De la Peau Dans le Jeu. Tuesday, Mar 13 2018 

Skin in the Game

In lieu of the unsolicited opinion, clumsy accusation and merit-less, par-baked verdict viciously slapped on my humble, equal opportunity galantines (see comments here, and here), by Art Institute of California Culinary Director Rudy Kloeble, I would like to reassure you, loyal reader of unwavering faith, bedrock morality and delectable charm, that the galantines and ballotines are all wrapped in the skin of the bird (or fish, or rabbit or plump captive coed), the forcemeat is a “farce fine” of ground and diced breast meat (for fish flesh) and that the cheesecloth holds the shape during the cooking process. I keep the cheesecloth on to prevent oxidation and drying out of the skin. My culinary integrity aims for platinum standards and while certain liberties may be taken, products are generally a proud representation of authenticity in either theory, practice and/or ingredient.


Skin to win

 A more reasonable inquire on behalf of a culinary instructor would have been to inquire: “are the galantines breast meat wrapped in skin?” to which I would have happily replied: “yes, of course. Suck it”. To publicly dispute my reliable adherence to the kitschy classics of French Gastronomy (on my day off, snowbound and still in my bathroom well into the afternoon) will invite a well seasoned and sturdy retort.


Caution: reading about galantines on this blog may give goosebumps.

Furthermore, as a matter of sanitary practice and cleanliness, I would suggest Mr. Kloeble use latex gloves on his non-knife holding hand in fish and chicken cutting demonstrations, to keep one’s hands a fingernails clean. Lead through example Sir. Cleanliness is the hallmark of disciplined handiwork (see Bernard L’Oiseau’s anecdote of the Troigros brothers clean aprons in “The Perfectionist”).  And unless there is reason to doubt the accuracy of my craftsmanship, effusive praise is preferred from the peanut gallery.  Make Galantines Great Again.  #MGGA

Let’s not throw shade on the ballotine; an equally refine fabrication similar to the galantine, only that it is served hot. To wit: Thanksgiving turkey leg ballotine.  Thigh muscle meat mixed with ground leg trimmings (meticulously cleaned of tendons), liver, cream, egg, confit chicken gizzards, diced heart, dried cranberries and so forth.  


A leg up in the skin game.

Not to be outdone, consider the shad ballotine from the Eat The Rich days back in the nation’s Capital.  It is worth noting that my trusted, tall, infinitely capable and indispensable sous-chef Gerald at the time has been recognized by the JBF for his work at Maydan in the capacity of chef.  His skin is delightfully decorated and a pleasure to look at.


Its a shad state of affairs when the use of skin is questioned.

But wait, there’s more.  Never before posted on this blog, the elusive and **Exclusive** Rabbit ballotine with black truffle and black trumpet mushrooms.  Rabbit wrapped and cooked in its outer layer of flesh (since the rabbits are skinned) and a bonus layer of pancetta. Close enough and good enough for government work.


Rabbit ballotine with a loin, truffle and black trumpet bull’s eye. You are welcome, internet.

Beaucoup d’agneau Tuesday, Feb 28 2017 

A whole lotta lamb


Abstract 21st Century Impressionist lamb decoupage.  ca. 2017

Hello cherished reader.  A fair amount of lamb has been coming in. They are between 9-12 months, the proper age to qualify for the “lamb” distinction.  Anything else is deemed “mutton” after the slaughterhouse dentist takes a peek at their grill.  They are broken down into primals and sub-primals by hand with nothing more than a boning knife and a cleaver in the old world “seam butchery” manner.  Muscle by muscle, tied up all nice. I do use the band saw to trim the ends of the shanks.  The band saw also makes quick work of pumpkins. And fingers when showing off for the camera.


Stubby paring knife was made at prison camp.

The shoulders become “melons”, or pumpkins.  Shank is cut off, humerus and scapula removed.  It is stuffed with a bit of merguez, bound with some strips of ventrèche (French answer to pancetta), wrapped in caul fat, then some cat’s cradle string work to cinch it all nice & tight.  A little disc of fatback covers the string intersection (and melts nicely) and a little sprig of parsley make just so faaaaaabulous.


Knot’s landing.

The saddles are painstakingly, carefully and pleasantly dispatched of bone, gristle, sinew, fat, hair, fuzz, lead, and/or buckshot then sprinkled with magic seasoning (magic juniper berries in the fall/winter, dingleberries when in season, some rosemary, sand, dried chili) then rolled up all nice & straight like they taught me in the Paris, France at Hugo Desnoyer’s premier butcher shop.


