Chef Francis Mallman's famous cook book ("Seven Fires") about grilling the Argentine way was demonstrated this week at a spectacular "Night of Fire and Desire" at a private party in a long field in the Millbrook area. Some of the 250 or so guests live locally but at least half came to Millbrook for the occasion. The chef was flown up with a few of his sous chefs, barbecue pits were dug up, local welders built wind screens and cast iron grills and griddles to outfit the fire pits and benches were custom made to mimic Mallmann's furniture at his Garzonrestaurant in Uruguay.
Most of my friends and readers know I lived in France for many years, but few know that I also spent a few years in Italy, where I learned to love pasta—when it is freshly made, cooked "al dente" and paired with the right sauce. Few Italian restaurants in the United States ever equal those standards. Once I had pasta cooked for me by Mario Batali (I was in the audience of the ABC television show "The Chew") and it reminded me of my days in Milan. And again a few weeks ago, in Red Hook, when I dined with friends at Mercato. I returned this week to interview chef-owner Francesco Buitoni.
I do not have a particularly large kitchen but it is full of specific small appliances, pots, pans and cooking utensils that I have accumulated over the years. Some I rarely use, others I am lost without. I am often asked which I would buy again. I call these my "kitchen essentials." This new feature explains how and why each cooking aid is important to me and how it helps me enjoy cooking and entertaining successfully.
Announced at the last Village Board meeting is the impending opening of a number of new businesses on Franklin Avenue this fall. They include "Rose Randolph Cookie Shop", "Leaf & Bean" and "Love Feast" (whom we know from Millerton and Amenia Farmers' Markets) who is opening a Vegan restaurant in town. Millbrook Nails has now moved to Franklin Avenue from its former location on Front Street. Owner Kevin Tran and his wife offer manicures, pedicures, waxing and massages. Chef/owner Joe Comizio of Franklin Avenue's new restaurant, Trattoria San Giorgio is looking for experienced staff. Qualified parties should send resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There was a party atmosphere in Pawling on Saturday as crowds of visitors picked through the bargains offered at the 19th annual Community Garage Sale. Sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, this year's event had over 80 participants. Many purchased spots for tables in the village for $30 while others bought the telltale yellow balloons for $20 and spread their sale merchandise out on their lawns. Maps listing all of the venues were provided free of charge to shoppers. Coupons were also offered to attract shoppers to specific merchants. According to Marie Stewart, organizer of the event and owner of the Yarn & Craft Box, "the fees go to advertising the event, to bring people into town to shop."
I spoke with chef/owner Joe Comizio of the much anticipated new restaurant, Trattoria San Giorgio, on the corner of Franklin and Church Streets. He expects to open in a few short weeks The trattoria will be a full service Italian restaurant specializing in brick oven Neopolitan Pizza (12 inch individual portions) that will be served in the dining room or available for pick up.
The Orvis Game Fair will be held September 21st and 22nd. Country sport enthusiasts (shooting, hunting, fly -fishing, wing shooting, falconry, dog training, etc.) should plan on two full days at the fair. Demonstrations, seminars and fun activities for the kids are all on the program. Over 70 vendors of fine sporting goods and services will be present to display their wares. The event usually brings about 3000 participants to Millbrook, many of whom also make their way into the village.
Aix en Provence
I doubt that there is a better way to visit Aix en Provence than as guests of Frédéric and Shirin Fekkai. The estate they built on what was once barren land is sumptuous. Breathtaking views, manicured gardens, fields of lavender and a large house that was well designed and is decorated to be both beautiful and comfortable—so comfortable that I had to force myself to take the five minute drive to get into town. But we did, and visited the famous market, where we saw probably more than a hundred vendors selling all sorts of tempting produce, as well as the pottery, tablecloths and espadrilles for which Provence is famous.
I attended my first "food-swapping" event last Saturday at the Pawling Farmers Market. This hot new foodie trend brings cooks, gardeners and gatherers together to share their surplus of homemade, homegrown or foraged foods with each other. No money changes hands. Swaps enable direct trades to take place between attendees. Inspired by a renewed interest in home growing, canning, preserving and cooking, the swap concept was introduced back in March 2010 in Brooklyn when Kate Payne, author of "The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking," set up the first food-swapping event. Through social media and blogging, it took off across the country, through the Midwest and onward, until, finally, Emily Ho in Los Angeles started the Food Swap Network. Now active in England and Scandinavia as well as in continental Europe and recently Brazil, food swapping has become an international phenomenon.