Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Waltz On, Chef Erika Lipe

The seasons are changing in Oxford. The life is coming back in the trees on North and South Lamar (if you ever come to Oxford there are two things you need to see: the grove and Lamar avenue when it's in full force). Maybe things aren't changing as much as I portray them, but they are to me. Ole Miss now has residential colleges, being greek seemed ages ago, The Blind Pig moved. There are so many new condos and neighborhoods that I have no idea where people live when they tell me.

Tonight, we celebrate Mardi Gras. Tonight, at Waltz on the Square, in Oxford, MS, we celebrate the next step for our Chef Erika Lipe. She's moving to St. Simon's Island, GA next week to be Executive Chef at the Saltwater Cowboy; and she will slightly be missed ;)

Tonight is the last night we get the pleasure of cooking for her (for a while, at least). We are doing a gourmet Mardi Gras buffet, which is her style. Come celebrate the good food, good music, and meet one of the most talented Chefs in Oxford.

Tonight, is to the one who has worked harder than anyone for that restaurant, the one who we all grew to love, the one who taught us the joy of cooking, the one who not only made us great at what we do, but also made is proud of what we do. Waltz will continue on as Waltz, but best of luck to Chef Erika Lipe. With love.

Your Sous,

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Our Lives, The Butcher's Block, Waltz, Oxford, MS

Friday, February 25, 2011

Death of the Bloody Mary

I'm about as much a fan of day drinking as I am sleeping. Bloody Mary's have this ability to transform mornings of hell into bliss, but lately, Bloody Mary's have been over-stuffed and under-poured.

In Oxford, there are a few places that are known for their Bloody's. Ajax, one of the cheap, casual family dining restaurant's claim they have one of the best. That's bull. The past three times I have gotten a Bloody there, I have sat and beat myself up knowing it wasn't going to be good! They have been watery and needed more vodka to get over the awful mix that doesn't please the palate. I'm pretty sure they need to serve their's with a toothpick as well, with all the crap you get in your teeth. Either way, fail on the bloody mary. They charge you six dollars for colored acid water, that doesn't come out well in the end...you know what I mean..

Volta is also known to have pretty good Bloody's! I agree with this one...I think they are some of the best one's in Oxford! Volta also has the good patio and the chill staff. I love going to Volta.

My friend Gemma bartends at The Library Sports Bar, and they have a decent Bloody, but it is only appropriate to get those on a Saturday morning, since it's mostly only open at night.

What's wrong with the world and its take on Bloody's is that they try too hard to make it everything else it doesn't need to be. Hey, lets add pickled things to a bloody! Enough to where it fills up half the glass, then we'll throw in some lime and/or lemon slices, some really awkward flavored salt on the top, black pepper out the ass, horseradish and A1, olive juice...beer...blah blah blah. It's time to come back to what is delicate and wonderful and personal, about a Bloody Mary..I think I have a pretty good idea what the perfect Bloody should be..

When I lived in London, we took the metro to Notting Hill, and my roommate (Charles Gautier, may our friendship rest in peace) and I stumbled upon a pub called The Prince Albert. This is where I learned the true art of pouring a Bloody Mary. It doesn't start with the ice.. it should be built, poured, and then add the ice.

Lime Wedge, Lemon Wedge, squeeze them and discard the actual peel and substance.
two cracks of black pepper, salt, V8, DASH of worcestershire, and let's be real, make it equal parts vodka if you're feeling like a real man. Seriously...those are all the ingredients you really need in a Bloody Mary. The guy muddled all that mess in a drink mixer and poured it into a fresh glass, that he then filled up with ice. he still added a lemon and a lime wedge and celery stalk, but it's all that was needed. It was beautiful.

Of course, if you're lazy, Mr. T's Bold and Spicy is my personal favorite, unfortunately most restaurants settle for Zing Zang, which I don't prefer.

Peace and Bloody's,

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Check it Out...

Check out CSN Stores for great options on lighting for your home! Everyone knows pendant lighting has the widest range of sizes and selections for any room you are trying to brighten up. It gives a party the right atmosphere, it gives depth to a flat table, and it gives food the shine that makes your mouth water.

