Speak Up

Sunday, June 29, 2008

My Life Through Dance

I love reality TV. All the drama, insincerity, and predictability make it a blessed break from real reality. One show that Erik and I watch is So You Think You Can Dance-so much better than Dancing with the Stars by the way. Last week one couple did a dance about a workaholic husband and his wife who wants him home. Sound familiar? The best part is this couple did a fantastic job and got great reviews. I love the end when Chelsea, the female dancer, throws a dance tantrum. Totally me. See for yourself:


PS It's good to be back home.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Number One

Last night Erik, his mother and I listened to a message on her answering machine. I've never heard anything like this in my life. You be the judge of who was calling. In a deep man's voice we heard:

Hey, it's Number One. Looking for my girls. Call me.

WHAAAT?! Automatically I thought pimp. Right?


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ko Girls

Two ladies in NY are using Craigslist to seek dinner dates to Momofuku Ko. They've already got the ressy scheduled for next Monday evening, they just need some gents to fill the other two spots. After reading their wanted ad I've decided it's a great idea. Why not? If they've got enough saavy to know about Ko and get a ressy at Ko, then they'll be fine should they have to smash a plate of microplaned fois gras in their dinner dates' faces. I hope there will be no need for that. However, some comment addicts on Eater view these ladies has "whoring themselves out". Although this method of acquiring dates is unconventional I wouldn't call it whoring, would you?

They were inspired by a male who used Craigslist as a springboard for a dinner date. See here for appropriate articles from Grub St:
May 19
May 20
May 23
May 27

The kind Ko Girls have agreed to fill me in on the details of the evening. Look forward to hearing about it next week.


Thanks again, Passion for sticking up for me on the Eater post!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

California Here We Come

...Right back where we started from.

Remember that scene from I Love Lucy when Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel drove to California singing? That was me (not so much Erik) driving from LAX to the Valley yesterday. True, we were lacking a Fred and Ethel team in the back seat, and we were driving a Dodge Charger, but there was a lot singing.

It's nice to be back here after four years. It's weird too. Erik said it was like reliving someone else's life. It sure is. Being here is odd. Everything is pretty much the same including the high school, middle school, major hang outs and food joints. We drove down my old street and I thought I wouldn't be able to handle it. I was fine. A house is just a house is just a house. The memories will last a lifetime, both the joyous and the tearful.

Today we're planning on a relaxing beach day, possibly Leo Carillo or Venice. Nothing too far, gas out here is $4.59, way more than Jersey.

My in law's are the most gracious hosts with a wicked cappuccino maker. Erik is excited about that. Oh, and we were able to grab some CARL'S JR.! Anyone who has ever had Carl's Jr. knows it's the best fast food around. Double Bacon Western Cheeseburger...it has onion rings on it! As much as NY is the food town, LA has got some amazing fast food and hole- in-the- wall places.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Week one

Week five

Inside of the tub. See the roots?



Erik's sous chef, Omar, made him a hydroponic herb garden last month. I guess I always understood the general idea of growing plants with water, but seeing before my own eyes has given me a fresh appreciation for the alternative growing method. The set up is basic, a plastic tub with water, 6 circular sections filled with porous rocks, a sponge and a UV lamp overhead mocking the sun. As far as I understand it, the roots grow directly into water that has bubbles blowing into it to create oxygen. Seems simple enough.

The results are amazing. Though I live 20 floors into the sky in the middle of a concrete wonderland, I've got herbs growing in my kitchen. We started with 6, but the mint didn't make it. Now our little babies have grown into chives, basil, dill, cilantro and parsley. We are just now starting to harvest the herbs and I can't wait to add them to food. Well, Erik will do the adding. I'll do the eating.



Friday, June 20, 2008

Worst Mood Ever

I spent a good deal of my day searching for a Wii Fit with a balance board. What a waste of a day. The Target website had them as "available" at my local Target store. So I called and they confirmed that 7 were available. I dashed over and they acted like I was crazy. "We haven't had any in a few days"

Who did I talk to on the phone then? Her name is Kristine and she said, "Don't we have the Wii Fit?"
The obviously more competent salesperson said to her, "NO! Why'd you tell her that on the phone?"

