Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Japanese Rice Culture

The Brillat-Savarin quote “Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are,” speaks of the cultural significance of food. Food in most cultures is not merely consumption, it is also a deeply rooted part of their culture. In Japan rice is a food item that takes on cultural significance. Not only is the rice sustaining, but it has also become a deep rooted sense of the Japanese self and culture as a whole. For one to identify themselves as Japanese, is to identify themselves with Japan’s rice.

Rice existed in Japan reaching back into the 1st century. Rice was not only relegated to consumption, it had become a symbol to the Japanese people. Rice took on a religious significance in Japan. Specific farming patterns and rituals became important to please the deities of rice. The farming practice itself was an exchange of one’s self to the land to gain rice back. Offers of rice and wine made from rice were “sacrificed” to the deities of Japan. Each grain of rice itself was important as well, as each took on the symbolism of divinity, so to consume rice was to be one with their divinity. Rice was even used as a form of “pure” currency for those who thought other forms of currency were “impure.”

Rice as a staple in the Japanese diet in comparison to the age of its people is a recent phenomenon. Consumption of rice as the predominant staple began in the 17th century, when it became part of each of the three daily meals. Into the 19th century the majority of Japanese were eating rice with the larger yields produced in the Japanese rice patties. With the military eventually adopting the rice as the major sustaining staple for its troops, the grain became fully “ingrained” into Japanese culture on the personal level and the national level.

The Japanese rice itself gave the Japanese a sense of nationality. They used rice not only to differentiate themselves from Western ways, but to also differentiate themselves from other Asian cultures. As the Japanese rice is a short-grained rice, and distinctly different from long-grained rice found across much of the rest of Asia, they could feel a pride in their individuality in Asian culture. When short-grained rice was farmed in California and an attempt was made to import it into Japan, a backlash occurred based upon the Western culture that had created this in their soil. Even though the rice was identical based upon Japanese seed, the fact that it was not grown in Japanese soil was an insult to the Japanese people.

In Western cultures one person may make an “authentic” culinary dish, but the neighbor next door could make the same “authentic” dish and it can be completely different. Japanese rice growing evolved in the same way to bring this individual sense of self a step further. Each home would potentially plant their own rice, but would evolve the grain into a rice that was distinctly different from their neighbor’s rice. So rice became not only a sense of Japanese nationality, but also became a complete sense of individuality in the culture.

Many cultures take on items as part of their national pride. Most times we see dishes or multiple ingredients as part of the national pride however. The intense spirituality that encompasses many Asian cultures can be seen as a reason for grasping onto a single staple which can be an all encompassing symbol for everything in their culture. Japanese people have entrenched rice into their spiritual culture, monetary system of the past, national pride compared to both Western and other Asian cultures, and even the individual within Japanese culture compared to other Japanese people. It is this single grain that has helped to identify Japan as an independent nation that consumes rice because they are one with the rice.

Currently reading :
Rice as Self: Japanese Identities through Time (Princeton Paperbacks)
By Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney
Release date: 14 November, 1994

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dining at the Airport

Sitting in an airport food area often makes one think of what America eats. On a recent trip to Kansas, which took me through Washington D.C., I had a chance to observe the social distinctions of airline dining. Having stepped out of gate 38 with one hour to be at gate 40, I decided to walk down the “mall” and see what the airport offered for food and what it may say about its patrons. The time was 10:30 am and lunch was just about to be served so my task was to see what everyone was eating and then observe why I chose my location to dine. Opportunities abound for food offerings in the airport and I believe each location spoke to part of the American culture that exists with food and lifestyles today.

Cinnabon was an immediate stand-out, mass-marketed chemically raised baked good, each containing enough calories to stop a heart. Stand in line, get your sugar and cholesterol attack and be on your way. Patrons are sure to not forget their orange juice, which surely made them feel a bit better about their food choice. Those in line all wore jeans, t-shirts and a wide girth. Another option included 5 Guys Pizza. This location fulfilled the “ethnic” realm here and without doubt the two most prevalent people standing in line were kids and Italian-Americans. Most again wearing jeans and t-shirts and seemingly of lower-middle class income, with a blue collar sensibility to them. Other fast food places existed which mirrored 5 Guys and Cinnabon in their clientèle.

What really stuck out was the only sit-down location, Gordon Biersh. This location is a large scale chain which features a brew pub atmosphere. Most locations exist in strip malls or in actual large malls with a few stand alone locations. The food on the menu at this location could have been at any of the other “stand-in-line” locations in the airport, burgers, fries, pulled pork, etc. However almost all of the patrons were wearing suits and were obviously of an upper-middle class income or upper-class income. The majority were professionals, a politician whom I spoke to and some business men working on projects and presentations.

The significance of the location was the social appeal however. It seems most travelers care very little about the food itself, but where they can sit amongst those of the same social structure as themselves. Many of the people in Gordon Biersch were not even eating, they were conversing with others dressed in the same manner as themselves or obviously of the same social class. I myself chose to eat at this location thinking, “well it must have good food, it is the only sit-down location.” Alas the truth came out when the food came to me and it was awful, but people around me were eating it without complaint.

The patron’s choice of Gordon Biersch can be attributed to two ideas, they just don’t understand the options presented to them, or it could be that they just don’t care and they would rather be in a place with bad food than in a location with people not in their class structure. There are some who choose for the reasons I did surely but the percentage is probably low. One is sold a sense of “up-scale” by these locations as being brew-pubs which again denotes an upscale clientèle, without realizing the place where the beer was brewed is probably thousands of miles away.

The fact that the shoe-shine location adds to the theory that locations sell themselves to certain clientèle and they in-turn will come to the location if it suits their social needs. Food can actually be seen as such a small part of the sales-pitch of a restaurant. Location, atmosphere and fulfillment of social desires are often more important than the food. As seen, social hierarchy can even be played in the food court of an airport.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Changing Views of Women in the Wine Industry

he feminism movement in the past century has been a tumultuous one in the opinion of many people. In the wine industry, the process of women coming into prominence has differed in ways that validates comparison. Is this a process of evolution of different regions of the world, or the cultural differences between two distinct regions of the world? While the wineries of the New World have worked to improve their wines to the level of prestige of Old World wines, the changing atmosphere in the sex of the winemakers and owners of wineries in the New World have been more progressive than those in the Old World which may have something to do with this evolution.

