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mike_r

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Everything posted by mike_r

  1. depends on where you are and what the drink is! I usually spec a Manhattan at 2oz whiskey and 1 oz vermouth; Negroni at 1oz each across the board, and bitter balanced drinks mostly follow that structure. A Daiquiri is at 2-3/4-3/4; most other sours are built more or less according to that structure. Tiki drinks - often are larger volume but are using more mixer; also are often served over crushed ice so that 12-14 oz glass becomes pretty reasonable. And the top 3-4 oz of that glass are typically just crushed ice, meant to support bitters or mint or what have you. For stirred drinks I usually use a 6 to 6.5-oz coupe; typically my stirred drink recipes are at about 3 to 3.5 oz; with 30% dilution (average) that gets you to nearly 5 oz. Add in an oz+ for the wash line and there you go. For shaken drinks I'll usually go with a glass closer to 7.5 oz; that's a 3.5-4 oz drink with closer to 35% dilution. Plenty of room for the cocktail plus space for foam (egg white, pineapple, basic bubbles from shaking.)
  2. Tales of the Cocktail 2009

    they have seminars at tales? In my opinion, it's simply scale. The same drinks that on a massive scale seemed insipid and uninspired might have been interesting at the least if tasted on a one-to-one basis. Especially when everything is being dumped into a bucket hours ahead of time; the citrus is changing, sugar is moving, layers are forming. For the seminars we were mostly able to batch immediately before the tasting; but for something as massive and involved as the Sins event (which took years off my life, let me tell you!) we have to start early...and we were still behind. Also, some of the drinks were just bad.
  3. Tales of the Cocktail 2009

    i'm exaggerating. Most of the cocktails were actually quite good; it's just that when you're batching for 300 any little balance errors are multiplied drastically. think about the last time you built a cocktail and forgot the simple, or the lime. Sometimes you taste and BLAMMO! there goes your palate. fixable for the most part, but often we simply hadn't tasted the cocktails before, and so were unsure of which direction to take them. As a whole, however, I think they worked out.
  4. Tales of the Cocktail 2009

    too many to list. Other highlights: Vaughn's, Bacchanal, the New Orleans Moonshiners, 1914 Pierre Ferrand, and shots of Tobala mezcal with Steve Olson and Ron Cooper in the kitchen. And again at 10 in the morning. And again at Tommy's... Lowlights: sins. nuff said. both the kind we do and the kind that were done to us. as well as that one thing.
  5. Rogue (now beta) Cocktails

    I first saw this book a few weeks ago when Troy returned from the St-Germain Can-Can in NYC. Kirk had called a few of us at Violet Hour and asked, very casually, if we had any unusual receipts involving often-overlooked ingredients that can usually be found behind many bars; i.e. no housemade bitters involving moonflower blossoms or bacon-washed gin. I dig what they're doing, wholeheartedly. Of course their philosophy raises controversy; but it also gets people thinking, to a certain extent. I had the privilege of drinking at Cure a couple of times; both times surrounded by damn fine bartenders, spirits folks, writers, etc. Each time rounds of praise were brought forth. Their technique and style are wonderful; ask for an old-fashioned or sazerac or even a damn daiquiri and you'll be blown away. As someone who's made those drinks hundreds of times, and still loves them, I find myself often times craving something...different. Something more. Louder, faster, stronger, brighter...In the same way that I love good jazz, or classical music, but have a deep love and appreciation for metal, punk, and industrial. Toby teaches us, among other things, the beauty of subtle complexity, the importance of integrity, and how wicked a liquid pun can be...without these attributes, you haven't even made it out of the starting gate. I know Kirk's learned this (see above) and now he's trying to drop a penny on the tracks, as it were, if only to get people to think. The idea of using a jigger to measure non-potable bitters, combining spirits in unusual fashion, or inversion is not exactly new (Baker, Thomas et al. have such delights documented). At the moment, however, it is different. And as a bartender, I've already used this book myself behind the bar, when I have my regulars in and they want something...different. I think overall what they're trying to fire up is the search for something new. Learn the tryptich, learn water content, learn balance, learn relationships...great. You can make a drink. Now push!
  6. Butter - Chicago

