My Creations, Places I like

Monday, December 26, 2011

More Gore

"I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you're proud of. If you find that you're not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again."
 ~Benjamin Button

    Alright so I'm a big skier, and its probably the sole reason why I am one of the few people on Earth that actually loves winter. Now I'm not talking Christmas and "the first snowfall" Hallmark type stuff that everyone loves. Don't get me wrong I love all that too, but I'm talkin' gray snow piled up on the side of the road, subzero temperatures that leave a stinging feel deep in your bones. I'm talkin' dead center of winter where most start to go stir crazy with cabin fever. I'm talkin' bundling up to walk down the driveway to grab the mail. I love that stuff, and I think its because I love skiing so damn much. Its a sickness. Day after day, driving up to Gore regardless of the conditions to get a couple hours worth of runs in (I can probably ski blindfolded on that mountain). Your out there with nature, sometimes its soft and you glide atop the snow like your floating, and sometimes its gritty; where "loose granular" and man made snow crunch under your skis. Sometimes its loud with wind whipping down narrow trails and atop the summit, vacationers from Long Island and Jersey scraping around and yelling to keep their group of 15 together on the mountain. Sometimes its eerily quiet, windless and empty late in the day with the sun setting behind the mountains.
    I love being in all of that. Usually I enjoy doing things with people, but skiing is one of the few exceptions where I am completely at ease with others or shredding the slopes alone. Its my sanctuary up there. Some have meditation or long walks, I have mountains to play on. Its a lot like cooking in a way, and I know I've made that same comparison with hiking but its true; there are more comparisons than one would think. Its physical: hours of continuous ware and tear on the body; constantly leaning into hard turns barreling down trails at high speeds. Pushing and digging with poles to traverse along flat ground. All these things will ware you down (especially early on in the season). Its extremely mental: sometimes you can ski down a trail without a thought in the world, but most of the time your scanning for black ice, and novice riders; or plotting your next turn and where it will take you. When you run into moguls you have to think about a path to meander around and sometimes up and over giant mounds of snow. For most people this last one will not apply but its also deeply emotional and spiritual: there are times when I take a long smooth turn just right or pop over a hill straight into a steep downhill and I just burst out laughing. There are no words to describe what I mean, its just a feeling I get when subtle little intricacies of the mountain come together harmoniously in my favor. I don't expect you to know what I mean, because I don't really know what I mean. Its just beautiful.
    A kitchen functions on these very same principles: its physical--on your feet for long hours (often too long), thirsty as hell, running back and forth from the dish station to the line. Chopping, dicing, pounding, lifting, carrying all day long. Its mental--setting up your mise en place and doing all your prep to plan your day and be prepared for the inevitable shit storm coming your way...and your in the eye of it baby! Its also emotional/spiritual--when that shit storm finally arrives and your understaffed and overwhelmed, you want to cry, or curl up in a ball and make it all go away, or flee and never look back. But the highs are so high, taking an extra second to admire a nicely plated dish, or a perfectly executed and cooked piece of meat is a wonderful thing. This post is less about food and more about the crazy parallels I place on the things in my life in attempts to justify and to some extend understand the things that I do and why I do them. 
    That being said, I did eat food today, like always. 
    Lunch: banana and an energy bar.

    Dinner: shredded turkey and gravy on a French baguette with swiss. Not the most elegant looking thing I've ever eaten but after a long day of skiing you just want something that tastes good and will fill ya up, ya know? Not to mention that it was easily as hell to make.

  • can of turkey gravy (no I didn't have time to make my own, it was a spur of the moment type thing)
  • leftover white meat turkey
  • 8 inches of French baguette sliced lengthwise
  • 2 slices swiss cheese
  • dab of mayo 
    Just simmer the gravy in a pot and add the shredded or diced turkey to heat it back up. Stir to incorporate and ladle on top of the baguette with a slotted spoon. Turned out pretty good. Maybe it was because I was starving and even the bread of the lord in church tastes pretty good when your starving. Nonetheless it did the job. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Belly of the Beast Part I

    I was in town yesterday running a few errands and I decided to stop in Price Chopper (our depressingly bad supermarket...someone build a whole foods damn it!) to pick up a few things for dinner. Risotto was fresh on my mind from Wednesday's class so I thought I'd make a batch for the family. "Time to go home and be a family man" I suppose...

