Thursday, February 28, 2008

News Snack

The New York Times and whoever can say whatever they want to say about how much healthier it is and how it can cure everything from alcoholism to zits, but Raw Milk is hot and getting hotter because it tastes better than pasteurized milk. Shoot, I even drink it myself and I don't much like milk.

In the New York Times


I'd love to know the reason why these thieves decided to steal this family's goats. Wouldn't you?

Thieves make off with family's essential Nubian goats


And lastly,

LONDON (AFP) — Britain's Prince Charles has banned the use of foie gras at his official residences for "personal reasons", a royal official told AFP Wednesday. [Source]


Ah, well if Prince thinks the stuff is inedible, I suppose I should not eat it either. I mean, I look up to him so; he is such a great performer. I mean, wasn't Purple Rain and that song about the red corvette too cool?


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

This will sour you

A biologist found that lemon wedges placed in water glasses at 21 restaurants were loaded with bacteria. Yuck. I wonder if the same problem exists in bars.

My thanks to Gary Allen for the clip.

Sorry, No Closure

Thus far, no one has been able to identify the purpose of the singular appearing bi-forkated device discovered below decks by galley-chef Tyrone, who is currently posted to a Mercy ship docked somewhere in Africa. And from the dozens of responses to my mass-emailing and comments on the original post, the failure to nail the the utility of the unlikely utensil does not appear to be from wont of effort however, in some instances, misapplied.

Here is a sampling of some of the responses you sent to me.

A bridge for playing pool with the front snapped off

"c" is supposed to fit over a rod or dowel and might be used for pushing---but possibly as part of a larger apparatus.
the "tines" are[ not]meant to be used as a fork - they point the wrong way, dont look sharp enough, and a double header fork just wouldn't work

a child's combination food pusher and fork, or maybe some weird appetizer or fondue fork

a tandem junkie scratcher! Two junkies can sit back to back, supporting each other to keep from falling over in a nod, and can simultaneously scratch both of themselves at once. Useful on those long voyages home from the Opium Wars.

a stitch remover

[a tool] used in exploratory proctology surgery.


My gut tells me that it is part of a meat carving set: a profoundly stupid meat carving set. During the hours that I spent trying to discover the purpose of Tyrone's loony fork, I looked at hundreds (maybe thousands) of images of weird forks. I don't believe I saw anything quite as bizarre as this forked-up fork, but a few came pretty close


Exhibit one: No comment

Exhibit 2: How the heck are you supposed to eat with this? You can't spear anything with the tines and even if you could they'd smash into your teeth when you tried to eat.

(I know it's a bracelet; humor me.)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Germany Ain't Italy

In response to a suit brought by Italian Parmesan producers in the European Court of Justice against Germany for allowing German companies to make and sell "Parmesan" cheese, the German government argued that the word "Parmesan" is generic and that any cheese that is intended to be grated and put on pasta could be so named. That seems like a pretty lame defense and the court agreed.

So the Italians won and now nobody in the EU can market any cheese as "Parmesan" unless it is produce in Italy by the "Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Consortium."

So now it seems that anyone in the EU who wants to make cheese that looks like Parmesan, and is used like Parmesan, and that maybe even tastes like Parmesan but is not made in the region of Parma, has to call it something else.

My vote is for Parma-John (or Parma-Jack) after my paternal grandfather whose name was Giovanni and who hailed from Borgo Val di Taro in the province of Parma.


Germany cleared in Parmesan case

and

EU Court: Parmesan Is Protected Name

Another view


Tyrone was kind enough to send another photo of the weird instrument he found in galley of the Mercy ship where he works as chef. Once again, if anyone knows what this thing is used for please let us know.

I'll tell you what, this thing is starting to give me the creeps. It looks like an expression of a mad man (psychotic) don't you think? Like someone was trying to model Bozo as a fork for no other reason than to frighten people.

Cross posted at Scotty's blog at Cooking in Theory and Practice.

Help!

Tyrone found this thing in the galley of the hospital ship where he works as chef. He has no idea what it is for, and frankly, neither do I. My first impression was that it was an eating implement, but it's a bit hard to imagine the utility of a two-sided horizontally mounted fork. Then there's that strange looking "C" shaped thing at what would be the bolster on a knife. It looks like it could be something that is meant to be a cradle for the index finger which suggests that it might be a tool for fabricating some type of food.

