Thursday, March 25, 2010

LABEOUF, HOOF, OEUF


Unrelated! From left to right:

1. My cover story about the likable, talkative, market-obsessed, fake-fingered actor Shia Labeouf is in the April GQ. The full story isn't online yet; pictures and interesting quotes here. I hope to post the full text or a scan sometime before the movie in question, Oliver Stone's Wall Street revisited, is actually released.

2. I'll be blogging about food obsessions on the New York Times' T Magazine blog, The Moment. My first post, about smoked meat sightings and Hoof Café's odd/good rabbit-blueberry pancakes from my recent trip to Toronto is up now.

3. A bad picture of a good thing. A runny egg atop a mess of spicy, tart, crunchy, chewy pig's ears at the very good Animal restaurant in LA, which has nothing to do with anything except it's where I ate dinner with my friend Sam after the Shia chat.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

TOFU ON THE RADIO


If for some reason you haven't been keeping up with Kyoto drive-time radio but would like to listen to me talking with a very nice man about tofu, the internet has made this possible. The interviewer is Tamotsu Nakano, professor, columnist, radio host and all-around excellent guy. He and his wife were kind enough to show me around Kyoto a bit when I was there working on my tofu story for Bon Appétit.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

TRAVEL+LEISURE: LONG LUNCH v. LONG WEEKEND


The April issue of Travel + Leisure has my story about a tale of one city, done two ways. The idea was simple: Pick a European city; go there and eat a long, leisurely (and absurdly expensive) lunch at one of its top Michelin-starred restaurants; then take the receipt from lunch and try to live for three full days (hotel, meals, everything) for the same price. We picked Facil (above left) a civilized room that feels like a glass box at the edge of a forest, even though you’re actually on the fifth floor of a hotel near Potsdammer Platz. Lunch for two, with some pretty decent wines, came to €522 or about $750. So for the next three days we stayed at a great new cheap, funny hotel called The Michelberger across from the Warschauer Straße U-bahn station in the east (more on this place later) and subsisted on all-night burger joints and places like Curry 36, a famous place for that ubiquitous odd Berlin street food, currywurst (above right). About this hot dog thing: The motto on the sign said “…ganz schön scharf unsere Curry” which my computer translates as “completely beautifully sharply our Curry.” There’s nothing remotely sharp or curry-like about it but there was something beautifully, boldly bland about it. It's one of those things, like grape soda or opera, that I enjoy while it lasts and then don't need for a while. Berlin itself I'm eager to get back to when the sun's there too. We arrived in the cold black darkness of winter, when the city had retreated into itself and was quiet and empty, still interesting but not the whole show. Have a look at the story here.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

INTERVIEW: TED DANSON IN FEB. GQ


From this month's magazine: short story in which I have lunch with the excellent and charming Mr. Danson at the Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan and we talk about saving the oceans and loony magazine editors and, among other things, the point of everything.

Some bits that didn't make it into the story but I like:

ON TRYING:
"By the way I don’t believe that we are going to save the planet. I just believe it’s a great game to play while you’re here. Once you figure out we’re all going to die anyway then it’s not about saving the planet its about how you engage the problems while you’re here, the grace with which you lead your life."

ON LARRY DAVID:
"The worst thing about Larry David’s successs is that it’s given him this right to walk around being Larry David. He gets to be totally self-centered and make people laugh at the same time. The rest of us would get clobbered. But my wife Mary told Larry if I ever she a real real big serious problem in life he'd be one of first people she'd come to. And he got tears in his eyes, it meant that much to him. He has a huge heart, a big big old heart."

ON HODGMAN (?!):
"He’s incredibly bright—and quite the actor."

ON THE CLINTONS:
"He loves to laugh. They both do. I don’t know that they run around looking for the silliness in life. They find life and all of its complexities fascinating and want to make things better where as I may be looking for the drum beat or the banana peel. They enjoy other people hugely. He would know everything about you by the end of the this conversation and remember it and glean something from it. They both have scary brains and huge hearts."

ON THE OKAYNESS OF NOT ALWAYS BEING OKAY:
"I'm a happy guy. I have some sadness but sadness ain’t bad. Sadness can be sweet. Sadness has something to do with being real."


(Above: 9.84 and 2.10. Wonder what became of the guy who wrote "Denim Updated"?)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

FEB. BON APPETIT: TOFU IN KYOTO


Tofu! Tofu? I know what you're thinking. But trust me: Fresh tofu in Japan is an altogether different species than the bland water-logged loaves we get here. There are regional varieties all over Japan but Kyoto is the acknowledged center of tofu making, tofu culture and general tofu obsessing. Check out my story in this month's Bon Appetit, in which I run around the city, learn from artisinal tofu producers how they turn soaked beans into delicate blocks or fried sheets, visit an ancient yuba (tofu skin) maker, eat boiled yudofu in a centuries old ryokan and tofu donuts in the street and a lot of other things along the way. Jeff Lipsky's pictures in the print magazine are beautiful; I'll post a scan when I get a copy. For now here's a link to the online version.