    I've had the pleasure of enjoying the cuisine of butter as it was under chef poli, as well as chef wolen's individual take on different styles of cooking... and i can say it is a very good matchup. it will be interesting to see what he makes of it, but as he says, this is what every young chef dreams of. I have no doubt that lee wolen can make it happen, step into the wheelhouse, as it were...
  7. adam seger of nacional 27 is doing several cocktails with wine syrups; absolutely phenomenal.
  8. TRU - Chicago

    as far as that goes, perhaps you would have better luck phoning and trying to set up a stage for a day; meaning work for free and see some cool stuff. generally it is used as a filtering process when one is applying for a job, but it can be used solely for educational purposes as well. be prepared for a lot of menial, labor-intensive tasks, such as shelling peas, juicing corn, chopping onions, etc. i am speaking from experience at other restaurants only; i don't know how they treat stagesat TRU. in any case, you have all succeeded in getting me pretty damn excited for my meal; i only hope they can live up to the hype
  9. TRU - Chicago

    cheers! that actually sounds quite reasonable. i'm extremely interested in the service aspect at the moment; although i love food in every regard, i have heard much in regards to tru's service. since i'm currently working in a service-based environment, i'd like to see how others view certain steps in hospitality. another question: do you know if it is possible to set up a wine tasting program with them, or is it preferable to order a few glasses or a bottle?
  10. TRU - Chicago

    i was curious--i am planning on eating at tru in the near future and have to budget accordingly...what can i expect to spend if i want to see everything--caviar staircase, cheese, etc. are there other "add-ons" i can look for? i spent some time looking over the tru site and though it mentions the summer collection is $110, they don't mention the caviar staircase. should i go for gand's dessert collection in conjuction with the grand tasting? so confused!
  11. A Summer Cocktail Need

    try mixing white grape juice with gin and a little lime; it'll have a nice refreshing acidity to it...and it's pretty clear. go about 1:1 white grape to lime. welch's works great here.
  12. you could try carrageenan; it's what's used in stuff like chocolate milk to suspend the cocoa particles in the milk...and it has an affinity for dairy.
  13. i'm just waiting for the chicagoland foie running wars...i picked up my tommy gun last weekend, and will be raising ducks in my bathtub to smuggle into the trendiest of restaurants. a bunch of people have expressed their dismay about the new ordinance, as well they should. the two things that get me are (1) the fact that loretta swit--most famously "hot lips" houlihan from M*A*S*H--was able to pull off some ridiculously sentimentalist ploy reminding people of american embarrasments oversees in order to fuel some personal agenda, and (2) the fact that trotter's name was cited as a justification for the ban, "well, TROTTER'S doing it, so we all should, right?". mindless celebrity fawning at its worst. ducks are animals. i do believe that they should be treated humanely, but as a card-carrying carnivore and as a cook who has spent a lot of time up to my arms in animal body parts, i am fully cognizant of the fact that animals have to die for their delicious flesh. bottom line, WE WON the evolutionary battle. we developed brains, opposable thumbs, and sensitive palates. if the ducks had won they'd be eating us. sure, the life of a food animal is short and probably not the happiest, taking anthropomorphized cartoons and kids' movies as a guideline. the thing is...we shouldn't anthropomorphize animals, especially food animals. that's not donald and it's not lil' clucky the brave explorer. it's a DUCK. with a brain the size of a couple of walnuts. it's not spending time bemoaning its fate, or planning its memoirs, or voicing an internal narrative as it cleverly evades capture from the evil farmer. its internal narrative, translated into human terms, might go like this: "FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD OW OW OW FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD MATE? MATE? MATE? FOOD FOOD FOOD FOOD." it can feel pain, yes, which is something we should avoid, as highly evolved stewards of this planet. but i cannot see how mindless, knee-jerk reactionary prohibitions like this one are a sign of higher evolution. bugger city hall and alderman moore especially. i'm going to request a ban on shitty overacting in the city, drawing a connection to 9/11 somehow, to trade in on people's emotions. oh, and i officially scoff at this ordinance.
  14. i'm another canned tuna hater. the smell just reminds me of canned cat food...not my idea of tasty stuff. tuna salad, even "gourmet" white albacore, i just can't take it. the smell of cheetos also makes my throat seize up. i also don't like cooked salmon for the most part; raw is ok, but cooked...especially olive oil poached...urgh. don't like cherry, especially the artificial cherry flavor that everything popular is flavored with, and i can't take soda, although i will drink red bull until the cows come home.
  15. Sincerest Form

