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Everything posted by kendrabail

  1. Did Mamma Zu's last week and it was back to awesome. Several egulleters, myself included, have posted that, lately, M Zu's food has been rather on the salty side (i.e. spend the rest of the night with your tongue stuck to the top of your mouth). See DC Delmarva thread. However, upon last visit, it seems that the old Zu is back. Scungilli was spot on as was the broccoletti. I smelled like a garlic press for two days, and that is exactly what I go there for. Sweetbreads were back on the menu as was a nice fried oyster app (which was unfortunately 86'd like a lot of stuff tends to be if you don't get there early). Drank a nice Sangiovese at $18 a bottle and stuffed ourselves silly. In defense of the terse nature of some of the employees, I can say that I am starting to understand why they may appear not-so-friendly at times. We ate at the bar and had outstanding service from our bartender all night. As the restaurant began to fill and shifted over to full-on crowded with plenty of starched Oxfords and pharma sales banter, the mood distinctly shifted. The servers were still the same, but the patrons were total jackasses. Of course, not everyone in the place was a rude ***hole, but quite a few business suits were plain ole nasty-- to us, to the bartenders, to the servers. One such visitor proceeded to curse out our uber-helpful bartender when he simply asked the gentleman if he wanted this wine open (meaning, if he wanted to open it now at the bar or later at the table) to which loser-guy replies, "Of course, I want the wine open, you idiot. Did you think I bought a $100 bottle of wine just to stare at it?" No joke. I wanted to punch the guy out, but I have to admit, the bartender was super cool about it. He simply opened the bottle and passed it back to him without comment. Then this guy and his VERY well-endowed counterpart proceeded to down glass after glass of Caymus Cab while complaining about their wait for a table--over and over and over, essentially ruining our dining experience since we were about three inches away from them. It didn't help that said well-endowed lady of the evening kept bumping her Chanel bag into my plate while I was trying to scarf up some broccoletti. Maybe all M zu's needs is a bouncer. So, I guess there is clearly two sides to every coin.
  2. Oh, you just mentioned my favorite dish, the scungilli.... My mouth is watering. Actually, one of the best pieces of fish I have ever had (outside of the rock's we catch in the Northern Neck, of course!) was at Mamma Zu's. Very simply prepared with lots of olive oil, lemon, garlic and a little parsley, it was to die for. Mamma Zu's used to do their rockfish whole, head, tail and all, but I am not sure they prepare it that way anymore. I've only seen it go out as a filet. I did hear a rumor that some West Endy folks visited Mamma Zu several years back and ordered one of their fish specials (don't know which fish tho). When it came out with heads, tails and all, they freaked out and sent it back. About 3 minutes later, the owner (no names mentioned here *smile*) came out and asked the whole table to leave. When they tried to pay for the food they already ate, he told them where to put their money. heheh I suspect this story is a typical Richmond rumor, like the one about a live goat making its way through the back door of the restaurant only to reappear on the menu with a side of cannellini beans later that night, but I like to believe these things anyway. Makes our town so much more interesting!
  3. As a chef, all one needs to do is stick a spoon in the sauce before sending out the dish to see how the balance of flavors is working/not working. There is NO way the chefs over there were tasting the food the night we went there. Total salt lick, you are right, and I am the kind of person who DUMPS salt on everything. I can't get anough of it and it was too much for me. What a bummer. I hope they get things straight over there because, from a technical perspective, the execution of the meal was great-- just WAY too salty.
