August 29, 2006

Chef ''busted'' for serving foie gras in Chicago.

"It's ridiculous. There's far too many things going on in this town to worry about a duck liver. I don't know what the person's problem was in the first place with the whole thing, but I do know black and white. There are things far more important to be dealing with in the city, the Health Department and in the restaurant business."

August 28, 2006

Los Angeles Restaurant/Food Service Expo - Post Event Summary

Cool things:
1) I'm a serviceware junkie. I love all the little plates and bowls and cups and special spoons... and this one company that had this unique little fork-like device which I just spend 30 minutes trying to find a picture of no avail. I'll just have to order a couple dozen, and you can hire me, and I'll use them for your amuse bouche.

2) a silpat pan liner that you fill with one flavor/color of cake batter, then fill the rest of the way with another flavor/color of batter, to make a really lovely textured/colored/patterned design. I don't bake enough to merit owning them, but I covet them anyway. I wish I baked more.

3) a machine that makes ice cones with a screw shape in them... and they are used with a cone-shaped glass that has a corresponding screw shape, so that you screw the ice into the glass, and you fill the ice with the drink. Fantastically awesomely cool... but you have to buy their special ice machine. If I had a bar, I'd buy this thing in a minute. I do not have a bar. Woe is me.

Worst thing: fermented juice drinks. Have you ever accidentally had a container of orange juice sit in the fridge too long, but you only discovered that it had spoiled when you tasted it? Fruit juice isn't supposed to taste like old milk...but that's what they were selling. In 8 flavors. Eight flavors of funky, spoiled-tasting fruit drinks, all with that mushroomy, musty, mildewy thing going on. Because of the fermentation, they're mildly alcoholic, (5%) but I think I'd have to already be a little drunk before I'd drink this. It was horrible.

Nicest booth employee: worked for a company that made all-natural fruit juices. Teased me in a friendly way when I read the label, was very knowledgeable about his products, had a great sense of humor, and did not act like a salesperson. Did not tag-team with another salesguy. Did not compliment me within an inch of my life.

Dumbest booth employee: worked for a company that sells restaurant software. I asked her about training, and she said they only do training for people who buy the software. I asked her how I was supposed to get trained on it if I didn't have a restaurant and I wasn't going to buy the software, and she told me to get a part time job at a restaurant. WTF? Her sales partner came over and offered to sell me an 8 hour class, for $650. He said he's have to do a one-on-one sales training, which was included if I bought their $1600+ software. No thanks.

Trendiest Trend of the Tradeshow: Pomegranate. In tea. In salad dressing. In chicken sausage. In gelato. The overabundance was comical.

The saddest thing I saw: Dave from Top Chef was the last speaker scheduled on the last day of the show. Not a coveted timeslot. He was schlepping boxes of shirts and books. He looked tired and disorganized. People were failing to act nonchalant about having a person who had been on TV in their midst.

Best part about going on the afternoon of the third day: I found street parking with an hour on the meter already, so I spent only $1.00 on parking. The trade show floor wasn't crowded, so I got through nearly the whole event in those two hours. All the vendors were very loose with the samples and the promo items. I got some decent schwag, and didn't have to fight off the people for tastes of food.

Tasting's really important. One iced coffee drink was mostly ice, the next was not sweet enough. There were a few pizza crust vendors. One had bite-sized pizzas that stayed crispy even though I carried it around the trade show for a while, (waiting to see if it would wilt, but it didn't!) The soy sausages were horrible. The soy fish was amazing. There were tastes of juice drinks everywhere you looked. A few booths had chefs working right there on site, not just doing demos, actually cooking things.

Overall Grade:B+. I could not find some things I wanted to meet vendors for, and I didn't see any of the food competition stuff (which I'd seen the previous two years I attended) And I didn't see one woman working as a chef/cook in a booth, only serving tastes or general sales stuff. Plenty of guys in whites, no chicks. Just thought that was worth mentioning.

Did you go? What did you think? P. S. The winner will remain anonymous, but the limerick was a perfect rhyme, had good rhythm, and was too dirty to post. E-mail me if you want to read it.

Last thing I ate or drank: Beef rib roast, mashed potatoes, green beans amandine, chocolate cake. It was like we were having dinner with my in-laws in Chicago.

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August 26, 2006

Another "sell-out"? Yeah, but you'd probably do the same...

Tyler FlorenceWhen I told Kelly that Tyler Florence had sold out to Applebee's, even HE let out a very anguished "Aaaaugh!". Tyler!

I would be fine with getting some corporate sponsorship money, but I would have to think twice about who I affiliated with.

"Applebee's International Inc. (APPB.O: Quote, Profile, Research) on Friday said it hired Tyler Florence, a chef from cable television's Food Network, to develop four exclusive menu items for its casual dining restaurants."

