TOAST’s Web “Thing”

Saturday, 2006-12-09

23. Write the book, minimum 100,000 words

Filed under: (Uncategorized) — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 12:45 am

I can’t publish any of it online, I read somewhere that if you’ve previously published something online, you’ve got SFA chance of getting it printed.  Publishers won’t touch it with a 20 foot pole.  That might be out of date, but I’m not taking any chances.  I hope I can get away with posting some chapters and a title here, I am taking a risk.  I’d like to try and have it published, but if I can’t, and I like it, I’ll print it myself.

Basically, set in a web company during the dotcom, has a lot about food in it.  Hey, write about what you know and like.  Designed to look “real”, but is goign to be fictional.  More a series of vignettes, I don’t have a central thread / story yet, and I might not even have a strong one.  I think that’s OK though. 

Chapters so far (no order)

  • The one with the japanese gangsters and the Natto.
  • The one with the master stock and the guy who has to leave in a real hurry.
  • The one with the guy who gets locked in the entrance security cage of his office on the Friday afternoon of a long weekend.
  • The one with the guy who works so hard that he’s never home, so he decides to live “homeless” for a year.
  • The one about the $50,000 Laksa Recipe.
  • The rumour about what really happened to the owner of BBQ King
  • The enormous cauldron of glutinous rice.
  • Cooking your way out of trouble.
  • The butcher who asked a LOT of questions.
  • How I seduced a sexy lady with cookies and melted mars bars.
  • The drug dealer who stopped selling cocaine and started selling truffles.
  • The one about the guy who knew every public transport timetable east of strathfield.
  • The BBQ Pork so good that the guy eating it thought he was going to die.
  • Absinthe chocolate mousse.
  • The Thai dude who could cook and lived rent free in a big share-house.

Need another few.  They’ll come, they’ll come…

I’d also like to try the philosophy of “spend 2/3 of your time editing”.

Next action(s):

  • Continue Brainstorm
  • Get writing!  No mucking about, just do it.
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Thursday, 2006-12-07

Tasty treatz from David Jones food hall.

Filed under: Cooking / Eating,Web "Thing" — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 11:31 pm

It always happens.  Every time I go into that damned place, I completely go nuts and end up spending WAY too much.  I only wanted a block of parmesan and a little bit of goose fat (or a leg portion of duck to render myself).  As usual, I went nuts.  I’ve banned myself from “The essential ingredient”, I should just buy the whole damned shop.  Thankfully, I tend to get a lot of things that I can use a lot of times (Maldon salt, oils, blocks of parmesan etc).  Here are some pics.  I’m trying to get some more info on this incredible ham that Dr. Rodd put me on to.

Photos courtesy of picasa (a Google thing), which I like very much so far.  Full sized pictures at: http://picasaweb.google.com/gtoast/DavidJonesFoodHallShopping20061207

Test of something

Viva Olive Oil (Early harvest, extra virgin). Cheap La !

Viva Olive Oil (Early harvest, extra virgin). The only olive oils that I’ve tasted better than this cost $25 for a small bottle. This one is about $7 for half a litre. Cheap enough to splash all over the place. Available at some large supermarkets or online. Must be “early harvest”, Viva’s other olive oils are not so great. Source? Choice magazine did a very extensive taste test. This came #2 out of 30 or 40 extra virgin brands tested. The one that beat it (by a tiny margin) was $30 a bottle. Buy it !

Treatz from David Jones food hall.

Yeah, it’s all over-priced, but you’ll find none better. There’s some Maldon sea salt, which I always have on hand, some duck fat for roast potatoes (or chips), white truffle flavoured oil, “real” parmesan, and some very good looking garlic. All of these are going on the very very high shelf.

Rib eye steak (with the bone in)

I’m a complete sucker for these steaks. $30 a kilo, this one was 600g. 20 day dry aged, grain fed. I justify it by saying that for $18 for a steak in a restaurant, you’re looking at something nasty. Plus, supermarkets charge more than this per kilo of some pretty crappy stuff.

I cook these on the rare side. They have quite a strong flavour, which may surprise you a little. These days I cook one and split it with the missus (and the little doggie gets the bone).

