Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Eating Out the Storm

Happy spring everybody!  April showers bring May flowers!  Or in this case, March monsoons bring big water in June.  Which is a bit of a mixed blessing.  Come summer there should be quite a bit of available water for irrigation, but it's also pushing back people's planting schedules.

Mine included!  I've got nigh on 50+ pepper plants that have survived my inexpert tending that I would absolutely love to get out into some sunshine!  But overall, they're doing fairly well with the $30 lighting setup I cobbled together from some clamp-lights and an old kitty jungle gym.  My only outright failures have been my 2 strains of habanero and my fatalis.  The latter of which is an awful tragedy since I was given a small baggie of dried fatalis that I've been alternately hoarding and slathering in everything I can find.

Like what?  Well Purple Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls for starters!  The sure cure for the early spring congestion and general post-Rogue blahs.  It's moderately spicy broth with fresh veg, egg noodles and nice dense matzo balls.  And so purple you'd think you were cooking with beets! 

Spicy Purple Chicken Matzo Ball Soup

1 lb boneless chicken breast
1 1/2 quarts low sodium chicken broth
2 cups fine egg noodles
2 cups diced purple carrot from Thao Produce
1 cup diced celery
1 shallot minced
1 cup chopped green beans
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 dried fatali chili minced or ground
1 bay leaf
1 serving of matzo ball mix (see below)

Season chicken with a few pinches of the oregano and thyme, salt and pepper to taste and chop into bite sized pieces.  Saute chicken in your soup pot with 1 tablespoon of oil until lightly done.  Remove and reserve chicken.  Add remaining olive oil and all of your vegetables to the pot and saute until shallots are glassy.  Add all of your chicken broth, herbs and chili and bring to a simmer.  Add your matzo dumplings and simmer soup for about 30 miinutes or until your carrots are al dente and your dumplings are plump..  When the matzos have about 6 minutes left, add the chicken and your egg noodles and cook until they're done.   Serve piping hot with some nice hot crusty bread and butter.  And maybe a glass of milk for the less chili-centric in the family.  Tee hee!

Matzo Balls

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large eggs beaten
1/2 cup matzo meal
2 tablespoons broth
pinch of salt

First, mix together everything but the broth, then add the broth and mix until uniform.  Then refrigerate for 15 minutes to allow the meal to hydrate, it'll seem thin when you first put it in, but it'll suck all of that moisture into the matzo meal.  Make into balls about 1 inch in diameter and drop into the simmering soup (or broth)  Cook for 30-40 minutes or until plump and delicious. 

And thats not all.  Fatalis have been finding their way into just about anything and everything I've been making lately.  Including late night munchies.  I deperately wanted a spicy roast beef sandwich last night.  And this was after I had kimchee for dinner!  Oh, I was singing Ring of Fire this morning, but it was totally worth it last night.  It doesn't really call for much of a recipe.  I just took a chopped fatali and sprinkled it all over some deli meat, fried it quickly in butter, threw some provolone on top of some toast and began to chew and sweat.  It was quite lovely.  And painful.  But mostly lovely.

And if this inspires you to try some new chilis but don't have the want or the space to grow your own, there are great online resources for dried exotic chilis and hot sauces made from just about anything you can think of.  Keep the chill off and the flu away with some spicy goodness.  My favorite is The Hot Pepper forums, but if you're looking for something specific, leave a comment and I'll see what I can find. 

Stay dry Fresnoodles!


Friday, March 18, 2011

Eating Out the Rogue Hangover

Post Rogue salutations dear Fresnans!  It's taken almost 5 days before I could finally get a full nights sleep.  Full night meaning almost 12 hours and waking up to a storm blowing into town.  I'm glad that it decided to hold off showing up so everybody had good weather to draw in their crowds.

So to wrap up our Rogue coverage, we stopped in to see Airplayne Jayne's, An Accident Waiting To Happen at the lovely City Arts Gallery.  What a touching show!  I really loved her narrative and it totally drags you into her perspective throught the story's interweaved plots of youth, adventure and facing death.  All I can say is Plain Jayne In Pain is insane!  She pulls this off with style and all while tearing her hair out to keep the Rogue Festival as a whole on the tracks.  She shines under pressure thats for sure.

