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Friday, August 20, 2010

Exercise Vs Food

My life has been a balance between two of my most favorite, but at sometimes, most diametrically opposed pastimes. Eating and exercising. As my father has said in the past, he eats so that he has the energy to exercise. I, on the more self-indulgent and gluttonous side of our family, exercise so that I don't feel excessively fat when I eat whatever I can get my hands (and mouth) on. I love to be outside. I love to bike and ski and run. Though, not nearly as much as I love pig and cheese. I envy those with high metabolisms, though I do not feel that they wholly appreciate their circumstances in relation to food. I have to work to be able to indulge. The experience is therefore that much sweeter. I am also that much more pleased when I am in good shape. I feel like a proud craftsman having made my very own bookshelf in the garage. I consider the genesis of strenuous activity for means of exercise. As we as a world have gotten more sedentary, we have also began to eat more and more. The quality of the food has been inversely correlated to the quantity, and as a result: America the Swollen. It wasn't until 1949 that we truly discovered the connection between exercise (physical activity in general) and improvements in health. Meanwhile, we have consciously chosen to use cheaper methods and ingredients for our food, we have become too busy to be bothered with "unrealistic" activities such as growing or cooking our own food and we have invented more and more ways to have less and less human contact. We have, quite literally, created a world of issues for ourselves, yet we want the quick fix. For me, there are simple ways that we can stem the tide of this landslide. We'll call it the Human Race Redux: An Exercise Plan.

1. Create Community. Technically, I think this could be the only bullet point of our plan. It encompasses the solution to nearly every issue plaguing our society today. Most of our main issues have materialized due to a pulling away of people from each other. Eating alone, driving alone, living alone…it requires more of everything! From an eating perspective, there is no doubt in my mind that I eat more poorly when no one is judging me. When my girlfriend is here, it's very rare that I have my midnight-thirty useless peanut butter face shove parties. Eating with others not only celebrates the food and friends, but is way more utilitarian and energy efficient than cooking for one or two. The same goes for exercising…If I have a workout partner, its like having Mick from the Rocky movies shouting at the back of my head.

2. Eat Intentionally. Buy food that you have some general idea about where its going to end up. I buy nearly all of my veggies once or twice a week at the farmers market, and I have at least a loosely formed plan for where they will end up. Squash: Roasted to be eaten tonight and for probably a couple more meals -- The other half go to making fresh pickles. Green Beans: Sauteed with nearly every meal for the next three days. Its so easy to buy things and forget about them, and then they die. Or buy something, ala a box of Late July Organic "Oreo" cookies from Costco (therefore the size of a 1980s VCR) and feel the need to whittle away the purchase by shoving six of them in my mouth four times a day. By the way, they are one of the best cookies made…watch out Oreos. Buy food that wants to be wanted by you. You're the chef…and the diner.

3. Learn to Love Exercise. Find an activity that is really exciting and fun. Something that gets you outdoors, with friends or not, and just so happens to have the fringe benefit of keeping you looking and feeling sexy! Skiing, hiking and mountain biking are things that I would love to do even if they somehow were laden with saturated fat, high fructose corn syrup and made me a fat slob. I can see why people loathe their workout time when they are doing it at 24 hour Fitness. What a clusterfuck sweatbox of tight, toned, judgmental grunters, all of whom are too engaged in mirror looking and the Nickelback piped into their ears to have an actual human interaction. Enjoy the nature. Love the nature. It will certainly love you back. Nothing centers me more, (while also working off the 2 lbs of pork I consumed last night) than a great hike/trail run and then a swim with my dog in the river. Find something you dig, and do it. Then find some dope, delicious, GOOD food…and eat the hell out of it.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Happiness (and good food) is shared.

Eating is a relationship. Emotions swell, minds race and caution is thrown to the breeze for a beautiful meal. I have seduced many a pea pod. Asparagus has certainly been stalked from from the shadows. I court beets by the bucketful. Everyone knows that feeling of lustful longing for a wonderfully crisp slice of bacon. Whew...Im sweating a bit.

So imagine my heart flutter when I found someone as feverish and love-smitten for food as myself. I have brought a dreamy, delicious, little Italiano into my life...and she cooks and eats with a passion that is nothing short of divine. Our phone sex consists of her describing the menu of a deliciously indulgent restaurant she is going to, and me ruminating on nibbles that I am cooking up and how crunchy, sweet and satiating they are. We have spent our first month living together eating, cooking, drooling over farmers market veggies and coveting well raised meat...and there no end in sight. We nosh our backyard kale, make kimchi and grill local grass fed skirt steak, talking about how we cant wait to teach our kids about the intense joy of communing around a table with delectable food and loving, sincere dining partners.

