Now Burger King says it will buy a whopping 2% of it's eggs from cage free chickens and source frolicing pork. Two percent of Burger King's eggs amounts to a whole bunch, and the pork is in the form of ham, bacon and sausage mostly for breakfast sandwiches. A good move to go after the same PC diner who ate at Spago last night. Yet, aren't those diners who are so concerned with humane treatment of animals also those who don't frequent these places? BK saught PETA's approval before making this announcement to ensure they all but got the PETA SEAL (ha ha) of approval. As tasty as BK is, it is McDonald's that sets the retail prices of eggs in this country. McDonald's purchases eggs as a commodity, and any unforseen costs in production end up on our supermarket shelves. Why does the McGriddle have to be so divine? Moves like this are certain to bring about change in the way chickens are raised.
I must comment on the difference of the terms "free range" and "cage free". By law, free range allows the chickens to be in cages as long as a door to the outside is open. There's a slight possibility the chicken may get to run. Most reputable companies do allow their chickens the kind of free range we romanticize about - running along a hill pecking at the sun. Cage free is gourmet free range. No cages allowed on premise, guaranteed free range. A food spin zone similar to the Bourbon term small batch. No restrictions to the actual size of the batch, 100 barrels or 1,000. Single batch is the new vogue.
Coming soon: single origin chocolate frosties and heirloom potato fries. Lola rosa lettuce to replace iceberg shreds, and organic onion rings. Artisanal paper wrappers and lattes made to order. I'd settle for a malt vinegar option for fries, little packets of vinegar instead of treacly kethcup.
Puck and other high profile chefs have been under pressure for years to stop serving foie. I don't see his decision as bowing under pressure to these groups because they have been active for so long. I see it as a headline grabber to attract more customers for whom dinner is a political statement rather than a meal. He's popularized California Cuisine, and is now popularizing the earth friendly mentality born there. I wish the San Andreas fault would really show us what it's capable of!
This article in the Boston Globe quotes Puck as saying happy animals yield tasty food. Didn't I hear that in a cheese campaign? A baby cow that's been running around will not taste like veal but rather bland beef. The Japanese and their love for tuna have proved that seafood that has been put under stress does suffer in quality. If everyone flushed their prozac, would that help? You can have animals running around cage free in masses. If they're eating grass that has had acid rain fall on it, and breathe carbon monoxide, and will still receive lots of antibiotics - it doesn't matter if it had the pleasure of frolicing or not. It costs a lot more to have cousin Billy Bob chase down a chicken to sell than pluck one from to coop, and you can bet that cost will be added on to your dinner at Spago.
Wild Rice has Chinese, Japanese, and Thai food. We started with an app of pork potstickers, wonderfully crisp on one side and steamed on the other. We then had a sushi deluxe plate and individual rolls eel and tempura shrimp. Steve and Cyndie had cooked items - Kung Pao tofu and a teriyaki dish. Wild Rice has a great cocktail menu so I ordered a Mango Long Island Iced Tea aka Bankok Tea and the guys had Thai Iced Tea. This might be the only place in King of Prussia to get the ubiquitous chewy bubble tea. Something I still haven't tried. The sushi was prepared well and service was attentive. When the meal was over we weren't done yapping so we went around the corner to Michael's, a terrific Jewish Deli with a few hundred beer options by the bottle. Cue the magician.