And of course we had the final two installments of Cap'n Scurvy's Ragnarok Hootenanny Jamboree.  Dear jeebus we had too much show this year.  Not counting musical instruments, we had an entire pickup load of props and costuming.  And with limited Tower parking, load in and load out were frenzied Keystone Cop affairs.  But we pulled her off with something I'd like to call aplomb.  The finale at Diana's Dance Studio was an absolute dream.  We had never worked with them before, but they nailed every light and sound cue, didn't freak out when we covered their nice dance floor in gore and were absolutely awesome about the fact that we turned out an hour and a half show.  The last audience got the full and final iteration of the show and in my opinion the best.  3 months and 3 performances went a long way to putting the final polish on the gags and the blocking.  All of the audiences were great and the last one was standing room only!  Thanks for attending as we pushed the old girl off in her burning viking longship for burial on the seas on comedy.

And big thanks need to go out to everyone who puts on the Rogue Festival!  Without folks like them, small theater companies and hesitant Fresnan artists wouldn't have an affordable way to shake their art-butts.  From the first opening to the final wrap party at Starline, they're working their butts off for free.  And speaking of the wrap party...well honestly it's a bit fuzzy.

See, like any good cast of nutjobs, as soon as we finished the show, we dashed back to the lair to demolish a bottle of Tomintoul 16 year old and a bottle of Hendricks Gin, both direct from the shores of Scotland.  And I'm here to say that it's true, the stuff sent for export is noticeably different.  Not awfully so, but domestic Hendrick's is a wee bit smoother.  And the Tomintoul was hands down the best whiskey I've ever had.  Not just because it represented victoriously finishing a very complex production, but because it was goddamn good!  Smooth, just a tiny hint of smoke, fine flavor of peat lightly drifting through the nose.  I'm ruined for scotch for life.  But it's a mighty fine peak to have reached.

So it's a sloppy stagger towards the wrap party.  On the way, it occurs to me that I've only had a salad all day, so we duck into Livingstone's for a quick bite.  I know, I know, I'm beating the Stone's drum.  But I've been quite curious to be proven wrong on my like for the place.  So we hopped into a booth some friends were already eating at.  We gabbed for about 5 or so minutes before deciding to eat.  About 2 minutes their waitress stops by to check on us, takes our orders immediately, has waters at the table and gets us silverware.  Pretty damn pro considering how faux pas our tripling of her table is.  Our burgers arrive promptly and hot, but oh dear!  My beef nachos has the dreaded pico de gallo I specifically asked not be there!  I politely point out the mistake and she politely apologized and dashed back to the kitchen and brought out a freshly made plate.  Quick too, but then again nachos are a quick dish.  Incidently, they were so awful that I wolfed down near the entire plate.  And I'm digging their salsa.  Not very spicy, but it has a great flavor.

Either way I've got to conclude that Stone's is still a great place for drinks and dinner.  It's not fancy schmancy dining.  It's a nice middleground where shorts aren't a problem, but you can still get a nice piece of fish.  Mistakes will happen, but it's how quickly and pleasantly that they are fixed that resonates with me.  They don't claim perfection, but they will do their best to make the diner happy.

Speaking of happy, wasn't there a wrap party next door?  A raging one given how well I can hear it next door.  So we dash in for our last real chance to rub shoulders with all of the new and old friends who've been insane enough to dance and sing and joke and act for the happy Fresno peoples.  One thing I noticed, performers are horrible audience members!  High off our performances and respective successes, we collectively were out-talking the band's amps.  But it was all a vibe of comraderie and friendship.  Grasping those last moments of fellowship before we have to revert back to our Clark Kentish identities and board the various modes of transport to homes all over the map and Selma.  Awards were given out, though what they were I never heard.  Toasts were made, hugs were spread around and compliments flowed like they came from a busted beer spigot. 

