Kids, No Chaser

Cake Me

Tuesday, January 09, 2007 posted by Henri

Necessity is the mother of all invention. I've always enjoyed cooking. Boy my testosterone just shriveled up a bit as I typed that sentence. But more than cooking I've really loved eating. And I like the opera. And art. And writing poetry and man o man I am so so femme. And fighting and drinking and smoking and ahhh forget it. I am a complex individual. That sounds a lot better. Anyways so me and my girlfriend (I've decided to call my wife my girlfriend this month) love to eat. So since it's going to be awhile before we hit up Manresa or FL anytime soon its come to our attention that we have to bone up on our kitchen techniques. So the other day we thought hmmm we need to start cooking more multi-course meals. Spend the day cooking and drinking for a small group of cousins...sounds fun.

Step one: Menu

Hmmm so I'm feeling French. I've been meaning to try the Bouchon roast chicken recipe. Sounds good. I do love me a cassoulet. Throw in some mussels and oysters to start. Hmmm we need red meat. Steak. Ok that about covers every type of meat. Oh Chanterelle's are in this menu is retarded. Lets start.

Step two: Shopping

So I actually have a day off work (it was my birthday), I still go in anyways just for a few hours. Yes I am that bad. After a few hours though, it's off to go shopping. If I didn't go into work I could have headed over to the Ferry Building Farmers Market, instead I headed out to Berkeley Bowl. On a Saturday. Yeah. Dead man I know. For those of you living outside of NoCal let me tell you something about Berkeley Bowl. It used to be a bowling alley. Now its stuffed with produce. Like a perpetual Farmer's Market. When seven varieties of fingerling potatoes are not enough, it's time to hit the Bowl. Now a lot of people bitch about how crazy it gets in there, the key is don't even bother trying the parking lot on a weekend unless it's an hour before they open. Otherwise it's just a crazy mess and you'll get pissed before getting into the place. So I parked like three blocks away and remembered to remind myself that I can only buy what I can carry three blocks. I'm from L.A., walking three blocks is like farting at a wedding. Not physically hard to do, but somehow just not right. Hell I've lived here for 9 years now. HOLY CRAP! HAve I actually lived here for NINE freaking years?!!!?! Oh God. I'm gonna start smoking because I miss the smog. Ok yes back to the Bowl. So a lot people flip out at how packed it gets in the Bowl, but compared to Ranch 99 or shopping in Chinatown it's really nothing. The only problem though is that when I mow people over in Ranch 99, people understand that's just how it goes. Or in Chinatown when I box out some 74 year old man, he just jabs me in the ribs with his cane and walks away knowing the rules of engagement. When you get aggressive at Berkeley Bowl, people get insulted. Usually I get the stare, the who-the-hell-do-you-think-you-are stare. To which I usually just bang past your cart and smile. I mean C'mon, get over it, if you block the path, people are gonna ram into you and bruise your chayote squash. So here's what I scored at the Bowl:

Haricot Verts
Russian Fingerling Potatoes
a shallot
Little organic carrots
some bread
a Petaluma Farms Rosie Chicken
some mussels
and a dozen Kumamotos

cool. The day before, the girlfriend and I had breakfast at La Note and then cruised over to the best damn butcher shop in all of the East Bay...Ver Brugge. I had made Osso Bucco a few days before and was so furious at the lack of veal shanks I finally tracked down a real butcher shop. So at Ver Brugge we had picked up some:

Hangar Steak
Sausages (it's a shame I forget what kind)
Duck Legs (they also sell confit)

cool. So gathered everything up and it's on to...

Step 3: Cook

You know, it's funny. If you buy good ingredients and just try not to mess them up, stuff comes out pretty good. So here's what dinner finally ended up as. Oh and we had too much wine to remember to keep taking pictures.

Step 4: Eat and drink and eat and eat and eat...

Cousin Chris brought us a tasty Roshambo Imago Chardonnay and we also cracked open the first of our 2000 bordeaux.

Kumamoto Oysters on the Half Shell + Baked for the Girlfriend

Steamed Mussels with shallots and chardonnay

Bouchon style Roast Chicken with Haricot Verts w/duck fat and roasted russian potatoes and carrots

Chantarelles poached in a bit of milk and cream

Hangar Steak with Pomme Frites


Cheese Course

and finally a cake. Crixa Cakes: New Orleans Bourbon Cake.

The Bouchon Roast Chicken Recipe came out great. The Hangar steak is a great meaty cut that has a sweatbreads kinda flavor and actually comes off of the diaphragm of the cow. Pomme frites sound easy to make but ours totally sucked. Chantarelles were delicious. Kumamotos never disappoint. Cassoulet is a bit heavy and hard to fit into any meal, we had a tiny bit each mostly bits of the duck, sausage and pork belly. Amazingly after the 7 courses we all had room for dessert which was a great mass of chocolate cake, ganache and bourbon. What a great night. So lets review all the animals we ate:

a mussel
an oyster
a chicken
a duck
a cow
a pig
a fungus
a mold (cheese course)
lots of yeasty stuff: Bourbon, Chardonnay, Bordeaux

And although the food was not professionally prepared, we had as good of a time as we've had eating out and thought it was absolutely delicious. Plus our tab ended up waaaaaay less than we're used to. Unless you count the labor cost, in which the total was $983.00 (damn).



Anonymous Anonymous said...

caught your blog title on someones blogroll. Your title alone made me hungry, but this post put me over the top. May have to make a midnight raid on the fridge.

Very cool blog.


10:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about the duck legs? how did the cheese go with your wines? very ambitious, that menu. re: asian parking lot--yes! I need a primer on asian parking lot behavior and tactics. I'm a white guy and I know I'm doing it all wrong. I was getting the Asian Death Stare in the parking lot of our korean supermarket in daly city, but I don't know the protocols. Was I supposed to return the favor, run over the guy, honk my horn, blow him a kiss or just be oblivious? My wife is scottish & chinese and not much help in this regard.

3:10 PM

Blogger honglien123 said...

Dude, at Berkeley Bowl, you're totally allowed to play dumb or FOB.

3:19 PM

Blogger Henri said...

The duck legs went into the cassoulet, which even when bad is always good. I'm supposed to use confit but I didn't see it at Ver Brugge until I had already purchased the legs. I forget what cheeses we had, Humbolt Fog, a roquefort and something else. I don't have the palate to pair wines with cheese, I've always found cheese to be overpowering. Probably better with something fruitier and younger than the bordeaux?

Asian parking lot protocol? Don't know...people are usually aggressive but don't mean anything personal by it. When you get a cart shoved in your back it usually means "Please excuse me, so sorry to bother you." And if someone gives you a death stare, the best reaction is usually the no reaction route. Like a "so what are you gonna do about it" kinda thing. I guess. I usually just figure they're sensitive or having a bad day and they should just grow up and get over the fact that I barely ran over their foot.

Man I love the movie The Royal Tenenbaums. Sorry its on TV right now and I just had to say that. I have the sudden desire to listen to Velvet Underground right now....real bad. Don't know why.

Oh and to Mitch: thanks for the kind words, welcome and come again.

4:06 PM

Blogger lf said...

by far one of the best meals i've ever had. inside or outside of a restaurant! AND i had already eaten dinner! that's how good it was!

did i mention that i ate everything that was given to me? crazy!

thanks so much for having me. =)

4:47 PM


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