Off the subject of food...

Current Music:
  • The Clash - Sandinista, London Calling, the DVD Westway to the World
  • Art Brut - That song Emily Kane is hilarious...and heartwarming. Like Steve Carrell in 40 Year Old Virgin.
  • The Misfits. I met Glen Danzig when I was in 8th grade, and I was taller than him.
  • Sleater Kinney. Still.
  • Pavement. But don't you hate it when you're at a bar, and some hipster puts on Pavement to try to impress his date, and it completely ruins the mood?
Current TV:
  • Heroes. It's also on G4 now.
  • Dexter. Rare that a show makes you creeped out, laugh, and get into a conversation about if God judges all who kill the same...(you know, 5th commandment literal interpretation and all that)
  • The Boondocks. Thank you for not snitching.
  • Metalocaylpse. It's pretty much what I imagined being in Metallica would be like when I was 11.
  • Kitchen Confidential. It's on DVD now...and even though the food looks like shit, and all the actors don't really seem to know how to hold a knife, it is pretty funny.
  • That Giants/Dolphins football game in London. Shitty weather, rowdy fans, bad turf. Everything that makes for a fun watch.
Current Games:
  • Metroid Prime 3. It takes thirty minutes to move through one room, and then you die and have to start all over again. It's like shopping at Macy's.
  • Madden 08. I had to completely re-learn a game I have been playing since I was 12. It's buggy, and burns up my remotes batteries...and I can't stop playing it.
  • Various flash games that I have no business wasting my time on.
Current Web/Apps:

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Upcoming Experiments...

Interesting part in Omnivores Dilemma talking about the use of food additives in "organic" food...xanthan gum and absorbic acid being the ingredients in Pollan's crosshairs. This makes one wonder...is it wrong for me to take gorgeous, local, organic ingredients and gel, froth, and foam them? If quality of ingredient is the most important thing, where does that leave us? Most in these parts would ask why we don't just leave them alone...which nine times out of ten seems like a fair argument. Where do you stand on all this food additives in organic foods argument?

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Three Chefs.

In my relatively short time as a cook, i have had the pleasure of working with some of the finest people a guy could know. This isn't to say I haven't worked with some of the most obnoxious assholes that live in the greater bay area--but for the most part, I get to cook with people I like. There are three though, that have completely changed the way I cook and look at food.

Ginger Pierce

Ginger and I were in culinary school together. She was straight edge and vegan then. We worked together on many, many projects in school together, and even catered a wedding. She worked at Roxanne's...which despite Bourdain's arguments, was actually a pretty interesting restaurant. When that place closed, she packed up and moved to New York and ended up working at Barbuto, for John Waxman. After slugging it out for a while, she became sous chef, and now is chef de cuisine at Provence. There always seemed to be an underlying competition going on between us...although it was always friendly. I have to admit though....competition or not, she would absolutely destroy me in the kitchen, every day. Her technique and ever increasing food knowledge made me race to keep up...and speaking to her now, she's breaking down whole animals for guanciale, lardo, hams, and loins. She's no longer straight edge...nor vegan...so when we hang out we booze and smoke cigarettes and eat. When we talk, it's almost always about food. I miss her...all the time.

Chris Rossi

Rossi (or Robocop, as he's known to most of the cooks that have worked with him) is a guy I get to cook with every day--we work in the same restaurant. In the basic skills class at school, we were at the same table. I think we both sensed a fair amount of talent and drive in the other, so naturally we did not trust each other. A quick nod was about as much communicating as we did with one another...for a couple of weeks. Eventually, we ended up being paired together to roll sushi...just the two of us, and a couple hundred rolls. We skipped dinner...and over a few quick hours, became friends. Rossi is my everyday go to guy...someone I know will give me honest criticism, no matter what. I've been on the line with him, been yelled at with him, and have had some of my proudest cooking moments with him...(and some of my least proud drinking moments...but that's another story.) Sharing a co-sous spot with him is probably more than either of us could've asked for back in school.

Joey Rachel

When I first met Joey, he was a food runner. He talked to me about cooking...and after all the FOH people I had worked with that said things like "I could do your job", I had pretty much had it. I gave him a quenelle of duck fat garnished with berries and mint and told him it was ice cream. He ate it, and trying to be polite, told me something was off in my ice cream base.
Three weeks later, he was working in the kitchen. Joey and I are almost polar opposites when it comes to style. I have to admit--I learned almost all aspects of sous vide cuisine with him. We used to stay late and gel and sous vide and drink beers. Every Sunday he would hit up the farmers market and cook a special staff meal. His knowledge of food, and simplicity in his style have really stuck with me. Now he works at Dopo...and continues to evolve as a cook. Us cooking dinner together each week on our nights off is always interesting...two styles, seemingly in conflict with another...somehow working so harmoniously. When he worked a few nights with me and Rossi, all my line cooks were in awe of him--asking me in whispers "What restaurant is he the chef at?"

