Monday, April 28, 2008

the ice cream game

It's sort of my new favorite thing to do. At least at 1:30 in the morning when I know I should be sleeping. It's easy. What flavor are you? What flavor are your friends? Are you any of the following: vanilla, meyer lemon, malted vanilla, brandied cherry, rocky road, rose, cookies n cream, honey lavender, pink peppercorn, plum sorbet, coffee chicory, maple walnut, irish stout? Do you get to be a flavor that you like? If you don't like the flavor that you are what does that mean?

Last night was very interesting. Went to Medjool. More later, perhaps. I'm so so so tired.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

where i've been lately

making chocolate cake. like, lots of chocolate cake. meh.
plating. working on consistency of portion size. saucing plates, wiping plates, etc.
hulling flats of strawberries.
crackin eggs. so many eggs. today i found three sets of double-yolked eggs, and i figured maybe my luck was changing, except we make our own luck most of the time anyway.
chopping things-fruits, nuts, chocolate.
i've been spending lots of time in strange kitchens and it's giving me an interesting perspective on the way i've been taught to work/am bring taught to work/whatever.

Monday, April 14, 2008

CH rant

is this why pastry chefs get the shaft? In a long review of Epic Roasthouse the original chowhound poster can only describe the dessert in the most vague terms--a butter cake, with caramel sauce. Apparently the dessert was delicious, and its taste still in the poster's mind days later, which is the goal, right, in preparing delicious desserts, but the level of description brought to the other courses was utterly lacking with respect to the last course.

Dessert. Really not an afterthought for some of us out there.

Searching around for info on the "butter cake" I find it's an almond brown butter cake with toffee sauce and blood orange curd. Their desserts actually seem quite pricy for the number of components on the plate!

What is the contract between sweet chef and sweet eater? Do we owe them better food, more diverse food, something more than warm chocolate cake and vanilla creme brulee? Do they owe us more understanding of the tricks up our sleeves, the various items of our trade, the difference between a sponge cake and a butter cake, a creme brulee and a pot de creme and a panna cotta? When will we get the same level of rapt prose discussing our endeavors as that given to any number of garde manger items, main dishes, etc?

Sunday, April 13, 2008


I've got a lot on my mind. Working on a couple posts, writing-wise, cause I've been doing a lot of reading (and writing) of late. It's been a mostly fun weekend of dancing, beers, running into people randomly in these city streets....which makes me feel like I've been here for some time and know people, which in itself is a strange feeling.

I went back to Hard Knox last night cause I was totally craving some fried chicken, and it was pretty good (not as good as this stuff, but you can't have it all). On my original Hard Knox trip I was so saddened by the excessive use of white pepper in the mashed potatoes, and I think I was tasting a lot of it on the chicken, too. White pepper is just awful in my opinion. Blech. Even a tiny bit will ruin the taste for me. Black pepper, though? Unscrew the cap and pass it over! At Hard Knox you get three pieces of fried chicken and two sides for nine bucks, and this time I went with the mac n cheese and french fries.

There was something about the whole night that made me want to junk it all behind and head off to the south. Hit up Hot Springs, Memphis, Nashville, Tuscaloosa. Drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway and stop to wink at Asheville, again, dip toes in my slow and sultry city of birth, turn around and cruise through dead St. Louis and back to where it all began (improbably): Salina, Kansas and my fried chicken OBSESSION. It was hot and crowded in Hard Knox despite the ceiling fans. The tin shack decor only a simulacra in SF. Despite my longings the fried chicken was really yummy and I'm glad I gave Hard Knox a second try because I can have a little more balanced opinion of it.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

smells like fire

A weekend (more or less) of bbqs and birthdays.

First with work people/new friends. With absolutely tons of food (burgers, chicken, kebabs, chips n salsa n guac, pasta salad, rice n beans) and a delicious enormous birthday cake, a sunny afternoon, lots of beer and good conversation and marshmallow madness.

