Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Restaurants I want to try

In no particular order, except the order in which they come to mind:
  • Michael Mina's (Bay Area)
  • Chez Spencer (Bay Area)
  • The French Laundry (Norhern CA)
  • The Fat Duck (UK)
  • Gordon Ramsay's at Royal Hospital Road (UK)
  • Nobu (not sure which location would be best)
  • L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon (the one in France and not in LV or Japan)
  • Zushi Puzzle (Bay Area)
  • Chez Panisse (Bay Area)
  • Foreign Cinema (Bay Area)
  • Gary Danko (Bay Area)
  • Wagamama (UK)
  • Yo! Sushi (UK)
  • Vic's Chaat (Bay Area)
  • The Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton (Bay Area)
  • Manresa (Bay Area)
  • Sushi Zone (Bay Area)
I'm sure this list will get longer with time. Zushi Puzzle & Foreign Cinema are both affordable and local, so I would guess that we'll hit them at some point in the near future. Vic's Chaat is even cheaper and even closer, so we could get that knocked down in 2006 also. Wagamama and Yo! Sushi seem to be pretty cheap & entertaining chains that I think I'd get a kick out of while we are in the UK, so those will prob get crossed off the list soon. My feeling is that Yo! Sushi would do well in the Bay Area, based solely on reviews and their website.

Friday, December 02, 2005

How did we get here?

It seems that at some point, Seppo and I have accidentally slipped and fallen down the well of foodie-ism (yes, that's the official word, I swear). I am not quite sure how it happened, as we are quite low-brow in almost all other aspect. Heck, even for food, we have no qualms about getting McDonald's or KFC once in a while.

So how did this happen?? I think it all started with Iron Chef. Well, that's not true. The show had always been entertaining, but it never made us want to whip out an apron ourselves and cook. I think the real credit belongs to either The Naked Chef or Pukka Tukka -- I don't remember which we saw. I think we caught our first episode shortly after moving in together. I vaguely have a memory of showing Roopa and her friend Robert an episode on our replayTV at the new house while he was in town, shortly after we discovered Jamie Oliver for ourselves.

His cooking on those shows (unlike Oliver's Twist, which I am not a fan of) really showed you easy, simple, and fast ways to create fantastic dishes. He really made it look so simple that we were able to start thinking beyond Create-A-Meals (shaddap, you!) and start thinking of trying to put together interesting dishes.

At some point, we found Alton Brown. The science of cooking was quite fascinating. That same year, I bought Seppo a copy of On Food and Cooking, which Alton recommends in his books (which we had bought earlier). It really is the reference of all references.

Just over a year ago, I purchased a Cook's Illustrated magazine subscription for Seppo as a part of his Christmas present. I think I heard A_B refer to it enough times that I wanted to try it out. Then shortly after the new year, my then-new TiVo started recording America's Test Kitchen (by the same people who make Cook's Illustrated) on PBS as a TiVo Suggestion. We became hooked and started trying the recipes. The recipes are awesome. We haven't perfected our techniques at all, but the dishes definitely come out far better than anything we could have hoped for with any random recipe.

It's not all tv shows, of course. I think that as we have gotten older, we've been more interested in getting quality rather than quantity. We dine out with friends more often than we used to. As a result, we end up comparing a lot of different places with each other. We've also found a couple of favorite restaurants that never let us down, so going somewhere that is disappointing is a huge contrast now, whereas in previous days, we might have acceptable meh food as the norm.

I think that at some point, large parts of last year and this year were spent obsessively watching different cooking shows. We've had some busy periods, so we spend a lot less time watching tv now. Sometime this summer, we went to Morimoto in Philadelphia and watched Gordon Ramsay on Hell's Kitchen (followed by Kitchen Nightmares and Kitchen Nightmares Revisted on BBCAmerica). That was probably the final, irreversible step for us. Seeing someone so concerned for quality and perfection intrigued us and now we are dying to eat at his restaurant.