Last Friday at Birdhouse over lunch I got together with a couple of friends and my beautiful bride to discuss things food related, podcast style, for your benefit I included a cautionary tale relating to Popeyes.
Click here for FIRST PODCAST!!!
Weather man said, with a glint in his eye, that flurries were fixin’ to fly
My son shouted, betcha snow’s gonna crash through the sky
Mouse whispered in his underground nest, soon, we’ll feel the sunny sun on our coats by and by
Restaurateur sat in a chair by the door, watching the empty street, trying not to cry
F@ck the snow said I…
Well the first two podcasts that we recorded turned out like shit.
Any who, the next one gets underway tomorrow morning at 10am at Birdhouse in the Eagles Nest. Topics? You’ll have to tune in.
Cast of characters? I’ll be interviewing Food & Wine People’s Choice nominee Thomas Boemer of Corner Table-go and vote for him here. I love his work, as I have mentioned, and when you get to know this guy you are going to love him as well, his story is riveting.
Kevin Sawyer is going to have a resto review, hopefully, I kind of dropped the assignment on him late in the game, so keep your fingers crossed. I’m sending him to a place I wish I could eat at everyday, we’ll see if he feels the same way.
My co-host this week is my lovely bride. Next week she’ll be on some strong drugs, so we’ll let her slack for a few minutes. In the mean time I’m trying to set up a full line up of folks that think I’m a blow hard, turns out that they are not as hard to find as one may have thought. The problem is why would they want to be on my show to tell me that I’m an idiot for having a show and a blog in the first place, but I’ll let them come to terms with that quandary. If I can pull it off I think the entertainment value will be high.
That’s all my “masturbatory” hands have time for today…
I have arrived at a conclusion regarding Yelp, the online “review” site.
It’s not the worst thing in creation. Sure in its current form it’s beyond childish, and lazy. This has been well documented by me and others. It’s probably also evil since it allows for anonymous people to write disgusting things about other people and broadcast those ideas with virtual impunity, take for example these comments made recently, “It has a drunk owner and an incompetent staff. And a message to Heidi… lay off the sauce when you are working.”
Before you say, well, I would ignore those types comments, if you use Yelp, would you find it acceptable for those comments to be made about you? Because by using Yelp, you are supporting this kind of behavior.
In a better society, behavior such as this would never be allowed to be promoted, but it’s not a better society, in fact by virtue of Yelp’s very existence we are provided with ample evidence that we are in fact a worse society.
The rating system itself should not pretend to measure quality, as there are no standards, and the forum is a complete free for all.
What it does effectively is measure whether that person was eager to return to a particular place, in that regard it measures very well that one thing. Does it let the reader know who may have made the comment, and whether that person has anything in common with the reader? Not at all. But the measure of whether a person unknown to the reader would care to return to an establishment-for what it’s worth is published.
If you use Yelp, you support random anonymous people saying whatever they want, however hateful and horrible at times. About that, there is little question, if you are fine with that, continue to use Yelp, if you are a decent person that would not support that type of behavior in your real life, you have a moral obligation to ignore its existence.
First off, Heidi does not have cancer. That has been a rumor circulating in our community, some have even acted on that and reached out in support, which is very nice, because unlike many other rumors this one is actually based on an element of truth.
Heidi, my dear sweet wife, has tested positive for a genetic mutation that means that her risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer are significant. In the context of her family history, this particular genetic mutation is present in the Jewish community, but in the case of Heidi, both of her grandmothers contracted breast cancer, one survived. Heidi’s maternal grandmother died from breast cancer at 36. Heidi’s mom, and aunt both contracted breast cancer at 40, as did four or her mother’s first cousins. It has been described as a “cancer cluster”.
Though the survival rate for breast cancer is now at about 80%, the same is not true for ovarian cancer. Which is undetectable until it’s too late, and therefore survivability is dramatically decreased. The overwhelming medical wisdom is that she have preventative surgery, and act “as if”. The NCCN, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, is an organization that assembles data and recommends a course of action relating to specific cancers, or in this case when 187delAG is identified-and they also recommend surgery.
When Heidi turned 40, after years of mammograms, testing, and biopsy’s she decided to get tested for the mutation. As I mentioned the genetic mutation was identified, and Heidi has chosen that the risk of surgery (the surgery will include a double mastectomy, and having her ovaries, and fallopian tubes removed), and that the effects of surgical menopause are worth reducing the risks of getting cancer.
Heidi wanted to talk about this decision, and has been in contact with women who face similar decisions-it’s personal, but in Heidi’s case she wanted others to know that they are not going through this alone. She meets literally thousands of folks a year, and if she can offer an help and advice to other women and families that are facing similar choices she would like to be able to do that–that means being public about her choices–she can be contacted directly at email@example.com welcomes connections. To me she said, “I’m not the writer, so write about it bozo.”
It won’t be easy, the surgery will be difficult, and having extremely large new breasts going forward will cause a strain on the lower back (just kidding).
