Saturday, August 14, 2010

LeBron-ing it outta here...

The answer to the question everybody wants to know...Chris, what's your decision?

Um, right now-man this is very tough-right now I'm gonna take my talents to Wordpress and start up The GI Rounds Report.

Friday, August 06, 2010

And The Award Goes To...(Also goodbye)

Recently I was asked what my best dish is. I've often been asked what my favorite thing to cook is...but my best? I really don't know. Do I even have a best? How does one choose the most impressive of various feats of mediocrity?

I started looking back through my posts and realize there's a lot of crap in there...lot of stuff that people shouldn't find interesting, and some rare occasions where I managed to plate something okay-looking. I figured I had enough to put together a "best of my blog." It's like the time honored Television tradition of the clip show. I can generate a new post without generating actual content.

I realize this is pretty ridiculous. It'd be like if each TV network or movie studio held a specific awards show for the stuff they made. (Spoiler Alert: At the USA originals awards, Royal Pains and White Collar clean up. White Collar wins the coveted "Most blatant use of green screen and cutaways in order to unsuccessfully hide the fact that the chick who played Kelly Kapowski is nowhere near the rest of the cast" award).

First up is Achievement in a Television Cooking Competition-Style Dish

I'm actually quite proud of this one. This was from my first Fourth of July after graduating college. I had some people over for grilling, and I hadn't planned on anything more than ice cream sandwiches for dessert. My friends brought over some blueberries and strawberries, but they weren't quite ripe. I threw together the berries with some fresh squeezed orange and lime juice, a dash of balsamic vinegar, and a seeded jalapeno. I had to send people to the gas station to buy sugar because I hadn't stocked my pantry yet. The compote and a toasted marshmallow with the ice cream sandwich ended up being a pretty good combination. Absolutely no planning, a random assortment of ingredients, some acquired from a gas was like a Quickfire...except my ass would've been cut for running out of time.

Next award is for Best Variation of a Classic Food Item, Made for Non-prostitution Purposes

These sweet potato tots were the real deal. Sweet potato tots that I've had at restaurants have been fakers...usually just a battered or breaded chunk of sweet potato. Tots gotta be grated hash style or it don't count (*cough*Richard Blais*cough*).

And logically, next is Best Variation of a Classic Food Item, Made for Prostitution Purposes

Two hot girls pooled their money and bought my ass for $75. I cooked them a meal based on their favorite movies. This was the West Side Story inspired Puerto Rico Roll. Fried plantain, avocado, and chicken wrapped in sofrito seasoned sushi rice. I undercooked the sofrito a little bit to preserve the nice green color.

The award for Best Food Item I Ripped Off of a Real Chef goes to

Laurent Tourondel's gruyere popovers from BLT Steak. I made about a million of these for a dinner party once. They got rave reviews, but it took about six hours of straight baking, and the temperature in my apartment hit 85 degrees (it was winter). My gas bill was quadruple what it normally runs. These are now reserved for special occasions/special people only.

Best dish that my sister will never make as well as I do

This is an important category, because this blog was initially started to make fun of my sister's blog. Sorry Jungjoo. Your Kimbap will never live up to mine.

Best photo that never made it onto the blog

Tie: In n' Out and Truffles

And finally...Best Dish

This porcini mushroom risotto is probably the finest dish I can consistently make. On this particular instance I had made it with a rich homemade chicken stock and fine dried porcinis as well as white truffle butter brought home from Florence. As I said in the original post, it was and still is the best dish I ever made.

Well that's it. The best of what my blog has offered in its five year history. For five years, I guess I really haven't achieved much, but I feel it's time to put this particular one to rest. Five years ago I started this to make fun of my sister's blog and food blogging in general. I'm afraid that the target has become too easy...everyone who gets Food network and has enough money to go to an expensive restaurant considers themselves a sophisticated foodie (a word that older foodies now think of as a derogatory term for the johnny-come-lately foodies...even though the only difference is that those who look down on new foodies have just been pretending longer). I don't consider myself a foodie...just someone who likes to eat and knows their way around a kitchen.

Food blogs in general have changed too. The web is saturated with hundreds of thousands of them...some are certainly worth your time, but that's a small percentage. My blog never really escaped all the noise that's out there, but at least it sounded a bit different. Now it's just another one in the pile.

Also I've softened in my old age...I need more sleep, my metabolism is slowing down, I spend a lot of time having to study and junk. The youthful punk who started "I like food, I don't like you," has matured into someone who says "I like food, and you're alright as long as you're not a complete idiot." That'd be a bit too wordy though. My content and my calmer demeanor don't quite match up to my blog's title (and lengthy URL). It's time for a new project with a different feel.

So that's it for ol' It'll stay up as an archive, and I'm now looking into other blogging avenues but don't have anything to announce just yet.

Thanks for reading these past five's been a lot of fun and I hope you enjoyed it.

