guts & glory

we were fortunate to be able to go see Anthony Bourdain perform at Hard Rock Live at Universal CityWalk.  Advertised as an evening of conversation we weIMG_3309ren’t really sure what to expect.  The Hard Rock has a large restaurant and middle size concert venue in the Universal CityWalk entertainment area of restaurants and bars.  We arrived at six so we could take in dinner at the Hard Rock and still make the show at 8.  We pre-reserved our seating time on their website and it really worked well.  We slid into our seats by 6:30.  I ordered a burger and Z some blackened chicken alfredo.  The food is about what you’d think, plentiful, middle of the road, salty and not heavily spicy-a fair neutral for the travelling public.  I had a fruity hurricane-which I find I love-rum and fruit punch with a cherry on top, not sophisticated or classy but fun and warm and summery like Florida.tonyb
We exited the restaurant through the gift shop like any good attraction and headed into the venue.  A couple of $4 bottles of water later we found our fifth row center seats.  A note here about the venue:  dang those seats are tiny and close together and I was beyond thrilled my left neighbors no-showed and we took over one of their seats.  Anthony started speaking a few minutes after eight.  He is more or less what you see on tv-crass, cheerful and thoughtful too.  He broke the evening into a few portions.  The first being a general roast of food television personalities.  He walked over Paula, Giada and lightly over the rest.  His main beef with Paula is really the unashamed hawking of calorie and fat laden dishes when she herself suffers from diabetes and didn’t share that fact with the tv viewing public.  He then talks about his television history and philosophy.  One of things that I respect about his is that he has walked through his show uplifting and singing the praises of the common man and woman.  How they cook, eat, drink, live and love.  He doesn’t turn down food cooked by someone who has little and is offering him the best they have.  He said he knows some of them are going to require a long course of antibiotics and might need the help of his television team to get it all down but he respects that person to their core.  He is not a fan of the chains-the Olive Gardens of the world but did tell us his guilty pleasure-KFC Mac N Cheese in all its salty processed glory.  His current CNN show is still directed this way but has a little more of the politics of food and culture as well.  He wrapped things up speaking a bit about his six year old daughter and then taking a few questions from drunks in the audience.  We really enjoyed the experience and while I don’t agree with him on every point (he is counter to my culture in a lot of ways.) I also agree with him on a lot of points.  We will continue to watch as he travels the world and dream of and hopefully visit some of his stops.  He is currently on CNN on Sunday nights at 9pm.  Tonight we will follow him to Canada.  I can’t wait.

evoo aside

when Z and I were dating, a whirlwind after actually being friends and youth co-workers for 10+ years, we went out for one New Years Eve dinner.  It was at a great neighborhood place in Denver called Parisi.  Sounds French but is a decidedly Italian trattoria upstairs and fancier dining in the basement.  It being five years ago I can only suppose I had my usual pollo con funghi (chicken with cream and mushrooms) and olive oil roasted potatoes.  Brian had pasta all’Amatriciana, was blown away and returned to Orlando after the holidays.  I suppose on his return he wanted to recreate his wonderful New Years date or that pasta or impress me by deciding to learn to cook it.  I can never be sure.  But we turned to and found a fairly easy recipe by Rachael Ray and Z went to Publix and bought Rachael’s recommended own label, EVOO.  Awesome.  Ok…that’s where the story begins.  Rachael Ray.  I have a fair amount of both respect and derision for her.  I hate her slogany cheese.   Yum-O!  EVOO.  Sammys.  But on the other hand she’s taken her interest in food and parlayed it into something much more-an empire.  …..and I get her magazine.  There it is.  I said it.  I got something like five years for $5.  And I usually flip through it and leave it on the table as a donation at work to whosoever would like to read it.  But recently I spied a recipe that beckoned to me.  Sloppy Moussakas.  Something of a bastardization of sloppy joe’s and moussaka.  A tomato rich ground meat concoction with a pinch of cinnamon and the piece de resistance cheesy bechamel but in this case, loaded on a buttered hamburger bun.  I often think Rach’s (can I call her Rach?) recipes call for too many ingredients but I suppose they often combine two separate recipes and look for the best pieces of each.  I think it’s an unnamed hallmark of her cooking style.  It was an easy recipe and it smelled really great.  I added more tomato paste than required and it didn’t suffer for it-probably like 3 tablespoons instead of 2 teaspoons. I also managed to smother both sandwich and french fries with that delicious creamy sauce.  As Rach would say, ‘Delish!’IMG_2917

cheat’s pizza

Jamie Oliver is one of my favorite chefs and his most recent show on BBC America is called Meals in Minutes.  I pulled one recipe and kind of brutalized it but it tasted fairly nice anyhow.  If you’d like to see how he wrote it click on the link.  The dough was a little (or lot) thicker than I’d usually like and some other experiments were made with it involving sugar and cinnamon that were unduly discarded. All in all though, pretty fun and a nice Monday night supper.


pasta e patate

we have been going strong with our eating less and healthier regimen started on Dec 8.   Workdays are easy with the regimen of it all.  Weekends tend towards a little more challenge.  There are things to do, places to go, people to see, food to eat out, et al.  We have had two extra-caloric kind of dinners this weekend-last night fish n chips and tonight a dish we recently saw on tv by David Rocco.  He is a Canadian Italian who cooks in Florence in a sort of homecooking rustic hot Italian kind of way.   He really reminds me of my Italian friend Danny (Daniele) which totally freaks me out and pleases me.  Their mannerisms are so similar it’s eerie-I guess it’s an Italian thing.  Anyhow, we crave David Rocco’s pasta on a semi regular basis.  It’s really amazing.  So, tonight we tried pasta e patate.  A boiled not quite soup concoction with a soup base of carrots, onion, celery and prosciutto filled up with broken spaghetti and bites of potato and nubbins of pecorino romano.   It was warmly dense and packed with flavor.  We decided it didn’t really pass the guests for dinner test (we wouldn’t serve it to guests) due to a little bit of noodley tomatoey chin action but it was a great dinner at home.  I did manage to eat only a 6th of those 4-6 servings and reduced the oil to 1 1/2 T at the beginning which was just fine.  By the way, the eating healthier is beginning to pay off too!

rose water

we like, even relish, trying new things. Z likes to read up on stuff and find all the parts and pieces and forge ahead trying things once, twice… or until I freak out.  We tried out a new David Rocco recipe because it seemed intriguing. It is called pasta Anto-te and you can find the recipe at the link. It had a few new to us items in a pasta dish and one was pistachio – yum, right? The other was rose water. Not so much really. It called for three tablespoons, which in some cases, like oh, parmesan or olive oil would be sublime.
Rose water belongs elsewhere. In the garden or behind your ears or something. Every bite was as floral as the last and by the end. Well, I didn’t get to the end of my bowl. I think the pistachio could deserve another chance but if anyone wants rose water – I have a slightly used bottle.