After choosing our brews, of which I opted for a Framboise Lambic, a perfect after dinner Belgian, we got a booth. Since we are there about twice a month we recognized our waiter as a new guy. No problem. He delivered chilled beer glasses and one had a large crack in the rim so I asked for another. It would be my luck to lose a lip on a chipped glass so I had to remedy the situation. We open our beers and I forgot small Lambics come with a cap and a cork so I had to ask for a corkscrew. I couldn't get any part of this visit to go smoothly. He was easy going and made light of the situation. We order dessert, Jewish apple cake with ice cream. The waiter didn't question what Jewish apple cake was, a baked item that this deli is known for, so we had no reason to think we would get anything else. Two slices of apple pie a la mode arrive. Thanks to Little Miss Sunshine we've all been schooled what a la mode means. We were tired of feeling like nuisances and having a good time anyway so we didn't send it back. We were looking forward to it because Steve and Cyndie never had Jewish apple cake. Instead we got Jewish apple pie. We did have to wait longer than normal for the check to arrive, but we were treated to a card trick on the way out by the new waiter. It was some funny comic relief but if I were his boss I wouldn't appreciate it. What an interesting night. The weekend is only beginning!
It is comprised of 8 ounces of 4 kinds of caviar. From Petrossian, a well respected caviar retailer who has it's own restaurant. The people at Petrossian are elegant and classy and I'm sure don't appreciate being mentioned with this dish. To put salmon roe (commonly used as fish bait, really large and unappealing) next to fine caviar is like garnishing your fine cheese tray with cheesy poofs. A little creme fraiche with caviar is nice, but a whole sauce like layer of it? And look at all that wasabi. Wasabi is grand, used in moderation with sushi and especially with Tobiko - but I daresay it ruins whatever morsel of taste might have been salvagable. Looking at the crust, I'd rather have a Boboli. The people at Totonno's are hopefully lauching hot coals through the windows of Nino's Bellisima. I'd love to hear from anyone who's eaten there, is anything edible? Check out the thread about this menu offering on eGullet.
Shelf stable spinach tortellini. Yes, yes, this will do. Not in the mood for tomato sauce either. Ooh, and here's a can of Stilton and Port soup from Scotland that I hadn't developed the nerve to eat by itself. And a hunk of Roaring 40's blue from Australia left over from a cheese plate a few weeks ago, voila! Spinach tortellini with blue cheese cream sauce was born. I added some other left over cheese bits (a small piece of La Tur from my last post), some parmiggiano that my fridge is never without and some Emmenthaler for a rich melty-ness to the sauce. Super tasty, and didn't seem like a pantry desperation dinner.
What other pantry staples do I keep around for just such an occasion? Cous cous - add anything and you have a meal. If the tortellini didn't jump out I was going to make curried eggplant cous cous for dinner. The Captive Husband wouldn't have even missed the meat. Stocks and broth equal instant soup. Add some leftover chicken or a handful of pasta and arugula to wilt in it and you have a simmered all day flavor. Speaking of pasta, multiple shapes are a definite pantry staple. A no cook sauce of extra virgin olive oil, grated cheese and fresh basil puts dinner on the table in 10 minutes. Stir warm penne into a mixed green salad dressed with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and goat cheese, and I'm content. Canned chick peas. Whiz them in the food processor for quick hummus, add to a salad to make it hearty, toss them with a can of diced tomatoes and feta cheese and lemon for another quick pasta meal. Cured meats. Spanish chorizo, andouille sausage, Italian salumi. They all last forever, even in my fridge. Not only can you slice up a quick antipasto plate, but they can be added to eggs for a quick omelet, sauteed with potatoes for a hearty meal. Cheese. There's usually some American for the emergency grilled cheese, but there's also the leftover bits that happen there seemingly by accident. These bits that wouldn't constitute a platter end up in polenta, mac n cheese, another famous omelet and even fondue. Cheesy grit souffle. No need to specify a type of cheese, mixed with creamy grits it all becomes sublime.
I could go on and on but the message is the same. When you think there's nothing in the house for dinner, unless you're a bachelor who keeps only empty mayo containers and whipped cream in the fridge - you have more meals at the ready than you realize.
Most cheese is best eaten with fresh crusty bread. La Tur is memorable alongside Pecorino Ginepro and Gorgonzola Dolce, also from the same region. Add some Prosciutto di Parma, dried fruits and nuts, maybe some crostini and a glass of wine and you have a meal.