Life is all about the moments that you are able to truthfully share with someone, and finding that person that just says and thinks exactly what you would, except just much sexier or more intelligently. Though our lives are filled with so many versions of ourselves, our wants and needs are generally fairly steady; just perhaps different hues. I have always looked for the "me" that was comfortable with my emotions, truthfully relatable to those around me and passionate in a healthy direction. My lady friend has eased me into the best version of myself like a oversized bean bag chair; I'm IN it, and it's REAL difficult to stand up. I think I'll stay, perhaps forever.

So for all of you readers, (and your numbers most likely are not terribly plentiful) I hope that you have an eating and laughing partner. Its quite delightful. If you don't, come and eat with us. A love affair with food and fellowship is an investment that pays dividends exponentially. Introduce yourself to a bunch of sexy colorful carrots at the farmers market, "accidentally" bump into that basket of ripe peaches, take those honey laden Rocky Ford melons home with you. A one night stand? Nay. A fairytale romance is coming your way. Be reverent.

Thank you Corinne for being my eating mate, my backyard co-farmer and for loving food and me so much.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rumenating on us....

I start to think about where we are as a collective culture....America, the world, humankind. Its just so easy to go down the proverbial "Rabbit Hole", and listen to the talking heads, the anger on both sides that has now become our discourse. I think that there is an amazing introspection to be gleaned from extremism, though the ultimate positive message will be distilled from the fringes. By shoring up our beliefs, and ultimately understanding that we are all better for them, there is a solace in the fact that we don't need them. Like everything in nature, we fight for equity; for a sense of equilibrium or symmetry that just feels right, and, knowing our entitlement (or narcissism) we might not immediately recognize it existence. I am so fond of coming out of an argument feeling that I have intellectually bested (read: kicked the shit out of) my opponent (read: friend/enemy/fellow arguer) that I fail to actually take what I should have away from the conversation. One: My point, while well founded, may not have been the only on the topic and Two: The essence of great thought lies in the subtleties between the words. As a culture that is built upon reactionary tones, and only formulating our response based on the last inflammatory thing that someone says, we forget to portray ourselves as we actually mean to.

"Say what you mean, mean what you say." So many arguments and statements are now lead by agenda based, epithets of partisan lingo that no one truly understands that the meaning is simply lost...and all that exists is the knee-jerk reactions that so often amount to less than a bumper sticker of true individual thought. When I find myself in a helpful place to "sort myself out", politically, humanistically, or just within my own misshapen view of what I want to be for my world, I am certainly with someone who is diametrically opposed (or at least at odds) with my soap box, and injects their views in a manner that makes me wince. A deep breath...but I know that the only constructive response has to be rational, and truthful; we begin to build. Eventually, always, I play for a humanistic, love and community based rationale for all problems. I am unapologetic in the fact that I think our solidification and ultimate reunification of everyone, relies on the fact that there is something beautiful and foundational to be brought out of the struggle. No one gets to be right. No one gets to win. Though for that, we all are better for the fight. Open your ears, rise above the static and tease out the real issues of our world.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A hushed dinner...

I have never been on a blind date. Truth be told, I have never actually been on a classic “first-date.” The inconsolable anxiety, lack of basic information about my dining/beach walking/movie-viewing partner-to-be and claustrophobic prison cell of a date situation in general, sounded like a sweat-fest shit-show of the tallest order to me. Though, I recently attended a Hush Denver dinner event, and there is a generalized “blind-datey” feeling that surrounds the night; and it is simply exhilarating. Hush Denver was started by Phil Armstrong, as a way to celebrate and pay homage to the “others” in the kitchen; the grunting, sweating, bleeding mess of line cooks that actually flex the food out each evening. With the growing adoration and deification of the “Chef”, as a celebrity, a shouting drama queen, but very rarely, actually as a Cook, Hush Denver brings the focus back upon the real architects. For tonight, the menu is unknown, our only information is that it will be featuring food prepared by Erin Boyle, of Root Down “fame” and that it is sure to dazzle.

