Sunday, August 23, 2015

Top 10 Food Related Shows

Hi Folks,
living in the Middle East is quite isolating you from the "normal" TV culture. But lets face it: when it comes to TV food shows, every country except of the US [even the UK], doesn't get the full treatment of quality. 

Fortunately there is a cool thing called "world wide web" which is littered with videos either way of full episodes, or at least clips of them.

So let's get to it:

  • No ReservationsIf you don't know Anthony Bourdain, you should go and buy his book "Kitchen Confidential" (be warned, who has a sensitive disposition, when it comes to "sex, drugs and rock'n'roll might be more than occasionally shocked reading it - and definitely blush regularly). Anthony discontinued this show a couple of years ago, but the show is still one of the best and most amusing food related shows ever.
    It is narrated with Bourdain's typical contemporary poetic style, it shows the cuisine of countries, restaurants, chefs, how it really is. And well... it shows also often, what toll alcohol takes on Anthony Bourdain. It is funny, amusing, edutaining, every episode is just a perfect 45 minutes spend for a foodie!
    • Similar shows:
      • The LayoverAlso "surrounding" Anthony Bourdain, this shows has a more fast-pace structure, and focuses on cities. It shows, what you can do within 24 hours... food, food, food, entertaining, cultural things. It is nice - but doesn't have the solid coolness and cultural approach as No Reservations.
      • Parts UnknownThis is the contemporary show of Anthony Bourdain on CNN. It feels like a combination of No Reservations and the Layover... it is more serious than No Reservations but more elaborate as the Layover. Good show - but above was definitely the best of the 3 altogether.

  • Mind of a ChefIf the narrating voice is familiar with you... and the overall brilliant story telling, and eventually there are some cameos as well... you are right: it is another show of Anthony Bourdain. For me he is a wizard in what he is doing - producing food related shows!
    Season one is moderated by David Chang, one of the (if not THE) most trailblazing, trending chefs nowadays, and it circles around Japanese food culture. Season 2 is more American. Still, the show is as brilliant as No Reservations... a bit more focused on food and less on getting drunk.

  • Iron Chef AmericaIt is fast-paced produce driven, "brilliantly tabloid", it is amusing without diluting the credibility of the chefs. Iron Chef America is in my eyes iconic and I am depressed, that there are so less new episodes produced nowadays. However if you didn't watched ICA before, there are loads and loads of episodes with absolutely amazing chefs waiting for you.
    • The next Iron Chef is a spin off of Iron Chef America - a competition which resulted in the newer Iron Chefs. It is more of a typical culinary competition, rather than the iconoclastic chef battles... but it is also worth to watch.
    • Original Iron Chef - is the original Japanese format of Iron Chef America. It is pretty unique, funny and typical Japanese... but lacks the refinement of the American adaptation. It comes also often in a very lackluster video quality... and the voice over translation can be exhausting.

  • Gorden Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares - if you like him or not, Gordon Ramsey definitely have a lot of credentials; in the kitchen (well he owns quite a lot of restaurants with stars - obviously he doesn't cook there anymore...) as well as in the TV landscape. One of the most iconic shows are Kitchen Nightmares. You should have a strong stomach and the ability to screen out seen things or forget or just have a lot of faith, if you ever want to dine out again... It also has to be said, that Gordon's language usually shifts the show out of family territory.
    But the presence and character of this British celebrity chef is just bringing the show on a level of brilliance rarely seen.
    There are British (earlier) episodes, which often have a miserable video quality, and American episodes, which feature better video quality, better scripting, but also a far more commercial approach. Still - it is very entertaining!
    • Restaurant Rescue - is just an American show, which literally rips of "Gordon Ramsey's concept". Lead by Robert Irvine (also a British chef), it is also quite well made, especially if you compare to worse adaptations (cough - Restaurant Takeover - cough). As Kitchen Nightmares was discontinued last year, this is the best way, to watch a similar format.

