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Almost everyone has something that tempts them. Even if they don't buy, they still like to window shop.

My father is fascinated by furniture. He stayed with us this past weekend while in town for shoe mart, and just had to go by this little consignment store that he'd visited before. I'm more than half-convinced he chose the breakfast location just so he could have an excuse to go next door! Once there, he found a chair he liked, but my parents don't have another square inch that can be filled with a table, a chair, or a desk. Instead, he tried to sell me on it, and when I expressed no interest whatsoever (didn't say it, but thought rather loudly that he'd gotten to furnish his house, and we were going to furnish ours, thanks), he tried to engage my sister on purchasing it for their place! He's so funny. :)

One of my temptations is cookbooks. I love flipping through them, even if I'm not making anything. This new one from Patricia Wells, which synthesizes an American perspective with French cuisine as she usually does, sounds particularly appealing:

Vegetable Harvest

Here are two of the recipes from the book, pilfered from the New York Times:

Zucchini Carpaccio With Avocado
Adapted from Vegetable Harvest (Morrow, 2007)

Time: 10 minutes, plus 30 to 60 minutes’ marinating

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus additional as needed
1/4 cup best-quality pistachio oil, almond oil or extra virgin olive oil
4 small zucchini (about 4 ounces each), trimmed
1 ripe avocado, peeled and very thinly sliced
1/4 cup salted pistachio nuts
4 sprigs fresh lemon thyme, preferably with flowers.

1. Stir together lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt in small jar. Add oil, cover and shake to blend.

2. Slice zucchini lengthwise as thinly as possible, using mandoline or very sharp knife. Spread slices on platter and drizzle with lemon mixture. Tilt platter to evenly coat slices. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour.

3. Alternate zucchini and avocado slices on individual salad plates, slightly overlapping each slice. Sprinkle with pistachio nuts. Season with salt to taste, garnish with lemon thyme, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.


Almond and Buttermilk Sorbet
Adapted from“Vegetable Harvest” (Morrow, 2007)

Time: About 15 minutes, plus 1 hour and 45 minutes chilling and freezing

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup whole (unblanched) almonds
2 cups buttermilk, shaken to blend
1/2 teaspoon almond extract.

1. Combine lemon juice, 1 cup sugar and corn syrup in small saucepan. Place over medium-low heat and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Cool to room temperature.

2. Place almonds in small, dry skillet over medium heat. Shake until nuts are fragrant and evenly toasted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.

3. Mix almonds and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in food processor or blender. Process to a powder, and set aside.

4. Stir cooled lemon syrup, buttermilk and almond extract in bowl. Refrigerate well. Transfer to ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Serve in small bowls, with almond and sugar topping.

Yield: 12 servings (about 1 quart).


Speaking of food, we tried three new (to us) cheeses this weekend: Wensleydale (pleasant, but nothing to write home about), goat cheese cheddar from Cypress Grove (first thing I've ever had from them that was a disappointment), and Epoisses de Bourgogne (YUM - I love runny cheeses). The latter wasn't the real, unpasteurized thing, but it was still delicious. Based upon the recommendation of the cheesemonger, we paired the Epoisses with a pinot noir (didn't have a "real" burgundy on hand). The Camelot we had is a French wine supposedly made in the style of New World pinot noir. It was good with the cheese, but not as good as I'd hoped, based on the fact that I tried it based on someone else's recommendation.

We also toodled by the wine store and picked up a bottle of Glenfarclas scotch for David since he'd been wanting to try it, and a bottle of Trimbach riesling since we were down to two bottles of anything white in the wine fridge. I wanted some vinho verde, but they didn't have any. After that, we headed to dinner at Angan, which was delicious as usual.

The Glenfarclas is ... very light. David and my father liked it (my father likes Dewar's, too, which is fine if you like drinking an overcultivated flower instead of drinking scotch). I like it fine for light, summer scotch, but it's very floral, with a hint of salted caramel. I really don't mean to sound pompous or snobbish, but I prefer something with a little more body. It lacked oomph. Now, in the dead heat of summer, you don't necessarily want oomph, and I'd drink it in June, but when fall rolls around, I want some spicy Glenmorangie (how can you not love something make by The Sixteen Men of Tain?) or wonderful, briny Talisker ... maybe even a dram of Laphroaig if, you know, I'm freezing to death or something. :)

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