Posts Tagged ‘ Food ’

To the Beginning Gardener

So you’re feeling all green and one with the Earth and you decide that a backyard garden is an awesome way to get food. You are right. It is. But don’t let an idyllic picture of a smiling be-aproned lady picking perfect tomatoes be your guide. Let ME do it instead, with my huge filthy boots and many sharp implements.

This is how it starts. There ain’t much to look at.

Choose Wisely – Pick food and flowers you like. Don’t randomly plant shit and then let it get overrun by weeds and/or rot because you didn’t realize you’ll have to eat all those peas or whatever. Generally, if it’s just you, one or two plants will make you all the food of that sort that you would want. So, 1 tomato, 1-2 cukes, 1 zucchini, etc. Multiply accordingly if you got other members of the household who are gonna want some. Be aware that zucchini is prolific as hell.

Equip yourself – Gloves, trowel or weeder, a small spade, a shovel, an action hoe, a rake, a hose with watering attachment, scissors and a knife, and a plastic tub with a watertight lid to keep it all safe in the garden somewhere so you don’t have to lug it all back and forth (this is specific to apartment dwellers and others who end up with community garden situations). You and I both know you’ll just forget it and use the lack of equipment as an excuse to be useless. I know the shovel won’t fit. Leave all that shit out if you gotta, but hopefully you can hide them out of the rain somewhere. At least don’t leave them lying around. It’ll eventually lead to comical happenings that you won’t find comical post-concussion. Continue reading

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Four Star Secrets Tolerable Only to Foodies

service-included-cover.jpgService Included: Four Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter, by Phoebe Damrosch, is probably in my top most misleadingly named books of all time. When I first read the title, I assumed it would be a gossip-filled spelunk into the dark dinner-discussion secrets of those rich enough to drop over a thousand dollars on one meal. Something like this has it’s appeal to us hoi polloi—lord knows I would jump at the chance to sit for a meal at a 4-star restaurant (but I would probably want to take a crash course in etiquette first), and reading a book about the people who take what Thomas Keller dreams up for granted is not without its draw.

What this fanciful Imagineering leads me to is simply that this memoir is not about the secrets of the insanely rich—Damrosch reveals nary an eavesdrop— instead it focuses on the author’s personal bumbling journey through waitressing, life, and love. The title instead highlights the backdrop against which we see her life unfolding.

Damrosch began waitressing in a trendy Brooklyn café and sundry other eating establishments. When it opened, she landed a job at the Manhattan offshoot of Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, Per Se, by pure chance. From the moment she first dons the Armani Per Se tuxedo, Damrosch’s entire life begins to center around the restaurant. Don’t get me wrong—working at Per Se is clearly not the same as working at Heliopolis Greek Style Family Diner. For one thing, the wait staff goes through a several-week training period, during which they get a crash course in everything from the varieties of sparkling versus still water, to the history of the Central Park overlook that Per Se enjoys. They have 401(k) plans, health and dental benefits, and make enough money to afford living in Manhattan. The job demands close attention to detail and significant study, which I have to admit I never expected, and which I ended up finding fascinating. Continue reading

Restaurant Week Reviews Part 2: Dinner at the Giorgio’s of Gramercy

Giorgio’s of Gramercy, on 21st street near Broadway, is a long, narrow and dimly lit affair, appointed in earth tones and decorated with somewhat disturbing abstract watercolors. The tables feature small tea light candles and white tablecloths, and curtains and beads hanging from the ceiling make the space cozy and warm.

The staff is pleasant, professional and removed; they do not hover too much, nor do they neglect. Kitchen sounds emanate from the back of the restaurant, and early in the evening (while I waited for my companion), the chef brought out a plate of the night’s special (fish in a spicy remoulade of some kind) for the staff to sample so they would know how to describe it later. When we were seated, we were treated to a plate of crispy bruchetta and offered beverages, the menus, and the wine list.
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