October 2006

Foie Gras Feelings

Here is a short film of people’s reactions to the foie gras I served last night. Several of our guests had never had foie gras before and their feedback may surprise you. (Interesting fact: the men all loved theirs but the women had issues. Who knew gender & liver were so intimately entwined?) Please enjoy.

70 Steps To Foie Gras Torchon

1. Receive a free lobe of foie gras from Mirepoix USA.

2. Post about it on your website.

3. Consider your options. (Option 1: Go as Foie Gras Head to that Halloween party; Option 2: Sear it and serve it; Option 3: Make a torchon from The French Laundry Cookbook.)

4. Decide on Option Two.

5. Meet Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune and ask her what she would do with a lobe of foie gras if she received one in the mail. Hear her say, “I’d make the recipe that appeared last summer in Saveur where you cure it in salt.” [This is the recipe. I think the article’s by her sister.]

6. Decide to make that recipe.

7. Consult Meg who has also received a lobe of foie gras. Let her convince you not to make that recipe, but to make Option 3: the torchon from The French Laundry cookbook. She says, “It’s totally worth it.” She says she’s going to make torchon with hers.

8. Decide to make that recipe.

9. Challenge her to a Torchon Tournament.

9. Begin the process.


Hello! Welcome back to Nibbles, a semi-frequent posting ritual in which I cram together a bunch of minor posts into one big one so you, the reader, are entertained and I, the writer, feel like I’ve entertained you and informed you about all the things I’ve experienced recently related to food. So here we go:

– Hey so remember how I said this would be related to food? Not yet. Our first Nibble involves free tickets I received to the new Bob Dylan musical with choreography by Twyla Tharp; a musical called, appropriately, “The Times They Are A’Changin.” I’d been reading All That Chat, the popular theater chat board, because I’m a theater nerd and this was getting TONS of bad press. But Craig and I, who went in with the lowest of expectations, really enjoyed it. I thought it was visually stunning and the dancing was incredibly athletic. If you like Bob Dylan, musical theater, Cirque Du Soleil and intricate choreography this is the show for you.

– The show has a circus theme which reminded me afterwards of a funny story that I shared with Craig and the story is somewhat related to eating. When I was in 5th grade my parents sent me to performing arts camp, a camp called French Woods in upstate New York. While there I performed in Cats (I was a stray cat in a leotard) and Captain Louie, a musical by Stephen Schwartz that involved me sititng on someone’s shoulders pretending to fly around in an airplane. But one thing that made this camp special was that it had a circus. At the beginning of camp you could go and audition and they’d assign you a part in the circus that you’d study and at the end of the summer you’d perform in the big circus show. So I went to the audition and auditioned and as they called out names, they’d say which part of the circus you were assigned to. “Robert Avery,” they’d say, “You’re trapeze.” “Carl Winslow, you’re tightrope.” And then it came: “Adam Roberts, you’re fire eating.” Fire eating!? Were they nuts? Me eat fire?? So I told the guy in charge I was no longer interested. And thank God because if I’d pursued it I wouldn’t have the tastebuds to do what I’m doing now! And that’s my circus story.

– So big things are happening in my food writing career. I wish I could spill the beans right away but then I’d get in trouble. Suffice it to say I’ve written a few pieces for different publications that should be up soon. I’ll make sure to link to them when they’re up!

– Hey look at this site that linked to me. What language is this? What does this say? Is it nice? Is it mean? See if you click the hyperlink it goes to my site. BUT WHAT DOES IT SAY?! WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!

– I would just like to say that Eater’s NYT review oddsmakers are scary good. Do they have a perfect record? I think they do. How do they do it? Color me impressed.

– As a final thought I’d like to discuss honest food. What is honest food? The phrase came to me last night when Craig and I chose between dinner at the Westside Diner on 9th Avenue and dinner at Esca. Esca’s a fantastic restaurant (it’s featured prominently in my book) but it’s very expensive. The Westside Diner is fairly crappy but it’s cheap. The two places are close together and both are perfect for a meal after the theater, which is exactly the sort of meal Craig and I were having. So what’s more honest: the place that serves quality ingredients at high prices or the place that serves low quality ingredients prepared badly at cheap prices? Is it more honest to charge $8 for a filling gummy omelette or $28 for “hand harvested maine diver scallops with roasted brussel sprouts and pancetta.” This is an important question and I think it speaks to a big divide in our culture. Isn’t there a way to bridge these two extremes and have honest food that’s honest in both price and quality? Since that hadn’t happened yet, Craig and I decided to save our money and we ate at the diner. Our food was adequate and our wallets were happy.

And that my friends is Nibbles. Tune in next week with our special guest……Charo! We’ll be making churros. Cuchi cuchi!

What Do You Do With An Engorged Duck Liver In Your Fridge?

Dear Abbey,

Hi, it’s me again, you remember I wrote you in the 4th grade because I felt guilty about pulling the chair out from under Stacy Epstein and you told me I was immoral and going to burn in hell? Well I need more advice! What do I do with this foie gras?

It came courtesy of Mirepoix “the premier site for foie gras, charcuterie and truffles.” It’s been sitting in my fridge for a few days and I was going to make a torchon but now I think I may just cook it straight in the pan. What would you do, Abbey? What would you do readers? How would you serve it? Can you believe that a liver that size was once in a duck or a goose?

Thank you,

Poultry Liver Eater in Park Slope

Deep Thoughts About The Food Panel at The 92nd Street Y

Enjoyed the panel discussion tonight at the 92nd Street Y moderated by a blogger and featuring Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert (of Le Bernardin) and Gabrielle Hamilton (of Prune). The most fascinating part, for me, was the bit at the end about Rocco Dispirito as a cautionary tale of a chef who loses touch with his cooking in pursuit of his own fame. Kind of an Icarus story with frying pans instead of wings. I think what came through is that if you want to be a chef, you have to do it because you love to cook–for no other reason. “It’s like people who say they want to be rockstars instead of saying they want to be musicians,” offered Ms. Hamilton. Apparently people are entering cooking school now because they want to be famous. The panelists shook their heads in dismay.

The discussion reminded me of one of my favorite quotes, a quote attributed to the late playwright August Wilson. The quote is: “You’re entitled to the work, not the reward.” It’s the sort of thing you might tape over your desk to remind you that regardless of how much you fail or how much you succeed in your career, the work should be its own reward. The chefs on the panel are all people who take great pleasure in their work–who would be doing what they do regardless of whether or not they were successful. Cooking, as it was pointed out, is an honest field–there’s no bullshitting in the kitchen. And so it was refreshing tonight to see three people who live their lives honestly; who cook* because they must, not for a reward, but for passion. Quite inspiring.

* Re-reading this I realize that Anthony Bourdain isn’t a cook anymore. But his career still fits the bill. As he said, “I have the best job in the fucking world. I get to travel wherever the fuck I want and people pay me for it. I’m a lucky son of a bitch.” (That’s paraphrasing, but I think I captured the spirit of his sentiment.)

Me on FoodTV

Guess what? I’m going to be a talking head on a Food Network pilot they’re shooting tomorrow. I can’t tell you anything about it or they’ll chop off my fingers, so suffice it to say if it goes to air I’ll give you a big heads up. Now for the hard part: whatever will I wear!? (Not green. I’ll be in front of a green screen, so I don’t want to be a floating head do I? Though that may be a promising FoodTV pilot in itself: Cooking With A Floating Head. Or Cooking With An Airhead. Wait, isn’t that the subtitle to Sandra Lee’s show? Snap!)

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