The Gentleman Gourmand

sharing the best food around

Month: June 2004 (Page 2 of 3)

One espresso, and your total comes to….

I found this incredibly amusing, and forgot to post it when I got back from Rome.

On trains with no food car, a guy comes through with a cart. He sells sandwiches and snacks, but most people just want an espresso. He takes a plastic cup, fills it with hot water, and adds instant Nespresso Espresso. This by itself is not unusual.

The odd part is, after you pay him the 1 Euro for your drink, he gives you a receipt that would be appropriate for a new car.

I present the irrefutable evidence:


Che bello pomorodo!

Today I witnessed something so perfect, so beautiful, it made me break into song. Just because that song happened to be at the time “Dead Presidents II” by Jay-Z, it doesn’t make it any less meaningful.

The thing that I witnessed was….*drumroll please* a tomato.

This was not just any tomato, this was the ultimate, most amazing, superhuman tomato.

What made it perfect? Was it the size? The shape? The color? The firmness?


Well, all of these contributed to it’s perfectness, but what really made it perfect (and the part you’re gonna have to trust me on, since I didn’t save any to send you. I’m greedy.) was the TASTE.

This was the tomato to end all tomatoes. It was warm from the sun, fresh of the Umbrian vine, and bursting, literally, with flavor. The fact that the added salt, pepper, oil and balsamic vinegar didn’t overpower the tomato flavor, but complemented it instead, was incredible. (How’s that for a fragmented sentence for all you grammar geeks? I used to be a grammar geek; but I’m on a tangent. Back to the tomato.)


Wanna know what made my life even better?

I had a whole bag of them.


A Journey to Roma…

Tonight I rest, for tomorrow I visit the ancient city of Rome.

Am I venturing to this ancient capital to see museums and culture?

Of course not; I’m going to see Harry Potter in English, and have lunch with our tour guide from last year, Carlo.

Updates to come tomorrow night. Get excited.

Apologies to those unfortunate enought to see the version of this site that sucks.

My domain host has decided to FUBAR my site. Hopefully I should have it resolved within the next few days, but for those of you who see my site with either the white background or the blue bottom banner or both, I apologize. We should resume regular programming soon.

Pocketful of dough? More like pocketful of COLD HARD CASH.

This is an excellent article on Epicurious on the hot topic of tipping your way into fine restaurants. Try it sometime, it works!

I am nervous, truly nervous. As the taxi bounces southward through the trendier neighborhoods of Manhattan — Flatiron, the Village, SoHo — I keep imagining the possible retorts of some incensed maître d’:

“What kind of establishment do you think this is?”

“How dare you insult me!”

“You think you can get in with that?”

It’s just after 8 p.m. on a balmy summer Saturday and I’m heading toward one of New York’s most overbooked restaurants, Balthazar, where celebrities regularly go to be celebrated and where lay diners like me call a month in advance to try and secure a reservation. I don’t have a reservation. I don’t have a connection. I don’t have a secret phone number. The only things I have are a $20, a $50, and a $100 bill, neatly folded in my pocket.

Espresso; the easy way.

Making Espresso on a professional espresso maker is one of those things that you see all the time at your local coffee joint. (Java Monkey, anyone?)

It also happens to be one of those things that looks easy until you actually have to do it. At which point you realize that it is in fact, really easy.

Here we have our intimidating Italian Espresso Machine Maker (Plus steamer, hot water dispenser, baby changing station).


Now, first step is to find someone who wants an espresso. This is made simple if you yourself want an espresso. For those of you who don’t, just be patient and I’ll come by shortly.

So, the first thing you need to identify is your espresso holder + handle thing, hereafter referred to as “dispenser.” Stay with me.

They look like this, and come in two types: one dispense and two dispense. Both shown here are two, but its easy to tell which is which, because the ones only have one drip canal.


Once you have your dispenser, open up the trash and bang it on the bar to get rid of the old, used up grounds.



Now you’re ready to put your own espresso grinds in. Stick the dispenser in the grinder, and pull the lever. Once for one, thrice for two (two, sir, TWO). Umm, make that Once for one, twice for two.


Then tamp it down with the smoosher. Make sure it’s good and packed. (No joke, this is serious stuff. You could get stabbed here for not tamping with vigor.)


Next step: attaching the dispenser. It requires a steady aim and a firm grip. Once you find the groove it fits in, crank it around till its good and tight, or else steam could escape and blow the whole thing off the machine.


There’s a small lever just to the right of the dispenser once it’s locked in. Pull it toward you. You should hear much moaning and groaning from the machine. Be patient! You’re only a few steam blasted seconds away from a perfect cup of espresso!!

After a second or so, the blood will start to flow. Did I say blood? I meant espresso.


When it’s full to your level of liking, push the lever back into place. The excess steam should be shot out somewhere. Keep your face away from that somewhere. This is not a spa.

Finally, plate it up like its your last tea party, and have at thee!


Welcome, Amateur Gourmeters! Pull up a chair!

Welcome, those of you who flocked here while Adam is indisposed (disposed?). For those of you who dont know me, I am Andrew, and I am not a professional chef. I just land internships in professional kitchens.

