Monday, December 12, 2005

STOP WAKING ME UP

I swear, if I'm woken up by one more baby bird almost-catastrophe (Philippe), or whiskey yelling (Lyle, Chris, et al), or loud David Lean biopic (Cornelius), or 6:20am nail-clattering in the kitchen (Olive, the damned dachshund, prancing around antsily for breakfast), or Calvados yelling (Cornelius, Chris, Ray) I'm going to put a shine on this place and find an apartment downtown. It's like living in the Tower of Retard Babel around here, waking up to hear Lyle yelling "NO, MAN, FORGET WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT MEDIA-DELIVERED GOVERNMENT. THAT'S ALL JUST COLA WARS -- EVERYBODY WINS. THE REAL POWER IS HELD OUT-OF-CIRCUIT BY A MUDDHIST IRISH MASONIC CLECT BASED IN SNAHOMISH, WISCONSIN..."

I just want some damn sleep. I usually go down around two or three, after I've played a bit and scribbled down some tablature and recipe ideas. Lately I've been woken up about every half hour from six on, as the house stirs into life and people start getting into fights or misusing volume-regulating technology. I'd get earplugs, but I'm paranoid about sleeping through a life-ending fire. I know I'd probably wake up as the flames started to lick at my hide, but ideally I'd have a few minutes first to make sure my high school yearbook had been properly set atop a small pyre of old socks.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I have gotten the hang of "Asian"-flavored slaw.

First off, there have been no more recurrences of the dream where I choose to abandon the retarded boy. This is a big relief.

Lately, I've been trying to pin down what makes an "Asian" flavored coleslaw tick (don't you just love how since the Blog Quality Bar has been set so low, I can mention this entirely without a segue, and it will seem like high literature simply because there are no misspellings and you can't tell which band I'm listening to?). I like a mayonnaise-based American coleslaw as much as the next guy, but this one travels better and has a lighter aftermath. The secret is fairly equal parts cilantro and mint—herbs you'd never find in the original—which, when paired, give it an exotic quality. Here's a rough recipe (I never measure this carefully, except for the dressing, and it always turns out great).

Salad
1 small handful chopped mint
1 small handful chopped cilantro
1 grated carrot
2 chopped scallions, including green top
3 regular handfuls of paper-thin sliced cabbage (I get the pre-bagged kind)
1 small handful toasted chopped almonds or peanuts (chop and toast these yourself for stronger flavor - they will cut nicely with a sharp chef's knife)

Dressing
2 TBSP canola oil
1 TBSP soy sauce
2 TBSP seasoned rice vinegar (plain rice vinegar OK)
1 TBSP peanut butter (any kind)
juice of 1/2 lemon

Once the nuts have cooled, stir the salad ingredients together and store in the fridge. Shake the dressing thoroughly to dissolve the peanut butter, then dress and toss the salad right before serving, or keep cool for up to an hour.

I made this to go alongside a nice piece of sesame-marinated halibut steak a few days ago. While I was watching the fish under the broiler Ray wandered in, offering to help me throw a few Oranjebooms back. I let him sample a forkful of the slaw out of the bowl where I was storing it in the fridge, and while I was plating the fish he ate the entire thing (about four full servings). When I pointed out that it had been for my dinner he looked sort of aghast at himself, and made this really scared, upset, scrunched-up mouth. He set the fork and mixing bowl down extremely carefully in the sink and walked really quickly out the back door, cursing something inaudible but clearly self-chastising (he also slapped his forehead every few steps until he left the yard).

Friday, November 18, 2005

Finale (hopefully) of the recurring dream

I was at the desk, and the desktop still had the name "Adrian Rodeo" carved into it, and I knew it was time to open the closed classroom door and see who this was. I walked slowly over, turned the handle, and then I was in the back scullery room of Clown Alley, a hamburger restaurant in my old home town that had shut down years ago. A mentally retarded Chicano boy was washing tall piles of greasy, discolored, oversized woks, and the floor was dirt. An Indian man in a thin, cheap business shirt looked at me and disappeared into an office. Then, loud and clear in my head, I heard it said, "That is Adrian. He needs you." The boy was wearing large white low-top generic sneakers, baggy jeans, and a heavily-weathered sweatshirt with the word "RODEO" barely visible across the chest. I knew that it was time to accept responsibility for Adrian, or I could just run away. I saw that the back door was open, and I felt terrible for doing it, but as I escaped I felt a future of misery disappear. I knew I would always feel guilty for leaving, but I knew I'd done the right thing.

So, I guess the dreams had nothing to do with my future success as a packaged food entrepreneur.

I spent most of tonight just tooling around in the kitchen, working on various risottos. People wandered in and out and ate and were all effusive but I don't think any of the recipes were really hitting. I just didn't have the focus to nail them.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Revisit of the recurring dream

I had that "Dorian Dareo, CEO" dream again. As usual, I was alone in the classroom, and the big heavy beech-colored door was shut, and I *knew* Dorian Dareo was standing behind it. I had no visual or auditory cues, but my soul was buzzing with the awareness that he was there. The silence was thick, and the fluorescent light rested on my hair with the weight of a napkin. I went through several emotional states while waiting for the handle to turn: fear, anxiety, extreme self-confidence, a drastic reduction in self-confidence, a "jokey" phase where a lot of jokey introductions came to mind, and finally a steady, passive anger. Then, as I stared at the door, I heard the click of the knob being turned, then the protracted squeak of the hinges as it swung open, and the soft bump as the rubber door-guard thing butted against the dark gray wainscoting.

