Archive for the 'Cooking and Eating' Category

Pasta Bolognese: The Last Meal of a Very Pregnant Woman

I figured it would be her last meal. Her last meal before the pregnancy would end and the contractions would start. Well, as I write this, I can tell you that I was wrong. My wife is teetering on the edge of being late, which for a first pregnancy is not a big deal. Yet, I think every woman could agree, after 40 weeks of carrying around extra weight, having swollen ankles, and hearing the creative musings of drunk, almost homeless men describe your belly (My Favorite: “Yo baby, damn, I sure hope that ain’t gas!) – you are ready to get the baby out!

I had been thinking for the past week, what do you make for the pregnant woman who will eat anything (actually I think this describes all pregnant women)? Since it has been a while since I’ve written, I will tell you that pregnancy has caused my wife to dip her toe into the meat lake.  About four months ago, I was eating a burger while she was chowing down on her customary veggie burger (hence the name of the blog). But I could tell something was amiss, it took me a second to realize that my wife could not stop staring at my beef burger (This is not a sexual allusion people). It was kinda creepy. I asked her if she had a problem or she wanted a bite. She said, “I think I want a bite.” Two seconds later, there was meat juices running down her chin.  I haven’t seen Twilight, but now, I think I understand. My veggie wife scarfing down a burger as if she just came back from a deserted island, WOW!   Just before you make conclusions, my wife still does not eat a ton of meat, all the meat is from “happy animals” and she is likely to return to her veggie ways after the birth.

From what I read, labor is like a marathon only it’s longer, more painful, and people don’t ask you how you trained. With all this in mind, I made my wife Pasta Bolognese with homemade fettucini. Labor can last two days with almost no sleep and then pushing which, to continue the metaphor, is like a long distance sprint.

When I was working in the kitchens of Hugo’s restaurant, I used to make the pasta seemingly everyday. It was always on my prep list. I wasn’t always psyched to see it. It requires 12 egg yolks, 2 eggs, and a hell of alot of kneading by hand (at least 25 minutes until it felt like a woman’s breast). This meal was an act of carb load love. At the end of the day, this pasta is always beautiful. It is so tender and rich, all pasta should be like it. The pasta could be eaten on its own.

The sauce was its own project. I really like taking brunoise cut mirepox, and cooking it down over a low heat with plenty of salt, olive oil, and butter. I think you cook it on the stove top for about three hours till it becomes almost a glassy paste. The paste is awesome, if poorly named. Also, it makes a great base for a sauce. Next thing I know, I am browning the meat, adding the mirepox, pouring in the white wine to reduce, next add some tomato product, and you are done. It was really good and worth the effort. I think I would want this as my last meal.

Next time I write, I will have spit up on my collar and a smile on my face and in my heart.

The Nude Year

This title is a thinly veiled attempt to increase my audience. (Is it a Porno Movie title lacking an actual film or a film I do not know about?)  Besides being nude this year on a variety of occasions, this NEW year is one I am looking forward to with great anticipation. I was asked by Brooklyn Paper to make some predictions for the upcoming year, and yes they will all come true.  But it is not the predictions that I am eagerly anticipating or the Oscar and Tony I plan on winning this year…

I am excited to say that I will be entering phase four of my life: true and real adulthood. My Wife and I are expecting. I am still a little nervous saying it. We have moved into the second trimester so I feel I can be a little bit more cavalier with the joyous news. Yet, I am so neurotic. I am worried that something will happen at any moment. Now, I must make it until JUNE with my sanity intact! A tall order even without impending fatherhood.

My first priority this year has been to feed the expectant mother.  In her pregnancy, my wife has slowly drifted towards flexitarianism. She has recently found that humanely-raised, additive-free meat is starting to taste pretty damn good. It’s funny what a couple of odd hormones will do to ya. Although she is not exactly slinging back hamburgers, she did order the fried chicken at Buttermilk Channel recently – after requesting to see the vegetarian menu! Fried Chicken is definitely on her list of approved foods. Yet an odd thing has happened, I have forgotten how to cook the basic meat meals. I have had two utter failures at making roast chicken! This used to be my favorite dish to make. I have undercooked it once and had flabby skin the second time. I feel like Rocky after he got knocked out by Mr.T – I am realizing that I need to start training again! Can someone please cue the montage!?


