Sunday, October 3, 2010

Beef: It's what should be for dinner... But only if you order it right.

As you all should be aware of by now, I am huge meatatarian. I’ve never met a creature that I wouldn’t eat or wear and it perplexes me why people would want to waste their life as a vegan or vegetarian when there are so many fabulous things to eat out there… I mean vegetarians/vegans- How is that rabbit food you’re noshing on anyway??? Do you want to come eat some real food? I can share, really I can. You’re hair might be a tad bit shinier if you got some iron from red meat you know…. I’m just saying. Anyway, the one thing that vexes me more than people that don’t eat meat, are the people that eat meat incorrectly. WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU ORDER STEAK MEDIUM WELL/WELL DONE? In my book, it defeats the whole purpose and you’ve now just wasted a perfectly good cut of beef.

You may be wondering why I am bringing this up on a Sunday of all days, but it happens to be that little old moi received some slack on my Facebook page for photos that this fabulous magazine took of my benefit dinner. There was a dish that I cooked consisting of blackened rib-eyes which were cooked to perfection, (perfection being RARE and MEDIUM RARE), and then topped off with a roasted bone marrow and rosemary butter, (thank you foodies, thank you. I appreciate the applause), and someone who shall remain nameless, decided she didn’t like the rare OR the bone marrow because it was “scary”. Well honey, I have news for you… You’re not a food person, you’re dismissed. Enjoy Applebee’s because I’m positive they will turn your steak into cardboard for you and they’ve never even heard of bone marrow- You’ll be safe there, I promise. In fact, I think I can get you a table next to the idiot I once broke up with because he guilted me for ordering veal. He’s banished to a life filled with bad chain restaurants too.

Living next door to the Palm Steak House in LA for many years and having learned how to cook a proper piece of beef from my good friend, Chef Camillo, I feel that it’s my duty to spread the knowledge that he was kind enough to bestow on me. It’s like a diplomatic duty or paying it forward or something. Sear your steak on the stove, finish it in the oven and most importantly, LET THE THING REST. You’ll yield an incredibly juicy and fabulous piece of meat that way. Trust me ladies, if you can learn to cook a good steak and a crème brulee, you’re Mancandy will never leave you. It’s a fact. Hell, I would never leave anyone, hence my loyalty to the Palm!

In all seriousness though, this whole Facebook incident really got me thinking, and yours truly has come to the conclusion that we should really institute a form of segregation: Food people on one side, non-food people on the other. Then we would know who not to waste our time or beef on. I truly believe that how one views food, translates into different aspects of a person’s make up: Adventurous or unadventurous; sensual or boring; passionate or unimpassioned. Because at the end of the day we’re all looking for someone for which we have things in common. Just like NATO, the point of the union is to keep the peace and fight for a greater good- And how can a couple do that if one is being guilted for ordering a little osso bucco from time to time? Gentlemen, if you’re ordering your steaks well done then you need not apply, because at that point you may as well be drinking white wine. And you know what I say to that: Men that drink white wine as a preference- Forget about it. Can’t handle a good, bold, spicy glass of red, can’t handle a real woman.

Friday, October 1, 2010

American Pie, Martha and Moi

So, I know that I tend to preach in my blogs about the glory of French food, cooking techniques, my Chef crush on Daniel Boulud, and well, pretty much all things en francais. In fact, a week ago while at the beach, I had to endure endless mockery from the Mancandy as we laid out our beach blanket and I proceeded to pull out and devour an issue of Country French Magazine- What? It was an issue on decorating in country French style, and I was raving over the hearth-like kitchens in the spread. Like you wouldn’t have done the same? Although I adore my French provincial-style dinnerware and had a near meltdown when a single plate was broken at our last dinner party, yielding an uneven set, I actually am quite fond of American classics as well. When it comes to food, there are a plethora of classics in the American cuisine that I just can’t get enough of, and a good apple pie is one of them- It’s just one of those foods that conjure up some of my fondest memories from childhood, and honestly, what could be better than that?

