Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Soundbites: November Round-up

Procrastinating, the art of putting shit off by engaging in menial tasks and activities. Resulting in the main thing you were meant to be doing growing increasingly unappealing and its completion even more distant. Not exactly Webster’s definition, but in this scenario its good enough. Even as I write this I’m taking a break every few lines to find the answer to questions that simply will not wait until after. But at least now I continue knowing that the default web browser on an Android phone is apparently faster then Safari and has flash support, unlike the iphone. All I can say is thank God my leaving cert was done and dusted before Facebook hit the web.

I’ve always had a problem with procrastinating, big time. I guess that’s why I ended up staying a chef. This is because at it’s busiest, a kitchen is a workplace of pure concentration and unwavering focus. It’s simply an environment where putting stuff off is just not an option. At home however, I’m scrolling through the endless list of unopened mail in my account. A list of food and industry-related updates, newsletters and blog entries that have all sat in my inbox since they arrived and I said unto them, ‘I’ll check’em later.’ Lord help me this has been going on for nearly a month now. It’s gotten to the stage where my inbox became so crowded that I created a folder just for them. That folder now contains over 30 messages. Each message containing in it an average of 6 articles. In short, a lot of reading. Which, at the time when I was working tons and in the process of looking for a new flat, I just wasn’t up to.

Eventually I got through them, all of them. Or at least November’s stash. And it was when I was about half way through, while reading what felt like the Epi-Log’s 15,000th Thanksgiving tip that I thought, ‘I really wish there was someone to do this for me.’ However I didn’t. So I put the kettle on, hoped my roommate wasn’t stoned recently and ate all the Jaffa Cakes and proceeded to dredge the ocean floor of my inbox, hoping that it wouldn’t be all rusty cans and used jonnies.

As I went through them I found myself keeping the links for the pieces I dug. So here it is; TLOFRSIFIIMIFTPM or ‘The List Of Food-Related Stuff I’ve Found Interesting In My Inbox From The Past Month’ just rolls off the tongue doesn’t it?

Okay, how about Soundbites instead? Anyway links to full story attached if my intro doesn’t adequately slate your thirst for knowledge, enjoy!

My Mother’s Thanksgiving
Eleven top New York chefs give their versions of their families Thanksgiving dishes. Chefs include Mario Batali (Apple Pie), Thomas Keller (Creamed Pearl Onions) and the god-like David Chang (soy-braised short-ribs). No pics but still worth a look.

Why Chefs love Rabbit
Since the time where my job was to butcher and cook several dozen rabbits a week, its always been a meat I’ve had great affection for. There’s just something about utilizing a whole animal in a variety of ways, getting the most out of each component. Like you do with chicken, but a lot cooler. Here six chefs give their praise and offer their own take on what they do with it.

Epi-Log’s Thanksgiving Round-up
So of the never-ending cluster fuck of thanksgiving advice that the Internet pumped out last month, here’s the only stories that caught my eye. Mainly about turkey and considering what’s going down in a few weeks, it’s all relevant.

First one is about something that I’m sure no-one in this isle does but is pretty commonplace in USA, brining turkey. Here the method of wet and dry brining are compared. Dry wins

Short piece about the dilemma of whether or not to stuff your turkey. In short, don’t. The cavity is full of bacteria ‘Going at it like your parents at Woodstock’ in the words of Anthony Bourdain. So by the time the stuffing is cooked to safe temp, the breast is cooked to hell.

Here a blogger gushes about their love of leftovers. As someone who enjoys the turkey, ham, gravy, bread sauce sandwich almost more then the main meal, I’m with them on this.

Less Corn, Saner Fishing and Soda on Fridays
Article by (Iron Chef) Mario Batali, talks briefly about the future of food. From the overuse of corn to industrial farming and the collapse of fisheries. Short and informative, bleak yet encouraging, if that makes any sense.

Chefs Look for Wild Ingredients That No One Else Has
Cool piece about the trend of chefs incorporating foraged foods into their menus. The appeal being that dishes containing ingredients that few people have encountered before, never mind tasted.

At the Chef’s Table
I’ve moved two weeks ago into my fourth flat in over two years. Since then I’ve fallen properly in love with my kitchen. Not even kidding, it’s awesome. The layout, the way the appliances are arranged, the way the worktop wraps around into the cooker top making one giant work surface. I love it in ways and for reasons that you mere muggles will never understand. Here, the Baltimore Sun takes a look inside a couple of local chefs home kitchen (including one Top Chef winner). Photos are in the ‘related’ box. Interesting to see the varieties of the sleek, showy and practical elements that the professionals incorporate into their home stove-space.

Paris Chefs go Underground
A group of top Paris chefs treated subway travelers to cooking demos. So Joe-Soaps going to work got to try stuff like duck with artichoke sauce, calamari risotto and fruit-filled crepes. Try doing that at
Pearse St

Star chef: Pay people what they're worth

“Chefs have set the example that consumers follow. So I want arugula now, or I want to to see a short rib or whatever it is. It's being written about. What's being produced in restaurants, people see it and say I want to get them. When I was a kid, how many varieties of lettuce did you see in the store? Iceberg lettuce! Now you have 12 different lettuces to choose from anywhere -- from arugula to endive to whatever. And it's because chefs have demanded those products in their restaurants” So says Thomas Keller in this interview where he points out why the $250 price tag at either of his 3-star restaurants is justified. Talks about the relationship with producers and the demand for quality over price. Insightful, but to be honest I’d say the same about a piece on how Thomas Keller puts his socks on.

35 Ways to Stretch Your Budget
Economy gastronomy piece from the Epi-Log. Exactly what it says on the tin but still worth a look.

Exploring the ‘Fifth Taste’ of Unami
Thanks to the likes of Heston, unami is something that has come more into the light of western cooking. Which is good, because we’re only a few thousand years behind the Japanese in that respect. Personally I found this pretty fascinating as it goes into what and why of what it is and lists the quantity of glutamates in foods such as seaweed, Parmesan cheese, tomatoes and soy sauce. If you haven’t a bean about anything I’ve just said then you owe it to yourself to follow the link below.

The Menu: One EntrĂ©e. That’s It
A few months ago I was in Las Vegas where on the obsessive urging of our friend we took a cab off the strip to a joint called In n’Out Burger. The menu was either a burger, a double burger, fries and well, that was it. Been used to the usual fast food paradigm of a menu of items that runs into triple figures, this was kinda jarring but the queue was nearly out the door. Be it meatballs, fired chicken, mac and cheese or even rice pudding, this piece is about small New York restaurants that focus on just doing one thing. But doing it brilliantly. I queued for my burger, I ate it. It was amazing, I came back.

Coast Guard Chef Gets ‘A’ Grade For His Sea Fare
Article about Barry Wildman, a chef who turned the coast guard base in San Pedro into a destination restaurant turning the galley into a vegetable and herb garden. At the same time training and feeding armed service recruits.

So what’s it like to be on Iron Chef?
I KNEW it! I knew there was no way that when the cover came off that table in a cloud of  dry ice that there was no way the contestants didn’t know what was underneath. This article just confirms the worst-kept secret in food television. For anyone familiar with the show Iron Chef America, you’ll be interested to know that not only are the challenging team told what the secret ingredient is, they given a Goddamn choice! I always had a feeling this was the case, but it’s still interesting to hear what it’s like to enter kitchen stadium. As someone who thinks it’s one of the best shows on TV, I was one happy camper when I clicked onto this sucker.

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