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Everything posted by CityCook

  1. I'm looking to tour Sonoma Valley wineries that offer free tastings; do any of you guys know of great wineries that don't charge for tasting, or any routes that would take us past a good number of these wineries? Many thanks!
  2. you can render it over med-high heat and save the fat that runs out; this is what Jews call "Schmaltz," and it is a valuable cooking medium and ingredient. Use it instead of butter the next time you make roux, and you will introduce a nice chicken flavor to your dish. Use it to fry in, as long as you're not using super high heat (the schmaltz doesn't have a really high smoke point, as is the case with a lot of saturated fats).
  3. I'd call it citrus beef stew, or something like that, but you're being dishonest if you call it beef burgundy. However, it happens all the time, so you won't be alone in your liberal choice of name. Or, hell, make some real bourguignon, and than make that sangria stuff. By the time you finish drinking your sangria, you'll have no problem calling the stew Boeuf Bourguignon, citrus beef stew, beefy Tang goulash, warm beef love juice, or, simply, beefalupagus suprise. Do you see what I'm saying about names? On the one hand, they don't matter, and on the other, they do matter very much.
  4. Afterburner, your post made me smile. I love the idea of throwing caution to the wind, and bravo for not feeling stuck by the rigidity of classic cuisine. However, I believe that one should respect all of the attention and work that previous (French) generations have put into developing and refining the recipes and techniques that make up the lexicon of classic cuisine on which all serious cooking in the western world is based. So I like it when people mess around, but not when they try to call their creations by classical names. The citrus in your wine scares me, but I look forward to hearing how it turns out and truly hope you'll like it. It seems to me that all that tangy booze would be better made into a kind of sangria, by cooking some of it down with some apples, cloves, cinnamon sticks, honey and maybe a little cardamom as a flavor base, then adding it back into the chilly citrus-wine.
  5. I had the pleasure of being introduced to Monsanto's Chianti Classico (I didn't write the vintage down in my notes, dammit; probably a 1999 or 2000) just today, in my wine class at culinary school. The instructor (Steve Eliot; heard of him?) had us try it against one of the nicest fiasco-wrapped Chiantis available, i.e.: some of the nastiest, thinnest, most acrid volumes of swill I've ever had in my mouth. I found the Classico well-rounded, with cherry/berry fruit balanced under layers of rich earth. It was a good example, to me, both of what chianti can be and of what traditional Italian winemaking means, as compared to a super-tuscan we also tried.
  6. well, regardless of one's opinion of the merit of jug wine, wine mixed with citrus juice and reduced with beef and vegetable essences sounds to me like an invitation to the barfs. please don't barf, Afterburner.
  7. I don't mean to offend you, AfterBurner, but this scares the hell out of me. I truly hope your dish turns out to be palatable, but please don't call it boeuf bourguignon.
  8. I think the food there is pretty much poop, though the dessert's all right. I'd suggest doing your own fondue, for about 1/30th the price.
  9. purple bread? maybe you mean white port. maybe I'm a purist; what about good old duck fat potatoes?
  10. "Lend to the eye a terrible aspect"
  11. oh man... I grew up in this category. I think I was mayor of this category from ages 14-15. After a couple years spent cooking, though, I just can't eat that way anymore. Food really needs to connect with me on some level, even if it's just my favorite brand of tasty potato chips or gummy bears.
  12. Hell, the reality is that a lot of people are in the industry because it's better than jail. Don't kid yourself; it's not all magic in there. The inherent power you're talking about must be yours, because it simply won't jump out at you unless you're messed up enough in a specific way to resonate with the magic that does lie in the kitchen. I worry about people who think about the industry in overly flowery terms (not necessarily saying that you just did that). Yes, there are tons of ways to cook outside of a restaurant: be a caterer, personal chef, corporate chef, culinary instructor, etc. But the kitchen's where you get your hard-core experience, and that's probably where those nasty editors are coming from. I wouldn't hire a food writer who's never worked in a kitchen either. I think, though, that non-restaurant work can actually broaden your horizens, because what you learn in a restaurant (if you're not the chef) is just how to prep for and cook that menu really well.
  13. I really appreciate that, daddy-a; thank you! YES! he's coming to the City!
  14. On the order of actually posting some news, I did one thing for the first time last night, called teambuilding. It's where my school whores itself out for an evening at $100 a head to corporate types can pretend they're learning how to cook in the structure of a given theme (last night: the Iron Chef "competition"), with cooking students "directing" them. The problem: they get tossed beforehand. There was one guy last night who was helpful, but so much so that he wanted to take over my station. There were a couple of people who just wandered off with their drinks. The remainder were dicks, who wondered, after trying to get breadcrumbs, cheese, vinaigrette, garlic, and cilantro all into one chicken dish (an airline breast where the first thing they had me do was remove the skin and cut the bone off), who, after all this, wondered why their presentation sucked so much compared to that of other groups. I don't like this side of the industry. I'm all for teaching people about cooking, as long as they're receptive. They can even be drunk, as long as they listen. God knows I could teach the class drunk.
  15. guys, how do you find out what the cities the tour is going through? I looked on his website and there's no mention.
  16. I didn't forget about you, emilymarie; I've had to reinstate my membership, etc etc.. anyway, I'm back. To answer your question, I've decided that though I can see myself putting in the work to become a successful chef, at the end of that road is not a life I would like to lead. Also, I have some background in writing and publications, and I'd like to find a job that uses all of the skills I've developed over the course of my life, rather than pursuing a career that uses only my newest skill set. I also want a life outside of the kitchen. Spending every holiday away from my future family would be poo. Now, I'm not turning my back on the culinary world at all; it continues to engage me, and it holds the promise of a lifetime of learning. I am just trying to look at my life in a holistic way. And I have learned an amazing amount about work and discipline by learning to function i na kitchen; I believe that these skills will help me wherever I go, whether I'm trying to finish recipe specifications on deadline or getting apps ready for a party of 50. Make sense?
