Saturday, December 23

Best Eats, 2006 Part I

It's that time again, children. For the second year running I give you the highlights of a year of very good eating, but this year there was one meal that stood out so much that it deserves its own entry.

Best Meal
Arzak, San Sebastian

This lunch, eaten with Kelly, Brinley, Duncan, Bernhard and Cristina, has not faded even a little in mind since it took place a week ago. This is serious 3-star Michelin dining, with a price tag to match. As Bernie wrote on his blog:
So, what exactly does a meal cost at Arzak? The first answer is: not enough. I would have given all my blood, promise my first-born, anything, on top of paying the bill. The second answer is: if you see my bank manager this month, tell him you haven't seen me. A late mortgage payment will be worth it.
Duncan managed to score a separate little dining room that was basically inside the famous kitchen, where we watched an army of chefs prepare course after delicious course.


Occasionally someone would wander over to throw some meat on the glowing hot grill, and at one point Elena Arzak, the daughter of owner Juan Mari Arzak and his culinary partner in deliciousness, came over and graciously chatted with us.



The menu was as follows. I have a Spanish/Euskadi copy in front of me as I write this; the English translations were jotted down on a napkin and began to seem less and less of a priority as the mealcontinued and the wine flowed.

Little Tastes
Arroz crujiente con setas
(handmade rice cakes filled with musroom pate and sesame vinaigrette)
Caldito de alubrias con manzana
(red beans with apple puree)
Arraitxiki con rabanitos
Puding de pescado con fideos
(redfish wrapped in fried pasta with figs)
Melon relleno de queso
(melon, cheese and parmigiano)

Appetizers
Celofan de ostras templadas
(unbelievable oysters, barely warm but still tasting of the ocean like when they're raw, served with potatoes and a gauzy cellophane draped over top)
Manzanas conaceite de foie
(caramelized apples with truffle oil and pomegranate and orange sauce

This was one of the real show-stoppers of the meal; Kelly and Cristina both woke up the next day with the taste of it on their tongues, like a dreamy after-image.

Cigalitas tibias al arte inyectadas de maiz
(split crayfish with corn)
Laminas de cardo y alcachofa
(braised leeks and artichokes)
Flor de huevo y tartufo en grasas de oca txistorra de datiles
(poached egg with mushroom and fresh chorizo


At this point I became somewhat mentally altered by the variety of food placed in front of me. The top of my skull began to buzz pleasantly. I think the technical term, although rarely used in restaurant criticism, is "tripping balls."

Fish
Beguiandi en ebstracto
(squid with apple compote)

Rape con hilos y medula
(monkfish with radish)

Meat
Pato bien azulon
(duck with purple potatoes)
Tacos de vacuno con patatas de pimenton
(beef with spicy potatoes)

Desserts

There were too many to count, and at this point my desire to obsessively write down every dish in English was notably diminished. This was no doubt helped by many bottles of the excellent wines chosen for us -- the white Hermanos Lurton Cuesta de Oro, the red Les Terrasses.

Sopa y chocolate "entre vinedos"
Ostras de chocolate plateadas
Torrija de Champagne
Esfera (I remember in particular an amazing chocolate rosemary ice cream)

Friday, December 22

That didn't take long...

The American t-shirt industry is unmatched at turning hipster comedy into hipster t-shirts with a minimum turnaround.
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UPDATE: Ikea-esque instructions from Kottke

Wednesday, December 20

"We're looking at you, Crisco-Boy"

It was hard for the cab driver not to take the New York City Board of Health's vendetta personally...

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The Onion's 2006 Retrospective

"Looking back on the stories that captured the imagination of the give-a-shits"

#1 Thousands More Dead In Continuing Iraq Victory

#2 Al Gore Caught Warming Globe To Increase Box Office Profits

#3 Kevin Federline, Wife Divorce

#4 Ken Lay's Children Inherit 4,000 Pensions

#5 Israel Bombs Anti-Semitism Out Of Lebanon

#6 Karl Rove Accused Of Throwing Midterm Elections

#7 NASA Launches Probe To Inform Pluto Of Demotion

#8 Osama Bin Laden Takes Credit For Crocodile Hunter's Death

#9 Generous Vice President Cheney Gives Hard-Working Media Field Day

#10 Coretta Scott King's Wiretap Ends

Also see top unreported stories of the year

Tuesday, December 19

Tough weekend for cartooning

Joe Barbera, creator of "Tom and Jerry," "The Flintstones," "Scooby-Doo," "The Jetsons") and "Rocky and Bullwinkle" writer Chris Hayward both die, and "Betty & Veronica" go from this:

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to this:

bettyveronica

Holiday Gift Guide

It's not too late!