Attitudes toward women in Europe have changed little in the wine industry over the centuries. Although there have been and are still exceptions to the case, women are not prevalent in the wineries of Europe. Most of the women who become wine makers and vineyard owners in the Old World end up there generally because there is no male heir to the business. Without a male heir, these women have been able to become members of the wine community but not without issues. Many of the modern wine makers and owners there find that networking and associating with their male peers to be difficult or impossible. In a male dominated industry many of the clubs have remained male-only venues where the mere presence of women as spectators let alone participants is shunned. These Old World ideas lend to the "Old" in that phrase. They hark from a time when Greek symposiums and Roman convivium barred the presence of women for fear of reckless and immoral behavior of the women. A few women have made head-way into the social networks, but have found their way of tasting wine in the basements of the clubs rather than with their peers.

There are exceptions to the rule however. These exceptions seemed to have come from women in the Champagne regions with the Veuve Cliqout and Madam Pommery. These women were credited with turning their wineries into power houses of France. Proper marketing prowess and skillful manipulation of markets as well as management of their staff helped to make names for themselves and their wineries. Although the credits for their achievements are sometimes attributed to the men who worked in their cellars for them, it can still be said in these cases that these women were intelligent and forward thinking to hire and control these men to achieve their desired results. However, this shows the Old World stigma of trying to shoot down the achievements of women to promote their wineries. It should be noted however, even these two women were self driven to promote their own establishments and personal advancement as individuals, not just as women as many of the women have done in the New World which has seemed to work well for them.

In the New World, women are much more prevalent in control positions of ownership and winemaking. This is due in part to the shedding of the ancestral passing down of family businesses to male heirs there. The women's Suffrage movement is probably a large contributor to this. Although women have not been as readily willing to climb the corporate ladder, it is not uncommon to find a woman winemaker in the cellars of some of the great wineries in California. When women have been unable to find wineries to work in, they have taken the opportunity to open their own wineries. This trend can be seen in the wine drinkers of the United States as mentioned by Professor Robert Smiley of UC Davis who states that "Women buy 77 percent and consume 60 percent of the wine in America." when only ten percent of the United States drinks wine, this is a significant statistic that leads to the number of women as students at UC Davis where they make up over 40 percent of the student population in the enology department.

One can not tell what the future holds for women in the wine industry in either the New World or Old World. It seems until the culture changes significantly in Europe, the pattern will exist in its current pattern for some time. With the significant "flattening of the world" with globalization, it seems that these patterns will shift to model the New World way of thinking. This is the true irony of an industry that uses the Old World as its product model. These changes no matter how long they take to happen rely heavily on women to become interested in the idea and push themselves into the market if they truly desire to be there. If they do not do so, then they are telling the world that the norm is a proper representation of their desires. It is obvious though, that in the New World this is not the fact and if women want to make those strides the New World is the place for them to make a name for themselves in the wineries and vineyards that they may privately own in the highly capitalist based economies.

Currently reading :
My Life in France
By Julia Child
Release date: 04 April, 2006

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Wine Storage Vessels from Antiquity to Present

Over the centuries, the vessels used in wine preservation have greatly changed. These changes have lead from the days of producing wine that had to be consumed locally and quickly, to a time where wine can be enjoyed by the glass decades after it was placed into its storage container. Through ingenuity, common-sense and perseverance, the wine trade has been able to take the grape to the consumer in many ways over the years. Illustrated here, will be the path the wine storage vessel took from the days of wine's supposed inception to today's modern wine drinker.

The original storage containers are purported to be nothing more than basic jars that would hold the wine, but would leave it exposed to the elements. These vessels were found in what we know now to be the Middle East. History shows us, that some of these jars would have possibly been covered with rags or some other cover and sealed with resin to help keep oxygen out. The jars being porous as well as a poor seal, caused the wines to go back quickly. The jar styled vessels found in Egypt from the time of the great pyramids had the beginnings of what was to lead to the modern wine label, denoting vital information on its production region, quality and producer.

Wine trades next innovation in the storage vessel would be the amphora. This vessel used heavily by the Greeks and Romans in trade, especially on merchant ships. This vessel was a large pottery vessel with a point on the bottom. The point was on the bottom in order to place it into a specific holder used to keep the amphora up rite. These vessels however, were very similar to the clay jars, in the fact that they were highly porous and were sealed much in the same manner, with wax or resin covering a cap. Inside often a layer of olive oil would be placed on the wine in an attempt to keep as much oxygen away from the wine as possible.

In Europe, the wine barrel started to become a highly used storage vessel during and after the medieval period. Numerous methods were attempted to assist in the preservation in the wooden barrels, such as the addition of sulfur, sealing the barrels with resin and fortification. Madeira eventually became a wine that was purposely exposed to high temperatures, as this helped stabilize the wine, a precursor to pasteurization. People also liked the addition of the "estufa" process as well as the fortification process. They created a desired flavor in the wine, which is still enjoyed to this day. The barrels themselves however, for the majority of wines gave a poor seal as with the prior containers. This meant that wine still had to be consumed at a fairly young age, lest the wine turn to vinegar before being consumed.

What we know as the wine bottle, did not come into being until fairly recently in the history of the wine trade. The first bottles were hand-blown, somewhat fragile and mostly used for filling from the barrel for immediate consumption at the table or elsewhere. The creation of the modern elongated bottle came into being in the eighteenth century. This bottle could be stacked on its side and sealed with the Portuguese discovered cork. Storing the bottle on its side meant the cork stayed moist and was the best way of keeping oxygen out of the bottle which also meant finally that the wine could be stored for many years, even decades in the case of some well made Bordeaux, so that they could mature to their best flavors.

The seal itself for the bottle has undergone some recent innovation in hopes to make a better seal as well as better avoid some of the issues using a "natural" product sometimes brings to the wine in the way of mold and "cork taint". The new seals range from synthetic corks made of plastic composites; these corks are suspected to impart a chemical taste to the wine however. Screw caps are also widely becoming popular, which is acknowledged to be the best seal possible. A recent innovation called the zork, is an addition to the screw cap, made of plastic, it creates a popping noise when removed to mimic the lost pop noise made from the cork. The vino-seal is another cork substitute used rarely, that is a glass plus with a rubber ring on it to create a seal. Although this product creates a perfect seal, it is highly expensive in its production price as well as its need to be manually placed on the bottle in the production line at the winery. The final innovation comes from the sparkling wine industry and is the crown cap. The same item used on a beer bottle, gives a perfect seal on the wine bottle as well. This seal is limited in use to the sparkling wine industry, and is most often seen in proseco from Italy.

