Chant du Cygne Sunday, Apr 10 2016 

Swan song en croûte.


Inscribe the date.

A final somewhat selfish fabrication to celebrate and honor the nuptials of 2 cherished, well deserving friends who are straight after all.   Tamworth pâté en croûte with heart, tongue, wedding vegetables and mini-mortadella inlay.


Both their birthdays, too.

After 13 years and a few months, there’s no more juice left to squeeze, so fuck it, we’re done.  There have been countless friends, a reunion with a sister, 5 issues of Gluttony Digest, a dozen freedom BBQ’s, suckling pigs, turkey variations, fancy pumpkin, jobs here and there, bars that have expired, bars that have been raised, 2 cats, 2 presidents, legalized pot, statehood not, some competitions, softball, a blog, pictures, trips, broken thumb, brownouts, blackout, heartache, dwindling friends, steeper rents and relentless sirens at all times of the day and night.


There’s a swell bell.

My sweetheart, the cats, bric-a-brac and I going out to pasture to become sharecroppers and manage a little slice of country living in Einstein’s getaway on the Northern tine of  Eastern Long Island  nestled between the LI sound, Peconic bay and some shitty vineyards.  We’ll be living in a 1940’s house with an original built-in murphy-bed style ironing board on an organic sheep farm with pigs, chickens and a garden; upstream and closer to the source of food. We’ll eventually help open and run a full service butchery & grocer using products grown on the 28 acres outside.  What’s more, there is a 2 acre garden where we can grow jelly beans, cotton candy and our very own dildo tree.  Hurray.


A little lopsided, as is often the case with love.

Thank you all for your readership. There are arcane liquor and zoning laws up here, cellphone service is sporadic, there are many spiteful low-watt Trump supporters and public transportation is virtually non-existent save for the occasional single-track diesel train that still runs in 2016. So we are pretty much moving back in time with the rest of you, but the barns and people are charming even if they tawlk funny.


Looking out my backdoor.

Merde, il a neigé. Sunday, Jan 24 2016 

Shit, it snowed.


Committed to helping those who are stranded get plowed.

Supermarket shelves across the nation’s capital are barren and a visitor would be correct in assuming that residents do not have 2 days worth of sustenance in their pantries or refrigerators and that the rate of hysteria is directly proportional to how many eggs all these yuppie Cool Hand Luke‘s need to cram in their food holes in 24 hours.



Public transportation in Washington, DC was shut down from Friday 11pm through Sunday 11pm. Non-tipped restaurant kitchen employees stay later than the tipped ones and generally are far more underpaid.  For a restaurant to be open during this period is greedy, selfish, reckless and shitty. Asking employees to come to work when there is no public transportation available and the streets/sidewalks are not clear is tantamount to extortion since an employee in the American food service industry is likely to feel compelled to obey for fear of retribution in some manner.  These same employees are more likely not offered benefits, a livable wage or paid vacation.  The fetishist work ethic must stop.  Take a mulligan, call off your staff, don’t order food, close for the storm and go home and smoke up the pot or drink or watch your stories, bang your spouse, draw dicks in the snow and whatever other things folks are wont to do when they get shut in.


Eat it boss. We’re taking a snowday.

Forget about the money for a day and enjoy the marvel of nature.  Make a snow man or something.

2 jours dans le 11éme Tuesday, Jan 19 2016 

2 days in the 11th

La cave de l’Insolite is a  small restaurant with a very decent list of organic free-thinking hippie wines, which can be taken off premises for 50% less, you don’t need a paper bag and there can be titties on the label. Hurah.  There was an unusual but pleasant red Arbois Pupillin Trousseau from Jura. Light, fruity, mineral and pleasant to drink with the richer cooked ham, duck and poularde du Gâtinais.  It has a farmhouse thing going on, with a cozy wood-burning stove in the corner, handsomely chiseled hutch keeping the stemware, communal tables and large zinc plated table that dominates the dining room.  The kitchen is smaller than a 1 car garage, but they are efficient and put out simple, elegant, well-seasoned food, though the chef has a bit of a light foot as some of the items (chicken, duck, pork, cabbage) would have benefited from being waved over stove for a minute or 2, though everything was exceedingly tender and nothing short of delicious.


