Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Let's hope that Chef Boulud can get on with his business, makes lots of money and make everybody happy.
Boulud Settling Suit Alleging Bias at a French Restaurant - New York Times
Who's panicking? Anyone panicking about food imports from China? I just looked out my window, saw no one panicking about Chinese imports and took this picture to prove it. Not a soul is panicking.
Xenophobia at heart of product panic in US
Wow! They don't call themselves The Humane Society for nothing! Now they're expanding a lawsuit against Hudson Valley Farms and playing the inhumane to humans angle.
See, it goes like this: foie gras is not just bad for ducks (sic) it's also bad for people because according to a doctor WHO WORKS FOR THE HUMANE SOCIETY (pedantic emphasis obviously mine) citing a study that suggests but does not prove a relationship between foie gras consumption and amyloidosis
"This new study finds that foie gras consumption may increase the risk of developing amyloidosis in susceptible people, which is difficult to treat and often fatal," stated Michael Greger, MD, Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture for The HSUS. "Foie gras is produced by inducing a state of disease in ducks and geese by force-feeding, and the study notes that the potentially harmful 'pathological alteration is noticeably increased in birds subjected to stressful environmental conditions as well as to the forced feeding that is used to produce foie gras.'"
So what's the humane thing to do? Claim that Hudson Valley foie gras is an adulterated product from a diseased animal and sue the company under a NY State law that makes it illegal to sell adulterated food from diseased animals. I wonder how many witnesses they are going to bring to court to testify that they got amyloidosis from eating foie gras?
I imagine that if they do manage to bring in witnesses this would make for some damned good television because, as of this writing, the amyloid proteins in foie gras have only been shown to induce amyloidosis in MICE that were genetically engineered to develop (you guessed it) amyloidosis!
Whatever. I don't doubt that The Humane Society and like minded organizations are going to drive Hudson Valley Farms out of New York or out of business. But I wonder if their peculiar form of humanism is extensible to the hundreds of people who are going to lose their jobs when the company folds up shop.
What'd you think? Think HUSUS and PETA will buy up the farm and set the workers to growing hemp?
Study on Foie Gras Disease Risks Prompts Expanded Humane Society Lawsuit | The Humane Society of the United States
Monday, July 30, 2007
This just in from heirloom bean meister Steve Sando on his god- directed effort to make vinegar from pineapple.
"A friend alerted me to your post and I thought you might like an update.
The batch with the unprocessed apple cider vinegar added tasted like vinegar almost exactly a week later. I used the liquid and was happy but later a real "mother" formed on the top and the batch is very clearly acidic and vinegar now. I did this one in a glass "barrel" as in the photos. In the ceramic crock, I didn't use any apple cider vinegar. Just the pineapple, water and sugar in the form of piloncillo. The mother formed after about four weeks and I think this batch is superior.
Neither bacth had an open lid, but both lids fit loosely, if that matters. Both are stored on a dark pantry shelf that stays pretty warm.
I use it all the time, especially to finish off a bowl of beans. I'm storing the vinegar in used beer bottles (Corona, natch!) with wine corks in them and passing them out to friends as I have a lot.
Glad to meet you!"
Holy Mother of G-d, your experiment worked. My concern over the prevalence of acetic acid producing bacteria in your arid homeland was for naught. There was more than enough to do the job and you are now enjoying vinagre de la pina. I'm not surprised that it took four weeks to produce a ready batch. The initial mixture had to first ferment into "wine" then wait patiently for the alcohol munching bacteria to grow apace and spew out the acetic acid required to produce a respectable vinegar. But whatever, it worked! Adding sugar (piloncillo) was a great idea and gave a boost to the alcohol producing yeast so that when their time came the acetobacteria had something to eat and convert -like so many million tiny Stanley Owsleys- into acid.
Some in Berlin oppose McDonald's arrival - Yahoo! News
Unless I've missed something, this uncharacteristically incomplete piece of journalism from the NY Times discusses upcoming regulations from the FDA that will clear the way for a barnyard of genetically engineered animals without actually citing or sourcing the regulations. But it does make the interesting point that even if the animals mentioned in the piece get the go ahead to go forth and multiply from the gods of Rockville Maryland, there may be no money to send the little piggies and their friends to market. Apparently, investors who have been bullish on genetically engineered crops are not so confident that the public will be hungry for GM meat.
I'm not at all surprised. In my experience more people identify with animals than they do with plants. So whereas most people might yawn when they drive by a field of corn plants with genes from a bacterium inserted into their genome, they'd get a bad case of the wiggles from a hog with a roundworm gene directing it's fat cells to squirt out omega 3 fatty acids.
Oh, that's going to sell like crazy; Carpaccio of pork with roundworm gene anyone? Yum!
