Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Top Chef 4.8 and a first look at Home

Wherein 1. Manischewitz 2. ?? 3. eyes 4. ?? 5. Hannibal 6. Mediterranean 7. Nixon

First look at Home
Elegant, upscale southern cuisine. Preparation was spot on and service was attentive and knowledgeable about the food. Considering, as of Saturday, they'd only been open 5 days we were willing to overlook a few missteps; however, it all ran smoothly. Disclaimer: we were there for a very early dinner and left as they were filling up. There's a review at Atlanta Cuisine from later that same night and the kitchen was running out of some items.

This isn't the culinary fireworks of former restaurants Element, Blais, or his tasting menu at ONE.Midtown, this is more along the lines of ultimate comfort food. Which isn't meant to insult. It's one thing to impress with something I've never had before - like charred octopus -- it's quite another to impress with tomato soup and pancakes. And the Blais touch is still there - chilled oysters with hot sauce sounds like his previous oysters with Meyer Lemon dippin dots; the fried green tomatoes come with ranch dressing ice cream (wonderful!); the pulled duck is kickass, as always; and I'm guessing the brisket and slow cooked short rib are sous vide. Pointing back to the previously mentioned review is this comment: Also, for those of you who thought the menu was a little low on the Blais factor right now, he said they're concentrating on flavor right now, and they're about at 50% on the innovative scale from where he's going. So there's that to look forward to.

We brought The Child along with us after Blais assured us she wouldn't be out of place, and it was nice to see a couple other families show up while we were there. Though we did see one of the other youngsters get a grilled cheese sandwich and french fries -- we didn't know that was an option. The Child did eat a deviled duck egg, biscuit, pancakes, and some of The Wife's fried chicken.

On to the food. Link to the current menu. Everything we had I'd order again.

Brought a plate of biscuits with butter and pepper jelly. Thought the biscuits were a tad crumbly (he is from Noo Yawk), but otherwise had a nice flavor and the pepper jelly was slap your momma good.

pimento cheese and crackers
We could've eaten a few dozen of these and we're not pimento fans. Creamy, flavorful cheese with just enough pimento that it didn't bother us.

Deviled duck eggs
The white of a duck egg is oddly translucent. Just thought I'd mention that. The yolk was whipped and creamy, and not that different from a chicken egg. Perhaps a little richer, with a slightly deeper flavor. We were served three halves. One was traditional with a little pickle relish, the second had diced grouper, and the third had pulled duck. Nicely done.

Tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwich
Looked good and it disappeared before I could ask for a taste.

Local mushrooms with warm duck egg and toast
One of my favorites, it was larger than expected and very filling. Interesting collection of mushrooms and I couldn't figure out how they were prepared. Seemed to have a light sauce, or maybe it was just the liquid from the mushrooms allowed to thicken. Topped with a warm, ever so slightly runny duck egg -- subtle combinations of flavor and texture that still has me licking my lips. I wanted to lick the bowl. I think the best way to eat this would be in front of a roaring fire with a large glass of red wine. Something heavy and complex.

Buttermilk pancakes with foie gras butter
They're friggin' pancakes, how good can they be? Oh, they're real good. Soft and light, with a slightly crunchy exterior. Served with a few berries in a simple syrup. Just delicious. But that's not all you get, there's that scoop of foie gras butter taunting you; and yes, it makes the pancakes even better.

Good lord, I'm getting full and my main course is still to come.

Fried chicken and mac&cheese
looked great. waiting for more information from The Wife who did not share. Well, I did eat the skin which was crunchy and sweet and salty; in short, perfect.

Get it? It's bouilliablais...witty! And delicious. A deeply satisfyingly rich sauce with fish, shrimp, and shellfish. As much as I enjoyed this, it probably would have been better preceded with just a salad. Following the richness of the mushrooms, duck eggs, and sampling the pancakes, this just about shoved me into food coma land.

moon pie with coca-cola float
Liquid nitrogen keeps the float nice and frozen and the homemade moon pie is a chocolate and cream cookie. I still insist that a moon pie should be served with RC Cola, but until someone comes to his senses and fixes this error, it's a nicely done dessert.

sour cream pecan cake with sweet tea ice cream
It was good, I enjoyed it. I was really too full to have ordered dessert

A dish of pickled okra and pickled green tomatoes were brought to our table. I'm not much of a fan of pickled vegetables, so I won't say much about these. Other than they were spicy and vinegary.

With the main course, vegetables are served family style. We received four bowls of mashed potatoes, roasted parsnip, green & white beans, pickles. All were enjoyable and after we walked out we wished we'd have asked for some pickles to go.

Overall, a very positive first visit and we'll definitely be back. I think we'll let the restaurant settle in and finish their updates and give Blais a chance to work with the menu some more. While we like what he's doing here, we're also hoping we'll get another shot at the Helium, Oxygen, and Gold, Frankenscence & Myrrh dinners we missed.

Top Chef 4, episode 8:
What bugs me about this show is just how little attention is paid to the chefs' ability to work in a kitchen. We see the finished dish, but other than a few random shots we don't see their prep work. Not that watching someone peel and dice onions is exciting. Still, there's glimpses of teamwork and sharing and jostling for burners...why can't we see that? Maybe throw in some Iron Chef America elements by asking the chefs what they're doing. Or if not that, since they have 4-5 months to work on these, maybe some bubble graphics explaining ingredients and techniques. Since the show is called Top Chef, I'd like to see some actual cheffing going on.

