Monday, March 28, 2011

HOWIE please get a dictionary

Right spankin across the street from STANFORD U. Where some of the most brilliant minds come together, a pizza joint screws it all up. OK Howie you are the Artisan and your pizza is Artisnal. Dumb ass now if you are gonna use a hot button food word in the title of your joint . GET IT RIGHT. I kept drivin no use spending money to see if "right outta the can" means ARTISAN in Howies world. Sigh. Come on people wake up and hold your purveyors of "todays food" to a standard we all can be proud of. Kind of like Dominos trying to fool you into thinking they get all their cheese from that SMALL farm in the commercial. Read the fine print. Kinda like saying "we use organic when possible" WTF? Off the hook is what that is. March on I'm hungry and Howie is off the list.............xoxoxo T
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

There is No flash in this boys pan......... SmoQe BBQ

After a long day doing my thing for the new winery SKOV all I wanted was BBQ . So we braved the storm and drove to Aptos from Scotts Valley for a meal worth the wait and drive.......Smoqe a relatively new kid on the culinary block with BBQ, Smoker, pizza ovens a flame and nothing to prove but a good meal and a comfortable space. Before we tucker into all things meaty and grand lets talk about BBQ and what really does that mean and where did  this word come from?


The origins of both the activity of BBQ Barbecue-BBQ cooking (GRILLING AND SMOKING) and the word itself are somewhat obscure. In Jamaica the people made a shallow pit using it to both smoke and grill their food. They would make a GRILL SMOKER with the native wood pinion that they would burn down to char-coal. They then used green sticks to place over the burned pinion wood to make a grate.

They would then cut their meat in strips and place spices of the meat and smoke grill those strips making jerk. The jerk was then finished drying on the hot rocks. Therefore the meat was preserved by grilling smoking and spicing the meat.

They then carried the Jerk meat strips in a pouch they made. THIS GRILLED SMOKED MEAT WAS CALLED IT BARABICA or BAR-B-CUE.

The word translates as sacred fire pit and is also spelled barbicoa or bar-b-que. The word (BBQ) describes a grill for cooking meat consisting of a wooden platform resting on sticks.

Most etymologists believe that BBQ Barbecue-BBQ derives ultimately from the word barabicu found in the language of the Taíno people of the Caribbean. There is ample evidence that the both the word and cooking technique migrated out of the Caribbean and into other cultures and languages, with the word moving from Caribbean dialects into Spanish, then French and English in the Americas.

The word evolved into its modern English spelling of BBQ Barbecue-BBQ and may also be found spelled as bar-b-que, bar-b-q or BBQ.

In the south eastern United States, the word BBQ Barbecue-BBQ is used predominantly as a noun referring to roast pork, while in the southwestern states cuts of beef are often cooked. The word BBQ Barbecue-BBQ has attracted two inaccurate origins from folk etymology:

An often-repeated claim is that the word is derived from the French language. The story goes that French visitors to the Caribbean saw a pig being cooked whole and described the method as barbe à queue, meaning from beard to tail. The French influence of the word BBQ Barbecue-BBQ is spelled barbeque and the "beard to tail" explanation is regarded as false by most language experts. The only merit is that it relies on the similar sound of the words, a feature common in folk etymology explanations."barbeque"

Another claim states that the word BBQ came from the time when roadhouses and beer joints with pool tables advertised Bar, Beer and Cues. According to this tale, the phrase was shortened over time to BBCue, then BBQ