The final innovation in wine storage originates from the mass produced wines in Australia and eventually the United States. The "bag-in-the-box" concept places a sealed plastic bag inside a cardboard box. On one side of the bag is a pour spout, which pulls through a hole on one side of the box. This container gives the most perfect seal for the wine, and best yet gives the ability to have glass after glass, without having to reseal a bottle which has come into contact with oxygen. The boxes also have a square shape, which makes them perfect for packaging and delivering as there is no wasted space. People fear the aesthetics of this container, however in recent years; producers of finer wines in California as well as France and Italy have been using these boxes. Unlike the large boxes used for what is known as "jug" wines, these higher end products contain the equivalent of two to three bottles of "fine" wine. The low cost of these containers also translates to a largely reduced retail price to the consumer as well. One of the only noted disadvantages of this storage container is that the bag is gas-porous. Although the wine does not come in contact directly with oxygen, the wine will eventually deteriorate in the bag with age.

The wine storage vessel has come a long way from the days of clay jars. Before the age of the barrel, wine had to be consumed within a year. The barrel added a slight amount of time to that limit, but the bottle was truly the ingenuity that brought modern wine drinking and trade to its present status. Now with even more innovation in sealing bottles, we can be sure that what is in the bottle is as good as it was when it went into the bottle. These innovations in preservation methods have helped the wine trade burst out of it prior local markets, and made it become a multi-national cross hemisphere industry for the whole world to share.

Currently listening :
By New Order
Release date: 06 December, 2005

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Development of an Authentic Mexican National Cuisine

Patterns of cuisine evolution can often be compared from one country to another. Mexican cuisine is one such evolving cuisine that has evolved throughout the centuries from one that was based solely on an originally Native American diet, to a forced Spanish diet which continued to evolve to something altogether different that can be called a modern national cuisine with regional differences. This evolution of cuisine can be compared to similar evolutions through chefs that occurred in France when haute cuisine sub planted regional cuisines and then regional cuisines reemerged in importance to co-exist with the national cuisine.

The social elite of Mexico during the early 19th century often scoffed at the native cuisine of Mexico. They considered it low-class and unfitting for their banquet tables. In an attempt to create a national cuisine for Mexico, chefs created culinary texts that emphasized refined flavors but left out many of the native dishes of the
country, such as tamales, enchiladas and quesadillas. Those writing the early cookbooks seemed to emulate the styles of chefs like Antoine Carême and those before him who wanted to eradicate simplistic food from the tables of the elite, in favor of over-stylized dishes with complex techniques and ingredients. The first culinary text emerging from Mexico, El cocinero Mexican (The Mexican Chef) published in 1831 written just ten years after the countries independence created an elite cuisine with European influence and no native influence.

However, with time other books would be published during the 19th century, numbering at about fifteen in total with multiple editions printed in country and most importantly overseas. Toward the end of the century books began to emerge that adopted some of the native dishes. Their interpretation of them was with a refined European influence given to them. This draws a comparison to Le Guide Culinaire published by Georges Auguste Escoffier in 1903, at just about the same time frame as the books were being published in Mexico. Escoffier took many of the regional peasant dishes of France and adapted them to a haute cuisine palate much in the way that cookbook authors were doing with native Mexican foods in their books. Another interesting correlation was the exportability of these cuisines through these books. Just as Escoffier's book brought high French cuisine with its adapted regional dishes to the world, the Mexican equivalents were also published not just in Mexico, but in Paris, France as well.

Finally in the early 20th century regionalism began to emerge enforce in Mexico. Locals argued that their cuisine was superior to their neighboring cities' cuisine and vice-versa. Books began to proliferate written not just by chefs, but by wives and housekeepers as well. No longer was the high cuisine that adapted their native dishes the only one to be exported, but their culinary manuals and memories began to be seen outside of Mexico as well. Similarly again in France, professional chefs and bourgeoisie wives began to publish their peasant origin dishes. Prosper Montagne publishing Larousse Gastronomique as-well-as published gastro-tourism guides negated much of the refinements given to French cuisine through Escoffier as well.

Through the centuries most cuisines have been attacked in some way, then adapted and then they seem to eventually come into their own. Through the work of chefs, housewives and culinary enthusiasts we have been able to see cuisines such as French and now even Mexican come into their own. Through this comparison one can surmise that Mexico, much like France has developed two separate styles of cuisine, one of nationalism and one of regionalism, and both of equal importance and exportability.

Currently reading :
Que vivan los tamales!: Food and the Making of Mexican Identity (Dialogos Series)
By Jeffrey M. Pilcher
Release date: 01 April, 1998

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Agoston Haraszthy, Zinfandel’s Dom Perignon

Agoston Haraszthy, Zinfandel’s Dom Perignon
Current mood: tired
Category: Food and Restaurants

re's an older blog many of you probably haven't read which might hold you over a day or so. It is a bit more academic on Agoston Haraszthy and zinfandel.

Agoston Haraszthy, Zinfandel's Dom Perignon

The California wine region's roots begin sometime during the mid-19th century. Until recently, a gentleman named Agoston Haraszthy was credited with being the founding propagator of the zinfandel grape in California. This improper classification of Haraszthy has been attributed to an over zealous son, Arpad Haraszthy. Arpad was a winemaker himself, having studied the production of Champagne in Epernay, France from 1860-1862. After his two years in France, he joined his father in California for the 1862 crush of the Buena Vista harvest. It can be theorized that this time in France exposed Arpad to their flamboyant advertising and the myth of Dom Perignon as the inventor of Champagne and it was this exposure that gave him the idea to popularize his father's name giving the industry its own mythical "father" of Zinfandel.

Agoston Haraszthy can be attributed with a number of contributions to the wine industry in California, but the introduction of the zinfandel grape is not one of them. The grapes introduction has been linked more directly to men such as Antoine Delmas, Frederick Macondray, Anthony Smith, William Robert Prince and others, who brought the grape across country from the East Coast. Haraszthy arrived in California around the same time as these other men, but did not actually produce a vintage of wine until 1857 and not Zinfandel. He also imported a large number of European varieties in 1860, the documentation for this import of vines showed no mention of zinfandel. He had in-fact imported many of the same vines that had existed in California since the aforementioned men began introducing them since 1852.

