Categories
bacon hot dog musings Southern California street food

Drew Carey Joins L.A. Bacon Hot Dog War

I first wrote about the Los Angeles Bacon Hot Dog War in February, and now comedian Drew Carey has joined the food fight, featuring the ongoing controversy on The Drew Carey Project on Reason.tv. Here’s Drew Carey’s report on the issue, including an interview with Elizabeth Palacios, the figurehead in this struggle.



The main problem for licensed vendors like Palacios is that they lose a lot of money when potential customers seek out the unlicensed vendors, who are more than happy to sell them the coveted bacon hot dogs. For Palacios, it’s walking the fine line between protecting her business and staying out of jail. For customers, it’s all about the bacon.

“They don’t care about if you’re cleaner, if you don’t have a license to handle the food,” Palacios said. “They just want the bacon.”

Categories
eggs Filipino musings sous vide

“Deviled” Eggs

I forgot that I had the day off today, so after driving all the way to work and back, I needed something to do. After talking to Alien J about the eggs we had at Ad Hoc’s Easter Brunch yesterday, I thought that I would do an egg experiment and use the results to top the Chicken Adobo Fried Rice I planned on making for lunch.


ad hoc egg porn
Ad Hoc egg porn

My wise idea? Cook the eggs in a 66.6/C water bath to make…Deviled Eggs! 66.6…devil…get it? :-)

The final results were interesting. Normally I like runny eggs on my fried rice, but these eggs were much different. The whites were very delicate since they hadn’t set up yet, but they weren’t too runny. The yolks were set enough that they maintained their shape, but when you put them in your mouth, they were creamy and delicious. Here’s some pictures.


[pictobrowser type=”flickr” userID=”arndog” albumID=”72157604238100513″]

I don’t know if I’d do this every time I make fried rice, but next time I’ll probably lower the temperature so the yolks are runny.

I’ll write more about the chicken adobo in the next couple days. :-)

Categories
musings SPAM Thomas Keller

The Spam Laundry — Part 2: The Original Text

My last post about a Saveur magazine article detailing Jayson Pahlmeyer’s once-in-a-lifetime SPAM tasting menu at The French Laundry generated a lot of hits on this site, including a comment by Andrew Kubersky, Jayson’s friend and ghost writer for the Saveur piece, who said his original article was much funnier than the edited version that appeared in the magazine. I emailed him back and asked if he could send me the original article so that I might publish it here, and he happily obliged.

After comparing both versions of the article, it’s obvious that Saveur edited the original for style and length, but overall, I thought they stayed true to the vibe of the original submission. What the magazine left out, however, was an expanded paragraph on Jayson’s SPAM lust, some more specific details of both his and the rest of his family’s meal, and a another funny SPAM anecdote that occurred after a subsequent visit to The French Laundry. I’ve done some minor editing and excerpted them for you below.

SPAM LUST

My friends and family know of my Spam-lust. I make no attempt to disassociate myself from it, and quite to the contrary, bellow it with bravado. I wear a Spam tie, a Spam hat and Spam boxer shorts (with apologies to Tom Wolfe, talk about “Spam in the can”). As a result, I have been the target of unending Spam jokes. At my bachelor party, when others were served rack of lamb or fillet of salmon, I was served grilled slices of it on a silver platter. As tears of laughter and pain rolled down my cheeks the Spam was happily removed…

THE MEAL

…It was when we were served Thomas’ small cones (“cornets”) of salmon tartar with créme fraîche that I realized that he had something in store. I didn’t get one and I like them a lot. Instead, the waiter presented me with Cornets of Minced Spam with Sweet Red Onion Cream. I laughed. “This was a great joke, Thomas,” I thought. “This will teach me to be careful what I wish for.” But the joke wasn’t close to being over.

As I ate Consommé of Spam with their Crescents, the family was enjoying Lobster Consommé en Gelée. While I was served Garden Tomato Sorbet with a Crispy Spam Chip, the family was savoring Cucumber Sorbet with Dill Sauce. It went on, and I couldn’t stop it. Yukon Gold Potato Blinis with Butter Spam Emulsion were followed by Perigord Truffle Omellete with Spam “Rissole,” which in turn was followed by Spam Custard Servi En Son Boîte (in its container). It was as though Spam was “The Ingredient” on The Iron Chef television show. Each dish was an ironic parody of a regular (for The French Laundry) menu item.

As my jaw dropped lower and lower, the smiles on Paige and the kids were broadening. They were savoring Jumbo Scallops with Morel Mushrooms and Asparagus Puree, Spotted Skate Wings with Braised Red Cabbage and Mustard Sauce, Roasted Guinea Fowl en Crépinette de Byaldi and Whole Roasted Moulard Duck Foie Gras. They were also relishing my growing discomfort. I was miserable. Despite my heartfelt pleas, the waiters could not dissuade Thomas from his plan.

