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Tuesday, May 28th, 2013
I was approached by the folks at the Blood Kiss Kickstarter campaign to see if I could do something on the site about the movie project. At first I couldn’t figure out how to tie a Film Noir vampire movie into FoodPorn. I thought maybe I could do an interview with someone associated with the movie but I’ve already interviewed Neil Gaiman and the rest of the crew is in LA, too far away. I don’t cook with blood or make blood sausage so that connection was out.
Then I thought, A DRINK!! The brilliant minds at Blood Kiss brainstormed and came up with the drink name which I love and it inspired the ingredients. I wanted something blood-colored that was sour and sparkly.
Tonight, the project reached it’s goal. Let’s celebrate! Here you have it:
THE FANG TINGLER
1 ½ oz pomegranate
2 oz vodka
½ oz Blood orange juice (it’s not in season now, I had to use regular OJ)
½ oz lime
½ oz simple syrup
Combine and shake in a martini shaker.
Salt rim of large martini glass with fine sea salt.
Pour the cocktail into the salted glass and top off with tonic to make it sparkly and *tingly*
Now, back the project so the movie can be even better and these can be served at the premier! :)
Oh, also, my son likes these without the vodka and we’ve taken to calling the virgin drink a Tang Fingler :D
Tuesday, February 12th, 2013
Sleeping in on Sunday morning was a welcome treat. We were on vacation, I didn’t want an alarm but on Saturday we had to catch the catamaran at 9am so we had to drag our butts out of bed (very worth it!!). Brunch on Sunday didn’t start until noon though so no alarm was necessary and we had a leisurely morning. We dropped our son off with every other kid affiliated with the cookout at the Kids’ Brunch where they’d make their own food and be maniacs. We headed to drink champagne and eat oysters. Sure, there was a lot of other food there….I did exactly what I did last year and hit the oyster bar at least 5 times (the plates are small!!).
I grazed at a few other tables too of course: sushi, charcuterie, oysters…oh, I said that already.
While all this is going on there’s real cooking happening on stage. Emceed by Spike Mendehlson and the same blonde who didn’t do a good job last year, the contestants cook with local ingredients and the curveball of pomegranate thrown in at the last minute. The judges sit in front heckling Spike and putting up with fangirls like me asking for photos.
They’re all so incredibly nice. Even Anthony Bourdain but don’t tell anyone.
Mo, who competed last year but got 2nd, won it this year. Her son is her sous chef. It was a feel-good moment.
Sunday is the laziest of the cookout days building up to the most stressful event which is the Gala Dinner. My husband attended, I bowed out this year. I can’t deal with the pressure and I’m not even cooking! He owes me a report, the menu looked amazing and it was printed on WOOD! Not even paper but WOOD! Crazy.
While he was Gala-ing, my son and I went to Periwinkle and ate in beach chairs while watching Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Much more relaxing.
Tuesday, January 29th, 2013
Vertigo runs in my family. I’ve always been prone to motion sickness but about six years ago I went on a ferry in Sydney and my head thought it was still on the ferry for about 5 days. I’d be standing in the kitchen pouring a cup of tea and the whole room would spin. Since then I can’t swing on swings, jump on trampolines or, I thought, go on boats. I’d never in my life been on a sail boat. Why would I do such a thing when I’d just spend the whole time heaving over the side?
Well, before we left for this trip, I got transderm scopolamine from my doctor. That’s the little patch that goes behind your ear and sucks all the water out of your inner ear so there’s no sloshing happening. I’m very sloshy. I had no idea if this thing would work or if I’d have side effects or anything. I just stuck it behind my ear, washed my hands really well so I wouldn’t touch my eyes and dry them up, and then headed to the dock. I’ll end the suspense…the patch worked! The water wasn’t smooth by any means, we were up and down and all around but I didn’t feel a single worble. I can go on boats!!! I also wasn’t worbly when I got back on land. Maybe I should wear these patches all the time ;-)
So, we got on this catamaran along with a couple of dozen other people and sailed about 45 minutes out to Stingray City. I can honestly say I’ve never experienced anything like this. I’ve petted the manta rays at the Monterey Bay Aquarium but they’re small, don’t have stingers and half the time are huddled in the pool away from people. Stingray City was a whole other kettle of fish (*groan*). My son and I were the first down the ladder (well, he was first and I followed) and then he was the first to stop and get scared to jump down. The water was choppy and he wasn’t going to be tall enough to touch the bottom. So I passed him and jumped down first, tried to convince him to jump to me and then got doused by a wave and got about a quart of salt water up my nose. That’s a great start. But I recovered, got him down and then we were surrounded by stingrays! It was unsettling at first, and then really, really cool. They feel soft and a little slimy and have spent their whole lives at the sandbar where people come and feed them so they are really friendly…almost too friendly. We all had them swim up to either side and slap our legs looking for squid. It was CRAZY!
