Cronut 07.14.2014

No, this is not Chef Dominique Ansel's famous cronut (or disputed cronut if you think you invented it before he did), but it was deeply, deeply satisfying.  I was picking up some small palmiers at Breads Unlimited in Bethesda when I saw this robust-looking doughnut.  One of the bakers informed me it was cronut-esque:  a blend of croissant and doughnut made from fried croissant dough.

From the side, it is wickedly thick with layers of dough, laced with sugar.  A lot of sugar.  And no doubt some oil, possibly butter?  Lard?  Whatever.  I don't care.

While my daughter swooned over a massive chocolate chip muffin, I had a long, silent debate with myself about the cronut:  I could get it, cut it up into eight pieces; have one small piece, share another piece with Eric; save the other pieces for people who would come over to the house later.  That could work.  

Palmiers, chocolate chip muffin, and cronut in hand, my girl and I walked over to a coffee shop, where she gingerly pulled apart her muffin bite by bite.  I took one small bite of the cronut, which was flaky and sugary and just so good.  I took a few sips of my coffee and contemplated the remaining cronut, which was huge.  I worried that maybe it would be off by the time Eric finally got around to tasting it.  We had a busy day ahead of us and it was the final game of the World Cup (who eats during sporting events??).  What a waste.  

I slowly pulled apart each decadent piece of the cronut and ate all of it.  While sipping coffee.  And thinking about Eric.

I have no idea if Chef Ansel's cronut is better (I'm guessing it is), but if this is third -- or even fourth -- place for best cronut, I'll take it. I will not, however, stand in line for a cronut, which countless people have done in New York City.  I won't get involved in food crazes that involve waiting in any kind of line.  Life is short.  Keep moving.  You'll need to after you've eaten an entire cronut.

Wine Tasting: 2013 Chateau de Pibrarnon Bandol Rosé 07.09.2014

As you may or may not know, rosé wines are terribly glam right now.  I recently wrote a piece for National Public Radio's food blog The Salt about the proliferation of the pink wine the U.S. market, and there is no dearth of recommendations, including my favorite from Forbes titled, "Real Men Drink Rosé .  Well, of course they do.  I'll take it a step further and say that real wine drinkers drink rosé.

Last year, I was devoted to the 2012 Domaine du Dragon -- ideal for anyone who prefers wine or rosé wine on the dry side.  The Dragon had a gorgeous pale, pink color and no overwhelming fruit notes that would warrant pairing it with one type of food over another.  It was perfect.  And whenever I got a bottle of the Dragon, I also bought another rosé to compare.  Dragon always won out.  But, alas, not this year.

This year, I tasted the 2013 Dragon at the beginning of rosé season and was disappointed.  A bitter taste stayed after the first sip and I was not inclined to try another bottle.  But that wouldn't be fair.  So I gave it some time and tried it again and while it did get better, it has yet to match the 2012.  

There are a lot of things I love and respect about rosés, not the least of which is the price tag.  You can get a really good rosé wine for $10.99 and know you didn't get a crap wine just because the price was reasonable.  The 2012 Dragon, for example, was selling for $11.99 in some stores last year, but this year, it spiked to $18.99 or more.  The price may be riding on last year's coattails.  

My wine guy, Phil, and his wife Gaby recently gifted me a bottle of the 2013 Chateau de Pibramon Bandol Rosé, which is higher end.  Again, just the right amount of dryness for my taste and a beautiful pink color bordering on salmon.  Eric and I tasted it together and my first thought was, this would pair well with fish.  We were having chicken the night we drank it, but that's the beauty of rosé wine -- unless it's bad, you can easily pair it with a range of food, or have it as a cool apéritif in the summer.  

The Bandol can cost more than $30, depending on where you're buying it.  It's not what I would spend on a regular basis, but for a dinner party gift, or to celebrate Germany winning the semi-finals of the World Cup -- absolutely.  Who knows what I'll do when Germany wins the World Cup…come on, you know they will!

Adventures in Housekeeping: Is Your Home Parent-Ready? 07.07.2014

Are you someone who has parents?  Do you live in an apartment or a house?  Do you own possessions?  And do your parents visit your apartment or house and sometimes notice your possessions?  If you answered yes to all of these questions, I'm betting you feel an occasional need to whip your home into parent-ready condition.  And if you're messy like me, I'm willing to bet that occasional need is laced with frantic urgency.  Because, let's face it, whether it's actually happening or not, we sit in constant judgement from our parents...FOREVER!  

But, you are awesome.  You do things like suddenly make your home look crazy-neat and organized as if you actually live that way.  Your fridge contains only fresh food and everything is beautifully arranged instead of stuffed into submission.  And if you have kids, they are neatly scrubbed and calm and not at all like monkeys in the wild.  

But this awesomeness does not come easily, and sometimes, it does not come at all.  

My parents live close by and on Sunday, they called while I was at the grocery store to say they were stopping by.  As regular readers may know, I am a messy person who was raised by meticulously neat parents.  As in, museum-caliber cleanliness.  Why I didn't get the neat gene is something I've not had time to look into on account of work, life, and all the time I spend goofing off instead of cleaning my house.  

I called Eric from the grocery store parking lot to let him know my parents were coming over.  You know, as a heads-up so he could get the parent-readiness in motion.  No answer on his cell, no answer on the land line (yes, we still have a landline and yes, it is a waste of money).  

I arrive home to find Eric in the kitchen making braised pork chops with with mushrooms and parsley (delicious), my daughter in a princess costume and flip-flops dancing around the dining room, my son splayed on the living room floor demanding someone play with him in the backyard, and lots and lots of disorder.  As in, two loads of clean laundry on the sofa, the Sunday paper all over the coffee table, three mysterious Tootsie Roll candies under a side table, and a long list of toys belonging to the children that should be in their rooms.  

I fly into the kitchen and in my most loving voice possible, under the circumstances, say to Eric, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?!  

"I am making pork chops," he says with a smile.

I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO CALL YOU!  I tell Eric in a tone that I'm sure he does not at all find abrasive.

"I was here," Eric says, a little too calmly for someone who should be able to read my mind.

I HAVE BEEN CALLING!  I CALLED ON YOUR CELL AND I CALLED ON THE HOME PHONE! YOU DID NOT ANSWER!  I explain in a tone that I am certain he does not find bossy.

"What's the matter?" he asks, remaining calm, but keeping his eyes on the pork chops.


"Oh…should we make tea?" he asks.

This back-and-forth ended with Eric returning to the pork chops and me clearing two things from the living room and letting my son out into the backyard before I decided to give up the ghost.  You know why?  BECAUSE I AM A GROWN WOMAN WHO HAS SHIT TO DO.  That is why.  And also, sometimes, there simply is too much going on and anyone who enters my home is going to have to deal with any mess along with the hospitality.  Someone should sew that on a sofa cushion.

Now, if you read this post and said to yourself, "What the hell is she talking about?  My mother AND my mother-in-law love my home which is always neat and organized!" or, "What the hell is she talking about…I never worry about how the house looks because it's always neat and organized!" or "Why doesn't she just hire staff?" -- well, I am going to have ask you to leave.  Now.  Please go.  But I do urge you to return for my next post, which will be about the art of jaywalking, which has nothing to do with food or homemaking, but is an equally important topic and life skill.

Until then, eat well with good company!