Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving appetizers 2007

Ray's got me on appetizer duty for Thanksgiving at his place, which isn't actually so bad, since I know he'll have a ton of cooktop and oven space ready for my preparations. Still, though, I had to make sure, so I rang him up.

ME: So, can I have a couple burners to prep my apps on?

RAY: Heyo! Who wants to talk to my face? Thrill a minute, bargain at twice the price!

ME: It's me, man.

RAY: That works. What's up?

ME: Can I prep some Thanksgiving apps at your house?

RAY: Apps? Fill me in, dogg. Hella slang. Apartments? Apostles? Appreciations?

ME: Appetizers.

RAY: Oh, right. You got the cooking show vocabulary happening. Yeah, you can cook here.

ME: Thanks for not making me feel like an asshole.

RAY: It doesn't come naturally, but in our friendship, I have developed certain graces.

ME: That's really wonderful.

RAY: So, whatchu makin'!

ME: A toasted pumpkin seed dip, and a crostini with pumpkin butter, cream cheese, mint leaf, and a little garlic chili paste.

RAY: Cool. We doin' a crown roast instead of turkey, just so you dig.

ME: Really? That's a nice touch.

RAY: Turkey sucks the dong. All boring, all crappy drumsticks. Hate that animal. That animal is a crap-face repeater.

ME: Yeah, I've heard people say it was designed by committee.

RAY: You know what else was designed by committee?

ME: What.

RAY: Hitler's crooked one-ball dong.

ME: Wow. Bad committee.

RAY: Worst committee in the world. Look it up.

ME: Won't, but much respect. I'll show up with my apps and a little gear, ok?

RAY: We got gear here, dog.

ME: I like my own gear.

RAY: That is rude, but who can care if a man is rude when life is beautiful.

ME: I was banking on that.

RAY: See you on the day, then.

ME: A curl of clear custard on your doorstep.

RAY: The sign of a crappin' ghost!

ME: Mwaaa-ha-haaah. [HANGS UP]

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Wedding Menu.

I was having a hard time coming up with a cohesive menu for Beef and Molly's wedding, so I went back to Ray for some pointers. The guys have known each other since early childhood, so I figure that gives Ray a unique inside perspective on foods that would really make the night special. He shot me back this list, via email:

_ _food! _ _ _ _ _ _ _ - _ _primeplayerinc

-=- RAYYYYY'S lissssst =-=

***alright T, here you go some rad nibbles and chin dribbles a la RQS ***

1) Some cheese thing with an extra fried-ness to mack the cheese beyond what cheese is

2) japaleño poppers, but gourmet twist (brie? smoked trout? "slow" movement? call a chef)

3) rack of duck brains ("rack my brains," hella classic saying, pun). Nice-ass toast? Metal thing?

4) pomegranates are aggh i hate those things all seeds poppin

5) main course

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

I can almost decipher his semi-cogent appetites and inspirations, but I'm sure he's forgotten whatever he tickled into that text field on that late, long, bleary night. I'm going to spruce it up a bit:


1. Montasio frico with roasted white anchovy and shaved celery heart rib in paprika aioli

2. Smoked salmon on tempura parsnip planks with dilled sour cream mousse, chilled caper vodka back

3. Crispy duck skin bun, Peking style, with plum sauce

4. No pomegranate dishes

5. Main Course: Spit-roasted Baron of Beef, Yorkshire pudding, neeps and tatties. For light eaters, a choice of the lettuces which are being used to garnish the main plates. I hate light eaters.

Alright, that needs work. I guess I can cook up a vegan "garland of knotted long beans" for Pat and people like him who only eat stuff that punished people have to eat.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

I'm Catering Beef and Molly's Wedding!

Ray came by tonight and asked me a favor that turned out to be a favor for me. He asked if I'd cater Beef and Molly's wedding. Carte blanche, all food and service expenses paid, any new equipment I needed to make it happen out of his kitchen. The wedding and reception are in the back yard, so it's all self-contained. I figure that since it's a blank check, he's not doing it to save money. He's doing it because he knows I want to learn how to cook in volume. Sometimes I think he's some chump eating creamed twenties with a side of ribs, but then he'll pop in with a double-sided gesture like this. As he would say, "Daaamn. I did that god-damned brains style."

