John Curtas is …

Breaking: ELV Continues to Make TV. Blogging Must Wait.

Olympia oyster with fork

Picture 1 of 1

Good morning food fans!

It’s been awhile hasn’t it. Yes, I know. Many of you have wondered (muttered) when yours truly will get back to blogging; the truth is: no time in the immediate future.

It seems our production schedule: Chicago, LA, Philadelphia, LA, Seattle, San Diego, New Orleans, more trips to LA and then to parts unknown, leaves little time for exploring the Las Vegas food scene.

Truth be told, there isn’t much to explore these days. No offense intended to Meat & Three, View Wine Bar & Kitchen and Honey & Salt, but cutting edge they ain’t. Two of the three appear to be attempts to establish a template for future franchises…so excited we aren’t.

Regardless, producing a television travel show is a ton of fun (especially when you get to jet around the country on the Travel Channel’s dime), but also real work. As in twelve hour shooting days, having to be “on” on cue, and being a prisoner to the shooting schedule.

The whole enterprise has given us a new appreciation for the hard work that goes into any reality or travel show. The crew works non-stop (their days routinely run to 14-16 hours long), the glamour is non-existent, and exhaustion is the rule by sunset — when usually there’s  still another few hours of work to do. The closest thing I can relate it to in my experience is being in a jury trial (as a lawyer). There’s no heavy lifting involved, but your brain is worn out by the end of the day, and all you can do is grab whatever sleep your furtive, whirring mind will allow before the whole process starts over again the next morning.

Believe me, once you’ve done even one show, you have a brand new, begrudging respeck for everyone from Andrew Zimmern to Honey Boo Boo to Hillbilly Handfishin’.

Before we leave you with a wonderful quote from a fabulous book given to us by Metro Pizza’s John Arena, a few notes are in order.

Kudo’s to Max Jacobson for the richly deserved beat down he delivered to Javier’s. Piling on? We don’t think so. As Slapsie Maxie says in his review: “What were they thinking?” Any overblown testament to Mexican mediocrity like Javier’s deserves all the opprobrium it gets, and it’s very existence makes us question the good taste of the heretofore admired F&B team at Aria. All that being said, it will probably make a ton of money (and that’s all these casinos really care about) because, despite the best efforts of Mary Sue Milliken, Susan Feniger and Rick Bayless, Americans love their shitty Mexican food.

We’re not allowed to discuss the contents of what we are filming for our (yet to be named) Travel Channel show, but we can tell you that if you’re an oyster lover, the Pacific Northwest is in a class by itself. Only in Brittany, France have we had shellfish that tasted as sweet and briny as what you get in the average restaurant here, and if you’re planning a trip to Seattle anytime soon, a stop at Taylor Shellfish Farms

near the Melrose Market, is de rigueur. The picture at the top of the page is of an Olympia taken from one of their oysters tanks — and it packs as much saline, metallic punch into a small pouch of pure protein as anything we’ve ever eaten. Olympias are one of the last remaining native shellfish to the Northwest, and a taste of one is as close to a true Belon as you’ll ever get without a trip across the pond.

Speaking of the miniscule-yet-mighty Olympia, here is a fun and fascinating rumination on these most remarkable bivalves….done by Linda Miller Nicholson on her Salty Seattle blog.

We’ll leave you now with an extended passage from John Dickie’s Delizia! – The Epic History of Italians and Their Food (Free Press 2008).

It is a book that anyone serious about food, Italian food or food writing should read (preferably with a nice glass of Barbaresco at their side):

To the Italian palate, the American way of eating is a cornucopia of horrors. The gastronomic culture clash begins over breakfast. In the morning, the Italians gently coax their metabolism into activity over coffee and a delicate pastry. The very notion of frying anything so early in the day is enough to make their stomachs turn. So the classic American breakfast is an outrage; among its most nauseating features are sausage patties and those mattresslike omelets into which the entire contents of a refrigerator have been emptied. Grits defy belief. And anyone in Italy who tried serving a steak before the early afternoon would be disowned by their family.

Such crimes are compounded by another national pathology: the compulsive need to have everything on the same plate. Bacon with hash browns. And pancakes with maple syrup and cherry topping. And applesauce. And eggs. And a salad garnish. Why not — it might occur to an Italian to ask — serve it all in a bucket and pour some of your edifying cereal in milk over the top, too?

A people like the Italians, brought up to savor the way antipasto, primo, secondo, contorno, and dolce make for an evolving pattern of distinct tastes and textures, experience shock and pity when confronted with brunch (Editors note: ELV hates brunch). The Americans can only have invented it to allow their lust for mutually contaminating tastes to descend into savagery.

FYI: The whole point behind ELV’s/John Curtas’ ascent into the world of reality television is to forestall/inhibit/discourage/dissuade/deter the American public’s relentless descent into savagery.

We’ll see you on the air in April….if not before.

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