In 1860 Arpad Haraszthy, under the advice of his father went to Epernay, France to study the production of Champagne. Following his two years in Epernay, he returned to California to assist his father at his Buena Vista winery. He spent the following years working on producing sparkling wines in California. It was after the death of his father, by the plausibly propagated myth; being eaten by a crocodile, did Arpad begin to document to the industry that his father had in fact brought the zinfandel grape to California. Whether his father's death by crocodile was a myth or not, it defiantly made great story telling contrasted to the blindness attributed to Dom Perignon.

The wine industry and Zinfandel in turn, had no documented founder at the time. As stated, there have now been many men attributed to the success of the vine in California, but none were venerated as a "founder". Could Arpad have contrived stories of his father beginning the boom in Zinfandel as a coy marketing scheme? California was still a young state, and their wines needed some basis for competition against the European wines being imported into the United States. If they had a figure to stand behind and venerate, it might give them the needed vigor to make their businesses bloom. Making his father's name into a venerated name, would also assist in his personal business ventures producing sparkling wines. With his father's name venerated, his name in turn could be venerated as well. This theory could be contributed to the fact that Arpad's business ventures were failing with the Orleans Hill Vineyard purchase. He was elected president of the Board of State Vinicultural Commissioners and President of the California State Vinicultural Society soon after reporting his father's significance to the California wine industry, while having a failing family and failing vineyard. The coincidence of his election to his father's new fame through Arpad's writings can seem linked.

The use of the term colonel also seems to be one of those things used to give a little more "air-of superiority" to Agoston. Although he used the title after returning from Wisconsin during his life, he did not always use it during his life. Once his son started writing about him, the title always accompanied his name. In the same way, mentioning the title of monk did for Dom Perignon. Although Dom Perignon was actually a monk, it is contested whether or not Agoston received his title in merit or he had given it to himself. The way that Arpad reported the "facts" about his father, even seem to mirror the French monk's in some aspects. He stated that "Agoston was The Father of the Vine in California". In a reworking of that statement, it could easily be stated that Dom Perignon was the Father of Sparkling Wine in Champagne. Both of these titles have been disproved by proper historical research. The constant contradictions of Arpad in his own writings would seem more than enough evidence for historians to discredit this myth, but for almost a century, they held his writings as fact. Wine historians in the past may have liked the great stories attached to Agoston by Arpad, as they did the stories of the famous French monk.

No one truly knows why Arpad decided to report his father as the "Founder of the Wine in California." The theories presented above are themselves just thoughts that may or may not be true. What does remain is that although Agoston and Dom Perignon may not have been founders of their attributed wine creations, they both were able to contribute smaller items to the industry which have been over shadowed in the past by their mythical status. What Agoston suffers from that Dom Perignon did not, is that the extravagant lies reported about Agoston were so easily documented. The statements made about him were so astronomical, discrediting him has become a victory, more than a discovery. Agoston will still remain a major part of the Zinfandel history; his contributions just may have become muddled by the attempts of his son to bring him to Dom Perignon "mythical" status.
Currently listening :
By Joy Division
Release date: 19 February, 1991

I’m not gone

I’m not gone
Current mood: stressed
Category: Food and Restaurants

For those who may have feared the demise of my blog, have no fear. I just need to continue my break for the next week until I get my midterm papers done and my Kansas State trip out of the way. Lots of stress at the moment, but it will clear up a bit after this week. I will try to get a couple posts up this week on some subjects if I have time. Thanks for the understanding, everything else is well though. Thanks to everyone who sent me personal messages last week, it was greatly appreciated.

Chef Christopher Allen Tanner

Currently listening :
By Joy Division
Release date: 19 February, 1991

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Chefs: Professionals or Tradesmen?

French chefs have sought for many generations the designation of professional to their title. Until recently, the job of a chef was considered no different in the workforce than any other tradesman, such as a construction worker or other blue-collar job. The issue that the French government had with designating a chef as professional, was that in order to be considered a professional one must have an extensive education instead of on-the-job apprenticeships which the culinary industry was using at that time. Chefs however sought to change their status by creating an educational foundation which could hopefully gain the French governments attention who would possibly elevate chefs to professionals rather than tradesmen.

During the 19th century a number of strategies were constructed in order to help elevate chefs to their desired professional status. In order for these strategies’ creation to occur, organization amongst chefs was important. A number of these formal associations were created with different purposes toward this end. One of these organizations, Societe des Cuisiniers Français worked on a multi-faceted level. The used each of their projects to support the next. At the beginning of their organization they began to publish a trade-magazine entitled L’art Culinaire. This magazine was created so that the members of the organization could not only read some of the gastronomy styled articles in it, the magazine was also a way to educate chefs on current trends and give them the educated knowledge that the “craft” supposedly lacked.

L’art Culinaire’s secondary usage was to advertise culinary expositions that were taking place in France and abroad. These expositions themselves had multiple purposes. Not only were they places for competitions and display, they were also another outlet to teach chefs that were part of the organization. This again brought in the idea of educating the chef

industry to become professionals in the public and governmental eyes. The expositions being open to the public would openly display chef’s art and desire to be considered professionals. The expositions also served as fund-raisers for the pinnacle part of the educational process.
The funds collected by the Societe des Cuisiniers Français at these expositions was set aside over a period of time to invest in the creation of a culinary school. Ecole Professionnelle de Cuisine des Sciences Alimentaires was built solely on the funds appropriated from the expositions and private donations. A couple of stoves were donated by a gas company as well. There was however no support from the French government as the government did not see a use for such a school. Other schools existed for different trades, but as the apprentice system was so widely used in kitchens, many saw no reason for change. Proprietors of hotels and restaurants certainly saw no use for this new style of training either, as it would take away their free labor as apprentices did not receive wages.

As such, the school only lasted for two years until it went bankrupt. Low attendance and an adherence to the apprenticeship programs have been cited for possible reasons for the schools demise. This set-back however did not completely destroy the chef’s desire to be seen as professionals. Although the Societe des Cuisiniers Français disbanded after the school’s bankruptcy, L’Art Culinare continued to be published. In addition other organizations emerged to continue the cause of professionalism in the chef trade. Other periodicals also emerged and eventually other schools opened such as Le Cordon Bleu. The chefs of the 19th century may not have been recognized as professionals, but their efforts helped future chefs to continue the cause of changing chefs from tradesmen to professionals.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Uninspired American Cuisine

I really would like to know what people like about the high-end steak-house or seafood-house concept. I am almost hypocritical in stating my disdain for these places as I used to have a real love for Morton's Steakhouse, but recently my opinion has changed. Ridiculously huge portions of protein paired with huge portions of potatoes and "okay" vegetables just seems so culinarily dull to me. Then they want to charge you $35+ for a fish entree or $40+ for a steak entree. Then you need to pay like $10 for a baked potato, I mean come on, at the grocery store a potato even at that monstrous size costs only 25 cents.

