Sunday, September 28, 2008

100 things to try before you die

100 things to try before you die, by Dr. Seuss

Not Really..... I came across this list of a hundred things, that is supposed, all omnivores should try in their lifetime, and was compiled by Andrew Wheeler at Very Good Taste. This comes from a British website, so some of the names could be unfamiliar. I've put a link on some of the terms that even I didn't know, I've bolded the items that I have tried, and I also put a list of things that I think should be included.

Please feel free to copy and paste, and try it yourself.

1. Venison, (I slayed, cleaned and butchered the entire thing. It gives you a great appreciation for where your food is coming from)

2. Nettle tea, (nope sorry)

3. Huevos rancheros (Si, tengo los huevos de un toro)

4. Steak tartare (with a nice quail egg and ponzu....not the tradition French, but it was awesome)

5. Crocodile (Alligator….. not croc, but I think that counts)

6. Black pudding (The breakfast staple in the UK, has never crossed my lips)

7. Cheese fondue (are you kidding me? top 100......)

8. Carp (we have a recetly opened International market down the street. They have the most unbelievable fish department with live carp and eel swimming in tanks)

9. Borscht (I've had the Russian, rich beet soup, but not a good version)

10. Baba ghanoush (like little Armenian hush puppies/ Alladin's in Columbus always make a good one)

11. Calamari (My 9 year old's favorite)

12. Pho (is there anything that can compare with bowl of hot steamy noodles?)

13. PB&J sandwich (probably a thousand of them, in every which way you can dream of.)

14. Aloo Gobi (What? This is one I had to look up. Curried Potato and Vegetable Stew okay...I guess)

15. Hot dog from a street cart (my chef stomach is immune to 3,465 strains of bacteria......bring it on.)

16. Epoisses (I have not had this apparently, very stinky, ripened, French cheese. Brillat-Savarin himself classed it as the "king of all cheeses," but I have ingested some of the most appalling, foul, cheeses to ever grace your nose……and love all of them.)

17. Black truffle (I have had white, but never black….It’s not a racial thing)

18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes (cherry, dandelion, apple, cranberry)

19. Steamed pork buns (I’ve had Potstickers….but never buns)

20. Pistachio ice cream (Graters Columbus is the best)

21. Heirloom tomatoes

22. Fresh wild berries

23. Foie gras (bring it on)

24. Rice and beans (ffffrrrrtt)

25. Brawn, or head cheese

26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (Oh yeah…on a dare…it kicked my ass…..uh, literally)

27. Dulce de leche (Si, Si señor)

28. Oysters (east coast, west coast, whatever…my favorite is still Chincoteague or Bluepoints)

29. Baklava (and every other Greek phyllo pie you can imagine)

30. Bagna cauda, (Italian anchovy fondue....what's with this guy and fondue?)

31. Wasabi peas

32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl (my clam chowder is famous)

33. Salted Lassi (nope)

34. Sauerkraut (Uuggghh. The only time I will eat this atrocity is on New Years Day. It’s said to bring fortune in the coming year, but after the track record (0-31) I’ve had, I might just give it up all together)

35. Root beer float (A&W, baby)

36. Cognac with a fat cigar

37. Clotted cream tea

38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O (what man or woman born after 1950 hasn’t downed a couple of jello shooters)

39. Gumbo (I garontee! )

40. Oxtail

41. Curried goat (On my one and only trip outside the US: Mexico circa 1991)

42. Whole insects (not on your life, but maybe a cricket or two)

43. Phaal (huh?)

44. Goat’s milk (When I was younger, our uncle used to give us goats milk soap from his goat in Toledo. That’s zestfully clean!)

45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more (Bloody right I did)

46. Fugu

47. Chicken tikka masala

48. Eel (just look at that crispy, broiled unagi, how could I not?)

49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (Resch's Bakery in Columbus Ohio has them beat a million fold……hugh, Krispy Kreme.)

50. Sea urchin (one of my favorite Nigri sushi items)

51. Prickly pear (I make an awesome prickly pear and tamarind BBQ sauce with Perfect Purees from California)

52. Umeboshi

53. Abalone

54. Paneer (Indian cheese)

55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal (this only gets a ½ bold, only because I feel so bad after eating it)

56. Spaetzle

57. Dirty gin martini

58. Beer above 8% ABV

59. Poutine (I thought this sounded farmiliar. It's french fries topped with fresh cheese curd, brown gravy, and various other artery clogging accôutrément. And I thought the midwest was bad)

60. Carob chips (why?)

61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads

63. Kaolinite (this is a food additive and can also be used as a pesticide. So, whether we like it or not, most of us have probably eaten this anyway.)

64. Currywurst (this just doesn't even sound good)

65. Durian (Tastes like a mushy mango, with a little pineapple flavor in the aftertaste)

66. Frogs’ legs (Straight from the creek on a wood fire, in Ohio Power capming grounds. Remember that Pat?)

67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (yes, yes, yes, and hell yes. Growing up in the mid west, we served funnel cakes at every meal. Our state fair even had deep fried snicker bars, twinkies, and deep fried chocolate chip cookie dough.)

