Friday, July 29, 2005

Today's links

-Via the Daily Olive, 10 ways to improve your cooking: I particularly agree with #2, "Start with the best ingredients."

-Got some spare cash? Buy me the very decadent Burlwood Chocolate Vault. Actually, on second hand, just give me cash.

-Linked by everyone: GQ's 20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die. Surprise, suprise, nothing in Cleveland.

-Aliment composes Definitive Food Film List. Best on the list: Sideways; Worst on the list: Like Water for Chocolate.

-Cooking With Amy explains why she's not participating in the Local Food Challenge in August. Can't say I disagree with her.

-Shall I see you all tomorrow at the casting call for Pirates Of The Caribbean? They're looking for Asians or the hideously ugly. I think I count as either.

-Ever wonder what it was like to eat the official best restaurant in the world? See blogjam eat the Fat Duck.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Foodgoat got another PR pitch to shill pass the word around about something (and I'm not ashamed - baby needs a new web design). But this time it's IRON CHEF AMERICA!

I always enjoyed the Japanese Iron Chef, even the one before the English dubbing. A wacky host! Unappetizing-looking dishes! Weird ingredients from the bottom of the sea! The inevitable girly-girl judge!

Throw in Alton Brown, and an appearance this season by Cleveland's Michael Symon, the only celebrity chef we can confirm is not a CGI character or a actor paid in hooch, and I must love Iron Chef America ... right?

I want to. I really do. I liked it, but I want to love it. So I'm hoping it gets better than the Flay-Lang-chicken episode I saw. I found myself amused and interested when I wanted to be caught up in hilarity and heart-pumping action. Maybe chicken was too boring an ingredient. Maybe barbeque-ing with in Road Runner mode is just too contrary to my slow food philosophy.

Or perhaps they are trying too hard to emulate the original. The melodrama of the original, replicated here (albeit tongue in cheek), feels odd when peopled by down-home Yanks, not unlike the misplaced grandiosity that is Mount Rushmore. Or the drama felt odd because it was feigned: perhaps American chefs don't bring to the arena the same sense of that honor is at stake. They don't seem to carry in the weight of upholding the reputation of one's self, one's family and community. When the judges made some snide critique on Iron Chef America, Flay or Lang merely shrugged; in the Japanese, the chef would droop his head in shame. Winning or losing just seemed to matter more in the original. Hence the battles in the original truly did seem like fierce combat, rather than a picnic sack race. And that's what made it funny: grown people seriously, dramatically, fighting it out over something rather trivial.

Still, I'm optimistic that Iron Chef America will hit its own quirky stride. The promotional videos, for one thing, are a good sign (I'm partial to the catfish one myself); the color commentary of the Alton Brown is another. So I'll keep watching. You never know - maybe Flay will lose a battle and start crying like a baby. And then it will be all worth it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Foodblogging has yielded finally some tangible perks!

Granted, receiving two packages of Hefty's Serve n' Store Everyday Bowls and Plates from a PR firm to review isn't quite the same level of a press pass to Iron Chef America. But we'll take what we can get.

I was all set to do a scathing review ripping yet another overpackaged, wasteful, non-biodegradable product. And they are overpackaged, wasteful, and non-biodegradable.

But, if you were to use disposable tableware for whatever reason, the Hefty Serve 'n Store ones are pretty convenient. They would be splendid for potlucks or hostesses who like to send guests home with some of the food. Construction isn't flimsy, so you can balance them on your knee without danger. They're made of something plasticky, so the watery and oily stays on the side you want to keep the watery and oil.

And the snappy clicky-clicky Interlok thing? Works great. It's actually quite a convenience to just grab another plate instead of looking for a lid that fits, or using plastic wrap or foil that won't stay on and won't let you stack things. Then it goes right into the fridge ... then right into microwave ... then onto table.

The downside of course is that it then goes right into the trash. My review would overflow with love and praise if the Serve 'n Store tableware were only biodegradable, and I could toss it into the compost pile.
What?!? WHAT?!? Nooooo!!!!!!

Foodgoat senses a great disturbance in the force, like a billion chocolate lovers cried out at once, and then silence.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Something always seems to preempt the Cleveland blogger meetups, but I still want to play.

So, the local blogs I don't go two days without reading ... via bloglines of course(which is the blogroll on the left) ... No feed, no read, that's what I say:

Brewed Fresh Daily
Red Wheelbarrow
bald rhetoric
Five Dollar Beer

And in other news ....
-design sponge points us to the strangely unamusing coffee mugs in which the bill of rights disappear
-The Pragmatic Chef wants to try the a new White Castle burger and so do I
-Useful: How to tell good fish from bad
-Not so useful: How to make a gigantic Gummi Bear
-Jimmies? They're sprinkles! SPRINKLES!
-Chubby Hubby finds a new audience for turducken
-The Morning News goes on a rampage over culinary pet peeves

Friday, July 22, 2005

Pod Almighty!