I'm also annoyed at all the catering challenges. I get the "let's try to rattle the chefs and see how they cook in different environments." But 5 of the 7 elimination rounds have required packing up the food and finishing and serving elsewhere. Now with the kids, it's a bit much. I guess I shouldn't complain too much since I've heard that past seasons' challenges included cooking on a plane and using a vending machine for ingredients.

As long as I'm complaining, what's up with Bravo site and their complete lack of caring about the recipes? A good example is Richard's pâté melt as it calls for 30 pounds of beef -- along with the helpful note that it feeds more than eight. Thumbs up! Again, you've had months to put these together, it's a popular show, act like you give a shit. I think I'll do a version of the pâté melt for a Mother's Day cookout and use the Charcuterie cookbook's recipe for a country pâté as a guide. I'll also use Polcyn's pâté spice blend recipe.

...on to the show...

Cook a meal in 15 minutes using Uncle Ben's instant rice! Did I mention they had to use Uncle Ben! Uncle Ben! Uncle Ben! Uncle Ben! Uncle Ben!

Hmmm, cook a family meal for $10. Rice or noodles would be the easy way to start. Fettuccine Carbonara, quesadillas with homemade salsa, red beans and rice with sausage, bowl of cereal, cornmeal crust catfish.

Trying to figure out the show -- is Antonia getting the loser edit or the triumphant victor edit? Crap, it's the hero edit and she sweeps the episode. I've really come to dislike her portrayal on the show. Then Nikki picks up a point and sticks around for another week. Early favorite, Mark, cooked a plate of crap, Stephanie is spiraling, and Lisa is ready to knife someone. Guessing Lisa goes home with an attitude. Nooooo! It's Mark! I'm beginning to hate this show.

Further thoughts...probably my least favorite episode. Nikki and Antonia, having cornered the market on unimpressive dishes, score points on a challenge designed to create unimpressive dishes. Cooking a complete meal in 15 minutes isn't that difficult, though it definitely helps to have a few minutes to gather your thoughts. Cooking for $10 is also doable, but it would have been easier to have known all the parameters up front: easy, healthy, kid-friendly, gotta cook it with a kid. As presented on the show it looked unfair to everyone. I've heard a lot of chefs say that the last thing they want to do at home is cook, so a single mom who has to cook has an overwhelming advantage.

Kinda surprised no one did a potato. Bake it, or nuke it, and top it with all sorts of crap: chili, vegetables. Do a pot pie and instead of a shell dump it on a sweet potato. That's some good stuff.

This might be my favorite comment: What? No one explained to the kids what puttanesca means?

Next week looks like they're catering a wedding. Whoopee! More catering, more food designed to sit around for hours.

Chart 1:

Richard and Dale are firmly in 1st and 2nd. Stephanie continues her tailspin and drops to 5th, while Antonia moves from 6th to 3rd. Spike falls even further behind Nikki. I find this interesting, being in the bottom group for all 16 challenges would equal -32 points. Spike has collected more than half the negative points.
Chart 2

  1. Richard, 6
  2. Dale, -1
  3. Antonia, -6
  4. Andrew, -7
  5. Stephanie, -8
  6. Lisa, -10
  7. Nikki, -14
  8. Spike, -18

Only assigns positive points for top finishes and wins, then graphs the accumulative value. For illustrative purposes only, but what it illustrates is up to you to decide. Not being judged -- being safe -- counts as a negative.
  • win = 2
  • top group = 1
  • not judged = -1
  • bottom group = -2

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

From June 02, 2006

Wherein originally written for They've since gone to a forum only format and I recovered this using the Wayback machine

...with a couple of small edits.

Cooking with Richard Blais
Posted by Bill
Earlier this week I attended a cooking demonstration at Salud at Harry's Farmer's Market in Alpharetta, GA. The chef was Richard Blais, of ONE.Midtown Kitchen (and the foie gras milkshake). This was observation only, not hands-on. Still, it was lively and entertaining and he did a great job interacting with the class.

During the two-hour course, he served us three dishes, demonstrated foams and bubbles, spoke a little about competing against Mario Batali on a future episode of Iron Chef America, whipped out a tank of liquid nitrogen for some play time and because we were ahead of schedule, made 10-minute ice cream.

Class of seventeen people, which pleased him. Blais said he's tried teaching a "Liquid Nitrogen 101" class before and it usually gets canceled for lack of interest. Yep, I signed up for one of those canceled classes back in December. I'm fascinated by the chemistry lab aspect of molecular gastronomy and would love to see one of its practitioners at work. For this class, Blais kept to a small menu with easy to recreate recipes, but also snuck in a little science to demonstrate what else is possible.

Overall, a fun guy who loves food and loves talking about food. In addition to ICA, he'll appear on an episode of Sugar Rush and he'll be in Food and Wine later this summer. Definately in promotional mode, said he'd love to do more TV. He's very high energy and has a self-deprecating humor that would probably go over great on television. His enthusiasm for food reminded me a lot of the late Jamie Shannon of Commander's Palace and Turner South's Off The Menu.

