- Charlie Trotter Series-everything about these books are beautiful. The food styling is gorgeous and inspiring. I do have to say that this is a very advanced series and is only for the experienced chef or home cook...or the extremely adventurous.
- Martha Stewart Hors D'oeuvres Handbook-Easy to read, great recipes. There are a wide range of recipes from basics to playful.
- Arzak Recetas-I bought this book when I lived in Barcelona. I absolutely love the simplicity of the food. It is a perfect example of clean spanish cooking with excellent photos and presentation.
- Truffles, Ultimate Luxury, Everyday Pleasure-this is not the chocolate kind! We are talking about the fungus amungus! Great history and information along with some super tasty recipes.
- The Seven Deadly Sins of Chocolate-what can I say. This book is filled with everything good and evil having to do with chocolate!
These are the cookbooks that I have NOW. They are in no particular order. It is almost impossible for me to put things in favorite order, especially when it comes to food and cooking. I love each one of them for different reasons.
It all starts with the reservation. Most people are afraid to ask for what they want. If the restaurant has a great view, ask for a table by the window. If it has a beautiful, open kitchen, ask for a table with a view of it. If you know the bartender is super hot, ask for a table by the bar. If they don’t take reservations or you forgot to make one, don’t be afraid to ask when you arrive. If you have been sat by the door or the bathroom or a couple with a crying baby, please for the love of god, ask to be moved. I heart doors, bathrooms, and babies, but I don’t want to eat a great meal next to any of them.
Don’t be late for your reservation. There are a lot of restaurants out there that won’t even seat the party until all guests arrive. This is both annoying to the hostess and your fellow diners and you just might get a not so great table. Not to mention your fellow foodies might end up a little too drunk because they had to wait in the bar for your sorry ass all whilst drinking overpriced martinis. This brings me to my next lesson…
Choose your foodie friends wisely. Some people go out and eat like they are the only one at the table. They don’t like to share and they are not adventurous. I don’t eat with them. I will dine with a honey hating beegan before I dine with them. If you are dining out with close friends or family don’t hesitate to ask the table if they want to share some things so everyone gets to try more than a few dishes. I usually try and order last so that I order something that hasn’t been ordered yet. ..There are always more than a few plates that I want to try.
If you are ordering wine by the glass and can’t decide which one you want to drink, ask your server for a tasting of a couple. Nine times out of 10 they will oblige. If you are ordering a bottle for the table and you aren’t sure, ask your server, but most importantly make sure there is a unanimous decision on the type of wine everyone will drink. I don’t care too much for chardonnays and cabernets and will never order them. I always speak up and make sure that everyone is happy with the choice.
If you have a food allergy or there is something you do not eat, please speak up at the BEGINNING of the meal. I can’t tell you how many times people with allergies don’t say anything and then ask when it gets to the table if there is garlic in it only to send it back to the kitchen. You know who you are. UGGH!! If you are lactose intolerant don’t order the pasta with cream sauce. OH! And by the way people, bacon is NOT read meat!!!!!!!! The only reason it looks pink is because of the way it’s cured.
One of the worst things that can ruin a good meal is being rushed. Don’t be scared to ask your server to wait to fire the entrees until you are done with your appetizers. I enjoy having at least a good 10 minutes in between my courses. I like to talk to my fellow diners. I like to take notes on what I just ate and drank. I like to have a little time to digest so I don’t get filled up by my entrée after the first bite…and I DEFINITELY need to have room for dessert.
I have been cooking professionally for 25 years now, the last 12 as a private chef and caterer. I don’t get to go out to eat that often and when I do there is something that matters way more to me than the food itself….service. I can make some of the best food for myself at home, but there isn’t service there. There is no one to take my order, poor my wine, or do my dishes. Oh, if only I had the money for that hot, 18 year old “busy dishwasher”. Life would be soooo much more fun…and easy.
I pride myself on my service. I employ only the best of servers when I cater a party. I expect nothing but the best. So is it too much to ask for the same when going out to eat. Now I am not going to group all places together. I don’t expect the diner down the street to give me the same service as any of the top notch restaurants in any major city, but once again, 9 out of 10 times the diner is better. Every city I have lived in or been to the service is always different. The best service I have had has been in Seattle and Portland. There is a reason for this….there isn’t any actors there. Now, I just want to state that some of my best servers are actors themselves, but I think there is a difference between service at home and service in a restaurant. In someone’s home it is a little more personable, which leads it to a somewhat more relaxed atmosphere no matter how formal the dinner is.
LA is particularly difficult. Nobody here is a server. They are actors. Serious actors. They don’t give a flying fuck if your $40 steak is overdone or they brought your entrée with your appetizer. Maybe they are star struck by the D list celebrity sitting next to you, or pissed because it isn’t them sitting there with the scarlet D across their forehead. Speaking of bringing my entrée with my appetizer, my major peeve is the rush. You better not rush me. If I want to take most of the night to eat my dinner, that is my prerogative. I just spent 4 years living in Barcelona where you were lucky if you got a menu in the first 20 minutes…and it might take another 20 just to get your drink. Why do we rush? I don’t want to be rushed. I don’t want to have to be rolled out of the restaurant not remembering what just happened or even having a clue what I just ate without having to take notes (which I do a lot anyway, so I guess I shouldn’t bitch too much). I want to remember a fabulous dinner with the best service ever…everytime. Is it too much to ask?
I’ve cooked for a President, a vice president, a few ambassadors, and a quite a few celebrities. I’ve also cooked for people who could barely pay their bill, but were so happy to have the experience of a lifetime that it didn’t matter if they couldn’t pay their rent that month. I have to say that I am never more driven and satisfied to make the latter wet their panties…or manties. The level of appreciation is heartwarming and extremely motivating.
