Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The End Game?

Clearly, I haven't been to most prolific of bloggers in the past year or so.  This is particularly distressing since there is so much for us to discuss!  I mean, really how often does one get to blog an ongoing economic crisis, a new president, the ridiculous torture controversy (raised by a few limp wristed blokes who don't know what it takes to win against an enemy that targets civilians as their core strategy.  Just sayin'..) and my ongoing fabulous culinary excursions.

So kind of a drag really.  

Today though I here to do you a favor.

No, seriously go back and click on that link right now.  This is important.

We are currently in the midst of an epochal moment and a guy named "Woody" has nailed it.

From his conclusion:

"This essay began with a demonstration of the all-important role of the evolution of a nation's Debt-to-GDP ratio. The direction of this evolution is a good proxy for the future success or failure of the nation. We argued that a one-time shock (like today's US recession) that drives the initial Debt ratio way up does not pose the problem most people assume. Long run recovery is possible, but only if policies are adopted that drive the growth rate of the numerator down, that of the denominator up, and thus that of the ratio down."

Seriously nailed it. 

If you're interested in more, here is his site.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Smothered, Covered, Chunked and........Shot?

Holy Crap! 

As everyone knows, I happen to be the world's foremost fan of the beloved Waffle House.  Where I once cringed at the prospect of venturing south of the Mason - Dixon line, I now embrace the prospect.  And it's all because of my discovery of Waffle House.  It's genius is the pure simplicity; waffles, hash browns and a few other assorted things that you really don't need.  Drive up, belly up to the bar and in less than 10 minutes you're digging into a breakfast that is the stuff of American dreams.

But this story.....well this story is a bit disturbing.  Shot by a waitress at Waffle House?  Who could imagine such a thing?  Sure we all heard about the Kid Rock fight at Waffle House last year, but candidly who hasn't wanted the beat the tar outta that dude?  

Well, hopefully this is a "one off" sorta thing, cuz I don't want to think I'll need to be packing on my next foray to Waffle House, which for the record, will be in exactly 15 days.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

I'm Back!

Having successfully evaded the authorities (once again!). I'm back. Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Lying Low

On the run from the authorities. 

Will Return Soon

Friday, February 6, 2009

Enoteca Turi

I awoke Thursday morning to another day of snow and work ahead of me. I turned on the TV and waited for a knock on the door announcing the arrival of my morning coffee. As the BBC flashed on, I found myself face to face with the grim visage of Gordon Brown, who for some reason decided to announce that we are on the precipice of a global depression. This, after announcing late last year the it was He who saved the global economy with his plan to recapitalize banks.

So what's up with that Gordy?

I must confess that I find these feckless pronouncements from our leaders to be most distressing. What happened to the stiff British upper lip, or the American can do spirit? Why, with an admittedly severe global downturn, have our leaders taken up the cause of cheerleading the economy into oblivion?

And most importantly, what is this loathsome display going to do to our dining establishments?

Well, I may not be able to save the economy, and I certainly can't give everyone a job, but as I sat there watching the vile Head of England pronounce the end of civilization as we know it I vowed that I would do my small part to put the economy on more sound footing.   I would dine at Enoteca Turi that very night!

So after a day in the office, I ventured back to my hotel, dropped my bag and instructed the taxi driver to take me to 28 High Putney Street on the double. I arrived at the restaurant at 730pm on the dot and requested a table for one. Disturbingly, I noted that only three other tables were occupied, and I silently cursed PM Brown's name. Already the knuckle dragging mouth breather was having an impact!

Enoteca advertises itself as a family run restaurant and this certainly seemed to be the case. I was escorted to my table by a matronly sort, and on my way I noted that there were only 4 other wait staff in a place with approximately 30 tables. The menu was limited, but sufficiently varied and I placed my order; Artichoke Cardoons, Spinach and Rosemary Risotto with Chicken Livers, and Milk roasted Pork Shoulder. I also requested a bottle of sparkling water and a bottle of the house primitivo to wash everything down.

