Commercial of the Week — Racial Stereotype Edition

March 28, 2008

We’ve already brought you one politically incorrect video, featuring the Frito Bandito, but this one for Jello may top it. It really amazes me how completely unacceptable some of these old commercials would be today. I’d like to think that we are, as a society, evolving.


Serve Your Own Beer Bar Coming to NC Soon?

March 26, 2008

beer.jpgI just read this article about a bar in Atlanta that has two beer taps at each table and the customers serve themselves. The taps have a meter that monitors how many ounces have been served. When it hits 180 ounces, the waitstaff must come and check on the table to make sure they’re not too drunk. If not, they get another 180 ounces! Apparently, this system reduces labor costs and the restaurant is able to charge for every drop of beer — by the ounce, of course.

What really caught my eye is the paragraph towards the end of the story where the inventor of the system said that he’s obtained approval in North Carolina. Cool! The big question is whether it’ll show up in Raleigh or Charlotte first. Who knows, maybe it’ll be Chapel Hill!


My Favorite Cereal Box Prize Ever

March 26, 2008

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I am a child of the 60s and 70s, in in those days, I ate cereal. Lots and lots of cereal. I actually remember eating an entire box of Apple Jacks in one sitting, and the roof of my mouth took a couple of days to heal.

I also loved the concept of Quisp and Quake cereals. If you don’t recall, these were two highly sweetened cereals made by Quaker Oats, and Quisp was some sort of alien and Quake was some sort of muscle man who carried a big sledgehammer (he later became a cowboy for some reason). I ate them both, but I really liked Quisp (Quake was too much like Cap’n Crunch). And I really loved the toys that Quisp offered. Read the rest of this entry »


Poached Eggs Make the World Go Round

March 25, 2008

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If there’s one thing that I started to eat a lot more of in the past year, it’s poached eggs. And I hardly ever eat them for breakfast — they’re a mainstay in my dinner repertoire. Tonight I made a simple pasta of garlic, olive oil, sea salt, a touch of truffle oil (yeah, I still use it on occasion), bread crumbs and pepper. I topped it off with two poached eggs and parmesan. The runny egg yolks made a super sauce, and this was a magnificent dish.

I also top a lot of my salads with a poached egg, as once again, the yolk helps pull together a simple vinaigrette.

A dish that I stole from Ashley Christensen is toasted brioche with sauteed wild mushrooms and a poached egg.

With spring asparagus about to appear in farmers market, try a poached egg on top of the spears with some freshly grated pecorino romano.

And when I make huevos rancheros, I actually poach my eggs in the ranchero sauce. It’s fantastic and not that different from the “Eggs in Purgatory” concept, which is eggs poached in spaghetti sauce.

Of course, I haven’t even talked about breakfast dishes. Poached eggs over grits, hash browns, hash or just plain toast. Eggs Benedict. I mean, poached eggs are the alpha and the omega. They’re the best.

It’s so simple to poach an egg. You just need a skillet with an inch or two of simmering water. Add a little salt and a teaspoon or two of vinegar. Crack an egg into a ramekin, and slip the egg into the simmering water. Spoon some water over the top of the egg to cook it all over. Cook for about 3 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon. That’s it.


JK’s Relocating to Lake Boone Trail

March 24, 2008

jkssmall.gifI usually don’t write about steakhouses, because I usually don’t eat at them. I’m making an exception this time around. JK’s Restaurant will be opening at 4025 Lake Boone Trail, which just happens to be next door to my office. They’re moving into a brand new 7300 square foot space in the Market Place on Lake Boone Trail shopping center and will have a huge outdoor patio. They’ll also be serving lunch and will have some sort of butcher shop, too. I never ate at the JK’s in North Hills, but I’m sure I’ll at least have some business lunches here now and then.


Commercial of the Week — Disturbing Icon Edition

March 20, 2008

Straight from the Mickey Rooney Show is this commercial for the Jolly Green Giant. Talk about one of the most frightening characters ever to appear on television, this commercial would scare the bejesus out of me if I were a kid — even more than the canned corn and peas he was trying to push.

And, yes, I think it’s funny that the vertically challenged Rooney has a Giant as a sponsor.


Members Only — Chinese Penile Restaurant

March 18, 2008

members-only.jpgYup, it finally happened: a Chinese restaurant that specializes in serving penises has opened. And when I say they serve penises, I’m not talking about bringing food to that loud-mouthed jerk sitting at the next table. We’re talking about tallywhackers on a plate. Beijing’s Guo-li-zhuang restaurant serves the units of several different types of animals — yak, goat, bull and dog (the only knob with a bone, so the article says). And for a change of pace, you can order testicles, too. I’m not sure if guys named Rod, Dick, Woody or Johnson get a discount or just get uncomfortable.

