Culinary FAQ

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When I was about five years old I had a story book called “Button Soup,” which was the Disney version of the classic tale “Stone Soup.” In the story, Daisy Duck, who was down on her luck, started a soup with water and one button. As the story progressed, she coaxed Scrooge McDuck into adding ingredients (carrots, peas, beef, herbs etc...) to the huge pot of simmering soup. As each ingredient was added, the soup grew more & more delicious. I loved reading this book, or rather having it read to me, while imagining all the different & wonderful possibilities which the world of cooking had to offer.

Over the years, my appreciation for food grew by leaps & bounds. Due to my fondness for experimentation, I became known by my family as the “brother who ate odd things.” Whether it was foreign cuisine, pickled pig's feet, or anchovies on pizza, there was little I wouldn’t try, and little which I rejected once I had tried it, as long as it was prepared well.

Now it’s true that because I go to specialty stores such as New Seasons, Trader Joe’s & Pasta Works to buy wine & cheese, and I buy fresh coffee instead of Folgers, I’ve been labeled as a bit of a food snob. However, while I do seek quality and I’m careful about what I spend my money on, one of my favorite meals is Campbell’s tomato soup & a grilled cheese sandwich . As I said, as long as something’s prepared well there’s little I’ll reject.

It occurred to me that if people going to read my food blogs, it's only fair for them to know my preferences & leanings, where food is concerned. The following answers will help you (the reader) determine if you & I are on the same epicurean page, so to speak.

Favorite Foods:
Filet Mignon,
Linguine alla Vongole (Linguine with Clam Sauce),
Smoked Salmon,
Most Cheeses,
Cured Meats,
Goose/Duck Liver Pâté (Foie Gras)

Keep in mind, I LOVE many other foods too. The foods listed above are simply the foods I think of when I imagine an ideal weekend of eating. I also really enjoy:
Ballpark/Fair Food (pizza, soft pretzels, cheeseburgers, hotdogs/sausages on bun, etc...)
Comfort Food (grilled cheese sandwiches & tomato soup, meatloaf, quiche, over easy eggs, bacon, sausage, omelets, pot pies, hot fudge sundaes, etc...)
Pub Food (wings, fries, nachos, onion rings, jalapeno poppers, popcorn, etc...),
Seafood (calamari, salmon, crab, shrimp, oysters, clams, etc...), and much more...
Favorite Beverages:
Coffee - Black with two sugars,
Coffee Drink - 140°F Raspberry Mocha with soy milk & no whipped cream,
Iced Tea - Sweet tea with lemon & no ice,
Hot Tea - Green tea with lemon & sugar,
Wines - Moscato D'Asti, Riesling, & Gewurztraminer,
Beers - Henry Weinhard's Private Reserve, Sam Adams Cherry Wheat, Widmer Hefeweizen, Blue Moon Belgian Wheat, Young's Double Chocolate Stout, Mississippi Mud: Black & Tan, McMenamins Terminator Stout
Cocktails - Black & Tan, Bloody Mary, Bacon Bloody Mary, Dirty Vodka Martini, Cosmopolitan, Margarita (Classic Lime)
Favorite Restaurants:
Coffee Shop - Dutch Brothers, Insomnia,
Fast Food - Five Guys Burgers & Fries, Papa John's, Jack n The Box, KFC, Popeye's, Pizza Hut,
Fast Casual - Baja Fresh,
Authentic Asian - Jin Wah,
Grill/Bar - Buffalo Wild Wing, The Horse Brass Pub, & The Rock: Wood Fired Pizza & Spirits,
Casual Dining - Nonna Emilia Ristorante Italiano, Pastini Pastaria & Red Lobster,
Fine Dining - Copper River Restaurant & Bar, Dacarli
Favorite Food Books:
Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly,
Anthony Bourdain's Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook,
Gordon Ramsay's Humble Pie,
Gabielle Hamilton's Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef,
Julia Child's My Life in France
Favorite Food Shows:
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (Basically "No Reservations" on CNN),
Good Eats (Even in reruns on Cooking Channel, it's still the most informative how to cooking show on TV),
Top Chef,
Food: Fact or Fiction,
Favorite Food Podcasts:
Cutting The Curd,
Culinary Rules of Thumb:
I'll try anything once.
If it's prepared well, I'll probably like it.

Tips are earned with good service, they're NOT automatic.
Good food should please all the senses.
Most people only apply this last rule to gourmet cuisine, but there’s no reason it can’t be applied to everyday fare as well. Of course, no one's advocating taking the time to garnish your plate of bacon & eggs each morning, but if the bacon‘s soggy & gray and the eggs are oozing around the plate it’s not going to be an appetizing breakfast. We can even apply this rule to something as simple as tomato soup & a grilled cheese sandwich.

A Grilled Cheese Sandwich & Tomato Soup For The Senses
Sight: The grilled cheese sandwich should have a nice golden toasty color to the bread with the cheese barely showing all the way around the edge's center, and the soup should be opaque, possessing a deep red tomato color. Flecks of fresh ground black pepper resting on the soup's surface are optional but desirable.

Sound: True, you don’t usually think of hearing soup, but when you put some on your spoon and let it fall back into the bowl it should sound deeper than water hitting water, and the sandwich should have a slight crunch when biting into it.

Tactile Sensation: The soup needs to feel warm & creamy as it first coats the tongue then slides down the throat, plus the cheese needs to deliver a melted creamy texture.

Aroma: The room should be filled with a slightly peppery yet rich tomato bouquet combined with the pleasing scent of toasted bread and cheese.

Taste: A mild cheese flavor coupled with that of the toasted bread should compliment the faintly peppery (not spicy) rich tomato flavor of the soup.