Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Savoir Faire Eez Everywhere

Some days, I think ahead to what we should have for dinner. Sometimes I make a list and go shopping, or ask Christine to pick something up on her way to or from something. Sometimes we actually have food on hand that demands to be made into delicious dinners, and no thought is required.

Some days none of the above is true.

On just such a day, I came in from the studio, grouchy because I did not want to stop working, and realized that I had nothing in mind, and not so much on hand. This did not help my mood much, but after some rummaging, a bag of onions and a stick of butter gave me the basis for what turned out to be a pretty great spring meal.

I Frenched four onions and tossed them in the iron pan to caramelize while I made the crust and put it in the fridge to rest. Time was a little short, so they did not quite get to the deep, dark, slithering sweet stage, but I threw in some chopped ramp and a little garlic as well to add some extra seasonal allium depth. As meager as it is right now, it's still nice to go outside and pick things to eat. Once the onions were ready, I grated some cheddar on the crust, added the onion mixture, and sprinkled pine nuts and wild garlic chives over the top.

With a mesclun salad- not yet our own, but soon- and some leftover pinto beans from the other night dressed up with minced onion, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice into a salad of sorts, this ended up being just what we needed to welcome the sun back after the storm.

The beans were left froma super-clean dinner we had a couple of nights ago: local organic pintos (as good as RG, but from NY) pressure-cooked and prettied up with spices, tomato paste, and vinegar, plus shredded steamed kale in tahini-miso sauce, cucumber salad, and brown rice. For a first course, I roasted a kabocha and then puréed it with some chicken broth we had in the fridge from the last carcass. Silky, smooth, sweet, and simple. There's a little left, so I'll use it to thicken a curry or sauce in the coming days.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Be The Ball, Danny

This is just another version of most of the dinners we eat in these parts lately. I just don't have the time to indulge in any geekery, even though I'm getting ideas for some possibly cool dishes. Most of them are going to have to wait until October given the way the scheduling of the shows has worked out. The upside to this is that the garden is happening; I put some seedlings in the ground yesterday, and two other beds are sprouting, which means that we're mere weeks from our first salad and asparagus. If this insane thunderstorm- now with hail!- doesn't completely pummel and drown all the babies out there, that is.

This is a local lamb leg steak, given a sear and then rest, on mashed sweet potato and Japanese yam with chopped ramps and a little Kalamata olive brine mixed in. The sauce is roughly equal parts pesto and brown mustard mixed into the meat juices deglazed with a splash of wine. I steamed broccoli and tossed it with oil, salt, and lemon for one of our favorite sides. One of my ideas involves three different sauce-type things to go with three different lamb preparations, and this mustard-pesto thing is a half-assed simplification of a possible facet of that idea. Sometimes I get annoyed that I don't have time to cook the way I want to, but the studio is roaring right now and that's creative gratification enough.

To drink, a bottle of the Cereghino-Smith Syrah that Fred and Paula brought me as a thank you gift after the article came out. In retrospect, I should have waited, since it would surely have been better after another year or three, but it was an excellent match for the lamb. Also, as an added bonus, I was happily proved wrong about Pleiades: there is an XVII, and it's out. I'm placing my order forthwith, and am trying not to get my hopes up; the XVI was the best yet.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tabula Rasa

The other day I got a call from our free fish source, so later on I went to pick up a bag full of super-fresh hake and cusk. Upon return home, a perusal of the cabinets and fridge yielded a pretty perfect array of complementary flavors: a red bell pepper that Milo wanted, a little bit of heavy cream, some tomato purée, and a last pinch of saffron. With the addition of a bag of frozen mirepoix, shredded kale, some leftover steamed cauliflower and a few herbs, we had ourselves a rich and fragrant sort of Mediterranean fish stew. There was also some 10-grain risotto left from a photoshoot on Sunday, so I heated that up and we served the stew on top of it for a little grainy goodness.

These fish are on the bland side, lending themselves well to things like fish & chips or chowdery things like the above. I only used half of what we were given in the stew, so the following night (with Micro joining us) I looked to pull the flavors in a different direction. I cut the fish into chunks and threw them in the processor with garlic, ginger, a kaffir lime leaf, sesame oil, kabosu juice, shichimi, and salt, and let it all spin until thoroughly ground up. I formed the mixture into balls and poached them gentle-like while I made dashi and simmered more of the dreamy, fat-ass udon. Once the balls were done, I dropped a bunch of watercress in the same water to blanch and then served it all together with some cilantro, adding soy sauce to taste.