New Year's Paella

So in the new year I am determined to start perfecting dishes. This requires numerous attempts and sadly – failures. How many times can I ask my wife to eat paella before she revolts and is repulsed by saffron? But in the next few weeks I will attempt to make perfect Roast Chicken, Fried Chicken, Paella, Gratin, Pork Roasts, and more. If my wife is going to join the meat eating crowd, let me at least give her good reason!

New Year's Coconut Cake

New Year's Coconut Cake

I don’t want to forget to tell you that this week, my future child is developing his or her taste buds. I am super excited to make my wife eat a wide range of food so my child has a developed palette out of the womb. Queens – here I come! I am not sure the wife feels the same way.  I have already made her eat very spicy Thai food, next up is more Asian and Southeast Asian. I haven’t forgotten Middle Eastern or Latin. It is going to be a tough few weeks for her. But as I told her: It’s for the baby!

And one big prediction for The Food Experiments: the next one will be The WINE Experiment! Start your engines! Details to follow….

Have a great 2011!

Pig Island, Sadly Missing the Pina Coladas



The Starting Line


I have been talking about Pina Coladas for the past three months.  Not because a couple of “hippish” bars have started to serve them.  No, it’s because of my love for a crazy light rock song called “Escape.”  You’ve probably heard the song and not thought twice about it. It’s main hook is, “If you like Pina Coladas and long walks in the rain…” This Summer when my Wife told me of the meaning of this song, no exaggeration, it changed my life. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a little. The song tells the story of a married couple who secretly put personal ads in the local paper looking for Pina Colada fans, only to end up reuniting with each other. I am getting off topic. The song is funny and it reminded me to start drinking frozen drinks again…

Anyway, Pig Island wasn’t a pina colada type of island, but it was amazing nonetheless.  Jimmy of Jimmy’s 43, that impresario of locavore events, organized it.  He arranged for every chef to get up to five local pigs to serve to the public. Awesome. Of course Nick and I got the maximum amount of pigs to go to town with. We spent forever and a half to come up with our dish. The main road block was that I hate potato salad. I have never had a good one. Deli potato salad is disgusting, warm potato salad is usually greasy and gross. I ask you: how many potato salads have you had that have been undercooked, over mayo-ed, bland, etc?  Lame-O is that potat-O salad. Have I made myself clear? So, Nick wanted to serve our dish with his vinegar-salt potato salad and I kept saying, NO there must be something better. He kept at it. Realizing that we are not a fully functioning restaurant with a budget, potato salad started to make sense. Well, I will be was pretty good potato salad that complimented our dish nicely. So what did we serve with the potato salad?  read on…


caja china

caja china at work


We butchered a pig and then made pulled pork out of the legs and shoulders, and brined the carcass/belly flap. Then, we stuffed the de-boned pig carcass with the pulled pork, lemon braised fennel, and cooked it in the caja china till the skin turned crispy. It was fucking awesome. I made two sauces: a reduced pork demi-glace that I buttered out and a chimichurri aioli. So, the dish was pork stuffed pork with pork demi-glace, chimichurri aioli, and potato salad. I was proud. Nick was proud. I think we were a little bummed that it wasn’t a competition. We treated it as a competition – stayed up till three am three nights in a row (looks like we would have gotten votes from the volunteer crew too!).



Pig Stuffed Pig


But there were other great dishes…

People could not stop eating the bacon sticky buns from the desert chef of  Print Restaurant in The Ink Hotel. I’m not saying how many I had, but it was more than one. Plus, Matthew Weingarten of Inside Park at St. Barts made one the best sausages I have had in recent memory. It was a sausage made from the entire pig, skin and all. It was juicy and peppery, really to my liking- perfectly seasoned.



