Meet The Team / Nick Vagnoni
A freelance writer and food columnist, Nick Vagnoni began blogging about food over a year ago at I'm Cookin' Here. His interests include barbecue, taquerias and Slow Food. Born and raised in Key West, Fla., Nick currently lives in Sarasota, where he graduated from New College of Florida in 2004. A freelance writer and food columnist, Nick Vagnoni began blogging about food over a year ago at I'm Cookin' Here. His interests include barbecue, taquerias and Slow Food. Born and raised in Key West, Fla., Nick currently lives in Sarasota, where he graduated from New College of Florida in 2004.
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About a year and a half ago, I posted about the work of photographer Michael Harlan Turkell, particularly his Back of the House Project, a great series of 25 very candid black and white photos of restaurants and their staff. Turkell recently dropped Slashfood a line, pointing out his photo blog, as well as what appears to be a new photo series called "mise en place". It had been a while since I checked Turkell's site, so the blog was news to me. It appears he's also been commissioned by New York City restaurant blog Eater to photograph the subjects of their "Gatekeepers" series, which profiles "the very folks that stand between you and some of your favorite impossible-to-get-tables." If you've ever worked in the restaurant industry, or if you're just a lover of food, dining and photography, do yourself a favor and check out Turkell's website as well as his blog.
So far, Nicole and Sarah have given their thoughts about Alan Richman's GQ list of "The 20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die." (A .pdf of the entire article is available here.) Since Sarah and Nicole have both hit at least a few spots on Richman's list, I figured it was time I start catching up, especially since I live only minutes away from the restaurant that occupies the number one spot on the list, Le Tub, in Hollywood, Florida. Le Tub has had roughly the last half a century to garner praise for its burgers, and the evidence, in the form numerous framed and yellowing newspaper clippings, is obvious throughout the restaurant. The rest of the decor is also worth mentioning. The rickety, open-air bar and restaurant sits perched on the Intracoastal Waterway, and it's as if the entire place has been whittled from a huge chunk of driftwood and is now held together by little more than fishing nets, banyan roots and the occasional rusty nail. And, of course, there is a bathtub planter outside, as well as a variety of toilets and toilet seats strewn about the lush, overgrown property.
If, by chance, you're firing up the grill for game day, this corn salsa is too easy to not be on your menu. If you've made fresh corn on the grill before, you know how simple it is. Grilled corn is great on it's own, with some butter, salt and pepper, or better yet, mayo, Parmesan cheese, lime juice and chili powder (seriously, try it).
The ingredients in this salsa are easy to vary and I generally just eyeball the amounts as I make it. A good place to start is:
8 average-sized ears of corn
1 medium red onion, sliced into 1/2" to 1" thick rounds (A few tooth picks or skewers in each will help to hold them together on the grill.)
the juice of 2-3 limes
a good handful of cilantro, finely chopped
Husk the ears of corn, giving them a rinse to get any last bits of silk off and grill them over fairly high, direct heat, turning them until the kernels begin to blister and darken all over. Brush the onion slices with a little olive oil and grill them as well. Once the corn is done and cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cobs with a sharp paring knife and put the kernels in a large bowl. When the onions have softened and taken on some color, pull them off the grill and chop them so they're about the same size as the corn kernels.
There have been plenty of California blood oranges in the markets lately, so this is the second week in a row that I've made this very simple blood orange salad. The basic version that I make at home and usually see in restaurants includes blood oranges and thinly sliced red onion, garnished with cracked pepper and good olive oil. I added some torn Italian parsley and, this time, some thinly sliced hearts of palm. If you're unfamiliar with hearts of palm, the flavor is mild and fresh, a bit like an artichoke, and the texture is similar to barely cooked asparagus. As the name implies, these are the edible cores of the cabbage palm. You'll generally find them canned, among the other canned vegetables. As they're fairly mild, they work well with the acidity of the oranges and the richness of the olive oil. This is a great way to start a number of different menus, but I think it works particularly well as foil to richer dishes like stews or braised meats.