Friday, March 26, 2010

Fat Man In A White Hat

You'd have to agree that Bill Buford is interesting, in addition to being somewhat of an acquired taste for most people. Clearly, the New Yorker writer and former editor of Granta is said to fashion himself after Clive James, repeating words and phrases in dulcet tones for mesmerizing effects. But with his arms flailing like the blades on a high speed blender, enthusiasm certainly appears to be his intended goal.
So I'm guessing that's why the BBC has dubbed its latest foodie program as a Fat Man in a White Hat, albeit to mixed reviews (some good, others, well…not so good).
Some years ago, Buford started getting really interested in food. Really. So, he took a sabbatical from his day job and wrote a book (in the hallowed tradition of Anthony Bordain and Kitchen Confidential) called Heat about Babbo, an Italian restaurant in New York, where he worked for free in order to learn the ways of its celebrated chef, Mario Batali. He also visited some of the kitchens in Italy where Batali had his most formative experiences.
He then set out for France, the land of "the sauce." Basically, he was on the same experimental mission, only this time with lots more heavy cream and butter.
In any case, there are video clips at the program's official website, but, unfortunately, you can't view them if you are not in the UK. (Gee, thanks.) However, The Independent is slightly more upbeat in its review, but not with a few reservations.
Will talk more about the Fat Man here though, once I can get a glipse at a video clip that all of us Americans can watch.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bordeaux: Wine Tour de France

If you happen to be in or around the New York City area, this very special Bordeaux wine tasting event will be happening at the Le Skyroom at French Institute Alliance Française, 22 East 60th St., Monday, March 29, 2010, 7 – 8:30pm
Price: $115
Tickets By Phone:
Tel: 646 388 6632

Tickets Online:
http://www.fiaf.org/events/winter2010/2010-01-wine-tastings.shtml#tkts
Bordeaux is among the most famous of French wine regions, with more than 6,000 châteaux. Featuring the ever-popular Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grape varieties, Bordeaux wines can also include Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec depending on each appellation d'origine contrôlée (terrior) and château.
Michael Madrigale, Chef Sommelier of Bar Boulud, will be on hand, presenting some of the most well-known Bordeaux appellations and offering his views on the classic refinement and the "Bordeaux" art of blending grape varieties. The wine will be provided by Clarendelle, from Château Haut-Brion.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Salty Dilemma

Question: Would you go out to eat at a restaurant where the use of salt has been completely banned? And we're not just talking on your table -- but by the chefs in the kitchen as well?

Well, if NY State Assemblyman Felix Ortiz has his way, the only salt added to your meal will come from the chef's salty tears.

The Brooklyn Democrat has introduced a bill that would ban the use of salt in New York restaurants - and violators would be smacked with a $1,000 fine for every salty dish. (Okay, first the recently proposed tax on sodas with sugar in them, and now this. Um…can you say, just another way of the state sticking its gnarly little finger into the public's pockets? )

"No owner or operator of a restaurant in this state shall use salt in any form in the preparation of any food," the new bill reads. Hmmmm…

Anyway, and just in time in my opinion, some of Manhattan's top cooks have already started to blast the idea, saying the legislation lacks a certain hint of something.

"New York City is considered the restaurant capital of the world. If they banned salt, nobody would come here anymore," said Tom Colicchio, star of Top Chef and owner of Craft. "Anybody who wants to taste food with no salt, go to a hospital and taste that," he said.

Couldn't agree more, Chef Colicchio. Being health-conscious is indeed a conscious decision that patrons should decide -- for themselves. Thank you.

Read more here

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Real Julia Child

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As many of you already know (lest I repeat it again) she was my muse -- and my goddess.

But it seems that just before this year's Oscar winners are announced on Sunday night, when hopefully Meryl Streep will walk away with the gold statuette for her portrayal of a bubbly, French spewing, and most-times effervescent Julia Child in Julie and Julia , many people now ask: Who was the real Julia?

Well, one person who certainly knows, is New York Times reporter, Joyce Purnick, who interviewed Julia Child during the meat boycott here in the U.S. back in 1973. And as Purnick reports in a recent Los Angeles Times article, interviewing the real Julia in her prime showed a side of her that the moviegoing public would barely recognize. The Julia she saw back then was a dour, straight-talking (in English), prickly, and generally impatient woman who Purnick admits she waylaid on the set at PBS Channel 13 here in New York, just after watching Julia teach America how to prepare a killer zucchini omelet.

But what happens after that presents quite a different perspective of this culinary icon, and, for the most part, in sharp contrast to the perky and effusive cries of "Merci!" and "Bon Apetit!" that we see in the recent Meryl Streep version.

Read more here