Of course we cannot forget that Tyrone is working on a hospital ship and that this thing might n be an archaic surgical instrument.

If anyone has any idea what this zany looking thing is, bring it on!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Young & Hungry: The Right Stuff

Alright then! This story about this skinny kid with the preacher lip who is cranking out 32K/month in sales of salumi and charcuterie for a restaurant in Washington City (Which I assume is in the vicinity of Wash. DC) and the back story about the preserved and fermented meat renaissance is pretty cool.

Frankly, it's hard for me not to see what's going on as the beginning of a Marxist revolution, with the people slowly taking control of the means of sausage and ham production. But what do I know, I'm just a cook.





Washington City Paper: Young & Hungry: The Right Stuff

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Brief Tour

Here's a brief video tour of some the room where we age the salumi and cheese. The room is a lot bigger than it appears to be here. There is another level above that at the moment contains only cheese and there is salami and bressaola hanging in the far corner of the room that I did not shoot because I was in a hurry to return to the kitchen.



video

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Boned Rolled and Tied: The Movie

This week I was inspired to bring my video camera to work at the farm. And on Thursday I set it up in the kitchen on a tabletop tripod and shot myself working on a variety of things over the course of about an hour. The following segment shows me rolling and tying one of the two sides of bacon (pancetta) that Christian the Apprentice and I put into a cure two weeks ago.

The bacon will hang in the cheese aging room for at least three weeks before it's ripe enough to sell.

Pay careful attention to the sparkling dialog between myself and coworker Rachel the Younger. (So-called because she has the same name as the slightly older spouse of Trent; who you can be darned sure I do not refer to as Rachel the Elder.)


video

Friday, February 22, 2008

Obama should be this busy

You'd never know it from my laconic writing style, but life at the farm is getting really hot. Planting season is "like" tomorrow, we just took receipt of two gorgeous pregnant sows, large orders are sliding in for Trent's cheese, the cows are making milk with 2% more butterfat and the cheese aging room is beginning to look more like a meat drying room.

Frankly, we are taking on more stuff to do than I feel comfortable writing about. Eventually I'll get over my reticence to disclose projects that I'm afraid might be jinxed if I discuss them before they are really going. In the meantime, however, you will just have to trust me when I write that we are in full-tilt boogie mode. Or not.





Thursday, February 21, 2008

Big Pig News

This week we took a big step away from using pork raised off-farm to raising it ourselves. Trent, myself and Christian each have our own reasons why we wanted to do this -and each set of reasons are manifold and complex. Speaking for myself exclusively, I want to raise hogs because I am dead set on becoming the best charcutiere I am capable of becoming. And I have realized from day-one that the only hope I have of meeting that goal is to have the best pork to work with. Moreover, I know that the only way I have any hope of getting the best pork to work with NOW, is if Trent is in charge of raising it.

There are other reasons too.

Like Trent and Christian, I want to own the process of producing food from from "field to table" and I want to make make the farm a rich and robust source of as many different kinds of endogenously produced foods as are possible and practical. With the arrival of these fine purebred Berkshire sows, we are taking a big step in the direction of being able to enjoy a farm that can produce a well rounded cuisine.

If you are serious about cooking as a craft, don't let anyone -including yourself- fool you into thinking that you can make anything truly worth offering to someone who isn't suffering from starvation, a meal made from substandard ingredients. Every ingredient has to be the most carefully bred and raised thing you can imagine. Wild food has to carefully chosen and harvested too, otherwise the process of cooking and eating is bound to be disappointing.

I'll be posting on the progress of these beautiful animals as they make their way from the barn to the abattoir, thenceforward to the kitchen and finally, the table. Both sows are pregnant gilts (never given birth before) who we expect to deliver in one month. We are planning to raise and harvest most of the offspring and keep a few to breed. It all very sobering and very exciting.

Also shown in the slide show are three male calves and the Hendricks horses. Who, btw are slated to be bred tomorrow, I believe. If I can tear myself away from the kitchen when the veterinarian comes to do the deed, I'll take pictures.

The Home Stretch

By The Foodist

Well, here it is. 18+ months, A gross amount of money, and a world of stress are just about to come to an end. Funny thing is, I have a feeling it's just going to get replaced by something similar.

