God Bless America, Osso Buco and Where’s the Lettuce?

Our Flag to Honor the Memories
Those Who served in the Past and
the Present.
Like hundreds of millions of Americans, I think of three things on Memorial Day… God, Country and Osso Buco. I know there are a few people who still stand around the grill in the back yard, patio or the beach… but for me, it’s gotta be air-conditioned with China, crystal, silver and at least five hours preparation for a meal that I start in the morning and serve late in the afternoon and clean up after for a couple of hours.  I DO go outside to hoist Old Glory, though.  I enjoy that.
My Osso Buco with Wild Rice, Squash and Carrots

Actually, the easy part here is the Osso Buco and I’m not going to belabor the obvious with the recipe nor the blow-by-blow. There are a million ways to do osso buco and mine isn’t like yours. I want to talk about lettuce. This won’t take long.  All joking aside, I like the idea of putting out the effort to braise a few really nice veal shanks (polish up the marrow spoons)… tiny root veggies and squash… wild rice (I know it’s not really rice)… creamy mashed Yukon potatoes and parsnips… and a really crispy “interesting” salad.  How about frisée with walnuts, bleu cheese and dried cherries?  It’s on nearly every restaurant menu in Houston, isn’t it?
Not MY Salad (Unfortunately)

I already had some dried cherries, bleu cheese and walnuts, so I jumped in the car to grab some frisée from one of the five markets in our neighborhood… and maybe even a trip to the hallowed halls of the goddess of all supermarkets in Houston… CENTRAL MARKET!
  • Kroger at Voss Road and San Felipe: “I’ve never heard of it.”
  • Randall’s at Voss Road and San Felipe: “Is that the only name it goes by?  I’ve never seen it here.”
  • Rice Epicurean Market on Fountain View near San Felipe:  “What is it? I don’t think we have ever had it.”
  • H.E.B. on Fountain View at Westheimer: “I don’t know what it is, but we don’t carry it.”
  • Whole Foods on Woodway at Voss:  “How do you say it again?  I don’t see it on the produce list… but if we DO, it would probably be over there with the bean sprouts.”
  • Central Market on Westheimer: “No sir, we didn’t get it.” 
It’s in SEASON, when DO you get it?!!!
Others across the country love to refer to us in Houston as a huge culinary hick town.  We’re really not… some of the finest restaurants in the country are here. There are 5,000,000 people in the Houston Metropolitan area.  Can you please sell us some freakin’ interesting lettuce?

You know, this is deeper than merely forcing the sale of romaine, iceberg, red tip and bags of “spring mix” (with one sprig of frisée in it).  I’ll deal with that someday, but probably after I talk about the vast conspiracy of the supermarket industry to force us to choose between U.S.D.A. Select beef and U.S.D.A. Prime with nothing in-between.  Have you ever tried to CHEW a U.S.D.A. Select steak? Or, BUY a Prime steak?

God bless America and our troops… past, present and future. We had a wonderful dinner on Memorial Day and I wish we could have shared it with them all.

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