I'm going to play with these some more, partly because I'm craving gefilte fish (since it's spring) and partly because though the flavor was right on, the texture could use some tweaking; they weren't rubbery, but they were a bit denser than I wanted. I roasted the last parsnips from the garden for a little roasty-sweet side, and later we finished the maple-vanilla ice cream that Milo and I made last week after I accidentaly bought a pint of cream instead of milk. I fully intended to photograph it in all its perfectly curled, speckly tan glory, but I forgot. No traffic for me.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Puttin' The Yum in Day-um

On Friday evening I left Milo with my Brother and walked four whole blocks to Kris and Ken's place, where Mary was having the Thoreau Wine Society's first annual dinner for her favorite customers. Kris cooked us a masterful meal, with each dish even more refined than usual- which is saying a great deal. The flavors were laser-sharp and the portions perfect. There were ten of us, which meant that we were able to make our way through as many bottles (we all brought one) without sinking into utter dumb, and everyone was interesting and knowledgeable. It was as good as I had hoped.

Here's the menu:

1. Seared scallops with potato-chestnut purée

2. Corvino (croaker) with coconut jasmine rice, fava beans, and carrot reduction

3. Slow-braised pork belly with ginger/tamarind/cardamom-infused bacon consommé

4. Duck breast with wilted dandelion greens and poached rhubarb

5. Selles-sur-Cher and Piave

The pork belly

In order, we drank these wines, covering roughly two per course:

2006 Domaine de L'Ecu Muscadet "Expression de Gneiss"
2005 Domaine Ostertag Riesling Fronholz
2003 Vincent Girardin Puligny-Montrachet 1er cru "Le Cailleret"
2002 Vincent Girardin Chassagne-Montrachet 1er cru "Les Vides Bourses"
2003 Domaine Cheze Saint-Joseph "Cuvée Ro-Rée"
2001 Brovia Barolo Garblèt Sue'
2004 Dutch Henry Chafen Vineyards Syrah
2006 Mt. Difficulty Pinot Noir
2003 Charles Audoin Marsannay "Les Favières"
1970 Volnay (Corked; undrinkable)
1982 Château Canon
1970 Almeida Vintage Port

Mary with the ill-fated Volnay

The first two whites were good entries, but I wasn't paying a lot of attention; there were introductions, opening the bottle I brought, and unwrapping the plates I brought our hosts as a gift. Scotty's Riesling had a nice moment with the scallops. The two white Burgundies were very good, and so different- the Chassagne had an astonishingly dense marzipan aroma and distinct nuttiness after the more restrained and minerally Puligny. I love tasting similar wines together; the depth of understanding is so much more profound.

To welcome the pork, the Cheze I brought worked well, and fooled the experts into guessing that it was an old Chave Hermitage or similar. That right there is why I love this wine; for $20 it tastes like 10 times as much. The pork belly was meltingly tender, with crispy skin, and the broth was insanely subtle, rich, and seamlessly layered. Beautiful. The Barolo needed some time, so we left it in glasses to open up while we moved on.

Both New World wines were a little out of place, but characteristic in their way. The syrah was big, jammy, and hot, and the NZ pinot had a nice nose, but never opened up in the mouth. The Marsannay, on the other hand, was a surprisingly rich, round mouthful of sex that made for an insane pairing with the duck and rhubarb. Damn. Unfortunately, the Volnay was completely ruined. Also Damn, but in a different way. The 82 Canon, however, had gone to that gorgeous, cedary place where old Bordeaux can go, and in the nimble, delicate, elegant way that St. Emilions in particular possess. And by this time, the Barolo had gotten all cheese-friendly so we enjoyed it as a special bonus. The port was perfect, not cloying, and was unbelievably sympatico with walnuts and a creamy blue that I've blanked on the name of (I had a mere post-it for all my notes; it's amazing I got this much.)

