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Turtle Soup with a bit of Sherry. Tastes like beef.

Salmon with shrimp, spinach & crabmeat over risotto with dill cream sauce. Not my mamas salmon.

Crepes with a cream cheese, brandy pecan stuffing with strawberry sauce...if you like that sorta thing

Everything is set up for an Indian wedding

I forgot what this is called, but it looks pretty cool

Brie wrapped in puff pastry with a fleur-de-lis

I co-worked the shrimp and grits station at the wedding. It's no wonder why it was the favorite dish of the night.

sesame-crusted tuna hors d'oeuvre

The Court Of The Two Sisters. Boy, was this outdoor seating a find!

chicken breast served over potato mash and steamed asparagus, topped with lump crabmeat and tasso hollandaise. French has never tasted so light!

I got down with my soul at Lil' Dizzy's. I guess that's what was making those strange sounds from my stomach later. Just kidding. Sorry about the bad picture, I didn't like the meal enough to spend the time editing.

Muffalleta featured on Throwdown! with Bobby Flay. This was the half size. Half a boat! It's basically an italian sub with some olives.

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Rabbit and Dumplings at Cochon. The chef is a James Beard Award winner. I watched the dish bubbly in a blazing wood-fire oven. It was served to me in a skillet, rich and satisfying.

At the Roosevelt, I worked on salmon roullades, rolls of smoked salmon and cream cheese on rye bread with microgreens and dill, for a wedding.

Weirdest hors d'oeuvre ever. crab and mango salad in a curry-flavored cone.

Run-of-the-mill day in the French Quarter

impromptu mini street parade. I don't think any streets were closed off

A multitude of blinis topped with creme fraiche and caviar, garnished with brunoise chives, egg whites, egg yolks, and shallots for an event

pork pate for the breakfast buffet.

strawberries and prosciutto at brunch buffet.

Ceviche. Luckily, we have a peruvian in garde manger.

carpaccio with pickled red onions, parmesan, and spinach chiffonade.

What a spread!

Shrimps and ersters. Did I mention it's all-you can eat?

The Blue Room. I really don't want to list all of the famous musicians that performed or got there start here.

Rabbit tagliattele from John Besh's Domenica. I can't remember if I enjoyed it; I ate it too quickly

He can pull off "pizze" too.

Olivier's. Best corn bread I've ever had. I asked the waitress if she could get me the recipe. She went to the kitchen, returned, and said, "We use the Jiffy box recipe." So disillusioned.

Duck breast and plum port sauce at Oliviers. It was overcooked and the sauce tasted like artificial jam. I sent it back.

Much better! Half roasted chicken and corn maque choux. Good homestyle cookin. Lay off the dried herbs though!

Meatloaf at Besh's American Sector. Made with brisket, cooked low and slow, and mayhaw—like a cranberry, but less tart—tomato sauce with mashed potatoes, gravy, and crisp haricot verts.

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My first cooked oyster from Felix's as per the Roosevelt's concierge recommendation! Broiled to perfection in a butter sauce. The creamy oysters melted in my mouth and bursted with flavor. I only ate the borderline stale bread to sop up the butter.

Red fish at Mr. B's. Grilled simply with asparagus and roasted potatoes, it was bland and not satisfying. Considering how much I paid, it was a major disappointment.

Linguini pasta tossed with fresh spinach and garlic in a garlic scampi sauce. well-seasoned fried oysters were perfect when eaten with the pasta.

No. I do not want a foot massage. I feel like when one asian starts a business, the rest have to follow suit. There are tons of these in NOLA

Napoleon House invented the Pimms cup. The restaurant looks like an 18th century home with a beautiful outdoor square. The Roast beef Po'boy with debris was the first thing in my life that I enjoyed because of its messiness.

Beautiful. Right? And to think people are nibbling on bruschetta a few steps from bourbon st.

The only problem I had with Napoleon House. He's no longer living so it's time to update the Napoleon-size bathtub

I get to work here? I think I'm gonna like it here, Annie. Italian mosaic by the way. It also took two men 18 months to polish the chandeliers

I'm spending time here by the way. August treats salads like the Buckingham Palace Gardens

Can I have fries with that?

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The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,000 times in 2010. That’s about 7 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 93 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 270 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 744mb. That’s about 5 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was July 15th with 56 views. The most popular post that day was Food News: It’s Me!.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, informationlossweight.com, en.wordpress.com, android-vs-ipad.co.cc, and statistics.bestproceed.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for diary of my stomach, oxtail stew, ristorante battibecco, flanken short rib pieces, and battibecco restaurant.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Food News: It’s Me! July 2010
2 comments

2

Penne with Marsala Cream sauce June 2010
3 comments

3

Ristorante Battibecco July 2010

 

4 Pain In The Butt Oxtail Stew August 2010

5

Roti Mediterranean Grill: A Taste of Intelligence October 2010

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I was lucky enough to have the chance to watch and even help out on the line. I mostly grilled Ryan, the Suaté I chef—expediter on the line— with questions. He is a  26 years African-American with a kind and welcoming demeanor. He’s moved around a lot in his life because his father was in the military. While he was sautéeing scallops, he told me that what he does isn’t all that difficult; “you just have to stay ahead and don’t get yelled at”. If only Wes took this advice to heart, a young Asian with a mischievous tendency to tease and joke around. Apparently, he gets yelled at the most.

