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Things That Have Kicked My Butt

Things That Have Kicked My Butt
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  • Things That Have Kicked My Butt

    Post #1 - November 3rd, 2010, 12:30 pm
    Post #1 - November 3rd, 2010, 12:30 pm Post #1 - November 3rd, 2010, 12:30 pm
    Things That Have Kicked My Butt: Insalata d’Asparigi con Salsa alla Bolzanina

    For a while now, I’ve thought it might be fun to keep a running log of things (food, servers, wine, whatever) that have kicked my butt, in a good or bad way. Last night I had some white asparagus at Quartino that kicked my butt in the best way.

    Image

    I’ve always been lukewarm about white asparagus, considering it kind of prissy and decadent and not as flavorful as green, so why bother (?). I now know why to bother.

    This pale, almost translucent asparagus tipped with a hint of magenta rouge had both the pleasing vegetal bitterness of green asparagus and the faint sweetness of a young thing. It was delicate, and I was able to cut it with a fork (it didn’t seem to have had the outside peeled, as is frequently done with the green versions – not necessary). Each bite was an enjoyment, with fascinating flavor and intriguing texture, fine silky threads of vegetable tissue that dissolved with a chew or two.

    Topping this incredible plate of asparagus was a salsa alla bolzanina, made in this instance with eggs, chives, parsley and good olive oil (I didn’t detect any mustard), which was a beautifully balanced accompaniment, adding a little richness and contrast but having the good sense to stand out of the way so the star of the plate could shine.

    This was the kind of dish that had me totally focused, zeroed in on each bite, almost irritated when a server or someone else broke my concentration. It absorbed me.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #2 - November 3rd, 2010, 4:26 pm
    Post #2 - November 3rd, 2010, 4:26 pm Post #2 - November 3rd, 2010, 4:26 pm
    I was at Quartino just a while back with some out-of-town friends and the entire experience kicked our collective butts (in the good way).
    An old friend from high school, now at Duke, curating a traveling exhibit going up at the Cultural Center, with her high school daughter in tow: It was a rushed meeting where we wanted maximum catching up time, but also a nice Chicago food experience.
    Met them at Crate & Barrel (she had never been inside a C&B, if you can imagine such a thing), and we wanted some wine, some bites, informal but good.
    Quartino made me look like the perfect, urbane, knows-his-way around host as I led my friends through the throngs straight inside for a completely satisfying get together.
    Walked in and got a bar-area table near the door for people watching with no wait. They were humming with after-work business, but service was still quick and friendly. Ordered about 4-5 dishes and wine.
    I should remember what it all was but I don't. There were white beans, there were beets, there was polenta, there were mushrooms, there was eggplant---not all together, but represented at the table. And it was all good. Everything was well presented, sharably portioned, boldy flavored, and reasonably priced. For the vegetarian daughter there was no need to sacrifice taste or variety to principle, and she got to try some things she'd never even heard of before.
    I really like this place. It's almost like those places in sophisticated romantic comedies that seem to exist only in Hollywood imaginations. Perhaps I'm being influenced by the sentiment attached to the occasion, but I'm giving Quartino the butt-kicking credit anyway.
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #3 - November 3rd, 2010, 7:08 pm
    Post #3 - November 3rd, 2010, 7:08 pm Post #3 - November 3rd, 2010, 7:08 pm
    Tobacco paan freshly rolled at a small convenience (video?) store just east of Sabri Nihari on Devon.

    Makes chewing tobacco look like a stick of Big Red.

    I had a higher tolerance for the stuff while I was traveling in India (even then it gave me a head rush). When I had it a few months ago in Chicago, I was spitting red fire, my mouth puckered from pure astringent, pupils dilated, heart rate flying at 160bpm. What a rush. And yes, it is legal.
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #4 - November 3rd, 2010, 7:27 pm
    Post #4 - November 3rd, 2010, 7:27 pm Post #4 - November 3rd, 2010, 7:27 pm
    Habibi wrote:Tobacco paan freshly rolled at a small convenience (video?) store just east of Sabri Nihari on Devon.

    Makes chewing tobacco look like a stick of Big Red.

    I had a higher tolerance for the stuff while I was traveling in India (even then it gave me a head rush). When I had it a few months ago in Chicago, I was spitting red fire, my mouth puckered from pure astringent, pupils dilated, heart rate flying at 160bpm. What a rush. And yes, it is legal.