Maybe it’s the change to cooler weather, my biological clock has started ticking, or perhaps just pure boredom- but yours truly is officially nesting. Instead of splurging on trips abroad, little black dresses, or even Prada, I’ve been diverting my disposable income to home goods stores such as Sur la Table, Williams Sonoma, and even on multiple occasions dressing incognito and raiding the messy cookware isles of TJ Maxx, picking up random Le Creuset and copper cookware for fifty percent off. It was on such an occasion, as I was desperately trying to find a replacement for the aforementioned broken plate, that I came across my new obsession: an ivory and Tiffany blue, deep dish pie plate, with fluted rim. “I don’t bake pies”, I thought to myself as I started to walk away from the dish. “But then again, I don’t have a Tiffany blue, deep dish pie plate with fluted rim- Because if I HAD one, I’d be baking pies all the time!” I reasoned as I quickly stopped, reversed, and snatched up the dish.

Later that day as I stared at the pie dish, I was torn between my fondest food memories with my Auntie Louise’s apple pies and a desire to create my own amazing recipe; and the fact that if I did, the Mancandy’s assessment that I was the “Asian Martha Stewart” would then be correct. If I made the pie would it then just be a sleigh ride to becoming a Stepford Wife? What was next? Cashmere twin sweater sets, with cardigans draped over my shoulders? Oh wait… I already wear those. Well Wisteria Lane make room, because obviously the food won and I ended up doing my spin on an American classic- Apple and Browned Sage Butter Pie with Cream Cheese Crust. Even though it wasn’t my Auntie Louise’s pie, it took me right back to my childhood and I was literally giddy like an eight year old all over again. In fact it made me so damn giddy that I made another pie for my friend Christine when we had our girl’s night the following week, (yes your math is correct, that’s two pies in seven days). She sat there in horror as I proceeded to work two cubes of butter into the crust and another cube into the apple mixture itself. She ate it anyway.

There are few things that I find as comforting as the foods from our childhoods. The tastes and smells of those foods often take us back to times that, like the food itself, were simpler than that which we have now. Mine is my Auntie Louise’s apple pie, yours may be something as basic as a grilled cheese sandwich with Campbell’s tomato soup, mac and cheese or a chocolate chip cookie. But regardless, I think it’s important to take the time to enjoy those foods again, whether you’re cooking them yourself or finding a fabulous restaurant in our fair city that dishes up the classics reminiscent of your childhood.

So perhaps I am becoming more Martha-like with my pies and floral arrangements, and am thinking of trading in my racy Dolce for A-line pleated Oscar de la Renta frocks in pastel hues- But really, is that such a bad thing? Maybe nesting and reverting back to the foods of our past isn’t counter-productive, but actually signifies growth- That we’re ready to move on to the next stage of our lives, creating and sharing those childhood memories with a new generation. Even though I still prefer a penthouse loft on 5th Avenue to the white picket fence, and a shiny Rover to a mini-van, the idea of the Wisteria Lanes of the world and what Pleasantville represents, are somehow both exciting and comforting to me. And I for one can’t think of getting a better slice of the preverbal American Pie than that. Bon appétit!

Lunchbox Laboratory

As I woke up dazed and confused, I looked around… I was in my car which was parked in a garage, not in my bed. I was in a suit, not in my pj’s so apparently I went to the office today. What had happened? What time was it? Why was I almost non-functional? Slowly sitting up, I looked at my watch- 3:34pm. I was lethargic and unmotivated to do anything but curl up into a ball and sleep for the rest of eternity. Then I remembered… I went to Lunchbox Laboratory for burgers.

While yours truly is never opposed to a good food coma, I highly suggest that you not engage in that activity on a day that you actually have to be functional. But if you are going to self-induce hours of lethargic-best-food-sleep-of-your-life, then I highly suggest you do it via Lunchbox Laboratory.