The best taunt ever made thanks to Street Fighter
     I had no grocery list, no plan really. I just knew I wanted to make a risotto of some kind. In class we just made a basic risotto with onion, and Parmesan cheese so there wasn't a whole lotta flavor going on there. I walked down the produce isle in ghetto-chopper looking for things to incorporate into my risotto and brussel sprouts caught my eye.
Side Note: The price chopper in town in universally accepted as "ghetto-chopper" because its small, and well....ghetto? I don't know how else to describe it other than its a townie thing (drives away, puts town in rearview). Sorry I'm in a particularly quote-friendly mood today, that last one was from "The Town", great flick. Saw it in theaters with my college bros and after quoting that line from the trailer a million times, we all burst out laughing when Ben Affleck delivered one of the most unintentionally funny lines in movie history. No youu ahh!

    Brussel sprouts, right. Ok, so I grabbed some brussel sprouts and thought to myself, what goes well with these, and immediately bacon came to mind. I didn't want to have "bacon" in my risotto so I decided on pork belly instead and drove home with a smile on my face

"Is that pork belly? ohhhh......"
    I'm sitting in a giant comfy chair in the dark with headphones on listening to "meditation music" on spotify to help channel my inner creativity and all I got so far is pictures of Ben Affleck and the joker... (strokes imaginary kung fu beard)
     I started off by dicing the pork belly and sauteeing till crispy in a little bit of clarified butter (well melted butter really, what you think I have all day to melt butter? I'm a hunter and gatherer for chris'sake, I don't stay put for very long. Ask anyone in my family). Instead of roasting the brussel sprouts right after I deglazed the pan with some white wine then added the sprouts to the liquid. In hindsight I should've deglazed after the sprouts were roasted because the sprouts just kinda simmered and didn't get a good color on them. Damn. Still good though. I put the sprouts and pork on a plate lined with paper towel and set aside while I made the risotto.
    I added the risotto rice (Arborio--a short grain rice with high starch content so it can absorb a ton of liquid..well not an actual ton...shut up, you know what I mean) right into the deglazing liquid so all the pork fat, butter, and pan drippings could get absorbed right into the rice. That's how you build flavors. Final product pictures and actual recipe after the jump.

Monday, December 12, 2011

K-16 aka "The Ex Girlfriend"

    I don't wanna toot my own horn or anything here but I think I created the most accurate analogy ever. The teaching kitchens on campus (not our bakery/restaurants) are responsible for producing the meals for our student meal plan and they include (but are not limited to): cuisines of the Americas--upstairs/downstairs, cuisines of Asia--upstairs/downstairs, cuisines of the Mediterranean (Meds)--upstairs/downstairs, and the infamous K-16 production kitchen. Every kitchen has the potential to be hit or miss depending on whether its open for lunch or dinner, which chef is running the kitchen, what menu they are running that day and a variety of other minute factors like ordering a burger from a kid who is clearly in the weeds, is being bitched out by the chef and looks like he is about to cry or shit himself (there is no way that burger is coming out medium rare, just except it). Typically though, some kitchens operate better than others (Meds has been the gold standard for consistency recently) and those ones are always picked clean, so get there in 30-45 minutes before they even open. No joke. What, you think those braised short ribs are still going to be available by the time they get to your section of the line? forget it. Your eating the vegetarian option today, sucka (not necessarily a bad thing).
    The reality of it all is that your eating food cleaned, prepped, cooked, and plated by STUDENTS. There are times when you will eat something so good you'll momentarily forget where you are (snaps fingers in front of eyes, no response) and there are times...well lets just say that the kid who barely passed fish fabrication is the same kid who prepared your salmon lunch. Even when its bad, its not THAT bad, we're all just spoiled with the best ingredients on a daily basis.
    My favorite kitchen to talk about is K-16--the high production kitchen right next to our main dining hall. Most of the kitchens will push 60-80 plates a day but K-16 is open from breakfast till dinner and they pump out 300-500 plates on any given day. Since they are such a high volume kitchen and move at lightning pace, the quality of the food takes a dip (especially when a new class comes in). The advantage is that they're always open (mostly) and the disadvantage is that the food is lacking a bit. You still with me? Good.
    I came up with the analogy that K-16 is like an ex-girlfriend in that nothing good can come out of going there. You refuse and say you've moved on, but its raining, your drunk, and the Asian, American, and Mediterranean girls (kitchens) are all taken...what's a guy to do, ya know?

