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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Marvolous Cuisine From a Different Point of View

     I vaguely remember the day that I went to Washington DC. It was, well let's just say it was boiling outside. Erica was very interested in going to the city until she mistook the parking prices for $27 an hour. Eventually we found "Cheap" parking. We walked a block to Point of View, a very overpriced restaurant that overlooks the city. I ordered a water, 5.6% ice and 94.4% water. It was a little bland, but it was overall preferable. Erica got an order of hummus that tasted a little bit like szechuan chickpeas. But for a main course I got a dreaded wedge salad with a whole bottle of buttermilk ranch. That being said, it was not preferable🙄. After the chaotic jumble of talkative people conversing about going to a museum, Erica stepped in and showed everyone who's boss. It's her if you didn't get that. She dictated that we would not be going to the museum and instead she suggested we take a stroll down to presidential scoops. It had a wide variety of nonexcruciating flavors. I chose cookies and cream, the only acceptable flavor. And lastly, Erica took one last selfie.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Pop Quiz (The Annals of Dockers)

You walk into Macy's.  You head to the Dockers Department.  You start browsing.  These All Weather Alpha 360 Flex Slim Tapered Fit Chinos look nice!  Ok, I'll grab 36x34 and also 38x34.  But wait?  Mixed in with these pants are a pair that are labeled slightly different, with a different sticker signifying the size.  They seem pretty similar.  But wait.  These are Alpha 360 Flex Slim Tapered Fit KHAKIS.  Ok sure I'll grab some of these, too!

Soon you're in a dressing room.  First, the CHINOS.  Ok, the 36" waist feel a bit too snug, and the 38" feels a bit too big.  Both pretty good, but perhaps I should lose a little wait to fit perfectly into the 36's, or gain a little for the 38's?  Or perhaps I need skinny summer pants and fat winter pants?  But wait!  Right now, I only wearing a polo shirt while trying on these pants.  Often, I would be wearing a dress shirt and undershirt.  So with the two layers, perhaps the 38's will fit well?  Ok, but what about the khakis?  Ok, these seem slightly THINNER, but they seem tighter!

You head back out to the racks.  Oh, there is also STRAIGHT fit.  Perhaps a 36" waist in the straight will be good, because it's a fuller cut?  But actually, the waist is the same, it's really just the cut of the leg that is fuller, and you have relatively slim legs.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Annals of Dockers

As previously chronicled in these volumes, Dockers has undergone a resurgence in the past several years. Frankly, they now make some of the finest mass-produced pants. Indeed I've owned some Dockers these past few years that have fit me -- gulp -- perfectly? Recently Dockers has been experimenting with stretchy materials, and I acquired a pair of breathtaking trousers -- rugged and casual yet refined enough for work. Comfy pants with a nice stretchy waist but also a well cut silhouette. The problem? I don't even know which pants I actually purchased, because the Dockers catalog has become absurdly massive, with different styles that are really just slight variations of one another, to the extent that one feels like the entire multiverse of pants is represented in the Dockers line.  Additionally, the naming is extremely confusing and inconsistent, and I would bet a chicken wing or two that the pants are sometimes mislabeled.  A quick rundown of just some of the styles from the Dockers website:

Dockers® Alpha Khaki Pants With Smart 360 Flex™, Slim Tapered Fit
94% Cotton, 6% Elastane

Dockers® Alpha Chino Pants With Smart 360 Flex™, Tapered Fit
95% Cotton, 5% Elastane

Downtime Khaki Pants With Smart 360 Flex™, Slim Tapered Fit
96% Cotton, 4% Elastane

Original Khaki All Seasons Tech™ Pants, Straight Fit
60% Cotton, 37% Polyester, 3% Elastane

A note on Elastane: I'm all for stretch material in pants, but it undoubtedly complicates things. How do I find the perfect fit now with all these Elastane possibilities?  Perhaps a pant with a 38'' waist is ok with 2% Elastane, but perhaps a 36" waist is better with 7% Elastane? 

I recently ordered 34 pairs of Dockers on Amazon to compare.  But the styles, as listed on the Amazon website, don't necessarily match the naming conventions used on the Dockers website, and there are a multitude of fabric ratio permutations: 92% cotton and 8% Elastane, for instance, although such a permutation is nowhere to be found on the "official" roster.  

What is one to do? The search for the perfect pant continues...

