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Rant: Sick of "Artisanal" and "Curated" food and Wine - Food pretensions that make you gag? Post em here!

When people start talking about making artisinal (pour over as opposed to automatic) drip coffee I've had enough. Seriously you are not hand dying wool with vegetable dyes and knotting a Persian carpet, or hammering out a suit of armor by hand from pig iron. You are pouring hot water over some dark brown powder. No skill involved here unless you have spent your entire life on a couch playing video games and actually doing something in the meat world is novel to you.

And when does one "curate" a list of wine or a selection of salami. You curate a museum, or perhaps the art collection for a billionaire. Picking a decent wine list is not rocket science. Getting folks with excessive disposable income to cough up big $ for fancy wine (sommelier) is still essentially being a service person. Nothing at all wrong with being in a service industry, in the end, essentially every job you have to take care of your boss. But let's not confuse selecting which old masters should be part of the permanent collection at the Louvre with buying wine from a few sales reps, or heaven forbid actually going to a vineyard to make a purchase or two.

I go even more bonkers when a resto talks about their carefully "Curated" selection of cured meats... Oh, you mean the guy who buys the salami; seriously. Food pretension has gotten out of hand.

Here in Boston the ultimate manifestation of this trend is a place called Craigie Street. The chef, admittedly quite talented, is somewhat notorious for being amongst the most pretentious in town. His staff has turned over 100% several times, apparently he treats them like hell, and he disparages his fussy Cambridge MA clientele openly in emails and on-line forums.

Heaven forbid you refer to Craigie's list of charcuterie without using the house approved terminology. Your server will treat you as though you farted out loud in center of the dining room.

Food pretensions that make you gag? Post em here.

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  1. Not sure if this qualifies but I do see a lot of people here (and on other forums) that find that line of demarcation between edible and inedible just ever so slightly south of awesome. Like there's something wrong with a good solid meal nowadays. For some reason a good solid meal is now not worthy of their dog.
    However, if you put the term "Old School" in front of it then they love it.

    DT

    6 Replies
    1. re: Davwud

      Yah, I hear ya, if it isn't locally sourced and coddled by vestal virgins then it ain't chow. How bout a nice meatloaf sandwich.

      And I will say, the whole locavore thing has gotten out of hand t0o. Place near me raises rabbits, but charges $10 a pound for em. So a smallish rabbit is $40 plus. Pulease, I'll just go out in my backyard with a slingshot.

      1. re: StriperGuy

        On the golf course, just over the arroyo from my house, we have hundreds, if not thousands. You are welcome to harvest the little buggers, at you leisure. If not, then the coyotes will eat them, or the red-tailed hawks will nab them. Better to go to you.

        Hunt

      2. re: Davwud

        I am just as tired of the,if it's not a coronation,it must be a lynching.
        Especially when the extremes are tossed around by people who may or not be able to identify an ingredient but are know alls when it comes to menu gimmicks.They just don't know it's a gimmick.

          1. re: StriperGuy

            from Davwud
            edible,solid meal must = coronation for a rave review
            "good solid meal is now not worthy of their dog" is a lynching
            Your rabbit is a good representative of "gimmick",not just the a price issue.

      3. Yep, I'm sick of artisinal and amazing.

        @Davwud, there is apparently a contingent that would prefer going to bed hungry rather than to partake of a meal that is anything less than amazing.

        3 Replies
          1. re: Davwud

            Oh jeebus- who says that? I either missed it or read it and blocked it from conscious thought. SOMEbody needs to know what real hunger is like.

            1. re: EWSflash

              That wasn't to be taken so literally.

              DT

        1. You have made my morning.
          As F&B trade,farmer,trained chef,from a prominent French wine family with a 700 case cellar ............
          the affectation,over the top pretension has disgusted me for a long time.
          I'll be back with something on target and juicy.At this moment the temptation to rant is????

          1. Not quite sure this is what you meant, but referring to "the chef" as simply "chef" drives me bananas. "Chef found some nice greens in the market this morning." UUUGGGHHH.

            No other profession does this! No one says "Vice President will be a little late to the meeting." Or, "Priest will hear your confession now."

            Stop it!

            58 Replies
              1. re: StriperGuy

                Plus, the whole "artisinal" as a word is clearly overdone, as well. Here in Boston, the Ritz opened a restaurant and called it "Artisan Bistro". Really? That's the best they can do? Why not just 'fess up and call it "Nondescript Hotel Restaurant"?

                (I do not mind Artisinal in NY, however, as they named it that soooooo long ago (20 years?), before anyone was using that word.)

                1. re: Alcachofa

                  1. Artis*A*nal!! If you're going to complain about it, at least spell it right. Artisan = artisanal.

                  2. "Curated" simply refers to a carefully selected assortment of stuff. There's a small farmer's market up the road from me that has been mentioned in print as being "well-curated." That is exactly correct. Given the small space, the director has chosen vendors of particularly and consistently fine produce and products. I wish more cheese and salumi boards were better curated, instead of whatever they found at Trader Joe's.

                  3. "Chef says …" Sounds a bit precious? How about "Doctor will be with you shortly," which is how my favorite fang-scraper has referred to her boss for years. I can think of lots of more annoying things … "Chef'" and "Doctor" in both cases are terms of address, not simply titles. No, you won't hear "Priest will be with you shortly," but you might well hear "Father will …" And of course it's capitalized! It's not so much a job description as a rank.

                  1. re: Will Owen

                    On point two, sure it may be semantically correct, but the choice of that word in that context is pretentious, in my view. A museum curator usually has a Master's or Ph.d in Art History, but I'm guessing the person responsible for choosing my lardo doesn't have an advanced degree in Meat.

                    I would also say that my doctor is referred to by his staff as "Doctor [INSERT LAST NAME]."

                    1. re: nsenada

                      This is a good point for a farmer's market or charcuterie plate at a restaurant, but then what about wine lists or wine shops? The shops where I would use the word "curated" not only choose which wines they want to feature (as opposed to mass market or poorly made examples), they also look after them or cellar them properly, and oftentimes these passionate folks do have post-graduate education or a Masters of Wine.

                      I stand by the use of the term curation when it comes to wine.

                      1. re: Klunco

                        Honestly, I assure you 99% of the places that use the term "curate" for their wine have noone on staff with a graduate degree in Oenology, and for the VERY short time that wine stays in most retail establishments likely store it in a hot dusty basement.

                        You can like the foofery, but it's mostly still hooey. While there are some serious sommeliers out there that have encyclopedic knowledge and can blind-identify 1,000+ wines they are by far the exception as opposed to the rule.

                        The foofery around wine is marketing. You like it, good for you. A chacun son gout.

                        1. re: StriperGuy

                          I think you and I are talking about different things here, my own use of curation referring to a store or list vs a restaurant using the term themselves. Truth be told though, I haven't seen many restaurants or even stores use that term.

                          I use the term curate to refer to restaurants or stores that use their passion, education, and knowledge, to curate (ie. to pull together, sift through, and select for presentation) wine. I don't regard those qualities as pretentious. In definition, pretentiousness is the act of pretending to know more about something than one actually does.

                          If you think all of wine is foofery, then you are drinking wine with the wrong people. Heck, I might get the impression beer drinking is foofery if I drank it with certain hipsters. If I drank PBR with them it might also make me think that all beer is marketing. The value just isn't there.

                          Exceptional wine most certainly does not have to be expensive. Thinking that all of wine is marketing and that all wine is expensive is the true definition of pretentious. If you look at wine's history, the majority of wine drinkers drank local table-wine from jugs without labels. Many of us still do. I think the ignorant assumption that all wine drinkers are snobs and all beer drinkers are "salt-of-the-earth" is ridiculous; especially in today's beer culture. I've met way more beer snobs.

                          Wine is a beverage, nothing more nothing less. It can also be a handcrafted one (ie. grapes picked by hands, pressed with a basket press, bottled by hand). These people also work at it over a lifetime, amassing the knowledge to make a quality product. I guess I fail to see the distinction between that being artisanal and a handwoven rug. Sure there are manufactured, factory made wines, but there are also manufactured, factory made rugs.

                          My rant would be towards snobbery in any form; whether it's what happened to you at Craigie OR people assuming anyone who buys any product but the absolute cheapest one is an idiot.

                          1. re: Klunco

                            I'm fairly sure the OP is taking issue with establishments and individuals you use the term in lieu of "select" for the sole purpose of sounding cool. Here is a particularly hilarious use of the term:

                            http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/201...

                            Note appearance of "curator" and "Budwiser Made in America music festival" in the same sentance.

                            1. re: Klunco

                              I am actually more of a wine drinker than a beer drinker. PBR hipsterism can be just as silly as "Curating" a selection of salamis in my book.

                              As passionate as I am about food, I can't use the same word, or even consider it in the same realm as curating, say the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Coopting that word to the world of food and wine to me is just silly.

                              When my Italian in-laws come to the US they are horrified at how silly, pretentious, and snobbish Americans get about their wine.

                              When my father-in-law wants to bring me a few bottles he calls a friend who owns a modest winery and brings me a few modest bottles. These are not Super Tuscan's at $180 a bottle, but nice solid reds meant for every day drinking. Quite fluent in English he would guffaw at the foolishness of using the word "Curate" in referrence to a selection of wines.

                              I agree with your statement that wine is a beverage. But wine is not high art, in the end, again it is a beverage. Putting it on some silly "Curated" pedestal just takes it further from the every day and turns it into something elitist and yes silly.

                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                I guess I see wine and art as one in the same. But then again, what is art? Why is "museum-art" intrinsically more important or worth more than wine? There are pieces of high art that are just as ephemeral as a beverage. There are pieces of high art that were made in a much shorter time than a bottle of wine. I fail to find a distinction between a sculptor and a great wine maker.

                                How do you justify high-art's prices, ie. $65million for a Rauschenberg but call a $20 bottle of wine elitist? Isn't high art the epitome of "marketing," things being put on pedestals, and fawning over essentially worth-less items (plus lots of foofooery)?

                                Further, where is the line drawn for curation? Is it reserved only for museums like the Louvre, the Rijks, the Met? What about a one room toilet paper museum? My local coffee shop? It does have paintings (art!) on its walls. Is the manager a curator because the object he is curating is a medium commonly associated with the word art? Is the person who works there more of a curator than a wine store owner or a sommelier at a high end restaurant that cellars their wines for years?

                                On the other hand, articles like the NYT one above sound ridiculous and I agree that not too many places qualify for my definition of curation. Nevertheless, I'm still going to use the word when appropriate.

                                1. re: Klunco

                                  I understand your point.

                                  I guess we draw the line in different places. For me art is one thing, and food, though one of my greatest passions another. I would drive an hour (or three) for both, but food is NECESSARY for every day life, art is something apart, and different and in some way special.

                                  Strictly my opinion, but I don't care how good a wine maker you are, for me wine is still not art.

                                  The tiniest, hole in the wall gallery, with 3-4 unknown artists could be well curated with exquisite works. For me, food/wine is of this earth, part of life, not rising above it in a way that only art can and for me, the selection and care of that deserves its own special term, that really should not be applied to salami.

                                  Ars longa vita brevis. You can't say that about a bottle of wine.

                                  1. re: Klunco

                                    Must confess I am obsessing about this one a bit...

                                    There is a difference between making great art and making great wine.

