Tuesday, January 07, 2020


Fresh local ingredients?  Well, caviar has come a long way.  At the beginning for us it was always Petrossian from Paris.  We were crappy caterers on the rim of the world, struggling to pay the rent, but we had an account with Petrossian, and they remembered us when we called.
Brendan was early on warped by our obsession.  When he was two or three, his mom went to visit in Ohio and left Brendan with Valentine and I for a couple of weeks.  We were dead broke, but we had a party coming up at the Museum of Art at La Mirada.  A bunch of Russian folk singers were touring the US on the Russians’ dime, and were doing a small appearance at La Mirada. 
Who doesn’t love caviar? We had 100 guests, so we ordered a five pound tin each of beluga, ossetra and sevruga.  Plus some salmon eggs, of course.  And a case of eggs.  And lots of good vodka we froze in blocks of ice decorated with nasturtiums.  And bubbly.
The party was fun.  The Russkies sang a short song or two.  Then Miles our folksinging buddy piped up with a tribute Russian folk song of his own.  It was quite the song, and went on and on.  All in Russian.  Good on ya, Miles!
Our barman that day was Slab….Steve Thomas of Jack’s, Bud’s Pub, the Red Lion, etc.  Miles came up to Slab’s bar all chuffed and happy with himself.  “What did you think, Slab?”
Slab: “Was that Russian for InAGoddaDaViva?”
Meanwhile, our afternoon caviar/vodka/champagne party didn’t match up to the Monterey social schedule.  Vodka and fish eggs in daylight?  Nah.  The Russians and the caterers (and Glenn Hammer) did our fair share, but we were left with pretty much six kilos of fine Petrossian caviar, a case of eggs, a lake of frozen vodka, a pile of Gruet and a couple of hundred blini.
And we were broke.
Valentine, Brendan and I repaired to 12 Flight with our stash…..and dined on little else for two weeks. The wild rice blini disappeared quickly, so Brendan was given the job of keeping the toast coming.  Hey! He was two and a half!  And loved toast! Figure it out, boy!
The thirty month old quickly got his toast points down.  Lightly toasted, lightly buttered, quartered at angles, crust trimmed.  A lot of work, and delicious, and disappeared instantly.
The upshot of the two weeks was a weird addition to our philosophy, and especially Brendan’s: there is always caviar….the good toast is what always runs out.
Brendan went on to perfect not just the toast, but the soft scrambled eggs that go along best.
Wild Rice Blini
¼ cup milk         One egg
¼ cup water      2 Tb overcooked wild rice
¼ cup flour        salt and white pepper.
Blend all the ingredients with an immersion blender.  Set aside (overnight is fine, but for at least an hour if possible).  The batter should be thin.
We use an antique cast iron blini pan, but normal households can us a good small Teflon omelette pan. Or pans (you should be able to do two or three at once if you have the pans).
Heat the pan to smoking hot.  Add a tiny drop of grapeseed oil. Add an ounce of batter to the center of the pan and quickly move it in a circle to distribute the batter.  We have a folded towel next to the stove to bang the pan on….when the crepe/blini is cooked and loose, bang it on the towel and flip it.  Finish cooking it for a few seconds, toss it on a warm napkin and repeat.  Make sure the pan reheats enough between blini.
Photo of Juan with cast iron.

Brendan’s scrambled eggs…..


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