  • Masterchef US. Again: Gordon Ramsey, but with some other celebrity personalities of the restaurant industry.
    It is a culinary competition for home cooks and it is well made, entertaining. Again Ramsey's personality shines as a beacon, for great food entertainment. It can be at times a bit... commercial and targets "cheap laughs" as well as buys grins on others pity (similar to American Idol or other such competitions), but overall it is addicting and entertaining and even slightly educational.
    • Masterchef Jr. - I just hate it... but I understand, why people are watching the "little ones" to cook their heart out. This spin off is just as well made as its original - however focuses on kids.
    • Masterchef Australia (and other countries) - I actually enjoyed to watch Masterchef Australia - it isn't bad at all. However with a lot of cooking shows, you need to set some priorities... and as good as it is, it cannot match with the show made with Gordon Ramsey! And: the Australians have a funny dialect (which first of all wins devilish smiles... but then tend to annoy me).

  • Masterchef UK / Masterchef UK - the Professionals Why I didn't included Masterchef UK to Masterchef US? Because "the original" has quite a different format and totally has a different vibe. But it is really good. I tend to prefer the US version of Masterchef when it comes to hobby cooks, but the Masterchef UK - the Professional spin of has a quality and culinary depth, which lacks most other cooking shows. It is tough, but not as "vocally abusive" - is just not as "couch_potato_entertaining". But it seriousness sets it apart. 

  • Top Chef (US) - The overall idea of Top Chef is matching the Masterchef UK - the Professional. However it sets a completely different tone, a different structure... it is definitely not a show, which just rips of another shows idea (to be honest, I am not sure which show was first:  Top Chef or Masterchef Professional). Season I was a bit a drought, due to a underwhelming and underperforming female host. The producers acknowledged this, and replaced her with the lovely Padma Lakshmi, which really carries the show aside of an opinionated, but nonetheless brilliant celebrity chef Tony Colicchio. 
    • Top Chef of other countries (e.g. Canada) - I started to watch a bit Top Chef Canada... and it is also quite good. But as the Masterchef Australia, it is just not as cutting edge as the American version.

  • Good Eats - if you have abandoned this post to already watch some of my top TV shows, this host might very much be familiar with you... Alton Brown is one of the most influential (non-chef) food personalities - and he is the narrator of Iron Chef America, the host of The Next Iron Chef and he is surfacing reasonably often in other culinary occasions. Good Eats is highly educational, it will make you definitely a better cook! It is really off-beat, and just reflects very much Alton's kooky personality. Unfortunately the show was discontinued last year [after years... I think there are around 200 episodes]. If you haven't seen it yet, it will rock your "cooking world".

  • Munchies: Chef Night OutWhile the other shows are traditionally produced and distributed, Munchies is a spin off of VICE and is totally youtube based. That means that it is extremely accessible to anyone!
    Chef Night Out always follows the same structure: A chef is introduced and he walks you through his philosophy and approach, some of his dishes and so on. The cool thing is, that chefs/restaurants are chosen, which are really trendy and cool - not lead by known celebrity chefs or not the restaurants you always hear about. This makes the show refreshingly different. After the introduction, the chef picks up some friends and goes to befriended restaurant and bars [or to places in their area, which they wanted to visit] and eat a lot of food and eventually get drunk - they usually take some people from the visited restaurants with them - hence the party becomes bigger. They then go back into their restaurant and cook for their staff as well as friends and people from the other restaurants and party on.
    While it sounds a bit crude, the show really showcases the different personalities of the chefs - it is really fun. 
    • Munchies doesn't only produce Chefs Night Out, but also other brilliant shows - just go onto their youtube channel and subscribe! One really great, but also not necessary family friendly show is Fuck, that's delicious. It takes you onto the food adventures of "foodie rapper" Action Bronson - it is totally entertaining... but be aware, that you might not want to watch it with your kids or other sensitive people - and it is also not save for your workplace! 
    • Different in structure and content, but very similar in foul language and fun is: Keep It Canada With Matty Matheson. It takes you with the mentioned Matty through Canada... the heavily tattooed and overweight but incredible fun guy, gives you loads of smiles.
    • The Munchies show Sushi Chef, is very nice as well - very edutaining, but not as fun-trashy as the other shows.
    • Vice/Munchies also made fantastic and very neutral documentaries about serious topics like the over-fishing of the Blue Fin Tuna - or the whole foie gras debate.
    • Other shows of Munchies are in my eyes also very view-able - but not as iconic (you should keep your eyes on The Fat Prince - I don't know how, but this totally crappy show just attracts big "acts" from the culinary scene... it also very much features foul language and it is also fun... just not really my type of show.

