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From a Pigs Ear

Lately, for the past few years, or longer, the whole  “nose to tail”  eco~wave has reached a veritable crescendo. I’m not talking about a Green Day concert here either, just the entire “embrace of the PIG”  has gone completely overboard. Sustainable cuisine (took that class at the CIA in 1996!) farmed raised & seasonality, is all fine and good. It’s also how our ancestors had to live. Grow your own fruits & vegetables, raise cows, pigs, chickens. So, it’s really not anything new. Nothing in the food world is ever really “new”. Go back and read MaCuisine by Escoffier, or Lady Sarah Lindsay’s Choice Recipes from 1889. You’ll soon discover that most of what is being done today, was done 200 years ago, or longer.

On to the Pig! Now I love crispy bacon, pancetta ..blah blah blah as much as the next person, I just think its been “cooked” to death. Bacon shoved down our throats in every possible way imaginable. Candied, dipped in chocolate, in ice cream, on donuts, in martinis, on popcorn, and god knows how many other inane ways its being showcased.  Really people, its time to stop the madness.

I long for the days of a simple & absolutely delightful BLT. Yup. On toasted white bread. Please cut my crusts off, thank you. Nice smear of Hellman’s or Best Foods Mayo, crisp iceberg lettuce, garden tomato, 4 or 5 slices of Oscar Meyer Center Cut bacon. Nirvana. To guild the lily when you can, some tender pieces of butter poached maine lobster. Period. Heaven.

Back to my original train of thought, one of the newest “crazes” coming from the ever-present pig, is crispy pig tails. Has nothing to do with hair, though I fervently hope it’s a fad that dies out fast. We are getting close to having nothing left of the pig to tout. Ears, snouts, belly, bacon, now tails…Though I believe Laura Ingalls Wilder might have been the first to immortalize crispy pigs tail in prose in her book, Little House in The Big Woods, where she and Mary were given the pig’s tail on a stick to roast in the fire (she burned her finger in her excitement and haste) and enjoy, as there would not be another one until the next year when they butchered the hog, known today as a domesticated pig. Somehow me thinks, Hogs Tails or Crispy Hogs ears, might not fly on to many LA menus.

How come none of these new young chefs never seem to showcase a fresh ham,which in itself is an absolute wonder. Properly cooked that is. Or a classically made headcheese.

I think what im most peeved about, is that most new young chefs today, by that I mean anyone under 30, has no idea what is to “earn your stripes”. Toil in a kitchen. Apprentice for a European asshole who demeans you daily, and makes you not only a better chef, but a better person for it. Peel 100 pounds of carrots in to perfect, tourenous. Make a classic terrine. A Ballontine, all this nose to tail bullshit, we called it ” Charceutirie”.

I learned to kill a chicken, clean fresh cows tounge, gut a live kicking fish. Id love to know if any young chef today even knows what the 5 mother sauces are. It’s too “easy’ these days for young chefs, they buy a food truck or do a “pop up”for a few weeks and bang, they are on the chart. Doesnt mean they have talent, some have $$ behind them, or whore themselves out to silly TV food shows, doesn’t mean they can cook.

No, I hope the food world regains its senses, and soon. Where chefs who have worked and loved and have passion for their craft get the respect, not some ass wipe who can make a foam or dried out greasy fried chicken from a truck, all because they have a huge Twitter or Facebook following. May the humble pig, slowly go back to the farm and may Green Day always rock on.

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Here are some of my favourite new cookbooks, and some not so new, but all worth a look. Mostly for inspiration if nothing else, some for pure whimsy and some for a look into how other chefs think and their interpretation of the art of food.

