Food Blog

KIPlog cooks, eats (and drinks)

Entries from December 2005

Food news

December 30th, 2005 · Comments Off

I’ve been real busy with the food blog awards and Christmas travel, so if you’ve requested to be on the list, bear with me. I probably have about 50 to add.

More cooks say ‘blog appétit!’ The Christian Science Monitor’s article on food blogs.

Sugar Shock Blog reports that “dietitians at an Illinois high school (Evanston Township) say that bottled water now outsells soda in its school vending machines”.

US Food Policy reports on the Mandatory labeling of trans fat. BanTransFat.com tells us it might be weeks before healthier oreos hit the shelves.

The festive food frenzy “The average person will gain 5lbs (2kg) over Christmas, having eaten their way through 6000 calories on Christmas Day alone – three times the necessary amount.”

What the Pros Want in 2006 Pros like Gordon Ramsay, Anthony Bourdain and Ming Tsai tell us what they want more and less of.

As reported elsewhere, the blogger who wrote a post about Rachel Ray’s book signing appearance in Chicago was fired. It’s a shame that he was fired for such a light-hearted post (and its comments), but everyone should know that rabid publicists and paranoid corporate counsels know how to get on the internet now.

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Tags: Food News and Links

Catherine Lombardi’s – New Brunswick NJ

December 30th, 2005 · Comments Off

Catherine Lombardi’s is an Italian place owned by the guys who own Stage Left. Mark and Francis are also known as the Restaurant Guys who do a local radio show available as a postcast. It sounds like one of the best food related podcasts, and I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of it before. They’ve had some excellent guests and discussions. In one of the episodes they discuss kids in restaurants (after this whole controversy) and olive oil. I’ll be listening to their archives for awhile.

As for the Catherine Lombardi’s, it’s probably the most elegant restaurant in New Brunswick now. Extremely comfortable, nicely spread out tables, great big comfy booths, fireplaces and La Chouffe on tap at the bar. (These guys are good at beer, they have several Belgians on tap downstairs in Stage Left). On the tables is a very nice Tuscan style olive oil made in Sicily – Frantoia, which they discuss in the podcast I linked to above.

I had a Spiedini with anchovies, which was good, but noted by a table mate that it was a ‘bit rustic’ with the crusts still on it.

For the entree I had “Cumare, Nancy’s Stuffed Calamari with Red Sauce”.

This was great, perfectly cooked, with a nicely done stuffing. For desert I had a marscapone cheesecake. The lump of marscapone on the side was a nice touch.

I’d definitely want to go back and try some of the others things here, I had a bite of the scallopini, and would want to get some more of that.

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Tags: Restaurants

Mediterra – Princeton NJ

December 30th, 2005 · Comments Off

Some food porn from my trip out east:

I had lunch in a nice little place in Princeton – Mediterra. Of course I had to have oysters.

The Fettuccine ai Funghi was very good – Porcini and Exotic Mushroom Ragu, Veal Glace, Truffle Oil.

We also had a very generous appetizer bowl of mussels – Wild Whitewater Mussels “En Padella”, Saffron Sofrito Broth. For desert I had a delicious pumpkin creme brulee.

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Tags: Restaurants

Nobu 57

December 25th, 2005 · Comments Off

I’m on the east coast for the Christmas, and while in NYC, I was fortunate enough to get to go to Nobu 57. If you aren’t familar with Nobu Matsuhisa, from the food world, you might know him better as Mr. Roboto from the Austin Powers movies.

Nobu
The dark archway is the entrance to Nobu 57.

I was going to write a review the way they want you to feel, the way the experience is supposed to play out, I’m sure invisioned in many a marketing plan and experience design flowchart – you flow throw a set of dark curtains, buffering you from the outside hustle, as the ambient music envelops you and the organic wood bar and river stone greets you to help you decompress – and after you’ve meditated with your sake martini, or Nobu brand beer, amid abalone chandeliers, you ascend the stairs to enter into the space, greeted by the entire staff as they call namatse! to you. Everything is planned and designed to let you feel the zen atmosphere.

Nobu upstairs

But I can’t write that review, since all that calm is broken by the frenzied staff, their attire no doubt designed to exude zen and martial arts, but their racing stripes do nothing but remind one of track suits worn by sadistic aerobic instructors. The staff’s attitude is out to ruin every nuance of the design, since you feel their major goal is the same as Cheesecake Factory employees – get you in and out, and turn as many tables as possible. During the reservation, you’re warned you’ll have to give up the table you reserve at 6, by 8. I arrived early and was told rudely at the almost empty bar, that they reserved the right to move me when reservations came in. I told them I had a reservation upstairs and begged permission to drink one of their 12 dollar beers. The hostess pointed to several couples with shopping bags lounging about and made some comment about walk-ins like them causing huge crowds.