Anyhow, read the article for a good laugh.

Credit once again goes to Bob Del Grosso for bringing this to my attention, and I felt it was my duty to spread the word about this place.


Cup Pies — The Next Big Food Thing

March 18, 2008

pieweebl.jpgI’m sure they’ve been around for ages, but a coworker of mine recently introduced me to the concept of “Cup Pies.” They’re like cupcakes, but pies instead of cakes. You make some pie crust dough, put it into muffin tins, add your choice of filling, cover with more dough, and bake. Et voila, a self-contained, non-messy, individual pie. It’s a brilliant concept, and having now had a peach and blueberry version, I’m completely hooked. I may abandon the practice of law and open a cup pie bakery.

The idea appears to have come from the show Pushing Daisies and then the gorgeous blog Eggs on Sundays provided a lovely recipe with pictures on an Apple Cup Pie. These things are really quite wonderful.

My colleague says that pies using an uncooked filling don’t work as well, because these things don’t bake very long. Thus, an apple cup pie with crisp granny smiths may require you to pre-cook the apples a bit.

We are in agreement that these would be great for savory pies.

Now that Ashley Christensen has limited her dessert menu to nothing but pies at Poole’s Downtown Diner (that’s a story for another day), I think she needs to start serving a cup pie.

So have any of you made cup pies? I hereby declare today that cup pies are the next big food thing. You’ll see them everywhere by the end of 2008. Let me know when one of you spots one on a dessert menu.


Well Done Pizza Done Well

March 18, 2008

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We all know that you can’t really get a great pizza in the Triangle and Raleigh in particular. You can get a decent one, but nothing like the great New York establishments like Patsy’s or Grimaldi’s, with their ultra-hot coal burning ovens. When I took my family to Grimaldi’s last year, the six of us at five large pies. Were we that gluttonous? Not really. Those pizzas (pizze?) were amazing, with limited amounts of toppings and sauce and a heavenly crust — light, a bit of spring, and charred a bit on the bottom. This is a very light pizza, and we don’t have anything like it around these parts.

Now I could just deal with the reality that I’ll have to eat pretty crummy pizza wherever I go in Raleigh, or I could go the extreme route and cut off the cleaning-cycle lock on my oven to cook my own pies at super-high temperatures like this guy. A friend of mine in Durham did this, and his pizza is clearly the best I’ve had in the Triangle. I need to get invited back! Or I could just change the way I order my pizza at places where they do a decent job. Read the rest of this entry »


Commercial of the Week — Coffee for Sex Edition

March 13, 2008

What is it about coffee that gets men all pissed off with their wives? I mean, I previously highlighted an ad of a man spanking his wife because she chose the wrong coffee, and this time, dear ol’ hubby won’t even give his wife a peck on the cheek because her coffee sucks so bad.

Of course, nothing like Folger’s Instant Coffee to get the libido back in gear.


Chocolate We Should All Embrace

March 12, 2008

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Sure, it’s a marketing gimmick, but I really love the concept of the Brooklyn Brothers’ Fat Pig Chocolate (and I love the little wiggling tail on the website — give it a moment, it’ll move). Admit it, chocolate is decadent. It’s not really good for you, particularly when we eat it in the manner we want to. So let’s embrace our inner swine that craves the divine when we dine and say, “Three Oinks for Fat Pig Chocolate!”

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Smoked Salt

March 10, 2008

smokedsalt.jpgSmoked salt has been around for years, but I’ve really just discovered it over the past 6 months. It’s as simple as it sounds: sea salt that has been smoked — mine was with pecan shells and oak. When you take the lid off the container, it’s as if you’ve walked right into a campfire — it’s pretty powerful stuff.

I’ve sprinkled it on focaccia, added it to some salsas when I didn’t have any smoked chilis, dropped some into a soup or stew, and had it on some eggs. It’s really good on any seared meat or fish. Some people have used it with chocolates, caramels, and even ice cream (I’m sorry, but I’m not really in the mood for a smoky ice cream). If you use it with a light hand, it adds depth to dishes without becoming noticeably smoky or salty. Try it with one of your tomato-based pastas, or even with a cream sauce. It’s delicious.

