Monday, May 24, 2010

Eating Out The Mysteries of Asia

Happy Monday intrepid readers! My weekend didn’t turn out anything like I expected it to. I somehow got the idea that I had a ton of stuff lined up and couldn’t for the life of me remember what a whit of it was. So instead, a bohemian Saturday morning lead to questions about the Korea Market, which I had cased a week or so prior. It’s a cute little market in the Mission Village shopping center, having moved I’m told from somewhere in the wicked North. We’ve been short on a couple ingredients I use for my faux Japanese style meals and some of the culinary tales from friends who’ve been to Korea pretty much cemented an afternoon food safari in our itinerary.

Now, I learned the fine art of browsing and bargain hunting from my dear mother. So when I hit a spot for the first time, I’m quite thorough in my snooping and sifting through their capitalist offerings. Like most grocery stores, they also have a small selection of cooking implements, appliances and curios. My two favorites were the oodles of pink salt bricks and hunks for display and plating purposes and the little electric tableside hibachis. Not to mention a fair selection of Korean language movies and shows if that’s up your alley.

But we’re here for food baby! And it’s a wide and weird selection. Absolute tons of red chili paste and powders, a nicely varied selection of rice and noodles, fresh and frozen fish (anchovytastic!). Sauces, oils, lotions, potions, you name it. And dumplings! Frying dumplings, steaming dumplings, boiling dumplings, precooked dumplings…I’m about to have a dumplegasm! Terrestrial meats are more limited, mostly in nicely pre-shaved shabu shabu style beef and pork, or some gorgeous looking unsmoked pork belly, lookin all sexy like a fat slab of unsliced bacon. I refrained from rubbing it up and down my gut like an obese Roman gladiator scraping scented olive oils from my rippling Americanness as to avoid an international incident.

Ultimately we settled on some (from left) shabu shabu beef, fresh Korean ramen soups, chili sambal, ginger, rice vinegar, fresh homemade kim chee, spicy seafood flavor ramen, cooking sake, Korean red pepper paste, dry udon noodles, more ramen, spicy curry mix, a wee gift bottle of soy sauce given to us by the owner and a bag of the infamous shrimp chips. All for the tune of about $40, most of which was the shabu shabu beef at $10 per pound. And such wonderful service! I’m guessing the owner assumed we had no idea what we were buying but were afraid of it all, since he glowingly extolled the healthful virtues of our purchases and ensured us that all our products lacked the demonic MSG. Poor guy didn’t know that as a smoker, I could care less…never mind the fact that as a kid Accent (the US brand name for MSG) held a prominent spot in our spice rack. Still, it’s nice to know our culinary choices were a silver bullet for the grim reaper right?

So we trundle home with our goodies and begin to ponder how to turn them into something resembling a meal. We’ve still got some dumplings in the freezer, so gyoza sauce is a must. But we’ve got all these noodly things crying out to be consumed! So the round-eye improvised hot-pot shall be birthed! We’ve got the fresh ramen, some great mushrooms from Sun Smiling, sexily thin beef and tons of seasonings. I think we can make this work!

First course is the ramen hotpot of doom!

2 packs fresh Korean ramen noodle soup
5 cups water
½ lb shabu shabu style beef
1/8th lb oyster mushrooms sliced
1/8th lb shitake mushrooms sliced
1/8th lb enotaki mushrooms sliced
1 bulb baby garlic minced
1 baby shallot minced
2 med carrots shredded
1 cup fresh kim chee

Directions for the ramen indicate to bring 5 cups of water to a boil (2 ½ per package) and add in the noodles, soup base and veggie pack and cook for about 4 minutes. Add in the sliced mushrooms along with the soup packets at the beginning and bring back to a boil. If things appear a little dry, you can cheat in some beef broth and a little of the red chili paste (or powder) we picked up to stretch the soup. Once the noodles are almost perfect, cut the heat and add in your beef slices one by one. Not for any scientific reason, just because it’s awesome to watch them flash cook in the broth. If you’re super confident, you could serve it piping hot from the pot with the beef added right before service, allowing the diner to submerge and finish cooking the beef. But if you’re scared of your beef, do it on the stovetop. To finish, scoop noodles, mushrooms and beef into bowls, then top with a hearty scoop of kim chee with a large pinch of garlic, onion and carrot each to one side of the bowl and top with enough broth to fully cover the noodles. Ta-da! Spicy, sour, salty and mildly beefy! Certainly a variation on ramen I’ve yet to see in a college student cookbook and will totally sue if I see it appear after today.

