Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tigelleria Organic Restaurant – Campbell, CA

A Tigelle (above) is a small round flat bread that is, at it’s core, a vehicle for transporting antipasti from the platter to the mouth. Tigelle are common meal accompaniment in Mantua, the home of Tigelleria owners Mirco Caramoni and Elisabetta Benetollo. For geographic reference, Mantua is the Lombardy region on the Northern plain, about 70km North of Modena. The “bread basket” of Italy.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Man Can Cook #15 - A Rustic, Wintery Duck Ragout

My summer garden is gone. It’s currently chopped up and breaking down in the compost bin and the only thing I’m doing out there now is keeping the weeds at bay and waiting for Kathy’s winter lettuce crop to sprout. The heater in the house is running most of the time now that the weather is getting cold and damp. Now is when I start thinking about hearty, rustic dishes that seem much more appropriate this time of year than in the heat of summer. Rich, dark earthy dishes that stick to your ribs and warm the soul rule the day and dominate the kitchen.

Duck Ragout is among my favorite dishes of this type. By definition a “Ragu” is simply meat added to a sofrito, puréed tomatoes or tomato paste and cooked for a good while via a low simmer. There are a number of different styles, the most common being a Bolognese sauce followed by a Napoletana (bigger chunks of meat rather than ground or shredded) and Barase which is usually made with horse meat…not an option. The majority of Duck Ragout recipe’s call for the use of skinned leg/thigh meat. I prefer to use duck breasts as it allows me to render off the delicious duck fat for use in other dishes. Follow along:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Old Iron At The Autocross

Autocross is the most accessible and inclusive form of motorsport. You can participate in it using literally any street legal vehicle imaginable. Do you own a brand new Porsche GT2? You’re just as welcome as a guy with a 15 year old Toyota. The best part is that the classing is such that you’ll be “racing” against cars of similar capability. In comparison to other motorsports it’s ridiculously safe as well. You aren’t likely to damage the car other than wearing out your tires a little quicker and the odds of crashing into anything other than an orange traffic cone are really low.

I happen to have an affinity for older cars and there are a couple of local autocross organizations who’ve made specific accommodations to encourage older cars participation. In some cases they are vintage autocross specific cars that were built ages ago and have been retained and maintained in period correct trim. In other cases, folks have taken older cars and modernized them with high tech drivetrains, suspensions, brakes and tire/wheel packages. Below are a few examples of each. If you know the owners or histories of some of these cars please comment at the bottom of this post.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The "Occupy" Movement - Deficio Ut Intellectum

Deficio Ut Intellectum: Latin - A failure to understand.

I'm no fan of New York City's Mayor Bloomberg but last night he justifiably sent the NYPD into Zuccotti Park to address the growing public health & safety issues that have arisen in the now nearly two month old "Occupy Wall Street" protest. The official communication from the NYPD was as follows:

“The city has determined that the continued occupation of Zuccotti Park poses an increasing health and fire safety hazard to those camped in the park, the city’s first responders, and to the surrounding community. You are required to immediately remove all property, including tents, sleeping bags and tarps.”

As one might expect the protestors pitched a fit over it; Claiming often on twitter, multiple web streams, on various blogs and to any reporter that would listen that their 1st Amendment rights to free speech and public assembly were being violated and that the police were shutting down a “peaceful protest”.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The 49ers - A Mid Season Checkup....

Who are these guys and what have they done with the 49ers? After nearly a decade of institutional ineptitude and on-field impotence the 49ers have finally, if grudgingly gotten the attention of Bay Area fans and the national sports media.

Earlier this year I posted a piece to this blog ( HERE ) wherein I criticized the 49ers organization for the process it employed in attempting to turn the tide of organizational buffoonery. In that piece I made the following points:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Every Day Is Veterans Day

Trench Warfare - WWI
B-17 Bomber Crew - WWII

In 1919 President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11th "Armistice Day" to mark the first Anniversary of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 when the 1st World War came to an end and our troops began to return home. In 1953 the name of the holiday was changed to "Veterans Day" as a means of  including in the celebration all United States War Veterans. This is in contrast to Memorial Day (observed the last Monday in May) which is intended to honor America's War Dead.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

On The Ethics Of Hunting...

After writing my previous post I realized that I was due for a little introspective analysis of my hunting values and ethics before I head back to the field. As stated, it’s been quite some time since I’ve engaged in a hunt. I’m a different guy now in many respects and the world is certainly different as well. Hence my ethics as a hunter necessarily bear thoughtful examination prior to re-entry into the act of hunting.

There are a lot of very articulate and thoughtful examinations of broader issues with regard to hunting and how it’s regarded by hunters and non-hunters alike. One of the most compelling issues is that of how we answer the ambiguous question of “why?” The analysis of calling the practice “sport hunting” vs “meat hunting” is far better articulated by these two fine blogs than I ever could:

Both are very compelling reading and if you are interested at all in the topic I strongly recommend you give them a read. I agree whole-heartedly with their take and as such I shant examine the topic further here. In short; “What they said.”

With that out of the way, I’ll go through what works for me and why.

A Hunter Returns To The Field

It’s been years since I’ve hunted. As a young man my family and I were avid bird hunters. I occasionally hunted duck and goose but back then I didn’t particularly care for waterfoul hunting. Sitting still for that long in a damp blind just wasn’t super fun for an energetic & athletic teenage boy. But I used to love, LOVE, LOVE hunting dove & pheasant every year. I was pretty darned good at it as well.

When I joined the Coast Guard my first duty station was Astoria, Oregon which was and still is one of the best places in the country for Elk hunting. The Roosevelt Elk in the area were plentiful but due to their wariness, rough terrain and prevailing miserable weather hunting them was challenging and downright hard work. Getting a large bull out of a deep wet canyon is a tough day’s work or nights work if you take your shot in the evening. But the meat was sublime. I was successful in taking an elk each year of my stay in Oregon. The deer hunting in the area was good as well.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Hero In Tears

As a kid, my maternal Grandparents had a huge role in my life. Joe & Eleanor Turretto, Sicilian & Portuguese respectively did as much to raise me and shape who I am today as my parents. When my folks were in tough financial times they were there to help. I learned many of the lessons that made me the man I am from them. From Grandma I learned the value of frugality and repugnance toward debt. From Grandpa the importance of putting others needs ahead of my own. My Grandmother used to tell a story about Gramps about a day, early in their marriage in which Gramps bought a candy bar before getting on the bus to ride home to Santa Clara from work in downtown San Jose. After opening it he became wracked with guilt over the indulgence, closed the wrapper and tucked it into his bag to bring home to share with Grandma and my Mother before he had any of it. That’s just the way he is.