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Sundae

Definition of "sundae" from Wikipedia:

"The sundae is an ice cream dessert. It typically consists of one or more scoops of ice cream topped with sauce or syrup, and in some cases other toppings including sprinkles, whipped cream, marshmallows, peanuts, maraschino cherries, or other fruits."

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Coupes Gourmandes/Pleasure Cups

I've never taken much note of Amorino, an Italian-based gelato company that began opening parlours in New York sometime in the last several years.  I thought the gelato was certainly good.  And I seem to recall someone saying they serve complimentary house-made whipped cream.  But for whatever reason, I had it and moved on with my life.

That all changed this weekend when I decided to stop by Amorino after dinner.  I was not in the greatest of spirits, for I had just had some really disappointing mozzarella sticks.  Please god, make up to me the monstrosity of those mozz sticks with some good ice cream!  I perused the creams and scanned the menu when my eyes stopped: "Coupes Gourmandes," or Gourmet Cups, if you will.  Hm, what are those!?  Two scoops of your choice of gelato, crunchy chocolate balls, your choice of sauce -- chocolate, Nutella, or caramel -- and whipped cream!

I ordered my coupe with a scoop of tiramisu and stracciatella and Nutella.  The coupe was a receptacle of pleasures, and the whipped cream was incredible!  Ok god, we're back on good terms!  But I don't even believe in you! Hahahahahah.

Amorino
Amsterdam Avenue

Sunday, June 2, 2019

F' It

The summer is beginning, so shouldn't we all be happy?  I'm sitting at home, thinking.  I like my job, but in some ways I don't, but does it matter?  My wife is mad at me, but she says she isn't, but she really is, or is she?  Oh what the hell!?  I'm going on an adventure!  I ride the subway deep into Brooklyn, past the godforsaken pretend people, to where real people live.  I enter a Chinese noodle parlour and order rice noodles with minced pork and chile oil.  As I wait, the phone rings and one of the store owners picks up.  "Hey!  Can I get an order of chicken with baby corn?"  Really?  This is a real Chinese noodle parlour, not take-out American Chinese.  No they don't have chicken with baby corns, or General Tso's, you idiot!  My noodles come, filled with scallion and cilantro, and the noodles are good!  I walk back to the subway and stop at a cannoli joint.  I get a pistachio cannoli and it's filled to order, and I eat it as I wait for the subway to come and return me to my groundless existence in Manhattan.  THE END.

Mama's Noodle House, Bensonhurst Brooklyn
Cannoli Plus, Bensonhurst Brooklyn

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Poetry Corner

Goldfish Poem
Wouldn't you like to eat some Goldfish?
(the crackers)

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Adventurelist

It was a nice spring day, so I called out of work and went on an adventure!  First stop, David Chang's newest street cart-style shawarma parlour in the Time Warner Center, Bang Bar (bang is the tender, pita-like bread that serves as a receptacle for the meats).  I had been before, but I wanted to stop by for a morning mortadella.  "I'll have a mortadella and cheese, please!"  "Um, sorry sir, we actually don't have mortadella right now."  "Damn it! Ok, well I guess I'll have the cinnamon sugar bang, then."  What a let down!  I take my bang to the overlook and view Columbus Circle and Central Park while eating my bang filled with a sugary drizzle.  It's...ok.  But what's that sound?  Drip drip drip.  Oh god!  Drizzle is oozing from the bang and falling onto the floor.  Time to fly!  Next stop: Ole & Steen, on Broadway and 19th Street, a classic Danish bake shop and coffee house.  I order a "copenhanger," a poppy seed pastry lightly filled with marzipan.  Delightful!  Ok, what now?  A pizza lunch sounds good to me!  I head over to Massoni, Dale Talde's new pizza parlour inside the Arlo Hotel.  I order a pie to go and take it to Madison Square Park.  The pizza is what you might call Detroit nouveau, a delightfully caramalized, browned crust, bubbly mozz, and pepperoni cuppolas bathing in their own oils.  It's a bubbly bastard, to be sure!  Now I need a break, but that's because I have a date for 5:30pm at Au Cheval, the hip new Tribeca tavern.  Fast forward to 5:30, and the wait at Au Cheval is only 1.5 hours.  My companion and I head downstairs to a secret speakeasy for cocktails and chicken tenders.  The tenders are pretty good, not bad, but not mind blowing tenders.  When we are finally called to our table, we quickly get down to business.  "We'll have the cheeseburger and the bologna sandwich!"  "Um, we're out of bologna, sir."  "Damn it!"  Why am I having so many processed meat problems??  We make do with the cheeseburgers, which are sort of a cross between a Shake Shack, all American style, and a Minetta Tavern prime beef mineral funk style.  The burger is good, almost too salty.  The end.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Mindspritzers

