Sky Full of Bacon

Saveur Blog Award Video Blogs: Who Beats Bacon?

So one of the weird things that happens when you do this kind of thing is that you have the rollercoaster-drop sensation of first learning about an award in your field… at the same moment you learn you’re not up for it. I had no idea Saveur was giving out Saveur blog awards for the first time this year, including a video blog category, but as soon as I did find it out, I found out that I wasn’t one of them. No reason to think I should have been, especially, but rationality has little to do with the Cyclone in your head at such moments; I’m sure the instant the Oscar nominees for Best Actor were announced, everyone from Jason Statham (Crank II: High Voltage) to Shia Lebeouf (Transformers 3) was wondering, why not me? Couldn’t they see? (Or, in Jason Statham’s case, Couldn’t they fookin’ see?)

Actually, truth be told, it looks like they are mainly interested in recipe-driven video blogs anyway, so I wouldn’t really have fit the bill. But in the meantime, I’m always interested in quality food video online, and don’t necessarily run across it as frequently as I wish, so taking Saveur’s six nominees, I thought it might be interesting to watch a couple of their videos and see how they stack up. Who knows; we might just learn something, and it seems quite likely we’ll find a new blog or two worth following. The first two will be today; more to come in the next few days.

Food Wishes

“Chef John” writes and does videos demoing pretty straightforwardly all-American food. I watched two, one about smothered pork chops and the one above about “King Ranch Casserole,” which is the sort of recipe that involves not only tortillas but two different kinds of Campbell’s cream-of soup (mushroom, of course, and chicken). Given that he brings up not wanting to use sodium-heavy commercial soup, I wish he’d taken it further and figured out a recipe that actually didn’t, but no, we get the pure, authentically middle-American recipe in all its glory.

The videos are admirably clear, you definitely will not screw these dishes up after watching his simple, step by step cooking. That said, I found them a bit generic; more of his personality comes out in the posts:

I love posting about these regional culinary favorites, especially when no one knows for sure where the name came from. It allows me to put forth my own, often ridiculous, theory. There is indeed a King Ranch in Texas – they say it’s one of the most famous ranches in the world, but as far as claiming credit for inventing this casserole goes, they’re not interested. You can’t really blame them…a legendary cattle ranch the birthplace of a famous chicken recipe? I don’t think so.

Here’s what I bet happened. You don’t build a cattle ranch without making a few enemies along the way. To get revenge, someone invented this dish and called it the King Ranch casserole just to annoy them. It was a brilliant plan. Without firing a shot, or bloodying a knuckle, they inflicted the ultimate cattleman humiliation.

Without compromising the usefulness of a short, simple instructional video, I’d like to see a little more of that voice and personality slip into it. That said, a well done, useful series— if this very middle-American food is something you’d actually want to make.

* * *

Food Tease

Well, and after King Ranch Casserole, how could I not watch a video recipe for Frito Pie? Food Tease is done by a Canadian couple living in Dallas, so you can imagine how exotic this seemed (think of it as Mexican poutine, I guess). “They serve it right oot of the bag!”

Actually the first video I watched was one chronicling their trip to Chicago to eat at Alinea and other famous spots. Their enthusiasm is admirable but I have to admit I only got as far as a shakicam inventory of dinner at Topolobampo, course by shaky course, before deciding that this probably wasn’t a fair example of their best work.

The Frito Pie recipe actually uses Rick Bayless’ ancho paste, so it was interesting to see them do a recipe I’ve actually made— though it looks like they failed to split and clean the seeds out of the anchos like you’re supposed to. (The husband does say it’s really hot at the end.) This is very homemade video, not nearly so well paced and certainly not as slickly presented as Food Wishes; I suspect if you’re charmed by their somewhat shy and awkward Canadianness, you’ll find it useful and very sweet (they do seem very happy together, exploring the strange world they’ve moved to), and if you aren’t, you’ll be watching the timer.

Frito Pie hardly being a culinary challenge, even if Baylessfied, I gave them another chance with a video involving a subject dear to my heart— a pig head:

Partly because it’s more of a stretch and more exotic than Frito Pie, this one communicates their enthusiasm better, and seems better paced; there’s also more dry humor in their sweetly earnest cooking of something that, to judge by the comments at their blog, grossed out much of their readership.  I’m kind of torn about this blog; the people are likable as heck, but the shooting and editing is amateurish enough that it doesn’t always serve them as well as it could.  (Mike’s film school in a sentence: take the time to get nice shots of the food, so you can use them to cover edits and make everything smoother. Don’t shoot every shot from eye level, either.)

A tighter version of this, that got more of their chemistry without going to Food Network levels of cutesiness, would be better— but it would require a third person in the kitchen, I suspect, and this is very much a blog between two people.

More to come…

If you like this post and would like to receive updates from this blog, please subscribe our feed. Subscribe via RSS

4 Responses to “Saveur Blog Award Video Blogs: Who Beats Bacon?”

  1. Michael Morowitz Says:

    “He’s so soft and squishy! It feels nice!”

    Cute girls who are not disgusted by eating pig heads and ears are a rare breed.

  2. Sky Full of Bacon » Blog Archive » Checking Out the Saveur Video Blog Nominees: Pt. 2 Says:

    […] Continued from here. […]

  3. chef Says:

    OMG, pig’s head looks ugly!

  4. Sky Full of Bacon » Blog Archive » Checking Out the Saveur Video Blog Nominees: Pt. 3 Says:

    […] from here and […]