    I got to say, I really like this stuff. Once, long ago, with Sula at Hyderabad House (if I remember correctly), he spit out the paan in disgust. I ate mine, which I'm not saying is a good thing, but I really like that powerful gob-smack after a spicy dinner. It was probably the only thing that would have penetrated the taste buds at that point...and I appreciated the rush.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #5 - November 3rd, 2010, 9:23 pm
    Post #5 - November 3rd, 2010, 9:23 pm Post #5 - November 3rd, 2010, 9:23 pm
    With betel nut or without? I thought (but don't know) that it was illegal. Used to be a place on Montrose just west of Ashland in the 80's called Tasty Eat. My girlfriend @ the time lived just down the st and it was open late. Pakistani brain nehari followed by paan @ 2 am. Lethal combo. So were we.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #6 - November 3rd, 2010, 9:34 pm
    Post #6 - November 3rd, 2010, 9:34 pm Post #6 - November 3rd, 2010, 9:34 pm
    Jazzfood wrote:With betel nut or without? I thought (but don't know) that it was illegal. Used to be a place on Montrose just west of Ashland in the 80's called Tasty Eat. My girlfriend @ the time lived just down the st and it was open late. Pakistani brain nehari followed by paan @ 2 am. Lethal combo. So were we.


    I thought it was betel.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #7 - November 4th, 2010, 6:16 am
    Post #7 - November 4th, 2010, 6:16 am Post #7 - November 4th, 2010, 6:16 am
    Jazzfood wrote:With betel nut or without?
    Betel nut leaf has been the wrapper the very few times I've had paan, which I detest.

    Image

    Image

    P I D C Pan House
    6342 N Western Ave
    Chicago, IL 60659
    773-465-4002
    One minute to Wapner.
    Raymond Babbitt

    Low & Slow
  • Post #8 - November 4th, 2010, 9:10 am
    Post #8 - November 4th, 2010, 9:10 am Post #8 - November 4th, 2010, 9:10 am
    Mine definitely had the hard, chopped, slightly stimulative nut in it. As far as I know the nut actually comes from the areca, not betel plant (which is the source of the leaf used in paan - hence the misnomer).

    G Wiv, I totally understand the aversion to it. I can only rarely stomach the stuff, but sometimes it really hits the spot.

    Incidentally, the sweet version (meetha paan) which contains dried fruit and coconut, no areca nut or tobacco, is quite mild and a wonderful digestif to be consumed after a heavy meal.
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #9 - November 4th, 2010, 8:27 pm
    Post #9 - November 4th, 2010, 8:27 pm Post #9 - November 4th, 2010, 8:27 pm
    Things That Have Kicked My Butt: November Chard

    I had this gorgeously huge and meaty hambone from Wettstein’s. I planned to make some beans, but I wanted something more into the mix. Remembering that I still had some chard in the garden, and knowing it was going to be cold soon, I thought, perfect timing.

    So I went back to the chard garden, and what I saw was, indeed, perfect.

    Image

    The chard now looks way better than it did all summer. I think the reason for that is that all the little critters that were eating at it throughout the warm months have gone indoors for the winter. Now, each new leaf was unblemished by bugs, shiny with healthy life, deep in color, so…perfect.

    Glad I got to it before the freezing rain.

    David "Just trying to be leaf-positive" Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #10 - November 4th, 2010, 8:44 pm
    Post #10 - November 4th, 2010, 8:44 pm Post #10 - November 4th, 2010, 8:44 pm
    G Wiv wrote:
    Jazzfood wrote:With betel nut or without?
    Betel nut leaf has been the wrapper the very few times I've had paan, which I detest.

    P I D C Pan House
    6342 N Western Ave
    Chicago, IL 60659
    773-465-4002


    I hate both the betel leaf and the "supari" which is the Areca nut. I will sometimes order just the "paan masala" sweet and without the supari.

    Btw PIDC paan house is a very famous paan shop in Karachi.
    Jyoti
    A meal, with bread and wine, shared with friends and family is among the most essential and important of all human rituals.
    Ruhlman
  • Post #11 - November 5th, 2010, 9:22 am
    Post #11 - November 5th, 2010, 9:22 am Post #11 - November 5th, 2010, 9:22 am
    David Hammond wrote:For a while now, I’ve thought it might be fun to keep a running log of things (food, servers, wine, whatever) that have kicked my butt, in a good or bad way.
    I've been thinking about what my list might look like. Honestly, I'm not sure whether I just don't get my butt kicked that often or if I merely don't like to admit when it does happen (yes, yes, probably the latter). I'm having trouble thinking of instances for my list, but the pickled Spanish octopus I recently had at The Violet Hour may qualify.