I started Escoffier Room Advanced Table Service a week and a half ago with the expectation of having a hard time with the material. I mean who does classic table side service anymore?

Just about no one, that's who.

There are so many reasons for not doing it: the heavy labor, the level of skill and training required to pull it off, the product knowledge you have to obtain. Then there's the pressure of lighting alcohol on fire while standing next to a guest.

You gain a newfound respect for service staff of higher end restaurants after this experience. It is no easy task to match 3 different types of silverware (actual Silver), open and decant wines table-side, and memorizing 8 to 10 different cheeses in a language you don't speak . You begin to understand exactly why chefs like Thomas Keller spend weeks, heck, months training their service staff before they even talk to a guest. There's nothing worse then being asked a question about a product and having to go "Let me check that for you" or in the worst case "um, I don't know".

With 6 class days to go until it's done, over, it's even harder to stay focused on the "now", rather then the "what now?". Everything comes together near the end, all your education gets put to use when serving customers who are probably the most inquisitive you'll ever meet.

Because the CIA is a school a school and the stage at the Escoffier represents the home stretch of the curriculum, 90% of the guests are going to grill you like you've been doing it for 30 years, or ask you questions about the program or what your plans are. It becomes a massive juggling act managing time between tables, table maintenance, and ensuring you are doing everything to the best of your ability.

I guess at this point it sounds as though this class is a major pain in my lower back region, but honestly I love it. There's a satisfaction you get out front that you don't get in the kitchen, direct customer interaction. When everything is spot on you get to see it, and enjoy it. But when it goes bad, your in the killzone and its your mess to fix.

In the end the real challenge is keeping your head in the game while you know the end is just around the corner.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How To Waste Time in The Kitchen Lesson 2

My series of videos for novice and experienced cooks continues with this short but instructive lesson on how to waste time in the kitchen. The conceit behind this lesson is that it will serve as an aide memoire when you are trying to recall some part of what you were supposed to be learning when you took general physics in secondary school.

At least that's the way I spin it when my kids catch me doing something like this.

FYI the metal thing that I snap onto the blade of the spatula to add mass to amplify the force of the downward motion is a neodymium magnet. My stepfather, a retired engineer, gave me two of them when he was still working at making electric motors. They rock!


video

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

Experimental Sausage Expose

In December, I think, Trent asked me to develop a fermented and air dried sausage that contained cheese. My first attempt, a turkey based pepperone style sausage with his raw milk colby cheese was pretty good but not good enough. (It sold out, but you know what I mean.)

First, the ratio of cheese to meat proved to be too large, resulting in a loss of identity of the meat. Frankly, there was no way to tell that the sausage had been made with turkey. Also the cheese was a too moist and so even after three weeks of air drying it was still too soft. And the sausage fermented a little too much, perhaps due to the presense of too much bacteria (from the cheese and from the Bactoferm culture I added) and too much bacteria food (sugar). So we altered the recipe a bit, using 30% less of a dryer cheddar style cheese and cutting back on the amount of sugar.

The pictures below show the sausage on Friday (2/15) as it was being made and before it had begun to ferment. I had been planing to shoot them again on Saturday after they had spent the night in the warm kitchen fermenting but got side-tracked by preparations for out trip to New Jersey for that zany Kitchen Nightmares shoot.

So it goes: Love of craft goes out the window when the hirsute hand of fame comes knocking.

Happens all the time. LOL


Junk Food


(This is an old, untitled file of a picture copied from a magazine. I'm pretty sure that the hands belong to Ferran Adria.)
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The ne plus ultra of food borne diseases

This is a bit dated but still affecting. Especially if you, like me, have avoided maturing into a true adult.

BBC NEWS | UK | England | Spotted Dick back on menu

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Hell becomes Nightmare

Well, I was wrong about at least one thing that I was supposed to do yesterday. I had thought that Trent, Christian and I were going to drive to New Jersey to sell cheese and salumi (Charcuterie) at a staged green market that had something to do with Gordon Ramsay's cooking game show Hell's Kitchen. Instead, it turned out that the green market in Cranbury, New Jersey was part of the restaurant reality show called Kitchen Nightmares.