The cardoons arrived promptly and looked delicious. I will say that the artichokes themselves, as they had been at Zaferrano earlier in the week, were a bit light on flavor. Perhaps it was the season. Having said that, the dish was quite lovely. The cardoons were stuffed with a light goat cheese and fried perfectly. They were presented in a sort of potato puree with dabs of olive oil and a small mound of crispy leaks was nestled in the center of the plate. As with all of the food here, this dish was not terribly sophisticated, but none-the-less, expertly prepared and quite good.

Next up, the risotto came to my table on a subtle waft of rosemary. This dish is built around the time honored concept of strong herbs and organ meat, as had been my sage and beef kidney at Zafferano. If I were to quibble I would say I enjoy my risotto a tad more toothsome, but otherwise the spinach, rosemary and kidneys were quite lovely.

The final dish, milk roasted pork shoulder was the one I was really anticipating. Milk roasted? Certainly a new concept to me! The shoulder was presented with cabbage and a puree of celeriac and apple with a paper thin slice of dried apple in each mound of puree. Completely delicious! Most interestingly, from the first bite this dish reminded me of thanksgiving, only with a nice hunk of pork instead of turkey. I definitely will try to replicate this at home!

To round out the meal I settled on a polenta cake with blood oranges and mascarpone cream. The perfect finish to a delightful meal.

And so my little contribution to the British dining scene ended with me as a satisfied customer, and Enoteca Turi on the "Must Get Back There" list. Oh, and the sparsely populated tables at the start of dinner that I wrote off to old Gordon's foul influence? Almost completely full by 830pm. 

Harry Truman, a leader who knew a thing or two about leading a country through challenges once said that its a recession when your neighbor loses his job, but a depression when you lose your job.  Perhaps I read old Gordy wrong.  Is there a vote coming up soon by any chance?!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Quick update from London. Despite the "historic" snowfall (6 inches; the Brits are wussies!) I did manage to get out and around the crippled city. After a morning and early afternoon of meetings I hopped in a cab and told the driver to head to 19 Theobald's street. As we approached our destination the driver began looking for the number at which point I told him, "I'm going to The Fryers Delight, for a little lunch". "Ah, the Fryer's Delight! Why didn't you say so that's where all the cabbies go" was his response.

At this very moment, I knew I had made an excellent choice.

I paid the driver and headed in to the clean, but decidedly spartan place. The waitress was quick, and I ordered a plate of cod and chips. A little heat would have been nice, but I suppose London isn't prepared for the type of weather that us Chicagoans take for granted.

My food arrived unbelievably fast, and it was excellent. The Cod, a big ole piece of fish was darn near cooked perfect and certainly the best fried fish I've had. The batter was nicely flavored, and provided the cod with a crispy, flavorful coating that was not the slightest bit greasy. Good temperature discipline on the fry vat was clearly a core competency! The best thing about the place is that they fry in, as they refer to it, "beef drippings" which as I understand it is the traditional Engtlish way. Even more impressive when one considers that the joint's proprietors are a couple of Italian brothers.

Bottom line: Highly recommended.

For Dinner I popped over to Zafferano, a Michelin two star that happens to be next door to my hotel. I didn't have reservations, but I was counting on the "historic snow" to keep business down a bit, and my strategy paid off with a table in the bar. I momentarily wondered what happened to the traditional British stiff upper lip, but then figured I shouldn't question my good fortune and took my seat.

The amuse bouche was a traditional onion tart. Very well done, nice pastry.

I then started my first course with a warm roasted artichoke salad with veal shins. Delightful! Although, to be honest, it would have been just as good without the artichokes as they really had very little flavor.

Course number two was papardelle in a saffron scented sauce with pig cheeks. This dish was profound. The hint of saffron was perfect and the bits of onion among the shredded meat really made this an outstanding course.

Course three was veal kidney with warm lentils. When the dish arrived at my table, I must say I immediately became concerned; the scent of sage was quite strong and I was afraid the chef might have had a bit of a heavy hand. This only turned out to be partially true and the lentils, kidney and sage mostly worked together in the dish.

Wine was by the glass, as I didn't want to order a full bottle, and wasn't terribly enamored with the half bottle selections. I enjoyed a Sangiovese with the first two courses and had a very good Montepulciano with the Kidney.

Desert was a chocolate fondant, better known to us as a molten chocolate cake with a scoop of espresso flavored ice milk.

Zafferano was good and at 80 pounds for the above, a good deal considering the two stars