The Art of Eating: No. 77, Island Sheep

The Art of Eating: No. 77, Island Sheep

Emma Christensen
Apr 9, 2008

Where the last issue gave us Italian wine and rabbit, the current Art of Eating treats us to local Maine sheep and honey from the Canary Islands!

In the cover article, "Island Sheep: Keeping Flocks Down East," Chef Sam Hayward describes his weekend herding sheep with farmer Lee Straw and his family, from whom he buys lamb and mutton for his restaurant.

Hayward intersperses his narrative with history lessons on sheep husbandry on the dozens of thumbnail islands off the coast of Maine and notes on culinary preparations for lamb.

His voice is fresh and concise, and his recipes for lamb confit and smoked shoulder at the end of the article made our mouths water.

We were less impressed with an article about Moroccan oil pressed from argan tree nuts. Author Corinna Sargood's story of the relationship between domestic goats and the harvesting of argan nuts would have made a pleasant change of pace from the Art of Eating's usually reserved style, except that it lacked the kind of attention to detail and clear-sightedness that we value in this publication.

Much more intriguing is the article on palm honey produced on La Gomera, one of the Canary Islands. This "honey" isn't really honey at all, but sap collected from the La Gomera palm trees. It bears a closer relationship to maple syrup, and the process for gathering and boiling down the palm honey is very similar. The article really captured the spirit of the island and the significance of palm honey in the island culture.

The issue is rounded out with several shorter articles. There's an excellent review from Ed Behr on the Technivorm coffee maker that is as much about the art of home brewed coffee as it is about the coffee machine he was reviewing. A favorable review of Morandi and Balthazar restaurants in New York also makes the provocative assertion that restaurant critics hold too tightly to preconceived notions of what French and Italian restaurants should be, "...evaluating French restaurants and food against an arbitrary standard of tradition or classicism, while judging Italian restaurants and food against an equally arbitrary standard of authenticity." Thought provoking indeed!

What grabbed your attention from this latest issue?

(Image: Art of Eating Cover Illustration by Rob Carter)

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