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Mar 15 2006

My Dinner With Stingré

legendary crab soup
The greatest soup ever created

Stingray digs a soup. So she keeps her ear to the ground. She had heard tell of a peerless crab soup, the du jour at Café Josie, a 6th Street refuge for piquant nouvelle Caribbean.

“They say,” confided la Stingré over a double Americano at Cippoline, “that the chef was as a man possessed. He magically pulled this amazing soup out of his butt. It far exceeds even the best of his previous souply efforts. If what they say is true, I predict it will become the stuff of legend.”

She paused. Her visage took on a reverent expression. “They say he used caraway.

Stingray has a high opinion of caraway.

While delivering this speech, her swift fingers flew over her cell phone keypad. The reservation was secured. Our fate was sealed. To 6th Street we did hie forthwith.

The crab soup lived up to the hype.

I present photographic evidence of the best dinner I’ve had in months.

fried artichoke
The remains of half a dozen fried artichoke hearts, which were such sterling examples of the species I forgot to photograph’em until there was only one left

grilled queso and fluffy guacamole
Grilled queso with fluffy guacamole

crispy halibut
Crispy spring halibut with sesame rice and about 13,587 different sauces and garnishes, each more effervescent than the last

crispy stingraybutt
Stingré, now completely recovered from the Hippie Lentil Incident, registers souply contentment

28 comments

  1. Pony

    The food’s great looking. Thanks. Love good food. Ummhmm.

    BERT!?

  2. trixie

    If you could reverse engineer and post the recipe for those artichoke hearts, I’d be forever grateful to you. More than I am already, I mean.

  3. Twisty

    Trixie, would that I could. I have no idea how they made those artichoke hearts. They were just barely dusted with a very fine breading, and were light as figments. There was a bed of slaw with some sort of sesame thing going on, and an additional dip called “sunsplash sauce” which seemed to contain elements of pineapple and mango. Tragcially, they are not on the regular menu, so further study will likely be difficult, if not impossible.

  4. Kat

    Mmmm! How cruel, to taunt me with pics of delicious food that I will never eat.

  5. manxome

    The best soup I ever had was at the Green Tree in Leesburg, Virginia. It’s simply called “green herb soup” and is a soothing, creamy, perfect blend of at least a dozen herbs. They closely guard their colonia-era recipes there, and my only chance to find out how the heck to make it would be to somehow stumble across it in the National Archives. I blame.

  6. Twisty

    Intellectual property is on my last nerve. I believe it is very uncool to withhold recipes from the hungry. A list of ingredients can hardly be construed as the dish itself, and even if you get a full recipe from a chef, yours will rarely taste as good as hers, because she’s a professional with years of training and top-notch equipment, whereas you’re just a hack, so even if you cook the dish in your lame home kitchen, you’ll always want to return to the restaurant to eat the real thing.

    Meanwhile, I have this to say: Greek yogurt with New Zealand blueberries and lemon zest. Yeah, baby.

  7. Pony

    I’d double the fresh herbs and use whatever I found in the market. I love chervil, dill, sorrel, arugula. But that’s me. Here, Fine Herbs Soup. In keeping with Twisty’s recipe attribution ethic; NONE.

    1 Tbs. unsalted butter
    2 Tbs. minced fresh chervil
    1/2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon
    1 quart chicken stock
    2 Tbs. chopped fresh chives
    2 Tbs. minced fresh sorrel
    1 c. minced celery
    salt & pepper to taste
    pinch of sugar
    pinch of grated nutmeg
    1/3 c. grated Pecorino Romano or Asagio
    6 slices toasted french bread

    Melt butter in deep saucepan. Add herbs and celery and saute about 3
    minutes. Add stock, sugar and salt & pepper to taste. Simmer gently for
    about 20 minutes. Pour into blender or food processor and puree until
    smooth. Place slices of toasted bread in the bottom of soup tureen or
    individual serving bowls. Pour soup over bread. Sprinkle with grated
    cheese and nutmeg. Serve very hot. Serves 6

  8. Sylvanite

    I never even thought to fry an artichoke heart. Oh, what wonders this world holds!

  9. Janeen

    Damn, Twisty, you crack me up. Stingre!

    I hope you’re eating the full-fat Greek yogurt. Something that good should not have the fat taken out of it. The problem with Greek yogurt is, though, that it simply ruins you for every other yogurt, and it’s damn expensive. Have you tried the one made with sheep’s milk? Heaven!

  10. wheelomatic

    Sounds like you are feeling pretty good these days.
    Your writing is as effervescent as those sauces.
    Yay for you and yay for us.
    Thanks be to the lard (truly the best deep frying medium there is.)

  11. manxome

    Pony, my mouth is watering. You rock.

  12. ginmar

    Oh, God, now I’m hungry, dammit, and I just ate. It looks delicious, so I can only imagine how it tasted.