After watching Invasion of the Body Snatchers (which, as it happens, was screened in a Don Siegel Retrospective that very night), I checked the fridge for any unusually large and pointy brussell sprouts and didn't go to sleep until the Emeril show came on the Food Network, at which point waking up as a pod person seemed the preferrable option.

Food, unfortunately, seemed rather under-developed as an alien-o-meter. All we know is that pod people do not eat at restaurants. But I suspect the dispassionate pod people would not lick ice cream cones, follow the smell of bacon, or wax poetic about butter.

I'll know Foodgoat has been replaced when I wave Scharffen-Berger chocolate in front of him and he doesn't a) swoon, or b) descend into gleeful hysterics.

Strawberries are unlikely to root out the human in him, although strawberries always seem to crop up a lot in sci-fi as the emblem of humanity's lost link with nature (I think it comes up in the Firefly episode tonight which we'll all be watching anyway, right?). Is it the succulence, the juiciness, of ripe strawberries? The vibrant color? The fragility of the fruit? The transience, the shortness of its season?

In any case, if you see me screaming on the highway, you'll know the consumption of Kraft Easy Mac and protein drinks has risen to alarming levels, the West Side Market is stocking piles of nutritional supplements, and the pod people have taken over.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Computer Tech Hell

This story isn’t food related but I figured our readers might get a kick out of it…

I work for a large company and our computer core is well known for not being very helpful. We have come to accept it, but what happened here goes well beyond social quirkiness into "what the hell are you thinking?" category.

Background: our lab has 2 Macs (OSX, OS9) that we need to connect to the network. We sent out a request with all the details they need to know.

One week passes (it always takes a week for someone to show up): Tech #1 comes up to look at the Macs and writes down all the information that we already gave to them in the request. No biggie here: most people fail to give important information when they send out a request . Tech #1 (a nice guy) tells us someone will be up soon to get it done.

Another week passes: Tech#2 walks into the lab and asks if we have 2 PCs we need connected to the network.
Me: “PCs? They're Macs.”
Tech#2: “Macs? Oh, I only work on PCs. Let me write down some information and I will tell the Mac guys to come right up.”
Me: “Ok.” (But what I was really thinking was: "Why!!!!!! You should have known they were MACs – we told you in the request and Tech#1 wrote it down, too!!!!")

Now here is where the story changes for quirkiness to WHAT THE HELL?

3 days pass, which leads us to today.
Tech#3: “You have a computer with OS M.. A.. C.. OS 10 you need to install to the network?”
Me: “Yes, we also have another Mac to connect too.”
Tech#3 “They are Macs? Oh…… I only work on PCs.”
Me: (thinking: WTF!?! Why the hell do you think a PC would be running a MAC OS?.?)
Me: I didn’t say anything yet.
Tech#3 : “Well let me get some information. What address is this Mac?”
Me: “IP address?”
Tech#3: “Yeah, that.”
Me: I didn’t have a chance to answer that questions because what I saw confused the hell out of me. Tech #3 was picking up the MAC looking underneath and around the back trying to find the IP address (note: our computers at work do not have a company stickers with this kind of information on it).
Tech#3 “ Oh well, I will send one of the Mac guys up.”
Me: ?.?.?/>/.>%#$>@>@#@>!!<>????????????? How could anyone know so little about computers be in computer tech? No way in hell would I let that person work on my computer.

We'll see what happens next week.

So next time you see some computer tech urban legend about how little we "non-computer people” know about those machines – remember that it flows both ways.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Today's mood

So in lieu of a Foodgoat post, let me point to other worthwhile reading ...

-On Ethnic Food and People of Color
-Cooking For Engineers teaches us about Common Materials of Cookware
-Tigers and Strawberries to squeamish meat eaters: Deal with It, or Eat Vegetables
-Good question: Is meat vegetarian if it doesn't come from an animal?
-Can't disagree with Natural Light making the list of The World’s Worst Beers
-Watch: Starvin’ With Louis
-I honestly don't know what to say about BaconRobots ... Because the only thing better than bacon is a hot animatronic lady to cook it for you(via Iheartbacon, of course)

P.S. If anyone can recommend a good web designer, I've been thinking Foodgoat's way overdue for a makeover.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Ages and ages ago (in blog years ... in actual time it was only a month), I was tagged for a cookbook meme not by one, but two people. I dawdled. I posted about other things. I pushed it from my mind.

