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paul o' vendange

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Everything posted by paul o' vendange

  1. Wilson, good points all. How about the following: the line of beers is called ___ (Company name): Due North Ales Couple of ad campaigns: a blank white full sheet, with a bold, black, block: Lost? Then a glistening beer (probably an ESB), with a scraggly black line-arrow pointing to the white head atop, then, Head Due North. Or, my 82 year old Estonian grandmother in law. Handheld TV camera catches her working her garden by the wall of her home, and asks this nice lady, would you try this beer? She downs it in one sweep, and, in the sweetest Eesti voice, asks.. "More please?" (this actually taken from life)... I agree on the humor thing. It's a fun beverage, and inherently, cannot take itself too seriously.
  2. Agree wholeheartedly, Brooks, well put. Tons of stainless gets pretty expensive when receipts are not coming in. And, as the former national distribution manager of a regional craft Brewery here in Chicago, I, too, have seen what happens when craft brewers try to venture too far afield - without the economies of scale, and ironclad distribution system, of their behemoth mega-cousins. Best example to me, is Yuengling's turn around - the opposite of Frederick's fall, both hinging on the same reason. Yuengling came back home - and prospered. Shame, really. I brew wonderful beer, if I say so myself, and dream of opening up my own little Shepherd Neame or Hook Norton here in the states - complete with sheep lowing in the field, eating my spent grain. But it is not the climate it was a decade ago. Cheers, Paul
  3. Here are my predictions. The beer industry is consolidating, obviously. The large brewers, Budweiser, Miller (SAB), Coors some time ago ventured for a minor blip into the specialty beer production arena, found it not their game, and went back to doing what they do. Consolidation will increase here. A long anticipated demographic shift has already taken place. However, it is exactly the 18-25 year old market which will seek out more flavorful products - college age consumers choosing local, craft beer. See Bells and Oberon Ale. Craft beer, as a sector, will continue to grow slowly, in a bricks-and-mortar pattern of solid, but not too exciting, growth. The craft beer industry is now entering a mature pattern, and consolidations will be on the rise here. See the recent purchase of Portland Brewing by Pyramid. Those now-veterans of the craft beer movement, like Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, Alaska Brewing, Sam's, (and Bells, etc., on the smaller scale), provided they do not try to go too expansive (i.e., Sams took a hit when it made too big an overture last year) will strengthen and perservere. Newcomers will find it extremely hard to find any shelf space, unless they are in an untapped market. Which is becoming hard to find. But overall, beer is here to stay. Who makes it will change, but as a consumer product, it will stay and not weaken over any length of time. Things like Zima of yesteryear, or low-carb beer of today, or "alco-pops" like Mike's Hard Lemonade or Hooch, are mere fads, and will pass. Any brewer who sinks considerable capitalization into equipping to make these products (if they require significant retooling to do so - i.e.., Hooch's special "Centrex" blending unit at 1 $million plus) will be hurting, as they will pass.
  4. That's true, Craig, but a more detailed picture is that the beer industry's 1% decline was a 4th quarter narrowing off of a 3-3.7%% decline in 2003 Q1. In other words, I am not sure it is as much an increased market share taken by spirits as a sour economy now turning around. Time will tell, of course. On a good note, although many of the larger craft breweries posted losses, craft brewing as a whole posted a 5% gain. Those breweries who stayed home and served their core market fared fine. Cheers, Paul
  5. Shrimp saute with fennel, garlic, tomato, parsley, and a shrimp stock reduction (ok, and a toss of ouzo), over risotto cakes. Kendall Jackson chard. eau de vie "framboises sauvages." Enough dessert there.
  6. At the moment, I love a beer put out by Three Floyd's, Dreadnaught IPA, a massive beer, with an explosion of citrusy, dry hop character - the most, and best, I've experienced in any beer. A truly outstanding effort (I am not biased, though it's brewed by a former colleague from our Goose Island days...way to go, Jimmy!). Of course, I brew a ton, and I am unabashedly self-congratulatory in saying I really enjoy my own line...cold conditioning an Imperial IPA, dry hopping a strong ESB, and about to brew a robust porter... Onwards, fans of ale! Paul
  7. Jacques Pepin lays out how to de-bone a quail, or any small bird, in La Technique or its modern edition, "Jacques Pepin's Complete Techniques" (La Technique and La Methode in 1 volume). Quite easy, follows his technique for larger birds. Cheers, Paul
  8. Forgot to add that as a teenager, for an outing with my French class, went to L'Auberge Parisienne. I can't vouch for the food (going back nearly 30 years ago - god), but the setting was nice; in someone's home, or so it seemed, with a nice view of a verdant back yard and environs.
  9. You're killing me. Born and bred Venturan, haven't been home in 10 years. I remember going to a sulfur-fed hot springs in Ojai, with massage facilities and a natural food restaurant next door. The food was not bad (not hay bricks on tofu squares, actually a decent caesar, at the time). But I would not go for the food, necessarily, rather for the private tubs (sulfur reeks everywhere. Wonderful) and massage. A nice retreat, sorry can't remember the name. Chicago today is: muggy, stifling and miserable. Yippee!
  10. I work for a law firm. Business is for... Aw, the hell with it. I'm going to go read Anna Karenina.
  11. By the end of business Sunday I am ready for the end of business Friday.
  12. Sorry, everyone, been away, and should have confirmed. Yep, you bet, we're on - Monday night, 7:00. I'll be the guy with an Orval, and a lamp, stumbling up and down Clark street, saying "have you seen the dolphin? Have you seen the dolphin?" Guajolote - Am sorry that I will have to miss your event. Reading, it seems you have dozens of howling beasts perched at your door, poised to pounce on some serious food. Have a blast! Look forward to seeing you on Monday. Maggie, thanks for the heads up re: Rachel; I have given it to her. See y'all Monday.
