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May 31, 2014

"Found: The Incredible Restaurant in the Middle of Nowhere that Nobody Knows About"

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Up top, the headline from a February 14 article in Esquire magazine about The ShackIan Boden's tiny dive in Staunton, Virginia.

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Below, excerpts from C. Simon Davidson's March 27, 2014 article in C-Ville about how the restaurant came to be.

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The Shack is all the rage. In the short time since its late-January opening, chef Ian Boden's tiny Staunton dive has already won raves from Esquire magazine and The Washington Post, among others. The Esquire article was titled: "Found: The Incredible Restaurant in the Middle of Nowhere that Nobody Knows About."

Staunton residents might be surprised to learn they live in the middle of nowhere, and longtime fans of Boden's cooking might likewise scratch their heads at the timing of the latest media buzz. After all, Boden is the same talented chef who for five years ran The Staunton Grocery, and who also ran the well-known Glass Haus Kitchen in Charlottesville before it closed last October.

To be fair, in his previous ventures Boden believes he never quite succeeded in shedding fine dining trappings to the extent he has now. At The Shack, he said, it really is all about the food. Boden and his wife renovated the site of a former Carribbean barbecue joint cheaply in a matter of weeks. While I was fully prepared for a nondescript location, I admit that I drove right past the tiny brick building before having to circle back to find it.

Around a handful of tables in a room not much larger than a jail cell were mismatched used benches and chairs salvaged from auctions. The freshly painted walls were barren but for a few framed faded family photos. In shorts and sneakers, I sat down to dig into the work of a chef who last year was a James Beard semi-finalist for best chef in the Mid-Atlantic.

On Wednesdays and Thursdays, The Shack offers burgers, with a few a la carte specials as well. The burgers Boden serves by popular demand to ensure his bills do not go unpaid. At The Grocery, Boden's burgers became the stuff of legend, with locally sourced meat, and Boden's own grind technique and cut ratios.

But, to fully appreciate Boden's talent, you need to go on a Friday or Saturday for the prix-fixe menu of his latest inspirations. The Shack's limited hours mean that Boden orders ingredients for the day, not the week, depending on what’s available.

"Get what you can when you can," he said.

A soothing bisque of sunchokes came with the tiniest tease of a garnish of beech mushrooms and pistachios. Also stellar was a salad of roasted maitake mushrooms and frisee, lightly dressed in mustard vinaigrette, and topped with an egg that had been soft cooked in a circulator. That's just one of several cooking toys that Boden has crammed into his kitchen, smaller than many closets.

Quarters are so tight that if you order a beer your server will simply turn to the fridge and grab you one, as if you had asked your college roommate to snag you a brew.

So, who is right about The Shack? The locals or the fawning media? Maybe both. Yes, the historic city of Staunton is in fact in the middle of somewhere, and Boden is the same great chef he has always been. But, yes also, The Shack is special.

May 31, 2014 at 08:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Credit Card Pocket Razor with Mirror

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Thin enough to put in your wallet.

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Two spare blades included.

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$9.48.

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[via CSYCB]

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May 31, 2014 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Breaking: Titanium Clubs Can Start Brush Fires

Who knew?

Wrote Henry Fountain in a March 20 New York Times article, "Scientists have determined that striking a rock while swinging a titanium club can create a shower of sparks that are hot enough, and last long enough, to start a brush fire."

"The finding, by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, clears up what fire officials in Southern California have seen as a mystery: the origin of two recent golf course fires, including one that burned 25 acres and injured a firefighter in 2010."

Scientists determined that "all of the titanium clubs [tested] created sparks [when hitting rocks] while none of the steel ones did.

The results were published in a recent paper in the journal Fire and Materials.

Don't take my work for it: watch the video up top.

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Below, the abstract of the published paper.

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Spark production by abrasion of titanium alloys in golf club heads

The objective of the present study was to determine whether golf clubs that have titanium (Ti) alloy surfaces can produce sparks when abraded under normal swing conditions. In the present work, sparks are defined as moving particles that emit radiant energy due to the process of combustion on its surface. Two three-irons and a three-wood containing a Ti alloy in the head as well as two three-irons and a three-wood that only contain stainless steel in the head were included in the study. The impact events during abrasion testing were recorded using a high-speed video camera, and abrasion damage was determined using stereometric analysis of scanning electron microscopy images. The findings reveal that Ti alloy faceplates that extend to the sole of the club can produce a number of Ti alloy particles when abraded under swing conditions. The particles then combust for a sufficient duration to potentially ignite a neighboring fuel source such as dry foliage and grasses. Abraded Ti alloy microparticles up to 500 µm in diameter were observed to burn for nearly 1 s, allowing ample time for fuel ignition. By contrast, no sparks were produced by stainless steel club heads when tested under the same conditions.

May 31, 2014 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Root-Vue Farm: Viewable Root Garden takes "Slow Food" to the next level

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Shades of my Uncle Milton's Ant Farm from back in the 50s.

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From CSYCB: "Let your kids experience watching vegetables grow live in this viewable root garden. The kid-friendly kit includes everything you need to plant and observe the awesomeness of plants, and makes an excellent gift for any young horticulture enthusiast."

$29.24.

May 31, 2014 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

The 4:01 a.m. post

I've always considered this slot to be the one to experiment with; in fact, I dropped it for a few months last year (before my recent 4.5 month hiatus) out of laziness more that anything else, such that five rather than six daily posts became de rigeur, and it wasn't as if a great clamor arose in its absence.

Since about half my readers are from the U.S. and Canada, I figure they're mostly asleep when it appears, and who knows if people go back later in the day to view stuff that happened while they were in dreamland?

Anyway, last December I got the bright idea of reading my 2002 book "Quantations" out loud in its entirety while wearing Google Glass and featuring Gray Cat as the main event with the pages of the paperback version of the book I was reading from visible onscreen in the screen as well.

That was kind of fun while it lasted, 10 daily episodes lasting about five minutes each.

Up top is the first episode, which in January — along with all the others — disappeared from bookofjoe but not YouTube, where they've always resided.

As I watch it, I'm reminded of Norway's Slow TV, where not much happens but for a much longer time.

May 31, 2014 at 04:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

World's Largest Hershey Bar

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Am I the only one who thinks there's something weird about the baby up top?

I am?

Oh.

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Five pounds of milk chocolate: $.

[via CSYCB]

May 31, 2014 at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

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