Une soirée émouvante avec Valient Thorr Sunday, Sep 26 2010 

A whipper of an evening with Valient Thorr

Sat next to Valient Himself, himself at the Black Cat’s bar before his show last week.  An exceptionally affable Rasputin looking fellow and former teacher who, when Valient Thorr is not touring with Motörhead or playing Nordic metal festivals, is a benevolent son who donated a kidney to his ailing earth father “Pop”.

Lead hair guitar.

Those grizzly cosmic minstrels hail from Burlatia on that planet Venus, packing their galactic luggage with scorching metal jams of salvation (no room for shaving kits) in an intrepid mission save our putrid souls; ravaged by desperate right-wing entitlement, duplicitous corporate greed and toxic sour grapes.  The teeth swelling licks and sweaty enthusiasm will have any budding Thorrior crapping sideways for a week through bleeding ears.

White people with beards and no shirts can dance.

First caught a hypnotic whiff of Valient Thorr over a few “Super Awesome’s” (bourbon rickey) when a raging band of unkempt troubadours thrashed about silently on FuelTV overhead but rattled my body down to its core.  The gnarly angels’ steel claw riffs can skewer marrow and it might as well have been Eidan Thorr scraping abscessed frets on my 6-string shinbones.

Barbasol Tour ’09

Difficult to make out any of the savory lyrics during the show despite being so close to the 4000 watt speakers, but the grinding  motivational gospel and headbanging fury of encouragement was frighteningly clear: “It doesn’t matter where you’re from, it’s where you’re at and what you’re gonna do.”

L’Été en Sauces et Saumure. Monday, Sep 20 2010 

Summer’s Sauces and Pickles.

Saucy Tomato Sauce. Now with 10% more Sass.

More bounty from the 0.005 acre mosquito infested community sharecropping endeavor.  125 or so Roma paste tomatoes were bravely harvested from a single prolific plant not counting the couple dozen duds that succumbed to parasitic insects, fading daylight hours, trolls and witchcraft.  Once the tomato and pepper plants have wilted, permission will be sought to get a calf for the 4’x6′ plot.  Super local garden raised veal.  Have some of that Michael Pollan.

De nada, señor Presidente.

TILF’s #6. Ripe, mature and ready for noodles.

Tomatoes were peeled, de-seeded, then placed in a stainless steel pot with olive oil, garlic, aromatics (basil, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf), perhaps an anchovy or 2… and shit, why not some olives and capers.  Left to simmer while the chaps over at Top Gear tried to build amphibious vehicles or something of the lot, the contents reduced and intensified in flavor.

Ground control to Major Tomato Sauce.

In lieu of a food mill, the mixture was given a once over by the venerable food processor.  Upon a satisfactory seasoning verdict, the love-apple stuff was poured in sterilized jars and processed in a stockpot for proper storage until winter.

Hot Tub Sauce Machine..

Pickled Carmen Peppers

Pickle Pepper Test Tickle.

A ruthless 2-member gang of drunk vagrants pilfered the ripe cayenne (40,000 SHU) and Hungarian banana peppers (6,000 SHU) thereupon putting the kibosh on Sambal 2.0.  Bastards. Should have grown ghost chilies and coated them with urine. Welp, the Carmen peppers (grown from seed along with the cayennes) would certainly not make any chili pepper condiment worth a damn, what with their plain-Jane, almost prude, pepper non-hottness.  The current Scrabble™ training regimen does not include 10 consecutive days of peppers and the chip-free pantry is not conducive to pedestrian salsas and football fatty sustenance.  They would be pickled and used at leisure to supplement bread salads, condiments, pastas, rice, milkshakes and martinis, naturally.

George Bizet’s inspiration.

The peck of picked peppers were preciously prepared with a fickle household butane torch in order to remove the skins while keeping the peppers raw.  Once cleaned of their singed, blistered skin, the fruits were cut into strips and place in a wire-bail mason jar with garlic, rosemary and allspice.  Standard 2/1 white wine vinegar/water pickling solution with 3% salt was brought to a boil and poured over the pickles.  Though some smokiness from a wood-fired char would have been enjoyable, the al dente texture is a pleasure to work with and allows for further cooking without compromising the integrity of the fruit.  A fine pickle preservation and extension of homegrown summer.

