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January 23, 2009

Photo of the Day: Art or Something Like It

_MG_7985 - Version 2

Downtown Aspen, CO. 2009.

I've mentioned that Downtown Aspen is heavily populated with Furriers and Art Galleries before. What I didn't mention was that many of these galleries draw in their customers with symbols of their rustic surroundings. More than one place is guarded by life-size statues of Grizzly Bears and other animals including this humble foal.

Perhaps this is just a limitation of my citified imagination, but I can't fathom an appropriate place in any home for statues of wildlife.

January 22, 2009

Photo of the Day: Elk Building


Downtown Aspen, CO. 2009.

SF: Bar Bambino


I first checked out Bar Bambino over the summer when I had an afternoon to hang out on my own. I visited again on my lazy Saturday and enjoyed the panini sandwich above. It was made with a house-made Italian sausage, a sweet and spicy pepper relish and provolone cheese. The sausage had an interesting flavor to it that reminded me of Chinese five spice, so cinnamon among other seasonings.

On my first visit, I had more of a chance to sit and linger over more snacks, including a meat plate and the awesome bowl of meatballs below. When I get home, I want to get my meat grinder up and running again and try out my own version of San Francisco's 'Meatball Mondays.'


I didn't sit inside either visit, but I found the vibe there to be great for wiling away an afternoon over wine and tasty snacks. Bar Bambino is definitely a place I'll return to.

Bar Bambino
2931 16th Street, San Francisco, CA
Between Mission and South Van Ness
415.701.VINO (8466)

January 21, 2009

Aspen: Clearance


There's nothing great about the economic downturn, but pardon me for a little schadenfreude seeing clearance sales at the fur shops and art galleries around town.

Toasting President Obama


Last night I celebrated the inauguration quietly with this small bottle of Champagne I had at The Wine Spot, a slightly out of the way little hotel bar that I visited last year. More on that to come. For now, cheers!

January 20, 2009

Graffiti of the Day: So Long Georgie

IMG_8219.JPG, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Brooklyn, NY. 2004.

On the day that everyone is looking forward, I just want to take a moment to look back at the last 8 years. Not to trash George W. Bush, because that's just so easy. Really, just to realize that he has been president for nearly my entire adult life and what that means. He was 'elected' the year after I graduated from college and now, months after getting married, he's exiting office.

It's been a rough 8 years. There's been terrorism in my home town, war, two recessions, pillars of industry collapsed or are in danger of collapsing, and a hurricane devastated one of the greatest cities in the world. There's been protest and civil liberties violations on a scale we haven't seen since the 60's.

You could think of that as a pretty crappy decade. Yet, over that same time, I've done nearly everything important in my adulthood. I discovered travel, I learned to cook, I rediscovered photography, I've made friends I hope to have for the rest of my life. And of course, above all, I met and married the woman of my dreams.

I can't say how linked any one thing is to any other, but I can't separate them either.

Photo of the Day: History


Today's the big day.

January 19, 2009

Graffiti of the Day: Reach


Marais, Paris. 2008

Photo of the Day: Sushi Chefs


Blue Ribbon Sushi, NYC. 2008.

The Red Eye

IMG_7829, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

In a major case of poor timing, I got food poisoning just before my flights out to Aspen. Without going into any graphic details, this meant spending more time in airport bathrooms than Larry Craig. The visible aftermath, above, are the popped blood vessels in my eyes that leave me looking like 'The Killer' as my sister says.

The upshot is that I'll be taking it easy on the food and drink for a day or two, but will have some Aspen posts up later in the week.

January 17, 2009

Photo of the Day: Navigating

IMG_0262, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Left Bank, Paris. 2008.

January 16, 2009

Graffiti of the Day: Marilyn Spock

IMG_9412, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Williamsburg, Brooklyn. 2008.

Photo of the Day: Reverence

IMG_7404, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.
Kind mit Pudein (Baby With Poodles)
Katharina Fritsch
SFMOMA, San Francisco. 2009.

January 15, 2009

Paris: French Onion Soup


I've discovered that I love French Onion soup. This shouldn't have surprised me, as it involved butter, onions and lots of cheese, but the soup we had at Au Pied Cochon was the best I've had. I tried to make some when I got back, but wasn't quite satisfied. The broth and the onions were great, but I got the cheese wrong, which is crucial.

Based on the weather lately in New York, I'll have plenty more opportunities to need a great soup to warm up chilled bones.