The dinners (for now) take place at Studio Como, (think Ikea, though the customers aren’t all recently divorced men or college students, but Range Rover driving, square toed shoe wearing, upper crusters with a little funk) and the modern chairs and exposed brick walls are oddly at ease with one another, and appropriately industrial. The energy is generally something between a co-ed mixer, a murder mystery dinner and an awesome 80’s party. Our coats are taken, and we are directed by Phil towards the “bar”, (actually a semi-functional display kitchen) and given a Deshler (made by Kevin Burke, Head Barman of Colt and Gray) to sip on. Approximate something between a Manhattan and a Sidecar in a snifter, and you’re on track. This is paired with a passed-app of a Duck Mousse Bonbon, Nutmeg Cookie with Cranberries and Micro Arugula. For me, the drink is too strong for a first and the mousse is tasty, but a little fatty, and rillette-ish, really lacking citrus or acid to cut it a touch. We meet fun new foodie friends, and find a table that suits our sentimentality (dark, back of the room, by the band) and get to drinking, laughing too loudly and most importantly, eating and judging.

Eating at a dinner with food lovers is much akin to watching previews at a movie. After each bite (or preview) everyone leans in to give their two cents about the thumbs ups and thumbs downs of the offering. Our first course was a Kabocha Squash Soup, with a Cilantro-Squash Seed Pesto, Smoked Brown Sugar and a Lime Crème Fraiche, paired with a Spanish Sitios Bodega, Verdejo/Sauv Blanc blend. The thumbs are up, the crowd is hushed…save a couple “ooh’s” and copious slurping. The soup is executed perfectly: velvety, rich and the Lime Crème Fraiche adding a light crispness that brings all of the flavors together. The wine is humbled by the soup, and falls a touch flat. The table’s bowls are all cleaned thoroughly.

Onto the three main protein courses, with an unfortunate common theme: cold plates. Seared Scallop with Braised Root Vegetables, Pork Belly, Mushroom Jus and Yucca paired with a Opawa New Zealand Pinot Noir. The dish is conceptually quite nice, but the salt is instantly overpowering. The scallop was seasoned well, seared well, but the tepid, brodo-ish vegetables and broth must have been salted before braising and reducing, and the compounded seasoning is just too much. In addition, the “pork belly” was a thin, tangled piece of bacon, which, yes, is in fact pork belly, but stretching the description a bit. The Opawa pinot is bold, inky and delicious, ending up as my favorite amongst a group of interesting pairings. For our third course, Braised Lamb with Israeli Couscous, Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Jam paired with an interesting and delightful La Garrigue, Southern Rhone blend. The dish is really excellent: the lamb is cooked perfectly for me, with crispy seared nibbles on the outside, and a perfect mid-rare on the interior, the tomato “jam” (more like a sweet tomato paste, but great) adding just the right flavor nudge and a complex, herbed take on the couscous. The dish is simply lukewarm at best though, leaving me wishing for a rented hotbox in the kitchen to keep the plates like, Mexican restaurant HOT! Fourth course, third protein: a Pan Seared Blue Marlin, with Blood Orange and a Jungle Broth, paired with a Bonny Doon, Roussanne Grenache Blanc; a wine that I truthfully don’t remember having. The marlin was seasoned and cooked very well, only, it happened probably 20 minutes ago. I am reminded of my banquet serving days, eating cold leftover plates in the hotel back hallway, and thinking how great they would have been, hot and fresh. The blood orange and jungle broth are an interesting nod to Thai jungle curry or country curry, with peppery, soft notes, but falls short of truly fitting with the marlin. All of the mains had a potential for greatness, but a couple seasoning missteps and serious temperature concerns (easily fixed with a plate warmer) kept them from attaining their full “Oh my God!” factor.

Second star to the right, and straight on till morning…we enter Dessertland. A jiggly and sensual Rose Panna Cotta, with Lemon Saffron Sorbet, Clover honey and a Lemon Tuille is placed before me. With a Moscato in my hand…I smile. Now, read this knowing that the Pastry Chef from Root Down, Samm Sherman, is a friend of mine from culinary school, but I am not biased: the dessert was great. Save for the rose petal on the plate, (NO inedible/non-functional garnishes!) the dish was delicious. The panna cotta had just enough of a hint of rose, and was a consistency just perfect for squishing through my teeth (my preferred eating method), and the lemon saffron sorbet was uber-sweet and saffrony, a combo that I was concerned about. Eaten in one forkful, the plate was delightful, all elements singing in harmony.

