Profile

Harold Check

a blogger and podcaster who watches too much TV and reads too many comic books...

  • Website
  • Location: San Francisco
  • Favorite foods: eggs, spaghetti, carne asada tacos, sushi
  • Last bite on earth: the crab-stuffed calamari at Sassabune in Honolulu

Serious Eats Is Four Years Old: Happy Birthday to Us!

Yay! Happy Anniversary. Congrats on 4 years.

Ed Levine's Serious Diet, Week 26: Portland and San Francisco, We Have a Problem

Ed, let me know the next time you're in town and I'll take you to my favorite neighborhood restaurant, right after we visit my favorite local gym. Can't wait to read your reviews from SF.

Espresso on Ice Is Not OK, and Other 'Restaurant Policies'

Scenes like this are best played out on screen, not in real life. That said, I would have to side with the owner of the coffee house in this case. I like to think of a cafe, bar, or restaurant as a place where I'm a guest. It's not an ATM. On the other hand, as a host, if one of my guests insists on something, no matter how distasteful, I'd probably give in to them, at least once, and then suggest that they don't depend on me for the same service in the future. I have a feeling that strategy might have softened this blogger's outrage just a bit.

Sourdough Doesn't Always Mean 'Good'

Wow. Nelson, then Jason, now Serious Eats. Talk about a slow link day. Hmmm, does anyone really believe it's "hard to buy good bread" in the San Francisco Bay Area? Here's a thought: Maybe Nelson just isn't very good at buying bread.

I have been to plenty of bakeries while I've lived here and, frankly, I've never felt I've had sourdough "pushed" on me. And not in restaurants. Not even in crappy restaurants. I will tell you one place that you will find mostly sourdough -- SFO. Nelson, are you doing most of your shopping at the airport? Mystery solved...

Ed Levine's Serious Diet, Week 22: Restaurant Portions May Destroy My Diet

You know who does portion sizes right, here in the Bay Area? Chez Panisse. You get great food, multiple courses, but never too much. In fact, on more than one occasion I've said to my wife, everyone at the table should be allowed to ask for another serving of their favorite course. Leave 'em wanting more doesn't mean leaving customers unsatisfied.

'Top Chef': Season 4 Finale: Put a Fork In It

Wow. It was an exciting ride this season. I had a bunch of fun recapping each episode for Serious Eats. One thing I gotta say, though, is that I feel like everyone needs to take Lisa's image on the show with a huge grain of salt. And I'm including a big "mea culpa" with that admonition. When contestants say that Reality TV only shows a tiny portion of their words and actions, they're not kidding. There's no denying that film editing is a very powerful alchemy. Even if "Lisa," the TV character, was great fun to root against and rant at, Lisa, the civilian, definitely doesn't deserve any grief from us. Let's leave our harsh words for her on these posts, and from here on out just treat her like someone who loves good food as much as we do.

Ed Levine's Serious Diet, Week 20: Sneak Food Can Be a Real Problem

Oh man, Ed. You nailed this one on the head. Sneak food is a huge problem for me, too. Only in my case, it's unadulterated junk, not any kind of good Eats. I tell my wife (usually days later) that I feel bad about having such a sweet tooth and eating impulse snacks like M&Ms and she always says "I never see you eat any of that sort of thing!" And it's true. She never does. Just the guy at the corner store...

'Top Chef': Things Get Sticky at Restaurant Wars

I think what may be lost in all the "Lisa must go!" hub-bub (which I heartily agree with), is that the remaining contenders: Antonia, Richard, and Stephanie are all pretty calm, cool, and collected. There was some drama from each of them early in the season -- Richard looking like he was going to try to be exceedingly precocious every week, Antonia dissing the hell out of Valerie, Stephanie nearly getting eliminated after winning the first Elimination challenge. Since about Week 4, all of these contenders have been getting along with the other chefs, producing decent if not consistently spectacular food, and staying out of the bottom three. Do you think that they have learned the tricks of Top Chef (unlike Dale) and are playing it safe? Or does it just happen to be their personalities that have them sailing through the competition? You can't really say that any of them are prodigies when it comes to the food. Or if they are, the producers aren't flaunting it.

'Top Chef': The Quickfire and the Fury

@Fiksu I agree about Tom's reaction shots. They're kind of amazing. Either he has completely mastered mental jiujitsu or he has a guarantee in his contract that stipulates all shots of him telling the contestants to STFU have to be edited out. I wish Bourdain had been there last night to tell all three bottom-dwellers to stop whining. That would've been fun to watch.

