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Showing posts from 2010

The Tasting Menu

Dining experiences come in many forms, from the unexpected "taco truck" at the right hour of the night (usually well past midnight and often dangerously close to dawn) to 3 or 4-star (depending on the measurement) restaurants from name-brand chefs. Taco trucks tend to exceed our expectations because one's expectations of quality are tempered in the wee hours. But those other places? They come with certain expectations.

I spend what some could easily call an unconscionable amount of money on food in a year. However, it's been awhile since I'd spent such an amount on a single meal.

The number one slot expense belongs to a meal in Monte Carlo at an Alain Ducasse outpost (Louis XV). It was an unexpected opportunity and I was fine spending what I did knowing it would be unique. Below that, plenty of meals in New York caused me to wince one the bill was tallied along with Hong Kong, Tokyo, and London.

Tonight's meal at Benu took the #2 position.

A 12-course mea…

Whining as a means to an end.

I've always written. In binders and notebooks, on typewriters, and on computers; the latter, for 28 years. And I've always loved food, though I fell in love long before I got to know it well enough. It was probably inevitable that I write about it.

My first blog entry about the "Death of the Martini", while a bit peripheral to the topic of food, encompasses why I started writing in the first place - I saw something I didn't like, I wrote that piece, and then began asking questions. Writing it all down gives me a point of reference, a reminder that something in food is broken in some small way.

At the end, I ask whether there might be a resurgence in cocktail making and, in the three years since I started FoodandWhining, I have discovered that there is indeed a resurgence, a revolution, a revival of "artisanal cocktails". Mind you, not to the point of being able to order a perfect Sazerac in any bar I enter, but I've been surprised by "secret …

Luxury without Impact

In an effort to follow the advice I post here, I purchased a book I referenced only in passing in my blatantly fluffy piece about making clear ice.

"The Frozen Water Trade" by Gavin Weightman is one of those books that opens up a hidden world behind something we take for granted. It's history, entrepreneurship, and struggles against adversity for ice. It covers its collection, distribution, and sale before there were handy machines which would make it in abundance automatically.

I think most people under the age of, say, 50 know that ice was sold in blocks but know very little about beyond that. My grandparents referred to their refrigerator as an "ice box" which I assumed to be a holdover from their modest upbringing and scant education. My assumption was that companies manufactured ice in large quantities and distributed blocks regularly to homes with a box in which to hold it. It turns out, the history of gathering and storing ice goes back much further tha…

Natural Selections and Food Chains

I remember watching "Mutual of Omaha's 'Wild Kingdom'" as a child and how it all seemed so cruel and unfair. A lion would stalk an hours-old, baby of some variation of "deer" and when the parent was even the slightest bit inattentive, the lion would storm in and kill the animal, often under the helpless gaze of the parent. The fact that the prey was cute didn't help the matter. (Cuteness seems biologically designed to amplify sympathy.) Why didn't the film crew step in and stop it? How could they just allow such a brutal death? The reality, which I couldn't understand at the time, was that while one cute baby animal died, a few other cute animals (cubs of the lion) would be fed, along with mom. As an ironic bonus, the parent of the sacrificed animal wouldn't be passing such inattentive genes on to the next generation. Lessons about "survival of the fittest" and "natural selection" and "food chain" wouldn'…

Highland Christmas

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Every now and then, we all find ourselves in uncomfortable situations equivalent to someone afraid of water being forced to swim or someone afraid of heights glancing out the window of a tall building. Being cast from our comfort zone can only do us good in the long run even if it makes us cringe in the short term. Sometimes for reasons of adventure, curiosity, or even self-punishment, we launch ourselves into such situations by choice.

My own version is two-fold; on one hand, I've lived for nearly 43 years on earth without waking up to an actual, genuine "White Christmas" so raved about in songs and lore. I've been chilly at Christmas, but never truly cold. I've lived in a trailer park or suburban house, most without a chimney further stunting the believability of Santa Claus. This year, I've chosen to spend Christmas in a harsh, alien landscape laden with snow testing my distaste for cold weather. That whiteness comes at the expense of travel convenience and…