Monday, June 01, 2009

Back to the Basics

I consider myself somewhat of a creative person. I try my best to be the most creative chef I can be, with restraint and cause as conditions of time and place. My customer base has very little interest in molecular gastronomy, along with the show and lack of sustenance it seems to convey. Middle America, North East Ohio, Cleveland, Oberlin, these people want a meal, not entertainment. I play with flavor pairing, juxtaposing different ethnicities, but increasingly am interested in getting the best product I can and just plain making it taste good by cooking it properly. It’s easy to glaze over mistakes in the name of ‘creativity’. Yet it’s quite difficult to take a dish everyone is familiar with and prepare it perfectly.

This got me thinking. What flavors, or dishes, or preparations do we come across quite often, that tend to be lacking most of the time. Sure there is the perfectly ripe peach at the end of summer that will just blow your mind away, but what else out there consistently lacks to wow us?

Shrimp, I like shrimp, but almost all the shrimp I eat is, well, not that great. Carolina pink shrimp, fresh never frozen are the best shrimp I’ve ever tastes.

Popcorn, we all will shovel handfuls of popcorn in our mouths at a movie, but does it really taste good? Not to me. I remember when a pot with oil was needed for popcorn, topped with real melted butter.

Apples, yeah, I told myself to stay away from produce, but apples seem to be on the shelf all year long, and they suck all year long. Why? Why do we buy them when they are so far from good?

Chicken, this is more of a preparation obstacle. I have had very few experiences where I ate a piece of chicken and said, “Damn, this chicken is good.” And with all the chicken we eat you would think we would learn how to cook it consistently good.

Bread, this one is a real kicker if you dare to contemplate it. Out of convenience we decided that sliced white bread would we our standard preparation. Ok, wheat, multigrain, and rye are also quite common, but from the major manufacturers, they are all pretty much the same. Yet there are bakers, and bakeries, and restaurants turning out amazing bread that is cared for and nurtured, and looked after. Making bread for yourself it not all that difficult, and I guarantee would provide a ‘wow’ above and beyond even the finest sliced buttercrust. Sure, I’ll make my next bologna sandwich on white, but it’s not going to wow me.

I do have answers for a few other lack luster products. If you don’t like what you’ve been buying then try:

Murry Hill Farms Eggs at the Kamm’s farmers market on Sundays
Haltzer’s Milk, unbelievable product, Nature’s Bin in Lakewood has it for sure
Lake Erie Creamery Goat Cheese, full flavored and fresh, available at the west side market.
Meat, bologna for example for that next sandwich will be that much better from Chef’s Choice Meats
For bread try Zoss, who has a storefront in Cleveland Heights, but travels to the North Union Farmers Markets including Lakewood on Wednesdays.


1 comment:


As a fan of Lake Erie creamery Cheeses you'll be happy to hear that I'm 99% sure Mariann will be selling at the Kamm's farmers market this summer.