Archive for the ‘Local Chefs’ Category
It’s arguably long overdo. About three years now I’ve been tinkering around in kitchens doing my best to follow a recipe or practice a technique, but like any independent study, without a syllabus to help guide my direction, it’s safe to say that I’ve been all over the place with my culinary exploits.
The salmon burger isn’t exactly the most original idea these days. Most establishments that bill themselves as seafood or above average dining have some variation of a fish burger. My experiences have been lack luster. More often than not, the fish is dry and chewy, the tartar sauce doesn’t add much flavor or completely overwhelms the fish, the bun is too hard. In short: not worth my $15.
But a little while back I had lunch at Michelle Richard’s Central and spotted their tuna burger on the menu. My mind flashed all the failed executions and disappointed burgers I had had up to that point. I hesitated. “How is the tuna burger?” I asked our server. Her eyes rolled into the back of her head, a tiny smile curled her lips pausing just a second longer than she normally would have before saying, ”It’s excellent.” Sold. Have to trust in involuntary reaction like that. The burger was indeed heaven. Soft, buttery brioche buns encasing a delicate and tender tuna pattie with a rich, tangy sauce to complement. My faith was renewed. This little burger would be a new project. But I’d still need to figure out a good recipe.
Nothing like another established French chef exploring American cuisine to point me in the right direction. Did you know Hubert Keller has a PBS show? I didn’t either until one Saturday morning, after my 2nd cup of coffee, 3rd asprin and 1st bowl of cereal, I stumbled on his little show. Nothing fancy, just standard PBS programing, but it took me a few seconds to process what he mentioned he would be cooking that day. Did he say salmon burgers?! I must still be drunk. No effing way.
I really shouldn’t be surprised that a lot of people were a little grossed out by my photos of the butchered heritage hog from Cochon 555. While the post about Cochon focused on the food and the chefs, the gang over at Endless Simmer encouraged me to post some of the more “explicit” photos on their site for all the world to enjoy. I was thrilled that they were as excited as I was about the demonstration, but as I indicated before, reactions were mixed.
Now I can appreciate people not caring to see this part of the cooking process. It’s sometimes a hard truth that something has to die in order for us to enjoy the foods we love and consumer everyday. To feel some note of compassion for the slain animal is normal and healthy. But to me, the more I learn about the animals we eat and their anatomy, the more respect I develop for those ingredients. It’s an animal, not another processed, prepackaged ingredient I get at any grocery store. The steak or chop stops being just some cut of meat, and I can see it as part of a larger picture, as something that has a little story behind where it came from. My appreciation grows the more hands on I can be with the ingredients. And this applies across the board: growing veggies, filleting fish, or seeing first hand where a tenderloin comes from. I love this stuff, I geek out to this stuff, and if it grosses my friends out a little bit, even better.
So I figured I’d throw the whole breakdown out there and let God the Internet sort it out. The following pictures aren’t bloody, there are no guts being thrown around, but if you enjoy the ignorant bliss of not knowing where your favorite piggie parts originate from, this post may not be for you. If however, you’re like me, and would love nothing more than to try your hand at breaking down a whole pig, then by all means enjoy the photos after the jump.
You know, there are days when I question the merits of running a food blog. It’s a time consuming, frustrating, often unappreciated process. Juggling HTML code, photography, cooking and writing can consume a considerable amount of one’s time. Sometimes it’s bit too similar to real job than I’d prefer my hobbies become. This is natural I suppose, especially when you have to turn down a happy hour with friends. But then, once and a while, you have a day like last Sunday. Or more specifically, when Foodbuzz hooks you up with free tickets to check out an event you’d normally wouldn’t be able to afford. So from here on out, when I start balling up my fist and shaking it furiously my computer, I’ll just lean back in my chair, close my eyes and think back to Cochon 555.
Cochon 555 got it’s start down in Atlanta as a benefit to showcase local chef skills, ecofriendly farm raised animals, and to help raise awareness for ICompassion. I was really lucky to have a chance to attend as well as bring a few friends. With a $125 price tag per ticket this was a luxury all of us would probably pass on despite the fact FIVE different top notch DC chefs compete with a whole pig Iron Chef style. Oh and did I mention wine? Well, that’s intentional. After Vintage Virgina I was a bit drained on wine note taking, but I took more issue with the fact that most of the wines were flown in from California. What the fuck?! This fact was made all the more annoying given that I had just spent the entire day before surrounded by 50 local wineries. But this event was all about pig, and by god Cochon 555 did not disappoint on that promise.
Featuring Brian McBride’s team from Blue Duck Tavern, RJ Cooper of Vidalia, Nicholas Stefanelli of Mio, Jamie Leeds from Commonwealth Gastropub and John Manolatos of Cashion’s Eat Place, Cochon 555 very much delivered on showcasing some diverse, local culinary talent.