Feb 22nd, 2010
It's the first day of the Week of Eating In challenge, and I'm taking it easy like Sunday morning. Only it's Monday. You don't start skiing by tackling the super giant slalom, no, you keep to the bunny hill for a while (or in my case, never progress from that point, because you find that you don't like skiing much and have planted your face in the snow while getting on or off the ski left one too many times). So for a possibly frenzied week of cooking, in the midst of my book's release no less, I wanted to start off real simple.
The Week Of Eating In Day One: Starting Off Slow
Jun 25th, 2009
Goodness, did I cook a lot of whole animals this past week. First it was the glorious goat spit for The Greenhorns. Then Tuesday was the Hapa Kitchen's third dinner, "Paris of the East," featuring a fusion of French and Chinese cuisines -- and lots of duck, duck, and more duck (no goose). We dressed the dining room with Chinese lanterns, flowers and curling garlic scapes, put on some Django Rhinehart and the soundtrack to In the Mood For Love
, wrote menus on the backs of Chinese poster art prints from the 1930s (of girls in high-collar chipao
dresses), poured five different wines from Wolffer Estate, sourced vegetables from nearby Sang Lee Farms, and cooked nine six and a half-pound ducks from D'Artagnan. It's taken me a bit of time getting myself out of this "mood." To be perfectly honest, I could stay there for a while.
Dijon Duck Buns with Pickled Cucumber and Scallions
Dec 3rd, 2008
The culinary concept of "Asian fusion" is one that both excites and troubles me. It's sparsely defined (there is no Wikipedia entry for it), and it sometimes can mean a melding of different Asian cuisines, or a hybrid of East-West tastes. Understood in the latter sense, I find that I really do enjoy so many of these types of dishes. I'm not saying that I have a better perspective of it than anyone else, but since Asian fusion is also a good way to describe my genetic make-up (and my once fake DJ name to co-workers), it occurs to me that a great deal of the foods I grew up to love might also be described as such. Fried rice with cubed leftover ham steak? Absolutely. Anything with sesame oil, especially cold salads? Have fork, will eat! The problem comes when fusion dishes are commonly mistaken for the actual cuisine(s) of inspiration. Like with "Chinese Chicken Salad," a popular favorite (and one which I don't happen to like -- canned oranges?). Often, it seems all too careless and facile to slip soy sauce into something and call it "Asian" this or that.
The way I prefer fusion food -- of any cultures, for that matter -- is a little more knowing than that. I like dishes that are so obviously not faithful to any cuisine, but rather tongue-in-cheek nods to them. Or whimsical hyperboles from the chef's worldly imagination. This is an awful, tasteless thing to bring up, but the best comparison I can think of for this, then, would have to be "food blackface."
Not-So-Strange Birds Part III: Cranberry Thai Curry Glazed Duck Breast with Coconut Mashed Potatoes
Nov 24th, 2008
According to Wikipedia, the quail is a "mid-sized" bird in the pheasant family. Jesus, what do the very small ones look like? I wondered, after carefully unwrapping the quail from plastic and placing it on my cutting board. I couldn't help imagining my grade-school pet parakeet sans feathers.
Not-So-Strange Birds Part II: Roast Quail with Soda Bread Stuffing and Red Wine Reduction
Nov 21st, 2008
Now that everyone's hopefully got their turkey situation squared away, and are just about fed up with the annual Thanksgiving-food buzz (to brine or not to brine? Best seasonal stuffings?), I thought I'd take a moment to highlight a few overlooked birds of the feather. First up: pheasant! Isn't that a lovely word? The live bird, too, is known for its exceptional beauty. And friends, fowl-lovers, foodies or not: the meat of the pheasant is equally astounding. Especially when it's a pasture-raised, all-natural ring-necked pheasant produced through the ever-humane and conscientious care of D'Artagnan.
Not-So-Strange Birds Part I: Pan-Roasted Pheasant with Savory Vegetables