UnFoodie vs. the Fridge

May 31, 2011

By Karen

Buying a refrigerator wasn’t on my Memorial Day weekend To-Do list when I woke up Saturday, but…

My 24-year-old 18 cu. ft. Whirlpool fridge was cashing in. Nothing I did with the temperature controls made the ice cubes freeze or keep my DiGiorno pizza from bending.

It was either poison myself on semi-thawed chicken fingers or act. My father came to my rescue with his big cooler and took my freezer’s contents to his house. We figured the fridge stuff would be safe for now.

At hhgregg I found a shiny new 28 cu. ft. Samsung with French doors. Ooh, la la!

Meet "Sam"

Even on sale, it cost nearly twice as much as I wanted to spend, but I couldn’t bring myself to buy another fridge like my simple little Whirlpool because the seeds of distrust had been sown.

The Whirlpool’s automatic ice maker was never hooked up because I considered it just one more thing to break. But my Samsung now has a touch-screen computer on the door and shoots out water, ice cubes, AND crushed ice.

So now I have a water filter to worry about.

Today’s refrigerators are like Hummers without wheels. Ludicrously oversized, poorly designed, and only an idiot thinks owning one is a good idea.

But you don’t realize all that until it’s in your house.

The Whirlpool had one big door and a freezer on top. Now I’ve got 2 little doors and a freezer on the bottom. Even though I’ve upgraded by 10 cu. ft. and this sullen brute of a fridge dwarfs everything else in the kitchen, the Samsung inside feels smaller.

When the Samsung arrived Sunday morning, the delivery guy said it needed 48 HOURS to cool down. That meant another trip to my parents with a cooler full of the fridge stuff — deli, drinks, condiments, pickles, half-eaten Fancy Feast.

Then I had to run 2-3 gallons of water through the door and throw out the first batches of ice cubes, although not as many as recommended because, by Sunday night after 2 full days without a fridge, I needed ice for my vodka — badly.

Everyone tells me Samsung fridges are great, but I’ve discovered one thing that sucks: The layout.

The French doors are the only place large bottles fit upright (unless you give up half an interior shelf that flips up), and the ice setup knocks out most of a shelf on one door.

Right door

Left door

The 2 crisper drawers have humidity controls, but the owner’s manual contains NOT ONE WORD on how they’re supposed to work. Who knows how damp a cucumber likes to be in the dark?

The manual only discusses putting fruits and vegetables in the DELI compartment, which also has separate temperature controls. But the temps they recommend for deli and fruits and vegetables are different.

Confused yet?

Samsung must take us for saps with all the fancy-schmancy controls on flimsy plastic bins that are in NO WAY insulated or air-tight. The controls aren’t documented because Samsung knows they don’t do a damn thing.

The freezer is a big plastic pit, as handy as keeping the food in a clothes basket under the bed (if the bed could keep it frozen, I’m just sayin’). To see what you have, you need to stand boxes on end. If there’s anything liquid in them (I’m thinking gravy in TV dinners), heaven help you if the power goes out.

By Monday afternoon — 24 hours later — the Samsung, whom I call “Sam” because something that big deserves a name, seemed to have found his groove, so I went to my parents for a Memorial Day barbie, then reloaded my fridge contents back into the coolers and lugged it all home.

I’m not thrilled with how things are arranged yet, so Sam and I have a lot of work to do on our relationship. And his stainless-steel good looks now have the rest of the kitchen screaming for a makeover.

UPDATE for reader kittiequeen, pictures of the freezer:

The bottom of the freezer with the drawer closed…

Here’s the freezer drawer open…

Princess Catherine: 1 – Michelle Obama: 0

May 27, 2011

By Adele

For this year’s European tour before the G8 summit, Michelle Obama gave more thought to her packing.

Remember when Michelle dropped in on the Queen at Buckingham Palace in 2009 wearing that frumpy black cardigan over a white blouse and black skirt — and touched the Queen?