Graffiti of the Day: Hitchcock

IMG_2221, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Houston Street and Bowery, NYC. 2008.

Photo of the Day: Toothpicks


Blonde's Bar, The Mission, San Francisco. 2009.

January 14, 2009

Porchetta at Home


Just after Christmas, Tammi and I hosted our annual holiday party and here you see the guest of honor. This was my attempt at the Porchetta I watched Nate Appleman prepare at the Astor Center early last month.

While it was generally a success, I feel there was some room for improvement and I hope to try to do better in some future (smaller) attempts.

Regarding the finished product, it was very tasty. Honestly, I barely had any of the actual porchetta, which is the abdominal section of the pig. Once it cooled, I cut that part up and served it for our guests. Nothing came back, so it definitely went over well.

That said, I'm writing this as a critique so I know what I want to do differently in the future, so most of the rest of this post is going to be the challenges I had or the things I want to fix the next time around.

First thing, the lemons. this was ann idea I picked up from Appleman's class. He mentioned that he learned this some time ago and found that the citrus added another layer that he enjoyed. I didn't like it at all. Immediately after cutting into the pig, the strongest scent was hot citrus, which wasn't what I wanted. I scraped out the lemons before serving the pork because I thought it was just too strong. I wouldn't use them again in the future.

All of that also points to an issue that was entirely my fault: not enough seasoning. I sought out fennel pollen, which I manage to get a friend to source for me from his wholesaler. It's an unusual ingredient and on the pricey side, but when used well, as they do at Porchetta in the East Village, it's transcendental. I guessed at the amount, using a gentler hand with it because I had heard it described as being as strong as saffron. Between its strength and the 3 day seasoning time, I thought it best to be cautious with the amount I used. I should have used more. Again, it was very good, but the fennel flavor, which I wanted to be primary was more subtle than I would have liked. I think I could have used more rosemary as well, but generally I was ok with the way that flavor turned out.

Finally, the skin is always awesome, and it was great here, but it wasn't as crisp s I would have liked, even though I finished it off at 500 for an hour. I think it would have benefitted from a rubdown with fat of some sort when I turned the heat up. I had confit on hand, so I could have used some of the fat from that, or even olive oil, I suppose.

After the jump, some photos from the prep and my notes on my first major attempt at butchery.

First, it took me much longer to do than it took Appleman, but he's a pro and has been doing it for years, this was my first time around, so I forgive myself. Overall, it took a little over two hours.


Cutting away around the ribs was pretty straightforward. There isn't a lot to it. The most important thing is to try to get as much meat as possible off the ribs while cutting.


For me the issue came when I cleared the ribs and started towards the hips. That was hard. In the end, had to go quick and dirty and remove the ribs and backbone first, then dig out the hips.

By the time I got through all that, I was not up for an excursion into the upper legs to remove those bones, so they stayed. I did get the upper bones of the front legs, but not the shoulder blades.

The other major issue I found was that my pig was leaner at 20lbs than the 35 pounder Appleman used. He also used a heritage breed, which would have blown my budget by far, while I ordered one from a latino butcher shop in Bushwick. One of these differences is probably why I found less meat left along the back after I removed the backbone. Thankfully, Appleman advised on compensating for thin areas by taking meat from thicker sections and evening it out.


Generally, the effort was definitely worth it. I don't know when my next try will be, but I want to do it with a whole pork belly next. I think the layering of flavors and a long seasoning time (2-3 days) will be great in a fattier, self-basting cut. I'll be sure to document and post when I do.

Photo of the Day: Going Up


16th Street BART Station, The Mission, San Francisco. 2009.

January 13, 2009

SF Souvenirs: Wooden Doll

IMG_7808 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I found this attached with elmer's glue on top of a random object on Haight Street. The glue was still wet and it just popped off without any resistance.

It's very cute. I haven't been able to find anything else about it online - maybe because people like me keep taking them before anyone has a chance to shoot it. So, here's my contribution to the collective street art knowledge.

Photo of the Day: Moon Over MOMA

IMG_7476, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

San Francisco. 2009.

Graffiti of the Day: Monster


Nolita, NYC. 2008.

January 12, 2009

SF: Chilaquiles


As mentioned, I altered my usual Saturday in San Francisco routine this time around. But I still made it out to the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building that I love so much. In fact, I managed to get there before the hordes that usually run me off.

Instead of my usual Oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co., I had a plate of Chilaquiles at the recommendation of the TOJ, whose guidance has been a great help in the past. He messaged me as soon as he found out I was going there.

