“I always say this to the young chefs and mean it: The customer is excited, he says you are an artist, but we are not, just craftspeople with a little talent. If the chef is an artist, he doesn’t succeed. Why? Because he is inspired today but not tomorrow. We cannot do that.” —Andre Soltner (quoted in Forbes, May 2012) Back in in the fall of 2008, nearly five years ago, I moderated a discussion between Tony Bourdain and Marco Pierre White (insofar as those two former chefs can be moderated at all). MPW railed against the multi-course tasting menu, and Bourdain reiterated it, while Grant Achatz, feeling personally attacked, fumed in the audience. As I pointed out in a post addressing the event, The End of the Multi-Course Tasting? (scroll down past Tony’s curious remarks), Read On »

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  Were it not for the Internet, my guess is that only the most devoted barfly would know about the Boulevardier. It’s not in any of my cocktail books, not the standard-bearing The Standard Bartender’s Guide, my Madmen-era dad’s paperback. I only heard about it from a reader of this blog (with links below). And an email this week pushed me into a tasting, happily! I love how various flavoring components (bitters, vermouths) become different cocktails when you change the spirit. How the Manhattan becomes a Rob Roy when you change the bourbon to scotch (as opposed to a lame-sounding “Scotch Manhattan”), or how a Martini becomes a … um, never mind about that #lostcause (Paulius, can we hope for Darwinian selection here?). I love the elasticity of a solid cocktail, how the addition of apple Read On »

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Ages ago a reader requested a biscuit post and now, in something of a dreary February brain hibernation, I thought would be the perfect time. Donna shot this biscuit while I was writing Ratio and what I love about it is not the ratio itself (3 parts flour : 1 part fat : 2 parts liquid) but rather how the rolling technique results in layered flakiness. It’s kind of a cross between a pie crust and puff pastry. A pie crust is flaky because random knots of butter separate layers of dough and puff when baked. With puff pastry, one sets out to create precise layers of dough and butter, hundreds of them, by successively folding and rolling out a single block of butter encased in dough (called turns) for a uniform puff dough. Here, we Read On »

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When I was a boy, my father looked at me in the rearview mirror and asked why was I so quiet. I said, “I have nothing to say.” Sometimes I have something to say, and I get overheated. Right now, I have nothing to say. Unlike a daily newspaper that has to say something on schedule, has to lead with some story, I don’t. I’m a strong believer in not speaking generally (there’s too much noise as there is) but especially when I have nothing to say. (To be honest, I wouldn’t even be typing this except that I can’t stand Friday’s picture of Rose’s grenadine any longer.) I suggest that whenever you have nothing to say, you fry something in oil, such as green beans dipped in tempura batter, which was how we got Read On »

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This Friday cocktail recipe is posted with heavy shame. I’m sorry, but it’s the way it sometimes goes with blog posts. I’ll always be honest with you. Regrettably, there are multiple levels of shame here. Ignorance, laziness, bad planning, haste, forced collusion. It all started when Jeff Houck, the Tampa journalist (the sounds so much more formidable than a, doesn’t it? and since I like the guy’s work, he’s definitely a the), wrote an article about digital food books, which noted this excellent iBook called 25 Classic Cocktails. I asked the guys who made it to do a guest post and offer some cocktails. They chose a Pink Lady and also gave the recipe for a variant, the Clover Club, which is a Pink Lady without the applejack. While on a trip to LA, I Read On »

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