CSN Stores have more than just pendant lighting! They also have some great deals on cookware and other kitchen appliances! Don't even get me started on their cutlery options...Click the link above and check out the website!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Goodbye, Downtown Grill

If you haven't heard, (because let's be real, this guy isn't that great, he just has really good PR) John Currence is partnering with Stefano Capomazza (who I don't know but apparently is a rich, stereotypical, Oxonian) and they are buying out the 22 year-old Oxford staple, The Downtown Grill. First, I think the investors should sell to someone other than Currence because the guy already has four restaurants, the best of (Snackbar) which is handled by his faithful Sous Chef Vish, who actually has all the talent.

Anyway, enough self loathing about an old man who has been in the industry since Oxford was a child, but I really wish the guy would quit trying to own this town. Oh, and on your 'John's Grits' recipe, you need another cup of water and chicken stock - your recipe makes the grits too hard. Don't worry, I'm really not that good at cooking. I just play around making mashed potatoes and breaking down meat.

I've been doing that a lot lately... Since most of the steakhouses in Oxford have abandoned ship, due to lack of business, we have started to really focus on aging our meats....I did some research to find the best way. I have a log keeping track of the 14oz. strips and the 18oz. rib eyes I have cut. Actually, I learned to cut them a few ounces bigger just in case trimming was necessary.

This is the first ribeye I cut down..

I salted each side, using a nice bit but not too much, and wrapped each one individually in a Linen-Like, (much like a thick, absorbent paper towel) and put them on an aging rack in the fridge.

This technique of dry aging is best when the steak is cooked after 7 days of aging, but before 14 days. This is, of course, my own personal findings. I had one that was aged 10 days and it is a Ribeye I will always remember. The first one I WANT to remember. One of our employees ordered one at 14 days. It wasn't as tender and juicy as the 10 day aged one. It tasted almost gamey, but I would still eat it. It's all about personal preference, but I think 10 days is the best. These are the strips I cut down..

These have been aging two days, if the linen likes absorb too much liquid and get soggy, it's best to change them out.

So that's what I've been doing at work lately!

If you happen to swing in to Oxford, of course, stop by Waltz on the Square, but also swing by Downtown Grill and pay your respects to one of the oldest restaurants on the Oxford Square.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:The Butcher's Block

Thursday, January 27, 2011

An Easy Dessert

So my ever-so-talented sister needed a quick dessert for her supper club tonight. What's weird is that she is old enough to be doing supper clubs and we have totally different taste in food. But desserts are easy. So this is what I suggested.

Desserts are easy and cheap. Whipped mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese + honey) with mixed berries and simple syrup is easy. Something that looks fancy? Get puff pastry sheets from the dairy/freezer section in kroger. Cut them into triangles. Fill them with a cream cheese, vanilla, and berry mixture, and bake for 5 or 6 minutes until golden (but not cooked all the way!!). Drizzle caramel and eagle brand condensed milk and you're good to go.

For ten people? 1 pack of puff pastries, 1 pack blueberries, strawberries, rasps, and blackberries (or just pick 2 of them), oh and maybe a banana! Get one thing of mascarpone (8 oz should do, almost an ounce per pastry. Just a note puff pastries are sweet and flaky and have been rolled and kneaded like 8 times, it's really ridiculous. Let the mascarpone get soft and whisk it to aerate it and get it fluffy.

Take 2 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water in a pot and boil it. Reduce it by 1/2, when it cools it will thicken, toss the berries in the simple syrup.

Be sure to par bake the pastries about 5 minutes and pull them out so you can see what you're working with. 1 can of eagle brand is plenty, and if you have brown sugar you can make your own syrup, even though it will already be sweet enough with the mascarpone and simple syrup. After they're made, cook them for a few more minutes to get them hot and finish cooking the puff pastry.

Not to mention the amount of butter in puff pastries is ridiculous. To make it better: top it with a scoop of butter pecan ice cream. Ice cream always make desserts better.

It really shouldn't be that expensive....2.50/ pint if you only get 2 pints...you could stretch and get 3. 5 bucks for puff pastry. 4 bucks for mascarpone. Sugar I hope you have at home (even though it's not in my kitchen). And water is free. That's..borderline 20... Get the store brand (you don't need fancy) and that will always save you a couple of bucks.

Make it good. Tell me how it is.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Post Yoga

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Whiskey & Eggs: A Prelude

Dustin Hoffman is probably the greatest Hook, from Allyson Cartwright. Allyson, is also the same girl that will write a book better than mine with the title "the ramblings of a 20-something nothing." It will be on the New York Time's best-seller list within the first year of production. I guarantee. Sorry, I haven't quite learned how to italicize fonts on the iPad yet, but I'm working on it.