Take care y'all.

Monday, August 02, 2010

On next week's episode...

TV listings and previews should always include mentions of any food items that may feature prominently. That way I won't have to run all the way out to H-Mart to get ingredients in order to make it. I was watching "Heroes," which, unlike the American show of the same name, is a show that involves getting a bunch of female idols together, then putting them on teams based on a survey of their popularity, then having the unpopular team and the popular team compete against each other in various challenges. It's freaking fantastic. Also it's full of some pretty hot women, and last week they cooked. Dduk bbok gi is simple, street-foodish, and satisfying. It's got chewy rice cakes simmered in a spicy sauce with some other stuff. I like fish cake and ramen noodles, the addition of which make it Ra-bok-gi. One of the super-hot idols who is a crazy good dancer was able to make dduk bok gi pretty impressively. If only her recipe didn't contain so much corn syrup, she'd be my ideal woman. An emergent trip to H-mart became necessary, as nothing else would've done the trick for dinner.

One thing I noticed when I got to H-Mart was that it's become overrun with white people. There's always the odd non-minority shopping in H-Mart, but this was the first time the ratio was actually skewing toward the pigment-challenged. I actually overheard the following:
"Why are there so many Mexican items in a Chinese grocery?" This was said in a tone of voice that revealed the strain to politically correcticize her underlying question which I imagine was something along the lines of "I wonder if all these Mexicans were hired to shop for stuff in this ching-chong slanty-eyed people store?" Dammit white people! Y'all got Whole Foods and the Oriental Food shelf at Kroger. Let us Koreans (and Mexicans) shop in peace!

I picked up everything I needed and got to work cooking up some anchovy broth. The dduk was fresh...and this can lead to mushy meltdown, so I oven toasted it briefly (plus that makes it delicious).

The other stuff that goes in:

I'm an anti-breaker when it comes to ramen noodles. There's absolutely no reason to do it, except when making ra-bok-gi, so that the noodles distribute a bit more evenly. Some people put the soup powder packet in their sauce, but I didn't need the MSG. I used soy sauce, mirin, sugar, korean red pepper powder, and red chili paste.

In case you can't read Korean. I got level 4 spicy chili paste. But it bothers me, knowing that there's a higher spice level out there that I couldn't get my hands on. Once the sauce is ready it's pretty much a matter of just mixing everything else (boil the noodles first) in, letting it cook down for a bit, and eating it.

It was spicy enough to make me cough on the first few bites, was probably like a billion carbs, and completely devoid of any nutritional other words delicious. I'm sure it would be much more delicious if I had a better camera to take pictures of it with...Samsung NX10 or Sony alpha Nex 5? Decisions decisions, and I'd only have to sell my body on the street about 12-15 times in order to afford one.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ah Summer

OBGyn is over. I delivered some babies, I smeared some paps...I saw things no human should ever see.

A pool, a grill, and some beer are in order:

What to throw on the grill? Anything on a stick is always a good bet.

Note some atypical onion and lime. Marinate the skewers in a neutral oil with cumin and coriander, salt, pepper, and a touch of lime juice. I threw some Mexican oregano on there for good measure.

Take 'em off the grill, squeeze that char-marked lime over the rest of the skewer, and enjoy. Grilled green onions are the way to go. Pretty much the easiest somewhat fancy thing you can do on the grill.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Playtime is over

Outpatient medicine is I'm in a hospital on Ob/Gyn, which means I really haven't been cooking much. My days over the past couple weeks have usually started at 6 am and when I get home I've just been falling asleep. Though I don't have too much to report on the cooking side, I've had no trouble on the eating side. I was back home while my sister was back home a few weeks ago...

Dim Sum at S and T Hong Kong Seafood Restaurant was up first.

Tofu skin salad is the shit.

Philz Coffee...strong...lightly minty fresh.

Dynamo Donuts...fancy, good.

Mom wanted to try Caesar's near Fisherman's wharf. It's far enough away that it's not touristy, but feels kitschy and fun anyway.
Cannelloni alla Romana. Something about the pork filling made it really crazy soft. Good stuff.

My sister wanted all of these:

Yeah they're pretty cool...not $20 for a piece of bread cool...but cool.

My sister and I went to Hubert Keller's Burger Bar before the symphony:

Got the sliders...they clearly charge extra for indecision. Any other burger there would've been a better value, and still more expensive and not as good as Farm Burger or Flip. I would've liked to complain to Chef Keller, but my sister said he probably wasn't there. WHHHAAAAAT?!! Why isn't Hubert Keller always at the Burger Bar inside Macy's? That would imply he's just putting his name on a sub-par product to make a cheap buck! What self-respecting chef would do such a thing?

Made two batches of these:

I think my entire caloric intake the Saturday before I left was from these.