                                    No wine will ever rise to the level of a Sistine Chapel, or any of countless masterworks old and new. You can debate endlessly whether a particular work is a master piece or not, but only the most provocative troll would suggest that the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel not a great work of Western art and a nearly immortal contribution to the world of art...

                                    Ya just can't say that about ANY bottle of wine.

                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                      As has been noted many times, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Personally, though I make my living through the creation of art, I prefer experience to accumulation. Thus, I equate beholding a masterpiece painting to savoring a masterpiece wine. I have no true interest in possessing either for long.

                                      1. re: MGZ

                                        I agree. While I am far from being an oenophile, a truly fine bottle of Dom Perignon or Château Lafitte can be equated to a work by Monet or Renoir.

                                      2. re: StriperGuy

                                        Trying to define what is art is a fascinating topic and it's fun to think about it and try to make "rules" that define it.

                                        Anyway, I agree with your above statement. I would say this: the two are not equal ie. a piece of artwork can have a larger and perhaps longer impact on the world than a bottle of wine. BUT, I also believe that there is overlap at all but the highest level. Wine is a medium of art to me (just like performance is) and there is overlap where a bottle of wine can be better (can any art truly be better except in the eye of the beholder) or more moving than a painting or sculpture. That is to say, I don't believe that art, which in this context we are defining as painting/sculpture, is always more important, more moving etc. than wine, but I do think it has the potential to be.

                                        Hopefully that wasn't too confusing. Interesting topic to be sure, although now I'm thinking about painting/sculpture vs architecture as art. We need a place to live ie. the way we need food, but architecture can most certainly be art. Dance? Theatre? Music? Are these art? I define them as such, and I define a forest as art as well. It's all personal.

                                        1. re: Klunco

                                          Just like the famous Supreme Court case... Art is very hard to define, "but I know it when I see it."

                                          I totally agree that architecture, dance, theater, and music can all be art. For me what it really boils down to is does the form have the ability to go beyond the day to day and become something larger, universal, transcendent, and yes perhaps immortal.

                                          I also totally agree that it is highly personal.

                                          You certainly are entitled to feel that wine, food, etc meet your definition of art.

                                          For me it does not.

                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                            <<You certainly are entitled to feel that wine, food, etc meet your definition of art.

                                            For me it does not.>>

                                            What are you doing here, then? I don't necessarily disagree with you, but this is a weird place to make such a declaration.

                                            1. re: Jay F

                                              I was replying to Klunco.

                                              And it all ties back to the use of the word curate.

                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                "[I]t all ties back to the use of the word curate."

                                                So, just to be clear, unless the word is being used as a noun to label an English parish priest, it's objectionable. I respect your dedication to prescriptivism, but not all of us share it.

                                2. re: Will Owen

                                  I did realize I had mis-spelled artisanal in the header to this thread but it was too late to edit.

                                  To use the word curate for selecting the vendors in a farmer's market is the type of pretentious nonsense I despise.

                                  But I guess it works for you. If it looks like a duck...

                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                    If you'd like something changed after your editing period has passed, you can ask the moderators to do it. (Click on the red "flag" at the bottom of your post.)
                                    If it makes other posts nonsensical though (as it might it this case) they might not do what you ask.

                                    1. re: blue room

                                      Thanks, nothing major, just mis-spelled Artisanal in the header.

                                  2. re: Will Owen

                                    The curate will check if Father is available.

                                    A curate is an assistant to a parish priest or other clergy. Neither my OED or Webster give any other definiton. "Curate" does not exist as a verb.

                                    On the other hand "curator" is listed in Merriam Webster online as "one who has the care and superintendence of something; especially : one in charge of a museum, zoo, or other place of exhibit" and OED also includes one who looks after a minor.

                                    You're dead right about "artisan", Will. But, the word ain't all it's cracked up to be when it comes to lending cachet to an item. My Concise OED dismisses an artisan as a "mechanic; handcraftsman" - admittedly it's an old edition. Webster is kinder, adding further, "one that produces something (as cheese or wine) in limited quantities often using traditional methods", but notice that even here the impersonal "that" rather than "who" is used. Both publishers obviously perspired rather than sweated.

                                    Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a stickler - I believe in the evolution of the language - notice my use of "ain't" above. We need more and better words - lots of them - even if we need to bend existing ones beyond recognition to get where we need to be because we are incapable of finding the right ones from existing stock.

                                    There is another form of pretension I can't get enough of - the "intent chefs" on TV. It's the physical pretension when plating a dish or at some stage of presentation.

                                    Chef - the chef? bends right down close to the board with his head cocked, good eye down, and elbows stuck out like a chicken mime as he grimaces intently with fingers or hands going like a pianist. At the end the head and torso are snapped erect, arms at side and a smile to acknowledge any applause. Love it.

                                    1. re: DockPotato

                                      Somehow "pretension" and "plating" belong together.

                                        1. re: DuchessNukem

                                          Thank you, Duchess. The Merriam Webster reference shows the first use of curate as a verb in 1909.

                                          Neither the online resource nor my print version of the OED lists the verb. That's not to say that it's not included in later versions.

                                          1. re: DockPotato

                                            Not a prob. My home M-W is what Mom sent me off to college with (somewhere around 1890 lol).

                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                        LOL I read it as a play on words "arti*SIN*al

                                  3. re: Alcachofa

                                    Even better: capitalized, as in, "I am not worthy of licking your clogs, Chef."

                                    What a great topic!

                                    1. re: Alcachofa

                                      Doctors' office staff do that too - "Doctor is running a little late, please be patient." Drives me nuts when they do it because I feel like I'm being treated like a 5-year old. Worse with chefs.

                                      1. re: Alcachofa

                                        The first episode of "Portlandia" had a couple inquiring about the provenance of the free-range chicken they were about to order. They were shown a binder with pictures of the farm and the chickens, each of whom had a name. IIRC, the dialog was something like "And that's Wally, he'll be your entree tonight." Hilarious and right on target.

                                          1. re: judybird

                                            I believe the bird's name was Trevor.

                                              1. re: Prav

                                                I think you are right. Certainly not a Wally though. How gauche.

                                          2. re: Alcachofa

                                            Thing is, to the wait staff, Chef is not a job nor is it simply a title, it is a name. It is very likely that is how they address the chef - as Chef. When they say "Chef" you both know who they are talking about. If they said "Ed found some nice greens this morning." who knows who the hell Ed is?

                                            It is just like in the theater saying 'Sparky found a red screen.' All light guys are 'sparkys" and they get called Sparky and everybody knows who is meant.

                                            I guess you were driven bananas by Gilligan calling Jonas Grumby "Skipper".

                                            1. re: FrankJBN

                                              No.

                                              They should say "The chef found some nice greens." Everyone knows who they are talking about then.

                                              And I'm aware that some wait staff sometimes call the chef, "Chef". They are also caught in the pretentiousness and are guilty themselves of not challenging that particular bit of silliness.

                                              Skipper was a nickname. Not the same thing. Sorry.

                                              1. re: FrankJBN

                                                Sorry, agree with Alchachofa, your comparison is apples to oranges, and referring to The Chef as "Chef" to clientelle is pretentious hipster twaddle.

                                                They can call the chef "Chef" to his face if that is the tradition in that particular restaurant (though even in that scenario I find it a contrivance) but to a patron it should be The Chef.

                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                  So you guys are saying Skipper wasn't the skipper of the Minnow?

                                                  1. re: FrankJBN

                                                    The point is Gilligan would never say "Skipper is working on the rudder of the minnow".
                                                    He'd say "THE Skipper is working on the rudder of the minnow".
                                                    Now, he might call him "Skipper" when talking to him, as in "Hey Skipper, doesn't Ginger look hot today?"

                                                    1. re: FrankJBN

                                                      Let's say the Minnow was a small cruise ship with 300 passengers, the crew all called the captain "Skipper."

                                                      One of the passengers asks the first mate (who all the crew just happens to call "Matey,") "what's the next port of call?"

                                                      The appropriate response from the first mate is not "Skipper says..." The appropriate response is "The Captain says we will be arriving in Aruba at 11:00 am tomorrow." Thus not making the foolish assumption that the patron
                                                      A) knows who "Skipper" is
                                                      and
                                                      B) want's to use a silly, and slightly contrived monicker that they staff happens to use for their boss.

                                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                                        Thank you.

                                                        I will add though, that yes, I can picture a scenario where "Chef" truly becomes the chef's nickname. "Yo, chef, whattup!" But that's still not how the wait person should refer to him/her to the customer.

                                                  2. re: FrankJBN

                                                    The use of 'Chef' isn't a pretentious, in my opinion, as it's being described. When I worked in a kitchen, everyone including the waitstaff referred to the chef as 'Chef'. As in 'Chef, is the pork locally sourced tonight'? So I can see that translating into 'Let me check with Chef'.

                                                  3. re: Alcachofa

                                                    Isn't that just a Britishism that's crept into the language here? I think the first time I heard it was from Sybil on Fawlty Towers. They tend to say things in that manner, such as going to hospital instead of going to the hospital. I haven't noticed going to hospital showing up in American usage yet, but the one that bugs me that I've been hearing on American television shows lately is "Do you want to come with?" instead of "Do you want to come with me(or us)?"

                                                    1. re: Chimayo Joe

                                                      That's very much a Chicago thing! Saying "do you want to go with?" or "do you want to come with?"

                                                      Or, to be more precise -

                                                      "Dja wanna come with?"

                                                      Heh

                                                    2. re: Alcachofa

                                                      Great observation and comment! I'm for ya!

                                                      1. re: Alcachofa

                                                        If you believe no other profession does that, I assume you have never been in the military. Not an attack just an observation.

                                                        1. re: Alcachofa

                                                          Yes, you're so right. It probably derives from the use of Chef tout court in direct address ("Oui, Chef"), which "Kitchen Confidential" brought into the mainstream, if it wasn't already there. Direct address is one thing, third-person use is, as you say, ridiculous.

                                                          And I would add another use of "chef" that bugs me. It is the loss of the distinction between an actual chef de cuisine, who has earned his/her position after years of study and experience, and any other kind of cook.

                                                          1. re: Alcachofa

                                                            "No other profession does this!"

                                                            Sensi and Maestro wish to disagree. Rabbi isn't sure if he should join them, and is going to discuss it with Father - who may also be undecided.

                                                            1. re: NE_Wombat

                                                              The Doctor is on call and The Senator abstains.

                                                            2. re: Alcachofa

                                                              This just reminded me of the Seinfeld episode, where everyone had to call the guy "Maestro". Which I guess proves your point!

                                                              1. re: Cachetes

                                                                Maestro is like chef, in that it is correct without the article in direct address: "Do you want a crescendo here, Maestro?" But, at least in Italian, and it's an Italian word, you would say "il maestro wants a crescendo in bar 34 ..."

                                                                There is a certain subculture of doctor's office lingo that uses doctor without the article, but it is normal to say, How long have I got, doctor? (i.e., direct address). And "The doctor says to quit smoking" (third person). Father, for a priest, is a different case. In the third person it is properly used with surname: Father Brown says ... . But alone, it is more for direct address, and is used alone in a rather intimate, affectionate way, never formally.

                                                            3. For me it's the combination of the guilt-inducing glorification of "nose to tail" eating. I get it in principle, but for the vast majority of people who are only able to afford CAFO meat, they should not feel as though they're not "honoring" the animal by not retching down the offal which would otherwise be processed and/or added to pet food.

