Archive for the Culinary ruminations and other random thoughts Category

Stuff in the pipes

Posted in Books and gear, Culinary ruminations and other random thoughts, New York restaurants with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2009 by restaurantouring

Got reservations at Thomas Keller’s Per Se and Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin. Will report back (hopefully with pictures!) once I dine. Gotta get my laptop fixed first, cuz borrowing computers to access the web is teh suck. At any rate, I’m on a mission to eat at Michelin-starred restaurants, starting at the top.

Discovered a mouse in my apartment. Not sure if it’s the same mouse my roommate and I found in the winter — we named it Teacup. Oh well. Time to hide the dried fruits that I suspect he’s munching on and break out the peanut butter. I’d like to build a better mousetrap, a la Jim Clark, but we’ll see how much motivation I have to do something so cool/geeky.

Finally, a word of advice: avoid cheap tongs. Trust me. I speak from personal experience. Despite owning numerous knives (including the super-sharp Shun Kaji 10″ chef’s knife) and sharpening them all myself with Japanese water stones, I haven’t cut myself in the past year or 3 — that is, until tonight: on a pair of tongs I bought from the dollar store.

Don’t ask. I don’t know how I did it, either.

Borrowing a computer

Posted in Culinary ruminations and other random thoughts, Food in the news with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2009 by restaurantouring

Can’t blog for long — borrowing a computer to check in on the interwebs before I hop on a plane to Cali for the weekend to attend an old high school buddy’s funeral wedding.

Anyway, a Yahoo article about the WORST foods to eat on a date made me chuckle a little bit this morning. What’s wrong with Stilton and carpaccio???

Also, if you haven’t done so already, check out this month’s copy of Men’s Health magazine. This month’s issue (the one with Ewan McGregor on the cover) is pretty food-centric (there’s an article about total utilization of a pig! Hooray!).

And if delicious porcine pleasures aren’t enough to get you to fork over the couple bucks for a copy of this excellent mag, I should tell you that that miserable old curmudgeon, Bourdain, has an article in it about the 13 restaurants you HAVE to eat at before you DIE. So, GO! Read up!

And make travel arrangements for your next culinary vacation.

I’m back

Posted in Culinary ruminations and other random thoughts on June 4, 2009 by restaurantouring

but my laptop has completely died. Once I get it fixed, I’ll start posting up some pictures and let you know about my trip.

Summary: it was AWESOME!

more to come!

Taiwan

Posted in Culinary ruminations and other random thoughts on May 22, 2009 by restaurantouring

See above. Be back in 2 weeks with lots of food updates. It’s places like Taiwan that remind me how much of a glutton I really am (e.g. “Oh man, I’m so full I think I’m gonna explode if I eat any more. Oooh, look! More food! *eats some more*).

*KAPOW!*

Just kidding. More tk.

Honda Crave Contest

Posted in Culinary ruminations and other random thoughts, Food experiments at home with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2009 by restaurantouring

20090503 Chipotle Meatloaf

So, the competition is over. I submitted my savory dish for the competition, but I’m not too confident in how the picture turned out (Pictured above. Chipotle-spiked meatloaf. Roasted red pepper coulis. Smoky Chipotle BBQ sauce. Bacon mashed potatoes. Mac and Cheeses: cheddar, lots of freshly grated parm, and a habanero pepperjack. I know it’s cropped on the right. Still working on that / I have been too lazy to fix it. Click on it to see the full picture on my Flickr account). I was dumb and waited too long to make the dish, so I had too little time to remake it.

20090504 Chocolate Lava Cake 019

Also, I fell asleep/passed out on my bed last night when I should have been making an entry for the dessert competition. Molten Chocolate Hazelnut “Kiss” Cake. Orange-raspberry coulis. Tahitian Vanilla creme anglaise. I thought I was clever with the kiss part, but only because my body was sleep deprived and because my brain is addled.

I woke up this morning cuz the fire alarm went off — not because something was burning, but because I fell asleep on top of it (and all my freshly laundered clothes, which now have lots and lots of wrinkles in them thanks to my fat ass) and apparently, it detected carbon monoxide emanating from my nether regions. Just kidding, it was sticking into my back (I took it down last night when I was roasting peppers in the broiler and threw it on top of my bed).

