19 July 2011

Celebrity Twitter disappointment

On Saturday morning, I finished the paper but still had some coffee left in my mug. So I grabbed my Android smartphone to check Twitter. One of the celebrity chefs I follow is Giada DeLaurentiis. She had a post about an upcoming show from Marina Del Rey in Los Angeles.

Linda and I once stayed in Marina Del Rey while on vacation in LA. Click here for the blog post. We enjoyed it, so I thought I’d try to catch the show. I switched to my DirectTV app, looked up the times when the show would appear, and scheduled it to record on my DVR … all without leaving the breakfast table. Fact is, I could have done it from DC or CA or anywhere I was traveling. That’s what I love about the new electronics. (It’s actually easier to find shows and schedule them to record from my smartphone than it is on the TV.)It’s also one of the few instances when I’ve found Giada’s Twitter feed, or any celebrity chef’s Twitter feed, to have anything useful.

When I established a Twitter account for Krik’s Picks, I immediately began following a bunch of my favorite Food Network chefs – Giada, Mario Batali, Jamie Oliver, Bobby Flay, Emeril Lagasse, and Guy Fieri. I envisioned getting tons of recipe ideas and helpful hints on cooking techniques. What a disappointment.

Giada – I have more of her recipes in my repertoire than any other chef. She’s my best source of recipes other than Bon Appetit magazine and Epicurious. But her tweets are consistently trivial and boring. Last April, she wrote about how fun it was to discover and try organic nail polish. Really, Giada? To her credit, however, she does use Twitter to engage her fans. She has a lot of interaction with them.

Mario – He mostly uses FourSquare to tweet about where he is. I thought about that. Maybe if I were in the same city, I might see where he just checked in, jump in my car, and hurry over to see him. Then again, maybe not! Otherwise, not much point in following Mario.

Bobby Flay – He uses Twitter to promote his restaurants a lot. That’s a pretty good strategy. But since we don’t have one of his restaurants here in the Twin Cities, most of the time his tweets just don’t have much interest to me.

Emeril Lagasee – Also uses his tweets to promote products that he endorses. Yeah, fine. Just not that interesting.

Guy Fieri – On Triple D, he’s funny, irreverent, and fun to watch. But his Twitter feed mostly just tells us where he’s going. OK.

Jamie Oliver – Every once in a while, he’ll tweet about a recipe that sounds interesting. But then he goes off on a crusade against chocolate milk in schools, and it just gets tedious.

I also follow Mark Bittmann, the former food columnist for the New York Times. When he was the Minimalist, he was humorous, entertaining, and featured great recipes. Now that he’s the Opinionator, he’s sarcastic, shallow, and shrill. (I think even the Times recognizes this. They’re running old Minimalist videos on their web site. Check out this one.)

Don’t get me wrong. I still like watching all of these chefs on TV, where they’re very entertaining. (I also read Bittmann’s columns, but don’t generally get much out of them.) It’s just that their Twitter feeds are disappointing. Maybe it’s just hard to be entertaining in 140 characters.

17 July 2011

Dinner at Wakame, Minneapolis

My wife and I met friends for dinner at Wakame on a hot July evening. They live in the neighborhood and eat there regularly. When they made the reservation, we hoped we could eat outside on the patio. But it was a steamy, muggy evening with temps in the high 80s, so we ate inside.

Before Wakame, this space was a seafood restaurant called Three Fish. We went there with this same couple. (Click here to read my previous review.) It was one of our favorites, and we were disappointed when it closed. We’d always heard good things about Wakame. But since my wife doesn’t like sushi, we hadn’t been there yet. Wakame2

We started by splitting two salads. (Well, actually, we started with drinks. Linda was very excited to see that they have a lychee martini on the menu, and that’s what she ordered. My friend and I had sake, and his wife had a glass of red wine.)

The salads that we split were a spicy crab salad and a seasoned squid salad. Both were very good, though I liked the squid salad best. The crab salad was crab, cucumber, and seaweed. The dressing was a spicy mayo and it was topped with sprinkles of tempura that added a nice crunch. The squid was sliced rings with cucumber dressed with a sesame vinaigrette. Like I said, I liked that the best.

Fortunately for Linda, Wakame has a diverse menu with lots of alternatives to sushi. She had the apple teriyaki sea bass, and really loved it. It was a nice size piece of fish cooked expertly. She didn’t want the rice or mashed potatoes that normally come with the fish. She asked for extra vegetables instead. She got a very generous portion of mushrooms and zucchini. I tasted her meal, and it was great. (A very worthy substitute for Three Fish.)Wakame1

I like sushi. But I’m not a sushi connoisseur, so I let our friends do the ordering. We got three rolls and three orders of nigiri and an order of a scallop sushi.

So I know this is terrible for me to admit it, but since I didn’t order the rolls, I absolutely don’t know which ones they were. You can see them in the photo. They all were very good. But sorry, I don’t know what they are.

For the nigiri, we had two orders of yellowtail and one tuna. Since nigiri is such a straightforward, simple item, whether you like it or not depends on the quality and freshness of the fish. (I guess the same is really true for a roll. It’s just that since there are other ingredients, the fish is less predominant. However, if the fish in a roll is slightly off, the other ingredients won’t overshadow, and you’ll know it.) Anyway, the nigiri at Wakame was very good. I think I liked the tuna better than the yellowtail.

The scallop sushi was ok, but nothing special. Wakame3

We did order dessert. We ordered lemon cake, which was light and very flavorful. Just as we were finishing that, the owner sent over a pineapple dessert. (It’s nice to know that they take care of regulars at Wakame.) The pineapple, strawberries, and sectioned orange on the plate were beautifully presented, and how can you go wrong with good fresh fruit.

Our friends told us that Wakame has a great happy hour. We all thought it would be fun to meet there some evening when we could sit on the patio and have drinks and appetizers.