Am I Blue? My foray into the Blue Apron culinary cult

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The package of goodies arrives … including the dreaded button mushrooms.

If you listen to Podcasts as much as I do, you’re apt to dream of some of the frequent sponsors, so pervasive are their spots. Square Space. Casper Mattresses. Blue Apron.

The latter is a home food delivery service, but in many ways, unlike what you’re accustomed to. It’s not like pizza delivery (prepared food) or grocery delivery (raw ingredients you choose), but a box the size of a Birkin bag, with each ingredient individually packed, ready to be made into a specific meal. And they even have that done for you, with complete recipes at the ready.

And having listened about it so much, I decided to drink the Kool-Aid … even though Kool-Aid is something they would never send you. Nope. Blue Apron prides itself on healthy, fresh ingredients. And you will take those ingredients.

It seems as if most of the recipes begin by wilting kale or swiss chard ... a good way to get you greens.

It seems as if most of the recipes begin by wilting kale or swiss chard … a good way to get you greens.

That was the first wrinkle I had when signing up. You indicate whether you are a vegetarian or not; if not, you say whether you will eat about five major meat proteins (chicken, lamb, shrimp, seafood, beef)… and that’s it. Beyond that, you are sort of at the mercy of Blue Apron’s nutrition nannies.

I noticed this when I got my first set of recipes sent to me — enough for three complete meals, two servings each. One recipe prominently featured sauteed mushrooms, and while not allergic, they are not something I like to cook. Or touch. Or see. So, I tried to change my order so as not to get the mushroom dish. And while modifications are allowed in limited ways, it seemed that Blue Apron decided it was my mother: You will eat mushrooms or you won’t eat.

So I stuck with the order. And just skipped the mushrooms.

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One recipe called for coconut milk, which came powdered, but it paired well with the fresh seasoned-to-taste shrimp.

I could do that because I know a little bit about cooking, and knew how to modify the recipe enough to make it work for me. I think this is something Blue Apron customers do not often do. Because you quickly notice that this service could be called Home Cooking for Dummies.

You know when you had to take Defensive Driving, and they start out telling you things you already know (“Don’t drink and drive!” “Safety is the safest way to be safe!”)? Well, that’s sort of what it’s like following a recipe. They assume you know almost nothing and have almost nothing other than pots, knives, water, salt and pepper and olive oil. One of my recipes included a single pat of butter. One included 2 oz. of white flour. Another, a vial of white vinegar. To me, these are all kitchen staples that I didn’t need sent to me. But Blue Apron makes it even easier on your than your home ec class did.

My final plated version of the red curry coconut shrimp with rice noodles. even the lime garnish was included

My final plated version of the red curry coconut shrimp with rice noodles. even the lime garnish was included

The box includes literally everything: Produce is bagged, and clearly labeled. Meats come in sealed packages. A “knickknack” baggie offers many extras. All wrapped in a Mylar sleeve and surrounded by ice packs, delivered to your doorstep once a week. And on top of it all, big cards then walk you through the process.

The recipe cards are like pages from a cookbook — lovely photos of the completed meals on one side, step-by-step instructions (including “wash produce” and “divide onto two plates”) that take you from boiling water to dinner-for-two. Despite the mushrooms, the recipes have resulted in delicious meals. One — red curry and coconut shrimp with rice noodles — was something I’d never consider making at home. The others (meat balls over jasmine rice, fried chicken and mashed potatoes) broke down the process into such manageable bits that it made turning an average meal into something sorta gourmet.

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Another fully realized dish — this time, chicken.

At about $60 a week, that nets to $10/dish per person … not bad. But since you can keep the recipe cards, nothing can stop you from recreating it for yourself with a trip to the grocery. Of course, you’ll have to measure out your own pat of butter. That’s cool — I’m a pro at it now. And apparently a member of the cult of people who have already allowed themselves to be wrapped around the Blue Apron strings.

