Monday, August 31, 2009
I have been making a living this way for about 12 or 13 years now. This morning I am at the Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute for the annual Summers Harvest Farmers Market. Looking around I see mostly Chefs and students in their uniform. There's live music, prepared foods, artisan
cheese, art, a young lady selling soil made from the organic waste from the local Whole Foods Store and many other like minded merchants. Chefs demos are scheduled for later in the day.
If you didn't know any better you might think this market is a bust. There are not a lot of customers and the weather is questionable. But take a closer look and you see a few folks wandering around checking out each vendor, maybe having a short conversation about their product. And that's how it happens and that's how this movement is being built into a billion dollar industry.
As more folks show up and wander the market they will stop at the different booths and get the scoop on each vendors product or service they offer. The young lady selling soil or compost to be more precise, will repeat over and over again to anyone interested about her product, where it's from, how it's made and how to use it. The farmer will educate you on his heirloom veggies and the guy selling grass fed beef will inform you all about his operation and why it's better then business as usual. They will offer you a sample they have prepared on their portable cook top. You can buy if you like or just taste and learn.
These markets are the grass roots effort to inform and make available all this goodness to the public. It may not look like a lot's going on , but information is traded and relationships are started. Like the chef who meet's the farmer who will grow what the chef needs, or the cheese broker who can keep a steady supply coming so the chef can add it to his menu. The folks just interested in buying a product on a regular basics can find out what stores sell it, or get directions to the farm so they might purchase directly from the producer.
You don't see huge advertising campaings for this industry, instead it happns like I described above, one conversation at a time. One person at a time who next week drags a friend to the local framers market. And so on and so on.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
I didn't know what to say.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Miso (みそ or 味噌?) is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting rice, barley and/or soybeans, with salt and the fungus kōjikin (麹菌?), the most typical miso being made with soy. The result is a thick paste used for sauces and spreads, pickling vegetables or meats, and mixing with dashi soup stock to serve as miso soup called Misoshiru (味噌汁?), a Japanese culinary staple. High in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals, miso played an important nutritional role in feudal Japan. Miso is still very widely used in Japan, both in traditional and modern cooking, and has been gaining world-wide interest. Miso is typically salty, but its flavor and aroma depend on various factors in the ingredients and fermentation process. Different varieties of miso have been described as salty, sweet, earthy, fruity, and savory, and there is an extremely wide variety of miso available.
This is what I found on Izakaya
An izakaya (居酒屋?) is a type of Japanese drinking establishment which also serves food to accompany the drinks. The food is usually more substantial than that offered in other types of drinking establishments in Japan such as bars or snack bars
This is what Stacey and I found when we had dinner last night at the restaurant Miso Izakya. Miso Izakaya is on Edgewood Av. in Atlanta.
It's a great place to look at. Lot's of wood. I had lunched there with Chef earlier in the week and didn't notice the huge communal table just inside the front door. The table was about 8' long and 2'wide. It was a slab of wood with the "raw" edge left intact. Wood was everywhere. The booths are wood, there is a large, slated wooden divider at the front door. The hostess station is a neat little wooden console just hanging off the wall. Very functional, but not to large. Okay, I,m sure you would rather hear about the food. Here's what we ate.
Edamame. Stacey always orders these. Steamed and salted. I have started eating them, but could do without. I would rather use the space in my gut for something like pork or fried fish or you know. Of course we ordered sushi. Unagi, a spicy tuna hand roll and a sushi roll they called Naruto Maki.
The hand roll and the Naruto Maki were great, right away even going back to the Edamane, we realized the food was really fresh. That's what made the sushi so good. It was presented no different then most places, but it was all very fresh. The Unagi was the only dish we had that wasn't real good. I don't know if it was a freshness thing or the fact that the Unagi was not warmed properly. At least not the way I liked it.
Then we had some other dishes, off the izakaya menu. We had Scallops in a beurre blanc sauce that was made with wasabi, very good. We had Haru Maki, spring rolls, good, but there was more interesting stuff we should have tried. Goyza, a plate of steamed dumplings, very good steamed dumplings. Pork filled!
Stacey had a specialty drink made with Shochu. Shochu was described by the waitress as vodka like. She also said that Miso was the only restaurant in Atlanta to have this Japanese liquor.
It was mixed with cucumber and lemongrass. Very refreshing, kinda Pims cup like. I had a vodka martini and it was fine.
Like you just read this was a really good meal. the room was beautiful and the service real good as well. Our total, which I thought was a really good deal, was $62.90, before tip. So go eat at Miso Izakaya, it is a great dining experience.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
It's BLT season around my house. We have had BLT's for lunch or dinner 3 or 4 times a week now for a few months. Since tomato's have been ripe anyway. Last night, after a bike ride to the local farmers market, we sat on the front porch and sipped our cocktails and discussed dinner. We do this almost every night. During the summertime we run our kitchen like any good restaurant, we eat whats in season and what looks good at the market. We cook less since so much produce needs not be cooked and also to keep the heat in the house to a minimum. We do not have a vent hood over the stove. We will soon. I never realized how much they help.
Anyway, we decided on BLT's for dinner. We had just bought some beautiful, small ciabatta loaves. They were baked at the Holman Finch Bakery and we were lucky to find them at a southside farmers market. We had a hand full of Zebra tomato's I picked up at the Serenbe Market this past Saturday. I love the Zebra tomato's, green and yellow striped skin with that good acid taste.
So Stacey went to work. Pine Street bacon. Click here to check out the site, really good bacon, from a local guy. The ciabatta, smeared on one side with mayo and the other side got wasabi mayo. The wasabi mayo came from Trader Joe's, if ya don't know it check it out here. She then added the tomato's and some basil I had grown, then the part where she tried to kill me.
