Monday, December 13, 2010

Can I Live?...(Four Loko Dinner at Adsum part 2....The Food)

   Bravery is a rare commodity. I applaud Chef Matt Levin for doing this dinner and also for doing it well.  Before you read further, if you have an issue with the idea of a Four Loko dinner please read my response here. There are not many places in Philadelphia where you can get a 3 course dinner with 4 drinks for $35. Definitely one this good. I make no claims that Four Loko is a tasty beverage. There are some flavors better than others, but I think this taste test sums it up.

  The meal started with a welcome drink, a Four Loko cocktail. The combination of  Malibu rum, Blue Raspberry Loko and blue curacao proved to be tasty. I was skeptical, mostly skeptical of my own skepticism. All that was put to bed with the taste of Orange Loko. If someone can finish a whole can of that stuff, they might have superpowers. 50 cent might hire you as a shield. The dish of house made lamb sausage and peppers was stunning. It reminded me that one of my next goals in home cooking is to start making my own sausage.
   Second course brought a barbecue platter. Barbecued pork shoulder with baked beans, fried chicken and coleslaw.  This was paired with my favorite of the Loko beverages, Lemonade. I could see  being able to drink many cold cans of this on a hot day. I could also feel the buzz beginning and understand how drunk you could potentially get off these drinks.
   Dessert was pain perdu with berries. It was accompanied with a Loko slushee and mixed berries and Friut Punch Loko. Fruit Punch Loko wasn't to bad, but the dish did bring back a memory. It reminded me of the first time I mixed alcohol and dairy. Please do not ever drink 2 pitchers of Mad Elf and eat 2 bowls of cereal right after, but that is a story for another day.
   I had a wonderful meal. It was a great value and now I am off to head home and drink tequila. Thanks again Chef.

The Skinny Fat Kid

Some People Hate.... (Adsum Four Loko Dinner part 1. The Rant)

The Menu

   Al Gore did not invent the internet. I am glad because I kinda like the dude. He would be as upset with the amount of hate on the internet as he is with some of my light bulb choices. One of the unfortunate results of the immediate access to breaking news is the immediate ability to tell someone how you feel about it. Whether they care or not.
   When Chef Levin mentioned on twitter that he was going to do a Four Loko dinner I was immediately interested. I wanted in. I did not know at the time that he was joking. I had never had the displeasure of consuming Four Loko. I wasn't the slightest bit interested. When Four Loko caught national attention I was not surprised. Every few years liquor companies create a new way to sell malt liquor to areas outside of urban communities. I can still clearly recall suburbia's fascination with ZIMA. "It taste like Sprite"
   The recent hysteria and moves to ban the beverage really did nothing to peak my interest. It only became appealing because a local chef decided to do something with it. I was not drawn by the lure of the now forbidden elixir nor solely for the quality of food coming from Adsum's kitchen. I was drawn because of a smile. Chef Matt Levin was having fun.
   I work in the restaurant business. I know all to well the lifestyle, the stress, the hours and the feeling of being under appreciated. I have often felt the sensation in your hamstrings, calves and shins after a 14 plus hour day. I know the 'hangover' feeling the day after such a shift whether or not you have enjoyed some well deserved cocktails. I do not have to entirely imagine the exhaustion felt after spending months without a day off during an opening. I have worked through 7 restaurant openings. I am familiar with what happens after the major reviews come out and you are back to working and praying for a light at the end of the tunnel.
  I always try to tell my nephews to find work you can make a living off of, but also be sure to find something you love. There are many moments during a restaurant's hours of operation that are grueling. There are times of intense stress. One of the reasons most of us do it however is because of the moments of joy. The hilarious line cook you work with who always says funny and most times inappropriate things. The server who always brings in chocolate for everyone. The bartender who gets drunk and can't remember his behavior the following day. One of the greatest moments is when someone in the restaurant business is doing something that you know they are enjoying as much as you. Hats off to the Sixpoint pop-ups, The Han Dynasty tastings and the Four Loko dinners.
   To those who feel the need to believe such a dinner is below a chef of Matt Levin's caliber please do me and your friends who are to afraid to challenge you a favor. GET OVER YOURSELVES. What ever happened to fun? A chef in this business has one responsibility; to put out good food. Someone who works as many hours as a chef can do what he wants. If Matt Levin wants to host a Mad Dog 20/20 dinner, I say go for it. I would only ask for partial credit since I wrote it here first. A cut of the money is unnecessary. Just buy me a beer. Schwarzbier preferred since I did not get one for Black History Month. I had an excellent meal. It was an unbelievable value. I left with a smile and a buzz. Mission Accomplished Chef.