The Lab


The real beauty of the event for me was the opportunity to butcher five whole pigs. Since I left professional kitchens, I do not get that chance often. I think by the third pig, Stella Got Her Groove Back! The butchering made the whole event worth it. Also, the space Nick found to do the prep work was amazing. All alone, I butchered the pigs in a ginormous waterfront sound stage in Williamsburg. Such a New York moment. The space was the size of three football fields, painted black, and pitch dark except for a lone spotlight focused on the pig. I was able to drive my car inside to where I was working and play the radio. It was a special night.



hello there



more Pig Island pics

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Making Paté in Malaysia

Street Food

Street Food in Kuala Lumpur

That Man Love Pate!

That Man Loves Pate!

My friend Ted asked me to write a post about all the food I ate on my honeymoon to Malaysia.  Since he is among my most loyal readers, I promised myself to get it done. Well Ted, it took me three months, but here ya go…

Recently I made a batch of paté, and it brought up memories of my honeymoon (not because we ate paté covered strawberries in bed). I’ve been through a lot trying to find an appropriate place to make my paté for wholesale. Unfortunately (and fortunately), they make it challenging for someone to produce value added meat products. Usually I find restaurant or catering kitchens that I can borrow. This puts me right up against the edge of what can and cannot be done.  I am reminded of my honeymoon because the standards for food preparation in Malaysia are very different.

Throughout Malaysia, I ate street food everyday and I forced my patient pescatarian bride to eat it as well. There are no standards for meat preparation over there – the butchers smoke while they work, prep is done on whatever surface is available (be it a filthy crate or even the street), flies are absolutely everywhere… Literally, there are buckets of animal guts every five feet in the market.

Gut Bucket

Gut Bucket

Smokin Butcher

Smokin' Butcher


Prepping Chicken

Yet… I never got sick, not even a tiny squirt. Yet, here in America people get sick after eating tainted spinach.

Enough preaching – what about the food! It was fantastic: spicy, salty, sweet, sour and a whole lot more. The street food system really works in Malaysia. You choose a random table in an alleyway or on the street and whoever owns the table sells you drinks. For us, it was $2 Tiger beers, basically Budweiser with an Asian accent. Now you choose between 15-25 carts, point to something you want, give them your table number (no matter how far away the table is, they will find you), and within a minute you have a giant plate of hot food for 30 cents. That is no misprint.

Excuse having to see me slurp

Excuse my slurping

Skewer Cart

Skewer Cart

We had curries, noodles, satays, and everything in between – fried pork intestine porridge, rotis, laksa, etc. I want more right now.

I was surprised to find very little fresh fruits or vegetables. I found no outdoor markets filled with ripe produce or overflowing sacks of spice. We were fortunate to get there in time for the Durian Festival. Have you had this “fruit”?

First Bite of Durian

First bite of Durian

It is, without a doubt, the most disgusting thing I have ever put in my mouth, and I’m taking into account that time in college when I got drunk and woke up in the wrong bed. Anyway, it was shocking mostly because all the natives described it as irresistible, like a “drug.” “You will become addicted!” they said. Well, they were fucking wrong.  It tasted like wet, fermented, sweet, extremely bitter shit. They warned me that the first bite could be tough, but really. I crap my pants just thinking about durian. Let’s not forget how it smells. It smells so terrible they don’t allow it in hotels, rental cars, subways, buses, stores, etc. I don’t know how you would get it home if you bought it.

What do you think Ted? I still haven’t talked about Hong Kong or Singapore! They are worth their own posts.

It was our honeymoon...

It was our honeymoon...