  13. Well, I am quite convinced we got it right with this lad - but given his name is Connor, maybe he's pulled the wool over our eyes and we will have to repeat our visit.
  14. FG, I don't know which is more common, FOH to BOH, or vice-versa. In my case, I had cooked French food since I was old enough to read. Although I came to FOH to make money and pursue life as an actor, I had always wanted to be in the kitchen. There was a romance to it. When you finished, you came out in whites, exhausted, and the staff would pour a goblet of red wine for you. More, I appreciated the artistry of it. Then I woke up. Usually in the middle of a shift, flying about 2" off the ground (and 2" off my sanity) with FOH losing their shit because customer __ had to wait too long for a goddamned rack. FOH was to me disgusting whoredom. But, there was a certain self-righteous joke that only I was in on; I was charming, I could smile, and sell, and only I knew I truly didn't give a damn about what they ordered or wanted, for the most part. Still, I knew and honored some truly career BOH people I had come to know. Many of them were young guys, like me at the time, who had emigrated from "old houses" in NY to L.A. These guys knew what they were doing, were old school though young, and would retire doing it. I was always aware I sucked compared to them. Invento - Can't agree that service is more important than food. Granted, truly rotten service will kill a place. But merely mediocre food will as well, at least from my experience.
  15. Andy, had I known of the Chipping Camden location, my wife and I would have tried it out. Years ago, we spent some time in the Cotswolds (Hook Norton - Pear Tree Inn and Hook Norton Brewery), Warwick, etc., and loved it very much; hoping to come back. Something must have been right. Our little boy was conceived there. Gives new meaning to Hook Norton's "Old Hooky!"
  16. I can say that from my experience, which includes both sides of the swinging kitchen door, there is no comparison. It is true that a senior back of house member, i.e., executive chef will likely make more than a front of house server with same number of years experience, as the latter's salary is effectively "frozen" and indexed on the check averages, but most BOH folks are not executive chefs. Most places I have worked, from swank L.A. places (For Hans Rockenwagner, among others) to Chicago, FOH makes a killing over BOH. Egregiously so. When a bad night for FOH means less than $200, or roughly $26 an hour, and a bad night for BOH means, well, a bad night, as in no matter how slammed or fried we get, we're still pulling in $9-13 an hour, then, yeah, that blows. And lest one thinks the labor bullshit about BOH not getting paid for O.T. is just that, bullshit, think again - I worked for a since-closed up-and-coming joint for a then-up-and-coming rising star in the L.A. scene, who had the balls to drive around in the JAG daddy bought for him while he bounced - bounced, a month's worth of pay, at 90 hours per week. Forget no OT; more, no pay. Never paid the straight time back. And this is not unusual. As to whether this is a market glitch or not, tips do not come out of owner pockets, so they don't care. In fact, many places, placing servers on salaries and appropriating the tips to themselves, do doubly well. So, from a strictly capitalist viewpoint, no, there is no market glitch. They can get away with it because people will work for it. But from a social good standpoint, it blows. Utterly.
  17. Yep, agree, the little cornichons/acid a good way to cut the richness. Didn't eat with mustard but will for Round 2... Here's what I made it with: 1/2 # rabbit legs (reserved from rabbit roulade earlier in the week), 1 duck breast, weighing about 2 oz; 1/4 # pork butt, the duck liver, which was a little over 2.5 oz; and an egg white, which was about 2 oz. Therefore, total meat and egg: about a pound. 9 oz. fatback. The other duck breast, I split lengthwise and pan seared with FL's "squab spice," which I had reserved from when I made the squab and figs, earlier last month. The squab spice consists of: cinnamon, coriander, clove, quatre epice and black pepper. So, the forcemeat spice ratio: for one pound of meat, 1/3 tsp quatre epice, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1.5 tsp salt. I boiled a small quenelle and cooled to taste, and it tasted spot on, again, luckily. Merveilleuse!
  18. On its way, Xan! This is actually the first terrine I have made, and luck of the draw, it really was very good. Pulled together from a few different folks - Madeleine Kamman gives a good description of proportions, and in the book, Soul of the Chef, Brian Polcyn's Master Chef Certification Exam, his duck terrine. Really nice to see the pink-seared duck breast with a luckily (luckily, as I guessed on spice ratios) well-flavored forcemeat, and the shiitake slices were beautiful. Rich, though!
  19. After resting 48 hours, eating rabbit/duck/shiitake terrine prepared Friday with cornichons on the side. Marvelous.
  20. Chicken saute with tomatoes, artichoke hearts, stock, tarragon, shallots. Rutabega/turnip/bacon gratin Aussie shiraz for now, when it's done, Jekel Chard. Still more (the end) of the peach lavender sorbet.
  21. Looking at my shelves, only about 30-40 total - but they include Escoffier, LaRousse, Bocuse, McGee, Keller, Peterson, Kamman, Child, CIA, David, Pepin, Soltner, Sokolov, Saulnier, Hazan, Dornenburg, Ruhlman... In other words, if I never acquire another, I will die before tapping these out. Well, of course, there is Ducasse, Girardet, Robuchon... Damn.
  22. Chef, thanks for the Seattle heads-up. I love the NW and perhaps my family and I will end up there post-FCI. Cheers.
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