Monday, July 13, 2009

Layout is done, soup is ready

Sorry for no posts here in a long time, faithful reader...all three of you. I'll be moving this blog over to WordPress, so hopefully you'll keep in touch and see what's going on in my new place.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

San Fransico - Incanto and Bacar

To add to my Iron Chef America experiences, upon arriving back from Cleveland I found out that I would be flying out to San Francisco for a photo shoot. I immediately made reservations at Incanto, Chef Chris Cosentino's restaurant in the Noe Valley. My supervisor, Dave, and I arrived there at 9pm, after landing at 8p, to a full dining room. I could see Chef Chris hard at work in the kitchen adjoining the dining room.

Dave and I opted for the sparkling water and I also ordered a reisling. I started with an appetizer of Crispy Hog's Head Terrine with pickled turnips and grapes, which looked a lot like breaded SPAM, but tasted a whole lot better. The pickled grapes were amazing...a flavor that was tart with vinegar but sweet from the red grape. Both the grapes and turnips complemented the richness of the pork very well.

My main course was the Chicken Liver Ravioli with Balsamic Brown Butter and Dave chose the Handkerchief Pasta with Rustic Pork Ragù. The ravioli was creamy and rich and incredibly delicious.

To finish the meal I tried the Bay Leaf Panna Cotta & 15-year old Balsamic and Dave had the Roasted Peach, Ginger Ice Cream & Bergamot Mint.

After the photo shoot the next day, we went out with Greg Lorencz and Kim Avelar, the photographers, to Bacar on Brannan St. Kim picked a very nice Cabernet and we started with appetizers of Calamari and the Wood Oven Roasted Bone Marrow, Sultana Raisin-Caper Relish, Parsley Salad & Grilled Bread. Greg and Kim had never tasted bone marrow and were brave enough to give it a try. Using special long, narrow spoons we dug deep into the roasted bones and scooped out its goodness. We spread it on the toast, added a few raisins and heartily crunched down. Yum.

As a main course Kim and Greg chose the Mesquite Grilled Prime Ribeye Steak Slow Cooked Broccoli, Fingerling Potatoes & Arugula Salad, Sauce Bordelaise, Dave chose the Alaskan Salmon Cauliflower, Roasted Yukon Potatos & Toasted Almonds, Caper Emulsion with a side of Roasted Baby Beets & Humboldt Fog Chèvre, and I picked the Loin of Cervena Venison Savoy Cabbage, Hazelnuts & Spiced Quince Broth. The tenderloin was a bit tough, but very flavorful and the sauce was wonderful.

Dave and were the only ones up for dessert so I ordered the Pumpkin Pie Panna Cotta with Hazelnut Sable Breton, Pepita Praline and Ginger Caramel; dave chose a dessert called the Milky Way which is a Fudge Cake, two quenelles Malt Ice Cream dressed with Bourbon Caramel. Both were fabulous.

We followed dinner with a round of drinks at a nearby bar but had to cut it short as the jet lag finally took hold (just in time to take off again at 7a.) and so called it a night, and an end to my time on the west coast.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cleveland Is Food

I took Friday off work to head to Cleveland for Michael Ruhlman's book signing and discussion on his new book, "Elements of Cooking". To make the trip more memorable I also made reservations at Michael Symon's Lolita in Tremont. Unfortunately I got the dates mixed up and the book signing was actually on Saturday, but that turned out in my favor.

I secured a place to stay overnight at my sisters house Friday night and headed for Tremont, a Cleveland neighborhood. I love this neighborhood that's tucked in the northeast corner of I-90 and I-490 behind and around Lincoln Park. It's surrounded by churches and warehouses, but it contains an eclectic mix of artists, musicians and fabulous restaurants. My reservation was for 8:30p and it was 6p when I hit Tremont\ so I made a beeline for my favorite bar in the area, Edison's. Edison's is a nostalgic neighborhood bar with great character and a fantastic patio. I had a couple pints of Buckeye Brewing Company's Hippie IPA, which was described as very hoppy by the bartender, Terry. Personally, I like a lot of hops and thought it was pretty similar to the Barley's Brewing Company Pale Ale.

On to Lolita. I had a reservation for two, but my wife ended up not coming with me and my sister had to work late, so I gave up my table for a seat at the bar which offered a view of the kitchen. No Iron Chef tonight, but the food was awesome. I figured the best way to enjoy the food was to try the starters. I began with the warm olives and continued with the roasted beets, grilled lamb sausage, mussels, roasted dates, crispy chicken livers and the garlic bruschetta and a very nice reisling that went well with everything. By far, my favorite was the crispy chicken livers...crispy on the outside and extremely tender and flavorful on the inside. It was served over a soft polenta with sauteed wild mushrooms over the livers. To die for. The beets were served with slivered almonds, dabs of ricotta, honey and orange zest. I ended up stacking several of the beet sliced atop one another with the almonds and ricotta sandwiched in between...a beet neapolitan. The flavors blended perfectly. My only disappointment was the bruschetta, topped with roasted garlic, basil and buffalo mozzarella. The crostini wasn't very crisp, actually almost soggy, and seemed over oiled. If it would have finished with a sit on the grill, I think it could have been more of what I was expecting. Of course, that won't stop my from going back any chance I can get. Lolita's flavors have left all kinds of inspiration running through my mind.