The day after I got back to Atlanta, I got the free preview of this:

Spicy chicken sandwich at Chick-Fil-A. Full service, with a manager acting as "waitress" at a fancy table:

This was actually SUPER AWKWARD. When I made the "reservation" and printed out the little coupon, I assumed I would just be walking in, getting my sandwich to go, and leaving. I went alone. Sitting at this fancy table alone being waited on inside a Chick-Fil-A was possibly the most pathetic experience of my life. It didn't help that there were three other dudes going through the same experience. All of us sitting at separate tables...strategically positioned so we wouldn't have to look at each other's girlfriend-less faces as we ate our sandwiches...alone.

That said, fries and drink and everything else I could've wanted were free. Chick-Fil-A is the best! I went back when it "debuted" (drive-thru this time) and had it deluxe style with pepper jack cheese and all. It was even better that way I think, and actually enhanced some of the spiciness by blunting a bit of the saltiness. I normally get the regular sandwich without the lettuce and stuff, but I think I'm gonna go deluxe with the spicy.

Today I got up super early to watch the world cup. KOREA WINS!!! Whooo!! I wish I were in Korea to get in on the nationwide party that's going on. Instead I went to H-Mart to buy some Korean stuff. I figured there might be a party going there too. When I pulled up I saw a big grill going and was like...awwww yeeah the victory celebration is ON! When I got to where the grills were:

Nothing says KOREA DOMINATES GREECE like a grilled chicken taco and some Jarritos. Turns out they were promoting with a Spanish-language radio station, as the Latino population frequents this particular H-Mart more than the Korean population does (my people shop at the Johns Creek and Duluth locations generally, in addition to being industrious, polite, and good at math). Sadly...this free food was WAY BETTER than 95% of the Mexican food you can get in Atlanta.

And finally, I get to welcome someone to the desperately lonely yet overcrowded world of blogging.
My friend/med school classmate Amanda has started a food blog of her own, but instead of being about generally disliking most people and cooking, it'll be about her crippling addiction to brunch. She'll be reviewing the various places she gets her fix. If High Times had a spinoff dedicated to crack...this blog would be the brunch version of that. It is cleverly titled ATL Brunching and it's currently devoid of any content. She's been hyping the launch of her blog for over a year, and it's finally muscled its way onto the scene. Here's hoping that your audience is more diverse than mine. I recently discovered that the only people who will be reading these words are my sister and her friend who is French and therefore inherently more of a sophisticated foodist than anyone who writes food blogs could ever be. I recently saw a fat dude wearing a t-shirt that said "foodie" in big letters on it. He probably has a blog...and writes a bunch of reviews on Yelp.
Perhaps the most embarrassing reader is my mother. As soon as I found out she reads this thing my first thought was "Oh fuck...I swear on that thing all the time," (sorry mom).

To celebrate her launch, I decided to invite Amanda out for a blogger's brunch to dim sum, after all it's the original brunch. It was brunch before the word brunch was ever uttered (in fact dim sum was brunch long before the concept of the portmanteau word even existed).

We went to China Delight on Chamblee Tucker. I got nervous because there was a giant "China Delight...great for weddings and banquets!" billboard on Buford. For any non-chain restaurant, a billboard doesn't usually bode well. It screams "Hey truckers! Come on in and eat something whose sole virtue is that it occupies space in your stomach while you're on the road...we have strippers too!"

It really wasn't bad though.

No comparison to SF but fairly decent food and reasonably priced on Mon-Sat.

China Delight is coincidentally the name that Amanda goes by in her evening job at some of the finer establishments along Cheshire Bridge road. You know...the kind of place that would have a billboard. (EDIT):Amanda and her lack of humor would like me to clarify that she is NOT, in fact, a stripper (exotic dancer is the preferred nomenclature).

That about covers the past three weeks or so. My next couple weeks will be on outpatient Ob/Gyn so hopefully I'll get a chance to cook more, maybe even hold a "class" or a gathering. Stay tuned mom...and yes, I'm studying hard.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Soup Dumplings

I overheard one of the nurses at my peds clinic talking about a place on Buford that was known for soup dumplings. I couldn't help but ask where it was because I was immediately like "oh damn I like those." We talked about how she was a fan of Joe's Shanghai and I told her about a place my sister took me in SF one time. The next week she told me she went and that it was just completely wrong. Nothing like Joe's...completely lacking in soup inside.

I then heard about a place that happened to be right across the street from my apartment complex which was supposed to have xiaolongbao. I went with some friends:

We also ordered the fish in hot oil and the pork belly with leeks. Both were good.

The dumplings are somewhat un-appetizingly labeled as "Shanghai Juice Dumplings." They looked right. That kinda collapsed bottom look from something that used to be solid now being a liquid. They tasted fine, but weren't quite right either. The skin was a bit too doughy and there was a bit too much meat filling, not a lot of broth.

