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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Hello, again: I’ve got white gazpacho, gourmands, gratuitous nudity and more!

It seems that in the course of every blog there comes a pregnant lull, then a post that begins with a long apology for not posting and many complaints about being busy and overworked.

Not this blog! 

First, I have to tell you all about the fantastic ajo blanco pictured at left in our vintage ’80’s wedding china. This is a traditional Spanish white gazpacho, made like red gazpacho with bread, garlic, vinegar and olive oil but with a base of blanched almonds and water instead of ripe tomatoes. It is incredibly easy and satisfying to make if you have a good blender. As the almonds, soaked bread and garlic blend, you add the oil in a thin stream until it makes an appealing blop, blop, blop sound like dough (or perhaps a flabby stomach) being slapped. Then you add water, vinegar and salt and puree until smooth. Just before you put the soup into the fridge to chill and develop its flavors, you add peeled or sliced green or muscat grapes. This soup has a sexy texture that sits on the tongue and an appealing juggling of flavors that work together better than you ever imagine they would. The recipe, adapted from Spain Recipes, is below. 

In other matters:

  • During an interview with chef Linton Hopkins for an upcoming column, he made a passing reference to a table of “heavy-duty gourmands” who ordered all the all the rich dishes that Restaurant Eugene makes so well — braised short ribs, foie gras, sweetbreads. I had (and am still having) an ‘aha!” moment from that remark. ‘Gourmands,’ as opposed to ‘gourmets,’ love fine food but also overindulge in it. Aren’t we in a new age of gourmandise? Think about it: the food discourse these days is all about pizza, burgers, variety meats, cheese, and bacon. The small-plates format at so many restaurants pushes this along; salami and cheese has become a “light meal.” The more over the top, the better. Still thinking…
  • Nudity? Why, yes, with tofu
  • Congratulations, Shirley Corriher!

And, now, the recipe:

Ajo Blanco

  • 1 cup slivered blanched almonds
  • 4 slices crustless white bread, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes (use Pepperidge Farm or Whole Foods white for the best results)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, sliced (look for very fresh, juicy garlic or use green garlic)
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups cold water
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • Salt
  • 1 cup seedless green grapes, cut into rounds

To garnish

  • Toasted slivered almonds
  • Chopped fresh parsley

Combine the almonds, bread, and garlic in a blender and blend until smooth. With the motor still running, slowly pour in the olive oil until a smooth paste is formed.

Add in the cold water and the vinegar. Process until the mixture is thin and smooth. Season with salt to taste.

Pour the mixture into a large bowl. Float the grapes on the top of the soup. Cover and allow to chill in the refrigerator.

To serve, pour the soup into individual soup bowls and garnish with the toasted almond slivers and chopped parsley, if desired.

6 comments Add your comment

Lisa

May 7th, 2009
8:05 pm

Great to see you posting again! I Hope you, the Food Goddess, the Wine Guy and the Beer Guy had a great time. Seriously, you are missed. L

Mo.

May 7th, 2009
9:19 pm

Boy, have I missed you!!!!!!! But the recipe and description more than suffice!

John Kessler

May 7th, 2009
11:14 pm

Thanks, guys! Let me see if I can’t do an incantation to raise the Goddess.

Stan

May 8th, 2009
10:09 am

Welcome back, got boring there for awhile.

Tex

May 8th, 2009
10:25 pm

Was starting to wonder if you were coming back . . . Very glad to hear from you again!

Liz Lorber

May 9th, 2009
5:41 pm

Hey John, welcome back! I got tired of checking your blog only to keep finding five fantastic things about mangoes!