Wasted time. I tried using trackers, checking individual websites and even Craigslist. You'd think I'd give up on that stupid Wii Fit, but I want it more now! But I'm not stupid-there's no way I'm paying double to get it on Ebay. Plus the Circuit City website said their Midtown location had one, but their phone number doesn't work. What on Earth is going on here?? I'm in the worst mood ever.


I wish I were a Vegatarian (again)

I went Veg for a year when I was in college. I really did like it. It made food shopping and eating out a lot more difficult, yet interesting and challenging. I became a vegetarian after watching a few videos on PETA's website. I just couldn't stand for the cruelty of animals. I didn't want to support an industry that tortures God's creatures.

I stopped after a year because I couldn't handle it. I was gaining weight from eating too much starch to fill me up from lack of protein; I just couldn't cut it. But now I think about the pain and suffering that animals go through and it breaks my heart. I feel so guilty. But how on Earth could I become a vegetarian when I'm married to a chef? I know there are great vegetarian restaurants and dishes, but tasting menus at fine dining restaurants don't accommodate the needs of a picky vegetarian eater.

So until I have my own farm and I'm able to raise my own cattle and poultry and humanly "do away" with them I'll be an ignorant eater of meat.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Late Night Meals

This is dangerous.

Since Perry St, and most restaurants, are open until at least 11:30 PM I don't see Erik until the darkest hours of night. When he comes home, he's hungry. In a perfect world he would slow down at work and take some time to eat something healthy. This world is far from perfect.

Erik comes home and all he wants is to eat something tasty, quick, and fulfilling. Unfortunately I'm not a great cook and I'm busy too so when Erik comes home he doesn't put together the best meals. His top late night meals:
  1. Frozen pizza. It's always stocked in our freezer and ready to be heated up piping hot with melting cheese and crispy dough. It has like 10,000 calories per slice, but it's sooo good.
  2. Leftovers. I'm not about to make a complete meal at 1 AM so we rely on the food from the previous day. This can include: meatloaf, pasta, burgers, burritos or Italian sausages.
  3. Grilled Cheese. Oh, there is nothing better than a crispy, buttery sandwich of sharp New York Cheddar cheese.
  4. Chili Dogs. Now this is one late night snack I just can't eat. I love a good hot dog, but for some reason one smothered in chili and cheese is just repulsive. But Erik swears by them.
  5. Wings and Fries. We haven't done this one in a while but we've had some great late nights snacking on spicy boneless wings and buffalo fries with ketchup and Frank's Red Hot sauce.
  6. Gyros. He picks them up from a Greek resto in the West Village on the way home. As much as I hate eating late at night I'll never turn down a juicy gyro.
  7. Ice cream. Not necessarily a meal, but it's always a good go-to for a late night snack. We're big fans of cookie dough and anything with chocolate chunks.

This is NOT any way to end a long working day just before crawling into bed. I'd love to make sure Erik has got healthy, fulfilling meals to have late at night, but I'm stumped for ideas. Got any? What does your chef eat at night? Does he even eat at all?

I guess I better start changing my late night menu. In the meantime I've got to find one of those Wii Fit games. Everyone who has one says they love it and they have all lost weight. The things is it's impossible to find! The price is nearly doubled on ebay, so that's not even an option.

California Love

My mother in law and graphic artist was lovely enough to fly us back to Los Angeles. We left in the summer of 2004 and haven't really looked back since. Next Monday we'll be off to visit the "suburban wasteland" that we were eager to leave four years ago. There isn't anything wrong with LA (the valley) but the summer we left I heard myself saying "enough is enough". The beaches are beautiful, the weather is perfect but the people can get a little shallow. Like it's any better in NY, but still. We needed a change of setting, and we're both quite content here.

I will be looking forward to visiting some of our old food stops. Unfortunately our favorite restaurant, Sabatino's, has shut down. It was this charming little Italian place with waiters who always remembered you, gingham table clothes, and the best pasta al forno I've ever had.

