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  1. Spoon biscuits (Cook's Illustrated recipe), sausage gravy, cured ham and scrambled eggs; hash browns cooked in duck fat with a little cracked pepper, washed down with a cup of French-pressed city-roast Kenya AA. Now I got to get back out on deck and build barge tow in the rain But a good tugboat breakfast goes a long way toward making it bearable.
  2. I never used to use them but I recently bought a couple and I am a total convert. If nothing else, they keep your knives from poking holes in your knife roll.
  3. Maybe not in your world. On the topic at hand, my vote for sheer uselessness would have to go to those rubbery sleeve-ey garlic peeler thingies.
  4. I think a compound butter would be your best bet; or a simple pan gravy. Nothin' wrong with that, is there?
  5. Thanks for the thread, karen. Long ago, (in a motorcycling magazine IIRC) I found the definition of 'artist' that resounded most poignantly with me: "He who presents the familiar in a new light." Controversy over technique aside, Adria does do that: One certainly doesn't think of codfish as being foamy. Beyond that, he's honest about it. No food is better than another; all ingredients are weighted equally aesthetically. Everything is judged on its own merits and brought to the table tasting like itself. I'd never refer to myself as a 'chef' so maybe I'm not qualified to even have an opinion on this; but although I agree with Chef Bourdain that cooking is not an art (it's a craft), sometimes ya gotta give credit where credit is due. Carpentry isn't an art, it's a craft: but James Krenov and Garret Hack do amazing things in cocobolo and walnut. Can we apply the same pardigm to Blumenthal, Aschatz and Adria? How can we not?
  6. I liked it just a ton. I'm an animation fan from waaaaaaaay back (cartoons and a fun-log, anyone?) and this one just does a stellar job of stretching the bounds of what's possible. It presents the familiar in a new light, much like a good chef can do. Kudos to Disney/Pixar for letting the final plating just be what it it is, without a lot of garnish.
  7. The world is full of people who are ferociously intelligent without having had that reflected in their GPAs. I'm not sure how I would define intelligence other than as "a deep-seated curiousity about the world" and the ability to solve problems on the fly. I'm a member of MENSA, but I learned at conventions that asking fellow MENSANs, "So, what do you do for a living?" is what we call a BIG NO-NO. Lots and lots of social skill deficiencies in that group of people. So. That said, I'm not sure one can cook effectively on a line without having at least a marginally-above-average IQ, measured by whatever test one chooses to administer (please disregard furor over effectiveness of same, TYVM). It takes, beyond a certain personality trait, an ability to think on the fly; to hold a bunch of stuff straight and in order inside one's head, and dump it off when no longer needed for service but be able to recall salient points for recipe development later. My brother-in-law with the 12-pound brain is probably one of the smartest people I've ever met, and he'd make a good line cook if he weren't on research faculty at the University of Wisconsin doing positron emission tomography. His specialty is into Parkinson's research, but is considering writing a grant proposal to study memory development. I told him he ought to take a look at the brains of line cooks and sous-chefs and how, having tasted something once, we can come pretty close to re-creating it later: how some things in our lives bypass short-term memory and go straight into deep storage, and how with a little practice, we can use this for other things as well. How our memories work in funky, funky ways. If for no other reason than then we could say, "See, I told you!! Our brains are different!!"
  8. Star anise, fennel, pineapple and jalapeno chutney: Cut a bunch of everything up (proportionately), sweat gently in what you think is probably too much butter, add a big splash of fruit juice. Reduce for a while and thicken slightly with cornstarch slurry.
  9. You're talking a pretty strong half-cup to 3/4 cup of liquids there, you could easily marinate the biggest flank steak the market has to offer in a Ziploc with that much liquid.
  10. Reefpimp

    Razor Clams

    Remember they're called razor clams for a reason: the shells can cut you quite badly. My mom, a Seattle native until she was 26 or so (she's 74 now), can still point to scars on her hands from razor clam shell cuts.
