Olivia Dish

Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

Lentil Soup: Good to Great

In Homemade, Markets, South Carolina on May 25, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Any old lentils will do, but the bacon makes it great.

I have no idea why I first decided to make “Hearty Lentil Soup” from the January/February 2004 issue of Cook’s Illustrated.

I’d had my eye on the Chocolate Bundt Cake recipe and its promise of “Rich, Moist, Chocolatey.”

I’d eaten lentils but had never cooked them before in my life. (We were more of a field pea/butterbean family when I was growing up, and it just hadn’t occurred to me.)

There I was, though, following Cook’s Illustrated‘s meticulous directions.  The soup was good, good enough that I made it regularly for the next year and a half.  I raved about it.  I served it to friends.

But the soup did not rise to the level of perfect until November 2005.  That’s when I went to the inaugural All-Local Farmers’ Market in Columbia, SC and  bought my first pound of Caw Caw Creek bacon.

Yes, like Mr. Frost’s road not taken, that bacon has made all the difference. Read the rest of this entry »

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Meatball City

In Local Flavor, New York, Restaurant on May 16, 2010 at 11:19 am

Driving by The Meatball in Schenectady

Dear Schenectady, I owe you an apology.

When I learned of a work assignment in your city, I confess: I did not expect much. I knew nothing about your history, could barely pronounce your name.

Historic theater restored

All I knew for certain was that I’d be staying at a Hampton Inn; I braced myself for a week of chain restaurants and strip malls.

Now, after four nights and four meals, I’ve grown rather fond of the little city with the Mohawk name (which means “over by the pine plains”) and settled by more than a few Italians (thus the Little Italy). I have learned that Thomas Edison moved his company to Schenectady, which is why to this day, it is the administrative headquarters for GE. The old GE plant with the round logo on top is called “The Meatball” by everyone.

So where did we dine in the meatball city?

Read the rest of this entry »