Then with old friends and wood foraged from John McLaren park and a giant fire in a backyard fire pit.

Sporadic conversation but mostly silence, in the way that things settle between people who have known one another for a long time and have complicated histories. No food except for meat and soda, which I guess is what happens when you let the boy plan the bbq.

This morning we took Jes back to the FPFM for one last trip (kumquats, strawberries, dried kiwi, dried hachiya persimmon) and now she is almost home, and though she admits that California has some nice things I know she is glad to be there.

Friday, April 04, 2008


I am really curious how you can have a "chocolate" flavor of something that tastes absolutely nothing like actual chocolate. This is something I haven't experienced in my life until tonight. Like...

a brownie that tastes nothing like chocolate.
hot fudge that tastes 2% like chocolate.
chocolate ice cream that tastes nothing, but nothing, like chocolate.

See, tonight I went to Maggie Mudd for an enormous banana split brownie sundae with caramel and hot fudge. I shared it with a friend. We got three flavors of ice cream-espresso, pecan praline (which come to think of it had no nuts, hmm) and chocolate. The chocolate was incredibly dark, more the color of chocolate sorbet than actual ice cream. All the ice creams were in general entirely too sweet, which I'd suspected they might be from what I'd had there before. What baffled me most about the whole experience was the utter lack of chocolate flavor of any kind. When I asked the scooper kids what was in the chocolate flavor, they said it was "some kind of chocolate chips and cocoa powder." I'm gonna try to find out, cause it was completely bizarre. Since they do a lot of dairy-free products I'm wondering if they don't use actual chocolate at all in any of their products.

Enough complaining. In the morning one of my best friends ever comes to town. I am going to take her to the farmer's market, because she is a farmer, and I am really curious to hear what her take will be on the FPFM.

the paco jet

is it overrated? is it wonderful? I've had a couple conversations recently about this thing and, for me, I kinda have a hard time respecting it...

At Oleana, Maura had a pacojet because chef Ana saw one on her kitchen tour of WD-50, I think it was, and determined they needed to get one. She used it for sorbet, but spun her ice creams upstairs in the office, in this old and crotchety machine they got from Toscanini's when they first opened.

{this, in itself, is commentary enough on the boston scene...everybody knows everybody else, and they are generally sort of helpful in a noncompetitive, say, when you're deciding to open a bakery, too, why not get information from the owner of the (arguably) most successful bakery in town? the sf scene is, shall we say, different.}

Maura was particular about using the pacojet only for sorbets, but was vague as to the reason why. I next encountered the pacojet on a trail back in September, where I had to re-spin all the ice creams for service and was slightly terrified I'd break the thing.

I do hear that by using a pacojet for ice creams, you've got to change the nature of your base and stabilize the fuck out of it. Which feels intrinsically wrong to me. Not to mention that the cannisters are so damn small (and kinda quenelle-unfriendly, I'd say).

But then that just raises another question. What's the best quantity to produce ice cream in, for a restaurant setting. At Sonsie we'd spin about 6 quarts in some tiny ic maker with a continuous freeze chamber. So all day it'd be spin the ice cream, keep checking on it...bust out other stuff....check the ice cream, spin more ice cream...and by the end of the day we'd have gone through the batch of base. Now we spin probably the same amount, 4-6 quarts I'd say, and that goes into 2 or 3 containers and takes not-very-long to spin. and generally gets used up I'd say in about 2 weeks' time, maybe more. Hard to say.

And that just brings up another question. How does the freezer affect taste? The constant tempering and re-tempering, does it affect the quality of the ice cream? After a week or after a month? I taste all our ice creams fairly often (if not daily) because I'll use any excuse to eat ice cream and I notice sometimes the texture is different to work with/quenelle. But not the taste.

It's sort of hard to meditate on ice cream and not be able to eat some right then and there. {I have, literally, NO FOOD, in my house. like, coffee beans and half a lemon.} Perhaps tomorrow after I look at yet another apartment, I shall take myself to Maggie Mudd.