Big changes are coming to Classic in the coming months as we redirect our focus to catering to a different type of community. According to the World Population Review, 48.6% of Marylanders own pets. We think that’s something to celebrate! We will be taking on events to honor our 4-legged, finned, or feathered family members, and want to be your go-to caterer for your next Paw-Mitzvah, Meowy Christmas and Goldfish Galas. Celebrating a birthday? We’ll make sure it’s claw-esome. Our menus will be primarily plant-based so as not to offend any one’s pet, and will provide options for avian, aquatic, or canines including Pupcakes, Purritos & Woofles for brunch.
Our team is very excited for the dog-gone good times to be had and can’t wait for our first couple to say “I dog”. Have a bone to pick with us about this? We’ll still be open to celebrating with our human friends but our pet-friendly events are now top dog.April Fool’s!
A recent newspaper article which commented on the wide variety of global food toys that can now be enjoyed by today’s generation of children piqued our interest. We have observed this evolution of a broadened childhood palate over the last two decades as we have taught and encouraged children (and some adults) to expand their horizons, be courageous and curious, and be playful with food. Our kid’s cooking camp was filled with girls and boys whose knowledge and sophistication radically changed with the advent of food TV shows and rock star chefs. When we first offered cooking camp, some children couldn’t distinguish a tomato from a red pepper. Ten years later, a child of the same age could identify a plethora of peppers and knew the difference between julienne and brunoise cut peppers.
Play kitchens are still popular, but they are now sold alongside fanciful food trucks, coffee shops and sushi counters. Wooden and felt elaborate charcuterie boards, mooncakes, west African fufu and tamales are served during play time as well as bread, grapes and eggs. These replicas reflect the growing diversity of cultures in our neighborhoods and the changes in our eating and dining habits. Melissa and Doug’s taco set even includes labels in Spanish and English.
For many years, volunteers from Classic assisted a local non-profit group, Tastewise Kids, that taught third and fourth graders about where their food comes from (before the phrase farm to table was an everyday expression) and the delight and deliciousness of making a garden salad with dressing. Empowering children to prepare their own food and enjoy the taste of unprocessed food continues to be a winning combination. Adding a lexicon of international ingredients and flavors expands the learning possibilities in a fun way.
These days, children as young as two can assemble tacos with an interactive board book. Toddlers put together a puzzle of foods from the Philippines, serve their family felt pho or crepes or watch Waffles and Mochi, two TV puppets who travel the world exploring the wonders of food. Older kids can actually cook global dishes following instructions in monthly international food kits mailed to their homes, or learn from a myriad of interesting cookbooks catering to a younger set such as Rick and Lanie’s Excellent Kitchen Adventures. Add to that the ubiquitous competition cooking shows and culinary travel series and a subset of novels in which food plays a central role, and there is an exciting opportunity for a whole new wave of culinary adventurers. With napkins ready on our laps, we are eager to taste the new worlds they may set on our tables.
In the late seventies, I pounded my first pesto. Finding fresh herbs was a challenge, securing pine nuts a feat and extra virgin olive oil, are you kidding? Nobody I knew had ever heard of a green sauce for pasta except my Italian-Chilean housemate, and I wanted to cook a special ladies’ luncheon for my mom and her two best friends. With patience, a mortar and pestle and Rodney’s guidance, I mashed and ground, layering the garlic, salt, basil, and Parmesan into the hollow of the stone vessel. The enticing aroma awakened my cooking gene. This heady scent was novel. Intense. Slowly, I added the olive oil. I had never tasted this sauce before, but I intuited its flavor as the different aromas were released. It was a mystical moment of transformation, made possible by my friend’s heritage and the mortar and pestle; to this day, I can’t imagine how it materialized in my first adult kitchen.
A mortar and pestle have a power and presence that upends some of the capabilities of modern appliances. This does not diminish my appreciation for the tools of the modern kitchen but it does distinguish the unique facets of this ancient implement. Besides the natural control that this layering and pounding technique provides, the textures of sauces pounded in a mortar is nuanced in a way almost impossible to create by a whirring machine.
