For my first Here’s Lookin’ at You Cook profile I had the lucky opportunity of dining with the multi-talented actor, writer, and home chef Bob McClure. You might recognize him from the critically acclaimed online TV show, The Burg, but you might be even more interested in his critically acclaimed family-owned pickle line, McClure’s Pickles.
The kitchen of the well lived-in Williamsburg apartment that Bob shares with a roommate has all the tell-tale signs of tinkering: food processors and blenders of all shapes and sizes line the back of the counter, a wheatgrass juicer is lodged onto an edge of the kitchen table, and not too far away, a tomato plant and sheet of wheatgrass compete for the sun against the kitchen window. Making a presence on everything from the top of the cabinets, cardboard boxes on the floor, and on top of the microwave are jars of pickles at various stages of sourness. Bob claims he is the first family member to experiment with the 50+ year-old family recipe for spicy garlic dills that his great grandmother instilled. He produces a jar of somewhat discolored, though not uncrisp-looking asparagus with cherry peppers and hairy dill submerged in a yellow-green brine as evidence, not yet mature enough to taste. (A previous experiment was one that Bob was fool enough to try–pickles brined with the smallest and hottest of peppers which I cannot for the life of me remember the name of, but that the farmer at the farmer’s market laughed when he purchased more than one.)
the curious asparagus incident
classic spicy garlic wholes with wild dill
The flavors that Bob savors are farm-fresh, unhindered, and engaging a variety of seasonal and multi-cultural elements. Sauteed portobello mushrooms with sesame oil, fresh sliced beets with rosemary and roasted shallots. Sandwiches were prepared with grilled homey bread and contained avocado, bean sprouts, grape tomatoes, firm tofu, basil, mayo and good mustard. It was more than enough to wrap one’s taste buds around.
At some point into my peskering about personal food values and pickling processes, I fell adrift watching Bob and sous-chef Becca in the midst of their natural cooking stride–puttering at the stove over the warm aroma of the beets slowly softening, the routine of chopping and spreading, the refreshing simplicity of layering an entree of fresh veggie sandwiches–and darn it if tonight wasn’t the day I was going to learn how pickles are made. I totally reverted to a kid placated by watching their mother cook, and was worthless at intellectual babble. I can’t wait to do this again with more home cooking fans.
The evening’s ingredients align in perfect harmony – beets, mushrooms, sandwiches, and of course, pickles.