Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ho-Ho-Ho, bring me another piece of pie!

Well Im out of here for the holidays.

I hope everyone has a wonderful, safe, and belly-filling holiday.

See you all next year!

And just in time for a holiday miracle..

Grant Achatz diagnosed Cancer Free.

Congrats to him, his family, and his staff.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Great Debate: Conclusion

The majority (3 Votes) believes that Yes, America is slipping away as the big culinary dog. While some (2 votes) think that Kinda, and have voiced their opinions.

From comments and talks I've gathered we once again find ourselves not in the debate of "Are we slipping?" but rather "Slipping from what?".

We've come back to the idea that there is no original cuisine in America. What, if any, was considered "Traditional American Cuisine" is nothing more then variations of styles of cooking, techniques, and recipes from around the world.

This is really no big surprise, We are a country discovered, founded, invaded, and settled by many cultures, traditions, and hence, Cuisines.

Our rise to the top of culinary prowess has only been possible by changes in media, public interest, and by some damn good marketing.

It was never really a matter of "Why aren't we the best?" or "Oh no were slipping" but curiosity as to why our interest once again wanes from what we have here at home, to what is going on in far away places. Its in that that we can find a hint to why.

We have become familiar with what we are doing on the home front, so now we seek outside of it. We look back in wonder and what's going on around us. It works in the fashion of most things, everything repeats itself but in a different way, time, place, and with different insight and interest. The culinary world is no different.

America may be slipping down the non-existent (thank god) chart of "The Top Culinary Country" (give it time, I'm sure someone will have a reality show for this)  but it's not necessarily a bad thing. We will look more closely at what others are doing, what we are doing, and hopefully, we will improve the way we eat, drink, and be merry.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Great Debate: Decline of Western Food Civilization?

I have begun reading United States of Arugula (Thanks to Tyrone, yet again) and the introduction got me to thinking about some things.

In recent years we've seen a rise of European chefs once again, namely in England and Spain. I've pondered for awhile if this is just due to our never ending fascination with all things "Old World" or perhaps its because America is starting to slip as the top "Culinary Giant".

Quality, consistency, and perfection are what herald the top chefs and restaurants/hotels to their star-studded lists. Has America begun to slip? Have we gorged ourselves silly on Happy-Homemaker-Cuisine that Das (Food)Netwerk would have us consume? or is there some sinister plot for revenge from our old world masters at play?

While none of these are really correct ass-u-me-ptions about the return of splendor to the old country, I can't help but wonder what others think.

So, with this I return a long absent section to The Foodist blog, The Great Debate. Feel free to comment on your thoughts, plots, and questions. The poll can be found to the right.

Thanks, and happy eating!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Season For Giving

Tis the season again...

This year Chez Pim is once again running their Menu For Hope charity, and to boost charity efforts Michael Ruhlman has submitted a personalized copy of Elements of Cooking as a prize.

Far more impressive then just one personalized copy is the vast number of prizes being raffled off for the event;

Special Culinary Experiences
Books and Magazines
Cooking equipments and other miscellaneous good things
Wine and spirits

This is the time of year when we are supposed to think about others, but with so many goodies at stake its hard to do that!

Seriously though, this can be a tough year for many families, in the US and abroad, so even if you don't give to this charity I ask you give somewhere. Volunteer, give money, clothes, canned food, anything to families and organizations that are respected.

Also, the holiday season sees a vast drop in blood storage levels across the country. Please visit your local Red Cross Donation Center or donate online.

But back to the contest for a second.

Its really very easy. Just follow these few steps and you will be entered in a drawing for that copy of Elements of Cooking, or any of the prizes you choose.

To Enter
If you're interested in buying into the raffle, here's what you need to do:

1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from our Menu for Hope at

2. Go to the donation site at and make a donation.

3.  Please specify which prize you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code. Example:

Basic Order

Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice.  For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02. Please write 2xEU01, 3xEU02. Example:

Advanced Order

4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.

5. Please check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

Check back on Chez Pim on Wednesday, January 9  for the results of the raffle.

Please, Give generously and have a great holiday

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Awards Galore

Grats to all the fellow bloggers who made it as a finalist in the Food Blog Awards.

Some of the names you may very well know:

Michael Ruhlman - Best Food Blog Chef and Best Food Blog Industry

French Laundry at Home- Best Food Blog Humor and Best Food Blog New

La Tartine Gourmande- Best Food Photography and Food Blog of the Year

Farmgirl Fare- Best Food Blog Rural

Congratulations to all nominees, and the best of luck. Many of the sites listed in the contest are very much worthy of the award. My heart rests with Farmgirl Fare, French Laundry at Home, Michael Ruhlman (of course)...

Good Luck Bloggers!

ps- Even if you dont vote, check out some of the finalists. There are some great sites out there and no better way to find the best of the best then by through contests like this one.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Pet Peeves

My trip to New York City yesterday made me realize something; I have a lot of food pet peeves.

Now, I guess I should say up front that I wouldn't consider myself pretentious when it comes to food. I love food, and as a lover of food I realize not everyone likes their food the same way; Sweet BBQ vs Spicy BBQ, Deep Dish vs Hand Tossed, Apples vs Oranges.