  • Food WishesThis is a real conservative recipe youtube channel, but it has an almost therapeutically effect on me. It has definitely a good amount of humor, but is mainly educational. Personally I think, it is one of the best "recipe driven" shows around, and can definitely revel against professional TV productions!


The top 10 are now set in stone (well, not really...) - but how to get to the shows? Eventually a lot of shows are American and are often restricted to the region...

  • iTunes, etc.
    • You can buy some of the shows absolutely legally from this pages... but at times they are also regional restricted. For me iTunes is the easiest way... but I believe, the best is to try out different sites/apps and find your very own perfect match.
  • Youtube
    • There is a lot of legal and half legal (the uploader infringed the copyrights of the tv-production, but you can watch it absolutely legally, until youtube is banning the video). Sometimes it is not a great quality - but most of the time, it is adequate. Even some TV-networks are uploading free youtube videos - but unfortunately often with regional restrictions [we are coming to this point].
  • VPN
    • Because I am addicted to food-videos, I made the decision to subscribe to VPN services. Basically you are "tunneling" your internet connection to the servers to your VPN company, hence you have regional restriction, of the server location [usually you can choose the server location]. That works like a charm for the TV-channels websites of the respective shows - on this pages, they upload quite a lot of free videos... e.g. Foodnetwork. Unfortunately it doesn't work anymore with Hulu [which has free content, but now is checking to "typical VPN server addresses and blocks them]. There are few free VPN services out there... which are not very useful in my eyes. I have got ExpressVPN, which is very good and not expensive at all. With this services you are also overall far less vulnerable to hacker attacks!
  • Torrenting - no this isn't necessary legal. However it can be very hard to watch some shows, if you don't torrent - and a lot of shows cannot even be purchased legally - personally I think, if you cannot get to the latest shows, legally, there is a proper justification to go rogue. Just download a torrent client like utorrent or Vuze - search in google for "torrent >specific TV show< sXXeXX" and it should bring you to several sites, where you can download it. Usually I prefer the magnet link, which is less prone to download any fraudulent content. 
    • Have an anti-virus tool on your computer. Torrent webpages are really a cradle for malware... be aware.
    • Don't install any video codecs, don't download [or stop downloading and delete] exe files or other applications and disc images!
    • Try first of all to get the episodes the legal way, before you download them.

And don't subscribe to the TV premium package of your respective communication company (in the UAE Du and Etisalat), if you only want to see food shows. Unfortunately they have incredible amount of repetitions... and the shows are usually very old.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ethics for food blogging and reviewing restaurants (yelp, zomato etc.)

I am not known, as a very subtle writer. Well... in fact I am not very well known for a subtle "anything". I am brash, opinionated, at times harsh... but what I am not is unfair!

I do think, that you have to be tight with your top ratings. Overall I do think, that it is substantially wrong of yelp and zomato [and other reviewing sites], to just offer one overall rating. Because people have individual ideas of a restaurants performance... and often it just not make sense to rate a restaurant badly, because you are the princess from the story the "princess and the pea", or you have PMS [yes, also guys can have "emotional" PMS']...

I have read this on Zomato [in the UAE, we don't have - but zomato, which is basically the same]:
SoHo Grill:
Discerning In Dubai: To the incompetent gasbags who manage SoHo Grill -
What is that supposed to mean, "We're disappointed YOU were disappointed?" Are you trying to patronise me? That's the line people who are not actually disappointed use. Basically you're saying - ' Oh, we're sorry that YOU feel bad, but we basically don't think we did anything wrong.'