Finally it was time to wrap the wrap.  A final slow trundle through Fresno's art district, following the spoor of some poor drunk who apparently vomited his way home along our very route.  Love you Fresno.  To a final cocktail with the director while gazing at the charred remains of our original script.  It was a  helluva festival.  We saw some great shows, put our own brand of creativity on stage, met and chilled with some fascinating artists.  And it happens every year!  I wonder what next year will bring.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Eating Out A Self Loving Update

Hello again from the midst of Rogue-Booze-Central!  I probably would have chosen BarfingOutFresno, had I known that the pursuit of art would lead to drinking so much damn gin!  I mean, I kinda gave America a mulligan on it due to prohibition, but after chasing phantoms in our own show and severely violating my Hobbit Hole rule to see as many awesome folks shake their ass as possible...I've discovered that it's far easier to grab a wee dram of libation and move on than it is to sit down and grind down comestible components by which to turn into poo.  Shorthand, I've damn near been on a fruit of the grain fast for a week running, short of a pork frenzy on Ash Wednesday.

Speaking of religious observances, you'll be doing pennance if you don't wedge yourself out of your shotgun shack and get your ass down to the Tower for the FINAL FUCKING EVER performance of Cap'n Scurvy's Ragnarok Hootenanny Jamboree!  Times listed in the link or just get to the Million on Friday at 7:00 or eat some acid and try to keep up with the penultimate show at Diana's on Saturday at 8:30, and I can't even describe how much farther it's going to go on that last night before Randy Macho Man Savage puts the final Flying Elbow into the old girl and we set her longboat on fire.

But there's still much more Rogue badassery to badtouch your eyes with!  First off is Katherine Glover's Burning Brothels.  We loved her sass and openness at the Slam.  But Brothels is a much more steady affair.  It's a frank and honest look at the world's oldest profession without a hackneyed message either way.  She shows human respect to her characters and a wry sense of humor throughout, but doesn't bludgeon you to feel one way or the other about her characters.  Which ultimately makes me love them.  Even the bastards who are the essential quasi villians in the show.  The mobster pimp with the heart of gold, competing with the plucky prostitute beauty pageant winner as best characterizations.  And on a venue note:  If the dick behind the bar keeps making drinks in the middle of the show to serve to his one eyed limbing homeless indigent girlfriend during your performance of the show, throw a fucking chair at his head!  (Don't really do that............thats alot of periods..........hopefully enough to establish irony in the legal sense)

And the story goes on.  Archy and Mehitabel both must have experienced many periods, as they have claimed to have led many lives before winding up in the body of a cockroach and pussy cat, respectively.  Archy, portrayed by a sudden spotlight and a resitance to his nature of scuttling away to the darkness and wincing pincering a budding communist in his flowering, post overthrow of the Tsars.  Mehitabel is a bohemian, riding on the coattails of the French enlightenment and the simple excuse of being a selfish artist, whose art is herself....and she's a cat.

The blending of the characters by change of stance and countenance is a bit striking to an inexperianced audience.  And the care and preservation of the turn of the century language can be confusing to those who don't know that well heeled folks of the nineteen'teens chopped nanners into banans, or that the banana peel joke was a real problem during the period of the writing.  And really the best part is in the wrap up after you've delved into Arch and Meh's lives and their dreams.  As the show closes and you get to meet the man behind the nuisance creatures, he lets us know that he's a Canuk reintroducing an American writer back to Americans.

And so, I'm going to get off my ass and read some of Don Marquis articles and reacquaint myself with an American author that may well have paved the cultural way for art and novels that have helped influence me.

Oh yeah, food stuff.  Had snacks at Starline Grill.  They were slammed but my food was hot and they were very gracious about being slammed.  So, all artsy bitchiness aside, they shined pretty well during festival weekend.  They were triple staffed, and I never went thirsy.  So props to Rogue Central and their staff.  Thanks for putting up with our bullshit!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Eating Out Your Rogue Review

High Ho!  Your incredibly hungover blogger here!  Ok shhhhh.  My head is freaking killing me!  I didn't even go out and get sloshed on Fat Tuesday!  Being not-Catholic, I prefer to have a barbeque to really piss off everyone suffering under the arcane culinary laws of the Lentish season.  Don't blame me, God made pork delicious for a reason.

So on to the Rogue!  Sadly, on the food front, I've been running on liquor and hubris.  So there haven't been any real culinary adventures, short of discovering how long a human can run on beer.  The Egyptians seem to have known a thing or two, since I made it through the weekend.

