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agbaber

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Posts posted by agbaber

  1. project -- that was one of the most thoughtful, well written, and most importantly honest assessments of foodtv (and tv in general) that I have ever read.

    Thank you for putting the time and effort into that post.

    I was wondering if I could, with your permission, re-post it on my website.

    Video about food and cooking instruction is my current hobby, and I think about it frequently. You have put into words the same things that have been running through my mind for quite a while.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. gallery_15898_4036_70331.jpg

    The Infamous Pasta from HELL, with Sausage Bolognese (You Must Sign The Release Form!) (9 Bombs) Now, this pasta is where things started to get serious. It was the last thing we recieved, and immediately I could tell it was in a whole different ballpark. You can see the slices of peppers just sitting on top (what I believe are either scotch bonnets or habaneros....or some crazy south american superpepper), and the entire sauce was little more than chili paste and meat. What made this dish so difficult for me to eat was the fact that the pasta was slightly underdone, meaning I really had to chew each bite.

    East Coast Grill: Hell Night Review

  3. Chris- Watched the show again and loved it even more.

    How're you doin? They still got you flying all over the place?

    This is the most exciting thing I've been involved with in quite some time.

    PS: I think I've had about three hundred suan la chow show dumplings since we filmed there. They even let me park out back and walk through the kitchen whenever I go there!

    Keep up the great work, I cant wait to see Atlanta!!!

  4. Oh, can I ever. The location that I was on-screen for was the segment filmed at Mary Chung’s. Now, let me tell you an interesting tidbit about Mary Chung’s: it seems that it was the very first restaurant in the world to be on the internet. If this is accurate: http://boston.openguides.org/?Mary_Chung's "A major hangout for MIT geeks, and thus the first restaurant with a Usenet newsgroup, alt.fan.mary-chungs," then Mary Chung's was most likely the first dining establishment in cyberspace.

    Mary Chung, the proprietor is an amazing woman. In one of my recent visits, I was so overcome with elation by the food, I stopped her as she was walking by. I told her, "Mary, your food is so good..." (I was at a loss for words, and looked her right in the eyes). "...so good." She stopped and gave me her full attention (something a restaurant owner/server/hostess/chef rarely gives), and said softly and almost bashfully, "I know... I know. Thank you." She gave me one last look, and whisked off to take care of a ringing phone.

    Let me give you a little background. I had never heard of Mary Chung's restaurant before the filming of this show, and I'm kind of glad I hadn't. I say this because I was able to start my addiction late in the game. What addiction? Well, let me just say that Suan La Chow Show is without a doubt the best new dish I have had in months. Since the shoot, I have been there approximately 15 times. . .sometimes twice a day. Right now, they are closed (Mary's on vacation), and I'm going into some serious withdrawal.

    So you don't know what Suan La Chow Show is, eh? Well let’s check wikipedia -- I'm sure they've got something on it.

    Well now, what do we have here? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suan_La_Chow_Show

    "Suan La Chow Show (suānlà chǎoshǒu) is a dish of Sichuan Cuisine that consists of a spicy garlicky peanut sauce over floppy steamed meat-filled dumplings similar to wontons. The name means sour hot wonton.

    A popular restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts named Mary Chung's serves a dish called Suan La Chow Show, which are dumplings with a spicy soy ginger sauce on a bed of raw mung bean sprouts. This popular dish is slightly different from the authentic Suan La Chow Show."

    Let me see if I can describe the dish to you, just in case that description doesn't work. Have you ever read about orlotan? The tiny bird, considered such a deviant delicacy that diners are encouraged to devour whole while wearing a blindfold to avoid being ashamed? Well, for those who can’t afford the outrageously expensive and seemingly cruel orlotan, I believe that Suan La Chow Show is the closest thing you can get to it. Listed under soups, the spicy, salty, sesame-y sauce in the bottom could easily be scrumptious orlotan “juice.” The fresh bean sprouts – the avian bones. Lastly, the tender, moist, perfectly cooked meaty morsels that are the dumplings obviously correlate to our favorite feathered friend.

    Does this description discourage you? How about this one: these are the best dumplings in America. I challenge you to find better.

    Like I was saying, I had my doubts about a Chinese restaurant outside of Chinatown from the moment Sean (the producer) mentioned it to me. When I arrived on the day of the shoot, I found an unassuming, 60 seat family-style, sparsely decorated dining room, and a fairly large packed and active kitchen. Mary immediately introduced herself, and offered me a beverage of choice.