I'm also a very picky eater, and I enjoy my comfort foods very much (Eggs Bene at the diner every single time we go....) but am not without a sense of culinary adventure. Tripe, Sweetbreads, Rocky Mountain oysters; had them all. But its the little things. Those little glitches or moments in a meal that bug me.

Take for example yesterdays lunch at Domonico's. The food was decent, more so the fried mozzarella appetizer I had, but what really bugged me was the giant sprigs of parsley as garnish on the plates.

Maybe I'm spoiled, maybe I'm to "New School" but hadn't we; and I say "We" as the culinary community, decided that giant sprigs of parsley made bad garnish?

Now I know its cheap, and I have no personal hate for parsley. Used right its very good. But when multiple giant leaves of parsley stand between my fork and my food I just have to hang my head in shame. Why not chop the parsley? or maybe, just maybe lightly fry a piece of basil? see..fried mozzarella/fried basil, it works! On top of that, when my Tortellini came out, all I could taste was the chopped parsley. Where was the beautiful tasting red sauce that came with my appetizer? why didn't they use the same sauce?

At least the Zabaione tasted great, If I knew any better I'd say it was the real deal. But again, giant sprig of mint. Was there mint with my berries and Zabaione? no. Just a giant sprig on top.

Domonico's was not the only offender of my haute peeves. Extremely dim lights at Republic made it near impossible to read my menu without a headache, as well as not being able to inspect the display of my food. That's half the fun to me, seeing that plate when it first arrives, eating it with my eyes and my nose before my fork or spoon even touches it.

Unfortunately Republic committed the most grievous of sins against my near insane set of rules: Portion Size. Bare with me, were headed into crazy land here folks.

Too Big. That's right, I said it. Too much.

We ordered (3 of us mind you) a large Sake to share, and Four "Small Plates" (as they were labeled on the menu). Grilled Eggplant, Chicken Skewers, Crispy Tofu, Coconut Shrimp. All of which were a good size I would think, Decent for a Tapas situation for sure.

We also ordered a noodle bowl each. This is where the offense took place. These bowls are MASSIVE. I can pack away the food, don't get me wrong. But dare I say we each could barely finish half of our bowls, say for the roommate who somehow managed to finish his whole thing. I attribute it to it being a broth, that or the hollow leg he hides so well.

After forcing as much in as we could I looked around the table. Dare I say only 70% of what came to the table was eaten. With a 2 hour train ride home, and no desire to carry it that far there would be no To-Go.

I don't want you to think ill of either of these places. There was a warmth to Domonico's and I would highly suggest their fried mozzarella, Republic had a great city feel to it and the food was good.

But the devil is in the details as they say.

The Holidays Have Never Been So Sexy....

Want to "spice" up your holiday?

Want to add some "heat" to your gifts?

Want ok I ran out of metaphors.

Well in any case, try sending your relatives and loved ones some suggestive cookies this year.

Thanks to Cha Xiu Bao for finding this treat

Saturday, December 1, 2007

What do you do when you have time sitting around in an airport, then a six hour plane ride?

I read.

So that’s just what I did over my Thanksgiving break. I dived headlong into the personal life of one of Thomas Keller’s (now former) Captains; Phoebe Damrosch.

When I read the reviews, descriptions, and even the cover text of the book I was expecting something... a little different.

Perhaps I’ve been spending too much time reading Devil in the Kitchen or any number of Bourdains scaving blog entries; but what I expected was a down and dirty, secret telling, mud slinging front of the house version on Kitchen Confidential.

Boy was I wrong.

Not that any of that being wrong in this case is a bad thing. Phoebe spends more time in an autobiographical style, telling us a brief history of her "rise" to the top, her training with Thomas Keller and his military-esqe management staff, and her personal relationships as she transitions from a casual foodie to a marrow searching, bubbly drinking, full blown Food-E.

The book itself was a very easy read (was finished in 3 days) and some chapters left me wanting to skip ahead slightly. That’s probably the cook in me saying, "Come on.. enough with the relationships... tell me Keller’s secrets!!!".

Some of the most appealing aspects of the book were watching her grow from a nervous backwaiter to a (a little) less nervous Captain, her time spent server notorious restaurant critic Frank Bruni, and even some funny stories about her regulars at Per Se.

90% of the book though is an autobiography, spending allot of time focused on her life as it revolved around serving. It reads much like you’d expect any professional restaurant workers biography to read; Heartache, Heartbreaks, Cut and Bruises, Ego and Humility, and the hundreds of personalities you come in contact with on a day to day basis.

I would give the book 4 out 5 if I was going to judge it in that fashion, but only because as a cook I was hoping for a little more.. I don’t know; let’s say "information" about the actual detail of how Keller likes his service to run.

I leant the book to the PM Caterina instructor, "G" (as he prefers to be called), and as we were taking our final I saw him poking through some of the pages. When I turned my test in, he looked at me and said "Thank you, I can tell I’m going to absolutely love this".

I think you would to.

The Sausage Man

Please help me congratulate fellow blogger and all around good guy Bob del Grosso on his new endeavor with Hendricks Farm.

Bob will be working directly with Hendricks farm to start their own line of Charcuterie products.

Congrats Bob, Ill be expecting a Pancetta in the mail tomorrow for this little bump...