This week it's the seeds and bark that changed the planet. We're talking spices, the stuff of wonderment and avarice in the medieval world with Paul Freedman, author of Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination. It's a St. Augustine, Florida special for Jane and Michael Stern at Saltwater Cowboy's. Celebrity chef Mario Batali reveals the summertime reads in his beach bag. His new book is Italian Grill. Tea purist Bill Waddington, proprietor of St. Paul's TeaSource, has summer in a glass - iced teas for the lazy at heart, and culinary improv artist Sally Schneider has a brief on the wallflower of the farm stand the beet.
At 16th-century banquets this pasta accompanied poultry and meats. Try the combination with a capon or a high-quality bird for an important dinner. The sweet pasta makes an unexpected and very good dessert. Get the full recipe.
In Mexico, I have seen groovy little stands where the vendors poach ears of corn and then paint it with mayonnaise, dust it with chili flakes and grated queso fresco, and squeeze lime juice all over the whole thing. They do not do that in Italy, but this recipe is what they might do. It's fantastic. Get the full recipe.
This unusual vinaigrette is delicious with grilled, roasted, or sautéed fish or sea scallops, braised leeks, sliced warm new potatoes, roasted onions, and buckwheat noodles. Because the vinaigrette has a vivid purple color that stains food quickly, I prefer to spoon the vinaigrette onto the plates and place the food on top of it. Get the full recipe.
Jane and Michael Stern: Saltwater Cowboy's, St. Augustine, Fla.
St. Augustine, Florida has a cuisine all its own, brought to the area by Minorcan settlers in the mid-19th century. Several traditional dishes feature the datil pepper, a small, very hot pepper similar to the habanero that's grown in the St. Augustine area. The Sterns discovered it at Saltwater Cowboy's, a funky, relaxed place resembling the old salt marsh fish camps of a century ago.
Seafood and regional specialties figure heavily on the menu here: frog legs, cooter (soft-shell turtle), catfish, alligator tail, freshly shucked oysters, great fried shrimp, boiled crawfish with Cajun spices, and deviled crab. A house special, Minorcan Clam Chowder, resembles Manhattan chowder but with the smoky bite of datil peppers. It's a must try for spicy food fans.