    Image

    Served atop toast with kuri squash purée, red onions, greens and roasted squash seeds, this was some seriously sour seafood. The first bite made me pucker and almost cry. My dining companion offered to eat the rest for me, but after a break, I soldiered on. Perhaps an indication that this was a butt-kicking: I'm not sure if this experience was good or bad. Overall, I think Chef David Ford's first menu for TVH is an improvement--the dishes sound more interesting than the old TVH food. I'm just not sure about execution yet.
  • Post #12 - November 6th, 2010, 6:46 pm
    Post #12 - November 6th, 2010, 6:46 pm Post #12 - November 6th, 2010, 6:46 pm
    Things That Have Kicked My Butt: Duchesse de Bourgogne

    Duchesse de Bourgogne may be an acquired taste. For those not familiar with the more sour varieties of northern beers, it might even be mistaken for being “off.” I was with a buddy at Hopleaf a few years ago, and he took one sip and couldn’t finish (so much the better for me, a devotee of the Duchesse).

    Last night, I was once again knocked flat on my arse by the wonderfulness of this brew on tap.

    Image

    Tonight, we picked up a big bottle at Whole Foods…and it was about 50% as wonderful as the draft version we had last night. Good, but duller, with none of the crisp flavor and effervescence of the two I had at Owen & Engine. It even seemed like the rich red hue was less intense, and the delectable sourness less pronounced; all in all, a flatter, blunter almost dirty version of this beauty. It was like watching a bad print of a favorite movie, or listening to a favorite tune through tinny speakers, a pale reflection that reminds one how good it could be but isn't. Still a decent quaff, but it made me long for one that had just been pulled from a fresh cask through “clean pipes.”
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #13 - November 6th, 2010, 11:44 pm
    Post #13 - November 6th, 2010, 11:44 pm Post #13 - November 6th, 2010, 11:44 pm
    I too love the Duchesse. But I think the last sour beer to kick my butt was the Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek on tap at Hopleaf. That was a long time ago, and I think its appearance on draught was very temporary. But I should seek out some traditional gueze or lambic again soon -- I'm overdue for a good sour beer asskicking.

    The most recent food item to kick my butt was a free taste of a $100+/pound jamón ibérico de bellota. Made me briefly consider raising a pig of my own and feeding it nothing but acorns. Hell, it made me briefly consider feeding myself nothing but acorns and then chopping off one of my arms and curing the meat.
  • Post #14 - November 10th, 2010, 10:41 am
    Post #14 - November 10th, 2010, 10:41 am Post #14 - November 10th, 2010, 10:41 am
    Things that Have Kicked My Butt: Moscow Mule and Yuba

    Achatz is experimenting with pairing liquor and food (something Trotter refuses to do), and we’re going to see more of that at Next and Aviary, of course. Last night, I got a sneak preview.

    In keeping with the highly interactive table style, you “make your own” Moscow Mule by pouring the vodka over shaved ice with some ginger and (I think) chili. The lemon grass swizzle stick is used to mix, and it does impart some pleasing Asian flavors (hey, Russia is half in Asia, right).

    Image
    A cool take on a classic and an excellent pairing with yuba. Here, wrapping around the yuba, is a Gulf prawn, sprinkled with black sesame and togarashi. It’s mounted in what Achatz calls an “inkwell,” which is kind of funny and whimsical, like so much of what he does.

    Image

    Some serious "flavor bouncing" happening here.

    Moscow Mule and Yuba: 2
    Butt: 0
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #15 - January 6th, 2011, 1:41 pm
    Post #15 - January 6th, 2011, 1:41 pm Post #15 - January 6th, 2011, 1:41 pm
    Things That Have Kicked My Butt: Fresh Oysters and Cold Champagne for Breakfast

    Wandering into the early morning light of the Place Kleber Christmas market in Strasbourg, my daughter Abby spotted something she liked: oysters and champagne.

    These nice ladies, who were just opening their booth, explained that they were “oyster cultivators” from the west coast of France.

    Image

    They quickly shucked us a dozen.

    Image

    Briny, with notes of melon and cucumber, bracing first thing in the morning, these plump little guys were so full of liquor, the champagne was almost unnecessary.