Should have gone with the SPF 600.

Hure de Cabillaud Wednesday, Sep 15 2010 

Cod’s head soup (beta version)

A resourceful stew of cod collar, cheeks & tongues
with handsomely turned potatoes, turnips, leeks and shallots.

Save the neck for me, Clark.

Cod’s Head Soup.  A resourceful soup inspired by “Hure de Cabiliot (sic)” from B. Clermont’s “The professed cook; or, The modern art of cookery, pastry, and confectionary, made plain and easy.”  London, 1812.  Not to be confused with the lewd slang reference for offering/receiving fellatio whist playing “Code of Duty” (and premier Google-machine answer to “cod head” query), nor the junkbox trouser accessory made fashionable by such charismatic gore-enthusiast frontmen as Britain’s portly monarch Henry VIII (lopped off both Anne Boleyn and Cathy Howard’s heads, though not for soup), Oderus Urungus’s “Cuttlefish of Cthulu” from the juicy troubadour powerhouse GWAR and esteemed sexual pervert Blackie Lawless.

Blackie & Decker power tool inspired codpieces.

Gadus Morhua.  Once the most prolific of all gladiforms, upon which one could have walked dry shod from Cape Cod to Maine before sorely inaccurate assessments of their stocks led to overfishing and decimation.  North Atlantic fisheries have since been managed, generally through strict quotas and closures, but all that can be read in Paul Greenberg’s revelatory account of cod’s history and future, in no small part an homage and parallel to Mark Kurlansky’s groundbreakingly delicious namesake book.

My other shirts have the collars worn “up”.

Essentially a chowder;  the collar broth thickened with a roux into which the cheeks and tongues (the muscle under and behind the tongue, not literally the tongue) are poached and the entirety garnished with lemon zest, dried chili, turned potatoes and turnips as well as leek and shallot rings.

Got crabs at a cheap nudie bar? What did you expect, lobster?

The fancy-shmancy lobster version (shout out to the Soul-Train community and all ‘dem roomy-bottomed “lobster” (all the meat in the tail) ladies from the club) featured lobster claw trimmings and cooked roe in addition to smoked pork jowl, ubiquitous potatoes, pickled peppers for acidity and fennel pollen for floral aromatics.

Viewer discretion: raw tongue and cheek action.

The fish fumet was achieved by quickly bringing the collars up to a simmer with alliums, sliced lemon, garlic, Twizzlers™, fennel & coriander seed, dried chili, parsley, tarragon and salt. Fumet was left to cool so that the collars could be pulled from the broth which was then strained over them and left to cool.

Clean broth, filthy stove.

Assessment of stock and taste: The roux thickened broth was pleasantly luscious without being heavy or thick, lightened with lemon zest and a splash of tarragon vinegar.  Properly whittled and cooked potatoes provided elegant, starchy contrast in texture, while the leeks, onions and turnips provided sweetness.  The tongues were exceedingly tender, the cheeks plump and the picked collar meat firm yet delicately mild.  How ’bout that?

“Only the pure of heart can make a good soup”

Ludwig van Beethoven.

The lobster version was more subtle despite the smoked pork jowl which was kindly shushed by the thickened broth: this particular roux’s fat being ½ lard ½ olive oil.  Lobster claw scraps are not noticeably sweet however the roe offered an interesting visual and mouth-feel speckle. Small, briny oysters would be an exceptional replacement for the humdrum crustacean scraps, preferably introduced at the last minute. Potatoes provided the same textural starch and cutlery discipline with the guanciale dice brought cubes of savory fat to the beach party.

A. Cheek; B. Tongue; C. Collar; D. Swimmy things; E. Pinstripe speed lines.

Objectively both were worthwhile endeavors and there are no immediate calls for limiting production through quota or kitchen closure. Alternative procedures could use milk, especially during colder months, though austere cuts and humble water provide frugal continuity.  Eventually a generous rasp of nutmeg and grilled bread would make appropriate accoutrements.  Future contemporary interpretations of classical nautical themed oeuvres will include a contemporary shipwreck painting of a yacht run aground, spilling rum, cocaine, illicit cigars and bikini clad boat bunnies.