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Tag: food

Al’s Chickenette

Als (1 of 19)

Al’s boasts of having the best fried chicken in Hays, Kansas. I would wager to say, they that have the best fried chicken in most of Kansas, as Kansas is not really much of a state, just one big sorghum and soy farm. Sorghum, that genus of plants from the 10,000 strong grass family (Poaceae) used to make bio-fuel, animal feed, and syrup .Als (15 of 19)

Eager to see the recent remodel, the first since their 1949 founding when the blue and pink interior protected against more soviet red colors (ironically useful in today’s post soviet aggression) we hopped off the mind numbing 70 freeway and headed down to Hays. Kansas cuisine is a reflection of it’s culture – not particularly diverse (86% Caucasian, 76% Christian, and overwhelmingly Republican) and I struggled to find something interesting to eat. The reviews on Al’s found online speak volumes. Makes one wonder why the over 6,000 ghost towns of Kansas continue to increase in number, where are the people going when the chicken is supposedly this good?   

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Szechuan Impression

s impress (1 of 13)I used to believe my stomach was cast iron; I could consume anything inside it and not really worry about it. The ever dwindling populations of Lactase enzymes, as well as Szechuan (some pronounce Sich-Chawn, which I prefer after the name of the province in Southwest China) cuisine have served as the gravity to those ill-formed ideas. I don’t care what all my Chinese friends say (you know who you are), I know you are hurting after consuming chilies like popcorn.

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some of the flatware was so elegant, yet it was simply not uniform

As Chengdu Taste was one of my great dining experiences of 2014, I was eager to try Szechuan Impression, the newcomer to the regional Chinese dining scene.  It’s amazing how much variety comes from this area, an ancient regional crossroads for Sichuan based salt merchants. There are said to be four sub-styles, the most known being Chengdu style named after the provincial capital of Sichuan province.

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Chengdu is a sub-provincial city in Sichuan Province, and is the birthplace of the first widely used paper money, as well as around 14 million people as of the 2010 census. Directly west is the Chongqing municipality, also called ‘Fog City’ due to the over 100 days of fog per year, and its status among the ten most air-polluted cities in the world. Chengdu is considered a city of leisure given its numerous tea houses, greater than 1000 year history as the starting point of the Silk Road, and the rumored ‘thousands’ of dishes.

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Italy on the Mind

picture I took last year in Guardiagrelle, Abruzzo

Remember that trip I took to Southern Italy? That was quite enjoyable and beautiful. I’m often brought back to Italy in the great tastings I have the privilege to attend on routine basis, like the recent Poderi Aldo Conterno. I am a big advocate of the wines from Italy; I believe Italian wine offers the most diversity and most interesting varietals in the world.

The other night I was talking to Sommelier Rachel Kerswell at Republique in Los Angeles (Hancock Park) about being a floor somm, and what makes our job fun (Rachel being Canadian is an expert user of acronyms like “obvi”). There are very few things that are more enjoyable than sharing great wines without other distractions. 

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Jean-Georges at Central Park West

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The Trump Hotel at the corner of Central Park West is exactly as you would expect it to be, brooding, garish, and covered in gold. Opened in 1997, Jean-Georges was a must stop for my most recent trip to NYC.

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We were seated in a cave like enclosure in the main dining room that reeked of opulence and the 1% – my kind of place. White table lines fill the room along with crystal stemware; the hostesses wearing blazers actually informed me I made a reservation for the wrong date but were happy to accommodate given the half empty lunch service. I was really excited as this was one of the first stops on this last trip.

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Service was relaxed and exceptional – everyone that came near the table was highly knowledgeable and had great recommendations for the menu, genuine enthusiasm, and measured passion for their craft.

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Jean-Georges requires a jacket to dine in the main room, even for lunch which is something I really like. Sadly for me the food did little to expand my horizons though my belt size certainly moved.

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M. Wells Steakhouse

Every so often I have an experience that just leaves an unsavory taste in my throat. As a foodie i’m supposed to have an acumen that allows me to filter and find the places that are not just wearing the emperors clothes and lacking the emperor; M. Wells Steakhouse was an experience that left me embarrassed and rather light in the pocket book.

Italy (12 of 12)

Everything I’d read about the M Wells was positive, a mecca for meat lovers in a hidden former auto body shop in Long Island City ( A place I had never been, nonetheless) Queens, lauded Canadian Chefs in an eye catching space. I was pumped as this was to be my final reservation on a whirlwind NYC dining trip.

Things started off well, as my companions were impressed at my navigational abilities in finding the virtually hidden space (no sign whatsoever) – we walked in the glowing and warmly lit open space with an almost cathedral like feeling. The walls have elegant wall paper and the ceilings have intricate details.

Our waiter sauntered over after a few moments too long of waiting without greeting, a large heavyset man of some age and experience he began to croon the specials in an old manner reminiscent of the steak houses of yore. My excitement began to build as he overtook the the personal space of the table with his fluid hand motions, swooping his arms through the air describing luxurious cuts of offal and head cheese. I scribbled incessantly in my notebook to keep up.

We decided, as we were probably going to be tieing quite a few drinks on this evening that we should stick with the cocktails (true to form, we ended up in a gay club in the Meatpacking district dancing to Beyonce at 3 am), though I had read the wine program was exemplary. It wasn’t hard to spot the sommelier in a smartly cut suit dashing back and forth across the room. Tragically he never stopped by, but I got a chance to hear him in action at the lovely table of two next to us.

After some deliberation he brought back a bottle of ; I’m guessing this was Malvasia di Candida, and obscure bottle from the Canary Islands grown on mostly volcanic soil. I thought this was a daring pairing for a Canadian styled steak house. He decanted the wine away from the table and brought it back in a decanter, placing it on a pedestal just to my left. I was struck by the fact that neither he, nor any server brought any stemware to the table. Ten, twenty, and thirty minutes went by as the ladies finished their nearly empty cocktails before they flagged a waiter inform that they were ready to drink the bottle. The sommelier didn’t seem all that occupied standing off to the side chatting with a server, never once did he return to the table to check on anything – it certainly seemed he was spending more time on his vertical hold hairstyle than his wine service.

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Vita e Vini d'Abruzzo

This is the second part of a series on my recent trip to Abruzzo and Rome to Masciarelli Winery. See Part One Here, Part Two Here

Driving around the countryside in Abruzzo is magical. Everywhere I looked I got the feeling that nature was slowly reclaiming the landscape, that the people here were intimately connected to their surroundings, rather than seeking to dominate them.

After a brief nap I sat down to enjoy a glass of the 2009 Masciarelli Trebbiano di Abruzzo in the tasting room at Castello di Semivicoli, I was surprised by it’s acidity and the presence of an underlying mineral tone. I have often in the past thought of Trebbiano as potentially round, creamy, and flabby – but this was a food wine.