Is this the height of "American cuisine" perhaps? In my gastronomy program we are always debating on whether-or-not we have a cuisine in this country and this idea dawned on me yesterday at my dull dinner (I'll get into the dinner more in a minute). When one talks about the American diet the concept of "meat and potatoes" always comes up. We see this idea when goto McDonalds in the hamburger (steak) and fries (potato), at TGI Fridays in the steak, mashed potato and small portion of veggies, Go off to a "family restaurant" and the theme is meat, potato and the "seasonal" vegetable.

Our most popular chain restaurants all feature the same menu just dressed differently. As mentioned McD's is steak and potatoes in a bun, Applebees is steak and potatoes dressed up on a sizzle platter, TGI Fridays is steak and potatoes with Jack Daniels sauce is a "fun atmosphere," Outback gives us steak and potatoes with a GIANT 3,500 calorie blooming onion, Lone Star gives us steak and potatoes like an American cowboy would want it (supposedly), Benihana gives us steak and starch (they do rice sorry, but it still works here) with an Asian "inspired" show as teppinyaki is an American inspired invention not Japanese and it just serves us our steak in a different way.

So should we be surprised that the most popular and expensive high-end concepts in the United States is not contemporary cuisine but simple meat and potatoes cooked perfectly for a high price? I say no, it is just a result of when people that do not understand cuisine want to spend money and end up at one of these places (I hope I am not insulting anyone here, it's not my intention). The atmosphere in these places is "white-washed" with little culture and high in pretension. Where does the pretension come in though, not from the cuisine, is it a way to make you feel like you are in a location where only the high dollar is worth getting through their walls?

This all came about from my dinner last night at the Atlantic Fish Co. which is a restaurant here in Boston. The menu features simply the name of certain fish that came in that day along with options for sides. Chilean sea bass $38.00, what a crock. Then add in the appetizer of crab cake at $18.00 and an apple crisp at almost $10, you start to see the big picture. The waitstaff was dressed well-to-do and the atmosphere was dark mahogany woods and there was a visible kitchen. Each "cook" wore a floppy toque which reminds me of back when I was in culinary school and that is exactly where my food looked like it came from when it came to my table, a simply perfectly cooked piece of fish, along with a large portion of under seasoned spinach and some tough lobster ravioli (great sounding entree?). I was also reminded repeatedly how great my meal was by my server as obviously I must not know what cuisine is, well because I am eating at a place that has no "cuisine," but just has large portions.

I apologize for the rant, but this is just what was on my mind today and I had to share it. I would like to take the time sometime and really research whether or not we really have a cuisine here in America other than meat and potatoes presented to us in different forms. I'll also add the food was not bad at Atlantic Fish Co. it was just dull and uninspired and way to expensive. I would love to hear some other people's opinions on this subject.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Pairing Science with the Domestic Goddess (My interpretation of Perfection Salad)

House work is a series of tasks that was once thought to be wholly of the female gender role. Many women in the 19th century defined the specific task of cooking as “drudgery.” A number of women sought to transform this notion of household work into an enlightened home profession by changing the way women look at their tasks. Instead of “drudgery,” the management of a home through scientific principles would make the home “run as quietly as a machine.”

It was the thought of a few notable women that women needed to look at cooking in a “dainty” way instead of “drudgery.” Through a change in language in many of the home cooking manuals pre home cooking schools, writers and theorists sought to help women make the world “more home like.” Eventually Mrs. Ellen Richards decided it was her duty to open up a school devoted solely to this training of women to care for their homes. Originally she worked with MIT to open a Woman’s Laboratory to study the science of common kitchen items such as vinegar, baking soda, spices, etc. During this time Richards expanded her own knowledge of sanitation, nutrition and other topics which she would include later in her education of women.

A revolution seemed to be occurring in and around New England where schools began to emerge solely for the education of women in what had come to be known as domestic science. Schools such as The Boston Cooking School emerged that would train young women in the care of their home’s kitchen. Women were taught in a variety of ways but the main emphasis was on simplicity so that women could go about the other chores of the house unimpeded by cooking elaborate meals. It was also thought that elaborate meals were unhealthy for not only consumption, but the woman cooking them as well. A key to these schools was not to remove the woman from her home, but to improve the over all domestic environment for the woman and her family.

Other schools opened as well in New York City which catered to women of lower income. This was an appeal to The Boston Cooking School as well, as they attempted to feed the products from their classes to the poor communities in Boston. The high cost of the foods however, impeded The Boston Cooking School from freely distributing their food, to a more practical sale of the products at cost.

Ellen Richards continued to champion her cause of scientific method in the management of cooking at home to a broader audience. Through the American Economics Association, Richards and others sought to proclaim the domestic woman as a profession. This not only sought to proclaim it a profession, but would also help champion the cause of “home economics,” which was a term that came out of the conferences which were held up in Lake Placid once a year. Then going a step further through Melvil Dewey, they were able to gain their own section in his Dewey Decimal System which gave the movement more exposure than as a sub-topic under Useful Arts.

However, Richard’s biggest disappointment was that the average woman disdained household work entirely. Even with the new technologies and organized principles, the average woman wanted nothing to do with housework. Although they had guests give lectures on chaffing dish meals and the like at their woman’s clubs, the women themselves never partook of the practices themselves. Women that did cook still desired “greedy” foods like steaks and pies. This eventually caused Richards to begin chastising women openly much to the dismay of some of her editors. Further attempts were made by leaders of the movement to support food items like Mrs. Lincoln’s Baking Powder (Mrs. Mary J. Lincoln being another proponent of the domestic science movement) and other items which sought to make the housewives’ life easier such as pre-made mixes. Some caught on, while others did not.

The domestic science movement is looked upon by many people as a failure as it sought to confine women to traditional female roles instead of championing them to equality with men. Always in the shadow of men, women supposedly could not be equal in their eyes. However, many of these women looked to champion household work as their domain and their right to govern over the household and give them an important place where men need not dwell. It is this strength that Richards and other domestic feminist sought to take hold of, but with the changing technology and social structure of the time it was a hard sell. In the end domestic cookery for many women fell back into the realm of “drudgery,” and the home kitchen lost much of its soul.

