Quotes of the Day, 12/2/2008

Not one but two great quotes for today…

“You must not think me necessarily foolish because I am facetious, nor will I consider you necessarily wise because you are grave.” — Sydney Smith
(this reminds me of something I’ve been saying for years: “I am a serious person. However, I do not confuse being somber with being serious.”)

“I base my fashion taste on what doesn’t itch.” — Gilda Radner
(gosh, do I miss Gilda! I agree with her fashion taste, by the way.)

12/10/2008 Wine Dinner at Midwest Culinary Institute

Chef Matthew Winterrowd
Wines hosted by Laura Landoll, Vintage

Amuse Gueule
Kumomoto Oyster, fennel & pomegranate
Codorniu Cava Pinot Noir

Atlantic Salmon
Atlantic Salmon, beets, vanilla, horseradish & apple
Morgan Chardonnay Metallico 2007

Sea Scallops
Sea Scallops, endive, orange, olive oil & honey
Tedeschi Monte Tenda Vigneto Soave 2007

Turkey Breast
Turkey Breast, spinach, Matsutake mushroom, butternut squash & rosemary
Joseph Drouhin Chorey-Les-Beaune 2006

Veal Shank
Veal Shank, currants, foie gras, purple potato & watercress
Alpha Estate Xinomavro 2005
Parcel 41 Napa Valley Merlot 2006

Chocolate, marcona almond & smoke
Les Clos de Paulilles Banyuls Rimage Grenache 2006

The Words of Fernand Point

I’ve recently been re-reading the new edition of MA GASTRONOMIE by Fernand Point and have again been taken by jottings from his notebook, some of which I have included below.

  • As far as cuisine is concerned, one must read everything, see everything, hear everything, try everything, observe everything, in order to retain, in the end, just a little bit!
  • The most difficult dishes to make generally appear to be the simplest.
  • All men fraternize at the table, especially when one has enchanted their souls.
  • If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony.
  • There are many people who claim to be good cooks; just as there are many people who, after having repainted the garden gate, take themselves to be painters.
  • When one thinks of le grande cuisine one cannot think of money; the two are incompatible. La grande cuisine is extremely expensive — but that does not mean one cannot do very good cooking with inexpensive ingredients.
  • When I stop in a restaurant I don’t know, I always ask to shake hands with the cuisiner before the meal. I know if he is thin, I’ll probably eat poorly. And if he is both thin and sad, the only hope is in flight.
  • Before judging a thin man, one must get some information. Perhaps he was once fat.
  • A good apprentice cook must be as polite with the dishwasher as with the chef.
  • Success is the sum of a lot of small things correctly done.
  • In all professions without doubt, but certainly in cooking, one is a student all his life.
  • One must be able to withstand a disagreeable remark. Strong spirits hold no grudges.
  • The great gastronome, Charles Monselet, died on Christmas eve. Foreseeing his death, he told his intimate friends: “I shall have a funeral with truffles.” When I die, I should like the same.
  • One of the most important things that distinguish man from other animals is that man can get pleasure from drinking without being thirsty.The duty of a good cuisiner is to transmit to the generations who will replace him everything he has learned and experienced.
  • I have been so well nurtured throughout my life that I’m sure to die completely cured.

Point’s prescribed method for testing new cooks in his kitchen was to ask them to fry an egg (still a common practice). When they inevitably failed, Point would offer the following method, which shows his incredible attention to detail: Place a lump of fresh butter in a pan or egg dish and let it melt – that is, just enough to melt, and never, of course, to crackle or spit; open a very fresh egg onto a small plate or saucer and slide it carefully into the pan; cook it on heat so low that the white turns creamy, and the yolk becomes hot but remains liquid; in a seperate saucepan, melt another lump of fresh butter; remove the egg onto a lightly heated serving plate; salt & pepper it, then very gently pour over the melted butter.

And, finally, the remarks of dramatist Romain Coolus after dining at Point’s restaurant in Vienne, Restaurant de la Pyramide, in January 1932:

From wherever may come
My future girth,
I loath it! Because I wish that from Vienne
It should come through my friend Point!

The High Price of Cheap Eats – NYTimes.com

The High Price of Cheap Eats
Published: December 11, 2008

Dollar “value meals” at fast food restaurants may not be such a bargain when you look at the potential health costs.

Many of these low-cost menu items are packed with fat, salt, cholesterol and processed meat, notes The Cancer Project, a nonprofit cancer prevention organization. The group has produced a list of what it says are the five unhealthiest items sold at the nation’s largest fast food chains.

The organization’s dieticians reviewed so-called value menus at five of the largest fast food chains in the nation, awarding points for such unhealthy characteristics as sodium, fat and low-fiber content. Jack in the Box’s junior bacon cheeseburger topped the list as the worst offender. The burger costs just one dollar but is packed with 23 grams of fat, including 8 grams of saturated fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol and 860 milligrams of sodium and just one gram of fiber.

The Cancer Project is affiliated with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which aggressively promotes a low-fat, vegetarian diet. The organization’s list was spurred in part by a concern that during tough economic times, more people will resort to eating inexpensive fast foods, said Krista Haynes, a dietitian with the project.

A spokeswoman for Jack in the Box said that the junior bacon cheeseburger is a “great value” but that diners may also choose from healthier options, like salads and a fruit cup. They’re more expensive, however: an entrée salad with grilled chicken strips is $4.99, and a fruit cup is $2.29.

“Our guests can also customize their order, so if you’re dining on a budget you have a lot of choices at Jack in the Box,” said Kathleen Anthony, media relations manager at Jack in the Box.

The other four menu items on the cancer group’s list were:

* In second-worst place, the 89-cent Taco Bell cheesy double beef burrito, with 460 calories, 20 grams of fat and a whopping 1,620 milligrams of sodium.

* In third-worst place was the one-dollar Burger King breakfast sausage biscuit, with 27 grams of fat, including 15 grams of saturated fat and over 1,000 milligrams of sodium.

* Fourth worst went to the one-dollar McDonald’s McDouble, which contains 19 grams of fat and 65 milligrams of cholesterol.

* Last, and least-worst, was the Wendy’s junior bacon cheeseburger, for $1.53, with 310 calories and 16 grams of fat.

Being overweight can increase the risk for diabetes and heart disease, and the American Cancer Society recommends limiting high-fat foods, which are associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.

But Alice H. Lichtenstein, director of the cardiovascular nutrition laboratory at Tufts University in Boston, questioned whether the declining economy would have much effect on people’s eating habits.

“It would be nice if they decided it was better for their budget to start preparing food at home more often,” she said.

via The High Price of Cheap Eats – NYTimes.com.

Upgraded to WordPress 2.7

WordPress Logo
This morning, I upgraded the site to WordPress 2.7. For some reason, I felt anxious about this upgrade (since it involved a mandatory upgrade to my theme as well), but I needn’t have worried… With the exception of a couple plugin issues that were very quickly mended, the entire process went smoothly. System downtime was about 15 minutes.

Please let me know if you spot any weirdness while using this site.