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Thoughts on the Cooking Channel

Because of my recent unemployment, I have had plenty of time to enjoy mass media outlets.  Since it has been a little bit more than a month since the Cooking Channel launched, I figured it was time to share my thoughts.

Overall, I think the Cooking Channel is a nice complement to the Food Network.  I could go out on a limb and say that I actually prefer it to the mother ship in many ways.  After viewing the network for many hours, my first impression actually had nothing to do with the programming made available.  I think that the “Cooking Channel” name is not an accurate description of the network’s content.  Burgergal, for example, thinks that the network does not have enough cooking shows.  Following the same format as the FN does, the bulk of the actual “kitchen shows” are aired during the day and late at night, with more “food interest” stories going during primetime.  I’m fine with that, but it does cause a little bit of confusion for me.  Their tagline is “for food people, by food people,” which I think is spot-on, but even that is disconnected from the word “cooking.”

As an advertiser for food products (ingredients or supplies), I would have rejoiced in the fact that Scripps was coming out with a “cooking channel.”  What better environment to showcase my wares??  But in the execution, I think I would be a tad disappointed.  I’m sure the CPMs aren’t that high (I can’t imagine the audience is significantly larger than Fine Living was… yet), but still, I’d ask, “where’s the beef?”

But enough about the name, let’s get into the programming.

It’s all about the NYC.

I thoroughly enjoy most of the programming focused on new-ish restaurants.  Why?  Because a lot of the shows are focused in NY-area restaurants.  Unique Eats, a program dedicated to things that are cool and, well, unique, features a lot of cool restaurants, 90% of which are in NYC.  This is great for me, but probably not as great for someone in any other location.

Old stuff is old.

(Compliment sandwich)  I don’t like the repeats of old destination/travel shows from the late 90’s.  They are dated.  They don’t look cool.  They don’t keep me as an engaged viewer.  They make me think that there just wasn’t enough good programming to fill the day (which is probably not far from the truth).  I think that with time this will change, but for the moment it is my major gripe with the network.

Candians.  They’re like up-upstate New Yorkers, I suppose.

The Canadian-produced shows are growing on me.  At first, I was a little thrown by shows like David Rocco’s Dolce Vita and Chuck’s Day Off and Everyday Exotic (but I think that dude is cool and his accent is a trip) and the one with the guy from New Zealand (ok, I’ll look it up in fairness to the kiwi… Bill’s Food).  Everything was so foreign at first, with their “caster sugar” and “litres” and funny way of saying “yeah.”  But now I’ve come to appreciate their Canadian charm.  And I’d like to spend a day with the Food Jammers.  Especially the Japanese dude.

Gimme me Mo (Rocca/ -llencamp)!

Food(ology) is, in my humble opinion, the best show on the network.  Mo Rocca’s interludes are classic, and the show’s topics are really interesting for a food nerd like myself.  Francis Lam from Salon.com (formerly of Gourmet) is kinda the man.  I mean, I understand that he is prepped prior to tapings, but still, he’s on top of his game.  He can hang out with me and Nobu (japanese dude from above).

FoodCrafters is also pretty solid, mostly because I am completely infatuated with small batch producers.  Milk, ice cream, whatever, I’m interested in seeing how it’s made and I want to “get to know” the people doing it (mostly because I am completely jealous of being able to focus exclusively on one thing for long periods of time.  Fairly well evidenced by my blog, I’d say.).  Aida Mollenkamp is also able to elicit the good side of the food producers, which not every food show host can do.  Added bonus, she is from Cali.  I guess she can hang with Francis and me, too.

Bottom line, I’m enjoying the network, and I’m really looking forward to what comes next.  What do you guys think?

Rules for a successful food tour.

I awoke this morning to a pounding headache and a feeling of nausea that started from deep within the depths of my body.  I was weak.  My eyes couldn’t focus.  I was congested.  I was exhausted.

No, I did not awake to a cold or a flu.  I woke up in a black hole after a night of raging out on the town.  Not just any kind of raging, but a food/bar crawl, sampling wares from many places in New York’s East Village.

We scoured the neighborhood like animals, looking for food and drink possibilities.  Our goal was to somehow have every continent represented in our consumption (it was achieved with the exception of antarctica… maybe we should have gotten some ice).