    i think we've moved beyond lynching chef robin...now we are onto a discussion of, realistically, where we are going as an industry as a whole. the mention of salmon and sorrel was an apt analogy, as that (when the troisgros brothers chose to flaunt tradition by offering something so simply presented) was a time of transition for the industry, much as today is. in recent times we have seen the growth of intellectual property as a keystone of the postmodern culinary revolution; wylie dufresne has his shrimp noodles and gums, grant achatz has his black truffle explosion and wild service pieces, homaro cantu has his edible paper and aropmatic utensils. my understanding of culinary history is limited; i have been a cook now for about six years; i have read books like california dish, by jeremiah tower; michael ruhlman's books, etc. i consider myself relatively well-versed in this field. It seems to me that the process of growth in our field has always been one of building upon the work of others. nowadays we have chefs who have been trained in classical and semi-classical tradition breaking away and defining new boundaries, refusing to be beholden to the precepts of yore. (gettin a little dramatic here...sorry) anyway, we have techniques which are being pioneered by chefs which will have a lasting impact on our industry. i can't say for sure where we will all be in ten or twenty years; i know there will always be a market for stuff like tacos al pastor and pizza and pasta primavera...will anyone, in twenty years' time be saying, darn, wish that vapor joint on the corner hadn't closed, where am i going to get my aromas now? we see things like sous-vide, sodium alginate, liquid nitrogen, gums, transglutaminase, precision cooking (to tenths of a degree!) in immersion circulators, lasers, vapors, antennae, etc. we need to decide where to draw the line: everyone sautees fish, right? throw some orange peel in the pan, some butter...whatever. nothing new. cook the fish sousvide? hmmm...glue it to another piece of fish? ok, interesting...pureee it and make it into fish "caviars" with alginate? tres novelle...just don't use the same plateup and description as someone else. i've experimented with activa. because of wd-50? yep. did i try shrimp noodles? yep, to understand how it works. when i do something with activa, am i going to credit wylie dufresne? no, unless i am grinding shrimp and setting it with activa. if i glue two pieces of beef together to create a ridiculously thick flank steak i'm not going to credit wylie because he didn't invent the enzyme, just paved the way. chefs and hardcore foodies will understand that anyone playing with transglutaminase is walking along the path that wylie presented for us, but that we have to make our own discoveries along the way. outright copying of what he has done is not something i would (i think!!!) want to waste my time on, unless it was as a stepping stone toward something new... ok i'll sign off cuz i'm not making much sense...
  16. chocolate-covered spiderman? or is that a little too off-topic...
  17. when bechamel was invented, everyone said, hey, great idea, lets expand on that and use it. when the troisgros bros (?) started the movement away from huge pieces montee to smaller dishes, and started using reductions and vinaigrettes instead of the old heavy cream and roux-thickened sauces, everyone said, wow, thats a great idea, let's do it. now i can walk into a restaurant and order salmon, and at most restaurants i'll get a piece of salmon, seared, on top of some veg and starch, with a ring or pool of sauce. there is nothing new to this. there are individual touches a chef can add to make it his own, but in gross form it HAS BEEN DONE. I understand the concept of borrowing techniques from other chefs; in the privacy of my own home i have attempted to recreate some dishes i have had and even cooked in professional kitchens--so that i may understand them completely. there is nothing wrong with using sodium alginate to make little fruit caviars, even though lots of people have done it. foams, gels, etc. are all techniques that benefit from frequent reinvention. even the use of transglutaminase, gums, liquid nitrogen, sous-vide, etc. is becoming more widespread, and people are using those techniques in new ways every day. this is a good thing; something one chef tries may be copied, and then expanded upon, by another, and this will drive the industry further along whatever road it travels. i haven't eaten at alinea, wd-50, interlude, and el bulli, but i work in the industry, read, and talk to other cooks and chefs on a daily basis. i consider myself pretty well up-to-date as far as the current state of "the movement," whatever it calls itself, and i can call a spade a spade--as has been pointed out pretty conclusively here, interlude has more than borrowed from other restaurants of this ilk. that part is rather embarrassing, but it seems that chef robin has reenacted these dishes well; all that remains is for him to expand upon these concepts, which i hope he will do. donut soup? been done. tasty, but i will never put donut soup on my (future) menu. donut foam? ok. take the soup and gel it back into the shape of a donut? ok. that's the hard part here, to take an innovation and innovate further...
  18. Gellan

    sodium alginate is something totally different; to create the caviars you are thinking about one mixes the puree with sodium alginate, then drops the liquid into a bath of water and calcium chloride (about 5% solution, i think). the ions crosslink, forming a biopolymer. (if that statement is wrong, i'm sorry. that's how i understood the explanations i have been given.) the caviars will keep "cooking", eventually forming a solid ball of gelled puree...so they are served immediately, so the can stll explode when you bite into them. also, chloride is very bitter, and the longer you keep your puree in the bath the more bitter it will taste; a quick rinse in cold water or even simple syrup can be efficacious in removing the bitterness.
  19. potato peeler