(Above: with Genichi Morii, tofu maker at the famous shop Morika, which, as you know, uses calcium sulfate rather than standard magnesium chloride as a coagulant).

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HELLO AGAIN


How've you been, imaginary readers? Happy (still mostly) new year. Sorry for doing nothing here for a while. That's over now.
Above: Groggy + sunny, the island of Madeira, Portugal, first day of January 2010.

Friday, November 13, 2009

RECENT KITCHEN PROJECT INVOLVING A DUCK, SOME PIG, ARMAGNAC SOAKED PRUNES, A DREAMILY AMBIGUOUS ELIZABETH DAVID RECIPE AND A LOT OF STRING



Wednesday, October 21, 2009

QUESTIONABLE IDEAS


Bacon maple donut. Portland OR. 10.8.09

Monday, September 28, 2009

THE WORD THE NY TIMES DIDN'T WANT YOU TO SEE


In yesterday's Sunday Times: rampant joblessness, moms at war, Iranian nukes, out tweens, sippable coconut shells, Andre Leon Talley in what looked to be the world's biggest tallit. And a lot of other things. What was deemed too hot (or too stupid) for the Times: the other F word. This is the memorable name chosen by the public transportation system in Ticino, the Italian-speaking wilds of Switzerland I wrote about in Sunday's T Travel Magazine. You drive up into these beautiful mountains and there you see the red bus stops everywhere proudly announcing: Here is the Fart bus. Tell me, worldly sophisticates, you wouldn't slow down the car to take a picture? Liars. Anyway I included this very important piece of information in my story but the gatekeepers of decorum decided you shouldn't see it. But here it is.

Some people have mentioned that they're having a hard time viewing the version online so I've clumsily scanned a copy of the story in a big PDF HERE.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

TICINO IN THE TIMES: I DIGS IN


A preview of Sunday's New York Times T Travel Magazine is up now. Check out the story here. Ticino is the Italian speaking canton of Switzerland. There is a lot of polenta up there. And men arguing about cheese, and old stone grotto restaurants and twisty crazy roads and chestnuts that fall on your head and funiculars and a waterfall that starred in a Leni Riefenstahl movie and lots of other stuff. Have a look.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

MORE ISRAEL





From top: Upper Galilee, somewhere; morning view towards the Golan Heights from my room at the Relais & Chateaux hotel/organic farm Mizpe Hayamim; the cheesemaker in his cave; strays outside Erez Komarovsky's cooking school and home.

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THE ONLY KOSHER OYSTER IS A PRAIRIE OYSTER


Finishing up a week of eating and wandering in Israel. My first time here & it was an interesting and fun and filling way to do it with a small group of great colleagues, old friends and new. The above-referenced bull's testicles were served to us in an upscale kosher bistro place in Jerusalem. Beitzim (balls) in Hebrew, they were…scallopy. I'll spare you a picture of them for now. Instead, a few random images from the trip. Above: outside chef Erez Komorovsky's home and cooking school in the Upper Galilee. Below the remarkable hummus he made for us at an altogether remarkable lunch on his terrace: gigantes beans, roughly mashed in a gigantic mortar, with sweet almonds and freshly baked breads.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

HELLO, STRANGERS


Sorry I've been such a lazy correspondent. Things keep happening out here. I've just been very bad about keeping you posted. But no more. Down with laziness! I promise to live-blog the recent past as I remember it and put up new things here as they happen. I'm in Israel this week, my first visit, on an eating and drinking mission. More on this soon. I hope everyone is having a nice day. (Above, a park sign from Paris.)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

MORE TOKYO


On the left: Healthy shishito peppers. On the right: Grilled salty chicken skin. Balance.

Bookstore, Shibuya.

Tasting Japanese whiskies.

Probably if I lived here I would stop taking pictures in convenience stores of fluffy bread snacks. Probably.

Tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) + Tsukemen (dipping ramen) = shirt stains, sweat.

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TOKYO: BESUBORU!


Bobby Valentine to me: "So you're a Yankees fan or a Mets fan or you don't really give a shit?"
Me: Ummm.
BV: Have a donut. [Note: there was a box of donuts on the table]
BV manages the Chiba Lotte Marines. My friend Shun works with him and was kind enough to invite me and another Tokyo pal, Shinji, to the home game last night against the Yokohama BayStars and to introduce us to his boss. The Marines lost but it was a fun night out.

One of the many dozens of beer girls that roam Japanese baseball stadiums, bowing before they make their way up the aisle to dispense draft beer from their keg-backpacks. If you imagine a cross between a st. bernard, a school girl in knee socks and a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger you sort of get the idea.

Chiba Marine Stadium, Chiba Prefecture, outside Tokyo.

This is not the real ball they play with. This is a person dressed as a ball.