students in K-16 plating wraps viewable from the window in the main hallway

DISCLAIMER: I would like to point out at this time that this post is a harmless joke amongst my friends and I. It in no way reflects my real feelings about past relationships or women in general. All the girls in my life both past and present (you know who you are) have helped make me the person I am today. I love you all and hold a special place in my heart for each one of you. Cheers to all the beautiful women in my life.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sympathy For the Devil

"Just call me lucifer
Cause I'm in need of some restraint
So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste"
 ~ Stones
    Today my friend Zeth and I hiked one of the best hikes ever had by man. I did some research the night before, looking on the Catskills hiking website for a good day hike. What we found, was more epic than either of us could have imagined. The day started out sluggish, with me lying in bed a good half hour after my alarm had startled me awake; contemplating if I actually wanted to hike or not (sleeping in ridiculously late on the weekends is always tempting). I texted Zeth, and when he said he still wanted to hike I figured I might as well get up and start movin'. I take a quick shower (one shower = 2 cups of coffee, I'm convinced) and pack a bag full of the following: towel, jersey, windbreaker, phone, emergency portable phone charger + extra batteries, water bottle. I'm out the door by 10am...a tad late seeing as we will have a 1.5 to 2 hour drive ahead of us. 
    On the way we stop at a gas station, and fill up on water, redbull, energy bar, etc. I also ate a cold, dry gas station turkey sandwich...which was as good as those components can possibly be together. We get to the town and after a few moments of second guessing ourselves...and a loopy GPS we find a lady with 3 awesome mountain scaling dogs at the trail head. I ask if we are where we think we are and she laughs (she will be pleasantly surprised in our hiking ability later). The woman asked if we had snow shoes or cliffhanger boots with us to which we reply: "the forecast said nothing about snow". She looks at us like we are absolute beginners even though Zeth was a military scout and I have done a fair share of hikes. We were just a little under prepared, but we decide to roll with it. 
    The mountain is called Twin Mountain, because you guessed it..its a twin...."ANDD ANDD TWINNNS". The best part of the mountain is the section at the top that crosses into "Devil's Path", a grueling 24 mile horizontal trail that goes up and down 4 major peaks. We only had to do a mile of it but the part we did was pretty close to vertical at times. Imagine sections where you have to physically climb up rock sections covered by a frozen waterfall. If you fall back, your brain's fertilizing the land. Naturally we took this part very seriously. When the hard part had ended we bumped into the woman and her 3 dogs (I have no clue how the dogs made it past some of these parts) on their way down. She stops and we chat for a while, mostly about the fact she thought we were going to die (we looked unprepared, but handled the mountain just fine). I mention that we are CIA students and her face turns to a warm smile. Apparently she knows a lot of restaurants in the area and loves CIA students/graduates. She gave us the name of a great restaurant called "Global Palate" and told us to check it out, before we parted our separate ways. Navigating up frozen rivers, through tight spaced corridors we arrive at the top to one of the best views I have ever seen. These pictures don't do the view any justice what so ever. The mountains in the background looked like blue silk! 
Here's a link talking about "Devil's Path", the most difficult trail in the East:

Zeth about to scale the beginning of our "Devil's Path" crossing

A man at the top showing me what lurked in the distance. Cool dude.

The "Silky Way", everything in the distance was a soft blue/white. Looked like silk y'all

The money shot aka my new background
     Come on, that's screen saver quality right there! Remarkable.

Zeth putting on new socks...and killin' it

Cool blue mountain

Zeth in the captain's chair

Your rulers back
    On the way down, the trail takes long, side-winding switchbacks and in one area Zeth spotted something, so we take a detour off the trail a few feet. This is what we found. Man-made thrones of stone. There were a bunch of them, but this was clearly the kings seat because it looked right out into a range of mountains with the sun slowly setting in the distance. Words cant describe the view from this seat. I could spend hrs looking into the distance but it was cold and my battery was dying. We explore a bit before we head back onto the trail and notice its not just a few man-made seats, its a whole stone metropolis. Someone had built rooms with entrance ways, there was a arched area where someone had grilled/cooked with fire.It blew my mind to fathom how people got these stones up this far (this was about a mile hike up from the base of the mt) seeing as how most would take at least 4-6 people to carry and the path was too crazy an steep to drive a vehicle up it. I donno, my mind is completely blown. It was a long day of driving, hiking, climbing a path crafted by the devil, and beaver dams...Oh yeah, we saw a frozen lake plugged up by a huge beaver dam (all the trees in the area were gnawed down)
I miss childhood. Its a cartoon....about beavers. Yup.

