Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Have A Wonderful Thanksgiving

NOVEMBER 24 IS BUY NOTHING DAY - NO PURCHASE NECESSARY(November 25 outside of North America)

THE ULTIMATE REFUND: On November 24th and 25th – the busiest days in the American retail calendar and the unofficial start of the international Christmas-shopping season – thousands of activists and concerned citizens in 65 countries will take a 24-hour consumer detox as part of the 14th annual Buy Nothing Day, a global phenomenon that originated in Vancouver, Canada.

From joining zombie marches through malls to organizing credit card cut-ups and shopoholic clinics, Buy Nothing Day activists aim to challenge themselves, their families and their friends to switch off from shopping and tune back into life for one day. Featured in recent years by the likes of CNN, Wired, the BBC, and the CBC, the global event is celebrated as a relaxed family holiday, as a non-commercial street party, or even as a politically charged public protest. Anyone can take part provided they spend a day without spending.

Reasons for participating in Buy Nothing Day are as varied as the people who choose to participate. Some see it as an escape from the marketing mind games and frantic consumer binge that has come to characterize the holiday season, and our culture in general. Others use it to expose the environmental and ethical consequences of overconsumption.

Two recent, high-profile disaster warnings outline the sudden urgency of our dilemma. First, in October, a global warming report by economist Sir Nicholas Stern predicted that climate change will lead to the most massive and widest-ranging market failure the world has ever seen. Soon after, a major study published in the journal Science forecast the near-total collapse of global fisheries within 40 years.

Kalle Lasn, co-founder of the Adbusters Media Foundation, which was responsible for turning Buy Nothing Day into an international annual event, said, “Our headlong plunge into ecological collapse requires a profound shift in the way we see things. Driving hybrid cars and limiting industrial emissions is great, but they are band-aid solutions if we don’t address the core problem: we have to consume less. This is the message of Buy Nothing Day.”

As Lasn suggests, Buy Nothing Day isn't just about changing your habits for one day. It’s about starting a lasting lifestyle commitment to consuming less and producing less waste. With six billion people on the planet, the onus if on the most affluent – the upper 20% that consumes 80% of the world’s resources – to begin setting the example.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Weekly Specials

Soup: Butternut Squash Hot and Sour, Shrimp Satay

Hot App: Braised Pork Belly Cassoulette

Cold App: Fresh Bristol Bay Alaskan King Crab Legs, 3 Sauces

Entree: Soy Glazed Monkfish, warm Squid and Fingerling Potato salad, Chili oil

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Soup De Jour

Tom Yom Gai

In other words, and as we phrase it to our customers, Mushroom and Chicken Hot and Sour Soup. This is the basic, restaurant quantity recipie I used today to much sucess.

1 quart chopped each garlic, ginger, and lemongrass
5 limes zest only
3 whole jalapeno
1 cup tomato paste
1 cup garlic oil
1 cup flour

3 gallons chicken stock

Enoki, shitake and portobella mushrooms where added to order, along with chicken breast that was cooked in the broth, then removed and chopped up. A mixture of equal parts lime juice, soy sauce and fish sauce was added to taste. Cilantro and mint ganished the soup.

First we chopped the aromatics in the robo-coup, sweated them in the garlic oil, stirred in tomato past, cooked out, then stirred in the flour as a thickener, covered with stock and cooked for an hour. After the stock simmered, it was stained, and that is the base.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Specials for November 10, 2006

Soup: Local Apple and Sweet Potato Bisque

Hot App: Seared La Bella Farms Foie Gras, Raisin-Spice Cake, Apple Butter, Bourbon poached Figs

Cold App: Fresh Bristol Bay Alaskian King Crab, served chilled with Cocktail Sauce, Hoseradish Aioli, and warm Butter

Entree: Crispy Barimundi in a spicy Soy glaze, Butternut Squash & Wild Rice Cake, Heirloom Carrots baked with Cumin and Hazelnuts

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Salty Cooks

Well, this is my kitchen, welcome. Perhaps this post is a little late, hopefully some friends are returning for a second look. This is where all the magic happens. Three grown men work in this space over the course of a 6 hour service we tend to get rather close. Usually with the occasional cursing at each other, a few elbows, pan throwing, oh yeah, and we are surrounded by knives and extremely hot metal. Fortunately things have worked out rather well so far. We have the worlds second longest cutting board measuring in at about 10 feet.