Without these three people, I wouldnt push myself, take as many risks, or be where I am. Three very different chefs, that I owe alot to. Having a mentor is great...and important...but it's the people you stand over the stove with that will change you the most.

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Plate Up: Foie "Tea Time"

Less is more, right? This plate up was a move towards simplicity. We had that hibiscus on hand, and a few tonka beans left over. Joan Roca does a seared foie with a honey cake and foamed milk...so I shamelessly took his idea and modified it ever so slightly. Oh the shame.

The first step is to make the tea, set it with agar, and puree it. There is no sugar added to the tea...we really wanted a tart counterpoint to the sweetness of the cake and the richness of the foie. To the left of the gel is grains of paradise.

Foie 10/07
Foie is added.

Honey Citrus Cake
This cake is really simple. I subbed blood orange olive oil for butter in it. Its very moist, and certainly evokes thoughts of tea time. In the beginning of this plate up, I was using a ring mold to cut it...now im just cutting bars.
Foie 10/07

So now that there is tea, cake, and honey, you need milk, right? Foamed milk would allow a light way to bring across the aroma of the tonka bean, without being overpowering. Its just a cup of milk, lecithin, and tonka. I scald it and let it steep for an hour, then froth it to order.
Tonka Milk
Foie 10/07
The final garnish is micro cilantro.

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An email from Dr. Kelling.

Your blog is great; I just bookmarked it. It inspires me to get started
on mine. (Inspires, as in present tense, not inspired, as in already did

me tell you about my experience at Pres a Vi. I can be a huge ass and
extremely critical about service (as you may remember), so I'll start
at the beginning.

Walked in and saw Brandon and Katie Nash. Good to see both of them. After
securing a round of campari and sodas (turning into an old man) for me
and my mates, I headed to the host stand. I told the red headed hostess
that I had called and asked to change from two to three. She said,
'There's no note, but it won't be a problem.' Why even say the part
about the note? Anyway, some other hostess came in and showed us to our
table and I went and said hello to Kelly.

Returning to the table, I ordered duck buns and the spicy hamachi roll.

note: I don't know if you've seen the Carl's Jr. commercial about 'Flat
Buns' but my friend Colin is the vocalist (not the actor on the
commercial, but the actual vocalist) so it is well known in my circle
of friends. All night one of my friends was singing, 'Duck buns, I want
duck buns.'

Then Kelly sent out Foie (fucking great) as well as sashimi. I thought that was really nice of him to do that.

then ordered the Kobe (best I've ever had) S&P prawns (again: best
I've ever had and I've had A LOT of s&p prawns in chinatowns across
the country), the tonnato ( I love tuna) oysters (good) mussels. Also
had the huckleberry dessert (again: great) and the chocolate b pudding

Every bit of food was great. I am going to sneak in
there again and have the Kobe and prawns and then say hi. I say sneak
in because check it: when the bill arrived, all the food had been
comped. Above and beyond. Totally unexpected and really mad me look
like a baller in front of my friends. So please, tell Chef thank you

I want to know more about this place you had dessert at...

Brutal review of Fleur, eh? I'll bet you Wednesday's dinner service there was the best it's ever been...

As far as pretending to hang out some time...

much love brother, let's steal some money and open a place.


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I felt lucky today. Like things were falling into place...happy little accidents, over and over again. Some of the reasons I felt like this:
  • Insanely nice weather...that almost turned stifling tonight when I was cooking.
  • Lunch at Dopo...getting a crazy good lunch for very, very cheap from Joey
  • A trip to Monterey Fish and Monterey Market...picking up Barramundi and $40 worth of groceries. Which if you've been to Monterey Market, you know is a lot of groceries.
  • Going to Blue Bottle and knowing the people working there...and buying coffee roasted yesterday.
  • More nice weather.
  • A great dinner with Mal and Joey, cooking the previously mentioned barramundi, a cranberry bean, haricot vert and fennel salad, a raddichio/potato salad, lentils with niman ranch bacon, arugula with lemon, and poached pears, strauss ice cream, and blue bottle irish coffees for dessert.