(Besides that dry-ass turkey didn't even have cheese)

Power bar at the summit, nothing like it
    I'm not into those uber power bars where your knee deep in chocolate and peanut butter, loaded with sugar, fat, calories, etc because I don't do steroids. Gimme a simple snack with peanuts, honey, an other natural goodies.
  • Courtside Salad to-go: lettuce, craisans, julienne of carrot, shredded cheese, beets, chick peas, spicy Asian-style chicken, balsamic
   No meal swipes on the weekends so you have to get your own groceries or pay at Courtside Cafe (thanks to culinary cash) I was in the mood for a good salad, not a gigantic burger that would knock me out in minutes. Don't be fooled, however, this salad was less a salad and more chicken with veggies and leaves. filled me up right.

    We are about to get slammed this week with finals, midterms and practicals at CIA so this epic hike was the perfect start to a mentally and physically taxing school week. This will probably be my last post for the night but I'll be working on a few drafts I have going so I'll still be here in spirit. Goodnight planet Earth!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Freddy B

    Freddy B aka chef Fredrick Bash is our chef for the class Product Knowledge, for which I have on Thursday mornings at 10 (getting to sleep in till 8 or 9 is glorious). I don't just call him Freddy B because I'm a smart ass or something (I called my 4th grade band teacher "Tony" instead of his last was peeved) that's what he goes by. He has articles  in the weekly school paper: La Papillote that say "by Freddy B", and is even addressed as Freddy B by Tim Ryan, the president of our school. Now that that's outta the way, let me just say that Freddy B is the man. He refers to all of us as "chefs of the future" (although that's not gonna happen for everyone...just sayin') and has a true passion for ingredients that is infectious. Plus the man looks like Steve a T. The only real crime about his class is that it is only one day a week. Even culinary math and food safety are twice a week.
    Each week we talk about something new. Last week was salad greens/cooking greens, and this week was cabbage. Imagine an entire class period dedicated to just cabbage. If you love food the way I do, this ROCKS! I secretly snagged a few photos in class for your viewing pleasure (don't worry it was during down time)
We like to play with our food here



Clearly they're twins....

    One day a few friends and I stayed after class to ask if he had any good restaurant suggestions in the area. We waited in his office, then he came in and chatted with us for a while. Since he commutes from Connecticut everyday he doesn't know tons of places, but he still took the time to write down the places he had been to in the area and liked (Palace Dumpling is on the list).
The list he gave us
    Funny story, Freddy B says if he has a class real early in the morning the next day, he'll call his wife and crash on another chef's couch for the night.

Friday Night Eats: Cinnamon (Tigers Hate This Place)

 Sorry, I had to include this part from the hangover so that the title of this post made sense...mainly. See! Tigers hate Cinnamon, I'm not crazy...mainly.

    This "Friday Night Lights Eats" establishment is a place I have been to before but forgot to get photos/blog about it, which was disappointing because Cinnamon is a really nice Indian place with terrific food. Mom and pop owned Indian places always seem to be the best. I was all set to give up on a Cinnamon post until Jack from "Lost" reminded me to never give up.

    Your right Jack, WE HAVE TO GO BACCCKK. I neeeeeddd photos. Last night Leah, Eric, Brad, Anthony, Zeth, Jackie (last minute addition...reeled her in "reel" good....damn I suck) and I embarked on the epic quest to return to the island but our compasses were acting loopy and directed us to Cinnamon restaurant instead...go figure. Whats a post without a good "lost" joke from time to time, am I right? Sorry I'm not sorry.
    The 7 of us ordered a veggie platter and a meat platter ("I got your meat platter right here" *grabs junk*) for the table and a couple orders of naan (Indian bread, but you already knew that). We sipped some wine, except Jackie shes only 18. She gets carded in church for the blood of the lord....ohhh snap! Underage AND church joke all mixed in one!?!? (jersey ignites, becomes "on fire") Alright alright, time for some food and pictures, you guys don't actually read this stuff do you (except from my mom, she emails me from her Ipad after every post)?
Pronounced "pee-not noy-yer" for effect...
Leah...on the Food Network