68. Haggis

69. Fried plantain (Tostones made by and old woman I worked with who had made them almost every day of her life. That’s perfected delicious.)

70. Chitterlings, or andouillette

71. Gazpacho (Ain't no Gazpacho like my gazpacho)

72. Caviar and blini (I get bonus points for adding champagne)

73. Louche absinthe (Nope, but I’ve had some really good mushrooms)

74. Gjetost, or brunost (again, artisan cheese)
75. Roadkill (no way, dude)

76. Baijiu (ouza, grappa, raickia……all some forms of moonshine made a local people, and made from the ingredients they usually have ample amounts on hand)

77. Hostess Fruit Pie (Apple is the best, and if any of you say cherry, I’m going to punch in the kidneys. You disillusioned freaks.)

78. Snails (sorry about the swelling Aunt Jenn.)

79. Lapsang souchong (apparently a smoked tea from China)

80. Bellini (I still have aversions to the smell of peaches from making so much of this mix at a previous job.)

81. Tom yum (various versions of Taiwanese hot and sour soup)

82. Eggs Benedict (We had to make so many of these during Sunday brunch, that the name alone send shots of adrenaline through my body.)

83. Pocky (I have seem this so many times in the supermarket, but never picked any up. Here’s my excuse to.)

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant. (sadly…

85. Kobe beef

86. Hare

87. Goulash

88. Flowers

89. Horse

90. Criollo chocolate

91. Spam (no. I actually have a can in the pantry at home. My wife seemed sickened by the fact that I’ve never tried spam. And there it still sits. No spam, no scrapple for you eastern folks……no spiced lunch meats……but I’ll eat the hell out of some well prepared head cheese (see number 25)

92. Soft shell crab (pan fried right on a toasted baguette with a little remoulade, spiked with Old Bay Seasoning)

93. Rose harissa (Chili paste)

94. Catfish (Visiting relatives in Florida, and grilling freshly caught ocean catfish from the Gulf, right on the pier with a little salt and Tony's Chachere.)

95. Mole poblano

96. Bagel and lox (How about some sliced lox, straight from the curing container, on a piece of Colleen Vickers toasted foccacia with a little dollop of house made crème fraiche, and a That, my friend’s is a chef’s breakfast)

97. Lobster Thermidor (the only cheese that is acceptable with any fish is the American cheese on a Filet O’ Fish Sandwich at McDonald’s. Lobster Newburg is about as close as I will get to this dish)

98. Polenta (the creamiest, most delicious polenta, with a light whipping of Italian Fontina, straight from the Bergamo region)

99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee (I’ve had good coffee, but I’m not sure)

100. Snake (Never had the pleasure)

Things I think this guy missed

1. Ann's Dairy Creme Footlong Chili Double Dog with cheese served with a chocolate milkshake

2. Resch's Bakery Apricot Danish, the ones in my childhood memory

3. A really good, I mean, really good, fresh baquette

4. Uncle Bill's Pancake House avocado and monterey jack omelet with two of their fluffy pancakes

5. Veal Osso Bucco Milanese

6. Properly made Chile Relleno

7. Hand pulled chinese noodles

8. An entire meal cooked outside over an open fire and not MRE's

9. My Tiramisu formula

10. A Donato's Hawaiian pizza, complete with cinnamon and almonds

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Good Bye to “Starchy”

The other night, we said good bye to "Starchy," one of our front of the house employees. We coined the name, “Starchy” for this guy because of his loving affection to corn starch. Not because it’s an easy, fast thickener, or keeps sauces and soups crystal clear when thickening…. Not because it keeps our chicken tempura crispy while it sits in the pass through window….. His affection lies in the moisture absorbing qualities when it is applied to the groin and buttock area. (Another disclaimer: I, too, enjoy the qualities a light dusting of cornstarch will get you through the latter part of the night) But every day, we would see a large, coke line-shaped trail going from the bathroom to the main area of the kitchen. “Who the hell keeps getting cornstarch all over the place?” I would always yell. He would stride his lazily, sluggish gate (his other nickname was “Zippy the Wonder Slug”) out into the dining room, leaving a dust cloud behind, like some grown up “Pig Pen” from the “Peanuts”……his black uniform pants looking like he was fresh from a scene from “Blow.”
I hated to let him go, but we gave him enough chances.'s to you "Starchy." Good luck to you in all your endeavors. I'm sure if we need to find you, all we need to do is follow for the white, powdery line stretching into the sunset.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Along with a passion for cooking, I am also a self taught musician. This is actually quite common in the culinary fields, because, just like the good chefs, good musicians are creative, obsessive nut jobs. I taught my self how to play, guitar, piano, harmonica, and some other, various instruments, along with the help of my wife (she’s a musician as well). Over the past 15 or so years, she and I, have amassed a large quantity of instruments and equipment. For Father’s Day, 2 or 3 years ago, the kids bought me a recording interface for the computer, and I began to experiment with writing and recording.
I was messing around one day on the synthesizer, and came up with some really cool hip hop sounding tracks. I’ve never been shot…..I‘ve never joined a gang….I’ve never been caught in a drug raid (but came close a couple of times, more on that later)……I thought about what on earth I could boast about in the spirit of true hip hop fashion.
It was perfect. I was going to write this song about what it meant to be a chef. All I need was a copy of The Cooks Companion, and that would give way more than enough rhymes to go around. After about 2-3 days of writing and rewriting, “CHEF” was complete. You may listen to the song by pressing play on the music player located on the sidebar to the left

