Archive for January, 2007

Iron Dinner Theater

January 29, 2007

To continue with the Iron Chef theme, a while ago I came up with another possible restaurant concept. In the vein of Planet Hollywood (in that it’s a tourist trap restaurant) but with Benihana’s take on personal chefs per table.
Basically it’s Iron Chef on a small scale in front of an audience of 20 seated around a mini kitchen stadium. Two chefs battle, serving each dish as they finish so you eat your first course while watching them battle out the second course. This continues until the meal is done and the table votes. The winning chef gets a wonderful feeling of victory.
The venue must be big enough for multiple mini kitchen stadiums. Theme ingredient should be restaurant-wide, possibly changing weekly or monthly (not sure about the practicality of a rotating menu).The Food Network probably should have a tie to these venues (the first of which obviously will be in Vegas). Attached to the restaurant is a Food Network store selling books, kitchenware and jarred sauces from the many celebrity chefs who owe their fame to the network. The employees can yell ‘Bam’ and slap your change into your hand after you shelled out $85 for a cookbook and Rachel Ray t-shirt.

Cooking Showbiz

January 27, 2007

The chef as entertainer is not a new concept. From Julia Child to Benihana, and cotton-candy spinners to Emeril, there is a history (especially on television) of chefs turning the art of cooking into a show that’s as enjoyable to watch as the food is to eat. Food Network is basically the Barnum & Bailey (or Circue de Soleil these days) of the cooking circus, with Iron Chef as the main event. Like many television shows (American Idol and The Office from the UK), Iron Chef is a stolen from Japan, where the sushi chef is considered an artist and treated as such (cooking on display above diners at the bar). Iron Chef inspired a network-wide notion that cooking shows, although informative, weren’t very dramatic. By adding competitive challenges like Bobby Flay ‘throwing down’ against unsuspecting chefs, a level of drama and excitement was added.
Not unlike NASCAR, the least interesting are the cake-offs, where pastry chefs create art-like cakes, only to have the idiotic task of walking them across a room and leading to their inevitable destruction on the floor. Although all of these competitions are judged in a subjective manner, the real enjoyment comes from watching the amazing work under intense pressure. I don’t care who wins the Iron Chef battles. I just enjoy watching the transformation from raw ingredient to original, visual delicacies.
I saw a rerun recently of the beet battle between Iron Chef Morimoto and chef Homaru Cantu. I’d never seen Cantu’s scientific take on cooking, but it was fun to watch. Chef Cantu has some of the most innovative cooking techniques in the world, including edible photographs of sushi, chemically generated champagne fizz and hollow frozen beet ice balls made around balloons (pictured). Morimoto even stepped it up, dying the napkins with beet juice and using liquid nitrogen to make his ice cream, but it didn’t compare to the polymer oven or corkscrew utensils that Cantu brought. Somehow in the end Cantu was awarded less points for originality which shows how silly the scoring process is. Regardless, it was one of the most entertaining Iron Chefs I’ve seen, and Alton Brown’s commentary only escalated it to the level of terrific television.

It’s Just the Truth

January 24, 2007

Angelini Osteria is one of the best restaurants in LA.

Why Haven’t They…

January 23, 2007

I was gonna post this as a comment on The Delicious Life, but I switched it to a “Why Haven’t They…”
Everyone in LA is concerned with looking young. From the amount of plastic/laser surgery, raw food restaurants, chemical peels, fake baking and botox, the market for health, anti-aging and well-being is pretty saturated. Regardless I’d like to propose a new form of renewal.
The theory is that bacon-wrapped-anything is amazing. Therefore I propose that health spas start bacon-wrapping-people. Considering how well it works on asparagus, shrimp, scallops and sausages, I can only imagine it would produce a healthy vibrant glow and reduce aging by ten to fifteen years.

Tastespotting

January 22, 2007

Margaux alerted me to: “Tastespotting.. it’s about food. all about food. everything from the ingredients, the process, the photography, the reviews, the products… it is to delectable delights what notcot.org is to design. So, you guys know the drill, if you know a food lover, are a food lover, see a food related link you MUST share, here’s your new destination on the web for it!”

Violet

January 18, 2007

Last month I went to a birthday party at Violet in Santa Monica. Chef Jared Simons is a friend of the birthday girl and offered a varied tasting menu including baked macaroni (Serrano ham, leeks, gruyere cheese),carrot soup with scallops, tuna tartare, creamy risotto and mini root beer floats (amongst other items). The wine flowed endlessly and the food was excellent.
I looked at the menu to see what else Jared offers (venison meatballs, Gimaud Farms duck breast) and for the affordable prices, Violet looks like a great restaurant. However, I haven’t heard that much buzz from friends/foodies. My friend Melissa was unimpressed after her visit. A non-tasting menu dinner there is on the agenda.

At Long Last, Ruen Pair

January 17, 2007

Ruen Pair is one of the best Thai restaurants in LA. Chowhound, food bloggers and restaurant reviewers all agree. Finally (it was being remodeled forever), I can join them in their praise.
We ordered a pot of spicy seafood soup, and it was magnificent. With stunning good looks and the unstoppable power of a sports car- it could easily be called the Ferrari of soup. It has unbridled flavor, intense sweetness, powerful spiciness, addictive saltiness, abundant seafoodiness… You could sub the soup for gas in a Ferrari and get an extra hundred horsepower.
We learned spicy soup from Palms Thai, which is a much cleaner, lighter, less oily soup. In car comparisons Palms’ soup (before the bugs) is like a limousine- sleek, clean, big, bold and sharply accented.
The payoff for Ruen Pair was well worth the wait.


Idiots in Hollywood?

January 15, 2007

It’s a combination of desperation to try the hot new place first, and the infrequent opening of classy, paparazzi-less bars in LA that makes new spots in Hollywood unbearable on the weekend. So now that Bar Lubitsch , Winston’s and The Village Idiot have opened, you can happily spend your weeknights drinking in Hollywood. Just note that comfort, quality and convenience are almost completely lost at these same establishments on the weekend.

The Village Idiot is smaller than Magnolia and Citizen Smith, but bigger than The Bowery. They have a limited (but tasty) upscale British pub menu that puts Cat & Fiddle to shame. The brussel sprouts were outstanding, with large chunks of bacon spread throughout. Tall ceilings, dark wood, good beers on tap, already very crowded on opening weekend (the bartenders were overwhelmed handling drinks, diners at the bar and table drinks orders). These are the co-owners hoping that their investment in their gastro-pub doesn’t leave them looking like financial idiots or worse, like the most famous idiot of all:

It’s Just the Truth

January 11, 2007

There are very few things in the world that are better than bacon wrapped shrimp.
More bacon here.

Once There Was

January 11, 2007

Once there was a restaurant called Atlas Delicatessen in Madison, Wisconsin. I saved the menu for all these years because they made great sandwiches.
It was located on Monroe Street, which meant Mickey’s Dairy Bar was nearby. Mickeys is the quintessential heart-attack-on-plate, Midwestern breakfast joint. Atlas was a gourmet cheese shop with an extensive list of Meats, Schmears (fresh slaw, olive relish, onion relish, Sriracha Hot Sauce), Cheese, Birds, Fungus, Roots and Leaves. Their sandwich list included Wisconsin-sized sandwiches like the ‘NYPD’- 3/4 lb Corned Beef, Inglehoffer Horseradish Mustard on seeded rye and the ‘Fried Bologna’- 1/2 lb thick slice bologna, Malle Dijon Mustard, Atlas onions on a Paisano roll.
Atlas has since been replaced by Relish Deli which I haven’t tried. I miss it.


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