Sunday, March 30, 2008

50-year-old Chateau Latour by the ounce

I can safely say I've never seen this on a wine menu before I went to see Jose Gonzalez tonight at The Triple Door (adjacent to Wild Ginger) in Seattle:

Kudos to Seth for instructive finger pointing

Please draw your attention to the line above Seth's finger: it reads "Chateau Latour, Pauillac First Growth, Bordeaux, 1955".

Thanks to a super high-tech system of wine storage they just installed this week, Wild Ginger and The Triple Door can now serve one-ounce pours of 1955 Chateau Latour for a mere 37 dollars. The whole six-ounce pour will set you back $220, a half-glass sells for $110 and due to my sheer amazement at this new development, I failed to look up what they charge by the bottle. My guess is in the $800-900 range. *edit: I was right--the menu on their website shows $850 (thanks, Internets!).

Our friendly and helpful server informed us that this new system they have now allows them to store opened wine bottles at unopened-bottle quality for up to six months (!!) in some cases. This also means they can serve Dom Perignon by the glass. This is bound to make some celebratory folks on a budget happy, and in these penny pinching times, I imagine the goal is to increase wine sales aimed at those in the mood for a nice wine without breaking the bank.

I must say, they've really hit upon something with The Triple Door. There's something very special about listening to live music while sitting at a table with top-notch service and an incredible dinner menu and award-winning wine list from which to choose. The sake-infused pear tart in puff pastry we had with our bottle of Hielder Gruner Veltliner just hit the spot, and made my desire to have Jose Gonzalez's babies ever so slightly more emphatic. But I digress.

So a little help here... take a look at the photo again. See that little "e" in the black box next to the year of the wine? That stands for the wine storage technology they're using that I can't remember at the moment, and it's so new that the wine list which now includes a handy index about their new wine storage technology hasn't been updated yet at their website. Anybody? Anybody? Bueller? Bueller?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Back in Seattle/ Day two of school

Somehow I've found myself back in Seattle, but now that I'm in school proper, it's just for the weekend this time. It's been a super long and crazy week, which included, aside from starting school: happily hosting my friends from Brooklyn while they played a show in Portland; playing a song in their show on my violin which I literally haven't touched in ages; having a blast and deciding to play with them again for their show in Seattle tonight (which went great!); going to dinner at Vindalho with the lovely folks from and meeting a bunch of fellow Portland foodies; getting dental work; seeing Bonnie at a show at North Bar while she was in town from Tokyo; and various and sundry things I'm forgetting at this late hour.

With all this nuttiness, I'm happy to report that school today was a blast by all standards and measures. We worked on knife skills with the chef's knives from our fancy new Mercer kits, and I discovered that I'm much more comfortable with a 10-inch blade than I thought I would be. I've always employed 8-inch chef's knives (or my mom's 7-inch Global Santoku, droooool...), starting from my very first Sabatier starter set to the Wustof Classic chef's knife that I have now. The Mercer 10-inch, however, is very well balanced and feels swift in my hand. It also helps that I'm surrounded by professionals who care as well as state of the art equipment; lends to a sense of confidence about professionalism that is hard to muster in one's home kitchen by yourself.

We had lecture in the morning, and then finally got to "play" with our knives after an incredible chickpea curry lunch. We practiced slicing potatoes Batonnet-style (a wider Julienne, basically) and got some schooling on proper honing and knife care, as well as general knife etiquette in the kitchen. On the surface it sounds like minutiae, but these details are so important when it comes to safety and speed. Even remarking on details like keeping our work stations clean help tremendously with efficiency, and only after watching our awesome instructor give a knife demo did I truly begin to gain respect for all those tiny details.

Afterwards we practiced turning panko breading in standard sauté pans, which was a fun mess--panko all over the floor. As a result of this practice, I'm now certain I need to get back to the gym. My hands were literally shaking after 15 minutes of gentle tossing. Getting back into shape is essential; even being on my feet in those clogs is kicking my ass.