                                                              One blogger (who will be unnamed) in particular makes me crazy with his holier-than-though writing on this subject. I admire Fergus Henderson and his ilk, I really do, and for those who enjoy organ meats and so forth, go wild! I think that there are far larger ethical fish to fry in terms of animal husbandry than the eating of offal though, and I wish the discussion could be more all-encompassing than the glorification of the eating of tripe and other assorted innards.

                                                              7 Replies
                                                              1. re: SherBel

                                                                This is an interesting perspective, and one I hadn't really thought of before. The market already takes care of a huge number of waste issues -- pink slime wasn't being made out of strip loins, after all. So even if we aren't (knowingly) eating it, it doesn't follow that it's going to waste.

                                                                I think a lot of chefs just appreciate the challenge of trying to take off-cuts and make them into something spectacular. Anyone can make a filet tender, but doing the same thing with an ear takes more skill.

                                                                  1. re: SherBel

                                                                    Agree; nose-to-tail is not only pretentious but so overused that it's lost all impact. Same with locally-sourced. (I'd have used quotes but it might push Prav over the edge.)

                                                                    1. re: Niblet

                                                                      In the South we've been doing nose to tail long before it became chic. But in Southernese it is called "Eating everything but the oink".

                                                                    2. re: SherBel

                                                                      Right - I'm sure someday soon I'll be sneered at as unadventurous, eco-unfriendly, and un-hip for not enjoying pig whisker and snot terrine.

                                                                      1. re: SherBel

                                                                        they should not feel as though they're not "honoring" the animal by not retching down the offal which would otherwise be processed and/or added to pet food.

                                                                        -------------------------------------------------------------------

                                                                        Thank you!

                                                                        I come from a farming (beef and chicken) and hunting family. Our closest friends are multi-generational butchers. Let me tell you, no one in either of these families, the three generations I have had the honor of knowing would eat offal by choice.

                                                                        My BFF mother (of the butcher family) is still scratching her head at why I would spend the better part of the a Saturday struggling with short ribs.

                                                                        1. re: cleobeach

                                                                          "My BFF mother (of the butcher family) is still scratching her head at why I would spend the better part of the a Saturday struggling with short ribs."

                                                                          Thats why they were butchers and not cooks!

                                                                      2. My pet peeve small and silly, but it's the overuse of quotation marks. Makes me think, is your food for real, or is it just weird imitations?

                                                                        Mistral, for example:

                                                                        -PAN ROASTED PRIME SIRLOIN “AU POIVRE”
                                                                        -GRILLED SWORDFISH WITH PIQUILLO PEPPER “ROMESCO”
                                                                        -HALF “WHOLE ROASTED” DUCK & WILD MUSHROOM RISOTTO

                                                                        Like those old signs with the oddly-placed quotation marks, i.e., Please keep the door closed. "Thanks".

                                                                        Rant over. "Thanks" for listening. Time to go eat my ham and cheese "sandwich".

                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Prav

                                                                          LOL! Major pet peeve of mine, too. Made me laugh while eating my "lunch".

                                                                          1. re: Prav

                                                                            Are you sure its not "ham" and "cheese," "sandwich."

                                                                            Yah totally absurd.

                                                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                              You remind me of The Onion's headline "Jacques Deirida "dies" "

                                                                            2. re: Prav

                                                                              Ugh. "Worst" use of "quotes" "ever" "in quotes."

                                                                              1. re: Prav

                                                                                This reminds me of the time when my husband wanted to order a wine that also appeared to have a "nickname" in quotation marks. When the waiter came over, he ordered Bin 64 because, as he put it, he wasn't sufficiently intimate with the wine to use its nickname.

                                                                              2. Mare Oyster Bar fka Mare is a very good raw bar/seafood place in Boston's North End. Good hot/cold lobster roll and fried clams and a nice alternative to Neptune; which could get it's own thread..:)Their big shtick is that 98% of the food is organic and sourced as locally as possible.

                                                                                We've all come to expect the provenance of our oysters; Duxbury, Tomales Bay, Wellfleet, etc. but Mare has taken this to a new level. The "Maine diver scallops" are actually attributed to a particular diver..and his name and license #. I don't know if this is actually made known to a diner; but they make a point of it on their FB page. Seemed a bit silly to me.

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: 9lives

                                                                                  I like that one. Does it give us what brand of flipper he wears.

                                                                                  Personally I only eat scallops that are foraged by free divers (snorkel no air tank). Anyone who actually eats scallops that are harvested using scuba tanks is unethical and not giving the poor scallops a fighting chance ;-).

                                                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                    I like places that offer "Divers Sea Scallops." No punctuation...oddly, the variety never seems to appear on the plate. And a learned shoreman of my acquaintance assures me that over 50% of "Diver's" or "Divers'" scallops are dredged anyway. Indeed, some years ago i NYC I scared a maitre d' when I pointed out they weren't getting any local scallops (as advertised) because of Red Nile spraying and all their stuff came either from way down east (but they were not expensive enough for that) or from SE Asia. (It was the latter).

                                                                                  2. re: 9lives

                                                                                    At least there's a reason for oyster provenance. Each area has a different mineral balance, hence taste. I doubt diver scallops vary because of the diver who plucked them from the sea bed.

                                                                                  3. As a corollary, it seems every new upscale urban restaurant that sends out a press release describes itself as a "concept." "Pretentia is an Italian concept..." "Seamus von Leningrad Standing Horse's Omni Ethnic Sub Pub is a fusion cuisine concept..." It's like they can't describe themselves as an Italian restaurant or a sandwich shop because that's just too damn boring and nobody is going to pay $30 for a plate of boring.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                      I was making a simlar point last week. Restaurant "concepts" strike me as being as dangerous as some "Director's concepts." It was telling when the new owners said they would retire the name Locke-Ober "and teh concept." What concept? It was a restaurant. People just don;t go to restaurants anymore. Now a concept? Zowie! Twenty-three skidoo!

                                                                                    2. Mine is "foraged".

                                                                                      Chefs may think they are cool foraging for ingredients and designing dishes around them, but I'm not sure if serving them is legal, given USDA standards.

                                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Philly Ray

                                                                                        I'm imagining some poor sous chef getting up at 4am to go foraging for truffles with the bridge of this nose.

                                                                                        1. re: Philly Ray

                                                                                          Foraging is legal, but for me rather than conjuring up lvoely imagines of some forager-person lovelying gathering up wild morels or other delicacy, the image that most often comes to mind is dumpster diving.

                                                                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                            Problem is it's not called "dumpster diving" anymore. It's called "Freeganism."

                                                                                            We TOTALLY need an artisanal curated freegan concept bistro. We could call it "Smelli" and fund it through Kickstarter.

                                                                                            http://freegan.info/

                                                                                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                              Smelli ... a table to trash to table restaurant!

                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                Thankfully, I live in a town that isn't trendy and it will take years (years, I tell you) for my hometown to catch on to this trend ;-)

                                                                                              2. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                Out of curiosity, how is it the homeless have their own website/brand??

                                                                                                DT

                                                                                                1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                  Hey, this could also fit in with the annoying popup restaurant trend, with only a select few knowing the location of the "dumpster."

                                                                                                  1. re: nsenada

                                                                                                    Or the vent over which they'll set up their "Restaurant."

                                                                                                    DT

                                                                                                  2. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                    Okay, I just ended up snorting coffee through my nose and spraying the screen. <sigh>

                                                                                                    This would be so funny if it weren't so pathetic?

                                                                                              3. Love, love, love this thread. Everyone's points are right on.

                                                                                                1. Me? I think using tweezers to put food on a plate is about as pretentious as it gets. You're a cook/chef...put good food on a plate and leave the art to people who paint or draw.

                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: njmarshall55

                                                                                                    I picture famous chefs sitting around on their days off with some cheap wine, playing the game "what can we get them to eat now"?. Each tries to outdo the others with something even more outrageous. There are no limits . . .

                                                                                                    This thread has been the "highlight" of my "day".

                                                                                                    1. re: Bivalve

                                                                                                      Back when Robin Williams was funny, he had a routine about a chef in a Japanese restaurant-- "Oh, they're eating the raw fish! Let's try hot wine!" Hilarious.

                                                                                                      1. re: monfrancisco

                                                                                                        "Back when Robin Williams was funny..." awesome.

                                                                                                    2. re: njmarshall55

                                                                                                      Tweezers, that's a new one for me. Oy vey as my grandmother would have said.

                                                                                                    3. Reminds me of a time at the market where a lady wanted to buy a free-range organic chicken. She could not get through her head, as the butcher tried endlessly to explain to her, that by definition, free-range means it runs around eating what it wants, organic or otherwise, so there is no such thing as a guaranteed organic AND truely free-range chicken.

                                                                                                      Reading menus has also become a bit like reading a real estate ad, where little code words are used: "cute" meaning "too small to move around in." (BTW that is an appropriate use of quotations.)

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: MagicMarkR

                                                                                                        Had (note the past tense) a friend who insisted she wanted a free-range yet vegetarian chicken. Unless the free-range was on a cement floor, she just couldn't accept that bugs and other not cute stuff could be the bird's food.

                                                                                                        1. re: pine time

                                                                                                          I'm on the Caveman Chicken (Cave Chicken?) diet. I only eat free-range chicken that are raised exclusively on bugs, small amphibians, and worms; if even a morsel of veg touched their lips (er beaks) it would reek havoc on the purity of my person.

                                                                                                        2. re: MagicMarkR

                                                                                                          Not really. In fact, I think all organic chicken in the US is technically free-range (the US free-range standard is pretty poor).

                                                                                                          The chicken have to be pastured on land that hadn't been sprayed for 3 years for it to be organic.

                                                                                                        3. You all need to read "You Aren't What You Eat: Fed Up with Gastroculture," by Steven Poole.

                                                                                                          It's really funny and well-written. It helps if you are able to laugh at yourself, because I think most CHers would be a target at some point in this book. But you know, I think laughing at yourself is not a bad thing at all.

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                            Haha, fully agree. Thanks for the "tip".

                                                                                                          2. Applying a "dry brine" to a so-so piece of meat, overcharge me, and then assume that I don't know that all you've done is put .20 cent's worth of a kosher salt rub on store bought pork.

                                                                                                            And when I ask about it, to have the chutzpah to tell me that I don't know how much work they put into the creation of that "dry brine", and how I should be glad I'm paying an extra $ for their creativity (this actually happened at a pop-up in Miami last year).

                                                                                                            Also any restaurant with some silly new age gobbledygook on their menus, or one charges me more than $10 for a cheeseburger made from "locally sourced beef" or some-such nonsense. It makes me want to invest in factory farms out of pure spite....

                                                                                                            18 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: deet13

                                                                                                              At $10, I would think "locally sourced" might mean the nearest Sysco! Maybe that's the secret code?

                                                                                                              1. re: deet13

                                                                                                                Nevermind the whole new use of the term "Dry Brine" is moronic.

                                                                                                                A brine is wet.

                                                                                                                There is no such thing as a dry brine. Crazy, but there IS in fact a correct word for it... it's just not as fashionable.

                                                                                                                What they are using is... wait for it... a "Rub."

                                                                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                  Countdown until your $15 locavore freegan tinned albacore slider comes with either a dry brine, a wet rub, or a junkpunch. The junkpunch is also cursed. But it comes with free sprinkles!