There isn’t a wine list so much as there are 2 wine shelves to choose organic wines (no added sulfites) from and the shelves are well stocked by knowledgeable and hospitable sommelier/owner Axel.  Riding the coattails of Christmas enthusiasm and as a sign of good graces from the folks’ repeated visits which they disguise as forced solidarity for a bruised 11th neighborhood (Charlie Hebdo, Bataclan were within earshot), Axel treated us to a startlingly clean eau-de-vie de houx (holly berry) from an antique glass carboy, sucked up with an equally old glass thief, which went down exceedingly well at 120 proof.


Good memories of the fantastic immature English cheddar which had all the characteristics of similarly pressed Cantal/Salers style cheeses but less than 2 months old, sweeter, less salty, grassy and creamy.

Back-up wines are stored in the basement on the way to the boudoir, which has its own techno soundtrack piped in (they are still very into that, over there) complete with neon and disco ball.

Their sister restaurant/bar is the diminutive 20 seat L’Acolyte de L’insolite with a tinier kitchen but puts out a decent brandade de morue even if it has the superfluous potatoes and I would have discretely added chopped capers and lemon juice if I had them to the husky 130g portion of dry aged, lean Charolais beef tartar

La Bague de Kenza (3 locations I think) on Rue du Faubourg St. Antoine on the edge of the 11th is an Algerian pastry shop with a stunning collection of sweet almond-paste confections and a smattering of savory pâte feuilletée pastillas filled with either, anchovies, cheese, or leafy greens and such.

The level of craftsmanship and dedication to a single delicacy is comforting and a reminder of how such a store is like an American Sasquatch sighting.


Across the border in the 12th at 1, rue Théophile Rousseau (who stymied public drunkenness with a series of buzzkilling laws in 1873)  is Le Baron Rouge,  namesake of the pizza-peddling Tom Selleck impostor and extraordinary wine bar on the fringes of the bustling Marché D’Aligre which is kind of like outdoor market shopping if all the vendors on rue d’Aligre are fellow contestants and you’re the next one on the Price is Right.

Open since 1979, it hasn’t really changed much, or so we told by a veteran and somewhat withered waitress who must have been quite the boozy candy striper autrefois.  A little bit of everything reasonable from all over France,  satisfying plates of cheese and charcuterie, oysters on weekends and there is even a chalk-written sign to let you know what the jazz is all about (it was Sonny Simmons).  2 glasses of Sancerre, 1 Terre Grillée Roussillon, 1 petit Chablis and plate of aged sheep’s milk cheese for 20€ ($21.50) was fine by us.  Best yet, they sell table wines by the 5 and 10 liter jug from the barrel, like a growler for you to chug-a-lug shamefully at home.

The shittiest bar in the 11th, if not the upper half of France is Le Fanfaron, namesake of Dino Risi’s 1962 cult movie and slang for a bragger with swagger:  the perfect caption for the sole owner/employee/failed actor and dear friend of almost 20 years Xavier, who is not as sly as his “the fox” nom de plume would suggest.

He is functional, mostly, and on this visit he was playing mini ping-pong with 3 of his unemployable 40-ish sycophant friends in matching underwear, wearing sombreros.  Despite his crapulence (it was only Tuesday) he was able to play some records (the only form of music) save for the rare live gig, pour drinks (nothing more complicated than Pastis and a side of water) and tally tabs (cash only).  It is on a quiet cobblestones street, the bar is about 5 feet wide and don’t put your elbows on it.  You’ll know why when it happens. It is a tribute to Russ Meyer’s busty agenda, Iggy Poppish punk,  emphysemic French crooners and there is plenty of Day of the Dead bric-a-brac on the walls.  Most of the harmless drunks can say some English words and with enough pantomimes you can tell your life’s story or be left alone.