  17. AGH! It's like looking in a mirror!
  18. Weekends 14 and 15 Less drastic changes than previously reported. I continue to get a bit tougher and faster every shift. Learning about cleanliness and especially efficiency; main motivation remains, however, not getting yelled at. Maybe sometime soon, this will change to a pride in work and a drive to create innovative and beautiful food, which, while certainly present, is honestly not why I usually try so hard. I just don't want to get yelled at. Yelling remains one of any exec. chef's most valuable tools, I guess. I wonder if there are chefs who successfully manage their staffs w/o it. JJ
  19. Weekend 13 (for real) It's been a long time since I've drank so much in a night that I feel the effects throughout the next day. The only thing I can think of, since I really didn't drink a heroic amount, is that my fatigued body, after three nights of the kitchen immediately followed by several mixed drinks, decided to teach me a lesson. Very well, body; you win this round. We got a baby deep-fryer in the dessert station, and the chef encouraged us to play with it , so I've been plotting a deep-fried dessert involving dates and wonton wrappers. I hope to bring the unfried desserts to the restaurant on friday or saturday to see how people react, but I've got to do some extensive testing at home first. And then I have to eat the tests. Then test some more, then eat. Maybe it's not the best idea for me to be a dessert cook. Maybe it is, for now. I don't want to stay out in the cold, though, bt I haven't trained at all on the line. What I have been doing, however, is observing very closely. I think I can do it. There are some core principles about fat amounts in the pan, searing, plating, seasoning, grilling, building and maintaining a wood fire, that I'll need to learn by heart. OK yes, fuck you, everything, I need to learn everything. JJ
  20. Weekend 13 So hungover. No update on weekend 13 yet. Lucky 13, lucky 13... I made doughnuts. More later. JJ
  21. Weekend 12 No spectacular screw-ups or impressive accomplishments to report this week, although one important revelation included my realization that I'm paid to play with food, alongside my lesser rote tasks. I realized this when a co-cook was trying to put together a parmesan crisp "bowl" for the restaurant's caesar salad. I came up with the idea of using a section of PVC piping and a funnel, rather than just a funnel, to promote stability at the base, as well as wrapping a dark green leek stalk around the base for color contrast. I had fun thinking about this; let me repeat that so it sinks into my tired, dumb brain: I HAD FUN THINKING ABOUT THIS, AND IT WAS PART OF MY JOB. Thanks; it's good to hear that. Makes me remember there's a reason I'm willing myself into poverty and back-breaking work. It's past time to list a few new lessons: 11. Get all shit out of your way if you're not using it at that moment. 12. Know enough about physics to realize when something's going to tip over. 13. Some fuckers will never get it. Don't make yourself feel better just because you're better than them. 14. You can work faster. 15. That soup could taste richer. That sauce could be smoother. That piece of meat could be more flavorful and more tender. Figure out how. JJ
  22. Yeah, no kidding; I'm happy now just to be able to breathe without choking on phlegm.
  23. I was going to guess that it was what I kept blowing out of my nose while I was sick for six weeks.
  24. Weekend 11 For privacy purposes, I'll call one of my co-workers Bill for this story. I come in to work on Saturday (Friday was uneventful, meaning good) and the sous-chef tells me that the chef called Bill off from working tonight, saying that it would be slow. We did around 180 covers that night (meaning not slow). The sous chef tells me that the chef said I could work circles around Bill, which is sad, considering that he went to culinary school (I start in May) and has been in the business for 6 years. The power that that praise had to lift me up was amazing; it made me want to work harder for more, like a well-trained basset. Not one hour had passed from that comment before I, while trying to load a flimsy freezer shelf with six heavy plates, caused all of the plates on that reach-in freezer shelf to tumble onto the floor, ringing out glass-shatter notes through the kitchen. I hadn't destroyed all the plates, only the most expensive ones in the restaurant. Now this amazed me: the chef comes over, upset at the loss but in that "aw, dude, what the fuck?" sort of way, rather than in that "give me your nuts right now while I get the meat grinder" sort of way. I have seen him speak to Bill with the latter tone dozens of times for far less spectacular screw-ups, and it made me think that the chef had previously decided to tolerate me, and stuck with that decision even in the face of that mistake. That mistake, and about four other major mistakes, including not taking stock of the number of desserts available (resulting in the cancellation of two near the end of the night), getting way behind on tickets, and not finishing side work that caused him and two other cooks to have to help me out so we could leave (slightly) before midnight. But, at the end, the chef still told me I did a good job that night in a genuine tone. I had some problems that night because I hadn't planned well, and I had the rest of them because I simply wasn't fast enough to put out all the night's desserts and keep up with the necessary side work. I'm still trying to figure out why I've got both balls intact. Not only are they still there, but Sunday night, Bill got sent home early and I took over his station. He seemed happy about the time off; I'm not sure the chef is trying to send a message, but if he is, Bill isn't getting it. So I'm gearing up to work like a meth field, while also planning better than I have before, next weekend; we'll see how successful I am next week. WOOF JJ P.S. I'll put in my notice for my office job of five years this Friday, and I'm still debating whether afterwards I'll tell my co-workers that I've had this weekend cooking job since October. Don't know what good it'll do, really, and it may piss the bosses off.
  25. Scotch lore isn't exactly in my ken, but it seems to me that, for people who want what the product offers (cold drinks w/o dilution), it's a great idea.
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