LFM : Random food musings on the local food scene …etc…

            Sorry if I have not visited some of your blogs lately, there never seem to be enough time in the day. I have several blog posts planned but it’s the execution of them in the kitchen that I have trouble finding time for. Hopefully this weekend, I can play around in the kitchen with a gallon of duck fat …wink…wink…

            Oh, I just received uber–chef Grant Achatz’s new book, “Alinea”. To say that I am overwhelmed is an understatement. It’s a gorgeous tome, but the recipes and ingredients are way above my head. I have only scanned the book briefly, so I may change my mind and decide that some of the recipes are doable but for now I am content just gleaning some inspiration about flavor combinations and plating.

            And don’t forget, Thomas Keller’s new book on sous-vide, “Under Pressure” is coming out this November.

            About the local food scene…

             I have noticed fewer crowds in various restaurants during supposedly peak “eating out” days like the Thursday to Saturday. I spoke with one of the owners and he said that they have noticed a big drop in sales the past 6 weeks. The business lunch and dinner goers had been steady, but family outings have significantly reduced.  Uncertainty about the economy is taking its toll.

            For my part, I was about to return an impulsive purchase of a sleek fall jacket from Ann Taylor Loft thinking of saving some money – this was after watching the stock market free fall during the second week of October. Hubby said it was exactly that kind of reaction that is not helping the economy: fear, (besides isn’t this how shops make their money…from impulsive buyers like me?).

             Still, we did agree that some of our wine club memberships needed to stop. I’m making that call today L.

            Finally went to the Black Sheep the weekend of the Italian Food Festival to see what all the fuss was all about. Either everyone was at the festival in Church Hill or it’s the slowdown in the financial sector that’s responsible for several empty tables. Verdict is still out on the food though but I love the space. The grits of my Grillades and grits dish were undercooked and the flavor of the pork cutlet was ordinary. The hubby’s pasta dish was delicious though…but I don’t remember what it was exactly. We skipped desserts since nothing on the menu appealed to us. Hubby did talk about getting some of their battleships (subs that are about 15 inches long) when we have a movie-night dinner party with some friends.

            With the chilly weather setting in, don’t forget Seafood Gumbo at Lousiana Flair.

            And if indeed you are the mollusk-loving type, you have got to try the Prince Edward Island Mussels with the spinach cream sauce at Café Rustica. I’ve ordered it twice and each time I’ve lapped up the sauce with the grilled house bread despite the warning bells to eat less carbs.

            A few weeks ago (maybe that was a month ago) I went to Dalat for takeout. They had opened a whole new section. I mean, it’s huge! It made a lot of sense for them to expand since each time I’ve gone there I had to wait for a table. It might be the wrong timing for the expansion because of the slowing economy, but then again it could be just perfect timing because their food is so cheap and quite delicious! I’m amazed at what I get for the price I pay…and I mean that in a good way.

            We took our friends from Toronto to Umi Sushi Bistro. They just came back from Japan where they had hounded every sushi bar they could find. They said that although the tuna tasted better in Japan, the salmon sushi at Umi was the best they’ve ever had.  

            Let’s see…what else…oh the 17th street farmer's market will be holding the 9th Annual Brunswick Stew Festival on Nov. 1st. They’ve hired a new manager (whose name escapes me at the moment); together with Linette Bond, plan to revitalize the market. Judging from the huge turnout during the Oyster Festival, things are looking good!

13 thoughts on “LFM : Random food musings on the local food scene …etc…

  1. We've been awfully busy as well and not visiting anyone for a while. It's nice to be back and seeing that you are staying busy with such an amazing cookbook! I'm looking forward to Kellers new book.

  2. Hi Sketchy – If you can work with the El Bulli book, then Alinea is right up your alley :). Regarding Sous-vide , I think you can rig the set up at home with a pot of water and a thermometer. That's how Michel Richard had it in his book and curious to see what TK will say in his new book. Unlike the thermal circulators that are used for it you will have to watch the thermometer to make sure that you stay on temp.

  3. the sous book is not on my list now — since I don't have the equipment. But Alinea was pre-ordered! I love the book. Many of the recipes are too involved for three person meals, but for entertaining, they might come into play. I have most of the ingredients already, so I plan on taking parts of the recipes and using them. instead of full recipes.

    It's very like the el bulli cookbooks, but with few pictures

  4. Thanks snookydoodle!
    Hi Tanna – Na – I think you love it just as I do to get cookbook recommendations!
    Hi BrennInVA- I have been to Carol's wonderful blog but I did not know she was starting on the Alinea one. Thanks for the heads up!
    Hi bb – yes…we are guilty of eating out a lot – we'd rather cook at home…although for some dishes it's better to leave them to the experts ;).
    Hi T.W. – believe me after you open the first few pages of Alinea you will be awed. A lot of the recipes are multi-step to complete the whole dish. I have not canceled my wine club yet…I conveniently forgot yesterday ;).

  5. I have trouble believing that any recipe is over your head! Can't wait to see what you do with sous-vide! I know I tend to cook at home more than I eat out – when I'm traveling on business, I usually get enough of restaurants during the week. But it does seem that people are refocusing on cooking at home. Are you sure you want to cancel the wine club?

  6. Oh my god! Someone who eats out as much as we do!!! We have to do what we can, right?
    Interesting post, too…I know all about getting backed up with food posts….I have about ten in line right now! And I would rather eat at Alinea than cook it…hm, hopefully someday…..

  7. Since you mentioned the Alinea cookbook, you may be interested in a new blog where Carol Blymire will be cooking and blogging her way through that cookbook. I think she's starting on it in the next week or so.

    http://www.alineaathome.com/

    Carol just finished doing the same with The French Laundry cookbook, and her blog was very fun, inspiring, and informative. I think you'll really enjoy it — I know I have. Start from the beginning (January 2007), and follow her progress.

    http://www.frenchlaundryathome.com/

  8. I wonder if there's a program that will scan blog posts for the works cookbook and then I could skip them ;) Na, it would probably mean those would be the ones I read and then I'm sunk. I'll have to be watching for Keller's maybe the other you've scared me off.

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