The one thing the LA has over NY any day is MEXICAN food. My mouth is watering thinking about El Tapatio. This is the place for 5 pound burritos and an horchata blend that melts in your mouth. They played loud mariachi music on a jukebox and sold homies out of 25 cent machines. I cannot wait to go back for a super burrito with carne asada.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tofu Contest Update

This is pretty much what I wrote about yesterday, but I wanted to pass along the Media advisory.

House Foods, in conjunction with the Gohan Society,
Presents Summer’s Hottest Cook-Off Event

WHAT: Four of New York’s hottest chefs will put their tofu technique to the test this July in a “Tofu Around the World” cook-off event sponsored by House Foods, makers of House Tofu, America's most popular brand of tofu. The chef-contestants, who will battle for the grand prize of $5,000, are Erik Battes, Chef de Cuisine / Perry St. Café; Wylie Dufresne, Executive Chef & Owner / WD 50; Edward Higgins, Chef de Cuisine / Insieme; and Akinobu Suzuki, Executive Chef / Sakagura. The participating chefs will have the opportunity to showcase their own unique cooking styles and embellish on their signature tofu dishes.

Hosted by the WOR Radio Food Talk personality Mike Colameco, the cook-off will be judged by a distinguished panel of food experts, including Michael Romano, Executive Chef and Partner of the famed Union Square Café; Peter Berley, noted health food chef and author of The Flexitarian Table and other titles; and Andrea Strong, writer and creator of The Strong Buzz food blog.

WHEN Tuesday, July 22, 2008, 3pm - 5 pm

WHERE Astor Center, 399 Lafayette St. at East 4th Street, New York

The event is open to the public and admission is free.
To RSVP, email housetofu@dcinyc.com with your name and number of guests.

MORE House Foods America Corporation (HFAC) has produced tofu in the United States since 1983. The HFAC Tofu comes in Premium (non-Organic) and Organic and is available in five firmness levels: extra soft, soft (silken), medium firm, firm and extra firm.

House Foods Tofu is high in protein, low in calories and carbohydrates and has no cholesterol. House Foods Tofu is made from US grown soybeans that have not been genetically modified. In a recent tofu taste test conducted by the San Francisco Chronicle, winner House Foods Tofu was described as “creamy,” “tender” and “fresh-tasting”. For more information visit http://www.house-foods.com/

The Gohan Society’s mission is to foster an understanding and appreciation of Japan’s culinary heritage in the United States through outreach to chefs, culinary arts professionals and all who admire and enjoy Japanese culture. http://www.gohansociety.org/


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Erik Battes to Compete in Tofu Contest

...versus Wylie Dufresne! Erik was chosen to compete against four other chefs including Wylie Dufresne, Edward Higgins, and Akinobu Suzuki in a tofu contest hosted by House Foods. The event on July 22 @ 3PM is open to the public and you can reserve a spot by emailing housetofu@dcinyc.com. I'll definitely be there so anyone else who wants to come is more than welcome to join me. The first prize is $5,000 so I'm super excited about it. That kind of money means a lot to a teacher who's just entering her LONG summer with work 3 days a week and NO PAY. boohoo.

Thanks for publishing this, Eater.

CK and Michelle Obama

Erik just called letting me know there was a big ruckus going on outside of [176] Perry St involving cops and paparazzi. He said someone was in Calvin Klein's 3 story penthouse (similar to this). My first guess was Hillary Clinton but "oh yeah" she's out. Obama? Ding, ding, ding! But news to Erik it wasn't Obama; instead it was his lovely wife Michelle. Go wives! She attended a $1000/person reception at the Sikkema Jenkins Gallery on 10th and 22nd then headed to another fund raising party at Calvin's house. I suggested (as good wives do) that Erik send something up to her but I guess CK had it catered. Well why didn't Mr. Klein have Perry St do it? They're right there. Oh well.


Top Chef Attacks New York

According to a blogger named Snack, Top Chef will be coming to New York for its fifth season. Wow Bravo, how long did it take to bring this culinary cage fight to the food capital of the world? Yes, I agree that Frisco, LA, Miami, and Chicago are all great locations for food happenings but New York is the place for food happenings. It seems like Top Chef has a lot of chefstestants/judges/guests from NY anyway.

