I love making reservations online via OpenTable but the other end, however, is where the service has real benefit. "The reservations that pop up on the restaurants’ computer screens, especially those made by regulars, are accompanied by an important tidbit or two." Like a note regarding the regular who brings a woman who's not his wife: "make sure the man’s wife has not booked a separate table for the same day." I've loved OpenTable since it first launched, I'm happy to hear it's really succeeding now.
It's hot outside, which means it's time to start drinking Vietnamese Iced Coffee, or ca phe sua da. If you've never had it before, you're in for a treat. It tastes like drinking melted coffee ice cream! I've got the little coffee brewing cup that I purchased in Saigon, so I need to get to the store today for coffee beans and condensed milk. How had I forgotten about this treat until now?!
Replate: To place unwanted leftovers, typically in a doggie bag, on top of the nearest trash can so they don't go to waste. A website to raise awareness of the concept and the term.
How did ethics become a staple of contemporary food writing? An examination of the many recent food books, such as The Omnivore’s Dilemma, from the Columbia Journalism Review. "Are, then, these debates about the ethics and politics of food largely a pastime of a tiny elite–grist for editors’ dinner parties but of tiny relevance to most consumers, who rush to the nearest market and grab what they need?" Or do they indicate a profound change underway in America around what we grow and consume? [thanks Kathleen!]
Ratatouille isn't the first movie Thomas Keller's been involved with. He advised on Adam Sandler's Spanglish and created this special BLT Fried Egg-and-Cheese Sandwich for the film. It sounds delicious, and apparently is one of Keller's favorite snacks.
Some of the tastiest ingredients are born of tech-minded innovators. Dan Barber in the July Food & Wine examines how farmers are using technology to improve crops through the use of tools like ultrasound, limited genetic modification, and refractometers. Winemakers use refractometers to measure Brix, the sugar content of a fruit or vegetable. Now farmers are checking the Brix of carrots to ensure maximum sweetness before harvest. Sounds like a great blending of the best of modernity with quality-control: no frankenfruit, but also no insistence that the old way is the best way.
There's an interview with Alinea's Grant Achatz in July's Chicago Magazine in which we learn his favorite movie hero is "Mr. Incredible," he drinks several cans of Diet Coke a day, he doesn't sleep much, and most importantly his favorite blogs are: kottke.org, chicagoist.com and megnut.com! Megnut.com!! Can you believe it? I'm flattered and honored, and now I feel like I really should be doing a better job of posting!
Although the story line has its charms, the precisely rendered detail of a professional kitchen will appeal to the food-obsessed. A fascinating look behind the creation of Pixar's upcoming Ratatouille. "The Pixar crew took cooking classes, ate at notable restaurants in Paris and worked alongside Mr. Keller at the French Laundry in Yountville, Calif." Thomas Keller and other chefs also advised on the dishes prepared in the movie, and many of the scenes are based on famous Paris restaurants. I can't wait to see this!
The New York Times has more information on the nonorganic/organic issue with Nonorganic Exceptions Ruffle Enthusiasts of Organic Food. Here's an interesting bit: "John Foraker, chief executive of Annie’s Homegrown, argued that nonorganic annatto was a crucial ingredient in the company’s macaroni and cheese. 'Making orange colored macaroni and cheese is an important element of our offering. Without annatto, our macaroni-and-cheese products would be white.'” So? So your organic mac-n-cheese is white. And your non-organic mac-n-cheese can be day-glo orange like your competitors. I don't buy any of the excuses the industry is trotting out. Not enough organic hops? Grow more organic hops, don't change the rules to allow organic beer to be brewed with nonorganic hops.
Jason and I wandered over to Gramercy Tavern last night for an early dinner. Though we used to eat in the tavern room (the front room where entrees are less expensive and they don't take reservations) every few months, for some reason we hadn't been over there since last fall. Encouraged by Frank Bruni's recent three star re-review, The Constant Comfort of an Old Friend, I was looking forward to our meal. And I wasn't disappointed. I had an excellent appetizer: a soft shell crab accompanied by yellow and green beans, pickled rhubarb, and micro greens. For my main course I had bacon-wrapped trout with lentils. Both were super yummy, especially the crab. Jason had asparagus soup to start and a giant meatball that was filled with oozy cheese. Also super good.
But it wasn't just the food, or the service, or the vibe (which always strikes me as the perfect balance between casual and upscale), it's also the quality for the price. My crab app was $12. I can't think of anyplace else where you can get an appetizer that good, of that quality, prepared with such attention to detail and served in such a setting, for that price. I'm glad we went because it reminded me how much I like eating there. We'll have to return again soon.