Friday, May 29, 2009

Auditory Food Experience? Sounds Sweet.

The Fat Duck


Yesterday, the BBC published a report on the ability of auditory sounds to affect or enhance a person's sense of taste. To which some weird questions started coming up in my mind, but we'll get to those later. First a little snippet of the article:

We are all capable of "hearing" shapes and sizes and perhaps even "tasting" sounds, according to researchers.

This blending of sensory experiences, or synaesthesia, they say, influences our perception and helps us make sense of a jumble of simultaneous sensations.

Oxford University scientists found that people associate lower-pitched sounds with larger and more rounded shapes.

One of the team is now working with chef Heston Blumenthal to incorporate words into a new dining experience.


News about evolution of technique or food always intrigues me because it seems that for something so many feel is stagnant and basic, there exists this whole other world that is constantly pushing the boundary to find another seam and fold in what is actually endless in variation. I still have yet to understand why food philosophy is divisive and so very preferential, but that's actually one of my future topics so I'm not going to bother getting into it. I will say however that discrimination and prejudice to food is a crime that only punishes the eater and nobody else - unless you're one of those doucheholes that go on and on to everyone about why you are not eating anything at someone else's party/dinner. Why are you the way you are?

Well anyways, fun questions for sound stimulated eating:

1. Do things taste better when you hear it from a sexy language? French/Italian?
(random followup question, can anyone make German sound sexy?)

2. Do things taste better when you hear it from a sexy voice? Hot Women Speaking French/Italian?

3. Would someone ever pair hot porn with hot food porn? Weird.

4. Is this the logical reason for Giada's constant moaning? (She just wants everything to taste better)

5. So if I ever have a kid and he's wearing an Ipod during dinner (ala Fat Duck course), I can't slap that shit off his head?

So many more questions...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

One of The Toughest Decisions In My Life...

My friends, life is filled with tough decisions and this one was so important, that I took a departure from my normal food rambling to write about it.

There are going to be moments in our lives where we are making troubling choice after choice to no end. Sometimes to make the right choice, we seek guidance from any and everywhere whether that is religious, environmental, historical, emotional, political, etc.. And sometimes, even with guidance, we must make choices that we simply do not know are right or wrong. Today I want to tell you about a choice that I have never had the courage to make, but regrettably was made for me today.

For most of my life, I didn't know how to confront the feelings within my heart regarding this matter. I kept putting of the decision when it was presented to me year after year - fearing the mental repercussion and precedent that it may set for the rest of my adult life.

I will tell you honestly that this decision is a very complex one - though it may have the appearance of simply being a personal preference, I can only describe it as a philosophical quandary. And no, it is not a choice where you can have your cake and eat it too - not like the fantastic ability to pair great things as found on this site.

With no further ado, here is the question that will define a big part of your life, scroll down:



...





...



...





BETTY (as played by Marisa Miller)...


or...


VERONICA (as played by Megan Fox)





Tough times indeed. The choice has been made:





I always thought in my heart of hearts I would want to be with the hotter, exotic, misunderstood, insecure, higher maintenance, and passionate Veronica, but when I woke up to the news today, I felt a little empty. I felt empty because I realized the truth of the matter is that that feeling was a longing for what I may have wanted and not necessarily what I may need. Unfortunately, what I realize is needed and missing is the sweet, selfless, clumsy, passive, silly and true-hearted genuine Betty.

I could settle for Marisa Miller too obviously.

Please, Archie comics, I implore you... something needs to change. I was wrong.

Visavis: Does it look like Jughead is upset and he wants to stop this because he secretly wants Archie to be with Betty or because he wants Archie to not be with Veronica or because he just wants Archie? So many questions!!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Acts of Brilliant Stupidity - Cooper's Hill Annual Cheese Rolling

This was just too good that I had to post it. Every year people in England roll down a hill to chase a rolling piece of cheese. You may sustain concussions and back breaking injuries, but in the end you may have the glory of winning that roll of cheese you were chasing.

The people who chase cheese and risk life and limb are simply known as heroes. I honor their fantastic tradition with a post and a salute.

The official Cheese Rolling website lists winners year by year and also includes information on how to get there as well as pics. From Wikipedia, I found out that apparently this is a 200+ year old tradition and it seems to date back at least to the 19th century. It is now an official dream and goal of mine to go witness this event for my own eyes. Running With The Bulls is so yesterday's cool European tradition.

Cheese Rolling bitches, that's where it's at.

You can find wonderful pictures today via Boston.com here. Or you can watch the video for yourself below.

P.S. I love when the girl yells "GET THE CHEESE" and "ow, ow, ow." Truly the sport of champions.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cuts, Scars, Tats and Other Things That Make Me Look Like A Badass - Part 2

This is the second part of my kitchen short story series that I had a chance to write this weekend. I'm not sure how these things will go, but I'm pretty sure they follow more of a theme and idea of this character as it relates to themes within the industry. I'd really like to piece and puzzle his life with stories and avoid creating a chronological timeline. I'm not out there to write a coming of age story because the character simply will stand as a man to be judged by his actions. I doubt this is going to evolve into a soul searching series of short stories - there are too many stories like that already.



Cuts, Scars, Tats and Other Things That Make Me Look Like A Badass

Part 2: Waitress


I’m in New York today and I’ve just had lunch at the Dumpling Man. The taste and odor of garlic and pork is just sitting in my mouth and I’m feeling the need for a lemon tart to suppress it. My friend Ella and I have just started to get comfortable in a couple of chairs at The Adore on 13th.