The odd thing was, the door remained firmly shut the entire time.

Then I felt a horrific buzz around my ears, that signal you get when you realize someone's standing behind you. I bit the bullet and swung around: nobody there.

After examining the corners of the small room I looked down at the desktop, only to see that the carved name of "Dorian Dareo" had morphed into "Adrian Rodeo." Just then a rubber chicken-shaped eraser started whining, and I woke up, and Philippe's stray bird pet had waddled into the hallway and was whining outside my door. I put him back in his towel next to the mechanical alarm clock and hot water bottle and after a little while he was asleep again.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Recurring dream.

I'm my age, but I'm sitting at an old elementary school flip-lidded wooden desk, with a heavily scratched wooden top. Clearly carved in neat letters near the bottom-right hand side is the name "Dorian Dareo, CEO." The letterforms are a tiny bit shaky, as though they had been carved by a child, but consistent enough to imply that they are based on a particular font.

What does this mean? I've been playing around with the idea of selling a "just add water" brine mix recently — a dry mix of salt, sugar and spices that you'd just stir into boiling water and use to soak pork or poultry. Maybe the dream means that it's going to be really successful, and this "Dorian Dareo" will be the Howard Lester to my Chuck Williams. As far as I know, those two have a decent working relationship, and Williams-Sonoma is a highly profitable company, so this is all right.

On that note, I'm going to go work on my brine mix. Recent tests proved that boiling the ingredients in the water first really does help them enter the meat more thoroughly. Picture a handful of dry sugar granules sitting on a favorite sweater — now picture two ounces of sugar syrup being squirted onto the same sweater. The syrup is obviously going to get further into the sweater than the granules.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Ray's Mind-Menses

I was roasting some beef bones for stock this afternoon when Ray called me up on my cell phone and started rambling. It went something like this.

ME: Hello?

RAY: The Cure!

ME: Ray?

RAY: The Cure, that's who!

ME: Ray?

RAY: If The Cure is traveling at 76 miles per hour, and the main Cure guy leans out the window, and the wind pulls a teardrop off of his cheek, how long until it hits the ground, assuming that a cubic tear weighs one gram?

ME: Less than a minute.

RAY: YOU HAVE SOLVED THE PUZZLE.

ME: Great, what do I win.

RAY: YOU DO NOT WIN A THING AT ALL.

ME: Not even a little can of Dr. Pepper?

RAY: Oh, alright. You win a little can of Dr. Pepper.

ME: Now?

RAY: Heh. Yeah, comin' your way. Hold on, alright? [hangs up]

About twenty minutes later he was at the front door with a fifth of Glenfiddich and the Braveheart DVD. Our home theatre is pretty humble, but that didn't slow his enthusiasm. True to form, he sat forward and pushed my shoulder repeatedly during the Robert the Bruce scenes, and had to leave the room during the part where William Wallace is drawn and quartered.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Ray is such a moron.

So he came over for lunch today, Friday, because he wanted to "shoot the shattle" about what to do for his big regular Friday night party. We always have beer when he comes over, because he likes that I get tall 160z cans of Oranjeboom at Trader Joe's. (He says they make him feel like "that guy from Oasis.") It's kind of a thing. Anyhow, I made Galaxy Nachos (a clever recipe of Roast Beef's, can be found in the Achewood cookbook) to go with the crisp lager. While they were baking and we were talking he actually got a plate and a fork and stood by the oven. I'm not even sure he knew he was doing this, because when I pointed out that the table was already set he looked around for a second, real concerned, and then slapped his forehead and laughed. I guess he'd smoked a little before he came over, and when I offered to freshen his buzz he took me up in a heartbeat.

We went into my room and I packed one for him. It's funny - even though the door was shut, Lyle sensed the unsmoked marijuana and let himself in. I let myself out before they lit up because I'm going out to dinner with my Aunt Brezna and she has a dead-on sense for when someone's the slightest bit altered. Before long they were taking turns filling up the chamber and getting rowdy. I swear, whenever those two get near a bottle or a bong it turns into a contest to see who can max the other guy out. While I finished up the food I could hear macho exhortations coming down the hall, like Ray shouting "Can you pull it, sucker? Can you pull it off?!" or Lyle coughing really hard and then victoriously shouting "LYYYYYYYLLLLLLLE!" at the top of his lungs.

Needless to say, they crept out of the room like a couple of secret geniuses and inhaled the entire cookie-sheet's worth of nachos in about a minute and a half. Then Lyle grabbed the six-pack of Oranjeboom off the counter, handed three of them to Ray, and in unison they both yelled "BRADY BUUUNCH!" before shotgunning the whole set. Lyle then said something about "wanting to break most of the rocks in the backyard to see if any were geodes" and Ray thought that was incredible, so they found an old mallet in the garage and spent the next ten minutes hitting rocks.

