Issue one: Beginnings
What is it to talk about food? Is it to describe how something was cooked or how something tastes? Is it to talk about the service in a restaurant or the noise level or the portion size? Is it to argue over 350 or 375 degrees for 10 or 15 minutes? Is it to source the craziest esoteric ingredients or to grow all your own food?
Counter Service isn't "cooked to perfection" or "perfectly seasoned." We're the thoughts, photographs, drawings, playlists, stories, and ideas on the edges of food.
Sit down, sip on something cold, and stay awhile.
— J.H. & K.T.
Influence of Grandmas
by DeVonn Francis
My mother, when she was upset with me, would turn off her English accent and curse me in Patwa. Her right hand poised on a long wooden spoon. Her left kept time with a tapping foot, humming to her own kitchen song. I felt she could sense my fidgeting. Her devotion was now split between my whereabouts and a simmering dutch oven she inherited—some sort of cauldron from antiquity passed down from her mother from her mother’s mother and dented with love. And as the scent of oxtail and thyme made the air warm and dense like summer thunderclouds, she would conjure me by my second name, bellowing a deep howl.
"Charles!" she screamed. There I was in the layer of the beast, in her kitchen. I sank deep into my dinner chair. I looked up to find her eyes glowing, first dark like cold cast iron, then red as burners on a grease-worn stovetop. Beads of sweat seemed to form strategically at the tip of her nose. She would catch the drops with a folded paper napkin, all the while thrusting a slender finger in my direction like the body of a predator on the verge of a kill: exceptional in every manner of the word, elegant and knowing of its prey.
"DeVonn Charles, finish your food and don't get up until you do so help you God!"
by Sarah Boisjoli
Every week we'll be featuring a stunning shot from Sarah Boisjoli of the classic pairings. Martinis and Caviar. Coffee and Donuts. Beer and Burgers. By making those ideal flavor combinations stunningly gorgeous, her work is too good not to keep coming back for more. XO — J&K
When Sarah’s not behind the camera, or behind the bar, she’s hanging with her pooch and hubby by a pool or hopping on a plane to gtfo straight to Vieques.
The Importance of Opinion
by Zwann Grays
The first step in the development of taste is to be willing to credit your own opinion.
But in the areas of food and wine, I have to follow Hannibal’s precedents — Dr. Alana Bloom
Y’all watch Hannibal?
It’s a dark, highly stylized graphic show during which very disturbing things are glossed over to make you ponder your own threshold of murder and tolerance. It’s twisted and disturbing, but so beautifully shot that the feeling of gore never really hits you, because it’s tempered by the sheer beauty of the shot.
The 45 minute show chronicles the famed psychiatrist and cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lechter as we know him; a methodical serial killer of high intelligence. He kills and eats his kill. And to answer the question all of my friends ask when I regale my love for the show: Yes, he’s eating people.
Through the lens of Chef Jose Andreas and food stylist Janice Poon, however, that’s just another slow pull on the rope that draws you deeper into the story. Dr. Lechter braises thick slices of human legs to resemble osso buco and sautées escargot that he plucks from his cochlear garden of human arms. It’s actually hilarious when you think about it, but the food scenes are no joke. They are sensual and decadent and styled to the beauty of a renaissance still life of oil on canvas.
I’ve come to love the show not only because of it’s beguiling displays of food and drink, but because it is also full of these wonderful nuggets of wisdom, often spoken very slowly by the characters, as if they too are savoring their own words.
In one scene, Dr. Alana Bloom, a psychology professor and FBI consultant on the show, walks us through a table setting belonging to Dr. Lecter. It includes 19th Century Dutch silverware by Christofle, Gien French china from Tiffany and table linens of damask cotton. Concluding her presentation, she says this:
“The first step in the development of taste is to be willing to credit your own opinion. But in the areas of food and wine, I have to follow Hannibal’s precedents.”
She delivered those lines and I had to hit pause. It really got me thinking about taste. Taste in the sensations of the palette, but also in the broad stroke of personal preference. While I was watching this episode, I was also enjoying a glass of wine. Moved by her words, I picked up the glass and challenged myself to really open my senses and taste the wine that I had just casually been sipping on. Unlock it with a swirl of the glass, submit to its unlocking with a sniff of the nose and really taste it on the palette.
What am I tasting? The words escaped me.
by Michael Fecskes
We asked Michael, the cello extraordinaire that he is, to pair some of his favorite classical music pieces with a glass (or bottle) of wine. This is what his genius stream of consciousness mind came up with. — J&K
If we stay on a chamber music theme, in this order:
I. Maurice Ravel — String Quartet (there's only one) Mvt. 2, Assez vif, très rythmé
Texturally awesome, complex and not lacking mystery but with constant movement and brightness.
Couly-Dutheil; Blanc de Cab Franc, Loire.
With closed eyes, it's hard to guess what this is. Dark fruit, flowers past their prime. Any complex/challenging sparkling will do.
Playlist: Cooking With Andrew
by Andrew Larson
I Only Have Eyes For You — The Flamingos
Ain't No Fun (If the Homies Can't Have None) — Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, Nate Dogg, Warren G
Vicious — Lou Reed
Samba Pa Ti — Santana
Love in Vain — The Rolling Stones
Love Her Madly — The Doors
Old Time Lovin' — Al Green
The Line — D'Angelo
I've Got You Under My Skin —Frank Sinatra
El Ratón — Joe Cuba
Listen to the rest of the playlist on Spotify
With LA-NYC connections running through his veins, Andrew can't help but being into dope music, outdoor explorations, and damn good food.