…aaand we’re back.

The reanimation of this blog required a broad story that could inform and entertain a wide audience.  Something all food lovers could connect too.  Brined fish was the obvious choice.

Fact: cured fish is generally regarded as yuck.  Not for me.  My Dad introduced me to herring in cream sauce at an early age, and smoked salmon/lox/nova were just part of the gastronomic landscape where i grew up in New Jersey.  Curing my own happened in culinary school and continued into my professional practice.  Outside of ordering them special, finding fresh sardines or herring for curing is pretty much unheard of.  So when I saw “Salted Herring $3.25 each” on the specials board at Zygma, I quickly tacked it onto my order.

"Floyd"Upon my request, Marta, the proprietor, reluctantly headed to the back room armed with a fistful of plastic bags.  Yeah, I don’t envy anybody whose about to open a bin of fish sitting in salt brine.  She came back, pinching the bag, arm extended.  I asked her how she prepares them.  “Well, the Russians…” she says in a tone (she’s Polish) “they’ll eat them just like that.”  She went on to tell me her husbands preferred method using just onions and oil.
At home I figured I would treat my herring, hereafter referred to as “Floyd”, in a similarly simple fashion.  Liberating Floyd from his layers of plastic revealed a beautifully plump, though odiferous, whole herring.  So here’s the deal.  In his current state, Floyd has been sitting in a salt brine and is therefore already cured.  My goal now is to immerse him in a gentle marinade which will transform him from a simple brine sitter suitable for consumption only by Russians, to the centerpiece of a composed salad complete with toast points.

The Process:

I begin with a thorough rinse followed by removal of the fillets.   Floyd was properly descaled prior to brining, and the pin bones are soft and need not be removed.  It’s a good idea at this point to sample for salt.  Depending on how much salt Floyd took on, he might require an overnight in fresh water.  A quick taste and I determine he’s fine to go straight to the marinade.

Fresh herbs work well here.  Had I stopped at the store on the way home, I would have chosen parsley, thyme, and bay leaves.  The spice pantry provides corriander, yellow mustard, and black pepper.  All get tossed in a cast iron for some gentle roasting in order to activate their oils.  Meanwhile, a yellow onion is sliced, olive and vegetable oils are fetched.  I cut the fillets in thirds, mostly for ease of packaging.  The now cooled spices are tossed with the onion and a blend of the oils.  Straight olive oil would, in the refrigerator, congeal into a gel.  Now packaged, Floyd moves to the top shelf in the fridge for a couple of days rest.

Stay tuned…….
Come on back in a couple of days to find out what became of Floyd!

Tongue Tales: Nikki Smith




Name: Nikki Smith

Occupation: Marketing for Maker’s Mark

Neighborhood: Shamrock Hills (like to frequent Plaza Midwood)

Relationship status: Single

What did you eat today? 

This is yesterdays menu, haven’t eaten today as of yet. Scrambled eggs with gimme lean, spinach, Texas Pete and cheddar cheese with a mini wheat bagel with smoked salmon. Lots of snacks at a friends wine tasting…cheese- aged Gouda, Havarti w/dill, NY extra sharp cheddar, mini pizza with capers, hot cheese and corn dip with tortillas, cornichons. 

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Tongue Tales: Lynn-Lato

Name: Lynn-Lato


Mom and food blogger extrordinaire – and I occasionally help out my friend, w/ his South Charlotte restaurant. I update the content on his website, update his menus help w/ menu changes item ideas and brainstorming.


Regrettably(from a food perspective) I live in plain, ole vanilla suburbia, the Marvin/Ballantyne area 

Relationship status: 

Married w/ children & the suburbia-required yellow lab

What did you eat today? 

Broccoli cheddar quiche, bacon & rye toast w/ tea for breakfast & lunch was a boring ham sammie on wheat w/ Italian peppers & mayo – oh, and a tiny sliver of “no sugar added” apple pie from The Fresh Market (I’m a type 1 diabetic)

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Dear La Unica, I Cheated On You

Dear La Unica,

I cheated on you.  Mi amor, mi vida, you know you are the only one for me.  But I am just a man.  A man who can be tempted by rumors of a better salsa verde. 

Estamos en el Sud, amor, we are in The South.  Here you are a rarity, truly La Unica.  Pero the other night a whisper floated to my ear.  A whisper I now know was El Diablo himself.  The trickster told me of a fine salsa verde to be had just down the street from you, DIOS! Yo se, I know, chipis, que barbaridad.  Pero the poisoned words of El Diablo sunk into my brain and the next thing I knew I was in my car.  

Her name is Taqueria Mexico.  I met her at 9 on Tuesday night on South Blvd.   Continue reading

Rant: Batali, Spain, and me

So, I’ve been watching “Spain…On the Road Again” now through the fourth episode.  Overall, it’s been entertaining, not without challenge.  I think the series started off a little slow and I certainly needed to become acclimated to the vast amounts of mindless banter on the show.  Not to mention, the gross coverage driving around in a convertible Mercedes is starting to challenge my sense of self. Continue reading

New feature: Tongue Tales

We live in a gazelle of a town, populated with restaurants galore, a wide spectrum of food markets, and a diverse population to pillage them all. So what are Charlotte foodists eating?

Tongue Tales is a regular feature that will help shed some light on that question.  I’m reaching out to friends and strangers, to food biz insiders and outsiders, to anyone I know or suspect has a zeal for eating.  Once a week I’ll post their answers to the same questionnaire here, at Bellyspeak.

Thanks to Ganda at eat drink one woman, who gave me permission to use her format.  The quality of her blog is beyond my vocabulary…just start reading it.

Tongue Tales: Lell

Name: Lell Trogdon

Occupation: job hunting

Neighborhood: The “international corridor: AKA: Central and Eastway

Relationship status: Single

What did you eat today?

Breakfast:Fried eggs with leftover cornbread

Lunch: ham and spinach on ciabatta

Dinner: Kale (stirfried) with a side of leftover tomato chicken and corn soup.

What do you never eat?

Bananas and Shellfish

Complete this sentence: In my refrigerator you can always find…

Dukes Mayo, cheese of some sort, champagne, tobasco, butter, eggs and half and half.

What is your favorite kitchen item?

My Shun knife. It was a gift from my staff when I was cooking for a living and I use it everyday and think of each of them every time I pick it up.

Where do you eat most frequently?

At home and hopefully feeding friends.

World ends tomorrow. What would you like for your last meal?

I would be happy with a good cup of coffee and a biscuit. If I had time and money: a perfect grilled ribeye from Baucom’s or a pork roast from Grateful Growers slow cooked in molasses, garlic and chipotle. Roasted carrots, turnips and whatever other veggies I could throw in there too! Wait, if it was summer, some fresh tomato and basil from my garden….


Thanks Lell! for sharing your palate in the inaugural post of Tongue Tales. Lell’s photo was pulled from Andy Ciordia’s photostream.