That’s actually a dinner plate.

I have eaten a whole one of these on my own before. WOW ! That’s a lot of meat. I tend to blast it in a black iron pan for a minute each side, cook it in a hot oven for a an extra 2 minutes per side, then rest for 10-15 minutes. Sometimes I’ll make a pan sauce. Sometimes I’ll have some good BBQ sauce on the side. Shut up and fuck you.

This cut has a bunch of different names, depending on your country/butcher. Some call it a “scotch fillet”, I call it “a rib-eye with the bone in it”.

Mad Spanish Ham

This was some WICKED good ham. Dr. Rodd gave me a tip about this he got from some dude who works at the Rockpool. It’s some crazy spanish cured ham, made from pigs who gorge themselves on acorns or something. It’s all about the fat, which starts melting at room temperature, so you need to eat it soon after you pull it out of the fridge. Seriously, it GUSHES grease.

Mad Spanish ham close up.

Tastes incredible. Though at $380 per kilo (or about $5 a slice) *shudder*. It’s a very strong flavour, my missus did not like it all. It’s all about the fat. It tastes buttery, and has a certain type of sweetness about it. If you want some, get in FAST, it’ll only be there for a few more days. Order just one, or two THIN slices (get them to wrap it seperately). Eat on it’s own, or on a sandwich (to make it last longer), with NOTHING ELSE on it. No butter, no salt, no mayo, NOTHING. Man it’s good.

Yes, I’m looking for more info on what this stuff exactly is.

I’m giving a couple of slices to Dr. Rodd for putting me on to this, and have frozen the rest as individual slices (S.T.F.U). Don’t bother cooking with this, the fat will gush and you’ll lose it all. Think of it as foie gras or kobe beef or wagyu or something. Don’t even think about cutting off any of the fat. If you’d like to cut off some of the fat, phone me up, I’ll come straight over and eat it out of your garbage can.

Monday, 2006-12-04

Clean up of categories…

Filed under: Personal Organisation,Web "Thing",Zen — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 2:13 pm

I attempted to reduce it down to 10, but failed miserably.  I managed to settle on 20, plus a few neccesary sub categories.  Note the combination of Cooking and Eating, everything that I cook (that’s worth writing about) I eat.  Everything I eat (that’s worth writing about) I cook (or attempt to cook in the future).

Not that these are the 20 most important things in my life, or my 20 favourite things or anything, just 20 good categories for a web “thing”.

Friday, 2006-12-01

Short update

Filed under: (Uncategorized) — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 10:55 pm

There was a problem with my 101 list, now fixed.

New rant, most definately “in progress”, about coming up with a fundamental theory of modern languages.

 They’re over to the right there, I can’t figure out how to make an internal link without doing it “the hard way”. 

Thursday, 2006-11-30

Iron Chef French back in town (Sakai Hiroyuki)

Filed under: (Uncategorized) — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 12:15 am

I was apparently overseas when all the publicity was going on.  Again cooking for 3 nights a degustation menu with Haru from the Observatory.  I went last year with Shan Klan and it fucking ruled.  I’m completely broke (and in big debt) at the moment, and would definately go again.  Price, around $450 per person for 7 courses, including wine.

In other news, apparently SBS are showing Iron Chef America epsisodes.  The first episode was just a total FIX FIX FIX FIX FIX, and most of the episodes I’ve seen are m’eh.  But episode 3 or so, the challenger is Ming Tsai.  YOU ALL *MUST* WATCH THIS, it’s one of the best Iron Chef episodes of either the Japanese or American series.

The perfect lunch food

Filed under: Cooking / Eating,Hong Kong,Zen — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 12:04 am

New page on “the perfect lunch food”.  I’m still working on how to combine site with blog.

Wednesday, 2006-11-29

101 in 1001

Filed under: Web "Thing" — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 11:55 pm

It’s a phenomenon sweeping the web (well, a couple of years ago).  Pick 101 goals, give yourself a deadline of 1001 days to do it.  FGI “101 in 1001” if you want the details.  List is over on the side there, enjoy.  Yeah, there’s more than 101.  Fuck yas.  Let’s do this thing !  Yes, it’s all out of order.  Uncategorized etc.  I’ve got better things to do.  The point is, it’s out there.  Most of it I came up with pretty quick.  I was sure I was going to get stuck on 60 or 70 and have to leave a bunch blank, but the ideas just kept coming.

