Tastes of the Week

June 11 thru June 18, 2012 A sensational lunch at Lincoln (at Lincoln Center) prepared by chef Jonathan Benno (formerly at Per Se), sponsored by DeBragga, affectionately known as New York's Butcher. The lunch celebrated the efforts of Niman Ranch family of farmers whose community of more than 725 farmers raises their cattle, hogs, and lambs with utmost care. They have changed the standards of sustainable practice and have influenced a new generation of farming systems. The menu rocked with crispy pig trotters, "testa" (headcheese), ravioli d'agnello (lamb neck, tongue, sweetbreads, and pecorino) in a lamb sugo, 40-day dry-aged ribeye of beef, with greenmarket tomatoes, arugula and balsamico, and for dessert, something intelligently conceived and very delicious -- a triptych of chocolate torta with guanciale and sea salt, biscotti al lardo, and crostata ai frutti di bosco made with dry-aged beef fat! Fabulous! Much praise all around -- to DeBragga, Niman Ranch, the farmers, the chefs, and the beneficent earth.

Had a lovely young neighbor over for dinner. She's from South Carolina and told us about "chicken bog" (a native dish) and flounder gigging (a local past-time.) It may be time to learn more about the "low country lifestyle!" Katie's a vegetarian, though, and I made her "rutabaga steaks" while we ate my husband's ever-so-slow-cooked country ribs (smoked over charcoal and cedar).  We also enjoyed a last-minute carrot salad (julienned and lightly steamed) tossed with caramelized onions, balsamic vinegar, and slivered basil. Chicken bog, by the way, is a pilau of chicken, sausage, celery, and moist (but not soupy) rice and spices.

The most creative and best pizzas ever at the newly-decorated Keste on Bleeker Street. Imagine sinking your teeth into these:  Ricotta e Noci, made with "cream of walnut", fresh ricotta, homemade mozzarella, pecorino romano and basil, or Salsiccia e Friarielli -- made with rapini, Italian sausage, imported smoked mozzarella, and extra-virgin olive oil.  Keste has gluten-free pizzas (senza glutine), white pizzas, red pizzas, "night and day" calzone, and stuffed pizzas, too -- da morire (to die for.)

Fresh herring from Holland with Cantillon lambic beer.  A great pairing!  Thanks, Jimmy Carbone!  (As tasted on Cooking Today radio show).

Cold slow-cooked country spare ribs with roasted beets and white bean salad at home, washed down with Vinas de Balbo (bonarda-malbec blend) from Argentina.

Very good strawberries, lightly sugared and showered with slivered fresh mint from my window box. June is busting out all over.

Enjoy your own tastes of the week!