Gerard Hayden Wednesday, Sep 2 2015 

In Memoriam

Chef Gerard Hayden 1964-2015


Gerry hired me in August 2001 to work at the well reputed Aureole in NYC.  It was my first job on the east coast and my Paris/San Francisco bonafides secured me a slot over the landlocked veterans of Denny’s showoffs who had applied a week prior.  I started off on sauté and was rather quickly relegated to the frantic fringe of hot apps, and closer to the pot sink.  I was living up on Arthur Ave waaay up in the Bronx and while the commute was soul crushing, the misfits and derelicts on the ride back home made for a good distraction in the days before smarty-pants telephones.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO North Fork Table and Inn owners Claudia Fleming and Gerry Hayden on Tuesday.

Shepherds of a good flock

I did my job, fucked up here and there, and after the towers came down in September I had to work the hot apps both lunch and dinner, on account of Gerry having fired the lunch guy for not finding the apple tortellini, and because it made good business sense since the restaurant industry took it on the chin that week.  There were some brusque conferences in the walk-in, there were some laughs, Gerry sometimes came out for a pop with the crew and there was a fella we judiciously baptized “Stinky Pete”, who showed up to work one Monday much to Gerry’s befuddlement.  “Who the fuck is that guy?”.  “Uh, chef, you  hired him Saturday night at the bar”.  “…oh.” I reached depths of shits every day that would leave James Cameron stunned, but I got through unscathed and managed to make family meal every day without having to go apologize to the staff, even blowing my wad (Gerry’s words) on a Tuesday with coq au vin.  With the help of my colleagues I went on to be a better cook.  I figured out what “a cunt hair more sauce”  translated to in metric (again, Gerry’s terms of measurement), got organized, took pride in my work and even got an extra beer at the end of the night, 1 more than the extern.

Some strange hand holding in there.

Some strange hand holding in there.

Gerry negotiated a place for me to stay on the North Fork, on a sheep farm in Cutchogue with friends from DC in exchange for our pledge to help out at the Inn and keep a balanced keel.  We were introduced to fantastic people and even better product.  More, when I have the time.  Until then, Gerry’s legacy wont continue on its own.  Thank you to all the people of the North Fork who have made this summer so endearing, worthwhile and noble.  My sincerest condolences and sympathies to Gerry’s friends, families and those familiar with the wretched affliction.  He is in a much better place and there are very few who should have to suffer as much for their trade.

An indulgence he let me savor.

An indulgence he let me savor.

Une Fourche dans la Route Sunday, Aug 2 2015 

A Fork in the Road.  I chose the northern one.

After some revitalizing altruism in the nation’s capital, cooking at a venerable soup kitchen, I had the blessing of my sweetheart to try to be happy elsewhere, rather than miserable in Washington, DC.  I’m on the North Fork, living on a sheep farm with some friends, cooking for a former chef of mine who has been sidelined from his restaurant in a physiacal capacity by a debilitating disease.  Doing the best we can with the local products, of which there are plenty, within a 20 mile radius.

Duck and Pork Pâté in Savory pastry.

Chunky style, in it's own crust.

Chunky style, in it’s own crust.

 Ricotta and Zucchini Tartelette with Beef Heart

Whittled squash and summer whimsy.

Whittled squash and summer whimsy.

La Caniculifornie Sunday, Apr 12 2015 

If you’re going to San Francisco,

don’t put flowers in your hair because they will wilt.

That blows.
That blows.

With California’s racy pool parties withering on the vine for about 4 years and change now and on the cusp of runnin’ dry,  I’m committed more than ever to steadfastly avoid buying produce & agricultural products from the freak state, more so considering the resources and environmental consequences of having them shipped on crumbling roads & bridges from 3000 miles away.

Drought blame flowchart:  Chickpeas ->hummus->Middle East
Drought blame flowchart: Chickpeas ->hummus->Middle East

Before the asphalt epiphany of easy cross-country commerce, folks of generations past ate more seasonally, and seasonal often meant canned, frozen or dinners of the TV variety before the permafrost had thawed.  Supermarkets are riddled with California produce and the statistics of what California grows is absolutely stupefying.