What could I do? Under the circumstances I had to eat the Spam. To be sure, there was Thomas’ genius in the Spam preparations. But, still, it was just Spam in the Can and we were at The French Laundry, for God’s sake. I love being the center of attention but this time the joke certainly was on me. I paid French Laundry prices for Spam…

HANGOVER CURE

It was about two months later that we returned to The French Laundry and were joined by Andrew Kubersky, long-time friend, gifted home-chef, writer and consultant, and his wife Marita. The kitchen must have prepared 25 courses (no Spam) for us that night. Who knows? I was in no shape to keep track, having hosted a huge Pahlmeyer wine tasting party for half the day, immediately preceding dinner.

Afterward, they drove with us to our place in Napa to spend the night. We weren’t home more than a few minutes when Paige opened a can of Spam, sliced the meat, and started to sauté it for me. It was after midnight. Dinner had lasted about six hours. The appalled expression on Andy’s face was priceless as he watched Paige cook the Spam.

“How can you do this? We just dined at The French Laundry,” he pleaded.

Paige explained that that I found out years ago that Spam would prevent a hangover (due to its fat content). Perhaps this is what Hormel meant in the 1930’s when they marketed Spam as “miracle meat.”

 

Thanks again to Andrew for sending me the original version of the article and letting me publish parts of it here. And cheers to Jayson for being such a good sport about his SPAM obsession. I know I get my share of it from friends that just don’t understand the beauty of SPAM or why we have a SPAM shrine in our home. Luckily, my wife is from Hawaii, so SPAM is always welcome on our plates and in our stomachs.

Categories
musings SPAM The French Laundry Thomas Keller

The SPAM Laundry?

I saw on a recent eGullet Forum thread that Thomas Keller once prepared a SPAM tasting menu at The French Laundry for one of his friends. This momentous event in SPAM-dom was chronicled in the May/June 2001 Saveur magazine by winemaker Jayson Pahlmeyer of Pahlmeyer Wines, who was the (lucky?) recipient of the SPAM tasting menu.

As an ardent fan of both SPAM and Keller, and because I featured newly converted SPAM fan Anthony Bourdain on this site a couple days ago, I went looking for the article but couldn’t find it on Saveur’s Web site. I ended finding a copy of the magazine on eBay for $5, so I bought one and transcribed it so you can read this funny story.

I love that Keller embraced SPAM as a viable ingredient and committed himself to the “joke” by creating an entire tasting menu based on a meat product that is both loved by so many (like me) and reviled by others (most of my non-Asian friends). It shows both his keen sense of humor and versatility as a chef, and I became enamored by SPAM’s potential for greatness in Keller’s hands.

For the record, I still haven’t had the chance to eat at The French Laundry (reservations are probably the toughest in the world), but I am anxiously awaiting the opportunity to experience it first hand. In the interim, visits to Bouchon, Bouchon Bakery and Ad Hoc keep me happy…for now. ;)

(Thomas Keller picture from the Ad Hoc Web site.)

Categories
musings

The Formula for “Good” Ethnic Food

Photo originally uploaded by rheanna2 on Flickr.

I’m pretty sure that most people have heard of or subscribe to the theory that the way you can tell if an ethnic restaurant is authentic (and presumably good) is if the majority or preferably all of the customers in the restaurant are members of that ethnicity.

So using “Chinese” as our variable, the formula looks something like this:

Busy Chinese restaurant + Mostly Chinese customers = Good Chinese food.

But who’s to say that the Chinese people in that particular Chinese restaurant have good taste? Is every Chinese person an expert on good Chinese food? What if they’re Chinese with no sense of taste, and they just eat whatever is most convenient or cheap?

As a counterpoint, let’s say I’m in the ‘burbs, and I’m looking for a place to eat. The Applebee’s/TGI Fridays/Claim Jumper in town, which caters to an “American” palette, is packed and there’s a 30-minute wait. Can I make the assumption that the food must be good because there’s a lot of Americans in there?

For what it’s worth, I use the theory myself when judging an ethnic restaurant, but lately I’ve been questioning this practice from a purely logical persective. The fact is you’re never going to know if it’s good or not unless you actually sit down and eat and decide for yourself. Sure, the odds are against you if you’re expecting to find good Chinese food in South Dakota, but you never know until you try it.

Categories
musings

Who needs Oscar® when you can win a Golden Clog?

The Golden Clogs, a series of reverent and sometimes snarky food-related awards devised by writer Michael Ruhlman and renegade chef Anthony Bourdain, announced their nominees yesterday on Eater. The awards will be announced on Friday, Feb. 22 at the 2008 South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami Beach, Florida.

The nominees for the awards were determined Ruhlman and Bourdain by an “advisory board” that included chefs Mario Batali and Michael Symon, and food writers Russ Parsons, Ed Levine, Jennifer Leuzzi and Dara Moskowitz. The winners will be decided solely by both Ruhlman and Bourdain, but they also have the option of consulting with the advisory board for help if needed.