The exchange went something like this:

Clay is up earlier than he should, but is going to get up and go to the farmer's market.

ToJ at 10:59am January 10
be sure to get the chiliquiles at primavera and a cappucino at blue bottle!

Clay at 11:02am January 10
TOJ, I heard the chilaquiles at Mijita is pretty good too. Any opinion?

ToJ at 11:03am January 10
Mijita is good, but if primavera has the red (rather than the green) sauce, go with primavera. Out. Of. Control.

Out of Control indeed.

Here's an overview of what we have here: Scrambled eggs, topped with the aforementioned red salsa, black refried beans with crumbly Mexican cheese on top, and salsa crusted tortilla chips with crema fresca and avocado chunks. It's really an amazing thing.

When I was in San Francisco with Guy, he had an order of Chilaquiles and commented on how amazingly light it seemed despite the contents. I declared that the lightness is an illusion created by the fluffy eggs, the cool crema and the light texture of the avocado. In reality, it's a pretty heavy meal, as demonstrated by the nap I took immediately after returning to my room.

Graffiti of the Day: Marley on Haight 02 & 09


On my first trip to SF, I took the above photo the first time I went to San Francisco in 2002. It was when I first started shooting graffiti and I was pretty excited to see this Bob Marley quote.

On my last night in San Francisco, I passed the same spot in a cab, but the piece was different:

IMG_7760 - Version 2

I don't know what happened, but I'm glad it's still there in some form or another.

0 Bags Free!

0 Bags Free!

You have to love the airline industry's ability to try to put a positive spin on their money-grubbing ways.

Apparently Delta has given up on the 'higher ground' of not charging for all checked luggage. But they still want you to know that some options are free - like not checking a bag at all.

What's hilarious is the implication that if they wanted to, they could apply a fee for not checking bags. It reminds me of a recent Onion article about American Airlines charging non-passengers a fee for not flying with them.

Who's to say they aren't already thinking up a way to do either.

January 11, 2009

Graffiti of the Day: The Exchange

IMG_7003 - Version 2

Across from 111 Minna, San Francisco. 2009.

No Warm Welcome


This isn't exactly what I found when I got home this morning, but it might as well be. While I was enjoying my great San Francisco day, walking around without a coat and sitting outside drinking wine, the Northeast got a dumping of snow and ice.

I guess it's just as well that I get used to winter weather now. In a week I'll be off to Aspen, where I'll be padding up in my thermals every day.

SF: Lazy Saturday


My last day in San Francisco is usually a challenge for me. Every time there are dozens of things I would like to do, but only a couple hours left before I have to head to the airport. I run this way and that trying to eek out every last moment out of the trip and finally end up tense and tired wishing I had more time.

This time, with a full day until my late night flight, I actually took it easy and managed to have a great, leisurely day while still making it to the Farmers market, The Mission and The Haight. The weather was gorgeous all day, with temperatures in the mid-60's, vastly better than 30 degrees and snowing at home. I sat outside and drank wine while reading about photography at Bar Bambino, above and had a few more good meals before heading to the airport.

I'm at the airport now, waiting to board my flight and hoping against hope that the warm weather comes with me.

January 9, 2009

SF: Anchor & Hope


Wednesday night, Will and I went to Anchor & Hope in the Financial District. The huge barn-like space is set up to vaguely resemble a New England seafood shack with west coast sensibilities. Tammi and I went there when we were in San Francisco in June and had a fabulous meal, so I wasn't surprised to have had such a great meal there again.

Everything we had was wonderful, starting with the oysters, which we sucked down far too fast for me to take a photo of.

I managed a moment of self-control for the Angels on Horseback:


These bacon-wrapped oysters presented contrasting and complementary textures and flavors. The soft, collapsing texture of the oysters paired perfectly. With each bite, the bacon shattered into a million pieces of smokey salty magnificence, only to reveal the softly textured oyster, also salty but with flavors of the sea.

The rest of the meal after the jump...

We also split an order of Calamari with sweet thai chili sauce. I love thai chili sauce and feel like it should be used more often. it was great here. The squid was perfectly done, none of the rubbery texture from the overcooked crap you get elsewhere.

For our mains, I went with a simple lobster roll, which hit the spot:


Will had a dungeness crab paella, which was a bit more complicated to eat, but has me craving saffron, just from the smell a day later.

If I had any doubt after my first visit (which I didn't) it's completely gone now. Anchor & Hope is now on my list of go-to places in San Francisco.

