Monday, January 31, 2005

Glenrose

|
While researching my Paso Robles piece, I fell in love with Don Rose's Glenrose vineyard. The site isn't any prettier than other Paso vineyards, but after I visited it I understood why a waiter at Villa Creek told me bluntly, "Don Rose? He's crazy." You want a unique terroir? One that isn't just a marketing term? So did Rose.

Geology graced Paso with abundant limestone, a conspicuous element of great wine regions like Burgundy, Piemonte and Champagne among others. Rose turned his vineyard's limestone knob to 11. He used his one-person bulldozer to carve into 20% of his land to expose a soil that's up to 80% limestone in some places. The soil has such a high pH that dilute sulfuric acid runs through the irrigation system in order to keep the vines alive. The limestone binds tightly to iron and the vines have a tough time making chlorophyll as a result. The view from Glenrose's summit, which looks down on narrow terraces separated by fifteen-foot drops, is not a lush green vineyard but a mottled carpet of light green and yellow. My favorite quote about Glenrose comes from Justin Smith of Saxum : "You want to stress grapes, but those you almost feel sorry for."

There's an indescribable quality about wines made from these grapes. When I tasted several over the course of a few weeks, I noticed it every time, even when they were blended with grapes from other vineyards as in Villa Creek's Avenger. It's not a taste so much as a sensation. The best word I ever came up with was "buoyancy." These wines have a lightness that seems at odds with their structure. When I tried Tablas Creek's bottling a few nights back, I didn't have that shock of recognition—it's been a year and a half since I've tasted these grapes—but the buoyancy was still there. There are mineral flavors, like you'd expect, but Glenrose' s signature to me is this pleasant airiness. I'll follow this vineyard closely in the coming years. It's producing fascinating wines a mere seven or eight years into its life, and I'm eager to see how it develops over time.

2002 Las Tablas Estates, Glenrose Vineyard, Rhone grapes, $32.50 from the winery
Tasting Note - Thin pink edges darken to an opaque deep red core. Strong pepper aromas combine with notable minerality and the occasional floral note. Prominent strawberry aromas flirt in and out as the wine opens up. Rose says he finds cinnamon in his wines, and while I do as well, it's the clay and dough smells of authentic cinnamon, not the cassia that most people think of when they hear "cinnamon". The wine's intense acidity and modest tannins frame a palate of sweet cherry flavors. Melissa described this well-balanced and sprightly wine as "very clean."

Food - We enjoyed this wine with rare pan-seared steak topped with a creme fraiche butter and served alongside roast potatoes and (egad!) Brussels sprouts (we started down a slippery slope). Similar food would work just as well, I think (the winery suggests wild boar, a specialty of the region).

General Thoughts - I like this wine. Can you tell? It seems well-balanced, even though it's got a fierce acidity and the alcohol tingles the nose a bit. Somehow within the context of the wine, it works.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

A Couple New Blogs

|
The food blog universe continues to grow at an alarming pace. Poor Cathy had to write up 72 entries for the latest IMBB, a new record and proof that there are lots of us out there writing about the food we love. Here are a couple I thought I'd mention.

If you read my comments, you've probably seen Robyn's name here and there. She recently started her own blog, Food Chronicles. She describes herself as "immersed in the food industry" so she should be able to offer an interesting perspective on a variety of topics. My favorite post so far is "So You Want to be a Chef." It's a nice dose of reality for those who see themselves as an undiscovered Thomas Keller.

I've been lucky enough to feature Winnie's photos on my site before. Her pictures are some of the prettiest in my screensaver, which is a collection of food pictures (along with photos of my cats and ducks from Sonoma Foie Gras). Now that she's one of the contributors at Hodge Podge Kitchen, I hope we can look forward to a steady stream of great photography. Be sure to encourage her to enter some of her pics in "Does My Blog Look Good in This"; I'm sure she'd give the other participants a run for their money.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

WBW 5:Wacky Brands of Wine

|
I wish I thought of Pim's great theme for the latest Wine Blogging Wednesday, the monthly event where food and wine bloggers write about a particular type of wine on a given date. Former hosts all picked quasi-educational themes. One might almost say wine geek themes—I mean, really, New World Riesling? Pim can wine geek with the best of us, but she encouraged readers to ignore grapes and regions and seek out wines with wacky names.