  11. Hells bells, I run all my knives through a dishwasher from time to time to sanitize them; I reckon it's not that big a deal, and I time it so I do it when they're ready to go back on a stone again to re-establish the bevel. I'm obsessive about germs but also practical, with the raw/cook sequence in mind; but if if I'm cutting apart raw red meat (as opposed to commercial chicken, which I somehow feel merits its own HAZMAT containment field) I don't think it's out of line that I might cut up a couple more stalks of celery (say) for a mirepoix that looks skimpy in that regard. Salmonella dies at 165*F, that's it and that's all and anything else is just squeamishness. My sister, though... my sister. Lord, my sister. Mind you, she's a Thai curry guru. She's a *huge* fan of the ethic put forth in Omnivore's Dilemma and would sooner strangle her children in their sleep than feed them substandard food. Watching her put out a meal (Always delicious, always nutritious, always with ingredients that have a provenance and a pedigree so Bristol-fashion that I wonder if I'm eating food or distilled history) is something that makes me grit my teeth and cram my hands into my pockets so I don't grab the knife out of her hands; mind you, my brother-in-law is as as anal-retentive about it as I am, and any knife in their house is sharp enough for surgery at any time; grab that knife, and make things happen. I console myself that she's not on my time clock and I don't do her evaluations. Uneven slices, at odd angles, because she broke her arm skiing years ago and it didn't heal right. Splatters on the stove from a month ago. Pots--not in the sink, but out on the drainboard-- filled with something that might make a PETA activist start turning the protest turbine, because even though it's vegetarian, it's wearing a pelt. Only two kids, and be warned I would kill for my niece and my nephew; only two kids but the psychic real estate those two charmers take up at mealtime is acres across. Underfoot? Undermind, more like. Let's not talk about the cats and the dog (I love that dog, he's one of my very best friends in the whole world, Smoky and I get along famously but he's a little needy) seeing just what they can get away with at mealtime. I love my sister. I love to eat her food. She knows that I cook for a living and can do most of it better than she can, and is by-God determined to show me that she can do it without my help. I am happy to let her, because her kitchen makes me want to throw my hands in the air and lurch and gibber until it all goes away.
  12. Don't quote me or place a bet on it, but I'm pretty sure what you had was a Langoustine. Wikipedia entry for the critter. Interestingly, "langoustine" is French for "Prawn." Funny how the language evolves, huh? *edit* And so Qwerty robs me of my chance to be a know-it-all by just keeping it simple. Bravo, I say. Bravo! *end-edit*
  13. Concur. Has anybody noticed that all restaurants share some of the Platonic ideal of Restaurant? That what's in common is much stronger than what's different? The Cook With The Drug Problem; The Very Affectionate (ahem) Waitress; The Screaming Sous-Chef and The Mellow Sous-Chef; The Funny Guy (usually a cook but sometimes a waitron); The Silent And Angry Dish Dog. Maybe it's what makes moving from job to job that much easier, knowing that no matter where you're going, it's not that different from where you just were.
  14. 21 Euro for a cheeseburger?!? My God, does it come with a gift certificate to the red Light District and a box of Cuban cigars?? Has anyone ever witnessed some of the discussion on what constitutes the real, true, "authentic" Maryland Crab Cake? I have seen people almost come to blows over the ratio of cornmeal to onion! Literally! Voices raised at table, forks brandished like little spears, people walking off in raised dudgeon.... Having grown up in the Upper Midwest, I have no strong opinions either way. I have never met a crab cake I didn't like. But I'm pretty fanatical about my tavernburgers. I once quit a job and drove 300 miles on the rumor of The Ultimate Burger.
  15. Host's Note: Given the interest in American cooking spurred by Felice's review of Hidden Kitchen and existing places like La Cave Gourmand and Spring I thought these replies on American food deserved their own topic. One of the things I love about American cuisine is, even though it's still being defined, written, and codified, we can still have 'classics' like the BLT and the crab cake and Root Beer Float. And for the Parisians who sneer at Le Ahmboorgerr? Obviously never tried the Classic Midwest Tavern Burger in all its onion-draped goodness. More pity to them. Maybe it ain't a lobe of Grade A foie; but sometimes what you really want is a burger, fries and a beer.
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