Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Pig Primer

As fatty fodder for my culinary curiosities, I took a butchery class at
The Brooklyn Kitchen in Williamsburg to brush up on the various cuts of pork (i.e. belly, loin, picnic, shoulder, jowl, hock, etc..) and learn the best practices for cooking and integrating offal as well as other extraneous pig morsels into dishes. While the class is not hands-on, it is, nevertheless, extremely engaging and informative. The demonstration is led by a very wry and entertaining instructor by the name of Tom, who is the head-butcher at esteemed restaurants, such as Diner, Marlowe and Sons, and Bonita. The class consisted of about 10 people standing around a huge-ass half pig on a huge-ass steel table, while Tom butchered meat, shared his droll observations about his days in the kitchen, and dealt out educational tidbits, like how skirt is actually the diaphragm of an animal (I did not know that!). After 2-hours and a worthwhile investment of $75 , one leaves with about 8 LBS of amazing pork and all the more wiser about our good, yet fated, friend, Mr.Pig. the brooklyn kitchen
616 Lorimer St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Monday to Saturday

Alice Waters and Chez Panisse: Book Recommendation

For Christmas, my cousin gave me Thomas McNamee's book titled, Alice Waters and Chez Panisse:The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution. Truth be known, I didn't know who Alice Waters was (ack!) and only vaguely knew of the gourmand's nirvana, Chez Panisse, located in Berkley, CA, outside of San Francisco. I used to travel to San Francisco for work, but only experienced the region mostly through the confines of soulless, corporate hotel rooms and early morning van trips to Silicon Valley (made interminable by the unnerving merriment of eager work colleagues). I suffered through bland buffet dinners, tolerable room service and twizzlers on the road, I never experienced what is called "Californian Cuisine" the movement , or result of the "food revolution" that Alice Waters led by way of her highly renown restaurant, Chez PanissePeppered with gossipy tidbits of behind the scenes kitchen shananigans and power struggles between chefs and restaurant owners, this book mostly tells the story of an ordinary woman with no real, classical food training, who had a dream to start a restaurant commited to utilizing fresh, local, seasonal ingredients, reflecting her tastes and appreciation for French food aesthetics. Her passions and dedication, along with the talent and collaboration of her colleagues, availed to Waters the realization of her dream. I took the book with me to read, while I was in Argentina--a place known for its exquisite beef and excellent Malbec wines. When I sat down to eat, I started to question the origins of the ingredients in the dishes and really started to taste food and wine in a completely different way. An entertaining and inspiring read for anyone interested in starting a business, restaurant culture, and locavore cuisine.