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paul o' vendange

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Everything posted by paul o' vendange

  1. Lesley, CIA offers both an Associates and Bachelor's degrees.
  2. Chef Fowke, thank you indeed for such an exhaustive, wonderful report. I am on a self-prescribed Bourdeaux tour these days, but my spiritual home is the Rhone, with Gigondas as king, and I have not had the wines you mentioned. Congratulations on such a successful event (and on your other ventures).
  3. Classic rabbit/duck terrine (rabbit reserved when I made rabbit roulade earlier this week), garnished with seared duck breast, shiitakes, and pistachios. Cooling now for tomorrow, with toast points and an orange-bourbon glaze. Edited to reflect, that would be, er, shiitakes.
  4. O.K., one more post. This is from Dan Barber's comments in the FCI article with him: "The FCI is a great example, as a lot of things are, that you get out of it what you put into it. And if you're the type of person who is going to be late to class, and not follow up on your assignments and you're only interested in some sexy presentations and the exciting later-level involvement, The FCI is probably not the school for you. "But it seems to me if that you can bring to it an excitement and a passion for learning at a time when you just have nothing else to do but learn…to me, I would LOVE to go back and do that again….I'd say if you're the type of person who puts a lot of energy and commitment and involvement to what you do, then it's a great, great environment in which to learn." Now, the beer.
  5. I say we all get a case of pbr. And Steve, you have spurred me on to do such a thing.
  6. Soba, c'est la vie. Simply my experience, which goes back to 1990. It is considerably different, and is not inaccurately represented from my empirical vantage point. But I am deeply surprised to hear that most associates in your firm are in it to pay off their undergrad and law school debt in 2, 3, or 4 years? I just did an empirical study, at my firm (granted, not rigorously statistical). 5 people asked, mix of established senior partners, new partners, young associates. "What do you think is the average time to pay back law school loans" [did not ask of these plus undergrad loans]: The consensus was a minimum of 10 years, and that at a huge monthly outlay. Enter family or other financial encumbrances, and that 10 can stretch to much, much longer (one did say, "8...but I'm just taking a stab"...but he is a senior partner and his school was paid for; another associate said she definitely thought the pay-out/pay-in ratio was only going to get drastically worse, therefore expecting much longer payback times). Anyway, I'm glad your experience and that of your firm's lawyers is different. Hell, may all people be thus satisified in their work. ---- Steve KLC - just for the record (god, this is beginning to sound like a trial for all of us, isn't it?), Dan was not one of the guys I spoke with. But he lists FCI as his education, as does FCI list him on their alumni page. Again, what you have had to say is valuable to me, and I leave (I think) this thread with much more than I have come in with. Edited to add: I agree with you wholeheartedly that the nature of the instructor matters above all else. Which is what led me, in a former iteration, to devote 1 1/2 years training as an uchideshi - literally, inside, direct student, a disciple, if you will, to a Japanese Aikido master. But then, that is most definitely another thread. Oh, and sorry, Steve, didn't fully answer you. We are coming en masse - wife, son, and 2 ridiculously oversized labradors - to NY. We shall see what happens after. We want very much to spend time in France.
  7. Soba, most of the ones that "chewed them up and spit them out" were IT-intensive firms. I know, as I worked nights; one of them, in particular, I knew the young associates came in early morning and were there when I left, after midnight. And they were there on weekends. If they weren't, they were out. The other stuff, respecting the life of an attorney, has been my general observation (and apparently that of attorneys, at least in substantial number, judging from the profession's own admissions, which I referenced above). The vitriol was mine, and I regret the heated edge, as I said. But I stand by what I think to be an inherently flawed system which I believe values billable hours over professional growth, or job satisfaction. My main argument was that if we are looking at pay-in v. pay-out, in a strictly dollar sense, law school and the private culinary schools are not a universe apart (to say nothing of the "soft-variable" utility considerations, such as personal fulfillment).