La de da. De. Da, da-dum-da-dum-DEEE-DAAA Dumplings. I suck at home pasta, so I’m still rocking the frozen, fry in the pan style. Yes, it’s a bit cheesy, but you can suck it. Even stiff necked food anarchists need a quarter pounder once in a while. At least they’re a strange and different convenience food. And so simple! Just heat up some oil in your non-non-stick pan, place the frozen buggers flat side down and fry ‘em until they’re getting golden and crispy on the bottom. Then pour in a couple tablespoons of water and slap a lid on them to allow ‘em to steam for a couple minutes. Pop the top and you’ve got soft topped, golden crunchy bottomed dumplings for you to mow your way through. They’re like an asian pizza roll that are faster, yet slightly more complicated to make. And a million times better! Now we need a dipping sauce. No ranch here buddy, nuh uh! This here calls for Pook’s Patented Pork Pasta Pillow Plunge! Or…as the unimaginative call it:

Gyoza dipping sauce

1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced baby garlic
1 tablespoon minced baby shallot
¼ cup soy sauce
1/8th cup mirin (sweet cooking sake)
1/8th cup rice vinegar
½ teaspoon red chili paste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (yuzu preferred)

Simple! Put it all together into a bowl and wisk a bit to combine the chili paste. Which can also be substituted for any number of flavored oils like sesame or chili oils if you like. Chill for about an hour, overnight isn’t a bad idea either. Amounts are approximated, since it’s really a matter of taste how sweet, salty or sour you prefer your sauce. It’s VERY tweakable, since if you add too much of one thing, you can just add more of the others and wind up with more sauce! It’s a fairly large recipe though. But I have yet to waste any, as the leftovers find their way into a chicken marinade or are just outright destroyed in the dumplingpocalypse that ensued.

So, next time you’re in your ‘hood and notice that there’s a little shop opening up that sells munchies from magical and exotic lands. Stop in and snoop around for a bit. Let your inner food nerd get a little high off the strange sights and smells, a sort of metaphorical “moment behind the backstop” if you will. Shout down the little apple polishing bastard and settle in to something a little more simple. Who would ever think to step up to ramen as a delicious exploration into a nation’s food? Ok, probably Koreans and folks from just about any culture where ramen is actually good. Touche. But to Crackey McCrackerson over here, it was quite the revelation to be delightedly tearing through a dish that in other, lesser preparations, I had gone to bed hungry rather than suffer through.

And kim chee! I dunno who though up letting cabbage layered with chiles, spices and anchovies rot in a jar, but I could kiss that stanky breath’d bastard. It’s got this…farty aroma that you notice well before the spicy garlicky notes. Your first taste, it’s dare food. Could be Fear Factor, could be Iron Chef. But after that first bite I was crazy impressed. As I was chewing the crunchy, sour, salty and spicy affair, I immediately noticed a deep craving for a beer. Goodbye salted nuts! Hello fermented cabbage! And it’s got such a great heat level. Not superomfgwheresthemilk hot. It hits a nice medium heat level (on my scale anyway) without going over the top towards actual pain. It’s scary stuff conceptually. Hell, mine burped at me when we opened the jar! It’s ALIVE! But it’s also hella good!

Kickin’ back with my hot cabbage pickles, my spicy shrimp chips and an ice cold beer, I still have no idea what I was supposed to do this weekend. Fuck it, I got me some kim chee.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Eating Out Where You Live

So, I’m still cooking things n’ stuff. And in doing so, I sometime remember the occasional request for home recipes to attempt and enjoy. I’ve had a good run lately with some new experiments and rehashing some of my old favorites with a sprinkle of wild eyed madness. So, a few recipes of vegetableness for my sod-stalker friends and a few in my usual meatgasm style.