As was discussed at my table, eating at Hush Denver is about the mission: Give the underlings some light to shine in, support local eateries and do so with the fellowship of foodies and fun-loving gastronomes alike. I am always happy, full and a bit buzzed after a Hush meal, and leave with great new friends and a head full of conversation. There were some stumblings in the meal, but ask anyone that was there: it was fun as hell. The Chefs are putting themselves out there, with no walls segregating us, and making a symphony come together out of thin air. It’s at the very least an exciting, mysterious adventure in foodery and a chance to be in a think-tank of discerning and intentional eaters. I will be at every Hush Denver event; in anxious anticipation of my “blind-date”, red rose in hand…waiting to be wowed.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Digging my roots in....

When I move to a new city, I have a little laundry list of things that I must get accomplished before I feel comfy:

First and Foremost, get a library card. Its free. They let you HAVE books and movies. Its a dope place to meditate and intellectually gorge yourself. I personally love to camp out in the childrens book section and read the REAL books; and I shave my head so that people mistake me for Shel Silverstein. I'm available for autographs.

Secondly, scout the local food and bev offerings. Liquor store with good beer, check. Killer local market with organic goodies, check. Restaurants, fine dining to greasy taquerias and spoons, check. I budget more money for food than anything, and it certainly pays happiness dividends by the bucket full.

Third, and I think most importantly for where we are as a culture now: I look for places that are bringing the community together, getting people good feelings and food, and are being proactive. Then I volunteer with them. Again, it's free. It boosts your good Samaritan factor exponentially, and it might even get you girls (or guys). Its like telling the "got attacked by a shark" story at the bar, except its the "I helped build a garden with little kiddos to feed a neighborhood today." HOT!

So I am working with a couple different groups here: Denver Urban Gardens (, Feed Denver ( and the GrowHaus ( They are all volunteer, and the latter two are in their infancy, but have LOTS of energy. DUG is a group that manages about 200 urban gardens in Denver, at schools, apartment complexes and for neighborhoods. They help the people get the garden set up, divided up and planted...and then, (in theory) the community takes it over. This is generally the case, though there are some that need a little extra TLC and some watchful eyes. DUG sponsors alot of community events and really keep their name and mission in the minds of the city folk. DUG works with volunteers, many of which are college students and/or members of the neighborhoods.

Feed Denver is a program that is starting up on the Urban Farm, a 27 acre farm that is close to downtown and has about 150 animals and such for kids in the area to learn about farming. The Feed Denver project is going to encompass the crop growing section of the farm, with large hoop houses and about 2 acres of row crops. They have some really cool access to the younger kiddos, and bring alot of great energy from kids that are working off community service hours, and want to help out with animals and veggies.

The GrowHaus is a really cool project begun by a friend of mine who is a food advocacy and empowerment soldier and then a fella who is big in the real estate industry here. He bought a HUGE old florist shop, (like 20,000 sq ft) in a neighborhood that is quite simply, a food desert. They don't have any places to buy food, (except convenience stores, and a Super Wal Mart that is 5 miles away) and they are really struggling with diabetes and other diet related illnesses. The area is all shades of brown, with so many rich food traditions that are being lost to processed, unhealthy food. The project is all about empowering the neighborhood and community to come together and share their food histories, and understand that the GrowHaus will be getting delicious, organic food to the neighborhood, from inside the neighborhood. All crops are going to be grown using Aquaponics and Vermiculture systems, and there will be an on-site market for the neighborhood.

If you're in Denver, come out with me sometime. If you're not, first, your life is worse than it would be here, and secondly, find some programs like this in your zone. Everyone is on the Locavore kick, and if they're not, they want to be. Start something small. My neighborhood is all about the little backyard/windowbox gardens, and I am anxiously awaiting the spring so that I can eat the bounty and garden in my little daisy duke overalls. Don't lie, gardeners are sexy. Alright, Im going to go cook something. It seems that everytime I write a blog entry, (which I know is not often enough) I punctuate the last sentence with a desperate feeling of hunger and I always go and cook something killer. Come eat with me....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Why you too should be enamored with food...

I just live for the feeling after you have cooked a delicious, belly warming meal. You've gotten your guests groaning with pleasure and certainly overstuffedness, the dishes are done and your feet are up. It's that punch drunk tiredness, and a content that I fiend for. The passion that great food ignites in people, and the immediacy with which it brings them together, is unlike any other medium in the world. If a beet only knew the seductive trance that it can have on top of the food chain, opposable thumb having, world conquerors, the tables would certainly be compromised, if not turned. Though I think beets are pretty non-confrontational pacifists. I find myself being substantially intrigued by the elemental things in life lately. The idea of sleep has been really fascinating me: Your body turns itself "off", and you can go to these deliciously weird corners of yourself that no one else knows about and its basically free medicine; a natural restart button. Eating, cooking and talking about food brings me this insatiable pleasure, I am feeling myself falling towards the grips of hedonism. Why pain, if pleasure? Instinct can be my divining rod: salt, meat, fat, touch, drink, laugh, sex, sugar, butter, BACON...why abstain from things that satisfy my shallow id? Let it take me over...