ARE YOU NOT DISAPPOINTED IN YOURSELF FOR HAVING BAD QUALITY AND SERVICE?! YOU ARE ONLY DISAPPOINTED BECAUSE YOU'RE LOSING CUSTOMERS, YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT QUALITY OF YOUR RESTAURANT. I already wrote the review and explained what you did wrong and what you need to rectify. Do you think I have the time or energy to call you back? Or do you think I'm so cheap that I write bad reviews so you'll recompense me by giving me free meals? I write these reviews because i like good food. I have a Doctorate degree and do not work in the Food/Hospitality industry. Don't you dare pester me again by asking me over and over to call you. It's your job to fix your terrible restaurant, not mine. .
SoHo Grill: Hi Discerning, We were merely trying to contact you to compensate you for your bad experience, and prove that we could do better. We're sorry if we offended you in any way. It was not our intention. Our second post was to update you with our new customer service e-mail that we set up so that we could channel your complaint more efficiently internally.
Foodcriticdxb  they are basically saying zomato reviews are inefficient lol! i had a bite at this place the interior design is attractive but the food is one of the worst ive had. dry, late... read more
Joslyn &#039;Josie&#039; Ramey
Joslyn 'Josie' Ramey  I thought the comment was trying to say how disappointed they were that you had a bad experience-- so it was a good response on their part, recognizing that they needed to work... read more
So the restaurant made a couple of mistakes. The soft drink didn't had enough carbonation [I am not sure, if a food blogger or commentator has the technical expertise, to judge how easy it is to adjust/maintain/use a soda fountain....], the asparagus was not well peeled. She was especially furious about their response on Zomato and subsequently gave them the minimum rating of 1 out of 5!

I would say, that these are really first world problems.

The difference between professional restaurant reviewers and food bloggers and reviewers is, that the professional writers are visiting a restaurant several times, until they write a proper review.
When I review, I usually go only once - but I give the venue the opportunity, to make mistakes up to me.
Also - your feelings, have nothing to do with the quality of a restaurant!
In our example, a restaurant with 1 out of 5 would barely save to eat, the steak would have been not tasty at all, massively under or overcooked. You name it.

This makes me think, that yelp, zomato and all the other reviewing sites, supposed to take more charge of their services and show more responsibility! Unfortunately these companies are focusing on their "money-making" departments and let the quality of the website suffer!

When I would be them, I would ban this type of user, which obviously went beyond any reasonable and justifiable limits!

Truth has to be told - there is one restaurant in particular, which I rated rather bad - despite the overall good ratings of others. Meet Wingster's:

I guess this is my last update for this restaurant.
I can proudly say that, when it comes to food [and beverages] I am very objective, opinionated but fair. For Wingsters I wasn't at times no more sure - and that's why I revise my 1 point rating. This has nothing to do with the real quality of the restaurant, but their consistency of services - and honestly, I was also a bit cranky with the whole situation.

Hence in this reflection [and also with the reason, that I like a good chicken wing!], I went back - again after work, though this time a bit earlier: 1 am.
The staff did deep cleaning in the restaurant [scrubbing the floor, moving all furniture etc.]. On one hand, I really happy to see, that they take it seriously with the hygiene. On the other hand, you can clean smaller things, if you have a slower business - but you don't want to make a guest unwelcome. Again, quite a service flaw.
Anyway, I wanted to take my order to go, and the cleaning didn't had a big impact on me.

I ordered the normal French fries and spicy chipotle wings - and after about 10 minutes my order was ready and I headed home.
I first of all opened the French fries, The paper bag was closed with several stapler pins - nice to keep it warm... unfortunately the fries could have been crisper, warmer, less greasy. Not the worst fries I tasted.... but by far not the best ones neither. One more thing: I could taste again a strange fat taste, which wasn't as bad as the first time I ate there [or was my palate less sensitive???]. Anyway - overall not that pleasant.
I had higher hopes for the wings. Doused in hot sauce they quite lost their crispiness [still retain some "finger-licking" stickiness]. Also the wings, had a faint taste of the oil. However there was a much bigger flaw of the wings: they were cooked to death! Yes - they kept the wings so long in the fryer, that part of the meat shrunk and became stringy.

Further I have to slightly object to the types of wings they are offering. For a normal restaurant, these type of wings are ok. However at the prices [I bought 8 wings and a portion of French fries for AED 50], but also the expectations, what you have, when you go to a specific chicken wing venue just suggest, that they are sourcing large, meaty chicken wings!

The sauce itself was also somewhat disappointing - on one hand, it tasted not wrong - but it didn't tasted particularly housemade [if - yes IF it was housemade, they just mixed several food industry products together to make the sauce - for sure it isn't from scratch] - and even more importantly, the sauce didn't taste anything but chipotle [smokey, funky, hot].