On the 19th, Heidi will be out of commission for about a month, to six weeks. In many ways I feel very fortunate that Heidi has this information and is able to dramatically reduce the risks that are presented to her. We’d surely like to have her around for a long time to come, and this surgery will increase those odds.
That’s the facts Jacks…
Of course at difficult times it’s imperative to remember the incredible blessings that are bestowed on us all. We have access to a fantastic group of doctors and support staff both at the Piper Breast Center, and the Diamond Woman’s Center.
We also have an amazing team of professionals that we are lucky to work with, and in many ways our little companies are like a big family, I am not a rich man in the traditional sense, but given the support of our guests, and staff, I feel I could give Bill Gates a run for it as the richest man in the world.
Thank you in advance for your support.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I have a serious crush on Ruth Reichl. A man sized crush. Are you allowed to have crushes on other folks you’re not married to? I don’t know. But I could picture myself sitting across a dining room table hanging on her every word, maybe even drawing “Ruth” onto my eyelids like some co-ed. Seriousness.
New Ruth quote, “Those places they’re eating now aren’t cheap,” Reichl told Parsons. “I predict you’re going to start seeing — not this year or next year, but within five years — the comeback of the formal dining experience. They’re going to want to go out and get more for their money than just another place you can get good food and shout at each other.”
Be still my beating heart. Think baseball stats.
Cooking up some Pork Ramen for lunch today at Birdhouse. Be there or be square.
I’m making the 34 dollar menu an all night thing available starting next week. The response from folks about resto week was very overwhelming, so it’s time to make a prix fixe permananete.
I may get to cook for Snoop Dogg–working it, I am cooking for Michel Pollan, I need to cook for Andrew Zimmern to make the trifecta complete. Maybe I’ll just drop food off at AZ’s. The father, son, and the holy ghost. Snoop being the ghost, and Pollan being the father. Anyone know if Ruth is coming to town?
Why am I so weird today? Submitting my first three chapters of my novel to my mentor Ron Glasser tomorrow. I’m preparing myself for the talk, “this is a really nice first effort.”
Excerpts from a very recent conversation,
Her: “Are you just a total asshole? That’s what I’ve heard. You don’t mind me asking, do you?”
Me: “Um, mind? I think you just did, but it’s a very rude thing to say to another person that you do not know, like, at all.”
Her: “What do you mean I don’t know you. I’ve read your blog, I know you’ve said nasty things.”
Me: “Like what, what have I said that’s nasty?”
Her: “I can’t point to one thing right now, but it’s also the how you say it-it’s the way you say things.”
Me: “OK, how have I said something that you found objectionable?”
Her: “I didn’t like the way you talked about Dara, you know, during the gun control thing, and you used both of your two Twitter accounts at the same time-that was mean.”
Me: “Yes my two accounts, that people sign on to follow me at, um, what part am I missing-have I been shy about that? But aside from that tell me this please, did I swear at Dara? Was I attacking her as a person? Did I criticize her physically, or in some offensive manner? Did I call her stupid? I criticized the idea that she presented, that all gun control advocates were responsible for killing children. I think it’s offensive to say that, and I still do.”
Her: “I don’t get why you’re trying to defend yourself. What you don’t seem to be able to do is to criticize without making other people angry at you, I am a Christian, kind of a Hippie Christian, and Jesus Christ provided the example of how to bring peace and harmony into the world, you don’t need to criticizes other people-or their ideas in the process.”
Me: “I would certainly not want to speak out of school here, and I mean this with all due respect, but I seem to remember a story were Jesus went into the Temple and overturned a table, denounced money lending or something, and he specifically criticized Jewish leaders for participating with the Romans. That didn’t piss people off? Is there any other major religion that doesn’t view Jesus as having had a crucial impact on humanity, precisely because he preached love, fairness, and did so fearlessly, while challenging the status quo? As a Christian don’t you have an affinity for folks that are marginal, that challenge the status quo?”
Her: “Anybody can twist anything around to the way they want to see it. So that’s whatever. Your agenda has included going after people just for sharing their opinions-like Rick Nelson.”
Me: “Rick Nelson is the main food writer in this town, his opinions effect our entire industry, literally tens of thousands of people, please tell me when I have ever criticized him as a human, his car, or anything about him that does not relate to his role in the community? Please tell me what abhorrent agenda I’ve advanced?”
Her: “OMG, like it even matters, you know the saying, I think it was, like Jefferson, “Character is what you are. Reputation is what people think you are.” People think you are an asshole, that means that’s what you are…don’t you get it, you are the one people are rooting against! On top of that I heard a rumor that you cheated on Heidi with her sister-her very own sister!”
Me: ”It wasn’t Jefferson, and Heidi doesn’t have a sister-”.
Her: ”That’s not the point! That one rumor may not be true, but because people say bad things about you, one of them must be true. There is a reason why, even if I don’t know it! I don’t have to explain anything to you-you’re not even from here, so why should anyone care about you? You didn’t even get a Beard nomination because they hate you.”