For more on this subject take a look at the book Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century (Modern Library Food) by Laura Shapiro and Michael Stern. The book is a great read. Make sure you look for it in used harcover as it is only a few dollars, the same for paperback. Don't bother paying the $14 new price tag that Amazon is looking for.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Leftover Takeout Rice

I'm sure everyone reading this has gotten takeout from an Asian restaurant such as Chinese, Thai, Indian, Korean or otherwise at sometime in their lives. How often do you end up with a ridiculous amount of either steamed white rice or sometimes like I do from Thai food, a pile of excess rice soaked in red curry sauce or otherwise. They honestly just give you way too much, but I'm here to tell you that that's okay with me. I know many people probably let it sit in the refrigerator for a few days until they decide to toss it out after it's been sitting so long it has dried out and no one even wants to microwave it.

Well let me tell you what I do with leftover rice. I do exactly what the Asian restaurants do. That fried rice you get at the Chinese or Thai restaurant is made from day-old rice on purpose. As the rice gets to dry overnight it gains the ability to soak up the flavors of other items they will stir-fry with it. So in turn you should look at that leftover rice as a foundation for a new dish.

One of my favorite things to do is take so red chili oil in a wok (or large non-stick pan) on smoking hot heat (turn on that exhaust fan), toss in half a block of medium diced firm tofu and get it extra crispy, then I add one tablespoon of minced ginger and garlic along with 1 diced head of bok choy, maybe so 1/2 cup of thinly sliced bell peppers and yellow onion and stir fry them for about 3-4 minutes. I then add about 1/2 a cup of thinly sliced shitakes and stir-fry them another minute or two and then take the left over rice from my Thai red curry that I had the night before as it will have usually have a lot of curry and coconut left in it still. Stir that around until it is really hot and then squeeze the juice of half a lime over the top of it, take it off the heat and that's another night's diner or lunch.

It is easy to make Chinese fried rice as well. You can really choose whatever vegetables or meat that you like. In a similar fashion to what I explained with the Thai flavored dish, take 1 tablespoon each minced ginger and garlic, stir fry for one minute in some canola or vegetable oil. Then take 2-3 eggs and crack them into the pan stir frying until well set then remove from the pan and set aside.

Reheat the pan and then add 1/2 lb of whatever meat you desire sliced thin, VERY thin though, such as chicken, beef, or even tofu again (I eat a lot of tofu) or even bay scallops or shrimp. Stir in the pan until cooked through, then add desired vegetables, I like to use 1/2 cup sliced peppers, onions, broccoli florets (chopped small) then after a couple minutes I'll toss in some shitakes, half a cup of mung bean sprouts (in that funky vegetarian/Asian section of your grocery store's produce aisle ). Stir fry for a few minutes more and then toss in that container of day-old plain basmati (Indian), Jasmine (Thai), or Chinese (each place differs) white rice. Heat it through and then add the juice of half a lemon and 1/8 cup or more as desired of soy sauce and pull off the heat(you don't want to reduce the soy sauce) and then toss in the stir-fried eggs, mix well and serve.

So don't throw out your old take-out rice, make it into your own creation. Truly the ideas are limitless as long as you just keep that pan hot and choose the vegetables you like you will have a great meal and you won't have to toss away that rice. Other options include throwing in pineapple, cashews, water chestnuts, frozen peas, sliced carrot or perhaps some Korean Kimchi. Hey if you want send it my way, I'm thinking of making some lemongrass fried-rice soon.

While you are thinking about cooking rice by-the-way, why don't you take the time to check out this site on biofortified rice for nations with malnourished populations. I found the topic to be interesting and perhaps some of you may want to look into it more.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Ken Oringer, Toro Southend

Toro is another one of Ken Oringer's restaurants in Boston, MA. Toro as the name implies is Spanish for bull and as such the restaurant is a Spanish themed tapas restaurant. Don't let the Ken Oringer name on the bill-of-fare fool you though as this is not a shirt and tie affair, it is a casual experience with amazing food. Although Oringer is the chef-owner of this location, the chef on location is Roberto Hernandez who is doing a great job.

The restaurant does not take reservations for groups under six people and as I have noted before I take no issue with this at all. Reservation systems in popular locations just knocks many peoples ability out of spur-of-the-moment dining which is my favorite way to go out. This night was no exception as it was 10pm and I hadn't eaten all day and I wanted a late night dinner on Saturday. This was another positive with the late hours for the kitchen. The main menu is served until 11:45 and then a late-night menu kicks into play until 12:00. This city has such a shortage of late-night bites and it is nice to see places do this.

The facad can't be missed from the front, very in-your-face modern with a number of outdoor seats. In side, at 10:30 the place was packed. There were no seats when I first got there, but one opened up within 5-10 minutes. The crowd moves often and this is probably dues to the nature of the menu which I'll get to in a moment. The dining room is a long room with extremely high ceilings with a dozen or so tables to the left, a communal table in the middle of the room (I don't get the recent craze of communal tables) and a large bar all the way to the right which ended at the open-kitchen. A rather large chalk board behind the bar told the patrons of the wines by-the-glass and a list of exciting cocktails accompanied the wine list. The bar had an awkward sushi case on it however which housed cheeses, it really seemed out of place.

The wine list was very appropriately all Spanish and full of things I had never tried before. Prices were surprisingly not bad with many bottles ranging in the $30 range and some even $25. I was looking for white wine tonight and I decided to taste a few of the by-the-glass options as there were six different "different" options. The wines were served in a large rocks glass, with an attempt to keep with the casual feel of the location, I'll be honest with you, I'd rather a wine glass. There is a reason man invented the thing, and although the wines were all $8-$10, I still want to appreciate a good wine and it is harder to do in a wide-mouthed rocks glass.

Now the restaurant does offer entrees and I'm sure they are excellent but I was there to try the tapas menu. That portion of the menu consisted of twenty-nine options ranging in price from $5-$17 along with seven slightly smaller plates called pinchos at $4-$6. Of the twenty-nine options, I tried nine different plates. Some went off better than others, but most were amazing. The smoked beef tongue with lentils; acorn fed Iberian ham; sauteed frog legs with marinated celery, black truffle and herbs; grilled corn with aioli, lime espelette pepper and aged cheese; skirt steak a la plancha, and the salt cod fritters were all beyond amazing. These items were all must haves, unless you don't like eating corn-on-the-cob which honestly I don't but it was tasty.

