January 29, 2008

Scrapin’ Up the Bits, Hectic Style

A whole mess of things worthy of a mention.

First, starting with a local item. It looks like the Soup Nazi is coming to the ‘Burgh. Can’t wait to try the lobster bisque.

Next, and this is old news by now, but for anybody who missed it, particularly sushi fans, you might want to think twice about getting that spicy tuna roll the next time you’re looking to get some of those good fats. As the New York Times reported last week, mercury levels from sushi the newspaper purchased at 20 different places throughout Manhattan had scary-high mercury levels.

“No one should eat a meal of tuna with mercury levels like those found in the restaurant samples more than about once every three weeks," said Dr. Michael Gochfeld, professor of environmental and occupational medicine at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, N.J.

So, not only is bluefin tuna – often the tuna of choice at many sushi restaurants – way overfished and starting to become dangerously depleted, but it’s also warehousing the mercury from all of that wonderful industrial waste finding it’s way into to the ocean. What an unexpected two-fer!! Listen to this guy – for the time being, skip the tuna sashimi and try the mackerel.

Sticking with the good news (and New York Times) theme, Mark Bittman leaves behind his “Minimalist” persona for a day to become the food eco warrior. While I would never say this is scintillating narrative, it is a collection of some scary facts. Here are some of the highlights, but do be sure to check out the whole article, if for nothing else than the disturbing picture of a factory cattle farm.

Just this week, the president of Brazil announced emergency measures to halt the burning and cutting of the country’s rain forests for crop and grazing land. In the last five months alone, the government says, 1,250 square miles were lost.


The world’s total meat supply was 71 million tons in 1961. In 2007, it was estimated to be 284 million tons. Per capita consumption has more than doubled over that period.


an estimated 30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which also estimates that livestock production generates nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases — more than transportation.


Though some 800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition, the majority of corn and soy grown in the world feeds cattle, pigs and chickens.

Next up, some interesting stuff coming out about folic acid — some of the stuff added to cereals and pasta and other foods to “fortify” them. Well, there are some concerns that maybe all of this fortification isn’t a risk-free proposition.

As many as 1,000 newborns a year in the United States - and many more elsewhere - have been spared so-called neural tube defects because their mothers got a crucial infusion of folic acid before they even knew they were pregnant.

But now some scientists are asking whether there have been unforeseen trade-offs for the population as a whole - including thousands of additional colon cancer cases each year, a somewhat smaller bump-up in prostate cancer, and an increase in cognitive impairment among the elderly.

This is all very preliminary stuff, but it’s something that hopefully will be further investigated.

Finally, once the weather breaks and the birds are chirping and the flowers are blooming and the Pirates begin their glorious march toward their 16th straight losing season, we’ll be transforming our garden into a Victory Garden.

January 27, 2008

Words to Eat By

While skimming through the February issue of Food & Wine, popping in and out of an article by Salma Abdelnour about a trip she took to Japan to pretty much do nothing but eat incredible food for five days (seriously, please, tell me, how does one get this job?!), I came across what Ms. Abdelnour described as the five “Buddhist-inspired principles” of eating:

1) Respect the labor of everyone whose work contributed to the meal

2) Commit good deeds worthy of sharing in the meal

3) Arrive at the table without any negative feelings toward others

4) Eat in order to achieve spiritual and physical well-being

5) Be dedicated to the pursuit of enlightment

Now I can’t say that I follow these five rules, although I’d like to think that, at any one moment, without really thinking about it, I’m generally following two or three. Unless we're making pizzas -- for which my wife is primarily responsible -- then I'm closer to five of five.

January 25, 2008

The Sentences and the Fury

ALERT! ALERT! This is a serious post that will discuss important social issues and reference scientific research. You’ve been warned.

Maybe I’m overreacting. But darn if this didn’t set me off when I read this last week:

A nation in which the poor are defined by an income level that in most countries would make them prosperous is a nation that has all but forgotten the true meaning of poverty. A nation in which obesity is largely a problem of the poor (and anorexia of the upper-middle class) does not understand the word "hunger."

The offending two sentences came early on in an op-ed by Bret Stephens, a member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board, in the Journal’s online “Opinion Journal.” In the context of the larger commentary -- a backhanded slap at anybody who dare complain about “divisions” in America or about the progress, or lack thereof, in Iraq -- these two sentences were nothing more than punditry detritus.