But I’m not complaining… much. Though I still don’t want the mushrooms dishes.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Tasting notes: Literary Edition

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Last month, I blogged that comedy writer and on-air cooking show personality Greg Cope White would be in Dallas promoting his new memoir, The Pink Marine with TV appearances and book signings. Well, that was the plan … until White had to have emergency heart surgery at the last minute. He rescheduled his appearances, and will now be  Barnes & Noble Lincoln Park, reading from the book that details his enlistment in the Marine Corps in Dallas while bar hopping along Cedar Springs. And look for an upcoming full interview with White when we talk about his Food Network show Unique Sweets. BN, 7700 W. Northwest Highway. 7 p.m.

The well-respected New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells set off journalistic shockwaves in the culinary world last month when his review of the acclaimed Per Se in New York City bumped Thomas Keller’s fine dining mecca from the rare four-star rating all the way down to two. Well, our own Howard Lewis Russell dined at Per Se barely a week later, and shares with readers the impact of the story — and whether the restaurant still stands up to its storied price for devoted foodies. Look for the piece now on InstanTEA at DallasVoice.com. (Photo is one of the dishes served at Per Se.)

If you’re a fan of culinary history, Bernie Lubbers — aka The Whiskey Professor — is happy to educate you, with some entertainment thrown in. Lubbers will present a musical-informational-culinary dinner at III Forks on Feb. 16 called Bourbon through Bluegrass, in which guests will taste a variety of American whiskeys and dining on chef Chris Vogeli’s menu, which pairs food and booze. The cost is just $45/person. Reservations can be made at 3Forks.com.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 5, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

You need to be here: 3 hot foodiehoods

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In 2014, all the buzz was around Trinity Groves and its laboratory of culinary experimentation. It’s still a hot ticket, but the last year or so has seen other neighborhoods and developments come online, with exceptional and diverse food offerings. Get your fork over to:

Lower Greenville. Once a hubbub of Dallas nighttime life, it dropped off substantially in the 2000s before returning full-force in the past few years. Currently, there are more than three dozen eateries along a four-block strip, including a Trader Joe’s. Highlights include newcomers Rapscallion and Pints and Quarts for meat lovers, seasoned favorites like HG SPLY Co. and Nora, as well up-and-comers like Remedy (don’t miss their dessert offerings, pictured).

Sylvan Thirty. This new development, located along I-30 and Sylvan Avenue — duh — catty-corners the already-hot Belmont Hotel and Smoke resto, but the addition of some edgy new eateries (CiboDivino and Ten made the list; Tacodeli might have if it had made the cut-off) is a new go-to place for Cliff-dwellers and those looking to explore their palates.

The Design District. The growth of this largely industrial neighborhood into a trendy living-and-eating locale — former Top 10 restaurants like Oak and Pakpao; current faves like Rodeo Goat and El Bolero; returning faves like Primo’s; and even like SER and Meddlesome Moth) — has given Dallas the urban oasis that Victory Park tried to foist on the city, but it seems to have happened here more organically.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 1, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Drawing Dallas

Texas native Zjon Roberts returns to his home state — hot (Van) Damme!

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name and age: Zjon Roberts, 19

Spotted at: Buli

Virginia slim: With his sparkling eyes, lithe frame, and smooth gait, it’s hard to miss gorgeous Virgo, Zjon Roberts. Born in Fort Hood, Texas, Zjon spent most of his formative years in Virginia Beach, Va. A few months ago he followed some friends to Dallas and is now settling in and making Big D his new home.

This quiet, unassuming, brown-eyed beauty hails from a large family; his mother named him Zjon after her favorite actor, Jean-Claude Van Damme. His hobbies include music, dining (vegetarian dishes are a favorite), socializing and when the mood strikes, dancing (he can stop a room when he gyrates).

He enjoys an active social life here in his new hometown; and you may occasionally spot him at the Drama Room, and occasionally at the Tin Room. Wherever he goes you can be sure he won’t blend in with the crowd!