When the owner of the wine shop heard me ask for a wine with an interesting name, he immediately handed me a bottle of Txacolina. I've loved this wine for almost three years now, and I thought about using this opportunity to promote this charming Basque wine. But I thought maybe that wasn't in the spirit of the theme, so I revised my request to include wines with humorous names. I had spied a few on the shelves and wanted someone's input about them. In the end, we decided on two bottles.

Can I get a Woop Woop?

The wine's label claims that "woop woop" is Aussie slang for remote or distant. Australian wine maker Ben Riggs sources verdelho grapes for this wine from a little further afield than his normal McLaren Vale vineyards. Not as far away as Portugal, where the grape originated, but from the Bordertown and Limestone Coast regions of South Australia.

2004 "V", Woop Woop, Verdelho, South Australia, about $12 at Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant
Tasting Note
An almost perfectly clear white wine with lively apple aromas, a fair amount of dusty minerality, and a citrus-peel zinginess. A solid acidity joins with a notable minerality to wake your palate before the flavor fades to a crisp finish with hints of banana and meyer lemon.

Food
We enjoyed this wine with a whole Dungeness crab boiled simply and served with melted butter. I thought the wine worked quite nicely with this dish. This wine screams to be served with cleanly flavored shellfish, and it would no doubt complement light Pacific Rim fare in general. Mick Rosacci suggests pairing it with grilled steak, which I consider a bold move.

General Thoughts
This wine had good acidity but it wasn't as strong as its zesty aromas suggested. The wine was more complex than I imagined, but not actually complex. It was like the person you meet at a party that you think will be a ditz until you get into a discussion about bestsellers you've both read.

A Clean Slate

"This one's more whimsical than humorous," said my helper at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant. "Every year, Andrew Rich starts from scratch to make this wine. Sometimes, he doesn't even make it, if he can't find a blend that works." I know some of Andrew Rich's Les Vigneaux bottles, but I had never seen his Vin de Tabula Rasa. It's not a wacky name, but I liked the poetic aspect of it. Plus the bottle sports a pretty label.

2001 Vin de Tabula Rasa, Andrew Rich, Columbia Valley, about $12 at Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant
Tasting Note
Rose-petal edges quickly darken to a dense red core in this well-balanced Bordeaux-style wine. Strong aromas of smoke and "Bordeaux brambliness", my term for the distinctive smell of the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, which makes up 50% of this wine. The same flavors dominate the palate as the well-integrated, fine-grained, slightly gritty tannins provide moderate structure.

Food
I served this wine on Christmas Eve. The structure of the wine held up to the braised short ribs and risotto, but its soft tannins didn't overwhelm. Overall a nice pairing.

General Thoughts
I liked this wine more than I thought I would. I worried that it would be one of these clumsy New World Bordeaux blends where the wine maker assumes that if some tannins are good, more are better. This wine offers depth and a pleasant taste, but doesn't need to be the center of attention at dinner. I'd buy it again, but I'm not pushing over little old ladies to get more bottles.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

IMBB 11: Cassoulet and Tuiles

|
You probably think that cassoulet's origins are lost in time. The peasants of Southern France who have made this dish for ages wouldn't write down its history, would they?

Here at OWF, I've arranged for a special treat. I uncovered a document that gives the earliest known account of cassoulet. I've translated it here for your perusal:

Marie: Jean-Pierre! What shall we have for dinner?
Jean-Pierre: I don't know. What's in the refrigerator?
Marie: Various bits of rotting meat.
Jean-Pierre: Eh, <Gallic shrug> toss it in a pot with some beans and see what happens.
I'm surprised the conversation didn't start with "What shall we have for dinner next week." On the other hand, it's possible my cassoulet recipe required more time than most. When I mentioned the overnight rest between cooking stages to my friend Tom, I could almost hear the deliberate speech in the e-mail he sent back. "Hmm, that's interesting, I've never made it like that!" It's a bad sign when Tom thinks you're doing something over the top.

But when Cathy at my little kitchen suggested beans as a theme for 2005's first Is My Blog Burninng?, I thought of the duck confit in my refrigerator and committed myself to cassoulet, never mind the effort (I spend a lot of time thinking about my duck confit).