But those two sentences say a heck of a lot to me about how a good portion of people in this country view the socioeconomics of food and, more specifically, nutrition.

It’s true, of course, that the obesity epidemic is concentrated in less-affluent populations (how’s that for medico-journalese!). And there’s a very good reason for that: cheap, calorie-laden food is what many low-income people can afford.

Just last month, researchers from the University of Washington reported something that might surprise Mr. Stephens, but not anybody who’s been paying attention:

They found that the foods which are less energy-dense -- generally fresh fruits and vegetables -- are much more expensive per calorie than energy-dense foods -- such as those high in refined grains, added sugars, and added fats.


Lower-calorie foods jumped in price by about 19.5 percent in that two-year period, while the prices of very calorie-rich foods stayed stable or even dropped slightly, the researchers found.

And this isn’t some short-term phenomenon:

Since 1985, the actual price of fruits and vegetables has increased 40 percent, while the price of sugar and fats has declined by 14 percent.

The bottom line is that more fattening foods are far cheaper than healthful foods. This is due in very large part, of course, to the federal subsidies paid to support the growth of corn, soy, and several other “commodity crops” that are the backbone of those calorie-laden foods (e.g., the gazillion tons of corn used to feed all those cows needed to produce those flimsy little meat patties at McDonalds).

In the same McClatchy article, a beautiful chart shows that of the $70.2 billion in subsidies – that’s right, BILLION – given to agriculture interests between 1995 and 2004, only $1.55 billion went to support fruits and veggies.

So is it any wonder that, when a mom of two making, say, $16,000 a year, sees what it will cost her to buy four or five oranges, and then realizes she can get a case of generic orange soda for the same price, she chooses the case of soda?

This whole diatribe thus far brings me round to another recent study, published just this month and covered by the New York Times’ Tara Parker-Pope, which demonstrated that giving poor people vouchers to purchase fruits and veggies actually… wait for it… increased the amount of fruits and veggies they ate.

Who would have thunk it? Certainly not Mr. Stephens, who I have little doubt would decry such a program proposal as a government “handout” -- unlike those billions of dollars in federal subsidies for growing the corn so desperately needed to produce Cherry Pepsi.

In the study, women were given $10 vouchers weekly for use at a farm market or supermarket.

After six months, women who shopped at the farmers’ markets were eating about three additional servings of fruits and vegetables a day, compared to the control group. Supermarket shoppers consumed 1.5 extra servings.

The study results, Ms. Pope reported, coincide with a decision by the USDA -- after apparently a bit of pressure from public health groups -- to start giving participants in the federal W.I.C. program (Women, Infants, and Children) subsidies for purchasing fruits and vegetables.

“Wonderful!” you might think. “Fantastic, even!”

Think again:

The W.I.C. program will provide monthly vouchers worth $8 to each recipient and $6 to each child. Breastfeeding women will receive just $10 a month toward fruits and vegetables.

So here you have a study that demonstrates quite clearly that the eating habits of poor women with children can be significantly improved through nominal weekly vouchers for fruits and veggies. In contrast, you see an action by the USDA intended merely to provide a talking point, something along the lines of, “We are helping poor women and their children eat healthier with vouchers for fruits and vegetables…”

The well-documented socioeconomic disparities in deaths from diseases like cancer and heart disease are not due to happenstance. There are directly attributed to environmental and economic factors, such as whether somebody can afford to buy a bunch of grapes or a bag of carrots at the grocery store. And, meanwhile, you have the government subsidizing the production of the most fattening and cheap foods on the planet, while doing almost nothing to help those in most need of getting an apple a day.

And what are the costs of this?

A new study shows that the nation's unchecked diabetes epidemic exacts a heavy financial toll as well: $174 billion a year. That's about as much as the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and the global war on terrorism combined.


The incidence of diabetes has ballooned — there are 1 million new cases a year — as more Americans become overweight or obese, according to the study, released Wednesday by the American Diabetes Association. The cost of diabetes — both in direct medical care and lost productivity — has swelled 32% since 2002, the report shows. (emphasis added)

So, contrary to Mr. Stephens’ assertion, I would argue that, as a country, we definitely understand what “hunger” means. There are many kids and adults who go to bed -- or heck, spend a good portion of their day – hungry, and there are many others who have enough money to eat, but only the cheapest foods, the stuff that leads to things like obesity and diabetes.