Long winded opinion over.

The Skinny Fat Kid

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I have not forgotten you

   I know I have not updated in the last few weeks. I really should have. I not only wanted to give you a strong  finish for Pasta Month but to announce Decembers focus. A busy schedule in and outside of work saw to it that such was not the case. I have decided to finish up my pasta post in the next few weeks. There are some exciting tales of Osteria and Garces Trading Company which both inspired as well as amazed me. I also wanted to travel to the Italian Market and South Philadelphia. So the next few weeks will finish out a pasta focus. I will be kind of busy recipe testing for a culinary suicide mission at the end of the month.
   On Christmas Day I will be hosting a brunch for my family and the following day I will take over Festivus responsibilities for what I am calling The Feast of the Seven Fat Kids. I know I am crazy to do back to back parties at home, but I am excited. The initial focus for December will now be tackled in January. Hint it will be part of The Feast of  the Seven Fat Kids. February is my planned Foie Gras Month and I have some exciting things in mind for 2010 as a whole.
   Be patient in the coming days and weeks. I will reward you with good stuff. Speaking of good stuff and the holiday season; I wanted to send the gift of thanks. Yes Virginia; there is a Santa Claus. Two of them in fact. within days of my letter to Santa. I received an offer from a friend and a delivery from Amazon. special thanks to "Pony Boy" and "The Thorns" for making this a great holiday season.

The Skinny Fat Kid

Thursday, December 2, 2010

All Black Everything .....(Black Friday at home)

    I typically spend Black Friday in one of two ways. The first is harassing my co-workers by pointing out that they forgot to get me anything. It never seems to work, I can’t even get those people to buy me a Schwarzbier. The longest tradition for me has been hitting the shopping areas. I have zero interest in shopping, but I do like to play a little game with the sheep who get up so early to shop for bargains. My game is played in the parking lots. I have always been extremely annoyed when people follow me and wait for my parking spot. I am especially annoyed when there is another just ten feet away. So in past years on Black Friday I slowly stroll through parking lots at busy store and wait until people follow me to my spot. I then like to get into the car and pretend like I am going to start it only to then get out and walk back toward the store. A jackass move I know, but I like to think I am helping the president in his battle against obesity by making people park further away and walk.  
  After several warnings from a friend that I will eventually get shot, I decided it was time for new tradition. This years tradition was inspired by pasta month and the color black. A special dinner at home I call “All Black Everything”. I started my dinner with a home made Black Kale and Ricotta Ravioli which i cooked in a Black Garlic Cream Sauce. And then posed the age old question WWJD? (What Would Jigga Do?) . I realized that after scoring even more cash with a new book release, Jay-Z would head down to Di Bruno’s for some fresh Black Truffle to finish this pasta. I started off dinner in a wonderful way and cannot wait to make this dish again. 
   Second course continued the pasta theme but this time with a store brought product. I had initially wanted to make my own squid ink pasta, but had difficulty finding a place to buy squid ink. This pasta I did in a simple sauce of olive oil and garlic( AGLIO E OLIO)  with shrimp, spinach. and confit tomato. Simple but delicious. The slight difference in the flavor of the squid ink pasta brought a great contrast to the spinach and tomatoes while heightening the flavor of the shrimp. A great option for a quick dinner. maybe next time I will add some toasted pine nuts for a texture difference.
   Third course brought a Blackberry-Marscarpone Ravioli with Whipped Cream and Lemon Zest. I stuffed the ravioli with a blackberry, roasted apple and marscarpone cheese filling. I cooked them like I would any other pasta after I froze them for a few hours to set. I finished it with some powdered sugar, whipped cream, lemon zest and a blackberry syrup.
    I finished with a blackberry custard. I cooked the custard in ramekins in a water bath. I garnished the dish with a black garlic-honey tuile. All in all I think it was a successful attempt on all dishes. I had hoped to do a 5th course but was pretty tired after a long night at work. I think I have started a new Black Friday tradition and I look forward to next year.

The Skinny Fat Kid