My final [really final] verdict: there are some flaws or objections I have, with the products they source [the chicken itself, definitely the oil, the sauces etc]; and there are flaws in execution [the overcooked wings and the soggy oily fries] and there are flaws in the service [closing early - or a deep cleaning, hence a guest cannot sit inside]. This all overshadows an otherwise whimsical concept! Maybe, they are just lazing up a bit, when it goes towards closing time - but then there is a lack of consistency, which is equally bad.

As food is priority, I can't really give this place more points than 2.5 - the sauces taste industrial, and the produce is less than average.
The strange thing is, that a bit of tweaking, could make this a killer venue. Overall the concept is really compelling - but they just need to get the operation right.
Now it is the time to say, that I won't come anytime soon back to this place. 3 tries, is really enough. And no, the food doesn't suggest, to get back often. Unfortunately I don't really understand all the great ratings... it seems, that they went in a completely different venue [with the same concept though].
A restaurant like Kimchikn just would kills this place [not with the concept but with flavors!] - and either way buying KFC chicken wings [they are not better, but also not worse - but at least they don't have this strange fat taste] and douse them yourself in sauce [I recommend a mixture of liquid butter and franks hot sauce - or you can use Tabasco Chipotle sauce] will definitely lead to a better wing. Or you are just baking your own wings [ method] and douse them in sauce. Anyway, I am no more interested in excuses.... let's move on!

I was hungry - on my way back to work and thought to go just another time to the German Doner Kebab - but then I have seen this small restaurant: Wingsters.
The concept is intriguing - definitely not for everyone and not for those, who don't understand black humor.
The food is connected to the worst of the worse mobsters mainly from the US.

Well - basically it is a chicken wing restaurant.

I tried sweet potato fries and a portion of the Al Capone [which supposed to be spicy].
Service was a little bit slow [considering that there was just another table].
The fries came first - and they had a pretty bad aftertaste. I was not sure, if it came from the freezer... when the wings arrived I assumed it came from the frying oil, as the aftertaste was absolutely noticeable again.
The salads were fine - and I finished the wings - just because I was hungry and wasted already too much time. I gave feedback - but then, the owner didn't even took of my sweet potatoe fries [I had 2 or 3 fries] from my bill - even after discussing.

This was a couple of months ago - and I didn't considered to come back.
I think, they have to get some things right: e.g. the oil [and aftertaste] - but especially also the wings - for a restaurant which focuses on wings, I am just expecting, that they have better wings [larger wings] - better crisp, better sauces [supposed to taste fresher - I don't say, that they use sauces out of a bag - but the sauces supposed to just taste homemade!
So if I have a craving for chicken wings, I prefer them Korean from Kimchikn...

But that is just me...


Wanted to give it another try.
So I went their - after work... I was quite late at 01h15 but they supposed to be open till 02h00 - so no problem?
Yes it was... I went inside and a waiter told me that their machines are already switched off as they have their last order at 01h10. I was pretty upset, about this blatant lie - I am working in the business, and there would be never a 01h10 last order.
Further the place has pick up and delivery - so to make this type of last order - it makes no sense at all.
I changed my rating to the minimum - sorry but it seems, that their customer service didn't became better - but it became worse... and all what I can read, I am sure, that their food didn't became stellar. A pity!

As you can see, I reviewed the place 3 times [one rating]. There was also a lot of back and forth going on in the comment section. overall I gave the place 2/5 compared to an average score of 4.1.

As you can read, I don't agree with the service, with the taste of the product [it is not a matter of taste, if it has a "chemical" aftertaste],  And even though, I still think, that even 2 points are barely justifiable I did give it a "two".

But let's face it: 4.1/5 is a joke. Yeah - comically bad ratings make no sense - but impossible good ratings as well. How can you rate a place, which makes rather mediocre chicken wings [with questionable creative sauces] better than a place, with outstanding food - like a fine dining restaurant???

These sites, have to get more into it - have to offer better and more precise ratings [e.g. service, after-service, food quality, preparation, inventiveness, value!!!] and also have to bring the market/type of restaurant into perspective. Otherwise you compare apples with oranges, which seems like a stupid thing to do!? 

Friday, March 27, 2015

I was so wrong... Parmesan fries aren't the most delicious fries - Gruyere truffle oil fries are...

