Tiburón -Shark- Žralok

Tiburón -Shark- Žralok: Writing Cooking Traveling

Saturday, January 9, 2010


A few weeks ago I attended my first ever cooking class. We prepared nothing, no oven or burners were lit, we did not consume anything during or after class (except for some female hipsters I was unfortunate enough to share a metal counter with who kept munching on the raw produce in the way rabbits would if rabbits were annoying), we in fact did not cook at all during this cooking class. Because this was a cooking class about one of the most elemental aspects of cooking: knife skills.

The class took place in a converted-warehouse space in Williamsburg with a butcher/cooking supply shop in the front leading to two classrooms, one on the ground floor and one upstairs, their entrances just next to the meat counter. The space was once a mattress storage facility that little by little was being transformed into a teaching kitchen. On polished metal kitchen islands set diagonally in front of a large counter space, about ten cutting boards lay side by side awaiting the arrival of knife-toting students wanting to learn how to cut things more betterer. Our teacher was fairly young, a professional cook with a thick Brooklyn accent a la Joe Pesci (you-know-what-I'm-sayin'), a fun sense of humor about cutting into arteries, who was completely and cleanly bald, with tattoos peaking out from under his long-sleeved shirt and a really wonderful ability to explain things quickly and understandably.

In a little under two hours Joe, as I'll call him, went through a number of French cutting techniques with us that were life-changing. Dinner will be ready that much quicker, be cooked that much more evenly, look that much better and our carpal tunnel syndrome will not get worse. Those 90+ minutes were an emotional roller coaster ride, comparable to some of the best action films like Independence Day or The Poseidon Adventure. There was fear at first, German steel flashing as we learned how to realign the knife's teeth (more on that soon) to a perfect 20 degree angle on an iron. Then enlightenment when banging our knives down on defenseless vegetables became easy gliding blades. Surprise at the ease with which we could now make plateaus, juliennes, and itty bitties (forgot the proper French name for these) and humor when Joe pointed at the plateaus "$12 salad," the juliennes "$14 salad" and the itty bitties "$18 salad, add some truffle oil and you got a $22 salad." (It was funny to us.) Then there was the turning point, a whole new perspective on life as Joe showed us a move that should be patented in how obvious yet not obvious it is. It involved an onion, that's all you get for now.

The class itself was a lot of fun and the things learned were worth every cent of those $40. If you are interested in a Knife Skills or even a butchering, pickeling, wine making, or any number of other potentially life-chaning one-nighter cooking classes like this one check out Brooklyn Kitchen Lab (look for the cow outside, you'll see what I mean).

But now the...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Three Ingredients, Three Recipes

While I know I owe all you all a knife skills posting (have yet to take the pictures to go with it, I promise it'll be ready next week), I just got back from PR. This means I have done little to no cooking, so upon our return R, moreso than I actually, was excited to get me back in the kitchen. Unfortunately, we only had a handful of things available for me to cook with, namely onions, garlic, and Parmesan Regiano cheese. I'm setting these guys apart from my regular kitchen staples like rice, pasta, bread, olive oil, butter, and so on. And while I've often denounced the college student diet of carbs and cheese, here it was staring at me in the face. Luckily I knew what to do.

If you ever need to go Iron Chef on your weekday dinner, here are three simple, highly delicious recipes that go very well with a poached egg on top or, if you're feeling fancy, a side salad. And wine. Remember, we're never too broke for booze.