Picture menus: sin or savvy?

1 02 2008

Many restauranteurs would probably argue that pictures on a menu are just an outright abomination to the profession (Gordon Ramsey, for one). You don’t see any upscale restaurants with pictures on their menu, just a detailed description of the dish. To be sure, pictures on menus are reminiscent of fast food joints.

I’ll take the combo #2, super-sized.” No description needed, the picture says it all.

mmphogclakm zpechtorflam” is the reply from the speaker (that means “pull up” in drive-thru speak).

Is it a sin to have pictures on a menu? Any one of us can probably recall off the top of our head at least five restaurants we’ve been to with pictures on the menu (let’s see: Chili’s, Denny’s, Red Robin…hmm, all franchises – interesting). Do these restaurants know something that other restauranteurs don’t? I would venture to say that restaurants actually sell more of the pictured items, but I haven’t seen any data on this. Let me tell you what I think. Read the rest of this entry »

Kitchen design that works

22 01 2008

Anyone who holds the same disdain for today’s residential architecture and design will certainly have a conversation buddy with me. I recently read a post at one of my favorite blogs that lambasts kitchen design in today’s homes as unfunctional and unusable. The last two “Parade of Homes” I went to featured homes in the $1.5M-$3M range. Few of them had kitchens that made any sense. This seems ridiculous to me until it dawned on me that most of the people who live in these homes probably don’t cook for themselves.

I’ve been blessed to be able to design the home that I live in. My home is not a modified stock plan. It is a bona fide, from-the-top-of-my-head, unique design, all the way down to drawing the blueprints and overseeing construction. In this post, I’d like to show you my kitchen. It went through numerous designs, and we researched many products. My tastes are somewhat minimalist, but not to the extreme. I know that many people will dog on me for the cliché items like the stainless and granite. So be it. I hope you can steer clear of what your personal tastes are and just focus on the design. I’m proud of the design and the look we have achieved and it has served us well. So, here it is:

Kitchen design, IKEA, modern design, galley kitchenThe living room, dining room, and kitchen are an open design. I can watch TV while I cook or keep an eye on the kids. It is designed for entertaining in mind so that I can interact with guests while cooking. The view in the picture above is taken standing at the dining table with my back to the living room. Its a U-shaped galley with plenty of granite counter space and lots of cabs. Read the rest of this entry »

Fennel: the Devil seed

3 01 2008

fennel-seeds.jpgCan you imagine the first caveman who yanked a fennel plant from the roadside and decided that the funny little brown seeds would be a great addition to sausage? (When I say “caveman” I probably mean “Italian”)

“What is fennel?” you might ask. I call it the devil seed. I remember the first time I bit into one of these suckers. I was enjoying an all-meat pizza (can’t remember where at) and I was gobbling up the last bits of scrap left on the pizza pan. I recall reaching for a small sausage ball and wondering what that interesting little seed was that was poking out of the side, yet unwittingly categorizing it as merely a part of the spices and seasonings. Thinking back to this gastronomically momentous yet insipid moment, it all seems to go by in slow motion…

Two fingers delicately pinch the sausage bit and makes its way towards my pizza hole [insert dream sequence here]

I can see it now, just like in the movies: the beautiful woman picks up the poisoned drink, known to be tainted only by the protagonist, her lover. He glances her direction and sees that she has unwittingly picked up the martini with the poisoned olive. The entire scene is in slow motion; the edges blur as the protagonist rushes toward her, screaming “Noooo.” But its too late. Read the rest of this entry »

The 4 horsemen of the Chinese Buffet: fake, famine, foul, & frigid

31 12 2007

I hate Chinese buffets for several reasons:

  • The food is not really Chinese;
  • Most of the food is cold;
  • The food tastes Nasty;
  • A ton of food is thrown away;
  • They are expensive, in order to make up for all the thrown away food.

This past weekend my family traveled a few hours out of town to visit some extended family. Upon arriving, it is customary for the entire family to go out to a restaurant to eat dinner. All in all there were eight adults and five children this time around and to be honest, it makes things a lot easier for a group this size to eat at a buffet. No time needs to be spent with menus and no time wasted to start eating either – just get up and load up.

And you know what? I’m normally pretty excited when I see the array of food I’m about to indulge in. I mean, out of the 75 or so selections, I’m bound to find a couple that I like. Right? Right??? Well, disappointingly, no. Let me work through my list above real quick.

First of all, if these restaurants actually served authentic Chinese cuisine, no one would come. Read the rest of this entry »

Mitt Romney Pot Pie

17 12 2007

”What kind of pot pie” you might ask, is Mitt giving up a recipe to? Well, none actually, and that is the point.

Imagine being served a beautifully baked pot pie, but not being told what is in it. It could be beef, or chicken, or veggies, or kidneys (no offense to kidney lovers). But, this is exactly what happened during Gov. Romney’s “religion” speech about 1-1/2 weeks ago. Some might call his speech just a cleverly veiled façade, intended to garner support from the religious right, but not give enough detail to actually turn them away. Others might say that Mitt is no different than many Americans who call themselves religious, who see no difference between the god they worship and the god everyone else worships. So, before I continue, let me explain that this is still a food blog, as witnessed by the title. Nevertheless, I do feel compelled to comment on other things every now and then (politics, religion, etc.). In keeping with the theme, then, I will still attempt to work in the food angle.

In his speech, Mitt answered what he believes is the most fundamental question he is asked: What he believes about Jesus Christ. His answer: Read the rest of this entry »