Thursday, January 29, 2009

top chef 5, episode 10

ahhhhh, no more kissing. that's good.

hey, an italian chef, so fabio is safe. that's not a stereotype.

"there is no reason to eat vegetables when there is meat and fish around." well played, fabio.

looks like oats are a sponsor, possibly. not sure.

creativity monkeys ... HUSH.

carla likes working with nuts. i wonder how people who work with carla feel about working with nuts.

lotta oat-crusting going on.

stefan is going to fall hard one day. i sense it.

they are not all stars. they were mostly the dufuses.

for anyone who didn't watch season 1, andrea was famous for discussing -- at length -- how her food would feel just as good leaving your body as entering it. just saying. let's see if that comes into play.

i don't remember camille. at all.

carla v. andrew. the two most insane contestants ever. interesting.

wow. carla feels "crazed" every challenge. she hides it so well.

i wonder if josie has ever eaten at club dildo.


didn't fabio talk about cooking monkey a@@ last week?

i've liked leah up to now. but i'm on board with not liking her much now. she seems like she doesn't understand why she's there.


no fish. leah lucked out.

i bet miguel has never stopped talking since season 1. i like that they call him chunk.

a 20-minute gumbo. that should be ... ummmm ... ok flop. good word. no? hmmm. ok.

pork and ny strip steak? why was that in the dallas cooler? wow! stefan only one facing elimination so far.


"chee ah pino"? seriously? if you're from san fran, you would know it is "chip-eno."

i'm not sure what the value in being on the winning team is. i guess we'll see.

ugh. poor jeff.

i'm guessing fabio is gone. scott and tom seemed upset about the venison.


is jamie channelling isis?

sigh. this is only going to make carla crazier.

oh crap. carla is in tampa. watch out.

i'll be upset if its jeff. either of team euro is ok with me.

still thinking fabio.

hmmmm. didn't even mention stefan in discussion. guess he's safe.

argh. i haven't seen anything of fabio that makes me think he's all that good, and have seen several things from jeff that looked great. and they seemed to HATE fabio's. i don't get it.

oooooo, ripert next week. let the swooning begin. with alan, in all likelihood.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

will cook for super bowl tickets

so, it started off as a joke status on facebook, then i thought, why didn't i think of this earlier?

if you know anyone who might know anyone who might be interested, let me know.

click here for my post on craigslist.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

top chef 5, episode 9

super-sized episode. mmmmm. makes me want fries with that or something.

restaurant wars is almost always the episode where someone good gets sent home. just sayin.

okay, yes, padma, stephen starr is one hint, and the fact that there are eight people left was also a good hint. since that's when they do it.

"smells like a** and is kind of skanky." innnnnnteresting coming from her given the circumstances. and i like her. but she has a boyfriend.

hmmmm. organic and sustainable. seasonal. new american. globally influenced. yeah. no one is doing that.

i wonder who leah will pick first.

WOW! hosea. who'd'a thunk.

jeff and stefan the last two picks? that's kinda weird.

why do they have them do interior design? stupid.

ahhhhhh, stefan watched last season. no scented candles.

radikha is still learning to be a naturally born leader? what's wrong with that sentence?

so. hosea says stefan is looking for an opportunity to sabotage someone. did he see last week's episode?

stefan needed to bring more than the "i make great babies" t-shirt.

oooooooo, sequoias. they should be a sponsor.

club dildo beach is middle eastern. how about that.

that's so neat how the sequoia does whatever it did that i didn't see. but they were impressed.

ok, so hosea and leah's teammate went home last week because she hacked up the meat. and tonight ... that poor fish.

carla sucks at getting things to freeze.

note to self: do not order the monkey a** in empty clam shell at fabio's restaurant. even if its suposed to be good.

i'm going to stop predicting that carla is going home. i don't care how bad it looks for her.

"hopefully it will go ok" is always a good strategy. good luck, leah.

well, stefan is safe.

fabio and stefan are going to save hosea and leah, i think.

they did. wow. well, hosea was safe anyway. they liked the short rib.

wow. carla is totally insane. off the charts. certifiable. wow.

hard to say.

i have decided carla will survive a nuclear holocaust. sheesh.

oooooo, is that scott conant as the guest next week? cool.