Ok - I admit. I came late from work. Wanted to do a simple pasta pomodoro [even bought some stuff].
But then in the last minute, I decided to have a meal of German Doner. Yes - it might have been better before - but it is still the best freakin' Doner in Dubai - full stop!
I asked them also to double pack the french fries, as I got them previously lukewarm and soggy.
When I came home, the fries were still warm.

So I put them on a plate grated some gruyere on top of them and put them shortly under the broiler.
I had to add some salt [weren't salted enough] and well, a couple of drops of truffle oil cannot hurt [truffle oil is one of the very very very very few things, which I like, despite the fact, that it is not the natural truffle flavor - but a nature identical aroma].

I tried this before with Parmesan cheese, but it didn't cut it for me... gruyere does!

Would it be better, to put it on home made and fresh fried fries? Yes. I even think along the lines of fusion - and think of doing a furikake, Kenji's vegan miso topping, gruyere thing... when it comes to french fries, everything goes. Even chili with truffle...

But at this point I am quite happy.
It tasted delicious - if now gruyere wouldn't be so damned expensive....

Sunday, February 8, 2015

How to boil an egg

After quite some time I am reporting back... with a quite simple topic [so it seems]. Hot to boil an egg.
But how have I heard it so often in cooking shows [like MasterChef and TopChef] - the most simple things, demand perfection... please throw the first stone, who does think, that he/she can boil the perfect egg!

No? I am totally unscathed - that means most people out there do have some issues to boil the perfect egg.

So what are the options:

  • Traditional boiled egg
    • It is very difficult to pull off the right consistency
    • It is almost impossible, to peel the egg perfectly, without totally blemish its service
    • Especially if you are intend to cook a hard boiled egg, the egg white will be rubbery and smells like sulphur.

  • Sous Vide egg
    • One of my favorites
    • It takes pretty long - around 45 minutes
    • The egg yolk it perfect [depending how you like it].
    • The egg white, is fluid, and usually you are inclined, to eat yolk only.
    • It is not possible, to peel an traditional egg from the result [white is simply not stiff enough]
    • Sous vide isn't the most accessible equipment out there [however it becomes better and better

  • Pressure cooker
    • Very fast method 
    • It needs a steaming basket
    • Eggs are looking boiled traditionally.
    • The egg peel can be perfectly removed

  • Rice cooker
    • Needs also a steam insert.
    • Same as pressure cooker just slightly faster

I have seen last two versions and it made click! Duh - not the pressure made the egg peel better [like theorized on many websites] - it is the steam! Look water can boil only at 100ºC. However steam can be far hotter. That means the membrane in the egg expends due to the higher temperature.
But the egg white doesn't get overheated [and rubbery] due to the fact, that it doesn't boil usually long enough - and as the membrane builds an insulating air barrier [speaking of theories- this is mine.

That means, you don't even need a rice cooker or pressure cooker - you just can steam in a normal pot.

This having said I still would not boil a hardboiled or medium egg through steam. Because you don't end up with a perfect result, and the egg white might just be too hard. What do you think about a combination - short steam [e.g. pressure cooker] about 2 minutes [with another steamer you might need to steam the eggs longer], dropping the eggs into an ice bath.
Then throwing them into a water bath for another 30-40 minutes at the temperature, you prefer the egg.

The result is the perfect egg - the yolk [nectar of the gods] is perfect - and the egg white is nice, solid and shiny. Additionally it peels perfectly.

This type of egg, you could bread and fry [shortly - maybe you pass the sous vide step, due to the fact, that the frying oil will anyway warm up the egg enough]. Or you make a perfect [runny] Scotch egg. Or... sky's the limit!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Evolution of Food

,KRelax. I don't plan here to bore you about molecular cuisine or a lot of statistics! Maybe my header is misleading. Maybe not.

Fact is, that mainstream trends become more and more extreme. Mainstream isn't the Skandinaviam (Nordic) cuisine of Noma - or molecular cuisine of Alinea (and El Bulli before) - [it is though funny, that the mass food industry is using exactly the same culinary additives than molecular restaurants- and e.g. French Fries from McDonalds could be served in a fine dining restaurant, due to its insane effort, to make achieve the perfect recipe].
What I mean are burgers, pork belly, bacon, ramen (yes the packages), and... vegan.

You might have already realized that these thinks are on an opposite spectrum. The extremes. And hence this is the world we are living in... we are wondering, why people are becoming violent due to their religion, but become ourself violent, if restaurateurs serving foie gras.