Upstairs, the rushed impression was probably just mine, since I ordered the Omakase or chef’s choice menu, of seven substantial dishes, and the impecible food deserves to arrive on its own time, not mine. The items on the regular menu could certainly be eaten leisurely in two hours.

But if I’m going to pay a hundred dollars for a meal, a dish should NEVER arrive before I’m done with the one I’m eating. And it happened with every course, a staff member either holding my next plate in full, impatient view, feet away, or rushing in to get me to move my current dish aside.

I don’t mean to say this was a horribly rushed production, it was probably just a little off, but in a place where they seem to be designing in so much zen, they should allow you to savor the food.

And the food deserves to be savored. Not getting the Omakase would be to miss out on the treasures of this place. Every dish was perfect, every ingredient deserved its own time.

It starts with a heathy portion of Toro tartare, topped with caviar, and sitting in a pool of wasabi sauce. Toro is taken from the fattest part of the tuna’s belly, and this piece was taken from the best part of that. A Yamamomo japanese mountain berry on the plate cleanses the palate, if you’re quick enough to snatch it off the plate before someone takes it away.

Nobu's toro

Next is hamachi. This yellowtail doesn’t so much melt in your mouth, as it does open up in a satori glimpse of flavor.

The meal really kicked up the pace at this point and my Kumamoto oysters were rushed in.

Then came the dish that launched a dozen restaurants – black cod with miso. Lacquered with mirin, sake and miso outside, creamy sweet inside, I can see why this dish is so copied. Garnished with a hajikami – or pickled ginger shoot.

Before I get down to the cod’s skin, a sizzling dish of super tender, perfectly rare kobe beef gets shoved in its place. Meat like this doesn’t need its intense marinade but it doesn’t make it any less tasty.

A typical Japanese broth quickly comes in, but with several clams waiting under the surface.

Then the sashimi, tuna, fluke, salmon, mackerel and yellowtail. All perfect.

The meal ends with a warm chocolate fondant cake in a bento box with a scoop of green tea ice cream.

The omakase is the way to go, since you won’t want to miss anything, and to get to try most of the items separately would cost you a bit more – the kobe and the toro are both 30 bucks each.

Just try to get a later reservation, perhaps then they’re not trying desperately to turn your table.

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Tags: Restaurants

Favorite Foods

December 14th, 2005 · Comments Off

There’s a meme going around about favorite foods. Before I get tagged, I might as well go ahead and do it, especially since it’s easy.

Oysters, Davis St Fish Market

1. Oysters. Sometimes I wish I lived on a rocky island, because I could subsist on them. Raw or cooked.

Soft Shell Crabs, Pili Pili

2. Soft Shelled Crab. Get one of the small, delicate, melt in your mouth ones, and there isn’t any thing better. Except a fresh kumamoto.

Calamari

3. The rest of the shellfish/mollusk orders. I could fill this list with all of them, so I’ll group them here. Squid, other crabs and lobsters are also included. Oh, and uni.

Spicy Eel, Sea Ranch

4. Sushi/sashimi. Notice a trend here? Although it’s not just the fish, it’s the combination of the zen like preparation and presentation, the variety, and the ritual of eating it. And the excuse to eat wasabi.

Morels

5. Mushrooms. I live in the midwest, so I can’t have seafood with every meal. But shrooms make it into most everything I eat. I love that exotic types like matusakes are becoming more available. The morel is my favorite of all, but since they’re worth their weight in truffles, I can settle for portabellos.

6. Chicken. I love chicken and can eat it day after day. Versatile, cheap and relatively healthy (except when it comes in a bucket). Some people crave chocolate or red meat, I crave chicken. Although if duck was as cheap, I’d eat just as much of it.

Pasta with morels

7. Pasta. This is where the Sicilian roots overpower the Irish ones. Potatoes are okay, but nothing satisfies like pasta. I usually choose a marsala or other red sauce over a buttery, pesto or white sauce.

Domaine DuPage, Two Brothers Brewery

8. Beer. The kind that can be considered food. A good locally brewed ale, a hearty bock (or my favorite, the dobbelbock) porter or stout satisfies me just fine.

Elk

9. Game. I don’t usually crave red meat, but venison, bison, elk, boar, pheasant or other ‘zoo foods’ is what I go for on a menu. It appeals to my sense of ’something different’ and is wholy satisfying in both refined and primal fulfillments. Almost never have I had game with the sort of ‘gamey’ characteristics that turn people away from it.

10. Just about everything else. I’m a true omnivore and there’s very little I won’t eat. Except for the stuff beyond the truly absurd that shouldn’t be considered food anyway. These include natto, weapons grade hot sauces, animal eyes or genitalia, deviled ham, canned corned beef hash and sandwiches from a vending machine.