I say this with a conflicted heart, the world is seizing up, so many are in pain and without. There must be a leveling off...I am dedicating a lot of my brain and soul's energy to thinking about those subjected to the fringe. Do all that you can, as small or as large as that may seem. Our energy needs more positivity and cohesiveness. Don't feel bad about pampering and treating the ones you love, squeeze everyone around you and feed them with something that feels like your truest heart. I think I do this best with my food, so come to my table and let me tell you that you're my love. Eat up kiddos, there's a storm outside...


Friday, January 15, 2010


I've got lots of rants, thoughts and experiences that I have gone through as of late that I will soon be blogging about...I may have some time to do so, as I think I might have compromised the structural integrity of my right knee yesterday. I have been skiing for about 27 years and the knee injury fairy just may have caught up with me. I extend to this fairy, a whole-hearted: Go fuck yourself. I am focusing all of my loving energy towards my knee (and I think, more specifically, my MCL) so I would love if you could do the same. I can't say that I am very good at being injured...

Rants to come: Sausage Making Craziness, My Hush speakeasy supper and Why Rush and Pat Robertson even have an audience...


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

On Love and Food...

Food is sexy. If you don't think so, then I would just hate to see what you're eating. I've spent the last week in a glutinous love affair with food, wine and friends, and I emerge from it grinning, a bit of a picky hedonist and just plain exhausted. I have always found myself drawn towards the things in life that immediately influence the most emotion and sensual stimulization. Eating, talking about food and cooking play into an array of sensory experiences that just light my world up.

...Smell/Olfaction: I would perform cooking demonstrations in Washington, and I could talk louder than anyone, start chopping with as much Morimoto as I can channel or start banging pots and pans...and still, people would shy away. Though, add a little butter to my pan, and start sautéing garlic and onions, I'm the Halloween house that gives away full size candy bars; cats are COMING.

...Sight/Vision: The displays at the farmers market are like an Adult book store for me. I find myself sweating a little and holding little private conferences with a voluptuous bundle of beets or a handful of sweet, meaty figs. The glossy pages of Bon Appetit, Art Culinaire or a new cookbook, give me a touch of fever that can only be cured by a gastronomical orgy. I also know for a fact, that I look even more sexually attractive (if that's at all possible) whilst cooking some food for a young lassie.

...Hearing/Audition: One of my favorite Chefs in culinary school was a huge preponderant of cooking with your ears. It allows you to hang out with multiple jobs, and be aware of each items status from a distance. One particular day, I was caramelizing a rondo full of onions, (picture a 4 foot circular pan with no doubt, 50 onions) and Chef Wong pulled me away. "Just listen, you know they're sexy and happy when you hear the muffled little pops...Hear anything different, you've got issues. Low, slow and listening, that's sexy cooking baby." I think I owe him one for bringing the word sexy to my food.

...Touch/Tactition: Working on a farm for the last year brought a whole new appreciation for the touch of veggies. The satisfying scrunch when ripping the feathery tops off of our carrots while standing in 8 inches of quicksand mud, giving each of our beets a little thumb press to ensure that the root was solid and delicious and the feeling of dirt grit in your teeth when eating a sunchoke right out of the earth...I could lay in the bins of veggies and feel like I was laying in a pile of lovely friends.

...Taste/Gustation: and of course, time to get those buds involved. I think of a fresh piece of burrata and a salted tomato slice sliding over my tongue, a chunk of butter poached fish or the first warm leaf of basil in the spring...Taste is the manifestation of all food foreplay. I have no edit button once something is attacking my taste buds, my "tasting tourettes" comes on in full effect, and whatever comes up, comes out. I can't think of something more sexy than feeding someone a concoction from a spoon, their eyes closing, a hand on the chest or fist on the table, followed by a resounding..."Fuuuuuck! That is DELICIOUS!" This why I cook. This is why I eat.

In closing, I just love to love. People, food, music, art, kissing, falling, flying, cooking, growing, sleeping, life, love........

Sometimes it's almost too much to handle.


It's just enough.