Life's too short to eat bad food - Me

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - Arthur C. Clarke

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The CSA Dilemma

No good deed goes unpunished - Clare Boothe Luce 
This was not supposed to have a happy ending. It does. At least it seems to. I think.

This post has been in the works for a while, as many are while I struggle with saying what I want to say. It's also been gestating along with our decision making process. So it goes.

Community Supported Agriculture. CSA. What a concept. Local farms and farmers, raising food in a healthy, sustainable manner. Not merely as a customer, but as a shareholder. A partner in the bounty and the risk.

It's a concept that fits into the way we live our lives. We are far from fanatics. We just try to do it best. We are members of the Lexington Co-op, and we are at the North Tonawanda farmers market at least one Saturday a month. We love the meats from local pasturers like T-Meadow and Erba Verde Farms and tasty treats from White Cow Dairy.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fleeting Glory

In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes - Andy Warhol

Let’s start with a bit of synchronicity. Yesterday, I was walking to our mailbox with our neighbor Bruce when he mentioned that he had seen the recent article about me in Buffalo Spree magazine. Further, he said that he had read it at his son-in-law Ted’s house.

What is somewhat remarkable about this is that Bruce is more than just a neighbor. He practiced law from the same offices that Trish and I did. It was a bit of a hoot when we discovered that he had moved into a house just up the street. Ted is more than just his son-in-law. Ted and I spent the better part of three years working side-by-side on the hotline at DACC’s. During that time we became pretty good friends, and though we hadn’t seen each other in a while it’s nice to be in touch again. The fact that both of them became aware of my food blogging because of a magazine article is just the benefit of “fame”.

If Andy Warhol is right, I have already had mine. In fact, I’ve had a whole half hour. It isn’t as if I have been toiling in obscurity, but any time I can attract attention to the work I do in this blog it is a worthwhile effort. I am not in this for money, nor fame – I am really in it because I enjoy it. This blog allows me to express thoughts in a way that I might not otherwise have.

My brush with fame, such as it is began in August when I received an email from Rachel Fix Dominguez of Buffalo Spree magazine. It was an invitation to participate along with other Buffalo food bloggers in their annual Cheap Eats issue. I of course accepted the invitation and submitted to the magazine a list of my top five inexpensive restaurants. In September I met with photographer K. C. Kratt at Suzy - Q’s BBQ for a photo shoot. I was told I have a symmetrical head.

I was glad when I finally got to eat my pulled pork sandwich, inhaling the aroma while posing for half an hour had me drooling.

So let me take a moment to flog the other local blogs represented in Buffalo Spree. Some I know,some have become friends. All are worth reading. In mostly no particular order:

Buffalo Beer and Food:  With four main contributors, this blog displays what one might call a "manly" look at the food scene in Western New York. It's the kind of site I'd be looking at if I'd just moved to the area - something that would have been helpful when I relocated to Toledo for law school. It's a broad-based blog on a variety of subjects. Restaurants, recipes and refreshments delivered with a dose of humor.

Buffalo Foodie:  Nina Barone is a writer for Spree, our host, and her blog writing often seems to complement her work for the magazine. While she does review restaurants and write recipes, my favorite bits are her commentaries on the local food scene and events. I must remember that I promised to let her know when Wild Bill BBQ reopens in the spring.

Little Kitchen, Big Flavors: The name pretty much sums it up. A recipe driven site, featuring a husband and wife combo, one a restaurant cook and the other mostly self-taught. It's a recipe driven site filled with ideas for any home cook. (Also great ideas for your next tailgate party).

Lovin' on Buffalo: You have to admire a blog that combines food, support for local businesses and charitable endeavors. There are restaurant reviews, notes on current events and local attractions and a lot of stuff that reminds you to be happy to be in Western New York. If you need a cheerleader Buffalo, you've found her.

Pea Pod Riot: Annie Levay-Krause has an eclectic site, reflecting her multifaceted persona. In addition to writing a blog on food and dining, she is the founder of SOLE (Seasonal, Organic, Local and Ethical) which pretty much says it all. It's about food and gardening, and puts on dinners with an international flavor. In the Land of Peapodriot you can find a bounty of food based on the freshest, most natural ingredients.

Tasty Yummies: This blog is the brainchild of Beth Manos Brickey. Her work is notable for the way she has taken dietary restrictions not as an impediment, but as a challenge to be conquered. Her recipes are gluten-free and mostly vegetarian. They are yummy as is, but can easily be “retrofitted” for the most dedicated of carnivores. I first met Beth – if met is the correct word – at a presentation for bloggers where she was a panelist. I had hoped that it would be a chance to network with other food bloggers, but that was not to be the case. Sadly, Beth and her husband are relocating to the West Coast so I won’t get a chance to know her better, but I will be following her blog.

Buffalo Eats: I saved this for last for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that Donnie Burtless a and his wife Alli have become friends. I always look for opinions in addition to a local newspaper. For the longest time, the major contender was a blog that, while thorough, felt off-putting. Enter BE.

I enjoyed it from the start, becoming one of their first regular commenters. The blog has an every-man feel to it that I found inviting. Donnie and his brother Tom host a weekly podcast featuring interviews with denizens of our local food world. That is the other reason I saved this for last. In November I was asked to participate in a podcast, which went live last week. My second 15 minutes. I oddly did not come off sounding like a dork.

Feel free to tune in here, you may find it interesting.
A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting. - Patton
All photographs by KC Kratt - Buffalo Spree Magazine

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Spice Shelf

Variety's the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavour. - William Cowper

The Spice Shelf is a random selection from amongst the useless potpourri that inhabits my skull.

Just a few notes out of today’s Taste section in the Buffalo News.

If memory serves, today marks Sara Moulton’s first appearance in the weekly food section. If so, I would like to welcome her to Western New York. While she is still doing great work today – her shows appear occasionally on PBS locally – her live Food Network show Cooking Live (1997 – 2003) is greatly missed. In my opinion, it is, bar none, the best cooking show to have ever graced the airwaves. Better than Jacques. Better than Julia.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

An Ostentatious Showing

He would go to Halifax for half a chance to show off and he would go to hell for a whole one - Mark Twain

I love watching chefs strutting their stuff – in and out of the kitchen. It becomes so obvious that it is the end result of hard work, long hours and excruciating repetition. Sometimes the demonstration is strictly for show. Think Teppenyaki House. There are practical applications as well. Watching Martin Yan disjoint a chicken in 18 seconds, or Jacques Pepin literally ripping the flesh off a chicken caravans for a galantine in moments (I believe it’s a part of Jacques and Julia “Cooking in Concert”).

It’s a little different, of course, when a cook is appearing on a late-night entertainment venue. The viewership demands that the chef give them a spectacle. So when Alton Brown showed up on Craig Ferguson, I expected a hoot. And I got one. Cotton candy wars, a taffy pull and liquid nitrogen games – you can’t beat that.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Morning After Vices

 When you have found the shrubbery, then you must cut down the mightiest tree in the forest ... with a herring. - The Tall Knight Who Says Ni

I started today, as I have for the last 18 years, with a taste of Blind Robin. A seafood product even the cats don’t eat.


Just like last year with a three replacing the two. The first year with all different digits since 1987. A year to be enjoyed for its lack of a Mayan Apocalypse and a continuation of our dysfunctional Congress.

We usually spend New Year’s in Cleveland with friends, but putting my bionic hip in a sub-compact for 3.5 hours seemed premature. So we decided to make our celebration at home. Dinner and a movie.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
- Arthur C. Clarke

Life's too short to eat bad food -