  8. Steve KLC, thanks for the reasoned thoughts, and Fat Guy, agree, it got out of hand; I regret my part in the vitriol. You have given much to think more deeply on, I honor your vast experience and for that I am grateful. Steve, I was a little unclear on your Dan Barber paragraph. I mentioned him as an FCI grad, '93, who is obviously doing well. And, unless I am mistaken, the school Michael Antony attended was the Ecole Superieure de Cuisine Francaise, which offers their bilingual program at 16,700 euros, or about $20,000, for the 9-month training program, offering the Ferrandi curriculum, the same one which FCI used when the Founding Chefs established the curriculum there, again, if I am not mistaken. As you have taught at FCI (and, your partner Colleen is an FCI graduate), the both of you would obviously know. Bruce Sherman, of North Pond, Chicago, also attended this program. I would agree that to draw from those we see on covers is not indicative of the many unknowns (or as yet unknowns); but I think this applies everywhere, in every industry (actors from the actor's studio who are headling movies, much less making a living, anyone?) and, in this world, whether one started out in the kitchen or paid for an education. Everything else aside, I think all that matters is sincerity of heart. Everything else is revealed for what it is, as the grind is too damned hard.
  9. Is it really that low? I have an occasional day job (the arts market being what it is) at a mid-sized but certainly not top-shelf NYC law firm... and I happen to know that the first-years make over $100k/year. And I also know that this is not considered an extravagant salary in the biz. Of course, your figure may reflect the fact that there are way too many law schools turning out way too many lawyers and the business is so glutted that the median is being pulled down by the people who end up working for podunk practices in little midwestern towns. SlKinsey, yep, this is the median, not the mean, and looking at the U.S. Dept. of Labor website: http://stats.bls.gov/oco/ocos053.htm This is for recent grads, not the total lawyer workforce median, which is closer to tuition levels, mid-90's. Broken down, first year medians are even worse, if you want to work public sector. 34's. I think you may be spot on as to the statistical weighting of regional differences, except that there are less lawyers of any salary practicing in those areas. Read on, however: "If you go to law school, you will probably spend over $100,000... After graduating you will probably work a great many hours for a decent salary in private practice (the average lawyer's salary in the U.S. is about $40,000), or a great many hours for a poor salary in public service (prosecutors, for example, often make as little as $25,000). Frankly, if financial gain is your overriding interest, you won't enjoy law school and probably will not do very well...unless you go to an inexpensive state school, it can take 10, 15, even 20 years to pay off your law school loans " This is from Fairleigh-Dickinson University: http://alpha.fdu.edu/~peabody/pllawschool1.html I know one of the just-made (contract) partners in our firm told me he expects to be paying for the next 20 years. And he didn't betray a joke-smile (he did tear up a bit). My point is that I think it generally silly to say "it costs this much, and it pays this much afterwards...fools!" because this paradigm utterly dismisses other things besides money in the equation. Happiness and job fulfillment, as I said, for one.
  10. Entirely Indulgent. My apologies: Oui, je sais, je sais. Où on peut trouver des médecins américains: http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a36504e116da1.htm Mais, vous avez Robert LePage aussi. Est-ce que vous avez vu son Hamlet? Mon dieu!
  11. Steven - I know there are 100's of good schools nationally offering vocational training, in many different occupations (many of them here, in Chicago), and I think they are wonderful for the folks who want to go there and who would benefit. I know it was off thread, but I have always wished we could catch up with our cousins in other industrialized nations and offer a more institutional, national arts program (institutional in the sense that the content they offer, as opposed to what they offer, matters, and that they will survive any political regime or social paradigm). But then, that is the subject of another thread.
  12. Lesley, I think we may have found a point of agreement. In the States, little is seen as a "social good," valued by the citizenry such that we support paying for it through taxes, to the same scope as a national or even regional <<l'école de L'hôtellerie-restauration>>, or a <<Centre national des Arts>>. It's our way, it's our social history, it's in our fabric. I bemoaned this at one time, mourned it and moved on (I wanted to see a National Theatre - Tony Randall has tried, and seems is valiantly pushing on).