    After learning that I would be waiting for a while (and after five different customers had recommended it to me), Mary brought me a bowl of their world famous appetizer. I took one bite, and knew immediately that I was hooked. I get the same feeling every time I come across a dish that meets a few of my criteria for serious food addiction:

    1) Unique

    2) Cheap

    3) Spicy or otherwise uniquely flavored

    At just under $4 for a bowl, with a slow exponential heat and its hailstorm of flavor and texture, Suan La Chow Show is on the forefront of my mind nearly every time I get hungry.

    I informed Mary that she would be seeing a whole lot more of me in the future, and headed out to meet up with Chris. After prepping him on just how awesome this place was (and meeting up with the MIT kids), Cognac got to try some for himself. I’ll let him comment for himself, if he wishes, but I will say that it’s probably best not to aspirate the soup.

    After the kitchen shots, we realized that the we needed to re-organize the tables to accommodate the lights, the cameras, and all the action that was about to go down. We sat down in the middle of the restaurant, and began our rather short, strange and hilarious lunch. What you have to understand, to get a good idea of what our jobs were, is that anytime we had to stop for any reason, the food had to look the same afterwards. This means, if you had a bite almost in your mouth, and the action paused, you had to put the bite back. We also had to make sure our personal plates stayed relatively similar and that the serving vessels always appeared full. Another thing? Small bites. TV bites. . .not. . .big. . .bites. . .so. . .you aren’t stuck chewing for much. . .too. . .long. Other than that, all we really had to do was completely ignore the cameras, crew, lights, and just act naturally.

    The scene went fantastically. Other than a few minor fits and starts, we generally just had a relaxing lunch with a little bit of dramatic talking and some amusing food adjustments.

    After the shooting was through, Mary offered to give the crew some goodie bags to take back to the hotel (which I noticed were thoroughly enjoyed and quickly devoured). The next day was some B-roll shots, and the crew was off to the airport. It sounds like they enjoyed (and got some great scenes) in Atlanta. I know I’m not the only one looking forward to this show coming out.

  5. So I finally got back from vacation, and I have a few thoughts I would like to share about my experiences working with this fine crew.

    After much deliberation, I believe that the best thing I can compare to filming a TV show would be a catered gala with chefs from multiple restaurants. Each chef comes into a kitchen they've probably never seen before, using equipment they are generally, but not specifically familiar with. This parallel was evident from the first day at JP Licks. While the cameramen certainly had used the same type (and perhaps even the same model) cameras before, one of them had a bad audio input -- potentially as disastrous as an oven without a pilot light.

    Television-making mercenaries that they are, however, the problem was quickly addressed and fixed. As other minor nuisances arose (like the door chime going off during filming, or people walking in front of the camera, or any of a plethora of other issues), they were quickly figured out and solved.

    Now, this may lead you to believe that their expertise makes their jobs easy -- far from it. In addition to being responsible for taking care of thousands of dollars worth of equipment, they have to lug it around on their person. The day we shot the Boston Common, it was 104 degrees, and each cameraman was carrying a 45 lb camera on their shoulder. Even in such outrageous conditions, every single crew member continued to do their job with professionalism and determination.

    The producers, bless them, have one of the toughest logistical jobs I have ever witnessed. I would compare it to walking into a different kitchen every night, with a different menu (but the same staff), and having to expedite. Not only do they have to do research for every location, but they have to make calls to get waivers, they have to get permits, make sure they aren't repeating themselves with locations, keep the crew fed, watered and clued in as well as making sure every shot fits in with the theme of the show. In addition, they have to worry about things like Chris wearing the right shirt for continuity, keeping the production assistants in line and active and making sure the crew acts both within the law and abides by the networks wishes.

    Chris was doing a great job, as he had a tough position as well. He needed to stay both cool and ready at all times, and often had to do multiple retakes of the same shot to get it just right. Now, I know when I repeat myself more than a few times it gets exponentially more difficult to get it right, as the words quickly lose meaning in my head. Doing this with half a dozen people standing around you, and two cameras in your face is a whole nother ballpark altogether.

