Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

The greatest holiday of them all is upon us again.

Lauren, my dear, it is not the brunoise

Although I fell asleep with boredom in my first attempt to watch Top Chef New York, I was awake just long enough to take personal offense to Lauren’s comment that the brunoise is “the hardest knife cut.”  Having spent countless hours practicing for the first portion of the Jr. Culinary Olympic competition (a knife skills practical exam) I know a thing or two about knife skills and brunoise being hardest is simply not the case.

Technically, a brunoise is a 1/8” x 1/8” x 1/8” dice.  Period.  Because a julienne is 1/8” wide people will sometimes say a brunoise is a julienne turned 90 degrees and cut again.  That could be the case, but a julienne is technically 1/8” x 1/8” x 2-2 ½”.  If you were cutting a lot of brunoise you’d probably want to start with something longer.

The classic knife cuts…

Large Dice – 3/4” x 3/4” x 3/4”
Medium Dice – 1/2” x 1/2” x 1/2”
Small Dice – 1/4″ x 1/4″ x 1/4”
Brunoise – 1/8” x 1/8” 1/8”
Fine Brunoise 1/16” x 1/16” x 1/16”

Batonnet 1/4” x 1/4” x 2-2 1/2”
Julienne – 1/8” x 1/8” x 2-2 1/2”
Fine Julienne – 1/16” x 1/16” x 2-2 1/2”

Paysanne – 1/8” thick squares – 1/2” x 1/2” x 1/8”
Lozenge – 1/8 thick diamonds – 1/2” x 1/2” x 1/8”
Tourné – barrel shaped with 7 equal sides, 1/4″ flat on each end, 3/4” in the middle, 2-2 1/2” long

These are classic French knife cuts.  They’re what the American Culinary Federation uses for their competitions and they’re what culinary schools teach.  They have these standards so that as you roll from one kitchen to another there’s no need for a chef to explain what size they’re looking for when you’re asked to cut something up.  Your chef could simply say, “Everyone prep me up a 9-pan of brunoised carrots.” Then, because everyone knows what a brunoise is, he could collect those pans from the entire staff and mix them all together.  They should all be identical.  It’s a beautiful thing when a few people in a kitchen can all be so precise with their knife skills that they can each brunoise a different vegetable to later combine into an identically brunoised mix of vegetables.  They can then drop them into something like a consommé and leave informed diners quietly applauding their skill and attention to detail.

Of course your chef could also be

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Change comes before January 20th

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Last Tuesday saw 52.6% of America step into the voting booth and mark their ballots “change.”  Of course it won’t be until January 20th that they’ll begin to find out if their hopes and dreams are met by President-Elect Barack Obama.  For the people of St. Louis, however, we’ve got Pi, and thinking we shouldn’t have to wait that long, a change to their menu will leave us waiting only until Friday.  It’s then you’ll be able to head on down to the East Loop restaurant and order up their new creation–the Obama inspired Broccoli O’Bama–and hope that it tastes alright.

Topped with broccoli, seasoned potatoes, applewood smoked bacon, gruyere cheese, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, minced garlic, fresh chives (after bake) atop a vegan thin crust and served with a side of sour cream dip, I’m not sure they could have squeezed anything else on.  Not to mention it’s like a sort of pizza lovechild where the upscale pizza Pi normally serves had a one night stand with Gumby’s.

For the Republicans amongst you, you’ll undoubtedly be convinced that even the pizza of your foe has a sort of metaphoric flaw.  Topping it with all requests in an effort to please everyone it could result in pleasing no one because broccoli isn’t exactly going to have carnivores celebrating in the streets, and all that cheese and bacon is going to leave the vegetable-loving vegans hungry as well.

I’ll personally be sticking with the Lincoln Park.  It’s sure to remain Pi’s best pizza.  But then what the hell do I know? Maybe the Broccoli O’Bama will be delicious like everything else at Pi.

See, I can poke fun at the businesses I’m friends with.

Josh’s Journal – Fantastic Meals (The Fat Duck)

The Fat Duck is a hideaway restaurant in Bray, outside of London. The food is science driven in many respects. Heston Blumenthal, the chef, uses scientific research, molecular knowledge, and classic techniques to heighten the dining experience. During my time in London, I had heard about his kooky food, but it was not until I graduated from culinary school that I splurged on his food.

Once you sit down, a palate cleanser arrives after you’ve nibbled on picholine olives. The cleanser acts as an amuse bouche, quite literally. The foam goes down smooth and the lime strips your mouth of all those bad flavors like the double espresso you needed just to find the right train. By this point I’d already decided on a few strange courses for my meal, but I didn’t know about the other surprises

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Just a Thought

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If you were Hubert Keller, and you were trying to get the people of St. Louis to embrace you and your fancy-pants high-dollar restaurants, would you have a beer dinner with the craft brewery from across the state or the local joint brewing up–if not better–equally good beer?

And that’s not a slight at Boulevard. I simply just don’t get the reasoning–unless, that is, I’ve missed some previous beer dinner that used Schlafly.