Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Legare Farms...

I had the pleasure of taking a trip to Legare Farms this morning to talk to Mr. Thomas Legare Jr. about the pigs, chickens, cows, and other local product that will be available here shortly. It was an awesome experience to walk the fields and see first hand the planning and process that the farmers must take in order to, as Mr. Legare says, "stay ahead of the curve." In a month or so we should be able to bring in some of their pigs for a variety of different uses, stay tuned and we shall see if we cant make some local brain bacon.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Behind the times..........to a bright future, me thinks

I am by no means up to date on anything....ever. Months behind in fact. But my sister sent me this and I had not heard anything of the sort and further more found it quite interesting....


El Bulli closes on account of Harvard and reinvention. I kick myself on a daily basis for not doing the tasting at WD 50. Still, I got to meet the man and one of Ferran's lecture buddies. Is Obama gonna offer financial aid @ Harvard now cause I hear he's a foodie and every cook in America is about to ask if Harvard has a stage program.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Sherry vinegar and the last almost fully non-meat dish of lent

(soft shell crab, fingerling potato, maple cured pancetta, capers, carrot emulsion, and a jalapeno sherry vinegar beurre noisette)
So....I got a camera. Well, I got a hand-me-down from the wife. Thankfully she was there for 3 hours during dinner service cause the thing did not want to cooperate. I even took a photo course in high school. Curse you digital technology.

I jumped the gun. Soft shell season is weeks away. Live and fresh is sooo much better......of course I know that it is, but I couldn't wait. It's been a long week. I had half an hour to internet search last night before tickets rolled in and all I could see in my mind's eye was sherry vinegar. Never used it. Ran across the street/parking lot, literally, to Fresh Market, and picked some up. Ran back, drank 1/2 a bullet (about an ounce), shook a bit, and pondered the next move.

Now I had to have soft shells. It's not a perfect world here and now but I adapt and make out as I can. One weekend trial of frozen babes before the main event. I had a whole long and retardedly elaborate sketch profile of how I do things in my kitchen, reasons, excuses, etc., but it's all stupid. Bottom line, limited staff, room, equipment, expenses, leads me at least to find focus on the epicenter of it all, flavor. Without the interaction and stimulus of ingredients in the arena of taste on the palate, all is lost. It is a bridge for all the other elements of cooking and the artistry there of. Harmony of flavors and a bit of intrigue is my main focus.
Tonight was soft shell crab, fingerling potato, maple cured pancetta, capers, carrot emulsion, and a jalapeno sherry vinegar beurre noisette. Wondra flour paired with dehydrated buttermilk made the best and crispest coating ever. As for pictures....I served two jumbos...I love the whales but dipped and fried, two on a plate looks like something out of Long John Silver's super sized blue plate hell. These guys look a little flat but the one's claws look all propped up on a fingerling like"come eat me off this buttery pedestal." Anyways, it was fun. Until next time......

Finally Farina....

Sometimes in the restaurant biz it takes a little longer to get things than you would like. For some reason its taken a while for me to get some farina flour in this kitchen despite the fact that we are an Italian restaurant. Anyways, the difference is paramount when using this product as opposed to AP flour. Brennan posted a solid pasta dough recipe a while back and that's what I went with:
1,000g Farina
27 egg yolks
3 eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup olive oil
Results were great, I decided to stuff the agnolotti's with a spicy potato risotto (I know starch in a starch, but it was great), accenting with scallions, Parmesan and jalapeno bacon. Finish this one off with garlic shrimp, melted leek cream and basil oil...delicious!!!!

Spring has sprang...

It is very fulfilling to see our little golf course garden sprouting with life, now we have fresh lettuce in our backyard...

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hunger....at a funeral

So, I wrote this somewhere else. Wasn't sure if it would have any relativity here. Maybe sort of. Had to sit on it for a day, reread it, and give it a heartbeat. At the time, in the situation, I just knew I wanted to write and explore the subject. Maybe it's just a testiment to how vast or penetrating the subject of food is. Maybe I just like to think out loud and subject others to my ramblings...I hope not.

