Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Renovations, Pit Beef and Calf Testicles

That's an eye-catching headline, doncha think? Sorry for the recent week long absence, but we started our kitchen renovation late last week and it's been hard to maintain focus long enough to accomplish much of anything.

Late last year we bought a 1956 rancher just a couple miles from our other house. Great house on a nice piece of ground with a partially fenced in yard and more space than we had. While the outside of the house (patio, roof, siding, walkways, driveway, etc.) had all been upgraded and improved in recent years, the kitchen was a different story.

Busy wallpaper, light cabinets, vinyl flooring, and blue (yes blue) countertops meant that the first major inside project was going to be a kitchen renovation. And we were up for it, since we'd recently had a new kitchen put in our old house months before we sold it.

The project started a month or so ago when we began the process of steaming off wallpaper and removing outdated molding. But the real work started on Friday when the contractors arrived to begin removing the cabinets, appliances, counters, and soffits to make way for the new cabinets, molding, granite countertops, stainless appliances, etc.

Naturally, the project hasn't been without its issues. Our house was designed with radiant heat coils in the ceiling and there's no good way to detect them other than thermal imaging (which we thought of a little late in the game) or a metal detector (which we may be trying today or tomorrow if my security guard wand arrives). So it came as no big surprise when I heard a saw hit a pipe in one of the soffits and water cascade onto the floor. What I didn't anticipate was that we'd be without hot water for about three days while we figured out just how the hot water heater and radiant heat boiler system were intertwined.

I'm happy to report that the new tile has been laid in the kitchen and will be grouted today, which means that cabinets and appliances can go in tomorrow and Friday as schedule. Now, if we can just figure out those damn heat pipes.

On more pleasant notes, I've raved about Chaps Pit Beef before and have been meaning to try some other local establishments. Baltimore Sun columnist Rob Kapser trekked to Chaps and three other pit beeferies that you should try.

I always think that TV chef/author Anthony Bourdain comes off as pretty pompous and arrogant, but I actually liked the short-lived FOX sitcome based on his book Kitchen Confidential and his personality doesn't make me want to kick the TV in, ala Bobby Flay. So I was intrigued enough to check out this three-part interview available as a podcast from his publisher's site. In fact, I might even swing over to or eBay and dig up cheap copies of some of his books for vacation reading.

Last but not least, or wait, maybe it is least, comes this article from the San Francisco Chronicle (courtesy of Seattle-based pal Bryan Senn). I've heard of, and actually have a t-shirt from, one of these Testicle Festivals and enjoyed this article about the plight of one Montana-based event. My favorite line?

"A fresh calf testicle tastes like lobster,'' said Zeier. "You never had anything like it."

You know what? I think I'll take his word for it.


Mega Munch said...

Testicles. Hmmmm...what do they call those out west? Rocky Mountain Oysters, I think. Not sure if they're calf, but testicles are testicles, right?

Dan said...

I believe they are Rocky Mountain Oysters, but you're right, in this case a spade is a spade!