I always do this. Procrastinate, that is. And I liked how the dessert picture came out, too. Sigh.

Moral of the story: I suck.

Also: I got a 38 dollar parking ticket because I fell asleep and forgot to move my car last night. Alternate side parking, FTL.

Inactivity

Posted in Culinary ruminations and other random thoughts with tags , on February 9, 2009 by restaurantouring

Work makes my eyes glaze over. I’d rather be glazing onions.

A Cook’s Job is Never Done, Part II

Posted in Culinary ruminations and other random thoughts, Home cooking and more with tags , , on January 16, 2009 by restaurantouring

The last time (or the first time, depending on how you want to think about it) I blogged about how a cook’s job is never done, I left you with some frantic passages which tried to evoke the energy and freneticism of the kitchen.  The idea was to give my readers the sense of what it’s like to work in a kitchen and have a million things to do at once.  In retrospect, that tone of voice was probably just me trying to emulate the lovely Shuna Lydon, an outstanding professional chef who also has a blog, which she lovingly named Eggbeater.  She has tons of wonderful posts on her blog.  The difference is that she actually knows what she’s doing, and is able to use that almost frantic, energetic tone extremely effectively.

Me?  I’m just a monkey with a spatula.

In fact, I just read her blog post from Christmas after I finished typing that last sentence, and I’m floored.  I don’t know what to say anymore.  My ramblings and rants are pretty meaningless in comparison, I think.  Ah well.

I was originally going to write a little bit about how I think a good cook makes use of everything and anything it can get its hands on.  For example, say you have a chicken.  You break it down to get the meat and save the carcass for stock.  Maybe you remove the meat from the legs and thighs for stir fry or skewers and use those bones for the stock as well.  Grill the breasts or something.  Use the skin for a galantine.  Use the giblets for garnish or to fortify the stock or a sauce.  Liver pate or something.

Truth be told, I don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore.  I’m calling it a night (it’s actually 3:15 AM, Wednesday morning, and I have work in less than 5 hours.  I just thought I’d get a jump on some blogging so that I could schedule these posts to update automatically).

Until next time, practice your craft, everyone.  And eat more pork.

End of Year Post

Posted in Culinary ruminations and other random thoughts, Food on TV on December 31, 2008 by restaurantouring

Red Navel Orange and Lime curd

Unlike some of my friends, who went overseas for the holiday season, I’m still in the year 2008 — and thank goodness for that, because 2008 has been a very, very good year to me. So, I’m a little bit sad to see it go.

But 2009 looks like it will be promising. There are a lot of things I want to blog about. I’ve got a few new toys in the kitchen that I want to take out for a test ride. There are a few new shows that will be debuting on TV (including the Food Networks new show, “Chopped,” which looks like a lame rip off of Bravo TV’s “Top Chef,” minus the blatant ad placements, especially for Glad and all the Gladware). Finally, I’ve got some tasty new recipes that I want to share with you, and I’ve been to a few new restaurants, which I will blog about for sure (I AM supposed to be a “restaurantourist,” after all). Just last week, I went to this new Korean BBQ place that had LIVE OCTOPUS! Creepy!

Offering you all condolences for the loss of 2008, and wishing you all an equally fantastic (or better!) 2009.

– Conway

Updates and Christmas, etc.

Posted in Culinary ruminations and other random thoughts with tags on December 22, 2008 by restaurantouring

Imperia Pasta Roller

*note: I managed to work around the picture uploading problem by uploading the picture onto my flickr account. Adding tags to this post, however, is still a problem. Either it’s WordPress or I’m just an idiot (my money’s on the latter) so as soon as things get ironed out, I will tag irresponsibly!)

I think I’m going to stop apologizing for not posting more frequently.  It’s getting old.  Besides, I have a life (albeit a sad one) and I’m sure you understand that some days are just busier than others.  It’s true.  Things get hectic sometimes.  Especially around the holidays.

Speaking of how sad my life is, I found out today that the people who work at the Williams-Sonoma in Westfield, NJ know me.  One worker, Kimberly, remembers me from when I bought my Shun Kaji 10″ chef knife (which I will blog about in the next few days, I promise.  It’s awesome enough to get its own post).  I’m pretty sure the boss, Don, remembers me from that same incident as well.

