Josh’s Journal – Introduction & Preface

Rue de la Course on Magazine

Photo courtesy Maitri

Back in 2003-2004, I would go to Rue de la Course on Magazine, order a cup of Sumatra (usually the Rue selection of the day) and sit back with my smokes and write a journal of ideas. I loved that coffee shop, and I loved the people that I would talk to and meet before I had to go to work at Commander’s. Most of the ideas for the journal were already in my head, I just wanted to write them down because I knew I would forget. I’m afraid of forgetting because Alzheimer’s is prevalent in my family. I’m so scatter-brained, that I don’t remember to write down what I want to remember. This was my attempt at tranquility.

Here is my table of contents from that journal (and seriously, I wrote a table so that I would remember what I wanted to write). I might have to add some stuff since it’s been five years.

Topics

  1. Preface — proliferation of books about food, by cooks, and cookbooks
  2. Fantastic Meals — Fat Duck, Moulin de Mougin, Roussillon, Bella Luna (or fill in the blank)
  3. Working the Line — being in the weeds, Prep/MEP, end of the night
  4. People I’ve Met — Barbara Peterson, Alex, Australians, Pinrod, Tracie & London Gang, Ethan Powell
  5. Books — Read & Learn, Mass Transit, my books
  6. Bread — Bunny Bread, Poilane, Bread for Roussillon, Lunch
  7. Knives — buying, breaking, sharpening, ixnay on borrowing
  8. Bad habits — coffee, drinking, smoking
  9. The Dialogue

This is the first time I’ve really read this stuff since I wrote it. It may not be the most exciting info, but I felt it was important to get out there. Plus, since I’ve already written most of this stuff, it’s just a matter of typing it.

Preface

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How I Met Josh Galliano

Over a year ago, when I legitimately started posting on stlbites.com, I’d made a comment that home cooks have a difficult time obtaining things like offal or quality meats that have never been frozen.  What I received in response was an entirely unexpected email from Josh Galliano in which he suggested passionate home cooks team up with local chefs and restaurateurs to coordinate a purchase of whatever it is they’re hoping to cook.  In his own words he felt it would be a big win “as far as building trust, building community economies, and getting more people interested in great food.”  He extended to me–as he had for many of his patrons—an offer to help order anything I wanted.  At the time, however, not a single customer had taken him up on this.

What that initial exchange turned into was a flurry of back and forth emails about the food topics most on our minds and, around Christmas, he sent me a particularly unusual email that stated:

“I ordered a batch of duck testicles that I thought you would be interested in trying… I’d like to share some with you.” 

How I had become the one guy in St. Louis to receive that email I’ve absolutely no idea but, whatever the case, I knew then it was probably time for me to talk to Josh in person

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Farrar Out Farm NPR Update

Andrea Hsu/NPR

The Truemper’s segment from All Things Considered is now online.  You can read their story as well as listen to an audio stream of their segment.

There is also a comments section which I would implore you to read and comment on.  I personally have grown too angry reading the posts to be able to rationally respond.  It bothers me to know that people who have absolutely know idea who Bryan and Christina are–apart from a five minute NPR segment–are making assumptions about who they are as people and how they should run their lives and farm.

Like so many people that buy from them at the Maplewood and Kirkwood markets, I know  them.  I know what good people they are, and I know how hard they work.

Local Turkeys in the News

Literally beaming from ear to ear every time she tells the story, Christina and Bryan Truemper were contacted by NPR a few weeks ago. For what, at the time, they did not entirely know but, on Tuesday of this week, the people of All Things Considered descended on Farrar Out Farm to ask about their “hopes, dreams and wishes” in regard mostly to their opinions–as small farmers–about the upcoming election.

With what sounded to me like a possibly unhealthy interest by the NPR folks for getting quality field recordings of gobbling turkeys, you can catch the Truempers, said turkeys, and possibly their hogs at an unknown time tonight between 4-6PM on KWMU.

You can also listen online at kwmu.org.

Fond 411

Fond Website

Yet more info on recently opened Fond

For those of you looking for pertinent details, Fond is located at 106 N. Main Street, Edwardsville, IL 62025 and their number is 618.656.9001. Thought out extremely well their website is www.fondfinedining.com.  It is well done both visually and informationally and contains everything a new restaurant’s should upon opening. This includes, of course, a sample fall menu complete with a tasting menu (which they call a Market Menu).