You know it's weird. Some call me a pessimist, a realist. My friends will tell you that I've always been slightly skewed one way. I can't help but see real correlations that most ignore or refuse to accept. They intrigue and sometimes frighten me.
I went to a memorial today. I had no relation, blood or otherwise, which may have made it easier to be so objective. I have always been this way, as long as I can remember anyways but I found this occasion increasingly so since the departed had not cluttered my heart with the grief I felt around me.
What happens when someone close dies? How awkward of a situation it is for us to deal with. I find it intriguing that food is so centrally based in this matter. I have grieved, lost loved ones, and felt empty inside. So I find it extra specially interesting that food plays so strongly in comfort for people. It is almost religious doctrine, consious or not to start cooking when death happens. Even people who have no business being in the kitchen. But when they are, it is the utmost comfort foods that are produced. Where do these come from? Ziti, casseroles, canned olives, pickles, lots of desserts...lots of desserts. My wife said that when someone passes, it is natural for those that care to cook. The mourning family needs to eat when they can and not be bothered with the matter...that I get. But, what do you make? Honestly......if you were to pass on tomorrow....what would you want your loved ones to be comforted with. A photo montage over beers, memories, and laughs....mac n' cheese, bacon, crab, p&d shrimp........when you go, I would hope that you would want people to remember, love, laugh, celebrate a life, and fill themselves........food says sooo much.
Food and the act of mealtime mean so much whether or not we think about it. It's fitting that Tolkien talks about Hobbits eating so frequently. Yes, I'm a dork, yes I'm rereading the Lord of the Rings, but for real. What better way to celebrate life and togetherness in extreme situations than a good meal. When it's good, it makes everything ok for a couple seconds. It wipes away pain, heartache and swaddles with comfort.
We have so much and I hope to appreciate it. If you were to go, what would you be remembered by? Could a food, a single dish bring comfort to those around you? Those that love and lost you? Maybe a collection of foods and songs to match?
If I could leave an imprint on this earth so strong as a flavor or company of taste that people truly remembered, I'd die happy....
I will never forget a circle of pickups, sitting in a camping chair, eating a ham sandwich and chips in the shade of a great tree, in the company of friends and a new family. It was a beautifully clear day. It taught me a new way to grieve. It felt right or honoring a soul in a way that I can't really explain to you in words. The wind smelled sweet and fresh and alive.......

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A short window of inspiration before perspiration.....

I've been thinking about spring lately. New season, new menu. Time to take the rugs out back and beat out the winter's dirt and grime. It's been an amazingly seasonal season for lack of better words here in north Florida. The cold nights and mornings were actually pretty cold. It made for lots of hearty food and drink. It inspired lots of slow braises with rib sticking starches and reduced and reduced then fortified jus'. It brought a whole host of fantastic soups and a truly inspired challenge to create new and satisfying composed plates for vegetarians week after week. It brought pork belly, great maple syrup and thus, maple cured bacon and pancetta.

It was a good winter.

Funny enough, spring still has not shown up. It has poked out it's head a few times but quickly ran back to rejoin the masses of now anxious hibernators. But it's coming. The grasses are showing small signs of green and life and the inevitable purgatory that is mowing a jungle in 100F. The produce isles are looking slightly less scary. The arsenal of hard as a rock, gassed, and glazed, are being replaced, and a once sterile room starts to actually smell like tangible earth.

I wanted some real inspiration for spring. I like words. So I dug around and found this. Henry David Thoreau' s Walden...here's a little excerpt...

This is the frost coming out of the ground; this is Spring. It precedes the green and flowery spring, as mythology precedes regular poetry... It convinces me that Earth is still in her swaddling-clothes, and stretches forth baby fingers on every side. Fresh curls spring from the baldest brow. There is nothing inorganic. These foliaceous heaps lie along the bank like the slag of a furnace, showing that Nature is "in full blast" within. The earth is not a mere fragment of dead history, stratum upon stratum like the leaves of a book, to be studied by geologists and antiquaries chiefly, but living poetry like the leaves of a tree, which precede flowers and fruit- not a fossil earth, but a living earth....

When I think of spring, I think of my childhood. Opening the windows when it hits the high 40s. Putting the top down on convertibles. Everything wet and slushy. No bright colors, not yet. But beating arteries of greens, and pristine whites, and shimmeringly clear blues. Asparagus, arugula, mustards, peas, beans, lots and lots of onions of varying shapes, sizes, and colors. I think of all this and some far off corner of my mind says scallops. I like gnocchi but I love spaetzle. They are more delicate. Hold a flavor with more dignity. They will harmonize with whatever you want to match them with. Big piped scallion spaetzle crisped in brown butter, tossed with baby arugula and snow peas right at the end. Seared scallops, blood orange and fennel. Bright, clean, crisp flavors. Not too exotic or challenging. A time to let the new birth of spring be tasted in relative simplicity.

