Archive for the 'Cuisine' Category

Omnivore’s 100

August 28, 2008

I’ve seen this meme a couple of places, most recently at the excellent D Magazine Side Dish blog, and I thought I would finally play along.
I’ll quote the rules from the original source:

Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food – but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don’t recognise everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.
Here’s what I want you to do:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

1. Venison – (sausage is best)
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile – deep fried, tastes just like crocodile.
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses – I’ve had and enjoyed Camembert.
17. Black truffle – would gladly try some if not for the $$$$
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (Plum)
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese – of the foods I haven’t had and would try, this would probably be the most challenging for me.
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper – actually, Habaneros, but they are the same species and hold approximately the same number of SHUs.
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda – this looks really good. I may need to try to make some.
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi – looks delicious
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects – but only if cooked, not raw.
43. Phaal – this looks like my kind of dish.
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $60-$120 or more
46. Fugu – One of the few I would not try, because of potential fatality.
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald´┐Żs Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads – depends on how they’re prepared.
63. Kaolin – Yecch. I ate clay when I was a toddler, but wouldn’t do it voluntarily.
64. Currywurst
65. Durian Anthony Bourdain, on Durian: “Try leaving cheese and a dead body out in the sun and you’re in the same neighborhood as the smell of durian.” Andrew Zimmern couldn’t even handle it.
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain – I’m allergic to bananas. Love ’em but can’t eat ’em.
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette – I think I get credit for this having eaten tacos de tripas.
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill – I might eat it to survive in the wild, but only if it were a matter of life or death.
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash – the first and best I had was in Austria.
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab – just like eating steamed tarantulas. What?
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish – not too fond of this fish anymore.
95. Mole poblano Highly recommended. Best if you have to order it in Spanish.
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake (Rattlesnake chili, to be precise).
Wow, 52 dishes I’ve tried. Only 5 I wouldn’t try (and 1 of those only because of a food allergy). I’ll have to get to work trying some new things.
Feel free to play along. Let me know if you post something, and please throw a link back to the original poster.


More Top Chef

January 30, 2007

Well, my last post jokingly referred to a Top Chef Tragedy. This is a real tragedy. Hitting Marcel/Wolverine with a bottle? Right out.
Surfing around on the term “Top Chef,” I found this great guest blog entry by chef Anthony Bourdain (whose No Reservations is another item of must-see TV for me). Bourdain served a stint as guest judge for Top Chef earlier in the season and his assessments of the various contestants (other than Ilan) squares with my own.
The finale airs tomorrow at 9:00CST on Bravo.

Top Chef Tragedy

January 25, 2007

Well not really a tragedy, but I can’t believe the Top Chef judges are letting that little crapweasel Wolverine wannabe go to the grand finale next week.
Ilan’s fine with me, but my two favorite Chefs, Sam and Elia, got eliminated last night.
My wife thinks the voting was rigged, since Ilan and Marcel have had so much bad blood this season. Say it ain’t so! This isn’t simply reality TV designed to draw ratings, is it???

The Substance of Style at McDonald’s

August 13, 2006

Today’s Business section in the Dallas Morning News tells the story of Ed Bailey, whose ownership of 61 McDonald’s locations in the ultra-competitive Dallas dining market has made him one of the most successful restaurant franchisees in the world.
Mr. Bailey’s success as an entrepreneur began in the fashion business. Having first worked as a traveling dress salesman, Mr. Bailey soon opened and ran a successful men’s designer clothing store in Cincinnati for 10 years. When he got his first franchise from McDonald’s in 1984, he moved his family to Plano (a great place to live!) and was successful enough in the difficult Valley View Mall food court location that he obtained a second franchise within a year. Over the next 22 years, he added 59 more stores to his portfolio.
His story could have ended there as a great tribute to the American Dream lived by so many successful small business owners. But as the article points out, there’s a special angle to Mr. Bailey’s success. In the early 1990s, Mr. Bailey decided to distinguish his franchises by spending money to make them more aesthetically pleasing at the same time as his corporate management was pushing cost controls:

In 1992, Mr. Bailey opened unit No. 7 at Preston Road and Royal Lane just as McDonald’s was entering its low-cost era….
It was the most expensive McDonald’s built in the United States that year, with a $650,000 tab. A company-owned unit less than three miles away was the cheapest, costing half as much. The regional vice president chastised Mr. Bailey severely for this perceived folly.
“Two and a half years later, I bought that store because McDonald’s wasn’t making any money,” he says, stating fact more than bragging. “I was doing 40 percent more in sales in basically the same trade area.”

Mr. Bailey knew then what Virginia Postrel would later identify as the “aesthetic imperative.” In Ms. Postrel’s words:

Aesthetics–the look and feel of people, places, and things–is increasingly important as a source of value, both economic and cultural….
Aesthetics shows up where function used to be the only thing that mattered, from toilet brushes to business memos to computers and cell phones. And people’s expectations keep rising. New tract homes have granite countertops, so hotel rooms have to have granite countertops too. Family restaurants used to be all about price and food, but now they have to worry about their decor. We’ve gone from Pizza Hut to California Pizza Kitchen. If you’re in business, you have to invest in aesthetics simply to keep up with the competition.