The first thing that catches my eye in this phone is one of my favorite things, finishing salts, and we keep a full array on the line in plastic pint containers. I really enjoy the Australian pink flake salt. It taste like buttered popcorn to me, but at $50 per pound, well, I guess only I can eat it like popcorn. Down the line we have Fleur de Sel, from France, where it is skimmed off the ocean only at the most specific times. Next to that is Sel Gris, which is scrapped of the rocks under the water where the Fleur de Sel is harvested. I keep Pacific rock salt around as well. We use it mostly to salt water due to it’s huge crystals. I prefer Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt as my basic salt, for no other reason than I’ve become accustomed to the grain size, and it has a pure taste, nothing bitter or sharp. There is smoked salt, which I’ve found a but overpowering as a finishing salt. There are numerous other salts available. I purchase mine through Urban Herbs at the West Side Market.

Salt is a very powerful ingredient, not just an expensive finishing salt which serves equally as garnish for any culinarian. We currently, and have in the past used salt to cure our meat, for flavor now, and for survival in the past. I prefer to make my own special blend of cure which includes both salt and sugar, a lot of cinnamon, some cloves, coriander, fennel seed, juniper and peppercorn. It serves well as a cure for duck legs, pork, boar, even in a pate. I’ve become quite fond of it, and plan on using it exclusively in the future.

The crunch of the salt is rather addictive. Your basic Kosher salt prefers to melt into an ingredient, where a beautiful Australian flake salt likes to hold it’s on, and remind you it’s there when you bit into it. It’s a little explosion of instant flavor, and the best of them aren’t salty, rather convey whatever it is they are placed on.

Next time you reach for the salt, think twice about what kind you have, when you are adding it, and how it will effect the end product. If when out to a restaurant, and you happen to find a wonderfully crunchy crystal on your plate, be happy, be very happy.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Weekly Specials

Soup: Roasted Pepper Bisque

App: Duck Confit Potstickers filled with handmade Quark Cheese, Duck and Dried Papaya, Cashew Puree, Pomelo Relish

Entree: Roasted Cervena Venison Rack crusted with Fennel seeds and Pollen over Butternut Squash Puree, Maple glazed Parsnips, Tart Cherry-Cabernet Demi-glace

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Private Menu for Nestle

1st course: Parsnip soup with apple foam, bacon wrapped shrimp, fried pickles

2nd course: Seared La Bella farms foie gras, truffle pound cake, bourbon-apple butter, raw pomagranite

3rd course: Petite raw bar: stone crab claw on spinach and crab kim chi, raw blue point oyster topped with horseradish and beet puree, tuna tartar in a pomelo dressing

4th course: Slow roasted Cervena Venison rack encrusted with fennel pollen and seeds, butternut squash puree, butterscotch chestnuts, cold poached cranberries

5th course: Cheese Plate: Parmasean and truffle honey ‘rillettes’, Lake Erie Creamery goat cheese fondue, seven year aged chedder baked with grilled carrots and bacon

6th course: Fall Squash dessert: Butternut squash cake, squash mousse, crispy squash, frangelico beurre blanc

I created the tasting menu above, and it was served to 20 international guests of Nestle Corperation at Fahrenheit Restaurant on Thursday Novermber 2, 2006.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Cleveland's West Side Market

A realistic view from the kitchen involves a lot more than a stack of plates, polished silverware, and folded napkins, and behind that the experience can’t be summed up by the bloody cambro of strip steaks, the gnarled sunchokes caked with dirt, or a freshly fired dishwasher. To see the view from the kitchen, sometimes you have to leave the kitchen. So on my day off this week I went over to The West Side Market. I have very fond memories of the market. I’ve been going there for well over 20 years, and I think it is the absolutely most special culinary destination in the city of Cleveland, Ohio.

