Dear Chef Bourdain;
I see you’re a redditor, too! You’re taking questions on a forum on reddit.com, and will answer the top ten in a video.
I’ve chimed in – wanting to know if you’ve checked out this site yet or not. Sure, it’s shameless traffic-whoring, but in my defense, you’d be traffic-whoring for your cookbook, too! Any fellow redditors who stumbled in here, let say straight off the bat, get yourself the Les Halles Cookbook, and learn a whole slew of fast recipes that will seriously up your cooking game.
I started last November cooking every single recipe in the book. Since then I’ve finished 57 of them, which puts me exactly halfway through the 114 total. I’ve got just over four months to do the other half, which is going to be tough – but I’m ready to up my game and get crackin’.
Hope your reddit experiment is a success, Chef!
Dear Chef Bourdain;
I’m down to the last half of the recipes in the book. Of course I took a lot of the low-hanging fruit for the first half, guts night notwithstanding. Now I’m trying to find the stuff for some of the harder-to-find ingredients.
Fuck you and your veal, Chef. Seriously, there’s no single ingredient that you use more than veal. You know, people don’t eat a lot of veal these days, have you noticed? Trying to find the more exotic cuts, most butchers are happy to oblige – if I buy a half a metric ton of it. And the dirty looks I get from other people when I ask for veal – you’d think it was THEIR baby I wanted to serve up on a platter. (Which would probably be fine with my wife.)
Frickin’ veal, chef! Why couldn’t you have gone nuts with like..chicken or pork chops or something?
Dear Chef Bourdain;
I’ve never had much reason to celebrate Father’s Day in the past. Without getting bogged down in therapeutic self-revelation, let’s just say my actual father is a shitbird who was far better gone than present, and the nearest analogue I had (my grandfather) was really careful to remind me in many ways that he was not my father and I shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking of him that way. So what a strange feeling it was to have a father-figure (my now father-in-law) who is not only worthy of respect and admiration, but also almost universally well-liked. This is the kind of guy you really don’t mind going an extra mile for on Father’s Day. Or, for fuck’s sake, any day, but certainly this one in particular.
So what do you make for Father’s Day, chef? Sorry, but the fussier French dishes in Les Halles Cookbook don’t really cut it. I wanted the kind of food that guys typically crave, but infrequently get unless they make it for themselves. Knowing also that my father-in-law has a perhaps strange obsession with coleslaw and corn-on-the-cob, I found more recipes in Ad Hoc At Home than in your book. But I didn’t want to bail on the project entirely, especially since I’m falling a little behind my goal of getting the whole thing done in a year.
So I settled on vichyssoise as a starter. It’s been quite warm lately, so a cold soup seems like a good idea. I decided to smoke some beef ribs (beef being his particular but not-oft-indulged favorite) and make coleslaw, corn-on-the-cob with lime salt and butter emulsion, and asparagus with poached eggs and smoked garlic-sausage. I spent the day before rubbing the ribs and letting them marinate, making the vichyssoise, and for the first time making my own sausage.
Nathan from Ikillit.com helped me with the sausage-making as well as the beer-drinking. He wouldn’t have any of the pork sausage, but we also made chicken and apple sausage, and since he’s murdered and dressed a chicken, that he could have. You know that expression “you don’t want to see the sausage being made”? Well, it’s not quite true. Really, you don’t want to see the cleanup. It’s fucking gruesome. There were literally gobbets of raw ground meat hanging from the wall, the cabinets, the counters…yikes, man.
Anyway, after the effort of making and packing the sausage (not a euphemism) knocking out the vichyssoise was no big deal. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m already planning my next batch of sausage, because it was really, really good. Good and fresh and lively in the way that lets you know what you’ve been missing with store-bought stuff. Next up, I think? Duck, plum and ginger sausages. (I’m not working off of recipes, I’m just improvising. It’s sausage, you can do that.)
So I chopped and sweated the leeks, then added the potatoes. Simmer in chicken stock – and then carefully – CAREFULLY – pureed, and combined with cream and seasoning. I brought it to a simmer without letting the cream burn. Then it just goes into an ice-bath and put in the fridge overnight when it’s thoroughly cool. In the middle of all the smoking, cabbage-chopping, corn boiling and so forth – it was a relief to be able to just portion the vichysoisse into mini-cocottes and serve when everyone arrived.
One mistake I made though, when seasoning I misjudged how much salt was in my salt cellar and just dumped it in. That horrible “Oh shiiiiiii…..” moment didn’t stop my other hand from stirring, thus keeping me from actually sifting the salt out. The result, it was a bit too salty. But that’s my fault, definitely not the recipe.
Dinner was a hit, I think – and the low-fuss starter course is part of what let me get it all out together. I’ll keep this in mind for future events, or just if I end up with a crap-ton of leeks for some reason.
I hope you had a great Father’s Day too, chef – though if your daughter isn’t making you man-feasts yet, clearly it’s your fault for failing to properly motivate her.
Happy Father’s Day;
Dear Chef Bourdain;
What do you call this sort of new movement in cuisine, that takes the tradition and heritage of classic dishes, and updates them with a healthy dose of attitude; all with a lot of love and respect? Badass Gourmet? I think of it is as “New Old School” when I try to describe it to friends and other foodies. And I found the Mecca for the New Old School in the UK - Butchershop Bar & Grill, in Glasgow, Scotland.
I’m back from honeymoon and already cooking, but I had to take a second to tell you about this joint. My (now) wife and I were headed for the Kelvingrove Museum and half-starved from driving across a significant chunk of Scotland. Without anything to go on other than the exterior, we randomly pulled over and checked it out – but as soon as the owner, James, sat us down and gave us a menu, I was in love. The menu is all about the good stuff – classic cuts of steaks, you name it. We started with a parfait of chicken liver and pate de fois gras that was out of this world – like butter made from animals. I mean, butter is made from animals, but I mean – shit man, you know what I mean.
For mains, I had a cote de beouf. I know you have it at Les Halles all the time, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it anywhere. James was happy to chat about his menu, and confessed that they nearly always have it, but took it off the menu because it didn’t move, but if it’s a special – everyone orders it. My wife ordered lamb’s liver, and it was succulent, earthy and decidedly lamby – perfectly prepared, beautiful ingredients. Weird – we saw lamb everywhere we went, but it was almost never on the menu; an affront to my wife who loves to eat anything innocent. I guess if the Scots were eating their lamb, though, they wouldn’t all have been gamboling around the meadows like they were.
Later in our trip we ate at some famous and highly regarded restaurants, like The Witchery in Edinburgh, but none of them held a candle to the Butchershop. If you’re ever in Glasgow again, Chef – drop in on James; he’s larger than life and his restaurant is a beautiful homage to classic steak houses with a bit of a rock-and-roll attitude. Something tells me you’d like that!