Another student mentioned she'd be at ONE.Midtown for a friend's birthday and asked if they did anything special. Blais said to call the night before to remind him and he'd do something, maybe make a cake at the table. Asked about the milkshake, he said he loves to make it, just call before you come to make sure he has foie gras in the restaurant. I missed the last ingredient, but it's just foie gras, amaretto, and something else.

Talking about all the modern techinques he uses, he insisted it be used for a purpose. If it doesn't make the food taste better, then what's the point. Also said that "food should taste natural, but don't use that as a crutch to avoid flavor." In a fake French accent he admonished us "it should taste like a zucchini," then switching back to himself, "if that's all you want, just eat a raw zucchini."

For more on his appearance on Iron Chef America, I can't add much more than this interview with Richard Blais at egullet. Couldn't discuss the secret ingredient or who won and the air date is still unknown. Did say he froze enough things that Alton Brown started referring to him as "Doctor Freeze" and they filmed their segment at 6am. And yes, it was only an hour. The night the show airs will be a big party at ONE.Midtown Kitchen and he said we were invited. Now I just need to email the restaurant to make sure I'm on the reservations list.

Here's what we ate:

  • Grilled Shrimp served on watermelon with avocado and a horseradish sauce
  • Zucchini ravioli with lemon and basil
  • Buttermilk panna cotta with strawberry and rhubarb

I'll come back later with a writeup of the recipes, but for now I want to talk about liquid nitrogen. Blais predicts this will be in every kitchen within a few years. I think he's right and I plan on getting would like to get a tank. As a coolant, it has many everyday applications in the kitchen. His first use was for the panna cotta. It needed more time to cool and set, but since there wasn't enough class time for that he set the panna cotta cups in a tray and poured in just a little liquid nitrogen. Done. Also said they use it a lot to cool stocks. I love this idea. I like to make meals and soups ahead of time, but the biggest pain is cooling everything down before you bag and store. And before I can vacuum seal soup I have to first freeze it. Having a tank of liquid nitrogen of hand would take care of this in seconds, or at most, minutes. Another thing Blais likes to do is drop in fresh herbs. The instant freezing enhances their they shatter when dropped--very cool. Not to mention the time a chef's pants were dropped in a bucket of the stuff. Plus cool things like freezing beads of olive oil and the fact that liquid nitrogen allows you to freeze alcohol (tequila popsicles!).

But the most impressive demonstration (though little balls of boiling olive oil streaming across the tables was a close second) was the ten minute ice cream. He took a basic recipe for home use:

1 quart cream
5 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
3 scraped vanilla beans

...and started the clock. Heated the cream, vanilla, and sugar until the sugar dissolved. Tempered the yolks, mixed the rest in, strained, and added to a KitchenAid. At this point, the clock has been running for six minutes and this where you'd add the mix to an ice cream maker. Instead, with the KitchenAid running he slowly pours in an equal volume of liquid nitrogen. Boom. Done. Nine and a half minutes. And it was the creamiest homemade ice cream I've ever had. Think of that. Ice cream parlors spend a lot of labor and space--not to mention freezers-- to have multiple batches on hand. What if, instead, you have a number of bases and ingredients prepped, then you can make anything in the same amount of time it takes to make a milkshake. Screw 31 flavors, I'll serve 200 flavors. Um, does that qualify as a business plan? Is there a patent on this?

Richard Blais. ONE.Midtown Kitchen. Atlanta. Worth a visit. Call me, you're buying the first drink. I'll get dessert.

? minimize

12:16 PM | Link | Food and Recipes | Comments (5)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

But Frank Deford has always been an asshole

Wherein seriously this hate goes back more than 20 years. What really cemented the hate was a story I heard when The National closed. A friend of a friend worked for the paper and found out the paper had closed, while covering a game, from other reporters in the press box. For severance, he recieved a copy of DeFord's book.

From the fine folk at Fire Joe Morgan:
I measured the decibel level at which I called bullshit on the called ID thing, and I am now buying a second amp and a kick-ass tweeter, and I am paying some very pricey A/V guys to install this equipment with like 6"-diameter cable connecting everything, and I am inventing a new kind of megaphone that has its own internal volumizing booster, and I am doing all of this in order to call bullshit louder than I just called bullshit on that other thing, because: are you fucking kidding me?

Listen, man -- I like nostalgia. I think there are certain aspects of our pre-internet days that were preferable to their modern counterparts. (For example, baseball cards were much better in the 1980's than they are now. Upper Deck ruined everything.) But taking pictures of important events in your life and then driving somewhere and dropping them off and then waiting a few days and then driving back and picking them up and finding out that half of them were out of focus and the other half sucked? This is not one of them.

Digital cameras are way better -- for the average non-professional, at least, which is all I can speak to -- than film cameras. Easier to use, cheaper to use, faster to use. If you are being driven crazy because you can't remember who played Hunt Stevenson in the TV version of "Gung Ho," IMDb is better than the old method: just going fucking crazy and never coming up with the right answer. (Which is: Scott Bakula.) That's the deal, man. Not everything newer is better. But a lot of stuff is.

Nosferatuesque Chick-Fil-A founder sells pizza

Wherein your separated by birth link

AJC link:
Upscale Pizza will not carry Chick-fil-A sandwiches. It will feature pizza, hot dogs, soups, sandwiches, salads and shakes.