One of the great contrasts that caught my eye today while picking through chilies was the rhubarb. Something I have not tasted since my childhood. Definitely going to make it into my cart in the near future.

Once more from Thoreau's Walden......

......compared with whose great central life all animal and vegetable life is merely parasitic. Its throes will heave our exuviae from their graves. You may melt your metals and cast them into the most beautiful moulds you can; they will never excite me like the forms which this molten earth flows out into. And not only it, but the institutions upon it are plastic like clay in the hands of the potter.

Reverence and respect for the earth. There has been a curtain of sterile detachment pulled over the food in all it's forms for too long. Thankfully, we as a nation are being rescued by or better yet rescuing ourselves from this peril. Food tastes better when you know where it came from. I live a stone's throw from Georgia. Someone please show me a Georgia peach in a grocery store already before I submit to my theory that it is all a big scam. Eat a Peach...for shame Allman Brothers.

Enjoy your spring and a tip to the willing. On the next nice afternoon. Open all the windows, download "Eyes of the World" from the Grateful Dead's "Without a Net." Crack a beer, pick up a little around the house, then find a nice cozy spot, contemplate your next meal, and be mellow. 16 minutes of springtime heaven!

Till next time....

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


But where are the tomatoes???

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An affair to remember.....

A love affair that is. One that is timeless through the ages, one that Bill Shakespeare has nothing on, and one that is largely misunderstood by many, specifically my wife. For when she called recently and told me that I really should start writing again and I told her the blog ideas that had been floating around my head, she said "huh," then silence. That is Rebecca for "I think your idea is lame or simply sucks." Always a critic! In fact she has never really gotten my love, passion, obsession, and all around affinity for the glory that is Pizza.

Call it good geography or just plain luck but I was born, then raised in parts of this country where food, in many forms, many of them gluttonous, is taken very, very seriously. Born with New Yorker and Jersey blood then brought up in the unappreciated, underdog town that is Buffalo.

Here's where some of you may skip to the next blog. By all means. I have every intention of trying to hit 1000 words on a subject that in my mind deserves the honor.
Ahhhh, pizza. Where to begin? When you get down to the science of it, is there a greater form of the food groups rolled into one? This is to say...back when there were 4 food groups. Wheat, vegetable, dairy, and protein in varying quantities, layers, and forms, baked into ooey, gooey, ecstasy. It is only fitting that after pizza my favorite food is the sandwich, a close cousin that also deserves it's 15 minutes of fame.

So, Buffalo and pizza and crust. 1st off, if any pizza joint owner or operator does not know what a "slice" is, please close your doors tomorrow. Even if you don't offer them. A pizza is a pie and sometimes you just want a slice or two, especially after a show at MSG and you have to navigate your saucy girl and friend back through the snow to any train to Newark. I digress. Pizza has lots of forms. NY style floppy, full square foot, paper thin slices to regular tossed, to Sicilian to Chicago style. Depends on your mood I think. Here's my top choices:

A place in Wall N.J. I think is named Vinnie's. I got off a plane from months in Europe, rode home, then to NJ with my folks. This was the 1st meal I remember back on US soil and one I will never forget. Ridiculously thin, mammothly large pizzas with the only one true topping, pepperoni. We got a couple to split between like 6 people.....my dad ordered 1 more just for me to eat and I think I ate it all. The perfect balance of tart tomato with nothing else to get in it's way, good mozzarella, and huge greasy pepperoni. One more thing....if you go into a pizza place and you don't see crushed red pepper, oregano, garlic powder, or parm shakers or any combo of those on tables or readily available....carry your happy butt back out and save disappointment.

2nd choice...Marvino's in Buffalo. Thicker, almost sicilian style crust. Call me crazy but the junk pizza I craved on thursdays in middle school.....the only day I think I was allowed to get cafeteria food was bad sicilian pizza. Marvino's was not junk. Great sauce, great mozz., and small, thick pepperoni like Bocci's. The main reason I even put them on the list is because they offer half a large. Really....Half a large pizza and the bizarre pizza box to prove it. There is a certain amount of planning involved in transport since any ex. pizza maker aficionado knows there is major continental drift with liquid cheese. Cut liquid magma xtra cheese pizza in half and if you don't place the box just right in your Bronco II and shift carefully all the way home, you'll crack open that 1st Natural Ice, pop on the Big Lobowski, and open a half moon of dough with a side of cheese.

3rd choice....I dated a girl eons ago that had a huge italian family. Either her or her father took me to La Bella Sicilia in Cheektowaga NY. It blew me away. NY style with no bells or whistles. It was always packed and the togo pickup room had this screen door in the summer that blasted hot pizza goodness out into the sunshine and my memory.