We spent about 30 minutes in the water with them then headed back up to the boat for some tequila drinks, lots of water, and a sail to Rum Point for some burgers. Since my husband’s foot is still healing from his accident in September, we always had to search out a place to sit first. We camped out in some beach chairs right next to the water, the margarita stand, and Eric Ripert’s station.
Sweeet. I had to pass on Spike Mendelsohn’s burger because it was lamb and I know how I am about lamb. I love rack of lamb. Let it grow up and it’s too lamby for me (I can’t overthink the baby-eating part of that). So I just wandered on and got one of Eric’s snapper sliders with spicy aioli. I actually got one for myself and my hubby and my son got one without the aioli. Then I went back and got another, and I’m pretty sure another. I scoped out the other burgers and taste-tested a few but always went back to Eric. To quote my son, “How does he make food taste so good?!”
Eric wasn’t overly busy, this was a small event, so I went up to attempt a conversation. I was doing really well! I was asking about the capers and the peppers on the fish from the Barefoot BBQ the night before. He said the capers were brined Spanish capers (they were amazing and unlike any caper I’d ever had) and the peppers were a local island pepper that he didn’t know the name of. I was commenting that I was surprised I liked them because they weren’t hot but they didn’t have the flavor of bell pepper at all which was great. See? Going well right?! Then I spilled champagne down my shirt. *sigh* It wasn’t sexy with me in a bikini, splashing champagne on myself in a hair-flipping, buxom, margarita-fueled craze (I was not in a bikini, nor am I buxom). I basically drooled. Someday I will manage to not look like a fool.
We had to finish up and catch the first catamaran back to get our son to his snorkeling camp before we went to see Eric and Tony Bourdain do their demo and talk. So we waltzed back to the catamaran and had a lovely sail back to the resort.
It’s always fun to listen to Eric and Tony razz each other. They didn’t do the Good vs. Evil routine (they’ll be on tour with that this spring) but they did a basics of cooking demo and Q&A session. They addressed things that people regularly screw up in the kitchen. First up, the omelet. Tony made a simple omelet, Eric acted shocked that Tony could cook. Their kids taste tested it and got the thumbs up :) Eric talked about how Tony has taken up meditation. Tony looked quite shocked and confused by this idea. And then of course Eric throws the punchline out which is a stack of photos he has taken, and I’ve seen him post them on twitter, of Tony sleeping on airplanes. This bromance can get catty!!
Eric then showed how to property tie up a chicken for cooking to keep its shape and juices in. He made scrambled eggs which were to die for! They passed them out in little egg shells. He cooks them through then whips in creme fraiche and chives. I am going to try this technique. Then they started going through the list of things people do not do right in the kitchen. First up, grill a steak. I was happy to hear them go through the list of do’s and don’ts and know that I was doing it all right! Let the steaks come up to room temp, salt them right before putting them on a not-too-hot grill (or you get raw inside, charcoal outside), DON’T touch them. Flip the steaks only once, don’t cut or poke them, leave them the hell alone. Then let them rest for about 8 minutes before serving. Yup, I do all that! For pasta: lots and lots of water, tons and tons of salt and don’t put oil in the water. It does nothing to keep the pasta from sticking. Oil and water don’t mix.
The funniest bit was when Sandra, Eric’s amazingly awesome, beautiful, funny wife, asked what they make when they cook romantic dinners for their wives. Eric replied with, “I’m not married.” Ouch! And then said they go out to eat. Poor girl’s never going to get a romantic home-cooked meal! That’s what you get for marrying a chef.
