Thursday, August 13, 2009

Story of the Week... "America Dies on Dunkin'"

I have to tell you the new "in" thing to do is totally martyrdom (job-wise) over food. If you haven;t read the story yet, read it here. Apparently a Florida doctor working for the county decided to put up a sign that said "America Dies On Dunkin," which is absolutely hilarious by the way, and got shitcanned for it. But the best part of the story isn't just that, there's more. Here is part of the story:

PENSACOLA, Fla. — Dr. Jason Newsom railed against burgers, french fries, fried chicken and sweet tea in his campaign to promote better eating in a part of the country known as the Redneck Riviera. He might still be leading the charge if he had only left the doughnuts alone.

A 38-year-old former Army doctor who served in Iraq, Newsom returned home to Panama City a few years ago to run the Bay County Health Department and launched a one-man war on obesity by posting sardonic warnings on an electronic sign outside:

"Sweet Tea (equals) Liquid Sugar."

"Hamburger (equals) Spare Tire."

"French Fries (equals) Thunder Thighs."

He also called out KFC by name to make people think twice about fried chicken.

Then he parodied "America Runs on Dunkin'," the doughnut chain's slogan, with: "America Dies on Dunkin'."

Some power players in the Gulf Coast tourist town decided they had had their fill.

A county commissioner who owns a doughnut shop and two lawyers who own a new Dunkin' Donuts on Panama City Beach turned against him, along with some of his own employees, Newsom says. After the lawyers threatened to sue, his bosses at the Florida Health Department made him remove the anti-fried dough rants and eventually forced him to resign, he says.

Now Dr. Newsom is no idiot and clearly with his sense of humor, he's probably a guy I could hang out with late at night and drink a few soy lattes or wheatgrass shots with. I mean, personally I understand the issues of overeating bad shit for you like KFC and Dunkies. It really basically comes down to the lifetime ability of mind over matter. If you can't control that on a daily basis then you're likely 300 lbs and en route to wearing moomoo dresses for a living. It should not however stop anyone from wanting to eat a Dunkies French Crueller or Lemon Powdered or even some good ole KFC mutant original recipe. Because honestly, that shit just tastes good. Sometimes, you just need to buckle down and say, this is bad, but damn its good.

Here is an analogy for those that do not quite get it. If someone offered me a Ferrari for a day and I didn't speed the hell out of it, that would be pointless and wrong. Sure, speeding is dangerous and douchey, but its a goddamn Ferrari. If a cop pulls me over in it, my only defense would be, "shit, I was speeding, but have you ever driven one because if you did, you'd want to be speeding too." So if any of you readers catch me at a KFC, all I'm going to say to you is "have you tasted the third drumstick on this chicken, it's fucking delicious."

Well aside from all that goodness, this doctor scores more Hot Food Porn brownie points. Right here:

A short time after Newsom's meeting with Rivard and Duncan, Newsom says, his bosses at the state Health Department told him that his leadership wasn't wanted and that he could be fired or resign. He chose to resign May 8 but has reapplied for the job.

The Florida Health Department has refused to talk about Newsom since he is considered a job applicant. "We will be happy to talk to you after the position has been filled," department spokeswoman Susan Smith said in an e-mail.

Newsom is hoping to get his job back so that he can resume his campaign against overeating.

Not only did this man defy everyone, he had the balls to tie up their hands again by reapplying for his job, which in turn makes the entire Florida Health Department and their spokeswoman look like an idiot. He is a man playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers.

Dr. Newsom, you are a Hot Food Porn Hero.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Portland, Je T'aime - Part 1 Day 1

It was an all too natural progression. It snuck up so quickly. First there was an eager anticipation, then a sudden meeting. There were moments of laughter, comfort and passion all intertwining into a genuinely sweet disposition. Portland, je t'aime and I didn't even know it.

Sadly, this is not a love story. And while I have the gut feeling that Portland may be the right city, you made your appearance at the wrong time in my life. And, timing in life, as the equally unmotivated say, is everything.

So, I sit here with only fond memories and sweet cliches of love and loss - ready now to recollect my beautiful 3 perfect days of Summer with Portland.

Day 1 - Thursday morning: How Do You Do Voodoo?

The second I stepped out of the airport tunnel, I found the Tri Met station in front of me. The second I stepped out of the Tri Met train, I found my hotel right in front of me. Either the stars were lined up that day for me or somebody was very smart about his hotel selections. Yes, that would be brilliant and modest me.