I went looking for recipes in my cookbook library. I couldn't find any. Not even in Bouchon. I finally remembered that Saveur ran a piece on cassoulet several years back, so I rummaged through my bookshelf until I found the article. Luckily, I stumbled onto the most complicated way you can possibly make this dish. This puppy's got everything: duck confit, sausages, ham hocks, pork rinds, and ham bones. Oh, right. And beans. You make duck confit for two days, precook the ham hocks for 2 hours, then partially cook the cassoulet for 4 hours, let it cool overnight (to integrate the flavors? they don't say), then finish cooking it for another four hours. It's a dish made for me! But I don't know how often I'll make this in the future.

Perhaps I should be thankful Bouchon didn't have a recipe. I can just imagine it. "It's important to cut your ham hock into tiny dice to ensure that the cooking liquid is well saturated with the gelatin in the hock. If you put each cube into a tiny castle constructed from turnips, you add to the flavor of the dish while at the same time allowing the ham hock to cook evenly."

Can we have some? Huh? Please? Pretty please?
I served this rustic French version of pork 'n' beans on a bed of braised chard. My version sported just a thin crust of bean and meat protein goo, but it had a nice balanced flavor. Cassoulet from an expert features a thick crust of bean and meat protein goo, but I think I did okay for my first time.

We drank a 2001 Bandol from Chateau la Rouviè, a pretty wine that had thin pink edges and a clear ruby center. This was an alcoholic wine (14.5%! from France!) with initial meaty aromas on a layer of fruit and perhaps deeper smells waiting to be teased out. Once it opened up in our glasses, however, it presented little more than straightforward sour cherry aromas. Whiffs of herbs, maybe some lavender, suggested the Provencal garrigue, the low-lying shrubbery of the region that many can taste in the wines. The wine's striking sour cherry flavors and subtle herbaceousness were paired with generous acidity and modest tannins that provided little defense against the onslaught of cassoulet and greens. The omnipresent alcohol wasn't well integrated, and I wonder if the wine maker intended to Americanize the wine by creating something with low tannins, high alcohol and straightforward fruitiness.

For dessert, I did a second bean dish. I moved from the rustic cassoulet to a picturesque tower of black bean tuiles that I adapted from a recipe in Art Culinaire. The super-thin wafers become a deep brown thanks to "black bean essence", a concentrated reduction of water used to cook black beans. Between the tuile layers I sandwiched a cheesecake mixture of cream cheese, creme fraiche, whipping cream, and sugar. I garnished the tower with a papaya-orange jelly and caramel shapes, and I spread a small amount of a thick orange juice reduction on the plate to help flavor the tower. The combination of flavors balanced well, and the tuiles provided a crunchy texture that offered a nice contrast to the filling and sauce. It's a dessert that lends itself to a number of variations; Melissa kept suggesting chocolate tuiles with a vanilla filling.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Back of the Apartment

|
With friends like these who needs...other friends?
After (another) long hiatus, Melissa and I recently hosted a dinner party. You all know my normal drill on this: we had a great dinner there was great wine blah blah blah.

I thought this time I'd try something a little different—though not unheard of. This is the dinner party from the cook's perspective. Forget my normal linear picture of our courses. This is more about how we plan one of these things.

rapini amuse
Melissa and I came up with the idea for this meal at a Halloween party. Our friends Pam and Dave collect Pinot Noir from the Rochioli vineyard in the Russian River Valley, so we suggested that they and another friend Laura come over for dinner. They'd provide the wine, we'd provide the food. Regular readers will raise their eyebrows at this; I never relinquish that much control.

I often start planning the menu for a dinner party before we've set a date. This is my favorite part. At this point each dish exists solely as a concept, a model of perfection in my mind with no flawed reality to compare it to. "Perfect is something you never actually attain," says Thomas Keller to Anthony Bourdain in A Cook's Tour, "It's something you search for. Once you reach it, it's not perfect. You've lost it. It's gone." It's a quote I recall often, along with Judy Rodgers's "Stop. Think. There must be a harder way."

Usually I plan six courses: appetizer, opener, main, cheese, dessert, mignardise. Sometimes I add an amuse. Once I got to do ten courses. The appetizers should be sitting out when guests arrive. Few things welcome a guest more than food on the table and a glass of wine at the ready. Your appetizers should allow people to graze at leisure but not stuff themselves. They are the buffer zone for latecomers or kitchen delays. Throughout the meal, I try and have a mix of fresh flavors vs. cooked flavors, fancy food vs. simpler fare.