After it was over I got Tony to sign my Get Jiro! book and then we went and got our son from snorkeling and, yet again, spent the rest of the day in the ocean, on the beach or in the hot tub. It’s hard to be back home now!
Read about Thursday and Friday!
Sunday, April 15th, 2012
You really can’t knock starting a foggy spring Sunday morning with a glass of 2003 Dom Perignon. I don’t typically drink DP, unless it’s given to me. I don’t think it’s bad champagne by any means but it’s not what I tend to buy. 2003, if you recall, was the year that hundreds of people died in France from the crazy heat wave. The summer was scorching but the spring had unprecedented freezing temperatures. This did not treat grapes well. DP lost 70% of their Chardonnay. This is why I was so interested in attending this tasting. That and the description of the wine made me chuckle: “The intensity of this wine is unique and paradoxical, hovering between austerity and generosity.” I really wanted to try what hovering between austerity and generosity tasted like. Turns out it tastes like lovely champagne. Minerality, slight sweetness, quite enjoyable. I had a pleasant chat with the winemaker as well, lamenting my horrible experience in Paris and praising the French countryside.
After finishing my glass of champagne and turning down a second, I made my way over to the Equestrian Center for the Lexus Grand Tasting. It was a huge, crowded tent full of who knows how many people, 200 wineries and 25 chefs. Along with some random Lexuses…Lexi…shiny cars…because, you know, when you’re drinking lots of wine, you should make decisions about car buying. There were also Fiji girls walking around handing out water, like old-school cigarette girls or umbrella girls at MotoGP. There were many face lifts and fashionable yet impossible to walk in heels. A lot of the Pebble Beach Food and Wine festival is too much Pebble Beach and not enough Food and Wine but that doesn’t mean that the food and wine that’s there isn’t great!
My first bite was from Michael Cimarusti from Providence in LA. Beautiful crispy-skinned fish with a plethora of pickled veggies. It was hard to get things together in one bite but all together the tart and tangy pickles with the mustard sauce and the perfectly cooked fish was a great plate of food. It was one of my favorite plates of the afternoon.
I then went next door to Gabriele Ask from Montage Beverly Hills. He had a bison ribeye tartare that absolutely loaded with truffles. I commented on that and he said, “Yes, we spent a lot of money!” I surely didn’t mind…oddly…since usually truffles are overwhelming for me but I very much enjoyed the tartare. He was also serving a duck confit with foie gras but I passed since foie is not for me. Everyone raved about it though.
My favorite plate of the day was the Pig’s Tail with herbs and fish sauce in gem lettuce served by Bryant Ng of The Spiced Table in LA. I didn’t even know you could eat the tail of a pig! I don’t picture there being much there. This was braised in slightly spicy, beautifully balanced sauce and had a generous amount of fish sauce but it wasn’t so much that it was offensive. It was a wonderfully composed dish. If you look at the picture, the things in the lower right corner…those are pig tails…mmmm…tail.
I saw Fabio Viviani by his table and I stopped by to say hello. I admit that I really love watching Top Chef and have since Season 2 when I discovered it. I saw Fabio at MotoGP at Laguna Seca a couple of years ago and could not figure out why I knew him for the longest time. I thought I actually personally knew the guy. I was convinced he worked with my husband or something and that I’d had a conversation with him because I could picture him laughing. No, I just watched him on TV so much I thought I knew him! I told him that; he was really nice.
I saw a table for Restaurant 1833 in Monterey and I’ve really been wanting to go there. It looks like such an interesting space and now I really want to try it. The dish Levi Mezick was presenting was a crispy pork with “BBQ” sauce which was more like a spicy mustard sauce. It was crispy, hot, spicy, tangy. My first bite from 1833 definitely moved the priority of getting a reservation there up.
I tried a few other dishes that were fine but not as good as the four I described so we’ll just move on to the few wines I dropped in on. The first was Almaviva. The lost grape. I was surprised to see them because I never see the bottles anywhere but my husband orders them from somewhere and I really love that wine. I had a taste of their ’09 and, although young, was drinking well and obviously could be put down for a few years.