All photos by Sam Greenfield.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Off The Rack

With so much work to do, it's been pretty hard lately to rise much above maintenance mode in the kitchen. I don't even feel the urge to get fancy or spend all day messing around with various components or techniques so that dinner can be a unique and creative improvisation like I did so much in the winter. Having said that, I still want things to taste good, and given the chance I will incorporate some high-tech tricks to achieve a better result- provided that doing so is not time-intensive.

In this case, broiled salmon with herbes de Provence is about as basic as it gets. Black rice is a cool-looking departure from the short-grain brown we usually eat, but not any harder to make. The sauce, though, is a little bit interesting. I took both kale and spinach (since we had about a half-bunch of each) and wilted them in a pan to which I had already added a little oil and a few each of fenugreek, coriander, and mustard seeds. In addition to the greens, I threw in a couple of chopped kaffir lime leaves and let it all go for a minute or two. Then I puréed it with the stick blender, adding a little yogurt, a little leftover dashi from Milo's breakfast miso soup, and enough Ultratex to thicken it so it wouldn't weep.

The last bit was key, in its subtle way; the extra density of the sauce gave it a spoon-coating texture and light, almost frothy body that was noticeably different from the normal puddle of green leaking a brighter green liquid around the edges. And the spices and lime leaves gave it a surprising South and Southeast Asian lift that perfumed the other components in a welcome way, helping rescue them somewhat from banality. At some point I hope to return to the more adventurous and ambitious end of the spectrum, but for now it looks like simple stuff with minor tweaking will be the focus of our spring eating. Which is fine. And I've been wrong before.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Daddy Drinks Because You Cry

Christine has been in Florida with her Mom for just about a week now, so Milo and I have been enjoying our time together. Much Lego has been involved, as has some gardening- planting early things, mulching the ramps (they're coming up) and putting a cherry tree next to the garage. It's still pretty cold- tonight it will go down to a totally unreasonable 15˚- but the days are warming and I simply will not wait any longer to begin gardening in earnest, even if it means I have to run around covering everything with plastic every evening for the next couple of weeks. It also gives us lots of physical chores, which is good for us both (and also helps him sleep through the night, so I am way less cranky in the mornings.)

On Friday we went to NYC for a night to see my Brother and have some fun. While there, I went to an excellent wine dinner, but that will be in an upcoming post. On our way back, we stopped at Mitsuwa for some provisions, and we got home just in time for dinner. First up, some hamachi sashimi with ponzu; we didn't have any jalapeño for the full Nobuzation but I did sprinkle a little shichimi on mine after the picture. Milo was very impressed with the creamy fish combined with the complex fruity-umami sauce, and was gleefully excited to be eating raw fish; he's had it before on a number of occasions, but never this species so I guess it seemed new. He also declared that "yellowtail" is a silly name and "hamachi" is much better.

Next, more of the fabulous super-thick fresh udon in soy-enriched dashi with raw slices of Berkshire pork on top. They sell various cuts of beef and pork cut thin for shabu-shabu, but since I don't have one of those hot pots (I threw ours away after the Great Sterno Bender of aught-deuce) I just get the broth wicked hot and drop the meat in right away. It quickly reaches medium as you plunge each slice into the broth. More shichimi on top gave it a little peppery zing with citrusy highlights, and I had a couple cups of the Demon-Slayer sake I bought last time I went down.

Man, these silky fat noodles really do it for me these days. And with good broth and toppings (we're out of kimchi, but the new batch should be ready soon) they're so infinitely variable. Kind of a perfect substrate around which to organize the season-spanning meals that this time of year requires. And very popular with the kids today.

Monday, March 16, 2009


During the winter, I stumbled upon an amazing combination of flavors for a lasagna: veal and dashi. I wrote about it here. This time around it was different, but took advantage of another exotic broth to create a standard-looking dish that had a surprising depth and complexity of flavor. In this instance, I used the last quart of barbecued pork broth from the freezer plus a healthy dollop of our basil/sorrel/nasturtium pesto to make the velouté, and ground turkey with a jar of our free-range tomato sauce for the... uh... sauce.