OK either way you get the  idea. Back to the Boy and his brisket.....Soooo we run in from the rain to be greeted with the familiar smells of a good time promised and a happy face behind the counter with the menu displayed behind and the cooks busy with each task at hand (feeding me)I always love seeing the kitchen in action its the best advertisement not trickery or tom foolery here , plain and simple it is made for your inspection.
I stared at the menu for as long as the guy behind me in line would allow....Do I get a wedge salad, oysters,Ribs or a pizza hhmmmm  or do I go to the place a good BBQ better not fuck up or the rest is all in vain. BRISKET. Nom Nom Nom. Ahhh the good ole Brisket.WTF is it? Well it is one of the 8 prime cuts from either Veal or Beef. The Brisket is found under the breast and lower chest of the cow. The deep pectorals are included . Think about this....A cow doesn't have a collar bone so the "brisket"hold almost 60% of the cows weight. One tough sucka. A peasant cut that has risen to culinary stardom. But ya gotta cook cook cook slow and low with moisture, smoke or without smoke like Corned Beef. The big fat cap on top helps the monster cut have pure flavour through out. I ordered the Brisket fries with tangy slaw and Boy Racer had a classic Brisket sammy with hand cut Crisps and two big PBRs ......
We sat down with our suds at a comfortable table and watched the dining space fill up on a wet dreary Saturday eve. Sweet young girls wizzing around helping the dining room flow refilling BBQ sauce,napkins and bringing food out in a timely manner. Sodas were serve your self so the kitchen can concentrate on more important matters plus very family friendly, yet not annoying to us without littles.
Ahhh food here, quarter sheet pans with parchment is used instead of plates. The BBQ industrial vibe works. My huge pile o Carbohydrate love in the form of a sweet potato(kinda think it was yam)then brisket, then slaw was a nod to the Black Hills of Kentucky me happy tummy full could go back for more if I ate till it hurt I restrained.
Boy racers sammy was big drippy and full of brisket n slaw between two crusty slices(local made?) ready to soak up the juices that were sure to flow. The hand cut crisps were a nice spicy touch with good potato texture and crunch. We were glad cause last visit there was a lack of snap to the crisps and were left on the tray sad and soggy. Our stewardess for our  BBQ flight offered us both a selection of a vinegar based "mop" spicy or mild BBQ sauces. we said YES to all three dipped our forkfulls in each or two at a time. Mop won. I love the vinegary balance it brings to the BBQ smoke table. This food is thoughtful, well executed nonspecific regional BBQ. Aaron wether you started at Daddys side slicing apples or have been cooking professionally your whole adult life it works. The food the vibe(ahh do not pass up the big locally made cookies on the counter)Next time Boy racer and I will venture deeper into the smoQe jungle. If the brisket is done  righ they will come. And come they the time we left at seven pm on a very stormy night the placed was packed with happy people knowing they were in on a great local secret that is smoQe.
10110 Soquel Drve
Aptos Ca
Tues-Sun 11-9pm  Fri-Sun 11-10pm

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My cultured buttah workin over time on a stormy Sunday

Louis Pasteur demanded solid answers to even the most mundane questions. When it seemed his children were always dropping their toast on the carpet buttered side down,he didn't just laugh it off. He investigated thoroughly and found the answer. The children were buttering both sides of the bread. BRAVO
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Are rice and potatoes a GATEWAY DRUG?

Fredrich Nietzsche apparently thought so...He wrote "A diet consisting of rice leads to use of Opium ,just as a diet consisting primarily of potatoes leads to the use of liquor" This explains so much.
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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Still life with swine in Aptos

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A bit about the man behind the BBQ No Bull all SmoQe BBq

Somes times ya just gotta hear it from the briskets mouth. Aaron Emailed me his mini bio needed to just send you his word. We are a lucky community to have this family run biz....Enjoy

"I could tell you I've been cooking for 39 years (I'm 40...Jake) and how I studied and I’m a badass who grew up in kitchens and that may or may not be true. Problem is that there will always be someone more experienced or able to chop onions faster or whatever that for some people un-creds my cred.


My most recent job before losing my mind and opening a BBQ joint was getting paid for doing nothing (corporate equipment manager with a $600 million annual budget) at a huge national construction company. After working 60 hour a week (I used to think that was a lot) I would work on weekends for a few local caterers and even did a free 3-month stint in a friends restaurant just prepping and basic menial tasks. I knew this was what I wanted to do forever but because I already had a real job/family/mortgage I couldn’t do it in a traditional way. I had to be creative. I knew no one would pay me to do anything so for about 10 years I did it for free. I was the guy you could call on the weekends to help setup, prep, serve…whatever. I ate it up. I paid attention. I didn’t act like I knew it all because I watched food network or had a subscription to Saveur. I was not THAT guy. I was serious, as professional as a complete amateur can be and I paid attention. I was in it form the get-go to make the switch from pro corporate dude to restaurantuer.

BBQ/Pizza story.

My dad and mom were the best cooks I know. Dad was all into BBQ, sourdough bread, beer, Mom should have opened a restaurant, she was that good. I was the best fed kid ever, never ate anything processed or caned. My Mom wouldn’t even buy dried pasta, always from scratch and with love.

