Thursday, December 28, 2006

Saskatoon

Last night I paid my first visit to Saskatoon, upstate South Carolina's finest and only wild game restaurant. We sat next to a table of loud, jolly rednecks from Honea Path who had very strong opinions about Kevin Harvick, Daytona, and NASCAR in general. Here's W.I.A.:

two slices, bread with cinnamon butter
Caesar salad with shredded parmesan
fried alligator tails with mustard sauce
two bites, orange-glazed ostrich steak
grilled yak with garlic mashed potatoes

The alligator tails were very tasty, with a consistency somewhere in between fried clams and calimari. I accidentally dipped the last one in cinnamon butter instead of mustard sauce and it was fucking fantastic. But the real standout was the yak, which our fast-talking southern waiter initially described as "a big old ugly hairy monster that we slice on up and it's great." Then he dismissed my concern that it would be too gamey by saying, "It'll only make you frown just a little bit." Anyway, it turns out yak tastes exactly the same as steak, which I hadn't eaten in like eight months, so it was great.

Saskatoon also sells T-shirts with awesome slogans, such as:
"Conserve wildlife today. So there's more to eat tomorrow."
"Bison: one of the many vegetarians served in our restaurant."
and my personal favorite:
"There's plenty of room for all God's creatures... right next to the mashed potatoes."

Internet

An ask.metafilter post about essential food staples to keep on hand
A sweet Cuisinart version of the Foreman grill - It might inspire you to tell your computer, "Griddle me this, Batjerk!"

My aunt Christine gave me a totally ruling Calphalon 12" Everyday pan, with hard anodized surface. I made delicious steaks in it. I "deglazed" with some Charles Shaw Merlot and put a few mashed cloves of garlic in with a dash of cornstarch to make sauce. Clean-up was a breeze!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

2006-12-24 (Christmas Eve)

Weylu's is back in business under new management, and seems to be back to pretty much business as usual. This is a lovely warm feeling for my Greater Boston ass, and maybe for yours, as well.

It's now operating under the name Jin, which is fine, although I choose to call it Weylu's since that's its name. The owners wisely decided not to redo the exterior, or the interior, so breathe easy, friends. We ate from the buffet. I could mention only those dishes of particular note, or I could mechanically enumerate them all and later talk about it a bit. Have you already correctly guessed what I'm going to do?


Some tea

Plate one
Jasmine rice
Sauteed frog legs
Peking duck with hoisin sauce
Roast pork
Peking pork chop
Crab rangoon

Plate two
Salt-baked silver fish
Scallion pancake
Sesame balls
Almond ball
Sauteed string beans
Lychee
Fruit very much like lychee, but a hair larger, and yellow like a peach
Watermelon
"Sweet glass jelly" - They mean "grass jelly"
Stuff crispy pear

Plate three
Sesame ball
"Jell-O" - this was a ~cube, opaque white, in the Jell-O section. It turned out to be coconut flavored.
Lychee
Durian ball
Golden pancake

I have never had frogs' legs before. They were fine.

I think that silverfish are the most disgusting creatures in the entire planet. The salt-baked silver fish appeared to be anchovies or something, tempura fried or something. I can't see how they could possibly have been actual silverfish, but if I find out they were, I'll kill myself.

The first item identified as sesame balls were small, hard pastries with sesame. I assumed that the almond ball would have red bean paste inside, but was wrong, it actually had some sort of savory-rather-than-sweet filling. "Stuff crispy pear" was a small flaky pear-shaped item - I was thinking some sort of baked pear quickly fried in a sweet dough, which sounded incredibly delicious to me. It was, in fact, a pear-shaped piece of dough stuffed with meats and vegetables. It tasted fine except for an overwhelming tang of bitter disappointment and a strong aftertaste of dreams that might have been.

The second sesame ball was a larger dessert item which I was basically sure would have red bean paste. It was actually sweet, but had some non-red-bean filling. I was starting to get sad. The coconut Jell-O was fine. The durian ball was pretty tasty - the starchy coating was a disconcerting artificial green color, but the filling was actually pretty good. I'd be willing to try straight up durian based on it. The golden pancake, the last item I ate, turned out, finally, to have some red bean paste inside, thereby saving Christmas.

Jin will be hosting a New Year's Eve party. Music will be provided by Bombay Jim and the Swinging Sapphires, a group of older Caucasian gentlemen in hats. DJ Nicky T will also be appearing.

The rest of what I baked
















Happy Holidays!

What I Baked: Holiday Edition


Gingerbread Man holding hands with Sugarcookie Man



A Star of David cookie, and a cookieman I made by combining leftover sugarcookie and gingerbread dough. I named him after Tiger Woods. Also a multi-racial heart.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I just made the most delicious tuna melt

I don't know what happened, but it was the most delicious sandwich I've ever made. Here's how I made it:

Tuna salad:
1/2 can of tuna
low-fat mayo
salt & garlic pepper to taste

Pan grilled mushrooms:
A few cremini cooked in a skillet with a little sherry & broth (~ tablespoon each), sprinkled with a little salt

Thinly sliced lowfat mozzarella (don't worry, this stuff melts really well)

2 slices tomato

2 slices rosemary ciabatta (you can get this at TJs)

I heated a skillet, sprayed with cooking spray. Then layered all the ingredients on the ciabatta (you need to concentrate all the filling in the very center so that when you press down on the sandwich the filling doesn't all fall out).

After the skillet was hot, I put the sandwich in and pressed down with another pot for about 1-2 minutes. Then I flipped it and did the same on the other side. The bread was browned really well--very dark.