Items I had that I could do without, or maybe were just off that day were the smoked duck drumettes which were a bit dry; the octopus ceviche with nora peppers, yellow pepper juice, cilantro and mint, was just overly cloyingly sweet; and the crispy sweetbreads with mustard and loavge, which were not very crispy and were unseasoned and bland.

Other options on the menu include paella for 2-4 people, salt crusted sea bass and a beef rib-eye, along with a selection of cheeses. For dessert the menu offers Crema Catalana which is a Catalan version of creme brulee, and a few other items. The sherry list is extensive with most in the $5 rangel but a couple at $9 and $14 They ranged all the way from really dry up to super sweet.

Service was excellent, I was promptly greeted at the door by the hostess who assured me she would get me a table promptly if I wanted a table, but as I was having tapas I felt I should be sitting at the bar and as soon as a seat opened a waitress came up to me and told me to scoot over there so it would not be taken. I ended up sitting next to the open kitchen which for some they might really enjoy. The multiple bartenders were great, very knowledgeable of the menu and the wines. A couple servers talked to me as they passed about the menu as well which made the evening fun. The food came out quickly and maybe at a few times a bit too quickly as I had ordered four items to start with and they came out pretty much at the same time, but if you let them know you want to pass yourself, they will do that for you which they did for the rest.

I'll opt to not tell you my tab because it is never indicative of the average person going out, I would say though for two people sharing four tapas and a glass of wine each you could get out of here for around $65 unless you went for the few high priced tapas. I highly suggest trying this place out, even after two years of being open the place is packed so I suggest arriving early in the night if you can as I was told the crowds are a bit less.

1704 Washington St (near the Mass ave. cross street)
Boston, MA 02118
Phone: (617) 536-4300 (reservations for 6+ people only)

Mon-Sat 4:30pm-1am
Sun 10:30am-1:30pm, 4:30pm-1am

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Upcoming Food Festivals

I thought I'd pass along an update of the food festivals coming up in the Northeast portion of the country. This list is almost certainly not exhaustive, so if you know of any others please fell free to share them here. I'd love to be able to post all of the events everywhere in the country, but this list would be quite large then. I will be at the Wellfleet Oyster fest as-well-as the Boston Vegetarian Festival, CiderDay and the NYC Chocolate show. I hope to see some of you at these events as well.

October 12-14, 2007 Martha's Vineyard Annual Harvest Festival
Martha's Vineyard, Mas
The Martha's Vineyard Annual Harvest Festival will celebrate a cornucopia of food and wine, promoting local farms and seafood as well as wineries from all over the world and chefs from both on-island and off, extending Martha’s Vineyard’s vibrant fall season. The Martha’s Vineyard Museum will be the primary charitable affiliation of this non-pr
ofit festival. Ihsan from Formaggio Kitchen in Boston will be giving a cheese course, a class on the terroir of olive oil will also be given along with some oyster classes and many wine classes and a cocktail class taught by Jackson of Eastern Standard in Boston

October 13, 2007 Fitchburg Autumn Festival Fitchburg, Massachusetts
The Annual Fitchburg Autumn Festival is the premier fall festival in central New England featuring the Annual Forge-In Blacksmith Competition, the Riverfront Antiques Show & Sale, and The Great Pumpkin Carve. The Great Pumpkin Carve will be a wonder to behold after dark as all ent
ered pumpkins are lit and displayed along the Nashua River wall for judging.

October 13, 2007 Finals for Pudding Hollow Pudding Contest
Charlemont, Massachusetts

This small-town homage to pudding features lunch, entertainment, sales of sponsors' wares, and tastings. Savor rural New England at its best! Se
e also information about entering this unique Pudding Contest.

October 13-14, 2007 Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival
Atlantic City, New Jersey
At the show you can see Celebrity Chefs on stage preparing creative dishes, visit the Restaurant Pavilion and sample the finest foods restaurant chefs have to offer. Listen to live music while sipping a glass of wine. Browse a large selection of specialty gifts.Take advantage of the best price on everything you need for your gourmet life!

October 13-14, 2007 7th Annual Wellfleet Oysterfest
Wellfleet, Massachusetts

Wellfleet comes alive for a two-day celebration of the town’s famous oysters, clams and shellfishing traditions in this street party that brings together locals and visit
ors alike for a weekend full of food, frolic, and fun.

October 20, 2007 Boston Vegetarian Food Festival
Boston, Massachusetts

Brings together an amazing array of vegetarian natural food providers, top national speakers and chefs, and educational exhibitors in a fun and welcoming environment. It is a chance to talk directly to food producers, learn the newest items in the marketplace, taste free food samples, shop at show special discounts, or simply learn what vegetarian foods are available and where you can find them!

November 3-4, 2007 CiderDay Festival
Franklin County, Massachusetts

A community event celebrating all things apple in Franklin County, Massachusetts. 2007 marks the 13th year of this event and there will be two days of orchard tours, cider making and tastings, workshops and much more. This is for all who love apples, fresh or hard cider, apple cuisine, apple orchards or just being in New England in the fall. There is a small charge for some of the activities but there is no admission for the self-guided tour of orchards.

November 9-11, 2007 Chocolate Show NYC,
in conjunction with Chocolate week Nov. 4-11
NYC, New York
* Demonstrations by top pastry chefs and chocolate makers
* Chocolate Tastings
* Over 65 top chocolate brands & booths
* Holiday gifts of all sizes for everyone on your list
* Chocolate activities for children and adults
* Barnes & Noble cookbook store with author signings
* Haute Couture dresses and accessories made with chocolate

November 18, 2007 Rosendale International Pickle Festival
Rosendale, New York
An array of pickle dishes served by local restaurateurs as-well-as specialty made products and plenty of contests. They will also have live music, traditional Japanese and German dancing displayed and a pickle judging event.