The first thing that I remember was the extreme heat of the line. There was no doubt that this was caused by the furiously, flaming wood-burning grill, the multitude of constantly running burners, and the sizzling salamander that roasted your eyebrows overhead. But the real heat, the engine of the machine, was the pure movement and activity in the kitchen.

I remember being in a state of confusion because I saw dishes being made and plated without hearing them ever being ordered. I saw grilled fish and sautéed scallops being left unattended yet were flipped at the perfect time. Yes, the cooks feel the scallops for doneness, and, yes, they check for the correct caramelization or grill marks, but, for the most part (according to Ryan), “you just know”. I’d like to know if there’s an internal buzzer that sounds every time a steak is ready to be removed from the oven or the pasta is al dente. It’s now getting to the point that, I believe, if you were grilling steak miles away, Ryan would be informed that the steak had reached medium-rare.

The system is very organized. When an order comes in, chef JG or chef Dane relays the order into the walkie-talkie. Forexample “order simple salmon”, “order two tuna”, or “order two steaks, medium”. The cooks get everything ready so that when the chef says “Drop two tuna”, it can be quickly seared and served. Another phrase—which took me a while to understand—is “all day”. When JG says “two scallops all day”, he means that Ryan only needs to be making the scallops at that point in time.

My favorite dish that Ryan makes involves braised gem lettuce, gnocchi, sautéed scallops, sage brown butter sauce, and bacon. He also makes pepper crusted steak with mushrooms, roma beans, and onion rings. His “Lobster App” is steamed clams with homemade pasta in a creamy tarragon tomato sauce with poached lobster and fava beans. However, the dish that I want to try most is the tuna encrusted with cumin, cocoa nibs, pepper and sea salt, served rare over a corn-meal tortilla, mole, chayote relish and guacamole.

I was able to help a little with these dishes. I cleaned plates for presentation, plated the gnocchi and scallops while Ryan plated the sauce, grabbed anything needed from the back, and sliced the tuna, which I, believe it or not, was able to mess up at first. I thought a delicate back-and-forth motion would cut through the rare tuna efficiently, but I was told not to saw the tuna by the chef. This creates jaggedness in the presentation. Instead, just one slice forward and one back should create a smooth cut.

Around eight o’clock, a proverbial dark, ominous cloud covered over the kitchen. Indeed, we actually lost power for a second from the storm outside. As the heavens opened outside, orders rained down from inside. Plating up about 25 dishes for a large party set the kitchen behind and Chef JG was enraged. The area where the food was to be set was overflowing with plates, yet we couldn’t get them out fast enough. Ryan was running out of mise en place for the fish and organization gave way to chaos. Attempting to help, I got in the way of the tornado—the kitchen being extremely long and narrow— that was chef JG and was told to stand in a corner: “You don’t know what you’re doing yet”. I received the brunt of Ryan’s frustration as well.

I remained in time-out, wanting to leave to be out of the way, yet knowing that I needed to see this aspect of the restaurantservice. I also new that I could be a help. So, I gradually started to help plate gnocchi, to grab some spinach for the simple swordfish plate, to cut four tunas, nearly squealing from the burns on my fingers, and to try to salvage hastily prepared dishes with a towel.

I was soaked after the storm, but with sweat. I had about two cokes while I was there and about six glasses of water when I got home. Apparently, you get used to the heat. Ryan asked me what I thought of the line so far. I replied, “I like it. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t, but what you do is much more amazing than you think”. I think Ryan may be tough, yet I still think he feels the burn of sizzling tuna on his fingers, the heat of a 100 degree kitchen, and the disappointment of being lambasted for running out of onion rings.

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I gathered my tools as I’ve been instructed: one big ladle, one small ladle, two big whisks, a slotted spoon, plastic containers, towels, towel cleaning liquid, and a cutting board with a wet towel underneath to prevent slippage. Just as usual, veal stock was simmering away; it is the base for all brown sauces at Kinkead’s. While I was waiting for my daily instructions for the chef, I asked another worker to show me the correct way to sharpen a knife. When Chef JG saw me with his knife and the sharpener, he sternly said “Don’t sharpen my knives; they’re plenty sharp…I’m very anal about my knives”.