    Image

    But, of course, I drank it any way.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #16 - January 6th, 2011, 1:56 pm
    Post #16 - January 6th, 2011, 1:56 pm Post #16 - January 6th, 2011, 1:56 pm
    David, that looks like the best breakfast available anywhere on the planet. Color me green with pure, unadulterated, envy!
    "Baseball is like church. Many attend. Few understand." Leo Durocher
  • Post #17 - January 6th, 2011, 8:09 pm
    Post #17 - January 6th, 2011, 8:09 pm Post #17 - January 6th, 2011, 8:09 pm
    That looks incredible! Greatest breakfast ever!
    i used to milk cows
  • Post #18 - January 6th, 2011, 9:56 pm
    Post #18 - January 6th, 2011, 9:56 pm Post #18 - January 6th, 2011, 9:56 pm
    DITTO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    "Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad." Miles Kington
  • Post #19 - January 29th, 2011, 8:44 am
    Post #19 - January 29th, 2011, 8:44 am Post #19 - January 29th, 2011, 8:44 am
    David Hammond wrote:Things that Have Kicked My Butt: Moscow Mule and Yuba

    Achatz is experimenting with pairing liquor and food (something Trotter refuses to do), and we’re going to see more of that at Next and Aviary, of course. Last night, I got a sneak preview.

    In keeping with the highly interactive table style, you “make your own” Moscow Mule by pouring the vodka over shaved ice with some ginger and (I think) chili. The lemon grass swizzle stick is used to mix, and it does impart some pleasing Asian flavors (hey, Russia is half in Asia, right).

    Image
    A cool take on a classic and an excellent pairing with yuba. Here, wrapping around the yuba, is a Gulf prawn, sprinkled with black sesame and togarashi. It’s mounted in what Achatz calls an “inkwell,” which is kind of funny and whimsical, like so much of what he does.

    Image

    Some serious "flavor bouncing" happening here.

    Moscow Mule and Yuba: 2
    Butt: 0


    Looks like the Moscow Mule is making it to the final cut for Aviary
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #20 - February 2nd, 2011, 10:04 pm
    Post #20 - February 2nd, 2011, 10:04 pm Post #20 - February 2nd, 2011, 10:04 pm
    David Hammond wrote:Things That Have Kicked My Butt: Duchesse de Bourgogne

    Duchesse de Bourgogne may be an acquired taste. For those not familiar with the more sour varieties of northern beers, it might even be mistaken for being “off.” I was with a buddy at Hopleaf a few years ago, and he took one sip and couldn’t finish (so much the better for me, a devotee of the Duchesse).

    Last night, I was once again knocked flat on my arse by the wonderfulness of this brew on tap.

    Tonight, we picked up a big bottle at Whole Foods…and it was about 50% as wonderful as the draft version we had last night. Good, but duller, with none of the crisp flavor and effervescence of the two I had at Owen & Engine. It even seemed like the rich red hue was less intense, and the delectable sourness less pronounced; all in all, a flatter, blunter almost dirty version of this beauty. It was like watching a bad print of a favorite movie, or listening to a favorite tune through tinny speakers, a pale reflection that reminds one how good it could be but isn't. Still a decent quaff, but it made me long for one that had just been pulled from a fresh cask through “clean pipes.”


    I had a similar experience - the Duchesse I've purchased at Whole Foods a couple of times now has never been as good as what I had at The Local Option last summer when they were offering it. Everything about the bottled Duchesse from WF has been muted to some degree by comparison.
  • Post #21 - February 4th, 2011, 10:09 am
    Post #21 - February 4th, 2011, 10:09 am Post #21 - February 4th, 2011, 10:09 am
    ...same experience with the Rodenbachs. The stuff I've had on tap at Hopleaf and Monk's in Philly is much zingier than bottled. In bottles, I think the little ones (10 oz-ish) are better than the large formats, if you can find them.
  • Post #22 - March 3rd, 2011, 1:53 pm
    Post #22 - March 3rd, 2011, 1:53 pm Post #22 - March 3rd, 2011, 1:53 pm
    AnotherMike wrote:...the last sour beer to kick my butt was the Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek on tap at Hopleaf. ...


    It's on tap at the Map Room now. Holy crap is that a good beer. Remided me of the Zuppa di celiege I made recently with sour cherries, red wine, almonds and lots of black pepper. This has the same kind of peppery component to go along with the big sour hit, along with nuttiness, earth and bitter from the pits. Great stuff. Deserves some ripe soft cheese to go with it.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #23 - April 12th, 2011, 4:55 pm
    Post #23 - April 12th, 2011, 4:55 pm Post #23 - April 12th, 2011, 4:55 pm
    I've been eating my way around the San Gabriel Valley, with the excellent eatingla blog and a few other sources as my guide. In the comments on the linked post, I noted that a certain commenter named sinosoul, aka LTH's own Tony C, lauded Mama's "stank tofu". Forgetting that he'd singled out the steamed version, I ordered the fried stinky tofu instead. The server asked me a couple of times if I was sure I wanted that, and to convince her I lied and said I'd had it before. She consented to bring it.

