Feed Us Back: Comments of the Week

kale chip fail

– Reaching back to an old Friday Fuck Up, erisgrrrl confirms that cooking kale chips is easier said than done:

I have tried to make kale chips twice and both times it was fail city! They looks so easy and tasty! I have no idea what I did wrong but it was no good! So, I totally feel your pain!

Why is this so hard? Some tips please? Anyone?

– In another oldie-but-goodie, real live French-Canadian Jean-Guy Bourque approves of our NYC Tour de Poutine:

I am a French-Canadian who left Montreal for a 6 month visit to the USA 42 years ago, and I’m still here in New Jersey…I am very happy to see that you can finally get a taste of Montreal here in the NYC area! Bravo! What I really hope for is for “smoked meat” to also catch on here…You’ll forget about NY style pastrami once you’ve tried Montreal’s smoked meat! Also the Montreal style of BBQ chicken that you get at places like Chalet BBQ, Benny’s or St Hubert BBQ…

Consider us on board the smoked meat bandwagon!

– Finally, star ES commenter erica offers up some more ideas for what to cook with lentils:

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Who is the 2010 Eater of the Year?

2011 is just around the corner, and that means it must be time for the 4th Annual Endless Simmer Eater of the Year Awards. Every December, ES asks our readers to decide which food personality has had the greatest influence on our edible lives over the past 12 months. Past nominees have run the gamut from Padma Lakshmi to John Mayer and Meryl Streep, but only one outstanding luminary can win the title Eater of the Year (Anthony Bourdain, Hezbollah Tofu and This is Why You’re Fat won the popular vote in past years). Who will take home the crown in 2010? It’s up to you. Read up on our five finalists below, then vote for your favorite at the end of the post.

And the nominees are…

Ruth Bourdain


Like everything we love, the original concept behind Ruth Bourdain was equal parts preposterous and ingenuous. Take the earnest, life-affirming tweets of Gourmet (RIP) editor Ruth Reichl and spice them up with the gutter mouth of 2007 Eater of the Year Anthony Bourdain. The result is a 20,000-follower twitter feed that reeled off some of the year’s most prescient foodie thoughts, from “I’m all for grass-fed cows, so long as they don’t eat my stash,” to “If I read another food trend list, I’m going to drink a beer cocktail, hijack a food truck, and drive a cupcake up your bacon-infused ass.” The gag grew into a daily project that soon spawned a Ruth Bourdain advice column and even caught the attention of Reichl and Bourdain themselves, who both profess to love it. Tony Bourdain says he has a suspect as to who the mystery writer is, but for now the real identity of this tweeting eater remains deliciously secret. (Any guesses?)

The Michelin Man


In an era when everyone swears the professional critic is dead and the new arbiters of taste are none other than you and I, the 2006 announcement that France’s most venerable restaurant reviewers would expand into the United States was met with a chorus of skepticism. This was, after all, the same year Time magazine declared YOU the person of the year. Who cares what the snooty writers from some 100-year-old French guidebook think when I can just read my own reviews on Yelp? The answer apparently, is everybody. In just four years, The Michelin Guide has defied the conventional wisdom of the Internet age and become the most respected restaurant review in North America (as it already was in Europe and Japan). The guidebooks’ results are reported not just on the food pages but in the main section of newspapers as genuine national news stories; the country’s most celebrated chefs pace all night before new ratings are released; and the designation of a shiny star from the Michelin Man has made neighborhood cooks from Brooklyn to Oakland into instant cheflebrities. Now everyone just wants to know where he’ll go next.

