Friday, October 5, 2007

Some linakge for the long weekend

  • I haven't written much about this season of Top Chef. For a while, my poker game was rescheduled to Wednesday nights, and since I don't have a Tivo (my birthday is coming...hint, hint), I was forced to catch them at odd times. I did watch the finale, and I thought it was a great move on the part of the producers to pair the contestants with celebrity chefs for their final challenge. I wonder what the New York Times thinks about it, in light of this piece pointing out that celebrity chefs rarely cook anymore (at least not on screen)? (Thanks to Andy for the link.) Anyway, I thought Casey was a lead-pipe lock. I was wrong. She choked big-time in the finale, which opened the door for Hung, who put on a "See, I've got soul!" super push with his menu. But molten chocolate cake? That looked like something you could get at a Coffee Bean.

  • Two good recipes I tried this week that I thought I'd pass along. The first was Fried Cornmeal Shrimp with Butternut Squash Risotto. Risotto always seemed like the domain of seasoned chefs and kitchen masters. This might be because Angela Chase's dad had such a hard time making it on "My So-Called Life." I might seem like a prick right now, but I thought it was a snap. Okay, a snap might be a bit much, but it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Edan did the prep work, roasting the squash and marinating the shrimp because, like most celebrity chefs, I'm above doing the little things. After that, it was simply a matter of stirring in hot stock over and over again. Not exactly rocket science. The other recipe that turned out great was Tuscan Onion Soup, which apparently isn't up yet on Epicurious. It's a simple recipe, using white onions, chicken stock, white wine, rosemary, and a one tomato, seeded and diced. The kicker is the proscuitto crisps that go on top of the soup. It's a nice change of pace if you're tired of the French-style onion soup (but why would you be? It's so cheesy and good). Enjoy your holiday weekend, folks. Happy Indigenous Peoples Day!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

From the Annals of Too Much Free Time

Come these Cheez-it Coasters. I've never been big on Cheez-its, but if I were, I would absolutely spend the requisite time and money to make these babies. My coffee table is in terrible shape. (Thanks to EDAN! for the link!)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wine for Less (or maybe a little bit more)

I really like red wine. A lot. Probably too much. I probably like red wine as much as I hate reggae, which is a whole hell of a lot. The other day I found myself contemplating how much money I spend per year on red wine. I stopped when I got to the monthly figure. I vowed to cut back. But it's funny how much one day and two really good bottles of wine can change things.

After my trip to Mozza last Friday, I had a craving for Montelpulciano Quattro Mani, and I knew that Silverlake Wine carried it (It was there that I first discovered it). Now, Quattro Mani isn't that expensive ($7.50 a bottle), but once I was at the store, I couldn't stop with just one wine. I started looking around at all these bottles, most of which I'd never seen before. I usually buy wine at Trader Joe's because their prices are reasonable, and their selection is decent. But the selection is still limited, and sometimes it can get to feel stifling, like these are the only wines in the world. I'd decided a while ago that I was through with the lowest tier of TJ's wine -- the Two Buck Chuck's and what not -- and I've never regretted that decision. Spending $7 on a bottle of wine at Trader Joe's provides exponentially more value than cheeping out on the lowest of the low. Still, there are only so many wines in the $6-$8 price range that are acceptable, especially once one accounts for taste. For instance, I don't like Beaujolais ("The wine for people who don't like drinking wine!"), and Edan isn't crazy about a lot French wines, like Cote-du-Rhone, etc. You can see how this could limiting.

At the wine store, however, I found a bunch of new, exciting wines I'd never heard of, never tasted for roughly what I was willing to pay. I picked up something called a "Bistro red," which was an everything but the kitchen sink blend, called Hey Mambo. With my bottle of Quattro Mani, the total price was $18.00. Which isn't that bad. And neither was Hey Mambo. (One odd thing about Hey Mambo -- it didn't have a cork, it didn't have a synthetic cork, and it wasn't a screwtop. What held the wine in? A zork. This is the future, people. Buy stock.)