Next time in Cleveland I need to hit Lola and the Zach Bruell's Parallax.

The next morning I headed for Raddell's Sausage Shop on Waterloo and E. 142. I consider it the best sausage shop in town and one of the reasons Cleveland is a culinary goldmine. Raddell's has a very Old World feel and the aroma is amazing, smoky, meaty, sweet, spicy. I picked up smokies, smoked slovenian sausage, dried smoked slovenian sausage and a cottage ham. These ingredients make my gumbos and jambalayas rock and there's nothing like it in Columbus, I'm sad to say.

For breakfast I headed for Coventry in Cleveland Heights and had breakfast at the Inn on Coventry. Two lemon ricotta pancakes, eggs, bacon, grits and too much toast to eat. Yum. Then I went shopping. Coventry is an area full of boutiques, shops, bars, music, restaurants and coffee shops. Passport to Peru, Big Fun and City Buddha being my favorite shops to wander around. I recommend the area to anyone heading to the East Side.

On to the book signing. Michael Ruhlman is a very personable nextdoor neighbor kinda guy. Humble, yet incredibly knowledgeable. He gave a good length talk about his history and the reasons to write this latest book, and yes, answered questions about judging The Next Iron Chef. No, there was no favoritism towards Chef Symon. Chef Symon won because of his consistency throughout the competition.

In further posts I hope to express some of the ideas and metaphors that Mr. Ruhlman has always written about, but applying those to the design world.

Monday, November 05, 2007

And then there were two

So, now it's down to Besh and Symon. Symon, you rock! My observation of these two has been that Symon would be amuch more entertaining Iron Chef than Besh. While Besh does have a great sense of humor, it's usually clever repartie compared to wide-open Symon. He's the energy that the Food network needs.

Next week is the showdown in Kitchen Stadium. If I'm not mistaken, I thought I saw Besh carrying a big swordfish in the preview clip. Did they intend to reveal the secret ingredient or are we being misled?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Yeah, yeah

Right, I haven't posted anything in a long time. Hmmm, Why? Well I sort of lost interest in cooking as my time dwindled by having more of a life. I started hitting the gym 3 days a week, working longer hours, and the damn oppressive heat of this summer. I lost my appetite in order to shed the many ponds I gained while cooking so damn much, and because it got expensive.

Momentarily, however, my passion is emerging again. Most likely spurred on by The Next Iron Chef airing on the Food Network. Two of my favorites chefs are competing head-to-head, Michael Symon of Cleveland (!) and Chris Cosentino of San Francisco. When Michael won this last Sunday I yelled loud enough that neighbors probably though the Indians are going to the World Series (bummer on that). Symon showed his Cleveland colors by not being afraid of the grill, hell, everyone in Cleveland has a grill...and know hot to use it.

Michael Ruhlman has been blogging about his judging experiences with Bourdain weighing in his armchair critique, insightful and humorous. I wish the Food Network would focus more on the cooking and let these chefs really cook in real Iron Chef situations. Next up, "Snacks on a plane", WTF. This is like Top Chef with a better prize. But I'll still watch it, of course. Any show that demonstrates that great food can be made on-the-fly, I believe, sends out a strong message toward the general populace to not be afraid of good cooking or cooking well.

I remember a newspaper article about Zach Bruell of Z Contemporary Cuisine ( in the mid eighties) and Parallax ( in Cleveland. Much like today's "Take Home Chef", he would go to a grocery store, pick and interesting "victim", and offer to whip up an extraordinary meal from the contens of their cart in their own home. It was like me learning to cook in my Mom's house (no offense, Mom) rumaging through leftovers to create something I wanted to eat that was just the right taste. Ok, I'm rambling. More later.

Ta for now,

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Ewwww! Tell me this is just a rumor

Posted on Gawker, What Has Two Thumbs and a Boatload of New STD's?

I quote, "Celebrity chef Mario Batali has been enjoying la dolce vita this summer, with late-night drinking sessions at the Spotted Pig.

During one recent bacchanal, which lasted almost until sunrise, the red-headed restaurateur told his companions he was leaving to "drop in on Courtney Love."

"He said that he 'often' drops in on her," said our man with the big ears.

Believe me, I love Mario and his cooking, and this is in no way is posted to reflect his win over Chef Costentino...It just came up in a search. I'm pretty sure Mario is married with a couple kids and was only joking...probably hoping everyone would vomit.