It’s not very often that something new and noteworthy happens on the culinary scene here in Hemet, so when it does it’s worth noting.
On the east side of town, the opposite side from which we live, there is a 7-Eleven store and gas station. That same building also hosts two storefronts. One of them was a burger place that moved to a less congested location in the central part of town. Later in that spot there was a soul food restaurant. The food was quite good, but apparently it didn’t get enough business to survive.
Recently my brother, who lives on that side of town, told me that there was a sign on the storefront that read, “Coming Soon: Taste of India.” We anxiously awaited the restaurant’s opening. The Chamber of Commerce sent out a notice about the ribbon cutting on a Friday and the next day my brother sent me a text saying that it was open.
We tried it recently and were delighted. Previously we had to drive half an hour to a very congested area for Indian food. No more. They have both a full menu and a buffet. The buffet was excellent and although they didn’t have my favorite, Chicken Tikka Masala, the Tandoori Chicken was great and they had a chicken dish that I didn’t recognize which was quite tasty. The owner took the time to speak with us in spite of how busy it was when we were there. Never mind the fact that they use paper plates and plastic utensils. Terry and I are more than pleased.
I hope you saw my blog entry on immigrants and food. If not, please do take a look.
There’s more on television on this topic. PBS has a new program called No Passport Required. It is hosted by chef Marcus Samuelsson. Samuelsson was born in Ethiopia, adopted, and raised in Sweden. He immigrated to the United States where he has become a successful restaurateur, cookbook author, and television personality.
The program is similar to the show Eden Eats, about which I wrote, in that Samuelsson visits a different city in each episode. Unlike that program, however, Samuelsson visits a single ethnic group in each city, and No Passport Required is a full hour rather than half an hour. This gives him time to delve in-depth into each immigrant community.
Well worth watching.
Another PBS program, related to immigrants though not necessarily food, is “Ellis Island” on the Great Performances series. Composer Peter Boyer combines orchestral music, photography, and the spoken word to provide a moving portrayal of immigrants coming to the United States in the early part of the twentieth century. Boyer says he did not have the immigrant situation of 2018 in mind when composing this work, but he certainly sees the relevance.
The program aired on television at the end of June. You can to stream it or watch on demand until July 27.
Make sure you have a Kleenex within reach at the conclusion.
Terry and I enjoy bottled wine on the weekend. During the week Terry drinks box wine (please don’t tell anyone), and I have my Scotch (J&B to be precise, and I don’t mind you knowing – pffft! to those single malt snobs).
Things have changed in the win biz, however. We’re seeing a lot more wine bottles with screw tops. Say what? Yes, really.
I’ve only really noticed that in the last couple of years. But the trend is not new. NPR had a story on this in 2014.
Part of the ritual of opening a wine bottle is removing the cork. That’s something they’re taking away from us.
But alas, all things change, and the disappearing wine cork is simply one of those changing things.
Perhaps you saw the news in late May that ABC made the decision to cancel The Chew and replace it with another hour of Good Morning America. Since I write so much about food and cooking here I would be remiss if I didn’t have something to say about that, especially since the program was, as best as I can tell, the inspiration for one of my favorite cooking programs, The Kitchen.
I am not a big fan of The Chew, so I am not really mourning its loss. And it’s not going away immediately. The farewell episode will broadcast Friday June 15. After that there will be two weeks of pre-taped new shows. For the rest of the summer reruns and repackaged shows will air. Good Morning America will replace the program in September.
In retrospect I suppose it’s not a surprise that The Chew was cancelled. The show’s two biggest stars are gone. Daphne Oz left on her own late last year. Mario Batali was fired after serious allegations of misconduct arose. That left Carla Hall, Clinton Kelly, and Michael Symon, all of whom are extremely capable and talented, but none of whom offered the star power of the two departed hosts.
I have my Food Network and PBS cooking shows so the cancellation won’t leave a hole in my cooking or my television watching universe. The biggest question for me is what the new program will be called. The time slot in question is 1:00 pm Eastern and noon Pacific, so they’re really not going to call it Good Morning America, are they? We’ll see.
I am sick of, and I am sickened by, the attitude the current administration takes towards immigrants. All of us privileged white middle class women and men are descended from immigrants. It’s just that some immigrants have arrived in the United States more recently.
My cousin Keith, who is an astute researcher and marketer, recently wrote the following about today’s immigrants:
Immigrants who come to America, legally or illegally, start and succeed at more small businesses, send a higher percentage of their children to college, and commit far fewer crimes than natural born Americans.
There’s more. But you get the point.
Cities and towns of all sizes are home to restaurants that we patronize and enjoy. Here in Hemet we have Mongolian, Japanese, and Thai cuisine, with an Indian restaurant due to open soon. They are run by hardworking individuals who are often underappreciated.
Fortunately there are those who understand and value this. Eden Grinshpan is the host of Eden Eats, a short-run program that originally aired on Cooking Channel. You can still find the series on the Genius Kitchen app. Each week Eden visits a different U.S. city and seeks out the best immigrant food. When she went to Austin Eden didn’t go near TexMex or festival food. What she did do what visit an Ethiopian restaurant and an European bistro run by a Hungarian family. She partied with the Austin Filipino community and then visited a Lebanese bakery and a Cuban café. When she did seek out Mexican food she found a food truck whose owner serves authentic Mexican dishes from the interior.
Then there is Penzeys Spices. Owner Bill Penzey is a long-time champion of progressive causes. He speaks out against gun violence and in favor of teachers and marriage equality. He has also taken a strong stand in support of immigrants and the value and richness that they bring to this country. He has made some very generous promotional offers to underscore his belief that immigrants add to rather than detract from the fabric of our American society. Many of his spice mixes reflect the diversity and breadth of flavors around the world.
Let’s set aside bigotry and ignorance. Instead, let’s pause and take a moment to remember all that immigrants contribute to this country.
We have a strawberry stand on a busy east-west thoroughfare on the south side of town. They keep decent hours, stay relatively busy, have so-so strawberries, and are expensive.
West and south of town on a country road is a strawberry stand that keeps irregular hours, grows strawberries on site, has the best, sweetest strawberries you can imagine, and charges half the price of the other stand.
You have to time it right, however.
On Friday Terry and I were going to have lunch at Jersey Mike’s. Terry wanted to stop by Lowe’s afterwards. And we were going to get strawberries. We left ten minutes earlier for lunch than the original plan. After lunch Terry said we could do Lowe’s later. We headed for the rural strawberry stand. I was one of the last to get strawberries before they shut down for the day. Had we waited another ten minutes to go to lunch and/or gone to Lowe’s we would have been out of luck. Instead we came home with a three-pack of fresh, sweet strawberries picked literally just minutes before.
When we lived in Gilroy we had it easy when it came to wine. We had a BevMo in town which always had a good selection of wines. And we would order wine from our favorite winery, Navarro. They all sat properly chilled in the wine cooler which we included in our remodeled kitchen.
Here in Hemet we have nothing like a BevMo, and financial constraints no longer allow us to order from Navarro. There is a BevMo about thirty minutes away, but we stopped going there when I found my scotch was cheaper at Smart & Final here in town and they settled a class action lawsuit in which they were found to be manipulating prices in their “buy one, get the second for one cent” sales.
Then Terry discovered the new Total Wines, in the same city as BevMo a half hour south of us. She was amazed at the selection. We were both wearying of the limited rotation we had with our supermarket and Smart & Final, and we agreed that we could visit Total Wines every couple of weeks to stock up. We found a wine rack on Amazon which Terry, with the proper amount of snarling and swearing, put together.
It’s good new plan and I think it will work.