Friday, January 16, 2009

del posto, nyc, jan. 9

here is what i loved about del posto: we got six amuse bouche (amuse bouches? amuses bouche? i don't know). anyway, that is not a record. we got seven at spago, and somewhere between five or six at tru.

here is the difference: at del post
o, the six amuses came before the menu did.

that is dedication to the cause of making me happy.

we decided to take the trip to nyc on little more than the fact that while we were in texas, mario said "come on up." so we made his high-end joint next to the food network studios in the meatpacking district our first dinner. we went to babbo last may and LOVED it, so much that my initial inclination was to go back there again. but i told darcie that we would go where ever she thought we should, and she said del posto.

first of all, TONS of room, unlike most nyc places, where you are shoe-horned in. crazy expansive. there are dining areas on the entry level, and in the loft above, and appeared maybe in the area below.

we got there a little early and waited for our table at the bar. even the bar snacks were good. we got a tray with house-made corn nuts (which we would see again soon), garlic potato chips and poofy cheeto-like things that were bbq flavored. sounds low key, but it was all really good.

then we get to our table, in the loft area, and almost as soon as we sit down, we get a platter of three amuses. first was a barley soup with chocolate, a butternut squash ball crusted in corn
nuts and a mini grilled cheese sandwich with prosciutto and provolone. while we were figuring out where to start, someone else brought us three more: a chicken sandwich, a ball of crisped rice with robiola cheese, and fresh mozzarella with espresso powder.

disclaimer: all of these things came out with intensely italian names which i had no hope of remembering. so, for instance, you are hearing about the "butternut squash ball with corn nuts" instead of the elegant-sounding thing it was really called. we all have to live within my limitations.

the shot of soup was tasty. barley flavor but smooth and no grain texture. the chocolate was on top and hit as an aftertaste. very nice.

the butternut ball was a tiny truffle of squash puree coated with crush corn nut-like crunchy goodness. more please.

on the rice ball, i just heard rice and robiola, so i was expecting rice texture. got rice krispie texture. very fun. the cheese was gooey good.

both sandwiches were tiny bites. imagine your normal-sized sandwich: that would serve 30 at this size. i missed the description of the chicken, but it seemed like a chicken salad. the prosciutto and provolone was a nice burst of flavor.

we had the mozzarella last. i liked it. pam wasn't sold on the espresso powder. i thought it was neat and unexpected.

now that we had that out of the way, we got menus.

the way to go here is the "del posto menu," which gives each person the choice of an appetizer, an entree and a dessert, plus you can pick two pasta courses that everyone at the table gets. and for an extra $6 each, you can go three pasta courses.

yes, we did three.

so we placed our orders and were brought a basket of bread. i have since learned that the bread basket at del posto is on time out new york's list of 100 things you must eat in the city, and i'm almost positive it is not because of the bread. the bread itself was fine. in fact, there was a
multigrain roll in there that was really, really good. but the thing that put the bread over the top was that it came with butter AND lardo. there is an innate mental glitch that tells you to NOT spread pork fat on your bread, that it can't possibly be right. but then you do it. and then you do it again. and then you forget there is butter. wow. all things in moderation, right?

so, after all this, we started getting food that we actually ordered.

for our appetizers, pam got the sunchoke crudo with truffled fonduta and walnut gremolata. it was basically a salad of thinly shaved sunchokes and black truffle with a walnut dressing. it was really good and looked really cool, with mini shavings of food all piled and folded upon itself.

i got the lobster salad fra diavola with grilled onions and rosemary. a big bowl with a couple of beautifully arranged pieces of claw and tail meat in the bottom, dressed
with a spicy sauce and red onion. the web site says they were grilled, but i think they might have been pickled here. and the rosemary was big, fresh leaves, and very subtle. the side of the bowl was painted with a spice mix that added salt and a sort of old bay mix of spices.

next we got a succession of three pasta plates. the first was awesome, and they each got better from there.

