14. What I did on my summer "hiatus" - Part 2
Wrapping up the catching up
I promise you that The Plate Cleaner is not careening wildly between being a quarterly and a daily. But this is our last day up north and my last day to write with this kind of view.
I figured it was better to get some words down before I head back to writing in the basement or at the dining room table.
Last night’s campfire weenie roast was a great success. Growing up, I went to camp on this lake (Baptiste) and even though I got the highest badge possible for bushcraft, I was never great at building fires. What a difference access to kiln-dried logs and kindling makes! The woodpile at this cottage has a supplementary supply of birch bark, so getting a roaring fire started only took one click of a barbecue lighter. Very different from back when I was a camper and I went through an entire box of matches trying (and failing) to get a fire started on a solo overnight trip.
What I’m Consuming…
Cold noodles have become an almost-weekly feature of our meal plans. We go back and forth between zaru soba (buckwheat noodles served with a soy-based dipping sauce, sliced green onions, minced nori, and wasabi) and somen (thin wheat noodles treated much the same, but with ground ginger instead of wasabi). Paired with a cold marinated vegetable like vinegared cucumbers or spinach ohitashi and a few chunks of grilled chicken thigh, it’s a great way to keep your kitchen relatively cool (You do have to boil water for the noodles, but both soba and somen cook quickly.)
'This is not pegao': Gordon Ramsay gets scorched for his 'Puerto Rican crispy rice dish' Breaking news: Gordon Ramsay is [kind of]1 an asshole. I know, who’d have expected that he’d ever be accused of arrogantly assuming he can do better than the Puerto Rican chefs who have dedicated their lives to the cuisine? It’s not like it has ever happened to him before.
And yes, I hear he’s nice to children on MasterChef Junior and can be very pleasant in person. But in the past decades, no one2 has done more to popularize and normalize toxic, abusive workplaces in popular culture than he has. And now he’s leading the charge3 of spreading the idea that western chefs (or fashion models who did seven-week study internships in India) should “elevate” non-western dishes and make them “palatable” for western/White palates.
It’s great the Gordon Ramsay is nice to children. We should probably be setting the bar a little higher than that.
“He Wrote a Gardening Column. He Ended Up Documenting Climate Change.” One of my goals for this week was to read the entire Sunday New York Times. I don’t think I’ll quite get there, but this was the final article I had left in the Sunday Magazine. You can now grow okra in Alaska. That’s not a good thing.
What’s on the Menu…
Indoor dining! To be honest, Beth and I have already dined indoors once. It’s a long, stupid story as to how we wound up at our first indoor place. In a perfect world, our first place back indoors would have been Edulis, of course. And it will be our second place, when we have our first Sunday lunch there since March 1, 2020.
When they announced they were re-opening to indoor dining, Edulis also announced that they were moving to a pre-paid, no-tipping model that would allow them to pay all of their employees a stable, living wage. For me, Edulis has never been quite like other restaurants. Their hospitality is singularly generous. I can’t think of a place where someone would feel more welcome. At the same time, their approach to food shows a command of classical technique, but is definitely not beholden to it. I like to see this move to no tipping as an admirable evolution of both of these facets. They’ve made the restaurant more welcoming to everyone, whether you enter through the front door or the kitchen door. And they’ve shown once again that they will do what’s right, not what’s always been done. I haven’t been back yet, but I already know I’ll enjoy it more than ever before.
Also, if you have the means, support your local restaurants generously while you can. I have a feeling we’re going to be back to only patios and takeout soon enough.
Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes. Just as we were packing up to head to the cottage, many of the tomatoes in the garden started fading from green to white, a sure sign that they were about to ripen and turn red. The day we left, the first few had tinges of orange. We told the cat-sitter to take as many as she wanted, so hopefully not many went to waste. In the weeks ahead our shopping list will be dominated with loaves of white bread, packs of bacon, and heads of iceberg lettuce as the season of the greatest sandwich ever hits full swing.
More dinners with Beth A few weeks ago our streak of consecutive dinners eaten together hit 500 (where before the pandemic our longest streak was probably 3). We decided that was good enough and we would no longer make abnormal efforts to keep it alive4. And a few days later, it turned out that we really couldn’t our schedules work, so that was that. Another streak started the next day, but who’s keeping track?
I Heard This Place Was Good I was apparently one of the few paid subscribers to Chris Nuttall-Smith’s previous newsletter, The Taster. It lasted only four months in 2018, but it gave me the inside edge on so many terrific new restaurants. For a brief, shining moment I was always one step ahead of the crowd. Nuttall-Smith has recently started a Substack newsletter5 that much like The Taster, highlights interesting places to eat in Toronto, so far including Twenty Victoria and Oji Seichi. I am very eager to try both.
In Part 1 of this summer double-issue, I showed you what kitchen things I can’t travel without. (Not pictured but also brought on this trip: kosher salt, a pepper mill, canola and extra-virgin olive oil, a fish spatula.)
It’s not a kitchen thing, but I would also add a fan to that list. Nothing worse than getting somewhere and discovering there’s no airflow. We have a few different sizes so whether we’re throwing it it in a suitcase or the trunk of the car, there’s always one that will fit.
If you’re headed to a cottage or another vacation kitchen, are there things that you bring with you? Or things you’re always disappointed to discover are missing or in terrible shape? Let me know!
Dammit. Substack doesn’t have “strikethrough” as a font option.
Although he is certainly not alone. At least Anthony Bourdain finally recognized his culpability, although I didn’t see him giving any of the money back he made as a result.
Again, not alone here, but with some of the highest visibility.
A dinner DNR, if you will.
Fucking copycat! 🤓