Fab Food Show 5

•14 November 2009 • 1 Comment


I was up late with friends last night do I had a late start. It’s great to be in Cleveland again. Instead of just heading to the show I decided to head for the West Side Market, one of the country’s oldest community market. Fantastic produce stalls line two sides of the building, which houses the stands selling meats, cheeses, breads and bakery, and fresh fish. If you’ve never been, it’s worth a trip. It’s a direct route to the roots of Cleveland food.

Lunch today is at the Great Lakes Brewery, then head back to the show and see Michael Symon.


Fab Food Show 4

•14 November 2009 • 2 Comments


The Thomas Keller & Michael Ruhlman conversation was very interesting. I’ll elaborate when I get back to a full computer, not just my phone. Kellers new book, Ad Hoc at Home, is even more enlightening. I’ll get more to that was well. Stay tuned for updates.

UPDATE – 11/16/09

The format for this talk was an informal conversation. Both gentlemen sat in chairs at the front of the stage and basically talked back and forth and answered a few questions from the audience. The conversation started with talking about what it takes for a home cook to be a great cook. Keller stated that ingredient and technique will create great food. Get the freshest and best ingredients you can (and demand for them from your grocer). Learn the techniques; knife skills, pan skills (saute, braise, roast, etc.). Mainly learn the basics and repeat.

Repetition is the only way you will master something. If you keep making something new every time you cook you will never really get to know that dish and make it your own. That pretty much applies to many things. Chef Keller explained that consistency in a kitchen comes from the daily rituals and repetition of food preparation. And he said, a large amount dedication, commitment is required…it’s a lifestyle.

Seasoning. When asked what the most important ingredient in the kitchen would be, he quickly, and without hesitation, replied, “Salt.” He explained that salt elevates the flavor of everything, but can destroy a dish if over-salted. Ruhlman asked, “So how does one learn to use salt correctly?” and, of course Keller’s reply was, “Repetition.” As you use salt pay attention to what you are doing. Taste often, know what you like. Practice picking up salt with two, three and four fingers and dropping it into a measuring spoon. You’ll get used to knowing the amounts by sight.

Both Keller and Ruhlman talked about how home cooks shouldn’t be intimidated by foods or cooking. Keller stated that while he can certainly whip up a quick meal when there’s not much time, but he said taking time out to cook a nice slow dish. Something that requires patience.

I can really relate to that. When I have a weekend free to really cook, I like making a stock along with whatever else I’m making. For me, making stock, really good stock takes time. There’s also a lot of doing nothing for long periods of time while it simmers. My favorite “project” dish is gumbo. Making gumbo uses a lot of different cooking techniques from making a roux, prepping vegetables and meats, sauteing, etc. I like to start from scratch. A pile of vegetables, a whole chicken (maybe two), and some great smoked sausage.

Thomas also talked about the transformational aspect of cooking. Taking the time to really transform your ingredients. Near and dear to my heart, he used tripe as an example. From something stinky and tough, with patients, you can transform it into a light, tender delicacy. Hooray tripe (ahem, sorry).

So those were the highlights. Then, nearly the entire audience stayed for the autograph session, which lasted at least an hour. Nevertheless, it was a real pleasure to meet Thomas Keller and see Michael Ruhlman again.

Fab Food Show 3

•13 November 2009 • Leave a Comment

Food & Design

Just killing time waiting for Tom Keller, drinking some very nice wines. Check out the label in the photo. Very subtle, clean, but impactful against all the other labels. It’s an Australian Chardonnay by Innocent Bystander. Ok, back for more wine.

Fab Food Show 2

•13 November 2009 • Leave a Comment


I just heard Laura Taxel, author of Cleveland Ethnic Eats, speak about the new edition of her book and about the rich treasure of ethnic foods that exist in Cleveland. That is the one big thing I really miss about Cleveland, that and the lake. I was very surprised and happy to find out there is a Czech restaurant in one of the neighborhoods I lived in, not only Czech, but specifically Bohemian! I think I’ll make time tomorrow to head over there. [Update: I didn’t make it there.]

Oh, and I got an incredible deal on a fantastic knife. A 10in hand forged chef knife for $50, retailing at $155! Hellz yeah!

Fabulous Food Show

•13 November 2009 • Leave a Comment


I’m in my hometown of Cleveland enjoying this great expo of the food industry. I’ll keep posting as things come up. So far I sat in a demo/talk on sustainable farming and making meatloaf, have sampled halfway through the merchants, poked my head onto Tyler Florence’s talk, and am scoping out what to eat for lunch. Tonight I’ll be seeing a disscussion with Thomas Keller of The French Laundry, moderated my Cleveland’s Michael Ruhlman.

Baby Buddha Pears

•28 September 2009 • Leave a Comment

Food & Design

baby buddha shaped pears

Gao Xianzhang. a farmer from the village of Hexia, in Hebia, northern China found a way, using fiberglass and plastic, to mold pears as they grow to form the shape of the baby Buddha. This is an ingenious way of mixing both food and design into one nice package, sans package of course. He sells the pears for $7 US (50 Yuan) a piece, which might seem a little pricey, but there’s more to it than that. Apparently there’s a legend within Chinese literature regarding fruit resembling a baby that bestows immortality (See post on Kottke.org. I looked through the referenced book post on Wikipedia, but did not see anything regarding fruit in the shape of a baby. However, reading the entry to strike another cord with me. The story of the Monkey King within this novel sounds very much like Jet Li’s role in The Forbidden Kingdom (2008) along with Jackie Chan.

One link always leads to the next.

Two legends taken down

•21 September 2009 • Leave a Comment


This is a food update special report. It has come to my attention the end of two true legends in the food world that many people probably don’t know, but they’ve eaten their creations.

Ceasar’s Restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico
Ceasar’s was the birthplace of the Ceasar Salad in the 1920s. Yes, Mexico. The salad has nothing to do with the Roman emperors of the same name. While you can find handmade Ceasar Salads outside of Mexico, you won’t be getting one at it’s birthplace. Ceasar’s is closing due to crime, drug violence, falling economy and swine flu scares…all of which caused drops in tourism.

Here’s the classic recipe for a Ceasar Salad, give it a try sometime:

4-6 cloves garlic, finely minced
6-8 anchovy filets, finely chopped
1 large egg
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Juice of 1 medium-sized lemon
Freshly ground pepper
Approximately 1/2 cup olive oil
1 large head Romaine lettuce, cleaned, broken into large pieces and chilled
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Approximately 2 cups croutons

Use a large salad bowl, preferably wooden. Rub garlic all over inside of bowl using back of spoon to crush pieces. Do the same with the anchovies. Add the egg and beat well, breaking down any pieces of white. Stir in the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and pepper. Taste for adjustments. Add olive oil, beating well to emulsify. The amount of oil is dependent upon the size of the lemon, etc. I always take a crouton, dip it into the dressing at this point, taste for seasonings and add more oil if needed. Just before serving, add lettuce, cheese and croutons. Toss well. Place in serving bowls.

The next to fall:

Moderno in Piedras Negras, Mexico
A Moderno waiter, Ignatio “Nacho” Anaya is credited with inventing the nacho, which was whipped up in a hurry after the kitchen had closed for American visitors. His quick thinking resulted in a toasted corn tortilla chip with melted cheese and a jalapeño slice, which he named the “nacho” after his nickname. Again, a slump in tourism cased by drug violence and fear of swine flu claimed this restaurant as well.

It’s always sad to hear of a restaurant closing let alone ones that create legendary foods. Next time you have a Ceasar Salad or Nachos, remember these folks and raise a shot of Tequila to their names. Vaya con dios.