I was 12 when my alcoholic Dad said fuck it (sounded like shphuuckiiitt) and threw a freshly proofed sourdough pizza dough on the Weber and made “wood fired” pizza with… like… rabbit on it that he shot that day, and may even had some Lucky lager in the sauce. Looking back it was pizza sacrilege, but oh so smoky/saucy/cheesy great and is still in the top 10 best foods I have ever eaten.

About 10 years ago a friend bought a wood fired pizza oven and put it in his back yard. I spend the next year bugging the shit out of my friend to make pizza and drink his beer. We started having parties at his house and I got really good at the pizza thing. Then we decided to take our show on the road. Another friend had an old set of axles from a rusted out trailer so we decided to weld and drink beer and in 3 months we had this unbelievable pizza oven trailer. Then what…well I just started kinda whoring myself out to anyone who would have me cheap so I could get the experience. That kind of worked but the friends and family thing will only take you so far ya know.


In 2008 I had a little equity in my house and somehow knew that I could do this. I could kill pizza, kill BBQ and my wife after watching me destroy myself in my current job and at the same time love what I did on the weekends finally, like Adrian in Rocky II says “win Rock”, Nancy says “go for it”.

That was the easy part. What was this restaurant concept, what was it going to be. I spent not a lot of time on this because it was obvious. Unless I have lost my mind, BBQ and Wood Fired Pizza is what I do and is what isn’t done too well in Santa Cruz.

The concept, logo, menu all happened in a few weeks. Then location in the next 2 weeks. Then 14 months of hell thank you Santa Cruz Planning Dept. Then came the Friday, Dec 4th 2009. I had 4 county inspections’ scheduled in a row, $0 in the bank, a semi truck full of food parked down the street and a secret the county didn’t know about waiting with a crane (huge smoker) all hanging on passing these inspections.

We passed, food truck/smoker dropped and we were off. Prepped/smoked/freaked out all day/night long, FB’d we were opening at noon and by 5pm had a full house and didn’t sleep for a week straight.

I’m the guy who dreamed it, built it, cooked it and then was about to have a very rude awakening about how hard this business actually is.

The Food

• I like my BBQ dry…SOS please

• Pork Butt, dry rubbed, hand pulled w/ my take on Carolina Vin sauce

• Texas Brisket, un-molested and dry rubbed. (you can molest later)

• St Louis cut pork spares, dry rubbed but a little mop about ¾ through sure makes a difference in the texture so we do it and hold our heads high

• Beef rib is a long

• Pizza…serious.

• ONLY Caputo “00” from Naples will do

• Fire roasted tomatoes, sea salt = sauce

• I would love to use nothing but the best but I have to pick my battles. Grande for the main mozz and prov, imported bufala, pecorino, parm used strategically.

• Burgers…no joke

• We grind our own from grass fed tri-tip/brisket/short rib and add extra brisket fat for fun

• We have a burger that is ½ ground beef, ½ ground bacon that makes me giggle like a girl every time I eat it

• The lemon/lime custard pie and the carrot cake are my wife’s recipes.

• We make everything in house (just like momma) except the gluten free pizza dough (still riding pizza) and the cookies (family friend)

I need a beer"

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Through my Irish eyes...

There once was a man from Ghass whose balls were made of glass. He clicked then together and played Stormy Weather and lightning came out of his ass.......... Have a great day.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lunch on the silk Road

]A rainy day in downtown Santa Cruz brought my partner in crime GIRL ON THE VINE and myself at the doorstep of the self titled Silk Road Eatery(Afgahni) on Cooper Street across from the Big Red Ball. A nice large space with great arched windows facing the tree lined street. An open kitchen to the rear and the cooks working at a quick skip and doing it with clean organization. I was so happy to see one of the cooks, another of the many who have worked under me over the years so I had to stop by the kitchen ledge to say Hello and get the latest kitchen gossip. I knew we were in for a thoughtful well seasoned meal.

Now first, acoustics in the space was a little echoey and big. The very high ceilings , stone floors and bare walls (except for an awesome large painting on a side wall). Noise was bouncing everywhere and was anything but a calm lunch hour vibe. Easy fix not that big of a deal but worth mentioning. The enviroment is almost as important as the food itself. We sat at a nice comfy booth on a far wall and tables and chairs were throughout the space and a banquet by the open kitchen. A very nice server came to say hello as soon after we sat down. She was quite helpful and definatly knew the menu and had great suggestions as well descriptions of the items on the limited lunch menu. Girl on the Vine will go over wine list and servers good job on the wine list selections. She has waited tables before.

