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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Deconstructed Food...or, Lazy Chefs

It seems that "deconstructing" a dish has become quite the popular trend.  Apparently this is meant to showcase each ingredient so it can shine on its own.  I was at one of my favorite restaurants recently and came across the following:

Now, although the "deconstructed crab cakes" sound incredible, it occurred to me that it is pretty much the ingredients of a crab cake NOT made into a crab cake.  Even I can do that.  (probably not) 

This culinary "style" was clearly created by a hungover chef with not enough energy to actually make the dish but enough energy to pull the ingredients out of the fridge. 

I do respect, however, still having enough wit in his most-likely-cloudy-from-the-hangover head to scheme us into believing we are experiencing a whole new level of food awareness. Tricky bastard.

To drive the point home, let's take a look at something a little more difficult to make than a crab cake.  Beef Wellington. 

A dish with beef tenderloin covered in a mushroom ragout, wrapped in a delicate puff pastry and baked to a flaky crisp. 

Or, "deconstructed", you get this...

A Filet Mignon with some chips on top.

(This is an actual picture from Yelp of a restaurants version of a deconstructed Beef Wellington. Thank you, Yelp)

Don't get me wrong, I am all for a Filet Mignon and some chips. In fact, I think it looks more appetizing.  But don't half ass my meal and try to pass it off as a sensory experience.  Make me a damn Beef Wellington and for the love of all that is holy, stop coming in hungover.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cooking on TV

I am not a fan of reality shows. Mainly because they typically consist of self-indulging people with a ridiculous sense of entitlement.  However, there is one exception to my ban of reality absurdity.  Reality cooking shows.

My favorite is Top Chef, but I have recently fallen in love with Master Chef as well.  And, although I think the chefs are excessively rude for the ratings, it is a great show.

For a foodie, cooking shows are like porn.  So, thank you, Tom Colicchio, Gordon Ramsey, Jaime Oliver and Masaharu Morimoto for baring it all and bringing us the best of what food has to offer.

(Don't worry...the Top Five Best Things About a Restaurant is still coming. Re-freaking-lax.)


Top Five – Restaurant Particulars (Part 1)

Restaurants serve food.  However, that’s about where the commonalities end.  Lucky for you, I am here to guide you through things you should always look for in a restaurant and the things that should make you want to backhand the owners.

I am going to start with the things that make a restaurant suck because I am in a particularly feisty mood today and this will make me happy.


1. Bathroom Doors
It is hard to believe that in 2012, people still do not wash their hands after using the bathroom.  However, that is the case, and I have personally witnessed it myself as I have looked on with absolute horror and disgust.  (Note: If you are someone that does not wash your hands after using the restroom, I hope this offends you.  Even more, I hope it offends you to the point that you are embarrassed and you start washing your hands. And if that is the case, the rest of the world now thanks you for the staph infections you will no longer be spreading.) 

Therefore, bathrooms that only offer hand dryers in combination with an exit door that has a handle you have to grab in order to open, suck.

I would like to take a minute to scold those restaurants that cannot seem to grasp this simple mathematical equation:

I get it if you want to be “green” and save the planet by not offering paper towels, but what I don’t get is how you can pay so much attention to saving trees that you forget to realize that if the human population is killed of by the bird flu, there will be no one around to give you your eco-friendly trophy.  Just get a door that opens out so I can use my foot to push it open and we will both be happy.

2. Unfriendly Staff
We all have bad days, and serving is a hard job (although, maybe it is just nostalgia, but I remember it being really great way more often than it being really bad).  But you are in a service industry and most people go out to eat to relax and enjoy themselves.  If we wanted to hang out with someone who made it perfectly clear that they were bored and miserable with the task in front of them and had no interest in making eye contact with us, we would stay home and ask our teenagers to serve us dinner. 

So smile, damn it.  And, if not for us, for the simple pleasure that you are manipulating us into giving you a bigger tip with your fake smile. 

3. Quotations on the Menu
I am not sure if you think you are emphasizing a word by putting quotations around a menu item and/or its description, but you are actually scaring the hell out of us as we wonder if the “Juicy” Steak you are offering is a tender, perfectly cooked piece of meat, or a piece of meat that has been marinated in Kool-Aid. Cause I gotta tell you, if that is the lack of attention you are putting out there, it makes me think it could go either way. Quick writing lesson:

quotation: noun one of the marks used to indicate the beginning and end of a quotation...

underline: noun, verb (used with object) ...2. to indicate the importance of...

4. Food Auctioning
Remember how I gave you my order? And… remember how you wrote it down? Then, why, oh why, are you holding my food while you ask everyone at the table who ordered it? 

Serving Tip: When you write your orders down, write them in the same order for each of your tables. When you pick up the food, refer to previously mentioned written order and distribute appropriately.

If, and only if, you are helping a fellow server by bringing an order to one of their tables, you are excused from the mayhem you are causing.

5. Temperature Challenged Chefs
Two things;

a) If you are going to have your wait staff ask me how I would like my steak cooked, at least attempt to oblige. I have never ordered a steak over medium, yet I have had many well-done steaks served to me. And, while we are on the subject, well-done is the end of the line. “Jerky-done” is not its successor. 

b) Please don’t microwave my food. If I wanted my meal prepared Hot Pocket style, I would have ordered a Hot Pocket.

Well, I think that is enough for today. I can only offer so much awesomeness in one sitting.

And, you are welcome for giving you something to look forward to. (THE GOOD, folks. Pay attention.)