Let’s kick it off with a good ole spring bbq. When you’re digging through your crisper drawer to examine it for the stuff you’ve gotta get to cooking before it turns into some of the wines I had at the T&T of the Tower…well, you’re a lucky little boy when you come up with baby zucchini and some local grown asparagus. Beats the hell out of potato salad and chips as sides for your burgers.

I first learned that asparagus could be grilled at a friend’s wedding. Probably the second best thing to come out of the day. Once I got over my initial hesitation, I discovered that it’s quite easy and delicious even if they’re overdone. Asparagus chips anyone? Feel free to tweak the recipe to your taste, or even add in some different flavors. However you cook it, you’ll be the hero of the grill when you slide these bad boys onto an eager public’s plate.

Grilled Asparagus

1 lb fresh asparagus
½ cup olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8th teaspoon cracked black pepper

Simple stuff. Throw everything into a bowl and toss together. Let it sit for around 10 minutes while you’re fussing with your grill. You know you will be…nobody can leave a fire alone. When you’re satisfied that hot is hot, lay your 'gussies onto the grill. Perpendicularly please, preferably with the fat sides towards the hottest part of the fire. Let ‘em cook until they start to sear and blacken slightly on one side. Tongs are your friend here…flip the narrow, slippery little bastards over and allow that side to color up the same. So long as you’re not cooking over Satan’s self lit farts, they should be perfectly tender on the inside and have none of that water logged mushiness you get from steaming or boiling.

Grilled Zucchini

1lb baby zucchini sliced lengthwise ¼ inch thick (wide and flat cuts)
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8th teaspoon cracked black pepper

Hmmm, look similar? It is! Don’t bother peeling, just knock off the ends of the zukes and slice down the length. Give a toss in the oil and goodies and straight to the grill. These you want to mind a little more on the grill. It’s fine to blacken the skin on the outer cuts, but you only want to get some nice grill marks on the flesh of the veggie. Giving a squeeze with your tongs goes a long way towards telling when they’re done. I like mine to give a bit but taken off before they can get mushy. Usually if they fold in half without crinkling, they’ll be nice and tender.

We also threw down on some hamburgers, since I feel silly pantomiming stalking and killing my plated meal without some form of animal protein present. But I supposed you could substitute with one of them vegetable type patty things formed of beans and whatnot. Philistines. But the burger itself is so simple it doesn’t bear a recipe. I just put some salt and pepper on 80% lean beef patties that I make sure to mash out nice and thin. Too many jackasses think that a 6 inch thick burger is the height of burgerdom. And those same jackasses should have stayed in the special class. If I wanted that much meat in my face, I’d change my sexual orientation. A thin burger has all the beefy taste you could want without having to fist fuck your own face in public. Nothing against people who can actually fist fuck their own faces, but there’s a time and a place for these things and it’s called the internet. Oh yeah, and make sure to toast your buns. Heat wakes up the flavor in those ornamental sesame seeds. Garnish however you like and you’ve got a pretty pimpin backyard meal.

A decidedly non-vegetarian dish would be hot wings. I’ve seen attempts on their side of the fence, but they’re comparatively at the same level of technology as the Real Doll. Cosmetically they’re getting fairly close, but they can’t simulate the meat well enough to fool anyone who likes the real thing. Damn thing tasted like barbeque sauce slathered bread. If it was the doll or the wing, I’ll leave up to your imagination.

The main thing that intimidated me so much about throwing down on my own wings though, was the deep frying. Sure it was easy peasey when I was working one in a restaurant. They’re temperature controlled and have a halon system ready to go if you make that terribly stupid mistake. Plus, it ain’t my house on fire. But doing at home, there’s that risk, the chance that you’ll knock over a pot of 400 degree napalm right onto your cock and…well I think that last one trumps any of the others I was thinking of. But, having a decent electronic thermometer and an asbestos thong now, I was confident enough to give the demon wings a shot.