My first mortar and pestle was stone, the second, an earthenware suribachi purchased in Tokyo, in which I was taught to grind toasted sesame seeds and salt to prepare gomasio, an easy and tasty condiment to add to salad, fish, rice and vegetables. When I returned to California, I ventured into other cuisines and found it far more difficult to locate the exotic ingredients that comprise Thai curry pastes than to physically produce it the centuries old way by pounding a colorful parade of peppers, spices, herbs, bulbs and zest in my favorite stone vessel . Again, I would wager that the traditional more arduous prep method paid off in a deeper flavor. Residing in California, the land of avocado and tacos, my next mortar meeting was with the majestic Mexican molcajete, shaped from volcanic rock. It sat on three legs and mashed guacamole, all manners of salsas and crushed chilis and cinnamon sticks.
Mortar and its mate, the pestle can be spotted all over the globe. Dukkah, Romesco sauce, chimichurri, Indian spices and African tubers are commonly found in beautiful renditions, big and small, marble, wood and brass, rough or smooth. Time consuming, yes. But also meditative, sensual and satisfying, this time-tested tool will never go out of style in my kitchen.
From Our Library, Harriet’s Pick:Bemelmans’ La Bonne Table: His Lifetime Love Affair with the Art of Dining-In His Own Pictures, From Behind the Scenes and At Table by Ludwig Bemelmans
Bemelmans’ La Bonne Table: His Lifetime Love Affair with the Art of Dining-In His Own Pictures, From Behind the Scenes and At Table is wicked fun. Published posthumously in 1964, the essays were chosen and edited by Donald and Eleanor Friede. Well known for his children’s books about a courageous young girl named Madeline who lives in a boarding school in France with 11 other girls, Bemelmans was also a prolific chronicler of his life working in hotels and restaurants as well as his experiences as a diner.
Bemelmans was rediscovered in part when Anthony Bourdain extolled his virtues at Kitchen Arts and Letters, a cookbook shop in New York, while filming an episode of The Layover. He claimed Bemelmans was “the one author everyone had to read” and that “he was the original bad boy of the New York hotel/restaurant subculture, a waiter, busboy and restaurateur who “told all” in a series of funny and true (or very near true) autobiographical accounts of backstairs folly, excess…”. Sounds familiar, hmmm.
La Bonne Table is divided into three sections, Behind the Scenes, At Table and the Fancies section (which is mostly fiction), a lot of it based on his escapades. His voice, while from another era, still sounds up close and personal whether he is describing the entitled no-tipping aristocrats sitting at the best tables, the remarkably ugly maître d’hotel with a ravenous appetite, or the drinking habits of the true Spezi in Southern Germany. And if his writing doesn’t bring a smile to your face, his illustrations will bring it home. La Bonne Table is an ode to good eating and wonderfully quirky people as well as an almost true tale about a man who describes himself as “a curious, complicated being who is driven by an excess of energy which he tries to discipline, but since it is like wild horses it runs away with him.”
From our Kitchen: Mimosa Poached Salmon with Champagne Vinaigrette
Chef Bryan Davis
My wife and I have been trying to eat healthy! We love salmon and it is always a great dish when we have a lot going on. Meaning that I can throw it in the oven and whip up a quick salad to go with it. If there is any leftover it makes a great salmon cake. This dish is also an easy brunch idea for when you want something light and refreshing! The vinaigrette pairs well with a wild spring green mix and fresh baby peas.Ingredients:
Poached Salmon:2 cups dry white wine
1 cup orange juice
2 paper thin sliced oranges
1 paper thin sliced lemon
3 cups water
6 salmon filets (6-8oz. portions)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp. fresh dill
¼ pint champagne vinegar
1.5 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. orange zest
2 Tbsp. fresh shallots
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degreesArrange the fish portions in a baking dish and lay the orange and lemon slices on top of fish.
Add the rest of the ingredients and poach in the oven for 25 minutes covered with foil.
Remove foil and let chill in the refrigerator until it’s time to serve.
Fresh parsley and fresh dill.
Add all ingredients except olive oil to blender.
Blend on low to high speed until smooth then add oil and blend until emulsified. Dress salmon with vinaigrette as desired.
Click here to print the recipe.
April 1, 2023
April 2023: Play Pals