Sometimes dry is funny.
Sometimes dry is funny.

Somehow, despite our craven war-room committee meetings that strategize red-blooded energy independence and frantic USA #1 cheerleading, America has succeeded in consolidating the majority of its food production (#1 producer of milk & dairy, garlic, celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuces, strawberries, artichokes, etc…) to a state that does not have enough irrigation to wet it’s own pants and is thousands of miles away from the most populated areas of the country.  During a “know your enemy” surveillance exercise at the P street Whole Frauds in the nation’s capital, a humiliating and thoroughly dispiriting outing, the reality of the Mid-Atlantic’s (at least) absolute dependence on California was wholly startling and, seen through Rowdy Roddy Piper’s Ray-Bans, revealing of targeted consumers’ willful blindness or ignorance. Despite the cleansing allure of the Whole-Food, a vast majority of the produce at that location was factory farmed, with pesticides and fertilizers that compromise everyone and everything downstream and  downwind.

Dusty fruit bowl.
Dusty fruit bowl.

One could make the conjecture that Whole Foods caters to a conscientious, Obama sympathetic shopper who are willing to pay a premium for equality-brewing free-trade coffee and canned goods with 10% more “organic” something reads newspapers or hyperbolic news flavored websites and has heard the rumor of California’s drought –though whether the drought is caused by humans, not enough dams to retain nonexistent water or volcanoes has yet to be settled unanimously.

The Jerky State
The Jerky State

What’s more, rice production (a crop that demands lots of water; lots) is subsidized in dry California to the tune of $170,000,000 a year.  Rice should apologize. Rather than growing produce and concentrating in fertile states along the Mississippi river, we subsidize and grow crops for animal feed.  That, in a nutshell (CA leads the country in almond and walnut production) is how fucked up the food system is in the United States.  We have lost track of seasonality and where food comes from or when and accustomed to all foods available all year-round.  It will be our downfall, when crop prices rise and the ripple is felt throughout the food system from 7-11’s & Olive Gardens to the fancy  temples of bullshit that preach quality & seasonality but pounce on 1st of the season ingredients from very, very far away.  Maybe they’ll just pave Los Angeles County and put up solar panels, like they should ISIS strongholds.

Merci France, pour les déssins rigolo Friday, Jan 9 2015 

A tribute to balls cartoonists. Nope, Charlie Hebdo is not dead.

A tribute to ballsy cartoonists.
Nope, Charlie Hebdo is not dead.

I can’t say for sure if the dozen who lost their lives this past Wednesday in the merciless attack on Charlie Hebdo are heroes;  at least by French and European standards.  Personal heroes perhaps.  They did their jobs, aware of the consequences –particularly the editor in chief and the cartoonists- but there is nothing heroic about enjoying and using the expressive liberties bestowed upon the French.  Courageous perhaps in their resilience after condemnation from extremist threats and firebombs and while they were proponents of freedom, they certainly didn’t save any lives.  By contrast, in America, too often the pasty notion of a hero  is a commoner who died,  passively maybe, statistically probably shot, and their legacy –whatever it may be- is emboldened with the coronation of a flimsy hero’s ribbon crown and sensationalized salute by special cable news drama. Americans think the caricature of French surrendering is a good rib-tickler, but US media is a blue ribbon pussy by comparison.

Oui nide iou.

Oui nide iou.

When Charlie Hebdo poked our abhorrent collective enemy in the eye with a pencil, the only camaraderie we can muster  is to shit our pants and paste pictures of dead people on the front page, though yes, we allow assholes to speak their mind on the back page, with Ziggy trying to get a break in between.