1) Mugaritz ~ Andoni Luis Aduriz ~ simply pure genius

2) Modernist Cuisine at Home ~ Nathan Myhrvold ~ a must have

3) Elements of Dessert ~ Francico Migoya ~ inspirational & stunning

4) Japanese Farm Food ~ Nancy Singleton Hachisu ~ educational

5) Dirt Candy ~ Amanda Cohen~ whimsical, funny & awesome vegetables

6) In Pursuit of Excellence ~ Josiah Citrin ~ go eat at Melisse~ perfection

7) Street ~ Susan Feniger ~ travel inspiring & simply delicious

8) A Girl & Her Pig ~ April Bloomfield ~ charming, tasteful & fun

9) Mozza ~ Nancy Silverton ~ best pizza ever

10) Ludo Bites ~ Ludo Lefebvre ~ passionate frenchman, but brilliant

11) Southern Cooking ~ Bill Neal ~ every chef should own this

12) Lucky Peach ~ get your subscription, now

13) Beginnings ~ Chris Cosentino ~ good way to start a meal

14) The Little House Cookbook ~ original “nose to tail” & live off the land

Now this is only my “short” list, I received & perused many many more cookbooks during the past year, but these are “keepers”. Some books inspire, some give ideas or a new way to tweak or re-create a recipe, some are from restaurants that have food that is  just so damn tasty that you want to know, how did they make that! To me, that is the best kind of cookbook. Have fun, reading, cooking and taking it one step higher.

Such a great Beatles lyric” isn’t it good”?  I am refrencing Foie gras though the song “Norwegian Wood” has had it moments. It’s not only one of the best songs ever, it’s a wonderful book, Norwegian Wood, a 1987 novel by Haruki Murakami. Worth the read if you can find it! Ask nicely and I will happily loan you my copy, if you can read Japanese that is.

Sorry, I digress, as is my want,  so back to the bird. All this flapping going on about the inhumane treatment of ducks. This is very relevant in California right now, as you have only 2 days left to get your “foie” on. As of July 1st, kaput, nada, zip, forget it. It will be illegal to sell it. Though you still could buy it outside of California and serve it for free.  Give away a lovely torchon of foie gras, a crispy baguette, some apple calvados gelee. Nirvana. Just make sure to offer it with a glass of Tattinger, and be sure to charge $150 for the “tasting”. I would gladly get in that line.

The controversy being its inhumane to force feed ducks or geese. To fatten their livers. Stick a tube down their throats and feed them to the limit. Thusly enlarging their liver. Creating a delicacy craved by many. Though these band-standers who are doing all the hawking, flapping about this, don’t mention that ducks & geese have no gag reflex. None. It doesn’t hurt them. Now I have a few men friends who would be happy if their women didnt have that problem! LOL. JK..I have been reading 50 Shades of Grey, quite simply the worst penned load of shite on the planet. Seriously. But like a stupid duck most dont know any better. Never will.

This ridiculous ban actually started in 2003! One of the first chefs to feel its wrath was Laurent Manrique, whose home, business & car were targeted by animal rights activist, spray painting his home, tossing acid on his car, and flooding his new venture, “Sonoma Sauveur”. Incuring a loss of over $50,000.

This was downright terrorism, by Americans, on American soil, to an honest hard-working, upstanding chef. What a travesty. These “American” animal rights activist should be ashamed of themselves. Please, don’t these people have something better to do than get their knickers in a twist over one of the stupidest animals on the planet? We eat them. Whats next? No Eggs? No fried chicken? Where will it end? To ban burgers because cows aren’t happy? They cant roam freely? Cant take a nap when they want? Make burgers illegal? If that’s so, most of the restaurants in Los Angeles will lose 80% of their revenue.

I find this whole nonsense exactly that, nonsense. As for the powers that be, one can only hope this bullshit ban comes to an end. We are chefs, we are artists, our palate is food, whether its mooing, squawking, swimming, growing in the field, it all eventually comes together to create a great dish that ends up on your plate. We create. Cook. Present. Then one eats. Enjoys. Savours. Find a wow factor, and looks forward to the next meal that makes your mouth, tummy, psyche, mind go wow! I want to do that again. Now.

