Monday, June 12, 2006

well read, well fed (installment two)

I've gotten back in a good reading habit again. I just finished a book yesterday by one of my favorite authors, Haruki Murakami. This time it was South of The Border, West of The Sun. I enjoyed it. It's the third book I've read by Murakami. I recommend you check him out. Kafka on the Shore has been my favorite so far. Anyway, here's an interesting food (well drink...still a favorite past time of mine)-related excerpt from South of the Border, West of the Sun:

She asked the bartender to make her a Robin’s Nest. I ordered the same. She took a sip of her drink, nodded slightly, and returned the glass to the countertop.
“Hajime, why are the cocktails here always so much better than any other bar?”
“’Cause we do our best to make them that way,” I replied. “No effort, no result.”
“What kind of effort do you mean?”
“Take him, for instance,” I said, indicating the handsome young bartender, who, all serious concentration, was busy breaking up a chunk of ice with an ice pick. “I pay him a lot of money. Which is a secret as far as the other employees are concerned. The reason for the high salary is his talent at mixing great drinks. Most people don’t realize it, but good cocktails demand talent. Anyone can make passable drinks with a little effort. Spend a few months training, and anyone can make your standard-issue mixed drink-the kind most bars serve. But if you want to take it to the next level, you’ve got to have a special flair. Same with playing the piano, painting, running the hundred-meter dash. Now take me: I think I can mix up a pretty mean cocktail. I’ve studied and practiced. But there’s no way I can compete with him. I put in exactly the same liquor, shake the shaker for exactly the same amount of time, and guess what-it doesn’t taste as good. I have no idea why. All I can call it is talent. It’s like art. There’s a line only certain people can cross. So once you find someone with talent, you’d best take good care of them and never let them go. Not to mention pay them well.” The bartender was gay, so sometimes other gays gathered at the counter. They were a quiet bunch, and it didn’t bother me. I really liked the young bartender, and he trusted me and worked hard.

I like this idea that mixing drinks is a special talent. Like an artist. I don't pay enough attention to cocktails, I guess. I know that I don't like them too sweet or too alcohol-y tasting. My two mainstays are a gin & tonic and a Long Island Iced Tea. I'd like to taste them made by the bartender described above, and compare. I pay attention to details of the wine I drink, even the beers. Now I'll try to apply that same sense of thoughtfulness to my cocktails.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

nasty bits *swoon*

Check out this great interview with Anthony Bourdain on Bookslut.

"All I can say is, do anything to get yourself into that position of being lost and letting things… like eating, travel should be largely submissive. As opposed to cooking, which is not that at all. Let things happen to you, good things and bad things. It’s almost invariably rewarding. And of course, avoid the hotel, avoid Western food, if you see other Westerners, run away. Avoid backpacks, maybe dreadlocks is not a good choice for you if you’re a white guy. Forget who you are. You’re never going to melt into Asia. They won’t have you completely. But that’s okay. You can love them, and you can love Asia, and Asia will love you back."

I'm so smitten.

Friday, June 02, 2006

you wanna see my what? let me see yo grill

Jack and I are going out to buy a grill. We're getting a gas one, for it's ease and versitilty (Here's a good article about gas vs. charcoal). It will have a burner on it, too, so we can cook stuff in a wok if we want. Wok cooking doesn't work so well on our apartment-grade electric stove-top.

I am very excited about this grill thing. It'll be a good summer. The other night we were wondering if we should go ahead and spend the money, and lo and behold, the food network had a whole special on, with snippets from all the food network shows featuring the art of grillin'. And we decided that we indeed need a grill. Soon.

I can't wait to try something like this grilled mango recipe. I need to start getting some lessons at BBQ University.

Meanwhile, this article is a wonderful summation of the awesomeness of barbecue. A snippet:

"I believe that barbecue drives culture, not the other way around. Some of the first blows struck for equality and civil rights in the Deep South were made not in the courtrooms or schools or on buses, but in the barbecue shacks. There were dining rooms, backyards and roadhouse juke joints in the South that were integrated long before any other public places."

Hmm...I got into the Kansas City BBQ thing last year, but I haven't really explored STL places. Maybe I should check a couple out this summer...