Classic Dishes...


I’m sure a couple of The Four Of You have seen, a wonderful time waster that started out as a gallery of actual examples (taken out of context, of course) of Superman being, well, not so nice by modern standards.

It is in that spirit that I offer this excerpt of Christopher Kimball, founder and editor of Cook’s Illustrated magazine and host of the Cook’s Country TV show, showing his appreciation when his neighbor Axel drops in with a fresh-cooked batch of his wife’s macaroni and cheese…

<YouTube clip of Kimball berating Alex crap mac-and-cheese long since deleted.>

“Does it taste better than it looks?” “No.” And poor Axel just stands there and takes it.

See? Dick.

Now You’re Cooking

At the end of May, Fine Living Network breathed it’s last breath, and from its ashes rose Cooking Channel.

"What the hell? I’ve never even heard of Fine Living Network," I hear you say. You would not be alone. (And now you know why it folded.)

All of this is under the umbrella of Scripps Networks Interactive, who also own a good-sized chunk of Food Network.

You in the back, again, yes, speak up: "Wait a second. I used to watch Food Network. It was cooking shows all day long. This company already has a Food Network, and now they’re starting up a Cooking Channel? Again I say: what the hell?"

Exactly. Anyone whose watched Food Network lately knows that it has about as much to do with food and cooking anymore as MTV has to do with music. With the exception of anything with Alton Brown on it, it’s a lot of Sandra Lee opening cans, Guy Fieri being a douchebag, and Rachael Ray doing, erm, whatever the hell Rachael Ray does.

And so Scripps has decided to rebrand FLN as a cooking channel. Because the one they had isn’t a cooking channel anymore.

And I’ve been watching the last couple of days. Near as I can tell, Cooking Channel is about 30% new content, coupled with about 70% old shows that used to air on Food Network back when it was, um, about food. I swear sometimes it looks like they just went into the vault, whipped out a 10-year-old FoodTV aircheck, and slapped it on the VTRs.

And even at that it’s still miles better than anything Food Network has done over the last couple of years.

So when the MTV runs their course with Jersey Shore 3: Revenge of the Snooki, Yo I Herd You Like Wacky Stuff Done To Your Car, and My Awful Goddamn Special Teenage Entitled Spoiled Brat, I’ve got an idea for them: thirty years ago, you used to see these short little mini-movies that singers and bands and such would make. Sometimes there would be some dialogue, but usually it was just one of their songs playing and the band or singer would make like they were singing along while they did stuff related to the song (most of the time). You could just show those, one after the other. It would be like listening to the radio (or your iPod, for you little bastards who are still on my lawn who don’t know what radio is), except with pictures.

Get four or five people to introduce them in shifts, you’re good to go. (You couldn’t call them "DJs," though, since they’re not really playing discs. You’d need to come up with another name for them. I wonder if anything rhymes with "D.")

Boom. Cheap programming. My ideas are available for franchise opportunities.

(Yeah, I know. It’ll never work.)

What’s He Like

This is why you don’t ever want to piss off your copywriters:


Prick with a fork, indeed.

(Yes, it’s probably a ‘Shop, and some Googling indicates this picture’s been going around for at least couple of years. I don’t care. It’s still making me giggle like an idiot. :))

You Donkey

We’re in the fifth go-round of Hell’s Kitchen, right? It seems to me that the show’s been around long enough now to be established.

So why is it that none of these people can, you know, cook? And I’m not talking about highfalutin’ complicated dishes, I’m talking basic staples.

If I’m going to throw myself at the mercy of Chef Ramsay, there are three things I’m damn well going to make sure I know how to do flawlessly before I even fill out the application:

  • Cook perfect scallops
  • Make a risotto
  • Prepare Beef Wellington

Five years in, Chef has those three items on EVERY menu he’s EVER had on the show, and we still have jackbags who can’t pan-fry a freakin’ scallop. Come ON.

Look. If I’m going to be on Survivor, I’m damned well going to make sure I know how to make fire. I’m not going to go on The Amazing Race if I’m agoraphobic, because I know at least one task is going to involve being up really really high. And I’m not going to be on Big Brother unless I know how to jump into a giant salad dressed like a cucumber. (Wait, what?)