I always talk about writing this book, which is lately becoming a hallucination instead of a reality, but it will be called whiskey and eggs. Granted, I've already named about 4 titles of 4 books I won't write, but I promise you loved them already.

Hook is such a dumb metaphor for life, but I don't care. It's equivalent to the goonies. Recently, I've felt like I'm supposed to live forty different lives, and just experience the daily routine of someone different every couple of years. So far I think I have a pretty good start.

I was a public school kid, a private school kid, a runner at one point, and an actor at another point. I had geek friends, I was a computer nerd, Starbuck's used to be THE hangout for me....and Starbuck's is not that great. I lived four years as a frat kid and went to debutante balls and away football games and crashed on people's floor/couch/bathroom floor.

I got to pose as a londoner and a Californian for a year. It's weird though, because at each 'stage' in life i feel like I have found the best friends and the best possibilities and opportunities than innate ever had. I'm really lucky, turns out. One thing i haven't done though, is just sit back and relax and relish in the friendships I have made and just live life.

To be only 24, and living this young life, I'm okay with staying around for six or eight more months saving up and spending time with yet another amazing group of people.

Over Christmas I got to spend some time in Seaside, where i completely cooked for pleasure...once i figure out how to work this damn thing better, i might make this writing thing a regular occurrence. But probably not.

Oh, and Merry Belated Christmas.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Lost in the World

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sunday Alcohol Sales, Oxford, MS

Franzia-mosas. Now that is a Sunday morning cocktail after a morning full of praising our good Lord. It’s definitely not helping this not-so-booming economy, but it sure makes for a nice break from the bible beating endured at First Baptist or any other narrow-minded cubicle for cookie-cutter college kids and residents. That’s a total lie. I don’t do churches in the town of Oxford. It’s a social scene for politics and a good facade after binge drinking on the weekend. It’s an excuse to go to bed at night because you successfully fell asleep in a pew for an hour on a lovely Sunday morning.

Alcohol is a problem. So is parking on the square. So what, they’re two totally different problems on the spectrum of life in Oxford, but let’s be honest, they’re both a pain in the ass. Our heroic ‘religious leader,’ Eric Hankins, pastor at the First Baptist Church of Oxford, thinks Oxford needs a break from drinking for the week. It just so happens Sunday is that day, that one epic day of the week where we can’t indulge in funneling booze and shooting cheap liquor because we’re too broke to buy the good shit. I’d win an award for being the best liar. You know these fratty, sratty kids aren’t buying Taaka or Evan Williams Black Label. These rich kids buy Crown and Goose. The smart ones buy cheap.

What’s even more comical is that these eighteen-year-old alcoholics use their school scholarship money or loan money from the government to buy such royalties. Isn’t it funny the funding we use to better improve education at Ole Miss is also used to hike up DUI numbers and MIPs? Get it Jones, we are totally on the right track to the think tank…I mean drunk tank.

As Brandon Neimeyer wrote in The Local Voice, Oxford’s best locally independent newspaper, there are locals who work and live here that this situation should also be directed toward. No, I don’t want a special card confirming I have graduated and now work and live in the same town so I deserve to buy a bottle of wine on Sunday. I do, however, work in the food industry.

I work in an industry that walks on thin ice through summer when the rich kids abandon ship. The industry that booms during football season, regardless of the disaster of a team we call the Rebels, and is funded by high reservations made for sorority and fraternity formals. We’re also greatly funded by the result of Ole Miss baseball. Wait, that’s a lie. Instead, last baseball season some genius decided to schedule home games, Thursday through Saturday, between six and seven p.m. I loved feeding the masses of oxygen in our restaurant when all the patrons were getting wastey-face in the baseball stadium.

Alcohol might not bust us out of the never-ending economic trouble this town seems to stay in, but taking away business on weekends is definitely is not helping.

Needless to say, I don’t get weekends off. Neither do other people who live and work in this town. Sunday is my day to drink and delve into devilish debauchery. How delicious does drinking a bloody mary out of a bell pepper garnished with pickled okra or green beans sound? It would be after church, that I more than likely didn’t attend, of course.

It’s my Sunday Funday too, and I say a small prayer for those good folk sitting in pews while I’m sipping on my brew in my boxers, wafting the dust off my bible.