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How do you say “chicken of the gods” in French?

October 25, 2010 6 comments

Dear Chef Bourdain;

Initial results are on the side of your cookbook being frickin’ amazing. While cooking up some veal stock, I made my first recipe from your book, poulet roti. I’ve roasted a lot of chickens in my day, and I thought Alton Brown’s “40 cloves and a chicken” was about as good as it gets. But this was so simple, so fast, and so amazingly good. Nathan and I had to force ourselves not to bolt the whole thing down when we sat down to eat, or my lovely fiancee would have had none. Eventually we found ourselves refusing to get up from the table, but using buttered bread to sop up the last bits of gravy and jus.

Seriously, Tony, if I can use your first name – that was some goddamn delicious chicken. The recipe is so easy, the ingredients so readily available, I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t have this sonnet of chickeny deliciousness all the time – but if this little project does anything to sing the praises of your methods, maybe I’ll have gotten us a little closer to a world full of perfect roasted chickens. We took pictures and videos, so you can see at least the beautiful golden brown of the skin, the deep amber of the gravy, and the ridiculousness of following your instructions about pre-cooking chicken-yoga. I’ll post all those soon enough, but what you’re missing is the divine aroma and the piquant, deep, complex flavor of the chicken. But what am I saying – it’s your cookbook, of course you’ve had it!

Thanks for an amazing meal, Chef Bourdain. More details to follow!

Davy

P.S. The stock turned out quite well, too!

P.P.S.: Here’s a picture of the finished chicken, resting before we made the gravy.

Chicken of the gods

Chicken of the gods

Categories: Eating

Stock Day

October 21, 2010 4 comments

Dear Chef Bourdain;

I know, I said my next post would be some sweet, sweet knife-porn. Which isn’t anywhere as dirty as you’d think. In fact, somebody somewhere just googled their way into something a *lot* different than what they were looking for. Anyway, this isn’t about knives, it’s about stock.

I’ve always used the stuff that comes in those flimsy waxed boxes, but the once or twice I’ve made my own stock,  it was palpably better; and that was just chicken. So I’m …somewhat excited that this coming Sunday is going to be stock and demi-glace day. I’m going to make some chicken stock, and dark veal stock. I’ve only got one stock pot big enough, so for one day that’s enough. Oh, and some demi-glace, too.

Unusually for Los Angeles, it’s been cool and rainy this week. This is what we’d call Winter weather, but anywhere would be like…early Fall. But that’s pretty much perfect for making a good soup. My woman will be off at a baby shower for her sister-in-law, so it’ll just be me and Assistant Chef  Bourdain (my dog) in the house making stock and drinking the left over wine. I’m going to start the day at the Venice farmer’s market to look for some good, locally sourced veggies in season, too. Maybe they’ll have some veal bones, too – but if not, the local Whole Foods does. I have mixed feelings about Whole Foods – they do have some good ingredients, but they’re heavily priced and owned by a deep Right Wing Libertarian who stands for almost everything I’m against.

But hey, any business is owned, by definition, by either a corporation or a business-owner, almost all of whom have a vested interest in making a profit and relatively few in being responsible community partners. So I’m just going to get the best stuff I can get wherever I can get it, and try my best to get it local and in-season. Fortunately California has an awful lot of really amazing stuff locally. In your book you sneer at Californian strawberries, but I have to say, we grow a mean berry out here, and they only have to come from Ventura, which is the next county over. Local enough for me!

I’m also going to grow my own thyme and parsley. Well, I say “I” but what I really mean fiancee, who unlike me is capable of growing more than just a cactus or succulent, unlike me. Her parents have a bay tree in their yard, too, so we have all the fresh bay leaves we might ever need. And that’s what I need to make “bouqet garni” which is in, I might point out, every damn recipe in your book. What’s up with that? I mean, if there’s going to be one thing in everything I make, it would probably be garlic.

But you, sir, are the chef. So I’ll do it your way and see how it turns out. Especially the parts where it says “and drink excessive amounts of good burgundy”. I’ll have to just brace myself, and do as you instruct.

Into your hands, I commend myself, Chef – now let’s fuckin’ cook!

Davy

(again, obligatory f-bomb.)

Reading the Book

October 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Dear Chef Bourdain;

Thanks to the good graces of Amazon, I got the hardbound edition of your book delivered to my house yesterday. In the evening, and when inevitably I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get back to sleep, it made good reading.

Initial observations – I’m going to be eating a crapload of mussels, apparently. You have at least five recipes for mussels. I think that’s going to be the hard part for me, since I don’t really like mussels, and vaguely fear them- my mother developed a spontaneous and deathly allergy to them in her 30’s, despite loving them all her life. But I’m in this to follow through, dagnabbit, so mussels I shall eat.

On another note, Chef – I’ll be quoting your book here, but I’m not going to reproduce your recipes in whole. There’s the obvious legal reasons; while quoting for the purpose of criticism is clearly “fair use” and legal – flat out copying them  isn’t criticism, it’s just reproduction.  (Not that kind of reproduction, sicko.) Also, I figure it’s probably  not just you, Chef Bourdain, that’s reading this. Actually, I figure you’re not reading this at all. Who, then, am I talking to? Mysteries abound. Maybe I’ll start calling the dog “Chef Bourdain” and just solve the problem!

Anyway, to anyone else who is reading this and following along – get the book! Here it is, Les Halles Cookbook, on Amazon.com. Either that, or contrive to have yourself invited over for dinner. I understand the cook takes good wine as bribes.

Next up, I’m going to talk about knives, as well as start to pick my first few recipes and look for ingredients.

Regards;

Davy

Categories: Maundering

What I Haven’t Got

October 13, 2010 2 comments

Dear Chef Bourdain;

The first and most obvious thing I haven’t got is your book yet. This whole thing sprung from my head, Athena-like,  yesterday. It was a good idea and I’m excited, but not so good that I was going to get off my ass and drive to a bookstore or something. Especially since I was recently stung by a stingray, and walking is still neurotoxiliciously painful. But Amazon will drop “Les Halles” for me tomorrow, and I can start research from the primary source.

My kitchen is pretty well equipped, in a typical kitchen kind of way. The usual stove and range; (mental note, clean bacon grease from bottom of stove so the fire alarm stops going off, and this is no longer necessary. Yes, that’s my fiancee waving an axe at the smoke detector to make it stop.)  plenty of counterspace, pots, pans, etc. Probably my most glaring deficiency (in the kitchen, goddamit) is my lack of a stand mixer. I imagine that one is going to literally hurt, since I’ll have to whisk by hand. It’s on the wedding registry though, so hey, maybe I’ll save the mixer-intensive stuff until after May.

Strangely, I don’t have a wire cooling rack. That one is pretty easy to rectify though, heck, they have them at the dollar store. I’m also missing a wooden spoon, because I broke it jamming plastic bags into a leather bottle I was making. Seriously, that happened.  I also don’t have a pastry bag, but again, that’s pretty easy to deal with, and I can probably put off the recipes with that as a requirement for later, anyway.

I note that one of the recipes will call for pheasant. Happily  my pal Nathan, over at Ikillit has discovered a nearby pheasant-hunting club, and the season starts relatively soon. We’re planning an epic expedition to hunt, kill, dress and cook our own pheasant, per your recipe. So technically that means a shotgun is a piece of kitchen equipment I’m missing. Somehow I imagine that you, Anthony Bourdain, would approve. You and Ted Nugent.

I think that’s it for equipment I’ll need, which is probably a relief to my crazy axe babe fiancee, who knows I tend to go a little nuts with hobbies, projects and equipment.

So let’s get fuckin’ cooking!

Davy

P.S. that f-bomb was totally obligatory. But I do feel obliged, you’re kind of a bastard that way, Chef.

Categories: Uncategorized

Another Fucking Food Blog

October 12, 2010 3 comments

Dear Anthony Bourdain;

I’ve talked about this project with my lovely fiancee, and she’s excited, too. Did I just start in media res? I think so, let me back up.  I’m going to cook every recipe from your book, “Les Halles Cookbook: Classic Bistro Cooking“, over the next year. I’m going to recruit assistants to taste, critique, eat and enjoy – but I’m going to cook every one of the 100+ recipes myself. I’m going to start with my first dinner on Monday, Nov 1st, and before we roll around to Nov. 1st, 2011, I’ll make everything you’ve got, even the weird stuff and the game recipes. You claim bistro style cooking is something any modestly skilled home cook can manage, and let me tell you, brother – I am a modestly skilled home cook!

So let’s see, Chef Bourdain, if your recipes and methods match up to your reputation. I love your writing, and I’m a big fan of “No Reservations” which is where I first became aware of your iconoclastic reputation. You’re a funny cat, Chef – you hate things with wild abandon, and then turn around and love things all in the same breath. I figure you’re onto something- draining life’s cup to the dregs and tasting every drop, the bitter and the sweet. So I’m in – and in a year, maybe I’ll have made some great meals, or maybe it’ll turn out your book is a crock, but I’ll probably be a better cook.

My fiancee and friends are enthusiastic about this at the moment, and if that weren’t true, I wouldn’t do it. It takes a mad loner to love to cook only for themselves. To me, that’s not what it’s all about – it’s really all about getting people you love around a table (or leaning against a counter in the kitchen, or in the case of my dog, watching my every move in the kitchen…) and give them something that you think is going to knock their socks off. It’s food; it’s crucial, it’s beautiful, it’s life and love and beauty and art all at once – what better thing to share?

I’ve got a lot of great people in my life, and I hope their enthusiasm for this project lasts till I’m done. If not, I’ll try not to blame you, Chef. I mean really, what do you care about what a middle-aged nerd in Los Angeles thinks? On the other hand, if it turns out amazing and they all rave – I’ll do my best to give you some credit. I’m a decent cook at the moment, with certain glaring weaknesses – principally sauces, really. We’ll see if your words and methods can take someone without any knife skills, without any professional experience, but a decent palate and a love of good food and irreverent writing – and turn them into a decent cook of French bistro cuisine.

Since this is a letter to you, Anthony Bourdaine, I feel obliged to drop an “f” bomb. So fuck yeah, let’s cue up the Ramones, break out the book, and get cooking!

Yours Fucking Truly;

Davy

Categories: Uncategorized
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