I may be biased, but I have to hold my hands up and say that I think that the Crème Fraiche made by Neal’s Yard Creamery is easily the best I have ever tasted. Since leaving London it’s been missing from my life and I had just about kidded myself that I didn’t miss it all that much, until I tried some again and all pretence was gone. Damn that stuff is good. I could sit down with a great big pot and a great big spoon and be one very happy girl. Of course, it does everything a crème fraiche should: accompanies a chocolate tart or apple pie, gives a silky, lovely texture to everything cooked with it. You can cook with it, but hey why not just sit down and stuff your face with it neat.
As you may remember, several weeks ago I posted a whole wheat goat-cheese and peach pizza, proof that I'd acclimatized to Northern California.
Lauren spotted this innovation and struck back, challenging me to a Cali-cuisine duel and throwing down the gauntlet with a salad. It was a nice attempt, with backyard greens and spearmint, plus grapes, apples and dill havarti. But was it California? Sure, there were home-grown Napa grapes, but the DOP chestnut honey was the tip: Lauren's heart still lingers in Italy.
Her salad looks tasty, but it doesn't really answer the ultimate question: What Would Alice Waters Do?
Oyster mushroom ceviche, that's what. It's local, it's fusion (Bay Area hippie-veggie with Central Valley migrant-Mexican), it's completely bonkers, and it's delicious.
“What is that?”
Ok, not the most gracious way to greet my husband who is, uncharacteristically, standing at the stove. But on the burner is a pot the size of a minivan. In his hand is a 12 mile long spoon. The pot is filled to the rim, molten liquid bubbles bursting wetly splatter the counter, and…the floor. The dog, aka “the Mop” for the extent of this kitchen escapade, has gamely taken on floor cleaning duty.
But, when I asked that rude question I did already know it was one of two things; a lifetime supply of dragon fire salsa, or (and here is where my heart started to sink) a vat of chili.
It’s chili. We will be eating chili for quite a while.
(Why is it absolutely necessary to make chili in cafeteria size proportions? I have a theory. I think it’s because this is xtreme cooking, not to simply put food on the table, but to make a statement about the essential manliness of chili.)