Well... I am part of the world- so are you! Hence I am not predicting the next trend (which will be definitely more extreme - maybe something like wagyu-pig bacon?) - no, I am looking for a,food trend, which would make things better!

Look- the issue is, that we are eating too much meat (as well as other animal protein). But the problem is, that vegans won't be able to convince a healthy thinking carnivore to stop eating animal products - this simply won't happen! The issue is, that cuisine and dietary requires compromise: there are several points which are standing kinda in opposite directions and one has to be very lucky (read rich) to be able to make the least compromises. These points are:

• Deliciousness
• Sustainability
• Healthiness
• Affordability
• Ethicality

Look, meat mass production - even fish farming (...) has a big impact into the environment- and really the animal wellbeing is always in jeopardy. Yes, not meat production at all is ethical in question- no, mass production does make the problems.
Well, in fact a problem is also, that even veganism and vegetarism is not necessary perfect for the environment. But I do agree, that animal farming is a big environmental problem!

The issue for me: vegan (and often vegetarian) food taste like a combination of bird-food and cardboard. I was one time so excited about a British "high quality" (at least it was a renowned brand) vega sausage... In fact it tasted like ground cardboard with spices. And I don't know your preferences... but in my vocabulary, cardboard isn't connected to tasty!!!

Organic and sustainable raised animals are another way. The issue is here, that the cost is dramatically higher. And besides, that you have to be definitely wealthy to change to this type of produce, the world simply doesn't have enough organic farms!

The way out of this riddle are responsible chefs, blogger, journalists... Which don't go the easy route of offering something delicious without thinking of the consequences.

Put it how you like it, but every person who is not a vegan (or maybe vegetarian) eats far, far, far (and in my case few more fars) too much meat! 
I like few Italian dishes, which are meatless, and I should eat them far more often: spaghetti aglio e olio, and pasta marinara. Honestly, I would not miss the meat in a mushroom sauce (in fact I just ate a couple of days ago a,stir fried dish in Blue Jade, which was so meaty and so flavorful, and was made entirely from mushrooms!). Pasta with pesto, is another dish, which is delicious without animal product. And Cacio e peppe a dish with pecorino and pepper is just another delicious Italian dish without meat (and no, I can't live without cheese).
These dishes are also relatively easy to produce. I never even attempted to make black pepper tofu, but when I ate it in a restaurant, I thought, that it is a perfect dish- no need for meat!

But more of these dishes would need to be endorsed by celebrity chefs! We should eat 1-2 times a week "proper meat" and the rest of the week, we should eat scraps (chicken gizzards someone?) or something which didn't died for us!

But to go this step, everyone has to promote good tasting food, which just happen to be meatless.
Vegan chefs, bogger and "foodies" (yeah, I am really questioning if there is something such like a vegan foodie) are not an option. They are living the compromise and their tastebuds are compromised! They have a different perspective about food! 
But real chefs and carnivore bloggers, have the tastebuds, which can detect a great dish- with or without meat! Just put the bacon aside (I am not joking- bacon was such a trend that in the US there was a bacon shortage last year, which resulted a national wide price increase!!!) - and become responsible! The Sunday roast can still be an animal... But let us do some delicious meatless weekday dishes!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Dubai is a strange place for restaurants

My header says it all. Since almost 10 years, I still struggle to understand the owners and operators of Dubai's restaurant scene.

Maybe I see it clearer - maybe I am more innovative and inspired - maybe they are just not all of it!

At work, we just opened a beach restaurant featuring grilled seafood and meats and (my part) tiki cocktails. Yes - this is nice... and rather boring. Not the drinks... but the concept.

Now: beach, sand, a grill - my voices in my head are almost so loud, that I am sure, that everyone around me is hearing them! Two things you could do really well - guess - it isn't a grill with Tiki cocktails:

  • A Filipino restaurant
  • A Jamaican restaurant
How can you not choose this type of concepts???

Ok - you might want to know why?!

