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Archive for December, 2010

As you may have noticed, we got quite a blizzard here in New Jersey on Sunday and Monday. When all was said and done, I’d say we got a little under two feet. It sure took a lot of work to shovel our cars out! I went out once on Sunday night and did one round of preliminary shoveling, but by Monday morning, we could hardly tell that I did anything. After the Plow Boy came and plowed the majority of our driveway, we spent the next hour or so digging out our cars. A little while later, we had some pretty clean spots on our hands. After we were done, our neighbor Hugh also went out and dug his car out as well. While Michael and I were shoveling, neighbor James—the dirtbag—came outside. He dug his car out just enough to be able to pull out of his spot and into a faux spot in front of the garage (where, as per our landlord’s instructions, we are not supposed to park). He proceeded to spend the next 20 minutes cleaning every flake of snow off of his car, then went inside, leaving a gigantic wall of snow behind. Here is photographic evidence of his heinous crime. I took the photo from our bedroom window, but you can still make out the wall.

I can’t imagine he’s waiting for me to move my car so he can steal my spot…not after Michael called him out on doing it last year. But in the back of my mind, I still have a really bad feeling. I have to go to the grocery store soon, and I hate to think about where his car is going to be when I get back. I will say this—if he steals any of our spots, there’s going to be some sort of fight.

I really hate this dude’s guts.

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I don’t usually pay much attention to the Facebook ads that I’m bombarded with on a daily basis, but this one caught my eye as being particularly ridiculous. The ad has correctly presumed that I am a fan of the Kill Bill movies…and since Lucy Liu was in Kill Bill, then, by the nature of the transitive property, I should therefore be very excited about this Lifetime miniseries called Marry Me. I looked up this movie, just to make sure I wasn’t making any improper assumtions about it. According to a blog, “In the lighthearted miniseries, Rae Ann Carter (Liu) doesn’t want to settle for anything less than Prince Charming, but somehow lands herself three of them—Luke, Adam, and Harry—and they all want to marry her. What’s an attractive, yet hopelessly romantic girl to do?”

Why, yes! I would totally be into watching a four-hour (yes, that’s right) made for tv romantic comedy based on my interest in Kill Bill. According to the synopsis of Volume 1 on Amazon, they’re essentially the same movie. “Four years after taking a bullet in the head at her own wedding, The Bride emerges from a coma and decides it’s time for payback…with a vengeance! Having been gunned down by her former boss and his deadly squad of international assassins, it’s a kill-or-be-killed fight she didn’t start but is determined to finish!”

Anyway, I just thought this was one of the worst attempts at direct marketing that I’ve ever seen.

Here’s a great clip from Marry Me—I mean, Kill Bill. Sorry, it’s hard for me to keep track of them now. Warning: this clip contains graphic violence and strong language.

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Le Bernardin

Last night was Michael’s birthday, so I took him to Le Bernardin to celebrate. Eric Ripert is the executive chef, though I do not expect that he’s in the kitchen cooking every night. We definitely didn’t see him and, believe me, I looked. This was my second fine dining experience, the first being Masa’s in San Francisco, which was probably one of the best meals of my life. This time around, I brought my camera and managed to discreetly photograph each course. The photos are not of good quality, but it was the best I could do without using the flash. Similar to Masa’s, we opted for the seven course tasting menu.


The first course was layers of thinly pounded Yellowfin Tuna atop a toasted baguette with shaved chives and extra virgin olive oil. I believe the waiter also mentioned that there was some foie gras hidden underneath the baguette. I was pretty excited about that, since I’ve never tasted foie gras before. Not really something I should be interested in, considering that I love ducks and most other waterfowl—but I’ve heard so much buzz about it from shows like Top Chef that I wanted to give it a try. It was good, but I don’t really know how to describe it. Sorry, I’m not a food writer. It’s sort of, vaguely, in the same ballpark as liverwurst…but that’s all I got.


The next course was charred octopus with a fermented black bean concoction poured on top of it. It also had a little sliver of pear, and the plate was drizzled with an ink-miso vinaigrette (squid ink, I presume?). The texture of the octopus was far less chewy than octopus you’d get from a Japanese restaurant, or in an Italian seafood salad. The beans also added a strong smokiness to the dish. One of my cuts of octopus had the suction cups on it, which I thought was a little gross and probably wouldn’t have eaten it in any other situation. But, in that case, I did.