By depriving chefs of the ability to use foie gras is like taking the paint away from Leonardo Davincini, a piano from Beethoven, the film rights from Hitchcock, the pen from Ayn Rand. The music from Bernard Herrman. You get the jist. We are not floating in a lifeboat here, this is reality.

I am also ashamed of some of the high-end chefs in LA who support this ban, yet in the past have highlighted foie gras on their menus. Hippocrates. I will boycott your restaurants. You know who you are. Some have empires here in LA, others, little guys. Doesnt matter. You once highlighted foie, yet now you run as scared children. Shame on you.

Tomorrow it could be caviar, the eggs of a sturgeon,(omg, your eating an unborn baby), diver scallops, Kobe beef, black truffles (the pigs used to hunt them out) all food comes from a live source. So duck, duck goose. Put up a fight if you are a chef, or even just a gourmand who loves foie gras. Fight for your rights! Cue the Beastie Boys here, only not to party, but to eat and enjoy what you like.

You can still get your foie on tomorrow, Monsieur Marcel in the Grove sells it by the pound (über expensive, but worth it). Bouchon sells a terrine in the Bouchon Bakery in a lovely glass jar, $75, but hey, you’re not going to get it ever again! Plus you get to keep the cute glass jar. Dont know if its still on the menu, but HavenGastroPub in Pasadena has the most amazing Foie Gras Cheesecake.

It just might be the singular most wonderful delight I have ever put in my mouth.Thank you to Chef Greg Daniels and pastry chef Santanna Salas.

After Saturday one can hope these chefs will continue to make terrines, parfaits, cheesecakes, delicate bites, only using chicken livers. While we wait for this completely inane rule to be overturned. Til then D’Artagnan gourmet foods can hopefully help supply one with the luscious delicacy we are so unfairly be deprived of. http://www.dartagnan.com. You can buy it and have it shipped to California, but you cannot sell it.

Until then, source, travel, enjoy, order out of state, and if one of your favourite restaurants is having a “secret foie tasting” support them, no matter the cost. You will get it back in spades..or terrines, or parfaits.

I will never give up on foie even though I am moving back to CT / NYC..its  the heart beat of many a chef. Keep  it thumping.

To Live, Love & Leave LA

Oh LA, how I do love you. This has been one of the best years of my life. Meeting amazing people, cooking for celebrities, lunches at Spago, concerts at the El Rey, Avalon, Wiltern, Music Box, Staples Center, most with VIP passes. Awesome stuff. TV tapings, Two Broke Girls, Jeopardy, Craig Ferguson, Conan!! Seeing Chicago with Christie Brinkley at the Pantages, Elaine Page in Follies at the Ahmanson. and the Broadway production of Green Days American Idiot ( it was passable). But Broadway its not and concerts lack a certain “bonding” Continue Reading »

Well we have now been in LA for 8 months what a wonderful time
they have been. I may never look back. We’ve been to art exhibits at LACMA, MOCA, Skirball, LAOC westside food & chamber music series, concerts, walks on the beach, finding fun & funky shops, hitting farmers markets and my getting my 1st tattoo. I confess to wanting another. Now. There is just an endless plethora of things to do, discover and enjoy life to its fullest.

Upcoming : Susan Feniger at LAOC, The Wombats at the El Rey, The “Rock” at LACMA, dinner at Gary Menes pop up LeComptoir in DTLA, Green Days American Idiot, which I saw 3x on broadway, The Follies with Elaine Page, Chicago with Christie Brinkley, and oh snap.. so much more. I am loving it. But not so much as I am loving discovering LA food. CoolCulinaryLA destinations.

This has been serious fun, and has helped me as a chef to better understand this city what Angelenos like to eat. Some casual, some upscale, some pretentious, some simply delicious and lots of hidden gems. So without further ado, here is my current list of loves in LA. You can google the destination, though for right now most are on the west side, as I reside in Cheviot Hills, nestled between Century City, Beverly Hills, Culver City & Westwood. I think I will stay awhile :).