Or, as Mr. Bailey’s experience showed, to beat the competition.
For more in the same vein, check out Ms. Postrel’s The Substance of Style. And be sure to read the entire Morning News article about Mr. Bailey.

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Ice Cream

August 9, 2006

Blue Bell’s Tin Roof Ice Cream is simply the best ice cream flavor in the world.
Followed closely by Baskin RobbinsChocolate Fudge.
Email me or leave a comment on your favorites and why. I’ll expand on this.

Holiday Recipe Blogging – The World’s Best Chex Mix

December 18, 2005

I’ve spent most of this weekend in the kitchen, making a couple dozen tamales from scratch and preparing two batches of Jackie’s Chex Mix (named after my best childhood friend’s mom, who invented this variation of the recipe).
I’ll write about the (successful) tamales some other time. This post is devoted to the best Chex Mix you will ever taste:

Dry Ingredients
1 box Wheat Chex cereal
1 box Rice Chex
1 box Corn Chex
4 C. Cheerios
1 bag pretzels
1 – 2 lbs mixed nuts
Sauce Ingredients:
1 lb. butter
1 – 1.25 C. Oil
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. Tabasco sauce
0.5 tsp. celery salt
1.5 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. red (cayenne) pepper
1 tsp. allspice
Accent (MSG) to taste
Optional (my variations in addition to the above, never more than 2 at a time extra):
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
Preheat oven to 200 degrees (F).

Ready_to_Pour.jpgMake sure you have plenty of room to work. Set out four 9 x 13 (or larger, if your oven will accommodate them) deep lasagna pans on a counter. I like to use disposable ones – you can get a package of 2 at Target for less than $2. Distribute the dry ingredients among the pans evenly (see picture at left).
In a 2-quart batter bowl, melt the butter; 60-90 seconds in the microwave should do the trick. Combine the remaining sauce ingredients. Add enough vegetable oil to make the sauce an even quart, usually just a bit more than one cup. After you’ve made this a couple times, you may experiment with the spice mix. However, the essential ingredients are Worcestershire sauce, garlic, tabasco, and allspice.
ChexMix.jpgUsing a 1/4-cup scoop, spoon out 1/4 cup of the sauce into each of the four pans. Using two spoons, fold and stir the cereal mix until the sauce is evenly distributed. Repeat until all sauce has been evenly spread among the four pans and has coated the cereal mixture. When you’re all done, each of the pieces should be glistening slightly. This is the most important step! You don’t want some pieces unseasoned and others to be mushy and oily. See the picture at right for how the mix should look after stirring (click for larger).
Into_the_Oven.jpgPut the trays into the oven and roast for 4 hours. Stir every 20 minutes during the first hour, and every 30 minutes thereafter. Sprinkle Accent liberally before each stirring.
Let cool before serving. Enjoy!
Sentimental aside in the extended entry:

Read the rest of this entry »

A Great Winter Beer

December 12, 2005

I am currently sipping a new (to me) beer, from one of my favorite breweries in my second-favorite state, The New Belgium Brewing Company of Fort Collins, Colorado.
The brew is called “Abbey” and is a double ale. It has all kinds of wintery overtones (spices and coffee in particular). Still, it has a light bouquet and is much easier to drink than other dark beers (of which I am fond).
I have only ever had the excellent Fat Tire from New Belgium. I think next time, I’ll try a Trippel.
Highly recommended.

Texas Kraut Recipes

September 20, 2005

A significant number of the “Anglos” that settled in Texas in the early 19th century were, in fact, Teutons and Slavs. And until the current generation, one could readily encounter German dialects being spoken in small towns in the Texas hill country. (In my sophomore year of college, my German class took a field trip to Fredericksburg, where we struggled to understand the dialect of a 70-something museum guide whose German was anything but Hochdeutsch).
In honor of Oktoberfest (excellent Oktoberfest picture here, btw), here’s a site with numerous recipes incorporating sauerkraut, including a couple that might work here in Texas: Surprise Chili and Salsa Ole.

Tastes Like Chicken of the Sea?

August 2, 2005

Yobbo, who’s been chronicling his ongoing debauched journeys through Asia (women, gambling, etc.) over the last several months arrived in Tokyo a few weeks ago, and soon embarked on a mission to find some whale to eat.
Read his account of the unique gustatory experience here.
Almost makes me curious to try it. Even the “lightly roasted” dish (more like whale sashimi), which I can imagine being palatable with some wasabi and ginger, chased by a large Sapporo.

Pictorial Food Blog

June 7, 2005

Undiscussable Realms is a blog I found while randomly trolling Blogspot.
It’s like a one-woman Carnival of the Recipes, but with pictures. (Actually, she doesn’t have many recipes, but some of the pictures illustrate the stages of putting together a dish).