The hot dog has been under-appreciated by the restaurant industry, Cathy said. He fondly remembers eating hot dogs, not hamburgers, as a child and has always liked the Varsity's hot dogs.

"We've dwelled on hamburgers all this time," he said, lamenting the lack of attention to hot dogs.

The restaurant will have a self-serve section and a section where customers can be waited on.

Like Chick-fil-A, Upscale will be closed on Sundays and will not serve alcohol. The staff also will be instilled with the same attention to customer service, Cathy said.

"Courtesy is very cheap, but it pays great dividends," he said, repeating one of his basic tenets for business.

Success, though, is not guaranteed, Cathy said. Two years ago, he closed a higher-end restaurant, Marko's, in Port Orange, Fla. It was hard to compete in that category and stick to his rule of not serving alcohol, he said.

"People came into eat," said Cathy, who gave the restaurant five-and-a-half years. "The first thing they ordered was a beer. We had to tell them we didn't serve alcohol. It hurts you when they get up and leave, but you can't talk them out of it."

Lost has gotten a bit grim

Wherein are we still waiting for Christmas to happen?

Very interesting Lost, extremely well done. I just found it too grim and depressing to enjoy. Based on the flash forwards we've seen, the future is filled with pain, regret, and undying anger. Wheee!

Any way, comment at Sepinwall's review:
Secondly, that confrontation between Ben and Charles reminded me of the Risk game the Lockeaways play. It's like they're just playing a game with the island, manipulating their players. I wonder if Boone, Shannon, the tailies (except Bernard), etc. were all just casualties of dice rolls. I also wonder why Ben can't kill Charles.

...reminded me of Homeward Bounders by Diana Winny Jones. Here's some stuff near the beginning of the book.
The one of Them nearest me walked round behind me and shut the door. "Another random factor," he said. He sounded annoyed.

And the other one said, "We'd better deal with that before we go on then."

"How?" asked the first one, coming back round me to the machines. "Can we afford a corpse at the stage? I do wish we could without these randoms."

"Oh, but we can't," said the other. "We need them. Besides, the risk adds to the fun. I think we'd better discard this one to the Bounder circuits—but let's get a readout first on the effect of a corpse on play."

As I sit here, it's true! They said all that, talking about me just as if I were a wooden counter or a piece of card in a game.

The second one came sweeping towards me. The first was standing with his hand ready on a handle of some kind. The second one spoke to me, slowly and carefully, as if I was an idiot. "You are now a discard," he said. "We have no further use for you in play. You are free to walk the Bounds as you please, but it will be against the rules for you to enter play in any world. To ensure you keep this rule, you will be transferred to another field of play every time a move ends in the field where you are. The rules also state that you are allowed to return Home if you can. If you succeed in returning Home, then you may enter play again in the normal manner."

It was on this world that I began to understand that They hadn't told me even half the rules. They had just told me the ones that interested Them. On this world I was starved and hit, and buried under a collapsed slag-heap. I'm not going to describe it. I hate it too much. I was there twice too, because what happened was that I got caught in a little ring of worlds and went all around the ring two times. At this time, I thought they were all the worlds there were—except for Home, which I never seemed to get to—and I thought of them as worlds, which they are not, not really.

They are separate universes, stacked in together like I saw the triangular rooms of Them before They sent me off. These universes all touch somewhere and where they touch is the Boundary. If one of Them has finished his move, we get twitched into the Boundary in another Earth, in another universe.

But I was going to tell you about the rules that They didn't tell me. I mentioned some of the trouble I had in the mining world. I had more in other worlds. And none of these things killed me. Call it Rule One. A random factor like me, walking the Bounds, has to go on. Nothing is allowed to stop him. The only way he can stop is to come Home.

People can't interfere with a Homeward Bounder either. That may be part of Rule One, but I prefer to call it Rule Two....The only one I didn't feel bad about was a rotten Judge who was going to put me in prison for not being able to bribe him. The roof of the courthouse fell in on him.

Rule Three isn't too good either. Time doesn't act the same in any world. It sort of jerks about as you go from one to another. But time hardly acts at all on a Homeward Bounder.

I don't think we're dealing with overlapping worlds, but based on last night's conversation Ben and Charles do seem to be playing by a set of rules that requires them to use others as pawns or proxies. Or they're both just evil f'tards who enjoy killing people.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Top chef, episode 7: goes well with his skin tone

Wherein sorry for laughing but that was funny

Before the final verdict, looks like a win for Dale and Richard and a slight slip by Stephanie. Nikki will avoid elimination (BOO!) and foul-mouthed Lisa goes home.

Freakin' Spike and his soup.

The team of Richard/Dale takes the victory meaning two straight elimination wins for Dale and a sweep on the night for Richard. These two guys are scary good together. With a decent Seinfeld impression, as well. Out of 14 challenges, Richard has placed in the top group 9 times and Dale has 6 top finishes in the last 8 challenges.

Oh! And it's Jennifer going home in a close call. Sounds like all the dishes were decent tonight with hers and Stephanie's falling short. For a moment I thought we'd get the shock of the series with Stephanie getting the blame and the axe. Whew, that was close. Spike and Nikki are the only ones with fewer top finishes than Jennifer. Mark's three top finishes equals Jen's, but he also has four bottom finishes.