Some of you will be skeptical of the lowfat ingredients, but I guarantee you, this sandwich tastes like it's really bad for you.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Visit to Red Pearl

This week I had occasion to go to Red Pearl, a new fancy Chinese restaurant on Melrose with some of my co-workers. I had the chef's tasting menu, which was very good. I also had a Tokyo Rose cocktail. This cocktail was blue and was made of blueberries. Why was it called the Tokyo Rose? No one could explain. An unreasonable number of the cocktails here include Pucker.

But the whole experience was marred by this exchange, between one of my colleagues and a waitress, as one of the courses was presented.

COLLEAGUE: And what is this?
WAITRESS: It's lahb.
COLLEAGUE: Larb?
WAITRESS: Lahb. L-A-H-B. It's Asian for "meat salad."

Saturday, December 16, 2006

TV Chef Report

I went to Vegas from Monday to Wednesday and I ate at a couple of restaurants owned by TV chefs.

Here is what I ate:

At Craftsteak (Top Chef's Tom Colicchio)

Arugula salad
Lobster bisque
Braised beef short ribs
Roasted chicken
Roasted garlic potatoes au gratin
Petit fours (chocolate brownie, gingerbread, white chocolate peppermint fudge)
Caramel ice cream
Chocolate souffle

This was accompanied by a relatively inexpensive bottle of rose.

At Mesa Grill (Food Network's Bobby Flay)

Blue corn pancake with barbecued duck and habaƱero chile sauce
Smoked chicken and black bean quesadilla with avocado and toasted garlic creme fraiche
Yucatan-style grilled chicken tacos with cilantro and mint
Roasted pork tenderloin sandwich

Between the two, I preferred Craftsteak.

My three-word review of the atmosphere and food at Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton's new restaurant, Pizzeria Mozza

Douchey and salty.

but also I think I ordered poorly, and by the time I got there I was pretty drunk.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Our Man in Havana (or, Castronomy)

Fortune and Vali delivered me to Havana for 24 hours to do official research. I arrived in Havana around noon.

1 Malta canned drink. This tasted like pure liquid sugarcane.

Almost immediately I realized that my resolution to eat in only non-tourist places would be impossible. The Cuban government has crushed small business. It is very difficult to find a store, let alone a restaurant. The few bakeries and hole-in-the-wall places have incredibly long lines. There's a grey economy system of private homes that double as restaurants, but this was difficult to navigate as I don't speak Spanish. It is illegal to buy beef in Cuba (except, interestingly, for the tiny Jewish community).

Cuban people are banned from entering tourist establishments by themselves. They are also incredibly poor. As a result, English-speaking Cubans will try and get you to take them to bars to buy them drinks. A young gentleman and lady introduced themselves, and I told them I would buy them drinks if they took me to a good restaurant. The gentleman said he knew just the place, and kept using the words "fatty" and "Cuban" to describe the sandwich I would have. I agreed.

Restaurant
1 ham and cheese sandwich. This was about what you'd get at ABP.
1 mojito

The woman then began offering services in which I was not interested.

Edificio Bacardi
1 mojito

A nameless bar
1 mojito

Ice cream shop

1 caramel ice cream with caramel
Cubans like their stuff sweet!

Los Frailes hotel
1 cafe con leche

Woman's home
1 cafe con leche

El Floridita
1 Floridita daiquiri
1 Cuban sandwich.
This was made with chicken, pork, and a sort of potato mustard that was quite good.
fried potatoes
fried peppers


Hotel
1 daiquiri

The following morning:

La Taberna
1 sweet sponge cake
3 pieces Cuban sausage
2 pancakes with honey topping
1 piece pineapple
1 piece fruit
- FRs, can you identify it? it was pinkish-red inside with a green rind.
2 glasses fruit juice - 1 pink, one mango?
1 cafe con leche


Jose Marti Airport
Roasted chicken with onions
Black beans and rice
1 Crystal beer

some fried plantains

Monday, December 11, 2006

Data

I've recently been enjoying Jessica Warner's Craze: Gin and Debauchery in the Age of Reason (thank you, SC), but have found some of the data a bit underwhelming. It's in line with an earlier parcel of information I digested - that in the England of Shakespeare's day, people drank a completely staggering, I mean appalling, amount of beer - on average, some 250 glasses a year. Huh? Anyways, I will let the numbers speak for themselves, so here they are.

Warner chronicles the growth and decline in consumption of liquor in England as follows - these are the average numbers of gallons of liquor consumed annually per capita.

1700 - one third of a gallon
1720 - two thirds
1729 - 1.3
1743 - 2.2
1752 - 1.2
1757 - .6 at which point it stayed fairly stable for a while.

Meanwhile, she notes, the consumption of beer stayed at a fairly steady 30 gallons per capita per annum throughout this.

I won't deny that the growth of liquor consumption was enormous, but 2.2 gallons? Come one. One gallon is 8 pints. That means that at the peak of 2.2 gallons in 1743, people were drinking an average of 281.6 oz of liquor a year. Taking the conventional notion of one serving of liquor as being approximately 1.5 oz, that's just over 187.7 servings of liquor over the course of a year - just over one shot every other day. Of course, that's compounded by the fact that people were drinking 240 pints of "strong" beer every year.

Obviously, there are a lot of other things going on beyond these seemingly mundane figures - poorness of living conditions, the fact that the trouble-makers probably sat a couple of standard deviations above those mean consumption figures. I think that ignorance of basic principles of "liquor before beer" may have aggravated the situation somewhat.

Warner also points out that except for the extreme highs of the 1740s, these figures are on par with the consumption of liquor in the America of the 1970s and 1980s, and were "laughably low when compared to the amounts consumed by Americans in the early years of the Republic." (Go, team!)

Also, poor people used to be really short, etc. Still, this doesn't change the fact that I think I used to drink as much as twelve times as much as a "normal" British person of the 18th century.