                                                                                                                    1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                                                                      The sprinkles contain potassium benzoate.

                                                                                                                      ...

                                                                                                                      That's bad.

                                                                                                                    2. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                      It's not really moronic - when salt is used to keep meat juicier after cooking (as you might with a chicken or a pork loin), people call it a 'dry brine,' since the intent and effect are similar to that of a traditional wet brine. When salt and seasonings are used primarily to season and flavor meat (as you would with, say, ribs, or a pork shoulder) people call it a rub. And when salt (and nitrate) is used to dry, age, and intensify meat, then people call it a 'cure.' Intended effect dictates which word to use.

                                                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                        You completely lost me.

                                                                                                                        Adding salt to a roast or to meat before cooking actually draws moisture OUT of the meat. The point of the liquid in the brine is to plump up the cut and make it juicier. You have got it completely backwards as do folks who used the moronic term dry brine.

                                                                                                                        Ya can't make it juicier if you don't add liquid.

                                                                                                                        I reiterate my original statement, if you are adding dry ingredients it is either a rub, or perhaps even more correctly, a dry marinade. A brine specifically implies adding liquid to make something juicier.

                                                                                                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                          I confess to having succumbed to the "dry-brining" fad - I don't think I'll do it again, but it actually does get liquid back into the meat, albeit in a disturbing fashion, if done right. What I noticed was that after about 12 hours from applying the salt and spices, the turkey started oozing a pinkish discharge into the bag. I would say several cups worth were ultimately sucked out. Then, the liquid began reabsorbing, ultimately, completely. So while not adding any additional liquid, it did involve liquid being sucked back in to the meat.

                                                                                                                          1. re: nsenada

                                                                                                                            They wrote about the science here on Serious Eats:

                                                                                                                            http://www.seriouseats.com/2012/11/th...

                                                                                                                            But basically a dry-brine is an accurate term because the salt draws moisture out of the meat initially but then through osmosis puts the salt-liquid mixture ie. a brine back into the meat.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Klunco

                                                                                                                              That is called seasoning something.

                                                                                                                              Brine means salt water and you are adding no salt water you are just seasoning the meat the old fashioned way.

                                                                                                                            2. re: nsenada

                                                                                                                              I have seen that as well. But of course the NET effect is not making it any more juicy.

                                                                                                                              In the old days we would use the term seasoning the turkey, not DRY BRINE. Brine means salt water. It's an oxymoron you can't DRY BRINE something.

                                                                                                                            3. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                              I have a serious question... I get that a brine is supposed to make things juicier. But I also remember from my chemistry education that two things always try to reach equilibrium and thus if there is salt in the brine then it will result in liquid being drawn out of the meat to reach that equilibrium. Sorry for being so non-technical on a technical topic and maybe someone like chemicalkinetics can bail me out.

                                                                                                                              EDIT: Actually, one potential answer found. Very interesting, at least to me: http://www.seriouseats.com/2009/11/th...

                                                                                                                              1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                                                Yes, but you are not accounting for what may already be in the meat in that equilibrium. You may in fact be leaving the salt behind and drawing just the water into the bird.

                                                                                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                  check the link i added. pretty enlightening. the salt actually changes the cellular structure. interesting stuff.

                                                                                                                              2. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                Brining doesn't work the way you think it does.

                                                                                                                                The main way brining - wet brining - keeps meat moist is actually by making cell membranes less permeable to water. It is the salt in the brine that does this, not the water. When meat cooks, its cells shrivel, pushing out water and drying the meat. Brining alters proteins in the cell membrane making it harder for water to escape. This works only to a point, and after a certain temperature, meat cells will contract regardless of altering the cell membranes - which is why you'd brine something cooked to 140 or 160 (pork loin, chicken) but not something cooked to 190 (pork shoulder). And also why brining a steak that will be cooked very rare is pointless - there's not enough cell contraction to make it worthwhile.

                                                                                                                                If you think enough about wet brining, it's obvious that something is fishy with your logic - if the idea was just to push water into meat, you'd use a solution with just a little LESS salt by weight than that which is normally in meat (I'm not sure the exact amounts, but I know that the normal salt concentration in the human bloodstream is just under 1%, so it's probably close to that) - and let water flow toward higher salt concentrations. Instead you use a much stronger salt solution; it is because the salt's action on cell membranes is the main factor (and also, it helps season the meat). It is true that wet brining can pull *a little* moisture into meat - this is even more complicated and has to do with a cell's other disolved solids besides salt, and the fact that its membrane is only selectively permeable. But that effect is dwarfed in importance by the changes brining causes to the cell membrane.

                                                                                                                                It turns out that you can get a similar effect without using water at all. Salt alone will still alter cell membranes. It will also initially pull a little water out of meat in a way that 'wet' brining does not, but if you use the right amount for the appropriate length of time (and cook the meat right), it will 'save' more water than it removes. This is well documented - the zuni chicken is a very popular recipe that uses this principle. And there are many others.

                                                                                                                                I understand that this is complicated and sometimes counter-intuitive. If I'm losing you somewhere, let me know.

                                                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                  If there is no BRINE (salt water) involved then you are just seasoning the meat. I am not debating the physics.

                                                                                                                                  BRINE = Salt water.

                                                                                                                                  The term DRY BRINE is a silly new term for an old fashioned concept seasoning your meat. Period.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                    I 'cut & paste' my posts despite there being no scissors involved.

                                                                                                                                    I 'dial' my cellphone despite it having buttons, not a dial.

                                                                                                                                    I 'roast' a turkey in the oven, but 'roasting' once referred to a different process than baking, and you would not do it in an oven.

                                                                                                                                    I could go on.

                                                                                                                                    BTW, you *were* debating the physics. You were just wrong about them. Still are, btw - the point isn't to season meat but to make it more juicy after cooking. The seasoning part is ancillary.

                                                                                                                        2. If diners didn't embrace pretension, it would not exist. Give me the food in a good Irish bar any time.

                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: beevod

                                                                                                                            Eschew Pretention! I can see it catching on.

                                                                                                                            Reminds me of my dad's homemade bumpersticker (sigh, yes) in the 70's which he made after being enraged at the 50's revival sweeping the nation post-Grease. Make Nostalgia a Thing of the Past, it said.

                                                                                                                          2. Yes. Who wants to buy their meat from a museum (curator) or their bread from a coppersmith (artisan)? I guess people pay extra for silly. I also remember when food was prepared by a cook. Now, everyone on a toque is a "Chef". Why don't we reserve such puffery for the fashion industry, where it belongs.

                                                                                                                            1. In Portland we have "mixologists". In other words, "bartenders".

                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: Leonardo

                                                                                                                                Here in Boston as well, and I agree it's silly and pretentious.

                                                                                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                  When I first encountered "mixologist" in New Orleans almost 40 years ago it was used in a humorous mock-impressive manner, like calling a garbageman a "sanitary engineer." it took me by surprise to see it used seriously and it speaks volumes about the mica-thin depth of our "culture."

                                                                                                                                2. re: Leonardo

                                                                                                                                  My local bar places all resumes wherein the person refers to themselves as "mixologists" into a lovely circular file.

                                                                                                                                  They're bartenders and they're very proud of their work, and the title.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Leonardo

                                                                                                                                    I refer to myself as "tending bar". I set up. serve guests and close the bar with all of the attendant cleaning and financial responsibilities entailed.

                                                                                                                                    "Mixology" is a small part of my job as most cocktails and all beers involve 2 steps at most. When the $10 ceiling for a drink is broken you get a "mixologist". When all is said and done the most important part of tending bar is collecting the charge.

                                                                                                                                  2. "Top toque."

                                                                                                                                    I hate that.

                                                                                                                                    "Handcrafted"

                                                                                                                                    Meaningless.

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bob W

                                                                                                                                      I was waiting for someone to throw that one out. I hate "handcrafted." I'm glad to know you're not using your feet to make my food but that's enough with that word.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                                                                        At least it's more honest than "home made".

                                                                                                                                    2. I started a rant on food blogs, which shades into what you are saying here. I can't stand talky food blogs. Just give us a concise introduction to the recipe, maybe an anecdote, and get on with it. Yes, I know I can scroll down, but the verbiage on some is excessive.

                                                                                                                                      1. I'd rather have pretension and locavores than corporate mega farms that feed their chickens unregulated arsenic and mercury to discourage microbe growth.

                                                                                                                                        Rice in the US, especially rice grown near chicken farms have abnormally high levels of arsenic, lead and mercury. Or vegetables that have high levels of cadmium because of industrial fertilizers like cadmium phosphate.

                                                                                                                                        Taking naturally occurring heavy metals and known toxins and concentrating them in our food supply will have consequences. Just as cigarettes and alcohol affect fetal development, so do heavy metals.

                                                                                                                                        There's so little information in this country about food practices in the industrial complex of corporate farming and so little regulation unless people fall over dead.

                                                                                                                                        So yes, I'll take that pasture raised, grass fed cow, over cows that were fed corn/and or other cows, including spinal and brain tissue.

                                                                                                                                        Give me curated salami from pigs that aren't fed recycled feces or raised in holding cells. Maybe it's too expensive for weekly or even monthly consumption but why should we be "entitled" to inexpensive meat, incentivizing heart disease and obesity.

                                                                                                                                        Pretension I can ignore..ammoniated pink slime, chickens with oozing cage sores, tortured cows, THOSE are the things that make me gag.

                                                                                                                                        It's fun to complain about pretension. Just like complaining about hipsters ruining a neighborhood, having too many coffee shops and stores selling skinny jeans. You think you have problems... that is until you've lived in a neighborhood which is violent, dangerous and your complaint isn't about overpriced coffee, it's about not being raped in your stairwell.

                                                                                                                                        42 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                          You clearly don't know where I grew up.

                                                                                                                                          Some time we can have a glass of organic, sulfate free, barefoot-pressed wine and compare scary neighborhood stories.

                                                                                                                                          I find your flippant stairwell metaphor offensive if not a personal account, and if it is a personal account (I am so sorry) but inappropriate for this board.

                                                                                                                                          You are entitled to your soap box.

                                                                                                                                          I'll go have some factory raised pork tamales that I got at the cool little Guatemalan place I just discovered.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                            You've missed my point, it's not about what neighborhood you grew up in, and I'm not defending pretentious behavior, but there seems to be a surfeit of complaining on about food that aspires to be of excellent quality or environmentally friendly or expensive, etc.

                                                                                                                                            As if eating factory raised pork somehow makes you more "real" or a better person. All the while corporate farming tortures animals and dumps tons of waste, poisons and toxins into the environment and the biggest concern people have is why someone is curating salami?

                                                                                                                                            I'm not into "mine is bigger than yours" debates, I don't have the testosterone for it, sorry if you thought my post was directed at you personally, it wasn't.

                                                                                                                                            And as for flippant, no it wasn't flippant, I grew up in a dangerous neighborhood. End of story.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                              But that's the thing. Nowhere does OP complain about food that is of excellent quality, environmentally friendly, etc. He's poking fun at the often over the top mythology and pretense that at times surrounds food. No one is arguing that factory farmed is better than a more thoughtful product.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                  StriperGuy,

                                                                                                                                                  What we got up there is a fanatic. I am with you on the whole ball of organic wax. There's a new religion in America and I call it the Church of Foodism. I love good, real, natural, untampered with food as much as the next guy. What I can't stand is the steaming, organic dung that surrounds the whole enterprise - and an enterprise it is. As if the organic foodists aren't in business to make a buck.

