How not to be a chump when buying knives

Forschner Bread Knife

Cruising in once again with useless kitchen information, I have a pretty strong opinion about knives. Mostly this is the result of people spending gobs of money on fully forged knives that aren’t chef’s knives. By my estimation that is the ultimate in kitchen waste, but before I go waxing on about all that, lets talk instead about a knife people either don’t own or get bamboozled on: the bread knife.

When I started culinary school I didn’t want the F.Dick knives that Forest Park was cramming down our impressionable throats. Sure they were German, sure they were fairly priced, but somehow I knew not to buy them. This turned out to be the right choice. While they do not dull quickly, they are rock hard knives and notoriously difficult to sharpen.

At the time (1996) Wüsthof Trident was the knife manufacturer that had become most popular for two reasons

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En Papiawesome

Not to be confused with the famous version, at Erato on Main last night, while Kevin Willmann was away at the STL Mag A-List awards claiming his Reason to Take a Drive victory, sous chef Jon Olson was serving up Gulf Pompano en Papillote with shaved fennel, local baby onions, Oregon white truffle & farm butter.

I’m sure the majority of you are familiar with en papillote, but for those that are not, it is a French method for cooking delicate foods inside parchment paper. These days you will see some people cheat by using foil instead, but traditionally you cut a heart shape out of parchment, place the contents on one side (generally fish; vegetables; and some sort of oil, butter or sauce to keep it moist), fold it in half, fold over the seams to seal it, and bake it in the oven. The gist is that the food actually steams which results in an extremely moist outcome.

I have had three en papillotes

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Josh Galliano at the Beard Banquet

Josh Galliano Beard House

In the better late than never file (because I was asking permission to use these pictures and didn’t see I got the okay), here’s Josh Galliano’s spread at the James Beard House when he went a few weeks ago for the James Beard Awards banquet.

His dish was Braised Pork Belly with Pickled Peach Salad, Molasses-Glazed Scarlet turnips, and Peach Butter.

He’s told me a lot about the weekend, and you too can get a glimpse of his experience by reading about the event in Josh’s letter to Joe Bonwich on his blog Off the Menu.

photos courtesy the ulterior epicure.

Joshua Galliano @ James Bear Awards

Battle Royale at Clayton Farmers’ Market

The opening Iron-Chef-style battle at Clayton Farmers’ Market has pulled the stops for the initial judging…

Clayton Farmer’s Market on Saturday, June 28th at Straub’s will be the scene of a star-studded Iron Chef competition. Celebrity judges are: Gerard Craft Chef/Owner of Niche (featured in this month’s Food &Wine), Cary McDowell Chef/Owner of Revival (who hails from Daniel Boulud and Wolfgang Puck), and Josh Galliano Chef of An American Place. Using items provided by local food producers, outdoor competition begins at 8:30 am with Chef-instructors Pat Jones v. Tony Hedger from L’ecole Culinaire.

Not sure how I missed the mentioning for the first battle.

Last Week at the Market – Ivan

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Last week, meaning June 11 at the markets, I forgot to mention that the Root Cellar had sugar snap peas.

For the real last week, however, as previously mentioned, I made it only to Maplewood as I was heading to Louisville for the weekend.

The big change was that Ivan (The Fig Man) Stoilov was there. The million dollar figs aren’t here yet, but he was selling some of his canned pepper relishes made with his mother’s recipes. Sara and Stephen Hale shared some with us on Monday and they were

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Niche in the News

Illinois Times review of Niche from June 12, 2008.

…a riff on a Reuben: rye gnocchi with pickled mustard seeds, horseradish, and house-corned meat. In less skilled hands this could have been a disaster – heavy gnocchi, overpowering condiments – but this was fabulous: light pillows with a distinctive rye taste and perfectly balanced flavors. Something familiar was transformed into something completely new. 

Beer Availability in Kentucky

Kentucky Beer

Though there will be a few Kentucky posts to come I thought I’d slap this one out first because it’s the easy one.

There is a lot of beer that is distributed in Kentucky that is not in Missouri. Some of it is in Illinois but not as widely and as easy to get as I found it to be in Kentucky. Most important of those is Stone brewery. I’d had a few Stone beers at Mike‘s but this was my first opportunity to pick some up for my own stock. They make big beers that freak out non-big beer drinkers (the ones I bought anyway).

The second most important was Brooklyn Brewery

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Last Week at the Market – Farrar Out Farm

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As previously mentioned, the coolest market happening last week was that Farrar Out Farm is now a regular vendor at Maplewood. I, at least, am glad to have them. I’ve known the name for years but rarely have the opportunity to get over to Kirkwood Farmers’ Market on a Saturday so I’d never bought their products for my own use. I know several restaurants (Five for instance) utilize their meats, and they have always been of high quality. The chicken especially is some of the best I’ve had locally.

As for the rest of what I witnessed this week

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KoKo NoMo?


I was just told KoKo Restaurant has closed by way of someone from the kitchen staff. Currently the answering machine is simply the standard no one available style message. More tomorrow as I (or someone with more time than I) find out more.

Going Fishing at Erato on Main

Kona Kamppachi

This weekend at Erato on Main Kevin Willmann is trying to win some sort of Kona Kampachi contest and will be serving what he once called “assuming fish with unassuming fish.” At least he called it that to me.

Not a fan of the duo overall “because one always upstages the other” he’s all for doing it when it works and the two items truly make something greater together than they would on their own.

The assuming fish is

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