Bambi’s 7-point father picked off from 75 yds.

Then the leg is either broken down into individual muscles and kept whole (the bone is delicately, almost sexily carved and pulled out with the shank) and tied up, as in the venison (close enough) roast above.


B-cup, breast stuffed with almonds and giblets.

Nothing really interesting about the lamb rack (no pictures) and when I’m feeling more whimsical than usual, the lamb breast is stuffed with trimmings, the heart, liver, tongue, gizzards, kidney, gills and olives.  Very old world Frenchy stuff.


Lamb jam fans.

And then the trimmings get ground up and mixed with leftover bread turned into crumbs, grated Pecorino cheese, spices, some herbs, lemon zest, paprika, ground Trump flyers (for greatness) and then give a little lemon beanie and caul fat which will roast, toast and melt nicely.  “Meatballs”for the philistines, “crepinettes”for the rest who know how to use utensils and say hello/please/thank you.  Thank you.

Le Boucher/Boulanger de Cutchogue Tuesday, Oct 25 2016 

The Butcher/Baker of Cutchogue


Give us this day our almost daily bread. Sourough & whole wheat.

Not much in the way of competition in this folksy north forky hamlet of 3.5K gentle souls but any press is good press in an election year and I hope to earn your votes in my mayoral candidacy this year.  I am running on a sturdy farmhouse-chic reclaimed barn wood platform steeped in compromising flavors of “More sidewalks, Less fat chicks, Some speed bumps” for those of us within the walking,  bicycling and revoked driver’s license “Bro” community.  While my constituents and I are eager to pocket monies from up-island,  they just need to take it more easy, man, drive slowly and set an example for the locals who are vying for qualifying times on my road in a yet-to-be-sanctioned WRC Edition in the town of Southold.


Pork liver and salted anchovy bound in bacon.

Been making some decidedly effeminate, hopelessly dated  and whimsical fabrications with items from the farm or area (proteins, produce, dairy, bread) with exceptions of salt, spices, grains and flours and the yokels seems to enjoy it.  They are a friendly bunch -honest, fair, generous- and during the leaner months I might put some couches next to the display case so that we can all take a load off but I’m going to add a surcharge for having to listen to problems/stories that are not within 3 degree of separation of food history, culture or cooking.


Pasta with various fillings but singular technique.

And we have some even more well heeled civil service/policy makers as of late whose stars shine a bit more than the rest and if they see me pacing outside their weekend homes in the evening it is because the cellular reception is spotty out here (*add cellphone tower to platform) and I’m afraid I might miss an invitation or call for help.  So long as they don’t inflate the flounder sandwich price at the Sophie’s or bring their smarty-pants ringers to Trivia, the city big-shots are welcome out here (I did grow up on the Island, albeit it a smidge west of the tines).  Consider it a south-eastern spin-off of a popular transplant/relocation series.


Fancy meatloaf in pastry with a conceptual “chicken” on an clever “egg”.

Visit anytime during out operating hours (they correspond with the numbers outside ie: 10am EST- 6pm EST) and while I will listen under the guise of patience to requests/questions*, it is not a guarantee that I will consider them.

*I do know the name(s) of the people who feed the chickens.

Hapi Beurresdai Papa Thursday, Jul 14 2016 

Happy Birthday Dad (and France)


Birthday boy.

For my old man’s 75th mid-summer. In accordance with the traditions of Swedish mid-summer and a celebration of birth, salmon and eggs were summoned. Wild Alaskan king salmon and some eggs from the farm where I work and reside.



½ the salmon was cured (brine), crusted and cold smoked on the Weber whereas the other half was stuffed with a shellfish boudin (scallops, wild shrimp, egg whites, cream, enthusiasm and vegetables), wrapped up like a Tootsie roll and poached.


Slamin’ smoked salmon. Handsomely sliced.

Eggs were soft boiled, bound with a green onion belt and radish-gizzards bet buckle then encased in a smoky aspic sarcophagus.




Up yours, Fabregé

And there was a confluence of Swedish pickled fish and eggs: pickled eggs in strong 23% acidity Swedish vinegar.


Jaundiced pub food


The whole thing


Seafaring Tootsie roll


Radish shingles.


Head to tail assembly required


A little thick on the aspic, but the world needs more aspic

We drank, we sank and I honored my father in the best way I can. He’s the best one I know.

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.

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