Why? Because our cookbook collection is pathetic. My mom has well over 200, an entire bookshelf stuffed to the gills, and what do I have?

For a foodblogger and someone who waits all year in excited anticipation for the used book sale, you'd think I'd have quite the collection, but not even close. I think we have more versions of the Silmarillion than we do cookbooks. And when Canada attacks Cleveland I will barricade myself with Agatha Christie paperbacks.

If I include the cooking magazines, it looks a little better:

Eh. Still embarrassing. Oh well, here goes.

1. Total number of (cook) books I own:
Eight. Sad, isn't it?

I do have a year's worth of Cook's Illustrated, several old Food & Wines and Gourmets and current subscriptions to Saveur and Eating Well. Oh, and a binder of recipes I've copied off other cookbooks and websites.

2. Last (cook) book I bought:
Fabulous Feasts: Medieval Cookery and Ceremony by by Madeleine Pelner Cosman.

3. Last (food) book I read:
Thomas Keller's Bouchon.

4. Five (cook) books that mean a lot to me: Considering that I have so few, you'd think those would be meaningful and well-used. Not so. I hardly look at them.

I might go with the Philippine Cookbook by Reynaldo Alejandro, but in actuality I just end up asking my mom how to make things. I think Foodgoat has only cracked open the Hungarian Cookbook by Susan Derecskey once, to check the authenticity of the chicken paprikash recipe. The fact that we still have the book must mean it's okay.

I love Fruits of the Philippines by Doreen Fernandez, because the photos are gorgeous and I bought it while I was there, but it's not of much practical utility in Cleveland.

I get a lot more mileage out of the magazines. Saveur is lovely and fun to read, though I have yet to try one of their recipes, which tend towards obscure ingredients. But the stories are charming, the photos delicious, and the food inspiring.

Eating Well recipes, on the other hand, get quite the workout. I've tried many of them, almost all of which have turned out well (notable exception:the grilled strawberry chicken ... bleah). I'm not that interested in technique, so the easy, healthy perspective are much more practical.

5. Which 5 people would you most like to see fill this out in their blog?
This meme has been going around for so long I think anyone I name may have already done it. But if I think of anyone, I'll amend it.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Movie Roundup

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory

Because Tim Burton spent six months teaching 200 squirrels to crack hazelnuts, sort them and then load them on to a conveyor belt.

Because it's fun - fun by way of gross overindulgence in candy and chocolate and wicked retribution.

Soylent Green

The year is 2020, the ecology is destroyed, people riot for their food chips ... and it's a long, cheesy ride to the punchline.

But if that's what we reduced to, would we mind so much if we still have New Jersey? A little Ranch-flavored powder can work wonders.

(But just to be on the safe side, buy organic, support sustainable practices, and read Jared Diamond's Collapse.)

Friday, July 15, 2005

Tryout Tuesday: Dominick's Cafe

Hellllo, folks, to the FOODGOAT Cleveland Burgerweight Championships! (*raucous cheers erupt from the crowd!*)

In this corner, we have our current breakout champ, winning the belt just one month ago, blowing away the no-name competition with their juicy burgers and master of a burger-slinger, the one, the only, Stevenson's Bar & Grille!

And in this corner, his challenger, an upstart burger contender that's been building a quite a rep among those who know, the Wickliffe greasy spoon Dominick's Cafe!

Round one! (*ding!)

Dominick's is coming up, and he's looking good by looking bad: the dingy nieghborhood hole in the wall, with just about every seat at the bar taken up. Uh oh, that hook might have gone too far: the clientele are questionable looking kids drinking beers in t-shirts with the sleeves ripped off.

But don't leave yet, folks, the round's just beginning. And look, it's around 6-ish and it looks like Dominick's is changing his tactic: now it's old people coming in! Old people sitting in the tables! To eat! The contender is back!

And now Dominick's makes his big move: Windy burgers with bacon and cheese and onions! Followed by a quick fries and onion rings on the side! And served up in a red plastic basket. The crowd bites! And again! I can't tell what's going on! A buttery bun hits Stevenson's square on the jaw! He's stunned! He looks like he might fall, but ... but no! He's rallying! The meat and bacon are holding! But the onion rings are frozen and Dominick's looks vulnerable now!

And just like that that, it's all over. Dominick's Cafe came close but in the end the reigning Stevenson's squeaks by to maintain his title of Best Cleveland Burger. (*cheering!)

Monday, July 11, 2005

Dear Cheese Lady,

I do not know why you are so cranky. The other day you practically bit off Foodgoat's head for misinterpreting a request for Parmesan cheese as a request for you to cut another slice off the block of Parmigiano-Reggiano. We took the pre-cut slice and ran, ran until we were sure towering demon, aflame with hate, was not bearing down upon us.