After I had cleaned up the dishes I noticed it was kind of quiet, so I looked outside, only to find them both passed out on the grass in the shade under the lemon tree. They had taped this little cardboard sign that said "COWBOY OFFICE" to the trunk, and Ray was wearing a pair of red cowboy boots that he hadn't been wearing when he showed up.

As of 3:15 they were still asleep, so I called Dimitri from the beverage distributorship and just had him put a couple kegs and a case of Ketel One handles on Ray's tab for tonight, and hired Buffalo Wing-a-Ding to come cater with their slaws and biscuits and things. It took all of six minutes, but I was kind of annoyed at having to do it.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Weekend's cooking plans.

Trader Joe's sells ready-made pizza dough that's really top-shelf and easy to work with, so this weekend I'm going to try it in a handful of different ways. Lyle's cousin Stan is in town so they'll be around to eat all the leftovers, and tomorrow night (Saturday) I'm going to give each of them an extra twenty so when they go out they get loaded enough that they puke it all up before they get home. There's nothing worse than getting yelled at for feeding Lyle and his cousin Stan things with tomato sauce.

All of the ingredients in the following recipes can be found at Trader Joe's:

Recipe #1: Pizza with chopped clams, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, part-skim mozzarella, chopped parsley, and tomato sauce. Roll dough thin, top, brush exposed outer crust with olive oil, cook on pizza stone at 500F for 10 mins. (Why skim? Fresh mozzarella in water gives off too much liquid for a home oven to evaporate and I hate watery pizza.)

Recipe #2: Calzone of tomato sauce, part-skim mozzarella, uncooked hot italian chicken sausage, chopped olives, minced garlic. Remove sausage from casing, mash into bits in pan with wooden spoon, and brown deeply in olive oil with generous salt, ground pepper, and garlic or onion powder. Drain. Cut dough in half, roll one, fill, crimp, poke steam holes, brush w/egg wash, 450F for 10 mins.

Recipe #3: Empanada of ground beef, honey, cinnamon, cumin, scallion, bacon. Brown chopped bacon, drain, set aside. Brown beef, minced scallion, cinnamon, cumin in pan until cooked through, drain, stir in bacon and honey. Roll dough thin, cut into 16 pieces, fill. Seal w/fork and pan fry in 1/2" oil in skillet until dark golden (oil at 365F). Dust w/cinnamon sugar & serve w/more honey.

Recipe #4: Khryzshno Blachinda. Same as #3 above, but filling consists of fully-cooked (steamed or baked) and slightly mashed cubed sweet potato, chopped green onion, black pepper, sour cream, chopped toasted walnut, and drained chopped bacon. Dough exceedingly thin. Press to release any air and crimp tightly. Fry at 365F until dark golden.

Anyhow, I'll let you know how these turn out. Dough can be tricky because it can steam on the inside and become gummy while the outside becomes a deceivingly nice golden brown. I guess the best way to get around that is to chill the filled, sealed item first so the fillings never get to the steaming point. Anyhow, anyhow. Can't wait until Sunday to hear what luckless parked car(s) this all slid down the outside panels of.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Why was I chased?

The weirdest thing just happened to me. I had walked down to Hidden Hills to get some deep-fried artichoke hearts at S.C.T.!'s when all of a sudden this guy across the street ran through traffic and started chasing me. He was a little shorter than me and he had this huge gut spilling over his belt, but he was really fast, so before I knew what to do I had started running from him. He didn't say anything, just kept running as fast as he could after me, so I had to keep my head down and dig in. We ran for like three minutes flat-out, him always about fifteen feet behind me, just scaring the shit out of me. Whenever I stole a glance back at him he'd shake his fist and bare his teeth, so I'd put more gas on the pedal and hope that he faded.

As luck would have it Beef was out charging the Galaxie's battery, so I jumped in his passenger door at the stop sign by Happy Day Chicken and told him to floor it. The cool thing about Beef is that he'll just lay into a quick weird command from a friend, whereas some guys might look around to see what's precipitating the weirdness. He dropped the hammer and we burned all kinds of rubber for about ten seconds. By the time we were safely out of range I looked back to see my pursuer on his knees and barfing all over the sidewalk by the stop sign. What the hell?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Mr. Depressey-Pants

I was feeling morose on a lonesome walk down along the creek when Famous Blue Raincoat came on the iPod. You know the one — that moody Leonard Cohen tune that at first sounds like it might be about a woman who dies of a heroin overdose in the snow, but upon inspection of the printed lyrics it seems more like it's about a really mean older brother who had to move to New Mexico to get his head straight. Anyhow, the depressing tone gelled pretty well with the sluggish creek and moonlight, and the chilly late-summer air, and the olive drab cableknit I had on, and all of a sudden I realized I'd just overdosed on self-pity and felt myself coming out of the funk I'd been in ever since Circus Penis ditched out on me and called me a "ditherer." For like a week I'd been suffering from such deep seated self-doubt that I hadn't been able to pick up so much as a bar of soap without thinking, "I'm not going to do this right."

So, what do you do when you're coming out of a self-indulgent funk and want to get your spins on, most likely to include several games of pool, loud AC/DC, and a 4am Scotch-fueled viewing of the Braveheart director's cut? You call Ray! So, that's what I did, but as usual I didn't end up getting what I expected.

