Hungry Uncle’s House
October 26, 2015
As your never very humble Bard of Barbecue most readers of these pages know that I’m rarely at a loss for words. This is no exception.
Did you ever wonder what I do on weekends? Well, probably not but I’ll give you a glimpse or two regardless. As it is on most there is food, wine or other imbibing and gluttonizing.
At the very strong urging of Hungry Uncle’s Better Half I decided to leave the cooking to others. Probably a good idea since cooking for a group of ravenous friends and family usually prevents me from fully enjoying the gathering and inevitably ends with an artful tapestry of obscenities emanating from the kitchen-and you thought skillful weaving of that magnitude reached its apex with Joseph Marie Jacquard. Being an accomplished cook in no way qualifies you to prepare multiple dishes for more than twenty people. Somehow I always make it through without too many scars but it ain’t easy-hats off to all the guys and gals who do it every night!
What was the impetus for this past weekend? Reverse gears to the month of May. I had just left several hours of eating and drinking in Chicago at an event organized by Vibrant Rioja and produced by the Taste Network www.tastenetwork.com . “Vibrant Rioja is a partnership between the governing body for wines from the region of Rioja, Spain called the Consejo Regulador de la Denominación de Origen Calificada Rioja (now, you know why we simply say “Vibrant Rioja”) and Wines From Spain, under the auspices of the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX). Our goal is to introduce the extraordinary wines of Rioja to American wine lovers, both to those with a new interest in wine and to experienced wine drinkers. At the same time, we want to introduce you to the region of Rioja, its scenic beauty, welcoming people, extraordinary architecture and wonderful cuisine.”-from their website. As a long-time lover and collector of Rioja I had looked forward to this event since it had been announced several months prior. While I had left, the event still had another hour or so to go but a visit with some local cousins took precedent. About two minutes after walking out the door I received a call from my girlfriend telling me that I must return as I had just “won”. “Won what ?” was my reply. Unbeknownst to me every attendee was automatically entered into a drawing for one of each of the 130 plus bottles that had been poured that day. I returned, participated in the PR photo shoot and then back with the cousins. Of course the food and drink didn’t end that night but continued with local friends for another day or two. It was then decided to use the weekend as inspiration and have our own miniature celebration of Rioja and Spanish food using -of course- the victor’s wine.
First problem, getting the wine back to New Jersey. Driving from Chicago to New Jersey is about as exciting and intellectually stimulating as watching Public Access TV or even worse the hosts of “The View”. Since shipping via air is absurdly expensive, bring on the boredom. There was however one great diversion. While driving across the flatness of Ohio my traveling companion suddenly blurted out, “did you see it? We just crossed under Fangboner Road.” That’s right, Fangboner in Freemont. Yes, this is extremely sophomoric but just the name alone not to mention the perfect alliteration of Fangboner in Freemont did provide more than momentary comic relief and for a minute made me forget I was in Ohio which isn’t such a bad thing now is it 😉 For those of you who find this too low brow, loosen up it’s just freakin’ funny! Ok, diversion over. Problem two, coordinating schedules. After several failed attempts, all agreed on October 24th.
Unfortunately this is where the story must end. They’ll be a couple of pictures below but they will only provide a glimpse into the food and wine. To post anything else might result in swift retribution from the FCC, ATF or God knows what other three-letter Federal or State agency; agencies that I’m sure we’d all be happy to describe with one or more four-letter words. Was it really that out of control, maybe/maybe not? I can only promise that there was no injury to human beings or domestic animals. As to the crustaceans, swine, poultry, grapes and other produce I plead ignorance…. Cheers
Hungry Uncle’s Kitchen – August 3, 2015
Come Igor, if we time the lightning strike properly, we’ll be able to harness the perfect amount of energy from the storm……. Look Igor, look, we’ve done it; we’ve regenerated previously dead tissue. It is, ALIVE! A brave new world for science and mankind…famous, we’ll be famous…………….. Well, fortunately I’m not Dr. Frankenstein and while the events in my kitchen don’t have the ethical ramifications or thought provocations of Mary Shelley’s early 19th century novel, they certainly can stimulate your taste buds and olfactory glands.
Not to mention that the creation of food products, similar to the ravings of the aforementioned (mostly) fictional character, is the intersection of creativity, science and nature.
It’s been several months since Hungry Uncle Foods began distributing our first Barbeque Sauce and I’d like to thank everyone for the positive feedback. Since the Bajan Barbeque was so well received, I thought the time had come to hunker down in my Secret New Jersey Test Kitchen and create something new. As those of you who have followed me know, I’m very inspired by both local and distant travel. While I’ve made my way around the world one the highlights has always been the food. It’ serves as reflection of the people and their cultures and I find very few things more enjoyable than dining or cooking on someone’s “home turf”. Yes, there can be language barriers but it’s always amazed me how often food transcends that. Sometimes a simple smile or “thumbs up” can say more than a hundred words. I once had the pleasure of making dumplings with a lovely woman in her small Beijing kitchen without a word being spoken-honestly though I did feel better knowing that the translator was at my side should the need arise; my Mandarin totals about three phrases. It’s experiences like that, many conversations with chefs, trips to farms, and the good fortune of finely tuned taste buds/ sense of smell that have helped to create my broad culinary lexicon. No, cooking cannot be successful without a basic understanding of technique and ingredients which certainly is the science and nature of it all. However, it’s the creative part that gets me the most excited in the kitchen. At times there’s an instant winner while others it takes months of perfecting and fine tuning.
After decades, it’s still amazing the effect of a touch more or less of a given ingredient can make. Mistakes can lead to interesting culinary developments for both the trained and self-taught chef.
So what’s next? You’ll have wait a bit longer. Oh, so you’d like a hint? You know the old saying, I could tell you but then I’d have to…..” Perhaps I’m being a bit draconian. The genesis comes from close to home while its maturity comes from the other side of the planet. These varied traditions have been combined to create another sauce that I hope you will find as enjoyable as the first.
The Nikola Tesla of the kitchen? That’s up to you to decide.