Light Up the Passion For Your Team. Other motto, on back of every chair: "A Passion for Our Dream, A Commitment to Our Flag."

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

KYOTO: A VISIT TO THE YUBA MAKER





Yuba is "tofu skin," a delicate, creamy silky thing made by carefully lifting the thin film that forms on top of gently simmering soy milk. I like yuba and have eaten in many times but never really gave any thought to how it was made until the other morning when I visited an old yuba maker in Kyoto. I sat in the back of the room and watched a young guy (a member of the family who has run the place for centuries) presiding over these vats of steaming soy milk, just barely at a simmer. When a skin had formed, he'd run a wooden dowel across a vat and pull up a translucent sheet of yuba and let it dry on a rack. It is slow work, a sort of mesmerizing ritual. Hours and hours and hours, one by one harvesting these dainty, weightless sheets, waiting for another skin to develop on the warm surface. The young tofu maker's aunt gave me a bowl of warm, freshly made yuba, scrunched up in a bowl with just a few drops of soy sauce. Simple, oishii, delicious. The family cat sat next to me in a styrofoam crate. The aunt brought a plate of salty, deep-fried yuba. An old man washed out the giant pots used to soak the soy beans. The young guy kept walking around his vats, watching. The cat yawned off for a nap. After a morning snack, I was ready to do the same.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

KYOTO (DAY TWO AND A HALF)





I'm working in Kyoto for a week. Bright and sunny here a good time to walk the city. This morning I'm going to see more temples, wander through the food market, do some interviews and try to stop eating pillowy frosting-filled white-bread snacks from 24 hour convenience stores. From top: Little, sweet, miso-slathered fish. A famous tofu maker outside his shop. A not-famous tofu apprentice in his hair net. Watering the concrete (wet stone outside a restaurant or shop is a sign of welcome). Kyoto, 5/13–14.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

REFLECTIONS IN A TUB OF DUCK FAT


Perhaps some time ago you could have asked me, "Do you think you might possibly become a person who takes pictures of duck fat?" Then I could have answered you, confidently, No. What sort of person takes pictures of any kind of fat? I might have asked you, What is duck fat for? And: Why would I ever be near a tub of it? I wouldn't have cared about a giant tub of perfectly creamy rendered duck fat sitting in my refrigerator. And just the thought of it resting there for months, concealing in its opaque depths, the color of french vanilla ice cream, salty pieces of confit duck legs, necks and wings, wouldn't have comforted me at all. So I'd have no reason to take it out once in a while just to admire it. But these days I do think about it and do look in on it sometimes. And so I'll take a picture of it now—just so I don't eat the whole thing today.

Monday, May 04, 2009

COUNT DRUNKULA


L to R: me, my colleague Andrew, Count Niccolo Branca of Fratelli Branca, producers of Fernet Branca and the deliciously old-man minty Branca Menta. Today at a press lunch somewhere in Midtown. It's a very food nerd kind of day for me, this rainy Monday. Next up: I'm guest live-blogging the James Beard Foundation Awards all night at http://www.jamesbeard.org/blog. There is apparently a Hendricks Gin bar in the press room. Oh no.

Friday, May 01, 2009

FYI





Have a happy and safe Friday, imaginary readers.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

SOME PICTURES THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH EARTH DAY (EXCEPT THEY'RE FROM THERE)








Top to bottom: Botswana, Lisbon, London, Tokyo, Nairobi, Hong Kong, Tokyo.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

THE SACHS-MEEHAN PLAN FOR SUSTAINABLE DRINKING


Step 1: Make sure someone else is paying. Step 2: Pick up the April edition of GQ which has a story of mine in which I follow the very talented and likable Jim Meehan, proprietor/barman of the very tiny and likable cocktail place PDT around on an investigative bar crawl. The idea is there are a lot of fancy cocktails out there now but none of us really know what to drink when, how to construct a menu of these things, what follows what so you're happy and don't feel terrible at the end of the night. You'd call PDT a hole-in-the-wall if it wasn't more properly described as a hole-in-a-phone-booth-inside-a-hotdog-joint. It's a nice place and you should go and drink Black Flips and That One Sachs Likes with the Pomegranate-Molasses But Made With Rye & Not Gin (pretty sure that's not the real name but it's the only way I can remember it) and eat Chang Dogs. Unless it's crowded and you might take my seat, in which case you should just send Jim your money and good wishes. I think that's supposed to be Jim in a jacket, facing the bar in the magazine illustration above. To the left is our friend Dr. Michael. The woman is GQ's own Sarah Goldstein. And I'm the woodcut on the right, though my hair doesn't look nearly that good in real life.

Have a look at the story HERE

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

NZ AM/PM



Just back from two very nice weeks in very nice New Zealand. More pictures, stories soon. For now, top: on the ferry to Waiheke island with the Auckland skyline falling away. Above: long-exposure shot of the view from the deck of the house we were staying at, on a starry, cloudy, moon-filled night on Waiheke.

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