What a great way to add storage space to an already-full kitchen!
We were so happy to have this expanded kitchen built after making do with the original kitchen downstairs.
(This video was taken by my cousin in 2009 just after we moved in permanently; this room is now our laundry room)
The last time we had such a small kitchen was in our first London flat. Even with all new fittings and fixtures – including a cute little mini-dishwasher – it was still built into a closet.
When I sent Scott to buy us a retirement place in this neighborhood, he had to without me in person. But I did send him an incredibly detailed check list.
Of course he bought the first place he saw.
Apparently it sang to him.
And apparently he didn’t notice the (lack of) size of the kitchen.
By the time our first winter was upon us, I already had a plan to fix the kitchen situation.
The terrace on the middle floor was transformed into our current kitchen. And while we have lots of storage space, it’s all under the counter so that we have the light from the windows on the east and south-facing walls.
The wife of the guy who built our new wood-burning furnace likes our kitchen and when she saw this herb dryer in a catalogue, she thought of us.
It currently holds some dried herbs:
Rosemary, oregano, oregano flowers, chili peppers (red hot!), cilantro (roots and all), and sage.
Then there are the two big chunks of Mangalica salted ham. Scott bought them at the Budapest festival back in February. The guy who sold him the ham said they could be hung happily for the next ten years.
After the novelty has worn off, I will probably toss them: 1) we don’t have the professional slicer needed to slice the ham thin enough to eat on their own; 2) we have yet to figure out how to use them productively as a cooking ingredient and 3) I’m going to want the space for more herbs come autumn.
That is what’s hanging from the thing.
What sits on the thing itself are other herbs we’re drying and our tamis, or drum sieve.
This is a very special cooking utensil our very good friend Annabel schlepped all the way from London. It has three gauges of mesh that can be interchanged; depending on what you need sieving.
So far, we’ve used it for two things: the foie gras terrine I make from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon cookbook. I push the finished foie through the sieve before it is whipped with a solid wooden spoon into a kind of butter-cream consistency.
And Scott uses it for his pomme purée (mashed potatoes) he makes from Master Chef Australia Season One.
It is a really great recipe you should consider, and in fact, here you go (for two people):
Preheat oven to 180C
Line a small casserole with rock salt and put two medium sized baking potatoes.
Bake till done at least an hour.
Gently heat 1 cup milk, keep warm.
When the potatoes are done, cut them lengthwise and (using a hot pad) push the potato through the sieve into a saucepan.
Add 2 to 3 TBSPs of butter and incorporate into the potatoes with the top of a whisk.
Slowly add milk while stirring with spatula until desired consistency is reached.
Be careful not to add too much milk or it will get too runny.
By popular demand (well, two of you), here is the story behind and the recipe for the tomartini.
The proper term for the cocktail is the Cherry-Tom’artini, made by the bartenders at the now sadly defunct Paparazzi restaurant in Bratislava.
Paparazzi is the first restaurant we dined in on our very first trip to Slovakia during the Easter weekend nine years ago (2005). It was a classic Italian with expensive but excellent Italian wines, a big ol’ block of Parmesan freshly rasped at the table, fresh fresh bread for the olive oil and cheese, and some pretty amazing food.
But the real kicker was the spectacular bar. And the equally spectacular cocktail menu.
It was a small book. Really:
The restaurant was decorated with giant black and white photos obviously taken by celebrity hunters, featuring the famous one of Sofia Loren looking down Jayne Mansfield’s dress (Scott’s favorite table) and others of note, such as Anthony Quinn, Jack Nicklaus, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss, all in various stages of undress (Jack’s in his bathrobe hitting golf balls, Naomi and Kate on the toilet. The book is also populated with mini photos of same.
We were so impressed with a book, we asked if we could buy one. They gave it to us.
Several years later, they were indeed selling them and had editions in both English and Slovak.
We could’ve been in London. Or New York. But here we were, in Bratislava.
We took our friends Bart & Claire there for dinner as a kind of thank you for showing us around the country during that weekend.
During ensuing visits, we would always make time for Paparazzi and their tomartini.
Until, sadly, one day it was gone from the menu.
2013 saw Paparazzi gone from Bratislava.
The tomartini lives on at Chata Diviak and now, the recipe:
Gather all the things you’d normally use in your favorite Bloody Mary. We use
Here is where the similarity ends: no tomato juice. Instead, a dozen or more cherry tomatoes (depending on the size of your martini glass).
Slice the tomatoes in half and muddle them in a cocktail shaker with your preferred spices.
Add 2 ounces of vodka for every dozen tomatoes, ice and shake.
Strain into a martini glass and garnish with fresh basil leaves, ones with a blossom if you have them.
If you prefer a slightly more refined cocktail, consider using tomato tea instead of the muddled fruits:
Slice several plum tomatoes length-wise and grate them over a sieve set on top of a bowl. Let the grated tomato sit in the sieve on the top of the bowl for a time so that all liquid and none of the solids end up in the bowl.
The liquid makes a wonderfully intense tomato flavor, and there are no little seeds in the bottom of your glass.
We make hors d’ouevres out of the grated tomato, replacing the liquid with lots of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste, then spread over fresh crusty bread.