Ed Levine's Serious Diet, Week 17: Is Exercise Truly a Food Critic's Best Friend?

I think a trainer is a great investment. They'll best know how to give you a balance of weights, machines, isometrics and other kinds of resistance work. I like trainers because they instruct, push, and, perhaps best of all, help count reps when you're too dead tired to think.

Ed Levine's Serious Diet, Week 17: Is Exercise Truly a Food Critic's Best Friend?

I think the increased exercise is a brisk step in the right direction. I also agree with the other commenters: Mix in some weight training. It's not a huge calorie burn, based on time, but it makes a big difference in the long run. Also, don't use biking as a centerpiece of your exercise routine. Unfortunately, bikes are efficient machines and they don't really give you the benefit of carrying around your own weight. That said, better to commute on a bike than by cab or subway. I'd shoot for 2000 calories/week of exercise mininum, with closer to 3000 per week if you really want to shed pounds. The benefits of exercise are not just the calories burnt, but also elevated metabolism, time away from food-rich environments, and the sense of well-being and accomplishment that comes from mastering physical challenges.

Ed Levine's Serious Diet, Week 16: The Tale of the Scale

Ed, methinks the subtext of your typical diet update is a little troubling. You extol the many virtues of the foods that make your diet difficult, and you minimize the behaviors that will, literally, balance the scales. Remember that your writing is both of reflection and a determiner of your mindset. Perhaps you should try to give some column inches to the joy of those squash games, or the joy of taking the skin off the chicken and seeing repeated losses on the scale. As long as food = good, scale = bad, exercise = meh, I think you're going to find lifelong weight maintenance even more difficult than it inevitably is. It's not an easy task for a food writer, I know. Good luck this coming week.

Major League Eating: The Videogame

Thank you, O Internet Rockstar, for witnessing this, so the rest of us didn't have to...

'Top Chef': Down and Dirty

@Buckethead I think you're right about Dale's beef with Lisa being exacerbated by the surprise trip to Italy. I think it's a very weird part of Top Chef that some weeks the victor gets a hearty handshake and a box of Bertolli pasta and other weeks the winner ends up frolicking in St. Bart's with Eric Ripert. And you only find this out after you win...

They're Ba-ack! 'Top Chef' Gets Windy

@Jazspin: I agree about Pizzeria Uno. Not an auspicious start. Yes, Uno's originated in Chicago, but it definitely has acquired a T.G.I. McFunsters vibe. One hopes that choice helped the show's bottom line enough to spare us a few gratuitous Gladware spots down the line...

'The Next Iron Chef': Lead and Inspire

Mia cupla, Charlotte. Mia cupla.

Dinner Tonight: Curried Butternut Soup

I made this for me and the wife last night. I used a brand new bottle of curry powder and, boyo, it was spicy. In the future, I'm going to start with less curry and will ratchet it back up, if need be.

Top Chef finale tonight! Casey, Dale or Hung?

Live from Chicago. It's on. Pretty neat.

Top Chef finale tonight! Casey, Dale or Hung?

Andy Cohen's blog has some nice teasers from the finale. The judge's table ran until 4am in the morning!

'Top Chef': Made in Manhattan

I didn't really find the moment cute, although I do actually think Maccioni deserves some generational leeway. I actually found it interesting that Bravo left this moment off of the cutting room floor. I think it hints at the kind of awkwardness that cooks and chefs must encounter and endure all the time.

Domino's Oreo Dessert Pizza

What hath God wrought?

'Top Chef': A Chill in the Air

Tart, that's not off-topic at all. I was going to say something in the write-up, but, well, I couldn't figure out a way to do it gracefully. Although, I wasn't sure if it was surgery or not enough time with the make-up crew.

'Top Chef': A Chill in the Air

I think that's a valid point, although the judges insist that each challenge is an absolutely clean slate. Perhaps it's unrealistic to imagine that they are completely ignoring past accomplishments, but I could see them avoiding "He/She has never impressed us" lines of discussion. Someday, it would be nice to get a bonus clip (online, maybe), where we get to see a full unedited 10 minutes of deliberation. They've never really aired more than 5 or 10 seconds of discussion at a time.

Dear Ed: Sushi Sasabune

There's also a Sasabune on Oahu, which is similarly excellent. My wife and I were compelling to eat there twice on a recent trip.

Saturday's Burger Bash

I am sad that I missed this. Next year, a pilgrimage will be made....

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