Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Who wants to be a chef...

... in Hong Kong?

Looking for a head chef to lead the kitchen for an upcoming American casual-dining cafe in Kowloon, Hong Kong.  Tickets?  Visa?  Accommodations?  No problemo if you've got the experience and talent.  The position is flexible for temporary (6 month minimum) or permanent position.  Must be ready to up and move to leave in the next few weeks.
English is the only language requirement.  Cantonese not necessary, but a plus.

Interviews currently ongoing.  Message me for details.  Be sure to tell your chef friends.

tofunator@gastronommy.com

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tonight we laugh and feast

Are the men in your life as easy to please as mine?  With red meat, you can't go wrong.  A drizzle of a special balsamic vinegar reduction on a sirloin, shallots in clarified butter, a glorious sprinkle of kosher salt, and a side of spinach and shitake mushrooms.



And happily paired with this Malbec (Argentina), yummy.  I mean... nommy.  Gotta love it when wines are delicious and affordable.  The nose was especially fruity and I do love them full bodied.  I originally requested a '97 Shiraz Grenache Malbec (Australia), but this was great for a weeknight dinner at home as well.  Thanks Stella and Mike!

The 2007 Catena Malbec shows a dark violet color with deep bluish – black tones. The nose offers ripe, concentrated dark fruit aromas with delicate floral notes and traces of vanilla and mocha. The mouthfeel is rich and lush, with concentrated black cherry and red currant fruit flavors layered with sweet spices, tobacco and a touch of leather. The finish presents soft, supple tannins with bright, crisp acidity and a flinty minerality which gives the wine exceptional length. -Winery

Recipe to come later.  I'm too full and tired now.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Spam

Spam has always disgusted me a little.  I have mental reservations about certain food items, knowing (or rather, not knowing) what exactly I'm eating each time: sausages, hotdogs, and the like.  I'm still getting over my 9th grade education about the horrors of America's meatpacking industry, when Upton Sinclair's The Jungle was first introduced to me.  Clearly, I have opened back up to eating wieners and the all-American hotdogs, given my entry about happily pigging out on Papaya Dog's hotdogs, but Spam is a whole other level.

I remember when one of my old roommates used to fry up Spam in the late hours of the night.  I have to tell you, I don't get the same joy from the aroma of greasy, slightly pungent and heavy smell of Spam infiltrating my apartment as I do bacon.  (The smell of bacon is so delicious.  mmmm...)

My Cantonese and Korean counterparts have always recoiled in horror whenever I mention my disgust with Spam.  So, in their honor and with an open mind, I picked up the can of Spam sitting in our cabinet and proceeded to make my brother some fried rice.

Upon opening the can and seeing the block of  pink gelatin meat substance, I wanted to give up my mission.  I didn't even know how to get the thing out in one nice piece.  Complete with soggy rubber sounds as I pulled the Spam out, I ended up forking chunks at a time onto the pan and breaking it up into pieces of mush (gross!).  My roommate had left over frozen veggies, so I threw that in along with the other usual fried rice makings, onion, garlic, egg, etc.



And at the end, it wasn't so bad.  I ate through it pretty satisfied.  It was a bit easier to digest since the Spam was in tiny little bits and hardly noticable, so I think taking a bite into a giant Spam-burger still won't be on my list of things to do just yet.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Julie & Julia

I just got back from watching Julie & Julia with my brother, Laijhun. An adorable movie that had me laughing and even excited at Meryl Streep's great performance of the quirky Julia Child. I really didn't like Julie's whiny, over-dramatic character, but I can't help but relate just a little bit, eh?  ...the blogging and cooking bit that is!!! 



I don't get as excited about baking as I do about cooking, but I'm off to make citrus cookies, topped lemon icing now!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Moon eggs continued... My first video blog!

So, as continued from my VERY FIRST entry on this blog ever, I said I would post about making moon eggs.  They aren't anything fancy or anything new at all (my youngest brother informed me that these eggs-in-a-basket made an appearance on V for Vendetta too).

You just put a hole in a piece of toast and drop an egg in there.  Some like to flip it, some don't and then just serve.