I don’t know how much any one individual can do about any of this. But aside from the superior taste and quality of everything I get from local providers, buying as much as I can from local farms is one way I see to help further develop a local food infrastructure that can, in its own way, be part of the solution to these problems.

I know that our CSA, Harvest Valley Farms, participates in WIC, and hopefully as people start to demand more sustainably raised produce and meat, more of it will become available, the price will begin to inch down, and something good can begin to take hold well beyond what’s in my CSA basket each Tuesday from May to November.

January 22, 2008

Scrapin’ Up the Bits, Lots of ‘Em

While I work on a longer, more “serious” post about nutrition and disease, there’s been a heck of a lot of interesting news and things happening.

Perhaps the most uninteresting of these was the arrival today of my Zuni Café Cookbook. After the wild success of the roasted whole branzino, it just seemed like fate was telling me to crack that thing open as soon as possible. My plan is to make at least one main course from it a week for the next month or so and report on the outcome.

From cookbooks we move to much more intriguing fare, such as the FDA’s approval of cloned animals as a source of beef and pork and milk. I swear on whatever holy text can be provided that I am not anti-technology, but this really is unnerving.

There are no long-term data on whether meat from cloned animals is safe, and the government has no plans to track the products from these animals once they enter the marketplace or to label them as coming from a cloned animal. In any case, for those interested, the Ethicurean’s cloned animals digest is very informative.

I’ve read about overfishing, but did you know that the price of cod – the fish of choice for fish ‘n chips – in the UK has quadrupled in the last few years because cod stocks have been so depleted? And that these huge Chinese-owned fisheries are doing their best to devastate the fish stocks in the waters off of Africa? The NY Times has the scoop… or should I say “catch”?

We use garden-variety fresh mozzarella on our pizzas. But true Neapolitan-style pizzas, particularly those made in Naples, only use mozzarella di bufala, and it’s apparently about to get more expensive because of problems with bacterial infections in Italian buffalo herds.

The Daily Table blog has an interesting post about water, both its scarcity and its health, and how local, family-owned farms are important to both.

Want to find food that’s in season and local? The National Resources Defense Council has a fantastic resource for you.

January 17, 2008

Milk Labeling: They Listened, They Really Listened!

Who are the four, well-dressed gentleman above, you ask? Why, the remaining members of the legendary Kool & the Gang, of course.

And, why, you ask, is there a picture of Kool & the Gang on a food blog? Because, it's time to celebrate, baby!

It’s now official: Government bureaucrats who engage in sneaky maneuvers to the potential detriment of the public sometimes get their rear ends handed to them.

Or, more plainly put, milk labels in Pennsylvania with terms such as “rBGH free” will continue to be allowed!

In a letter to Pennsylvania milk processors, William Chirdon from the Department’s Bureau of Food Safety and Laboratory Services (who I spoke to previously about this issue, and whose name I misspelled in that report!), explains that the PDA received “a great deal of input” on the (cough… BOGUS) labeling standards it issued last fall that would have banned any labels on milk that said the product was hormone- or antibiotic-free because they were cutting into Monsanto’s profits “misleading.”

Under new standards PDA released today, this information is allowed on a milk label, as long as it also contains language that explains the FDA has found “no significant difference” between milk from clean cows and those that have gotten Monsanto's special juice. From my experience, most labels already included this disclaimer.

This really is a stinging rebuke to what I still contend was some highly dubious and downright slimy actions by PDA Secretary Dennis Wolff—actions that were quickly met with a public outcry from food bloggers (pathetic self promotion, I know!) and, of course, dairy farmers who don’t use synthetic growth hormone in their dairy cattle and want to let people know about it.

To be honest, I’m shocked. I was almost certain that these guys would drag their feet for a few months, thinking the public would forget about it—get lost in a fog of American Idol and American Gladiator—and on some random Friday afternoon at 4:00, quietly announce the initial standards change would stand.

It’s nice to be pleasantly surprised once in a while.

January 15, 2008

Roasted Branzino, Mamma Mia!!