Only four items? They should have had him revamp the entire menu. Post haste.

P. S. RayRay turned 38 on Friday.

August 24, 2006

Do It Yourself Wine Tasting Course

It's important for me to be able to respond to people's inquiries about what wines to pair with the food I make.

I got an "A" in my wine class in culinary school, but I never felt like I got a lot out of it. The instructor was kind of a schmuck (Hi, Sean!) because he was so obsessed with having us know what grape came from what region of France that I never got a true feel for what wines go with what food.

Wine is such a wide and vast subject that I don't ever feel like I could come close to being good with it. I'm still anxious about the different brands, I don't pay much mind to terroir, and I don't know a thing about vintages. Sometimes the descriptions I read in Food & Wine sound more like porn than beverages. Which is fun, but not very instructive.

By now, though, I know the traditional pairings, and I feel good about what I order when I'm not getting the suggested pairings at a restaurant.

Here's what I have done to help me get to know wines:

Print out a list of terms and descriptions
a good one is here.
(I have no affiliation with KJ, but the site IS extensive!)
Become familiar with the vocabulary & pronunciation (pet peeve:
Meritage = "MEHR-it-idge" like heritage, not "mehr-ih-TAHDGE")

Buy two bottles of the same varietal of wine by different brands
Like two merlots, or two chardonnay, or two rieslings...
They don't have to be too expensive;
Maybe $7-$12 each to start, until you feel comfortable spending more?

Pour a glass of each, side by side, and compare them.
one will be more acidic
one will be perfumed more strongly
one will be clearer in color
one will have more tannin & astringency
one will be more.... You get the picture?
And yes, you'll probably like one more than another, but now you'll have a quantifiable reason why you like it.

Also think about what kinds of food you crave when you taste the wine. Does it make you want a flame-grilled steak, or a rich tomato sauce? Does the flavor make you think of buttery herb sauces or vinegary gastriques?
Still having trouble? Click here

You don't have to finish both bottles (!) but you do have to try at least two at a time to get a good feel for what you're comparing. Eat bread and a plain-flavored cheese to keep from getting too buzzed!

And my own tip: get a few plain black napkins to catch drips when you pour, you can use one the whole night and it won't look like a crime scene.


I've got three podcast cooking lessons recorded, and I'll be editing them this weekend. If you'd like to get on the mailing list, please SUBSCRIBE and I'll keep you posted!.

Last thing I ate or drank: chugging icewater like I just ate an entire pizza...but didn't.

August 21, 2006

Limerick Contest! Win Tickets! (Los Angeles Restaurant Expo)

The 2006 Western Foodservice and Hospitality Expo is taking place this weekend, and I've got two tickets available, compliments of Chef JoAnna, Inc. and the California Restaurant Association. (Valued at $45 each!)

If you would like to attend any of the three days (Sat/Sun/Mon) of this industry only trade show you can try to win a pass by entering a contest:

Haikus are just not my style, but I'm quite partial to limericks. For this contest, write a standard limerick about something related to cooking.*You get points for humor, originality, and best use of rhyme. The winner will be chosen by me. If the winner can't use both passes, then the second pass will be awarded to the first runner up. Put your entry in the comments of this post. Comments will be 'hidden' until Friday. NOTE: you are automatically disqualified if you try to rhyme JoAnna with Banana. It is unimaginative and a cop out. Shame on you if you just said, "Awwww!"
Anyone can enter, if you want to have the joy of being declared the winner, but please tell me, and decline the tix, if you're not in Los Angeles or you're not available to go this weekend, it would be a shame for these to go to waste. By the way, you only win the pass; parking and everything else is on your own...but if you're a westsider, or you can get yourself to Santa Monica, you will also win a chauffered ride! (I'll drive, you get to ride shotgun in the luxurious comfort of the chefmobile. I'll even let you choose the music.) OH! and the Los Angeles Wine & Food Festival is somewhat affiliated with this as well; you can get into their event for only $10 if you have a pass to the Food Expo: Click here for a brief intro and click here for the full site. * By submitting an entry, you give me non-exclusive, irrevocable, perpetual rights to modify, distribute, publish or print the entry at my discretion.
Last thing I ate or drank: applesauce, to which I added cinnamon and sprinkle of splenda.

My Safety & Sanitation exam results

YAY! I just found out I passed my Safety & Sanitation exam and I'm happy to have gotten such a high score... but I really wonder which question I missed to have gotten a 93% though. I'm bummed that I'll never know which one/s I missed, and I can' learn what I thought I knew but apparently didn't.

No matter: I've renewed my certification for another three years, and even though it wasted an entire Saturday, which was quite a lovely day, I'm glad to have it out of the way.