I'm not anti-GM, not by a long shot. But some of this stuff sounds like bad news. Salmon that grows twice as fast as non-GM salmon? For what? There's already too much salmon around and you can bet that if it grows fast it's going to taste like crap. And what happens if it escapes and begins to compete with wild salmon? Seems like bad news for everyone except the people who would farm it.
The only animal mentioned in the article that sounds like a good thing is a GM hog that is engineered to absorb more phosphorus from it's diet and so limit the amount of phosphorus pollution from hog manure. But even this sounds more like something that would be great for farmers but of questionable value to the rest of us.
Without U.S. Rules, Biotech Food Lacks Investors - New York Times
Steven is attempting to make pineapple vinegar by fermenting a pineapple in a jar of water.
Steven's pineapple vinegar experiment should work. But first the pineapple is going to have to ferment into wine before the acetic acid producing bacteria can do it's work. I'm also wondering if there is going to be enough bacteria already present in his set up to get the job done. The air is pretty dry where he lives and one cannot presume there is going to be a lot of microorganisms floating around...
Rancho Gordo: Experiments from my mostly New World kitchen and gardens: Pineapple Vinegar
The recent kerfluffle over butter following Ruhman's cruel flensing (wink*) of Daniel Patterson's July 1 NY Times article on the subject actually got me interested in making some butter myself. So I did my due diligence and googled, dialed and drove all over the got-damned place trying to find raw cream, of course, to no avail. I live close enough to thousands of Amish farmers that I suppose that if I grew out my beard and pulled all the buttons and zippers off my clothes, I might have been able to insinuate myself into someone's barn to squeeze out a couple of pints before someone spoke to me in Deutsch and exposed my clever deception. But it hardly seemed worth it. (Don't you think?)
In the end I made some butter from organic heavy cream and chunks of sea salt and it was pretty good, although not good enough to justify the effort to anyone other than my over-weaned need to make my own food whenever I can. But I haven't given up on finding raw cream to splatter my glasses again and came across this nutty-enough-to-make-perfect-sense idea this morning : Cow Shares. It's essentially the same concept as a CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) agreement with a bovine core.
Cow Share Agreements
Sunday, July 29, 2007
A few weeks ago I was setting up to make another batch of sour dough starter. It's a mostly a no- brainer process that I've been doing weekly -for years. All I do is mix some organic flour, and water, let it sit on the kitchen counter (next to my stand mixer, of course) for 24 hours, then add more flour and water and let is sit for another 24 hours. During this time the yeast that is naturally present in the flour convert starches into sugar, carbon dioxide and alcohol, while the also naturally present lactobacilli convert some of the sugar into sour tasting lactic acid.
So I'm mixing the stuff up when I remember that there are going to be a lot more microorganisms in the flour than just one species of yeast and one of bacteria. Perhaps at the end of fermentation in addition to a lot of alcohol producing yeast, there would also be a lot of the alcohol consuming acetic acid producing bacteria that are used to ferment wine into vinegar?
In other words all I had to do to turn the bottle of funky Cabernet sitting in my pantry into vinegar was drop in a blob of fully fermented sour dough starter, aerate it everyday for a while and that was it?
Yeah well, it worked. So all that fussing, all the emails to colleagues asking for advice all the search strings for "mother of vinegar," "acetobacteria" and so on, were largely a waste of time.
The answer to the problem was sitting on my kitchen counter all along.
Humane Society sues DEC over Hudson Valley Foie Gras
Forgive us for stating the obvious but these folks are not kidding around.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
A starter kit priced at £42.95 brings together these three essentials, along with a tool kit of two syringes and dosing and collecting spoons.El Bulli molecular gastronomy kit from Infusions
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Wow, it looks like either a lot of people just can't say no to their mouths or something else is turning millions into bipedal pork. If the data that informs the linked map can be trusted, the obesity rate between states is pretty uniform. Only 7 show rates between 10-14%, while the rest of the country is larded up at >20 %.
As a reformed fat person who dropped 90 lbs 3o-something years back by eating less and moving more, it's hard for me to imagine that the problem is caused by anything other than gluttony and sloth. But who knows? Perhaps the nation is being fattened up by aliens prior to being picked up for transport to an ET abbatoir. Actually, I'm sure that is the case.
I recall seeing a show on TV back in the 60's entitled "To Serve Man" that made it clear that aliens have a thing for human flesh.
And as everyone one knows, everything on TV is in toto de facto.
Fit Nation: The Obesity Fight - Special Reports from CNN.com
"There were enough honey bees to provide pollination for U.S. agriculture this year, but beekeepers could face a serious problem next year and beyond," Buchanan said. "This action plan provides a coordinated framework to ensure that all of the research that needs to be done is covered in order to get to the bottom of the CCD problem."
Four possible causes for CCD are identified in the plan: (1) new or reemerging pathogens, (2) new bee pests or parasites, (3) environmental and/or nutritional stress, or (4) pesticides. Research will focus on determining which of these factors are contributing causes of CCD, either individually or in combination.