first was the del posto agnolotti dal plin with parmigiano-reggiano and prosciutto di parma. agnolotti are fat, tiny ravioli-like dumplings. i think our server told us there were like five meats in them, but i had guessed prosciutto, and looking at the menu online, it says just prosciutto. so, not sure, but awesome. the pasta itself was so tender that it just made me wonder why all pasta isn't that good.

next was the potato gnocchi with pork shoulder and pin
e croccante. i have standards for gnocchi, and they are almost never met. i either want them light as air, or practically leaden. i like them both ways. what i don't like is the chewy, gummy crap you get almost anywhere gnocchi are served. these were of the light as air variety, and possibly the best gnocchi i ever had at a restaurant. there were pieces of pork shoulder in among, and a pine nut paste to the side of the dish.

the last pasta was the garganelli verdi al rag├╣ bolognese. the garganelli verdi wasn't just colored with spinach, it tasted like spinach, and the spinach did not remotely detr
act from the pasta texture, which can happen. it was sauced perfectly with the bolognese.

next for the entrees.

pam got the grilled pork chop. it was described as being an "ode to emilia-romagna." it came with winter citrus (grapefruit) and winter savory. the chop was cut off the bone, but the bone was served on the plate, wrapped in prosciutto. and there were mini crispy bits of cheese on the plate. they seemed like frico to me. when the plate was placed in front of pam, the waiter began drizzling 25-year-old balsamic over the plate. she liked the dish a lot. but the funny thing was that after she looked at the picture she took, she said she wished she had known how good it looked when she was eating it.

i had the sliced duck alla scappi -- i had duck. you are STUNNED. it came with sweet pumpkin polenta (tho not much, and it was very soft. i almost missed it. it was practically a sauce) and trevisano and campari. tasted great, and also looked awesome in the picture.

for dessert, pam got the coconut panna cotta with candied ginger and pineapple. i didn't try it, and she didn't say much about it. so not sure. she liked the papery flower thing on top, but couldn't tell what it was.

i had the butterscotch semifreddo with milk jam and grapefruit. "milk jam" is a thick caramel sauce, it turns out. the caramel was rich and the butterscotch was sort of subtle. but all together, good. the grapefruit was a decent bitter counter to the sweets, but there was a lot of it. a little would've been enough.

they also brought us each a glass of moscato d'asti. ever since we went to babbo, i have been on a visionquest to find one of the dessert wines we had. as best i can tell, it only existed that night. now i can hunt down this wine. it was spectacular

we were also brought a basket of hot donut holes -- there was definitely a fancy italian name for them that i am forgetting, but they were donut holes -- filled with orange cream. i liked my dessert, but i think i liked the donut holes more.

at that point, we were full. it was over.

and then the cookies came out.

the initial thinking was, not happening. no way can we eat more. and there were SIX of them. no way. not happening.

but they were so little!

so, we devoured. in no particular order, there was a balsamic brownie, a white chocolate and hazelnut ball, a shortbread, two gels (raspberry-ginger and apricot), a biscotti. and ... and ... one other thing. i forget, but i think it was an almond-y pastry thing. THEN we were done.

we didn't see mario, and it was kind of funny, because we were seated such that my back was to the area that the food was coming from, and a couple of times the people at the next table reacted to something happening behind me, and i kept thinking that it was mario carrying a platter of food to us. it wasn't. but that's ok.

comparing del posto and babbo is a little odd. i loved the food at both, but gun-to-head, i think the food at del posto was a little better. but if i was just going back to whichever, i think i would pick babbo because it was a lot of fun. its not like there is a bad choice to be had, tho.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

top chef 5, episode 8

i am predicting crazy carla is toast tonight. but i am basing that on nothing other than the sheer optimism in my soul.

i think stefan is going to fall hard. at some point. maybe not tonight.

its not fish. sorry fabio.

what a bunch of arrogant twits. its a can. it happens. deal.

mmmm, tots. whoever that was wins, far as i'm concerned.

whoa. conch. not tots. shame.


meh. stefan.