CoolCulinary”s LA picks:

My top fav would have been Mako on South Beverly, but my friend Mako San lost his lease but is still creating casual nibbles at Robata-ya on Sawtelle. Give it a look.

Spago: Beet salad, tuna cone, pizzas, salads, and of course Sherry Yards amazing desserts. Timeless classic, get there and eat before he closes to reinvent the wheel.

Craft: Open your wallet and enjoy.

Bouchon: Moules frites & foie gras terrine.

Hatfields: Quinn hatfileds delicious but oh so very pretentious food.

Waterloo & City: Great gastropub, fantastic happy hour, and a kick ass punk rock soundtrack. Me likes.

Akasha: Healthy meets haute. Wine Wednesday.

The Six: Calm, quite, amazing food. Someone in the kitchen spent serious time in france, trust me I know. Order the mushroom toast or steak frites.

City Tavern: Beyond a doubt LA’s BEST burger (sorry Fathers office) and the cheesy poofs are a must. Chef Jessica is a wonder.

Gjelina: Pizza & butterscotch pot de creme.

The Farm of Beverly Hills: Sat/Sun brunch, 2 items only: Country Benedict or peanut butter stuffed french toast w/ caramel sauce.

The Nosh of Beverly Hills: When I need my new york city jewish deli fix, it’s not 2nd ave, but it will do. Cantners runs a close 2nd. Langners the best but to far a drive for a quick fix.

Cut: Simply amazing steak, ok one that will break the bank.

Son of a Gun: By far one of my most fav places in LA, parking sucks, but oh.. the lobster roll, shrimp toast, linguine with clams, spicy chicken sandwich..damn just order the entire menu and smile. We do.

Lukshon: Duck confit spring roll, chicken pops, beef tartare, enjoy.

Chego: Pork belly, kimchi, ooey goey fries. Enjoy.

The Misfit: Santa Monica. Just go.

Animal: The name says it all.

Honey Kettle Chicken; No not chicken & waffles, fried chicken (the best ) & pancakes, get the blueberry ones & the hush puppies.

Rocksugar: Best. Happy. Hour. Ever, in the Century City mall.

Providence: Its NOT Le Bernadin, but its damn close.

Melisse: Prepare to spend an insane amount of $$ and be glad you did when its over.

Newcomers: Sotto & Picca also in my hood, hell yes.

Street: Susan Fenigers wonderful new cool spot. Drop in when u can.

“Brunchy” spots:

Clementine, Huckelberry, Jar (great mad men vibe) The roof on Wilshire.

French: Comme Ca, ps the burgers decent.

Sorely missed: Phamish food truck.

Nice casual nibble: Josie Next Dooor, duck bahn mi & bbq chips & a killer ipod soundtrack.

Pancakes: John O’Groats on pico, have the bacon chedar waffle.

Pizza: Pizzeria Mozza, PitFire & 800 degrees.

BBQ: Parks or Jr’s.

After a Craig Ferguson taping at CBS: TART across the street.

Business deal: The Grille on the Alley.

Over priced hotel breakfast: The Belvedere in the Peninsula.

Hidden Hotel Gem: Hush in the Mosaic Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Steaks: Cut, Mastro’s, Lawrys the prime rib.

Mall shopping: Obiko Mozzerlla bar in the Century City mall, back up: Breadbar or Gulfstream.

Sandwiches: BayCities or Phillipes.

South of the border: Border Grill.

In the mood for a drive to the SGV! : Beging Pie House, Mama’s Lu. Luscious Dumplings, in a pinch on the westside: Fu’s Palace, on Pico, dumplings only!!

Bakerys:

Bouchon= cookies. Magnolia=cream pies. La Brea=pretzel bread. Friandise/=cupcakes. Jamacias cakes= stuffed scones.