PA Farm News
Monday, July 23, 2007
This has been a public service announcement.
7 in Suffolk sick from E. coli in ground beef - Newsday.com
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers not to buy or eat imported fish labeled as monkfish, which actually may be puffer fish, containing a potentially deadly toxin called tetrodotoxin. Eating puffer fish that contain this potent toxin can result in serious illness or death.
How would you know if the thawed monkfish in the supermarket fish counter was imported or not?
FDA Warning on Mislabeled Monkfish
Food recall expanded due to botulism outbreak - Jul. 23, 2007
Food critic Gael Greene lives a life of excess - 07/22/2007 - MiamiHerald.com
Sunday, July 22, 2007
This sounds too good to be false: a fruit from Ghana that contains a glycoprotein named Miraculin, that tricks your nervous system into thinking that something sour is actually sweet. This could be a very useful ingredient. I don't know what the hell I would do with it other than trick my kids into eating grapefruit. But I'm sure that more clever chefs than I will find a way to make hay out of it.
Freedom to Tinker » Blog Archive » Miracle Fruit: Tinkering with our Taste Buds
Tao Las Vegas - Venetian Hotel - Setting Restaurant Records by Selling the Sizzle - New York Times
The wall is about 112 feet long, 2 feet high and 2 1/2 feet thick. I used about 26 tons of sandstone and 15 tons of gravel for backfilling.
BEIJING police have detained a television reporter for fabricating an investigative story about steamed buns stuffed with cardboard at a time when China's food safety is under intense international scrutiny.A report directed by Beijing TV and played on state-run national broadcaster China Central Television last Thursday said an unlicensed snack vendor in eastern Beijing was selling steamed dumplings stuffed with cardboard soaked in caustic soda and seasoned with pork flavouring.
Beijing authorities said investigations had found that an employee surnamed Zi had fabricated the report to garner "higher audience ratings", the China Daily said on Thursday.
"Zi had provided all the cardboard and asked the vendor to soak it. It's all cheating," the paper quoted a government notice as saying.
Reporter detained over fake food story | The Australian
Hmm, fabricating a story about a street vendor who puts cardboard in dumplings while knowing that the Chinese government executes people for generating bad publicity for their grand experiment in controlling human behavior? Wanna bet that the street vendor isn't chilling in a shallow grave somewhere and that Mr. Zi won't be staying inside for a few weeks while his eyeballs resume their normal position? I wouldn't.
In case anyone was wondering what 40 tons of Avondale Brownstone, 35 tons of gravel and 90 bags of mortar looks like here it is.
I began this little terrace/patio project last summer and at the rate I'm going it won't be done for until another winter has passed. It's pretty slow going because with the exception of one day when, to my astonishment, Tags came by to help shovel gravel (can you imagine?) I've been working this solo. I've still got to flag the top of the wall, level off the deck with sand or stone flour (probably the latter) then flag that too.
I like doing this stuff. Don't all Italians -even culturally adumbrated ones like me- love working stone and cooking? I'm pretty sure that such stuff is genetically hardwired. But there are many moments during a project like this when I wish that it would be far better to be really rich, pay my money and watch someone else play the role of Neo-Vitruvius.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Oh great, Hasbro is recalling one million Easy Bake ovens because of some design flaw that might cause burns. Forgetting for the moment that ovens are supposed to get hot, what are the one million cooks supposed to do while our ovens are being replaced? Eat mass produced cake full of tainted ingredients from China?
This is stone cold wrong. Somebody at Hasbro has to answer for this and pay with jail time. Serious jail time.
Hasbro's toy ovens pose burn risk, recalled - Jul. 19, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
This latest offering by Mark Bittman of a list of 101 dishes that can be cooked in 10 minutes or less makes me think of an oft-repeated response to critics of Rachel Ray who, as anyone with a nanometer of sense understands, cannot cook to save the life of a virus. "Well," Ray's apologists opine "at least she's inspiring people to cook their own food."
Yeah, I say, she's doing them a real favor by inspiring them to add canned tuna fish to jarred tomato sauce when they could be eating a Big Mac and not having to scrub pots. Thanks Raych!
I feel almost the same way about Bittman's quick and easy approach to cooking and his recent list of Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less. Cooking, not matter how simple the dish, is only a small portion of the total work involved in getting a meal on the table. Even a fast dish like boiled lobster with lemon and butter from Bittman's list requies that the cook
- works X minutes to earn the purchase money
- spends X minutes transporting ingredients home
- Cooks 10 minutes
- Cleans at least 10 minutes
And it never, I mean never, talks about all the drudge work that comes along with it.
I'm not suggesting that cooking cannot be immensely rewarding -far from it. But I think that in taking the rhetorical position it's so easy, anybody can do it! food media evangelists like Rachel Ray and Mark Bittman end up tricking a lot of people into wasting money on books and wasting time in front of the TV and in the kitchen when they could be out doing something more idiosyncratically fulfilling, like picking up the phone and ordering a pizza.
