Showing posts from November, 2008

The Picky Eater And The Irritated Waiter

Ruhlman wrote a piece on food allergies calling America A Nation Of Culinary Sissies . In his self described rant, he talks about the number of people who alert servers about food allergies vs. the number of people who actually have a food allergy. A comment-storm erupted, with people choosing sides and bickering. It is, after all, the Internet. Eventually, it devolved but there was one salient point that I think merits further discussion: Some patrons lie to get the chef to do what they want. And, of course, that pisses a lot of servers, chefs and restauranteurs off. Because what they really want is to have their already difficult jobs not made more difficult, and of course, everyone involved wants to be able to continue to work and make a living. How is their life made easier when someone comes in and asks them to change the way they do things? I used to be a vegetarian. I would start by telling a server that I was a vegetarian. Some knew what the term meant, others would say

Keller And Ruhlman: Under Pressure

I went to see Michael Ruhlman and Thomas Keller converse about sous vide at the Astor Center . I think it was worth going to if you didn't know much about the subject. I have become far more literate on the subject than I had thought. The space and facilities at Astor Center continue to make for the best venue to attend food related events in New York City. Ruhlman and Keller were fun to watch, even if Ruhlman did occaisionally sound like the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer from Saturday Night Live: "Mr. Keller, you mean to tell me that you seal food in plastic bags and put them in hot water? Won't we die of botulism or PVC poisoning? Your modern cooking techniques frighten and confuse me. Which demons did you sell your soul to in order to remove all of the oxygen from that bag." Yes, I know, this was a softball so that Keller could hit a home run on the safety answer for a crowd that probably does think like The Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. It was still entertaining. Usu

Liquid Nitrogen or "I'm Going To Go Thaw This In The Freezer"

I have vague memories of the first time I saw liquid nitrogen in use. I think I was in my junior high school auditorium and there was some speaker they brought in to try and get us excited about science. He was a typical science pitch-man. His lab coat partially concealing a plaid shirt and cheap slacks, thick glasses elevated by a sense of humor that came in two forms: the pun and the science joke. His routine, somewhere between David Copperfield and a birthday clown, climaxes when he attempts to bounce a rubber ball that was frozen in liquid nitrogen. You could hear the ball shatter like glass. I didn't really think much about liquid nitrogen again. Puberty happened, and then I had to get a job. Having finally recovered from the realization that I will not be getting any taller and that I will likely have to work until I die, I found myself at the Astor Center, attending "Cold Cooking with Liquid Nitrogen" with Ideas In Food chefs Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Ta

Raw vs. Molecular Gastronomy

Yah, I know. Two things wrong with the title. First, most people who fall under the category MG, hate the phrase. Second, isn't it oxymoronic? I mean, Raw Veganism is hippie rabbit food. A diet already restricted by veganism compounded with the inability to heat anything past 104 °F (40 °C) to 115 °F (46 °C). Salads and juices, oh my! Contrast that with the Modernists, Molecular Chefs, Molecular Gastronomers, what ever they want to be called often cook with ingredients whose usage was pioneered in the industrial food industry. Kitchens like laboratories. Ingredients like Hydrocolloids, Transglutaminase, Tapioca Maltodextrin, and Xanthan Gum. And first glance these forms of cuisine seem to have nothing in common. New Age Hippies vs. the Avante Garde. Let's dig into some similarities: Creativity. I think creativity comes from two places: constriction or freedom. Modernism frees you. New textures, new techniques, new, new new. Raw constricts you. Trying to consi

Cheap Skate (i8P)

I generally shy away from fish that is on sale at any fishmonger. The only reason I can think of for reducing the price of something is because you want to get rid of it. And there are only two reasons you are trying to get rid of something. You have more than you want of it or there is something wrong with it. But, you know, I was at Whole Foods. I figured that whatever I was purchasing couldn't be that bad. So, with that rationalization trumping my better judgement, I purchased two pounds of skate. Skates are bottom dwelling Chondrichthyes, similar to Rays, like a Sting Ray, Manta Ray or Sugar Ray (Well, at least the bottom dwelling part). Which you don't really think of as delicious. But it can be. My issue with Skate is that it is alway prepared the same way. Brown butter, capers and a squeeze of lemon. Awesome the first time, horrifically boring the umpteenth time. However, I had an idea in my head (ideas that I have in my pancreas I don't usually act on) th