Here's how our conversation went. I was in my room listening to old LPs with the headphones on, on my bed, both eyes closed.

- + -

RAY: [Walks in and starts air-tapping on my chest with pretend drumsticks]

ME: [Eyes closed, catches the smell of Marlboro Lights] Ray? Is that you?

RAY: Hell yes, doggie!

ME: I thought you quit smoking?

RAY: I...come on, dude! I ain't here to talk about that!

ME: You have any left?

RAY: [Looks side to side, fishes in his pocket] Let's go outside. A ways.

ME: Cool.

[Soon, outside, walking around.]

ME: [exhaling satisfying smoke] So, what's up?

RAY: [exhaling] Got a favor to ask from you, hoss. Cookin' thing.

ME: Really? What? You working on a sauce? Fish?

RAY: You know Beef and Molly gettin' married, right? You be interested in doin' the cookin'? No mini-quiche and no stuffed mushrooms at all, that kind of thing?

ME: ...Wow. You serious?

RAY: I'm as serious as a...uh...a milk company, dude.

ME: Huh?

RAY: Sorry, man. That one completely fell apart.

ME: Oh. So, I get to do the menu and hire a staff and cook everything myself? Do real volume cooking?

RAY: Yeah, dude. Pretty much. Wouldn't that be cool? Like I said, open budget. Get me a menu tomorrow afternoon. [Slaps my shoulder, stubs his ash, mentions a tennis date he has to keep, and heads for his car, which is parked nearby on the other side of a clump of trees.]

ME: man, thanks for— [the sound of Ray's Caddie engine turning over] ...for the opportunity.

- + -

So there you have it. He didn't even stay around for the thanks. He just knew I'd dig it, he'd done his thing, and he was off to the club.

Maybe I'll do a tasting menu, with one dish based on each of Beef's main friends. I'll keep you posted. This is going to take some brainpower.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Chris is a book-leaver-arounder

I guess I hadn't read much about the French Laundry before. I mean, everyone knows that they're the fanciest deal in town (town being the world, fifty years in either direction), and that Thomas Keller is the Agronius Hype (Iliad god-chef that I made up) of the modern age. Before Ferran Adrià split the disbelief molecule, before Bobby Flay wore Vuarnets and Gotcha jams to Pomp and Circumstance at the FCI commencement, Keller was kempt and self-flagellating, the "mad monk" of the gastronomic world. I need to sneak into that kitchen and watch them in action. For now, though, I'm going to finish this Michael Ruhlman book that Chris left on the couch.

Here's a funny bit. The French Laundry is considered one of the most serious kitchens in the world, equal to if not superior to any Michelin three-star brigade. For their first few months in the mid-90s, however, the cooks started every service with a tape of this song:
(George Baker, "Little Green Bag.")

Isn't that great? You can picture Alice Waters, 80 miles away in Berkeley, sautéing morels with the nose of an age-pocked Remington six-shooter she picked up off some blanket sale on Telegraph Avenue. Suede fringe on the arms of her tie-dyed chef jacket. Easier times, man. Rent on every building was six dollars, flat. The Internet? Nah, my sister got pretty confused and bored with Gopher, thanks. San Francisco may as well have been Dubuque. The web was a site with pi to 50,000 places and the AOL "under construction" page. Alice got on the back of Peter Fonda's chopper after service every night and flipped off America until they attained highway speeds, at which point she nestled her cheek between his shoulder blades and dreamed of making love in a mesclun-strewn bed.

From the sound of it, I bet there's a nice set of rafters above the kitchen where I can keep tabs on things. Might even bring a telescoping fork and an insulated burp-bag. Wish me luck.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Bubb Rubb is the Nation's Individual

Bubb Rubb does not like to think that anything is wrong. If his car is noisy, you should probably be eating breakfast anyway. Woo wooooooo!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Foto-Kwiz #4.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Beef goes in for the kill

I guess it was just a matter of time. Ever since Beef paired off with Molly they've been sharing an electron, and it's not like anybody's against it. Well, maybe Spongebath and Emeril. Those guys are the most adamant anti-life-moving-along types I've ever met. They're stuck in some kind of "two bros living in a cheap apartment" stasis that rises and falls by the Pizza Chicago delivery window. Plus that enormous stack of home entertainment equipment they're always adding to. Are they right, or am I wrong? Is that zen? Not everyone's made for marriage, but they could clean up their comments a bit. It's not like you're going to dissuade some dude who's headed for marriage, and if you try, it's pretty much closing the shutters on your friendship.