I spent the day making chinese steamed buns. I also made an oyster dipping sauce and was told to multiply by four. After finishing the math, I did my best to measure all of the ingredients correctly. When I said we were out of oyster sauce, the chef asked how much I put in. I replied, “2000 grams”. “Woah!”, he said, “I told you to multiply it by two, not four.” Instead of arguing, I just thought of the rules:

  1. The chef is always right.
  2. When the chef is wrong, refer to rule number one.

I also came in the next day and worked with executive sous chef Dane. Dane is a young African-American with a propensity to curse. When I pointed out that the calendar for family meals said “Thai fried lice”, he muttered something about “stupid mexican bitches”. His disclaimer was that “A lot of shit gets said in a kitchen…more than any other place”.

I began to cut 16 pounds of butter for various sauces. Chef Dane told me that the way I was doing it would take all day. Instead of cutting the butter in small batches, it is much faster to quarter every stick and then cube them all at the same time. I told him that this sort of thing seems obvious to him, but, to me, it’s all new. I’m gradually learning how to pick the right tools for a certain job and the quickest and most effective techniques for performing a task. Chef Dane agreed and said that many believe that chefs are some of the smartest people. There’s definitely an obsession with efficiency and speed that separates the chef from even the smartest engineer.

Dane was making polenta with chicken stock, cream, butter, and parmesan cheese. I said something like “Is that going on the low-cal menu”. He chuckled and replied: “If you’re looking for light food, don’t come to Kinkead’s.  The restaurant is very innovative, yet has retained many French aspects. I asked him about Bob Kinkead and he said that he stops by occasionally. Apparently, he’s a great guy and loves to tell stories about how he used to dine with Jean-Louis Palladin—one of the most famous French chefs in American history. Interesting fact: Palladin’s most famous restaurants was in the Watergate. However, Kinkead’s doesn’t operate like a French restaurant. The French brigade system distinguishes chefs by dish components. There are sauciers, rotisseurs, and positions for almost every task imaginable. Once a dish is made, it is almost always tasted by the chef de cuisine. Kinkead’s has neither the space nor the capital to pull this off. That system takes an insane amount of cohesiveness and synergy.

We made a cure for beef, a necessary step in the making of pastrami. The key ingredient is Sodium Nitrate, a chemical that’s used in fertilizer, pyrotechnics, smoke bombs, glass, pottery enamels, and rocket propellant. I really hope we were using it as a preservative for beef. Anyway, the vibrant pink color of the chemical is what gives pastrami its deep red color. I asked him if he had any blue Sodium Nitrate we could use. He said no.  We also made basil oil. The key is to blanch the leaves in boiling water for about 30 seconds. This releases the chlorophyll, giving Kinkead’s basil oil its vibrant color. The basil is then blended with oil and strained through cheese cloth.

A pastry chef was making brioche. She measured all of the ingredients on a digital scale. If the scale read 201 grams and she needed 200, she would pick out sugar and flour granules. Conversely, when a cook measures—like Dane—he/she usually has a different approach. Dane placed a big container on the scale and added all the ingredients, setting the scale to zero after each one. In brief, perfection didn’t matter. Each chef shows a love for food in their own way. One has a greater respect for ratio and the meticulous precision that the baked good requires. One has a physical connection and tastes as he/she goes, until a harmony is reached between food and palate. In my opinion, baking and cooking makes a key distinction in personality type; almost all people lean to one side of the spectrum. I consider myself on the cooking side to the extreme. I’m not saying that there is no overlap between the concepts and intricacies of both arts, yet there is an innate difference in both personas that I would like to explore.

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Today, I went to Saigon Bistro, a restaurant in Dupont Circle, to eat Pho. For those that have not had or heard of pho, let me begin with the pho-ndamentals of the dish. It is, essentially, a Vietnamese noodle soup, usually served with beef or, sometimes, chicken. The broth is made by simmering beef and spices and is served with various garnishes. Ours came with bean sprouts, limes, thai basil, and hot peppers. The French occupied Hanoi, Vietnam in the 1880’s and may have influenced this dish. The Vietnamese rarely used beef until the French introduced their pot au feu. You can see that this may have influenced Pho’s name as well.

Saigon Bistro’s Pho is made with either fully cooked brisket or rare beef. The thin-cut pink beef is moist and velvety to the palate. The rice has a delicate, but deep, beefy flavor and one can personalize their dish by adding different amounts of sriracha, hoisin, thai basil, and lime. Jordan went all out on the lime, Karen got her money’s worth with the sriracha, and I prefer a leaf pile of thai basil. It’s pho-n to eat because you can slurp the warm broth with your spoon, eat the rice noodles with your chopsticks, and crunch on raw bean sprouts with your hands, simultaneously. After a great meal that was both satisfying and light, we left Dupont circle feeling pleasantly pho-lfilled.

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