SF: 111 Minna


The other night, we checked out 111 Minna, an art gallery and bar a couple blocks away from the convention center. It's an awesome concept that I would love to find in New York. I always mean to go to more art galleries, particularly the openings of graffiti artists I've been following, but somehow never manage to go. Worse, a gallery has opened up in Bed-Stuy, mere blocks from my house that I have yet to walk into much less photograph.

In any case, 111 Minna is a gallery by day and a bar/club on the weekends and some nights during the week. I went on Wednesday night for a DJ night they have on Wednesdays and got a look at some of the pieces going up for an exhibition that opened last night.

See the photos of the work here.

Photo of the Day: Fog

IMG_7196, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

I opened the drapes this morning to find my windows totally opaque. The fog I saw last night was still there and had gotten bigger. The faint noise I heard that I thought was my cell phone vibrating was actually a fog horn off in the distance.

The photo here was taken about half an hour later when it was already burning off.

San Francisco, 2009.

Graffiti of the Day: Granted

IMG_1603, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Lower Haight, San Francisco. 2008.

January 8, 2009

SF: Frontera Fresco


Last year, Rick Bayless opened a "Wolfgang Puck"-style high end fast food outlet in the food court of the Macy's Union Square here in San Francisco. When I heard about it, I was very excited. I had a great meal at Frontera Grill in Chicago a few years back and Bayless' cookbooks and TV show are great. I really love the depth he gives to Mexican food, which is so often done poorly.

As I mentioned in my Bayless sighting post last year, it was at Frontera Grill that I first had Queso Fundido. I love it. It's molten, fondue-like chihuahua cheese that can be used as a dip or a topping or eaten straight.

That's what I was hoping for when I saw the Queso Fundido Huarache as one of the items available at Frontera Fresco.

This is what I got:

IMG_6644 - Version 3

The huarache is a flatbread topped with the melted cheese, a black bean paste and chicken chorizo (!). Also on the hurache were a mixture of lettuce and baby spinach and a crumbly feta cheese.

I wasn't so impressed, which was a disappointment.

First, I have to say that I'm opposed to the idea of chicken chorizo more than I was offended by the taste. It was fine. It had the right seasoning, but it was chicken and tasted like it. Chicken sausages have their place, but this isn't one of them. Also, the flatbread was also a little to starchy.

I think my expectations were higher than they should have been given that it was Bayless' entry into a market that really knows Mexican food. I respect the menu for offering food that you aren't going to find at Taco Bell or even Chipotle. There aren't many fast food places where I can get huaraches - in New York. In San Francisco, on the other hand, there's a lot more Mexican food, and it's probably better than this.

Graffiti of the Day: Down Bird

IMG_2893, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Hayes Valley, San Francisco. 2008.

Photo of the Day: Ominous

IMG_6665, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The view from the View bar at the Marriott San Francisco.

San Francisco. 2009.

Paris Souvenirs: Jurançon

IMG_1327, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

"Don't let anyone see you walking down the street with that! They'll want to be your friend and you'll know they only like you for your Jurançon!"

That was the least colorful advice given to me by Juveniles Wine Bar owner Tim Johnston, an old scot who, for 10 years has run this Australian themed wine bar in the heart of Paris.

The wine, a sweet dessert wine, is by Uroulat a family vineyard in the southwest of France, near the Pyrenees. It has a light body for a dessert wine and tastes strongly of apricots.

When I tasted it after our meal, I had to have it. But they didn't have any regular sizes left, so I was 'stuck' with this magnum. Johnston said the wine is great to drink now but offered that it will be even better in 5 years, "If you can hold out that long."

I can't guarantee that it'll survive until 2013, but we'll see...

January 7, 2009

SF: Tony Bennett, Live!

IMG_6591, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The most exciting part of the conference I'm attending this week in San Francisco was yesterday morning when they surprised the audience with a performance by Tony Bennett.

It may not say much about how dull the announcements were, but hearing "I left my heart in San Francisco" was really great.

Graffiti of the Day: Throttle

IMG_2567, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Amoeba Parking Lot. Upper Haight, San Francisco. 2008.

Food Finds: Candy for Breakfast


Paris. 2008.

I thought our cereals are bad. This one was based on a popular candy bar. It's got caramel and chocolate in it.