TÉODOR: [places call]

RAY:
[picks up, yelling] Jesus, Gavin! Use the damned leeches already!

TÉODOR: Ray? Ray? This is Téodor.

RAY: Oh, hey, Téodor. Sorry. How you doin'.

TÉODOR: [hoping to diminish his anger with humor] What was that about Gavin and the Leeches? Did you just sign a new band?

RAY: [angry] Oh, it ain't worth mentionin'. Just havin' trouble gettin' through to someone.

TÉODOR: Yeesh. Okay, I won't ask.

RAY: Yeah, it's nothin'. Whatchu call about?

TÉODOR: Oh, I was wondering if you were up for a no-good evening, maybe some pool and Patrón.

RAY: Daaaaaamn. You know, I'm pretty spent. I got really horny this afternoon, man.

TÉODOR: [brightening, as one does for a friend who has recently scored] Oh, you're with a chick! Sorry, I'll call back tomorrow.

RAY: No, man. It ain't nothin' like that.

TÉODOR: [confused] But...what was that about having sex all afternoon?

RAY: Heh. There definitely wasn't any sex bein' had. Not that I knew about, anyway. Maybe at other peoples' houses.

TÉODOR: So...you just got so horny that you got tired?

RAY: Somethin' like that. Anyhow. Man, now I'm all worried about diabetes.

TÉODOR: Sorry. I guess I'll check you later.

RAY: Jesus. Man, how am I supposed to get to sleep now.

TÉODOR: Sorry! I'm sorry I misunderstood.

RAY: Be careful, man. Of diabetes. [yawns]

TÉODOR: Right, I will.

RAY: [yawns, hangs up]

I got the sense he wasn't being completely straight with me, but I didn't want to meet Gavin and his leeches so I minded my own business and made for home. I think I'm just going to have a little red and head to bed with some reading material. I haven't read anything in a while, other than that two year-old New Yorker that's been sitting by the toilet so long it's wrinkled from splatter, so I got some interesting books about product design off the living room shelves, and a book about the history of Levi Jeans for when I get bored of those.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Clowned by Circus Penis

Man, I should have seen that coming a mile away. That blank stare, the fact that he thought risotto was Mexican, the way the only adjectives he knew were "good" and "fun," ...that guy was so LA. If you don't know what it means to be "LA," imagine if a car salesman and a female car salesman had a baby: the baby would be from LA. I bet that guy has a goddamned white baby grand. I KNOW that guy has a white baby grand in his huge, unused living room, on a black marble-tiled level maybe two steps up from the main part of the white-carpeted living room.

SO! So. That's over. I knew I'd never fit in in his world of guys who can make breezy conversation with twitty women about favorite shoe colors. If you get two LA people in the same room, and there's a bed there, and they have so much as the same favorite sandwich filling in common, they'll be hitting it within thirty minutes. That's how LA is.

Okay, enough venting. I went back and looked at all the old rushes from the cooking show I was working on before Circus Penis showed up, and they look...stupid. I look like a big fool who could just get taken in by any old shiny fad that came along. My stupid hipster pad, my trendy shoulder-held camera style, my whole approach to food...just immature. A total flub.

On top of all that, I picked up my guitar and accidentally made up the cheesiest little three-chord riff you can imagine. I was totally into it the whole time I was working it up, but then when I took a few minutes off and came back and played the finished product it sounded like something a studio guitarist would be asked to play during a sequence on a TV show where a red race car wins a race.

I think everything I touch is just going to be bogus for a while so I'm going to sign off now, on my big whiny blog.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Weird call from Ray

I was out back watering our new herb garden today (basil, thyme, oregano, mint, chives) when Ray called my cell phone. I almost didn't take it, but you never know what you're going to get with him. Being on Ray's speed-dial is kind of like playing the Lottery: 99.999% of the time he's just calling because he wants to know if Kevin Bacon and Sissy Spacek have ever been in a movie together, but there's always that off chance he just accidentally won a new 63" flat-screen TV he doesn't need and wants to give it to the first person who's home.


TÉODOR:
Hello?

RAY: Ray? This is Téodor.

TÉODOR: No it’s not. This is Téodor. Ray?

RAY: Oh, sorry man. I...oh, yeah. Listen, Téodor, I notice that you’ve put on a few pounds lately.

TÉODOR: Thanks! Alright, see you around.

RAY: Wait! Don’t hang up. You don’t know what I’m going to say.

TÉODOR: I’m guessing you’re going to move on to my mother’s parenting abilities.

RAY: What? Your mom was bad to you? I’m sorry, dude. Maybe I should call back later.

TÉODOR: I...if my mother didn’t raise me well, what would be different in a couple hours?!

RAY: This isn’t going at all the way I intended, man. I’m sorry. This is my fault.

TÉODOR: You wanted to call to tell me you think I’m fat. I think this is about as good as can be expected.

RAY: You’re not fat, dude! But your body has reached a certain...believability.

TÉODOR: Look, I know you like to get all 4:20 but I actually have something going on right now.

RAY: Man, I ain’t high! Not for that reason, anyway. Listen, I'm thinking of starting a club.