I think its a special thing to get to cook in the bay area...and at the risk of seeming like the image below, I feel like I need to let the world know: Cooking/eating here is awesome.

Which is why Michelin seems so confusing. I read The Perfectionist...and although im sure there is bias in that story, one gets the feeling that this is more or less what rating and being rated by Michelin is all about. So it seems strange when Jean Luc-Naret says that the ratings this year were "all about the food" and only Laundry was good enough to get the third star. Ive never eaten at Manresa, but everyone I know that's been there says it's amazing...and probably a better value than Laundry. Sushi Ran and La Folie being in the same class seems strange also.

  • I finished a "red book" this week. These books are for daily notes, recipes, ideas, etc. I use them every day, and this is the second one i've finished...the one from three years ago is pretty foreign to me.

  • Bourbon. It's very tasty.

  • A new foie. It's an homage/bite off of Grant Achatz...but the flavors are good.

  • If you need to waste time, do it here.
It's still so, so hot.

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Tourettes, Michelin, and lazy notes.

If Tivo is tracking my viewing habits, then I imagine what kind of demographic of theirs I might fit into. Foodie/gamer/sports fan/geek? Most of my measly series 2 is dedicated to Gordon Ramsay's shows (UK versions only, please), Top Chef, and any number of HBO or Adult Swim related programming. It's amazing how many times that little gray box will record, and re-record episodes of Top Chef or Kitchen Nightmares...but all this after-work viewing has me wondering about how my profession is being portrayed on TV. A quick disclaimer--yes, I did try out for Top Chef 3, and got called back to be grilled on camera by two pretty twenty-something producers. And thankfully I did not make it--My imagined screaming matches with Howie and Sara were horrible enough.


Watching Ramsay on his American shows, you get the feeling he's doing four or five speedballs a day, possibly is a shopper at Balco, and isn't getting treatment for his tourettes. Hells Kitchen And Nightmares are generally scream fests...and it seems that the only qualities carried over from the UK Nightmares are the shots of him taking off his shirt and putting on his chefs coat.

What's most frustrating about this is on the UK version, he actually helps people. He mentors young cooks. He suggests smart changes to the business. And most of all, he seems like he cares. This doesn't mean i'm going to miss an episode of the US nightmares...despite it basically being food hell porno. I'm just not going to feel good about it.
Speaking of food tv, the idea for a new type of tv show came about at the end of our saturday night service. "Bottom Chef" would pit 12 young chefs against each other to see who had the worst knife skills, hygiene standards, and overall attitude. Rocco Dispirito could host, and Tom Colicchio could be a part of it too....because he seems like a dick.

Speaking of Colicchio, his Craft got demoted to two stars by Michelin...those little French fuckers. The Northern California guide is coming soon...and I can't say anyone is really looking forward to it. Last years debacle was ugly enough...and seeing as how we already get to deal with Bauer, im not sure that more critics are what we need. Except for Joy...her shit is hilarious.

Also in the news...Fleur De Lys drops a star. I don't know about this...seeing as how I ate here just a couple of months ago. Admittedly, the meal was free...and I got treated like a visiting dignitary by Marcus and his crew. It was not Laundry...but at least as good as La Folie, and better than Danko.

And now...notes.

  • Mexico DF...a full write up is coming soon. But let me put it this way: Fuck you Mexico DF. Fuck you up your stupid ass.
  • Got to meet Shuna this past week...and are going to her place for dessert tonight. Her workspace was smelled amazing, and it was French Laundry clean.
  • Halo 3. It's all true.
  • Job offers...so many job offers.
  • I hate Comcast.
  • Chef Darren and I talked about making a blog called "Really Bad Ideas In Food." It would be like Aki and Alex's blog...only, you know, bad and dumb.
  • Butterly's Fernet party was out of control. Pictures are here.
More later...I have laundry to do. (For bonus points, count how many times the fucking word "laundry" appeared here.)

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Effervescent Powder

Effervescent Powder
Originally uploaded by linecook
Zots candies are popular in this kitchen...sweet, sour, with that strange fizz when they crack open. The Ingredient Cookbook by Massimiliano Alajmo has a recipe for that fizzy stuff. We made it last night...and it works.