                                                                                                                                                  I feel your pain. Forget about pookipichu -- most of us get your point.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                                      "There's steaming dung alright, thanks for bringing it."

                                                                                                                                                      You're quite welcome.

                                                                                                                                                      Anytime.

                                                                                                                                            2. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                              "It's fun to complain about pretension. Just like complaining about hipsters ruining a neighborhood, having too many coffee shops and stores selling skinny jeans."

                                                                                                                                              Lately, it seems there are quite a few folks around here who just seem to be getting a kick out of complaining in general. Maybe we should start calling the site "Bitchhound"?

                                                                                                                                              "You think you have problems... that is until you've lived in a neighborhood which is violent [or] dangerous . . . ."

                                                                                                                                              Or underwater.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                <It's fun to complain about pretension.>

                                                                                                                                                I don't see anyone 'complaining' about pretension. I see people making fun of pretension, as it should be.
                                                                                                                                                Food is food. The pretension, and the people who take themselves so seriously and their self perceived 'artform' around food and drink is what's being discussed.
                                                                                                                                                A nice afternoon watching The Marx Brothers and Margaret Dumont, is a good way to put it all into perspective. They accurately expose her for what she is and it's hilarious.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                    "Natch" and "ridonculous" are apparently ok, trendy words to use, but pooki pointing out the bitching about supposedly unacceptable words is not? Maybe we need a new thread about folks misusing the language to seem "cool"?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                        Look, man, I'm just sayin' step back, take a deep breath and appreciate the irony (I mean I get your use of wicked - which south of the New York state line still means evil, especially when it emerges from a Red Sox fan).

                                                                                                                                                        While we're talking about unnecessarily overused words and phrases, can we at least agree upon "fiscal cliff"?

                                                                                                                                              2. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                                Absolutely agreed. There's so much negativity in this thread, much of it directed towards people who care deeply about food. More information about where the food comes from, and who is choosing to sell it, and why, is a good thing. Patronizing markets and restaurants where food is sourced thoughtfully is also a good thing. I don't see what the issue is.

                                                                                                                                                I don't know when thinking about food intellectually became "pretention." Then again, that word is (ironically) used by people who don't seem to know what it means.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: caseyjo

                                                                                                                                                  Ha. I know what it means, trust me. I'm surrounded by it and I find it humorous. It entertains.

                                                                                                                                                  I few months ago I found myself with a friend who loves creative, artisinal, artistic food and I joined her for dinner. I was raised with vegetables and fruit straight from the garden and a mother and grandmother who knew their way around the kitchen. It was simple,pure, good food. Farm to table.
                                                                                                                                                  The dinner I attended with my friend was, what she and others like her, considered the ultimate in artisinal, creative dining...
                                                                                                                                                  The waitstaff was trained to discuss every ingredient in every dish, should the customer ask. The chef was (or should I address him as 'Chef'?) was on call for anyone who wanted to discuss his process.
                                                                                                                                                  Throughout the meal, after every course was served, the silver and glasses and napkins were changed and it was like a production of a well rehearsed play. The food was fine. It was no different, actually, than the food I was raised with. It was just merchandised differently with flair and a bit more creative looking on the plate.

                                                                                                                                                  "Food intellectually", you say? What does that mean?
                                                                                                                                                  To me, food is food and alot of it, sorry to say, is just another example of 'emporer's new clothes'. My friend would never be caught dead in a place that serves anything but what I've described. She'd be horrified to be seen in a coffee shop that serves old fashioned brewed coffee or eat chocolate that wasn't artisinal. Pretention comes to mind...

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                    Oh....

                                                                                                                                                    The most important part of all...
                                                                                                                                                    When nobody's looking her favorite thing to eat at home is Velveeta toasted cheese sandwich.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                      For me, thinking about food intellectually means with consideration to where it comes from, how it's made, and how it's presented. Food and wine pairings come into play here too. I read a lot of books about food and wine: from the history of the fork to references on winemaking to memoirs of chefs. I like to know what's going on with the food: where it came from, how it was prepped. It's about curiosity and learning new things. There's always something about food that I've never heard of before. Saying that "food is food" is fine, but for me it's more appropriate to say that food is life. For me, the only thing more important to me than food is family and friends. I don't think those values need to be universal, but I don't see anything wrong with valuing food about almost everything else.

                                                                                                                                                      I like pour over coffee too. The coffee I buy is locally roasted in small batches, and the coffee shop I buy it from does both drip coffee and pour over. I go there because the coffee is better, not because I want to be seen there. Attention to quality isn't the same as being pretentions or putting on a show, in my opinion. I don't see any virtue in eating mediocre food just because it's plebeian.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: caseyjo

                                                                                                                                                        I make pour over drip myself with some frequency, yah it tastes good with the beans I roast myself.

                                                                                                                                                        I just don't pretend that doing so makes me an Artisan.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                          But on the flip side, I don't care that it's erroneously called "artisan" at the local coffee shop as long as it tastes good.

                                                                                                                                                          By that, I mean that these words are often (not always) markers of quality.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: caseyjo

                                                                                                                                                          Is "pour over coffee" the stuff I made with a Melitta back in, say, 1976?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                            1976 Melitta, yes, but now it's hip, "Artisanal" and $4.85 a cup.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                              And like I made this morning. I do use ground Yuban, so I'm not part of the pretentious crowd.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: WYRN1

                                                                                                                                                                So you don't do the several-hundred-dollars-per-pound-pooped-out-by-various-animals coffee beans?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                  I've never tried the predigested coffee beans - who knows, perhaps they are delicious. Every time I read an article about it, I check to make sure I'm not reading The Onion.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                  I've called it Melitta or cone drip, never heard of "pour over coffee". I'm comfy under my rock.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                                                                                    Pour over is new, I prefer your rock.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                                                                                      Or Chemex, if you're from an older generation.

                                                                                                                                                                3. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                  I'm a little conflicted about writing this - part of me prefers to leave people to their fun. But I'm sure someone will leave a counterargument - hopefully an interesting one. I don't mean to be malicious - just thought-provoking. So... to heck with it.

                                                                                                                                                                  With a few exceptions, this thread could be separated into three kinds of posts. One kind hates on a certain style of marketing. I don't mind that - marketing is often silly and overblown. Though you may as well complain about the sun setting.

                                                                                                                                                                  The second kind of post just seems to be seeing trends in the worst possible light. An example - restaurants citing their purveyors on their menus. Yes, this *can* be pretentious. It doesn't make the food any better, and it can easily be seen as a kind of bragging - especially when ingredients that are more or less afterthoughts on the plate are cited this way. But another way to look at it - sometimes it can just be a way to give credit where credit is due. For the chef/restaurant to tell customers that the lamb isn't just good because it was cooked well; it's good because ______ took the time to breed, raise, feed, and slaughter it well. In this light, it's not pretentious. It's a sign of humility and respect. What's more - everybody wins. The customer knows where to buy the hopefully fantastic product he just ate; the restaurant develops a close relationship with its purveyors; the purveyor gets more business; and independent artisans [oh s**t - that word] find more venues to market and distribute their products without changing their operation until it meets the bottom line of places like Walmart.

                                                                                                                                                                  Worse still is the third kind. Many posts on this thread really celebrate closed-mindedness. For every real insight into the limitations of some trend or technique, there are 3 or 4 posts decrying those trends or techniques as pretentious, when it's obvious that the poster has very little experience with what he or she is decrying and has made little or no effort to learn about it. I've accepted that many people are closed-minded about food, but it's kindof a bummer to see it on chowhound.

                                                                                                                                                                  Pretension is more easily spotted in what someone *doesn't* like and why than in what they do like. Most of this thread has that backward. Take your friend as an example. Maybe she likes that fancy restaurant because she's pretentious. Or maybe she likes it for the obvious reasons - the food is well prepared, the waitstaff is helpful, and she enjoys learning about making and buying good food. Kinda hard to tell which. But her unwillingness to be caught dead in any place that doesn't offer that fancy experience - yeah, that reeks of pretension.

                                                                                                                                                                  Hating on something that's perfectly good because it's common or inexpensive is pretentious. But hating on something that's perfectly good because it's new, or expensive, or claims to be an improvement isn't much different - it's kneejerk populism. And though kneejerk populism isn't quite the same thing as pretension, the two are kissing cousins.

                                                                                                                                                                  It is of course reasonable to be wary of new trends and techniques and high claims. There are a lot of dumb gimmicks out there. But there is a downside of immediately dismissing (despite not really understanding) anyone who claims to have a something new and awesome - you'll never know if they're onto something. And you've just slagged a lot of people doing really good work.

                                                                                                                                                                  So try out some of those pretentious-sounding things. Yeah that 'curated' wine list might turn out to be an exercise in pretension. So what? You feel like a fool? You'll get over it. Meanwhile, maybe that sous vide octopus exceeds not only your expectations but your hopes, your whole frame of reference for how good octopus can be.

                                                                                                                                                                  There is a well-known saying: if you stand for nothing, you'll fall for anything. I submit the flip side of that coin: If you refuse to fall for anything, you must be standing still most of the time. A little clunky, yes, but I'm working on it.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                    Excellent post, very well-stated. Thank you.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                      I have tried as much new, old, traditional, nouvelle, snout to tail, farm to table food as just about anyone. And I am fairly encyclopedic on most matters culinary. While I'm tooting my own horn I take my own cooking fairly seriously, whether it's a quick breakfast, or slow roasted pork shoulder for 50 people.

                                                                                                                                                                      For me, it's about the food.

                                                                                                                                                                      When folks spend more time on their foofery then their chow, it raises my hackles. When folks give contrived new news to time proven techniques I chuckle.

                                                                                                                                                                      When the emperor is touting his new clothes I'm the guy in the back row laughing.

                                                                                                                                                                      Less talk, less pretense, less marketing, more chow.

                                                                                                                                                                      If I were to share a meal with you perhaps you'd understand. Homemade bitters in the Manhattans to start. Maybe some olives stuffed with anchovies and a bit of the nice smoked Vermont pepperoni I just discovered (god I hope it doesn't say Artisanal on the wrapper ;-)) A nice crisp Albarino with the squash soup topped with spiced pecans and a hearty red with the braised oxtails that I fired up in the pressure cooker. If we are still peckish I would crack open one of the special Parmigiano's that my in laws hand carried over from Italy before tucking into some of my wife's home made Christmas cookies. Wash it all down with some nice port, or perhaps one of the obscure botrytis wines I have gathering dust in the basement.

                                                                                                                                                                      When the chow is lost in the pretense it bums me out. When a resto is more about the impression then the food well...

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                        "If I were to share a meal with you perhaps you'd understand. Homemade bitters in the Manhattans to start. Maybe some olives stuffed with anchovies and a bit of the nice smoked Vermont pepperoni I just discovered (god I hope it doesn't say Artisanal on the wrapper ;-)) A nice crisp Albarino with the squash soup topped with spiced pecans and a hearty red with the braised oxtails that I fired up in the pressure cooker. If we are still peckish I would crack open one of the special Parmigiano's that my in laws hand carried over from Italy before tucking into some of my wife's home made Christmas cookies. Wash it all down with some nice port, or perhaps one of the obscure botrytis wines I have gathering dust in the basement."
                                                                                                                                                                        _______
                                                                                                                                                                        Sounds like a nice meal. I think I'd enjoy it quite a bit. Though if you had one at my house, I bet I could turn you around on sous vide. 24 hour pork shoulder, cubed and finished over charcoal has never failed to delight any enthusiastic carnivore I've come across.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                            Sounds great. I'll be there with the family in tow his weekend.

