Friday, March 27, 2009


The old North Park crew enjoyed a boutique dining experience (their phrase, not ours) at Farrah Olivia last night. The event was a set menu four-course dinner that included a passing session of instructional techniques by Morou, and assigned seating at larger tables – forced social interaction! Apparently, nothing brings out the social butterfly in Corey more than hanging around a bunch of strangers at dinner – he was a Chatty Cathy all evening. As far as the learning bit, Morou came out and did a demo on cured meats and smoking salmon (here’s a quick interview with Morou.) Since the menu included veal or duck breast as main options he was giving us a little background on how to give everything a twist – the twist is all chef’s are looking for in the long haul, according to him. He used tons of salt and sugar in the process and one of the most interesting notes was that meat will only absorb a finite amount of salt – you cannot over salt meat in the curing process…ever. You can over salt sauces, or the meat when cooking if you add too much, but not during the curing process; the excess salt will disappear into the grill or the pan. The sugar is used as transport for the various herbs and spices that will penetrate the meat. Seems simple, right? I never knew exactly how the process worked – it’s not magic? My claim to fame – in my own mind – is that I have the same smoker he used for salmon; a gas stove-top model that does great work. Dinner was superb, as always, and we still managed to get the cackling WonderTwins home by 10pm. The highlight of the great food was X’s tarragon gnudi (gnocchi) which may have been one of the four of five best dishes I’ve ever tasted. As a final note, Corey absorbed most of the Twins’ twee chatter on the ride home and I consider that a small victory.

The second review is of the documentary Man on Wire. It’s the story of Philippe Petit’s life as centered on his dream of walking a wire between the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers. The film turns to caper territory as you learn of the plan (involving about a half dozen helpers, archery, and business suits) to sneak into the newly constructed towers in 1974 with all the equipment needed for his attempt. The film is brilliant in giving you a combination of the fairy tale idea and the love he has for what he feels he needs to do. Through all the developing steps of the dream, and all the interviews with the participants, you never realize just how deep the fear of failure is for the supporting cast. Philippe seems resigned to what may come but the others were essentially standing on a sideline with little at risk, at least in the grander view and right up to the moment Philippe steps off the building. The emotion that overcomes them when finally talking about the walk – even 35 years later – is stunning. When they see Philippe’s face change as he recognizes that the wire is good, and what that meant to them at that moment so many years ago, is overwhelming. The black-and-white photos of that most grand of challenges will leave you breathless. In the end, he’s not so much heroic as he is mystical. It’s a near perfect film.

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