Saturday, January 28, 2006

garlic three ways soup

I forgot to mention that one of my favorite things in Alaska was the garlic soup I had for lunch one afternoon at a cute little tapas restaurant after walking through the freezing cold to take in the Anchorage Museum. Perfect soup for winter weather, and given my penchant for soups, we've been trying to recreate it back here at home. I think we've gotten it down pretty well now.

Garlic Three Ways Soup:

Several heads of garlic
Beef broth (I used a mixture of boxed and canned, plus a bullion cube or two)
2-3 tablespoons of cognac, added to the broth
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Peel a head of garlic and roast in a toaster oven at 375, wrapped in aluminum foil and drizzled with olive oil, until soft and golden (maybe 40 minutes or so).

Peel another head of garlic, or more if you want to be really bold. Divide. Chop some up pretty fine and throw in a soup pot with a little olive oil and saute over medium heat till golden. Pour in as much beef broth as you want (one could of course use chicken or veggie broth, but there's something especially delicious about the simple meatiness of the beef broth with the garlic). Toss in the whole garlic cloves that you've set aside from that second head of garlic and bring to a simmer. Throw in a pinch of cayenne just to spice it up a bit, and the cognac.

While the soup is simmering away, slice the baguette and put a slice of mozarella on each piece. Broil briefly in the oven just until the bread is slightly toasted and the cheese has melted nicely. Also don't forget about the garlic in the toaster oven, which you can either mash up and throw in the soup pot, or mash up on the cheese toasts, or just leave whole in the soup.

After the soup has simmered long enough for the whole cloves to be pretty soft, maybe 20 minutes or so, place two slices of cheese toasts in each bowl. Crack an egg into a small prep bowl and slide the egg into the broth so that it stays whole, and let cook just intil set (no more than a couple minutes). Ladle some soup, including the funny-looking round poached egg, on to the toasts. Repeat for each serving. If you've got the eggs right, the yolks will still be slightly runny and will burst out into the broth and cheese and toast and be one of the best things you've ever eaten.

This is neither here nor there, but this recipe reminds me of Francie Nolan, one of my childhood heroines and the central character of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. Her esteemed mama would make Francie and her little brother wear a head of garlic around their necks when they went to school in the winter. She believed that garlic had medicinal properties and would prevent the little ones from catching colds and flus and other scary public-school-at-the-turn-of-the-century germs. And indeed they didn't get sick, but Francie believed it wasn't the garlic's professed medicinal qualities that did the trick, but rather that the garlic reeked so badly that none of the other school kids would come near them.

This soup'll warm your belly, keep you healthy and ward off the vampires, and how can you go wrong with that?

Monday, January 09, 2006


I'd never been to Alaska before this winter. Funny, I've traveled a bit in my life but never anywhere particularly cold or particularly warm. Anyway, it was quite the adventure and we were incredibly lucky to have Maia to introduce us to the place. We discovered quite a lot, us new yorkers in a foreign land.

The ice delicately etched along the inside of our attic room looked magical in the night with the street light setting it aglow. The first morning, waking up at what we thought must be no later than 6 a.m. given the color of the sky only to find that it was 9 a.m., was completely disconcerting. And walking out the door of this little house, set right in downtown Anchorage (with an outdoor skating rink, office buildings, and a reindeer in someone's yard all within a couple blocks) to find beautiful snow-covered mountains looming on the horizon is enough to take your breath away.

Some of our favorite places:

the moose's tooth great beer, great pizza, and between our friend and her brother, i think they knew everyone there. Of course, this seemed to be the case throughout Anchorage which, after all is a big small town.

the bear tooth theatre great beer, delicious food delivered right to your seat, $3 movies, some actually really good and some so bad they magically turn good (we saw the latter, in the form of Wes Craven's Red Eye, perfect for the night before a cross-country flight).

the snow city cafe we went here for a very late breakfast our first full day in alaska, waited interminably for a table and then for our food, but it was delicious upon arrival. went back a couple days later for lunch, practically empty despite being the downtown business lunch hot spot!

the alaska zoo I've been to my fair share of zoos, from the huge Bronx Zoo, to (I think) the even more gigantic San Diego Zoo, to the sweet little Central Park Zoo, to the barely there Bear Mountain Zoo, and by far the best was the Alaska Zoo, experienced in 17-degree weather in the dead of winter. lacy ice dripped from the trees, the stream gurgled beneath, in places, a thick layer of ice, and no one was around 'cept us and those crazy animals. we bonded with an arctic fox who chased his tale and caught snowballs in his mouth. we were threatened by a wolverine who was on the prowl for a little afternoon snack. and we fell in love with maggie, the lone elephantine survivor of the alaska zoo, a truly tragic figure (who ever heard of an elephant in sub-freezing weather,I ask you?). but a very compelling figure, and I'd never realized how oddly beautiful and exquisitely graceful an elephant's trunk is until being smelled sensed and perhaps deemed acceptable by this lonely singular creature in the far north.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

the great pacific northwest

welcome to Fidalgo Island, western Washington State

downtown Anacortes, WA,
11:45 a.m., 12.26.05

miss pig, waiting for her ride

a book geek's dream

view down 20th (?) street towards the Anacortes harbor

big sky

just another blustery day in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, home of way too many art galleries, a wonderful yarn store, and a most excellent brewery

big water, from here to there

even in the pacific northwest in december, the sun comes out sometimes

scarf for nate

the great frozen north

what lucy must have seen when she came out of that old wardrobe

alaska can be weird.
enough said.

makes me wanna go to church.

ilke, coolest dog in the north

light like you wouldn't believe,
1:30 pm, 1.1.06

kinda makes you believe in fairy tales again

-11 degree weather brings out the best in us

natural beauty

even in a state as red as the AK, they can get a little down and dirty now and then...

burning bush, AK style

high noon just south of the arctic circle