                                                                                                                                                                            In all seriousness, I totally get where you're coming from. I might not get as annoyed as you :) but I hate when food turns pretentious. I like good food because it tastes good, nothing more.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                            <So try out some of those pretentious-sounding things.>

                                                                                                                                                                            I apologize for giving the impression that I haven't. Quite the opposite, actually. I've been adventurous most of my life and that includes food. Luckily my life has taken me in many different directions and I've had a 'taste' of all types of foods, both the familiar and the 'new' artisianal.
                                                                                                                                                                            I just find it amusing that the foods I grew up with, and the preparations used, albeit many decades ago, are now finding themselves described with the craziest names. It's as if these foods and preparations are newly founded because of the names they've been given and the people eating them are part of the collective invention. I've eaten in some very stunning environments with food to match. Maybe it's my age or the places I've lived, the things I've done....nothing at this point, even the food I've heard about or read about, is 'over-the-top' amazing to the point I'd find it life changing....even sous vide octopus. I've eaten octopus in many forms of preparation and it all comes down to one thing...it's octopus. Prepared properly it's wonderful. Prepared by someone who's trying to be overly innovative and risky....it can be disastrous. I've experienced both.
                                                                                                                                                                            Isn't it just a little presumptuous to think that just because a person doesn't automatically get on the bandwagon with the 'new and awesome' that they're close-minded? What if I just love See's candy and don't really care to taste artesianal chocolates? I'm perfectly content with the candy I love. Does that make me close minded and perceived as 'standing still most of the time'? For me, it's just not the case.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                              Not all of my post was meant to apply to you specifically. It was more about the thread in general. Sorry for any confusion. I replied to your post in part because the example of your friend made for a good illustration. And also in part because I see red whenever someone makes an 'emperor's new clothes' reference (personal pet peeve - I'm working through it).

                                                                                                                                                                              "Isn't it just a little presumptuous to think that just because a person doesn't automatically get on the bandwagon with the 'new and awesome' that they're close-minded?"
                                                                                                                                                                              ________
                                                                                                                                                                              That isn't really what I said. If you're not interested in something new, that's not being closed minded. I don't know anything much about... muscle cars, for example. And I probably won't learn much about em. No interest. I'm not closed-minded about them - I just don't care. The world is way too full of stuff to learn about all of it.

                                                                                                                                                                              If you see something new and ridicule it without understanding it, then I do consider that closed-minded.

                                                                                                                                                                              "What if I just love See's candy and don't really care to taste artesianal chocolates? I'm perfectly content with the candy I love. Does that make me close minded and perceived as 'standing still most of the time'?"
                                                                                                                                                                              ______
                                                                                                                                                                              Depends. Do you claim artisanal chocolates must be a bunch of pretentious nonsense, despite never giving them a real chance? If so, then yes. If you just like your normal candy and don't care to try artisanal chocolates, then no... as long as you realize that the existence of a product you already like has no bearing on the quality of the new product you haven't given a real chance to.

                                                                                                                                                                              "I've eaten octopus in many forms of preparation and it all comes down to one thing...it's octopus. Prepared properly it's wonderful. Prepared by someone who's trying to be overly innovative and risky....it can be disastrous."
                                                                                                                                                                              ________
                                                                                                                                                                              A note on octopus: I picked it as an example because it's one ingredient where sous vide absolutely shines. As you know, octopus is almost uniquely tricky to cook. Quick cooking methods require enormous finesse, since octopus easily winds up very tough (though there are a few knife tricks that can make even tough octopus pretty enjoyable). Slow cooking is less risky, but even then there is a lot of potential for toughness. And since liquids are usually used, the flavor of the octopus tends to get diluted. That's not to say you can't cook octopus traditionally and get a fantastic result - it's just difficult.

                                                                                                                                                                              But while you might see sous vide as an innovative and risky way to cook octopus, it's very much the opposite of risky, and any innovation is besides the point. The precise temperature control and as-long-as-needed cooking time can guaranty you the perfect texture - you pick what the 'perfect' texture is for your tastes, and sous vide will get it there with minimal trial and error. And the enclosed cooking environment preserves and even intensifies the glorious flavor (a similar thing happens with squid, but strangely the normally-subtle flavor can wind up overwhelming). There are indeed ways to use sous vide that are risky, innovation-seeking, or just plain dumb. But octopus is one ingredient that benefits from sous vide's particular advantages in every way.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                I'm with you on the Octo... some of the newer chocolate makers give Sees a good run for the money. Generally am with you that new terms for all techniques are just silly.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                http://oceana.org/en/category/blog-fr...
                                                                                                                                                                                "There is a well-known saying: if you stand for nothing, you'll fall for anything." Couldn't agree more. Get me my "fishin stick" and I'll go do it my self.

                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                I would imagine that growing up on farm-to-table food must make much of the farm-to-table food movement quite silly! But so many restaurants do not buy/source from anything but Sysco so as I said below, I don't fault restaurants for letting customers know when they get good quality ingredients. It's probably good for business and I'm much more likely to order a tomato salad if the tomatoes are good and local. I don't find that pretentious in the least. Annoying yes, if the description goes on for too long.
                                                                                                                                                                                JeremyEG
                                                                                                                                                                                HomeCookLocavore.com

                                                                                                                                                                            1. Honestly, the whole molecular gastronomy thing makes my eyeballs roll completely around. I'm not one to enjoy people, essentially, playing with my food and that's what it amounts to for me.

                                                                                                                                                                              I realize there's an audience for it, but it's definitely not me!

                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Violatp

                                                                                                                                                                                Don't get me started on molecular gastronomy.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                  Heh. Could easily spawn off a whole new thread. In fact, if I was a bit less lazy today, I could probably find a few existing ones.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Heatherb

                                                                                                                                                                                  I've seen that show, hysterical.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Never saw that particular episode, awesome!

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                    I think all the episodes are available on YouTube. I know tonight I'll be "embarrassing" some carrots :D

                                                                                                                                                                                2. There is a popular restaurant around here that serves “artisanal” food in its “food studio” and “hand crafted” drinks in its “cocktail salon”. The studio owners had another restaurant, "a steak and sushi den" that was "designed to play host to today’s “modern gatherer”. Sadly, the "den" has been shuttered, so I shall never again experience their "use of fresh juices and garnishes, bottled sodas and mixers, elegant and distinguishable glassware, the finest of spirits and the ultimate in knowledge and customer service". They could open a bottle of soda, and twist a lemon peel in ways I never allowed myself to imagine. And oh, the glassware...

                                                                                                                                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: EM23

                                                                                                                                                                                    So what was the name of the "steak and sushi den," already?

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: EM23

                                                                                                                                                                                        The glassware doesn't look that special.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I guess that was your point.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                          Yep. But according to their website, the glassware is "elegant and distinguishable". lol

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: EM23

                                                                                                                                                                                          That web site reads like a parody.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                              If your restaurant website has a "Music Off" button, you've already lost me.

                                                                                                                                                                                              http://www.twoevents.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                This paper is not my measure of anything, but here is the NYT’s review: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/23/nyr...

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. hey, striperguy! I just stumbled across your thread. I tried criticizing talk of "curated" cocktails over on the Manhattan board one day, and got beaten up by a gang.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm really worried that people can't tell the difference between a work of art and a log of salami or a cocktail, and defend the use of the word "curate" because they know salami-makers with passion. (Should I start saying my husband "curates" me?)

                                                                                                                                                                                        Even more offensive is when people talk about the "moderators" who censor message forums as "curators."

                                                                                                                                                                                        Anyhoo, good luck with this. It's pretty much the case in America that people have come to believe that unless they get public-credit-by-name, they aren't building a resume, and -- gasp! -- might go through life not becoming famous, and what greater tragedy could there be? So interns who cobble together satellite footage for 2 minutes on on the news are broadcast as "producers", bartenders are "curators", butchers are listed on the menu as "artisans" ---

                                                                                                                                                                                        Glad you are screaming your head off. It's a healthy reaction.

                                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: barberinibee

                                                                                                                                                                                          Sorry, you can't "curate" a cocktail. Wish I had been with ya when the hipsters gang-tackled you on the NYC Manhattan board.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                            To "curate" a cocktail somehow makes me think of a gin-driven chia pet.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: hazelhurst

                                                                                                                                                                                              Or forcing it down a priest's throat.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I'm always struck by how strange European friends of mine thinks the local foods movement is here. "So restaurants actually say on the menu whether the tomatoes are local?" They think it's silly because in much of western Europe anyway, if there aren't local tomatoes, they serve something else. I had to explain 'non-local' to them. Given that we get much of even our in-season food flown in from 2500 miles away, I don't have a problem with a restaurant that decides to source locally and tell the customer. I can do without a half page long story about the pond the fish came from but if they want to distinguish themselves from other places serving salmon from China, more power to them.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Now the concept of a 'drink program' is annoying. As in 'What do you have for wines by the glass?' 'Oh, let me tell you about our drink program.'

                                                                                                                                                                                          JeremyEG
                                                                                                                                                                                          HomeCookLocavore.com

                                                                                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JeremyEG

                                                                                                                                                                                            I have gone out of my way to get local produce for as long as I can remember. Jersey tomatoes in NYC in the early 1980s to start.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Though not exactly sure the term "Locavore" passes the sniff test. Always found it kind of silly honestly.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                              Hey StriperGuy,
                                                                                                                                                                                              How come you seek out local tomatoes? Is it for the taste? The color? Local economy? Whatever the reason, you've obviously made an effort to get what you like best. So I guess my question is if you've been going out of your way to get local tomatoes for 30 years to eat at home, don't you want to know if a restaurant has been doing the same thing? Or is it not important when you eat out? For many its not but for many others, they choose to spend their money on good tomatoes whether it's at home or out and I wouldn't fault the restaurant for informing their customers.
                                                                                                                                                                                              JeremyEG
                                                                                                                                                                                              HomeCookLocavore.com

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JeremyEG

                                                                                                                                                                                                I seek out those tomatoes for the taste, and in part to support smaller local farmers, but taste first, period.

                                                                                                                                                                                                It's not going local I object to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                It's giving it another silly label "Locavore."

                                                                                                                                                                                                In my mind that just further reinforces the whole "good food is something special and apart for select folks who are in the know" thing that I don't care for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Is the Italian guy in my old neighborhood in Watertown, MA who grows 3-400 pounds of tomatoes, an equal quantity of grapes for his own wine, and all the great veg he and his family can eat during the season a locavore. No, in his mind he is just growing the most delicious food he can get his hands on period, no pretense, no fancy labels, just yummy food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I had the pleasure of eating at two restaurants recently that didn't make any note about their sourcing but in fact get very good local products. Great bacon, greens, potatoes. etc. What a treat and not pretentious in the least. But again, I don't fault other restaurants that feel it's important to tell customers about where their products come from. I've read silly descriptions of beers and wines too, but the silly descriptions won't keep me from enjoying a great drink. It sounds like you eat and think much more like my lucky European friends who eat locally most of the time and don't make a big deal out of it. But they also don't live in a country where the vast majority literally never get the chance to eat local or even responsibly raised foods. The quality of food you're talking about cooking and eating here is very high and if you opened your own place, I would love to hear that you make your own bitters. Would calling them 'house-made' on the menu make your place pretentious? Not to me. I'd be excited to try them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  And while we're on the topic of 'silly' labels, McDonald's calling their burgers 'Old Fashioned' might be the most ridiculous labeling of all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  JeremyEG
                                                                                                                                                                                                  HomeCookLocavore.com

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                                    In Italy, the pretentious way to flag your ingredients as local is "Km0" (kilometre zero, which sort of conjures up pots of tomatoes on the restaurant roof and pigs roaming between them).