That's right she tried to kill me. What SHE did was take thin slices of a pork roast that had been stuffed with a pork sausage dressing and added that to pork bacon she had already layered on the sandwich. As I bit into this lushious, fat ladened, cholesterol bomb I could feel my blood flow slow down. My heart skipped a few beats and I fell to the floor. Lucky for me I looked up just in time to catch my falling sandwich. I also caught a glimpse of Stacey, looking at me and I knew she was thinking, "finally, I've done it, death by pork, no one will ever know. I'll collect all the insurance money". That's what she was thinking when I caught the BLT and laying on the floor I took a bite, then another and another til I finished that sandwich. I then stood up and looked Stacey in the eye and I told her, "you might slow me down, but you can never kill me with pork".
Then I kissed her and thanked her for the wonderful sandwich.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I think my scars give me strength. I look at them and of all the memories they bring on, pain is not the only thing that comes to mind. I know most of the scars are the result of something painful, but that's not what I remember. So it let's me know pain is fleeting, it's usually quick and hardly ever as bad as expected. This has helped me deal with painful medical procedures many times over.
The size of the scar has nothing to do with the amount of pain realized in getting the scar. I have a scar on my chest that is the size of a match head. What gave me that scar was one of the most painful experiences of my life.
I was not well, really, really not well. I needed a bone marrow transplant to heal. Well before you can have a bone marrow transplant you have to undergo total body radiation and a bunch of chemo. Basically they almost kill you. The doctors want you and your immune system so weak that your body has no choice but to accept the new bone marrow. But really that's another story. I just wanted to tell you about the tiny scar left from the catheter put in my chest so they could administered all these drugs and check your blood a hundred times a day without sticking you with a needle each time. So they rig a catheter into a vein in your chest. It's real cool, you get to live with a plastic tube sticking out of you chest for a while. For me it was about 2 months.
Getting the catheter is no big deal. Getting the catheter remover was the most painful thing in my life and I have a tiny scar to remind me. It reminds me that when the guy went to remove the catheter it had "grown" in. It wasn't coming out the usual way. I'm not sure what the usual way is, but I could tell by the look on the face of the guy trying to remove it that we had a problem. Well I had the problem. The guy removing the catheter told me to hold on and BAM. That bastard! He pulled the catheter out like you would start a lawn mower. I cried for days.
Monday, August 10, 2009
French Quarter. It became the classic "underground" restaurant, featuring good food at reasonable prices in an off-the-beaten-path location. Despite the modest surroundings, it was compared favorably to the grand New Orleans restaurants such as Brennan's, Antoine's, and Commander's Palace. In addition to receiving rave reviews from the local food critics, Chez Helene also caught the attention of national food writers such as R.W. "Johnny" Apple of The New York Times and Calvin Trillin.  The restaurant served haute creole dishes like Oysters Rockefeller as well as down-home items like stuffed bell pepper, fried chicken livers, and mustard greens. His aunt retired in 1975 and sold the restaurant to Leslie.
Despite its commercial and culinary success, the North Robertson neighborhood became unsafe. Cab drivers would not travel to the area, and hotel concierges would no longer recommend the restaurant. Leslie moved his business to the French Quarter and opened a branch in Chicago. He also tried his hand at running a number of fried chicken outlets. But the new location did not have the same charm as the original and Leslie eventually closed Chez Helene in 1995 after thirty years of operation. After closing the Chez Helene he wrote and published the cookbook Creole-Soul.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
The other morning I woke up and enjoyed a delicious Martini. Vodka please, ice cold, just a little bit dirty and straight up. That's how I drink them. I usually have them in the early evening, but when I woke this particular morning I went to the spot in the kitchen where the coffee station is set up and without thinking mixed a Martini, turned on the A.M. news, sat back and drank my Martini.
When I finished I was drunk. It was about 7:30 in the morning and I was drunk. See the problem is this. The coffee stuff in our kitchen is at one end of the counter and the cocktail stuff is at the other. The night before Stacey cleaned the Martini shaker and placed it at the coffee station. So I called her at work to discuss it. She SAID she just made a mistake, but I was drunk and thought otherwise. Yes, I was drunk and she was mad and that made me mad cause as far as I was concerned it was her fault. I told her, talking like I had a mouth full of marbles, I told her "you can't put the shaker next to the coffee and not expect the worst". She just hung up on me. So I called her back. She threatened to kill me when she got home and hung up on me. So I called her back. She threatened to never come home and hung up on me. So I called her back. I called her back 20 times that day. She said she would divorce me and take all my money and hung up on me. I called her back and told her "bring it on, I ain't scared and all I got is twenty dollars".
When Stacey got home that evening I made sure to have a nice cold cocktail waiting for her.
HF also specializes in cocktails. Cocktails at HF are treated with the same care given to the food. The Bar Chefs, 3 of them are the owners/operators at HF, are the best in the industry. Mixers are made fresh everyday, the best ingredients are sourced out, same as food and the drinks are mixed with the care and preciseness of a chemist.
Here is what we enjoyed at HF last Saturday.
Resurgens Cocktail - peach infused rye whiskey, Noilly Prat Sweet Vermouth + house made cola bitters
The Usual - Amaro Cio Ciaro, fresh grapfruit, Regan's orange bitters + sparkling gruner veltliner
A bottle of Duck Rabbitt Porter
Dogfish Head IPA on tap
Roasted Veal Sweetbreads
arugula with hog jowl and brown butter
Fried Rabbit Livers
soft grits and chow chow
cream sauce with pork belly and bread
Cornmeal Fried Oysters
adam's family remoulade and lemon
Pork Belly Sliders
with summer garden slaw