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

One last look at Honey Shack

When someone had the brilliant idea of opening a Hooters-like breastaurant in the gayborhood, they probably never imagined their cute sign would end up here. Ladies in short shorts and body hugging tops with sports on TV is a fine concept, but way too straight for the area. Needless to say, the Honey Shack didn’t make a lasting impression on the ‘hood. Nor myself. Or so I thought.

The restaurant is having the last laugh. On my commute from the south of Dallas, I pass this unnamed building on Wintergreen Road that is apparently a graveyard for restaurant signs. The Razzoo’s one has been there a while (did those all close?), but I noticed an additional sign a few days ago. Maybe longer, who knows? Life out in the stix (yes, with an “x”) is a blur sometimes.

I went to Honey Shack with colleague John Wright on a whim once. At lunch hour, the place was pretty dead. The nachos I ordered were akin to a salt lick and I never got a tea refill, so I never went back. OK, so I’m kicking a horse while it’s down, but since I never did an official review of the place, I had to get it out of me.

The spot is now home to Lolita’s Mexican Cuisine.

—  Rich Lopez

Get into the season with free pumpkin yogurt

Thanksgiving is more than a month away, but you can whet your appetite for pumpkin pie with a trip to Pinkberry today. From 4 to 7 p.m., Dallas area stores are introducing the new pumpkin frozen yogurt  flavor by giving away “mini” tastings for free. A good way to start the weekend, I must say.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

'Top Chef Masters' goes into final without a gay chef

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The final six celebrichefs who competed for the title of “Top Chef Masters” contained two gay cooks: Oprah’s chef Art Smith (who I interviewed about five years ago — sweet guy) and Advocate magazine food contributor Anita Lo. Last week, Smith got booted based on his abortive vegan ice cream dish… and Lo barely hung on. This week, Lo teamed with Jamie, a lesbian contestant from last season’s “Top Chef” (until she had to cut her in one of those inane twists), but ultimately got bested by hot-headed Michael Chiarello.

The finale is next week, as is the season premiere of “Top Chef.” It has long looked like a two-man duel between Rick Bayless and Hubert Keller.

Favorite line from the episode: the faboo Italian hottie Fabio, who used the idiom, “I’m sweating like a mountain goat at the beach.” I have no idea what it means, but he’s so adorable, I don’t care.поисковая оптимизация раскрутка

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

And the winner of "The Next Food Network Star" is…

As you probably know by now, Lisa Garza of Dallas’ Suze restaurant was in the final three of the Food Network competition series. So did she win?

Nope.

Aaron won. Bad choice, but oh well! At least you read it here first… unless you logged onto the Food Network’s Web site last week and found out early. cheat-na-dengiсоздание веб сайтов цена

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Easy come, easy go

I’ve really enjoyed Scene, the restaurant in Downtown’s Mosaic loft building from chef Blaine Staniford. At least I did until it closed suddenly two weeks ago. Now comes word from Staniford that his and partner Michael Bratcher have also left their other Downtown eatery, the wonderful Fuse (which has often hosted gay happy hours). Fuse will remain open — without Blaine, who assures me the duo are working on new concepts.

Until then, there are two new restaurants open in One Arts Plaza: Scott Jones’s Screen Door and Paul Pinnell’s Dali Wine Bar. You can read my reviews this week here.

And Stephan Pyles is helping to redo the menu at 1717, the luncheon spot inside the DMA. I’m checking it out next week and will have a report in a future issue.сайтинструменты продвижения в интернете

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Does Oak Lawn need an official cocktail?

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Louisiana recently recognized the Sazerac — a mix of rye whiskey, bitters, absinthe and lemon — as the official cocktail of the City of New Orleans. Hearing this got me thinking: What makes a particular drink the beverage of an area? (Notably not the official drink of the Big Easy: The hurricane.)

So I’m gonna put it out there: What would be the ideal cocktail for Oak Lawn/Cedar Springs/Uptown? It can be preexisting or you can make it up. What about it? What cocktail identifies us best?siteпродвижение сайта турфирмы

—  Arnold Wayne Jones