This past weekend I took the first step in shaking off my recent food and blogging funk by going to New York and attending a class given by Matt, a man whose food pictures are beautifully composed and always bathed in a gorgeous gentle light.
I traveled to New York by a Chinatown bus (an adventure in itself but for $35 round-trip from Baltimore, more than worth the adventure), stopped in Chinatown to buy five dumplings for 99¢ at Fried Dumpling, and then walked the mile or so from there to Whole Foods where the class was being held, letting the sights and sounds of New York wash over me. The lower east side is so bustling and so filled with fascinating shops that it creates a kind of sensory overload. So much too explore -- too much to possibly explore in the time I had available.
The class was lively and interesting, plus I met the people behind some of the many food blogs I read (I sat between Danielle of Habeas Brulee and Nicole of Pinch my Salt) and others whose blogs I wasn't familiar with but am happy to learn of. Matt in person is as funny and charming as he is on the page and all-in-all it was time well spent.
After Matt's class I had a lovely opportunity to meet Ann, Anne, and Lisa whose blogs I read on such a regular basis that I think of them as being part of my internet neighborhood, my own little corner of the blogosphere. At Ann's suggestion we met at 'inoteca, spent a couple of pleasant hours, and then I headed back for the Chinatown bus and Baltimore.
My trip to New York has left me, as does every trip to New York, completely besotted with New York and finding Baltimore impossibly tiny, quiet, and dull. New York is wonderful in a way that no other place is.
This picture was taken before Matt's class and ignores one of Matt's cardinal rules of food photography: Food loves directional light. I also love directional light, it's just that sometimes it seems to be at a premium around our house. But I'm now armed with good hints about foam-core and fill-cards that I'm anxious to try.
This soup is from Patricia Wells' book Vegetable Harvest and can be served either hot or cold. Generally speaking I'm not all that sold on cold soup and I have had this only as hot soup. Somehow the idea of cold corn soup doesn't appeal but as hot soup it had a wonderful flavor. To my taste, the pimentón de la Vera to be an essential component of this, the corn alone does not have enough interest but the addition of the pimentón transforms it into something greater than the sum of its parts.
Patricia Wells' Corn Soup
3 ears fresh corn, shucked
6 cups 1% milk
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/4 fresh cilantro leaves (for garnish)
about 1 teaspoon hot smoked spanish pimentón de la Vera
1. With a sharp knife scrape slice the kernels off the corn cobs. Be sure to catch any milky liquid that is released while you do this.
2. Place the kernels and the cobs in a saucepan or skillet large enough to hold them in a single layer. Add the milk and salt. Cover and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook at a bare simmer for 45 minutes.
3. Remove the corn cobs, and put the milk and corn mixture in a blender and puree until the corn is broken up but still maintains some texture.
4. Serve warm or chilled garnished with the pimentón and cilantro.