The combination of our super-sweet tomatoes and the pork/pesto liason made the turkey almost taste like ground pork- even sausage- in terms of all the body and aroma it gathered. The noodles were a jerusalem artichoke flour-enhanced semolina, which were OK, but next time I will roll out a custom pasta, probably heavy on some mushroom essence (powdered shiitake and/or duxelles of whatever's growing in the woods) to give added profundity to the umamitude. So go forth, and slobber; the easiest way to take your lasagna to another place is by using a passionately smoky broth.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


With the thaw comes the discovery of various forgotten or hidden treasures in the garden that have made it through the winter unscathed. A week ago, on the first nice Saturday of the year, I was out there turning compost into beds and unearthing a remarkable variety of things- not all of which were expected. We leave parsnips until March so there's something to enjoy before the first greens come up, and there were some carrots in the parsnip bed as well. A few of the deeper potatoes made it, un-mulched, and the leeks always soldier through in pretty good shape. Some red onions also survived alongside the leeks, there were a couple each of turnips and black radishes in another bed, and somehow I missed a chioggia beet that was also OK after a little trimming.

Along with the last of our garlic- and some thyme and rosemary- I made a simple dish to celebrate all these noble survivors.

While these roasted in the oven, I vacuum-sealed a couple of boneless ribeyes and dropped them into 52˚ water for an hour, then seared them in a little smoked duck fat.

And I also made a green mash with dandelion greens, ume plum, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice- because nothing loves a steak like some bitter green mash with a little mustard on the side.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

You Were Thinking Zig, But I Zagged

I don't really have it in me to blog about the steak- realizing that by even saying this I'm making it sound like it's going to be exciting or something, which it likely will not be- so I'll continue to jump around in time like some too-clever-by-half pomo filmmaker and give you the dessert from a couple of days ago, when friends came bearing some of the takeout Pakistani food from the rednecky mini-mart near their house that changed hands recently. A couple of decent curries, rice cooked with black peppercorns, cloves, and copious butter, and not-bad salad for 8 bucks an order. Hard to argue, especially given the scarcity of edible South Asian food in these here parts.

I made dessert, though it is still an open question whether it makes the kids more or less wild; they get so amped up with asking for it very ten seconds that the minute of respite while they inhale it hardly seems like enough of a payoff. I think I prefer no sweets, since their disappointment is less shrill than their begging. But this time around, I cored some gala apples and popped them in a baking dish with the last of the fortified Australian muscat, cinnamon stick, star anise, maple syrup, black pepper, and a little brown sugar. When they were all soft, I strained the liquid into a pan and reduced it into what would have been a thick, gooey caramel given enough time, but instead- due to constant nagging from the little people- was merely an almost-caramel sauce. We scooped the last of some coconut-vanilla ice cream on top and set to. It was blessedly quiet for about a minute.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ça Fait Du Bien

This is out of order, but it does represent the end- though there's a fair amount leftover, so it's always possible I'll turn that into something new- of all the brothy goodness. Phillippe and Lea had invited us for dinner the other day, but we couldn't get a sitter so they came to us bearing cassoulet (the pics were either flashy or blurry.) It was delicious, and I made parsnips puréed with yogurt, olive oil, and a drop of vanilla, plus kale and rice and some pesto from the freezer to feel like I had some involvement. We drank a 1983 Drouhin Santenay- definitely on its way out- that did manage to lively up itself and go all delightfuly dried plum and mushroom incense on us while we began to eat. To follow, a 2000 Château Aiguilhe, which represents a pretty good bargain, hitting all the archetypal Bordeaux notes in fine style for a fraction of the price that houses in fancier neighborhoods command. Having said that, the difference between the two only further underscored why I love Burgundy and don't buy Bordeaux any more.

They left the casserole with us, and so today I took a chicken carcass from Sunday and simmered it with the usual to make a simple stock. Into which, once strained, went the leftover shepherd's pie, roasted roots from steak night (next post) roasted potatoes and garlic from the chicken, the parsnips, a lamb bone and the beans from the cassoulet, more carrots and celery, some of the rice, pesto, tomato paste, acini di pepe (WW pasta like couscous) and let it simmer gently for another hour or so. While it was doing its evil alchemy, I cubed a heel of stale bread and seasoned it up all crouton-like. I love fridge soup, and when the various remnants that go into it are of such high quality, the result is a transcendent bowl of deeply satisfying peasant luxe.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Taste The Rainbow, Motherfucker

Now I'm sure you've all been breathlessly, sleeplessly awaiting news of what happened to the rest of the BBQ pork/mutant Thai broth, and I'm pleased to be able to oblige so that you may return to your normal, non-awesome-broth-having lives. The short answer is shepherd's pie. The longer answer is that we had 2 frozen burger patties and I figured that in conjunction with all the veggie goodness that was also to be found in the fridge I might be able to pull off something that was rich and comforting while also being extremely healthy. And Milo LOVES him some shepherd's pie.