Sid Lerner


In 2003, Mad Man-era advertising guru Sid Lerner turned his back on consumer culture and took up the mantle of sustainability. He partnered with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to start Meatless Mondays, a novel initiative that encourages eaters to go without flesh one day a week, thus cutting consumption by 15 percent, lowering greenhouse gasses, helping us all live longer…you know the drill by now. It took a few years, but the Meatless Mondays mantra is now a food world commandment that has changed the way many of us eat. A-list restaurants like Dovetail and Babbo offer meatless menus every Monday; public schools systems and colleges including Yale have embraced the concept; and San Francisco is about two steps away from making meat on Mondays against the law. Thank you Sid Lerner, for giving us a way to feel good about ourselves while still eating bacon 18 times a week.

Professor Mark Haub


No civilization has ever had a more dysfunctional relationship with weight loss than America. Every year or so, we collectively decide what the new way to lose weight is. Don’t eat fat. No, wait — don’t eat carbs. Actually, eat carbs, but only before 10 a.m. Strike that — no carbs, but eat as much meat as you want and only while standing up. Of course, there’s one old-fashioned weight loss method that we never hear much about — just don’t eat so freakin’ much. But could that really work? To prove the relevance of this rather novel theory, Kansas State Professor Mark Haub spent two months eating nothing but crap — specifically, Twinkies and other Hostess/Little Debbie snack cakes. The twist is that he was only allowed to eat 1,800 calories of it a day, making the point that you don’t need some miracle food or fad diet to lose weight — you just need to eat less. Haub lost 27 pounds during two months on the Twinkie diet, and an attentive American audience vowed that each of us would never eat more than 1,800 calories in a day ever again. Nah, I’m just kidding. We shoveled fifty pounds of Twinkies in our face every day and swore we’d sue Mark Haub when we didn’t get skinny.

Sarah Palin


For a few months following the 2008 election, it seemed possible that Miss Wassila 1984 would fade quietly from the national scene and head back to a simple life of moose chili cook-offs. But that was not to be. Fortunately for freedom-loving foodies everywhere, Sarah Palin repositioned herself as the anti-Michelle Obama, anti-Michael Bloomberg food crusader. Wherever there was a seemingly noncontroversial food issue this year, Sarah Palin was around to spice up the argument. The healthy kids act? Not on her watch. Curbing childhood obesity and addressing the rise of diabetes rates? Sounds like a bunch of cookie-hating commie bullshit to Sarah. Whenever foodie elites like the Meatless Mondays crowd started to overreach, Sarah was there to refudiate them with red meat quotes like “If God had not intended for us to eat animals, how come He made them out of meat?” Finally, a politician not afraid to endorse cannibalism. Give ’em hell, Sarah. (Photo: Momlogic)

Also receiving votes: Gail Simmons, USDA Dairy Management, Sandra Lee, The Lawrence/Julie & Julia Project. Vote for the winner — or write in your own candidate — below.

2009 Eater of the Year: This is Why You’re Fat
2008 Eater of the Year: Hezbollah Tofu

2007 Eater of the Year: Anthony Bourdain

ES Chats with the Michelin Man


Wednesday morning was the equivalent of Oscar nominations day for New York City chefs of a certain caliber, who woke up and found out whether they had won or lost a star from the esteemed French food critics at Michelin. (Yes, the same people who replace your tires are also the world’s most feared and respected food critics — go figure.) But it was also an interesting day for Jean-Luc Naret, Michelin’s directeur general, whose job is to personally call each chef and break the good (or bad) news. We caught up with the foodie world’s Santa Claus/Grinch to see how his big day went.

ES: So you actually call each of these chefs yourself? Are they expecting your call?
Jean-Luc Naret: Yes, I call each newly starred chef every year. You never know if they are expecting you. It’s sometimes really beautiful, such as with a chef like Cesar Ramirez at Brooklyn Fare [the first Brooklyn chef to ever receive two stars] who I called this morning and told him that he has two stars. That was a great call because he knows what it means. And it’s not two stars in Brooklyn — of course it is in Brooklyn, but it is two stars period. It means that his kitchen is becoming one of the best kitchens in the world. So he’s going to have a lot of focus on him now and hopefully he can keep it the same way.

