May 21, 2006
Technoogle — D.O.A.?
Go ahead and click on the Technoogle link at the top of this page.
You'll get what I got:
To be more precise, that's what you'll get if you're using Safari.
I happened on several references to technoogle.com in my virtual wanderings last evening and each time I attempted to see what was there I hit the wall.
Wonder if Google's lawyerbots got all over them
before they could even get their engine started.
Love and Hate Shirt — by Rachel Plefger
In black-on-red or red-on-black.
'What is the best work of American fiction of the last 25 years?'
That's the headline of the feature story in today's New York Times Book Review.
Long story short: "Early this year, the Book Review's editor, Sam Tanenhaus, sent out a short letter to a couple of hundred prominent writers, critics, editors and other literary sages, asking them to please identify "the single best work of American fiction published in the last 25 years. Following are the results."
The Winner: "Beloved" — Toni Morrison (1987)
"Underworld" — Don DeLillo (1997)
"Blood Meridian" — Cormac McCarthy (1985)
"Rabbit Angstrom: The Four Novels" — John Updike (1995)
"American Pastoral" — Philip Roth (1997)
The following books also received multiple votes:
"A Confederacy of Dunces" — John Kennedy Toole (1980)
"Housekeeping" — Marilynne Robinson (1980)
"Winter's Tale" — Mark Helprin (1983)
"White Noise" — Don DeLillo (1985)
"The Counterlife" — Philip Roth — (1986)
"Libra" — Don DeLillo (1988)
"Where I'm Calling From" — Raymond Carver (1988)
"The Things They Carried" — Tim O'Brien (1990)
"Mating" — Norman Rush (1991)
"Jesus' Son" — Denis Johnson (1992)
"Operation Shylock" — Philip Roth — (1993)
"Independence Day" — Richard Ford (1995)
"Sabbath's Theater" — Philip Roth (1995)
"Border Trilogy" — Cormac McCarthy (1999)
"The Human Stain" — Philip Roth (2000)
"The Known World" — Edward P. Jones (2003)
"The Plot Against America" — Philip Roth (2004)
Me, I've read a total of five of the 22 books that made the lists above.
And three of them — "Underworld," "White Noise" and "Libra" — are by one author, Don DeLillo.
The other two?
A pair from Updike's "Rabbit Angstrom" series (counts as one) and Norman Rush's "Mating."
Maybe I'll do better during the next quarter century.
Check back in 2031 for a report.
Seasoned Skewers: 'Dry marinade — from the inside-out'
Six flavors: Thai Coconut Lime, Garlic Herb, Citrus Rosemary, Indian Mango Curry, Honey Bourbon and Mexican Fiesta.
Ten skewers for $9.99.
Tootsie Roll Pop Faux Ball Clock
Pictured above, it was created by Rob Price, whose website "Design Without Reach" spoofs the whole pricey Design Within Reach ethos.
Price says he's created each of the low-price replicas featured on his site.
His Tootsie Roll Pop clock, a homage to George Nelson's iconic Ball clock (below — $285 at Design Within Reach)
"... can be fabricated with a clock mechanism, the circular end of a cardboard salt container and 12 colorful Tootsie Roll Pops inserted around the edge," wrote Linda Hales in yesterday's Washington Post Style section story.
She added, "The imitation Ball clock had to come down after the Tootsie Roll Pops melted on his [Price's] wall."
iSupercharger 4-in-1 iPod charger — 'Power your iPod anywhere!'
Lets you run your iPod from a wall outlet, computer USB port, in your car or with a 9-volt battery.
Works with iPods from generations 1 through 5, including the Nano.
From the website:
- iPod 4-in-1 Supercharger
Finally, four different power supplies in one — so your iPod never runs out of power!
Completely portable, the iPodSupercharger™ charges and runs your iPod at home, at your computer, in your car or on the go — anywhere!
Charge your iPod from four different sources: wall outlet, computer USB port, car lighter or a 9-volt battery.
Compact and sleek (just 1.9"W x 5.75"D), its connections and ports retract into the device so it carries safely in your purse, backpack, briefcase or even in your pocket!
"Works with iPod, iPod Mini, iPod Photo, iPod Special Edition, iPod Nano and more."
Hey, wait a minute — what's that music in the background?
Sounds like a duet, Chris Berman belting out "San Diego" and Tom Jackson chiming in with "Superchargers."
No, it can't be — football season's not for another four months.
Must be atmospheric conditions or an audible mirage, if such things exist.
'People who don't peel peas... are not nice people because the skins are not nice' — Iacopo Falai
It is very rare for me to instantly feel kinship with someone after reading something they've said but it happened when I read the quotation above in this past Wednesday's New York Times Dining In section story by Melissa Clark about her visit with Iacopo Falai, "who is both chef and pastry chef at his lower East Side restaurant, Falai."
Note to Gotham joeheads: when the bookofjoe World Tour hits the Big Apple we're dining here.
Falai's a bit compulsive in that he weighs out every ingredient in every recipe and insists that his kitchen staff of five do likewise.
That they are not completely compliant is an understatement, according to Clark's wonderful article, which follows.