Tim Chuma, where are ya?  Drop me a line at gmail.  I suspect some of my e-mails from you have disappeared in some crazy MS outlook rules I was stuffing with.

Also, no-one seems to have found this place yet, because I haven’t told anyone.  Go nuts y’all, this web “Thing” is a public facing one.  Clients, work, family should all be reading this.

And I’ve got too many darn categories here.  Sod.

Tuesday, 2006-11-28

100 word limit

Filed under: Web "Thing",Zen — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 11:17 am

I’ve decided to do a trial of applying a 100 word limit on blog entries. I got the idea from a post on lifehack.org  who also suggest a word limit of 10 for e-mail subjects, and 20 for the whole body ! I’m sure it can be done. Benefits include more people grasping your entire concept, higher readership, naturally more vivid words and more.

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” – Mark Twain

(eighty-five words, a great start).

Anyone seen Tim Chmielewski ? Give me a hoy you sod !

Saturday, 2006-11-25

Food theme for 2007 – Cut the sheeyat, back to basics.

Filed under: Cooking / Eating,Hong Kong,Zen — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 1:12 am

Those of you who’ve read some of my previous work know that I have some very strong opinions regarding cuisine.  For the past few years, I’ve had a few different themes regarding the sorts of things I’ve been working on (cuisines from different areas, or concentrating on stocks/sauces or whatever).

And I just found out that Gordon Ramsay (my goddamned hero) was in town when I was overseas.  I am really spitting chips.  Strap yourselves in.

I’ve been quite disheartened at a lot of the food I’m seeing these days in Sydney.  There’s an awful lot of pretense out there.  So much fusion/frusion, crap service, high prices, lack of knowledge and generally inedible stuff out there, that I’m compeltely fed up with the whole scene and am turning my back on it all.

Yes, a lot of this is based on my recent stay in Hong Kong.  In Hong Kong, I didn’t really have the ability to cook, so I had to eat out almost every meal.  In short, I came home healthy, stronger, vibrant, satiated and without killing my finances.  I never got sick once (save an allergic reaction I gave myself that ended up with me in the back of a police van, but that’s another story), no diarrhea, no food poisoning, nothing.  Restaurants (and eateries, food courts, “holes in the wall”, blokes with cart) realise that food is for EATING, not looking at, not just tasting, not trying to outdo someone, just EATING.

If you were to eat out every night for a year (or even a month) in Sydney, you would end up:

  • Broke
  • Dead
  • Still hungry
  • Pooping

It’s a vicious cycle as well.  The food is pretensious, expensive and not satisfying.  So people don’t go out to eat as much.  When they do go out, they want something “special”, forcing the industry to go even more pretensious, weird, more frusion, cheaper staff (even more stupid), worse service, more expensive meals, causing people to go out even less.

That’s the upper half of town.  The lower half seems to have an obsession with so called “value for money”.  Sure a schnitzel and chips is now $30, but it’s bigger than the dinner plate.  This is value ?  Sure you can take the left-overs home, eat deep-fried cold chicken for the rest of the week, give yourself a nice dose of the runs, whatever.  Or just chuck it.  No point in changing, I’d pay $30 for something nice and corn-fed, with a nice drop of wine, some nice turned vegetables, some fresh bread and a little cheese, but the punters wouldn’t.

Who do I blame ? Most everyone:

  • The restaurants, for playing the game.
  • The punters, for putting up with it.
  • The media, who have turned cooking shows into the new pornography.

So, in 2007, I’m turning my back on the whole thing.

  • No restaurants where humanly possible.
  • No fusion/frusion.
  • No truffles, no foie gras, no quince paste, no saffron, no lobster.
  • Less ingredients, more love.
  • More cheap cuts, more offal, no frozen vegetables.
  • NO CHICKEN BREAST.  Whole chickens only, or wings, gizzards, arseholes and beautiful, beautiful BONES.
  • More BONES.  Sweet nourishing, delicious, wonderful, beautiful BONES !!!
  • Waste NOTHING.
  • Don’t use the supermarket as a basis for food purchase (although, they can be a goldmine for things that the everyday folk leave behind).

