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Turbo SPICY SPAGHETT’ talk with NYC Chef Mina Stone
Blackbird Spyplane — it isn’t just “earth’s no. 1 masterpiece newsletter” … it’s a motherf**king lifestyle.
So it was no surprise that during our recent call for “Personal Spyplane” questions on IG, a reader named @laminatedpastries wanted to know: “What’s the Spyplane recipe of the summer?”
This is a great question, because yes, BBSP’s taste levels when it comes to jawns are correctly known to be high, but that extends to our feast-game, too, baby.
This summer at Spyplane HQ we’ve been cheffing up recipe after recipe from Mina Stone’s extremely popping second cookbook, Lemon, Love & Olive Oil…
And NOTHING BUT DELECTABLE SLAPPERS have hit the d*mn table thus far!!
Mina used to cook the group meals for Urs Fischer’s studio, which is where she developed the material for her first cookbook, Cooking For Artists. These days she is the overlord at her all-day café at MoMA PS1, Mina’s, which opened right before the pandemic… and is now, happily, back up and rocking.
When Mina’s concocting dishes — either at the crib or at PS1 — she draws heavily from her Greek heritage, especially the simple but powerful Mediterranean / Levantine insight that if you put salt, lemon juice and good olive oil on virtually anything — possibly with some fresh-cut herbs ?? and / or some toasted nuts and seeds ?? — it’s gonna taste bright, clean, breezy… in a word, μεγαλοπρεπής!!
Mina’s new cookbook doesn’t come out until September, but U can pre-coppeth it below. And in the meantime we got her on the Spyphone for a profound conversation about how to cop inexpensive high-quality olive oil … popping Greek natty wines… and her exquisite, deceptively minimal SPICY SPAGHETT’ — the Spyplane Recipe of the Summer.
U can whip it up tonight, flick a little sauce on yr pants on some “Life Well Lived” s**t, & thank Mina tomorrow !!
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🐐🧀🍅🍝 Jonah & Erin
Blackbird Spyplane: I was at the grocery the other day looking at a wall of olive oil, bewildered & trying to figure out what the f**k to do, but guidance from yr cookbook calmed me — just look for something Greek where the olives all come from the same region. I wound up copping some Iliada “SINGLE ESTATE” (below) where the olives all come from the same Grecian grove… It was like $20 for 750ml and it’s fantastic!
Mina Stone: “I’m glad! Yeah, it’s this little bit of information that helps you pick out good olive oil and not pay too much for it. Even that California Olive Ranch brand you’ll see, just the fact that you know it’s all from California? That’s an affordable bottle that’s much better than something like Colavita, mixed from all these different regions — you can smell it immediately when you open the bottle.”
Blackbird Spyplane: It’s strange that, despite the obvious cultural association between Greeks and olives, most ppl never really think about Greek olive oil first — Italy has a lock on the mainstream imagination when it comes to that… There must be some slept-on, undervalued Greek gold out there.
Mina Stone: “I was just going off about this with my partner the other day, where we feel like Italians have been so good at marketing their food, whereas Greek olive oil and Greek products just never made it into the same chic, fetishized market. There’s no Eataly for Greece. And that’s true of lots of cuisines, but it’s funny that Greece has taken a backseat to products that are equal — I mean, not everything’s equal, every country has variations of things that are amazing when they’re produced in a certain place under the right conditions — but yeah, the short answer is that if you go to a place like Super King in L.A. or Sahadi’s in Brooklyn or some other shops down in Bay Ridge, you can get a huge tin of Greek olive oil, it’ll be $30, and it’ll be such high-quality stuff.”
Blackbird Spyplane: I also admire how much lemon juice goes into yr recipes — speaking of Bay Ridge, I love Tanoreen, and Rawia Bishara is Palestinian, not Greek, but she has that same thing figured out, where you can add so much depth and character to a dish, but keep it light and clean, using olive oil & lemon.
Mina Stone: “It’s funny you say that, because that was the exact restaurant where I had this kind of eureka moment: I had the most amazing meal, and Rawia was making the rounds. I bought her cookbook and she signed it for me, and her inscription was something, like, ‘Remember always to cook with love’ — I was so touched by that, and that’s the third element of my book title: Love, meaning everything you put on the table, from your heritage to your feelings toward the people you’re cooking for...
“But yeah, to your point, I remember this moment of insecurity working on the first book, where I looked at the recipes and said, ‘My god I’m a fraud, these are so simple, people are gonna think it’s ridiculous.’ But when it came out I think it really gave a lot of people the confidence to cook, because you could just look at a recipe and think, Oh, it’s easy. And yeah, it’s kind of amazing: If you make food lemony and salty, it’s great.”
Blackbird Spyplane: On the subject of not overthinking it, the Official Spyplane Recipe of the Summer is your SPICY SPAGHETT’ aka “ONE-POT SPAGHETTI WITH TOMATOES, CAPERS, AND BASIL” … This is the most delicious SPAGHETT’ I’ve had in memory. It’s super simple, and the fact that the pasta cooks directly in the sauce gives it deep flavor — U say the chili flakes are optional but IMO a little fire is mandatory!! We’ve had this as leftovers straight out of the fridge the next day and it’s a perfect cold lunch… maybe even tastier chilled?
Mina Stone: “So the story with that recipe is I opened up a cookbook a few years ago, I don’t remember which, and there was this one-pot spaghetti recipe, and I’m obsessed with finding the least amount of dishes you need to dirty, so I tried it out and made it all the time. It was simple, like cherry tomatoes and garlic. Then my roommate in college spent a summer in Sicily and came back telling us she’d had this pasta all summer with cherry tomatoes, salt-brined capers and a ton of basil...
Blackbird Spyplane: Capers in a pasta dish are sick. U can just buy a huge jar to keep on hand. Okay, so let’s say it’s humid as f**k… but now the sun’s setting… a breeze starts blowing — what are you drinking with this ??
Mina Stone: “Oh my god, we have this Greek orange wine that’s incredible. It’s called Roseus, it’s a natural wine that we have at the restaurant, and I’ll just stick a case in the car and bring it home with me...”
Blackbird Spyplane: O wow yr talking about a “blend of the oldest referenced grape in the world, the red Limnio, and Muscat de Alexandria from vines grown on the volcanic soil of Lemnos” — d*mn! Relatedly, what’s an under-the-radar Greek food you can put SPYPLANE NATION on to? Maybe something u could add to the spaghetti…
Mina Stone: “There’s a Greek cheese called kefalograviera, and it’s like the Greek version of parmesan, really salty and creamy. You can get a goat’s milk one, and it’s out of this world — and no one knows about it. In the book, I write about how when I was a kid in Greece I’d come back from a day at the beach and all I wanted was plain pasta with a ton of this cheese on it. You can eat it as a mezze with olives, but it’s so good on spaghetti.”
Blackbird Spyplane: [looks up “Abbondanza!!” in Greek] Αφθονία!!
Every “Blackbird Spyplane Interview,” with such luminaries of the arts & jawn sciences as Jerry Seinfeld, André 3000, Emily Bode, Lorde, Online Ceramics, Nathan Fielder, Phoebe Bridgers, Rashida Jones, Sandy Liang, John Wilson, Ezra Koenig, Romeo Okwara and more, is here.