I put a slight variation on these Moon eggs and fried the egg in olive oil instead and added a few things to spruce it up a bit.  I've been avoiding putting recipes up just yet, but someone requested it today.  Just for him, I will put up my very first public recipe along side my very first video.

As a disclaimer, I am actually very video shy and I'm using this super easy breakfast dish as a compromise for forcing myself to record and then upload it for all the world to see.  I will be taking time to put more time into editing this site and videos in the future.. in the meantime, let's do it raw.


as a reminder (in case you can't tell), this is NOT an instructional video or cooking demo, but simply a video blog about my curious first-time attempts. 

(recipes always only posted after a couple more tries and taste testers to confirm, don't worry :-) )
Gastronommy's Moon Eggs

serves 2, great for kitchen beginners

2 large eggs
2 slices sourdough bread
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon grated parmesan cheese
dried thyme leaves, to taste.
black pepper, to taste.

1.  Toast the slices of sourdough bread on pan or skillet until light golden brown appears.  Remove and place to the side.
2.  Heat the olive oil in pan or skillet on medium heat.
3.  Using a knife or a cup, cut a hole in the center of the sourdough slices (about 1/4 area of the whole slice).  Keep the cut out circles to the side and place the slices back in the pan.
4.  Crack each egg into each hole.  When egg whites are almost cooked through, lightly crack a bit of black pepper, parmesan cheese, then a small sprinkle of thyme for garnish and flavor.  

Notes:  Don't worry if the egg whites leak a bit out from under the toast.  It should spread a bit under the toast anyway to keep hold in the "basket."

Never underestimate the power of cheese

Break into the vaults of Italian bank, Credito Emiliano, and you'll find over 400,000 wheels of parmigiano-reggiano.
Nestled in the valleys of the Emilia-Romagna region southeast of Milan, Credito Emiliano has been using parmesan as collateral since 1953, entrusting management of the cheese to a unit called Magazzini Generali delle Tagliate.

Mr. Bizzarri said the bank offered loans for as long as 24 months, equal to the time it takes the parmesan to age, at the euro interbank offered rate plus 0.75 percentage point to two percentage points. The bank gives producers as much as 80 percent of the value of the cheese, based on current market prices.

The bank accepts parmesan as collateral for loans, helping it to keep financing cheese makers in northern Italy even during the worst recession since World War II. Credito Emiliano’s two climate-controlled warehouses hold about 440,000 wheels worth €132 million, or $187.5 million.  (excerpt from New York Times)
Parmesan is far from the only cheese making bank.  One of my cheese favorites, Roquefort, is under a 300% import tariff.  You can thank Bush regime for that atrocity.  He imposed a 300% duty right before he left office almost a year ago in retaliation to a EU ban on US beef containing hormones (a preposterous increase from the already ridiculous 100% duty in 1999).    I was horrified when I found that out.  My beloved Roquefort!
When I'm overseas, I am sure to stuff up on the appropriately priced Roquefort.. however, last week I gave in and bought a little wedge of it to feast on at home.  Delish.



photo: fermebellevuegites.com

Give me a handful of dried figs and a wedge of roquefort on any given day, and I'll be happy.  Pair it with a Sauterne and I'm in heaven.  I love the rich nuttiness with a salty peppery bite.  A reigning champ in my personal top 3 cheese list.  The other two are fellow Frenchies, but I won't reveal those until later (dun dun dun...)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Grilled Cheese done with a Spanish flair

Caught this idea in an old issue of Bon Appetit.  Loved it.
Manchego cheese & prosciutto on sour dough (throw in some quince and dijon mustard too!)


 







 (wtb new camera)

and then what we ended up eating after Electric Zoo instead of my seared salmon with mango glaze...
Papaya Dog(s) and Wendy's.  Woot woot.
We were starved and wanted it dirty.


I made the salmon the next night instead.  I usually like to use fresh mangoes for the glaze and marinade, but surprisingly, Ceres mango juice made for a much better alternative.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Pardon for the shoddy appearance and the rough writing...