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Petrus 1953 – Simple is Better

Petrus 1953

Petrus 1953

I do not have a fetishism for food or wine. Rather, I have a deep appreciation for both without the need to shove it down your throat. But when my brother asked if I wanted to cook for a magnum of Petrus 1953, my enthusiasm knew no bounds.  I am talking about a very old and very expensive bottle of wine. I immediately shared the news with my wife.  After her lackluster response (she is not one to jump at cooking opportunities), I called Nick and finally got a worthy reaction (he works at Wine Spectator after all).  He was a great help as I discussed my thoughts on the menu. The first menu I thought of was too complicated, probably would have taken me all day and would not have been an enjoyable process. After further debate, we settled on simple was better.

In the meantime, my sister in law did some research. We did not go into this blind. The game plan, according the wine experts at the Wall Street Journal was to open and drink immediately – do not pass go and collect 200 bucks. The big fear was whether we had vinegar or an exceptional wine waiting for us.

The Opening

The Opening

On game day, to my initial shock and horror, the cork slipped into the bottle as I tried to open it. Trust me, I put no pressure on the cork at all. I have no idea what was keeping that dry brittle cork in place. As I started pouring, the odor instantly enveloped the room. It was a funky smell that led everybody to think that we had a loser on our hands. Thankfully, no – we had a winner. It had a true bouquet of death – wet wood, mushrooms explosion. It mellowed beautifully with just a little time and food. It went down smooth and it was unlike any wine experience I ever had.

So what the hell did I serve? I went with steak – simple. I grilled it to a medium rare and topped it with a large pat of tarragon compound butter. I rested it and let the butter melt. The idea was to give a slight sense of a Bearnaise sauce with out making a creamy sauce. Along side of it, I served a mushroom risotto and a side of grilled squash from the farmers market. When serving the plate I thought the risotto was a huge mistake, but it worked really well. I did not finish it with cream, just a touch of Greek yogurt. The mushrooms stood out and complimented the earthiness of the wine.

I am sure that there are a lot of dishes that pair well with a 1953 Petrus, but the dish I made worked just fine. I would not trade the experience.

New York Strip

New York Strip

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If You Want To Cater Your Own Wedding – Must Have Friends!

Checkin the Pig

Checkin the Pig

When I asked my now patient WIFE whether I should write about catering my own wedding or about the amazing food we ate on our honeymoon in Malaysia, she was quick to reply. “Write about catering the wedding, people love hearing about people being foolish.”

I don’t know how I didn’t lose it. I still have the advice of my new Father-in-Law echoing in my head, “Keep it simple Theo.” At least give me a chance to explain myself. If you have had a wedding or just paid for one, you realize that a huge portion of your budget goes to the caterer. We were on a limited budget and I always envisioned great food at my wedding. So why would I pay someone a huge chuck of cash to serve mediocre canapés?

But let me emphasize, my wedding did not just feature my food nor did it rely solely on my shoulders. As I said, if you are crazy enough to attempt this yourself, you must have wonderful friends.

Let me back up a couple of years – I moved to Portland, Maine in 2005 immediately following culinary school. I was attracted to its reputation as an up and coming food center. It has some great chefs working there and wonderful local ingredients. Even though I did not have a good time living there (probably because I relocated with my girlfriend at the time who turned out to be… I am not going to go there). Anyway, I met two wonderful people working in kitchens up there, and it made me realize how life can work in mysterious ways. To meet friends like MA and Camile, you normally have to endure many years in many different kitchens. They are both incredibly talented chefs that I would turn over a kitchen to in a heartbeat.

I remember having discussions with Camille about the menu. I thought I had everything under control, but without using my own kitchen to stage the event I was in trouble early. Breakdowns and chaos reigned supreme. Let me emphasize that this was on my end, not on my friends’ end. I was turning into the Incredible Hulk. Weeks before the wedding I started prepping stuff for the freezer. My first thought was to grind, stuff, and freeze as much sausage as humanly possible in the weeks prior to the wedding. Plus, I could make all the sauces a week out from the wedding. I could also make all the charcuterie for the wedding as well. I had a plan damn it!