Had that been an isolated event, we would understand. Everyone has a bad day. Maybe a rogue had ganked you one too many times. Maybe you too saw Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and its horrendous (though not nearly as nauseating as the ending of Breakfast as Tiffany's) Hollywood ending on TCM. Or perhaps a human foot fell out of sky into your backyard, as it did to my mother's co-worker. Things happen.

But you are always cranky. Every week we buy cheese; every week we quail under your angry glare.

You are the polar opposite of the Bacon Lady, who always jokes around with us, and the Old Vegetable Man, who pretends to charge us $400 for asparagus every week.

Can it be that you do not enjoy your job? Could it possibly be (I shudder to consider it!), that you do not like cheese, one of the great accomplishments of human civilization?

Because if I worked at a cheese stand, if I could try cheeses all the time, if I could share with people my favorite cheddars, bleus, and fetas, and get paid for it ... good Lord, woman, I'd be the freakin' gladdest Pollyanna on the block.

From now on, we will hide until we see you with another poor customer, at which point we will buy the cheese from the Cheese Punk Kids (we've seen them smile) or the Cheese Owner-Guy (who happily talks cheese to us).

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Chicago, There We Were, Part 3

So, Taste of Chicago. After a day of public sculpture viewing, we fell with the herd of hungry masses in a relentless march towards overpriced carnival food, free Bud Light tattoos, and platform divers.

First up, a plate of sweet potato chips from B.J.'s Market & Bakery, fresh out of the fryer. As we sadly neared the last of our chips, a Filipino couple next to us munched away on their own pile of crispy goodness. They stood up, they carried the plate away ... I knew what they were going to do, yet was helpless to stop them! ... and into the trash went a perfectly good, barely touched pile of sweet potato chips. Had that couple been, say, my Uncle Andrew and Auntie Nenette, my response would have been clear: "Wait! I'll eat that if you don't want it!" But I didn't think I could say that to total strangers, even Filipino ones, without looking like a scrounging vagabond. Could I?

No picture of the aforementioned Lou Malnati's pizza, having been scarfed down in just under 3 seconds, but I assure you it was good. Here is the Italian beef from Tuscany. Meat slow cooked to utter tenderness (a baby could eat it), bread wet with juice, and topped with peppers. Two thumbs up.

When Los Dos Laredos runs out of steak burritos, you get steak gordita, which seems to have all the same components of a burrito, except with a large cracker.

Since we were running out of tickets, we downscaled to the taste portions, which only cost 3 tickets, and I think are the better deal anyway, because you get to try more and if you don't like it, you don't have to eat as much. Take the samosa from Arya Bhavan. Good, but just a little bit too far on the spicy side for this crowd, so one was perfect.

Ah, the lemon ice. It was so good, so lemony, we spent the next few days in Chicago trying to find more lemon ice downtown, without luck.

There was a lot I didn't try, the Cajun alligator, the chocolate-covered marshmallow, the pickle on a stick (though I got no regrets on that score). But I did get the free Bud Light temporary tattoo.

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Chicago, There We Were, Part 2

We overheated in the Philippines-like temperatures of the crowded gallery, but at the art exhibit's closing we revelled in the artsy Filipino vibe (although even in this celebration of creavity, we couldn't get away from karaoke). Personally, I think Carol had the best paintings there, but I'm not the only one: her painting (see the red dot?) was of the select few that sold.

Afterwords, we walked over to trendy Bucktown and its latest hot spot, the cafe Hot Chocolate, for dessert.

We split a vanilla milkshake and a hot chocolate; the milkshake was absurdly small, considering the $5 price tag and good, but hardly exceptional quality, and the hot chocolate was absurdly large, considering its extraordinary richness.
The hot chocolate, made with Foodgoat-preferred dark Scharffen-Berger, was so thick, and had such intense chocolate flavor, that it could only be consumed in tiny sips (the first of which is, well, something of a shock). And not even three chocoholics could quite polish it off.

Chicago, There We Were, Part 1

Fine city, that Chicago.

And purty, too.

The first thing to do, aside from snapping touristy pictures of the skyline, is to sample that deep-dish Chicago pizza. And because our family still laments the passing of the Pizzeria Uno chain, we went to the original.

Ahh, deep-dish pizza, my favorite. No thin crust for me! Alas, Pizzeria Uno was a wee bit disappointing. They not only forgot our order (which they took before they even seated us), but the pizza ... eh. The deep-dish we sampled from Lou Malnati's at Taste of Chicago was much better.