I had to stop by Ridge. We’re members of their wine club and love almost everything they produce. I found it quite telling of the crowd there that they kept running out of Chardonnay. To be completely blunt, I don’t like Ridge for their white wine. To me they are all about Zin and their Petite Sirah is heavenly. Their big wine is the Monte Bello Cab blend. We have many bottles of that we won’t open for years. I wanted to get a peek at what I have waiting for me so I had the ’06 Monte Bello. Damn. That’s good. Can’t wait to open it! But I will. It will be even better later.
My last stop was for a glass of ’07 Alexander Valley Silver Oak Cab. I always love Silver Oak. They are consistently good and consistently not cheap. They were also pouring an ’07 Napa Valley Cab but from doing tastings at the winery I’ve found I prefer the Alexander. The other reason I picked it was because the Napa was in a fancier bottle and I went for the more austere…Oh, blending austerity and generosity! HA!
As I was leaving, there was a woman passing out free lettuce. She asked the gentleman in front of me, “Would you like some artisan lettuce to take with you?” He said, “What kind of lettuce?” She said, “Artisan lettuce.” He said, “You mean lettuce.” She said, “Artisan lettuce.” He said, “Does it grow in the dirt?” She said, “Yes.” He said, “Then it’s LETTUCE!” It was really funny and summed up the Pebble Beach portion of the event!
I had a nice time at this event and would love to attend on a press pass again but truly the Cayman Cookout spoiled me for any future food event. The intimacy of that gathering can’t be beat. Please send any donations to get me back to the Cayman Cookout next year to email@example.com ;-)
Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
The morning started with sleep! We didn’t have a 10am event, our son didn’t have a 9:30 camp. We got to wake when we woke, slowly get going then walk our son down to the Les Chefs Petits brunch. This was supposed to be the kids making their own brunch in the Seven kitchen. This was bad planning on someone’s part since the Seven kitchen has their regular Sunday brunch happening and they couldn’t pile 30 kids into the kitchen! So they set them up out at one of the event tents on the beach instead. I’m sure this was better for the kids anyway, they got to have great food and still be maniacs.
Meanwhile we headed in to the ballroom for an incredible Champagne brunch. I never have high expectations for brunches. Even the one at the Waldorf in New York City failed to impress me. This one however…WOW. The champagne never stopped flowing, I wouldn’t be surprised if I consumed an entire bottle over the course of the morning. The level in my glass never dropped even though I was sipping the whole time. I piled my plate high with every seafood bit I could find. I don’t think I’d recovered from the meat-heavy Friday night BBQ so sushi, oysters, caviar, they all sounded wonderful and rejuvenating and they were. I basically just kept hitting the oyster bar until the brunch was over!
As we are all joyfully noshing away, there is an intense competition happening on stage, Top Chef style. The two finalists from the Cayman Cookoff, Maureen Cubbon and Eric St. Cyr, are frantically putting together a dish and a drink (the twist added to the competition by Richard Blais) for an intense table of judges: Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain, Jose Andres, Dana Cowin and the Governor of Cayman. I think I’d pass out from the stress! They are better prepared than me however and they completed their dishes and drinks and thoroughly impressed the judges. Eric St. Cyr came out on top and after the winner was announced, the crazy judge crew got on stage with bottles of Moet and a huge saber! Luckily, no blood was drawn, champagne just sprayed anyone in the vicinity. All we needed were some umbrella girls…the MotoGP of food celebrations.
We hung out on the beach with our son for some of the afternoon, perused the artisan market, picked up some cookbooks and got them signed by Eric and Tony, then had some time to relax before the Gala Dinner. Unfortunately, the evening didn’t go as planned. I gave my “Food Aversions” card to the restaurant manager. I knew this was going to be an intense, stressful evening for the kitchen and the waitstaff. I thought the card would make things easier for all involved, I mean, that’s why I have them. What it did was make them fuss over every course of mine and over me which I don’t deal with well at all. I did get to enjoy a little before I went into panic mode though.
The first course was Wahoo Sashimi, Ume, Garlic and Shiso by Laurent Gras. Wahoo is just the best fish around. I could have eaten nothing but this. The fish paired with Laurent’s grace was a perfect dish. This is actually where the stress began. They didn’t bring me this, they brought me some sort of veggie salad instead. I didn’t want to be a problem but I wanted the wahoo! I saw them take the dish back to the kitchen…the kitchen activity is being broadcast to the whole dining room…I saw Eric talk to my waiter, look at the card, eventually the wahoo came out. I was humiliated. It was exactly what I was trying to avoid. I was truly bummed that my chef-idol was being inconvenienced by me.
