Food Blog

KIPlog cooks, eats (and drinks)

Entries from July 2005

Some Food Links

July 29th, 2005 · Comments Off

Burritoeater “It was inevitable. Some nutcase would eventually create a comprehensive online directory of San Francisco taquerias. ” Brilliant name for the email list: “the Intestinal Apocalypse Monthly”

Elephants don’t like hot sauce

Steve, Don’t Eat it! Steve eats Beggin’ Strips (dogs don’t know it’s not bacon), breast milk, prison wine (”I reflected on the artisans around the world who’ve dedicated their lives to the craft of winemaking, as I lovingly shoved moldy bread in my socks”) and other indescribable horrors. Supremely funny stuff.

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Tags: Food News and Links

Whole Foods

July 29th, 2005 · Comments Off

Is Whole Foods The Wal Mart of Grocery Stores? I was going to respond in the comments, but am a little late to the discussion.

You can’t compare Whole Foods to WalMart because WF isn’t going to run the carnecias and mom n’ pops out of town. It just isn’t in competition with places that sell half a lamb for the price they sell a half a rack of chops.

I’m not raking in the big bucks (perhaps I should get one of those high paying register operator jobs at WF) so I can’t afford to shop for daily meals at WF, nor can I afford the gas to drive all over Chicago at 2.50 a gallon to buy the best ingredients at the best prices available in the area for my daily meals. I can eat very well for a week if I go to Jewel/Dominicks with the money people spend on a lunch at WF.

If you stop eating prepared food and learn how to cook, the money you save will allow you to go to WF and buy a bunch of morels, a Bison rib-eye or a wild-caught Copper River salmon once in a while.

bison steaks

Bison rib eye, bought at Whole Foods.
Worth every penny.

Ed, in the comments (towards the bottom), has some very good pointers for food in the area (somebody should give this guy a food blog), and his strawberry comparision example is right on. A supermarket strawberry (or tomato etc) is a supermarket strawberry (or tomato etc) whether it’s Whole Foods or whoever’s and just isn’t worth buying when you can get to a farmer’s market.

Whole Foods coming to the South Loop isn’t like a Walmart moving in. It’s filling a niche market that isn’t there, and they’re not going to under cut any competition. That location, like the one in River North, fills the grocery needs of all those people moving into the condo towers.

If we want to complain about gentrification, we should be asking where the 1,800 new Starbucks are all going to go.

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Tags: Food News and Links

Food blogs

July 28th, 2005 · Comments Off

It’s going to take three or four installments to update the list so here goes. First some in my bookmarks and oldest notes.Banlieu Blog Life in a Paris SuburbDessert comes first “An obsession with dessert and other unabashed opinions of a food writer” Manila.Eater NY restaurant gossip.Eet Smakelijk Eten which means ‘Enjoy your meal’ in Dutch.Cabbages and kings UK. My favorite among this post’s list and not just because of the perfect name for a food blog. A funny, wry, slightly bawdy style, from a girl that really gets around, from milky teats in Luxemborg, to Queso in Wales, to the French Laundry in California.Cooking with Miklb. Tampa BayKitchen Crazy DaffyMorsels of MegretMomFoodPotential Gold Los Angeles. There is some gold here in Ore’s archives, in the recounting of the knowledge learned from studying Italian cooking.Pumpkin Pie Bungalow Ottawa, Canada.Roast Chicken Reasoning Canada.

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Tags: Food Blogs

Tony Bourdain

July 28th, 2005 · Comments Off

I caught Tony Bourdain’s new show on the Travel Channel, and I loved it. I’m glad they took the leash off him. I can’t wait until the show on Jersey comes on. A quote from the show’s website: “A real submarine sandwich. Listen, I catch you putting mayonnaise or mustard on a sub, well, the Meadowlands are nice and close.” There’s also a shot of Tony and Mario Batali shopping at Mitsuwa.

I’m just like those two great chefs, since I’m from Jersey too. As a matter of fact I worked in the culinary craft at the same time, and on the same street (several miles away) as Mario did. Mario was slinging calzones at a place called “Stuff Yer Face”, and I was washing dishes and deveining shrimp in a place called “Oasis II”.

Postscript: I didn’t realize that Tony’s guide through the Rungis Market was Louisa from Movable Feast.

Postpostscript: As Culinary Fool mentioned in the comments, Mario is actually from Federal Way WA. he just went to Rutgers in NJ for awhile.

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Tags: Food News and Links

Getting Behind

July 21st, 2005 · Comments Off

I should apologize to all those who have sent requests to join the food blog list in the past month. A vacation, and a laptop having to go into the shop has caused me to fall behind on my updates.

It shouldn’t be much longer.