  13. Put alot into this dinner. Glass. Juice. Damn summer flu! (or the "schools thread," can't figure out which).
  14. Fat Guy and Steve KLC: Gents - I am not as concerned about raw cost as I am about value. I know the difference, but thanks for looking out for me, as a $25,000 a year short-term intensive career changing program that smart college educated amateur cooks with the bug consider all the time is a snaky bastard of a devil, and we deluded claptrappers could sure use the help. As to the financial hardships endured by graduating entry-level cooks, c'mon, boys: Average legal tuition debt load: upwards of $84,000. Average monthly tuition repayment: app. $1000. Median annual salary, graduating attorneys: $52,000 Source: UW, for one. Any search on the web will yield the doleful stats. Forget doing legally altruistic, public work. The debt load more and more proscribes any idealistic choices, and almost demands entering the private sector, which leads to the next point. As to the delusions endured by the hopelessly misinformed: Fat Guy, let us in on the paradisical life led by young associates, will you, as I was under the distinct impression they instead largely stumbled, many doe-eyed and high of heart, into a circumscribed, life-destroying hell, and sadly discovered that any hope they had of contributing something of real value to their profession (much less their loved ones, or the world at large by doing their profession), irretrievably lost to the realities of the private sector track. A quick query on the web yielded the following on job satisfaction among young lawyers: "A third of the respondents reported that they were strongly considering leaving their current jobs, and another 31% were willing to consider it" ... In his article "Career Choice and Satisfaction in the Legal Profession", Mark Byers reported that the most commonly cited single reason for choosing a legal career is intellectual satisfaction, closely followed by the needs for social service and economic reward -- 'doing good and doing well' ... Today, considering the increasing disparity between income in the private and public sectors, the growing costs of a legal education, the plethora of attorneys, the increasing competition within the profession and the resulting demands for more productivity and specialization, it is no surprise that lawyers feel less independent, influential, well rewarded or intellectually stimulated in their work..." http://www1.shore.net/~cpdl/dissatishtm.html I can tell you that I have worked for many law firms. In many of those law firms, the associates were only so much chattel, and if they weren't willing to put in the 20 hour days, 7 day weeks (which you rightly pointed out earlier), they were out, and the next piece of meat was brought in. If they did survive, many turned into the miserable, burned out and wholly inhuman asshole partners that had "mentored" them down this flower-strewn path. I think that's tragic, and I hope this changes. I count many friends among them, many fine people, and I've seen many lost to a structure which destroys their sense of worth. In short, I find your arguments about the worthlessness and disingenuousness of schools, peopled in the main by deluded wannabes, misguided, to put it mildly. Steve KLC, sorry, I find in particular your "harsh chic" crap simply boring. Anthony Bourdain's got talent, and the compassionate spark to lead his razor. I go to him for "dose of reality" shots, thanks. Bottom line: We all make our fate, and we all live with it. I see no one here acting as proselytes for school, simply declaring their right to do what the hell they want to with their time, money and lives. School provides one avenue, not the only one; an avenue, however, which I for one find useful at this stage of life, as I've said. I intend to make the experience my own, knowing it's only the beginning. Late in the game? Expensive? Yes. But better than dying saying "what happened?" All of this can be summed up in three words: Are you happy? Oh, and long ago, in anticipation of this admittedly somber decision, I read voraciously, and did call a few chefs, older guys like me, graduates all of one of several of the "expensive/intensive career-changer" schools you spoke about, and all with brains and drive (again, being all "smart college educated amateur cooks with the bug"). They unequivocally said, yeah, it was worth it. They haven't given permission to use their names, so I won't; but two of them are doing very well, having won national recognition in Food & Wine, or by the James Beard Foundation. Many more who I haven't talked to are in similar company of career changers who attended these "elitist, amateur-diluted schools," as any look at chef bios will tell you (Blue Hill, anyone)? Edited for television
  15. Jinmyo wrote: Actually, Steve, I was not sure what Jinmyo meant by the above. Sorry, should have been more clear and posted the quote. I am not sure whether Jinmyo means that wine sauces require butter, or that the butter technique used by Fish may have been at issue. For thickening, I agree butter is not needed, if starch is used as liaison, but agree with you and would use a bit of butter regardless - evens out any rough corners from wine acidity.
  16. Has to be butter? Do you mean has to be the butter technique, or the recipe (or wine sauces require butter?). Presume you mean the former.
  17. Actually, I spaced out and overlooked you were making a butter-based reduction. I would tend to agree with Aquitaine. Provided your reduction has proceeded enough (and not completely liquid - most of my wine sauces are almost a glaze by the time I "monte" la beurre), keeping the temp low (and steady), and carefully incorporating the cold butter chunk-by-chunk would probably do it.