Addendum (Thanks Judy)

October 21, 2007 Bolton Band and Brews Festival
Sunday, - noon to 5 p.m. Bolton, Massachusetts
Bring your blankets and lawn chairs for a relaxing fall day of music in the orchard featuring some of Bolton's finest in local performers. Great views, great foliage, great food, great brews and great wine make this a day not to be missed. Enjoy some of Nashoba Valley Winery's best beers while you listen to live music cascading from our picturesque gazebo. And of course, apple picking, apple pie eating contests and tasty caramel apples are all part of the fun!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares

Wow, I hate to say this but I watched this week's episode of Kitchen Nightmares on Fox and it was awful. I pray that in time the show may improve or maybe this is the simplicity that American viewers like, celebrity and over-the-top. Overall I have a concern for the show compared to the original BBC show as well. Gordon Ramsay and his BBC staff did not put the kind of money into these restaurants that they are doing in the Fox version. It was more about "bloody hell your kitchen sucks." and let's figure out how we can get this chef improved. I'm not too convinced as of yet that putting a lot of money and a new menu into a place really helps the poorly trained staff.

Okay so I sorta liked the first two episode because, well they were soooooooo bad. Peter, the namesake of Peter's, needed to cut down on the "juice" in the first episode I think. The kitchen was abysmal and I felt bad for the staff. They seemed like they were capable though of running a great establishment after the "makeover" as long as Peter got off the roids. One issue I had however it that other than buying a whole brand new kitchen for the chef, there was little concentration on him. Granted the walk-in was a piece of junk, but there was rotten food in there, that's not a bad cooler, that's a bad chef not rotating his stock and throwing away bad inventory.

The second episode featured the newly named Purnima. Holy smokes have you ever seen a kitchen so disgusting in your life? I don't even know where to begin, rotten rotten ROTTEN food along with cockroaches, bugs galore, piss-poor management, guys in the kitchen who don't know the difference between pork and beef or even vegetarian cuisine, wow. I have to be honest, you can give a corpse a face-lift if you want, though but in the end you still have a dead person which is what I fear for this place. Yeah they got rid of Martin the GM and they brought on the consulting chef for the kitchen, but you are still dealing with the same people who let the place get the way it was. Even if the GM had let things go, he had a staff of people who themselves let things go, and again... can't tell the difference between pork and beef, or maybe it was lamb, I don't think anyone knew and I'm not sure I want to ever find out.

Now we come to The Mixing Bowl. I made sure I visited their webpage before the episode came on, uninspired homogeneous dull food in a uninspired dull town. The place just seemed like it had no soul from the get go. I think what Gordon said from the beginning was the most accurate, just close the place. Everybody had a poor attitude to start but ummmmm the manager Mike seemed too "well-placed" and over-the-top. Over exaggerated personality, crying, screaming, or heck maybe he just has manic-depression. Also the scene where he went off and stormed outside was taped to make it look like he was screaming during service, but on his way out the door one could tell that the tables were empty, omg and the fake crying. Then how often do you see a line of people coming all at once from the parking lot, or maybe off a bus? The taping is made to look like certain things are happening on different days, but many times I could tell it was all taped at once and split up for the appropriate segments.

Gordon Ramsay just seems really fake as well, just exaggerated and not real, but is this what the audience wants perhaps? I also think the f-bomb is dropped more times in an episode of Deadwood. He may be known for that, God knows I drop my fair share while cooking in the kitchen, but I don't even think an obvious professional like Ramsay would be talking like this in reality in normal conversation and that makes this really fake to me.

Other things in general I have to say I don't like that horrible voice-over guy that they use on Hell's Kitchen, why is he on here, am I too dumb as a viewer to see what is going on? This was not part of the BBC version, nor were the ridiculous sound affects that are supposed to make me realize something went wrong, DUH I just saw the issue, don't need to sound effect. The other thing I really don't like is that unlike the BBC version, Chef Ramsay does not come back to visit the restaurant a month later to see if things are still working out. I'll give a couple more weeks, but it just might end up like this last season of Hell's Kitchen with me, unwatched.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Dining at Addis Red Sea, Ethiopian cuisine

Well I wrote yesterday's blog as an intro to today's blog on Addis Red Sea, which is an Ethiopian restaurant in Boston's Southend. Now I have never eaten Ethipoian food before this visit last week and man I wish I had before because it was fun as well as tasty. Located at 544 Tremont Street in Boston, if you do not visit this place while in Boston you are doing yourself an injustice.

Well I have already premised that I love this place but let me tell you why. The location is set in a newish area of Boston known for food. I called up ahead of time looking to make a reservation, but they informed me that they do not take reservations for tables under six. As I was dining alone I asked if there was at least a chance of me getting a table within 30 minutes of my call which was at 7:00pm which the person who answered the phone told me I would. So I showed up to the location which is set slightly below street level and walked in the door just behind a group of four people. I was possibly missed when I walked in as they were noticed, but this is one of the few complaints I have about the restaurant. I was sorta ignored for about ten minutes until I became a bit pushy to tell a couple staff members that I was a one-top and needed a table. This time though at least gave me a chance to watch people eating and figure out how I was going to eat this cuisine.

The reason I bring up "How I was going to eat this cuisine" is that when you look into the dining room, there is no traditional tables. They are very low weaved tables with hardwood low set chairs, very close to the ground. There is a multitude of traditional masks and tapestries from Africa to set the mood as well. When I finally got my table I was escorted downstairs which made me extremely happy as it was such a comfy spot. The room was stark white on the walls, with a gray tile. The fun stuff was the hut to the back of the room as well as the ethnic paintings on the walls.

Now I will admit, I know nothing about Ethiopian cuisine so it is great to find a staff that is intimate with the menu. I started off with the Ayib Begomen which is in-house made cottage cheese mixed with mitmita and gomen for $5.95. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to try their version of steak tartar and as such I ended up ordering a combination with three vegetarian dishes, which is called Kitfo for $14.90. As I knew nothing about the vegetarian dishes, my waitress suggested three of the spicy veggie dishes which my goodness they were spicy, but heck so tasty. Do you like to eat with your hands by-the-way? All dishes are served with a spongy flavorful bread which is used to pick up the food, be careful not to eat too much of it in the first course as it is easy to do.

The wine list was extremely wonderful as well. They featured a honey wine as-well-as three red wines that were all from Ethiopia. I tried the honey wine and dry red Ethiopian wine which were good, but honestly I had to go for the South African Sauvignon blanc, they also had a number of other South African wines which I have had in the past which are great.

Feel free to avoid desert as it is obviously not a strong point of Ethiopian cuisine. There are many other places in the area to get a proper dessert and espresso. I highly suggest Addis Red Sea, I have no idea why it has taken so long for me to try this cuisine but I am so happy I finally did.

544 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02216

Phone- 617-426-8727

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