... on a whim, I decided to finally just start a blog dedicated purely to food.  I obsess and think about it all day and dream about it at night.  I might as well put some of that passion of random food-related thoughts on digital print like everyone else, before my less committed friends go mad.
I don't know what my journalism major was for since I can't be bothered to sit down and write out my posts more thoroughly, but this is what you'll get for now.

Videos will come as well.  I'd like to keep a log of my slow development behind the stove and perhaps for you to enjoy during a boring day at work.  In the meantime, here is a half year old rough video project I created about the Slow Food Movement:






I apologize ahead of time if it's not as interesting as me dropping a pan on my foot.

There's so much pressure to create the perfect food blog, from dazzling photos, to thoughtful reviews, to new recipes, to a super-duper catchy blog Title.  I'm blanking out here!  All the good stuff is taken!  I'll have to think about this one.  Suggestions?  But perhaps it's better this way.  No pressure when I don't have an awesome title.  or something.

And jumping topics again.. Right now, I crave naeng myun.  I've been eating it at least once a week the past month of August and still crave it today.  The crave got worse a few weeks ago when Michael Choi introduced me to probably the best naeng myun joint in New York.  I won't give away it's secret location until I visit a few more times and can introduce it with the proper summary it deserves.



It's been less than 24 hours since I've created this blog and I've already posted a few times and keep coming back to post more.  Like I said, I dream food and all that it entails.  Perhaps this blog was a good idea after all.

On another random note, ex Top Chef contestant Leah Cohen, lives in my building.  I guess being an executive chef and making a dramatic appearance on Top Chef doesn't guarantee an upgrade in lifestyle if we're living in the same shoddy building, eh.

It's 5:40am.  I think I'm going to try to sleep now.  Off to Electric Zoo tomorrow.  And after?  I'll be re-creating a pan-seared salmon topped with mango glaze and chives.

I wouldn't feel right eating these



I think I'll just stick to those cubic watermelons from Japan if I need funny shaped fruit.

Can't afford Le Bernadin on a monthly basis?

(entry not complete.  Check my entry on Geoff's Twitchen for the final version.  These are just my public notes!)
Try Eleven Madison Park. It's not quite as cheap as what you would spend at say, the famous Shake Shack hut right across the street, but it's relatively affordable if you're out for an occasion at $88 for a 3-course prix fixe menu.

Pushing in through the heavy revolving doors, embellished with the restaurant's trademark 4 silver leaves, I was wondering the whole way over how much merit Frank Bruni's recent 4-star review held. I never take any critic's word for gold--not even NYT's, but I really don't like walking into my food adventures unprepared. I want to know what to look for to experience the restaurant, food cart, food truck, whatever it may be, at its fullest potential. (I'll start thinking about dropping into $70+pp meals "unprepared" more frequently when I have a fatter wallet and a slimmer waist)

Eleven Madison Park, now a member of the Danny Meyer empire, it was certain that the service would be great, as all his restaurants are famed for. Reaching the hostess desk and well into my first course, I actually felt awkward. The staff was attentive, but it was to a point where I felt every single floor staff's eyes following my every step, waiting to catch me if I tripped to be followed by very formal and very rehearsed-sounding lines with glued on smiles to see if I was alright. This all under the immensely high ceiling, I felt uncomfortable.. almost naked! But something was still different. It retained the formalities of a fine dining restaurants, from the ironed-cloth tables, the stiffly dressed patrons, and the strangely in-your-face waiters, but the atmosphere was still off. In a good way. Despite my initial feelings however, I get no sense of snootiness from the service. Danny Meyer trains them well. They're formal, but very welcoming and eager to serve.

Though what surprises me the most is not the service, but the whole experience. The menu was not extraordinary in the creative department. I wasn't as blown away by the creativity of the technique or ingredients as I've been at Dan Barber's work at Blue Hill, but the whole experience was nothing short of wonderful. It was an endless delight in my mouth.  Don't order the angus beef as my date did though--what sensible food-lover would order that in such a place anyway? (see what I mean about doing even the smallest bit of research before hitting up a dining spot?)