When I was little, ok, when I was younger, my mother took my sister and I to the market, usually on the bus with a collapsible metal pushcart. Seeing as how I wasn’t little, just young, I carried as many heavy bags as I could to make my mom proud, while my little sister got to push the cart around inevitably running into something and hopefully not somebody. Then there is the one time when we didn’t take the bus, and my little sister broke the key off in the ignition of the car. Those are some great memories, and we haven’t even discussed the market itself.

There is the ‘stinky’ fish purveyor who’s fish are so stinky it’s like they built him his own addition to the market. In the old days the fresh produce stalls where rather exposed to the elements with only a solid roof and some heavy plastic sheeting separated them and their customers from the brutality of the weather. You had the steaming hot summer days or the frigid winter gusts. Either way you look at it, it’s been revamped now, with solid walls, and swinging doors.

We always had our favorite stalls to visit. The ‘nut guy’ had a small stand in the corner, only one person could fit behind it. There he would toast your nuts to order then pass you a warm bag of goodies, that and the stories he shared with my mother about my grandmother, and great-grandmother, both of whom he had known for a long time. We really enjoyed this weird seed pod sold out of a giant glass jar called Johnny Bread. It was very inexpensive. You chewed on it, discarding the large seeds and the tough skin as you went along. It tasted unexpendedly sweet, a bit like chocolate. Johnny Bread for whatever reason disappeared from out lives for a couple of years until we recognized it as Carob, the healthy, dairy free chocolate substitute. Thinking about chocolate, my sister and I would spend what seemed like hours in front of the old school candy counter, clutching a single dollar in our hands, mulling over which candy we wanted as if we had a life and death discussion on our hands. I can fondly remember the flying saucers. Two colored wafers forming a hollow collapsed sphere that contained a few grains of rather tasty sugary bits, and when you ate it, the wafer part quickly dissolved away, the same way a flying saucer quickly slips away into the nights sky.

Currently, I go to the market less for essentials, and more for entertainment. There are more options there than I remember in the past. There are some specialty stalls for instance, the chocolate/popcorn stall, or the juice lady stall, or the cookie stand. There was always bread available, but there is competition between about 5 different bakers. Also new to the scene is prepared food, you can buy perogies, pad thai, enchiladas, or shepard’s pie, all ready to eat. There are some wonderful pastries available as well.

The truth of the matter is we live in a meat and potatoes city, and the market still strongly reflects this. There are whole pigs, and lambs heads, smoked pork, ham hocks, rabbit and duck. The market is still the only place where you can find people using a whole animal, just today there was hearts, tongues, kidneys, livers, hooves, snouts, sweetbreads, brains, and some really great and really rare cuts of meat like a veal breast or goat shoulder. Even if you are the kind of person who is absolutely turned off my the thought of eating an animals brains, I can accept that, but I think it is respectful to the animal that it not be killed only for the tenderloin, and the spare ribs inevitably ending up on an absorbent towel in a Styrofoam tray wrapped in plastic. That is exactly what is at the heart of the West Side Market.

The building itself is stunning. The ceiling is unbelievably detailed for such a massive hall. Each archway is garnished with a sculpture of still life food. There is a balcony where a lot of the photos are taken which let you overlook the whole market. The exterior is finished with a clock tower on the corner of West 25 Street and Lorain Avenue.

If you haven’t been to the West Side Market lately, you should go there as soon as you can. If you can’t get there anytime soon, I took some great photos that show the market off from a customers point of view. I would love to hear about anyones experience at the West Side Market.

New Efforts in Sustainability

What happened to Moopheus after being kidnapped in Meatrix 2? What really goes on in meat processing facilities? And what can you do?

Answers to these questions, plus plenty of Meatrix action and excitement, can be found online at

Produced by Sustainable Table and Free Range Studios for Participant Productions, The Meatrix 2.5 has been launched to educate consumers about problems at processing facilities and to help promote the social action campaign surrounding the Fast Food Nation movie being released by Participant Productions and Fox Searchlight on November 17th.

Developed by Participant Productions and found at, the first action in the campaign is to encourage consumers to eat more sustainable animal products by visiting the Eat Well Guide - – our online directory of sustainably raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs.