Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Orleans Night Duck

I was just inspired. The Westword, a lovely little paper in Denver, posted an article on their CafeSociety blog about the best leftovers. There is absolutely nothing I love in this world more (sorry, Mom) than LEFTOVERS. In fact my mom even brought me some leftovers today so I think she knows where my loyalties lie.

I wanted to not so covertly expand upon (steal) this idea but how? Then I remembered a glorious moment, in New Orleans (Yes, Sara and I went to New Orleans but were much too busy and important to blog about it.) We went to Galatoire's for an early bird dinner. Much has been said about Galatoire's (I'm sure) and I agree with all of it (the good stuff). I ate some food, in fact I think I ate a lot of food thus I didn't have the stomach room left to eat all of my entree of delectable duck.

I guess it's officially called "Roasted Duck." Which reminds me of my absolute favorite thing about Galatoire's, no fru fru fancy named bologna. Well, no bologna, actually. You want duck? Order Duck. You don't have to order the "apricot infused glaze of hashish with pumpernickel garnishment toast mixed with an awe-inspiring lumped potato and Count Chocula approved 7-day duck roast." Call me old fashioned but duck is duck, no matter what cereal character endorses it.

Back to the story. So since I couldn't finish my duck. The waiter tried to convince me that I needed to take it with me. I protested, I was in a hotel, I had no fridge, it would become yuck duck. He said no, you're wrong it will be good for hours! Who am I to argue with a seasoned Galatoire's waiter? If anyone knows his stuff, it would be this guy. So I took it and deposited it in the hotel room.

We went out drinking, as one does in New Orleans. This particular night may or may not have involved Absinthe drinking at a Pirate Bar, the details are understandably fuzzy. Upon return to hotel room I was greeted with the best thing that could ever happen! Leftovers! Sitting in their shiny material, just waiting to be eaten! And so I give you Night Duck. That's a look of elation not demonic possession, I assure you.

Working on the Night Duck! Similar but better than the Night Cheese.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Denver Pride Fest/Parade 2010

The only reason you needed to have attended...

Seahorses, Forever!

Also, don't suck like I did. Get your turkey legs early, even if that means eating one at 10:30 AM just after breakfast. If you don't follow this advice you'll end up with a fistful of tickets that then get spent on a (mediocre) buffalo burger with (doesn't look like bacon) buffalo bacon and (too weird, even for me) chocolate dipped bacon (It's cold? It's spicy? It melts?) FAIL, fair food, FAIL.

Don't worry fair readers, I'll get my summer turkey leg, if it's the last thing I do...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pork: the noun, not the verb.

If you ever find yourself in the position of wanting to go to the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, but lack the $1800 or so that it costs to go to the Grand Tastings, fear not. There are options for you.

For (somewhat) reasonable fees, you can attend individual events like the Grand Cochon and get your eat on.

Kevin and I went to the Grand Cochon, the last event of the Classic, on Sunday afternoon. Most of the crowds had cleared out, but there were still around 200 (or more? I don't estimate well) people in attendance at the Hotel Jerome. Food & Wine events are great for people who like free things like branded glassware. They are also very good for people who like cooking shows, the Food Network, and Top Chef. They are also good for people who like to drink in the afternoon. Luckily I fall into all of those categories.

First, the drinkies: there were 10 wineries to sample, but I mostly stuck to the beer. Coworker was concerned I missed out on the wine, but it was hot. I believe pig goes better with beer. Also, free branded glassware. Near the end of the event I discovered the bar, where Hendrick's Gin was giving out what as perhaps the best cocktail I have ever had in my life. Serious. Make it for yourself. (recipe down at the bottom).

Now, on to the most important things. The chefs at the Grand Cochon were competing against each other for the title of King of Porc, and they were all worthy contenders. Each chef was given one whole heritage pig to work with, and they all created some incredibly innovative dishes. My favorites:

  • Chef Devin Knell of the French Laundry's Pork Belly "pop tart" with lardo. I love pop tarts. I love pork belly. Nuff said.
  • Chef David Varley of the Bourbon Steakhouse's ground pork- and mushroom-stuffed pastry pocket. Oh my. Bliss. Mushroomy, earthy, bliss. He later won. A well-earned crowning. He also made a delightful "Porkeo" sandwich cookie with sweetened lard as the filling.
  • Chef Matt Steigerwald of the Lincoln Cafe's entire menu - pork belly spring roll with avocado, pork head and shoulder pozole, and roasted pork loin sandwich with stone-ground mustard and house-cured pickles. Some very different international flavors, but all were constantly wonderful. I would bathe in the pozole broth if possible.
  • Chef Scott Romano of Charlie Palmer's at the Joule's excellent, smoky-spicy sausage and sweet mustard.
  • Chef Jason Barikowski of Olympic Provisions had some really lovely offerings, including a spreadable andouille sausage, pig's foot and tail bean stew and what was quite possibly the best cupcake I have ever had.
It was so good, in fact, that Kevin and I went to ask the chef how they made it. My guess: creamy topping was lard or whatever. It was delicious. Like the best red velvet cake you've ever tasted, only better. Nicely textured, almost the density of a brownie. Creamy inside and out. I almost cried it was so good. So we go ask about it.

"Well, it's a chocolate cupcake. With a little vanilla cream on top...sprinkled with some vanilla sea salt. Oh, and the cupcake batter is made with the BLOOD AND BLUBBER OF THE PIG."

I'm not really a squeamish person, but I am kinda glad I didn't know what was in it initially. Ahem.

An especially nice treat was Chef Jennifer Jasinski of Rioja's "lamb lounge." Her lamb loin with sweet pea, grilled red onion and mint salad, and lamb sausage with tomato jam would make a believer out of anyone who's not a fan of lamb. Both were perfectly cooked, well-balanced and fresh.

Other highlights: a whole pig breakdown by butcher Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats in San Fransisco was...enlightening. In fact, the whole theme of the event - heritage pigs, whole-animal preparations, offal and sustainable farming - was really an inspirational experience. Responsible eating doesn't have to mean giving up on animals whole hog (get it? get it?) but being thoughtful about the animals you do eat - supporting local farms, making an effort to eat fewer processed foods, and returning to the thought process of an earlier generation. If we are to be true stewards of the land, we need to enjoy whole products - even if that means blood in your cupcakes.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sonic, where I've been for the last 7 months

So guess what?
I love Sonic.
All you haters can suck it. In fact I'll suck it for you, through this magical straw that provides me with the deliciousness that is a cranberry limeade.
A cranberry limeade that I bought nearly three hours ago that is still cold due to the Sonic genius that is some kind of modern physics marvel. (Physics makes us all its bitches) The equation is no doubt something like this: delicious limeade + extra corn syrup in the flavor of cranberry x ingenious Styrofoam cup ^(cute little crushed ice) = Cold for hours of happiness. Ahhhhh.

And one day I truly do intend to get the frito pie, I will, you'll see.