The members of Charlie Hebdo were champions of the freedom of expression which we seem to value just as much over here, but the dingle-douches on the Supreme Court  have obstensibly hobbled freedom of speech with US$ shackles and we use it to oppress others rather downhill rather than goofing on those who rule and threaten us (Mitch McConnell turtle jokes nothwithstanding) .  In America, freedom of speech is about money, using it to vilify the 99% and the repulsive cowardice of the American media at large in saluting and defending the liberties which people died practicing is a spineless bow to executives fearful of losing advertising dollars, be they on the NYTimes, CNN, WSJ, Comedy Central (censuring South Park) , MSNBC, etc…  Those vile outlets could have published any one of the more mild cartoons as a noble gesture of compassion and brotherly support, but instead that splashed pictures of a wounded officer seconds before he was shot in the head, and if you have something electric it is in video.  It is important to understand that Charlie Hebdo wasn’t goofing on Islam in particular just for sport.  They lampooned the extremist fringe’s revered yet invisible icon that they demands subjugation and the killing  of innocent thousands. Charlie Hebdo has social merit but no seething hatred

"Laughing Kills"

“Laughing Kills”

If there were a cartoon to lampoon the courage of American freedom of expression, it would be a quixotic fat cowboy with an assault rifle riding a dollar sign straining under the weight.  And that fat cowboy would be charging towards abortion clinics.  We use freedoms to pummel what is otherwise plenty acceptable in the rest of the civilized world.

"Communism soon... so we can laugh a bit."

“Communism soon…
so we can laugh a bit.”

We censure breasts  and “shit” on standard TV but footage of senseless violence with the bright red “discretion”  lure is just as American as processed reduced fat gluten-free apple pie.  In this case the press celebrated the dead with graphic neon head shots of how they died rather than, ironically, not publishing the pictures of their very little foreign brothers’ cartoon paper.

No comment...

No comment…

I’ve always been an incorruptible,  steadfast wet-panties cheerleader for Francophilia (except matters concerning their clumsy grasp of the internets) and while saddened by the events which will no doubt foment and ferment already sour relations between a majorly peaceful Muslim population and the secular French, the patriotic call to arms against tyranny,  rebellious satire’s “theme song” and France’s national anthem “La Marseillaise” always gives me exhilarating chair de poule. France has an epic tradition of food culture, but comics also rule the day, notably the goofy, sexually irreverent scribbles like Édika, Gotlib, Reiser, and the triumphant Fluide Glacial that are the hallmark syllabi of mine and every other’s Gallic youth.


Merci France, pour les déssins rigolo et bandant.

Un Crime Contre les Dessins de Charlie Hebdo Thursday, Jan 8 2015 

Charlie Hebdo

Ducks (French slang for newspapers) will fly higher than guns.

Ducks (French slang for newspapers) will fly higher than guns.

Media outlets in the US who consider themselves to be noble, almost essential stewards of the news were far too happily to show video up until the moment wounded Muslim police officer Ahmed Merabet was executed on the sidewalk, then blurring the shot to the head for a second, and then continuing.  What the cowardly major news dispensers were reluctant to do, was to shirk away from journalistic solidarity and publish the scribbled sophomoric cartoons that perpetuated the murders.  Well, except for the HuffPo, which is just news flavored junk-food.

Stéphane Charnonnier.   Charlie Hebdo editor in chief.

Stéphane Charnonnier. Charlie Hebdo editor in chief.

It is appalling, infuriating, an injustice and affront to those who proudly preserve the fundamental right, since antiquity of satire and more recently, free speech as it relates to goofing on the king, queen, God, Jews, Italians, Obama and even Mohammad in the spirit of provoking thoughtful laughs.  Though crude, irreverent, hilarious and out of context nonsensical, political cartoons are critical parodies intended to question the status quo rather than senseless efforts to offend the self righteous.  Even Nazi sympathizers got a shout out.

Lucille Clerc

Lucille Clerc

If the extremely fundamentalist Islamic dipshit misanthropes sought to snuff out Charlie Hebdo with their triggerfinger expedition, they didn’t think it through and cut the starfish.  Instead of a 60,000 circulation, next Wednesday’s will be printed 1,000,000 times and what was once a somewhat obscure, esoteric  comedy newspaper  now a world-wide cause célèbre.  Suck it Al Qaeda.  It blew up in your face.

Charlie Hebdo needs a veil!

Charlie Hebdo needs a veil!