  1. Richard
  2. Stephanie, tied with Dale
  3. Dale, tied with Stephanie
  4. Andrew
  5. Mark -- very erratic, could go at any moment
  6. Antonia
  7. Lisa
  8. Spike -- rocked the soup, got anything else hatboy?
  9. Nikki -- just overmatched, only chance of survival will be team challenges

New Chart

An attempt at new rankings, trying to put an emphasis on high placement. Therefore, not being judged -- being safe -- counts as a negative.
  • win = 2
  • top group = 1
  • not judged = -1
  • bottom group = -2

This gives us the following rankings and scores:
  1. Richard Blais, 6. Impressive.
  2. Dale Talde , -1. Of the remaining contestants, he was at the bottom after the third elimination challenge. Since then, he's moved up to second and has some space between him Stephanie.
  3. Stephanie Izard, -4. Her four bottom group finishes are troubling. Last night's poor finished, first time since week 2 she went scoreless, led to her being passed by Dale.
  4. Lisa, -6. Snooze. Hanging in there, though universal consensus is she should have been sent home for her lack of polish sausage.
  5. Andrew, -7. Started strong and has steadily been slumping.
  6. Antonia, -10. Tracking closely with Andrew.
  7. Mark, -11. Freefalling since week three.
  8. Nikki, -14. Slope = black diamond degree of difficulty.
  9. Spike, -16. Slope = black diamond degree of difficulty.

Disclaimer: numbers and charts are basically meaningless and do not necessarily reflect actual ability to cook. They may be a reflection of how they are being compared to each other on the show and in that regard kinda entertaining

This is interesting:
Before going toque-to-toque with 15 other contestants on Top Chef, Nikki worked for many years as a chef in Atlanta under acclaimed chef Gunther Seeger. She moved to New York and worked front of house at Public and then began a stint in management with Jean Georges’ restaurants, opening Spice Market and V Steakhouse.

Seeger (now Home) is the kitchen Blais just took over. A Spice Market just opened in Atlanta and last I heard Nimma, first chef eliminated, is working there.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dang, that's a big kitchen

Wherein the new menu is up

More at Atlanta Cuisine forum for Home. Video is by RowdyFood:

I only see one problem: Moon pies are served with RC Cola. Seriously, there's like a law or something.

Added: Richard Blais interview in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

ul li li li li

Wherein timestamp, rain, Legend of 1900, Darjeeling, Roma apple

  • Megan McArdle: As a friend recently remarked, "DC bagels are downright anti-semitic".
  • Megan McArdle: And I take nothing away from Suzanne Vega when I say that.
  • The Angry Drunk: What I have a problem with is the blogosphere’s psychotic need to whip every Apple related non-issue that it comes across into the second coming of Elvis.
  • Cracked: The 9 Manliest Names in the World. Doesn't include Dirk Pitt, list is incomplete.
  • About Greg Maddox: It was eerie, really, how easily Maddux dissected Penny's repertoire and suggested ways to maximize it. Penny, figuring he'd take advantage of the situation, asked Maddux to call a game for him against the Cubs. And so, on the night of Sept. 13, Penny glanced into the dugout before every delivery and found Maddux, who signaled the next pitch by looking toward different parts of the ballpark. Penny threw seven scoreless innings with no walks and beat the Cubs 6-0. "Maddux probably won't tell you that story," Penny says. He's right.
  • Language Log: Having reflected on it for a little while, I am convinced that the answer has to be that A and/or B must mean “A and B or A or B“. Update.
  • Bookslut: Sometimes all you need to do is paste in the post heading: Evil Monkey's Guide to Kosher Imaginary Animals (from Jeff and Ann VanderMeer).

When it's someone else's fault they're all "blah blah blah"

Wherein they still haven't explained what happened last week

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Top Chef week 6

Wherein we made we'll be making reservations for the following Saturday to eat at Home, the new kitchen for Richard Blais

According to their website, the menu won't be available until next Tuesday.

Richard and Stephanie are easily my two favorite and seem to be playing at a different level than the other chefs. The Pâté Melt Richard referred to was one of my favorite items on the brunch menu at Element. Along with the sous vide egg and the whipped yogurt with granola and the BLT with the giant slice of pork belly and the BBQ duck with the cole slaw sorbet. Oh hell, throw in everything else. One Sunday we were there with six people, including The Child, and I think we had everything on the menu.

Losing interest in Andrew and Mark and after this week would probably bump up Antonia and Dale to the 3 and 4 positions.

Ryan was an easy call and I expect either Spike or Nikki to be next.

Updated Chart

Let's assign some point values and see waht happens. Using my chart:
  • top group = +1
  • challenge winner = +2
  • Bottom group = -1

Then I considered there should be a bigger penalty for being in the bottom group in the elimination round, so for that I gave them a -2.


And this demonstrates...what...exactly...? As expected, Richard and Stephanie are at the head of the class, Spike and Nikki are riding the short bus, and there's a big hazy group in the middle. Dale is leading the middle of the pack and the safe play by Lisa and Jennifer has them nearby. Antonia is an interesting case. Her three top group finishes are canceled out by her three bottom group finishes. I'm not sure what this means other than maybe she cooks to the level of her teammates?