I am not going to bore you with every finite detail of the menu, but talk about our order. An over view of the menu was a touch limited and a bit out of season. pomegranate , pumpkin and WILD arugula(so the chef went foraging for a wild arugula patch that thrives in late spring and summer in SC?) Still nice Persian flavours and selections from Kabob to flatbreads or a hummus starter. A warm fold of house made flat bread came to the table with a square monkey dish with chopped cucumber,tomato, parsley and shredded aged (sheeps milk?) cheese and nice olive oil and vinegar. Great beginning while pondering the menu and talking a mile a minute with my friend. Nom Nom Nom . Oh before we tuck in lets go over what the heck the Silk road is and how it is represented through the cuisine of LAILI..

Silk Road, ancient overland trade route linking Asia and Europe, consisting of a network of caravan routes running from China across central Asia to the shores of the Mediterranean. Its starting point was the ancient Chinese capital of Chang'an (modern Xi'an), in N central China; the endpoints were a number of cities on the E Mediterranean. Some of its branches ran into S Asia; others ended at Caspian and Black Sea ports. Among the modern countries traversed by the various routes are China, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. It flourished from the 2d cent. B.C. to the 15th cent. A.D., when sea routes between Europe and Asia were established, though caravan trade continued along the Silk Road into the 17th cent. and later. At different times the Silk Road was under the control of the Chinese, Turks, and Mongols, and the collapse of the Mongol Empire was also a factor in the route's lessening usage.

Traders usually traversed only a section of route, transferring their goods to other caravans at various points along the way, and silk was only one of the commodities traded. Goods from China included gold, silver, iron, weapons, porcelain, lacquerware, tea, paper, gunpowder, and medicines; from India, slaves, animals, furs, fabrics, woods, jade and other precious stones; and from Persia, incense, foodstuffs, dyes, and silver goods. Other commodities that originated in Asia and were traded included spices, ivory, flowers, horses, jewelry, minerals, and men and women with special skills. From the West, traders brought wool and linen, vessels of bronze and glass, amber, coral, glass beads, coins and bullion, wine, and ambergris.

The Silk Road also led to the exchange of knowledge, culture, religion, and technology between the East and West. Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Manichaeism, and Zoroastrianism were among the faiths that spread along the route. Algebra, astronomy, Arabic numerals, medical techniques, architectural styles, and a host of primarily Chinese techniques and inventions, e.g., printing and papermaking, spread from East to West, while various construction techniques, seafaring methods, medicinal plants and poisons, cotton cultivation, and horse-related items such as saddles .well alrighty then lets begin.

Butternut in a Pumpkin disguise. Tsk tsk

We started off with the Pumpkin Baranee. A classic Persian dish that is slow roasted and served with QURUT YOGURT

Qurut, qurt, or kurt, also aaruul, is a type of cheese eaten throughout Central Asia, often as a snack. Qurut is made from drained sour milk or yoghurt (alternatively called süzmä or tarag) by forming it and letting it dry. It can be made in a variety of forms, including rolled into balls, sliced into strips, and formed into chunks. It is sometimes salted, and in Inner Mongolia can be flavoured and distributed as candy


The word "qurut" is related to the Turkic word for "dry".


Qurut is eaten plain, but can be used other ways. For example, it can be dissolved in water and eaten like yogurt. Qurut dissolved in water is a primary ingredient of qurutob, a traditional Persian dish in Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Iran.

Ok got that explained. Now this yogurt was smooth and not the dry reconstituted curded yogurt I have had in the past with a distinctive sour taste. This one however was a nice balance to the roasted BUTTERNUT SQUASH. This was not by any means Pumpkin! tsk tsk. Still nice combination of silky flavours and a good tang from the yogurt, and plenty of warm flat brad to scoop up the citrus colored lump of yum. Not pumpkin like the menu said but good all the same. Maybe.......a few spiced pumpkin seeds to garnish to break up the smooth texture.