The acronym VIP makes me want to hurl knives until I see a pool of blood at the feet of those who utter them. As far as I am concerned, every single person sitting at my table is a VIP and deserves the experience of a lifetime. 9 out of 10 times it’s the person who can barely afford it that shows their appreciation when the bill is set in front of them. These so called “VIPS” will haggle for the cheapest deal and then stiff you on the tip at the end. They want everything for nothing and nothing is what I usually get.
Now most of these people weren’t born with silver spoons in their mouths. I know a good portion of them couldn’t have forgotten about the struggle. They have to memorize the lines of entire movies, or shows, or plays for funks sake. I know they have a gazillion assistants doing all their bidding and dirty work and aren’t used to having to do anything for themselves. I know that Donatella and Giorgio and Ralph usually hand them their goody bags personally. I certainly don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me, but I guess what I am trying to say is when it comes to food, I don’t really care WHO you are. I treat VIPS as I would anyone else; with the utmost respect and appreciation and I expect the same in return. I ask, is this too much to ask?
Now this list is in no particular order and is completely personal to my way of cooking. As a chef, I have mulitiples of many things...mostly due to British Airways losing 2 suitcases full of my equipment and it then showing up 8 weeks later after I had replaced everything. I could probably open couple of restaurants with the amount of stuff I have in my kitchen! I am not much of a gadget person, but love to hear what other people use the most in their kitchens, so please let me know what you can't live without!
Ahhh....Beegans. I'm sure to piss a couple people off here. No more than the bacon post though, I suppose
Please don’t get mad at me because I put honey in the dressing. What the funk do you mean you don’t eat honey? Are the bees treated anymore cruelly than the plants you stuff your self righteous faces with? Are you really going to stand there in front of me and give me grief for this nectar of the gods? I just told you I slaughter and eat cows, but all you give a shit about is the goshdarned bees. Did I tell you that I am fatally allergic to those same bees? I have to carry around a ginormous syringe filled with a substance to jump start my heart just in case I get a little stinger from one. LOOK…I didn’t funking harvest the honey myself. I won’t even get within a thousand feet of a nest, hive, or farm for that matter. OH!! You want to know why I don’t use stevia to sweeten my dressing? Because stevia tastes like the ass of the cow I just butchered. Here, let me put some in a plate and see if you can tell the difference. Agave…damn, I love me some agave, but if I used it to sweeten my dressing what the hell would I use to make my tequila out of? Do you know how hard it is to grow and harvest agave? Oh, you don’t? Do you even know where it comes from? LOOK!! Those bees are gonna make honey one way or another. They are gonna swarm together in tiny little spaces whether it’s man made or made by the funkin Queen of Beelandia herself. The poor little bee isn't sacrificing itself for this nectar. Sure chickens and cows are treated like ___ but a bee is treated like freakin royalty compared…but IMHO, they all taste equally good. Oh shazbot!! Sorry I offended. Let me just give you the word of the day. CHOICE. If you don’t funking like it, then don’t eat it. It’s like TV. Now, can I help you get that bee hive out of your ass?
Where do I start? I absolutely love this show. It gives me everything I need. Excitement, suspense, aggravation, titillation, and above all, FOOD! I love Tom’s bald, shiny head and his looks of “are you sure about that?” and “what the hell are you thinking?” that could make even the best chef scrap an entire idea and start over again. I love Gail’s level headed reasoning that makes me realize she is the only sane one on the panel. I love Padma’s boobs now that she’s pregnant. I love Toby for his, well…his…ummm…Accent? Oh, and of course is completely off the wall, sometimes offensive comparisons. Finally, I love all the great guest judges they have had, even the few celebrity guest judges that seemingly had no clue as to what they were talking about. Let’s not forget about all the contestants, which I almost became one of myself in the second season. Marcel with his foams and hair. Tiffani with her bitch face (girl could cook though). Stefan with his never ending love of himself and wanting women he couldn’t have. Dave, the wonderful down home cook who couldn’t stop crying. And then there was Stephanie, the first woman to win and fan favorite that year. I called it from the first episode and cried when she won.
What I love more than the show itself is the tradition that comes with it every week. All across the country people have started their own viewing parties, complete with quickfire challenges and judges. But, I’m not here to talk about their parties; I am here to talk about mine. Every Wednesday I get together with my two closest friends and fellow foodies, Rick and Mimi. Mimi and I usually coordinate something together which includes tag teaming of the shopping and prep. Sometimes just one of us does the meal altogether Rick, he brings home the bacon, so he usually doesn’t arrive until we are about to serve, but his witty, jolly banter contributes just as much to the meal…that, and he always does the dishes! Now, what I love about watching the show together and eating a great meal is that we somehow seem to stretch the 40 minutes (always recorded on east coast satellite feed so we don’t have to wait until 10) into about 2 hours. Every commercial break is when the next course is made and served. This is also the time when Rick usually picks up the guitar and we have a little sing-a-long intermission. It is the love of food and my friends that makes this show all the more endearing.
I certainly can’t imagine spending my Wednesday nights without my friends, but there have been a couple times during the seasons past that we couldn’t get together for some reason. I got sick once and I think I cried when I thought Rick and Mimi were watching it without me…I know I cried when I found out they waited for me. Then there was the time that Mimi was out of town and she said she would watch it with her mom and told us to watch it together. I remember feeling dirty, like we were cheating on her together. I remember kind of liking it...sorry Mimi, what can I say, he's hot!
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