Having been a senior writer for the pioneering DC based literary-ish ‘zine of sorts “Gluttony Digest”  in the mid 2000’s, we were fortunate enough to have the charmingly perverted pencilwork of Trenton Duval (no relation to Robert Duvall).  In his 2007 oeuvre “A Quaker feels his oats”, the Quaker Oats guy is sodomizing a gimp with a ball gag, drinking whiskey and shooting a clearly labeled box of live puppies.  Eagle-eyes art enthusiasts will notice the shock lines emanating from the gimp, and appreciate the smooth, synergetic ying-yang thing going on where the Quaker’s belly meets the gimp’s butt.  Not sure if we were ahead of the curve, or the fray, or behind it, or what that curve/fray is/was, but we lived through the Quaker fury and praise their decidedly unbelligerent ethos.

A Quaker feels his oats.

A Quaker feels his oats.

So lets see what the all the Allah-Hubbub is all about.  (Editor’s spoiler alert note: if you don’t speak French they probably aren’t very funny, save for the cartooney googly eyes on Mahomet. So I translated them and you can prepare to chuckle.)

100 lashes if you don't die from laughter.

100 lashes if you don’t die from laughter.

Mohammad overcome by the extremists. "its hard to be liked by assholes."

Mohammad overcome by the extremists.
“its hard to be liked by assholes.”

"Killing in Egypt" The Coran is shit; it doesn't stop bullets.

“Killing in Egypt”
The Coran is shit; it doesn’t stop bullets.

"And my butt cheeks, so you like them?"

The movie that embarrasses the Muslim world.  “And my butt cheeks, so you like them?”

"Charlie Hebdo please". "Take off your mask Mohammad, he recognized you."

“Charlie Hebdo please”.
“Take off your mask Mohammad, he recognized you.”

And for the Christian zealots who shoot up abortion clinics and feel left out, there’s even a few cartoons for you.

The father, the son and the holy spirit.

The father, the son and the holy spirit.

Dinner of Jerk. "Dinner is served!"

Dinner of Jerks.
“Dinner is served!”

Mohammad and satire Jesus- "you'll see, you get get used to it."

Mohammad and satire
Jesus- “you’ll see, you get get used to it.”

A la Dèche Entre DC et New York. Thursday, Jan 1 2015 

Down & Out in DC and New York


This blog burgeoned 7 years ago in an effort to better myself as a professional (paid) cook and amateur shutterbug.  It forced me to document fabrications, to be accountable, creative, and as with all theory & practice, trials & flubs, all the muck ups and successes that helped define the thresholds of culinary science –the limits and proportions of heat, time, water,  faith, salt, fat, protein, starch, hope, expectations and confidence.  I made some good things. With passion and soul. At times consistently delicious and a satisfying measure of technique and skill.  And some were awful shit salads, more so after comparison to the work of others, notably those with a finer control of the shutter and access to some of the best product.

Joe Henderson's Randall-Linebacks.  Berryville, VA.

Joe Henderson’s Randall-Linebacks. Berryville, VA.

I was grateful to have been the 1st and so far only American to have been selected as a finalist for the World Pâté Croûte Championship in Tain l’Hermitage, France.  It was the proudest I’d ever been of my work, being chosen.  Validation of sorts, even if it cost me a fortune to get there and I had the misfortune of making 3 pâtés at once in my home oven.  I didn’t do that well, but learned a tremendous amount and since am very confident of my fabrications thereof, though its been a while since I’ve made them on a regular basis.  I put all the effort I could muster in presenting a worthwhile offering for the Cochon 555, but didn’t get any credit and lost to a someone who bested me by making dopey T-shirts and deli hats.

Tubesteaks at Biancardi's.  Arthur Avenue; The Bronx, NYC.

Tubesteaks at Biancardi’s. Arthur Avenue; The Bronx, NYC.