4th choice....Andriaccio's in Mayville NY. The best chicago style pizza I have ever had the pleasure to taste. There is something so ridiculously awesome about taking a staple, flip it upside down and it's beautiful. The sauce on chicago style must be more substantial and herb driven to shine.

5th choice.....Siena Amherst NY. When I finally decided on culinary school, I needed to get my feet wet in fine dining. I had made pizzas, thousands of them, but never in a wood burning oven. I didn't know what mire poix was. I still feel like an idiot. So, I'd put on my whites, load wood in from out back, take off the cover and feed the beast, replace the cover, and prep. I went from canned sauce and bagged cheese to pomodoro, extra virgin, asiago, fontina, gorg, prosciutto, cappy, fresh herbs, and a ridiculous amount of heat. 700 degrees. I remember that you could conceivably fit 4 or 5 pizzas in at once without getting to close to the wood and more importantly, coals. Then you had to be a master with a 5 foot flat hoe. Turning, swapping spots, cause in less that 2 minutes your pies were at risk of burning up, and if you did not sweep and move, soot was the extra topping..and bottom. Paper thin pizza, fabulous ingredients, and the flavor of the fire piercing every bite. Awesome.

6th.....Bozanna's Clarence NY. Arguably one of the the best and worst things you will ever eat. Construction. Now, this was 9 years ago when I would watch and I have heard rumors that the glory days have passed but here is what I remember. Thick dough. Tomato paste like sauce. 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices of mozzarella, not shredded, completely covering the sauce. Then a bucket of pepperoni. This is not an exaggeration. Enough pepperoni to cover every bit of white. Into the oven. Then more pepperoni a bit later to cover the ones that shrunk. We took years to actually order whole pies. It started as a trek for slices and blue cheese. For every slice, you were subliminally inclined to purchase a 3 oz. cup of what was more closely wall paper paste than blue cheese. There was technique. 1st...the roni dip. Peel off the first three or four layers of pepperoni and dip in the bleu. Once you were close enough, you could try to tackle the beast. My first time, I think I made it through two thirds of a slice. May sound gross or off putting but when you are 19 or 20, who am I kidding....if I still lived there....it's heaven.

7th.....Sergi's Canton NY.....my 1st stint at college at St. Lawrence granted me two things. A head full of Phish and Fat Rolls at Sergi's. Envision a deep fried calzone about the size of a large sub of course pepperoni and cheese for $5 and that was the minimum delivery fee. Enough said I think.

I went cold turkey for a while. France killed my Pizza love. I got hooked on kebabs, the France equivalent of gyros sold by real life gypsies. In France they used Comte and Emmential for pizza, their sauce was terrible, and they insisted on cracking an egg on it just before it came out. Love the egg but not many were good. Even the ones we hoped to be so.

A year later, I took an overnight train from Paris to Rome with my folks. We walked from the apartment we had rented to the Vatican and the old city. I remember the roof top gardens. I remember eating lunch with my parents, neapolitan pizza of just cheese, sauce, crust, down the street from Vatican city and later me and my mom picking up a slice of sicilian style on a late morning stroll. I remember the first bite of each. I remember that city. I remember those sights, sounds, and smells by taste but I guess I'm to greedy to share too much. It's as if I may loose a piece if I try to put them to word.

Till next time.....

Monday, March 15, 2010

Blue Prawns with soy vinagrette, pickled mango, finger peppers and escarole

I like to take a dish and plate it as many different ways as I can think of. This was a dish I did for deepplate.com.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Triple Play

There are three different seafood's here: pan-seared scallops, crispy fried clams, and crab pancetta tortellinis. Underneath them is parmesan butter(which is fantastic!), start butter reducing in white wine, shallots, garlic, peppercorns, and parmesan rinds. You have to stay on top of the rinds and continually move them around or else this pan will be no fun to clean. Add a little cream next and let it come down till its really thick, then whisk in whole butter cubes strain and that's your butter sauce. Learning how to make butter sauce well is something every cook should master.
I finished it off with Meyer lemon pudding and fresh arugula. Fresh, bright, and clean with different ranges of texture.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

You know what really grinds my gears....

This is a forum for sharing and getting information out to people. I get that. Today I like it more than other days.

