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uncle ovipositor

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  1. I went there Monday night with a friend and have been thinking about it ever since, so I thought I'd share in the hopes of spreading that virus. Since I didn't see anything else posted about it or a thread in which it would fit, I figured I'd start a new thread. To wit: 14th and Webster. If you've driven around downtown Oakland you've probably noticed this place because it has a magnificent portrait of a pig on the side, along with a bunch of Korean script. The sign is brilliant and memorable and anyone who's ever zipped past there has seen it. The motif of that graffic repeats throughout the interior of the restaurant, in interesting and clever ways. Turns out "Don" means pig in Korean, so the name is Pig Day. All of the items on the menu are pork (except at lunch when they're trying to cast a wider net and have some chicken, as well as what they refer to as barbecue burritos - odd for a Korean place, but if it keeps them open I'm all for it). I went there for dinner with a friend and it was the first time I've had exciting Korean food (something I've never enjoyed in the past). They had appetizer dishes out to start with, as is customary in civilized countries, here including 2 different types of kim chee and some picked bamboo shoots (quite good, but nothing you haven't had before). The real mind benders were: picked hot peppers with 1/2" smelts (unreal good), and fish cakes that were entirely unlike fish or cakes. The smelts I cannot begin to describe, but I could eat a bowl full of them twice and beg for more. The fish cakes... this is going to sound really terrible, but they had the texture and appearance of slightly thick, soggy tortilla chips. They weren't salty like bacalao, and weren't overly fishy, and soaking in a sauce that included vinegar and chilis and some other mystery components. Very tasty - enough so that I was eagerly eating soggy nachos. For mains we had pork with korean leeks, which came with a dipping sauce of leeks, wasabi, soy, and mystery components (great), and squid and pork cooked table side and slathered in what we were calling crack sauce. Why crack sauce? Because it was so addictive that, in spite of getting exponentially spicier as the dish cooked down, you couldn't stop eating it, even knowing full well that it was doing severe irreversible damage to you physically. I was almost crying by the end and couldn't stop eating it. They had a twee portable gas burner and heavy cast-iron wok, and threw in a bunch of onions, peppers, squash, gigantic squid tentacles, and pork that looked for all the world like 3/4" thick slabs of bacon. This was all cooked down in the crack sauce and we each had a bowl of rice to eat with it. It was, in a single dish, the perfect combination of sweet, spicy, and savory, with incidental vegetables. More importantly, it was, for me, the perfect yin/yang of fear/desire, body/mind, good/evil, and any other dualities you want to tack on. Your brain desires it, it endangers your life. I'm sure it wouldn't be hot enough for some people, but to my taste buds it did just fine. We left red and sweaty and fearing the next morning. Incredibly good stuff. The caveat, though: it was $54 (cash only) for the two of us. Not that expensive, but a little more than I think most people would expect to pay at a hole-in-the wall.
  2. Not quite sure what you mean, but I don't see anyone making the argument you're implying here. Rocco's cooking is pretty universally respected. His ability to run a restaurant in front of a camera crew is somewhat dubious. His desire to earn a living as a spokesmodel is sad. What's your point? That Paris Hilton should be respected for being Paris Hilton? Fine - she's excellent at being Paris Hilton. I still don't want anything to do with her. I can't answer for the culture at large on that, but neither can you. And this has nothing to do with Rocco. My point about Rocco is that his desire to be a spokesmodel plays to his weaknesses, not his strengths, and his strengths are significant. It has nothing to do with him being a celebrity, and it certainly has nothing to do with Paris Hilton. Ah yes, the great sell-out debate. For what it's worth, I have turned down ridiculous amounts of money as a professional designer. It didn't take much thought. Because I don't value what I do and care about financially - it's a lot more than that. There are advantages to having ones work put out to a huge audience that aren't financial, but they weren't enough for me in my situation, and the downsides were far more than I wanted to live with. I don't have any regrets and I'm not cynical enough to feel like I should have just held my nose and taken the money and used it to do what I really want. But that's not really the issue, just a strawman argument, because nobody's arguing that Rocco should or shouldn't make money. Rocco's finances are not only none of my business, but they're not particularly interesting to me. I'm sure he does fine. If at some point he becomes worried about it, he can get a job. I wouldn't worry too much about him if I were you. This isn't an issue of hypocracy, as you're slyly implying by saying anyone would take the money if offered the chance to mug for a camera. It ain't about the money, it's about the character. Nowhere is anyone saying they'd like Rocco if only he were Bourdain, or that that's the ruler by which he should be measured. He compared himself to Bourdain and it's clearly how he sees himself in the world. That's where that discussion started.