What? No dessert? I like donuts, cake and ice cream as much as the next person, but I’m not the kind of person who ruins dinner by eating dessert first.

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Tags: Uncategorized

Rachel Ray in Chicago

December 12th, 2005 · Comments Off

Rachel Ray was in town the other day and Everything in Moderation, Including Moderation tells the behind the scenes story of her visit to Sur La Table.

“Some people were leaving the store with tears in their eyes. Excuse me, tears? Come on people, I know you’re excited but it’s a woman who created mini-cheeseburger salad, not the freakin’ pope. Let’s get some perspective, shall we?”

We here at the Food Blog, wholly endorse Sur La Table as the best store for cooks, short of a restaurant supply store that lets the public in. All the other Bed Bath Beyonds, William Sonomas and the like have me walking in and out without anything really grabbing me saying “you need this!”.

They’ve got dozens of kinds of rolling pins, a whole wall of whisks, from the tiny three tonged things, to a canoe oar sized one. And why does it seem Sur La Table is the only place you can get the most essential of kitchen tools, the Edlund tong? Not just any old flimsy, bendable, melting plastic gripped, misaligned thing, but a sturdy tool strong enough to pick up a cast iron pan with, that’s still dexterous enough to be able to pick up a crepe without ripping it.

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Tags: Food News and Links

Food Blogs

December 12th, 2005 · Comments Off

For my duties for this year’s food blog awards, I’m reading through countless excellent blogs by people I swear are moonlighting from their cooking magazine jobs or are hiring pastry chefs, restaurant crews and photo studios to do their blogs for them, and the even more infinite blogs by regular people who do an amazing job of recording their culinary adventures with words and photos. As you might imagine, I’m finding lots of blogs not on my list. Here’s the first flood of them.The Accidental Scientist “a scientist noshing and fumbling her way through the food world” Eugene, Oregon.Baking for Britain LondonCalorieLab Calorie Counter News“Weight loss, diet, nutrition, and food news from around the web.”Chocolate-Chip KimbieEating OttawaAn Electronic Restaurant by Masterchef “Noodle Cook” Australia.Expired Foods “It Smells Alright to Us – All that’s fit (or unfit) to report when it comes to food, cooking recipes, beer, and more…”Fruitful Vegan “A Strange Fruit Indeed” CanadaGastronomy Domine “Recipes, reviews and the ruination of my figure”. Cambridge, UKThe Girl Who Ate Everything NYCGlorious Food and Wine Brussels, BelgiumGreedy Goose/ Singapore. Nice photography.The Kitchen part of the Apartment Therapy blog family.KokBlog East Village, New York City. Lovely illustrations.Lox, Stock, and BarrelMango & Ginger “a blog about loving food”. Baltimore, MarylandNaughty CurryNot Your Regular Deep Fried Mars Bar “A blog for hungry people made by hungry people… Go figure!” WoodstockUK.Slurp & Burp Ottawa, CanadaTarting It Up Washington, D.C.Tham Jiak “The blog title “Tham Jiak” which means in some way “love to eat” in hokkien”. Malaysia.

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Tags: Food Blogs

Food news and links

December 12th, 2005 · Comments Off

Advent Beer Calendar

Luxist Holiday Guide: Bottles To Bring, Spirits Luxist has done my alcoholic Christmas list for me.

The new math of dining out A comparision of dining trends and costs between now and 1995. Zagat-rated restaurants are used as data. “The number of Zagat rated restaurants in Chicago grew from 373 to 557 over an 11-year period. However most of the rated restaurants remained concentrated downtown and on the North Side.” Evanston tops the list of suburbs with the most Zagat-rated restaurants.

Speaking of eating in Chicago, Lunch in the Loop is dedicated to “helping people choose where to eat in the famous “Loop” area.” Complete with Google map. Reviews are spotty though.

The Chicago Tribune has done an extensive series of articles on mecury levels in fish. Includes a calculator to see how much fish you can eat safely per week. I can eat 212 ozs. of tilapia.

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Tags: Food News and Links

Food links

December 7th, 2005 · Comments Off

More AZ reviews to come, but here are some food lilnks.

The Beer Belly “A removable spare tire that also serves a stealth beverage.”

Santa’s Top 10 Cookbooks “Recipe Collections That Don’t Suck—And a Few That Do”

The 2005 Food Blog Awards are now accepting nominations. And now that it’s no longer secret, I can mention that I’m one of the judges. Bribes will be accepted in the form of cookies and beer only. Just kidding, I intend to perform my duties with the utmost impartiality.

If the nominees at the awards don’t inspire you (or make you salivate), try the Flickr Professional Looking Food Photography Group. Don’t go there hungry.