Chicken apricot flat bread

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Short rib Castillian style

Ohhh hello dear short rib come to mama......
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Gettin giggy with the Tapas

Close up of almost perfection
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Tapas tapas tapas

Tapas is a plural term, so your question should really be 'what are tapas'. There are a number of myths about what tapas is all about. Here are just a few:
well I could as usual blather all day but this tutorial should whet the appetite into a whirling dervish of needing theses little delectable nuggets of Mediterranean love....

What Tapas is Not

•Tapas is not a particular type of food. Anything can be tapas - paella, croquettes, ham and cheese on toast,a buggar, truly anything. As long as it is small and served with your drink (either free or at a surcharge), it is tapas. It doesn't even have to be Spanish - in Granada there are a number of Moroccan bars that offer cous cous, falafel and kebabs as tapas.

•Tapas is not a starter. If you start eating tapas, you finish eating tapas, and you don't stop until you're full., almost bursting at the pleasure seams and still wanting that last morsel everyone is eyeballing on the plate. It is a state of mind not a state of sanity. Well my sanity perhaps.....

•Tapas is not a collection of small dishes brought out on a platter and eaten as a main course. The Spanish have a word for this - 'tabla'. Sooooo Cascal stretches with their description of the sampler I ordered. Yet I was well aware of what they meant and was in no mind to school the cute Peruvian waiter or proper terms. Mama wanted her food. Yes he was Peruvian, we were chatting about the differences of Peruvian Ceviche VS typical California style.(by the way its corn that makes big difference )So anyhooo

The Meaning of the Word Tapas

A 'tapa' is a 'lid' or 'cover'. In the early days of tapas, a slice of cheese or ham was given with your drink and placed over your drink. All week I called my hat my Tapas, Boy Racer got tired of my personal twist on Tapas and was promptly told to "shut the f#$% up".

There is some debate over why exactly this was done:
Let me clarify. Not why I was told to "shut the F$%# up"that is clear but why the ham on the cocktail.....

•To keep out the flies.

•To hide the smell of the bad wine.

•To keep the wind from blowing your drink everywhere.


I prefer the first explanation - a piece of ham will only hide the smell of the wine until you take it off to take a drink, while if there was a strong wind, surely the first thing to go flying would be the tapas!

There is another explanation which differs from the above. It is said that there was once a sick king - which one exactly differs according to who is telling the story - who couldn't drink alcohol without taking some food with it. He issued a royal decree that insisted that everyone should take food with their drinks. A slight variation of this one is that the benevolent king simply insisted that food should be taken with any drink out of concerns for the health issues associated with drinking on an empty stomach. Mmmm me and King need the food or trouble. Me; lamp shade on head shirt off ,he probably just got a head ache.

Tapas in Spain Today

So, with all the myths about tapas out of the way, this is what tapas is today. A tapa is invariably a small dish of something edible. It may be a smaller version (normally a quarter version) of something else on the menu or it may be sold exclusively as tapas. The tapas may or may not be free( In USA not free). Unfortunately the days of free tapas are over in much of Spain. If the tapas is given to you without you having asked for it, it will be free.

If you are invited to "go for tapas", you'll be visiting lots of bars and probably only taking a single tapas in each. If you are unfamiliar with the city you are in, you may be apprehensive about moving on from a bar you have found that you like, for fear of not finding another one as good. In which case, I would suggest taking a Tapas Tour in Spain instead. Led by a local expert, you will be taken to a number of tapas bars, sampling a dish and a drink in.

So there you have a Readers Digest version of TAPAS 101.
Go forth and nibble the love done in miniature. There is a plethora of Tapas joints in the Bay Area yet sadly my backyard of Santa Cruz county has not arrived on the Tabla or Tapas. But have not fear we are in a baby Renaissance. yea never know when a bar crawl will involve little bites of Parma Ham, Boqurrones,octopus and olives.....a girl can dream.

Good night Moon...

A trip to Spain In Mountain View with a Moorish Flare 400 Castro Street, Mountain View - (650) 940-9500

Tapas Tapas Tapas.
More to come.........
From Octapus to Olives there so much to talk about at this classic Spanish eatery in the heart of Mountain View
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Monday, March 7, 2011

Domo Arigato Mister Roboto

Yamamori Sushi Scotts Valley Ca. Ill be back to talk about terms, traditions and yumminess...