You may download a free copy here:

There lyrics are as follows:
Emeril Lagasse aint got nothing on me,
I Crack the can, and then “BAM,” it’s the essence of me
I’m a true cook of the real gastronomy
On the line, there’s no time for celebrity
You’ll be amazed when you gaze upon my crudités
A work of grace when my vegetables are all displayed
It’s insane the cascade I can make with a blade
Monet would faint eating off my stunning buffets
Sautéed, flambé, canapés, soufflé,
Hollandaise, fish fumet, bouillabaisse, cassoulet
Rabbit legs, lightly braised, add some wine and deglaze
Veloute, béarnaise, consommé, just to taste
The crème bruleé, that I create, are from the stuff that dreams are made
The formulas, they fabricate, are from a state, of constant grace
The berries that macerate, they make you want to masturbate,
They illustrate and demonstrate, and take the shape of something great
Whether it’s foie gras, demi glace, special sauce, demi tasse
Artois, bear claw, whatever you need
Butter beans, green peas, confit, Kobe beef,
Candy beets, pigs feet, mince meat, let’s eat
Thin sheets, in between, crispy leaves, pumpkin seeds
Lean and mean, when I bleed, it’s a stream of heavy cream
Green beans, almandine, would you like an aperitif?
I’m the only iron chef, “Allay Cuisine”

My mis en place, is all collected,
My favorite tongs, they’re all selected
The flames are hot and burning steady
When service starts, you better be ready

I’m a modern day Escoffier; I cannot stand that Rachael Ray
She makes me hang my head in shame, every time I hear her name
It’s humiliating, every time, I see fellow chef of mine,
Selling souls to corporate slime, hanging out on billboard signs
Advertising everything from crispy crème, to apple bees
And selling heaps, of worthless things, of gadgetry and doohickeys
Shopping sprees of disbelief, hocking things like luncheon meats
Faces on a box of beef, thieving every pound of steam
But enough of them, here’s more of me,
Time to lean, time to clean side towel on my apron strings
Cause you best believe, it’s time to see, the endless need
Of guests to feed, from Ala King to chicken wings, and everything that’s in between
Like quinoa, brunoise, mirepoix, baklava,
Nicoise, beurre noir, even pate de canard,
Even the sushi I produce, would have Nobu, getting loose
And my lovely chocolate mousse, make you want to reproduce,
It’s no use when my en croute, makes you want to follow suit
Tag along in my pursuit, in the magnitude of food
All the food magazines, want to sample my terrines,
All the restaurants in town, they all want my recipes,
Like my luscious baked brie, make the fearless want to scream
Cause I want to make you see, just how food is supposed to be
I use fat back, and stack the flap jacks so that
Your lips smack, so fast, your chin strap snaps back,
My lamb racks attack the fact that you have
The knack to cast back, a mass of snack packs
My resume is so extensive, portfolio is so impressive
I convey with me a vital message, to the ones in our profession
With out a single question, jam sessions of digestion
Courses in succession, always using wise discretion
God bless all you chefs, day to day in the stress
It’s the ones that obsess, to make their food a great success
Tireless, in the mess, 80 hours more or less,
Bring respect, and perfect, a profession of rejects
I would take no less, this is the life that I profess
To connect, it’s the best, living life being a chef

Monday, September 8, 2008

86 the Fish

Welcome to 86 the Fish. I tried this once before.....with the same blog title I might mention. It fell by the wayside because I get too busy at work and with the kids, and I lost interest. But now I'm going to try this again. This blog is supposed to be about everything related to food, drink, and, in general, the quirks and high jinks of the food service industry.
I have had the pleasure of working at many different establishments over the years, and worked with some really great chefs and cooks. None of them are famous, or hold Michelin stars, or have a series on Food Network. Most of them are just your average guys, trying to earn a living doing what they love, and what comes naturally to them.
From my first job at a grease pit in Columbus, Ohio, I knew this profession was for me. The intensity, the adrenaline, the searing hot equipment, the sharp objects everywhere… If you know me personally, you know I’m running on full cylinders all day long. This fast paced and constantly changing environment was the perfect fit. Cooking just makes sense to me.
So, welcome, and thanks for reading.
More later