  4. Our favorite thing to do at Can Can is sit at the bar and have a nice glass of French rose or house red and down a couple of their burgers topped with gruyere. Throw in some moule frites and I am a happy gal. However, twice I have had the raw oysters, and at least 2 oysters out of the dozen on my plate, were flat-out rotten-- and I mean green, smelly, get-the-quickstep kind of oysters. I was appalled that the chef who shucked the oysters didn't so much of give each one a sniff before sending those rotten things out. Didn't help when the bartenders charged me for the uneaten oysters anyway (they are priced per piece). This happened on two separate occasions, mind you. Also, had a sit-down type dinner a few times as well, and thought the food and service was middle-of-the-road. Nothing outstanding. Simple, good food. Can Can has all the elements in place for a fun time--no doubt, but it depends on what you are looking for. Due take note: if you go on a Friday or Sat., there can be VERY long waits. Sunday afternoons they have $1 oysters if you want to take the risk as well as $5 burger plates heaped with yummy frites. Same goes for shrimp--they are a buck and really large. On other nights they do half off house carafes, but I can't remember which nights. Also, heard they might start up a wine education program that will run 10 weeks, which might be cool.
  5. You should definitely stop by Sur La Table. I am sure they are hiring for seasonal work at least. Could be a good way to get your foot in the door. And I know they always need volunteers for classes. They are super nice people over there. Good luck, and I will stop in Fresh Market sometime to say hello!
  6. Hey Kim-- Good to hear from a fellow Richmonder! Thank you for the well wishes on the book. It has all been very exciting. Please come out to one of the book signings, too. We have the first one this weekend (Sat. Oct. 21 at 2pm) at Barnes and Noble Libbie Place. We can meet in person and talk shop. Regarding cooking classes, I teach for Sur La Table, but I have put teaching on hold for a little while in order to focus on the book. However, they have a bevy of wonderful local chefs offering some great classes. You can check out Sur La Table's classes online at www.surlatable.com Kendra
  7. Thanks Karen- You are so right. The mountain folk where I come from are well-known for their humor as well as our ability to laugh at ourselves. We sit around the dinner table poking fun at each other all the time! And yes, roadkill cookoff. I have been meaning to go. It sounds like such great fun. As far as beans and taters go, my mom used to slow cook pole beans in a big slab of fatback and when the beans were nice and mushy (Southern style!) she would throw in some quartered new potatoes. Once they were cooked, we'd have a couple glasses of sweet tea and maybe some buttered potato rolls on the side. This was usually a meal we'd have towards the end of summer, especially if we still had any beans in the garden. In the winter, we'd use up any canned beans from the basement. Good, honest food at its finest.
  8. I enjoyed the excerpt as well as the whole book. One thing I think might be a little misleading about the in-your-face, politically incorrect title is that it leads one to believe this might be a humor book when, in reality, it's not only a serious cookbook but also contains a healthy dose of heartfelt, high-quality food writing. Kendra, how have you been faring with the title choice? On the one hand, it's a brand so maybe the book benefits from that. On the other hand, I imagine some of the less imaginative media might feel the title is too hot to handle. -------------------- Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy" Great question, Steven. When Ten Speed and I first began pushing the book before it came out, quite a few entities (bookstores, well-known cooking schools and various media) were very hesitant to take on the book. Several bookstores refused to allow signings, and much of the media simply turned their heads at the whole idea. Moreover, as a seasoned culinary instructor, I was certain there would be a few cooking classes that I would be allowed to teach in conjunction with book signings. We pitched a couple of classes to various schools throughout the country under the "comfort food" concept, and several schools went for the idea until we mentioned the title of the book. Then, suddenly, it wasn't such a good idea anymore. Same thing happened with a very well-known national newspaper article. All was well until the title was mentioned, and then the whole project was instantly dropped. However, now that the book is finally out, the positive response from the media (especially in my hometown and surrounding areas in Virginia/West Virginia) has been overwhelmingly positive, much in part to a few great articles in the papers (see www.richmondtimesdispatch.com Food and Balance section) and on egullet that clearly address the book for what it is-- a heartfelt, first-person account of life in my granny's kitchen with plenty of country-fried recipes that remind folks of home. Don't get me wrong, there are still quite a few people out there who find the whole idea offensive. And to those people, all I can say is read the book and then judge. The book is highly personal with memories that were so powerful to me personally, I often wept while writing them. Moreover, I have found that the very people represented in the book don't find the title offensive at all. For us, in a strange way, it's a badge of honor. In many ways, being considered white trash, helps to shape our identity. And while the book carries on the the white trash name, it is also different from the others in the series. The original "White Trash Cooking" and the two books that consequently followed, featured the food, stories and photos of the deep South (Florida panhandle), for example, while "White Trash Gatherings" clearly focuses on Appalachian, mountain food. Also, while the previous books had many grab-your-gut funny stories, they were a little more tongue-in-cheek than this one, I think. I wanted this book to have more of a prose-like quality (I guess that's the MFA talking). Even more, I wanted to present the great people of West Virginia, especially my family and friends, for what they are-- the most decent, kind, hard-working, God-fearing people you will ever come across. And if any of you venture to Bluefield, WVA, just stop by my granny's house and you will sit down to eat some of the best country-fried peasant food you've ever had. Believe me.