Now I understand that there are many readers of this blog who love or hate Kitchen Nightmares and so want to know everything that I know about what the show was about and so on. But I'm really not allowed to go into any of that (Yes, I signed something.). Heck, I took a lot of pictures but had to delete about 70 percent of them because they showed stuff and that I was not allowed to show. I was not even allowed to photograph Chef Ramsay to add to the celebrity chef photograph album that is at once my only source of spiritual inspiration and a handbook on how to achieve real greatness in contemporary Anglo-American culture :-)

ANYWAY; yes, I talked to Chef Ramsay and yes, he was very polite and engaging. I did not expect him to behave otherwise, frankly. While I don't like his Marco Pierre White act on Hell's Kitchen, I've always known that his chef-embraces-the-dark-side was put on for the amusement of the cuisotainment crowd (my neologism, thank you).

In other words, his act is an act.

And let's face it, the man is a serious practitioner of the craft. Anyone who cops a three star rating from Guide Michelin automatically gets my respect for his skill.

Although Chef Ramsay and I did not talk about anything of particular moment, you may be interested to read what Trent had to say after the chef began to express interest in our cheese.

The following is not a literal transcription of the conversation...

Chef Ramsay: So what is this? (points to cheese on board)

Trent Hendricks: That is my cheddar and it is better than anything made in Britain.

CR: Well, let's have a taste. (Picks up piece and chews it thoughtfully) Well, you are right. That cheddar is as good as anything in Britain. (He's smiling, clearly amused by Trent's hubris.) We invented it after all.

TH: No, you are wrong. It is better than British cheddar. You guys invented it but we perfected it.

At this point I thought to chime in by saying "Yeah, just like the Brits wrote the magna carta and we perfected it with the Constitution" But since the chef appeared to be choking (with laughter) and I did not want to steal Trent's moment I held my tongue. And yes, it was all filmed and the voice track recorded so perhaps you'll get to see it when the show airs.

Here are some slides from yesterday. Double click the box to view a larger version.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Weird News (Personal)

Tonight as I was driving home on the hated Pennsylvania Turnpike, Trent Hendricks (the guy who created the place where I work) called me to tell me that he'd just gotten off the phone with somebody from the Fox Network. He wanted to know if I had heard of a show called "Hell's Kitchen" and would I be up for going with him to a taping in Princeton and setting up at a booth at a farmer's market.

I was like, yeah of course I've heard of it, but other than the obvious (Very talented but angry chef capitalizes on his ability to scar the sh-t out of people to make the world pay attention to him.) I don't know anything, nor have I ever wanted to (I've never watched the show.)

But I said "sure." I mean, I'd much rather work at the farm and cook. But what was I going to say, "Nah, go yourself?" I don't think so. And who knows, maybe something good will happen.

I promise I'll take pictures.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Best food quote of the day

And it's only 5:11 AM!

A retired college professor attempts to explain his hunger for being bound and beaten (aka BDSM) by comparing it to a lust for, ahem, turkey

"It's like when you crave a turkey," he said. "You eat it and you eat it and you eat it, but you still want it. But now I've had enough. I don't want turkey anymore. I'm full."

The reason for his contrition? Read on

His life was saved last Friday by a dominatrix at the Nutcracker Suite on East 33rd Street, who was assigned to check on him after her colleague left him with a dog collar around his neck and a leather mask over his face, suspended a few inches off the floor.

Sigh.
Need more?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I Love You, but You Love Meat. So, bugger off!

My initial reaction to this article about how eating habits inhibit human partnering decisions by Kate Murphy in today's NY Times was to stick my fingers in my throat. But just as I was about to empty my condescension into the pot sink, I realized that I was overreacting and that I'm on board with people who won't date people who don't share the same dietary predilections.

There is no way I would agree to be intimate with someone who had a diet that was wildly divergent from my own. I've never dated anyone who did not like to eat the way I did more than once, maybe. WTH would I? Would you?

The way I see it, if someone does not like to eat most of the things that I like to eat well then, there isn't much hope that they are going to allow me to be intimate in any way that I know how to be intimate. Put simply and with obdurate bluntness, I could hang with a vegetarian or someone who refuses to eat salt, but I would not want to marry one or the other. That'd be too painful.

Tell you what though. This brief passage from the article is a prime example of how anyone who is interviewed by a reporter should ask to review the transcript of the interview before it goes to print.