TÉODOR: A club for fat guys with bad moms? Isn't that club already called "Bowling"?

RAY: Heh heh! Heh hehh[HACK COUGH COUGH COUGH kh-chuck PTOOEY!] Hey, man! Man, you just made shit come outta my nose!

TÉODOR: That's picturesque.

RAY: Oh, shit. Somebody's at the door. I'll call you right back.


So, I guess this call fell into the former category, minus the Kevin Bacon stuff. It's been four hours and I haven't heard back from him, so I guess we're not starting a club about how I'm fat. Not that I'm fat. I don't know what he's talking about. I look the same as I always have.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Penis Maximus

Work on the cooking show has kind of slowed lately since I fell in with this Circus Penis guy. If you haven't heard of him, and a lot of guys pretend that they haven't, he's kind of like the "main guy" in terms of adult film/porno. I ran into him at Ray's and we sort of clicked. Before I knew it I was the chief designer of the "Circus Penis Army," which is a fanclub-type thing sort of like the KISS Army, except the main idea is to have margaritas and slap womens' asses as they walk past our poolside chaise lounges. Currently I'm developing a uniform that flatters the male body while evoking Roman standards of sexual readiness. It's looking pretty good, it had been a long time since I worked with patterns and forms but it's all coming back to me.

I had him over to look at a few of my insignia and headwear prototypes tonight, and since it was during the evening I asked if he could stay for dinner. Naturally easygoing, he agreed, so I threw together a risotto Milanese with fresh crab, heirloom tomato, and spinach, paired with a rocky pinot grigio.

I guess it surprised me a little when he said he'd never had risotto before, because you'd think a guy like that would have been out to more than his fair share of upscale dinners. He actually asked if it was a Mexican dish, if you can believe that. Forgivable, I guess, if you consider that the rice in a Milanese is colored, sort of like Spanish rice, and that Mexican people use a lot of tomatoes...anyway.

I also noticed that he wasn't touching his wine. I wondered if he hadn't had a rocky substance-abuse background and was restraining himself, but when I asked if I couldn't bring him something else to drink he waved his hand and laughed. "Sorry," he said. "I usually don't do shooters until after!" With that he licked all around the rim of his glass, rubbed on a little salt, and downed the entire five ounces or so that I'd poured him.

He remarked that he'd never had a tequila so smooth and mild. I didn't say anything, because it feels wrong to correct Circus Penis, so I just offered him a beer chaser. He asked if I had any Budweiser, and I thought we might have a can somewhere in the Calcutta of rotting arugula that is our fridge, so I said I'd be right back with one. It turns out that all I had to my name was a Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout, which I poured into two coffee mugs (the only clean glasses in the whole place) and brought back to the table. "Thank you, man," he said, before taking a nice pull from his glass. "Ahhh," he sighed. "I love Budweiser. Maybe the best beer there is."

After the meal, when we went on to the headwear and insignia, he was actually remarkably lucid and insightful, which made our little dinner together all the more bizarre. I'm not sure what to do with a guy who apparently does nothing with his palate other than draw the beef curtains, if I may make a food/cunnilingus analogy. It's sort of eerie. Or maybe that's the reason his tastebuds are dead — did his costars used to use corrosive douches inbetween scenes? Honestly, this could be good logic. Douche science has probably come a long way since he broke into the business.

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Mr. Bear Call-Out!

I'll say it, Cornelius has picked up a trick or two in his years, one of which is the art of conciliation. I guess all those weeks he was tucked away in his upholstered wingback, contemplating our situation in the company of leather-bound volumes while simultaneously avoiding me, finally paid off. He surprised me in the kitchen this afternoon while I was trying out a new Stilton/chive soufflé technique, and asked me into his room for a "bit of a chat." I got kind of uncomfortable, because I didn't want to sit and hear a stuffy lecture about respect, but I hit the oven timer and went in anyway. We couldn't avoid each other forever. This house is only like 1100 square feet.

He had two sets of five little glasses set up on either side of his desk, and asked me to sit down. To the side I noticed five dusty old bottles. He started off with an apology that things had been awkward around the house lately, that "two strong heads rutted where harmony should have prevailed." Then he described a ritual that the Frenchmen in Calvados use to settle arguments.

I took a closer look at all the bottles and saw that they were all Calvados, an apple brandy, from a wide range of years, one dating to '61. He had collected them on his various travels in the region and nipped on them only sparingly, he said, watching them improve with age.

The first step was to fill both sets of five glasses with maybe a half-shot of each of the five liquors. That done, we admired their color and differences, and he told me a story about the first glass which involved porking (my term) a farmer's daughter in a hayloft and nearly crushing the bottle when the farmer showed up with a pitchfork and he jumped to the ground below. This was the oldest liquor, which is where we started.

The idea was to toast, and then after draining the stuff and contemplating it a moment the host of the ritual would say one thing he regretted about the problem at hand. The guest would then reply with his regret. "Let us never be that way again," both would say, and then turn the glass upside down where it had originally sat. He taught me the French phrase for "Let us never be that way again" but I've forgotten it by now.