Assorted rice and fried veggies
Good quality food > poor quality picture
    This last picture is the rack of lamb dish I ordered last night. I tried looking up a menu online so I could post exactly what was in it, because I'm a food nerd, but alas they don't have a website. That's okay we roll with the punches here. The dish came with grilled mixed veggies of carrots, cauliflower, etc, and a spicy ginger sauce with fresh lemon. I was hoping I wouldn't cut into the lamb and find a dry, overcooked center like some places tend to do but no, perfect medium rare. We all sat for a while an talked shop aka about our kitchen class before we could realize we were the only customers left in the restaurant.
    As a little note, its always nice to be able to eat at a place later at night and not get that feeling they're trying to hurry you out of there to close. I mean I understand its late and you want to go home. I get it. I do the same exact thing as you, and feel the same exact way most of the time when I'm at work, but its your job. People are always scared to go to a restaurant if they're closing soon because they don't want to piss anyone off or get the dreaded "spit in the food" (people don't do that by the way, so don't be afraid to send things back...but don't be an asshole). I too am one of those people, but sometimes you gotta think, who cares if they're closing in 20 minutes?? I'm hungry, and I'm paying for their service until they're no longer required to accept my money. Screw them, its their job. I'll allow comedian Louis C.K. take it from here....goodnight people, and thank you to the family/staff at Cinnamon Indian restaurant for making my group and I feel welcome right up to the last minute. Well be back again soon.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


    Here in America we have tremendous pride in almost everything we do. We like to think we're the best at virtually everything there is to be good at: Basketball, winning the Olympics, making movies, having the best language, breeding celebrities, stealing British musicians, fucking over natives, being underdogs, being the favorites, consuming electricity, going to college, rewarding the wealthy, fighting, defending the world, getting to the moon, conspiracy theories and propaganda, ethics, using PowerPoint, being vegan, depleting resources, driving drunk, nascar, hunting terrorists, being good looking. When it comes to America, we are the best at everything. Our slogan should read: "America...because we're just better than you!" So it comes as no surprise that when we are not the very best at something we just shrug it off and dismiss it as if has no relevance to anything (watch someones facial expression when you bring up soccer). Being less than #1 leaves a bitter taste in our mouth and has no place in society.

"And you guys call yourselves a Super Power"
Congrats America, you are the best!!
    ( In my opinion there is nothing more American than "rocky" and the arcade game "cruisin' USA")

    I mention all this because food used to be one of those bitter subjects. For as long as we have been a country we have been getting our ass handed to us in the cuisine department. When you thought of where the best food came from it used to be standard France and Italy. If anyone tried to mention American food as a legitimate cuisine they were laughed at. I always wanted to extern in Spain (easily becoming the culinary powerhouse of the world) but through time I questioned why? Why not extern somewhere in my own country. Where food is finally starting to matter, and be taken seriously. All jokes aside, our country provides exceptional foods it just took us a while to understand how to use them properly (hey, we haven't been around for 1,000s of years...we're new at this).Obviously you could shoot holes in my argument like Swiss cheese by mentioning anything fast-food, or the tremendous problems are country faces when it comes to processed foods and how the animals are treated, blah blah blah. You can mention those things and you would be totally correct, but I'm talking about real American cuisine. You may not realize it but we've come a long way since meatloaf and tuna casserole (I still love both don't get me wrong). If you search the top restaurants in the world, a decent amount of them reside right here in the US of A
    A few weeks ago my parents were on their way to the city (my friend Keith Egbert has a problem with the fact that "the city" is universally excepted this side of the Mississippi to represent NYC) and stopped by CIA to have a belated birthday dinner with me at one of our campus restaurants--American Bounty. Its all coming together now ya see? I made a reservation a few weeks in advance, and we arrived at American Bounty while the students were till setting up the dining room. Sitting at the bar, over cocktails I tried to break down everything I have done in school up to that point, and how things generally work here at CIA. I tried my best to explain to my parents how everything works from our meal plan, to kitchen class, but for some reason I felt they were a little lost (CIA has a pretty unusual curriculum style, and I talk fast).

"I think I get it...wait...what?"
    This post is getting particularly long so I'll just jump right into the food.

Cage-free Foie Gras from the Hudson Valley (Daily preparation).

    That night they were serving the foie gras atop a warm brioche doughnut and caramelized pear. The dish comes wrapped in brown paper so you know your in for the ol' "bottom of a Chinese takeout bag". I still can remember the smell weeks later. The aroma was intoxicating. And so you take your fork and draw it through the foie gras, scooping up some of the warm doughnut on your way back up to your mouth. I'm eating it, and it just melts in your mouth. Crispy exterior, but warm and fatty was "like buttah". I'm glad this was the first foie gras I tasted because they absolutely did it right. This was sex on a plate.