But you also do the other call — when someone loses a star. Sounds awkward. How does that go?

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Bunny Bourguignon


When it comes to ingredients, I like them fresh and ready to use. For a while now I’ve been wanting to cook rabbit, and after tasting Birch & Barley‘s rabbit gnocchi, I knew it was time I tried to cook the hoppy little guy.

Finding rabbit isn’t easy. It’s not just something you can pick up at Safeway or Whole Foods. Instead, I turned to one of DC’s many weekday farmers’ markets. I took a late lunch one Thursday afternoon and headed out to the White House Farmers Market where I found Garden Path Farm and their one “rabbit” left.

This is where it gets interesting.

At a little over 2 pounds, I assumed the vacuum-packed rabbit was meat, just meat, and I could cube and make a tasty Bunny Bourguignon. How was I wrong!

Continue reading to see what happened, but be warned, the following photos are not for the squeamish.

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Gridiron Grub: French Onion Soup Sandwich


“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.”

That is one of my favorite quotes about teamwork and the spirit of those words is part of why I love sports so much. We see time and time again that individual stars get paid the big bucks but often it is the team that works together best that has the most success. The same could be said for cooking. While quality ingredients are important, the simplest ingredients can really come together with just some time, effort, technique and a sense of fun.

With that in mind, it has been a rain-filled and cold week on the East Coast so I was in the mood for soup and a sandwich. Here’s the spin I put on a traditional combo for wifey and I to enjoy while cheering on PSU football Saturday night.

Open-faced French Onion Soup Sandwich

First you must recruit. So to assemble your team of ingredients, here is what I went with: 4tbsp clarified butter, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 lb onions sliced lengthwise, 8 oz beef stock, cup of spiced apple wine (I had it on hand from a local winery but feel free to use any white wine you like), c grated apple wood smoked Gruyere,red onion ciabatta bread and parsley.

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A San Francisco Sugar Crawl with Top Chef Just Dessert’s Tim Nugent

Tim Nugent

SF pastry chef Tim Nugent may have been asked to pack his knives stack his measuring cups and leave Top Chef: Just Desserts last week, but it was just in time for him to take ES on a tour of all his favorite local desserts. From the classics to the craziest, here are Tim Nugent’s favorite San Francisco treats.

TCHO Pot de Creme at Absinthe


“This is done the right way, the French way,” says Tim — just eggs, sugar, and super-rich chocolate from SF-based TCHO. “I get all that other stuff out of the way and just go right to the chocolate.” (Photo: Alex)

Crazy donuts, crazier ice cream and the one dish that strikes fear in the heart of all Top Chef-testants. Keep reading for more of Tim’s favs…

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My Classy Cheating Confession: Gastronomic Glaze

gastronomic glaze

Part III in our controversial ES series

When my fabulous former neighbor returned from Paris having successfully smuggled Vacherin Mont d’Or cheese into the States, we knew it was going to be a party.

And party we did. After leaving the contraband Vacherin out overnight, it was exceptionally soft and bore that hallmark of quality cheese, the stink of smelly feet. It was the rustic-looking wild cousin of brie—the one with the beard who gets wasted at your sister’s wedding and hits on the bridesmaids because he knows you’re not going to say shit about it.

But the real star of the party was the goat cheese garnished with crumbled walnuts and fig balsamic gastronomic glaze (glassa gastronomica if you’re pretentious, Italian, or both). It was the perfect tangy and sweet complement to the cheese. She simply took a log of chevre, split it in half lengthwise and glazed up the interior, putting it back together like a wonderful cheese sandwich with balsamic candy in the middle. Gastronomic glaze: garnish of the gods.

Well, after six or seven bottles of Bordeaux and my incessant harping on the brilliance of this balsamic glaze, Jan admitted that she had brought back a couple bottles of plain balsamic glaze from a French grocery. In her drunken state she offered me one, which I’m sure she now regrets.

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