By the fifth glass , the youngest, we were both pretty lit, singing each other's praises and promising to try a book project once my show had taken off. He said his agent would love to see some new work from him, and then the soufflé timer went off, so we went off to enjoy some hot food with a nice Châteauneuf-du-Pape he pulled off the shelf when we were leaving. I can safely say it's all behind us now, and I've never felt better about the cooking show. He was pretty effusive when it came to flattering me, 50% of which I'll chalk up to the liquor.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Cooking show - my rushes

So I've been taping at Ray's, and Cornelius has been scarce lately. I think that since we never talked about the weird "fight" we had on the set, and he has heard I've been taping without him, he just hides in his room until he knows I've left the house. Sucks for him.

Anyhow, I've got the set dressed the way I want it now. Some electric guitars, a big inflatable cactus, an old beater couch for guests, and this awesome mechanical monkey-on-a-unicycle that rolls back and forth on a trapeze over the set the whole time I do my show. I got it from this old pizza parlor that was closing its doors — they threw in their five-spigot soda machine for another hundred bucks, and I set it up on the main counter to dispense four of the basics: chicken stock, olive oil, white wine, and water. The fifth dispenses the keg beer which I always serve to my guests and myself at the beginning of the show (me filling the glasses is part of the stock intro).

I have the rushes from the first "pilot" episode all shot and ready to edit. The theme was braising so I did osso buco with a fava polenta, lamb shank with white beans and anchovy, all-American pot roast, and a vegetarian braise of artichokes Barigoule. Ray, Beef, and Dr. Andretti were my guests and they actually made for a pretty funny bunch. You'd never think that Dr. Andretti would cut it up but he had this great out-of-office chemistry with Beef where Beef would say something all his own like "dang man uh ain't lamb meat got way much low-density lipoproteins though" and Andretti would pantomime putting a stethoscope on Beef's chest while saying "Nurse, it's...it's... [grimace] low-density lipoproteins. Push two units of morphine and call the Chaplain." And then Ray would pipe in with some more medical nonsense because he watches so much ER: "Doc Andretti! His tests just came back positive for bad spaghetti! I think he munched on bad spaghetti at S'Barro which he thinks is a good restaurant! Oh craaaaaaap!"

I'm editing this all in with some highbeat old bumper tracks from The Byrds, since they'll add a nice multi-influential retro feel. My intro/outro song is Time Between, which has great energy.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Cooking show playalong

I think I can outlast Cornelius in terms of our clashing visions of what my cooking show should be. He wants me to prance around like Graham Kerr, that dandy TV cook from the 70s whose Galloping Gourmet epitomized the chauvinism, social conservatism, and culinary naïveté of that era. Anyone with a tie and a good haircut was a slap-on-the-back chap of the highest order, and food simply did not come alive until it swam in a bath of hot cream and singed brandy. Often times he treated us to his thoughts on those who opposed the established social order (he opposed them) and it was not atypical that at the end of his opening joke a female protagonist was set adrift on a boat that took her far away from good men.

When someone's dead-set on their vision for you, the best thing you can do is try on the sweater and show it doesn't fit. I put the dumb outfit on and "huzzah'd" my way around the set, hamming it up like the old episodes. Instead of a monolog, I smiled directly into the camera and quipped "I feel like an absolute fag!" before dashing over to the fridge and getting out two sticks of butter, some heavy cream, and a shrimp. "I also love to salt this dish!" I bubbled, as I made my way to the prep counter. "Un Scampi alla Onda di Grasso, dal chef Téodor!"

I threw the cream, butter, and a dash of salt into a hot frying pan before showing off by chopping up an onion without looking (I pushed the minced onion onto the floor and danced on it like an Italian woman crushing grapes for wine). "Oh look," I said as I jumped, "I'm an old Italian bird making wine for her battore!" (I have no idea what "battore" means, if anything.)

Cornelius was starting to get the picture by this point, and stood there with his arms folded. When the butter and cream rose to the boil I took the shrimp, butterflied it, and held it above the hot liquid. In my most charming of voices I looked at it and said, "My darling, why couldn't you have had better tits!" before dropping it into the pan. I immediately started clapping for myself and hurrahing and that's when I remember Cornelius dropping his clipboard and storming out.

He left some message on my voice mail about talking about what happened, but I'm not really sure we need to work together. The camera is at Ray's house, and Ray's kitchen is at Ray's house, and I know how to turn the camera on and work the editing software. The camera also has this cord that the actor can use to start and stop the recording.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Cooking show, possibly.

Cornelius got me all riled up the other morning about starting my own cooking show. I have to admit, it could probably work. I've been absorbing food knowledge for years and have cooked on a semi-professional basis several times. I've also seen about fifty thousand episodes of Emeril Live! so I know how butter up an audience (no pun intended). He handed me a note this afternoon with these absolutely awful possible titles:

1) The Savoury Saviour

2) Téodor's Temptations

3) Hip Lad Kitchen With Téodor Orezscu

It's kind of like having your dad name your rock band — every single word he says is going to sound like the worst possible idea that ever floated out of a mouth. I'm not sure how our dynamic will work out if he's producing my show, but hopefully I can manage it so that we stick to our respective strengths and no one's ego gets hurt.