    As for my experience with the whole thing – the hardest thing I found was not looking directly at the camera. When there is a lens anywhere near my frontal arc of vision, I have a very difficult time not looking at it, even if momentarily. This, however, causes a large problem, as no one other than the host is allowed to look directly at the lens. Finally I came up with a strategy; act like the camera is someone you’re furious at, and refuse to make eye contact with. This way, a natural and automatic feature of your brain is in play, and you don’t have to constantly think about not looking at the camera. At least it worked for me.

    If the shows keep going as well as Boston did (and I’m sure they will, with the dedication and willpower this team has), this is going to be the freshest, most well-shot and thought out show on the Food Network. I am sincerely glad to have been a part of it, and hope to have the opportunity to work with such an outstanding team in the future.

  6. Damn, I might be in NYC on the 15th, but im gonna be in Denver when you're gonna be in A-town.

    Still haven't found anywhere off the beaten path in Boston with outstanding clam chowder (and I don't think The Fireplace serves it, unless their website lies).

    -Andrew

    Edit: I cant function in the morning.

  7. Atlanta suggestions:

    au rendez vous - tiny french brasserie run by vietnamese family. great food, BYOB

    pho 79 - hilarious vietnamese cafe, the owner is nuts. great pho and fairly traditional dishes

    daddy d'z - on memorial drive (just outside downtown), decent bbq, great scene

    kool korners - near ga tech, awesome cuban sandwiches (run by an old cubano who remembers nearly all his repeat customers)

    vortex - best burgers in town, the little 5 points location is better imho

    waffle house - has foodtv ever done a show featuring waffle house? i sure havent seen it. Get a double hasbrowns, scattered smothered covered and chunked (and fried hard)

    chick-fil-a/dwarf house - classic atlanta institution. best fast food chain in the country (other than in-n-out). The dwarf house is the origianl chick-fil-a

    thinkin of more as they come to me.

  8. After that stimulus-overload of food (watching Alton Brown on mute, listening to a Bourdain podcast and reading this absolutely fantastic blog), I feel obliged to inform you that I am sincerely enjoying it.

    I'd say you probably had either the hummous or the tomato soup and then the chicken. In my opinion any menu item that takes a significant amount of time ends up being the tastiest. Hamachi-Kama is a favorite example of mine. I'll wait 25 minutes and tear it apart in 25 seconds.

    Keep up the fantastic and seriously educational writing and pictures!

  9. So as it regularly goes here at my college apartment, we decided that it was time to scrub the kitchen down, (and by the kitchen I mean one frying pan) and make dinner.

    Available to us was one pound of ground beef, onions, eggs, pototoes, and a vast array of sauces and condiments.

    Jonathan, ex-rover at Trio, proposed a hash.

    Pictures follow:

    n902731_30291803_5686.jpg

    n902731_30291804_5877.jpg

    n902731_30291805_6045.jpg

    n902731_30291806_6214.jpg

    Delicious, as you can see.

  10. Amazing show.

    The thing that most pleased me was that I basically forced all the people I'm living with to watch it, and by the end, they were "shusshing" me!

    Along with that, there was very little information I felt I could add to it. Everything he talked about, he knew almost exactly as much about the topic as I did, and then some. (This probably is based on that fact that my most-quoted book is clearly Kitchen Confidential)

    Great show. Amazing show. My favorite show!

  11. I just noticed a job posting of theirs on craigslist and shot an email their way. Since I'm sort of between jobs now I figure it would be pretty damn cool to work there for a while.

    Anybody wanna pull some strings for me? :rolleyes:

    Ill let you know how it goes, maybe Ill end up serving one of you guys. :raz:

    Oh, and the meal I had there was amazing. I ended up doing an impromptu tasting menu and every course was fantastic. It seemed like Chef Tuohy had a great time doing it, too.

  12. I also have to say, with no disrepect intended to anyone at Trio (pre-Atelier), that the desserts at Alinea were transcendant and I felt matched the meal way better than most of the desserts I remember from the closing menu at Trio.  They were boldly flavored but, for the most part, light in body.  Ethereal would probably be a good description.  The Pineapple was like a dream, the Sassafrass Cream was a tasty and sweet adventure on a plate and the Sponge Cake . . . well, it was so good that even though it was the last course, we were all sucking dry the glasses in which it was served.

    That would be thanks to Alex Stupak, former pastry chef at Clio in Boston. I was there the night he left and was able to enjoy what I was told was the last dessert he ever made there. Damn Alinea for stealing him away from Boston!

    So who wants to take me to Alinea?

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