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« Miso horny: Nobu's black cod with miso | Main | Caramellow: el Bulli's cream and white coffee caramels »

May 17, 2007

Two memes for the price of one: 5 blogs that make me think and 5 things you didn't know about me


Four people find this blog, which features post titles as erudite as "Miso horny," "Hot for coq," and "Schwepped away," intellectually rigorous enough to merit a Thinking Blogger Award.  Clearly my titles are not yet childish enough.  That, or they really appreciate sophisticated wordplay.

Yes, somehow we've been nominated four times for the Thinking Blogger Award, which is not so much an award as a meme.  The purpose of the meme is to identify five blogs that make you think.  I was first tagged by cookiecrumb, author of I'm Mad and I Eat.  As both a food and politics junkie myself, I love the way she mixes well prepared food, thoughtful analysis, and political dialogue in her blog.  And she owns a dog.

That was just the start, apparently.  In the past two weeks I've been tagged three more times.  First Brilynn -- who has taste so superb she named her blog Jumbo Empanadas, after one of Toronto's best cheap eats -- tagged usKitchen Wench then followed suit.  Her blog is entirely new to me, but she makes profiteroles with vanilla cream and macarons, so my attention is now piqued.  Last, but not least, I was nominated by Danielle of Habeas Brulée, who has earned my eternal devotion by creating an exemplary version of Alinea's creme brulee spheres spiced with cardamom.

So, without further ado, here are five blogs that make me think:
1. Grocery Guy -- Tom and A-Train make me think and laugh, which is about as good as it gets.  Tom's acerbic style is the perfect antidote to the saccharine writing found on some blogs.  I love his series on preparing dishes, like creme brulee, using ingredients purchased exclusively at New York City bodegas, and his side-by-side comparison of grass-fed versus Megamart steak is unadulterated genius.  A-Train's writing is every bit as good.  The first time I read Grocery Guy, I stumbled upon her skewering of Frank Bruni's review of the Penthouse Executive Club (yes, that Penthouse).  I was hooked.

2. Ruhlman -- What's to say, really?  Is it any surprise that a thoughtful, eloquent writer of cookbooks and food literature produces an equally compelling blog?  I became familiar with Michael Ruhlman's writing through The Making of a Chef, Charcuterie, and House, three books I adore.  After reading House, I cannot, to this day, roast a chicken without being reminded of its special significance to him as a potent symbol of family life.  As an added bonus, Ruhlman's blog includes posts from his friends, including Tony Bourdain, who uses a great deal of digital ink excoriating his one-time employers at Food Network.  I'd also like to add that Michael Ruhlman is one of many people who stood by my side during the controversy over deep fried rabbit ears.  For that, I am very grateful.

3. Ms. Glaze's Pommes d'Amour -- I owe my discovery of this blog to Elise, from Simply Recipes.  She steered me to this blog because of a post, video included, about cleaning and butchering wild hares for service in a restaurant.  But not just any restaurant.  This blog is written by a wonderful young chef working at Guy Savoy, a Michelin three star restaurant in Paris.  If you've ever hoped for the inside scoop on life in one of the world's premier kitchens, look no further.

4. A Hunger Artist -- Those of you already familiar with The Making of a Chef or Ruhlman may recognize Bob del Grosso as an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America from the former, or as a part-time contributor to the latter.  I know him as a dedicated teacher and student of food and dining.  I am thrilled to discover that he's now started his own blog, and I wish him much luck and look forward to hearing more from him as he develops his voice in a forum that is uniquely his own.

5. The Wages of Wins -- Man cannot live by bread alone, especially this food blogger.  If I'm to thrive, I need sports, preferably large doses of Toronto Maple Leafs hockey and Toronto Raptors basketball.  When it comes to basketball, there is no blog I enjoy more than The Wages of Wins.  This blog, written by three economists, expands on ideas first elaborated in an eponymous book.  The underlying idea is simple: that the tools of economics can be used to evaluate the performance of professional athletes, particularly basketball players.  Think of it as Moneyball meets Freakonomics.  I think of it as just plain fascinating.

Since I'm already meme-ing, I thought I'd provide some extra bang for your buck by adding five things you didn't know about me.  No one tagged me for it, but I've really enjoyed learning about other bloggers, so I thought I'd share a little something about me.

1. Robbie has two dads.  That's right, I was raised in a gay family. My father came out around 1977, about two years after his relationship with my mother fell apart, after which I lived with him and his partner Wayne.  Or, as my friends like to explain it, I'm half gay on my father's side.  Of course, growing up in a gay family is not all tasteful décor and Bette Midler. I got into more than my fair share of fisticuffs with classmates only too eager to fight me because of my father's sexuality.  Remember, 1977 was not an era of great tolerance towards gays and lesbians, especially ones raising four-year-old children.  It took a while for me to accept my circumstances -- I wasn't open about my family until I got to university -- but I'm entirely open about it now.