Obviously I got to see two showings of Cap'n Scurvy's Ragnarok Hootenanny Jamboree!  Lord, a matinee audience is a difficult one.  And I'm proud to note that apparently a couple folks didn't read their programs, this ain't your Grandpappy's jamboree!  Although all things told, I hear their respective Grandpappies were WAY cooler.  And I'm told that they'll being showing up to the FINAL, FAREWELL, NEVER EVER EVER TO BE SEEN AGAIN, shows this weekend!  Friday 7:00pm @ Million Club and Saturday 8:30pm
@ Diana's Dance Studio.  Catch it before your girlfriend gives it to you!

On to Baba Brinkman, the thinking man's rapper with Rapconteur.  Beyond that he's rhyming through a recently broken leg (who the hell goes snowboarding before Rogue??), he's also giving his audiences a primer in the epic sagas of yore.  I know that my superlative use of suffixes may dazzle you, but you may be shocked to find out I have little foundation in the Classics.  And even a slope browed yokel has to bray that Baba was able to make a couple semesters worth of English Lit goddamn entertaining and maintained a strong rhyme narrative throughout.  If you're a fan of nerdcore hiphop or just enjoy books, this show will be right up your alley.

Next up on our evening was getting to see the updated version of a show we've already reviewed.  Carolann Valentino's Burnt at the Steak-Prime Cuts.  If you enjoyed the show last year, it's certainly worth a rewatch, just to enjoy the musical bits and keep an eye out for the added skits and characters.  It's not totally reimagined, but she shows even more polish and comfort with her roles.  For a fellow kitchen refugee, her show reminds me of every weeping server and belaguered front of house staffer I've ever worked with in some fashion.  Though I find it fun trying to imagine my old head cook as a swaggering cat from New Jersey.

And last up for our still available Rogue performances and certainly the closest to my wicked heart.  He's a Monk from the Motor City.  Honorary Fresnan and frankly a bigger advocate for our town than the Chamber of Commerce, the only fan of Cooking With Pook, every week, Wendesdays 4-6pm on, The Reverend Nuge!!!  He's a huge Kid Rock fan, and we forgive him for that.  Mostly because he chooses to emulate the rap-rocker in a most agreeable liquor-ish way that you must attend to show to see....hint hint.  And there's also a pretty badass show to see.  Well, badass is more the theme.  He focuses on all the things that we look back on over time and wish we had the foresight to come up with that zinger or that deep comment, rather than whatever regretable comment escaped our jaws.  It's a hellaciously fun show that can make you think some deep shit without hurting your brain too hard.  The Jim Beam does alot to soften the blow.  So go see all these fuckers!

The wrap up is circling about the most excellent night we got to have at the Iron Bird Cafe last night for the Beat Down vs Rogue Festival Poetry Slam.  Again, missed out on food, but had a mocha that made me remember why I became a coffee snob.  They do shit right there.  But so apparently did the Slam, because the entire front of the place was wall to wall people.  It's a good thing I was there to film, because I was shit outta luck for chair space.  And that makes me feel a little more happy about Fresno.  It's nice to see a good scene crowded with good people out to have some fun and rock some art.

And rock they did.  DJ Smack Jilly was driving everyone fucking mad by picking some of the fattest grooves to intro the poets.  They HAD to be good, because we all wanted more James Brown, Cypress Hill, LL Cool J (yeah, I said it) and every damn track!  But throw down they did!  On the Beatdown Team, Michael Domin'Q'ez layered out his hot saucy love for pizza, David Nixon got deep on bugs and growing up with adopted siblings, Rain owned her body and her mind, Christa Rose Unger sang soulfully of rhyme and Scurvy demanded that you kill your TV, overthrow your fatcat overlords and make a world where not reading books is a crime!  Fresno brought some strength!

Now it's down to the out of towners, burnt and crispy from their weekend openings, sleeping in cages and being fed gruel by their terribad Fresno hosts!  (I totally kid, all the Rogue performers have raved about their billets...under pain of DEATH!)  And so, Barry Smith (edit: I'm wrong it was Kurt Fizpatrick) gives us an insight into a first date...where she tells him that she has a yeast infection...and whom she got it from.  Baking bread my friends, baking bread.  Next up is Tommy Nugent (The Rev) and he riffs on his them of "Wish I hads" and leads us on a tale of her border guard brother talking shit about being a performance artist and Nuge's fantastic rebuttal that we all should take note of for use against asshole relatives.  And Baba....dear Baba Brinkman, who seriously brough the BEAT DOWN to the Slam.  He had a soft open, but wrote his second piece as a roast, while observing all of the performers on the other team and just ripped into some ass.  Celebrity judge Chuck Leonard wasn't even exempt from Baba's razor wire rhymes, comparing the Mayor of the Tower District to Oprah in a rather unflattering light.  That wicked so-and-so even took at few shots at the Ragnarok Hootenanny Jamboree!