Food Supplies : Surfas, awesome store, simply horrendeous staff.

Best imitation of Dean & Delucca in NYC, #Joans On Third, right down to the floor. Foods good though.

Markets: Gelsons, Mitsuwa, Ralphs

Seafood: Santa Monica Seafood

Thai: duh..Jitladia

Tacos: Love komodo cafe on Pico, fish & grape tacos..(BEST PAIRING EVER!!)

To say you’ve been:

Koi, great scene, mediocre food.

The Ivy : Just to view the hilarious menu. Order the fried chicken, guacamole & spaghetti & meatballs or just get a salad.

Mr. Chow: Shun Lee Palace it’s not. But go anyway.

The Original pantry in DTLA, cause u have to.

Pinks Hot Dogs, take an out of town friend there.

The Apple Pan, Juniors deli, Frank & Mussos, Titos Tacos, all fall into this category. Go once and your good.

Good honest bar food besides #CItyTavern is #RushStreet. ( PS: City Taverns Cheesy Poofs are phenomenal)

Nice newcomer : POST & BEAM

Dont believe the Hype: Cue the Arctic Monkeys here:

Ludo Bites food truck , been 3 times, bah. Greasy, soggy mess.

WP24, stunning space, incredible view, sadly overpriced food that doesnt deliver.

BLD, overcooked.

Grub, isnt that a name for a worm. Being on Top Chef does not make one a good cook. Though INK is stellar.

The Larder at Maple drive. I didnt get it.

Quite a few more, but I never pass judgement till after a 3rd visit.

Still on my list to get to:

Red Medicine, Axe , The Spice Table, Cafe Basil. Baco Mercat, Canele, Forage, Lemon Moon, OsteriaMozza, Cooks County, Fig, Nobu, Jiraffe, Tavern Brentwood, AOC, Luques, Xiomara, Rays Stark Bar, Food, Chinios on Main, Madeo, Campenille, and holy fuckballs to many more to list. This looks like I have a great path ahead of me.. and then on to my own space.

Which I cant wait to get underway..Stay Tuned. V

It as been quite awhile since I blogged about anything, having to much fun since I moved to LA, family illness, and numerous other distractions have sidelined me from blogging. What a better way to ease back into it by blogging about my beloved show #Supernatural. While I hated season 6, this last season has had good moments and bad ones, but all in all .. not bad. So here goes: 

 1) You want Castiel back as Cas

2) The leviathian story line sucks. Lets get back to Lucifer & the archangels.

3) You miss the Trickster.

4) There really is a purgatory.

5) Sam and Lucifer have an unbroken bond.

6) Spike (james marsters) is fabulous as David Stark. More! Bring more!

7) Bobby didnt really need to die.

8) Crowley is the king of hell.

9) 1944 was cool, so was Eliot Ness.

10) Clowns are totally fucking scary. Period. 

11) Working in a post office blows.

12) Never trust a real estate agent who smiles all the time.

13) Lucifer isnt going anywhere.

14) Hunters are your friends.

15) Beware of ballet slippers.

16) A Shojo is NOT the korean drink soju.

17) Cursed objects are real.. look 4 the canadian seires “Friday the 13th” about cursed objects in an antiques shop. Brilliant show. 

18) Amazon warriors really are women.

19) Jensen Ackles is hotter than ever.

20) jared Padalecki & his wife just welcomed a baby boy in to the world. Congratulations!

 

Loving LA..

Ah Los Angeles..how I love thee.. First my dance card has never been so full. It’s a wonderous experience discovering this amazing city. Secondly, I don’t think i will ever want to leave! While there are most certainly asswipe drivers, it really is nowhere near as bad as New York City.

I plan on blogging about food, wine & of course places I fall in love with. Eventually working up to my own special spot in LA. I am already scouting locations..so fingers xxxx.

to be continued.

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