Why have I gone on this tangent? Well, the New York Times posted a list of great wines for under $10 (Thanks to Lisa for the link!). I like their list, and I've had some of them, but I do have one recommendation. They ought to publish little thumbnails of the labels next to each wine. With some of the foreign wines (Uruguayan reds, anyone?), I have trouble even finding the name. A label would be helpful. Maybe that's just me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

More Links, More Problems

If there are links, it must be Tuesday:
  • Middled may be a new blog, but it's finding its legs with this post about St. Louis' native pastry attraction, the gooey butter cake. I wish I could photograph as well as Ryan does. It's a talent. Also, having a digital camera that, you know, focuses must be nice.
  • Anthony Bourdain posted his "Overrated Menu" over at Radar (Thanks to Max for the linkage):
    "Mesquite-grilled Amish organic free-range chicken, served with Fijian mango chutney and accompanied by foraged mushrooms: It should never take longer to describe your dish than to eat it. Mango chutney was innovative when Bobby Flay did it in 1978. Foraged mushrooms? Amish chicken? Who gives a shit about who picked the mushrooms or if the people who raised the chicken wear bonnets?"
  • Here's my flash review of Pizzeria Mozza, Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton's mega-successful wood-fired pizza joint on Melrose: it's really good. Go try it. The fennel sausage pizza was divine (literally, otherworldly, supernatural), and the chicken liver, capers, parsley and guanciale bruschette keeps me up at nights. Also, they have one of my favorite cheap wines, Montelpulciano "Quattro Mani," available for a scant $7. Sit at the pizza bar, have some wine, and be thankful that Osteria Mozza opened, attracting all the celebrities, and opening up seats at the Pizzeria for you and me.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Couple of Links for Monday Morning

Since it's Monday morning, and I worked Saturday, I needed a little something extra to get me up and moving. I figured a few quick links might be just the thing.
  • Slate has a piece from Mike Steinberger about counterfeit wines, a growing problem and cause for concern amongst serious oenophiles. I felt pretty good about myself when I recognized most of the wineries he mentions in the article (Cheval Blanc, Petrus, Lefleur), but this feeling of pride dissipated as I remembered that I haven't tasted any of them. I recognize their names only because I moved hundreds of cases of fine wine last summer as part of an insane temp job (Buy me a glass of wine and I'll tell you about it sometime).
    Steinberger only briefly touches on what I think is the most interesting aspect of the story: wine-lovers' insecurities about their palettes. If they couldn't tell that the '47 Petrus they sipped was a fraud, what does it say about their supposed expertise?
  • Ever wonder what those Beggin' Strips you give your dog taste like (or have you eaten them yourself)? The Sneeze is the source for all the foods about which you're curious, but wouldn't necessarily like to eat. Like pigs feet. And breast milk. (Thanks to Apronite Ryan for the link)
  • I'm not sure what's going on in this picture, but I'm pretty sure Tommy Hottpants wore this to the last MisShapes party (Thanks to Apronite Doug for the link):

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Two Words: Um, Ewww.

Regular Apronites no doubt recall my fascination with fast food advertising. Well, last night I was watching a little MTV (reruns of "America's Next Top Model" are strangely soothing) when I saw this bad boy.

What the hell is that? Who thought this up? Did they really believe that this ad would make people want to eat this Oreo monstrosity? This is part of the new breed of fast food commercials that cast bland hipsters, and attempt to cash in on the last, agonizing death throes of irony. The girl who enters at the beginning of the commercial looks like she's wearing fake hair and might be in an Emo-core band. Meanwhile, the younger hipster guy has the same haircut Willie Aames rocked on "Eight is Enough."

And that white sauce they're drizzling over the top looks more than a little like semen. Good call, Dominoes advertising team! I'm starving for Oreo Dessert Pizza now.

Monday, August 27, 2007

In Case You're Bored with Me...

Our old friend, Ryan, who wrote about the many herring-based dishes of Russian cuisine for this blog, has started a new blog called Middled. Join him as he acclimates himself to life in the Midwest. Ryan is also looking for work, so help a brother out.