I have not posted in a while.....been out of town, not really sure where to go with things etc. then dumb things happen. Call me a cynic, I don't care, this is just plain ridiculous and people need to know about it. Brooklyn Dem Felix Ortiz wants to ban use of salt in New York restaurants. Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/03/11/2010-03-11_assault_on_salt_an_insult_chefs.html#ixzz0hw7cw68t

Talk about an abuse of civil liberties and which amendment? I am ashamed to call myself a New Yorker if this jerk gets any press. Ban him, shun him, join the groups against him, and just shut this ignoramus up already.

"It's time for us to take a giant step," Ortiz said yesterday. "We need to talk about two ingredients of salt: health care costs and deaths."Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/03/11/2010-03-11_assault_on_salt_an_insult_chefs.html#ixzz0hw8oqG7n

Really.....So it's our fault...the people who are trying to bring healthy, sustainable food to the mainstream. How about the corporate machine that pumps out high fat, high sodium garbage and puts it just a drivethru away or on the shelves for 99 cents a can?

Please don't buy into this nonsense....that's all I really ask. I started writing a blog about vegetarians and the good, the bad, and the ugly, on the matter.......it's all trivial. Most real cooks are getting that now. Chefs like Dan Barber and Sean Brock, I read about. WE CARE more about the respectful health of the dining public than self serving politicians....and to the powers that be, stop pointing fingers already......
We should be mad and let it be known.....
It just makes me sad that things like this even need to be said. I miss Entrains....

Monday, March 8, 2010

Guilty Pleasures.....

I called it "The Completely Unnecessary Pizza." This bad boy ended up being lunch today, a good use of leftovers from specials. Cappicola cream base, pork shoulder, cherry peppers, onions, and fingerling potatoes. If you don't feel the need to take a nap after two slices I'll be impressed.

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Hot and Cold....

Which one is which??

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pork Shoulder Plate.....

This tasty block of pig turned out wonderfully, a little pan sear and baste with brown butter makes it almost sinful. Paired with fennel orange marmalade, chestnut puree and natural jus.

So let me elaborate a little.....this is a long, planned out process. Most of the blogs I read have all had a post or two about the love affair with braising and slow cooking in general, I need my turn. Its weird that I feel like an incredibly impatient person but I find great pleasure in this process, even rushed at times.

Truly...this cooking method is for people who LOVE to cook.

I read Bluechefs post about brining a couple of weeks ago and decided that I had neglected this technique for far to long. We brined the pork shoulders in honey, balsamic, fennel, orange (of course water, sugar, salt, molasses). I can't tell you the specific amounts because honestly I didn't measure them. Maybe its a huge flaw, but I cook from the hip often. What I did measure were times.....36 hours of brining, 6 hours at 275 braising time, and about 24 hours of pressing. The transformation is a beautiful thing, a product that often is ground for sausage or smothered in BBQ sauce now becomes something refined and substantial. Not to take anything away from those applications but thats what creates levels in the hospitality industry.....how well do you utilize the resources you are given?

The picture makes it look a little dry I think but it really is succulent. No knife needed, just a fork and an appetite. I could break this dish down a little more and make a more intriguing plate but at Tomasso's we live off of simplicity. That means we must make sure our technique is sound.

I paired the dish with fennel marmalade, its very simple:
julienne a fennel bulb, saute, deglaze with orange juice, add sugar and reduce.

The chestnuts were roasted in brown butter and then pureed in the vita prep with some cream, a little water, and a sprinkle of xanthan gum. If you are looking to get into hydrocolloids, xanthan should be where you start.

The last thing I will say is that the pressing is a brillant part of this process, proof that chefs are not mindless glorified line cooks. This is what chefs have become, men and women who manipulate ingredients to work how they see fit. I took Brennan's advice and put all of the braised shoulder in a 200 pan with another on top and a sheet pan on top of it. Then I added the weight, two cases of heavy cream(about 50 lbs.). The sheet pan allows even pressing.

This was a rewarding dish........

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Pork shoulder

Brined, Braised, Pressed.....check back soon for the finished product..

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Monday, March 1, 2010

On the ninth day, He was wicked hungry and said "let there be Pho", and it was good...

I really can't rightly talk about my love affair with tacos without bringing up the other staple. Years ago a colleague of mine was rambling about where to eat in this town and mentioned a seedy dump in a Ramada Inn serving Pho. Who, I asked? I have long since been obsessed with Asian food cultures and spent many a long and sometimes uncomfortable afternoon scouring the shelves in Asian grocery stores pretending to know what I was looking at. The more I read, the more I became familiar, the more I ate, the more I cooked, the more things I would buy. Now, most of the times in whites, I stroll around and they don't look at me so weird.