Since the day of the Strip Club, Penn Avenue Fish Company has become one of our favorite culinary stops in the Pittsburgh vicinity. We’ve had ultra-fresh cod and sole filets and buttery “#1 tuna” (seared to perfection by some friends for the rib-eyeriffic dinner party), not to mention the unorthodox yet highly satisfying seafood tacos and great sushi from the prepared foods menu. It’s all been quite good – probably as good, if not better, than any swimming creatures you can get in Pittsburgh.

So it was no surprise that when we purchased two whole branzino (those headless things on the chopping board over there), also known as European sea bass, on Saturday morning at said fish monger, the end-result later that evening was nothing short of spectacular: tender and moist, with a subtle flavor that seemed almost destined to be eaten with the “picada” – a mix of olive oil-soaked bread crumbs, orange zest and mint, among other things – sprinkled atop the fish.

Kudos must go to the wife, who, based on one whole fish that was filleted by the server at a restaurant table several years ago, did an expert job of filleting the mostly whole branzino that emerged from the oven. She also gets kudos for choosing what would accompany the fish: chard with raisins and pine nuts, from the indispensable Savoring Italy cookbook.

The branzino recipe was published almost a year ago in the New York Times, adapted from what has to be the most popular cookbook among food bloggers, the Zuni Café Cookbook.

There’s not much for me to add to the recipe. I followed it fairly closely, although, for the picada, I didn’t do a whole lot of measuring. I have included the chard recipe below, because it paired very well with the fish and was remarkably simple.

Swiss chard with raisins and pine nuts

  • 1.5 lbs of chard, washed
  • ½ cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of raisins (we used goldens)
  • 2 tablespoons of pine nuts
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the chard into long, thin strips. Turn up the heat to medium in a large saucepan, add the chard, water, and a good pinch of salt. Cover and cook, stirring here and there, until the chard is pretty tender. About 5-7 minutes.

Drain the chard in a colander and try to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Wipe out the saucepan, put on low heat, and add the butter. When it’s melted, add back the chard along with the raisins and ground pepper, stirring to get everything well coated and buttery, about another 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle with the pine nuts and serve.

January 14, 2008

Scrapin’ Up the Bits, Local Style

Catching up on some local food news I’ve been meaning to get to for about a week or two.

First, on March 28 and 29, an organization called Pathways to Smart Care is hosting its second annual Farm to Table conference. The theme is "A Recipe for a Healthy Pittsburgh,” and it's being held at the Lawrence Convention Center. What’s in store at the conference?

The event will feature area farmers and businesses that support sustainable agriculture, with national and local speakers, including Sandor Katz, an expert on wild fermentation, along with Patricia DeMarco of the Rachel Carson Homestead and Will Clower of Mediterranean Wellness.

Registration is $10 before February 1 and you’re asked to submit a recipe as part your registration. My submission was grilled Kentucky Wonder Beans with prosciutto.

Second, McGinnis Sisters, a local “specialty” grocery store with locations on Rt. 51 and in Monroeville, is opening up a third location on Rt. 228, not far from Kitchen de Fillippelli.

What’s the big deal, you might ask? As one of the Sisters explains

McGinnis Sisters Special Foods Stores has had a longtime dedication to not only buying direct from local farms, but also building strong relationships with individual farmers. "They promise to provide us with what we want, and we promise to buy it; we can guarantee we'll sell it," says Sharon Young, one of the three sisters that comprise those of the McGinnis Sisters name.

The kicker: from what I can tell, the store is going in right across from local grocery behemoth, Giant Eagle.

And, last but not least on the local food front, if you work downtown, you have some new temptations to resist:

The French Tart has opened a shop in 2 PPG Place, where it offers eclairs, cream puffs, brioches, macaroons, tarts, turnovers, its signature 4-inch cakes and other sweets, as well as an array of savories including quiches and pastries stuffed with succulent cheeses, veggies or meats (including a pastry-wrapped French hotdog with mustard).

According to my wife, who spoke with the owner one time at the Shady Side location (it also has a location in Mt. Lebanon), the French Tart uses almost strictly organic ingredients. We’ve had several pastries from the French Tart and they were all magnifique!

January 11, 2008

First Visit: Good Eats in Point Breeze

Not that it needs my approval, but, even after a single visit, I can highly recommend visiting Point Brugge Café in Point Breeze (real close to Shadyside).