Summer Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less - New York Times
"Scientists at the University of Minnesota have been evaluating the impact of antibiotic feeding in livestock production on the environment. This particular study, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), evaluated whether food crops accumulate antibiotics from soils spread with manure that contains antibiotics."
Routine Feeding Of Antibiotics To Livestock May Be Contaminating The Environment
One obvious implication here is that even if you eat no meat and consume nothing but plants you may still be unwittingly consuming antibiotics if the soil had been fertilized with manure from a typical feedlot. Not so obvious is that because of loopholes in organic food labeling laws you may still be getting the antibiotics if antibiotic containing manure or ground water was used on the fields.
My, Ahem,. thanks to Gary Allen for the tip off.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
After that, who knows? The quarry is delivering 18 tons of 3/4 inch gravel and, well, I'm going to have to move that too.
BTW, I suppose there was time when the simile working like a dog made some sense. But I've not seen a dog do a stitch of real work in a dog's age. I mean, look at my dog there. He's good for nothing, his forelegs aren't even long enough to reach the steering wheel.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
According to this nine (Yeah, that's right 9) picketers led by Christopher Semick of Philadelphia Advocates for the Animals (PAFA) were deliberately given bad information by Nick Cooney who heads up a rival organization named Hugs for Puppies causing them to picket the house of a chef who has never served the stuff and has never worked in a restaurant that served it.
This is just too intriguing to pass up the opportunity to conjecture that we may be at the cusp of a power struggle of herculean proportions, and with far ranging impact. Then on the other hand, maybe not.
You can read about it HERE after scrolling down to Ducking the Issue.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Tonight I had to eat alone. My kids have been away at camp for over a week and my wife is in New York on business and to my chagrin, having dinner with her business associates at Del Posto ($%#@&!?) To make things a bit more challenging, the larder is run down from having half of the family away for over a week. It would have been great if I could just climb into the car and go somewhere and scarf a meal. But I'm a cook and cooks don't do that. So the "net net" is that I had to scrap a bit to put something together for myself to eat that satisfied this cook's dictum I live under that compels me to cook my own food all the time. After probing around a while in the fridge and freezer, I came up with this: a frittata of zucchini, mozzarella, basil and prosciutto.
I made the frittata with 3 CSA eggs, some paysanne cut and sauteed zucchini, a chiffonade of basil from the garden with a "whiff of garlic", and some mozzarella and prosciutto di Parma. You see it here after it has been started in olive oil on the stove top and just retrieved from the broiler.
I ate it with some bread I made myself ( a sough dough made with rye and high gluten flour, wheat berries and flax seeds and some other stuff), a drizzle of some Denominazione di Protetta extra virgin olive oil (Tandem brand) , a half bottle of Les Piliers Sauvignon (2006) and some really good butter laced with big crystals of sea salt (Sevre& Belle La Baratte des Gourmets) all of it served on top of Sunday's NY Times. It was all very good and now I don't care much about no dictum. Actually, I'm happy to be tasked by it.
I don't think tomorrow's dinner is going to be this good. I'm taking delivery of 20 tons of stone and a 4 ton loader and will be spending the day dumping rocks into a big hole. So maybe, just maybe, I'll be ordering a pizza. Pity me.
Hi, my name is Bob and I am not a chocoholic. But this morning I got an email from Tags (who lives somewhere nearby) telling me that some guy in my town makes some of the best chocolate around. So I decided to stop by Eclat and check it out.
Now the truth is that I've walked by this store at least a dozen times since I moved to West Chester, Pa two years ago. I even walked by with my wife and two kids all yanking on my coat and oohing and ahing over the rows of truffles, bombes and eggs that for all appearences looked first rate. But still I didn't go in because more often than not I have been disappointed to discover that the small artisanal shop I thought I was looking at, was really just an outlet store for overpriced mass produced waxy gloop.
Well duh, was I ever wrong about this place. Chris Curtin, the owner, is a Certified Master Pastry Chef (Germany) and makes all the chocolate in house. He has the couverture blended to spec by several chocolate manufacturers and has plans in the works to roast his own pods and conch and refine his own blends. He's serious and it shows in the work. I bought a box of a dozen truffles and -I'm not sure what to call them- squares? Coins? Some of them were not to my taste, but they were all superbly rendered with no obvious grit in the couverture or ganache, just barely melting to skin temperature (ca. 93 degrees F) and rapidly melting on the tongue
( ca. 96 degrees F). One of them was a standout that made me wish I'd bought more: a dark milk chocolate couverture wrapped around viscous caramel and napped with a bit of sea salt.
Damn it was good.