I plan courses haphazardly based on what I feel like cooking. I jump between courses, scribble notes, leave courses unplanned until the last minute even as I sketch out others way in advance. For this dinner, I wanted to make beignets, and two nights before the party I envisioned them on a purée of dried nectarines rehydrated in Vin de Glaciere. Where did this idea come from? Who knows. The concept for the dessert reminded me of a 1994 5 puttonyos Tokaji Aszù in our off-site wine storage. I retrieved the bottle from West Oakland and I remembered that people often pair Tokaji with apricots and hazelnuts (for good reason; the combination works well). I made a mental note on the day before the party: finish with a Frangelico caramel sauce. It's a nice rush to concoct a dish at the last minute, but planning well has its advantages. I made the gravlax and the beef stock the weekend before the party.

I use a bunch of cookbooks when I plan a menu, sometimes for inspiration, sometimes for recipes. No one will be shocked to learn that I often use The French Laundry Cookbook and of course now I've added Bouchon. The former provided the Appenzeller on carrot salad we had for our cheese course, the latter, glazed pearl onions on the appetizer platter. I often use The Zuni Café Cookbook, which I love for its long essays about the simplest dishes. For this dinner, I used amuse-bouche, which provided the inspiration for a simple rapini salad in a sea of good olive oil. But my main resource isn't a cookbook. I've mentioned Culinary Artistry before, and I still use it heavily. The book has lots of features, but my favorite is pages and pages of ingredients and compatible flavors. What goes well with cured salmon? Smoked salmon is close enough. Eggs, potatoes, onions, herbs. An appetizer platter suggested itself: gravlax with hard-boiled eggs, glazed pearl onions, steamed new potatoes tossed in a mustard vinaigrette, and Acme Herb Slab. All served with a Prosecco, the crisp and attractive sparkling wine from Northeast Italy that is the true base for a Bellini.

Usually I do trial runs of dishes. I didn't use to, and many of my friends suffered as guinea pigs. I wish I had done a test run for the mushroom terrine and smoked sausage on polenta. The cold of the terrine was jarring against the warm polenta, and the chunky terrine wasn't solid enough to be served at room temp. Good idea, still needs some work. The rosemary-garlic pork loin with wild rice and hazelnut salad? Great dish, not my best plating. All these things can be fixed in trial runs.

The day before the party, I start shopping and Melissa starts cleaning (no one ever notices all the work she puts into these). I make my shopping list the night before, and head out to the stores. The Cheese Board for cheese, Ver Brugge for meats. Kermit Lynch or Paul Marcus Wine for any extra wine (with some 200 bottles in my possession, I do try to use what's on hand, but sometimes you need a Banyuls...or a Prosecco). Market Hall for gourmet ingredients, Andronico's for general ingredients and produce. Shopping takes up the whole morning and often bleeds into the afternoon. The impending deadline forces me to finalize all the dishes that I haven't fully fleshed out. If there's any prep I can do the day before, I do it.

The night before the party, I make The List. The List is the key to our parties. On The List, I write down each dish and all its components. I write the time I'm planning to serve that course. I write the wine I'll serve with each course. Under each dish, I write all the steps that need to happen before that dish is complete. Some you'd expect: "make sauce for carrot salad". Others seem odd: "chill the wine" or "set the oven to 350." Each step has its own time entry. If I write that a step has to happen "at XXX" that XXX is either a time or an event. This last part is key. Guests show up late and things take longer than you expect. If your List says "roast in at 7:00" because you're expecting to eat it at 8:00, your timing's off if everyone shows up half an hour late. If your item says "roast in when guests arrive" you get more flexibility. I might write "main out, cheese out of fridge" to make sure the cheese reaches a temperature that showcases its flavor. That temperature is not, by the way, freezing cold out of the refrigerator. The final item on The List is a tiny sketch of my plating idea for each dish. I forgot to look at this when I plated the cheese course and so I omitted the line of carrot powder I spent an hour making. The List is our Master. (a funny site, by the way)

The day of, it's all about the prep. I try to take dishwashing breaks, but this gets harder as Zero Hour inches closer. Melissa sets the table and she and I wrangle about dishes and plates. "Do we actually need six different glasses?" is not an uncommon question. For this dinner, of course, we used our Pinot Noir glasses for three different courses.