Michelle's total "no-no" moment. (Photo - Daniel Hanbury/AP)

Well, this time, Michelle also got to meet the Duchess of Cambridge a.k.a. Princess Catherine a.k.a. the former Kate Middleton, a young woman whose sense of style has been wowing the world.

Michelle was all aglow. Literally. Every stitch she wore, including her shoes, had a sheen. And she wore a huge jeweled brooch. Before 5.

At least she didn’t try to add her “signature touch” by throwing some of her studded leather gladiator gear around her waist.

Here they are…

Kate meets Barbie

They say Kate’s off-the-rack dress cost roughly $340.

Michelle’s designer frock, estimated at $2,000+, was straight from daughter Sasha’s Barbie Doll collection — with its kicky poof skirt and undersized bubble-gum jacket.

Kate wore classic black closed pumps. Michelle let her gnarly bare heels hang out in metallic gray slingbacks whose pointy witch toes extended her feet, which nobody can accuse of being dainty, by another inch.

I will give the point to Michelle for her hair, and they say her makeup was nicely done.

You can’t look at those two without thinking someone must have switched their closets — that is if Kate, post-age 12, would ever let herself be caught dead in Michelle’s get-up.

It would have made America proud to see our first lady at Buckingham Palace in that classic beige sheath, holding an elegant little black clutch, instead of looking like the tart at the tea party.

If Kate could ever be coaxed into Michelle’s dress (whose flowery print resembled that worn by Kate’s 85-year-old grandmother-in-law), I feel sure Kate would at least lose the pink jacket.

Now I can’t get the voice of Countess LuAnn from The Real Housewives of New York out of my head, screeching, “Money can’t buy you claa-ass!”

Bourdainia Galore!

May 25, 2011

By Karen

I’m playing catch-up with DVDs of Treme, the HBO New Orleans series Anthony Bourdain has been writing for. After the first 2 episodes of Season 1, I’m still waiting to feel hooked, but I’m optimistic. Luckily, the Internet teems with video clips of the restaurant scenes Tony is doing for Season 2, which is airing now.

For example, here’s the scene of food critic Alan Richman taking a drink in the puss. Richman wrote about that later in GQ and actually seemed to be a good sport about it.

Tony also gave Tom Colicchio and Eric Ripert cameos with lines, and then Tom talked to Esquire about the experience.

A video of Tony speaking to HuffPost Food has been surfacing in pieces. He discussed which foods he’d like to see more of in the U.S. and modified his stance on bacon. He also talked about things he’ll never do — which we’ve already seen him do — and manages to lump Jay Leno in with strolling through steaming bat guano and being mounted by an Uzbek masseur.

In this video clip from PopEater, Tony talks about celebrities.

Last week, Bourdain was in Australia for the Sydney Writers’ Festival and did a video interview with MUmBRELLA where, among other things, he shared his thoughts on the value of Facebook and Twitter. 

At the Sydney festival, he appeared in a sold-out session on May 19 with AA Gill. Links to the full audio are under May 21 at 3 p.m., but they seem screwed up. Click “Download” to just listen.

If you don’t want to do that, Book Thingo provides a written recap and a snippet of illicit video taken from the audience.

Here’s a recap on another appearance Tony made at the festival called “Medium Raw,” which also sold out.

While rooting around for the festival stuff, I found a phone interview Tony did with ABC Sydney back in July 2010 that I don’t recall ever hearing.

On the literary front…

Bourdain will be a contributor to a new quarterly food journal, Lucky Peach, edited by David Chang and others, which debuts June 14. Each issue will have a theme, and the first one is ramen. According to the site, it’s the sister project to “an iPad app produced by Zero Point Zero that will feature more than two hours of videos, plus recipes, art, and essays.” Right now, the site is features a conversation on mediocrity among Bourdain, Chang, and Wylie Dufresne.

Tucson Weekly is critical of Bourdain’s involvement with Treme (2nd paragraph from the end). The writer seems to have an outdated image of Tony’s persona, but from the clips I’ve seen on Eater, I find myself relating somewhat to his unfoodie perspective. But that’s fodder for a future post.