What am I thinking of for the name of the show? I'm going to keep that a secret for now. I have it, and it's perfect, but I want a few more things to be in place before I lay that one down.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Beer Class Fin / Letter to Cook's Illustrated

I wrapped up Beer Class last weekend and bottled all my ale. It took a while, and my arm got sore from all the various movements it takes to get beer into an atmosphere-free bottle and pop a cap on it. I screwed up some of them and they're flat but for the most part I have a sizable quantity of imminently quaffable bottled beer. Not enough to throw the party I was thinking of, but enough to always have some on hand for the next few months. It's a nice feeling. An Amish kind of feeling.

Also, while I was making dinner tonight I came up with a technique that I felt was worth sending in to Cook's Illustrated, for their Tips & Techniques From Readers section. See if you spot this gem in their next issue:

Dissatisfied with drizzling and brushing as methods for getting olive oil onto bruschetta bread, I now pour the olive oil onto a dinner plate and rub the bread around in it. This gives me a perfectly even coating that is ready for grilling.

This technique also applies well to the bread for grilled panini.

Best Regards,
Téodor Orezscu
Achewood, CA

As soon as I came up with that I knew it would be perfect for their mag. Usually it's just filler from housewives who think it's brilliant that their biscuit cutters do double-duty as cookie cutters. My bruschetta technique is kickass.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Beer Class II

I had beer class at 10am on Saturday morning so Friday night I took it kind of light, didn't go to Ray's and just hung back watching "Deadliest Catch" on TV (this show about the horrible life of Alaskan crab fishermen, many of whom die every year). I was up bright and early Saturday and decided to walk to the class, which was about a mile away. Felt great.

When I got there no one was around, but the door was open so I wandered in and pretty quick this guy wandered out to meet me. The place was decorated like a really expansive two-level frat house, and smelled like a party. As it turns out the guy was the owner and I was the only dude on the roster who showed up for the class. I guess Saturday morning is not the best time to schedule an event for the alcohol enthusiast.

The dude was super cool and we set about getting a kettle of water hot enough to steep the ground barley mixture into. I had wanted to make a Belgian white ale but he poured me a mug of their blonde ale and I was pretty amenable to that, so I decided to make that. Their beers were strong, around 6-7%. It was a pretty stiff breakfast after the granola bar I had munched on the way up.

We threw the ground barley recipe into a ladies' lingerie bag and let it steep in the hot water for like forty-five minutes or so. After that we removed it and mixed in some syrupy thick stuff, I forget what it's called 'cause we went outside for a smoke and a mug of their California ale, kind of a lighter thing, under 4%. Extract or something. We talked about his tricked-out Ford Fairlane. Apparently it can go 186.

I think immediately thereafter we dropped some Dextrose and some other substance in and mixed it up pretty well. Then it was time for the hops. We mixed in three different kinds of hops that looked like little fish food pellets. I got to grind them up in my hand. If you ever wonder, hops seem like the main thing that ales get their flavor from.

After that we did a lot of stuff but most of it was pretty scientific and not a lot of fun to read about. The basic idea is that he's gonna crash the brew soon and kill the yeast, and in two weeks after that I can pick up all five cases. I'm thinking of throwing a party when I get 'em all back -- no reason Ray can have the only parties around here. My theme is gonna be stuff I made, from the beer, to the sausages, to the salsas, to the lemonade, to the potato salad to the guacamole. I'll prep for three days and get it all planned out, from paper towels to cutting surface area to lawn games. Nice. Maybe I'll do it for my birthday.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Beer Class

I saw in the Underground community news bulletin thing that some local brewery is having a "brew your own beer" two-part seminar where you get hands-on experience making your own batch of brew. You get to choose from most of the major styles, and take home a case and a half, completely bottled and ready to drink. The first class is tomorrow and the next one is in about a month when the fermentation or whatever is done. I'm hoping to do a belgian white beer-type thing.

It's been a long time since I took a class of any sort, and my main worry just now was that I'd have to be paired up with some dumbass. Oh, shit—what if Ray's in the class and we wind up as partners? Nah, if Ray wanted to learn to brew beer he'd fly a dude in from the Pacific Northwest and basically ignore me. Wait, that already happened. Sorry, sore subject.

I'm sure I'll have something to tell when I get back. Going to a beer-making class at 10am on a Saturday is a blog entry just dying to come into the world kicking and screaming. Maybe I'll hang out at the 7-11 next to the brewery before class and see how many of the aspirin/MGD customers toddle over to the seminar (or teach it).

Friday, April 01, 2005

There is a baby around

So Chris and Liz finally had their baby girl, and it's been pretty topsy-turvy in the house since then. It's hard to get any solid sleep, but I'm not considering moving out or anything. Chris says the baby's schedule evens out and it starts sleeping through most of the night within a few months. I think he felt kind of bad—he actually thought to buy me a bottle of Dalwhinnie at Trader Joe's, to help me stay asleep through the constant minor disturbances in the house. He's never done anything like that before. Maybe this baby is humanizing him a little bit. In the past we didn't really get much out of him other than occasionally watching Mr. Show DVDs together or drinking a bunch of beer and shooting his pellet gun at expired eggs, but lately he's seemed more...accessible. Maybe the veil comes down with enough sleep deprivation.