  9. Thank you all for the kind words. It has truly been an honor to carry on the white trash series. Moreover, I am so happy that the wonderful memories of those precious moments spent in my granny's kitchen bring back similar memories for you all. That's what it's all about-- it may be simple and cliche, but food really is what brings us all together at the end of the day. Kendra
  10. To eat at Mama Zu's, you need to have the proper state of mind which relies on not asking any questions, knowing what you are going to order ahead of time, not requesting substitutions or changes to your meal, not asking for a wine list and generally not being any sort of a bother to the staff. It's the way it has been there for years and years. Unfortunately, however, this annoys many diners considering Mama Zu's ethic isn't so customer-focused, and I don't blame them. The novelty of being treated like a red-headed stepchild has started to wear thin in my opinion. What concerns me more these days, is that the last meal I had there (several weeks ago) was literally inedible because the dish was so oversalted (had the lamb shanks and white beans). Sadly, too, when our server plucked the untouched dish away, there was no question as to why we didn't eat any of it. We ordered broccoletti and scungilli as well, and both dishes were doused in salt. There also seemed to be a new crop of chefs working in the back that I didn't recognize so it appears that a changing of the guard has taken place. We haven't been back since, and I have been eating there for 10 years regularly. It's kind of a shame, really, since bad food AND bad service don't really add up. Hope that night was just a fluke. As far as the new seafood joint led by Chef Maxwell, it appears that he has left the venture, and I am not sure who has taken over the reigns. Will be interesting to see some of the initial reviews when they come out in Richmond Times and Style.
  11. you don't think the whole thing was just a complete setup? written out, scripted? that that woman, when she came into the restaurant was told, "ok tonight you're the irate 'customer,' get up there and yell at ramsay, and trash a few things when he responds rudely"? i mean, come on, it's all good fun watching the show, but let's not kid ourselves that it's anything like reality. ← Funny you mention that since last night, VH1 aired a show called "Secrets of Reality TV" and people associated with the reality show The Restaurant came clean on the fact that more than several of the restaurant's diners were actors and actresses hired by the shows producers (especially the nice looking women who stirred things up).
  12. It's so great to see this type of food writing turn up in a mainstream publication. Some really strong writers and great essays in there. I have only read a few, but I am really looking forward to reading the rest of them.
  13. Mamma zu's is more than open, and yes you are totally right, it IS one of the best. Try the scungilli, the whole rockfish (sometimes they have it , sometimes they don't) and go early. The place is still packed to the gills by 7pm. And yes, Edo's Squid is owned by the same guy, Ed Vasaio. Same menu, but different locale/decor. Equally good food, although I have not been there is quite some time.
  14. I certainly will think of you! This is quite interesting. So, you are working directly with the winery versus a publisher (meaning, the contract was between you and the winery)? I wonder if this is happening more and more--meaning, ghost writers not receiving any credit, co-authorship etc... and certain entities being able to pay top dollar for this type of collaboration. Good luck with your project!