Hot Wings

2lbs chicken wings (pre split with skin on)
Salt and Pepper
A quart of vegetable oil

The trick here is hot oil and a thick bottomed pot. I prefer 375 degrees. CAREFULLY add your wings to the oil one at a time, keeping an eye on your thermometer in the oil. It’ll blow your mind how quickly and how much a few wings will drop the temperature of your oil. And I like to cook the living hell out of my wings. The old stove can’t really keep the heat up very well, so I was cooking between 10-12 minutes. When you first add them, you’ll want to move them carefully around with your spider (the only tool for hot oil at home) so they don’t stick to the pot or each other. As they’re getting close to done, you’ll notice that they’ll begin to float in the oil. Roll them around if the top side isn’t getting browned properly or hold under the oil with your spider. Once they’re floating and browned all around, take out of the oil and allow to drain and cool for about 3 minutes or they stop hissing at you. Once cool toss in the wing sauce. Don’t know wing sauce? There’s another one that doesn’t need a full recipe format. Take a stick of butter and a bottle of Frank’s Red Hot (or your own homemade hot sauce) and simmer while whisking together. Pour about a half cup over each batch wings in a bowl and toss together. Serve with more wing sauce or a little blue cheese. Not so terrible, just make sure to remember to turn off the heat to your oil before you go diving into wing heaven and collapse into a poultry induced fit of the ‘itis.

And lastly, we come to a strange and wrong food experiment that a sick imagination brought to light. You see, I originally learned to make spaghetti from my father, who is decidedly not Italian. No, no Chef Boyardee crap. But, we lean towards quite a bit of meat and shocking amounts of tomato paste. It wasn’t until my 30’s that I learned that most recipes only call for a couple tablespoons of the stuff, not the whole can or 3. The result being very tasty, but thick enough that you can stand a metal fork in the saucepot without fear of it tipping over. My friends got into the habit of calling it chili spaghetti, which stuck. And so tonight I was looking at making dinner and noticed I still had a ton of home made chili powder left over from taco night and a terrifying insanity seized hold of me. If we call it chili spaghetti, why not take the term to it’s absurd yet literal end? So I did!

Chili Spaghetti

1lb linguini
¾ lb ground beef
¾ lb sweet Italian sausage
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 diced shallot
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 pinch sugar
1 can tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground sage
1 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1/8th cup chili powder (recipe after this one)

You’ll need a decent sized sauce pot for this. First, take your sausage and pinch off some little meatballs. About the diameter of a nickel and start them frying. Give a light dusting of the chili powder and cook until they’ll hold together without mushing into each other. Then crumble the ground beef over the top and add the remaining chili powder and cook well. On the side, toss your tomatoes, spices and shallot into your food processor and beat it all down like it pee’d on your couch during the bbq. Add this to your ground beef and sausage and bring to a light simmer. Simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, during which you should get your pasta water salted and boiling. Add your tomato paste to the sauce and stir it in thoroughly and set to lowest simmer for another 6-8 minutes, or however long it takes for your pasta to cook. Drain the pasta, toss it with a little olive oil, put 'em together and serve. You could garnish with a little cheddar cheese and/or some sour cream if you’re feeling chili-traditional. However, you can blow your chopped onion right out your ass Howard. What’s the matter with you?? Why, I oughta!!!

Ok, ok, breathe…breathe…AUM! AUUUUMMM. All better. I dunno if I should share my chili powder recipe. You friggin onion lovers… But since it does have onion powder in it, I suppose it’ll be ok this time. But only because the onions are tortured to death in an Arizona like industrial blow dryer and then crumbled between uncaring rollers until they’re naught but dust. There’s some other stuff too. Chili’s mostly. I like using my stick blender’s little mini food processor attachment for this. It seems to get a better powder consistency than a full sized food proc.