I am le poseur.

Anyway, it gives me the opportunity to see professional chefs work, which gives me the opportunity to give you the opportunity to see whats going on in real life, hardcore restaurants!

Still with me? Good.

Right now I’m in Spoleto, Italy, working at Il Castello di Poreta. This is where we begin our journey together.

Isn’t that fun?

So, here I am, typing to you:


By the way, the Boston University label is on my shirt because I attend there, in the Hospitality School, which is what leads me into these kitchens in the first place.

Now that you have the phenominally interesting backstory, I will let you read the rest of the site, which is pretty self-explanitory.

Oh, and if you all go flocking back to Adam when he returns, so be it. I know I will.

Chicchi, the hottest new vegan app on the street

Since I work here, I’m going to shamelessly post the recipe from, since they took the recipe from my boss, Donatella.


This recipe is for Chicchi, without a doubt our most popular appetizer. The menu describes it as “Chicchi di Farro Perlato con Ceci, Tartufo e Bruschettine all’Olio d’Olivia” Which translates to Spelt (an ancient Roman grain) tossed with chick peas, truflles and tomatoes, served with toast drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

Let me tell you; “It’s delicious.” I say.

Heres what the 3 main ingredients look like before you add them together to heat and plate (the chick pea / spelt combination is made in advance)


After combining and plating, it looks very similar to this:


I lied. It looks exactly like that. I plated it. Nothing “similar” about it.

Now I know you’re all really just wondering what the recipe is. Well, I’m not going to give it to you.

Meh, fine. I’ve gone through this much already. Here you go:

Use fresh herbs and tomatoes in tiny amounts, pinches, as they are only to accent, not overpower the truffles. Truffle oil may be substituted for the black truffles.

10 ounces dried chickpeas
10 ounces farro (spelt)
3 ounces black truffles
Tomato bits
Chili flakes

Soak the chickpeas in cold water for 12 hours, changing the water 3 times. (If you use canned chickpeas, rinse them thoroughly!) Cook the chickpeas in the same water for about 1 hour. Cook the farro in lightly salted water until tender. Do not overcook the chickpeas or farro!

Finely chop the garlic, basil, sage, rosemary, chili flakes, and oregano. Lightly sauté the herbs in olive oil, then add the tomato bits. Add the drained chickpeas and farro, drizzling with a bit of broth until cooked. Off the flame, stir in the truffles and serve with slices of fettunta. {This is crap, throw the truffles in when you heat it all up} (Fettunta is Tuscan garlic bread. A thick slice of Tuscan style bread is toasted and then lightly rubbed with a clove of garlic. {Again, crap I say, just toast it till its crispy throughout. No garlic rubbing nonsense, unless you’re rubbing the garlic on yourself, then it’s ok.} The best extra virgin olive oil is poured over the bread. Then it’s seasoned with a little salt.) {Be sure and sprinkle generous amounts of salt on the toasted bread, or it wont taste as good. Stupid recipe writers.}

Remember I told you it was our most popular appetizer? Check out the order tickets tonight:


(***HOT TIP*** Click it to make it readable!! Wowza! Technological wizadry! Like Harry Potter, but not as awesome.)

EVERY SINGLE TABLE ORDERED AT LEAST ONE CHICCHI!! It’s a good thing it’s a snap to make during service.

Chicken butchering. Bbgawk!!

Looking for instructions on how to disassemble a chicken?  Click here.

Now that I have the basic site laid out, I’m going to start documenting the daily goings on in the kitchen.  Today, Donatella showed me how to debone a chicken, keeping all the meat in 1 piece.  Thats one, folks.  Count em with me.  One.

Firstly, Italian chickens come with some feathers still attached.  They must be cleansed by fire.  Holy, avenging angel fire.

A standard gas burner will do this time, though.


After that unpleasant task is taken care of, don your surgical gloves and mask.  I’m going in.



Once all the bones are excavated, you’re left with this glorious sight.  Next step – rolling and blazing.  Errm, roasting.




Look Daddy, dinosaurs!!


Yeowzaowaz (say it out loud!)

So many cool things have been happening here. Last night we did a 6 course banquet dinner for 34 people. And by “we” I mean me and Donatella. And by 34 people I really mean 40, because 6 people were in the regular dining room too, that had to be treated like normal customers.


Tonight, I thought we were going to have a slow night, so I didn’t even put my whites on. When I meandered into the kitchen around 9, there were 7 tickets up on the board, and Donatella was in a frenzy. I jumped right in, and before I knew it I was making 3 creme brulees.

While making one of them, I had the ingenious idea to touch the burned sugar, to make sure it had become hard. (Heh heh… hard. Shaddup.)

I forgot the fact that I had just scorched the sugar with the blowtorch, even though I was still clutching it in my grasp.

I tapped the still smouldering crust with the middle finger of my right hand, and it immedately stuck to my digit. Bad sign.

I immediately licked it off (good idea), and realized I had completely scalded myself.

I have a pretty blister now!!


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