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Tags: Food Blogs

Per Se

July 3rd, 2005 · Comments Off

I hinted that I’d be eating at Per Se in the previous post, Thomas Keller’s 12 million dollar restaurant in the Time Warner Center. Famed for, and even studied for his pursuit of perfection, Keller’s staff, ingredients, and preparation get about as close to perfect as I’d be able to detect, and he didn’t even need to be there, since he was out at the French Laundry at the time.

We had a reservation for the first seating at 5:30, right when the glass doors magically open into a lounge that resembles a zen garden with racks of wine and comfy seating, with a nice view.

The view from the lounge.

We’re seated in the back, and offered starting drinks. I ask about beers, and I got the impression the server took me for a Bud Light kinda guy and it was the only time he seemed to stumble to figure out what he could get me. He mentioned he had some old french country ale he couldn’t name, some Belgian ales like Chimay, Aventinus, and “maybe few bottles of Becks lite around somewhere.” I ordered an Aventinus, since it is one of my favorites, but quickly changed to a Chimay, remembering that I’d be eating for several hours, and a dobblebock might overpower both me and the food.

“Thomas Keller uses more quotation marks than a contract lawyer” says this review. We’re presented with three pages of menus which we had seen outside. Slightly confusing at first glance, it consists of three tasting courses, all the same amount of food, price and time, one chosen by the chef, one with options you can choose from, and one vegetable tasting menu. The server sells the chef’s menu, saying it allows them to present the very best that they can do. He makes a point to mention that the dishes build upon one another, and are not in a random order.

The server/waiter, whatever the title is now, isn’t just the usual intro/take your order/ask if everything is okay/disappear type service worker, this guy loves working here, and has a serious passion for the place and the job. In places where the service is a perfect ballet, le Bernadin for instance, the waiter is practically removed from the experience, doing his job perfectly, but without much passion. Our server at Per Se entertained, educated and guided us through the entire meal. It appeared each waiter had only two tables to deal with at a time. The many young, back waiters knew what they were doing, but it was obvious the main servers in the room were all at the top of there game, putting diners at ease, and ready with both anecdotes and knowledge at the slightest sign of interest.

We also leave the wine in the restaurant’s hands. The server tells us they no longer have a set wine tasting to go with the menus, but they can come up with something. He bounces back, announcing that the “Somm” has opened up a slew of bottles today, “going all over the world with the cellar”.

The now standard scoop of salmon tartare in black sesame seed cone with créme freche arrives .

Really good, although I’d make them full sized, with two scoops, and red caviar for sprinkles.

“Oysters and Pearls”
“Sabayon” of Pearl Tapioca with Caraquet Oysters and Russian Sevruga Caviar. The oysters, from the northern coasts of New Brunswick, were amazing, perfectly shaped, briny and as flavorful as I’ve ever have, and I’ve picked them off rocks of the shores of an island in the Huaraki Gulf in New Zealand. Good enough to turn the Sevruga Caviar into a mere accompaniment.
Txomin Etxaniz, Honadribbi Zuri, Getariako Txakolina, Spain. A Basque crisp dry white.

“Peach Melba”
Moulard Duck “Foie Gras en Terrine”, Frog Hollow Farm’s Peach Jelly, Pickled Peaches, Marinated Red Onion, “Melba Toast” and Crispy Carolina Rice. The buttery foie gets a whimsical contrast of peach jelly for sweetness and “rice crispies” for texture.
Selbach-Oster, Riesling, “Graacher Domprobst,” Auslese, Mosel, Germany 2001. Not overly sweet, seems to be the right match for the peach and the foie, cutting the fat but not burning away the intended sweet contrast of the peach. The others at my table had a warm foie gras dish, sauteed to perfect carmel, rendering some of the fat to make it succulent, and served with strawberries. The waiter comes back to remind us, in the midst of our foie bliss, that like a deep sea diver, we should “come up for some wine once in awhile”.

Grilled “Pave” of Big-Eye Tuna, Marinated Nameko and Honshimeji Mushrooms, Jicama and English Cucumber. I don’t ever use the word sublime, but that’s what the tuna was, and the mushrooms had been marinated to that point of intense flavor that almost seemed unreal.

Au Bon Climat, “Hildegard,” Santa Barbara, California, USA 2001. The wines were paired brilliantly, but it was at this point I began to realize this meal didn’t need to have any wine. They were competing with, not complementing the food and these wines all had serious personality and egos and were trying hard not to let the food win.

I should note that while I enjoy and know wine, I’m not a big wine drinker. The tasting at Per Se taught me more about wine in four hours than I had learned in years. But I had the bottle of Chimay alongside and that seemed to do a better job at cleaning the mouth and palette, energizing the taste buds, rather than burning them away with tannins, astringents and alcohol, like the wines were appearing to do. That said, this meal did deserve a great wine experience to accompany it – I didn’t stop drinking them, and they really didn’t have the adverse effect I’d thought they’d have. The server advised us at one point not to be compelled to finish every glass, but the back servers poured on, not allowing any empty glasses.