Take one: The Filipino restaurant.
  1. Everybody likes to have an as authentic as possible restaurant - guess what - we do have a lot of Filipinos here! 
    1. We have Filipino bands here, which are inexpensive [compared to e.g. European bands] - and they are really good.
    2. We have a lot of Filipino waitresses and waiters here
    3. We have a lot of Filipino chefs here.
  2. The food is simply delicious!
    1. Yes - Filipinos love pork - but there are also a lot of recipes featuring other stuff than pork.
    2. The food is simple and delicious.
  3. There is no competition around
    1. There are pinoy restaurants - but they are more cafeteria style
    2. You would need to pimp a bit the presentation and preparation - but this isn't a big challenge I guess.
    3. People would just love it.
  4. It is easy to design a Filipino restaurant at the beach!
And take two: The Jamaican restaurant.
  1. The food is so different and definitely made for a BBQ set up.
  2. It is delicous - maybe even more delicious than Filipino food.
  3. The music - just think about it and tell me, that you wouldn't come to a place which plays awesome Reggae and offer cool beers, some rum and some blackened jerk chicken!?
  4. There is also no competition around - not a bit!
  5. And yes - it is also quite straight forward to design a restaurant around Jamaica culture.
So instead of copying the 101st South American steak house or the 301st Japanese restaurant, somebody could do something unique!

Just saying...

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Jake's Food Truck review

Long time I didn't posted here anything. It is quite convenient to post reviews directly on Zomato - and I haven't usually a lot of time to post on two separate spaces.

Anyways - I guess Jake's Food Truck isn't yet long enough operational - that is why it isn't on Zomato - and that further means, I post my review here, yey!

Recently, I tasted the small burgers at SALT - and while they were not the best in Dubai - at least they were quite good - very good, indeed. When I read about Jake's I was quite excited. Maybe something more unique? The "unnamed spokesperson" which was interviewed by the Guardian, lifted my anticipation further in lofty heights: they intended to serve "gourmet food" in a more casual way - on the street. That's sounds like a promise...

We found Jake's food truck on the Jumeirah beach - close to the Jumeirah Beach hotel. Ordering was quite painless... the menu is short [burgers - 3 different ways] - drinks, we bought before at a petrol station [I fancy Coke more than Pepsi].

So it was the Heat and the Original Burger... we ordered - and we forgot the fries - these we ordered a bit later.
Order process was painless and much more personal. No electronic hockey puck as SALT. I ordered the burger medium but 'Chef' [yes, there was a probably French chef in the truck - probably the co-owner] that Dubai law doesn't allow medium burgers - but that the burger will be juicy enough.
When are chefs finally bring sous vide burger to Dubai, which are pasteurized due to a sufficient time in the heat???
Cooking time - again - ring, ring 2:0 - for Jake's. We hardly waited 5 minutes for our burgers.
Ambiance? Truth has to be told - the Kite Surf Beach is gorgeous, and cannot be beaten by the Jumeirah beach. It is nice - but not as trendy as the Kite...

We received our burger in a half carton box - while it was printed, it was much less paper/cardboard... I would prefer the more environmentally beneficial recycling paper of SALT, but sparely used like at Jake's. Anyway - it did its job to hold the burgers well enough.

The burgers themselves? Meh. First - I guess, they mixed up the burgers - I got blue cheese on mine and both had no heat. The burger we didn't ordered sported blue cheese - hence I guess, that they made a mistake. The bagel was small and tough. Not homemade - not even a great commercial bagel.
The burger patty was also quite tough - I guess overworked - not loose enough, not juicy [and fatty] enough. Fries were soft and unimpressive.

For God sake(!!!) why are they bringing food trucks to Dubai and don't get it right???

Ok - a food truck is a truck which serves food. But the contemporary idea is, that these are "establishments" which serve a very focus selection of food, very personal and very good. Jake's doesn't do this.

The burgers look like a room service product of a trendy 4 Star hotel, which wants to be different [that's why bagels instead of burger roll]. It is overpromising and underdelivering and I hate that!
To be honest - I hate to hate Jake's as well as I hate to dislike SALT!

Is it worth a detour if you are in the neighborhood? At a "naked" price of 35 dhs per smallish burger [bigger than SALTs - but there you get two burgers, which is considerably a better deal] - I would prefer to go to a near Johnny Rockets!

So - given, that Jake's supposed to be the first food truck, which is freely roaming Dubai, I am anxious waiting for better iteration of the food truck concept. At this point, brick and mortar restaurants in Dubai offering better food - which isn't necessary more expensive or less personal!