  3. I call bullshit on this. Tony does a show based around travel and food which allows him to focus on writing. I'd say it's a quality bit of culture. It is his baby and it takes advantage of his skills to make something grand. Rocco shills frozen pasta dinners in TV commercials. He's doing a web-based show (...) based around said frozen pasta. He writes a blog at bravo, which is vaguely interesting but mostly devoid of personality - although he's currently adopted what I'll generously describe as a Bourdain-esque tone on his bravo blog ("Lets face it--without Hung the only choice left for Dale was a .38 Smith and Wesson and a walk down the beach."). [i posted this elsewhere, but will repost here - take it for what it's worth] Here's how I see the strange, strange saga of Rocco: He made his reputation by running a stellar restaurant. This is a fact and nobody will argue it. He made excellent food and he damn well made it seem effortless, which was inspiring to watch. Then, he let a camera crew follow him around when he opened his first restaurant under his name, and he made a complete ass out of himself. This can happen when you're young and outrageously talented and everybody and their dog is telling you so, and it's unfortunate that there was a film crew there to document it, which they did meticulously. You would think this would be a humbling lesson learned, and that he'd go back to playing to his strengths. Strangely, he decided to sign on for a second season of that show. God knows why. The one thing he seemed to get out of it was being on camera, and he seemed to really like that. Enough so that he couldn't see how he came across, or see how maybe he was behaving irresponsibly. Then he decided he didn't want to be a chef anymore. Maybe because the whole world of cooking had lost it's appeal to him, maybe because he no longer liked not having a life just so he could have a restaurant, maybe because his reputation was ruined by the whole tv debacle, I don't know. It was his decision and he's welcome to it. However, he still needed to earn a living. And he likes being on camera. Obviously, he decided to become a spokesmodel. This so clearly is him playing to his weaknesses that it's baffling that he cannot see it. Yes, he's hunky and affable and seems very comfortable in front of the camera, but the only reason anybody is going to put him there is because he used to be a great chef. So he's capitalizing on his skills and reputation as a chef to shill for sub-par products. It's a little like a NASCAR driver doing commercials for Yugos. Only it's a NASCAR driver who doesn't want to drive anymore. I respect him for his ability to cook, but I think it's insulting when he tries to use that respect to sell me frozen pasta that he had no part in making, and which he describes as "letting me feel like I'm cooking". I think it's ridiculous. You could say that I'm being dismissive of Rocco for not being the person I want him to be instead of who he wants to be, which is a valid point. I have no business whatsoever telling him how he should run his life. But ultimately, since he's trying to use his credibility as a chef to leverage me into buying a bag of frozen pasta so I can pretend to cook, my opinion of him matters quite a bit. The fact that it's shared pretty widely does as well. And while we'll never meet, I was rooting for him, and am baffled by the career choices he's made. And all is forgiven the day he either gets back in the kitchen or out from in front of the camera. Either one is fine by me.
  4. There's some interesting quibblin' over on the Bravo site. Tony: http://wapurl.co.uk/?7KZWOZZ Rocco: http://wapurl.co.uk/?K6BXRWQ [Rocco takes his lumps on the last page.] Me? Meh. I never ate at UP, but Rocco's acknowledged as a great chef by people who's opinions I respect. He doesn't want to be a chef anymore, but needs that credibility to get anywhere, so he's floundering. Ultimately the guy comes across as a sad little shill to me. I don't doubt his talent, but he's uninterested in using it, merely capitalizing on it, and in that he's singularly unqualified. I think it's funny that nowhere does he pretend to have cooked the pasta in the bag. He didn't. He's their spokesmodel, nothing more, and he's not particularly good with it. And Bourdain can write him under the table any day. As he can most of us, but still.