  15. it depends on what you mean by "write". the way the process usually works is that the "writer" sits down with the chef, gets working copies of the recipes, talks about the dishes, then goes home and polishes them into presentable form. this can include everything from scaling the recipes down to domestic portions and testing them to make sure they work to making the chef's comments sound gramatically correct. there's no fraud involved here: the dishes are the chefs' and all the ghost is doing is typing them up and polishing them--kind of a combination of executive secretary and copy editor. c'mon folks, these are instructions, not poetry. the only thing i find objectionable is when ghosts aren't credited for their work. ← I guess I am talking less about recipes and more about the rest of the text potentially found in a cookbook (such as headnotes, stories, vignettes etc...if there are any). I totally understand what you are saying about recipes. You are correct. They are fundamentally instructions and not a form of creative writing in the same sense that a piece of fiction or poetry is. And as someone who did both degrees in creative writing, I do underrstand when it comes to a book of fiction, concepts behind ownership etc... are very different than they are with recipe writing. I suspect it's my background in writing that brings out a little hypersensitivity on the subject. I do understand, however, that all writers have to make a living so we all do what we have to do to get work
  16. When you buy a cookbook written by a famous chef, do you automatically assume that all of the recipes are original?Is this an important factor in your purchase? Does it matter that ghost writers may have "enhanced" or even altered the original recipes? or the writing for that matter? ← On many points, I agree with what everyone is saying about recipes, but what about text such as headnotes, introductions, stories, the writing part. Does it bother anyone when the actual writing is done by someone other than the "author"? Better yet, would anyone here feel comfortable having someone else create, test and write a cookbook under your name, especially if a large six figure advance was involved?
  17. Wow, what great questions you pose, and so timely with the onslaught of celebrity chef cookbooks out this Summer (and with more coming in the Fall). From personal experience, I just finished writing my first cookbook (no recipe testers or ghost writers involved) and after spending literally hundreds (thousands?) of hours buying the food, testing the recipes, sampling the food(great way to gain weight, writing cookbooks) retesting, editing, writing succinct headnotes and stories, taking photographs, formatting, reformatting, and then doing all of this several more times once my editor(s) made changes etc.... I honestly do not see how it is logisitically possible for certain celebrity chefs to say, run several restaurants, have multiple cooking shows, execute public appearances, and manage their own magazine while scrapping in the kitchen and in front of the computer composing with their own hands the great American cookbook. It's just not possible. Or is it? So, to answer your question, yes, it bothers me that the alleged "author" of such a cookbook, may (or may have not--don't want to make sweeping generalizations here) done much, if any, of the writing, recipe testing (grunt work) but merely acted as a consultant or editor to their own book, while a ghost writer or "X" number of assistants or whoever did the majority of the work. When Joe Blow walks into Barnes and Nobles, he sees a photo of said celebrity on a cookbook cover, full stage name blazing, it can be argued that he naturally assumes this celebrity created, tested, wrote, edited etc... the book. Is this a problem for anyone? This is a major factor in my purchases. I don't own any celebrity chef cookbooks at this point (except one Paula Deen, but that's a Southern thing). Like most writers, I believe in the strength and integrity of the written word (as well as creative recipe ideas) and when that somehow gets lost amongst big names and catchy titles, it saddens me. Moreover, as someone who used to teach college level writing, there wasn't a student in my school who would be allowed to "pass" off someone else's writing as their own without failing the class. Is there a difference here? I would love to hear from anyone who ghost writes for a living as this is a really interesting thread.
  18. Yes, Mama Zu's is an excellent choice. Don't snack before you go. Portions are huge! Wine list is dirt cheap. Service can be less than friendly or so some say. I have personally never had a problem. Fantastic, Northern Italian. Millie's (downtown) is great, too. Part diner, part upscale bistro. Tons of personality, both in the food and the ambience. Jukeboxes at each table. A small, chalkboard styled menu. Everything is outstanding. Dogwood Grill (in the Fan area) Limited, yet strong menu. Try the grilled ceasar salad. Acacia (in the Carytown area) Dale Reitzer, who is EC/Owner creates some amazing food using only the freshest, local ingredients and produce. You can sit outside, too, which is nice. Can Can (a French bistro is a lot of fun and they have a nice wine list as well as a decent moule frites) Hope this helps!