I found this fascinating site on tumblr called Fuck Yes, Tony Bourdain! It’s devoted to photos, video clips, and quotes.

Finally, Travel Channel posted a video clip of Tony discussing his job with his adult niece, Isabelle.

Lupetto Bourdain: Confidential

May 23, 2011

By Cole

(Note from Karen: Season 7 of No Reservations is in its 4th week of limbo tonight; Travel Channel again gives 9 p.m. to Off Limits. My new bits of Bourdainia can wait until tomorrow because Cole just scooped me big-time with his first celebrity interview. I’m not kidding. He really did this. Keep reading…)

I was chosen to tackle this important assignment (a Mother’s Day surprise for Karen) after much debate. We finally agreed that my rugged good looks and black-cat charm were most likely to open a door here, and we were right. I was granted permission to do this written interview with Lupetto Bourdain.

Lupetto is cagey in dealing with the media, which you’d expect from a celebrity’s cat. Some of his responses are almost De Niro-esque. But he’s so cool, I wouldn’t be surprised if Tony sometimes tries to channel Lupetto’s ‘tude. After all, it’s the sincerest form of flattery, and their relationship seems to be based on mutual respect.

Cole: I researched your name “Lupetto” online and found that it means “wolf cub” or “turtleneck (as in sweater).” Does either description fit your personality?

Lupetto: Ottavia told me I looked like a little wolf when she adopted me.

C: Do you mind telling us your age?

L: 10 years old.

C: Ottavia tweeted recently that your nickname is “Nini.” Where did that come from? Have you got any nicknames for them?

L: One day they just started calling me that. Personally, I prefer Lupetto. I do not feel free to disclose any nicknames I may or may not have for them. I rely on them for food.

Lupetto Bourdain, a.k.a. "Nini" (Photo - Ottavia Bourdain/Twitter)

C: You’ve known Ottavia since you were a kitten, when it was just the two of you. Did you have any issues sharing her? Was Bourdain nice to you?

L: I was struck immediately by Mr Bourdain’s kindness and sensitivity towards me. We forged an immediate bond, and I found myself quickly relocated to his home.

C: How do you and Ariane get along? Is she nice, or a tail-puller? Does she let you play with her toys?

L: Ariane gives me the respect and attention I deserve. Sometimes I let her play with my toys.

C: Do you have a favorite human?

L: The sushi delivery guy has many fine qualities.

C: Since you live with a famous food guy, you must see a lot of weird people-food. Do they ever share with you?

L: I can’t believe the shit those two eat. I wouldn’t touch that stuff with your mouth.

C: Do you ever jump on the counters or the table? Do they freak out?

L: I do as I please, you got a problem with that?

C: Have they ever offered you people-food that made you think they were nuts?

L: They know better.

C: I trust you eat regular cat food. Do you prefer dry or canned? What are your brands?

L: Canned: Solid Gold, Soulistic and Fancy Feast (only the grilled variety).

C: Are you into treats?

L: Bits of Parmigiano.

C: Bourdain has said he tries to avoid eating pets, but you’d know the truth. Has he ever come home with dog or cat on his breath?

L: He made a personal commitment to me not to.

C: I hear a lot of vermin lives in the big city. Have you ever caught a rodent? If so, what did you do with it?

L: What kind of crack house do you think I live in?

C: Claws or declawed? If claws, what’s your favorite thing to scratch?

L: Fully clawed, and I use them frequently. I’m very fond of the new couch…

C: You live in a bilingual household. Are there any Italian words you understand?

L: I speak a hell of a lot more Italian than Mr. Bourdain, for sure.

C: Does Bourdain himself ever feed you or scoop your litterbox?

L: He happily feeds me. He’s less happy about the litter box.

C: Do you ever help him with his writing? If so, how?

L: I wrote all of his books. Without me he’s nothing.

C: Any favorite toys?