Everything under control

The menu was supposed to be a blend of several ideas, but I wanted it to be easy. It relied heavily on the grill. The roast pig was meant to express a bit of my bride’s half-Latina heritage. (Nick came through with the pig box – now he is starting his own company – one man, one pig. I think you get the idea. Yet he did not seem too happy when cleaning the damn box or when he stepped in poop.) And there were French Fries with numerous sauces to please the Belgian half of my bride. What about my full Jewish two halves? Since I didn’t have a Bar Mitzvah, I went with a lot of pigs in a blanket (it doesn’t get any better than that), yet the friggin caterer couldn’t serve them hot for Christ sake!


Bratwurst and seafood sausage

Lobster Roll
Lobster Roll

Friday was the toughest day. My friends arrived and I was already in the weeds. I can’t explain the emotion, but I just simply started crying into Camile’s shoulder. I was late to my own rehearsal at the barn, I showed up wearing an apron. I do not really know how they did it or how they did it so well. But without them, there wouldn’t have been a wedding. On Saturday, when I started freaking out, Camile was there to calm me down. She is a true friend who together with MA really knows how to cook. By catering my own wedding a learned more about friendship than food.

In the end, a wedding isn’t about the food.  The food doesn’t matter. It is the very real and very blessed union of two people who love and respect each other. I love my wife, and I will never cater another wedding again. But I am not saying anything about when we renew our vows…


Heading straight to the bar

By the way, if you live up north – in Maine – and you need someone to cater an event, let me know. I know two people who would be perfect.

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Part II – Did Actually Do Something Right? What a Night!!

Feelin Alright

Feelin' Alright

Wow, I am in a ‘crappy’ position. (I put crappy in quotes because I think it is a lame adjective, but I cannot think of another) My editor-in-chief a.k.a. my girlfriend left for a family trip today for three weeks!!!  So now I have no editor and barely recollect a story that is already two weeks old. She told me to post sooner, but I was trying to get all this other stuff done before she left. Plus more importantly, I had to do the frickin’ beer event. So, I hope you still care what happened and do not mind all the grammatical mistakes. I think the only person who will email me the list of errors is Nick….that’s right… callin’ him out and I haven’t even written a paragraph.

Where was I? That’s right, I just sitting down with Nick and Nate.

They arrived while I was ‘trying’ to put away all the food I prepared. I was still feeling the effects of a ridiculous hangover and could not figure out the refrigerator, they look so easy to use.  Nick looked a little worse for wear and he forgot his wallet, but he did bring the five baguettes.  I had met Nate once before, he is tall. Frankly, he is way too tall. I will forgive him. Do you know that tall people get paid more than short people? It’s a fact.  Just so you know, I balanced the tables of justice – I paid him barely anything, really.

Nick had the type of experience in the kitchen I had before going to culinary school.  His mother is a chef and he grew up watching her cook. He has great culinary instincts. I think if he wanted to work in a professional kitchen, it would be no problem.  I hear he has even done well in some cook-offs.  Between a culinary school grad and a food enthusiast (I have come to detest the word “foodie”) I think that there is only one major difference. Once you go to “Cooking College” you learn to stop asking, “How long until it’s done?”  Because: it is done when it is done, got it.  Otherwise, if you love food, if you know food, it’s all good.  I hate the recent arrogance that is now associated with food.

Time to cook. Nate, Nick, & I mumbled through the meeting. The meeting itself started with such high hopes – we were going to have our production list and make plate diagrams. Well, I had to rewrite the production list three times because it looked like a scrambled mess. Plus, each plate design chart looked like a lopsided circle with a trapezoid in the middle.  As I said before, it had been sometime since I have cooked professionally.  Luckily, I cooked most of the food on Friday.  I thought that we wouldn’t have enough to do on Saturday. I thought that we would be sitting around trading stories of bullshit waiting for the customers. As my girlfriend loves to point out, I am wrong, often.