Getting Into Trouble - (Trouble Coffee, Outer Sunset)

Pounding beers and playing Wii bowling is a nice way to unwind from a long week at work. Last Thursday, following the Hope Uncorked event at work, a few friends and I did just that. When Blue Bottle came up in coversation, Chris asked if we had ever been to trouble coffee in the Sunset. His description went something like this:

"Its run by this tattooed punk rock lady that's really friendly and works out of a closet-like place and DOES NOT LIKE WHEN YOU ORDER "JUST COFFEE." Seriously. Don't go there and say "just coffee."

Naturally, I was skeptical. Blue Bottle owns me. I thought Pacific Bay had their claws in me...but I swear Blue Bottle is putting some serious narcotics in my beans. I stop there twice a week or so...and always order two lattes--one is never enough. Even Ritual is great. I just didnt know if there was room in my heart for a third caffeine supplier.

The Outer Sunset, on a sunny day, does not feel like San Francisco. Its closer to Santa Cruz, or even Pismo. There are few parking meters. Parking is abundant. Surf shops and organic vegan restaurants pop up between homes. Surfers sit on their stoops waiting for conditions to change.

Walking into Trouble, you're greeted by Giulietta, the owner/shopgirl/toast-coconut maker. She is tattooed/punk/diy....and very friendly. When I wandered in, she was tracing a design for her next tattoo. A punk mixtape was playing on the boombox. Interesting art dotted the walls. We chatted for fifteen minutes before I even ordered. Giulietta has stories. She knows alot of people. A casual comment on something hanging on the walls can become a twenty minute conversation--which is exactly why this place is different. She's the really cool indie friend you always wanted but didnt want to go to the mission to meet.
Trouble CoffeeTrouble CoffeeTrouble CoffeeTrouble CoffeeTrouble CoffeeTrouble CoffeeTrouble CoffeeTrouble CoffeeTrouble CoffeeTrouble Coffee
The coffee is roasted for the shop by a friend of Giulietta. The toast is delicious. And the best part? She sells her beans for $10 a pound. Face it--you have no excuse not to go. A beach/GG Park trip riding on a Trouble caffiene buzz is the only way to spend your day off. (And the shops "open source" art policy means you can leave your mark there too...as long as it looks good.)

Trouble Coffee
4033 Judah St(between 45th Ave & 46th Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94122
Closed Sundays.
Trouble Coffee


Plate Up: FOIE Late 9/07

Between seasons. Nothing drives me more crazy than being between seasons.
Working in a local, seasonally driven restaurant is great--I get to use the most amazing ingredients, and its great actually knowing the people that grow your food. But its not without its quirks. For starters, say you're ordering gorgeous, FULLY ripe, organic tomatoes from a very, very small family farm. You're selling thirty orders a night of said tomatoes. Then, very suddenly, they're gone. All he can offer you are under-ripe apples, or some boutique vegetable the farmer grows as a cover crop.

This can make things interesting. Especially when you go to make a particular sauce, and realize the produce you had been using has suddenly gone south, or isn't available at all.

When we started working on this new set-up, we had a few options available. The apples I had been using were nice, but boredom (and synerysis in my apple puree) started to get the better of me. I had recently picked up some great hibiscus, but integrating that component was going to require a bit of trial and error. A few months back we had discussed a spiced french toast to go with the foie gras...and having a flat of beautiful, almost gushing Frog Hollow pears on hand, we went with the following:

This time we're using this rectangle plate. It has these weird little handles on either end.

The sauce is pear/cardomom. The pears we're using are comice.
9 Pears, peeled, diced
120g Plugra butter
10 Cardomom pods
Lightly brown butter with cardomom.
Add pears, satee until soft.
Remove pods, puree and sieve. This recipe is simple, and almost bulletproof. The grit of the pears really comes through.

Add grated tonka bean and minus 8 vinegar...the vinegar is an agar fluid gel.

The foie is cut into a bar. Pear is minced to order (skin on) and quenelled. The bar cut can be a pain in the ass at pick-up, but is visually striking. Thanks Corey Lee.

French toast is added. There's no sugar in the batter.
4 Farm eggs
1.5 Cups Whole Milk
1 Tonka Bean, Grated
1 Cardomom Pod, Grated
Whisk, strain, and keep chilled. We cut the brioche into a cylinder, and give it a two minute soak. It gets sauteed in butter on low heat, and finished in the oven.

I got this maple powder from the guys at Le Sanctuaire recently. I sieved it and it became really fluffy. Its adds a nice, complex raw sugar texture.

Micro basil is the final garnish.

Admittedly, I hated this plate-up when we started it...then it started to sell. Even now, the dish continues to evolve.