I don’t think there are too many people making whimsical pâté en croûte, crepinettes, pressed ham in aspic, stuffed shad, a proper aïoli (garlic and olive oil, little else.  Its not a mayonnaise) in the DC area, if any, and it is either a testament to it being hopelessly outdated, not enough cooks who are interested in making it or consumers don’t care for it. Too few know what a real bisque is, or the trifecta of cassoulet, true brandade, and a few other tales of culinary history and folklore.  Never sold too many boudin either, or jambonneau. I spent a great deal of time and energy making telegraphs in an age of cell phones. I was often told that hard work would pay off. I had some decent reviews as a bona fide chef, but the one in the paper was a favor from a used up crony critic to the owner who he is chummy with and barely ate anything of note.  And praise from friends is exactly what you’d expect, from friends.  The bosses weren’t making the money they had hoped for and I was presented with the non-negotiable option of changing course, cutting staff and limiting the menu, or else.  Rather than compromise on my standards and repertoire I chose “else” and jumped ship, swimming, or at least treading water, in the direction of integrity.  I went to Mexico with a dear friend and got the chance to go home for Jewish/Swedish-Christmas.

Soppressata ceiling.  Calabria's, Arthur Avenue.  The Bronx, NYC

Soppressata ceiling. Calabria’s, Arthur Avenue. The Bronx, NYC

So all the hard work never paid off.  I’ve begun to come to terms with it.  Maybe it wasn’t my time and I made bad decisions.   I begin 2015 somewhat unemployed, relegated to a temporary prep-cook job for a NYC empire making 15 gallon batches of chili and soulless soup for a brand name that fraudulently sells commodity feedlot beef as “grass fed“.  I’ll go back to DC in a fortnight with some hay in the loft but no job prospects.  If I am reduced to line cooking at age 40 I’ll have to start all over again since that kind of dip on a résumé for a chef job is more likely to inspire caution rather than excitement.  What I’d really want is to run a food shop though, and sell my wares with pride and integrity, but that requires partners and people with capital, neither of which I have.

Split lamb.  Arthur Avenue Market.  The Bronx, NYC.

Split lamb. Arthur Avenue Market. The Bronx, NYC.

Maybe I should have sold out earlier and taken a higher paying higher profile job with a PR company to boot which would keep me at the forefront on all the gossipy dribble and StarChefs starfuckers.  Or perhaps I’m just bitter, because my fish pie didn’t make the rising star cut and something out of a can with raw onion and peanuts did.  I should follow trends more closely and highlight such unsavory food qualifiers on menus that conjure food that is inedible as “burnt”, “fermented”, “sour”, “foraged from a vacant lot”, etc… I’m not motivated to make things at home like I used to be.  The kitchen is smaller and more cluttered and I’ve made just about all that I wanted, and whatever was worth the effort.  I might just apply to art school after all.

5 Deciembre fish market.  Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

5 Deciembre fish market. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

It is easy to be cynical, albeit emotionally draining. DC has a 20% poverty rate and is littered with trash; America’s public transportation system, crumbling infrastructure and energy grid is 30 years behind Western Europe (at least); about 1% of the US population is in prison (we have 25% of the world’s prison population); we have more fat people; more guns; too much pollution; religious zealots in elected office; college education is by and large unaffordable; the food system is all fucked up; campaign finance reforms only benefit the wealthy; the Supreme Court has bigots on the bench (which is a good representation of overall American bigotry); commercial real estate landlords are greedy parasites who deserve syphilis; there is only 1 independent quality bakery in the nation’s capital (in a city of 600,000); the poor are vilified by a majority of elected officials; the right to vote is infringed upon with absolute impunity; wealth disparity is the highest it’s ever been and we elect people who plan on keeping it that way; we don’t know what quality is outside of electronics that are obsolete in 6 months; we are cheap, impatient, shallow and overall prefer the reassurances of an awful chain food store/restaurant rather than the Mom & Pop local whatever that the same want, in theory, but won’t pay for in practice. And our interwebs is slower and more expensive than in western Europe.

Thank you to the few, lonely, random visitors and perverts who came up with blog with the intentions of learning a thing or 2 about making fancy meatloaf and getting me to click on SPAM.  I’ve been on vacation for the better part of the last 2 months and will reflect on the better parts of that time.  In the upcoming year I resolve to be more judgmental and ornery.  I’m going to do more bicycling, read some historical stuff and catch up on crappy TV.