Nestled in a little joint on 15th and 73rd, this place boasts some of the best burgers that I’ve had in Seattle. With the menu written on a chalkboard and the entrance covered in retro lunchboxes, it’s definitely become one of my favorite places in town. And of course allowing you to make your selections of seasonings, cheeses and even multiple types of French fries always makes this foodie a happy girl. Gourmet cheeses, fries that encompassed the spectrum from shoestring to tater-tots, to steak fries and beyond with salts from rosemary to truffle, I knew immediately that this place would be awesome. So what did we order? The truffle burger with bacon of course. A side of tater tots with bacon-garlic salt and chocolate malt that brought me right back to my childhood science class as it was served in a beaker.

Now the Mancandy eats a lot. In fact I sometimes joke that he has a hollow leg as I have zero idea where he puts all the food that we eat, but the burgers are so rich and amazing here that we were able to split a burger, fries and shake and be completely satisfied… Hello! I actually left work and had to nap in my car from the coma that it put me in.

So when it comes to burgers in Seattle, I definitely recommend checking this fabulous little place out. Take a field trip back through time to your childhood science class, mix and match ingredients and sip cool concoctions out of glass beakers… Because here, it’s always a fabulous idea to play with your food. Bon appétit!

Ode To Bacon

In the ever changing world of culinary creations we see different trends come and go. As I am a bit of a purist, I usually stick with one rule when it comes to creating a new dish. Are you ready for my secret? Because it’s a big one… In fact I am actually thinking I should get a patent on it because it’s almost as catchy as that guy that says “Let’s get ready to rumble”. In fact, it’s kind of like the culinary version of that phrase. Ok, so here it is… The Grand Poobah of ingredients; the holy trifecta of gastronomy; the meatatarian’s savior should Armageddon come and I have to pick my last meal, dammit I want it to start with this:
Butter, Bacon and Booze.

That’s right kiddies, those three ingredients are the secret to all of my knock down, blow your mind, ‘I can’t believe she made that’ dishes. Beouf bourguignon, pan seared pheasant with fig demi-glace, herb crusted rib-eye roasts, even my recipe for braised octopus. You may not know it’s there, but your taste buds will thank me indefinitely.

Lately I have been thinking about the culinary need for bacon and why we can’t seem to get enough of it. In fact, I’ve decided that it should be in a category of its own in the food group’s pyramid.

Much to the detriment of my arteries, I recently wrote a recipe for Bacon-Maple Cupcakes with Maple Butter-Cream Frosting. ..“Que?” you say? “Quelle horreur? Having bacon for dessert???” NO. I say it’s AWESOME. The sweet and savory combination of sugary maple and pork belly is really just the best thing since life spread. And little old moi isn’t the only one that thinks so either.

At John Howie Steak at the Bravern, among the fried truffle gnocchi and pork belly sliders is a decadent dish that I have come to love, and I am sure Paula Dean would highly applaud- Deep Fried Kurobuta Bacon. Because honestly, what’s better than bacon? Deep fried bacon. Yes I said it. I love it. And you should love it too.

Skillet Street Food does an amazing Bacon Jam that is slathered on their signature burgers. Caramelized onions, bacon, spices and perhaps even some crack because week after week I find myself frantically checking their website for location info and waiting in line like a culinary junkie needing my fix.

At Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland one of their best sellers is the Maple Bacon Bar. A traditional maple bar in all its yeasty goodness, topped off with perfectly crisp bacon strips that even had Anthony Bourdain reeling for more.

Bakon Vodka has even become a staple at Bloody Mary breakfast bars around our fair city, and honestly I can’t think of anything more fabulous than that.

Perhaps my arteries loathe me, and I am reducing years off my life, and I may even start getting hate mail from PETA for my enthusiastic barbarism in the name of gastronomic perfection- But you know what? I honestly don’t care. We’re only here once, this isn’t a dress rehearsal, and I intend to enjoy every minute of it. Because as a wise Disney character by the name of Ratatouille once said, “If we are what we eat, then I only want to eat the good stuff”