The stretches between my posts here are lengthening. Perhaps the best way to ease back into things is in the new year is in bits and pieces. Repetition of small victories, perhaps it's the rough sketch of a resolution?

  • The single best thing I tasted over Christmas break in New York was the Crispy Frogs Legs appetizer at Veritas. The legs were encased in a crunchy, stringy crust and served with butternut squash gnocchi, pork belly, chanterelle mushroom, parsley coulis, and parmesan foam. Spectacular, one reason being that it combined the three primary food textures: crisp/crunchy, meaty, and soft.

  • I learned about the three primary food textures from a book I read over break: Knives at Dawn: America's Quest for Culinary Glory at the Legendary Bocuse d'Or Competition. It took me a day of intermittent reading to plow through it on my Kindle. It appealed to me by combining many of my interests: food/cooking, contest/competition I've never heard of (shall we call that the Bloodsport factor?), obsessive people (Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, among dozens of others), long odds/underdog story (can the Americans finally medal at Bocuse d'Or, long dominated by the French and, surprisingly, the Norwegians?), a true story, and heavy doses of conflict. My only complaint is that the author Andrew Friedman telegraphs the outcome by interspersing hindsight quotes from many of the key players. You can do that in a way that doesn't give away the ending; any modern reality TV show that sprinkles in post-event interviews has to deal with the problem. If you read reviews of the print edition, the spoiler issue is worse; the photos in the center of the book depict the ultimate winners. That amateurish mistake aside, I still recommend the book. The world's leading chefs are all borderline psychotic and reading about their obsessive natures put in the mood to cook sous vide and scrub my kitchen to a sparkle.

  • Back to Veritas, they are known for their world class wine list (PDF). Martin stopped by and treated us a bottle of the 1995 Eisele Araujo Cabernet. That's not a bottle of wine one drinks every day, the price tag will incinerate your credit card, so many thanks, Martin. It was a true California cabernet fruit bomb. If you are an oenophile in search of a good meal in NYC, Veritas belongs on your shortlist.

  • I have a MOMA membership so I was able to bypass the massive line outside and walk right into the Tim Burton exhibit. But there was no avoiding the mob inside, and even had it been empty, it would have failed to hold my interest, consisting mostly of old sketches. You have to be a fanatic of someone's work to want to see their early sketches. I appreciate reading about people's processes, but I mostly enjoy seeing their final products. It's like watching deleted scenes on a DVD, you rarely find one you want to undelete.

  • Obama should hire Bruce Schneier to be our nation's security czar. I love his term "security theater," and his summary of U.S. aviation security in light of the Nigerian terrorist plot on the flight to Detroit will sound maddeningly sensible to every air traveler standing in their socks in a U.S. airport this holiday season.

I wasn't looking at my watch last night and so my passage into the new year slipped right by. And we're off.