I will say this: if you have to take this test, and you live in California, I highly recommend the one day class with Click hereCalifornia Food Safety. Sean did his best to keep the class focused and entertained, and that's no easy task when the topic matter is as dry and boring as food safety.

Last thing I ate or drank: just woke up; a bowl of total, with banana & rice milk

August 19, 2006

Restaurant Review: JiRaffe

JiRaffe was lovely. I had the mushroom salad and the Loup de Mer special. Kelly had the corn ravioli and the almond encrusted trout. We had, I believe, the best seat in the house. Perhaps it pays to have my opentable send my confirmation emails to the domain, and the outgoing voicemail message on my phone say that I'm a chef.

Mostly I'm posting this to remind myself to blog more later. It's late, I'm tired, and I have to brush my teeth still.

Last thing I ate or drank: banana split-ish sundae, a few hours ago. Why does ice cream make you crave water?

August 17, 2006

August 09, 2006

The End Is Nigh... Prepare yourselves!

I have exactly one veggie dog and one hot dog bun left.

I fear that when I consume that last hot dog from a package, in the final hot dog bun, the world as we know it will come to an end.

P. S. yes I eat veggie dogs. Even though I know they're made out of tofu lips and seitan snouts.

Hey, L.A., What's your grade?

How much does it mean to you that the restaurant you're eating at has an "A" grade by the Los Angeles County Department of Health? CLICK to find out if your favorite establishment is making the grade. (applies to Los Angeles county only.)

August 06, 2006

Kansas, anyone?

It's a little bit "Geographically Undesirable" but for that price, you literally buy the whole city block! And when you move in, you actually increase the population by a discernable percentage.

<insert "Green Acres" theme>
and turn it way drown out my screams.

August 04, 2006

Fruits and vegetables added to WIC list - Yahoo! News

I thought this was interesting enough to post most of the article. (click the link to read the full article)

Fruits and vegetables added to WIC list - Yahoo! News

Comments on this are strongly encouraged!

"WIC now pays about $35 monthly for staples such as juice, eggs, cheese and milk, but the program will pay for less of those products to cover the new foods' cost.

The revisions follow the advice of the federally chartered Institute of Medicine, which said the WIC program needs to reflect changes in science and society since it was created three decades ago.

The addition of fruits, vegetables and whole grain products also tracks changes last year to the government's own dietary guidelines.

'The WIC food package has not been revised or updated since 1980,' said Kate Coler, the Agriculture Department deputy undersecretary who oversees the program. 'We thought it was a prudent time to have a scientific review of the package."

Proposed changes include:

_The amount of juice would be cut from up to 9 ounces daily to 4 ounces for children ages 1 through 5.

_Milk would be cut from up to 3 cups daily to 2 cups for children 1 through 5. New substitutions would allow soy milk and tofu for people who have milk allergies or trouble digesting lactose.

_Whole grain bread would be added to the list. Substitutions such as corn tortillas and brown rice would be allowed to reflect the cultural diversity of those served by WIC.

WIC encourages mothers to breast-feed their babies by offering more foods, particularly for women whose children aren't getting formula through the program. Those women currently can get one vegetable, carrots, as well as canned tuna.

The new list would increase the amount of canned fish to 30 ounces and add canned salmon as an option. The president of the U.S. Tuna Foundation, Anne Forristall Luke, applauded the plan.

"Canned tuna is a convenient, affordable and nutritious food we all grew up on and is unrivaled in its nutritional benefits," she said.

WIC pays for canned white, light, dark or blended tuna packed in water or oil.

Maybe Monday, maybe Tuesday...

No answer yet on whether I've been approved for the loan. I called Sam at the bank, and he said probably by Monday, but definitely by Tuesday.

August 03, 2006


Tomorrow I will find out if my loan request for $50k goes through. As far as I can tell, my credit should be excellent, but there's still the process to go through. $50k is not that much, really. It's only about twice the rent of the space I'm seeking. Between that, and one line-cook's wages for a year, it's already spent. YIKES!

Last thing I ate or drank: Pho at Red Moon (no way am I going to bother to try to find the diacritics for those letters. Just pronounce it FAH and let's be done with it, ok?

what did you have for lunch?

I've been eating little candy-coated fennel seeds.

one at a time...

since 10:30am...

while working on my beastly food-business project.

Blood sugar's RIGHT UP THERE, (oh yes indeedy!) but now that it's 2:30 and I've only had a bowl of cereal, (the stuff that looks like pine-forest ground cover) so maybe it's time for something more substantial.

Hey - This post reads like Sheri might have done it. Sheri, did you take over my mind, and my blog? Say hi next time ya visit, sweetie!