March 3, 2014
How it is, is, like this.
I’ve been cooking. And eating, oh, yes, I have, eating entirely too much, as is my habit. What I have not been doing is putting words together in a row (and photos with them) for the purposes of this blog, because I have been busy putting words together in a row for work.
And today I am solidly iced in at Chez Brockwell, never mind it is the third of effing MARCH, thank you very much, and spring is allegedly barely more than two weeks away, and Opening Day is no more than four weeks away.
It ain’t right. It just ain’t right, I tell you, and I Do Not Like It. Not one little bit. I am frustrated enough that the FB pic of the snowman stabbed with knives and the caption, “Die, Winter! Die!” sounds pretty good.
However. I am going to cook today. And I am going to post, both to catch up on some of the previous efforts of which I shot photos but about which I could not be bothered to write. I do have fun things to share with you, but first, on the agenda for today:
- Creme anglaise to go with the blackberries I have in the fridge, because Sam’s had them and I love them. And creme anglaise is so sinfully, wonderfully good.
- Goetta, which is something I discovered on the Serious Eats site, kinda like scrapple but without the nasty stuff in it.
- Rice’n’beans’n’beans’n’tamales for dinner. Well, I’m not cooking the tamales. More on the origin of the tamales later.
On the agenda for tomorrow, since I can’t get out today to get the colored sugar and I have no food coloring, nor do I have a plastic baby, is a King Cake. And maybe pancakes for Fat Tuesday, because, well, that’s what you do for Fat Tuesday. Ash Wednesday will be something fishy, in honor of the beginning of Lent, for which I still have decided what I’m going to give up. I have shrimps in the freezer; it may be shrimp boil night. I’m in town all week until Thursday, when I’m going to Memphis, where on Friday I hope to go to the Lenten Luncheon service and lunch at Calvary Episcopal, because I haven’t had a chance to do that in YEARS.
Meanwhile — here’s a couple of things from recent days.
First, the Monte Cristo sandwich, from a most unlikely spot. This delectable goodie, whose calorie and cholesterol count I Do Not Want To Know, comes from a little sandwich shop in Wynne, Arkansas, called Colby’s. And it is dramatically wonderful.
The Monte Cristo is one of those very 80s sandwiches, which went out of vogue and is now extremely difficult to find, unless you go to the Half Shell in Memphis (or Colby’s). Bronte’s Bistro in the late lamented Davis Kidd bookstore used to serve a version of it, but rather than the battered and friend sandwich, it was simply a sandwich made on two pieces of French toast. ‘Tain’t the same.
The classic Monte is ham and Swiss cheese, layered between two slices of bread which are then, in their entirety, battered and deep fried. They’re astonishingly wonderful. Traditionally, they’re served sprinkled with powdered sugar and accompanied by a raspberry or strawberry jam, for dipping. (I always ask for no powdered sugar.)
The Colby’s Monte, however, is a bit different. I’ve come to the conclusion, after closely inspecting my sandwich, that there was no layer of bread that appeared separate from the batter; I really think the ham and cheese are somehow dipped in the equivalent of a funnel cake batter and then fried. Not sure how this works. Possibly one could use a mold, put a layer of batter in the bottom, top it with the ham and cheese, and then another layer of batter. Then one could freeze it, and then drop the frozen sandwiches into the fryer. No matter how they do it, they’re freakin’ marvelous.
I got mine with Colby’s homemade onion rings, which are dipped in a batter and then rolled in rough-crushed cracker crumbs. Very, very good, but whoever battered them had a heavy hand with the black pepper.
If you have occasion to go from Memphis to Little Rock, take the alternate route of Highway 64. You’ll avoid the trucks and construction, and it’s a much more pleasant drive. Turn south on Highway 1 at Wynne, go through town, and Colby’s is on your right sort-of as you’re headed out of town. Worth the detour.
Then there’s this:
This is a healthy slice of egg custard pie from the Downtown Pie Shop in Newport, Arkansas, where I went two Saturdays ago for the Delta Visual Arts Show, which, if you are from anywhere between Memphis and Little Rock, you ought to go, because it? Is a treat. It was particularly a treat because the weather was Marvelous, light jacket weather, bright sunshine, 180 artists and craftsmen, maybe 5000 people.
And the Downtown Pie Shop, where you go in, peruse the day’s offerings that are listed on a chalkboard, order and pay at the counter, and are given a little plastic frame with a photo of a star of some ilk in it. I got Elvis. I really kinda like that better than table numbers. And then they bring your your pie, on a somewhat delayed basis that Saturday, because they were some kind of crowded from the festival.
People. This stuff was sublime. It was silkiest, smoothest, most luxuriant egg custard that has crossed my tongue in many a year.In fact, I may not ever have had as good an egg custard. It’s enough to take me back to Newport well before next year’s show, which I Will Not Miss.
I am told by my Memphis Guinea Pig that Downtown Pie is a regular vendor at the Memphis Downtown Farmers’ Market in the summertime. You have been advised.
Oh. And the birds, at the top of this post? This was the painting I was going to buy at the show, except I got busy looking at everything, and seeing friends, and eating egg custard pie, that by the time I got back to her booth, she’d sold them. So, since she does the birds is various iterations, she’s putting those two guys on a beach in a painting for me. Chris Busby Archer, from Marion, AR, if you’re interested.
OK, you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em have a couple of options for good eats, and one for art, here. If it ever thaws out, so you can go visit them, that is.