I ran into Eric’s wife Sandra in the restroom after this. She is so incredibly awesome, I love that woman (hell, she babysat my kid!!). Anyway, I told her what happened and she joked with me about it and I felt much better. Then the next course came out and I had a substitute where I should have. The dish was Foie Gras Mulligatawny and I don’t like Foie. I got a gazpacho-like dish just bursting with flavor. We were temporarily back on track.
Then the waiter kept coming up and checking on me, making sure everything was fine, over and over. The service was so incredible, I had an anxiety attack. I took my fabulous glass of wine and sat outside for the next two courses. I couldn’t deal. I was completely blowing an amazing dinner. Then I found out my son was having a meltdown upstairs with his babysitter. I guess it was in the air. This gave me an out. I switched from foodie-mode to mother-lion mode and went to my kid. I said goodbye to Sandra grabbed my wine and headed up to the room.
My husband stayed and said Eric’s Venison was the highlight of the evening and he doesn’t even like venison. I’m sorry I missed it but something wasn’t meant to be. It was too fancy and uptight and stressful for me. I loved that we could be sitting around the table with people we’d never normally associate with. They were from different generations, different occupations and very different political worlds than us but we found common ground in the food. Food can bring us all together. It is a leveling ground.
I wish I could have experienced the full Gala Dinner but I truly enjoyed the courses I had. If we make it back to the Cookout next year, I know the Gala isn’t for me. It was icing on an already sweet weekend, truly not needed to complete the adventure. It was a non-stop bacchanalian escapade. I really hope we can do this again!
Read about Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3!
Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
Every time we go to Chicago I try to go to Alinea. My in-laws live there so we go at least once a year. Every time, something gets in the way. The first time we had reservations and I got sick, my husband went with his dad and they had an amazing meal. The trips since then we seem to always be in town on a Monday or Tuesday, the days they are closed!
Even without having dined there, I’m a huge fan of Grant Achatz. The more I get into his book (I’m about half way through it now), the bigger fan-girl I become. I went to see him at Omnivore Books with his business partner, Nick Kokonas. They were both wonderfully nice, entertaining, genuine and all-around good guys.
They started the talk by pointing out the elephant in the room and explained that yes, Grant’s got his sense of taste back, it was gone for over a year. I can’t imagine what that would be like. It’s unreal that it could happen to a chef like Grant. We’re the same age, he’s actually about 3 months younger than me I think. Not only is he one of the best chefs in the country, he almost died. That’s a real seize-the-day kind of eye opener if there ever was one. What is on my to-do list?
Nick and Grant told an amazing story about being insistently-invited to dinner at Spago in LA. Grant hadn’t yet eaten a full solid-food meal. He was regaining his sense of taste but wasn’t nearly back to 100% as far as eating normally. He said to Nick, “I hope you’re hungry” because he didn’t want to let on that he couldn’t enjoy this food, it’s not good for a chef’s reputation, so Nick was going to have to eat Grant’s portion as well. As it turns out, he didn’t have to. Grant ate and truly loved every course. It was a huge milestone….oh, and they got seated in front of a very annoyed Don Johnson. LOL!
One of the questions that came up was what would Grant have done if his sense of taste hadn’t returned. One of the things he pointed out was that so many of the dishes at Alinea aren’t initially inspired by taste. They come from a smell (which he didn’t lose his sense of) or a visual concept. It would be difficult, but at least for a while, he would have continued to cook.
I am looking at when I can make it to Chicago again. Right now they’re working on launching Next and Aviary. Next is a completely insane concept that will either take off and revolutionize prix fixe menus or totally bomb. Next is selling tickets in advance. You pay for your whole meal, alcohol and gratuity up front. I think it’s genius. They are also changing the menu every 3 months–completely. The first menu is Early-1900′s France. The second is Thailand. Yeah, I meant COMPLETELY.
I had a great time listening to Grant and Nick’s stories and getting to chat with them afterwards. I hope to get to try Grant’s food now more than ever. I have such a tremendous respect for the risks he has taken and the amazing adversities he’s overcome both personally and culinarily. Now, to get back to the book….