  19. Welcome! I have been teaching recreational cooking classes for about 4 years and I find it to be tons of fun. I teach for Sur La Table, Williams and Sonoma, private corporations etc.... Basically, I teach wherever I can. If you can afford to have a flexible schedule (and desire one) going the recreational culinary route could be a good alternative. The setback is no set salary, benefits etc... and you do have to "sell" yourself quite a bit as an independent contractor since the market for good teachers/chefs can be quite competitive. If you live near a Sur La Table or other recreational cooking school, it might be worth your while to contact them. Be specific about the types of classes you would be interested in teaching (sending specific class proposals is even better with recipes) and when you are available. Also, note if you have any prior teaching experience (which is VERY important). Before I started teaching, I ran a hands-on, recreational cooking school, and I had a tough time finding great chefs that were also skilled teachers, so any background you may have, such as giving presentations, taking a public speaking class etc.... will greatly help! Good luck! Kendra
  20. Oh my god! What memories you just brought back to me. My daddy used to make breakfast for dinner at least once a week when I was growing up. Usually, we had it on Sunday evening since our Sunday post-church lunch was always a food blow-out. We'd have fried eggs, leftover biscuits and sausage gravy (or leftover fried cornbread if we had it). The whole mess would be topped off with a can of unheated pork and beans. Man, that was some good eats, and to this day I love pork and beans straight from the can.
  21. You bet I'm a grits girl and darn proud of it! My baseball hat proudly reads GRITS (yes, Girls Raised In The South) and yes, I did buy it at the Cracker Barrel However, I have to admit, there are plenty of us GRITS who are far less refined than some true Southern Belle GRITS. I'm a GRITS-gal was born in the great state of West Virginia, so I consider myself to be more of a white trash, hillbilly grit. No charm school here, and granny never let a martini cross our lips (strict Southern Baptists). But, let me tell you, we West Virginia gals can whip up some serious country food-- collards, angel biscuits, apple butter, sausage gravy. Awwww yeahhhhh, baby. And although some may argue West Virginia ain't the South, I think our food, easy-going attitude and proud Southern nature qualifies us as true Southerners. Give me a big bowl of brown beans and a big 'ole chunk of cornbread and I'm a very happy girl. Even have my very first cookbook coming out this Sept. featuring some serious downhome, West Virginia cooking. And yes, there are several grits recipes in there!
  22. I would definitely hit Mrs. Rowe's in Staunton (saw that mentioned in a previous post). Make sure to try their chocolate meringue pie. It's to die for! Also, they do a great vegetable plate-- a nice lunch option.
  23. Thanks so much for the great recommendations. Already on our list is OXO for one night, and definitely Mas for one night. We also plan on hitting Ciboulette for a nice wine lunch (and you are right about the owner, but for shopping purposes, the place is awesome). We hope to round out our trip with the prix fixe wine brunch at Barboursville on Sunday. I've eaten at both OXO and Mas some time ago, and I loved the relaxed atmosphere of OXO-- thought Mas was fun, and it had some great food, but the service. Ugh. Just awful. I really don't care if my servers are good looking (and yes, the all are) which seems to be the primary criteria for hiring over there versus actual experience. Glad to hear that we are on the right track though. I am taking a friend who loves good food and wine, and she has never been to Charlottesville before. I will report back! p.s. Guadalajara is still there as of a couple of months ago, and you guys are right about the White Spot-- what a landmark, and they make one hell of an egg sandwich.
  24. That sounds like an excellent hangover cure. I'll try it!
  25. Heading with a girlfriend of mine to Charlottesville for the weekend, and was wondering if any of you had suggestions for some great places to eat and/or enjoy some great wine. So far, on our "to do" list are OXO, Ciboulette for lunch, Barboursville (Palladio) for brunch and possibly Mas for tapas one night. Any thoughts? Thanks.
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