Seared Sea Scallops and Wide Noodles 
Chanterelles, Leeks, Meyer Lemon Broth
Qupe Marsanne, Santa Ynez Valley, California 

    I have to start out by saying that fresh sea scallops are one of the best things on earth; and I don't mean those petite little bay scallops. I'm talking big, plump, succulent sea scallops, baby. Sea scallops get a bad rap because a lot of people believe most of the time when you order sea scallops at a restaurant what you really get is mystery fish meat or shark meat punched out of its fin? I can't make this stuff up, people actually believe this (my mom included). Allow me to school you on how to know you ordered actual sea scallops. When your working with a real scallop, you will find a small muscle attached to the side where it was connected to the shell. That muscle can be tough and rubbery so it is important to remove it before cooking the scallop. When you order scallops there will be a tiny indent on the side from where that muscle was removed.
    These scallops were delicious (nestling in a sauce composed 90% with butter never hurts) and I thought it was neat that the base of the sauce was a "fish fumet"--a fish stock fortified with white wine and sauteed mushrooms, because that was something I had made THAT DAY in kitchen class. Who knows, maybe my fish fumet was part of this dish, hey a kid can dream, right? Its amazing to me that I'm out to dinner with my parents at a restaurant on campus, eating a dish made with something I made in class that very same day. I donno, its just cool to get to eat the fruits of your labor...
wine pairings with each course so I was feeling riiiiiiiigghhttt


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tourne Girl

    Ahh, where do you start when it comes to tourne girl...first off she has an actual name (Leah) so you don't think she's a weirdo just known as "tourne girl". One day a few of my comrads and I were sitting down to a nice dinner from K-16 (main production kitchen) in Farquharsen--the main dining hall on campus known simply as "farq". We all are sitting there, me still being in total awe of what I get to eat everyday even though it was a product of K-16 (you'll know what I mean when you read "the ex-girlfriend") when Leah comes and sits down at our table with us. It was only the 2nd week and up to that point I had only known her as my server in East Wing dining hall during orientation, but she knew some of the people at my table. The topic of "tourneing" came up and from there the legend of "tourne girl" was born.
    Many of you are probably asking yourselves, "but Pete, I do not even know what a tourne is? What does it all mean?!?" Well let me hit you with some knowledge. A tourne by definition is a 7 equally sided vegetable cut that yields a garnish looking very similar to a football, as shown below.

Mine don't look like this...
    These deceptively difficult little demons got introduced into our conversation (always animated and outlandishly inappropriate) and I made the best decision of my life; which was to inquire how the hell you cut one of these suckers. Leah (sitting next to me) wielding 2 potatoes says "anybody have a knife". Nobody had a paring knife with them (we usually have knives with us at all times...don't F with us), which is the ideal tool for the job. Jokingly, someone sitting at our table said "use a butter knife" and before I knew what was happening, Leah...I'm sorry, "tourne girl" was cutting and trimming part of the potato into what you see above; which is not the actual one she did...that would be creepy if I kept that (polishes off finger prints, returns potato to glass case).

"Call me the bus driver cause I'm takin' ya'll kids to school"
    Each side she slowly carves with the care and precision of a surgeon, and she's doing it with a dull ass butter knife. A few minutes and boom, a football-shaped tourne ("Laces outt") emerges from her crafty artisan hands. Mouths open and wide-eyed (except Eric, hes Asian) we all gawk at what we just witnessed: the birth of "tourne girl".
Me watching in awe...but with a shirt on

    For me, "tourne girl" represents the true magic and inspiration of this school. For me, tourne girl represents a new start. A step in the right direction at a place that pumps out more culinary gods than any other place in the world. A place where you can walk by people in the hallways everyday and say to yourself "they're probably going to be famous one day". "Tourne girl" is not a person, tourne girl is an idea. The idea that after 3 years of struggling to find my footing, my perseverance lead me to a place where people can tourne potatoes with dull butter knives, where culinary legends the likes of Grant Achatz, John Besh, Richard Blais, Anthony Bourdain, David Burke, Michael Chiarello, Michael Symon, Cat Cora, Rocco DiSpirito, Steve Ells, Todd English, Charlie Palmer, and Rick Moonen, all built their culinary foundations and refined their skills. I am walking the same path that giants have walked, and if you cannot get inspired by that then I have to question, what are you doing here?
    I know my posts (especially recently) can get a little lengthy and philosophical, and at times seem less about the actual food. It's important to understand that this blog is not just about food or pretty pictures of it, but everything that goes along with it. To me, food means something and this blog is a vehicle for me to express how I perceive the things around me; while also giving anyone who reads this a tiny glimpse into who I am. The name of this blog is "Food For Thought" after all. I didn't choose the title because I thought it was some clever pun to name a food oriented blog. On that note, don't worry, once I get some pots and pans up here and start progressing through the curriculum, you will see more fascinating photos, stories, recipes of my own, etc.