Thanksgiving 2014, as seen through 1914 spectacles.

Turkey consommé Dubarry.

Turkey consommé Dubarry.

Turkey Wellington.  Breast and forcemeat, bound in collard greens.

Turkey Wellington. Breast and mushroom forcemeat, bound in collard greens.

Pasty English pastry.

Pasty English pastry.

A golden bird.

A golden bird.



Turkey salmis, Jansson's temptation, oyster stuffing.

Turkey salmis, Jansson’s temptation, oyster stuffing.

Roasted turkey leg salmis.  Picked, with gizzards, turnips, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms and kabocha squash.

Roasted turkey leg salmis. Picked, with gizzards, turnips, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms and kabocha squash.

Alors, l’alose. Friday, Mar 28 2014 

I had a shad.  And painstakingly deboned it.

Swim Shady.

Swim Shady.

Shad.  The hallmark Mid-Atlantic harbinger of spring, along with the ubiquitous asparagus, those tired ramps, the pods, the peas, mushrooms, rhubarb, berries and such.  However the shad demands more than a peeler.  Nimble and sensitive fingers, insurmountable patience and a dexterous knife rule the day.  Shad roe is the folksy popular progeny while the mothership is generally an afterthought, overlooked on account of the maddening maze of bones; pin bones, “y” bones and everything in between.

Pocketbook style eggs

Mothership & crew.

Provençal culinary folklore suggests that the oxalic acid  in sorrel melts the multitude of minuscule bones. There are as many fables to support the homeopathic shad-butchery of yesteryear as there are tales on the intrawebs declaring otherwise.  Undeterred and fiercely obedient to traditional French cuisine, the shad was butterflied through the back, the pin bones removed, stuffed with an ample amount of sorrel, bathed with brandy and slow baked for 10 hours at 160F.

My fish butchery has been commended as being strongly vaginal which bothers some men.

My fish butchery has been commended as being strongly vaginal                                which bothers some men.

The fish didn’t fall apart.  In fact, it held together quite well.  If the oxalic acid had worked as well as advertised, I would get a boneless slice of shad, the bones having melted away much like those in pickled herring.  Perhaps a pressure cooker would have sufficed.

Shad in  steel cercophagus

Shad in steel sarcophagus



It didn’t work.  The results were discouraging and left discomfort in the craw.  The “y” shaped pin bones are as remarkable a choking hazard as they are irritatingly baffling. Deboning shad is an enterprise in another reality of fish butchering and the handful of old timers that still know how to do it cleanly and efficiently deserve a comfy repose somewhere between the Smithsonian’s American History and Folk Art Department.  The meat was picked apart and we made shad cakes like they used to do back in the 50’s when you could still find canned shad roe at the grocery store.

Shadurday night fever.

Shadurday night fever.

There are about 400 bones, maybe even more, in each filet.  After fucking up a couple filets the bone matrix was finally deciphered and eventually, with dainty fingers, insufferable patience and delicate knifework, about 99.27% of the bones were removed.  The roe was rolled up in the beta version and inlayed in the forcemeat; a mixture of ground fluke, cream and egg white then sieved and mixed with J.O. spice, lemon zest and sorrel. It was rolled up as one would for a ballotine then poached, gently.

Tube fish.

Boneless tubefish.

A revised 2.0 version had the roe washed clean with water to remove the blood and bound with 10% of the forcemeat.  Much better results.  What’s more, the sorrel, without contact to the air or too high of cooking temperature kept green.  A sauce was made.  Loosey-goosey soubise of sorts (fish fumet thickened with butter, rice and onion) then blended smooth with blanched sorrel, watercress and parsley.  Lardons from my venrèche, little onions and red thumb potatoes filled out the rest of the plate after the slice was seared in lard rendered from the cured belly.  The dish was well executed, properly harmonized and exceedingly well received.

Hopelessly dated discipline and technique.

Hopelessly dated discipline and technique, though delicious.

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