I'm excited to see the events they cook for as well the chefs they work with. No doubt there will be a lot of runs to the farmer's markets and maybe even something to do with the Food Network headquarters...a mock cooking show like The Apprentice did home shopping? Oh and look for more Gladware, loads of Gladware. I'd like to see them do something in Brooklyn, too. It seems like there are endless possibilities for quickfire/elimination challenges. Looking forward to it.

How's this for a quickfire challenge? Cook a 3 course luncheon in a 550 square foot 1st floor apartment in a 4 story walk up then serve it to the Desperate Chefs' Wives on the roof. I'm down.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Radish Run

French breakfast radishes

like bright red bouncy balls

more radishes

The chef invited me to go to the Union Square Farmer's market this Saturday-yeah, I jumped on that opportunity. It's not often that Erik let's me near his work, both in the physical and emotional sense- it's important for me to see how he works.

Even though we've been in this area for the past 4 years I've never been to the farmer's market. Weird. The first thing I noticed was the powerful cilantro permeating the air. Ahh. Even though it was hot, crowded and humid I;m so glad I was able to go with Erik.

Radishes were the reason we came. My parents and grandparents have farmed in Ohio and I thought I knew all about produce. But I had no idea there were so many kinds of radishes. I forgot how bright and beautiful produce is supposed to be. Even more reason to move to Ohio and farm my own food.


Matsugen, My Love

Photo courtesy: Eater

Matsugen (pronounced with a hard g sound) was fantastic! I know I'm a JG lover but I stand behind Matsugen. No sightings of Jean-Georges which was terribly disappointing but the staff more than made up for my lack of JG love. The servers were right on and the managers were attentive and polite. I was told that all the tableware was from Japan; each dish was beautiful.

Chefwife J, L and I were able to go into the kitchen and say hello to Chef Kyle Herman. What a charmer. He gave a tour of the fish tanks that divide one portion of the dining room and the kitchen. There are 4 tanks alternating between salt and fresh water. They had names for them all , some of which were originals from 66.

I am a self proclaimed NONfoodie so I'm not going to sit here throwing food adjectives at you like a pitching machine in a batting cage. But I will tell you my favorite part of the meal and things I think you should order (should you like my advice): deep fried shrimp cake & shitake mushroom (18.00), black cod with miso (22.00) (AMAZING AND SO WORTH THE PRICE!), Kizami-Kitsume fried tofu hot soba with scallion (14.00), and of course the sushi. For dessert: parfait, something with tomato (I forgot the name) and the grapefruit (it's so much fun!). Oh, and start with the Japanese pickles (5.00), they were so tasty/crunchy I could have eaten them by the bucket. In fact they inspired Chefwife J, L and I to do some summer pickling soon.

I loved it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Matsugen Opening Night

I love my chef!

He got chefwife J and I a table at Matsugen tomorrow night! I am so excited. I've been hearing all these things about this place and it has finally opened. JGM closed 66 a while back and it is now being reopened as Matsugen: an authentic Japanese eatery with hand cut soba noodles. I'll be sure to give updates on the evening sometime on Sunday. Jean Georges is flying in early from the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen to be there opening night. I hope I see him. He's my Alsatian heartthrob.

In other news, Eater didn't appreciate my lookalike photos. Screw them. I'm so annoyed too, because I thought mine were wicked good. Oh well.


I'm headed to HOBOKEN tonight for a friend's birthday. NOT somewhere I usually go, we'll see how this goes..

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Eater's Chef Look A Like Contest

Since I didn't win with my stunning Rachel Ray look a like photo, I should be fairly bummed and annoyed. But, I will prevail. I really want to win those tickets. So, instead of a photo shoot, I searched through my schema if a movies and tv and found the perfect matches.