Play around with assigning any sort of value and I suspect the groups will remain pretty much the same with the only shifting coming in the middle group.

May 2006, Food and Arts, Six chefs rejoice in their menu victories and eulogize dishes vanquished by dim bulb diners.
Richard Blais executive chef ONE.midtown kitchen Atlanta
They loved it!: Pâté melt with mustard ice cream & liquid cornichon. “The inspiration for the name is ‘patty melt,’ and it sells. Make a classic country pâté of ground pork, veal, and pork fatback seasoned with allspice, cloves, and salt, using bread crumbs and eggs as a binder. Put mixture in a terrine and cook in a water bath. I make caramel out of Isomalt because it’s less sweet than sugar. Heat two parts Isomalt to one part water until it just starts to color; spread it out very thin on a Silpat nonstick pad, almost like cellophane; sprinkle with caraway seeds while still hot. For the mustard ice cream, make a custard of milk, heavy cream, egg yolks, a little sugar, and honey; once cool, fold in Dijon mustard; process in an ice cream maker. Run cornichons through a juicer; strain through a chinois; thicken liquid with xanthan gum. To serve, use a torch to melt a piece of the caramel over a slice of the pâté; transfer to a plate that has a stripe of cornichon liquid on it; place a quenelle of mustard ice cream off to the side; garnish with a thin, almost transparent slice of bread and a salad of arugula, peppercress, or watercress dressed with olive oil, salt, and pepper.”

What do they know?!: Arugula tartare with liquid goat cheese. “This one is really basic and the flavors are familiar so I’m surprised it didn’t sell that well. I think the word ‘tartare’ might have been misleading since people think it has to be a raw piece of meat. But it’s really just a chopped salad with goat cheese dressing. Wash and dry arugula and mince very finely; dress with salt, pepper, olive oil, and a couple drops of lemon juice. I use Laurel Chenel’s chèvre for the liquid goat cheese. Process the chèvre in a blender with milk until it’s a liquid; add gellan gum, which will make it gel enough to deep fry. Heat the liquid goat cheese to 140 degrees [to activate the gellan gum] until it gels; punch it out into squares; dredge in egg wash and panko. For pickup, deep fry goat cheese so it’s crispy on the outside but liquid in the middle. Place a ring mold of arugula salad on a plate; garnish with diced roasted beets; put the fried goat cheese off to the side.”

Stupid Canada with their stupid metric system

Wherein and what's up with poutine? Warm chicken gravy and half melted cheese curds? I'll tell you what's good -- chili cheese tater tots

°C °F
1 33.8
2 35.6
3 37.4
4 39.2
5 41.0
6 42.8
7 44.6
8 46.4
9 48.2
10 50.0
11 51.8
12 53.6
13 55.4
14 57.2
15 59.0
16 60.8
17 62.6
18 64.4
19 66.2
20 68.0
21 69.8
22 71.6
23 73.4
24 75.2
25 77.0
26 78.8
27 80.6
28 82.4
29 84.2
30 86.0

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Trouble Man

Wherein there's only three things that's for sure

Neneh Cherry singing Marvin Gaye.

Absolutely love this version. Favorite way to listen is put on headphones, crank the volume way past comfortable and just let the crackle and sizzle wash over me. Kind of a crappy video, so just close your eyes and listen.

I have this from the 1995 tribute CD Inner City Blues: the Music of Marvin Gaye, a mostly, spetacularly bad collection of music. It includes the worst song Bono has ever sung, the worst song Madonna has ever butchered, and thirteen years later what Boyz II Men does to Let's Get it On still makes me insanely angry. There are a couple of acceptable tunes: Stevie Wonder, Sounds of Blackness, Digable Planets; but the only reason to buy the full CD is for Neneh Cherry.

Here's a live version that doesn't do as much for me.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Last week's #7 was the worst ever

Wherein DSL provider was down for a few days and is currently back up; but the rumor is the provider has money problems and customers are abandoning ship like making popcorn on the stove and leaving the top off the pot

Well worth $10: April issue of Mojo for the 15-track CD compilation The New Dictionary of Blues and Soul. Great music and I might even read a couple of the articles before I throw the magazine away.

Current favorite beer is Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA. Full of flavor without necessarily being as heavy as my usual porter or stout. Just realized the local store of alcohol carried it and decided it was a good night to have a drink. I'll have to check back and see if they'll get the 120 Minute IPA in June. Sounds wicked.

1991: almost forgotten with the DSL blackout. parent post.
There had to have been more, but going by this wiki list of 1991 music, I know I bought these albums/CDs that year:

The Reality of My Surroundings, Fishbone
Why Do Birds Sing?, Violent Femmes
The Ghosts That Haunt Me, Crash Test Dummies
Luck of the Draw, Bonnie Raitt
The Low End Theory, A Tribe Called Quest
And Now, the Legacy Begins, Dream Warriors

Best concert of the year would be Fishbone with Bytches With Problems opening. Packed in near the stage, my glasses were knocked off when I was kicked in the head by a crowdsurfer. I bent down to try and rescue them and three people pulled me up. Probably saved my life.

Second best concert of the year was probably seeing the Violent Femmes do an acoustic show on a river boat in the middle of the Mississippi.