The work doesn't get easier once the guests arrive. If anything, it's harder to keep focus on what happens next. Conversation and wine alike take their toll. I need signs above my oven that say "Season!" and "Wipe down the plates!" because sometimes in the last-minute rush I forget these crucial steps for flavor and presentation. Even at the table, I only partially participate in the conversation because one part of my mind is constantly revisiting the dishes still to come to make sure everything's all set.

Afterwards, I clean my pots. Melissa gets stuck with most of the cleaning the next day.

A couple months of planning, two solid days of work. Is it any wonder we don't do these more often?

Monday, January 17, 2005

Dubious Achievement

|
Snopes tells this tale of a 100-pound woman eating 6 pounds of meat (plus 5 pounds of extras) in just under three hours. A restaurant in Pennsylvania offered the challenge, and no one had risen to it.

I know gluttony contests aren't limited to America, but sheesh, doesn't this just seem like the most egregious example of our country's wretched approach to food? I hope the young woman's T-shirt was worth the discomfort she no doubt felt.

(If you don't know what snopes is, they're a site dedicated to tracking down urban legends and finding out the truth, if any, behind them. They're considered pretty reliable.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Gravlax

|
People are often impressed when they learn I make my own gravlax, the salt-cured salmon from Scandinavia. Here's the thing: gravlax is easy to make. It's a bang-for-the-buck food. You invest a small amount of time and end up with something that's flavorful, attractive, and impressive. You don't need much to feed a crowd (despite what a butcher once told me) because it's so flavorful you cut it into very thin slices. A pound will easily feed ten to twelve people. Even better, you have to make it in advance. I often make it for brunches and serve it with Eggs Benedict or on brioche with creme fraiche.

I made some recently and figured I'd write up the technique. Curing your own meat might make you nervous, but this is a fairly simple example. I've never had a problem with it.

Making gravlax entails a few basic steps: buy the fish, brush it with alcohol, apply the cure, and cure the fish. That's it. I don't even use a recipe anymore, since those four steps are easy enough to remember.

  1. Buy the fish - You want good-quality salmon with the skin on. Sam recommends sashimi-grade salmon, but I've never found that necessary. You want the skin on for two reasons. One, it's easier to cut the final product. Second, as our friend Pam pointed out when I first learned to make gravlax, the skin is rich with flavorful oil. As you press out the water, you want the oil in the skin to be pushed into the flesh.
  2. Brush with alcohol - This step is probably optional, but it's a good way to help kill all the bacteria on the flesh. You want something with high alcohol. I use vodka while Pam likes gin, which she complements with crushed juniper berries in the cure. Brush liberally on both the flesh and skin sides.
  3. Apply the cure - Combine equal parts kosher salt and sugar (about 1/4 cup each) as well as seasonings. Dill is traditional, but I like Pam's idea of juniper berries. For my most recent batch, I just used sugar and salt. If you use salt alone, it can "burn" the fish in spots.
    Vigorously rub the cure over the entire fish, rubbing more over the thicker spots. You can't apply too much; eventually the osmotic pressure hits equilibrium.
  4. Cure the fish - Place the fish, skin side down, on a rimmed cookie sheet (I apply the cure in the pan and just leave the rest of the cure in it). Cover loosely but well with saran wrap. Put another cookie sheet on top, and put as much weight as you can on the top sheet. I always use an 8-lb. weight and a 2-lb. weight plus whatever heavy items are in my refrigerator. Leave it for a week in your refrigerator. It will leak a lot of liquid on the first day, progressively less on following days. Some people like to turn the fish over every day, but I find it's too much of a bother.

Slicing the gravlax is tricky. Our friend Dave (Pam's husband) suggests putting it into the freezer for half an hour, a common technique for cutting meat thinly. Put the gravlax skin side down on a cutting board, and position your knife at a shallow angle. 20°, 30°, something like that. Cut at this angle down to the skin. You'll slice off a big piece that you can dice for omelettes. Keeping your knife at the same angle, make the thinnest slices you can. Eat some periodically to make sure it's not poisonous. If you used dill in the cure, it will add a pretty green frilly edge to the slices.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Maybe

|
I don't like Brussels sprouts. I have repeated this mantra for as long as I can remember.

And yet.