Me: ”OK, but didn’t a former Beard committee member come on my blog and tell us that it’s not a merit based award. It’s a popularity contest, and I get that I’m not popular with those folks, but really, if it’s not merit based what is it based on, the color of a person’s skin? Their sexuality? Their ideas? Don’t you think that when you operate in secret, behind closed doors, in a non merit based contest that the club, or group or what have you is going to lose credibility, in any event we have been told it’s not merit based by an insider, so what is it?”
Her: ”Listen to you, who are you to take offense? You’re a cook. Shut up and cook-that’s your job, not commentary.”
Me: ”I’m also a person, don’t I get to partake in the conversation, in free speech-do I ask what you what you do before I ask if you liked your meal?”
Her: ”And by free speech, you mean criticizing other people, again who do you think you are?”
Me: ”Other people? I have certainly criticized other peoples work, or ideas, even their food, but who have I ever attacked personally? Further I’m not sure any of us have to be anything more than to be an American to use our voice. I’ve been in the business for a long time, I mean, I have actually been around, my work alone has been reviewed dozens of times, and I have a pretty good idea of what’s happening in my industry-”.
Her: ”You suck, every single fucking thing that comes out of your villain shitty mouth sucks-Dara says everybody hates you-why would she say that if it wasn’t true?”
Me: ”Listen, I can’t speak for Dara-she has hated my work since her first review at Levain, called it, “Levain Unleavened”, she once printed shitty things that some angry chef wrote about me, she has been eager to shit on me from day one-I think I can point out, that she personally dislikes me-and I think that that adds balance to the conversation.”
Her: ”I can’t believe you’re actually talking back to me. I have to text my friend about this, wait a sec-”
Me: “Truly what you are saying is that you can’t point to a single thing that I have said that is hateful, it has nothing to do with what I’m saying, or how, just that I am? The quality of my work is irrelevant to you, you don’t like ME, I just play the WWF villain for you, I’m the stranger, the outsider, and that’s all OK in your mind, I hope you consider the golden rule, and how it applies to you, would you want to be treated the way you are treating me?”
Her: ”I’m not YOU, God, you’re just as big of an asshole as everyone says.”
Last weekend Chicago. Gotta say I love that town. Great walking city, great eating city, and we ran into very nice folks in our travels. I think it’s official: I’m smitten.
We ate at Big Star for lunch one day, the place is a standout. The decor is very simple, the concept is also very simple-tacos basically, but the vibe and energy of the place is outstanding. I’m inspired by tacos now, so much so that today I jumped on the lunch line at Birdhouse and made the lunch special three dollar fish tacos-if you know my food you know there will be a little Asian twist going on, but I can’t help myself so there you go, I’ll be back on Wednesday to serve up some more lunch love.
We also visited Publican a resto I normally love, and this night the service and wine were killer, but the food was not as sexy as I had on the last visit. I ate with a Yelper (who mentioned he disagreed with my thoughts on the matter, and he was incredibly knowledgeable about food and restos-so there) but it raises an interesting point, do you review a restaurant based on one visit? Of course not, anyone who has eaten out enough is going to tell you that that is a patently ridiculous idea.
Little Goat is a very cool diner done by a Top Chef chef, Stephanie (don’t know her last name) who I think won the whole thing, I knew she was there because I overheard folks talking about her-you can’t underestimate the celebrity draw of that show. The idea behind the menu is childhood, which seems to be a theme, along with Slurping Turtle, and Next (or at least in one phase).
It can be tough to re-create classic diner dishes, for example Heidi ordered a tuna melt, a twist on a classic and but almost too different, when you order something like tuna melt you have a real exception of what that should taste like, that’s a very real hill to climb. I on the other hand had a goat “burger”, that was more SOS in style. The idea of it was good, but the actual experience tasted kind of vulva-esque normally not an issue-but in a burger a little off putting. The portions were also huge, which is a total turn off in my book. Service was great, and I would go back if only to support the concept, and the fact that it’s not cookie cutter, it’s a one off, and very original.
We visited a few bars, the craft bar seen is very robust there. Our favorite was Au Cheval, we sat in there and fantasized about the two of us working side by side in their bar/line set up that they have. But the drinks-I had an Old Fashioned, and Heidi had the Horses Neck-which she said about fifty times that she loved-were just out of this world. Think the old couple yelling at each other all day, “what did you say, you need a what…?”.
Slurping Turtle-I love Takashi, but it was closed last Monday night, so we hit his other place the Slurping Turtle, which was delicious, but we were both so full by this point that we just kind of stared at the food and chatted with the server. If you go order the noodles with the pork broth. The foie bincho is only 12 bucks.
Over all the service was exceptional, folks in Chi-town are really busting it out and working hard. We learned a lot, and I’d say from a foodie perspective I’m dying to get back.