i think fabio just picked his nose.

the whole stefan-jamie blowup was shown on the previews last week. it was practically in complete context. so manufactured.

alan will be happy to see dan barber.

wasn't it christmas in new york two weeks ago? sure looks nice at the farm.

oh stefan. you're so clever. you're also the only dick.

what's up with radikha. she seems upset, but there seems to be no indication why. weird.

yeah, if you're roasting lamb, it should be in the oven.

ah, its fine.

uh-oh. ariane is in trouble.

carla is safe.

everybody wins! how kum-ba-ya.

hmmmm. they seem to hate everyone. i think its ariane, tho.

toby hall is going to kill this show. he wants to have "unprotected sex" with the pork? really?

well, starting to turn toward leah. maybe just for drama.

i sort of feel bad for ariane. i thought she should've been dumped in week 2-3, then i started liking her. shame.

wow. hopefully leah and hosea will just sleep together on the counter next week and get it over with.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

top chef 5, episode 7

i was starting to forget top chef existed. maybe that was their christmas present.

related to nothing: think i'm having lunch at tom's 'wichcraft friday afternoon. we'll see.

where is melissa a chef that she didn't know about pressure? i don't want to eat there.

uh-oh. hosea sounds comfortable. kiss o' death.

never heard of guest judge. radhika has tho. that's good.

i like jeff, but i understand why no one else does. so droll.

five minutes in: no references to team euro, but FIVE references to diet dr. pepper. hmmmm.

carla: bananas won't freeze, so i'll saute them. that'll show 'em.

melissa has a "specialty of the moment." wow.

HEY! there's a dr pepper!

euro suck up.

hosea's plate looked like a disaster.

did he refuse to try ariana's? wowza.

eugene should be drinking a diet dr pepper while talking on the t-mobile sidekick.

i've had diet dr. pepper. i like diet dr pepper. i sort of never want another one.

wow. "i won, and as my prize, i don't want to be anywhere NEAR stefan." nice.

so, radhika: you have a dish that EVERYONE loves ... and you roll it out when you have immunity? serious?

look at all of those whole foods shoppers in shorts, and just two weeks after "christmas."

HA. "Top Scallop" would be a good spinoff.

eugene, i am starting to think, is totally delusional.

i'm trying to figure out if there is a concern of incest on the real housewives of orange county. but i don't care that much.

stefan is wearing the "i make good babies" t-shirt again? please.

wow. they get to watch the critique. awkward.

ok, so, maybe radhika picked EXACTLY the right week for her signature soup.

leah, leah, leah. "i'm making something i've never made before"? people who say that are 0-3 so far this season. hello. or, goodbye.

yeah jamie, it has worked so well for you to assume you won so far.

so the show is going to devolve into a contest to see what the nastiest comment toby is going to make is. great.

i hope ariane wins again. just to see jamie's face when it happens.

could happen ....... doh. they told him to pick her. he liked ariane better.

hey. there are a bunch of cases of diet dr pepper in the stew room. wonder if they are a sponsor or something.

eugene: "hi judges. i'm sorry that i am too creative for you. i will try to dumb it down for you in the future." that should work.

so, my prediction is ... i don't care who stays. whichever two go deserve it.

i liked eugene at the start, but he has worn me down. he seems to think he is better than he is. that bores me. see ya. and i think carla will be gone soon enough.

"when the booze is gone, its time to move on," right. all that is left is the diet dr pepper.

Monday, January 5, 2009

gastroblog to return

remember when i used to write about restaurants i went to? remember when that was ALL i wrote about?

no? me either. but i am returning to that format this weekend. i have a big nyc weekend upcoming, with plans for del posto, db bistro moderne and a return trip to momofuku, or at least one of the momofuku's. possibly ssam bar. there will be as-yet unplanned meals, too. hopefully worth writing about.

anyway, stay tuned. and top chef returns wednesday. they are supposed to eliminate two contestants. which they should have done LAST episode, but we can talk more about that wednesday.

(for the record, i haven't had a post exclusively about a restaurant since august. august! sheesh.)