Why? Well, first, there's that combination of the words "Ferran Adria" and "Family Meal" on the cover. Adria is known as a guru of the abstract and ambitious, so this juxtaposition of madcap genius and simple home cooking is inherently intriguing. Second, the book is organized into 31 different three-course meals, as if you might actually tackle a meal each day for a month. (If anyone has actually done this, I applaud you, and humbly ask if I might stay in your guest bedroom and eat at your table for, oh, maybe 31 nights.) Third, the recipes don't follow the traditional format of a recipe, but rather materialize in the form of photos of each step, with little text bubbles speaking to what that step of the recipe entails. I know there are people who love to follow pictures, and I'm actually a visual guy, but the lack of literal step 1-step 2-step 3 instructions throws me off a bit. Maybe the point is to get you to trust your instincts more? Possibly. I do appreciate the little time line that accompanies each three-course meal, so you know when to get busy doing what, but there's that little wrinkle I like to call "nested recipes" that can throw things off - recipes within recipes that stack up like those Russian matryoshka dolls.
As you know, Paula Deen's latest drama is a lawsuit in which her brother is charged with sexual harassment at a Savannah restaurant they co-own, Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House. She and the bro are also accused of using the "n-word." This comes on the heels of the disclosure that Paula waited to reveal her diabetes diagnosis until she'd scored an endorsement contract with a drug company.
Saturday Night Live parodied Deen on its last show:
I'm talking about Cibo e Beve's "Food for Dudes" class on Feb. 25. The restaurant provided these details:
This class will focus on charcuterie, teaching attendees how to create the perfect homemade sausage and pancetta, all taught by resident “Dude” Sous Chef, Ryan Smith. Cibo’s famed mixologists will be on hand to provide step-by-step instruction on how to craft three fabulous cocktails, Attendees will not only have the opportunity to enjoy these cocktails, but two “dude-style” sandwiches that incorporate the homemade charcuterie, a sausage and peppers sandwich and an Italian “BLT” with pancetta.
The cost for this three hour class, which includes three cocktails and two sandwiches is $50. Cibo’s two previous mixed-gender cooking classes have sold out, so it is best to call the restaurant at 404-250-8988, well in advance to purchase your ticket.
"Dude food" is a term that has been echoing around the food culture for some time now. Often, it sardonically refers to caveman grub like red meat or food prepared by "ordinary dudes" — "food dudes." They apparently cook with a beer in their hand when not fist-pumping their success after preparing an awesome Bearnaise sauce to slather on a hot dog. That would be Guy Fieri.
Or maybe — attitude-wise — even Ron Eyester, our local, hilarious "Angry Chef" of Rosebud and the Family Dog qualifies as a food dude. And then there are the owners of Local Three, whose decor pays homage to the film, The Big Lewbowski, which inspired the ice cream hoax pictured here. All these dudes are terrific chefs.
Of course, a food dude can also be an "ordinary guy" with a great interest in food. David Lissner of Dining Chicago is an example.
The notion of "dude food" is kind of weird since 90 percent of American chefs are still men, anyway. In fact, the myth persists that male chefs are more creative than female ones. Saveur.com tested this gender myth a few years back and came to unsurprising conclusions.
Hopefully, Cibo e Beve will make a video of their event.
New Orleans Beignets at Home
- or 1 pail of industrial strength Hurricane
- or 17 Abita Turbodogs
A few tips:
- The cheap orange and black fish roe at Ikea are great bargain alternatives to more expensive trout roe or caviar. The contrasting colors also make for a great visual presentation.
- Invest in good quality tuna. Whole Foods carries the Ortiz product, but is priced a bit prohibitively. I've purchased mine online from Amazon and gotten great deals.
- Make the dish a few hours or even a day ahead to let all the flavors come together. It's best brought to room temperature.
- The Made in Spain cookbook is a wonderful introduction to the regions and dishes of Spain, and manages to capture at least some of Andrés' infectious energy in print.
I was meant to be at No. 246 last night. We had guests in town, eager to check out something interesting in Decatur. We had a reservation. I was anticipating the chicken liver mousse, and the fritto misto, and the agnolotti. And ... our babysitter couldn't make it.
My wife frantically calls up every babysitter she knows, and several she doesn't know. The necessary qualifications for an acceptable babysitter drop exponentially as the clock approaches departure time. But nothing pans out. Maybe we'll just take the kids with us? Nope. The restaurant can't accommodate more people at our table, so we cancel the reservation. Guilt and dejection set in - I hate doing that to a restaurant. Will they fill the table? Surely they will fill the table on a Saturday night. Should we just go out somewhere else with the kids? Or should I throw something together?
For a lunch with friends, I chose to make deviled eggs and pimiento cheese - perfectly traditional Southern party food, and both benefiting here from the twist of Spanish smoked paprika. For dinner at home, I chose a Brussels sprouts salad and "pickled" shrimp - light and vibrant dishes to counteract all the eggs and cheese I knew I would be eating. All were easy to knock out, and all turned out great.
I'm use to encountering occasional horrors on plates in restaurants. But, now that I'm cooking most of my meals at home, a visit to the grocery store is sometimes like stumbling through a nightmare. For example, I ran into Paula Deen in the meat case at Kroger today. I knew she planned to be there. I'd just never run into her before.
I have to admit she looks smashing on the plastic wrap that encases Springer Mountain Farms chickens. Perhaps her endorsement of the humanely raised (and delicious) chickens will help us forgive the shit storm that arose when she started peddling Smithfield Hams a few years back. (Remember her karmic payback?)
I need a new mattress but have yet to check out Paula's "soy-infused poly-foam" Serta. Actually, I'm considering thematizing my entire life with the mind-boggling number of things to which Paula has attached her name. (Check out my favorite antidote to the Food Network for a list of craptastic stuff Paula shills.)
At last! Someone to cook at home or McDonald's without complaining!
I confess I have never liked fudge, to say the least, but I was surprised they bothered to make it. "Why don't you just buy a good quality in a store?" I asked.
Naturally, their mothers and nostalgia for holiday cooking immediately entered the discussion. (My mother didn't make fudge and I don't think she liked it, either.) My friends also said the stuff is easy and cheap to make.
That brought something more general to mind. My friends all make about 3,000 times as much money as I do, yet they're cooking this stuff at home. Having undertaken a lot more home cooking myself lately, thinking I'd save money, I've been surprised to find that the difference in price between eating in a good, inexpensive restaurant and cooking dinner myself isn't always that great. And it doesn't necessarily taste better, either, and, no, I'm not a bad cook.
And then there's the question of whether grocery-store labeling of foods means anything. Most people by now know that "free range" and "organic" have practically no meaning in the stores, despite the higher prices. Flavor is often not any better than the lower-cost stuff, either.
As it happens, there's a new cookbook that takes up this subject. It's "Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn't Cook from Scratch" by Jennifer Reese, the Tipsy Baker. You can read an excerpt at the link above. Here's part of the publisher's comments:
When Jennifer Reese lost her job, she was overcome by an impulse common among the recently unemployed: to economize by doing for herself what she had previously paid for. She had never before considered making her own peanut butter and pita bread, let alone curing her own prosciutto or raising turkeys. And though it sounded logical that “doing it yourself” would cost less, she had her doubts. So Reese began a series of kitchen-related experiments, taking into account the competing demands of everyday contemporary American family life as she answers some timely questions: When is homemade better? Cheaper? Are backyard eggs a more ethical choice than store-bought? Will grinding and stuffing your own sausage ruin your week?
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I could seriously live on their deviled eggs fried green tomatoes.