- Celery and Salad Take Turns as Dessert
In a restaurant, the division between the savory and sweet sides of the kitchen runs far deeper than, say, a chef's skill level with chocolate tempering as opposed to squab-butchering.
It boils down to a fundamental difference in technique.
Savory chefs cook by intuition, gauging quantities with their eyes, noses, fingers or whatever utensil happens to be nearby, be it a measuring spoon or a container lid.
Pastry chefs use scales.
This rift poses obstacles for Iacopo Falai, who is both chef and pastry chef at his Lower East Side restaurant, Falai.
Having worked as a pastry chef for a decade in Europe before planting a foot on the savory side, Mr. Falai lives and dies by his sleek white battery-powered scale, weighing out everything from the two leeks he needs for a soup (200 grams) to a hefty pinch of salt he adds to cake batter (5 grams).
His kitchen staff of five, however, often rebels.
The battle of the scale rages on a daily basis.
"I have a problem sometimes with the people working for me even if they are Italian," Mr. Falai said, weighing out strawberries for two seasonally inspired desserts he planned to prepare that day: celery pudding cakes with strawberry-rhubarb compote and strawberry-rhubarb salad with olive oil, mint and fleur de sel.
"Fabio, my sous-chef, doesn't like it when I make him weigh for the tomato sauce," he said, referring to Fabio Bano.
"He says, 'you are a pastry chef, you don't know.' But I say, what if someone else has to make the sauce, how will they know? Let's use a scale! Let's write it down!"
Mr. Falai's precision is also evident in the way he handles the ingredients once he has weighed them.
The 100 grams of rhubarb for the salad is trimmed, peeled, cut into finger-long pieces and then sliced lengthwise into translucent reddish strips with a sharp vegetable peeler.
He slips these into a pot of bubbling simple syrup to poach for exactly two minutes, until the texture softens and the color fades to the tint of pickled ginger.
The celery for the celery cakes receives similar attention.
Even though the stalks are juiced and then strained, he still peels them first, using a paring knife to pull out tough fibers and cut away any browned parts.
Mr. Falai's relationship to his paring knife resembles his attachment to his scale.
It may be because of a grandmother who skinned all his grapes, or perhaps rigorous training in Michelin three-star restaurants, but whatever the reason, if something has a peel when Mr. Falai picks it up, it won't by the time he puts it down.
For his homemade buckwheat pappardelle with spring vegetables and pesto, not only does he peel the fava beans, he peels each green pea as well.
"People who don't peel peas and favas are not nice people because the skins are not nice," he said definitively.
After juicing the celery, Mr. Falai freezes the bright green liquid until it becomes slushy before mixing it into the batter.
The frigid temperature allows the batter to accept more liquid than if it were added at room temperature, he said.
Even so, the batter looked curdled when Mr. Falai spooned it into the molds.
But the cakes baked up with smooth creamy interiors that tasted a little like celery and a lot like butter and almonds.
Served warm (Mr. Falai chills the cakes after baking to allow them to unmold easily, then reheats them), they were rich and almost gooey, like a fresher springtime incarnation of a molten chocolate cake.
To finish the dish, Mr. Falai seared rhubarb and strawberries in butter for a sweet-tart caramelized compote to sit beneath the cakes, and to surround them he simmered a velvety soup of rhubarb, strawberries and sparkling wine that he referred to as the "fruity juicy purée part."
Which it was.
Celery cake, compote and soup handily devoured, he set about tearing 20 mint leaves into green bits for the strawberry-rhubarb salad.
"This salad is something like what the grandmothers do when you're a child," he said, weighing out extra virgin olive oil and corn syrup for the dressing like no grandmother I know of — except perhaps his, who in addition to peeling his grapes, also poked out the chunks of fat from his soppressata with a pencil.
"The grandmothers do it à la minute in a glass; some strawberries, mint, sugar and voilà, dessert," he continued.
"It's like my version except it's more interesting to use olive oil. Olive oil is a little bitter and I like to balance that with vanilla flavor."
As he spoke, he slit a vanilla bean lengthwise on the cutting board and scraped out the seeds with the tip of his paring knife.
In one fluid motion, he flicked the seeds into the dressing, and tossed it with the mint specks, berries and poached rhubarb.
As a crowning touch, he sprinkled the top with a pinch of fleur de sel — without even weighing it first.
Score one for the savory side.
The photo up top is of Falai's celery pudding cake surrounded by a strawberry-rhubarb compote.
Chic Seats — French Deck Chairs
"Les Toiles du Soleil from France’s Southwest Catalan coast is the source of these fun yet sophisticated striped fabrics."
From the website:
- Chic seats by the seaside
Or by your pool, or on your deck....
Lounge in sophistication in these elegantly striped deck chairs.
The gorgeous striped fabrics — 12 color combos of stripes in 100% cotton — are made in the southwest of France.
Heavyweight 100% cotton, woven on antique looms.
The chair folds flat to 52-1/2" x 22" x 2-1/2".
The sturdy beechwood frames adjust to four positions.
Sitting in its most upright position, the back is 38" high.
A little plastic gizmo locks the chair back in place, so it can't slip out and leave you flat.
The fabric is easily removed for washing.
12 different color combinations, of which five are shown here.