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The unpretentious way to say the food is local is "nostrani" -- which means "ours", and it indicates the owner has a home garden or orchard, and he picked the stuff himself.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Things that annoy me:

                                                                                                                                                                                              - Everything preceded by "house-made"
                                                                                                                                                                                              -Naming the farm where each ingredient came from in the menu description

                                                                                                                                                                                              As in: House-made Random Farms lamb sausage served with roasted Veggie-Lovin' Farms beets medley over Southern Named Mills polenta... finished with house-made pickled Other Obscure Farm cucumbers and green beans.

                                                                                                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: lynnlato

                                                                                                                                                                                                I hear ya sistah. Next they will be saying which hill on the farm a particular beet came from.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Aaaaack, really hate that one. Or here in Boston I have even heard Merroir for the taste of the ocean oysters.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hahahaha, that's just effin' ridiculous! LMAO

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Since wine producers often do exactly that (at least in Italy, where your wine label may indicate whether the grapes were grown on the sunny side or the shady side of the hill, not merely which hill), a lot of this naming nonsense is not only an attempt to give "composed plates" the status of museum-worthy art, but also to create the kind of priesthood that has grown up around wine. Soon we will be seeing menus that tout pecan encrusted tilapia with hints of pencil-shaving and iron hook, and a morning-butchered thyroid of goat with a well-structured bed of hand-gathered herbs yielding a mossy finish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: barberinibee

                                                                                                                                                                                                      ...served by chubby waitstaff in broad-wale corduroy pants that go "vip, vip, vip" as they waddle about.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Another that just popped into my head; "sourcing" products as opposed to simply getting them or buying them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Our pig snouts are sourced from the finest porcine purveyors in the country.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kengk

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Milton: We use only the finest baby frogs, dew picked and flown from Iraq, cleansed in finest quality spring water, lightly killed, and then sealed in a succulent Swiss quintuple smooth treble cream milk chocolate envelope and lovingly frosted with glucose.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Praline: That's as maybe, it's still a frog.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kengk

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes, "source" as a verb does truly vex.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                          It is especially vexing when used passively, as in kengk's example above. Better: "We source our pig snouts from the finest porcine purveyors in the country."

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Maybe better, but not good enough, when "purchase" was an existing verb that described the process better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I suppose that "sourcing" leaves open the possibility that the snouts were stolen without actually admitting guilt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: kengk

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Ha! That must be it! Suddenly it all becomes clear...

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: kengk

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes. I "sourced" the locally curated aged fig pollen nodules, then I was "tasked" with cooking it sous vide, and creating a pig embryo emulsion with which to envelope it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            We're calling it "Old Fig in Young Pig"'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: SherBel

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Well, I took that pig embryo emulsion, "curated" it, then "enveloped" it in an edible container....

                                                                                                                                                                                                              We are calling it "pig in a poke".

                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. Sous vide anyone? I'm sorry, but I don't want to pay mega bucks for something cooked in plastic. Seems like high-end, carcinogenic microwaving to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chatsworth

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yah, add that one to the ridonculous/pretentious list. How about "Slow Poached in a plastic bag."

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Because 'sous vide' is shorter. And 'poaching' doesn't normally imply the kind of temperature control that distinguishes sous vide.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sous vide is... wait for it... gimmicky nonsense.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It's popularity is tied to high end dining now, BUT it's origins are much more humble. In the 1970's in France it was pioneered at a high end restaurant but they soon realized it could be used in cafeterias or in processed food plants as a more efficient way to cook large amounts of meat and keep them ready to serve without messing up the cooking (over or under) or having health-code violations. It is great for making lots of food with relatively little labor PLUS it has the added bonus of needing less ingredients (ie. herbs or fats) to produce a superior product.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Edit: Sorry Striper, meant to reply to Chatsworth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Klunco

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Learn something new everyday. In all seriousness, thank you for the education.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Klunco

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In fact, don't a lot of chain restos essentially use "sous vide"? I remember reading that places like Olive Garden have all their sauces and stuff ready to go in bags that they heat up in hot water. Maybe not as delicately prepared, but the concept sounded similar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I've heard that Chipotle uses sous vide. I believe Olive Garden does not but tends to use boil-in-bag (which is not the same thing), microwaving, and such with their bags. Wouldn't surprise me if they transitioned over to sous vide for some ingredients, but I don't think they do as of yet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Surprise, surprise - I love the technique.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Chatsworth

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "... carcinogenic"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    _____
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Just pointing out that this claim is entirely without compelling evidence. If you want to make logical leaps in order to freak out about carcinogenic boogeymen in cooking, the seasoning on your cast iron pan or the char from your grill or the nitrates in your salami are several degrees closer to Kevin Bacon (Kevin Bacon representing actual documented risk of cancer in this not-too-apt little metaphor... though bacon also contains nitrates).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I submit Kevin Bacon's music is carcinogenic.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But he dances with such passion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Well, I did say "seems like" carcinogenic microwaving - ie, didn't claim proof or scientific evidence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't have a grill, eat salami, or eat bacon. I must admit I occasionally use a cast iron pan. Mea culpa! But, personally, I still don't want to eat food heated in a plastic bag. (And I still haven't managed to work out my degrees of separation from Kevin but I think I'm such a dork it much be way more than six!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks for the historical background about sous vide - I had no idea it has been around for so long. I posted in the first place because it's become such a trendy catch phrase in the last couple of years and seemed like a relevant answer to the original post. It's all about education. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: Chatsworth

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sous vide is good for the things it's good at doing (143 degree eggs that are the same consistency throughout, duck confit, that sort of thing). It's certainly not good at everything, but it has it's place!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4. One of the funniest things I have seen lately is Williams-Sonoma's "Argarian" products. They are such a ridiculous indulgence for pretend "farmers". I can just see some stock broker bragging about homemade cheese, that he made all by himself. Gag. I reminds me of Marie Antoinette's country maiden cottage on the grounds of Versailles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I hate when people just make up the rules about what a "real" dish includes (coincidentally in line with their preferences).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          For example, I've heard some insist that a real hamburger doesn't have breadcrumbs in the mix, and that a burger that does is really a meatloaf sandwich. This has never been true, but over the past couple of years I've heard it more and more.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: plasticanimal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Once you start saying that kung pao shrimp on a bun is a "burger," all bets are off.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.nbclosangeles.com/the-scen...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I find veganism to be the most gag inducing food pretension.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: twyst

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have a friend who is a raw vegan (and obviously, organic-only). I can't even imagine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Never mind the state of their digestive tract.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: biondanonima

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  People who eat this way aren't into food. They're into medicine. JMHO

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. A few years back I ate in a restaurant that had a water sommelier. I opted for the tap water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    http://www.slashfood.com/2009/11/13/w...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "Comparing himself to the "Robert Parker for bottled water," Mascha can pair fine water with food, depending largely on the water's mouthfeel."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: wineguy7

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Haven't you all seen Robert Altman's "The Player" about Hollywood producers? There is a wonderful running joke in it where every time one of the characters walks into a restaurant, they order a different obscure designer water from a vintage year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Penn and Teller did a wonderful send up of water pretention on their TV show, aptly named "Bullshit."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfPAjU...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Those two are the ultimate debunkers, awesome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Curated and artisanal are not what I am interested in but..... But the resto biz is very tough tough tough. Who am I to begrudge a hard working entrepreneur using this kind of buzz to elevate his business? He is forcing no one to eat at his place. Curated and artisanal obviously resonate with many customers so this is coming from both directions so good luck to them all. Some good food will come out of the collision