Paris Souvenirs: Wine for the Cellar


Yes. I bought all that wine in Paris. More, to be honest. We came back with 15 bottles. Among other things, I've decided to really spend some time learning about wine in the next few years. And part of that is to take advantage of the cellar conditions we've got in our basement. It's consistently 10-15 degrees cooler than the rest of the house, typically in the mid to low 60s, and the humidity tends to be upwards of 50%.

Starting my 'collection' in France just made the most sense, since we were heading there for the honeymoon anyway and the French, more than anyone else, have put a lot of effort into aging wine. I took learning about French wine up as my distracting obsession, something I think everyone who is planning a wedding should have. If you don't have something like that, the wedding will consume you.

I learned a lot more than I knew before about French wine, but there's so much more to discover. In the meantime, I mostly stuck with regions I knew I liked when buying. Many of the bottles I bought to 'hold' are from the Rhone regions, whether Cote Rotie, Gigondas, or Chateauneuf du Pape. I tried to expand into Bourdeaux as well. It was Burgundy that gave me the most difficulty. Tammi and I both found it hard to tolerate the thinness in body and flavor of wine from Burgundy. I bought one bottle of a Grand Cru, to hold for 5 years, based on the recommendation from the clerk.

At the center of my newfound obsession is my deeply ingrained hoarding habit. I can't lie. But beyond that is the idea of holding onto these bottles for our anniversaries, 10, 20 and 30 years in the future. We may pop open one of these bottles to celebrate our kids' graduations or any number of events in our life together through the years. I can't plan any of those things nor do I want to. But I love the idea that no matter what, I'll have the right bottle for the occasion.

January 6, 2009

SF: A16

IMG_6488 - Version 2

I already wanted to go to A16 after seeing the Porchetta demo at The Astor Center, but after spending some time perusing the cookbook I bought that night, it was imperative. It's been a while since I've pored over a cookbook like that. Last night, my colleague Will and I had a wonderful dinner there and now I have even more ideas for dishes I want to cook from the book.

Above is the "Maccaronara with tomato ragu and house-made ricotta salata." I made the ragu at home and loved it. The name 'tomato ragu' belies the fascinating and complex nature of the sauce. It's made by slowly simmering the crushed tomatoes with chunks of pork shoulder and a whole pig's foot. All the meat is removed after the sauce is done, but by this point it has imparted not just a rich porky flavor, but a firm, thick texture from the gelatin in the cartilage heavy cuts of pork. After making it myself, it was amazing to recognize the same texture and flavor combination there at the restaurant.

For our first course, we split the pizza special, seen below topped with ricotta, arugula and olive oil, pressed fresh within the last 30 days. I can't say I've ever thought about how many days ago my olive oil was pressed, but the end result was lighter and fluffier than pizza with cheese and oil has any right to be.


We also had the monday night meatball special and a side of cannellini beans, described in the cookbook as sort of 'Italian refried beans.' The meatballs, which started a trend out here have inspired me to try something similar at home. More on that when I actually have a couple days at home to try it out. The beans were shockingly good. Tender, but not mushy and with crispy pork cracklings mixed in to provide contrast.

We had a great, affordable wine recommended by the sommelier that I unfortunately didn't get a chance to make note of. My only regret for the evening is that the chef was not in. I had hoped to tell him how the porchetta went and that I love the book. Sadly, he was at their other restaurant SPQR that night.

Maybe that means I have to go again?

Graffiti of the Day: The Right Idea

IMG_3532, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

The Mission, San Francisco. 2008.

Brooklyn: Aakash Nihalani


Last weekend, I randomly discovered this installation, in the middle of a strip of vacant storefronts, on Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill. The artist, Aakash Nihalani, may be familiar to those paying attention. A similar piece I found on the sidewalk in Williamsburg was the GOTD over the summer,

This particular installation was commissioned by the Atlantic Assets Group, presumably to beautify some of the empty space popping up on the strip.

January 5, 2009

Graffiti of the Day: Nature

IMG_4293, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Clarion Alley, The Mission, San Francisco. 2008.

"The same wind that uproots trees, makes grass shine."

Paris: Oven


Another spiffy thing about the kitchen in our apartment in Paris was the oven. I'm not sure what type of heat it was, surely electric of some sort, but nothing more specific than that. What made it cool was that it had this dial which selected the direction of the heat source. In addition to above or below, there were options to rotate the heat source to provide a rotisserie-style cooking environment for your roast.