The day of prep would be defined by the egg yolk ravioli and the effort Nate and Nick put into creating them. Like a typical head chef, I said I wanted something done, that did not mean I knew the human cost.  I have this great recipe for pasta which I have shared with you in a previous post. I wanted to incorporate the pasta in the dinner, and I thought I would make a pasta “carbonarra” (I guarantee that is spelled wrong) with lightly cured pork belly. I knew right off the bat that this could be mocked as a “DECONSTRUCTED” dish which I am doing.  I did not think I was creating a cure for cancer. It was not meant to be revolutionary, just delicious.  I have made this pasta countless times. I used to make it almost everyday when I worked at Hugo’s.  So, I asked Nate to make the ravioli. I thought it would be the most fun thing to tackle that day and he was nice enough to come out and help. I thought I was doing him a favor.

Egg Yolk Ravioli...Seems easy right?

Egg Yolk Ravioli...Seems easy right?

It must have been my hangover because right as we started the project there was trouble. I have worked with OO flour in the past. OO Flour has a higher protein content thus more gluten is formed when kneading the dough. I know that a lot of chefs use it in pasta doughs, so it’s only natural to assume that it would be fine for this recipe.  It is pointless to experiment the day of an event. Frankly, right as it started to come together you could tell that there was too much gluten. It didn’t feel right. I wanted to freak out and get pissed, but that is the beauty of a hangover. You do not have enough energy to get crazy.

When I have made the pasta before, I have always kneaded it by hand.  Well, I saw the dough hook in the Kitchen-Aid. Sadly, it was the Terminator: Rise of the Machines. It didn’t work properly. So, adjustment after adjustment was necessary.  I have to give Nate props because he kept at it, until it felt just right. Pasta dough should feel like a woman’s breast, a real breast, not the fake kind. Pasta making is great for people with fetishes. I guess liking a breast is not really a fetish, my bad.

I purchased a ravioli mold for the occasion, unfortunately the mold was too small to fit an egg yolk. Now, I am stuck with a ravioli mold and no pasta roller. It’s like having the amp and no guitar. Back to square one, making them by hand. This is not as easy, sure you can make circles of dough, but you got to worry about the yolk breaking throughout the entire process. Plus, the hardest part sealing them now had to be done by hand.

All the while, Nick just powered through. He prepared the asparagus, pureed the kale, and started the perogi.  He worked so hard in the kitchen.  Both Nick and Nate are starters in my book.  It’s like if I were starting a baseball team, I would start with Johan Santana. A-Rod = A-Suck. That was a meaningless throw away line just so I can disparage the Yankees. Anyhow, they were great, I could not have done it without them.

I had to pull Nick off the perogis and ask him to help out Nate. I was starting to get antsy. It was taking a long time to make these ravioli.  I started asking Nate and Nick to stop. Just make the bare minimum, please! When they finish 21 pieces, I begged them to stop. They wanted to make extra. God bless them. They were right, even though I want to yell at them to finish, finish, finish, more people showed up. There were no left overs.

While they spent the afternoon perfecting the ravioli, I finished the perogis.   The filling was really good.  I was proud of it.

lamb perogi

lamb perogi - It had cured lamb belly, napa cabbage, carrots, shallots, butter, mustard, and spices.

Does any of this still make sense? Basically, three hours passed and I cooked some grub.  I did have one more intense fuck up. I made a monkfish torchon. I have made it many times. When I worked in Maine, it was very common to have access to monkfish liver. Let’s just say it didn’t work, and I found out an hour before service. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  It tasted foul, I mean like ass. Actually, I would probably have preferred ass. I nearly sent my staff to the hospital because I asked them to try it.  I was scared to taste it.

It was disappointing solely because I had spent hours searching for the Monkfish liver in New York.  The liver I did find might have been sitting out to long.  Once I pierced the outer membrane, it turned to liquid. I thought I could save it.  When looking for this rotten crap,  I actually listened to Nick, who told me to go to some fancy Japanese beef butcher.  The butcher shop looked so fucking fancy. A blank white cube of a shop that looked like an over sanitized 2001 Space Odyssey commissary with really great looking Waygu Beef.  Plus, the butcher was wearing a suit and tie. The Butcher looked at me and said in broken English, “This is beef, no fish, why you here?” I asked my self the same question. I was shocked because after trudging through Chinatown, calling all the fish markets in town, I found the liver at the Green Market.