Today, I went back because Williams-Sonoma is having a sale — 20% off.  I went back to see if I could get $60 back from when I bought that $300 knife.  The woman who helped me, Sally, turned out to be the same woman I harassed helped (when trying to decide whether or not to purchase an All-Clad roasting pan) at Bed Bath and Beyond, shortly before Thanksgiving.  That was embarrassing.  I’ve even helped out a couple of customers who were looking for various items (knives, pots, nonstick pans, etc.) because I’m probably one of the biggest friggin’ dorks on the planet.  Today was no different.  A woman was looking to buy a boning knife for her husband, who goes fishing a lot.  The worker she asked admitted to knowing nothing about knives, so I volunteered to help.  See what I mean?  My life is sad.

On the upside, I was [jokingly] offered a job.

Anyway, I got my money back.  Of course, instead of doing the intelligent thing and saving it, I went ahead and bought a pasta roller (actually, in my opinion, buying a pasta roller was undoubtedly the smarter thing to do.  Who saves these days?  Honestly. . .).

Finally, I hope you all enjoy the new look to the blog.  I plan on changing the colors of the hyperlinks to green or something, instead of a very Halloween-ish orange color, but of course I suck something awful at html and CSS and all that good stuff, so it most likely will never happen.  Just imagine the orange as green, and I’ll be happy.  Until next time, to all you cooks out there:  practice your craft!  Know your shit!  And help out the poor ladies at Williams-Sonoma, looking for more info about knives.

P.S.  If anyone can guess what the picture in my header is, you get a prize!  I’m not sure how I’ll give you prizes yet, or what the prizes will be, but you’ll get a prize.  It may have to be a future-prize though, since I’m pretty broke-ish.  Maybe I’ll make you pasta or something?

Thanksgiving, Top Chef, Pictures, progress, and more

Posted in Culinary ruminations and other random thoughts, Food on TV, Home cooking and more with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 2, 2008 by restaurantouring

Hi, everyone.  I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving!  Hopefully, all your turkeys came out perfect, your dressings were aromatic, your gravies un-lumpy, and all your sides were delicious.

Admittedly, my own turkey (I got a 13.4 pounder for Thanksgiving with the fam) turned out pretty poorly.  I broke my probe thermometer and it was too late to get a new one, so I was roasting somewhat blind.  Then, in the middle of trying to get the bird golden brown, I had to go pick up my grandmother before she got too angry at all of us for forgetting to pick her up (no one else in the family seemed readily willing to go and pick her up for some reason).  I handed responsibility for the turkey over to someone else, who ended up ruining the outside of the turkey despite me giving timely instructions by cell phone (the skin got way too dark), and the foil covering I made for the breast wasn’t put onto the turkey the correct way, nor was it put on at the right time.  Sigh.  Needless to say, dinner didn’t start until an hour and a half later than expected because my family decided to keep cooking new, subpar, mediocre dishes, plus there was a decent amount of bickering and arguing.  Ah, well.  What’s Thanksgiving with the family without fighting, right?

Of course, the turkey dried out.  Between the extra hour and a half and the cycles of resting, cooling, and reheating the bird every time everyone “decided” that dinner was ready (it wasn’t), the breast meat overcooked and got fairly dry, despite my brining the bird for a day before hand, and the legs were starting to dry out as well.  Good thing there’s gravy and cranberry sauce.

I also made a roasted pumpkin terrine that turned out all right.  I layered it with apple, carrot, and dried cranberries for interior garnish.  It was all tied together with a pumpkin butter, apple cider vinaigrette.  I served it with a cream sauce that I made with heavy cream, maple syrup, sage, and some cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  I wish I took pictures.  The battery for my camera died and I have been scouring my cluttered apartment for the charger.  No luck so far.  Hopefully I’ll have some time to do some cleaning this weekend, since I will be pretty swamped with work this week.

Also, apologies for not updating about the 3rd episode of Top Chef.  Things got hectic with family, food, black friday shopping, etc.  If you missed it, Richard was eliminated.  I was so sad.  I liked him (no homo).  The contestants first had to draw knives with numbers and put their own spin on recipes from the Top Chef cookbook.  The numbers on the knives corresponded with pages in the cookbook.  Grant Achatz was the guest judge (you had all better know who Grant Achatz is.  He’s fantastic).  Maybe 15 minutes into the challenge, Padma and Grant interrupted the chefs and announced that they had changed their mind and wanted a soup instead.  Then, all the contestants had to take what they had already started to cook, and turn it into a soup.