Who’s going to help me ?

  • My local butcher.  I can see he suffers with me, but there’s plenty of hope out there.
  • My local fruit and veg market.  There’s love there.
  • My local delis.
  • My local ethnic food purveyors.  They stay clear of the scene BS.
  • My local supermarket.  I hate a lot of what they are and do.  I love a lot of what they are and do.  The main thing is that they’re fast and responsive.  If the public want it (or don’t want it), it’ll be changed the next day.  Sometimes within hours.

I’m not looking to change anything or anyone.  Just avoiding the mess.  Let them do what they like.

So, what happens now then ?  Well, I’m itching to head into Ashfield tomorrow and see what’s about.  Grab a nice Vietnamese pork roll with chilli.  Get the stuff I need for making congee and lotus leaf rice wraps at home.  Find some good garlic, buy a nice yellow chicken, some choi sum if it looks good, a bunch of spring onions if I can find them for less than a buck, a little piece of blue cheese and some heavy, heavy bread.

Friday, 2006-11-24

G’Day

Filed under: (Uncategorized) — by Toast d'Béchamel @ 6:49 am

G’Day, TOAST here.

After being on the web for more than a decade, I’ve decided to try another attempt at a web “Thing”.  I’ve had a few web presences online, but never found one I liked that much.  I had a genuine geocities account back in 1996 (or maybe it was earlier) for a few years, I had a .plan file that was 100,000 words long (back when John Carmack had his, the precursor the blog), ran a little e-news letter, and even tried a livejournal.  A major part of my job is involved with writing and implementing content management systems (CMSes), and we’ve got a really good one, but still, I’ve never found a web “thing” that has been right for me:

  • Blogs have no sense of permanance.  I write a lot of things that are good, useful and don’t have an expiry date.  A major breakthrough in my quest for the best Laksa recipe gets buried when I announce that my cat’s breath smells like cat food.
  • I considered a website with a CMS, but found that one ends up spending 2 thirds of the time “on” the website, leaving only a third available for writing stuff.  You know how it is.
  • I sort of resorted to just writing things in text files, maybe e-mailing some people, but the lack of audience and feedback wasn’t so good.
  • I used to be very active in usenet, unfortunately, you cannot delete anything from usenet, EVER.  It’s not that I wrote things that I regret, but there’s just a lot of stuff there that was correct at the time, but isn’t so relevant any more.  New information comes to hand, and you can’t update.
  • I used to write for everything2 for a while.  It was pretty good and I had a good time doing it.  The rating system forces you to maintain a good quality and some discipline.  It’s got a nasty, severe learning curve, but once you’re into it, it’s great.  The ability to post more “opinions”, “art”, “rants” (high quality ones only) means it has some benefits over the wikipedia.  I sort of hit a stage though that I was too focused on writing very high quality stuff.  Each article used to take me a couple of hours, and I’d research it.  In the end, I just didn’t have the time.
  • Although I love the wikipedia, and I think it’s the best thing on the web, it doesn’t seem to have a place for differing ideas, and non “factual” information.  I’m very sorry, but the collaborative, anonymous approach just doesn’t appeal to me.  I hate the idea of someone wiping what I’ve written if they disagree with it.  Even though I use the site constantly and think it’s wonderful, contributing via writing just isn’t for me.  I’m happy to give them some coin.

So, after a good look around at what’s hip and happening, I decided to give wordpress a shot.  My understanding is that it’s something between a website and a blog.  The CMS seems to be OK so far, and I’m hot for the concept of “tagging”.

Don’t take anything that you see here as representative of what I do in my professional career.  Top chefs eat cheese sandwiches when they get home, a handyman’s house is traditionally in a state of disrepair, many great psychologists are portrayed as total flakes etc., so I’m totally comfortable with a top web developer / information architect’s personal homepage being a damn mess.  And you should be too.

So, enjoy !

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