Don't get me wrong, I actually dig the idea of using food grade chemicals, thermodynamic principles and medical instruments to make really expensive food. I've been pushing for a more left-brain approach to the culinary arts for a long time and made that a big part of the Advanced Culinary Principles class I taught at The CIA. But I'm getting a bit weary of having to type "molecular" into search stings when I'm looking for information about how and where this manner of cooking is developing.
Each time I find another chef cooking up molecular gastronomy I think back to that March '07 post at Ruhlman.com in which Michael Rulhman and Grant Achatz decry the use of the term MG as inaccurate and unwieldy and closes with Ruhlman opining
But we stopped referring to Nouvelle Cuisine as such, after its essential mandates were fully incorporated into the fine dining idiom. In the hands of a chef such as Achatz, whose culinary fundamentals (how to cook a potato, how to make a chestnut puree) are so exquisite, I hope we stop calling the new new cuisine [MG]anything at all other than really good food.Although I argued a bit with Ruhlman about the appropriateness of the term and cited numerous similarities between what chef's like Grant Achatz and Ferran Adria appeared to be "saying" with their work to the thesis of one of the originators of the concept of molecular gastronomy (Herve This), in the end I had to agree that the term was not fit to describe this manner of cooking. To be frank, I have even come to share his frustration with it's continued use and wish it would just go away along with a bunch of other constantly misapplied and terms like "paradigm shift" and "devolution."
But it seems that like these latter two unfortunate bits of adverbial smut, molecular gastronomy is a true meme: an easily remembered concept or sound that spreads like a virus and in it most affective form survives through many generations (e.g. "Ring around a Rosy" or the tune "Reveille"). So I think it's going to be a long time before Ruhlman sees the fulfillment of his wish to see it meet the same fate as the term "nouvelle cuisine." And it does not please me in the least, that in order to be comprehensible to my readers on the subject, I have to use it in my posts and so become complicit in keeping it alive.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Rick Steves has written a very nice article about a visit he made to a French farm on Dordogne that produces foie gras d' oie (goose foie gras). I have read a lot of articles like this over the years, and even though they mostly confirm my belief that the process of force feeding (gavage) is intrinsically benign and that most French producers treat their animals well, he has to screw it all up. Why, for goodness sakes, did he have to include this
"Nathalie, like other French enthusiasts of la gavage, says that while their animals are calm, in no pain, and are designed to take in food this way, American farm animals are typically kept in little boxes and fed chemicals and hormones to get fat. Most battery chickens in the United States live less than two months and are plumped with hormones. Her geese are free range and live six months."In three sentences Rick Steves plays into the hands of American anti foie gras activists who seek to take advantage of public ignorance of the artisan nature of the two American foie gras farms and lump their practices in with mass production poultry chicken farms like the ones that raise chickens for Tyson. Thanks for nothing Rick, I hope you enjoyed your trip to France.
Fattened geese in France's Dordogne - CNN.com:
The photo at left shows the handiwork of an alleged vegan activist who apparently does not like the fact that foie gras and veal are served at the restaurant Jezebel in Austin, Texas.
If you click it or the terrine below you can see other examples of the art that someone who calls himself Veganstar left on six more restaurants. The same alleged vegan may or may not have been responsible for throwing a brick through the window of another Austin restaurant on Thursday.
It's a bit hard to imagine that a vegetarian has this much bile. I was under the impression bile was secreted by the gall bladder to facilitate the digestion of fat which, in theory at least, should not e very abundant in a vegan diet. Maybe this vegan eats a lot of coconuts.
Friday, July 13, 2007
1/4 cup shelled hempseeds
1 cup water
flavorings (vanilla, maple syrup or honey)
Place seeds into a blender and add small amount of water 1 inch above the seeds. Turn blender on at multiple speeds and agitate seeds so they become a thick hemp cream.
Then add either vanilla, maple syrup or honey or only a ripe banana and serve as a thick drink or add water at a ratio of 4.75 water to 1 part seed for a lighter hemp milk.
A great alternative to soy milk without the throwaway aseptic containers.Bet your cat will like it too. BdG
I mean if like really rich corporate lawyers with like 750 ils are like paying 30 dinero for like f--kin' water, just think of the babes that'll be there with like Gucci shoes and big lips and sh-t.
wcbstv.com - First Class Glass: Bottle Of Water $55 In N.Y.
A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge ruled this afternoon that [Hugs for Puppies] protesters of foie gras cannot interfere with Bastille Day festivities planned for this Saturday at the London Grill restaurant on Fairmount Avenue.
Foie gras protesters must stay 50 feet away
Hugs for Puppies? That's an awfully cute name for a group united under the banner of such a noble cause: eradicating meat.
This is kind of cool: someone named Lia describes a May 2007 meal at El Bulli and illustrates it with photographs.
I was surprised to learn that the 30+ course tasting menu only cost about $250. That's about 8 bucks per course for extremely carefully prepared food. Rabbit's Brains aux beurre noisette. By comparison a the price of a Big Mac in Europe can be as high as 9 dollars.