(Aside: could that BE a more frightening picture of Julie Chen? And Les Moonves has to hit that. Yikes.)

They’re Gonna Love His Nuts

Shlomi? Vince The Shamwow Guy’s last name is Shlomi?

Man, I love it when I don’t even have to write the schtick…

Eat A Bag Tonight

Dick’s is the place where the cool hang out
The swass like to play, and the rich flaunt clout
Posse to the burger stand, so big we walk in twos
We’re gettin’ dirty looks from those other sucka’ crews

                                                — Sir Mix-A-Lot, Posse On Broadway

On this day 55 years ago, Dick Spady opened his first burger stand in the Wallingford district here in Seattle.

When I first moved here, I actually did drive the tour linked in the song title above. Hindsight being 20/20, I’m now glad I did it during the daytime.

We here at Chez Fred salute the only restaurant in Seattle whose name is as fun to say as their food is to eat.

Tastes Like Burning

One of the easiest go-to topics for a food blogger with writer’s block is to coat something random in batter and throw it into a deep-fryer. However, I don’t think some folks think their cunning plan all the way through, as made evident by this bit I came across this morning about deep-fried cupcakes:

To imagine deep fried cupcakes, picture biting into a piping hot funnel cake. As you bite into the hot doughy goodness, you hit a layer of melted chocolate and then a layer of hot chocolate cake. Your bite finishes with a final hit of funnel cake dough and a splash of powdered sugar. After licking your lips, you bring them to a big smile!

…en route to the howling shrieks of pain as the first blast of post-cupcake air hits the second-degree burns now covering the inside of your mouth.

Fo’ Shizzle

I’m quite the connoisseur of Mongolian barbecue, and Engrish almost always makes me giggle. So you can imagine my delight to come across these instructions found at Kiro-Hitsuji, a purveyor of fine Mongolian cuisine in Japan.

The highlight:

“Spread the meat to the grill with fizzle to the sizzle. Wait ‘til the meat get smokin’ flava with da juice drippin’ to charcoal, then eat up with dippin’ to da bangin’ special soy sauce.”

Ah, yeah! Who knew Genghis Khan was all gangsta an’ shit?

Gather ‘Round The…Wait, What?

Overheard while on line this afternoon at Papa Murphy’s, picking up a pizza for dinner:

“If you want cheap [pizza], Pizza Time. If you want good, Pizza Hut.”

A small part of me died inside.

(By the way, that cheesesteak pizza you see on the front page of the Papa Murphy’s site? Pretty good.)

I Think I Went To High School With Her

Through my pre-graduate public education, my school cafeterias, like most, were pretty hit and miss. All three were pretty much the same: the pizza tasted almost exactly like ass, but was wildly popular considering that the cafeteria had a monopoly on food distribution in our schools. The spaghetti was actually pretty good, and equally popular, but I credit that to two things: one, it’s pretty hard to screw up spaghetti, and two, I lived and went to school in two VERY Italian parts of Monterey, so the ladies who worked in our cafeterias had made spaghetti once or twice in their lives. Oddly, the turkey and gravy (and you know where this is going: cubes of what was almost assuredly turkey loaf, if not something canned, dumped unceremoniously on top of an food disher’s worth of instant potatoes) was almost universally reviled, but I rather liked it.

(Yep. Food disher. Because when you’re a food geek, the phrase “ice cream scoop” Just Isn’t Pretentious Enough.)

Anyhow, that was a way longer introduction than I intended to write for this bit, which is going to direct The Four Of You to an item about a Harrisonburg, Virginia school system that thought it would be a good idea to post pictures of the featured items in their cafeterias on the Web. Including:


Taco Patty? The HELL? Do I really want to know what is even IN a Taco Patty? And for that matter, why is the existence of a Taco Patty even NECESSARY? Is it really that friggin’ difficult or inconvenient to make massive amounts of taco meat? Tacos are a NATURAL for mass production, for God’s sake.

And, in case you’ve always thought about going into food service, but wasn’t sure that you had the cooking chops for the gig:


Yes! Slice up some white bread, stick a cup of sauce next to it, and voila! Italian Dunkers!

(It is, however, good to see Sandra Lee finding herself a side job…)