30 minutes of ooohing and aaaahing later in the Nines hotel, my group and I were off to Voodoo Donuts for a glucose induced seizure - one that can only be brought on by countless combinations of sugar made sprinkles, sugar made glazes, sugar made fillings and fried/raised dough. I find it surprising that the American Diabetic Associations can stand so idly by - especially when the PETA spider monkeys are trying to dry hump every restaurant pole that has a menu with the word "foie."

30 more minutes elapse while we stood in line with all types of people. Finally, we are in the donut shop. The menu is dauntingly complex and I couldn't even figure out where the hell a regular donut with jelly was listed. Why didn't they just call it the "policemen special"? Well, maybe because policemen find all the donuts special (oh snap, no, you didn't). Anyways, the group went with variety of 9 donuts, my choices being the raspberry powder filled, the miami vice berry and the lemon chiffon crueller. Some donuts were quite restrained and some were fairly ridiculous.

Sad to say, aside from being loads of fun to look at and try, the donuts weren't particularly special. Not sure if it was worth all that insulin I had to pump into my veins. They are fine donuts, but not particularly exemplary once you're through the looking glass. But mild disappointment aside, everything was okay because we had decided to eat these donuts at the perfect place: Stumptown Coffee. I love me a good rebound.

Some Voodoo Pic Action:

For those that are in the dark about Stumptown Coffee, it is Portland's version of Blue Bottle and it is getting bigger. I personally went with a double latte so I could mask the guilt of punishing my body with unnecessary amounts to frosting. Rich, smooth smells and tastes of familiar and complex roasted beans is always an out of body experience. Things felt downright Parisian when I paired my espresso latte with the rare comfort of an unplugged Thursday morning and the sight of a disarmingly attractive and charming coffee clerk (who happen to have Audrey Hepburn-like good looks). Hmm...physically unavailable, just my type.

Raspberry powdered...check
Double latte...check
No phones ringing...check
Cute coffee girl...check

Oh yeah, and the company was good too, I guess. Just kidding guys.

Stumptown Pic Action:

Day 1 - Thursday afternoon: We've Got A Lot In Common

3 hours later, I was fiending for more coffee. Lucky me, we found a Pearl district place appropriately named Barista. Barista is a wonderful and serious coffee-craft oriented place with a great rotating bean menu including SF's own Ritual, Stumptown and others. The best part was that there was no line and no wait for a pot from their Siphon, something that I begrudgingly deal with at Blue Bottle Mint Plaza.

The coffee was great at Stumptown in the morning, but this was better. I was officially hooked in a wired tizzy.

1 hour later, we were getting hungry and found ourselves serendipitously located 2 blocks away from Clyde Common - a well recommended restaurant tucked in the quirky Ace Hotel. It was all too convenient to enjoy my lunch and my "suburban-housewife happy hour" there.

[Hot Food Porn would like to coin and define the term Suburban Housewife Happy Hour (SHHH, as in don't tell anyone that you're almost an alcoholic) as a happy hour that can start anytime as soon early as 10AM and well before 4PM. SHHH drinks may or may not (generally do) involve large glasses of indeterminable chardonnay or a sour apple martini equivalent.]

For my drink, I enjoyed an amazing local gin in one of my own cocktails; Ransom gin with champagne and citrus bitters. I also introduced myself to Jeff, the main man at the bar, who just happened to be a friend of a friend, Jacky Patterson - the main woman behind the bar at Heaven's Dog. The exchange approximately went like this:

HFP: "Hi, does a guy named Jeff work at this bar?"

Jeff: "Why are you looking for a Jeff?"

HFP: "You must be Jeff?"

Jeff: "I could be."

HFP: "Oh, my friend Jacky Patterson told me to that if I should stop by, I should tell you she said 'hello'"

Jeff: "Ohh, Jacky, yeah Jacky! How is she, _____ and _______ doing at Heaven's Dog?"

(the blanks are people and places I pretend to know about)

HFP: "She's doing pretty well it seems last time I saw her was about a week ago at her bar."

Jeff: "Yeah, she was in LA with ________ doing [an event]_________ _______."

HFP: "Oh yeah..."

Luckily, Jeff is good at closing conversations without awkward pauses and I happen to be good at shaking my head. He also did a nice job of indulging me with a random bantering about the local gins including 12 Bridges and Ransom. Thanks, Jeff.

After a round of drinks at the bar, we were seated in a big community table (an increasingly trendy restaurant choice and seemingly common in Portland) and inhaled excellent lunch sandwiches. I ordered a smoked chicken salad sandwich with a vichyssoise. I was happy and full, but I was already excited for dinner.