  18. I will have to chime in on this one. I don't think one could easily lump an entire student body into any one "sort;" I think you would find that even those one would want to judge as "dilettantes" may, if one dug deeper, defy the obvious judgment and reveal a more abiding reason for attending school. I can tell that in my case, at the crest of going to FCI, I don't fit easily in any mold; and I am not unique. I am middle class, and will be going into considerable debt to enter, at 41, into a profession where the financial remuneration is woefully less than I make now. I have a wife and child. I have little professional experience in a kitchen. I also know that I have had an unabated passion for French cooking since I was about 12, when I first worked my way cover to cover through La Technique. Were I single, and 16, and able to live again, I might have bagged Berkeley and apprenticed the years in France. But FCI will provide an opportunity to do something workable at this stage of life which I would not otherwise have. I know, too, that the same mileu will likely exist at FCI as existed at Berkeley. Those who are there only to satisfy anything but the sound of their own, true voice, will get out of it exactly what they put in, and no one will be "dragged down" by their lassitude. I know of few teachers who are charmed by indolence, self-indulgence, or petulance. I know many who respond to sincerity. What I am centrally saying is that it seems to me the proof is in one's ability, to borrow from Chef Pepin's apt description in his Memoirs, to "kick ass." The heat of the kitchen, whether in school or on the line, is the same for everyone, and noone gives a damn where you came from - can you work? Everything else is meaningless, as is discussion (or critiques) about people's motivation for wanting to attend school.
  19. When I've run into a consistency problem (but like the taste as is - don't want to concentrate flavors more than they are by further reduction), I go along with Chef Pepin's suggestion of potato starch. It's very cheap, a pure starch (much like arrowroot, thickens beautifully without the glossiness/slickness of corn starch). Available in kosher sections of grocery stores.
  20. Clean out the fridge night. Chicken liver crostini with bacon, madeira and shiitake mushrooms. Sauteed chicken breasts with tarragon/leftover rabbit sauce (from last night); Bread, brie and gruyere. asparagus Pommes anna. The rest ( ) of the Chateau de Pez. More of the lavender-peach sorbet.
  21. Agreed. My wife and I were blessed for a time to live in Wisconsin, on 60 acres, amid oak, corn and soybeans. The deer there were beyond belief. Contrasted with the poor animals who live in the U.P. of Michigan (where my wife's family hails from and where we often go), many of the deer live on scrub pine to survive the long winter. Not always by any stretch, but at times kind of like eating a "Rack du Pine Sol." Your risotto sounds great.
  22. Chad - Did you hunt the venison?
  23. I could be wrong, but I believe all of Bell's beers are bottle conditioned. I don't think there's a filter in the plant. I agree pasteurization leads to crap beer, but can't go so far as to say that filtration always does. Many bottle conditioned beers are, to my taste, lousy with autolysis from improper cellaring, and the taste of rotten yeast guts doesn't add up to a great beer. And with a clean Quality Control SOP, a brewery can filter without pasteurization, yielding clean beer without cooking it. Goose Island for one, where I worked.
  24. An update on dinner. The "rack of rabbit," and rabbit loin roulade with bacon, caramelized fennel, chanterelles, rabbit sauce, and fennel oil. I wanted both the mushrooms and the fennel in the dish, more for an aesthetic consideration of the "field" and rabbit than for known culinary affinity. I sauteed the thin fennel slices to caramelization, and slightly crispy, and the marriage with the sauce, fennel oil and chanterelles worked beautifully. The roulade itself was so-so. If I do it again I will try another type of bacon (or maybe pancetta, or prosciutto). The loin had a chewy toughness to it; somewhat perplexed as to why (it was done to temp); next time I will bag using the flank "flap" to cover the loin, as I don't think it is needed and only adds to the toughness. The "rack of rabbit" a la FL is comically tiny, a bite, but delicious. I can see somehow using the rack in an amuse of some sort, although it is meat. The wines were very nice. The Chateau de Pez is a great buy at $24, and coming as a St. Estephe Medoc 1996, I was eager to try. It worked well with the rabbit, as well as with a course of bread and black truffle-oiled brie (the wine extended the truffle oil beautifully - a sublimation on the palate which really brings home the idea of "black earth" with the St. Estephe terroir and black truffle...). The Clos L'Abeilley was similarly good - more of a "rot" component (as distinct from simple sweetness) from the vine than I have had in other sauternes, a good acid balance, and very enjoyable with the peach-lavender sorbet, although normally I would just drink the sauternes as dessert.