When we consider the nature of consciousness, it's funny to look back at ancient mankind and realize they were closer to the truth than the so-called moderns, many of whom viewed ancient man with condescension.  Let us take the ancient Israelite religion as an example.  The ancient Hebrew "nephesh," the word for what might be called consciousness today, meant literally breath, an animating breath that brought the body to life.  Thousands of years later, scientists talked about the brain, neurons, synapses, all of that.  But we know it's easier and better to conceive of the mind as a mist, not contained within a brain, but spread throughout space, yet able to concentrate in smaller pockets,  but also able to concentrate in multiple places at once.

It wasn't just the ancient tribes of Israel that sensed the true nature of things.  As another example, many of the Buddhists also had a much better picture of reality, while the mass of men led lives of quiet ignorance.  One of the Buddhists who was on to something once said "the biggest illusion is I'm in here and you're out there."

But as far as we can tell, it wasn't until the year 3,027 (to go by the calendar used at the time) that man really learned of mindspritzing.  Yes, there had been isolated moments prior that came close - in dream states, through meditation, drugs, etc. - but not until 3,027 did what we know as mindspritzing truly and completely enter the human world.

The first man to mindspritz was...

To be continued...

Monday, April 15, 2019

Medieval Bread

Sweeping vistas, oh the vistas.  You float north past the fjords and njords, the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, it's all there.  Heavenly Denmark, smoke pouring out of the chimneys into the foggy morning air.  The hearths are blazing with baking bread!  Dark, brown, baker's ryes.  Hearty peasant loaves, sourdough starter you better be sure.  Rolf!  Achectern fie der shwopzein rye!  Rolf hands me a rye loaf and I chew off a piece and savor the rich peasant bread.  I then ask for a proper slice with pickled herring and beets.  The aromas of medieval bread pervade all.

Great Northern Food Hal
Grand Central Terminal

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Two Poems (updated)

Last Title Was Stupid
Sometimes I become so despondent,
So sick and sad.
I don't care about anything.
The universe will end up destroyed, 
Or a black, empty expanse.
Then all I want to do is eat stroopwafels.

OR

Untitled
Sometimes I become so despondent,
So sick and sad.
I don't care about anything.
The universe will end up destroyed,
Or a black, empty expanse.
Then all I want to do is eat stroopwafels.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Two poems

Fire and Ice
Sometimes I become so despondent,
So sick and sad.
I don't care about anything.
The universe will end up destroyed,
Or a black, empty expanse.
Then all I want to do is eat stroopwafels.

OR

Untitled
Sometimes I become so despondent,
So sick and sad.
I don't care about anything.
The universe will end up destroyed,
Or a black, empty expanse.
Then all I want to do is eat stroopwafels.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

2. Fermentation

The pods are picked, and now is time for beans to turn alive.  Hundreds - thousands, even - of the precious pods are laid out in the sun, and microbial yeasts develop and devour some of the compounds.  Yes, my funny little microbes: eat!  Complex flavors are starting to develop.  Notes of caramel, fruit, garlic.  Full-bodied aromas waft through the hills, and little children smell the air and look up to the heavens and wonder: why did god create cocoa, and can I please have a Hershey's? "No, mi amor!" says one mother.  Hershey's is for the gringos, for those who don't understand.  Don't understand what?  That the mystery of the universe is revealed in a fine bean-to-bar chocolate. 

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Chocolate Obsession

How is chocolate made?  Seems like a simple enough question, but there are no simple questions, and there are no simple answers.  An extensive survey of the internet reveals dozens of explanations of the process and dozens of step-by-step visualizations.  They don't all match.  The big confusion is between steps 6 and 8 below of my most recent list of how chocolate is made (as best I can tell)
  1. Harvest
  2. Fermentation
  3. Drying
  4. Roasting (low and slow)
  5. Winnowing (cracking the bean) - reveals the nib, a pure cocoa bean
  6. Grinding
    • nib ground into cocoa mass (aka cocoa liquor)
    • further worked into cocoa solids (powder) and cocoa butter (fat)
  7. Conching - further refinement of rolling, kneading, heating, and aeration
  8. Tempering and molding
Below is a narrative explanation from Mast Brothers of how they make chocolate, and we all know these are honest, traditional chocolate artisans.