Now, the two kids were in tow, which can skew the experience at any restaurant. Even though the restaurant bills itself as a “a neighborhood gathering spot,” it’s perhaps not the best choice if you’re bringing along children 5 and under (e.g., no kids menu, a chic, dimly lit interior).

This isn’t a criticism, as most so-called family-friendly joints, well, aren’t very good. Which is why we rarely take the kids out to dinner. In other words, why spend a lot of money at a fine restaurant on a meal you will have a hard time enjoying because you’re so busy begging one kid to sit down or fishing out Star Wars figures from under the table or entreating a child to drink his root beer more slowly? And, on the other hand, why spend money at all on barely edible food at a restaurant just because it has dinosaur-shaped chicken tenders and crayons on the table?

That said, this evening we just wanted to get out of the house and have somebody cook something for us for a change—something delicious. So we settled on the much ballyhooed Point Brugge.

To be quick about it, we had

  • Delirium Tremens on tap;
  • tender mussels in a creamy white wine broth;
  • thick but perfectly crispy frites with a tarragon-laced mayo for dipping;
  • a large salad with a mellow dressing, some creamy goat cheese, and surprisingly tender greens; and, to keep the kids at bay while we finished our entrees
  • a truly perfect piece of a Belgian chocolate cake and some ice cream with a velvety chocolate sauce – neither of which got the respect they deserved from a 5- and 3-year-old (although the 5-year-old did an excellent job of sculpting the ice cream into a chocolate pond before devouring most of it).

All of it, including my son’s grilled cheese, minus the roasted red peppers, on a baguette, was truly enjoyable.

The lone disappointment was my entrée, a pan-roasted grouper resting atop a salad of artichokes and hearts of palm with a side of pilaf with sun-dried tomato. The fish was tender and flaky, but, with no sauce of any kind, was rather boring, and the salad underneath seemed to be an afterthought, as if whatever was supposed to be under the fish was a casualty of an inventory order gone wrong, and this was what the kitchen wrangled up in a pinch. The pilaf was very tasty, but seemed like a stranger on the plate, a side for the sake of a side.

This entrée was one of the specials for the evening, and specials are supposed to be, well, special, not something I could make at home, probably with better results.

Despite being the only couple with young kids, the service was excellent and we never felt rushed, and the restaurant truly is cozy – fairly intimate, warm colors, not too loud even when it’s packed – the type of place where you could sit at the bar, downing some Chimays and various small plates (does everybody have small plates now?), and not even realize 2 or 3 hours had passed.

Overall, it’s clear that Point Brugge knows how to do things well and, despite the occasional hiccup, keep customers returning. Next time, I’ll stick with some of the more traditional Belgian dishes – I'd be exhilarated with just some more mussels and frites – and hopefully be there long enough to get a second beer and a piece of chocolate cake all for myself!

January 10, 2008

Delicious and Befuddled

Several moons ago, there was a popular Pan-Asian restaurant in Bethesda, Md., called Oodles Noodles. As its name implied, noodles were the house specialty, and they were done well. [Sadly, the restaurant is no longer there, replaced some time ago by a New Orleans-themed restaurant that itself may have already closed – ah, the dangerous lives of restaurants.]

At one point, my wife and I probably ate there once a week, rotating our meal choices around a few favorites, among which included peanut noodles, which featured two different types of long noodles in a warm peanut sauce; mee goreng, a somewhat fiery, curry-infused dish with noodles reminiscent of traditional spaghetti in thickness, but not length or texture; and, one of my all-time favorite soups, Siam noodle soup.

The first slurp of Siam noodle soup was always an adventure, because no matter how I approached it, the broth’s spiciness would reach up through my nose and steal a breath. This soup truly was a circus in your mouth, full of tang and fire (and shrimp and squid and, of course, noodles!), begging you to not abandon a single slurp to the depths of the huge bowl in which it was served, and always leaving a dripping ring of perspiration underneath each of my eyes.

With a hankering for a spicy Asian soup, I recently went searching through a few of our cookbooks and found one in Barbara Kafka’s Soup: A Way of Life that sounded like just the ticket. The recipe, borrowed from Jean-Georges Vongerichten, called for ginger, lemongrass, curry paste, onion, garlic, lime juice, fish sauce, and an ingredient that has taken a hold on whatever part of my brain controls appetite and flavor desire, coconut milk.