The infamous round of amusebouches are served promptly, but I am still distracted by the salted goat's milk butter sitting next to our basket of sourdough. There are few places with starters that I fondly remember.. One being the perfect cow's milk butter at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and the other being Andrew Carmellini's fluffy sheep's milk ricotta drizzled with olive oil at Avoce. And now this simple goat's milk butter has just made it as the top three. Delectable. I forced myself to stop, lest I get full before the meal even starts, and begin with the amusebouche.


From left to right:
greenmarket radish: I always love the bright pink color of baby radish and the crunchy taste of summer to start was cleansing
salmon on cucumber: unmemorable, but it helps make the next piece even better...
strawberry over foie gras. The sweetbread in the pastry cone? I'm glad that was my last bite. Loved it.







Further notes (it's been 2 weeks since I've eaten here and I'm going to stop narrating this for you and just copy and paste my notes that I wrote after that night):

Foie gras paired with sauterne. heavenly
farm fresh egg, frog legs, truffles.  excellent, but the foie gras steals the scene.

Halfway through my second course, I realize I've been scratching at my arm to unusual points. The one bump in my entire dining experience: a mosquito. I had four bites.. scratching furiously, waitress immediately comes over asking if I'd like a shawl, thinking I'm chilly.

My favorite personality is the MaƮtre Fromager. after sparring a bit to see just how interested or perhaps how versed I was in cheese, he seemed to open up and act more naturally. The lines seemed less stiff and rehearsed and spoke as if we were simply acquaintances with a mutual adoration of cheese. What I love about American service is its casualness. Their willingness for conversation. Perhaps that's what threw me in for a loop when I first walked in. Nonetheless, with this fine cheese-man serving us, I instantly forgave the stiffness of the rest of the staff. Don't get me wrong, while they were stiff, their efforts seemed genuine. The same feeling you get when you see a little girl dressed in her mommy's clothes, earnestly trying to pass off as an adult. They were young, fresh bright smiling faces that seemed like were forcing out lines the way they wouldn't naturally flow.

Sauterne 93 paired with Twig Farm Soft Wheel (raw goat's milk, twig farm, VT- very lovely, very pungent just the way I like it. mushroomy), shaker blue (raw sheep's milk, Old Chatham NY- an aftertaste even I had trouble handling, but I love the creamy richness when I first bite), breibirousse d'argental (pasteurized sheep's milk, Lyon France- amazing.  Absolute bliss when followed with the delectable sauterne.  This cheese puts me on cloud 9).

classic menu items are usually overrated. esp in the dessert dpt. with the usual chocolate baked goods or creme brulee, but even after being completely filled to the brim with cheese and very much in heaven, I tell my date, "the dessert is going to have to be out of this world for me to be the slightest bit impressed after that amazing cheese run"

The dessert comes. I'm already disinterested when I see a chocolate covered bar with pretty gold foil--I'm not a chocolate person.  My attention is caught by the popcorn and ice-cream though.. intrigued by their description on the menu. I go for the ice-cream first. I'm mind-blown. I've tried strange flavorrs before, but something about the popcorn flavored ice-cream just throws me in for anoher loop. I love it. This helps me decide to give the chocolate a chance. A bite. Peanut butter!!!! My date describes the dish (admittedly with less enthusiasm than me) as reminding him of Butterfingers. He's kind of right.  Expensive butterfingers indeed. But you know what? I love Butterfingers. And I loved that popcorn ice-cream. And I love caramel... I ended my dessert by popping the few pieces of caramel popcorn to top it off. Perfect.

- all macarooned out after Lauduree in Paris a few months ago, but love their macaroons here.

I sadly missed out on the Sea Urchin Cappuccino and Duck.. but I'll be back.



Victoria's Rating: A+ (for Awesome Plus)

(article can also be found in condensed form at Geoff's Twitchen)

Moon eggs

Have you ever heard of such a thing? It also goes by many other names: "egg in a basket", "egg in a window", "egg in a frame", "Alabama eggs", "Guy Kibbee egg", or "toad in the hole."

I only just came across it while reading one of my favorite food blogs. It's quite simple really. First attempt and pictures to come.

edit: Attempt along with a recipe can be found at this later entry.

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