Third best goes to A Tribe Called Quest. I dragged along a friend claiming "this band is going to be huge!" Crowd consisted of the two of us and eight Japanese tourists.

I can't explain it, I've never purchased any music by her, but Amy Grant's Baby, Baby has some weird kryptonitelike powers over me. I could listen to that song all day.

1. Loud?
2. I think it's a cookie. Something with "crosses" in the name.
3. B and C. Hmmm.
4. French and Polish. Hmmm
5. uhhhhhh.
6. Darts
7. Who the hell cares anymore? He's just making this crap up. While I appreciate the effort -- hey, you try doing this every week (to paraphrase Foolio the puppet from last Saturday morning in the slightly different context of an improv live action show [with puppets] for children) -- I'm also not spending much time with it. Names of artists who recorded Hillbilly records.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What I've learned today

Wherein there was more, but this is the important stuff

This just in:
From CL Omnivore:

Richard Blais lands again
April 10th, 2008 by Cliff Bostock
News Flash! Here’s a team we didn’t expect to see: Tom Catherall and Richard Blais. Catherall has hired Blais to take over the kitchen at Home, the new name of Posh (nee Seeger’s) in Buckhead.

Blais started work today. More details as we learn them.

The guy on the left is John Paragon,
who played "Jambi" on Pee-Wee's Playhouse. Completely serious.

That's crazy. My only semi-interesting Pee-Wee fact is that the chick who played Miss Yvonne now plays Charlie's mom on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Who knew that Pee-Wee's Playhouse would be such a launching pad for future television success?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Top Chef 4, episode 5

Wherein Bacon wins! mmmmmmmm, bacon!

Click for updated spreadsheet

DO IT!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Recovering from the choices we made in the 70s

Wherein I missed last week's joke about Aztec mythology and zydeco music because I usually skip the introductory babbling and go straight to not being able to answer the questions. Though an emphasis on zydeco would not bother me as I'd probably do better with than than classifying waxy tree goo

Is there any kind of situation in which the offense is so gross and enormous that I should withhold forgiveness in the face of what appears to be true penitence? My answer would be that in every circumstance that I can picture, more value would grow out of forgiveness than out of its withholding.

--Martin Marty, Protestant church historian, copied from The Healing of Nations: The Promise and Limits of Political Forgiveness


1. Is this her new work? I've heard she's become religious and has left the vampires behind. I read one of those vampire books and threw it away after I finished. I guess I have no answer.

2. I have no answer.

3. I have no answer.

4. I'm a Mac. And I'm a PC.

5. Is sap good enough?

6. I have no answer.

7. I have no answer.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Monday morning humor #2

Wherein no bacon and no ballet

In a Hit and Run thread about spending a lot of money on crap:
Reinmoose | April 7, 2008, 11:29am | #

I've always wanted to create a business based on the absurdity that people will actually buy the product I'm selling. Like a coffee shop with ridiculous names for drinks that has no respect for and openly mocks its customers... Or you know, something like Apple.

The Bacon Flowchart

Wherein the bacon flowchart

I'm Hungry. What should I eat?
Link to the Bacon Flowchart.

Monday morning humor

Wherein crap I forgot monday ballet

From the guys at Fire Joe Morgan, this post also includes discussion of the Declaration of Purpose:
Unrelated postscript: Homeplate ump Jeff Kellogg just took a fastball to the face because A.J. Pierzynski seemed to get crossed up and just missed it. So he takes a fastball to the face and goes down like a sack of potatoes, and Jon Miller says, as they prepare a replay, "He's wearing a microphone, let's go back and have a look...) And I think, "Don't play the dude's audio!!!" And then they roll the replay, and it -- incredibly predictably -- goes like this:


Pierzynski: Oh -- my God.
Kellogg: (on the ground) Fuck.

Come on ESPN. What word did you think was going to come out of a dude's mouth in that situation?

Friday, April 04, 2008

And that's why John Feinstein is the best in the business

Wherein you want to know who's going to win? The team with the most points! BOOYA!

Johnny F wraps the newspaper around his head so it looks like he is deep. Washington Post discussion:
Arlington, Va.: Which player do you think is going to be the key performer in this Final Four?

John Feinstein: Whomever plays the best.

Coaching carousel: What coaching moves do you see on the horizon? Who are the hot coaching prospects and which coaches are on the hot seat still?

John Feinstein: That's a very broad question.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Two Minute Brother

Wherein since everyone else is linking I might as well too

Especially since I have the perfect song. Pay attention to the Parental Advisory label, this song is definately NSFW:

Two Minute Brother

It's been a while since I've listened to BWP. This song is the cleanest on the CD. I suppose I could put up another track (Kotex?) to prove this point, but you'll just have to take my word for it.

Charting Top Chef

Wherein for future use, you can view the spreadsheet

What we're doing with our free time.