The Steering Rapper

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The Tadpole iPod cover for kids (or clumsy adults)


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Personalized Mii T-Shirt

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(may I suggest the Zach Braff Mii, David Foster Wallace or a host of other celebrity Miis?)

Cocoa Puro Kakawa Chocolate Covered Cocoa Beans

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Wednesday, December 13

Make Your Own Action Figure

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Guess where I'm eating this weekend...

The culinary mecca of San Sebastian, Spain, famed for having more Michelin stars per capita than any place on earth...if you care about that sort of thing. I just want to eat my fill at places like Arzak -- described below by the recently departed NY Times food critic and bon vivant R.W. "Johnny" Apple in his final column:
One fine Easter day, my wife, Betsey, and I ate our Paschal lamb -- a custom throughout Christendom, and especially among the sheep-herding Basques at the Arzaks' 110-year-old roadside tavern, rated three stars in the Michelin guide.

A faintly gamy deboned chop came to the table wearing a tissuelike coffee-flavored "veil" a taste-enhancing shroud made by baking a layer of cafe con leche between sheets of Silpat pan liner. With the pan juices poured over the meat, partly melting the "veil," you get a sauce remarkably reminiscent of American red-eye gravy. Arzak's food is modern and entertaining like that, often witty, never overwrought, limited largely to local ingredients white tuna, fresh figs, fino sherry.


Update: Killer website on S. Sebastian pintxos, the Northern Spanish version of tapas, can be found here

Monday, December 11

How much fun is the Wii?

From the "Wii Motion" Flickr stream

Sunday, December 10

'This American Life' Is Ready for Its TV Close-Up

glassThe TV version of the radio show is due in March on Showtime. It sounds like it will be weirdly cool, or maybe just weird.

In the end, they decided to give (host Ira Glass, right) a desk. But not just any desk.

"What if your desk appeared out on the landscape?" Wilcha wondered. "On an abandoned freeway, on the Salt Flats, in the woods. But you never make mention of it or point to it."

So Glass, staring at the audience through his big, black-framed glasses, introduces the show and the stories from behind a sleek, art deco desk made of shiny, red wood. In one shot, the desk and Ira sit in the middle of Utah's Salt Flats, looking like an inconsequential speck in a vast moonscape.

Tuesday, December 5

I may have been the last to see this one but I just don't care...

TV Round-Up

Preparing for my full-immersion return to American TV...I give you the latest from TV Land:

11065_0005-- Ricky Schroeder and his racing car bed to star on the new season of '24'. The living room train held out for more money and got dropped. Also on '24' this year: the scary pimp from 'Deadwood', the kid who died of AIDS on "Life Goes On," and Captain Dudley "Grand, lad, Grand" Smith.

-- Reports that Steven Hawking and David Hasselhoff would both appear on this year's Celebrity Big Brother -- which would have caused a singularity of reality TV goodness so dense that nothing, even light, could have escaped its gravitational pull -- have sadly been shot down by the robot-voiced physicist's team of publicist nurses. Don't worry, the Hoff is still going to be available for hassling.

max-clooney-- The pet pig owned by Booker from "Roseanne" has died. Not sure why this even made the papers. Defamer has news of the huge BBQ tribute. Bonus trivia -- it was once co-owned by John Revolta's wife!

67101483v4_240x240_Front-- Tori Spelling to write memoir. Wait, she can read? I always thought that Donna Martin graduated only thanks to West Beverly's unbelievably lax testing procedures.

Friday, December 1

Today's coastal weather report

Sunny, with a PLAGUE OF FREAKING DORITOS at high tide.

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Apparently a container fell off a ship near the Outer Banks, still intact due to their air-tight packaging. Good times for North Carolinan Cool Ranch lovers! (Dethroner asks: "Where are Doritos made that they need to be transferred by cargo ship? Keep vaguely Mexican-themed chip production local!")