Tai wrapped around Carrot ,Diakon, Yam, pickled Burdock, Cucumber, rice noodle, and Shiso leaf with a drop of Tobiko..... Back in a bit....
Sushi has for certain a special place in the hearts of Santa Cruzans and you cant swing a cat in this county with out hitting a Sushi joint. some are good some are not and some have folk lore that keeps the bar full. We have Korean influenced Sushi ,we have Cali style galore and even some hard core traditional in the heart of the Point(no silly not Pink Godzilla) lets just go over some terms to help you traverse some of the daunting menus so you get what you want and find what you need.
First .....DO NOT OPEN YOUR CHOP STICKS AND RUB THEM TOGETHER! Beyond disrespectful to the owner and Sushi chef. You are basically telling them that their joint is so cheap that they do not provide proper utensils. Its a big F You. I know some times we do get those cheap mass produced chop sticks that are less than perfect but rubbing them together isn't going to rid the splinters and the Ugly American behaviour is just not good. Respect is huge . We all want to receive it and as well project good will to those who provide a dining experience.

Size matters. In Japan Nigiri style sushi is the size of ones finger just enough for one bite. The piece should not be theses ginormous slabs o fish that takes two to three bites to get down. Silly Americans so concerned with quantity rather that quality. We also have a funny relationship with wasabi . creating a slurry of paste and Soy then dunking the poor fish till half the dish soaks into the rice masking any attempt at the delicate nuances raw fish can give. The wasabi is the GIRL FRIDAY to the experience. A tiny dab smeared on the piece and rare is it that soy is necessary. Alot if Sushi chefs will put a dab "under the skirt" to give you the proper ratio wasabi to fish for the best experience. The delicate flavours of the rice alone with the hint of sweetness and sour from the rice wine vinegar that gets paddled in when cooling from the cooker. You just miss so much when too much wasabi and soy are introduced. At the very least try without to create an opinion about your bite you might be very surprised what you might discover rather a hot ,salty ,textural roller coaster ride.

Cream Cheese has no place in the sushi repertoire. End of story. Fusion is Confusion and this is a perfect example. In Japan the is little or no dairy culture thus cream cheese needs to return to the bagel with a beautiful Gravlox.

Enjoy the terms and try a few out some time. The Chef will be tickled by your genuine interest in his/her culture.

Good eating my friends....

Domo. Thank you.

Domo arigato. Thank you very much.

Dozo. Please.

Gaijin. Outsiders, foreigners.

Gochiso-sama [deshita]. Traditional phrase closing a meal.

Hai. Yes.

Itadakimasu. Traditional phrase opening a meal.

Itamae. The sushi (or other Japanese) chef.

Konichiwa. A greeting, roughly `how are you'.

Omakase. Chef's choice.

Okonomi. The practice of ordering sushi a few pieces at a time.

Sabinuki. `No wasabi, please.'.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Lazy day at the Ghetto Vineyard. Found a great way to repurpose the rings from old cooperage. ahhh the sweet smell of recycle. Enjoy your Saturday perhaps fire up that fondue pot and pop a nice Kabinet. Besos
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Thursday, March 3, 2011


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SAD . The chef left me a note

wow. I got a message from the chef Girl on the Vine and myself reviewed yesterday. Here is what he had to say VERBATIM:

"What the fuck??? Are you on crack? you smell something...oh yea, its the shit youve been talkin..must be your breathe(sic).Listen here you pig face...obviously youve blown a head gasket,you misguided misinformed wretch! I been spinnin(sic) swine since you were shittin yellow(ya your fuckin spine) Anytime and I mean anytime you want to step out from behind your cyber cloak and show your pig face..I will show you exactly what I bring to the table and what you lack!And yes thats a fucking challenge! Ive been cooking for 35 years and just started referring to myself as a chef so why dont you drop down and suck it..because that is the only thing you will be tasting of mine. What a fucking joke no class,no skill,no balls. Hey is that why your back is turned on your headshot. fuckin coward..."  MASTER CHEF JAKE GANDOLFO