To save time, the Top Chef kitchens provided them all with cartons upon cartons of Swanson broth.  I was horrified — not at the blatant ad placement (c’mon.  This is Top Chef we’re talking about here.  Any fan of the show should be completely desensitized to it by now), but because homemade stock is magnitudes better than the packaged, store-bought kind.  For shame, Top Chef!

Leah made a white asparagus soup with tuna tartare, which seemed to greatly impress Chef G (Achatz), since white asparagus is a tough ingredient to work with.  Danny also made a great soup (a ham and egg soup).  Jamie made a deconstructed falafel soup.  Leah ended up winning the quickfire (I love that damn woman).

For the elimination challenge, Leah was asked to pick teammates that she wanted to work with.  She picked the two Europeans, Fabio and Stefan (nooooooo!  team Europe!!!!), as well as Melissa, Hosea, and Radhika.  Leah’s team was nickednamed Team Sexy Pants.  The other team, fronted by Ariane, was nicknamed Team Cougars (because Ariane is such a cougar, raaar).  Then, the contestants found out that they had to cook for the band, the Foo Fighters, plus their roadies.  This was a catering gig, much like when I cooked for Five Finger Death Punch, Unearth, and some other bands at the Starland Ballroom (see the About Me page on this blog for more details).

The theme for this challenge was Thanksgiving.  Ariane made a bombtastic turkey breast and totally redeemed herself in the eyes of the judges, since it was the best turkey between the two teams.  Unfortunately for Richard, the judges decided that the dessert he made for the Foo Fighters was the worst thing on the menu.

Richard tried to please the band by making a dessert with bananas and chocolate, since they mentioned that they loved to eat chocolate covered frozen bananas.  So, he decided to make s’mores with ganache and banana creme.  The problem was that s’mores should be made a la minute, which he tried to do.  Unfortunately, the s’mores still sat around for a good bit, so they weren’t nearly as good come service time.  The judges commented that the banana creme looked like spit (or something similar in consistency and appearance).

It was too bad for Richard, since he didn’t want to throw someone else under the bus when he had to face the judges.  Danny also made some fairly awful dishes, but being a bullshit artist, he lied his way through the challenge.  “Richard, please pack your knives and go.”  Sadness.

There seemed to be some friction between Jamie and Danny in the stew room, too.  This could get interesting.  Maybe Jamie was just sad that she’s quickly become the only member of the former Team Rainbow?  Remember that Patrick was eliminated in the first episode, and now Richard has been eliminated.

That’s all for Top Chef.

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve had quite a few updates recently.  I must admit, I’ve been cheating somewhat *evil*.  A few weekends ago, I was really quite bored and had nothing to do, so I wrote maybe a dozen entries in the span of a few days.  I used WordPress to schedule them to post at midnight, on just about every night.  So, if you’ve seen a lot of posts (and if you’re wondering why it took me this long to write about how my Thanksgiving was whereas it seems I’ve been writing about cooking with wine, frying chicken, etc. etc.) — well, that’s why.  I’ve been cheating.  So, there you go.  It feels good to get that out into the open.  *sigh of relief*

Finally, once I get my camera charged back up and ready to go, I’m going to be making some aesthetic changes around here.  I got tired of this silly default theme a long time ago, and I think it’s time to spruce the place up a bit — add some pictures.  I may even take pictures related to previous posts.  If I do so, I will edit those posts and also write a new entry with the pictures and links to the relevant posts.  I don’t know . . . something to pass the time, as well as to make the blog more pleasant to look at (I do enjoy pictures, you know).

That’s all for now!  Leave me some comment love if you please.  I’d love to hear about how you spent your Thanksgivings, how the turkey came out, what else you made for dinner, etc.  Also, if you have any questions or suggestions for future blog topics, please leave them here!  I will do my best to answer your questions as quickly as possible, while still posting meaningful, fun to read, informative blog entries.  There’s too much to do!