"We begin by literally hand-sorting every bean, ensuring our impossibly high quality standards are met. The cacao is then lightly roasted in small batches. A clean winnow gently removes the shells from the 'nib'. The nibs are slowly refined under a granite stone wheel for nearly three days while we slowly incorporate the other ingredients.

The finished chocolate is poured into bar shaped moulds, cooled, set, and then wrapped. Our signature papers wrap the chocolate using antique equipment, repurposed to our custom style, and then labeled. Now the chocolate is ready to be shipped!"

Here, then, would be the Mast step-by-step list:
  1. Literal hand-sorting of beans
  2. Small batch roasting
  3. Winnowing (cleanly and gently)
  4. Granite stone refining and inclusion of other ingredients (grinding? conching?)
  5. Mould, cool and set
  6. Wrapped in signature paper with antique equipment 
As you can see, the Mast list, seems to include in what other lists is sometimes "grinding" and "conching," which seem to be separate processes.  But what separates grinding and conching? ??

Saturday, March 9, 2019

1. Harvest

The hot sun, the pulsating nuclear furnace, blasts heat onto the hills of Nicaragua.  The rich, fertile soil.  It nourishes the cacao trees, on which the special pods sprout.  Later, a fine morning mist refreshes the pods.  Later, it's time.  "Vamos, hombres!"  The men move with delicate, precise force: thrashing the pods from the trees with sharpened machetes.  You can hear the glistening machetes swooshing through the air and then slicing the pods and the slight thump as the pods hit the ground.  All the pods are collected, and the sun stays but the hills turn their backs.

Chocolate Obsession

  1. Harvest
  2. Fermentation
  3. Drying
  4. Roasting (low and slow)
  5. Winnowing (cracking the bean) - reveals the nib, a pure cocoa bean
  6. Grinding
    • nib ground into cocoa mass (aka cocoa liquor)
    • further worked into cocoa solids (powder) and cocoa butter (fat)
  7. Conching - further refinement of rolling, kneading, heating, and aeration
  8. Tempering and molding

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Chocolate Obsession

1. Harvest
2. Fermentation
3. Drying
4. Roasting (low and slow)
5. Winnowing (cracking the bean) - reveals the nib, a pure cocoa bean
6. Grinding - further refinement turns nib into cocoa mass (aka cocoa liquor)
7. Conching - further refinement of rolling, kneading, heating, and aeration
8. Tempering and molding

Friday, February 22, 2019

Chocolate Obsession

1. Harvest
2. Fermentation
3. Drying
4. Roasting (low and slow)
5. Winnowing (cracking the bean) - reveals the nib, a pure cocoa bean
6. Grinding - turns nib into cocoa mass (aka cocoa liquor)
7. Conching (further refinement) - rolling, kneading, heating, and aeration
8. Tempering and molding

Monday, February 18, 2019

Chocolate Obsession

Choice lines from coverage of Mast Chocolate, a Brooklyn-based cacao, bean-to-bar shoppe.

"About five years ago, I heard a Brooklyn butcher with an M.F.A. describe the look in his neighborhood as “country gentleman.” He meant: elaborately antiquated facial hair, tweed, monocle or pocket watch, top hat or hunting cap, somewhere on the spectrum between Willy Wonka and D. H. Lawrence’s gamekeeper. Probably this person was eating a home-brew pickle, on his way, via leather-handled bicycle, to try some fire-escape charcuterie paired with small-batch heirloom cider."

"The brothers Mast, Rick and Michael, are chocolate-makers as Wes Anderson might have written them."

"As the kings of craft chocolate, they were not humble. “I can affirm that we make the best chocolate in the world,” Rick Mast said, in an interview with Vanity Fair, last year."

"It has thrown into question not just the provenance of a chocolate bar, but the predilection for such goods, with perhaps larger implications for the picked-by-hand, farm-to-apartment movement, underscoring the fact that claims of homespun authenticity are not regulated, or often verified."