Ben Abdalla, 42, a real estate agent in Boca Raton, Fla., said he preferred to date fellow vegetarians because meat eaters smell bad and have low energy.
Ben, you're kidding, right? I mean about the low energy thing.


I Love You, but You Love Meat - New York Times

For Rachel Ray Fans

I thought Rachel Ray was better looking than this. I'll have to Google Image search for her to check myself on this. In the meantime enjoy!

Monday, February 11, 2008

French co-operative to make foie gras in China -

Let's hope out Chinese brothers and sisters do a better job with this than they have been doing with human rights, drugs, toys, food integrity, carbon dioxide emissions, air and water pollution, individual liberty and so many other things. On second thought, the other stuff is more important.


French co-operative to make foie gras in China - Times Online

This will mess you up

So artificial sweeteners may promote weight gain?


In a series of experiments, scientists at Purdue University compared weight gain and eating habits in rats whose diets were supplemented with sweetened food containing either zero-calorie saccharin or sugar. The report, published in Behavioral Neuroscience, presents some counterintuitive findings: Animals fed with artificially sweetened yogurt over a two-week period consumed more calories and gained more weight — mostly in the form of fat — than animals eating yogurt flavored with glucose, a natural, high-calorie sweetener. [Source]

Somebody hand me a tissue! I'm crying from laughter. This is the funniest thing I've heard since the 8 year-old son of a friend started calling me "Ratman" and that I should go home and get my rat suit. Then, after I laughingly told his father what his son had said, my friend advised me not to bother going home "Just stick a string up your [vulgarism redacted] and roll around in the dirt." LOL

Look, I understand that some people have bone fide clinically diagnosed medical conditions that prevent them from eating certain types of foods. But for those who have not been told by a real live Medical Doctor not to eat sugar or milk or flour or whatever: don't waste your time with substitutes for real great tasting food. Life is too short to waste eating stuff that doesn't taste good.

Eat real fat and real salt and real sugar. Don't eat more than you need to replace damaged tissue and jet yourself around through the day and you won't get fat.

Egg Master

video

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Week's End Wrap Up

I did not take many pictures at the farm this week, and I'm not sure why I did not. I was just about as busy as I ever am: which usually means working virtually non-stop from the time I arrive to the time I have to face up to the fact that I live an hour and 15 minutes away, and that between me and home is about 20 miles of almost unbearable highway, namely the Pennsylvania Turnpike. What a piece of crap that thing is. And I know from lousy roads. I'm originally from Long Island so I grew up (or attempted to grow up) hard-by the Long Island Expressway aka "The World's Longest Parking Lot" and "The Long Island X-stressway."

For a few years back there I used to commute between my home in Glen Cove (Long Island) and teaching job in Kew Gardens, Queens. It was only twelve miles door to door, but it never took less than an hour. Well, the Pa Turnpike is not quite so bad, but it is such a damnable mess. The road surface is awful and there's construction going on for the full length of my commute. What a joke. Here I am working at farm that promotes sustainable agriculture and where the farmer revels in his efforts to diminish the carbon footprint of his grass fed cow dairy program and I'm burning up 70 dollars a week in gasoline to help him. I feel about as green as a rock star as he jets around in his private plane to concerts that are aimed at increasing awareness of global warming.

So back the pictures. The two photos on the upper left are two shots of the same side of pork that I butchered on Saturday. Actually, I butchered two whole hogs (4 sides). The pork was really beautiful and very nicely marbled. The flavor was great too, but not quite deep enough for my taste. I figure that we are going to have to adjust the breed (these are Yorkshire hogs) and feeding program before I get what I'm looking for.
The second photo from the bottom shows one of the bresaola (foreground) that Christian the Apprentice and I cured over three weeks ago. It hung for a little more than two weeks and we put it out for sale on Saturday. It was delicious, of course, but I did not think it was as good as Christian seemed to think it was. I think the cow that grew the eye-round from which it was made was a little too young at slaughter. Either that or it could have used a bit more exercise to deepen the flavor and toughen the muscle.
The last photo shows another bresaola (bottom foreground) covered with green fungus. It looks pretty nasty but it's nothing other than the Penicllium mold that Farmer Trent uses for the cheese he calls Cheddar Blue (we hang the meat in the cheese aging room). It's sitting out waiting to be scrubbed with brine after which the mold will not return.