So I ranted a bit and so did my partner in food crime(girl on the Vine). So now lets talk solutions and grow from mistakes rather than dwell. Good GOD Ive fucked up a thing or two in my 22 year career in the kitchen and only hope we all learn from mistakes and be better cooks for it. So here is a nice simple sexy recipe to fool proofing a PORK BELLY adventure. Dont fear the FAT embrace with balance and confidence. Perhaps some  APPROPRIATE stone fruit chutney to give it a bang WITH a ton of wine a ton of friends and a ton of good times. Dont forget we are all students at life. Its the collection of experiences and the lessons learned that makes us all who we are. good eating my friends ...Much love
4lb pork belly from your local butcher such as EL SALICHERO
2 tablespoons fennel seeds

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

4 bulbs of fennel, cut into sixths, herby tops removed and reserved
1/4 C brown sugar.

a small bunch of thyme, leaves removed

5 cloves of garlic, unpeeled

olive oil

1 750 ml bottle of wine a good  white Burgundy would be lovely for pig and cook. Wink

Preheat the oven to its maximum temperature.

Using an extremely sharp knife, score the skin of the pork belly in deep vertical lines. Try to get them as close together as possible and as parallel as possible.

Crush the fennel seeds and 1 tablespoon of sea salt  and b sugar until you have a fine powder. Massage this powder into the skin.

In a roasting pan toss the fresh fennel, thyme, garlic, olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Place the pork belly (skin side up) on top.

Put the pan in the preheated oven. After 10 minutes turn the heat down to 325 degrees and roast the pork for a further hour.

After 1 hour at 325 degrees, remove the pan from the oven and drain off the fat and save for fryin up some taters.... Add the white wine and stir.

Put the pan back in the oven for another hour.

Remove the pan from the oven. Remove the fennel from the pan using a slotted spoon. Keep it warm.

Put the pork back into the oven for a further hour until the skin is golden and crisp. If the wine starts to evaporate during this time, add a splash more wine, or a splash of  stock.

Allow the pork to rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes.
You know you've done good if the skin is crispy,carmalized and practically winking at you, the belly itself should be spreadable not meat jello. Save those pan drippings reduce by a third add a pat of (my raw milk sweet cream cultured) butter for a heavenly sauce to drizzle over this piggy delight. Fry up some fingerlings in the pork fat reserve . Pop open a bottle of Kabinett(needs the acid to balance) and break into some crusty bread and a dollup of Stone fruit Chutney....ohhh Sweet Cheesus we have a party in our mouth.

That my friends and countrymen is how you do Pork Belly ........mama loves you

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

OK, girly on the vine!  My turn......the whisk is fired up!

Master of what is the real question?  Spin doctoring what a person does NOT know makes the expectant guests high expectations fall very hard and cold.  Today the term "Chef " gets tossed around like a rag doll in the spin cycle.  A term first and formost that is saved for the lifetime cook who has earned his credentials to be able to flow into the twilight of his/her career; yielding a clipboard not so much a knife.  TO COOK and BE A COOK is the honour few possess and, if and when one gets that honour, it's not ever used in vain.  It never is the label that makes the cook, but the skill, love and drive to feed his/her subjects. 

Go Big or Go Home

It is always a difficult decision to voice one’s opinion publicly when negative - especially in a small town, but I was so disappointed by the meal created by Chef Jake Gandolfi at Center Street Grill this past Sunday I feel compelled to share - and what better place to that than my best foodie friends' blog.....don't worry - she can take the heat!

Jake’s previous experience as a caterer came out on Sunday night. Most items appeared to have been prepped several hours prior to service and ultimately came out cold. There were several, complicated elements to most of the dishes which, I believe, contributed to the failure. Last, many items were not in season currently - Soup: Saffron Split Pea Puree topped w/ Melted Leeks and Pacific Prawn and a Prickly Pear Sorbet that had been enhanced with food coloring.

The ultimate low was the 3rd course – or Salad: Pickled Purple Cabbage and Golden Beets over Fried Corn Tortilla topped w/ Braised Pork Belly and Pomegranate Seeds. The tortilla was cold, greasy and could not be cut with a knife and fork. The Pork Belly had apparently not been braised long enough, and due to being served room temperature, it was gelatinous and lacked that ooey, gooey, spreadable quality the belly attains when carmelized in a sautee pan just moments before reaching the table.

In the end, he had that gregarious charm that wins you over, but I would suggest that Master Chef Jake spend a few nights behind the line and learn the artistry of serving food to order. We were only 40 people after all. Next dinner is scheduled for March 20th and they are shooting for 100 people....beware if you are one of them.