Season's End


Yesterday, I hauled out our Christmas Tree, marking the end of another holiday season. Usually a pretty hectic season, this one was more so, being preceded by months of Wedding activity, paralleled by numerous work projects and, now, followed by a month on the road between a conference in SF and another sojourn to Aspen in a few weeks.

That said, I had a fantastic December doing exactly what I wanted to do: cooking for and reveling with those most important to me. In the process, I also began working some of the many new projects I promised myself I would dedicate myself to after the wedding was all done. I spent time learning more about meat and butchering and curing and much of the arcane that I'm perpetually attracted to. Better yet, I took the opportunity to practice some of these new talents.

I don't do resolutions, but if pressed to make one, mine would be to continue what I've been doing over the last few weeks: shooting more, writing more, cooking more, reading more, learning more and applying it as much as possible so I can keep improving what I do.

January 4, 2009

Paris: Induction


The kitchen in our apartment was equipped with some pretty cool features, which according to the guy we were renting from are pretty standard. That includes this induction range, above, which brings liquids to a boil faster than anything I've ever seen. It took some getting used to and I almost ruined a roast while browning it, but it was very cool to cook with.

I don't know the science of the thing, but the whiz-bang factor comes from the fact that the range stays completely cool. You can have hot pan on it one second and put your hand in the middle of the cooking circle the next and not feel the slightest warmth. Also, the smooth surface also makes it significantly easier to clean than the stovetop I have at home.

Graffiti of the Day: School

IMG_1828, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Lower Haight, San Francisco. 2008.

San Francisco Bound Once More

IMG_2943 - Version 2

All of two weeks ago, I discovered that I was returning to San Francisco for work. I'm heading out today and as usual, looking forward to a week out west.

Of course, I've already started thinking about which restaurants I want to hit while I'm there. While I'll clearly be partaking in many tacos, the trend this time around skews heavily Italian.

I've already mentioned A16 in the Marina area.

Additionally, I've heard a lot about Chris Cosentino, who evangelizes for Offal on his blog, Offal Good. He's the chef at Incanto and runs Boccalone, a salumeria in the Ferry Building.

In the Mission, there's Delfina and Pizzeria Delfina on the 18th Street corridor and Bar Bambino, a wine bar on 16th with tasty meatballs and other antipasti.

There's also Little Star Pizza on Valencia, where I shared the deep dish pizza above.

January 2, 2009

Food Finds: Dolo


Paris, France. 2008.

Paris: Thanksgiving Dinner


This year, Tammi and I broke our long held tradition of not celebrating Thanksgiving. As usual, we were far from home in a country that doesn't celebrate this very American holiday of mass consumption. But this year more than others, we had much to be thankful for. So, I took advantage of the local ingredients and cooked up dinner in our little kitchen in the apartment.

What you see above is the finished product, a roasted Poulet de Bresse, the famous French Blue-footed chicken.

A month or so before the wedding Eric first mentioned this breed of chicken to me and shortly afterward, I read Jacques Pepin's description of the bird in his memoir, "The Apprentice," so I was excited to find it so readily available, if highly priced at the outdoor markets we visited.

When I bought it, the seller asked something I didn't understand. Figuring he knew what he was doing, I answered, "Oui." He chopped off the feet and the head, but then appeared to be ready to cut the bird up. I stopped him in time and had the bird intact to roast whole. But it wasn't until I started to prep it that I realized that the bird hadn't been gutted. Unlike every other chicken I had ever cooked, the internal organs did not come in a paper bag stuffed in the cavity.

After the jump, the gory details (with pictures!)...


When we got home, I got a closer look at the chicken and found this AOC tag attached to the neck. I took the neck, as well as the head and feet, below, and left over herbs and got a stock started. Tammi thought it was ridiculous, but it came in handy for the other meal I made (more on that later.


I tried to reach into the cavity for more meat to throw into my stock when I discovered that the cavity was still full. I had no idea what to do. Even in my own butchery geekiness, I've never considered evisceration, even though it's clearly a necessary part of prepping an animal.

In the end, I cheated. With no idea where to even begin, I just butterflied (Spatchcocked!) the bird. Removing the backbone gave me pretty easy access to the guts in order to remove them.


Colors tell a lot about which parts you want to keep and which you don't, so I scraped out and tossed all the dark green and black bits and kept the rest. I stuffed the fat deposits under the breast and threw everything else in the stock. That included the stomach which was still full of seeds and grain. I never felt so close to the food I've cooked before. It was an amazing experience. And a pretty damned good meal, if I do say so myself.

January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

IMG_6752, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Here's to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2009.