L: A laser pointer.

C: Favorite places to sleep?

L: Their bed.

C: When you go to the vet, are you a pussycat or a tiger?

L: I hate doctors.

C: Do you have any habits the humans wish you would break?

L: Jumping into the tub when Ottavia showers.

C: Do you like to be picked up or sit in laps, or are you the independent type?

L: I’m a Rolling Stone, baby.

Cats Working Preakness Picks

May 19, 2011

By Adele

I expected (but didn’t get) a media stampede after being the only Triple-Crown prognosticator (and cat) to call the long-shot Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom.

Their loss.

Any horse who wins the Derby becomes a Triple Crown contender, so like everyone else, I’m hoping Animal Kingdom does it again at Pimlico in the Preakness Stakes on May 21. He’ll be ridden again by his Derby jockey, John Valazquez, who took the reins at the last minute after his Derby horse, Uncle Mo, was scratched (which I also predicted) and AK’s jockey got hurt.

AK drew the 11th post position in a 14-horse field, which gives him some breathing room near the outside. And his closest potential competitor, Nehro, who ran 2nd in the Derby, will be watching the race from the stands.

But the Preakness is only 2 weeks after the Derby, so in case Animal Kingdom is tired, I have alternate picks…

Concealed Identity has won 3 of his 6 races (and came in 4th twice and 5th once), but his 2 most recent races were wins, and on the same jockey, Sheldon Russell. Russell happens to be 2010’s 2nd leading jockey at Colonial Downs, my local track, so I’d like to see him succeed.

My biggest concern for Concealed is that his last race was only two weeks ago (like Animal Kingdom’s). On the other hand, he’s the son of Smarty Jones, the 2004 Derby and Preakness winner, so he’s got big horseshoes to fill. He’ll be in the 13th post position. 

Dance City, in the No. 8 position, ridden by either a familiar jockey, Javier Castellano, or a new jockey, Ramon Dominguez (I have conflicting info on that), had his worse showing by coming in 3rd in the Arkansas Derby in April behind Archarcharch and Nehro, but they aren’t in this Preakness. In his 3 other previous races, Dance has won 2, and come in 2nd. He’s had a month’s rest since Arkansas, and every time he races, no matter who’s riding him, he improves his time.

I wanted Sway Away to be one of my picks, because his dad is Afleet Alex, who stole my heart in 2005 when he stumbled badly in the 2005 Preakness but won it anyway (and went on to win the Belmont), but I don’t think Sway can do it. He finished right behind Dance City in the Arkansas Derby, but has only won one of his 6 previous races, and that was nearly a year ago.

Poor Archarcharch was injured in the Kentucky Derby and force to retire, so I’ve got my paws crossed again that all the horses cross the Preakness finish line safely.

Oops! He Thought She was a FRENCH Maid…

May 18, 2011

By Adele

…And it was their little game. That’s Dominique Strauss-Khan’s story and he’s sticking to it.

OK, the woman wasn’t wearing a black miniskirt, fishnets, frilly apron, and cap, nor did she wield a feather duster. But she entered his room, he was naked, and that’s all the encouragement he apparently needed. 

In an ironic twist, it’s been rumored the maid may be HIV-positive. Her lawyer denies it, but let’s hope the mere possibility scares S-K enough to keep his pants on if he’s ever a free man again, which is looking iffy.

It’s a classic he-said-she-said. But you have to wonder why a young widow from Guinea with a daughter to raise, who was smart enough make a new life in the U.S with steady employment at a classy place like Manhattan’s Sofitel, would suddenly jeopardize it all by cavorting — on the job — with an unknown geezer — and then run right to her employer and blab about it.

On the other hand, this scenario has been a fantasy for S-K for a while because he described a similar situation in an interview weeks ago, claiming it wouldn’t surprise him if political enemies rigged it to set him up.

So if he believed that could happen, WHY would he play along? It just proves he doesn’t have the good sense to run a country or the International Monetary Fund.