I got my smoked salt at Whole Foods for about 7 bucks, but there are now many different varieties with different types of wood used for the smoking: alder, apple, mesquite and even oak from chardonnay barrels. Heck, McCormick used to make a hickory smoked salt, but they discontinued the line a couple of years ago (but you can, of course, still get it on eBay).


Bullets + Food = Cool Video

March 10, 2008

I’ve always loved super-slow motion videos, and this one of bullets tearing through various items of food is way cool. Frightening, too, when you see how destructive bullets can be. Ultimately, this is sort of a combination of Letterman dropping items from the top of buildings with Clint Eastwood. Enjoy.


School of Chocolate

March 9, 2008

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My 7-year old daughter, the one who loves to cook, was studying Milton Hershey, founder of Hershey’s chocolate and a great philanthropist. She somehow agreed to build a model of the Hershey School, the history of which I know very little about, but it’s now a cost-free private prep school in Hershey, PA. My daughter had a picture of the original building and was set to build it with her creative mother, when somewhere along the line she came up with the idea to make it out of Hershey’s chocolate. Now that’s a challenge.

Fortunately, my wife’s father is an architect, so he built a cardboard base, and my wife and daughter took over from there. Hershey Bar siding. Roof of Twizzlers licorice (made by Hershey, of course). Windows of the interior of York Peppermint Patties (another Hershey product). Some Hershey’s Cocoa, confectioners sugar and water for glue. I present to you, below the break, the Hershey School in Chocolate. Read the rest of this entry »


Advertisement of the Week — Disturbing Porcine Masochistic Edition

March 7, 2008

OK, I love sausage of all kinds, including saucisson, but I really don’t think this makes me want to break out the grinder to stuff some sausage — or to eat any. Oh, my.

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I only took one year of French in the tenth grade, but my Google translation reads something like, “We eat with pleasure . . . without fatigue! Pure. Food. Absolut. The good sausage of the prodigal pig!”

Prodigal? You betcha.


Disposals in Raleigh Go Down the Drain

March 5, 2008

sink.jpgThe Raleigh City Council unanimously voted yesterday to ban the installation of new or replacement garbage disposals that would be connected to the city’s sewer system.

Wow.

I love my disposals and actually have two sinks with them. I’ve frequently thought about composting, but not being a gardener, I’ve never headed down that path. But now I need to re-think my approach. Especially if either of them die (although they both have lifetime guarantees, but I could only repair, not replace, them under the new ordinance).

I wonder if there will be a black market for disposals, and if you can slip your plumber a little extra money to install one for you on the sly.


Oh, New Orleans!

March 3, 2008

crawfish.jpgNew Orleans, oh, sweet New Orleans. There’s something about this town that whenever I visit, it pulls me closer to its heart, and a very large heart it has. For reasons I really can’t explain, I never visited this iconic city until I was 40, but I’ve now been here nearly half a dozen times in the past few years. I love everything about New Orleans — the people, the food, the music, the art, the architecture. This is a town with a grand and profound soul, and despite the historic tragedies it has had to endure, the setbacks have helped that spirit grow. I can finally say that I “get” New Orleans, its people, and its food. After my first couple of visits, I actually thought that New Orleans was essentially a captive of its own cuisine; that innovation was sacrificed at the expense of traditionalism. That may have been true, and if it were, the people of New Orleans would have just said, “Who gives a damn?” I now understand that attitude, and once I embraced New Orleans’ gastronomic history, I fell in love with the cuisine. I appreciate the freshness of the shrimp in a Johnny’s Po Boy; I know why a Sazerac in the Hotel Monteleone is some heavenly juice, or why simple boiled crawfish is the essence of seafood. And it took a meal of red beans and rice at a friend’s apartment shortly after the devastation of Katrina to help me understand that this is not only the way it is, but it’s the way it’s supposed to be. Simplicity. Honesty. Food of soul and love, and you find it all over town. Read the rest of this entry »


Savoy To Open in North Raleigh

March 2, 2008

A new French restaurant, Savoy, is apparently scheduled to open this coming Saturday in North Raleigh on Lead Mine Road. They’re located in the old Fins space, and their reasonably-priced menu looks fairly promising. Savoy has two chefs, Pete Gibson and Marshall Smith, who are brothers (and their father is a pastry chef, too!), and both of whom have been around the block a bit in the Raleigh dining scene. Gibson previously cooked at the ill-fated Savannah and the underrated Bistro 607 and Smith headed up Michael Dean’s kitchen. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this new place and whether the North Raleigh crowd will support it.


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