Chili Powder

6 dried California chiles
4 dried Ancho chiles
3 tablespoons dried ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 tablespoons onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 bay leaf
1 TINY pinch of clove

De-stem and de-seed your dried peppers first. Add your salt and spices to the food processor with a couple of the chiles crumbled into the cup. Spin that up until smooth, then add a couple more chiles. Repeat until everything is spun together in a nice, smooth powder. There will be some flakes of chile remaning, but don’t fret. And DON’T SNIFF IT! We all do it once, totally forgetting that there’s aerosolized dry pepper spray wafting around in there. It’s not habanero, but once this hits your schnoz, you’ll wisely and loudly declare yourself a moron as you wonder if it’s possible to snort milk. And mind you, when you’re not attempting to use this as a crank substitute, it’s actually a very very mild chili powder. You can up the heat by adding in a tablespoon or more of red chile flakes or substituting in a couple hotter dry peppers like some Thai’s or cayennes.

Well that’s that for now. Hope we gave you some fun ideas to try for dinner and maybe have inspired you to do something bizarre like throw a mutant chili recipe over some pasta and call it genius. Don’t be afraid to take some risks. Unlikely combinations can be delicious if you put your own special twist on them. Sorta like Ponch and John, riding their Harley Electra Glides down the 405 of your digestive tract to the San Diego of your butt, smooth and spicy all the way to the border.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Eating Out Ferrous Avians

Well, after a wild romp through the Taste and Toast of the Tower this evening (which I’m secretly hiding away from my forebrain to be regurgitated by my alter ego at and I am beat. No, one little food and wine festival couldn’t put down our intrepidly drunken glutton! There was more! So much more. Somewhere towards the end, there was the 3rd worst Long Island iced tea I’ve ever had in my life. But that bartender might still be banging someone I know from high school, so they avoid being thrown under the blog-bus this time. This time…

So! Why in the hell am I still typing? My reasons are twofold. One ulterior, one posterior. Wait, wouldn’t that be a butt reason? Whatever, I’ll run with it. The reason I’m still making the squawky talk is because Fresno’s own Inner Ear Beat Down Poetry Slam has moved into the single most buzztastic java joint Fresno has ever seen. I’ve had folks literally pouring hot, sticky, molten praise for this place into my ear on a nigh daily basis. I’m on a weekly text message round up to get me out of the Hobbit Hole and shuffle out to drink caffeine and bask in the awesomeness of pure café bliss.

Right. And I should totally let you stick another finger in my butt too. I have been to the mountaintop and it is tastefully lighted in hues of unattainable high school memories. There can be no contemporary coffee joint in this age where words like corporate, gourmet and coffee somehow can all come out in once sentence without the vengeful spirit of a beatnik ripping their soul out of their stinkholes. Right? Well, you were a year ago.

But what’s that? Up in the sky! A police chopper? The CIA? A bronze sculpture that makes you fondly remember Jacko dangling his offspring over a balcony? Ok, yeah, that’s there too. But no! It’s…IRON BIRD! Nuh nuh nuuuuuh! Like a smoldering beacon of awesome come to rest in the unlikely cradle of downtown, snuggled underneath chic art condos and terrifyingly south of Olive. Iron Bird seems at the outset to understand the chaotic currents of ‘No-town and has the short and curly’s to spit in the face of that fickle tempest to create it’s own reality bubble. Like an acid crazed, axe wielding transient, she sits astride a sociological median and rather than beg for change, establishes change and dares your oh-so-expensive Escalade to try to budge them from their concrete island of etherial delights.