So the meat, browned in some duck fat- to which I then added enough flour to make a roux- got all snuggly with onions, celery, garlic, carrots and parsnips (from the garden) blue potatoes, butternut squash, leek, spinach, and the last of the broth, then simmered away while I steamed sweet potatoes. Once mashed and seasoned, I slathered them all atop the beef-o-riffic brothtacular splendor in a baking dish and dusted them with panko.

Now given that the meat to veg ratio in this version was pretty much upside-down from the traditional, one could reasonably expect it to have been a little on the lean side. But you'd be forgetting the broth. The porky, barbeque-scented, Thai-perfumed marvel of a broth which, abetted by the ducky roux, took the sparsely distributed beef particles and gave them a gleaming, silky continuum of yum in which to cavort, thus magnifying their Meaty Comfort Coefficient by an order of magnitude. We washed all this post-minimal late-winter hedonism down with a 2003 Cheze "Cuvée Ro-Ree" St. Joseph, which continues to be among my very favorite sub-$20 wines in the whole world. Assy, tangy, appealingly layered, it lacks the heft and seamless mid-palate of a great Syrah, but for the money it's hard to find something more compatible with food like this.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Seek Simplicity, And Distrust It

After chafing repeatedly at the inadequacies of my Thai food- specifically in terms of that restaurant-perfect authenticity that makes us (those of us who live in places that have it, that is) seek out cheap ethnic takeout much more often than we should- I finally broke down and ordered some stuff to help bring my cooking up to the level which my cravings require of me. Specifically, kaffir lime leaves and galangal, which I just can't find up here. Both freeze really well, so I ordered a fair amount and we should be set for a while.

C brought some chicken thighs and coconut milk back from the store per my request, and I had the rest prepped for their return because it was well nigh dinner time and dithering was not an option. To the BBQ pork broth I had added galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, ginger, garlic, and a slice of fresh yuzu from the jar that I preserved in salt with spices all Moroccan-styley a few months ago, and let it all simmer for an hour or so.

When they arrived, I hastily tried to put a brown on the thigh skins, then added onion and the spuds, and then poured in the coconut milk and broth. After a few minutes, I added bunch of coarsely chopped spinach and shredded kaffir lime leaf and let it go a bit longer. Then I served it on brown rice with a pinch of crunchy salt and a couple of chutneys.

It's hard to overstate how great this was; the broth had taken on such a panoply of flavors by this point that it became an ethereal symphony of smoke, spice, Southeast Asian twang, and meaty richness which both underpinned and overlayed the coconut's unctuosity, mingling with the giving density of the roots and perfuming the chicken to make for a pretty sublime onslaught of flavors and textures within a very traditional framework.

Always save your bones; I have no compunction about taking them from dinner guests and putting them all in the fridge for a day or two until there's time to make a stock. And if you can then add layers to the broth over the course of a few days, letting it become a unique, unduplicatable essence of the time, place, and sequence of ingredients which comprised your life, then you've got the foundation for food that makes indelible memories. It also helps to have beer, but I believe that we covered that last time.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Pork And Cabbage

This doesn't look like much, admittedly, but the flavors were stellar. I made a simple broth from the BBQ pork bones we saved from Saturday's dinner, simmering them for about three hours with onion, celery, carrot, ginger, fennel, anise, clove, garlic, and lemongrass. Then I strained it and ladled it into bowls of silky udon to which I added a spoon of soy-braised burdock and a big heap of kimchi from the jar.

