Culinary Sagacity

~Thought for Food~

The Cathayans believed that the soul or mind is located not in the head but in the stomach.

Doubtless this explains why they fret so much about the preparation and serving of food.

It may also explain why their memories are so much better than ours.

Information is stored not in the finite head, but in the expandable stomach.

--Cyrus Spitama in Gore Vidal's Creation

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Brooklyn Fare Kitchen Extends Service, Finds New Location

Heard it on good authority that the success of Brooklyn Fare Kitchen has led to the addition of Tuesday and Wednesday night menus, as their Thursday-Saturday seatings were booking nearly 3 months in advance.

Also rumored, Brooklyn Fare Kitchen has found a new home! Location TBA, but they're interviewing new staff, and though they will maintain the same concept, it's likely Chef César Ramirez and Sous Chef Juan Leon won't be serving and bussing any longer.

This isn't much of a surprise. They had been trying to find a new space nearby in Brooklyn when I was there for my birthday, but had no leads at that time. They've had amazing press, and I even saw Ramirez and Brooklyn Fare Kitchen featured on my NYC Taxi TV a few times lately. Kudos, they deserve every bit of press they get!

I'll post the new location, and expected date of opening, as soon as I hear it!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

WISE TIP: Coping with Kitchen Burns

When you've got 4 burners going, a roast and a gratin in the oven, and guests in your living room, what do you do when you've just reached for one of your pans and ended up burning yourself? It's not a riddle, it's a real home kitchen dilemma.

For me, after so many years of burning myself at times when I can hardly stop to nurse my wound, I've learned to just ignore burns. That's right, I ignore the pain and keep working as if nothing's happened. This may sound nuts, but it's what I do—and I dare say I wouldn't get shouted at by Gordon Ramsay thanks to this ability. In a professional kitchen, unless your skin is melting, you just can't stop working for every little burn. Mind over matter is the name of the game.

Burns are a fact of kitchen life—at home or in a restaurant—and learning to master them is key. When I first tried just ignoring my burns years ago, they would hurt despite my attempts to focus on my cooking and my guests. Slowly though, over time, they just stopped hurting. It's really a mind trick that anyone with a brain can master.

Today, when I burn myself and simply can't stop, I forget so completely about my little injury that I'm only reminded a day or two later when I knock my finger or arm up against something. My reaction of "Ouch!" is quickly followed by "Oh yeah, I burned myself yesterday."

Sometimes though, burns are too serious to ignore. In this case, if the ER isn't necessary, the only thing you can do is stop and immerse your burn in ice water. So long as your burn is submerged in water, it won't get worse and it won't hurt. This trick works, big time. I once stumbled towards a wood-burning stove registering 675 degrees. As I fell forward in seeming slow motion my choice was to hit the stove with my head or my hand. I chose my hand, which came down flat and hard on the metal part of the stove, and which I used to shove myself back up on my feet. Then I ran, shouting profanities, all the way to the sink.

The burn was so bad that the second I took my hand from the water it throbbed in a cartoon-like manner. Not wanting to spend the evening hovering over the tap, I filled a bowl with ice and water and spent the entire night with my hand in the bowl. When bed-time came, it still hurt too much to take it out, so I put the bowl on my bedside table and fell asleep with my hand in the water.

When I awoke the next day, much to my surprise, my hand was still in the water. So I lifted it out to see how it felt and you can imagine my shock when my hand didn't hurt one bit and there wasn't a single mark left from the burn. That's how well the ice-water method works.

Thing is, even when you get to the point where you can ignore your minor burns (not the major ones), if you don't want to be covered in scars then you should always treat them with Vitamin E. Just poke a pin in a Vitamin E soft-gel and squirt the oil onto your burn. The more often you treat your burn with Vitamin E, the less scarring you'll have.

If you're a cooking nut like me, having a few burn scars isn't anything to be ashamed of, quite the opposite in fact—these scars are like badges of honor, they attest to the fact that there's no need for me to get out of the kitchen, I can stand the heat.