Huh? Ok, that allegory got a little out of control. But it’s astounding the comfy and welcome vibe that this place puts off. It might helped that as I was approaching, U could hear the soulful ramble of Fresno’s own Kilroy opening his farewell set. And then I walk up and see that the entire sidewalk has been taped off and there are close to 100 people all seated and enjoying the show, the well lit stage is actually 3d sidewalk colorfully applied to the environment…ok, it was a perfect storm of awesome sent by Poseidon himself to wash away my snarky preconceptions. The final stab in the heart of my Eternal Grump was a quick taste of a friend’s blended mocha. I know what you’re thinking. And fuck you very much for thinking it. This isn’t some lame ass Washingtonian canned milk and coffee syrup frap-crap. This is an honest-to-fire-crotch mocha tossed into a blender with ice. Espresso, chocolate, dairy, ice and violence. Plus the beloved barista (and decent rhyme artist) was such a pimp that he made some chocolate whipped cream as a topper. Straight took me back to the mocha java shake from back in the day. Just needs a little ice cream added to the mix and some burnt coffee beans on top and I’m 15 again ditching school and reading Shadowrun novels in the back of Java Café. And REASONABLE! No fucking way?  It can’t be delicious and reasonable! But, I’m here to say that I got the shakeadiddle and an iced tea and it totaled just over a fiver. Suck on THAT Starfuckers!

I think I mentioned some stuff about poetry earlier too. Mr. Brian Medina said it best for me to paraphrase, this ain’t no Mary Had a Little Lamb jive. It’s also not a venue for failed or failing MCs to throw around tired ass rhymes. Folks at the Beat Down have something to say. Words that resonate and communicate. It’s not just people speaking with or about their feelings. It’s about them tapping into their own vibe and pinging it out amongst the audience, bringing everyone into the same harmony as they speak. Shedding their humanity for a moment and revealing themselves as biological tuning forks, harmonizing us all together into the same key. And for budding poets who might be a bit hesitant to step up in competition, the Inner Ear also hosts the Open Mic Jam at Full Circle Brewery the following Thursday. Oh, did I forget to mention the Slam is a competition? Well, that’s what makes it a slam! 10 poets, 5 bucks a head, $50 to the winner and a hearty handshake to the rest. So how can you go wrong? Coffee poets to the left of me, beer poets to the right! Oh whatever is a poor blogger to do? Get wired one week and hammered the next. Absorbing soulful mouth sounds the whole way through.

Fucking poets, how do they work?


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Eating Out The Food Gestapo

Ohhh, here we go boys and girls. It’s time for the mixed message post. This morning, I done got me an urge to ask the people of the Vineyard Farmer’s Market the burning questions that I made up in hopes that you too, my beloved public, would want to know. And the day started off in the most lovely fashion.

First we stopped off with our friends at Fabiano’s to ask our silly questions. Fun and hilariousness ensued. Next up, we went over to Perfect Edge Sharpening for his take on things. I must say, I was happy to be schooled in some of the subjects I was asking about. For a dude who works with metal, he knows his stuff about the things that it cuts. And so we jumped around. Sun Smiling Farms, Moa’s Farm, VT Iwo Ranches (the Kumquat Lord), the awesome preserves lady and the nursery dudes, all understood that we were there to have a goof and happily played along in the spirit of stupid bloggery, answering what they wished, ignoring what they thought was dumb.

Then the vibe changed. As I sidled over to the KMK Farm’s table and asked if I could give a goofball interview, suddenly things got cold. Like frost burn your Peter Peppers cold. At first I figured, “Hey, folks can be busy and not want to fart around with a jackass.”. I *AM* a jackass afterall. But it slowly got weirder and weirder. Like an outlander in Children of the Cornville. I was waiting for a giant ginger kid to call me out while he was dragging my woman through the market in chains.  Outlander!  We have your woman Outlander!!

So it’s in the midst of my interview with the lovely ladies of Moa’s when the owner/manager/organizer/Lady Master of the Vineyard, Felix happens to pop in with a “So what the hell are you doin’ in my backyard?” vibe. Like somehow I’m a NARC or something. Apparently it was a terrifying debacle when I asked folks how many people they had working their acreage. Like I was somehow a drunken reprobate representative of Child Protective Services hunting for abusers of child labor. KISS MY ASS! I *WAS* child labor. Totally legally to boot. Your folks own the land, it’s part of your chores. City kids take out the garbage, country kids tend the farm.  That's country living.