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: lastZZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Well, for starters, I don't think the commercialization of food and food culture in an unalloyed blessing. I also think that creating confusion about food and eating isn't healthy. What "good food" is merits some crystal-clear conversation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I think "artisinal" pour-over coffee tastes much better than drip.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I, like you, am not a fan of the phrase.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But what would you suggest they say instead? Should you just call it "coffee"? That would be underselling it's flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: calumin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          <I think "artisinal" pour-over coffee tastes much better than drip.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It really does depend on the bean and the roast. I've had drip that was really fabulous. On the other hand, I've had some artisanal coffees, pour-over, that were horribly bitter and tasted what I'd imagine old rubber, burnt out tires tires might taste.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, roast is far more important than how you actually prepare your drip coffee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've also heard coffee snobs poo poo auto drip, saying the temp can't possibly be right... except they are wrong. I've tested the temp of a couple of Mr. Coffee's and they were spot on in the 195-205; seriously, that can't be that hard to engineer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            At home I do pour over, at work, auto drip for a crowd. We start with really good City Roast coffee. My one concession to coffee obsessiveness with auto drip it to wait to put the carafe under for a minute or two, and as the water pools in the basket, give the grounds a good stir or three to make sure they really get wet, and get a good extraction. Great coffee every time, no pretense, or countless years working my way up through the Artisanal Coffeee Makers Guild required.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: calumin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Calling it "hand-poured" might be more accurate, since Mr Coffee pours hot water over ground beans.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: calumin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              How about "pour over drip coffee," clear, to the point, no room for confusion, no pretense, and nothing artisanal about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                To the posters' points above, the people who sell "pour over drip coffee" are also trying to get the best beans with the right roast. The idea is to get a better cup of coffee than you get when you get drip at Starbucks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                So just saying "pour over drip coffee" only talks to one part of what these people are trying to do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think I'd rather just live with the overly-pompous marketing than not have really good coffee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: calumin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "Fresh-roasted (dark city) small grower, pour over drip." Look great coffee, no pretense.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The terminology I use, actually invites the inquisitive coffee nerd to learn more while not forcing foofery down the throat of someone who just wants a good cup of coffee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Aaaaah, a good cup of coffee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: calumin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "I think I'd rather just live with the overly-pompous marketing than not have really good coffee."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Of course that assumes it's an "either/or" proposition.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sort of like "I think I'd rather live with "Jersey Shore" and "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" than have no TV at all."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: calumin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Overly-pompous marketing of coffee is here to stay.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I was there the day the original Starbucks opened. The crowds were around the block to taste the highly advertised, artisinal coffee brewing. I grew up in a family where a good cup of coffee was very important....coffee drinking began in the morning, with freshly ground beans ground on a grinder placed on the wall, and it didn't stop until we went to bed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      To say the very least, I know great coffee when I drink it. I later moved to an area where coffee hadn't been a focus and a eventually 'new kid came to town'... you'd think the messiah had arrived. People, without knowing anything about coffee, believed this coffee was 'the best' and coffee 'experts' started popping up here and there. I've tried their espresso a few times and always end up tossing it in the vestibule outside. I come home and make my own from the beans I either roast or pick up at a place I trust and love. The whole coffee industry is another testimony to the way people will automatically want to be part of the story of what they're told is 'the best'. They convince themselves it's incredible because they're told it is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        <<I was there the day the original Starbucks opened.>>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I used to shop at the original Starbucks, in Pike Place Market. My memory is that it wasn't a place you drank coffee; you just bought your beans and took them home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        No?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, the three partners sold beans only. There were no machines...only brewed samples. Actually, if you remember that place you'll remember they sold Peet's (the owner was their friend) beans, initially.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It was located a few yards up (north) of where the present Market Starbucks is located. The old building was demolished and new storefronts were built.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I left Seattle in 1980, and never went back. I don't remember hearing the name Peet's until sometime later (the '00s, maybe the '90s).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I was looking on Google Maps once not long ago, and De Laurenti's seems not to be in the exact spot I remember. Has this changed, or is my memory faulty? I lived right nearby, and De Laurenti's was one of my favorite places to shop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Also, do you remember an Italian restaurant named Le Bistro? A man named Peter owned it. It was my favorite restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              When the family (De Laurenti) began the business it was originally on the lower level of the market. Eventually, in the early '70's they moved it to first and Pike....on the corner where it presently stands.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If you're speaking about Il Bistro (?) under some steps, located on the lower level, southend, of the market, the owner's last name was Lamb.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The food was outstanding with wonderful ambience and one of my favorites also :).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Small world.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Il Bistro...of course. Peter Lamb...that sounds right, though I am not sure I knew his last name. Yes, lower level, south end.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I lived across Western Avenue from the Market, and bought everything but soap and toilet paper there, IIRC.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. You see, this is what happens when I don't check the NAF board for a couple of days - I miss the chance to respond to your wonderful rant right away. Now all my personal gripes (foraging, beer programs, *burger* programs) have all been taken. Still, I want to pull my weight so here goes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chefs have magically morphed from craftsmen to artists. We know they're artists because the food media tells us so and a subset of food board posters buys into it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Remember back in prehistoric times? You know, back 10 or 15 years ago?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In those poor benighted days we'd walk into a restaurant, look at a menu, and pick out some things that appealed to us. When the food was served we'd taste it and decide whether the kitchen did a good job based on whether the food pleased us.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  How primitive. How medieval.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Now we go to restaurants run by artists. There are no menus. Instead, the chef decides what *he* feels like making that night. We don't have a say in the matter. Our job is to eat what's put in front of us, pay $300 for the privilege, and be grateful that we've been given an opportunity to witness the full flowering of Chef's creativity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And woe to us if we don't like what's served because then *we've* failed. Our taste just isn't sufficiently advanced to appreciate Chef's vision.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "O brave new world that has such people in it."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Additionally, chefs, I mean artists, no longer work in "kitchens", but "studios" per Bauer:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      http://www.sfgate.com/restaurants/art...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Gosh, sorry you didn't chime in earlier, but keep it coming.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for that. Yah, exactly the nonsense I am talking about, though the article was a bit long. Kummer sure lays into the pretentious twits who rum Journeyman here in Boston.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I noticed that too (being from Boston), and I have to say I agree with him. I am not a fan of "tasting menu" only restaurants. I think it takes a lot of ego to believe that your food, atmosphere, and service can only exist in an extended, choice-less format.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It's not that there aren't great genius' whose genius can only be realized in this format, it's just that this whole trend of wanting to offer only a marathon food experience (complete with a marathon's worth of calories) is overly ambitious for the majority of these places and they all seem oblivious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              For a tasting menu to succeed, and by that I mean for a diner to leave the restaurant feeling like they got a good value (regardless of price) for a good experience, requires many many variables to fall into place perfectly. The stakes are just too high, including the next day food hangover, cost hangover, and/or wine hangover and poor execution (either in the kitchen or from a server) can blow the whole experience. Personally I'm surprised there is enough public interest (and money) to keep many of these places in business, but I guess there is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I suppose I shouldn't even get into my opinion on how ridiculous the notion is that drinking 10 glasses of wine will somehow "enhance" the culinary experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Klunco

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I too prefer a choice. There was one exception I had to this though. When I lived in Orlando, there was a small restaurant in a strip mall across the street from me. It looked like nothing much, but was owned by an old NYC Chef who'd retired and become bored. He rented the space cheap and would basically make only a few dishes on any given day, depending on what he felt like. No exceptions or variations. He was a bit of a curmudgeon, but boy could he cook. Delicious and inexpensive. I don't have a choice? Didn't care, let's see what he did today.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Wow, 5000 words on the state of (fine?) dining today.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My favorite lines are:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The harsh last-minute smoke did lend an urban flavor—as if the fish had come off a New York trash fire.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              and
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              (dictatorships thrive on theoretical manifestos)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. If you haven't read Tom Wolfe's "From Bauhaus to Our House" I strongly recommend it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/From_Bau...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And also read Wolfe's "Kandy-Kolored Tangerine Flake Streamline Baby", a collection of his early NYMag articles that obsessed about the way in which words, particularly FOOD words, were being taken out of context and deployed to confect a pop culture that could be instantly consumed and digested in lieu of long learning in the skills that high culture (even skilled manufacturing) requires.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It's a reactionary book -- but hey, so is Michael Pollan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I don't mind artisan when used appropriately, and I haven't noticed curated but see how that could grate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              More often I am stunned by really ridiculous pricing. Working in the industry, I know what things cost and what the usual mark-up is and don't mind paying a little extra when it is obvious that a lot of labor went into a dish. So the cute little jar of vanilla sugar for $9 almost made me walk out of a new bakery recently. $1 for a vanilla bean, and about 40 cents of sugar...seriously? Must be a really special little jar. Or the fairly simple chocolate dessert (molten cake) at $12, because it is the chocolate thing and oh it is Valrhona or Theo. Well Valrhona wholesales around $11 a pound and Theo $9, so even a generous serving with two ounces of chocolate, an egg (20 cents) and a little sugar (92 cents/#) is only about $1.50 in ingredients. You could charge $9 or $10, not rip people off quite so much, and still have food cost below 20%.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: babette feasts

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You know, this would be an excellent topic for a new thread! I have a thing about percent over food cost myself, unless it is the highest end restaurant and you're paying for the atmosphere and service too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: babette feasts

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Boy, babette, you have something here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I also really hate the frou-frou "gourmet" food shops that sell silly trendy things for giant prices. These places tend to be more concerned about packaging and trendiness than about good quality. Like pretty little painted chocolates that are all sugar and artificial flavors/colors. These places give a bad name to the rare true gourmet shop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: babette feasts

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    actually, where I am, wholesale vanilla beans are packaged 6 for $15, and $60/lb. A consumer purchasing vanilla beans would pay $8.95 for 2.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: KarenDW

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That doesn't quite make sense. I mean, I believe you know what you pay, but $60/# is an amazing deal and 6 for $15 is a pretty bad deal (about $240/#!!!). I pay $120/# wholesale for A grade bourbon vanilla beans (uh, Madagascar, I think) - I could probably get a better deal from my other supplier but I have my reasons. A quick google suggests average 100 vanilla beans/pound, depending on variety.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Are you saying that since the retail price of 2 beans is so high, the $9 cup of vanilla sugar isn't that bad, because it's a $4.50 retail vanilla bean, plus some sugar, plus a super cute glass jar? I guess that is how they get away with it, but I still think it is robbery, especially if they get their beans where you do and each one is only 60 cents.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: babette feasts

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        on a $9 jar of anything, the retailer probably wants a 50-100% markup, so let's say the wholesale price of the jar of sugar is $5. Out of which the manufacturer pays for product cost $0.60 for the bean + $0.50 for sugar + $1.50 for the jar + $0.5 for the label + $0.9 for the hang tag = $4. Not including the labor to load everything into the jar, attach the label, pack the carton, take the order, ship the order. IDK, $9 doesn't seem out of line to me... if someone wanted to buy that sort of item, rather than make it, in the first place.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But that's the difference, I think. You have the desire and capacity to make the product, and other people don't. After all, I could make great tablecloths for a lot less than buying... but then I would have to make them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: babette feasts

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      " Or the fairly simple chocolate dessert (molten cake) at $12, because it is the chocolate thing and oh it is Valrhona or Theo. Well Valrhona wholesales around $11 a pound and Theo $9, so even a generous serving with two ounces of chocolate, an egg (20 cents) and a little sugar (92 cents/#) is only about $1.50 in ingredients."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Better yet, what about the infamous souffle! It has a reputation for being hard to make, but lets be real, in a pro kitchen its a snap to pump out souffle and sell them for $15 a pop all night long. Food cost of said souffle? Somewhere around 60 cents at one place I worked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Desserts are definitely where restaurants make huge margins! My pastry instructor described selling souffles as "selling some really expensive air"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. The term "curated" means to me that something has been carefully chosen according to a standard. I suppose the wine list in a very posh restaurant should be curated, shouldn't it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The first time I ran into this term used outside of academia, was at an antique shop which had relatively few items, attractively displayed. The sign on the wall said the collection was curated. Of course prices were more expensive than if they had been displayed in a flea market or secondhand shop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I do think that a "curated" menu sounds pretentious and silly. So, don't eat there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That's right. Make a selection from our sausage collection.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. This thread is cracking me up. If any one word irks me the most, it is: a. As in "dish x is served with a black raspberry vinaigarette", or "dish y is enjoyed with a port wine reduction". Why the "a"? Why?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I agree. The "a" should be changed to "the", sounds more Continental

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: lastZZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Well, now that I've learned how to spell vinaigrette (haha), I would just prefer to see something described like this: dish y is served with port wine reduction. No "a" or "the" needed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I dunno, I think it sounds really strange not to use "a" when you break it down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "dish x is served with a black raspberry vinaigrette"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            If we remove the adjectives its just "dish x is served with vinaigrette" vs "dish x is served with a vinaigrette"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Personally I think the use of "a" sounds much better ><

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "Ill be having a steak with a sauce" seems to roll off the tongue a lot better than "Ill be having steak with sauce" to me. :shrug:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. I blogged about my pet hate list in November

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.thecriticalcouple.co.uk/bl...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In no particular order

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Foams - unappetising and look like cuckoo spit
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Food on a slate - Why serve food on a roof tile?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Skid marks - hmmm - right
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Amuse Bouche - no longer funny or original
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Burger Towers - need the jaws of a python to get the whole burger in

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I just remembered another one (this might have been mentioned on a different thread) - "scented" foods. So you can't just say "flavored?" Are you not supposed to eat it? Can there be "flavored" Axe body spray?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: nsenada

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "Can there be 'flavored' Axe body spray?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Well, many companies do sell flavored body lotions and edible garments that are flavored and whatnot, so I wouldn't be surprised by "flavored" Axe body spray. The way they market their product it might actually make some sense. Their demographic probably wouldn't mind such a product feature...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  There's a smell some young guys have on that gives me an asthma attack if they get near me. It smells horrible, too. I think it must be Axe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Jay, I think you're right. I don't get asthma, but a wicked headache ensues for the duration of the smell + 10 minutes or so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: MonMauler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Not to get too far afield, some are even labelled edible. I thought that was what chocolate sauce was for. And I'm mighty old.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I'm waiting for my server/waitperson to introduce him or herself as a docent. "Good evening, I'm Chef's docent tonight." Or maybe they are doing that now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: afridgetoofar

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I smell a "Portlandia" sketch a-brewin'!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In related news, I just saw an offer for artisan deli pickles.