Check out some of the nominees with my picks in bold after the jump. See the full list of nominees at Eater.

Categories
musings sous vide techniques Thomas Keller

Sous Vide Adventures on Hold…

My heating immersion circulator died today. I was trying to make some sous vide spare ribs for dinner and my wife told me that it just died. No alarm, no warning…just a dead circulator. I knew this was always a possibility when we bought it off of eBay six months ago. I mean, this thing was so old, it still said “Made in West Germany” on the back.


Julabo heating circulator and water bath

I’m trying to weigh my options at this point. I really liked having the versatility of the circulator because it allows me almost any vessel for the water bath, and I had three Cambro steam table pans that I used exclusively for sous vide. It’s easier to cook for a group when I can pull out one of the bigger Cambros and fill it up with short ribs, chicken and flank steak. There are some other solutions out there that I’m going to be investigating, as well, but in the short term, I think I’m going to be keeping an eye on eBay to see what’s available.

Or maybe Thomas Keller’s oft-rumored home sous vide kits will finally be released? Anyone out there with inside information? ;-)

Categories
bacon Best of Inuyaki hot dog musings Southern California street food

The Los Angeles Bacon Hot Dog War

I had my very first bacon dog right on Hollywood Blvd. I walked out of a taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live! and this amazing smell overcame me, and I said, “Goddamn! What smells so good?” This guy on the stairs pointed me toward this woman selling bacon-wrapped hot dogs from a sidewalk cart. Let’s just say that I bought and devoured one immediately.


Bacon Hot Dog Cart

Folks in San Francisco may want to claim the bacon dog cart (above) as their own because they’re pretty popular with weekend drunks leaving bars and clubs after 10pm in the Mission District. The truth is, bacon-wrapped hot dogs really belong to L.A., and you can get them from lunchtime till the wee hours of the morning (if you know where to look).

But things are not good for the bacon hot dog cart vendors in La-La Land. The L.A. Weekly recently chronicled the plight of hot dog vendors in L.A., who are now forbidden from using bacon AND grilling their hot dogs. (Boiling and steaming are the only acceptable cooking methods.)

Sound ridiculous?

They’ve actually jailed hot dog vendors like Elizabeth Palacios, who is featured in the article, for selling grilled bacon hot dogs. Palacios once served 45 days for health code violations, a sentence she said was orchestrated to “make an example” of her.

From the article:

“Honestly, I can tell you, I’ve been a working person all my life, I’ve worked since I was 9 years old,” Palacios says. “I don’t like being bothered, I don’t like being arrested. Never in my life had I been to jail, and they threw me in jail for violating the laws of the health department.”

There’s also a racial element to this story as the City of Los Angeles tries to revitalize and gentrify the downtown area and likely considers it in their best interests to “clean up” downtown for future investment and development.

“They told me, ‘The mayor wants to make this area like New York, Times Square,’ but I told them, ‘Who told him we want that? The people who come here are not like that.’ Ninety-nine percent of the people here are mexicanos. Here, you don’t really see americanos. One or two,” she says. “Why are they coming now to get us out of here? Why the abuse? Why the abuse?”

What’s worse is that while licensed hot dog vendors see the business suffer due to the restrictions, fees, and threats placed on them by overzealous city health inspectors, police and gangs, they have to watch their customers flock to the illegal bacon hot dog carts that have flourished since the ban, serving a customer base that probably doesn’t care where they come from…they just want their bacon dogs.

Will there ever be justice for the L.A.’s bacon hot dog vendors?

UPDATE: Drew Carey joins the fight.

Categories
bacon musings OMG

Oh, Hell No: Vol. 2…

Canned bacon isn’t nearly as disturbing as the Cheeseburger in a Can, but it seems just as pointless. I mean, how could this be better than picking up some fresh bacon from the store?


Canned Bacon

According to canned-bacon.com, Celebrity Foods released this product in Hungary almost 20 years ago, and it was discontinued by K-Mart in the United States around 10 years ago. They also have a 20-year-old can of their own that they decided to open so they can duplicate the concept for a new product they’re developing.

We’ve tried other forms of packaged, pre-cooked bacon, and they’ve been good, but not better than freshly fried bacon. I’m not really sure if I’d give canned bacon a try, especially if it’s 20 years old, but there is room for it on our shelf next to the SPAM.

Categories
beef musings OMG

Oh, Hell No…


Cheeseburger in a can...

I saw this posted on Gizmodo, and while I’m definitely repulsed by the concept of a canned cheeseburger, my hyperactive sense of morbid curiosity wants to try it.

I mean, I eat SPAM…how could this be any worse?

I don’t think Americans can order the Cheeseburger in der Dose directly, so you might need to hit up your European friends to get your hands on this.

UPDATE:
I think my cousin in Munich is going to try and send a couple cans… STAY TUNED! :-)