Wednesday, July 4, 2007

A Culinary Profile

I'd like to think I'm normal: interested in food as a means of sustenance and mild pleasure, enjoying a wide range of cuisines in moderation, with a healthy contemplation about a food item's origins, its grower's plight, its manufacturing's environmental impact and my relationship to it and them.

Unfortunately, I have to admit to being somewhat obsessed with all things culinary -- not to any degree approaching a true "foodie" or to imagine myself as a chef, but geez. The evidence is in:

Read in the last six months and now sitting on my desk:
Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential and The Nasty Bits
Ruth Reichl's Garlic and Sapphires
Lynda Bladholm's The Asian Grocery Store Demystified
Bill Buford's Heat
The Gardner Museum Cafe Cookbook
The Joy of Cooking (old and new editions)
Here in America's Test Kitchen

Watching on TV
Top Chef
Hell's Kitchen
America's Next Top Food Network Host
Iron Chef
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations

I also frequently read blogs like Michael Ruhlman's. C's and my current favorite restaurant is Landmarc on West Broadway. I was somewhat surprised and saddened (only a little) at its terrible reviews for the Time Warner building location. Our favorite dishes at Landmarc include the sinful pain perdu, the ubiquitous (for me) salmon tartare, any salad, and of course steak frites. We know we need to get out of the neighborhood more and I'm saving my pennies (dollars) for Masa someday in the future. Blame it on Bourdain, but, as he says in his Nasty Bits:

"Go to Masa. Go now. Book late and show up on time. Sit down, shup up -- and relax. He'll [Masa Takayama]take if from there. Give yourself over the the experience. And enjoy. Eating well... is about submission. It's about giving up all vestiges of control, about entrusting your fate entirely to someone else. It's about turning off the mean, manipulative, calculating, and shrewd person inside you, and slipping heedlessly into a new experience as if it were a warm bath. It's about shutting down the radar and letting good things happen. When that happens to a professional chef, it's a rare and beautiful thing. Let it happen to you."

And that was AFTER describing, in exquisite detail, his last meal at the place. So, next time I have a few hundred (make that about $800) to spare (and I mean really to spare) that's where I'm heading.


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