    that looks weird... the only peeler i use is the cheapo kuhn-rikon plastic one, available at Northwest Cutlery for just 2.95. rutabegas, butternut squash, even the bumpy end of celery root, taro root, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, etc. peels a carrot in about three seconds flat. never misses; the only problem is that i have occasionally taken off chunks of finger--but thats mostly because of the way i hold the vegetables, on the tips of my fingers for speed. they are sharp though, and when you get used to the size and shape much more movement-efficient than anything else; a few snaps of the wrist are all that is required... such a passion for peelers here!
  20. Kitchen Language

    i've seen a lot of spanglish used...staff meal is comida, a long day has been called mucho worko, etc. some places i've worked a lot of times on the line we'd just start talking in pidgin spanish, even when no one on the line was hispanic. others: turn'n'burn--moving tables along so they'll get out so you can reseat the table...worked at a 200-seat restaurant once that did two and a half turns in about an hour and a half before the baseball game (it was right down the street from the stadium). at my current place we say we're "out on" stuff when that course will be the next one fired, as in, "picking up two potatoes, four sweetbreads; out on two bass, four beef." a dirty chef is senor susio (spanish for dirty). a hack is a zapatero, or shoemaker. when the whole line is having a bad night and we're cooking like idiots, we say we've been making shoes all night. in the weeds (or any kind of failure, really) is going down. getting under someone's skin by telling them what they've been doing wrong is being in the wheelhouse. my favorite: "fire one slurry, on the fly." ...when you're busting ass all night long, running and sweating, sometimes you start chafing...in places. delicate places. so you call over to someone (loud enough so the whole kitchen can hear you) that you need a slurry. cuz cornstarch will effectively stop the chafing... (sometimes when we know we're gonna get crushed ther'll be reminders to each other to put cornstarch in their shorts.) oh and knife wounds and burn scars are battle scars or track marks. you wanna insult someone when they get burned you ask if they want lotion (real men just tough it out ) thats all i can think of for now. i do know that in most places cooks think of themselves as hardcore, superior beings, too cool for words. which leads to slang, line dancing (executing graceful moves like spinning behind your buddy's back while he plates up, pulling something out of the oven, continuing the turn, and closing the oven door with your foot, using that motion to propel yourself to the pass where you can start your plate-up as your buddy spins and replaces his saucepot on the heat...etc) tattoos, bandannas, piercings, loud music, etc. ps. this is my 100th post. yay for me.
  21. whew, thought i was the only one...think i should start a thread on what our d&d characters have eaten in games? (j/k. that's horrifyingly nerdy. im sorry.) anyway...what about medusa's snakes, done up like unagi? i'd like to try some ankylosaurus flank, grilled, or maybe the legs braised for a week in some kind of cretaceous wine...those guys didn't move around a whole lot, so they're bound to have some fatty goodness going on...
  22. amen to that! this is also just another way to slip our liberties out from under us with snakeoil. first foie, then lobster, then veal, next thing you know we're all going to be restricted to a stone age diet of grains and asparagus! don't get me wrong, i like asparagus, but mostly on the side of something rich, fatty and delicious--hey, like foie. heck, if this bill passes i'm gonna start raising ducks for foie in my bathroom. this bill will be harder to enforce than prohibition...
  23. man that sucks. speaking as a cook who has recently been given the opportunity to gain front-of-the-house experience at a pretty high-end joint, everything you spoke of sounds completely unacceptable. The worst part is not only did you receive crappy service, but no one even noticed you receiving crappy service. letting a table slip through the cracks like that is beyond embarrassing, it's a bloody sin against the industry. it's crap, and i hope to god you complain and they invite you back for another meal, on their dime, and that it is flawless. sorry, this sort of thing gets to me. i've only ever had this sort of experience at smaller, cheaper, independant places; all three or four times i've been able to spend that much cash in one sitting it has been spectacular...but maybe i've been lucky. if i was at the receiving end of such treatment--as passive and innocuous as it may seem from a service standpoint--i'd leave a tip of about ten cents. in pennies. in an upside down full water glass. then i'd hop on egullet and lacerate them
  24. Chips and Crisps

    my favorite are taro root chips. just a little salt and they beat just about any other root veg out there.
  25. fried sweetbreads, mmmm....There's a burger joint near the train station on damen and north (chicago) that does fried twinkies every now and then...i worked for a chef who made fried mayo...for staff meal...
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