We stopped in at numerous locations, such as…

  • B-Bar
  • Decibel
  • Baoguette Café
  • Crif Dog
  • Blue and Gold Tavern
  • Drop Off Service
  • Zaragoza Mexican Deli
  • Led Zeppole

Yes, that list reads like a direct-response TV advertisement.  In my hungover stupor, I thought about how a group of four people could possibly go to so many places.  Sometimes Burgergal and I have trouble making a decision on ONE place, and that’s half the number of opinions.  The more I thought about it, the more a clear set of guidelines emerged from last night’s revelry.

I therefore present to you, my devoted readers, a basic set of rules so that you, too, can enjoy a night out on the town and experience the joys of a food and drink hangover.

Continue reading ‘Rules for a successful food tour.’

The art of ice cream: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and The Steven Kasher Gallery

With the mercury hitting 90 degrees today here in New York, I think it is pretty much safe to say that summer has officially arrived (conveniently, just as the calendar hits June 21st).  I don’t know about you guys, but when the temperature rises, I start to think of cool summer treats: margaritas, white wine, gazpacho, Arnold Palmers, and, of course, ice cream.  Especially when that humidity breaks 80 percent, nothing hits the spot like some smooth and velvety ice cream.

Conveniently enough for me, the “Inspire your palate!” event this weekend at the Steven Kasher Gallery allowed me to get some of the cool stuff, while also expanding my cultural horizons and take in some art.  Since 90 percent of my photography intake consists of pictures found on Photograzing and Smitten Kitchen, I figured it would be good to expand my purview.  And an added bonus: Jeni of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams was there sampling some of her wares!

Continue reading ‘The art of ice cream: Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams and The Steven Kasher Gallery’

So much to write about, so little time.

Another weekend down South, another set of food pics to come.

Just a teaser… all you can eat whole hog bbq at Sweatman’s, in Holly Hill, South Carolina.

I just couldn’t stop myself. A rare step by step.

After this weekend’s food-fest, I needed something for dinner that would live up to my (now) very high standards.  But I equally needed something moderately healthy, as a result of this weekend’s food-fest.

While brainstorming, burgergal asked me what ingredient I wanted to use.  Recently, when I think healthy, I think quinoa.  But a big plate of quinoa wasn’t exactly going to cut it.  I also needed some ramps in there (obviously).  What else… some mushrooms maybe?  That would be good, really good.  But for some reason, and this never happens, I wanted red meat, not in the form of a hamburger.  I wanted sirloin.  Beefy, chewy sirloin.

Putting together the building blocks in my head, I settled on a mish-mosh of ingredients that I thought would work together: mushroom and ramp quinoa with seared sirloin and pickled ramps.  I know, I know, I just re-listed everything that I wrote above.  But the combination was so tasty that I decided I had to give the gift to you, the readers.

I started out by putting a quick marinade together: a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce, about a teaspoon of sugar, three ramp leaves, cut into strips, minced garlic, rice wine vinegar, a teaspoon of sesame oil, a teaspoon of vegetable oil, and a few cracks of pepper.  I had bought a really cheap piece of top sirloin for about two bucks and cut it into some thin pieces, like you’d use for a cheesesteak.  I tossed them in the marinade and let them hang out for about an hour while I went to the gym to get my Spin on (I’m addicted).

I came back and put a 1/2 cup of quinoa on the stove with a cup of water and some ramp leaves (sensing a trend?).  Once it came to the boil, I reduced the heat and covered it.  Quinoa, done.

Meanwhile, I cleaned about a cup of mushrooms… I went with a mix of shiitake and cremini.  I also diced up another clove of garlic and did a chiffonade of ramp leaves.  That was pretty much it– the rest was just assembly.

I fired up the wok until it was scorching hot, and threw in the beef.  After it was nice and browned up, I took it out and placed it aside.  I added a little bit of fresh oil to the pan and added the mushrooms and sauteed those until they were cooked through.  Just for some kicks, I threw a dried chili in there.  Why not ,right?

Continue reading ‘I just couldn’t stop myself. A rare step by step.’


Burgergal and I might be  a little buzzed after a night out, but this is just crazy.  She is making cookies for a little get together tomorrow, and she got an egg with two yolks.  I guess that happens.

Then she took another egg out, since she needed more white.  I jokingly said, “haha, I hope that’s not another double yolk.”


Like woah.

Double double yolk.  Apparently the odds are 1 in a 1000.  So the odds of getting two in a row is 1 in 1,000,000.  One in a million.

Right here, on b4b.