Red Chile

Thoughts on Red Chile and Denver’s Satire Lounge

 

The first meal I ordered in the US with cash I earned as a day laborer — hauling concrete in barrows down six flights in a freight elevator and out to a dump truck — was smothered in chile. This was in ’78. The job was in Downtown Denver, and on pay-day, a guy I hadn’t seen before stuffed a wad of crumpled notes into my hand.

It was a short walk back to my digs in Capitol Hill where I washed up and walked over to the Satire Lounge on Colfax Ave, for my first taste of Mexican food.

It was a classy dump. Dark inside with sticky tables. The little dining room had a stained, badly fitted wall to wall carpet and a low speckled black ceiling lit by tiny red bulbs.  Continue reading “Red Chile”

Miso Noodle Bowl

 

miso soup with poached egg, tofu, glazed vegetables, noodles and seaweed…

If you haven’t messed with miso you should really give it a go. Paired with a bowl of rice, it’s been breakfast in Japan since God knows when. I’ve never been a morning soup person, but if I was made in Japan I’m sure I’d slurp along.

Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning paste made from fermented soybeans or grains such as rice, barley and more recently, chickpea and peanut. It varies in color and strength from light to dark. I suggest starting with a light one and digging in from there. Continue reading “Miso Noodle Bowl”

Spaghetti with broccoli

I love simple, inexpensive, delicious food, and much of that comes from the resourceful kitchens of southern Italy. Ionah’s mother Euza, who’s from Brazil, but whose veins pulse with vibrant Italian blood, is an excellent cook and tango dancer extraordinaire. She has a talented weakness for all things Italian and one of those things is a simple family dish that we call spaghetti with broccoli.She used to make it for the family when they were kids growing up in Rhode Island. Ionah continues the tradition, and whenever the pasta pot comes rolling to a boil around here, it’s often spaghetti with broccoli that fills it up. Continue reading “Spaghetti with broccoli”

Parsley salad

Parsley’s potential as a vegetable has always been acknowledged by the cultures of the Levant. It’s used in a variety of ingenious ways. It’s the prime ingredient for tabouli, holding forth over bulgur wheat. And most Persians, Armenians, Arabs, Israelis, Ottomans, Zoroastrians, Coptics and Kurds have home versions of parsley cucumber salads. Over there it gets its true due. They treat it not just as a sprig that is seen and not eaten, but as a mature vegetable worthy of critical attention.

Continue reading “Parsley salad”

Cauliflower with Harissa

Treating a cauliflower to a two-hour roast is a fair way to go. But, If you don’t have two to spare, yet, you have a cauliflower, and, perhaps, a jar of harissa in the fridge, you have the makings of a beautiful side dish — or with a parsley salad, a light meal in itself. Add some lamb chops or a plate of merguez sausage and you’re approaching mini feast. Continue reading “Cauliflower with Harissa”

Harissa

 

This simple North African condiment should be a part of everyone’s culinary closet. Like an exotic scarf dangling from a hook waiting to be coiled around your neck, you can accessorize with harissa and add a splash of color, spice and mystery to the dullest of meals.

It should hang with your condiments in the fridge waiting and ready for anything that might come its way. It goes with most of what I have, with everything that I love and it’s easy to make. Continue reading “Harissa”

Gentleman’s Relish

Breathe your inner dragon.

A couple of weeks ago, I was roused from my bed by a recipe for anchovy butter penned by Sam Sifton of the New York Times. It brought back memories of a breakfast I once had in London in a depressing hotel in Earls Court. I was in transit— on my way to look for a job in Spain. It’s amazing how the memory of a meal, a bleak one at that, can linger dormant under the skin for years and then flare up with the stroke of a journalist’s pen.

The dining room had the remains of former splendor. It had been divided and subtracted more than once and was reduced to a cramped, damp room with four or five tables. It had a stained ceiling, peeling cornices and a bricked up fireplace. An electric fire buzzed in the corner. Nobody spoke. The pale server was decked out in black and white from shoe to hat. Continue reading “Gentleman’s Relish”