It’s now 6:45 and the doors open in 15 minutes. Let me emphasize, everyone in the kitchen is getting along and were having fun. We take a few minutes to relax. I give them some chef coats to put on. We are ready, but deep down inside I am a wreck. This is the first time I have cooked for money in a while. I am wondering if anybody is going to like it. I was worried about the construction of the menu.  At the same time, I was super excited. I thought that this could be a great boost to my cooking confidence.  All this was swirling in my head and we have no idea how we are going to plate the dishes or what plates we are going to use.

Yet it all came together…it will be a night I remember for a long time.

Pate is so beautiful to me

Paté is so beautiful to me

Course 1: The Chicken Liver Terrine served with Candied Rhubarb, Rhubarb Jerky, Smoked Bourbon Aspic, Ver Jus Syrup, and Pink Peppercorns.

The Pate Plate

The Paté Plate

Can you believe after all that work nobody took a picture of the egg yolk ravioli? Idiot…I am referring to myself. So instead, I have decided to insert a scary picture of Nick, looking like a crazy mother f’er.  It looks like he is being seen through night vision goggles.

Nick - Be cool and nobody gets hurt

Nick - Be cool and nobody gets hurt

Action Picture – Lamb Belly Perogis – By the way, this is how I will always spell perogis. Do I care if I am wrong? No…

Perogi Action

Perogi Action

The Final Course

Finish Line

Finish Line

What you see here is the last course: Seafood Charcroute.  It is (SIDE A) – seared scallop, homemade tater tot, kale puree, and Pernod Beurre Blanc – (SIDE B) –  seafood sausage, pickle fennel, pernod beurre blanc – (MIDDLE) –  Tuna Belly Bacon with spicy olive oil.

Back in the Kitchen: Did I actually do something right? Part I


in the foxhole

I do not even know how to answer that question.  On Saturday night, I cooked for a “Private Event” a.k.a. underground supper club, and it went better than I could even imagine. First let me mention that I was very fortunate to have the best culinary team ever assembled, Nick and Nate.  Also, I want to thank the hosts, Tom and Jackie, for making a great night happen. Plus Tom makes the best drinks. I am now hungover for a second day in a row.  Last but not least, Indira made a memorable and wonderful dark chocolate cake. I ate at least four scoops of her pistachio semi-freddo.

Thank you is the most import thing you can do in any situation. In this situation, I double that sentiment. That is why I wanted to start my post with ‘thank you’s’ . I almost forgot, I thank everyone who came and feasted on my menu. You all were great.

Yet, if you asked me Saturday morning at 6:41 am for a prediction, it would have been very bleak. Considering I woke up at 6:40am with a piece of frozen birthday cake congealed to my shoulder and a debilitating headache from all the booze I drank the night before.  So what did I do the night before my first cooking gig in a year?  I got shit faced off an unknown mix of alcohol. I went to a going away party, and I had a simple agenda: keep it together dude. Well, there were two small factors that led to my down fall. First, by coincidence, my friend and sous chef, Nick, lives in the same building the party was in. I do not know about you, but “small world” shit gets me all worked up like a tot getting a Tonka Truck. It meant that I had to drink not only to my friend’s new life, but also to my new friend.  Second, my girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend was at the party. I am not a jealous person, but these things have a way of feeling slightly awkward and forced. This is on both our parts.  So, when the Ex asked me how I liked my whiskey, I felt there was only one answer: On the rocks. The slippery slope, my friends, had appeared before me and I took it, diving head first.  I am not sure exactly what I said but I ended up in Nick’s apartment at 2 am ranting against some injustice to the utter embarrassment of my continually ‘long suffering’ girlfriend.