  13. finnsmotel

    Uh oh, Stingre is smiling. There’s goes the betting pool…

  14. schatze

    What is it about crab soup? My favorite soup is a crabmeat and brie that is a full whallop o’fat, but also makes a wonderful dip (in smaller whallops) for artichoke leaves. Just yesterday, I was discussing the possibilities of coating and deep frying some of those tiny artichokes in their entirety.
    I agree, people who withhold recipes are a blight on humanity. As stingy as eating The Whole Thing and not sharing a bite.

  15. thebewilderness

    Just up the road from Monterey, headed toward Prunedale, there stands the giant artichoke. Seriously, there is a produce stand in the shape of a giant artichoke standing right there. This was the place, in the year 1970, where my children and I met our first deep fried artichoke heart and have been addicted ever since.
    The trick to doing them at home is to get the very young ones that don’t have a furry choke developed yet. Chop off the outside leaves(shear off the top then shear all around) quarter the heart, dredge in whatever you like to dredge in. Some use a light eggy batter, some use milk and flour, or egg and flour. Personal taste. 425 in the deep fat fryer. Guaranteed to make your mouth fall off. We do the same with chanterelles hereabouts. When offered to guests we have witnessed tears of joy.
    I blame the patriarchy for turning thousands of acres of artichokes fields into developers dreams.

  16. lcgillies

    Do not underestimate the vicarious pleasure of your avid readers at hearing of your good meals. Especially for those who first or second hand are aware of the fickle effects of chemo on the tastebuds. Bon appetit!

  17. SneakySnu

    Hold on. That crab soup photo is not self-explanatory. For example, what is sitting atop the crouton/slice of French bread? What colors the soup broth that lovely shade of gold–is it just the tomatoes? Did saffron or turmeric have something to do with it? These are all pressing questions.

    Thanks for the link to the Hippie Lentil Incident. I love reading about the culinary adventures of this Dynamic Duo!

  18. Twisty

    The crab soup was based on a shrimp stock and contained the odd tomato. And there was the merest hint of Stingray’s precious caraway. The crouton had some kind of renegade non-basil “pesto” and an unidentified white cheese. Sorry I can’t tell you more. Ordinarily I insist on more precise information, but in this case I elected to just slurp it down, no questions asked.

  19. Pony

    Baby artichokes! I hate it when southerners start talking about food I can’t get, or could get, but only with a small mortgage.

    I have to start looking around for a substitute. Make do. Needs must.

    Here’s my geographic variation on deep fried artichoke hearts. Use thebewilderness’ recipe. Definitely get the young ones.

    “What are Rocky Mountain oysters? They are that part of the bull that is removed in his youth so that he may thereby be more tractable, grow meatier, and behave less masculine. When the calves are branded, the testicles are cut off and thrown in a bucket of water. They are then peeled, washed, rolled in flour and pepper, and fried in a pan. They are considered to be quite a delicacy. Like other organ meats, testicles may be cooked in a variety of ways – deep-fried whole, cut into broad, thin slices, or marinated. At roundups in the old West, cowboys and ranch hands tossed the (gonads) on a hot iron stove. When the calf fries exploded, they were done

    http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/RockyMtnOyster.htm

  20. Ron Sullivan

    I believe you can also get artichoke milkshakes at The Giant Artichoke. Oddly enough, I never have.

    Deep-fried chanterelles! (faints)

  21. kathy a

    i need the soup. and the artichoke hearts.

    if we are getting into regional embarassing delicious things — the town of indio has a date festival, and there is nothing like a date milkshake. much better choice than the artichoke shake. [if anyone wants to do a compare and contrast, it's only about 400-450 miles between the Giant Artichoke and the Date Festival.]

  22. Tapetum

    I haven’t had a good crab soup in 17 years – ever since I moved away from Oregon. You are making my tongue hate me, Twisty!

    There was this little restaurant halfway to Seattle with Dungeness Crab/Cheese soup, mmm…

  23. Ron Sullivan

    Hey, Kathy, I had a date milkshake once! Somewhere near Coachella. Pretty darn good, too.

    The artichoke shake made me think of a garlic-infused red wine someone got in Gilroy and brought to a cook-in I was at. Sometimes two very good ingredients ought to be kept separate. That was worse than that jalapeno beer named after the other Cave Creek. The beer’s not bad, exactly; it’s just sort of unfair, because you taste the pepper and want some beer to wash it down with but the pepper’s in the beer, so you get more of it when you drink, etc. ad inebriatum.

  24. nolo

    Is Stingre single?

  25. Charles

    Do you have any My Dinner with Stingre action figures?

  26. stingray

    I personally think action figures are a brilliant idea. As for the garnish, it was topped with a cilantro/manchego pesto on a crostini. Yum is right- one of the lovliest soups I’ve ever had.

  27. Twisty

    Sorry, Nolo. I’m not running a dating service.

  28. Mandos

    I’ve been looking for manchego cheese around here but despite some redeeming qualities none of the groceries in walking distance of me carries it. Oh, well.

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