    Disclaimer: Leah, if you ever happen to read this post which is highly unlikely, I hope I didn't embarrass you, and I also hope you continue to kill it every single day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Friday Night Eats: Palace Dumpling

    For this edition of "Friday Night Lights Eats", I'm bring it all; the bad jokes (we like to have fun here), the facts, the completely 100% biased opinions, the overuse of parenthesis (see: any post ever...), and a few photos...for the kids.
    When that joyous time arrives when you get the "hey, you wanna go to 'buh-dump-ah-dumps?" from a friend you know your in for a solid meal. In fact, it doesn't even have to be a friend, it could be a total stranger who asks you (I don't discriminate here) and you'll still say yes because that's how GOOD this place is (hey kid! Get in, I have dumplings...). We don't just clarify butter here (we do clarify a lot of butter here though) so let me clarify that "buh-dump-ah-dumps is street slang for Palace Dumpling.

    ["Teens and young adults everywhere are hooked on a new drug. The kids are calling it 'dumpies', 'dump-alicious', 'that dump-da-dump-dump-dump', and 'buh-dump-ah-dumps', but we know it as Palace Dumpling. It is a pandemic sweeping the streets and addicting the youth. 60 minutes will continue its investigation, live at 11!"]

Now I have hooked you fo' pwan have woked tu purfection

    Disclaimer: I am not racist by the way. I have Asian friends, and from time to time we poke(mon) fun.

    I looked up some reviews on Yelp to hear what people were saying about P.D. and to my surprise the reviews were overwhelmingly positive. We arrive to a tiny 'mom an pop' establishment tucked away on the end of a shopping plaza next to a take out pizza joint. The inside was a basic setup with a few tables, and white walls with a couple paintings hanging for decoration. Basically it was your run of the mill Asian establishment, churning out legendary dumplings for fractions of a dollar. A dozen dumplings for 6 bucks?? That's a world I want to live for my virgin P.D. experience I ordered pork dumplings with mushrooms and spicy noodle soup. The dumplings were awesome, and the soup, oh my god. If your a fan of heat then this is a soup for you. Not only do they serve it to you in a gigantic bowl (here's your ladle sir) and magma-hot, but they do not skimp on the red chili flakes (and I'm sure a laundry list of other spices). The soup was so hot that by the end everyone at our table had the sniffles like a 1980's board meeting

Hooked on the spicy noodle soup, hombre

    oooo ooo ok ok wait how about this one...

"Jean, cancel my dinner with Evelyn at Dorsia, I'm going to Palace Dumpling with Paul Allen"
    I'm going out on a limb and saying that this is the greatest picture ever taken. If there's one thing you should know about me its this, if I ever get the chance to post something about anything 80s business I am going to do it dammit! Actual pictures after the jump.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Inside Apple Pie from my table
    Once the pork belly an grits from Apple Pie Bakery enters your mind, its not a matter of if you want to Apple Pie to get it, its a matter of how long will the line be once you get there. If this dish is on your mind its impossible to say no. The problem is sometimes Apple Pie can be a can of sardines as discussed in previous posts. I was there earlier today at around 11:30 so it wasn't crowded at all...which is good cause I was itching for the grits (scratches neck, brushes teeth with index finger).

    Apple Pie is not part of the meal plan so you have to either pay your own way or use the greatest gift to man: culinary cash. Exception: Post-extern. When you return from extern you can use your meal swipes at Apple I believe the reason why they do this is because they would be overrun if every student could use swipes there. I know our court side cafe operates under the same principle.

Walk This Way

   Its a nice day (spending it in the library) outside so I figured I would snag a few pics around campus on my walk from Apple Pie Bakery Cafe to Conrad Hilton Library...I ordered the pork belly and grits again for lunch today. "I...GOT...THAT...ITUS!!" some of my friends would say; that's slang for "I'm immobile due to fullness".

Anton Plaza Right outside Roth Hall (main building)

Caterina de Medici, our authentic Italian restaurant on campus. Nice little herb garden out front, except its winter so there's nothing to show.