And the worst part about this sudden, ugly change in attitude is how terribly misperceived my intentions were, by the Organic Powers That Be. I love local produce. I love local farmers. I love that I can meet them personally, develop a passive customer to farmer friendship. That these lovely people recognize me and are happy that I want to wake up early to buy the bounty of their lands and labor. And I want to highlight that the FARMERS themselves were nothing but open and kind. The only ugliness came when the Vineyard owner decided to drop into the middle of the interview and sniff us out just in case we were Dept. of Agriculture/Labor/CIA/FBI/NSA/CSI/NCIS, and when the watercolor lady decided to point out that we appeared to be rabble rousers out to cause strife and trouble in their little community.

Quite the opposite! My intentions this morning were to ask some fun, funny and a couple poignant questions of the grand people who get up at 5am to provide we lucky Fresnans with their goods and services. I myself, beyond being a lame ass food blogger, attend the market to frequently blow between $50 and $100 per visit. In the course of today’s blogging jackassery, I still managed to spend about $85 spread amongst my favorite vendors. And to be honest, I left with $5 still in my pocket that I fully intended to spend as well, leaving me with empty pockets and too many good things to logistically eat before time and biology render them inedible. Why waste so much cash? I’d rather waste my money on local farmers than have grocery store veg going bad just as readily in my crisper.

But this…this is a hard crux for me. You see, short of the cold shoulder threeway, each and every vendor at the Vineyard Farmer’s Market is still my friend. I still want to buy their delicious goods. But. And it’s a BIG but now. A huge part of me doesn’t want to be paying into the “club” or “clique” society that attempted to close ranks with me on the outside. It boggles my mind that there would be such a hostile vibe towards someone who only wants to say good things about the market. It created in me an instant opposing sentiment towards something that I had cherished only minutes before. And strangely, the thing that turned the vibe was someone asking questions in a light hearted and friendly way, so as to be able to further promote their goods and maybe be able to add in some interesting tidbits and conversational topics to better help the Fresno food buyer make the decision to wake up early on Saturday and go get some excellent, local, produce.

To everyone that gave us an interview, I pledge that I personally and Eating Out Fresno as a whole shall not say anything defamatory or mean about you or your products. I very much meant what I said at the outset of the interviews. It’s for a goof. I like food. I like you guys and girls. This is for fun. Hell, I don’t even merchandise the site, since I could care two shits less about the half nickel a month I’d get from Gooble. And I will follow through and put together a fun and uplifting post based around your answers. I might even try to highlight some of the stronger points made about issues that are very important to Valley farmers, such as my convoluted and poorly worded question about the uses of the Central California watershed. But I’m sorry to say, that the people you pay for spaces at said market did a bang up job of making me and my wife feel very unwelcome. It wasn’t my intention to write an angry piece. But they put forth a superlative effort to direct me towards being the person they perceived me to be.

Ladies and gentlemen. Business owners and growers. I am but a simple blogger. I have no cause for which I fight, except maybe decent customer service and quality of product. And the growers at the market fight on the same side that I do. They’re outright wonderful. But, you should be aware that some people, by way of their perceived authority can reflect poorly on everyone when they decide to be reactionary and unfriendly. I carry no press card, and I have no authority over anything except this sad little blog. I dress like a scumbag to highlight the fact. I’m a nice, if goofy guy. If you were really terrified that I was there as an undercover sting operation for underage labor…well, I guess I must have that secret government agent look about me. Poor choice in judgment and poor eyesight in spotting a Fed. It’s not like drug enforcement, where they let the undercovers grow their hair long and “imbibe” to gain people’s trust.

Were we an actual news publication, we’d be ethically bound to contact our detractors and get their input on the situation before we go to press. But, I haven’t slept, haven’t had enough beer to make a difference and got piss poor customer service from what serves as the manager of the market. So, as concrete proof that we are neither undercover Bee reporters or agents of any governmental office, we’ll go to press half assed, with the short, but powerful impressions that ruined an otherwise lovely morning.


P.S. For reference, these are the horribly invasive and dangerous questions I was asking.  All answers were optional, and alot of folks felt free to use "No Comment" without any further digging by myself.

1: How many acres do you farm?