The result was a transparent, weightless broth bearing the full aromatic wallop of slow-smoked pork ribs, plus the added complexity of the Asian flavors, enriched with earthy burdock and bright crunch, tang, and spice of the just-warm kimchi. Some cilantro or scallion would have made a nice garnish, as would a sliced jalapeño, but we didn't have any of those. What we did have was a big bottle of local Belgian-style ale, which was on balance preferable to a bunch of greenery anyway.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


On Saturday Kee and Todd came for dinner. We've only been meaning to get together for a year, so the event was right on schedule. They're both Southern, so I took it upon myself to violate one of their most sacred culinary traditions in that reckless and insensitive way that I have. It's one of the reasons we have to keep inviting new people over.

The white beans from the other night, whirled with garlic and olive oil in the processor, turned into a pretty skippy Crostino Adornment Paste® which we enjoyed while chatting, looking at the floor, and surreptitiously checking our watches. Milo and I had been out earlier, and bought some littlenecks, and I defrosted a quart of fish stock. Using the 10-grain mix from Wild Hive Farm- which I love, and have written about before- after a soak, I made a paella-flavored "risotto" with the fish stock, saffron, pimentón, and the liquor from steaming the clams over the grains at the end.

Having polished off the Spanish white I asked them to bring (a Rias Baixas albariño) with the crostini, I popped a 1983 Drouhin Chassagne-Montrachet to see if it was drinkable. The place where I get them has a bunch of old Burgundies that have dubious provenance, and some of them are completely cooked. But the ones that aren't make up for all the rest; this bottle cost $20 with the case discount and was pure plummy gorgeousness- like a lipstick that Lancôme only wishes they could have developed for Isabella Rossellini if they hadn't fired her for being over 40 because they're gigantic assholes.

Next up were country pork ribs with an espresso-based rub and an applesauce-vinegar based BBQ sauce; I tried to give a nod to the Carolinian in the house by leaving tomato out of the sauce. This is all pretty hilarious if you understand that just a few years ago (about 4) when I first started smoking ribs, my wife said "for a Jew who was a vegetarian for 18 years, you make some pretty fucking good ribs." In other words, I have no idea what I'm doing. But the smoked pork does seem to elicit strongly favorable reactions, so I continue.

To accompany said heresy, roasted beet salad, the first parsnips I've been able to get out of the garden (we like to leave them alone until now so there's something to enjoy from the ground in March) and discs cut from the neck of a butternut squash that I steamed until just tender. We drank a Pleiades XVI, since they love Thackrey too. Then we had some pistachio ice cream and blood orange sorbet that they brought (because I was too lazy to make dessert) along with some fortified Australian muscat that has been living in the door of the fridge for an age, as fortified wines are able to do so well.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Punk Rock Wine

The March issue of Chronogram is out, and in it is my profile of a couple of interesting winemakers. You can read it here.

You Know What Else Is Good?

Homemade sourdough, this time with 30% whole wheat, where the dough sat in the fridge for 6 days getting good and sour.

And, building upon this tangy, crackling foundation, some carciofi alla romana and local, organic navy beans pressure-cooked with guanciale, mirepoix, herbs, and smoked duck broth, and finished with truffle and olive oils.

I've been loving the shellfish lately, especially given their highly sustainable status, and big bowls of this (here steamed with sake, garlic, lemon thyme, and fresh yuzu; the liquid from this bowl went on to become the crab sauce from here) have been one of the defining culinary features of these last few months for me.

Also, from my trip to Boston for a bachelor dinner, an extra-special treat post-dinner: this bottle of Madeira given a few years earlier to the groom by a grateful Portuguese patient.

These are a few of my favorite things, especially for helping one make it through the late-stage spasmodic paroxysms of winter with some dignity and sanity intact.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

By Request

So the wife comes home from the store the other day armed with a tub of fat scallops and a pack of good bacon, and suggests that it would be a good idea if I wrapped the former in the latter. I did, fastening them with rosemary (perfect, because a bunch of branches on the plant just died to due the unhappy combination of underwatering and proximity to the radiator.) I put them on circles of the curried cauliflower-dashi gel and dribbled a pan sauce of agave, soy, and all the bacony goodness over them.

As good as they were, the next morning a few leftover ones chopped into scrambled eggs with truffle oil and rolled up in a tortilla with some sambal for breakfast were absolutely insanity-inducing.

True story.