The third course was a warm lobster carpaccio with hearts of palm and an orange vinaigrette. This was my second favorite part of the meal. The lobster was delicious, but the viniagrette totally made the dish. I believe it had cream in it, but it was surprisingly light, and the citrus flavor was a nice touch.


The fourth course was my favorite. It was seared Yellowtail King Fish alongside a truffle/vegetable risotto, drizzled with a black truffle emulsion. This. was. so. good. The yellowtail was cooked perfectly and the risotto had a really strong, comforting, vegetabley flavor. Great description, right?


The fifth course was crispy Black Bass with a beansprout “risotto” and a mini steamed bun, with a hoisin-plum jus. I have to admit, I wasn’t too into this course. The fish was good, but I found the hoisin sauce to be a little salty. At first, I thought the “bun” was an onion, which would have been really bad since I don’t like onions. Luckily, it turned out to be some sort of weird…bun. It was doughy and spongy and didn’t really taste like anything, and I still don’t really understand what it could have been made of. It was weird. This dish would mark the end of the savory courses.


Course number six was parsnip crème brulée, roasted hazelnut, and browned milk solids (also known as chocolate?). I’m all for tasting new things, but I have to say that the parsnip crème brulée didn’t really do it for me. It didn’t really taste like dessert so much as it tasted like, well, a parsnip. Oh well, they can’t all be winners.


And here we are at the last course where, for some reason, I forgot to take a picture until I started eating. This was a milk chocolate parfait with “liquid pear,” which was really intriguing. There was this little white ball on top of the parfait—we were instructed to eat it by itself, and after biting into it and piercing the thin outer layer, this “liquid pear” oozed out. It was kind of like a Gusher, only waaayyyyyy better. The rest of the chocolate parfait was also delicious.

At the end of the meal, they also brought us some petite fours to munch on, which were also very good.

All in all it was a fantastic meal, but if I do a course-by-course comparison, I think Masa’s still wins as my favorite dinner of all time. We’ll probably have to eat lots of Ramen before we do this again, but I’ll have a full report when we do.

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The following conversation took place between me and a little boy, probably about 3 years old.

Boy: Why are the fish in there? [gesturing towards fish tank behind me]
Me: Because that’s where they live! (In this instance, the exclamation mark indicates an outgoing and friendly tone)
Boy Why are they in the water?
Me: Because fish live in water!
Boy: But why are they in the water?
Me: Uh…they need to be in water.
Boy: But…why?
Me: . . .

It’s been a while since I learned about the science behind fish and gills and their whole water filtration system, and even if I did remember it, something tells me that he would still be left with the nagging quesion of, “Why?”

In other news, this is BLOG POST NUMBER 100! Congratulations for me for providing stellar, insightful, thought-provoking, and generally wonderful posts. And congratulations to you for reading and somehow sticking with me.

Until 101,
RL

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Top Chef All-Stars!

If you’re a fan of Top Chef, you were likely as excited as I was to settle in for the premiere of the eighth season, known this time around as Top Chef All-Stars. I was super-psyched for the new season, partly because I like the vast marjority of people that they brought back. For those of you who are unaware, this season showcases a collection of 18 former contestants from previous seasons, all of whom came really close to winning the title but were unsuccessful in the end.

This season is unique because I have no “getting to know you” period where I size up each person and make my early prognostications regarding who the winner will be. However, after referring to the list of contestants, I can offer you a list of people who I will be rooting against.

1. Stephen, Season 1. This guy is a nerdy d-bag. He always touted himself as being more of a sommelier than a chef. And you can tell he doesn’t cook much these days, because his first dish stunk. If he doesn’t get it together, he’ll soon get the boot (hopefully).

2. Marcel, Season 2. He’s a good chef, but he stirs the pot, and not in any kind of amusing way. You can’t get away with being that cocky if you don’t have any other redeeming qualities…at least in my book.

3. Jennifer, Season 6. I can’t stand listening to her talk with her weird speech impediment/Philly accent. Is that wrong? I don’t care—I want her gone.

4. Jamie, Season 5. She’s kind of a wildcard, because I actually like her. My problem with her is that all she makes is soup. I think I may keep a tally of how many she makes this season—we’re only one episode in and she already has one under her belt. I don’t care how good they are. MAKE SOMETHING ELSE! You can’t be a one-trick pony if you want to be Top Chef.

Besides this group, anyone else can win and I’ll be pretty happy. I was sad to see Elia go last night, but it seemed like she really bungled that fish. Oh well. I have no real predictions about who is going to win. They’re all really good chefs, so it’s just going to come down to who makes better decisions and fewer mistakes. We’ll see!

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