[photos: Bobby Doherty]
Next up on the All-American food trail: Meet the Kentucky Hot Brown! (This one from Fog City, San Francisco.)
A Hot Brown Sandwich is an American hot sandwich originally created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, by Fred K. Schmidt in 1926. It is a variation of traditional Welsh rarebit and was one of two signature sandwiches created by chefs at the Brown Hotel shortly after its founding in 1923. It was created to serve as an alternative to ham and egg late-night suppers.
When Fred K. Schmidt created the Hot Brown, its sliced roast turkey was a rarity, as turkey was usually reserved for holiday feasts. The original Hot Brown included the sliced turkey on an open-faced white toast sandwich, with Mornay sauce covering it, with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, completed by being oven-broiled until bubbly. Pimento and bacon strips were then added to it. After its debut, it quickly became the choice of ninety-five percent of the customers to the Brown Hotel’s restaurant.
The dish is a local specialty and favorite of the Louisville area, and is popular throughout Kentucky. It was long unavailable at its point of origin, as the Brown Hotel was shut down from 1971 to 1985.
(a la Wikipedia)
While on vaca, we managed to dip into a bit of iconic all-Americana: Meet the Hangtown Fry from Tadich Grill, San Francisco.
Hangtown fry is a type of omelette made famous during the California Gold Rush in the 1850s. The most common version includes bacon and oysters combined with eggs, and fried together. The dish was invented in Placerville, California, then known as Hangtown. According to most accounts, the dish was invented when a gold prospector struck it rich, headed to the Cary House Hotel, and demanded the most expensive dish that the kitchen could provide. The most expensive ingredients available were eggs, which were delicate and had to be carefully brought to the mining town; bacon, which was shipped from the East Coast, and oysters, which had to be brought on ice from San Francisco, over 100 miles away.
Another creation myth is the one told by the waiters at Sam’s Grill in San Francisco. At the county jail in Placerville, a condemned man was asked what he would like to eat for his last meal. He thought quickly and ordered an oyster omelet, knowing that the oysters would have to be brought from the water, over a hundred miles away by steamship and over rough roads, delaying his execution for a day.
The dish was popularized by Tadich Grill in San Francisco, where it has apparently been on the menu for 160 years. Later variations on the dish include the addition of onions, bell peppers, or various spices, and deep frying the oysters before adding them to the omelette.
(a la Wikipedia)
Plan on doing nothing else for the rest of the day if you eat this thing, but Tadich does it proud: A fluffy, tender omelette packed with juicy, perfectly fried oysters and thick crumbly bacon. Round it out with a couple of stiff Bloody Marys brought by wonderfully old-school, dry-witted waiters and you won’t care if you’ve struck gold or if you’re doomed to swing.
Breakfast at Sandy’s, from Fukuya Okazu: Chow fun, potato hash, sweet potato tempura, ume shiso musubi, miso tofu, and nishime.
Second box: Chow fun, tofu patty, Portuguese sausage, fried chicken.
Ideal ending to any meal (or beginning to any day!): Fresh-Fried Orange Cruellers and Four Roses at Fog City, San Francisco.
"Sometimes, travel is this elemental: the desire to replace the old molecules with new ones, familiarity with its opposite. To find the kingdom on the hill and stand in awe in its gold-paved streets, even if those streets are strewn, as Guzmán’s were, with sheep poo."
From NYT’s “An American Man’s Quest to Become an Old Castilian”, by Michael Paterniti, author of “The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese.”
Glimmering rainbow of pig, porked-up almonds at The Purple Pig, Chicago.
Just a few selections from Hong Yi’s “31 days of creativity with food!”
She’ll be starting a whole new 30 day project soon, and you can see more at her Instagram @redhongyi.
North Korea is a mythically strange land, an Absurdistan, where almost nothing is known about the people or, more important, their missile-launching leaders. There is, however, one man—a humble sushi chef from Japan—who infiltrated the inner sanctum, becoming the Dear Leader’s cook, confidant, and court jester. What is life like serving Kim Jong-il and his heir? A strange and dangerous gig where the food and drink never stop, the girls are all virgins, and you’re never really safe. We sent Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Adam Johnson to meet the man who survived all the craziness.
Gorgeous small plates at Porsena Next Door, East Village: Glossy Maine oysters with freshly grated horseradish, warm toasted flatbread with pinkly roasted lamb and fixins.
Deep-fried fistfuls of rice riches at Arancini Bros, Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Creamed brain (see tube) with osetra caviar and blinis at Takashi, West Village, NYC.
Niku-Uni: Roasted nori, shiso, raw chuck flap and sea urchin, to be rolled into a creamy/crisp, earthy/briny, fatty/herbal umami sucker punch for your tearful, lucky face.
Takashi, West Village, NYC.