    Fried Stinky Tofu:
    Image

    As soon as this dish came out of the kitchen I started wondering how much of it I would have to eat to save face. It smelled absolutely disgusting. By the time it reached my table I thought I would vomit. Though I'd read that this stuff smells worse than it tastes, the initial bite brought waves of dirty gym socks and stale semen to my palate. With apologies to all adventuresome Caucasians trying to establish credibility in places like this, I must apologize and report that I furthered our reputation as wimps by finishing only 3 of these little tofu squares.

    If you want to eat stinky tofu in Chicago, it appears that you can do so at Spring World. Though G Wiv's description in that thread of a "mild" dish belies what I had in Alhambra. The coating on the California version looks more delicate too, and it was delicate indeed and very nicely fried.


    Mama's Kitchen Noodle & Dumpling World
    1308 East Valley Boulevard
    Alhambra, CA
    (626) 289-8984

    NB: the address in the blog linked above is now a Halal place called Omar's. Mama's Kitchen has moved to the address I posted, which I stumbled upon because it is thankfully around the corner from the old one.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #24 - April 12th, 2011, 7:33 pm
    Post #24 - April 12th, 2011, 7:33 pm Post #24 - April 12th, 2011, 7:33 pm
    Kennyz wrote:Though I'd read that this stuff smells worse than it tastes, the initial bite brought waves of dirty gym socks and stale semen to my palate.


    At least there was no fish raping involved. I hope.
  • Post #25 - October 29th, 2015, 10:37 pm
    Post #25 - October 29th, 2015, 10:37 pm Post #25 - October 29th, 2015, 10:37 pm
    Maybe "incinerated" is more appropriate than "kicked"

    Image
    Hell Ramen from Strings, Level V (leftovers)

    Finish it broth and all and you get a $50 gift cert. Server said he's worked there for 4 months and no one's ever done it. 1 person did finish a Level IV. From the website:
    ... Fried pork skin symbolizes human skin when they're brunt in oil. We choose to use ground meat instead of kuro buta belly because ground meat symbolize how you end up if you get chopped up in hell. The red pepper threads symbolize the hair that got pulled from your head.

    It was formidable in many ways - tons of veggies to give textural contrast; chewy, more al dente than al dente noodles; aroma of toasted chilis; substantial ma-la but not as much as High Five Ramen's; nice back story that goes with it. But in my case ... I took 2.5 spoonfuls in total. I didn't wear contacts the next day because my fingers were still so chili-fied that it burned my eyes.
  • Post #26 - October 30th, 2015, 10:09 am
    Post #26 - October 30th, 2015, 10:09 am Post #26 - October 30th, 2015, 10:09 am
    bernard wrote:Maybe "incinerated" is more appropriate than "kicked"

    Image
    Hell Ramen from Strings, Level V (leftovers)

    Finish it broth and all and you get a $50 gift cert. Server said he's worked there for 4 months and no one's ever done it. 1 person did finish a Level IV. From the website:
    ... Fried pork skin symbolizes human skin when they're brunt in oil. We choose to use ground meat instead of kuro buta belly because ground meat symbolize how you end up if you get chopped up in hell. The red pepper threads symbolize the hair that got pulled from your head.

    It was formidable in many ways - tons of veggies to give textural contrast; chewy, more al dente than al dente noodles; aroma of toasted chilis; substantial ma-la but not as much as High Five Ramen's; nice back story that goes with it. But in my case ... I took 2.5 spoonfuls in total. I didn't wear contacts the next day because my fingers were still so chili-fied that it burned my eyes.


    Perfect for Halloween.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #27 - October 30th, 2015, 11:22 am
    Post #27 - October 30th, 2015, 11:22 am Post #27 - October 30th, 2015, 11:22 am
    My first run through this thread. I'm *still* stuck on Hammond and the oyster+champagne brekkers in Strasbourg. Jeez Hammond, how come you get all the good stuff to eat??

    OTOH, Bernard has waaay more guts than I do. Even with my experience, I'd bet that I wouldn't equal his 2.5 spoonsful, no, not even close. Ouf!

    Happy Halloween all yinz!

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)

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