Gotta say though, it's been a fantastic week and I haven't felt this focused in a long, long time. Bed for now, more tomorrow...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Day one at Oregon Culinary Institute

Me in school uniform

Today was my first official day of school at OCI. I woke up with a start half an hour before either of the two alarms I set went off, got a refreshing shower, re-read the chapter on kitchen safety that we were asked at orientation yesterday to read for today, donned the whites and stripes and headed off to school, which, incidentally, is mere blocks from my apartment. I have a feeling that this proximity to school will come in great handy on those mornings that I'm feeling a bit sluggish... just roll outta bed and I'm in school minutes later.

My class is literally 11 people large, or small, I should say. It's kind of fantastic, because when we're all in the kitchen, it doesn't feel overly crowded. At least not yet... we'll see how I feel after a few weeks in the kitchen rubbing literal elbows. I felt great in the morning, covering a ton of basics about equipment and safety and getting a detailed tour of the T1 ("term 1") kitchen. Being culinary school, there's tons of coffee, teas and water for us every day. By noon I was slurping down the black tea in hopes of getting a recharge. This waking up early thing is a whole different animal.

I admit that after a couple of hours of standing in the kitchen and listening to our instructors talk about various types of pots, pans, strainers, graters, machines, etc. in brand new, hard-ass clogs, I started to get restless. It made me think of the days catering events in LA when I was far too busy too notice that my feet hurt or I was hungry. I'm truly looking forward to getting busy in the kitchen. Tomorrow we get to actually use our knives from our lovely, brand new knife kits. I swear, it was like Christmas day unwrapping a whole new set of knives.

stripes and whites and my knife kit in hand

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

School Daze at Oregon Culinary Institute

I just returned from orientation for my new school, Oregon Culinary Institute. I start actual classes tomorrow morning, and I am so incredibly excited, I can hardly contain myself. I feel like I just want to jump out of my skin or cry or dance or maybe all of the above. More than anything, I'm feeling like this is really, truly the right thing for me.

A few things of note:

1. There are two morning classes per entry date, and a grand total of 22 people in the morning classes. That's *eleven* per class! When I was checking out Western Culinary Institute, the other well-known culinary school in Portland, one of the points they tried to sell me on was that even though their max class size is 35, "people drop out in the first few weeks so it usually gets down to about 25 anyway". Not sure if that's a great selling point, but works for some people I guess.

2. My class is incredibly diverse. Though there are some young students, I have to admit that I was relieved to see a fair amount of students in their late 20's and into their 30's and 40's, all of whom are serious about making the commitment for the career change of their dreams. I feared fresh-out-of-high-school, ready to party hardy kids, and fortunately that population seems slim-to-none in my class. We went around the room and introduced ourselves and we got everyone from 40-something career-changers, to an Army wife wanting her own foundation to support herself and her family (I nearly cried listening to this woman tell her story), to people who have cooked in kitchens for years and are ready to step it up a level. The common thread was a passion for cooking.

3. The faculty is awesome. I'm consistently impressed with how passionate and caring they are about education and their relationships with their students. Nearly everyone at OCI who I've encountered already during the admissions process called me by my first name today, even if I had only met them once or twice.

It's now almost 10PM. I wrote most of this nearly 10 hours ago, and after the hectic day I've had, which included yummy brunch with friends at the Tin Shed, dental work, numb lips and teeth, errand running for school and an amazing dinner at Vindalho with Portland Food Forum regulars, sleep is overcoming me quickly. I'll suspect I'll have more to say tomorrow.

Friday, March 21, 2008


I've been in Seattle for nearly a week now to visit my brother and sister. It's been enough time to hit up Nordstrom Rack, watch movies, catch up with family and friends, attend the final Stereo Future show before Seth moves to NYC (effectively putting the band on hiatus... see pics of their show with Japanese bands Pillows and The Noodles here), and of course eat lots and lots and lots. Between burgers at Two Bells, ramen in the International District, Korean BBQ with certain renowned food critics and my own chicken and dumplings last night, we've been eating quite well.

Tomorrow night, my brother and his g.f. are hosting a wine tasting/ potluck/ karaoke party. It promises to be a spanking good time. I start school in less than a week-- eeeee! *Big deep breath*.

More updates soon, I promise...