Every now and then, I eat in a restaurant where I have an absolutely perfect meal. Recently, it was at Lyle’s where James Lowe cooks beautiful dishes that are light, elegant and totally exquisite. A year or so ago, I finally ate at Faviken and Nilsson’s food was just as light and elegant and possibly even more pure than Lowe’s. In between, I went to Blue Hill at Stone Barns where I have been wanting to go for years but never got round to it until, that is, my new wonderful agent, Nicole, took me there to celebrate my joining her agency. Our meal there was also memorable, for the setting, the company and of course the food which was delightful, starting with this lovely arrangement of freshly picked radishes, each individually spiked onto a long wooden log. They were served alongside the crunchiest and most delicious ice lettuce (or ficoïde glaciale) which I was tasting for the first time, tiny baby carrots with their tender stalks and leaves on, asparagus, greens spiked into edible earth, a delightful drink and various delicate sauces to dip this incredibly fresh bounty into. Below, you can see some of the selection arranged on my plate — the dark blob is beetroot jerky — and I have to say vegetables never tasted so good, nor looked so pretty!
Last month I forgot to post a belly dancer. Too much travel and work but here is my choice for this month, a very young Tahiya Carioca who as you you may know is my all time favourite. It is a rare clip from a 1936 film called The Police Station (I think it is the right translation for Khafar al-Darak) where she must have just featured as a dancer as the first film mentioned in her Wikipedia entry dates from 1942. And even if she is already moving beautifully, you can see from her expression if nothing else that she is not yet an experienced dancer. Still, she is totally lovely and definitely worth watching whether you are a Tahiya fan or not!
I am just back from Beirut where I saw my beautiful mother and of course every time I visit her, I ask her to cook something delicious for me. This time I was modest in my request and asked for mujaddara, a simple lentils, onions and rice dish that is a staple of Lebanese Christians during Lent and once also a staple on spring cleaning days when the lady of the house put the lentils to cook while she and her maid/s beat the dust out of the carpets before putting them away, washed the floors and generally did a deep clean everywhere preparing the house for the summer months. I still remember the beating of the carpets although I don’t remember the mujaddara — mujaddara is the mushy version, almost like a dip while mudardarah is the dry version, a little like risotto although not at all wet – on those days! Anyhow, my mother now whizzes the lentils, rice and onions with a hand blender but in the old days she cooked them down to a mush over a low heat. And my mother being a totally wonderful woman, she obliged my whim and prepared mujaddara for me and as you see from the picture of the ingredients above it couldn’t be more frugal as a dish.
I don’t normally like contemporary belly dancers but my ‘cousin’ Saida is an exception. She has the most perfect body for her profession, full without being plump and without any skin pleats or love handles. Just smooth curves. And she moves her body beautifully and sexily without any hint of vulgarity. I also love the costume she is wearing in this clip with the high slit on one side revealing her perfect hips. All in all a delight to watch. One day I will find out if she really is my cousin!