Nova Scotia Lobster “Cuit Sous Vide”
“Pomme Fondant”, Garden Herb Salad and Lobster Vinaigrette.
A very meaty lobster, not the tender, weak type you’ll find in some tank. Perfectly done, since one more degree of heat, and this would have been a tough chew. Paired with the soft potato that entertains the teeth with its contrast.

Joseph Roty, “les Ouzeloy,” 1er Cru, Marsanay, Burgundy, France 2002.

“Rillettes of Hallow Farm’s Young Rabbit
Mission Fig Relish, Field Mizuna, and Rabbit “Jus”.
The best dish. An awesome preparation, obviously one of those things where the rabbit had a nice (if terribly short) life, and was equally pampered for hours while he was braised or stewed until tender, and formed into this tasty rillette. It was so good that the sharp-pea sized bone I found in it didn’t hamper the experience. The fig relish was something I’d buy a gallon of if I could.

Corino, “Vigna Pozzo,” Barbera de Alba, Italy 2001. I really do like Barbera, the spicy red spaghetti wine, but this one was trying to beat the crap out of the rabbit I was enjoying so much.

Rib-Eye of Nature Fed Veal
Split English Peas, Greenmarket Carrots and Tokyo Turnips with “Béarnaise” Reduction Sauce.
Beautiful meat, and the English peas were like a bold 72 point exclamation point on the end of a sentence that reads “This is what peas should taste like!”

Copain, Grenache, “Eaglepoint Ranch,” Mendocino, California, USA 2003. The server had told us he was having difficulty choosing something “bigger” than the Barbera, as we stepped up to a “meater” dish, that wouldn’t overpower the veal. The Grenache seemed logical, but others at the table noted they would have liked to have stayed with the Barbera through this course. Had they been beer drinkers, this would have been the time to pull out the Aventinus.

Jasper Hill “Constant Bliss”
Summer Pole Beans, Blue Moon Acres Mezza Arugula, Niçoise Olives and Armando Manni PerMe 2002 Extra Virgin Olive OIl.
I never did understand the idea of a cheese course at the end of a meal, although I realize it’s purpose as a “cooldown lap” after such a meal. The placement of this creamy soft cloud of cheese in the progression was perfect though, and I only add this comment after the fact. I certainly wasn’t thinking “why am I getting cheese now?” while I scarfed it down, letting it melt in my mouth.

Gini, Recioto di Soave, “Col Foscarin,” Veneto Italy 2001. Okay, here’s where wine does it’s job. This one not only put a cap on the meal, but it worked to cleanse the pallette without burning it.

Frozen Charentais Melon
Verbana “Sponge”, Galia Melon “Gel” and Carmelized Pumpernickel.
Perfect palette cleanser, and the caramelized pumpernickel “granita” added an intriguing texture.

Chambers-Rosewood, Muscat, Rutherglen, Australia MV.

“Snickers Bar”
Milk Chocolate “Crémeux”, Chocolate “Sacher” and Salted Caramel “Glaçage” with Spanish Peanut “Nougatine” and “Nougat” Ice Cream.
A fun whimsical desert, still elevated by some serious flavors especially the grown-up’s peanut butter.

Mignardises: root beer, cotton candy, coffee, rosewater, hazelnut, etc.

A truly educational, and inspirational meal. It will probably effect the way I eat and cook from now on in intangible ways. For example, I can take the level of seasoning (everything was salted, even the caramel, but just right, to bring out the flavor of each ingredient) as a benchmark for how things should be. Nothing here was overly inventive, or done for pure creative effect. Unlike some meals I’ve had in great kitchens where you might argue that a dish was trying too hard, or had lots of things in it to throw it over the top, these dishes were perfect. Instead of trying too hard, they had used extreme effort to achieve the “just-right”.

Oh yea. The price. You’re going to pay for that “just-right” although if I wanted to bitch about it, I would have held up the rabbit bone and asked for 30 or 40 bucks off. Or a pint of that fig relish. If you go for the wine pairings, expect the total bill for three people to be as much as a lowend Mac laptop.

Was this the best meal I’ve ever had? I think I could make arguments for a few other ones, but this was definitely as close to a perfect meal as I think I’m ever going to get.

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Tags: Restaurants

East Coast Again

July 1st, 2005 · Comments Off

I’m on the east coast and I’ll be eating in NY tonight.

They tell me we’re going to someplace in a mall owned by some guy who has some sort of laundry in California. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

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Tags: Restaurants