  5. I'm glad one of the producers is checking in here, and appreciate the comments of Mr Ruhlman throughout this thread. Congrats to all the participants, etc, and I hope there's another season because I really enjoyed watching it. It was entertaining, and showed some chefs I wouldn't normally see on TV. Salut! But I did have a problem with the show, similar to one others have expressed above: true or not, I'm left with the sense that this competition wasn't about cooking so much as it was about getting a job through an unenviably Goldbergian set of challenges. And while English would've been a fool to let this show be just about cooking, that's the show I would've rather watched. Ultimately, I think Autumn lost because of the 3 finalists English didn't like her personality. That's a perfectly reasonable basis for making a decision about hiring someone, since it will defintely become an issue at some point, but the way the decision was presented struck me as very silly - like an excuse more than a real issue. Hell, the cameras were on, and I suppose in that situation I'd be pretty hesitant about telling someone that I didn't think they were the sort of person who'd do well in my shop. But I hope to god that if ever that happens I don't take the cheesy way out. But that is what it is, and that's what happened. The bigger issue is what I hoped the competition would be versus what it was. I feel like this was a job interview with cooking attached instead of a cooking competition, and I really would've prefered it to be more the other way around. If, fer instance, this were a competition about cooking, then being 30 minutes late would be the end of the story and not being willing to tell others how great you are wouldn't matter. All of that said, I'm sure that Katie is a very qualified cook, and definitely the right person for the job. I don't begrudge her that at all, or feel like it was fixed. I just think the contest could have been more interesting, and I hope that if there is a next season it will be. Perhaps having the prize be something other than a job at a famous chef's place? Maybe (and this is a freebie here, so don't worry about spelling my name right if you run with this baby) having amateur chefs, with the prize being something like 2 years at CIA or sommat. Or even just a really large salmon - something to de-emphasize the professional/personality issues and make it about food and cooking. And I like the blind tastings idea someone else posted. I'd buy that as a good way to weed out some of the decision-making factors that bugged me. Not that every tasting should be done that way, but one or two would make it more interesting.
  6. I'm not planning anything in particular at the moment, and don't see myself doing anything in the immediate future. Eventually, yes. But right now I don't have the time. Still, you have the restaraunt's info....
  7. There's actually a bar near me in Oakland, where all the longshoremen hang out, and it used to be that on Fridays they'd roast a whole pig outside on a big spit. I'd be biking in to work in the morning as they were loading the pig onto the spit and getting the coals going, and then stop by on my way home. They might still do it, but I haven't been by there in a while. We stopped for a light lunch at North Coast before the boar roast, but they didn't have their smoked salmon available - my favorite there. More than once I've ordered it as a starter AND a dessert. Ft Bragg is a long way away, and it can be hard to convince people to drive that far just to eat - especially if they're not big on meat - but I was really surprised by how good the food was. I mean, I knew it was good, but it was more than I was expecting, and I want to go back for a more traditional meal sometime soon. It's just a different take on French cooking than I'm used to seeing around here - which may be my ignorance of French cooking, but I do think there's something different in chef Badenhop's approach. Of course, you're willing to come up from LA, so there ya go. When we do this again I'll post something here - assuming it's a big enough event to accomadate a few extra people. Looks like I've got to get a hunting license...
  8. I won't post the whole thing here, just a link: http://ovipositor.com/boar-roast/ Some friends and I went up to the Rendezvous Inn in Ft. Bragg and had a fabulous meal of roasted boar. There are photos and some thoughts on the event. For what it's worth, I think one of the best things about it was that it was an event. Other than dinner parties, I don't get to be a part of enough of those, and it really is the sort of thing that makes life worth living - to get a lot of people together for nothing other than eating. Enjoy.
  9. 817's high on my list, too, and I'm often there for a bite before the farmer's market as well, although I haven't been going as often since the oyster guy went off his meds and can no longer get out of bed to bring oysters to the east bay. I don't want to travel far for breakfast and I sure as hell don't want to wait in line, so I go to Linn & Lu's on Grand or occasionally Cafe DiBartolo. L&L's is unpretentious, has some great food for cheap, and a nice patio out back where you can while away a morning quite pleasantly. DiBartolo's is home to the strongest coffee you will ever have in your life, has a bagel with the works that's perfect for most mornings, and again a nice patio out back. The only drawback to DiBartolo's is the music - it's often offensively not to my liking and loud enough that you can't avoid it. I hate that. Occasionally the missus and I will be up in Berkeley for some reason, in which case we'll stop by Sauls. Corned-beef hash done right - end of discussion. Too bad you still can't get a solid bagel on this coast (but hell - it's getting hard to find good ones in NYC these days!), but other than that they do a solid impersonation of a jewish deli. But with much better coffee. And I, too, miss Spaghetti Western. And the Horseshoe. A funny story about SW: some friends were sitting in there for brunch several years ago, and they noticed that the guy in the booth behind them had a Black Flag tattoo. They were joking (quietly) about how stupid it is to get your favorite band's name tattooed on your arm, and how uninspired that is, and I guess they got a little loud, and the guy turned around... And it was Henry Rollins.
  10. Do I get a discount if I say nice things about you here? You're one of my faves at the farmer's market. Nice to chat with and full of information.
  11. For those of you in Oakland, there's a site up that documents some of our local taco trucks: http://tacotrucks.net/ It hasn't been updated in forever, but it's a good start. Next time you're down here for the farmer's market RG (and by the way, thanks for introducing me to cactus paddles), try some of these if you have time. I know, I know, this is supposed to be about the 707, but you're down here once a week so give it a shot. c
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