Whoah. I just walked into the kitchen to get a Diet Pepsi and he stormed in, the baby screaming its head off in the other room. He reached into the silverware drawer, pulled out a chopstick, and broke it furiously over his knee before throwing it into a corner and storming back out. He didn't even notice me.

I'm going to lock my bedroom door tonight. I don't think he'd actually use me as a thing to kill, but it at least might keep him from coming in and snapping my Giant Sequoia novelty pen in two (when you lean the pen over, the car rolls through the car-size hole in the giant sequoia).

Monday, February 28, 2005

Pat's "Oscars Party"

I saw Pat on the sidewalk this morning and he asked me if I would like to go to his Oscars Party. I hadn't heard anything about it, but didn't have plans so I agreed. I told him I'd bring some 7-layer dip and Fritos but he told me not to, that everything was taken care of. I forgot that Pat is weird about processed foods.

I got there around five but no one else had shown up yet. Pat's TV was playing Noam Chomsky videos, even though the red carpet coverage had started, and he was talking quietly with Nice Pete in a corner. There was a lot of paperwork on the table, but I didn't see any snacks. Maybe they were in the fridge, I thought. I didn't want to be rude and go opening doors, so I sat on the couch.

They kept talking while I sat there, and I couldn't switch over to the Oscars coverage because (a) Pat hides his remotes, and (b) the channel selection buttons on his TV have little metal panels krazy-glued over them. After about twenty minutes they were still engaged in what was an increasingly heated whisper-discussion. At one point Nice Pete slammed his opened palm really, really hard against the wall and ran upstairs. I figured I had about three and a half seconds before he came back down and murdered something, so I jumped up and walked past the table towards the door. I got a quick glance of a bunch of clipboards full of petitions to "permanently cancel the racist, classist, and obviously fixed" Oscars.

Pat was facing silently into the corner as I let myself out and ran like the wind back to our place, where I locked the door and turned on the tube just in time to see Chris Rock take the stage. Was I the only one in town who didn't know about Pat's "Oscar Parties"?

Friday, February 25, 2005

Garden State

Well, I was pretty jilted after we watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, but then we watched Garden State. It was like going on a roller coaster where you got your life dumped out at the end and among the peanuts there was that one tin whistle. And when you blew on the tin whistle, it made that one pure sound. The one that makes German boys drop all the onions into their carts and scurry for home.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Eternal Coin Sorter of the High Concept Movie

We got Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind from Netflix and I have to admit I'm not very good with movies like that. I held my ground and didn't give up after fifteen minutes like I did with Memento, though, and it did pay off. It's one of those movies that will probably keep paying off for a few days, while my mental coin-sorter fits it all together and makes sense of it. I got the general gist, but I felt like I missed about 80% of the mise-en-scène's loaded guns. Maybe that's the mark of a great film, that you can watch it a dozen times and still not feel done. If I were an artist, I'd want people to revisit my work and find more in it, not just throw it away like some single serving Whip-It of "Friends." Sadly, I'm not an artist. I sit around in my room and bang out chord progressions that sound like stuff The Edge threw away thirty years ago.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Porn house moved

Just like that, they were gone. Roar, Self Made, the chubbies...not a trace. I looked out the laundry room window today and noticed that all the blinds in their rental were up, and all the furniture and posters were gone. When did they move? I haven't been away for any significant stretch of time, and I think I would have noticed such a big operation. Things like this make you feel like you're crazy.

So much for my catering business. How am I supposed to come up with next month's rent? If I have to freelance-design any more business cards and stationery for bullshit little businesses I'm going to hit my writing hand with a hard mallet. Where's Ray? Maybe now that the sun has come out it's time to hit the links. At the very least, we can set up a PuttPro on his living room carpet and throw some money around until I'm solvent again.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

I got one of those little things for coffee.

You know, those little blender-stick things that you stick into a cup of milk and sugar to froth it. After dicking around with coffee drinks for a while this afternoon, I stuck it in a bowl of olive oil, lemon juice and egg yolks and made an excellent mayonnaise. Feeling clever, I stuck it into a bowl of smoked salmon, cream cheese and chives and made a nice spreadable mousse. At that point I felt pretty unstoppable so I used it to blend up a double grapefruit margarita. The tequila and coffee combo put me in the zone and soon I had used it to carve a pretty decent Ben Franklin in the side of a pineapple. This thing is awesome.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Quiet around here

There's been a really bad cold snap around here lately, so Roar took his crew down to Mojave to film until it warms up again. Too bad, I was really enjoying cooking for them. Lyle's not around and Mr. Bear and Philippe aren't big eaters, so I don' t have anyone to make chuck roasts or chickens or anything large-scale for. It's back to grilled sandwiches and little fish filets for a while. Maybe I'll head up to the funny Asian markets in San Bruno and try to learn something new. I've always wanted to make Peking duck, maybe I'll give that a spin. No, scratch that. The whole point of Peking duck is the crispy skin, which is worse for you than bacon, and I need to lose this winter weight. Bears usually lose winter weight while hibernating, but we don't really hibernate anymore, and it's a rough transition. We all look like mouth-breathing fatsoes in our Christmas pictures, but come Memorial Day we all look like Scott Weiland. Well, not exactly, but we don't look so much like furry little Paul Prudhommes.