Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Things That Make Me Shake My Head

Delivery surcharge:
As if they're not already building in the increased cost of gas into the product price. Seafood prices are way up AND I'm being charged a surcharge. (Don't let the fish guy kid you, it's a great time to overcharge.)

How can a restaurant sell a grouper entree for $14.00 when grouper sells for $14.00 per lb?

Perch? Walleye?
No, Zander. Next time you enjoy (at least think you do) that perch or walleye fry wonder what you're really eating.

Beef Tenderloin?
Most likely it's cow tenderloin and resembles liver more than a tenderloin

How can a restaurant feature crab on the menu when they don't actually serve it?

"Italian" Restaurants
I can't believe how many bad Italian restaurants there are. I'm guessing there is 1 good one for 500 bad ones. The Olive Garden is the best Italian restaurant in this town. (By far)

I still believe you don't have to scam people to dine in your restaurant. (Although it's getting harder and harder)

Food network
It's not helping the chef biz.

Food network
It's not helping the restaurant biz.

Food TV in General
Has it's head up it's ass.

Does anyone whine more than these people.

They should be whining but don't. (And make 1/4 of what foodservers do)

Credit Cards
Please use cash when you can and if you do use a credit card please leave us a copy of the receipt!

Over Priced Steakhouses
I'm here for tonight's meal not tomorrow's.

Bad Italian Restaurants
I'm here for tonight's meal not tomorrow's and the next day's.

Foodservers Revisited
My wife and daughter are not "guys". I don't "work" on my dinner, I enjoy it. (well, sometimes)

"We'll Be Back"
Code for it was really good but too expensive.

My favorite people in the world

My least favorite people in the world.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

From the Garden

By: Patrice Sebastian

And so the growing season has finally begun. After such a long, hard winter, I am thrilled to be able to work in the garden. This year is again fresh with anticipation for being bountiful and beautiful.

It is our third planting season at Sebastian’s and we are cultivating herbs, vegetables and fruits in and around 23 raised beds which were constructed by my stepdad Dick and nephew Michael. I call our crops organically grown, although we are not ‘certified’ organic. Our biggest challenge is the very clay, dense, cement-like soil. It is so difficult to work, and the crops don’t respond well to it either. I am continually supplementing. We compost kitchen scraps, with the help of a Mantis double barrel composter (a very slow process, nevertheless). We also add purchased organic manure, humus, etc. The rabbits are also a problem, even with a fenced perimeter.

Today I planted Chattenay carrot seeds, and radish seeds; watermelon and daikon. I also planted basil, lemon thyme and cilantro plants.

Most thrilling of all, I harvested asparagus, for the 1st time – enough for dinner, for my daughter and me.

The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.

“Garden Thoughts”


Its raining and the seeds and plants are growing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


In my constant travels back and forth between our restaurants I've noticed an alarming increase in the number of gray haired chubby men running or biking. Of course the warmer weather have brought them out but I wonder if it has more to do with the legendary "midlife crisis"? For example, a very prominent woman in town did a triathlon for her 50th birthday. As I reach that milestone I thought a triathlon or marathon was a little ambitious for me so I did something different. I made a day trip to Chicago and auditioned for the Bravo TV show "Top Chef". I doubt anything will come of it but I felt compelled to do it. The audition is nothing more than a 20minute on camera interview. They explain they are looking for personality and stress that it's "cable" and you can say anything you want. (Code for swear alot) That I have no problem with. One of the questions asked was "what makes you different, why should you be on Top Chef"? If you watch the show the answer is obvious. My response, "I'm sure there are alot of baby boomers out there who watch the show. I think they would love to watch the old guy kick some young chef's ass". And why wouldn't they? I can tell you from first hand experience that as you reach a certain point in your life you begin to feel left out and less useful. Hence putting on the running shoes or hopping on the bike. With that being said, I would love to provide a little motivation for those out there who are feeling their oats. As I told the casting director, "I was doing this when most of the Top Chefs were still in diapers and I've forgotten more than they know. Bring'em on!"

Friday, May 16, 2008


Recently I've dined out at two steak houses in Milwaukee. One was a chain and the other was a local favorite.
I hate to say it but I'd return to the chain and not the locally owned one.
Both had similarities and some big differences. One issue that both shared were large portions. Too much food, too much money. When I dine out I want a meal that is in proper proportion to a normal appetite. I don't see the value in eating leftovers. Why pay top dollar (over priced)for food prepared at a restaurant to have at home. I know why the restaurants do it. They want to drive up the check average by selling more food to the customer. They trust that the custom will perceive it as a good value. I disagree. A good value is a properly portioned and priced entree.

Also when I'm paying mid $30s for an entree (prices at one place easily reached into the $40s)I would like a cloth table covering and something other than the cheapest flatware and glassware you can buy. I also think a nice wine list would be appropriate.
I have scratched the local place off my list and will not recommend it in the future. The chain out performed the local place in every category except one. The steak was better at mom and pop's but not enough to convince me to go back.

Bottom line is both were severely over-priced and if I'm going to get screwed I prefer to do it in style.

Monday, May 5, 2008

More Organic

Patrice and I visited an organic farm today. Great day for a walk in the fields and get to know the grower. We've been looking for an organic farmer to supplement Patrice's garden. Tim was happy to show us around his fields. We walked through the asparagus block and snapped off a couple fat asparagus and ate them raw. Wow, tender as can be.

One thing (Among many things)Tim will be supplying is lettuce. We have a difficult time growing it in our garden. The rabbits are veracious. (and clever) We'll be able to concentrate on herbs and more exotic garden vegetables while Tim supplies vegetables that are higher in demand and more efficient for him to grow.

One thing we hope to start doing soon is an organic special using solely organic produce, dairy and meat products. Some people may think we're jumping on the "green" bandwagon but this is something we've done for years and something Patrice has been passionate about. I've been buying from farmer's markets since the 80's and around this rural part of the county we are surrounded by farms. So "local source" is a fancy phrase for something we've been doing since day one, buying from the local farmers at their stands or at the farmers markets. You really can taste the difference. It's also nice to keep the dollars in the local economy. These days that may be more important than anything. It's definitely a win, win for everyone.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Garden Cometh

I'm planning on adding brains and beauty to this blog by having my wonderful wife blog about the garden.
P.S. "Wonderful" may sound a little canned or sarcastic but I didn't want to say gorgeous, she would have thought I was exagerating. ( I'm not) Smart would have been redundant so I went with wonderful. It fits.