The Adore is what Ella so perfectly regards as “adorable” – it is the type of cafĂ© that is uncompromisingly not New York and so New York packaged in a little dining room. It is Je Ne Sais Qua and it is what Ella likes to idealize her own self image as: a complex woman you are both meant to love and appreciate, but fear and hate all in one wonderful package. I find that restaurants or bars that people frequent or love are very telling of their personalities - more that they would care to acknowledge.

After 30 minutes of Genmaicha and pastry, we get off topic from food and start talking about one of the more unsavory dating periods in my life: 3 not too long and not too short term relationships in 6 months. Whether I choose to recognize it or not, personal relationships also pertain to the subject of cuts and scars of a kitchen life. They are demons often conjured mentally rather than physically (for most chefs). Ambition, love, lust and habit are part of all industries (including office life), but gossip in the restaurant industry has a reputation for travelling between kitchens and ears rather quickly. It's a golden kitchen rule: everyone talks shit, deal with it.

Ella is radiant today in her soft summer dress and she is calmly enjoying her tea until the following words leak out of her mouth, just as I expected they would when I boarded the plane out here two days ago…

“So what happened with Karen?”

I expected this because I boarded the plane without Karen.

Any explanation in the subject of Karen needed to be delicate because she was one of the few women I dated that Ella had seemingly approved and genuinely liked. It didn’t help that she and Ella spent some time together when she was visiting San Francisco during one of my busier weeks. I shrugged Ella off and told her simply, “It didn’t work out.”

Ella now seemed intent to lecture me about issues with restaurant workers, instability and relationship commitment, but she didn’t know I intended to cut her off well before it happens. It would not be her first rant regarding my part in the unsavory liaisons of my industry. I start with a soft defense and begin mumbling in a professional and impersonal tone, as if I was in front of a college class:

“Sometimes I get the feeling that there is an immense disconnection between the romanticized depiction and the actual reality of a restaurant worker’s life. I think one of the more regrettable stereotypes - if you want to call it that - happens to be the generalization that people who work in this industry have unstable lives. There’s probably some truth to the basic idea of instability, but I feel this is more of a direct result of inadequate representation from the front of house.”

She thinks she’s hearing bullshit, but I don’t care, so I’m laying it on as thick, chunky and serious as I can.

“What I am trying to explain is that most chefs and cooks I’ve worked with or for, live very stable lives. In fact, a high percentage of these chefs are often married at a very young age for some reason. Someone once told me the theory that chefs marry or engage into serious relationships at a young age because they want someone who would be committed to them in spite of the crazy instability of their positions in the kitchen whereas a bartender or waiter is normally not as willing to do so because most front of house positions are strictly transitional jobs during a transitional period in their lives.”

Ella sits there quietly and nods in a partially surprised and totally unsurprised, judgmental grin. God, I love this woman, but I hate the bitch that she can be sometimes. She slowly comes around and says, “well, I’m sure you had more of a hand fucking it up than you did keeping it together.”

To that, I respond indignantly, “I’m only 29, but it’s not quite that.”

At this point in our little catch-up session at The Adore, my head started spinning. I had to explain to Ella that I don’t particularly think I fucked up a good thing with Karen. I told Ella I liked Karen a lot, despite the fact that she was somewhat neurotic, brought all her shit home with her after work, and always felt overburdened with doing something with her life, but not knowing what the hell that was. It didn’t help that we worked at the same place in an industry where the chef-waitress hookups were regarded more as basic common occurrences than a professional faux pas. Call it the kiss of death if you will.

“So how did it end?” Ella finally asks as if she had been waiting all afternoon.

“Well, she didn’t want to commit to what or where we were going, I got upset because she was so apprehensive about the idea of commitment and we had an argument. She started ignoring me, stopped calling or returning my calls for a good week and a half. So one night I went to dinner at Conduit and then proceeded to Nopa to have a nightcap and a partial make-out session with a hostess from a different restaurant. And that’s pretty much the book on how to end relationships.”

I can tell Ella is now back on my side regarding this matter, but of course, she’s still partially disgusted at the thought of my unsubtle and seemingly capricious approach. She can’t help but say, “wow, that’s pretty fucked up.”

“Yep, but they were really good about getting my martini right that night.”

Monday, May 25, 2009

HFP's Memorial Day House Warming Recap

Though not many as expected showed up for the house warming my roomies and I threw - mainly because almost everyone was out of town, someone else's BBQ or at one of the 8 million weddings going on, we had fun putting it together and forcing ourselves to get our place organized. I would have put up our spread against anything else going on this weekend - if there was somewhere that was throwing down better, I'd like to see some pics. I'm also very happy that I have sweet leftovers this week. Aileen, one of my roomies totally rocked the desserts. Just to show everyone what they missed out on, here's a little food recap:

The Menu:

Chips & Homemade Dips
-Guacamole
-Yellow chive buttermilk dip

Cheese Plates
-Andante Camembert, Andante Minuet, Stilton Blue accompanied with apricots, strawberries, cashews and Washington wild thistle honey

Sour Cream Egg & Potato Salad
-Green onions, roasted onions, gold fingerlings and baby new potatoes

Smoked Sausage and Squash Penne
-summer squash types: ronde de nice, yellow crooknecks, yellow pattypan, courgette

Aileen's Shaved Cabbage & Ramen Chicken Salad

Half Roasted Pig from Gourmet Delight
-Crispy everything and with a full head!

Aileen's Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Aileen's Banana Cream Tartlets

Silky Choco Pudding Cups with Blueberry Bourbon Jam


Some pics:

"That'll Do Pig"

Doesn't it suck that you weren't eating me.

"Daddy wants to..." Wait, wrong velvet color.

We didn't even bother asking if people got enough to eat.

Aileen's Banana Tartlets

A whole other table for food and yes,
someone brought awesome spam musubi