From a food photographer, an essay called Real Food Doesn’t Hold Still “I am very lucky that Americans still have a continuing fascination with – but little connection to – good food. They optimistically purchase Emeril’s cookware, download Daniel’s recipes and watch cooking shows. Yet they eat breakfast in their cars, lunch at their desks and chicken from a bucket.”

In food blog news, I’m going to miss being in NY for the final bar of 1000 bars, which is quite a feat. However I’m worried about The Smoking Tongue, who was attempting to eat a whole bottle of hot sauce every day. He was doing fine until the El Yucateco. We haven’t heard from him since.

Speaking of drinking, Drinktown is a Google map tool to help you find local drink specials (the link is set on Chicago). I’m working on one of these Google maps myself. I should be done around the time someone else finishes the same idea I have.

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Tags: Uncategorized

Different Pointe of View, Phoenix AZ

December 6th, 2005 · Comments Off

A Different Pointe of View is perched high up on top of the Tapatio Cliffs Hilton Resort. It takes quite a few switchbacks to get up there but the view is amazing.

You then take an elevator, or spiral staircases up past the wine cellar and an inviting lounge level. It doesn’t look like there’s a bad seat in the house, but I’m sure the outside patio during perfect weather would be the best seat. A sunset reservation would have clinched this place as one of the nicest rooms I’ve ever eaten in.

The menu had many tempting items, along with a tasting menu, and a Chef’s menu. What I really wanted to do was order everything on the appetizer list. It included a foie gras with a black mission fig chocolate ice cream cake with 100 year old Vecchio, a braised Kobe Beef Short rib, a white truffle lobster macaroni and cheese and a deep water New Zealand calamari.

Four (myself included) of our table of seven left the food and wine completely in the hands of the chef, while the rest of the table ordered off the menu. This might be the only time I’ve seen this allowed, as most places like the entire table’s food choreographed together.

I don’t take notes, and there was no copy of the chef’s menu, so my descriptions are slightly incomplete. Sadly, I have no notes on the wines. The sommelier gave excellent introductions into each wine pairing, but all I can note is that each were right on, applying sweetness, richness or even ‘dusty road’ when the food required it.

My photos aren’t very good, just pretend they’re impressionist oil paintings.

Our first item was a carmelized esgargot, with a wine butter sauce. The sort of esgargot that will make even the snail-squeamish ask for more.

escargot.jpg

Next was a row of sweetbreads. I’m not a gland fan, and wouldn’t order them, but that’s why you let the chef do the choosing, because otherwise I would have missed the rich soft meat.

sweetbreads.jpg

Next was the soup – a triad of black trumpet mushroom-infused lobster bisque, matsutake musroom broth and creme butternut squash (with some grated beet on top.) To pair that lobster bisque with anything but another 2 bowls of it and a loaf of french bread was a crime. Don’t get me wrong, the mushroom soup was a perfect cleansing broth, and the essence of butternut was perfectly captured in creme (although I missed the fried vanilla bean ice cream added when ordering this from the menu), but these two soups had no reason to be anywhere near something as good as the bisque. I asked how many lobsters had to give their lives for the little bowl,and the waiter replied “about 1 and a half”. He then told us the bisque was one of the reasons he came into work everday since they let him have some. The server described the soups in a face of the clock fashion but we all seemed to go for the bisque first. We should remember that when chefs plate things in order, he usually means us to eat them that way.

triSoups.jpg

Next was a sturgeon on soba noodles, perfectly done.

sturgeon.jpg

And last was a pork belly ’sweet potato pie’. Melt-away fat paired with sweet potato worked well, but again, pork belly wouldn’t be a menu choice I’d make. Also, in a chef’s menu like this the dishes and wines are building to a crescendo, and the excellent meal felt like it needed to end on a more substantial note. The addition of a meat along with the fat would have done it.

porkBelly.jpg

But of course the meal hadn’t ended, we had a choice of desserts. I had the Chocolate Gingerbread Cake, cranberry citrus creme, sweet pear cocoa gelato. I also had their House Special Cappuccino – espresso, chocolate and steamed milk, laced with seven liquors. I figured after 5 glasses of wine, 7 more liquors couldn’t hurt.

gingerdesert.jpg

Everyone at the table seemed to get something different, but no one seemed to want to share or trade.

Layered Gianduja Chocolate Gateateaux, Puffed Rice Ganache, Toasted Hazelnut Caramel. We stupidly asked what the DPOV stood for.

dpovdesert.jpg

I’m not sure, but this might be the roasted chestnut mocha mousse.

dpovdesert2.jpg

The meal was was one of the most enjoyable I’ve had, a combination of the view, the company, the excellent service plus the food. It’s not often I have my tastes challenged with things I don’t regularly order, so it was a culinary education, as was the wine course.

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Tags: Restaurants

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