There is a picture in Thomas Keller's Bouchon that beckons me. The picture shows a piece of duck confit resting on a bed of Brussels sprouts. The skin on the confit is crisp, and the creamy-looking mustard sauce is speckled with the green of chives. The photo is captivating and beautiful. It is perhaps the best picture in a book full of good pictures. I find myself stopping at it as I flip through the book, and the book seems eager to open to this page, this breathtaking dish with its reviled Brussels sprouts.

I recently made a batch of duck confit, eight legs immersed in a wheel of creamy white duck fat. Every time I flip through Bouchon, I stop at that alluring page and think of the duck confit in my refrigerator.

My mantra resurfaces: I don't like Brussels sprouts. I could make something similar, I think to myself. But the dish is so beautiful as it is, I whisper.

I tell Melissa that I'll make dinner a few nights hence. I suggest a sandwich with duck confit. Do I already know what will happen? Is it buried in my subconscious? Is my sandwich just a delusion?

I watch as my mom opens her Christmas present, a copy of Bouchon. She flips through the book, and I see the picture again. I point it out to my mom.

Two days later, I hammer out the details of the dinner I've promised to cook Melissa that night and I come to a decision. Perhaps I made the decision long ago and I'm just now giving it voice. Perhaps fate has played a hand, and I am not actually deciding my own path but accepting the inevitability of destiny. We will have the duck confit with Brussels sprouts. Melissa is dubious; she also doesn't like Brussels sprouts. The garlic confit in the ingredient list convinces her. It's Thomas Keller. How bad can it be?

I think Thomas would approve of the changes I make. I replace the chicken stock in his sauce with the flavorful, gelatinous duck stock that separated from the fat as I cooked the duck confit. I make a tartine by serving dinner on a toasted slice of pain de mie, a dense buttery bread.

We open a bottle of wine. Of course we do. I ponder a Gruner Veltliner, a white wine that can hold its own against unpleasant vegetables. We are eating Brussels sprouts, after all. But the night is cold and rainy, and a Lirac from our wine club seems like a better choice, a warm red wine that invites you to linger at the table, safe from the chilly and uncaring darkness outside. This wine's cherry and fruit must aromas beguile and speak of the 2003 harvest, a hot year for all of Europe but especially the normally hot Southern Rhône. It's a wine that brings you back for more, suggesting new aromas and flavors each time. It has depth and complexity.

Melissa and I look at each other, take a drink, and start eating.

I don't like Brussels sprouts. I have repeated this mantra for as long as I can remember.

And yet.

Maybe I like these.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The Decorated Chef

|
I got a press release from The Decorated Chef, and thought the site was cute enough to pass along. Gifts for the cooks in your life. Not to my taste, but I am not everyone. Some of the items are tacky, some are nice. Think whisk earrings and knife-with-steel lapel pins.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Chef Derrick

|
As Melissa looked around at Tom's Winter Party, she noticed that Tom, William and Meriko (from her own website) looked elegant in their chef's uniforms, while my "fancy kitchen dress" was a black apron.

So she came up with an idea for a Christmas present. You can guess what it was from the picture above. She consulted with Tom and Meriko for the features she should look for (sleeve pockets for thermometers are key) and the critical components (the little half-apron? Crucial. Where else are you going to hang your side towel?). Of course the coolest part is my name embroidered on the breast.

What do professional chefs think of amateurs who buy chef's outfits? Do they roll their eyes at them, the way I do when someone who only knows HTML tells me they're a programmer? I don't know. I'm probably more passionate about cooking than many of the people who wear the outfit, since—let's face it—most cooks are just doing a job, like 90% of the people in any occupation. But on the other hand, it isn't my job, and wearing the outfit feels a bit like playing dress-up.

Still, I like it. I admit that even I, normally unconcerned with my appearance, noticed how nice all the cheffies looked at the Winter Party (I'll note that they changed into their whites about an hour before the guests showed up).

The charter issue of Gastronomica had an article about the history of the chef's outfit, and now seemed like a good time to refresh my memory about it. Here are some highlights:

  • the cuffs on my jacket have a split that allows "the cuffs to be turned back, giving the chef a neat and professional appearance that would be lost through rolled-up sleeves"
  • "the double-breasted [jacket] design offers a quick fix for hiding soiled areas"
  • "the pants legs are straight, not cuffed or rolled, so that hot liquids can not be trapped at the ankle"

Want your own chef's uniform? Check out chefworks.com. Thanks Melissa and Tom and Meriko!