>Dinner at El Bulli<
Thursday, July 12, 2007
He's blogging at Bravo.
Tom's Blog: Read Tom Colicchio's Online Blog - Top Chef TV Show - Official Bravo TV Site
I discovered this thanks to an email from Kal (kaldragon)
I think that something close to the order of my Uncertainty Principle may have to be invoked in certain instances when someone describes what they are doing as "molecular." If someone calls something they do "molecular gastronomy" but does not offer or appear to know any information about the behavior of the molecules in the thing under preparation then we may have to allow that the method of preparation is molecular at the same time that it is not.
In the case of this video from spiritsandcocktails.com, two mixologists from the Seattle restaurant Vessel, teach us how to make a molecular cocktail suspiciously named Vessel 75. (I had wrongly assumed that the 75 referred to the atomic number of one of the ingredients but disgarded that idea when they did not add any rhenium to the mix.) They tell us that what makes the drink molecular is that alcohol is burned during the process and it is topped with foam. There is no discussion of the physical principles involved and not a word about molecules, yet they say it is molecular. Mein Got! How can we explain this contradiction without invoking a hypothesis that proposes that something can be one thing (e.g. molecular) and not that thing simultaneously?
Finally, I have to warn you that as the molecular gastronomic spreads we are going to be confronted with apparent contradictions of logic such as this with increasing frequency.
Here is the link to the video again: Vessel 75. Let us hope that we have the time and the wisdom to work this out before Rachel Ray or Burger King gets their hands on the concept and we start begin having to explain it to children or the people who go to those big churches.
To paraphrase my cyber colleague Don Luis writing in response to my post about restaurant based credit card skimming, How about just not buying dietary supplements? This way we won't have to worry if they contain chemicals that aren't supposed to be there. And because so many of these medications contain potentially dangerous chemicals that are made in China, we won't have to worry about whether or not we are guilty of xenophobia when we choose one with a "China-Free" label.
Americans alone spend over $22 billion dollars a year on vitamins and strange pills of questionable value. I'm sure everyone knows someone who carts around a fishing tackle box full of yeast pills, algae extract gel tabs, caps of funky herbs that look like their supposed to do something more amusing than lower blood pressure or improve erectile distention (Okay, well that might qualify as amusing). I know know a couple of these, and each time I see one of these credulous placebo poppers, or when I glide by the endless rows of pill bottles in the supermarket I wonder Why not just eat a balanced diet composed of natural foods?
Sh-t, if someone is constantly constipated or not getting enough vitamins maybe they should eat more fruits and vegetables? If they're too fat perhaps they might consider eating less or moving around a little bit more.
If a doctor can't prescribe an FDA approved drug that has undergone rigorous clinical trials to help you sleep, what makes someone think that some pill from a company that does no testing is going to help? Why not try reading a book, doing a couple of hundred push-ups or even better, drink some vino puro.
I know it is not fair to extrapolate from personal experience but I'm going to do it anyway. I have not taken regular vitamin supplement since I was a kid. In fact, I don't take any kind of supplement nor will I unless my doctor tells me I should. I eat well and broadly, I don't eat when I'm not hungry , drink wine everyday, and get plenty of exercise. I'll bet that at least half of that 22 billion dollars that is spent on dietary supplements every year would be erased if everyone had the same attitude.
Hmmm...now if only I could come up with a plan to market my lifestyle I'll bet I could make a fortune.
'China-free' label stokes import debate
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
I'm not sure how to explain this but yesterday after my wife told me that she was going to spend the better part of the morning shopping at places like Target and Loew's I asked her if she would not mind picking up a Remy ex Ratatouille rat for me. I don't know if she agreed to do it because with the kids away at camp in North Carolina she's feeling lonely and so predisposed to be kind to me, or if she's just resigned to the fact that her fifty two year old husband is not as mature as his age should warrant.
But there he is: my rat holding a piece of rubber cheese while he contemplates the presence of two pieces of roasted fennel left over from last night's salad. He's beautiful, no?
The last time I had a rats in my kitchen was 1984. I was working in a restaurant (Le Coq Hardi) in the basement of a converted 19th century carriage shop in Ridgefield, Connecticut. I discovered their intrusion one morning when I found gnaw marks in a block of Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate in the dry goods storage at the rear of the main dining room. I quickly located their point of entry to an area just under the dish washing station where the mortar that bound the field stone foundation had become soft from the constant dampness.
While I was poking around under the pot sink my dishwasher, a louche 17 year old who was often so stoned that he would entertain himself by placing a single spoon in the sink and shooting it with the rinse wand, walked in and asked me what I was doing under the sink.
"We've got a problem" I said, "small animals have broken through the foundation and are coming in at night and stealing our food. This morning I found a 1/4 pound of chocolate missing."
"Small animals?" He said, "What kind of small animals?"
