Friday, June 24, 2005


Oink pretty much sums up my work life of late. Sunset received thousands of submissions to its Thanksgiving recipe contest (prize: a $50,000 kitchen redo). A panel of screeners, all former editors, narrowed that batch down, and then we're choosing which recipes make it to testing. That's a lot of recipes to taste. We have a team of recipe testers to do the cooking--if we didn't, the magazine would never get done--but there's still the matter of eating.

The testers are a jolly bunch--home cooks who we normally employ on a freelance basis to come in and test drive the recipes that we develop. They're stand-ins for our readers, and the questions and problems that they identify help us insure that the recipes work. Now, with the contest, they're in the kitchen cooking up a storm all day, every day. It reminds me of holiday mornings when my grandmother and aunts would be in the kitchen chopping and chatting by the time I woke up. Only this is a Groundhog Day-style repeat loop, where every morning is the holiday morning. For the first couple of days, I sat down at the tasting table singing, "It's the most wonderful time of the year, la-la-la...," and Linda said, "Just you wait."

She was right.

Anyway, speaking of Oink, I took Scott to Memphis Millie's on Haight St. on Wednesday night for his birthday. He loves his barbecue, and Minnie's has received high praise from lots of magazines, including Gourmet and Sunset.

I want to go back there one more time to get a better take, but on first impression, I'd say that if you really like smoke, this is your place. The meat is intensely flavored. Me, I like a little more sweetness in the crust, and Millie's flavors are all base notes. Unless, of course, you add the sauces, which are all terrific. So we're going to go back to try their pulled pork, which will probably ring my bell more than the ribs and brisket did.

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