And took third, even with a fat goose egg from a certain interweb celebrity that shall remain infamous.  Second went to David Nixon and First place was a throwdown tie between Katherine Glover (of Burning Brothels) and the aforementioned Carolann Valentino!  Both opened up with pieces I'm familiar with.  Kat with Penthouse Letters Read After Being Put Through A Paper Shredder.  And Carolann with a rendtion of Big Fat Daddy, an homage to fat people who love large steaks (right up Fresno's alley).  Second off Katherine has a great tale of feeling bi- in the midst of a preacher giving a breakdown of homosexuality and describing lesbians as never having sex but having extremely successful relationships and her joy at the idea of a never ending slumber party.  Carolann firing back with a rendition of a panty-less British lady singing her well chosen reasons to let the pussycat come out to play.  And it was tie-o-rama!

And so the tie breaker was thrown down!  And I ran out of tape!  And I have a hard time remembering much more about something scant hours ago!  Needless to say, Katherine had another great piece prepared and read, Carolann did an improv riff on how disgusting high rollers act in restaurants and they bloody tied again!  So, kindly enough the owner of the Starline offered to match the top prize and both ladies got to walk away winners, technically making the Rogue Festival double winners of the First Annual Beat Down vs Rogue Festival Poetry Slam.  But props should be given all around.  Every poet brought some awesome and entertaining shit, the crowd was as lovely as anyone could hope for and goddamn that mocha went down good.

Ending the night up at Fulton 55 for a beer and a chance to check out the Licorice Pimps just topped off the night.  The club is AWESOME!  You get a nice cozy cafe sized atmosphere downstairs and upstairs you've got the ultrachill louge of doom!  Plenty of space to sit for a small show and plenty of room for fans for big ones.  And the Pimps were a hella fun band to boot.  Anyone who can cover Gnarles Barkley's Crazy, live on instruments with no canned effects deserves some respect.  They kept us out way past bed time, which I should probably observe at this point.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Eating Out Delicious Technical Failure

Who has two thumbs and just had their hard drive take a dump?  THIS GUY!

And what a perfectly lovely time for it all too with the Rogue Festival kicking off tonight.  But worry not, a sleek Western Digital Caviar Black is rapidly being beamed to me via the worldwide wonderful world of webs.  So we'll still be on track for our undercover culinary plans.  But in the meantime, there are some awesome shows out there to check out after you go straight to Cap'n Scurvy's Ragnarok Hootenanny Jamboree!

Top of the list of course would have to be the American Badass Gone Rogue, where you'll hear the most wonderful stories of true Fresno moments through the eyes of a Motor City maniac.  Next up would be a show close to my foodly heart, Burnt at the Steak.  We reviewed her show last year, but she has assured us that this is an entirely updated show with new characters and stories to tickle the funny bone of any ex-kitchen refugee and restaurant goer as well.  And for the pervert in me, there's Burning Brothels.  Catherine Glover's one woman show about theft, arson, murder and all the exciting wherewithal that comes with prostitution.  Of course, The Godling, the only NC-17 rated show in the entire festival.  And Lies My Father Told Me, the Rogue founder Marcel Nunis is Roguing his own creation!  And it's a brilliant show.

And there's a whole list of great other shows that I'll be doing my best to squeeze in.  Rambo: The Missing Years, Classic Suicide Lounge, Horse Pills and Holy Water, Magical Mystical Fun, Magician Brian Patrick, Songs 4 Pints, Hot Club Surf and of course, Rogue  producer Airplayne Jayne's one woman show that we all hope that she has had the time to finish and memorize before tomorrow.

To the participants all, BREAK A LEG!  And to all of the lovely patrons I say, SEE ONE MORE SHOW!  Have a great festival everybody!