2: How many people do you employ?

3: Do you farm organic? Why/why not?

4: What is your favorite produce that you grow? And the Least?

5: What is your most profitable produce?

6: How do you feel about heirlooms vs hybrids vs proprietary Monsanto style copyrights (Frankenfood)?

7: What do you think the best item to eat every day is? And the worst?

8: If you could make beer out of any plant you grow, what beer would it be. What would you name it?

9: Peter peppers…whats your standpoint on pornographic vegetables?

10: Do you think vegans are the new wave of diet fads? Or do you they they’d be delicious to eat, since they’re free range organic long pig?

11: Can I touch your squash?

12: Is it ok if your squash touches me?

13: As a farmer, what is your general stance on the California water situations, vis a vis the projected new dam construction, water being pumped hundreds of miles to other municipalities and 100 year old family trust contracts with the state that give a tiny minority of the state a vast access to it’s yearly watershed?

14: If you had to name 12 people for a Pin Up girls of Fresno Organic Gardening, who would you nominate and how many would be from Sun Smiling?

Terribly dangerous questions aren’t they? Ah well, back to undermining 3rd world regimes for The Man.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Eating Out Vocab Test

There are so many damn weird ass words for food these days that it’s a nightmare to figure out which language to learn, so you can speak the words of food with smartness. Give it up. Latin, French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, on and on and on. So many fucking words for a cut up potato. But sadly, a lot of them do a good job of describing the state and condition of the food item in question, some intimating entire recipes or several combined, just by it’s name.


So, in the short but illustrious history of Eating Out Fresno there have been some high falootin’ kewlinairy turms that have been bandied about that do bear a bit of explanation. We’ve got boil, fry, bake and sauté down. But what in the living fuck is a concasse? Great grandma knows. She called it getting ready for canning season. What jackass called cut ribbons of leaves a chiffonade? Fuck me sideways if I know, but I’ll do my best to tackle these fancy linguistic sudoku puzzles and put them in regular, if overly wordy terms.

Concasse: as in concasse’d tomatoes. This is where you quick boil (blanch) and shock tomatoes that you have scored on the bottom, so that the skin of the fruit will slide off of the flash cooked exterior without cooking the majority of the fruit. Then removing the seeds and stem area. Leaving them ready to chop or puree. (the ACTUAL definition is just to chop up something…stupid language)

Shock: (not the Shocker!  Dirty minds...) When you boil an item and then remove it from the heat and immerse it in ice water to stop the cooking process.

Score: In the case of tomatoes, to make a shallow ‘X’ at the bottom for the skin to peel away from or to otherwise make a shallow cut into the exterior of an ingredient in some form.

Sachet: Bunch of spices and herbs in a teabag or cheesecloth that you figure some magical way of closing (sewing anyone?)

Chevre: Silly French word for goat cheese.

Herbs de whatever: This is always a good one to Gooble. Whichever one it is (5 spice powder, chili powder, herbs de provence, etc) it’s usually pants-easy to make yourself and you might even have most, if not all of the components in your spice rack already.

Chinois, china cap: Fine mesh strainer and something to mash stuff through the mesh. Easily faked in the home kitchen with a decently tough wire strainer and a wooden spoon. If it’s about well strained, clear broth, a wide mesh coffee filter will serve the purpose in a pinch. After all, all they do is throw a cheesecloth into the chinois.

Brunoise: A tiny cube-ish dice. It’s the old trick with an onion or other veg where you make several horizontal cuts, then several vertical, then slice across the grid. Tiny 1/8th inch squares of whatever. At some point I think I’ll actually make a video of how to do it, or at least link a better example of how (

And so there we go! A small handful of words that I had to bug the shit out of people to learn what the hell they really meant and how to achieve the actual reality that they implied. They’re all bloody sonovabitches, that’s for sure. And if there are any more bizarre food words that are puzzling you, send them to me! I promise to learn to the best of my interweb abilities what they actually mean and compile them into a further list of culinary vocab that I’ll wind up drunkenly posting at 3am. Promise!