"Toy poodles. Toy poodles are digging down from the parking lot and eating through the foundation."
"Wow, man. That's f--ked up" He said and walked off to punch his time card.
I never bothered to tell him that I'd been busting his chops. He was useless as a dishwasher and I was planning to fire him as soon as I could find a replacement. In my youth I had no use for fools like him and may not have bothered to tell him the truth even if he had been the best employee in the house. But now, as I enter the dawn of my dodder hood and find myself writing about my delight over the purchase of a rubber rat, I have to wonder if that boy -now grown into a man- will not read this and think "What an asshole."
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Anyone who has ever headed up a certain kind of restaurant can relate to the fatigue that seems to seep through the pores of this young man's skin. His red-rimmed eyes tell it all. He hasn't seen the sun in weeks and sleep is almost as rare as a day off. He's Paul Liebrandt of Gilt restaurant in New York. I don't know him from dog logic but from his portfolio and the look on his face, I'll bet he's a serious dude.
Well, "On Food and Cooking" has been up on Google books for quite some time, and like all books that the Google team has scanned is searchable. Apparently Mr. McGee has buttonholed some Google engineers (I'm guessing he promised to explain Molecular Gastronomy to them as payment.) to build a feature into his site that will allow anyone to search his book from there.
So the next time you need to get scienced up you can go here
Search "On Food & Cooking"
Oddly, my two copies of On Food and Cooking are less than four feet from my desk. But such is the nature of the cyber life that I probably won't be having to get up from my seat to read them much anymore.
On the other hand the movement does bear some responsibility for inciting credulous and passionate folks like this to criminal action by publicizing images and information about how some animals are treated and providing them with at least the illusion of an organization that supports their nasty behavior.
One foie gras foe vandalized 7 eateries, Web poster claims
I've tried to find the post that contains these photos but so far have had no luck. If anyone does come across these please send me a link to firstname.lastname@example.org or put it in a comment box and I will post with attribution.
On the brighter side, while 70 percent seems like a big number it's impossible to judge how often this happens and judging personal risk without knowing the total number of incidents . So don't be calling your doctor for any Ambien scripts just yet.
But you can be sure that Bob dG going to be paying more attention to the behavior of servers from hereon.
Restaurants Test Table Card Readers - TIME
Monday, July 9, 2007
I love stories like this if for no other reason than for the story it suggests of it's origin and the intent of the writer. It seems that somebody in Taiwan is upset that "a chef" is serving fish that is not dead and not alive. I put the phrase "a chef" in quotes not to call the skill of the person who prepared the dish into question, but to emphasize the point that this type of dish has been commonplace in China and Japan for centuries and is being prepared by thousands of chefs as I write. So it's hard for me to believe that only one chef is being singled out for this practice. But who knows? Maybe he's a really famous chef and so makes a good target for animal rights activists.
Anyway, whoever put this story up at WGAL and the original author at The Associated Press must have decided to frame the incident in the narrowest way possible for no other reason than to create a tasty little blurb that would get people worked up without having to think very much about what it all means. In other words it is propaganda that serves no higher purpose other than to get attention.
If the intention had been otherwise the writer might have mentioned that the dish is referred to as ying-yang fish because it is designed to embody one of the principal concepts of the ancient practice of Taoism which calls the practitioner to pay attention to the proposition that things and ideas have either have a ying identity, a yang identity or both in complementary opposition.
(Ying may be thought of as cool or shady, while yang is suggests the heat of the sun and fire.
Ying is a passive, downward force that seeks the earth while yang is active and moves upward.)
The dish in contention is made by frying the live fish very quickly and leaving the head above the level of the oil so that when it is served the eyes and gills are animate. The Taoist rationale for this is to provoke the eater to recognize that the ying (cool, downward towards death) and yang (hot, active, alive) principles are on the plate for his contemplation. It also, I aver, compels the eater to think deeply about the inescapable fact life and death are coeval.
But this narrow little piece of mass market fish feed can only present the story as a tale of
the right of a fish to killed before it is eaten rather than the human right to think about the nature of the Taoist universe and his own role in the death of the animals he eats.
Personally, I'd kill the fish before I cooked it, but then I'm no Taoist.
Chef Under Fire For Serving Half-Dead Fish
Friday, July 6, 2007
"I can't believe it. They had a party at the power plant and the chef made haute coiffure. It was really good. Homie was upset that there were no donuts but I had a dish that looked just like hair! I wonder how they made it!"
The Nassau Guardian - www.thenassauguardian.com
Teresa Wilson, chef and co-owner of Aquarelle on Rio Grande Street, and Parind Vora, chef-owner of Restaurant Jezebel on Congress Avenue, reported that their eateries had been spray painted with anti-foie gras slogans. Jezebel was recently singled out by a local animal rights group conducting a campaign against foie gras, which critics say is produced inhumanely.