"When expert tasters bite into bars, they look to see if the chocolate is, in Yuh’s words, 'true to the bean.'"

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Continuing Garlic Investigations

My investigations the other day troubled me and made me melancholy. Is garlic sweet, savory, both, or neither?

There are sweet things - nothing need happen for the sweetness to be apparent. A strawberry is just sweet.  Are there savory things which are just savory? Beef you might say? But no! The beef will not taste savory unless heated, or without sodium. Same for anything else one can think of as savory. So we must conclude that sweetness can reside as a self-manifesting property that certain foods posses, whereas savoriness only obtains from a process, be it through heat or interaction with another substance. Considering an interaction, the second substance added, for the same reason, cannot possess savoriness in and of itself, but only through interaction with the first substance, by which a reaction occurs, producing the quality of savoriness.

To return to the matter at hand - garlic - it must be the case that although sweetness can exist as an inherent quality, and savoriness must always be through a process, there is at least one substance - that substance being garlic - in which sweetness is not inherent but obtains through a process, as well. And not only that, but this very same substance - garlic - can transform into both sweet or savory!
Moral of the story: I want garlic bread.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Garlic Investigations

Garlic is savory or sweet or both? Or it depends on what is done with the garlic - if you roast and add honey for a spread it's sweet, and if you sautee with salt and olives for a tapenade it's savory. Adding an ingredient - salt, honey, sugar, etc. - is one thing, the mode of cooking - roasting, sauteing, frying, poaching, dehydration, etc. - another thing. And if we say the savory or sweet is within, and either ingredients or preparation or a combination brings out the sweet or savory, is there any real distinction here?

Monday, December 17, 2018

Obese Watermelon

Whose garlic this is, I think I know.
I taste the garlic within, all over the pommes puree
Spread like a nubile crocodile
The garlic flavor pervades.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Garlic Betrayal

Newer version - Updated 3/2/19 at 5:10pm
You say:
I'm busy -- work, drinks with clients.
But I will make you a most marvelous stew
Of chicken and fresh garlic!
Later:
I eat the savory stew, alone, and it tastes good
But where are the bulbs of garlic?
Later you tell me you never used fresh garlic
But the dehydrated, powdered variety.


New version - Updated 3/2/19 at 5:00pm
I'm busy:
Work, drinks with clients.
But I will make you a most marvelous stew
Of chicken and fresh garlic!
Later:
I eat the savory stew, alone, and it tastes good
But where are the bulbs of garlic?
Later you tell me you never used fresh garlic
But the dehydrated, powdered variety.

Original version - 12/12/18
I'm busy, you know
Work, drinks with clients, you know.
But I will make you a most marvelous stew
Of chicken and fresh garlic!
I eat the savory stew, alone, and it tastes good
But where are the bulbs of garlic?
Later you tell me you never used fresh garlic
But the dehydrated, powdered variety.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Chronicles of Fresh Garlic

'Twas a bitter cold December eve in Times Square.  People were getting off work, heading home.  Others were going to shows.  I walked past a pizza parlour and did a double take: "now what do we have here!?"  It looked like an old-fashioned New York City pizza parlour! Various of various shapes and colors lined the window.  I entered.  There was a fresh-looking pepperoni pie, and I ordered a slice.  And there was a grandma pie, too.  What is that brownish-greenish substance that appears to top the pizza, I wondered.  Could it be?  Only one way to find out: I ordered a slice.  The pepperoni slice was fine -- a decent enough iteration of a New York slice.  Then the grandma slice arrived.  I closely inspected the brownish-green concoction that topped the sauce and cheese.  Certainly there were herbs interspersed within the substance, but what was the bulk of this substance?  My instincts were correct: the pizza was drenched in fresh garlic!  Never have I seen so much chopped, fresh garlic on top of a pizza!  Perhaps there were some breadcrumbs, adding the brownish hue, but mostly garlic pervaded. I took a bite and my eyes rolled back into my head -- I was in fresh garlic heaven.*

Patzeria
West 46th Street
*In all honesty, the grandma slice had way too much garlic  - I don't recommend it

Monday, December 3, 2018

Poetry Corner

"Why?"

There is a 7/11 across the street.
They sell stroopwafels.
I imagine going
Everyday
And buying 20 stroowafels
Everyday
And eating all of the stroopwafels
Everyday.
Perhaps a tea or latte to go with them?