This case will undoubtedly hinge on the woman’s believability when she testifies and the DNA evidence police collected.

Meanwhile, “the Great Seducer,” the potential next president of France, sits in solitary at Rikers with no shoelaces, on suicide watch, facing 25 years in the slammer.

Adding insult to injury, a woman back in France is claiming he jumped her 9 years ago and compares his amorous technique to a “rutting chimpanzee,” which jibes pretty much with what the maid said.

Even his wives concede he’s always been a serial cheater. No. 3 is standing by her man. She must have missed all the recent stories about how that worked out for Maria Shriver.

Do Clowns Really Scare Bourdain?

May 16, 2011

By Karen

I must have missed something because this tidbit was news to me: A columnist in the Nashua (NH) Telegraph recently reported that Anthony Bourdain suffers from coulrophobia, the fear of clowns.

Is it possible that grinning, floppy-footed Ronald is really at the root of Tony’s hatred for all things McDonald’s? Will Tony ever be able to take Ariane to the circus?

Travel Channel’s suspension of Season 7 of No Reservations has entered its third week. In fact, they’ve given the show’s 9 p.m. time slot tonight to a new series called Off Limits, but you can catch a few NRs being shown repeatedly all around that hour.

Bourdain should be heading to Australia this week for an appearance at the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

Eater.com posted a good 2-part interview with Bourdain. In part 1, he discussed James Beard, how “World’s 50 Best” lists are really compiled, and Ferran Adrià.

In part 2, he talked about Treme, the future of No Res, and selling out.

Speaking of James Beard, his Foundation just announced they intend to award four $5K scholarships to “Immigrants in the Kitchen,” which seems like kind of a condescending label for it. This comes hot on the heels of Bourdain’s numerous jabs at the group’s overwhelming whiteness, but they claim they’ve been working on it a long time.

Here’s an amusing little undated video clip of Tony and Eric Ripert sitting at a table with Martha Stewart around a bowl of durian, discussing which foods turns them on.

Tony contributed a post to the Inside Treme blog. I just put Season 1 at the top of my Netflix list so I can start bringing myself up to speed on his new script-writing venture.

Fans have been collecting Bourdainisms over at Facebook.

Tony was recently on Nightline. I read about this weeks ago, tried to tape it, and got squat because I think it was bumped. But good old Eater never gave up and caught it.

Medium Raw came out in paperback about 2 weeks ago and shot to No. 7 on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Book Review: Blood, Bones & Butter

May 12, 2011

By Karen

I’ve been churning this because every time I look at it, it just revives my lingering annoyance.

People who make food the all-consuming (pun intended) theme of their lives, which Gabrielle Hamilton glorifies in her memoir, Blood, Bones & Blather Butter, bug the crap out of me.

I never would have read BB&B, except that when an exceptional writer like Anthony Bourdain claims it’s the book he wishes he’d written, attention must be paid.

It’s easy to see where Hamilton’s life resonated with Tony:

1. As a teen, she developed a tough façade and a drug habit, and overcame them.

2. She began her restaurant career as a grunt.

3. She married an Italian and grew enamored with Italian family life.

She managed to top Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential descriptions of restaurant kitchen hell only because he never worked nine months’ pregnant.

For me, that’s where similarities ended. Bourdain should be thankful that, like her, he’s not an emotional cripple.

Hamilton’s MFA in fiction certainly paid off — she knows her way around clever similes and metaphors. But since most rhapsodic descriptions of food look to me like…

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

… on the page, I was more interested in Gabrielle the person. I really wanted to like her.

The book is marketed as “memoir,” but she only sprinkles glimpses of her adult life as garnish. The sin of omission is so chronic that very little about her personality adds up — except her obsession with food.

She claims a woman she met at grad school was probably “the love of her life,” yet gives her no more than two pages of ink, and never bothers to humanize her with even a fake name.

Then she marries a man she’s been screwing but professes not to love so he can get a green card, but decrees they live separately — then has not one, but TWO children with him.