But at the time, I knew the name but couldn't tell you 1st thing about Pho. So, intrigued, I packed up my wife, a little courage, and went off in search of a seedy looking Ramada in a seedy part of town, to Pho Kali. After perusing the hourly room rates, we entered the dragon.

Plain tables, plain walls, 1 TV playing soaps, the occasional random toddler running here and there, and a short Vietnamese guy standing in the middle of the dining room looking at us curiously. We sat. I saw chop sticks, spoons, sriracha, chili sambal, hoisin, and a boat load of napkins. Confidence growing. Easily numbered menu subtitled in english. Confidence still going strong. "I'll try the #4, the fried spring rolls." "No, you have fresh spring roll." "Uhhh, exactly my good man, what you said." It's always a plus when you are told what you will or will not have! On to the main objective. Pho. Shaved rare beef, brisket, tripe, tendon, beef ball.....let's start easy and say, just rare beef. Maybe I'll upgrade to the brisket and tennis shoe next time. And the size. Small, medium, large. Why not go big?

As we waited, I shopped around, eyeing the scene. Not much talking going on. An older couple and a young couple with a little kid all slurping up some mystery from punch bowls. The spring rolls arrive. Shrimp and pork spring rolls bursting with fresh, I don't know, life I guess. The punch of Thai basil and cilantro. A bit of some sweet mirin dipping sauce. Confidence finally steamrolled through my veins and we were ready to throw down on whatever magic was in the steaming bowls.

Next came a plate with beautifully fresh bean sprouts, thai basil, cilantro, onion, limes, and sliced chilies. And the main event. A word of warning if you have never had Pho and before I forget to mention it. Don't go big. You have to work your way up to it. For real. Placed before us were mini bathtubs of rice sticks, scorching broth, and a mountain of shaved meat.

It's a blank canvas....ok, not blank but more like a choose your own adventure book. Someone provides you with all of the elements for something brilliant and what makes it truly such is that you are sole author of the creation. Add some bean spouts, a couple torn basil leaves, some cilantro, a squeeze of lime on the meat, soy/fish sauce, then try and outwit yourself. Reach for the chili sambal, drop in a spoonful, double dog dare yourself and add two more. Maybe a dash of hoisin; never really was a big fan. Then mix it all up, watching as the beef just barely cooks through, and debate the first bite. Chopsticks or spoon? You do have two hands. After you dive in and your body has a chance to catch up, relish in the goodness before chili sambal has you overrun with tears, sweating, and night terrors.

Pho is one of those easy to recreate meals with just a little ingenuity. The broth is simple yet rich and complex. Beef bones, onion, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, star anise, clove....that's a start anyways. But honestly, from a cook's perspective who works a lot and comes home hungry and impatient, you can find perfectly good Pho in a cube. Let's say that you don't mind a little MSG and a little spike in your sodium intake. Check out your local asian grocery store. Phillipino owned and operated are my favorite in JAX. There you can get just about everything. Rice sticks, sambal, sriracha, bean sprouts, thai basil, fish sauce, and the elusive Pho in a cube. Really. Looks like bouillon cubes and says Pho. They make fresh rice sticks and the local grocery owner swears by them. Becca says they are too starchy. She has a point. Besides, dried rice sticks cook in about 2 minutes when covered with steaming broth. Drop by Winn Dixie or Wegmans for some protein, limes, and maybe some mushrooms, and you're all set. Par freeze your protein so you can shave it wicked thin, make your broth, and assemble.

All cooks have an approach, a perspective to food and the world they see. I have always been fascinated with the relationship of food and history. There is so much to be learned about the world, it's people, and it's past and it's brilliant how people have captured those things through utilization of our senses. You can taste, smell, and see history and a respect for culure in a rocking dish of food. There are wonderful and exciting options out there, in every town. Challenge yourself to try something new, maybe a little outside of your comfort zone. We all live on a budget, it doesn't always have to be some cutting edge, refined cooking either. There is much to be said for cuisines that have been around for thousands of years. They've had a lot of time to practice, screw up, and try again

Sharpening the saw....

Finally a day off and I'm spending it in the bookstore perusing through cookbooks. I've got to continue to fuel the fire though. I'm excited that Kiawah is heading into its busy season and I will get my first chance to really see and feel the food culture of my new town. Check out Nathan Thurston's blog in the Brain Bacon section, reading his latest post got me really fired up for the spring, its time for me to get to know the local farms a bit better, can't wait....