Guess I'll have to take matters into my own hands and make my own soup dumplings. Out of laziness I decided not to make the skins and just use pre-made wrappers. I knew this'd be risky if they were too thin, but apparently it'd been done with some success according to posts online.

First up was making the soup.

Then turning it into an aspic with some help from gelatin. You can also boil pork skin with the soup but the gelatin was cheaper.

Filling was next...pork, ginger, garlic, scallions, some other junk:

With a little help from the freezer, the aspic was already set a couple hours later:

Then i cut it up and mixed it in with the other filling stuff:

Let's fast forward the horrible inefficiency with which I assembled the dumplings, and straight to the steamer:

Okay they look sorta similar...but awfully collapsed. Hopefully I didn't lose all of my soup...

Good not great. If I ever make these again I'm gonna have to actually make the skin dough, which is a pain. Also I would keep the meat and aspic separate. Use a much smaller amount of meat and individually put a big scoop of the aspic in each one to ensure maximum soup.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hype Eating

I've been eating some of the most hyped stuff you can find in Atlanta...the kinds of places that are bulletproof among the Yelp crowd. All the reviews are OMG 5 STARS! There's the occasional I'M SO SOPHISTICATED THAT I'M GOING TO GIVE THIS PLACE ONE STAR BECAUSE I'M ABOVE THE HYPE! LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! MY OPINION COUNTS MORE BECAUSE IT'S DIFFERENT!

This is why I hate Yelp. I use it on my iPhone because it's the most elegant way to find nearby restaurants, but I don't use it on a real computer at all because that would mean I'd be looking at reviews. The average Yelp reviewer has absolutely no clue what they're talking about, will turn into crazy cat-owning hermits, and live in a fantasy world where the feedback on their reviews and their number of yelp friends convince them that they're a respected food writer. They review fast food places in a non-ironic manner because ironically reviewing fast food places is no longer amusing.

I recently used the Yelp app extensively in my quest to eat a choux cream pastry from every Korean bakery in the Atlanta area (Mission accomplished by the way). The reviews for each and every one of these places were ridiculous and just plain wrong. The app is now getting a bit annoying thanks to the check-in feature. Anytime you're in close proximity to a business you can "check in" there, and there's "regulars" and a leaderboard. There's one dude in Atlanta who's consistently at the top of the board, because he "checks in" at places like apartment complexes and his job. Lame.

That's him. Ladies of Atlanta, if you see this man be sure to ridicule him.

Everyone should try a place if they're interested regardless of the reviews or the hype/anti-hype. I did, took some pictures, and am throwing them up here for the two of you who will see this. This mainly serves as photo-hosting online so that they don't take up any of my endangered hard drive space. This blog has basically become a time-consuming Flickr gallery.

First up is Antico Pizza Napoletana. Hype factor high in the Atlanta area. The website has the occasional Italian word and they write prices in Euros as well as dollars. All this marketing stuff is cute and all, but can they back it up?

Amanda ate this whole pizza.

Audra and I ate this. Pizza came out fast and the crust was excellent.

This thing was good.

So was this.

Next up is Farm Burger. HYPE FACTOR OFF THE CHARTS. They opened up pretty recently and advertise 100% grass-fed beef and natural everything blah blah blah. They also have many varieties of beer in cans, from fancy to not so fancy. Trendy.

Grass-fed beef is good and all, but honestly if someone took roadkill and made it into a freaking amazing burger I wouldn't mind.

This burger also had beef tongue, beet relish and some sort of slaw which was really tasty. The beef was excellent. Fries were okay. The decor is farm-y...but the pictures of cows and pigs on the walls are maybe a bit cruel. I'll probably go back to try their bacon, oxtail relish, and roasted marrow, all of which are available condiments on their burgers. There are some interesting-looking non-fried sides too.

At one point while Bryan and I were sitting at the very end of a large communal table, some girl came up and said "I don't want to be rude," (too late) "but we have a group of six...can you move?"
1. They only had five people.
2. We were already there.
3. Her voice was incredibly annoying.
If it weren't for her voice I might've thought about it for a split second. Also one of the dudes in their party had his collar up. No way we're moving bitch.

And now an item of national hype/intrigue/disgust.
I'm no stranger to weird and possibly disgusting novelty chicken items. Who could forget Chicken Kiev juice box?

Actually that might not have gone down so well.

If you look at the nutrition facts of the double down, in terms of calories, eliminating the bun might have actually brought the count down somewhat.

It seems promising. Chicken, pepper jack cheese, bacon...kinda like a ghetto Cordon Bleu. Unfortunately, all this promise doesn't taste like anything except salt. This was probably the saltiest thing I've ever eaten besides the time a salt shaker spilled open into my soup and I kept eating it anyway.

Okay...that ends the post of food that I have not made myself. All that saved me about 8 megs of space on my computer. Totally worth it.