Metro & State Briefing
"What appears to be a half-squid, half-octopus specimen found off Keahole Point on the Big Island remains unidentified today and could possibly be a new species, said local biologists.
The specimen was found caught in a filter in one of Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority's deep-sea water pipelines last week. The pipeline, which runs 3,000 feet deep, sucks up cold, deep-sea water for the tenants of the natural energy lab."
Wow this is exciting news and raises all kinds of questions like will it be tough as tough as octopus or as tender as squid? Should we deep fry it or braise it and finish it with a gremolata? Will batter even stick to it?
Scientists haven't formally classified it yet and aren't sure if it's a new species or a strange and flavorful hybrid, but what should cooks call it in the meantime? Polpomari? Calapolpo?
And don't forget the most profound question of all: Will there be enough for an entree or will we have to run it as an app?
starbulletin.com | News | /2007/07/05/
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Wired News - AP News
Thanks to Gary Allen for the link.
Take it away McGee...
News For Curious Cooks: New developments in tomato flavor, part 1: Save the seeds
Oy f--king vey.
"Organisers of the Live Earth concerts should not sell burgers or hot dogs at the high profile gigs, an animal rights group claimed today.
Peta said that selling meat at a concert for the environment would be like selling cigarettes at an anti-cancer fundraiser because of the amount of greenhouse gas emitted by the meat farming industry."
Wembley Urged To Take Meat Off Live Earth Menu - UK News Headlines
Anyone who has ever worked in haute cuisine and does not walk out of Ratatouille with his jaw on the floor will eventually be diagnosed with some type of mental or emotional disability. Come to think of it, this movie is brilliant on so many levels that even if you've never heard of haute cuisine you will find something here to make you slap your head and thank the heavens that you are human and that you are in the company of other humans who are able to make art like this.
They got almost everything right, the attitudes, the culture of the kitchen, the cooking and plating processes and all of the salient but generally esoteric arguments about how to think about cooking and eating like a fully realized human being. It is the most profound movie about food and cooking since Babette's Feast and way more accessible for kids than that lovely film.
If you haven't seen Ratatouille, make sure you do. And if you don't like it, you can blame me for wasting your money.
A Guide to Food and Restaurants in West Chester PA | West Chester Dish
The year was 1915 and war was raging across the continent. My own grandfather was fighting the armies of the Kaiser from the back of a horse along the borders of Italy. And what were the good people of Paddehatten (Denmark I assume) doing while the rest of Europe was going up in flames?
Fantasizing about traveling to Tivoli to eat hallucinogenic mushrooms and escargot apparently.
I changed this post a bit following the advice of Fatbear who pointed out that
the original post misidentified the destination as Tivoli, Itlay when it had to have been
Tivoli Gardens in Denmark.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Oh dear me. After so many years of listening to Michael Ruhlman say that he'd rather do time in prison with the blind sheik that own a restaurant someone comes along and opens a restaurant named Brasserie Ruhlmann and threatens to flood the inbox of one our favorite writers with angry emails charging him with hypocrisy and dissimulation.
I'm still waiting for you baby.
Philadelphia Inquirer restaurant critic Craig La Ban wrote a review of Chops a steakhouse
in suburban Bala Cynwyd and now they are suing him for libel. The lawsuit contends that La Ban wrote false information when he wrote
A recent meal, though, was expensive and disappointing, from the soggy and sour chopped salad to a miserably tough and fatty strip steak. The crabcake, though, was excellent."The restaurant owner's lawyers contend
LaBan didn't eat a strip steak, but instead had a "steak sandwich without bread."The Inquirer's lawyers countered with
LaBan's notes and his receipt for the meal, which shows he was charged for steak frites - steak and french fries. They also submitted to the court copies of steak frites recipes from celebrity chefs Emeril Lagasse and Rachael Ray, both of which call for strip steaks.
And the lawyer's for both sides now agree
LaBan ate steak frites, not a steak sandwich without bread. But Rassias [the restaurant's attorney] said it was a rib-eye, not a strip steak.
Okay, La Ban ate a miserably tough and fatty rib-eye steak. Jeeze, let's move on guys.
I'm not sure what is more pathetic. The specter of lawyers haggling over what whether or not what the guy ate was a strip steak, what is or is not the "proper" cut of meat for a steak frites
(since when was there a law that stipulated the ingredients in a dish prepared in a restaurant?)
or the fact that the lawyers for the newspaper cited Rachel Ray as an authority!
Libel suit could reveal a reviewer | Inquirer | 07/03/2007
Is there some larger truth here? Maybe, but who would care?
Anyways -I'd sure like to know how to get paid for writing irrelevant drivel like "potato chips suck" or articles like this one about potato chips!
The Best Chip? The First One Out of the Bag - New York Times
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Just Desserts: Ramsay Promises But Doesn't Deliver - Gawker
Study Suggests Dark Chocolate Can Decrease Blood Pressure - WSJ.com