Charlie Palmer

and ... John Ratzenberger as Cliff from Cheers

Michel Richard

and...Richard Attenborough (a la Jurassic Park)



Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Win NY Wine and Food Tickets

As much as I want to be the only one to enter, thus improving my chances of winning, I'll share the news with you. If you'd like to win some tickets to the New York City Wine and Food Festival visit Eater. It seems like they've got loads of tickets to give away. Email them: tips@eater.com with a celebrity chef look-a-like photo. I chose to take a picture similar to this one and send it in. And I better win too- sitting like that in my sink was not my idea of a good time. You can also find a picture of someone who looks like a chef and send it in. Good Luck!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sight of a Wife

Can't see it clearly!

After 25 years on this beautiful and fragile Earth, my eyes are starting to go! This wife needs glasses. Damn. What a year: my first gray hair and blurry eyesight. Thank goodness I still have my figure. And as I speak I'm out of breath from these forward rolls I saw some gymnasts doing. Try lying on your back then rolling up (to a complete stand) onto one foot while the other leg is completely extended in front. TOUGH.

But beyond that I'm grateful tonight that I don't have to pick up Erik from work. The PATH trains are down from the Jersey side up to 33rd St. The Holland Tunnel is closed one lane too, so no way. I wasn't thrilled about possibly having to get Erik at 1 am tonight and he gave me a hard time about it. I was honest and direct (something I work on with great effort) and he still got mad.

P.S. Shakes at Sonic are 99 cents; can't beat that!


Some Updates

  • The chef and I are going back to Los Angeles, after 4 long year, to see his folks and visit our old stomping grounds. I am very much looking forward to the beach, some El Tapatio burritos, and old friends.
  • It's hot hot hot out here in the Midwest and East. Some restos in Manhattan aren't even cooking on these scorching days. Eater
  • School is out in 5 days. Finally!
  • Erik is competing in a tofu contest in late July. That should be interesting, I hope I get to go.
  • The Picnic Club of NYC has still yet to meet, I'm sooo looking forward to it when they do.
  • I really need to update some of my links. I've got links to blogs that haven't posted in over a year. Really? That's just silly. Plus I'm missing tons of links. Got any suggestions of some of your favorites that pertain to this very specific blog?



Sunday, June 8, 2008

Out The Door

We already went to the park once today. It seemed like a natural buzz to be there by the river with the breeze blowing the 95 degree heat into a seemingly peaceful 83 degree warmth. It's just now 8 o'clock and we were about to go again. I hear his phone ring, he doesn't, I bring it over to him, it's Perry St calling, he has to come in. DAMN IT. Jacques Something from the Michelin Guide is eating in 30 minutes. Erik's out the door. You know, if he was going to be on call like this, why not become a doctor? At least docs are on call to save lives and make BANK. My life is what it is. I am grateful for what I have. (that's my affirmation for the night)


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Smoke Pistol

Looks like a car part.

WTF is a smoke pistol? Whatever it is I got it for Erik's birthday. And by "got it" I mean I told him it was okay for him to buy it online. And his birthday was only 10 days ago. Oops. At any rate, this smoking gun thing is supposed to be able to smoke things with half and hassle and time of whatever people used to smoke food with. I obviously don't get it. Anyone with better knowledge is welcome to share.

But really? Really? This is what he wanted for his birthday? I can think of more interesting things like toothbrushes and Popsicle sticks. Maybe I'm just grumpy but I seem to be finding it harder and harder to maintain an active interest in what he does. I find myself checking up on Eater and Grub Street less and less. But maybe I'm just burnt out from my own stresses to take on the stresses of others. We'll have to see what the blog days of summer have me resorting to.


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Why Oh, Why Oh, Did I Ever Leave Ohio?

At home with the family, and the knight. My brother is in the pink shirt.

An Ohio fried pickle.

I just got back from a short trip to Columbus where I saw my brother Chris graduate from high school. The hardest part about going home to Ohio is leaving. I want nothing more than to live near my family. But it's so hard to convince the chef to move there. I don't blame him either. Columbus isn't known for its innovative food scene. Then again, who's to say Erik can't change that? It is a constant struggle with us, mostly after I get back from a trip to see my family.

It's not just because I miss my family, but aslo I can't imagine ever having children here. I just don't have the same support system. I've tried to root myself in this area, but it's not that easy when I'm alone myself most of the time. I am able to make connections here, but Erik and I, as a family are not. Ah, this is so hard! I struggle between wanting to be a supporting wife and wanting what I want!