They're registered for some pretty average stuff, like low-end stamped knives and nonstick cookware. I might go off the registry and get them some good stuff that will actually be fun to use and last a while. I think every new couple should get a cast-iron pan, an 8" knife, and a wood cutting board. In a perfect world, the government would mandate that you receive this when you get married. There's nothing a cast-iron pan can't could roast a turkey in that bastard if you put your shoulder into it. And don't get me started on "knife block sets." How much crap is that. Four shitty steak knives, cheap shears, two paring knives...what?! A carving knife? Please. I hate products that are designed to be sold to people who will never have any idea how to use them properly.

Okay, I'm putting my foot into the stirrup and getting off the high horse. I caught some Rick Bayless on the TiVo and I have about exactly half an hour until Lyle gets home and starts yelling about how "real" Mexicans cook.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Chris is such a Darrylict

So Chris is a bigshot now, with his subscription to the "Bacon of the Month Club." That fool wouldn't know salty from sweet most nights, the way he gets on with his $1.99 screw-tops from Grocery Outlet (I've seen the receipts). Yeah, I've been liberating a few of his slices here and there for my own purposes. I should probably start my own "bacon blog," where you can read things that actually work. That guy wears a coonskin cap and misses the bus on weekends -- at least I think about what I'm doing while I'm doing it.

Tonight while he was out eating lousy family restaurant food with his family, I cooked down a few slices of his latest jowl bacon. I put it in a hot, fresh-baked baguette with super-slim grilled, trimmed asparagus stalks, shaved Gruyère, mint, lemon zest, and chopped hard boiled egg. Mayonnaise and a romaine leaf moistened it up, and it was complete. Much nicer than the Study in Pepto he worked up for you last week. Stay tuned, I guess. I hear he's getting his next shipment tomorrow, and I bet he doesn't even know.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Foto-Kwiz #3

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Foto-Kwiz No. 2

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Whole Foods Attitude girl

I had to get some fresh dill, which is actually pretty hard to find around here, so I went up to Whole Foods in San Mateo. It was kind of a schlep, but I'm working on a lobster roll variation that uses west coast crustaceans (read: affordable non-lobstertutes) so I needed it.

Now, you know the kind of girl that works at Whole Foods. Slightly peppy and political, probably with some tattoos and Vans. I like that. I want to roll with that. I actively want to spend time with that kind of girl.

Or, I thought so. While I was meandering down the bulk spice aisle, this gorgeous Siouxsie Sioux-type with tousled bangs and big eyes (and some armpit hair, okay, not a deal breaker) asked if I needed any help. I already had my dill, so I said I was looking for lemongrass...she called me silly and started to pull me by the hand back toward the produce section, where they keep that stuff fresh. I guess no one's pulled on my hand lately -- it felt like an immense come-on.

Once she'd shown me the bin where they keep the lemongrass, she walked away, like Whole Foods was this big toy house where she lived and played and thought nothing of pulling on guys' hands. It was kind of a letdown after the personal contact, so after I suggestively lingered in the produce area I pushed my cart around the store trying to find her again.

I guess she was avoiding me, because after ten or fifteen minutes of wandering the aisles I gave up and checked out. Once I'd paid (JESUS CHRIST ON GOD MOUNTAIN IS THAT PLACE EXPENSIVE) I started to shove off, and there she was at the manager's station chatting with a few of her heavily tattooed co-workers. She glanced at me, made some sort of comment, and then the little batch of them started to snicker. Like there was something wrong with me. I left, kind of pissed off.

Maybe I don't actually like girls who spend a bunch of time looking like a particular downer style, or who work in politically charged low-end leftist jobs. I'm more or less "leftist"; why do leftist chicks drive me crazy? Is it true what they say, that you hate in others what you hate about yourself? Maybe I'll try to meet a tennis chick, with a blonde ponytail, diamond earrings, and an ML 350. Someone with no issues and rad thighs. I think I'd hate that, but maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm due for a personal breakthrough. Look how great I am, I don't even need specialty books or a padded mat to help me affect positive change in my life.