Finally that puny thing above the bresaola is some pancetta that Christian the Apprentice made for himself from pork belly that he brought in. It may be small and wretched looking, but don't let it's pathetic appearance fool you: it was fabulous. I'd have stolen it if he hadn't kept in plain sight. Damned kid.
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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Artichoke

I don't expect much from this video post and perhaps you should not either. My primary motivation for putting it up is to begin to get myself in the habit shooting, editing and uploading my own videos. This short flick shows my hands prepping artichokes prior to cooking them in boiling salted water. After boiling, I cut them lengthwise, removed the choked and sauteed them in olive oil and garlic. It was not a fancy preparation, just a part of a typical weekday family dinner.

And no, I'm not at all embarrassed that I left a few leaves a little jagged. They may have gotten overlooked while I was working with one eye on the camera monitor. But as soon as I stopped the camera I saw them and neatened them up.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Whaling ?

I cannot believe that the people of Japan or the people of any wealthy nation have such a need for meat that they would continue to sponsor whale hunts in the face of so much opposition. The Japanese whale hunt has to be about something other than nutrition or loving to eat whale meat.

My gut tells me that the hunt is seen by the Japanese government as a way to assert it's national will without being obviously militaristic. Until the International Whaling Commission decides otherwise, the only people who should be allowed to hunt whales are indigenous/aboriginal people who have trouble procuring food in other ways.



A Panel of Chefs

By The Foodist

One of the benefits to going to the Culinary Institute of America is the fact that the school has so many Alumni and so much respect in the industry that its often the case that numerous demo's, lectures, and panels are given at the school to enhance and inform the educational experience.

Normally I miss out on these events due to my schedule. Most are scheduled at around 2 PM or 9 PM, and being a PM student in restaurant row I'm in class during those hours. But much to my pleasant surprise our Chef treated us to a day free of lecture and had us meet at the lecture theater at the library for a Entrepreneurship lecture.

The panel included Chef/restaurateurs David Burke, Peter X. Kelly, Nick Livanos, and John Piliouras. Some of the most successful and -in David Burkes' case most well known- Chef entrepreneurs.

The panel started with discussion of the changing times and how each got their start. Each member of the panel shared interesting tidbits of info such as "It is best to start in the suburbs with a small restaurant. Reviewers will be kinder."

After the members spoke for a few, the floor was opened up for questions from the students. I had already had 6 or so questions written out and spat out the most pressing one on my mind.

"With the changing economy and shrinking middle class how has that effected privately owned restaurants versus the larger chains? Have you seen, or do you expect a drastic change away from or to your establishments as a result?"

The answer I got kind of surprised me.

Peter Kelly replied "Its something that we as chefs and owners need to pay close attention to, and I think its really the chain restaurants that suffer the hardest during a recession."

David Burke chimed in with "Peter is right in that sense, Most of the clientèle at places like ours aren't going to really be effected by a recession as much as a middle class would. As a result, we will probably see less people going out to say Chilis and more people eating a 8$ Aramark hamburger at work than the pricey meals at chain restaurants."

It was also added that "When you start a restaurant you want to try to be the best, that way you can get that upper class clientèle that will help get through times like this."

Really good advice in all. There were some key parts in the panel that I really picked up on before having to leave to get going in the kitchen.

  • Start Small. Don't try to do a 500 seat restaurant for your first one, its harder to do and takes a lot more capital.
  • Be attentive to detail. Something that's repeated so often, but really on this subject you need to be. One bad day, one bad review if your new can hurt you for months.
  • Take chances. I think it was Nick Livanos who said "Don't be afraid to take a chance. Taking a risk is what this industry is about, but don't do it uninformed."

All in it was a good seminar on what awaits those who still dream of being Chef/Owner of a place. Since I know deep down in side that's my ultimate goal, having the chance to hear these men speak really helped enforce what could be.

See the Official CIA blurb HERE

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Rat News: From Sublime to Ridiculous

First the Sublime

Efforts to stem the spread of Avian flu has taken such a heavy toll on populations of chickens, that many Vietnamese have taken to eating cats and snake because, as everyone knows, these taste just like chicken. Trouble is that one result of turning so many predators into dinner has been a huge increase in the size of the rat population. But not to worry, the clever chefs of Viet Nam have come up with a solution...


You can read more about it here in the Wall Street Journal.