For now, I'm loving the life I have and getting back home as much as I can. Maybe some day...


Monday, June 2, 2008

Undercover Cook

Doesn't the name alone leave you wanting to know more? What is an undercover cook? Why would someone need to cook undercover in the first place? Perhaps a CIA agent, maybe a bounty hunter, or even a graphic designer?

Last fall I met a fabulous young women [name intentionally left out] who was working a regular 9-5 job behind a computer but had a longing to be a chef. What a neat concept. I've heard of people leaving their desks, suits, and ties to trade them in for chef whites and knives. However, I never knew of anyone who did it while still working for "the man" downtown. This lovely lady has worked at "resto x" and told her tales of undercover fortune through her blog. Check out her original story and her struggle to leave the advertising world to enter to the food world at her blog.

I now present my interview with the Undercover Cook.
  • 1. Cooking is such a change from your day job, how did you get into it?By eating. I've been eating my way through New York, and one day I realized I was totally food-obsessed. Not only was I eating everything in my sight, but began reading anything that had to do with food. When I had a television, I would watch food programs all night, all the while eating a meal I had just cooked, and during commercials I would read a cookbook or a food magazine. As an art director, I probably should have been reading about advertising and graphic design, and believe me I tried, but I always felt like a phony. My heart just wasn't in it.
  • 2. HOW on Earth are you doing it? Working two jobs is hard, but working a 9-5 AND cooking seems like it might be impossible.What's that saying, "Desperate times call for desperate measures?" I reached a point where I had to do something about this thing inside me (call it a passion, an obsession, a sickness). I felt I would explode if I didn't pursue this voice, and I'm suffering much less now, even though it's physically and mentally draining. Straddling two disconnected lives has been more stressful than I had imagined, and in all honesty it's nearly impossible to do both very well. I'm just grateful I'll be able to focus full-time in the kitchen this coming fall.
  • 3. How are your family and friends reacting to the change in careers?My parents have been amazingly cool. My mom simply wants me to be happy and healthy. If that means cleaning toilets for a living, great! And my dad said he was proud of me, and that's not something a Korean parent says very often. My oldest brother, Henry, encouraged me by saying any work that you truly love will require some sacrifice and years of hard work. I think my other brother, Chuck, is a bit more nervous about the whole thing and sees giving up this career as a big risk and a shame. My friends? Fully supportive and encouraging. They've been great, perhaps because they no longer have to hear me whining about how I hate this job, etc, etc. Hehe.
  • 4. You must be so busy already, what was your motivation to start the blog?It was the suggestion of my brother Chuck and my friend Gerry. It got started mainly as a place for me to take notes, ruminate on food and cooking, and share my experience with just a handful of friends. I've been really surprised to see how often people check in, and so now I feel I owe it to those friends to keep up the blog.
  • 5. My husband went to the Culinary Institure of America but he tells people not to go to culinary school unless they have loads of money. The value of on site learning is amazing. Do you have any plans to attend culinary school?Well actually, that's how this whole thing got started. I've been contemplating culinary school for at least 7 years. Every year I would call or email a bunch of schools to ask for an application. So following tradition, I began doing some research again last fall. I really respect the pool of knowledge on Chowhound and eGullet, and after digging around a bit on those sites, I found endless posts from chefs saying, "Don't do it!" "Go work in a real kitchen first to see if you can hack it!" "It's not worth the $50,000 debt!" The same words, more or less, were echoed by Jamie Oliver on his blog and endless other well-respected chefs in the book Becoming a Chef. It was invaluable advice. It's been an amazing and eye-opening experience to learn on-site, in real-time, with practicing chefs. I mean, I still have this tiny nagging feeling of wanting to go to school, but mostly for a change of pace from the "real world." Maybe if my future business takes off, I'll sign up for school just for fun, at the ripe age of 55.
  • 6. Why are you anonymous? It is completely respected of course, but you must have a specific reason.It was for the sole purpose of not being found out online by my co-workers and my boss. People do a whole lot of googling and web-surfing in this industry.
DCW_Columbus, OH