Barista and Clyde Common Pic Action:

Day 1 - Thursday evening: Fly Me To The Moon

At the hotel, I took my sweet ass time cleaning myself up underneath a shower head that looked to be actually bigger (circumference-wise) than my own head. This would only amaze you if you actually saw how big my head was. Unfitted caps and the words "one size fits all"are not my friends.

3 hours later and 1 hour before dinner, I curiously investigated the upstairs hotel bar named Departure. The bar has quite a view, one that overlooks Portland's downtown and can only be enhanced by the $10 Hitachino white in my hand. However, be aware of the fortysomething year olds, sad suits and NY-inspired doucheyness that appear at this bar in full abundance. As for the food, I didn't eat it, but the corner of my eye seems to have spotted pan-asian fusion inspired tapas. No, thanks. I wouldn't ruin my appettite for the meal I've been waiting months to have.

At 6pm, I was at one of Portland's most beloved restaurants, Le Pigeon. Le Pigeon is a restaurant that garners ridiculous amounts of local and national attention, and for the most part, has been sitting on my "must dine" list for more than a year. I had booked my reservations almost a month in advance because I really wasn't taking chances here.

Dinner was everything I expected it to be. I had foie (terrine) for a starter and I had foie (profiteroles) for dessert. When you bookend an exemplary cooked halibut entree with two plates of generous foie, there's really no way you can fail in my eyes. Here are all the goods off the menu I got to sample that night:

Pork Belly - wedge salad, blue cheese
Foie Gras & Avocado Terrine - lemon brioche, cherry tomato jam
Hamachi - oysters, cilantro
Blood Pudding - green beens, egg, cherry vinaigrette

Beef Cheek Bourguignon
Steak - duck fat potatoes, bone marrow
Pork - peaches, pickled peppers
Halibut - fregola, lobster mushrooms(replacing trumpet royales), clams, ham
Burger - potatoes and mixed greens

Foie Profiteroles
Creme Brulee
(forgot last dessert...)

What really separated a lot of what they did from many basic places were the balance of main protein and detail of the accompanying items. For example, the foie terrine was divine, but the cherry tomato jam almost stole the show there. It was tart, sweet and texturally perfect for the terrine. The lobster mushroom slices in my halibut were every bit as necessary and exciting as my fish itself. I can see that many of these dishes could easily be quite boring without their appropriate partners on the plate.

Normally not much of a sweets or dessert person, I though it was absolutely necessary to have them at Le Pigeon. The second the words "foie gras profiteroles" rolled off my waiter's mouth, my brain put up a sign that read "Sold." I thoroughly enjoyed and devoured my dessert even though the texture of the foie in the pastry could have been slightly softer. I thought it would be important to note that I had a sweet and salty foie dessert. If that's doesn't make Le Pigeon badass, I don't quite know what does. Dinner was cerebral and harmonious without ever being boring or bland.

We left and ended the night at the Lucky Labrador microbrewery and a weird music venue called Holoscene (I think).

Le Pigeon Pics:

Day 1, Part 1 in the books...

Miscellaneous Pic Action:

Who's That on No Reservations?

Months ago I twittered that it was quite weird and cool to be having dinner at Incanto next to Tony Bourdain and friends. Since then, I had mixed feelings on whether I would be spotted. I guess it was quite perfect that I was in a 2 second shot. My cow lick got an extended viewing. What was funnier was that if you look on the background in Incanto private room, there were other industry people of note. Opposite of me was Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats/Chicharrones. Behind us were the owners of recent HFP topic and Chez Pim's dim sum place of choice, Yank Sing. Glad, those guys didn't ask me about their dim sum prices that night. Next to them was Jennifer Cox, chef at Joie De Vivre.

For inquiring minds: no, we had no idea Bourdain was shooting. We were there for the food and really looking to dine at the bar. Not interested in stalking dudes, I save that for the laaadiiieeesss... (kidding).

Anyways, I thought last night's episode was rather fun. I'm actually not disappointed in his SF choices because generally he probably couldn't satisfy everyone in San Francisco anyways. I'm glad I saw the boys at Sebo kill it. Everything looked awesome. I wish I was eating that chunk of ankimo.

Proof's in the pudding, 7:20 mark...

Check out my awesome cow lick. SWEET... I know the laaadddiiieess love the cow lick... not a defining moment in my life...

Monday, August 10, 2009


Sorry I was on vacation in Portland, I will get it together and do a writeup that does the trip some justice. I'm still alive and hopefully all of my ten total readers can forgive til I get my stuff together for a multi part Portland writeup...

I know, I know, I KNOW...