It also called for kaffir lime leaves and probably my least favorite meat, boneless chicken breast. I didn’t have easy access to the former and Ms. Kafka, in the commentary accompanying the recipe, suggested the lime leaves weren’t an absolute necessity, a claim of which I was dubious, but in no position to challenge unless I wanted to spend my lunch hour trekking down to the Strip District to pick some up at one of the several Asian markets there, which was just not in the offing. I had some Bell & Evans chicken breasts in the freezer, and, honestly, I didn’t think much of their inclusion at the time I was making the soup.

I brought up Siam noodle soup earlier because this recipe, despite its inclusion of coconut milk, immediately made me think of it, meaning that it had to be made, kaffir lime leaves or not.

The end result, topped with chopped cilantro and green onion, was quite good and quenched my hankering. That said, one thing about it truly bothered me: the chicken. Its only purpose, from what I could tell, was to add some protein in the case that it would be served as the main meal. The chicken had no flavor and, consequently, was a taste distraction—a roadblock through which the other robust flavors had to bust through.

A Thai cookbook we have contained a similar soup recipe: No curry paste, a lot more lime leaves, and, to my disbelief, boneless chicken breast. Here it was again, this flavorless intrusion into a soup that, in all other respects, is a celebration of robust flavor.

Then I thought back to the book Heat, by Bill Buford, which I recently finished reading and highly recommend. In the book, Buford, who, through means that aren’t fully evident to me (or, at the least, aren’t explained enough to truly make sense of it) quits his life as a magazine editor to serve as Mario Batali’s “kitchen slave” at MM’s famous New York restaurant, Babbo.

At one point, Buford discusses the publication of the Babbo Cookbook and dishes some inside dirt on how restaurant offerings are transmogrified into a hopefully easy to follow recipe for the home cook. In short, what’s in the cookbook does not recapitulate what happens at the restaurant. It can’t be done.

And I have to wonder if the same general concept applies to these recipes. I doubt there's much boneless chicken breast used in traditional Thai cooking. In my experience, it’s more likely to be the dark stuff. But average Joe and Jane Cookbook Buyer, for reasons I can’t fathom, prefer the tasteless boneless chicken breast (usually breaded and fried on a Kaiser roll), so cookbook authors toss them a bone here and there, just to keep them happy.

In any case, I plan on making this soup again fairly soon. Next time, I’ll have the lime leaves, but the chicken will be replaced by shrimp. And, in honor of a long-lost friend, I suspect some noodles will find their way in, too.

January 2, 2008

A Meal Fit for the New Year

Although I’ve had a few fun experiences on New Year’s Eve, more often I’ve had bad – as in sucky, miserable, annoying – evenings. So, for the time being, my wife and I have abandoned any pretense of big plans for Dec. 31. This year we opted for getting the kids to bed at their usual time and enjoying some good food under dim lighting in our dining room.

The menu had an inherently Indian flair, born from what I though would make an ideal choice for the meal’s centerpiece, lamb chops from Pucker Brush Farm, which I picked up in November at SlowFood Pittsburgh’s last Laptop Butcher of 2007.

Once we decided to prepare those lamb chops tandoori style, we needed some appropriate accompanying dishes. They were, for the appetizer, some tumeric, ginger, and cayenne-infused shrimp and, to play sidecar to the chops, a curried lentil, sweet potato, and chard stew-style dish.

I have little to add to the recipes themselves, which I mostly followed. I halved both the shrimp and lentil recipes, both of which worked out extremely well. The lentils required almost four cups of vegetable broth to get tender and stay moist.

The chops were truly luscious, some of the most tender meat I’ve ever had. And the tandoori marinade, so chock full of vibrant flavors, did not overwhelm the lamb at all. My only recommendation would be to scrape off some of the excess marinade from the chops before putting them on the grill. Otherwise, you might have a hard time getting what I think is a necessary bit of char on the chops, which are only on the grill for 10 minutes for medium rare.

Initially I had planned on a desert of vanilla ice cream, topped with crushed hazelnuts, dark chocolate shavings, and a splash of Bailey’s. But we switched gears and just had a big glass of an Icelandic ice wine, which with its pear flavors was a welcome way to end an excellent meal.