Paris where I discovered a wonderful boite in the 6th called Huiteries St. Regis. It was a very tiny spot that seated only 15 to 20 people at maximum capacity and served oysters and fruits de mers exclusively. I enjoyed the best Belon oysters I've ever had; they were so briny and plump. After that trip, I definitely had a palate for good oysters.

Jody and her husband Mitch arrived the other morning with several boxes of oysters and an oyster knife. It was a little early in the day for oysters, but we tried them anyway. First we had the Little Shemogues (She-mo-GWEE), which the Feigenbaum's and their business partner Barry Kratchman own and harvest themselves. Then we sampled their Peacock Cove oysters, which come from southeast New Brunswick. Both are equally delicious, but we opted for the Peacock Cove as they proved to be a real treasure of the sea and boast a high salt content. Fork is thrilled to add these delights to our menu, and I hope you enjoy them. To learn more about Little Shemogue Oyster Farm, check out their website at

December 7, 2008

Ciao bella gioia

Fabrizia Lanza, the daughter of our dear friend Anna Tasca Lanza, visited from Sicily to help us prepare a Sicilian holiday dinner: Dinner of the Seven Fishes. Interestingly enough, upon Fabrizia's arrival I learned that the dish is not a Sicilian tradition, at least not for Fabrizia who knew anything about. Fabrizia eats turkey for Christmas, just like many of us! For me, the highlight of the dinner was the baccala e patate zafferano (salt cod with braised saffron potatoes), which was served with a mint sauce.

Our dinner on Saturday night was probably the highlight of the trip for Fabrizia. We made our way down to Kim's Barbecue as a motley crew comprised of our Vietnamese chef Thien, Kaitlin McCann (one of Thien's new understudies), Fabrizia and her boyfriend Gianni (who speaks very little English), my boyfriend Wayne and I. Kim's Barbecue is a very ethnic restaurant. Many of the servers don't speak English, but since some of the servers are Chinese Koreans who left China during the Communist Revolution, I can typically order in Chinese (my mother tongue). The conversations at the table were crazy and confusing. Picture this: Wayne, who spent three months in Italy, was conversing with Gianni in limited Italian. Gianni was speaking to Thien in broken French. And I was speaking Chinese, Italian, and French, all poorly at best! What a sight we must have been. The one thing we had in common was a great bottle of wine that Thien brought, which certainly helped to forgive any misunderstandings that were created at the table that night.