Archive for January, 2011

Where’s the beef? Literally

January 26th, 2011

beef side

Real beef isn’t necessary for meat tacos, or so Taco Bell seems to be saying.  Or denying they are saying it.  A lawsuit down in California against the fast food chain suggests that only 35% of the beef in their beef tacos is actually meat.  The remainder…yep, you got it…various chemical additives that have been processed from corn and used for nefarious purposes (to keep beef from spoiling while it is transferred around the states etc…)

Representatives from Taco Bell are of course denying that what they serve isn’t real beef.

“At Taco Bell, we buy our beef from the same trusted brands you find in the supermarket…,” said President and Chief Concept Officer Greg Creed. “We are proud of the quality of our beef and identify all the seasoning and spice ingredients on our Website.”  HealthRelatedInfos.com

Real beef is the first in the large list of ingredients.  The list does not clarify what the percentage is nor does it mention where the beef came from.  With the standards of our industrial beef production as they are today it might be a good thing that there is very little beef in the “real beef” tacos.

I would argue that the industrial method of raising and harvestin cattle is anything but real beef.  When I was a young I tasted beef that came from my grandfather’s ranch:
cattle that were raised with respect; cattle that were fed properly and harvested quickly.  In short, real beef.

Come see how we respect our real beef at duckspoon.com.

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Filming food at The Country Cat

January 23rd, 2011

the country cat

I try to get in to The Country Cat to learn about food production and record some of the innovative food preparations those guys are performing in the kitchen. This last time I caught Mike making his chipped beef which is an item on the brunch menu.  This is beef brisket that has been fabricated into finger size pieces, dredged in seasoned flour and then deep fried.  After it is removed from the fryer it is added to sweated down celery, onions, fennel and beef broth.  It then reduces and becomes a lovely, beefy porridge.

I was also able to catch Mike making the meat loaf before the place got busy and I had to scurry out of there.  The meat loaf sandwich on the brunch menu is delicious and extremely filling (even without the mashed potatoes, onion rings and salad greens the meat loaf is quite filling). Mario was in back de-boning chicken, but I had already caught that on film (De-boning chicken).

Every once in a while we will get a little press and the hordes of folks who have just recently found us want to hear something new about the restaurant.  Invariably there will be the regular questions…who is judy? (she’s a what: a budweiser cheese spread) and where did the name come from (Adam’s a country boy who likes cats), but it is always good to learn about the food programs that are happening back in the kitchen.

Some one is learning to break the pig down; someone is in charge of fabricating the beef that Adam breaks down; someone is masterminding the sauce program.  As new people come through the restaurant, and as new food dishes bear fruit in Adam’s mind the restaurant changes:  It grows, becoming something more than just a source of good food…it begins to breath and have life of its own.

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A fried chicken, a hog and a glass of red wine

January 20th, 2011

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1. Fried Chicken

I do not recall why I caved in and had started thumbing through the submissions on Yelp about the restaurant, but I was in fact and one of the reoccurant themes  the fried chicken. One blog contained a long litany of complimentss: citing the delicate crunch of the seasoned dredge as well as the combination of savory and sweet that so astonished the mouth. The author mentioned his food book, not by name, but did indeed write eloquently.  Go in to The Country Cat and check it out for yourself, or else go to duckspoon and try the recipe yourself.  I think you will find the requisite preparation will encourage you to visit the restaurant.

Yet the next submission was an incantation of such vile, hurtful criticisms that I had to marvel for a moment about the bitterness that the poor unfortunate  writer must have been wallowing in when she hurled that anonymous bag of digital refuse at the restaurant.  It took me a moment to collect myself and not to take it personally.  Yelp can indeed be a sticky collection of information to begin wandering through.  I wrote and essay about the double edged quality of Yelp a little while ago for showcasepdx.com.  So much in life ought to be considered with a caveat…

2. The Hog

The hogs come to us whole and we break it down. We cure the bacon for about 5 days before we smoke it, slice it and bake it.  To order we heat it up in a saute pan.  Good bacon starts with good pigs.  The pigs are well bred and treated with dignity at Sweet Briar Farms.  So it is tough, although a tad amusing, to hear someone mention that it tastes old, and that it is of poor quality.

3. A glass of red wine

Often times when people order red wine they are not sure what they want.  Rather than giving a brief tasting profile for each wine I ask them what they are looking for.  Depending on their answer I bring two wines to the table and taste them.  Sometimes I go back to get a third.  Their palate informed them which was the correct.

We have expectations.  Not only do we have qualitative and quantitative expectations for the food, but for the service and ambiance as well.  I do not suggest that we ought not to have expectations, or even that we are able to cease expecting, but that we ought to understand that as Americans we are a fortunate people who have been  coddled and wooed into a sense of entitlement and hubris.  Americans are eating upwards of 145 pounds of sugar a year…up from 5 lbs in 1905 (The Little Food Book, Craig Sams.  Alastair Sawday Publishing Company. 2004); just about everything in the supermarket tastes  like it does because of the scientists in New Jersy; obesity is now the leading cause of death in the United States.  Our whole relationship with food, with the people who grow/raise it, the people who prepare it and the relationship with the people who serve it is skewed.  How we treat each other is how we view ourselves.  How we view ourselves comes from the people we interact with and the food we eat.  I don’t beleive it is too much to ask to approach both endeavors with some consideration and with some thought.