I wonder how many years her kids will spend in therapy, trying to figure out Mom’s relentless, white-hot hatred of Grandma, and why they had to commute to see Dad for years because Mom insisted they all pretend she was single?

On the other hand, she loved her husband’s family in Italy (when she wasn’t furious at them for making her feel enslaved by the care of her children or by cooking meals after she commandeered her mother-in-law’s kitchen).

In 7 years, she never learned enough Italian to communicate with her in-laws beyond food terms, and then kvetched about how alienated she always felt.

I don’t know how any reader could not have been left with a strong urge to slap the shit out of her and wish she would just GROW UP.

I thought Hamilton ended the book on the implication that divorce was probably coming (well-deserved and long overdue, IMO). But NPR interviewed her in March, and she talked as if she’s still married and things are fine.

Who knows? Even if she brings it up, unless the topic is food, don’t expect candor from Gabrielle Hamilton.

One more Bourdain connection: They’re both represented by the same literary agent.

Other reviews:

Josh Ozersky fawns in TIME.

Frank Bruni largely agrees with me in the NY Times on the autobiographical angle.

Bourdain’s Buddies Unscathed in JBF Feud

May 9, 2011

By Karen 

Anthony Bourdain’s still lobbing grenades at the James Beard Foundation via Twitter, including a link to the 2010 financial report that seems to bear out his contention that the organization is largely self-serving, with more than four times as much money devoted to “in-house events” as to scholarships and education.

But, fortunately, nobody held it against his friends and colleagues, who raked in plenty of honors at the still-prestigious annual JBF Awards last week. Most notably, Tony and Ruth Reichl’s Twitter love child, Ruth Bourdain, swept the new humor category, which was most likely created solely to recognize her brilliant tweets. 

However, Ruth Bourdain didn’t lose her head and let the Beardies “out” her by luring her to the awards ceremony. Her identity remains a mystery, which is as it should be.

Tony’s BFF Eric Ripert’s PBS series, Avec Eric, won for best on-location program. And Top Chef won for best studio program.

Here’s a complete list of the honorees.

Tonight’s No Reservations is a rerun of the Ozarks. Tony has been filming in the Ukraine with Zamir, which isn’t a location I had on my list for Season 7, so I wonder if some other plan fell through. If so, I hope it was his idea to do the Graham Greene thing in the Congo.

Cats Working Kentucky Derby Favorites

May 5, 2011

By Adele

The 137th Kentucky Derby on May 7 lacks a clear favorite to root for, although many “experts” (not me) are picking Dialed In, ridden by Julien Leparoux in No. 8 post position. Dialed has won 3 of his 4 races so far, so it makes some sense.

Uncle Mo is this year’s big let-down. He was looking like a shoo-in until he developed tummy trouble and broke his 4-race winning streak by coming in 3rd at the Wood Memorial last month. But he’s training at Churchill Downs this week, and is tentatively slated to run the Derby in post position No. 18.

I predict Uncle Mo will be scratched at the last minute because they’re not taking any chances with his health.

Now, for my picks…

My favorite is Animal Kingdom. He has won or placed in his previous 4 races (2 and 2). On March 26, he outran 2 other Derby horses, Twinspired and Decisive Moment. His jockey will be Robby Albarado, and the last time they raced together, they won.

Soldat’s my second choice. He’s won or placed in 7 of his 8 races (3 wins, 4 seconds) and he has a solid partnership with this jockey, Alan Garcia. Soldat’s last raced on April 3 in the Florida Derby and came in 5th. It was his only off-day ever, so he’s probably itching for a comeback.

My third choice is Derby Kitten, ridden by Javier Castellano. I wanted Kitten to be my first choice, naturally, but he has won only 3 of 9 races (and placed in 3). He won his most recent race, but it was on April 23, and I think it’s too soon for him to be running again.

Horse Racing Nation provided more user-friendly information on the horses than the official Derby site.

May they all cross the finish line safely, and may the best horse win!

%d bloggers like this: