Archive for the ‘Maundering’ Category

Carmageddon Bourdain-a-thon

July 8, 2011 3 comments

Los Angeles Carmageddon, July 16-17

Hey Chef Bourdain;

I don’t know if you spend much time in Los Angeles, but we’ve got this little thing going on the locals are calling ‘carmageddon’. It might be a little dramatic, but only by a skosh.  they’re shutting down the 405 on the weekend of July 16th, which basically means that all of Los Angeles is going to descend into a sort of cross between the Old Testament and Mad Max.  You know, where wandering tribes of scavengers evade the wrath of angry God? It’s like that, plus with smog.

So my plan is to stay the fuck off the roads. Since I’m pretty far behind on my schedule to finish every recipe in your book inside a year, I’m going to take this opportunity to make ALL  THE THINGS.



Well, all the things I can find ingredients for, anyway. So my plan is this – I’ll work from home on Friday and start cooking.  There might be some drinking, too.  We’re going to watch as many old episodes of No Reserevations as I can stream. Which is nearly all of them. For the entire weekend, I’m going to cook, cook, cook. I don’t know if I can catch up or not, but I’m going to give it the old college try. No, fuck that, Chef – my college tries were pretty half-assed. Well, except after the Army. But anyway – I’mna cook the shit out of ALL THE THINGS.

Anyone who is stranded by Carmageddon and doesn’t want to take their chances evading the wrath of an angry god and wasteland scavengers is welcome to come over for all or some of it – There will definitely be something to eat. Whatever we don’t eat, we’ll freeze or give away. This is probably a  make-it-or-break-it proposition, if I don’t get caught up, or at least mostly caught up, it’s going to be progressively harder to do so  before the deadline. (November 1st, 2011, for the record.)

So Chef – or any other neighborinos, stop on by for the Carmageddon Bourdain-A-Thon. Though, if for some strange reason you actually show up, we’ll just play loud punk music instead of making you watch your own show, ok?


Chef Bourdain on Reddit

June 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain, and me!

Dear Chef Bourdain;

I see you’re a redditor, too! You’re taking questions on a forum on, 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!


Categories: Maundering

Wedding Hiatus

May 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Dear Chef Bourdain;

Well I meant to catch up on all the back entries of stuff I’ve made, but best laid plans and all that. I’m getting married this weekend (speaking of best laid…) and that’s been a whole big thing to organize.

I’m cooking a whole pig! Actually I don’t have the faintest idea how to do it, and I wish I had your advice. But I figure I’ve got a whole locally raised heritage pig, and a big fire. When pig and fire get together, it’s a beautiful marriage, right?

So that’s what I’m shooting for. I hope my lack of rotisserie and/or pit doesn’t trip me up too much. After everything’s done, we’re off for a little adventure around Ireland and the U.K., so I’ll be back to writing in June.

I know you got the invite, so hopefully we see you there! We’ve got 100 guests dressed like pirates, 150 bottles of wine, gallons of rum, and a pig.

What could go wrong, Chef?

Categories: Maundering Tags: , ,

We Meet At Last!

May 2, 2011 3 comments

Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain, and me!

Dear Chef Bourdain;

It was an honor to meet you and Chef Ripert last night! I saw your lecture in Santa Barbara. Tickets to the event were a wedding gift from my fiancee’s cousin Hannah and her boyfriend Nic, himself a chef once upon a time. Being regulars at your favorite restaurant, they had secret intelligence that you might be there later that night. I had hoped to attend the after party at Joe’s Cafe, but Jesus Harold Hopping Christ, Chef, it was $250.00 a head to get in. And for what? Cocktails and canapes? For that much, it better come with a blow job and a framed picture of the occasion. And when it comes to blow jobs, I’m afraid I’m all booked up. So dropping a grand to get the four of us in for bad food and watery drinks was just out of the question. You’re a cool dude, Chef, but you’re not a thousand dollars cool.

Happily our strategem worked. We killed some time getting a drink and wandering around, and when we came to the restaurant, voila – there you were! I’m mindful of the fact that you weren’t at the (egregiously overpriced) public reception for a reason, presumably to enjoy a quiet dinner without being hounded by fans. Still, Chef, I couldn’t let the opportunity to say hello go by. I’d brought with a folder with a printout of the picture from the infamous Guts Night to prove that we’d really done it, as well as a printout of that entry. But we put into the hands (with help from Hannah) of the organizers at UCSB, so I have no idea if you ever got it. (Also included, wedding invitation. But hey, you knew you were invited, right?)

Anyway, one way or the other, you got this URL if you’re reading this, so it worked! Thanks also for taking a minute to chat about this project with me. And In Re: Julie Powell – I had no idea about the whole “Julie/Julia” thing before I started this dealio. As a matter of fact, I was poking around for a recipe from Dave Chang‘s Momofoku cookbook and found a funny, interesting blog called “Momofoku For 2” – where the author, Steph, cooks her way through Momofoku. I had no idea this was an idea that had been done to death. So, hey, sorry to be treading well-trodden ground. But you know what? Fuck Julie Powell. I went back and read that book, and she’s smug, self-absorbed, and as neurotic as fuck. Personally, I will cop only to being smug. Maybe a little neurotic. I had the happy privilege of meeting Julia Child on the day her kitchen was opened at the Smithsonian, I just happened to be there, and I stood in line and shook her hand, and thanked her for a lot of the recipes that my family enjoyed in my youth. This was, by the way, a filthy lie – my mother and grandmother were terrible cooks who were more suited for operating a microwave than anything else, and wouldn’t know a braise from a raisin. Except gravy – my Grandma rocked the gravy. Her gravy was the shit.

Anyway Chef, here I am. Friday night I finished my 50th recipe from your book, and already I’ve accomplished some of what I set out to do. I learned how to make a proper sauce, something that’s always eluded me in the past. I’ve learned a passel of great  French recipes – and no joke – most of them in your book are absolutely excellent, and a few are goddamn life-changing.  Like poulet roti, the first. I had no idea chicken could be that good. It was the first pan sauce I made, and the first in a series of realizations about how to take great ingredients and make them shine.

So thanks for taking a bit to talk to me. Your rilletes recipe needs some work, Chef. And listen, if you don’t dig this whole project, I have “no reservations” (see what I did there?) about registering, ok?

And most of all, fuck Julie Powell!


Categories: Maundering

Superbowl Sunday

February 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Dear Chef Bourdain;

Tomorrow is the superbowl. I’m having people over, and for the third year in a row, I’m making “the Bacon Explosion“. (The first one was the plain vanilla Bacon Explosion – the second one was the Bacon Explosion Wellington With Cheese, and this year, the Bacon Explosion Lite.)

I wanted to make something from the Les Halles Cookbook, but to be honest, nothing really suits the occasion. So it’s good ol’ American junk food for us – ribs, atomic buffalo turds, chili dogs, nachos,  and of course – The Bacon Explosion Lite.

I hope you’re having all fancy and sophisticated and stuff!


Categories: Maundering

Grandma’s Secret Recipe

January 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Dear Chef Bourdain;

I really needed an antidote from the Tripes Les Halles. Plus MLF is down with some sort of hideous grippe for the past couple of days, leaving her groaning on the couch. I’m not going to say it’s related to ingesting the offal – but for sure she needs some kind of comfort food. So while poking around in the local supermarket I remembered the easiest, best comfort food I know – my grandma’s secret recipe for Chicken n’ Dumplings.

The truth is my grandmother, a woman of the deep South, was not a very good cook. You wouldn’t know it from hearing her talk, as she was pretty sure Julia Child could have learned a thing or two from her. But she only believed in two spices – salt and pepper, and even pepper was kind of shady. A man who liked too much pepper on his food? That’s not a man to be trusted. But salt – pour it on there like it’s slug Auschwitz.

But Grandma did have a few recipes in her wheelhouse – and those one she rocked. Chief of all of these, was her chicken n’ dumplings. It was the kind of comfort food that you could feed a crying woman who’d just watched her only baby drown, and she’d settle down, snuffle a little, and ask for seconds. In her 80’s one day, she wasn’t feeling well and went to the same family doctor she’d had for almost 50 years of her life. They rushed her off to the hospital, and discovered she had stage 3 stomach cancer. Later that night she lapsed into a coma. The family gathered, like you do when someone is down and maybe not getting back up. While reminiscing, I confessed to my Aunt that if I ever ended up on death row, I wanted Grandma’s chicken ‘n dumplings for my last meal. She didn’t have her recipe. I didn’t either. We checked the family recipe book, and nothing there, either.

My grandmother regained consciousness the next day, but it was clear she was terminal, and all we could do was make her comfortable. I went to see her. She was faint, and wispy. and very, very still – but she was entirely present, her mind unclouded, her eyes clear. And I remembered to ask – “Grandma, where is your chicken ‘n dumplings, recipe?”

She said, “Oh honey, it’s just from the back of the Bisquick box.” So that was Grandma’s secret recipe.

It’s simmering on the stove right now. MLF says it smells like her grandmother’s house. She said the same thing about the guts, but she meant it in an entirely different way.

There’s comfort and home and family simmering on the stove right now. I’ll never lose Grandma’s secret recipe. How could I? It’s on the back of the box. I’ll never lose my grandma, either. When I breathe spirit into my new family, into my home; it’s her spirit I’m breathing, and her gift that I’ll never stop receiving. Food is the soul. Food is the heart. Food is the love we share with our families.


Categories: Maundering

Blood and Guts Extravaganza

January 10, 2011 2 comments

Dear Chef Bourdain;

Just as your recipe in the book says, I got some funny looks while gathering the ingredients for “Tripes Les Halles”. There’s a Mexican grocery in Pasadena called “Super King” where they sell pretty much every part of the animal imaginable, and some far closer to unimaginable.  One of the butchers there actually argued with me, “No, you don’t want to eat that.” But I do!

I didn’t convince them to give me a pig’s heart – and I had to pantomime a beating heart to convince them I really meant it, even though “corazon de puerco” was, I thought,  close enough to correct to be understandable. When they realized what I wanted, they said, “No, no no, we don’t sell that. No.” So yeah, no pig’s heart for me. But when I convinced them I really did want the ears, both kinds of tripe, and some calves feet, I figured I was ready.

So this is also an invitation to any L.A. area culinary adventurers who are ready to really try something unusual – I’m starting the three day process on Thursday, and I’ll be serving up Tripes Les Halles on Saturday night. If you’ve got the stomach and the palate for it – drop me a line, and you’re welcome to join us. Take some comfort in this, bold eaters, at least there’s no snout.

More pictures to come soon;


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