At least I remembered when I got home that night to take the lamb and pork bellies out of the oven. They had been cooking at 200 for 7 hours. I think I had been drinking all seven hours. There was a small problem at this point, I took the bellies out of the oven and I never put them into the refrigerator. Ooopsie…While I was eating cake of seriously unknown origin patiently waiting for them to cool, I passed out. I woke up with a killer headache, nauseated to the point of sickness. I ran to the kitchen, “The Bellies!!!” In my utter panic, I immediately cut a hunk off the lamb belly to see if they were still good. The problem, I had grabbed the lamb liver that was attached to the belly and popped it into my mouth. I am going to tell you right now that cured lamb liver is not a good hangover cure.

(Let me emphasize to all the people who are reading this who ate at Peerless: there was nothing wrong with the bellies. They were cured.)

Anyway, the morning was getting away from me. I was now up and simply yelling at myself for being such a shit with the drink. I took two showers, popped three pills, and did four jumping jacks. It was 8am and I was ready to roll…at a slower than normal speed, but rollin I did.  I was shaky, literally. It is so hard to organize with a hangover, really it is. Am I the first person ever to realize that?  The hours between waking up and getting into the car to head over to WillieB are just a blur. I was half way over the bridge to Williamsburg when I realized that I left the pasta machine home –  There was no turning back, traffic was a bitch. So, I started this coping method which has been very helpful to me over the years, I started hitting the roof of my car with my fist while shouting, “fuck, fuck, fuck…” This started even before I forgot to buy the baguettes. Thank you Nick. I still owe you $15 dollars, remind me.

12:15 and things are looking up as I see Nick and then Nate saunter in the door. A meeting is in order, a chance to sit…

Part II is on the way….

I’m Back – Cooking it – Feelin it – May 30th

Piggy Please

Piggy Please

I have an announcement. I am heading back into the kitchen, a somewhat professional kitchen.  I’m heading back for one night only, and I am excited. I am excited to get back into the kitchen, and I am excited that it is only for one night. I am cooking for an “Underground” supper club.

Underground supper clubs have been around for awhile now. There have been articles in all the papers, and there is even more than one current book on the subject, but that does not change my excitement. I think these events are successful because they are unique experiences. At a restaurant, they perform the same task night after night. With this situation, it is a chance for utter success or utter failure. I am confident mine won’t be a failure.

It’s a chance to create a menu again, which I will admit was difficult at first. I have a tendency to make a menu more difficult than it has to be because I don’t know when I’m going to get a chance again.  The space is great and drinks are included…if you are one of the three people who read this, come for dinner.  Here is a link to the official website:  Peerless Platters.

The Menu

Chicken Liver Terrine, Smoked Bourbon Aspic, Candied Rhubarb

Monk fish Torchon, Ver Jus Syrup

Egg Yolk Ravioli, Braised Pork Belly, Spicy Olive Oil, Age Gouda

Lamb Belly Perogis, bitter greens, mint, brown butter

Scallop, Wrapped in Tuna Belly Bacon, Kale Puree, Tater Tot

Seafood Sausage, fennel Charcroute, Pernod Beurre Blanc

Hope to see you there….

Cookin’ with Kids…

The little ones at rest, rare photo

The little ones at rest, rare photo

Is it possible for such cute kids to cook? ….Yes…But, you need the patience of several saints…Not because they are wild or crazy…no just all over the place, today I asked myself, how can they be in all places at once? I am exhausted and all I made was cookies…

I have been cooking with my niece for several months, actually we started after her second birthday. My nephew is a two years younger, but he is starting to walk…I am not sure I am ready…

If you had two young children as sous-chefs, what would you make? I am looking for suggestions. I am almost out of ideas. Last week we made marzipan. Actually, we didn’t make marzipan….we just got out all of her play dough toys and made shapes. I will tell you that I think this works. They get as messy as humanly possible, I found marzipan in my shoe – and I was wearing boots.


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