The last few weeks of the curriculum every culinary student spends 3 weeks in front of the house followed by 3 weeks in back of the house at one of the restaurants on campus. This is the real deal, they are open to the public and booked for weeeeks!  

Crazy sky outside our rec center a few weeks ago

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Its Like Warrrmmmm Apple Pieee Part Deux

    As previously stated, 2 of my favorite meals I've eaten here have come from Apple Pie bakery, and here they are.

duck x four: foie gras mousse, duck confit, crispy duck skin, red onion marmalade, brie cheese on focaccia brushed with duck fat, served with a lima bean side salad with frisee lettuce, red onions, celery & sherry vinaigrette
Don't you just want to live in there?
    Where to start with this one? Everything about this sandwich is brilliant; from the fresh baked focaccia to the crispy duck skin for a nice textural crunch...and tenderly brushing the bottom of the bread with duck fat, WHOO DOES THAT?!?! The biggest surprise, however, was not the sandwich at all. It was the lima bean side salad with Sherry Vinaigrette. It had the taste of a potato salad, but much lighter w/o mayo. Complemented everything so nicely.

crisp house-cured pork belly Stone Milled Carolina grits with cheddar cheese, bacon braised bok choy, fried egg & Sriracha honey sauce

I'd kick a blind lady in the shin for this...good thing I don't have to and can get it any day of the week
    If your what I like to call a "TV dinner style eater" then you are not allowed to eat this meal. Ever. TV dinner style eaters are those who must ensure that each ingredient on their plate remain separate from each other like those compartmentalized TV dinner trays. You know what I mean, protein in one corner, carrots and green veggies in another, potatoes in another. There is a place for it, and its not here. This dish is meant to be mixed up! Poke that runny yolk and let it run rampant like a California wildfire baby!! It may look more like one of those KFC vomit bowls once mixed, but I'm telling you that your doing yourself an injustice if you don't follow the "pork belly shakeup" protocol.

Incest + the roller coaster/chewing tobacco scene from "Sandlot" VS Cindy Crawford in a red dress...that's what we're dealing with here people.

I forgot to mention that these two meals also happened to be consumed on the same day, lunch & dinner. This is how my stomach felt afterward:

Have a goodnight everyone.

Its Like Warrrmmmm Apple Pieee

White bean & Kale soup; strawberry/basil smoothie

Roommate, sorry dude your not my first roommate named Ethan
    I'm just going to come right out and say it...Apple Pie Bakery kills it on a consistent basis. For those of you who don't go here, Apple Pie is a bakery here on campus that's staffed predominantly by baking and pastry students (and a few culinary it looks like), and is open to the public. The place is usually always packed, which makes it inconvenient when you want a grab-n-go coffee before classes on the 4th floor. Since this school has a strict lateness policy you better not be late. I've sprinted up these set of stairs, which are andre the giant sized in business clothes to make it to food safety on time. You ever run up a flight of stairs with a bookbag on?? It's crazy how bat-shit insane it makes you look. With that being said, a friend of mine, and I'm not purposely saying "a friend of mine" instead of their name I just genuinely forgot who told me, but I was told Apple Pie rakes in a cool 4 million a year, easy. This comes at no surprise because as I previously stated, Apple Pie killllls it! Trying to get a table on a graduation day or move-in day (which both occur every 3 weeks) is like trying to get a table at "Dorsia". If you get that reference your my hero....
    I go to Apple Pie all the time to grab a in coffee. Although there are some babes behind the register (Baking and Pastry is like cheerleading--there are very few straight guys who can pull it off, and they clean up). They also offer a savory menu that's off da chain. Two of my favorite eats at CIA so far come from Apple Pie. They're so ridiculously good I'll have to set aside a separate post for those 2 meals.

I Ain't Hear No Bell (Puts Up Dukes)

    You want more? I've been sitting in my computer chair that's not even a comfy executive rollie chair, but standard issue wooden rocking/desk chair (I always think I am going to fall when I lean) for the past 3 hours bringing new material to you Jabronies. Not to mention I'm still in the same clothes I hiked in earlier today (lifts harm, smells armpit, faints).
    I'm just going to cut to the chase and show a bunch of pictures of food I get to eat 'erryday and other miscellaneous things because I'm too tired to blow your minds with philosophical comparisons of mountains and kitchens...

Those baked New Zealand mussels I was talking about

New Zealand lamb

Squid Ink of the best things I have eaten here