Confirming why they're my favorites to win, the only ones with three or more top finishes (ordered by my preference):
  1. Richard Blais. Calm, cool, and collected. The show is depicting him as the chef to beat. Twice he's served dishes that kinda freaked out the judges until they tasted it.
  2. Stephanie Izard. Comes across as a bit nervous and stressed out, then impresses with impeccable technial skills and a first-rate palate of flavors. She's the tortoise everyone will overlook. I'd like to see her and Richard collaborate.
  3. Mark Simmons. Face it, left to his own devices, Ryan would have mucked up the Movie challenge. It was his idea and only Mark's skills pulled it off. Also, during a quick cut in the show, Mark and Richard were shown helping plate another team's dish. I'd like to see behind-the-scenes stuff like this to see how everyone interacts in the kitchen.
  4. Andrew D'Ambrosi. If he's half as annoying as the show portrays him, that's an unhealthy amount of ass. However, looks to have some serious skills and when teamed with chefs he couldn't realistically condescend to -- Richard and Dale -- looked like he played well with others.

Dale Talde is my darkhorse, if only because the editing hasn't given him much of opportunity to do anything but whine. That's a danger sign, slightly offset by him impressing Boulud with his knife skills.

Ryan, Spike, Nikki, and Zoi should be the next to go.

**The season 4 wiki also has a color-coded chart. Well, slightly color-coded. I think mine makes more visual sense.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The usual topics

Wherein things have been quiet around here, so I thought this would help

  • Bacon
  • Neal Stephenson
  • Richard Blais
  • Your favorite band is lame
  • Your favorite politician is disappointing
  • Bruce Springsteen still not that interesting
  • Yard work
  • Cheap cars
  • Disney
  • Lack of interaction with ocean breeze
  • Threw away the kite catalog due to item immediately preceding this one
  • Notice to restaurants: Stop putting lemons in my tea or water. I am finished complaining about this and all future attempts to serve me lemonade will result in the drink being returned with a rude comment.
  • My interest in the Final Four is low
  • Come to think of it, my interest in just about anything at this time doesn't rise above low
  • Quote from a book
  • Lyrics from a song
  • Interestingly, I've been thinking of Peter Weir movies. I agree with just about all of this, especially the less said about "Green Card" and "Dead Poets Society," the better.
  • More bacon
  • Snow Crash nearly sold out
  • If my math is correct, this special edition of Snow Crash will gross $75,500. Subtract the publisher's cut and the illustrator's commission and it's still a nice bonus for a 16-year-old novel still in print. A number of authors seem to pick up some decent spare change using Subterranean special editions to supplement mass market publishing. Add to that a number of musicians (at least 2 I know of) who are asking their fans to help subsidize their careers and I wonder if we're seeing the dawning of a system of collaborative patronage. This is an idea I might write more on.
  • See also, Stephenson on Beowulf and Dante writers, question #2
  • Just waiting for the next generation of iPods
  • Ken Jennings
  • Suffering Lost withdrawal
  • The Robert Plant/Allison Krauss collaboration isn't bad. I've heard two songs and I enjoyed them. Probably not enough to buy the CD, but the quality does exceed the freak factor of the pairing.
  • Reviewing a little used gaming system; true: The physics system is note-perfect (often at the expense of playability)
  • List of white guys who are funky is a post I decided not to do because I couldn't elevate it from pointless-stupid to pointless-stupid-and-almost-funny. Part of it might have asked what qualified as funk as opposed to soul or blues. For me, I think it starts with the bass.
  • Who wrote this document—Dr. Seuss? Yes, you may explain this funny animal parenthetically regardless of the lack of previous explanation. And maybe you should hire a cartoonist to illustrate.
  • Bacon


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Almost as good as Booty Shake radio

Wherein local mammoth college radio station, WRAS (88.5 FM), usually does April Fool's Day programming. This morning they had replaced the usual show with a mockery of the typical morning zoo staff at a Top 40/alternative station whose idea of new and edgy music is Nirvana. Lots of sound effects, sound bites from movies, and fake hysterical laughter at lame gags, jokes, and prank calls. Parody, but a little too on the nose for comfort. I bet these guys could use this show as an audition tape and get hired in a major market in the next few months and run the exact some crap they're doing as a joke. Like the title says, my favorite April 1st format change was the year they played nothing but booty shake music for the entire day.

The usual Tuesday stuff:
  1. Degas. Because a few months ago we saw Wesley Middleton’s boring ass play “Degas’ Little Dancer.” Lame. Totally.
  2. "TV series last two winners" sounds like a reality show and since I don't watch these all I can do is guess: the one on the island. If there's more than one show on an island I'll pick the one with the shortest name. If names are equal in length, then whichever is first alphabetically.
  3. Cell phones or naked sushi. Pretty much a coin flip.
  4. Let's see what I know about these guys. David Robinson was in the Navy and Hakeem Olajuwon had his ass handed to him by N.C. State -- did you know the Wolfpack outdunked Houston in that game? -- in what is known in our household as the greatest basketball game ever. Tied for second is every game N.C. Sate played during the 73-74 seasons (57-1). Realistically, the N.C. State-Maryland triple overtime game is probably the best, but I don't really remember that. I guess I have no answer. Later: Crap, I've now seen the correct answer and I was going to guess that even though I basically have no idea what it means.
  5. Columbus?
  6. [insert long list of question marks]
  7. They all had pointless sequels released years after the fact, so all I need to do is figure out what new sequel is being released. Duh, can't believe I forgot this one. Here's a list of 1989 movies and I think our answer is the followup to the 2nd highest grossing film of the year. Well, at least I cracked the code for this week's #7.