Willing to put my foot somewhat in my mouth, it all sounds pretty damn tasty in a comforting sort of way.  Here are just a few items I hope taste every bit as as good as they sound…

  • Pumpkin Soup with cumin-coriander creme
  • Veal Terrine with mustard, pickles and grilled toast
  • Parmesan Ravioli with lemon, mint and black pepper
  • Free-Form Lasagna with mild mushrooms, smoked celery root puree, goat cheese fondue
  • Brown-butter cake with spiced pecans and bourbon buttercream

 See, I can be nice too.

Fond Opens

Word on the Edwardsville streets last Friday was that the butcher paper is down and Fond is currently having a soft opening.

If you check it out, let us know how it is over on the forum.

The End of an Era – Blue Water Grill

bluewater.jpg

Hands down the saddest restaurant news I’ve heard this year, my former employer, Tim Mallett, is choosing not to extend the lease on Blue Water Grill and will be calling it a wrap Saturday November 8th. The news comes by way of their latest Great Restaurants customer email in which he said best what there is to be said about what he’s done for the St. Louis restaurant scene.

As we get closer to the end of 2008, we also approach the 20th anniversary of opening Blue Water Grill. Twenty years is a long time in the restaurant industry and I believe we have made a significant change to the St. Louis dining scene. We have introduced simply prepared seafood, tapas-style dining, wine flights, etc., and the idea that you could go out for a nice meal without spending a small fortune. They may seem like common practices now, but 20 years ago they were unheard of. I feel we have been successful at our mission statement of providing a high quality hospitality experience with emphasis on creativity, superior service and value.

But as we all know, we live in some very uncertain economic times that have made the restaurant industry extremely challenging. Our customers have less disposable income to spend on eating out and business has suffered. So when my lease is up in November, I have decided not to renew it. Blue Water Grill will serve its last customers on Saturday November 8th.

It really is a sad day. He was a great boss and I always admired his commitment to running his restaurants in a way that could produce consistently good food at an incredibly fair price.

Don’t miss

Over on my favorite blog, Line Cook, Richie Nakano writes another great post about why people cook and how to evolve and get better.

On the New York Times blog, Diner’s Journal, original Niman Farms Ranch owner Bill Niman answers reader questions. Ferran Adrià recently did too.

You know about the New York Times Magazine Food issue, but did you read it? You should. Specifically Michael Pollan’s letter to the president-elect. He’s finally using his eloquence to offer a proposal for what needs to be done. And Michael Ruhlman summed it up for those of you short on time.

Shuna discusses “The Weeds” on eggbeater.

I hate Iron Chef America, but Sunday October 26th Chris Cosentino goes back to battle it out with Michael Symon. That’s worth Tivoing.

How d’ya like these apples?

Centennial Farms Apples

Centennial Farms Apples


Last year, with the weather being not exactly ideal for Missouri farmers, there were several crops that either never made it to market, or never made it at the level of quality the growers would have hoped for. For Centennial Farms that meant that while some cider and apple butter was made, there weren’t a lot of marketable apples to be had, and the few that did make it were particularly small.

However this year things are going different, and it’s not just the quality or quantity of the apples that’ll get your attention, but instead the number of varieties—21 in all. No matter what your apple tastes are they’ve almost certainly got something you’ll be interested in buying.

In order of ripening…Gala, Honeycrisp, Ruby Jon, Ozark Gold, Jonathan, Jonagold, Cortland, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Empire, Sun Crisp, Braeburn, Blushing Golden, Mutsu, Fuji, Staymared, Winesap, Gold Rush, York, Arkansas Black, Granny Smith.

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The Making of a Chef

The Making of a ChefFinally I have finished reading Michael Ruhlman’s The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute. Favorite quotes are highlighted, the dust jacket has been replaced, and it is with sadness–because it is over–that I have returned it to the gastronomy section of my bookshelf. How I hadn’t read the book until now escapes me; especially so in that I’ve owned it for a very long time. My guess is that it had something to do with its having come out shortly after Becoming a Chef.  At the time I was a cook, and I can recall reading in several places, as well as hearing word-of-mouth, that it was in some way a lesser version of that book but that’s simply not the case. It has held up far greater than Becoming a Chef which covers only the culinary growth of several celebrity chefs. Their stories are not normal, however, and the view Ruhlman gives us instead is

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