Now the ridiculous

Well, perhaps ridiculous is a bit harsh. The following is about how PETA is appealing to Asians to be nice to rats during the Year of the Rat which begins tomorrow, I think.

Be kind to rodents in Year of the Rat, plead animal lovers

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

New Educational Series

I am mindful of the possibility that not everyone who reads my blog likes to cook, and that even the most devoted cuisinier has the occasional need to recreate before he is confronted with the inevitability of his mise en place.

So here is a little video that is designed to show the viewer one of the ways that I screw around and fill my mind up with stupid stuff so I don't have to think about cooking.



video

4000 year old kitchen to cost 137K

Well, they're not exactly sure the 4000 year old Scottish burnt mound that is being threatened by rising seas is a actually a kitchen but it is going to cost 70,000 pounds or about 137, 382 dollars to move.

Mystery ‘mound’ to be saved from the sea

Thanks to Linda in Idaho for tipping us off about this fabulous, if questionable, piece of culinary news.

Ancient Kitchen Discovered on Fault Zone

Er...ah...well archaeologists are calling it an "altar" but we chefs know better now don't we? It was more likely a restaurant kitchen, where cooks made food for customers who never materialized. (Or is that immaterial customers?) I suppose this is why it was abandon. I mean who wants to eat right on top of a fault zone?

This restaurant probably predates the development of the axiom "The three most important things to consider before opening any business are location, location, location."

An Altar Beyond Olympus for a Deity Predating Zeus

Monday, February 4, 2008

Mississippi Pols Seek To Ban Fat People

It does not seem likely that a bill introduced by Mississippi legislators designed to penalize restaurants for serving obese people will pass. But I have to wonder where the incentive to introduce such a thing comes from. It seems like such a weird idea.

Unlike bans on smoking in public places that actually protect those who have chosen not to smoke from becoming ill via second hand smoke, a ban like this would protect no one and punish everyone involved.

Overweight restaurant patrons would be humiliated by being refused service, and restaurant owners would be forced to forfeit income from customers that collectively represent 30 % of the population of Mississippi. [You read that right. According to data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2006 at least 30 percent of the population of Mississippi was classified as obese. ] Moreover, apart from the few people who would be shamed into eating less, such a ban would only send over-eaters to the supermarket to satisfy their appetites.

In candor, this kind of stuff makes me scratch my nearly bald head and wonder if any of it is true. It's such an inflammatory and doomed political gambit that I can't believe anyone other than Al Sharpton could have dreamed it up.

It's that stupid.

Mississippi Pols Seek To Ban Fats

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Sticky Fingers

So what does the kid of a chef zoom in on when he's not around and his DVC is begging to be manhandled?
Watch what my daughter did when she found herself alone in my office with my new video camera.
(I added the not entirely apt title. I'd have removed it were I not so lazy.)
video

the craft so long to lerne

You may have noticed the line from Chaucer that is the new subtitle of my blog. I put it up there after I realized that I had been silently repeating it on and off for months. I've always been a dyed-in-the-wool Platonic type who believes that even though we might be proceeding towards perfection we never arrive because it is utopia (nowhere). And I suppose Chaucer was trying to point out something similar in Canterbury Tales when he wrote

The lyfe so short, the craft so long to lerne
-The Assembly of Fowles. Line 1.


So, even though I will probably not live long enough to get there I am more determined than ever to master the craft of making salumi, less so charcuterie. Recall that I'm an Italo-American and not Franco-American and since ontogeny recapitulates genealogy [:-)] my preference for salciccia over saucisse makes great good sense. No?

I suppose I have a very long road a head of me. The stuff I'm making now is mostly very good and some of it is even terrific. But I feel like I'm still pretty far away from even my short term goal of art which, since I've never stated it here, is as follows.

I'll consider my efforts worthwhile when I have more than two products that contain nothing more than meat, salt, and perhaps sugar and pepper. In other words, the quality of the meat and my technique will be the only elements that carry the salumi.

I've come pretty close to hitting this goal with some of the bresaola and cured and minimally dried venison loin. But not close enough.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Burger Meme

Just when you thought it was safe to cut yourself off completely from American fast food culture, Commander Cody turns up and turns your head around 180.



You so know you are going to at least pause the next time you drive by a McDonald's, now don't you?