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If you worked in an ice cream store in the mid-’80s you almost certainly saw this B. Kliban cartoon, probably pinned to the staff bulletin board or taped to a wall in the back room. When it was first published (Playboy, February 1983) it was a solid absurdist laugh – after all, who would make, let alone eat, those flavors?

That was then. Now, when I can walk a few blocks and order a cup of salty whisky ice cream, those flavors seem less weird and more in the hipster sweet spot. I’m no hipster – I can’t cultivate the proper Civil War era beard – but I have unintentionally made each of those flavors. Witness me:



Cedarwood vanilla ice cream, served as part of a dessert along with cheese and Eccles cakes. Does it contain actual wood? No, ice cream is no place for dietary fiber.



Foie gras ice cream, made from lovely fatty duck liver. Served with strawberry, balsamic, ginger snap crumble, and black pepper.



This photo is a bit of a stretch. The ice cream pictured here is french toast, which includes toasted brioche, but the panna cotta is made from Cap’n Crunch cereal milk. Since the time of this photo, however, I have modified my french toast ice cream recipe, which now begins with cereal milk made from French Toast Crunch (available again, thanks to boomer nostalgia).

It’s still unlikely that you’ll find similar ice creams in your local scoop shop, but here at Chez Belm, we’re likely to say “We’re out of vanilla. Would you like some wood or liver?”

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Post image for Eleventh Annual Birthday Dinner

How do I come up with the menus for the annual birthday dinners for She Who Must Be Obeyed? I pay attention to dishes that she’s enjoyed over the course of a year, either prepared by me, or that we’ve enjoyed while dining out.



We began with the same cocktail I made for the last Can’t Talk, Eating: Lemon, ginger, honeycomb, lapsang souchong tea, Laphroaig and Johnnie Walker Black whiskys.

Onion Soup


Sweet onion soup with pain de mie croutons and parmesan shavings.



A variation on the classic PB&J, made with toasted pain de mie, foie gras torchon, and homemade black cherry preserves. Served with a 2012 Karthäuserhof Riesling kabinett. 



Spring ramp risotto with herbed ricotta. Served with a 2012 Belleruche Côtes du Rhone (a gift from our diner at Damon Baehrel).



Cured pork belly with poached green apple, chard purée, chard stems, pork reduction, and mustard vinaigrette. Served with a 2008 Ravenswood Belloni Zinfandel.

Coffee and Donuts


Coffee gelée, glazed donut ice cream, and a Pocky “cigarette.” This was a variation on an earlier presentation.



Even though it was her birthday dinner, She Who Must Be Obeyed insisted on making this dessert: flourless chocolate cake with raspberry jam, fresh raspberries, chocolate ganache, and whipped cream. Served with a Taylor Fladgate 2o year old tawny port.

Credit Where Credit is Due

Onion soup: Study, Cambridge, MA

FG&G: Swine, New York, NY

Risotto: Serious Eats

Pork: Per Se, New York, NY

Onion soup photo by Daphne Strassmann

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Smoke ’em If You Got ’em

February 28, 2016
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It was our turn again for Can’t Talk, Eating, our quarterly dining club. Due to the host rotation this was our first winter meal, so we planned on heartier fare. We settled on a theme of “smoke” for all the courses, in both obvious and subtle presentations. Charcuterie Baguette, fig and butter spread, Serrano ham, […]

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Birthday Dinner at Tasting Counter

December 3, 2015
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Deciding where to have dinner on my birthday is a process that can begin months before the actual meal. After all the planning that went into last year’s wd~50 dinner, I wanted to limit this year’s choice to the Boston area. After reading this review in The Boston Globe, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I decided […]

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Dinner At Damon Baehrel

November 16, 2015
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I have a lot of foodie friends. We cook for each other, share recipes, trade restaurant info, and sometimes arrange to eat at some of the country’s (or world’s) best restaurants. One friend in particular, Scott Edelman, has a knack for wrangling “impossible” reservations, which has resulted in amazing meals at Alinea, The Fat Duck, […]

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Introducing Reading While Cooking

August 2, 2015
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Two weeks ago I saw this post from Rose Fox in my Twitter feed: Intrigued, I replied: Rose answered: Rose and I have worked together before, so after a few email exchanges we divided up the tasks. We grabbed a domain name, set up a WordPress blog, launched a Patreon campaign, and within 24 hours Reading While […]

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Meet Meat

July 9, 2015
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During last summer’s London trip, we ate at two of Heston Blumenthal’s restaurants. The first, The Fat Duck, was reported here. The second, dinner at Dinner, was an evening that I preferred not to document. The restaurant bases its menu on updated recreations of historical recipes researched by Blumenthal and recorded for his Heston’s Feasts series. […]

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Tenth Annual Birthday Dinner

May 4, 2015
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  It’s hard to believe I’ve been cooking a birthday dinner for She Who Must Be Obeyed for ten years. This year I decided the menu would include some new dishes she had enjoyed over the past year, which would present some interesting technical challenges for me. Charcuterie I changed up the traditional charcuterie starter by […]

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Carrying a Torch

March 23, 2015

I have devoted a lot of time and effort into arriving at a consistent perfectly cooked steak. A combination of sous vide cooking and a high-heat final sear works every time to produce a medium rare result with a good crust. But there’s always room for improvement, which I found in the form of a new […]

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Birthday Dinner at wd~50

December 14, 2014
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When chef Wylie Dufresne opened his restaurant wd~50 in 2003 he unwittingly sowed the seeds of his eventual demise. Choosing Clinton Street in Manhattan’s lower east side was a clever move, in that the rent was cheap due to the sketchy neighborhood, but the restaurant was so good that the area improved due to the […]

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