2. I'm an orphan.  Yes, just when you thought my childhood couldn't get any odder, it does.  I learned my father was HIV-positive when I was fourteen.  He died a little more than two years later of AIDS. Nine months after that, my mother died suddenly of a heart arrhythmia. It's not all tragedy, however.  Horrific experiences are also learning experiences.

3. How about I lighten things up by talking about our dog (see above adorable photo)?  Sam is our twelve-year-old hound.  He's half Border Collie, half Old English Sheepdog. He loves long walks, cheese, and squirrels.  I got him when he was a tiny little fluffball that fit in my hands.  After three absurdly expensive surgeries on two dysplastic hips and a torsioned stomach that nearly killed him, he's now the Six Million Dollar Dog.  Sam's worth every penny.

4. If you thought I was half gay after reading about my father, wait till I tell you about my connection to Broadway show tunes.  My great-grandfather, Robert "Red" Ginzler, is a famous Broadway orchestrator.  If you like "Gypsy," "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," "Bye Bye Birdie," or any number of 1950s musicals, you probably love his orchestrations.  Sadly, I lack one iota of musical talent.  As a child, I unsuccessfully studied the piano, recorder, bass, and snare drum.

5. Though I own countless items of clothing emblazoned with the logo of the Toronto Maple Leafs, I lead a secret double life as a sophisticated European.  Not only do I speak decent French and Italian, I hold dual Canadian-Maltese citizenship.  Thanks to my father, who was born in Malta, I have an EU passport.  So far, the only benefit that has accrued to me as a result of this happy circumstance is that I breeze through customs on our all too infrequent European vacations, while Rachel endures the inconvenience of actually having to open her passport for some disinterested customs officer. We've debated moving to Europe in the past -- the idea of living in Rome, Paris, or Barcelona is immensely appealing -- but have always opted to stay in Toronto.  Our hearts are Canadian.


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Whoa! Now that is certainly living through it all! I truly hope, your next 30+ years is less eventful!!
And yes, your pooch looks like he is work every penny - adorable!


That's a really thought-provoking (in a making-you-think kind of way) meme post! You've led quite a life there...


Wow... What a Lovely dog!!!
Come stai, caro Rob??
Un abbraccio dall'italia!


I love these kinds of posts, you get to find out so much more about the people behind these delicious food blogs :D And, thanks to your own thinking blog nominations, I've now got a few more to add to the reader :)

Wally Whitcomb

DId you think your exposure to the gay community was instrumental in your developing a deeper interest in the culinary arts and food in general.

I am a straight white single male that is often mistaken as being gay. My crime is only to insist on nice table settings and a srtong desire to nuture an please men and woman alike thru food and culinary adentures.Try to make it a sepcial experience for your friends and family. Many feel a handsome early fortyish unmarried man with a good job must be gay in order to place such an importance on lavish dinners and making sure my guests leave contented and hankering to return.

I think many people strive to reach new culinary heights as they need to nurture and please. Make up for other flaws we may have.


Let me get this straight: You're half-gay, know who orchestrated Bye Bye Birdie, have an EU passport, and you can cook?

It's true...all the good ones are indeed taken!

Ms. Glaze

Wow, I'm blushing, thanks for the write-up! Merci Bien!!! Gros Bisous, Ms. Glaze


First: David! Back off! Heh.
Second. This is the best thing I ever read, and not because I'm in it.
I love you, dolling.


I love you too!

Having had a childhood that, while different, was perhaps equally untraditional, I hear you on the learning experience aspect of it all. Tough times leads to a tremendous amount of empathy, heart, and courage; it's clear you got that in spades.

And a sweet dog to boot!

Thanks for sharing.


Excellent post! Excellent award choices! Thanks for sharing a little more about you...what a life, heritage and of course great looking dog.


Actually Rob, you were tagged at least one other time. Susan from Food Blogga (which is how I found you). Love your writing / topics.


Dear Rob and Rachel:

We have MUCH to talk about at our next dinner!



Ari (Baking and Books)

As if all your kitchen experiments hadn't made you fascinating enough!

Susan from Food "Blogga"

You never fail to engage me with your witty writing, Rob. It's no wonder you've been nominated so many times.


I wonder what dog-fat french fries would taste like?


I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


dog attack fat

let me get this topic straight to the point, if you it is instrumental in your developing a deeper interest? no its not.
dog fat

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