  25. This is off thread, and if others would prefer, I can carry this on privately. Please let me know. For the moment: At the outset, let me admit my prejudice in this area - I was trained as a Shakespearean actor at Shakespeare & Company, in Massachusetts (Tina Packer, Artistic Director, formerly of the Royal Shakespeare Company). What follows is largely informed by my training there, to include that of Kristin Linklater, their Director of Voice. Firstly. Katherine, to the extent that Shakespeare was pure entertainment for the masses, and that it was not meant to be overacted by actors with a special feel for the text, I think we are in agreement. Shakespearean English was Elizabethan English, simply the everyday language of the time. The problem is, language itself was a different experience then that it is now. Language has largely become a utility, and largely one of commerce (as food has become the brief break in between things that matter - there, back to thread!). It is no longer the principal means we express our true selves. Witness two guys hashing out a business deal at lunch. Listen and literally watch the throat tighten, because regardless of what words are used, god forbid the "true" self is revealed, it is the antithesis of business negotiation; and were the voice free, open and responsive, god knows what would come roiling up from below. So, when words like: 'tis now the very witching hour of night, when churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out contagion to this world' were spoken, felt, and made sense of, by actors who saw language as "stuff," a physical link from the deepest self to the gods (I am thinking of Irving, here), throughout the Globe, there was a kinetic rush of "got it" (and "dive for cover, here comes Satan!") in the stands. "Yawn" is made sense of differently than "open," and hell is a physical, sensual thing - it literally breathes, it moves, it infects. The same thing happened at Epidaurus, from what we can tell. There, a primitive amplication system of amphorae with varying levels of water were placed throughout the stands, to resonate with, and amplify the actor's voices. At the heart of it is vibration, and not some new age concept of it, but literally a physical reality of sound waves bouncing through the actors out to the stands, which were felt, in a very real, kinetic sense. My lament for most of American Shakespeare is that it therefore falls into 2 camps. The "method" camp, which says screw the language, screw the verse, it must be "felt." Watching it, I feel I am watching a sea of emotion (not mine, the actor's), but don't know what the hell they are saying, because they themselves haven't made sense of the word (these are largely the "motorcycle and Gatsby" concepts I have seen); and The "sacred" camp, which fears language so much that it treats the verse as sacrosanct unto itself, an academic exercise, a pristine, wrathful idol, and definitely foreign. I feel then like I am watching talking heads, and do not feel anything (nor do the actors) (these are the hopelessly overwhelmed stiffs worshipping some dead English guy with a bad 'do - maybe the "overactors" you were speaking of). On the other hand, when the language is trusted (and the cadence of the verse honored), the physical instrument is open, and all engines are flying, then I witness art. 100%, shakespearean verse, spoken as such; and 100% alive, even, in Peter Brooks' sense, dangerous. Secondly, I can't agree that Shakespearean verse was a normal manner of expression, any more than opera is everyday Italian. Verse matters. It means something else is going on besides "everyday speech," even as an aria means more is going on than singing a jingle. Stanislavsky, the Founder of the Moscow Art Theatre, said it himself when he said that good Opera happens when the player sees the song as the titanic "next step," demanding that the player can no longer rest with words but must sail with song. In other words, the size demands an aria. Shakespearean verse should be approached similarly. Bad opera is bad acting is bad art - disconnected, forced, false. The problem for the Shakespearean actor, as for the Opera performer, is to fill the size the poetry or aria demands, and make it clear on all levels - intellectually, emotionally, I would say corporally (I mean that literally - how to open up the body such that the whole "corpus" becomes an instrument of the "voice," and vibrations are not limited to the larynx but the whole being literally "springs" sound), even spiritually, all with ease and without forcing. To do this, the words have to move beyond an intellectual understanding of the head to a kinetic experience of the whole body, framed and made sense of by the actor's intelligence. I am not talking, too, only about the "highborn" speeches in Shakespeare. The counterpoint thoughout the man's text of good, guttural, anglo saxon (think "f**k") with highborn Norman ("Ascension") meant all inhabited this universe. I think of Dame Judi Dench, playing the lowliest of wenches in Branagh's Henry V. Lamenting the death of Falstaff, her lifelong friend, she describes the touch of cold as it moved along the old, broken man's body. Her performance was brilliant because it was simple, because it was one with her body and mind - "cold," and the "O" in cold, rested in her, the feeling of the word in her body shook her to the core, and therefore moved me in understanding. Or the actor playing Pistol, erstwhile friend of Henry, and, by the war's end, disgusted with life, his role in it, himself - he will return to his former profession, a cutpurse. His verse describes the "quick hand," and "there [England] I'll steal." The actor seized on "quick," and the word itself became not a bludgeon but a scalpel, a short, sharp blade - it percolated out his mouth like this, because it was felt like this. Imagine the same thing if the word were "fast." "qk" cuts the throat more keenly. Again, sorry for the length. I hope I haven't offended with this use of bandwidth and I will gladly continue privately if anyone wishes. Oh, and here's my suggestion. Growing up, no American kid should ever be required to read Shakespeare. Every American kid should be required to speak it.
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