Thursday, May 26, 2011

Artisan Vegan Sausages

Originally, this blog post was to be just one word, "no". But as you've probably noticed, I can't be that succinct, nor can my snark be so easily contained. I am spoiling to drop an f-bomb, and feel almost cosmically cheated that I already used my quota on artisan sprinkles.

Artisan VEGAN sausages.

I am tempted to add a rule: If it is vegan it is not artisan. Fart's sake, people...There is no long history of faking real food by manipulating "vital wheat gluten". Really, there's not. You may be a clever (but more likely evil) food scientist to isolate "vital wheat gluten", but you are not an artisan.

These not-sages come in three varieties. The Italian says it is "traditionally seasoned with fresh eggplant". I am not going to actually google this, but I feel pretty confident in stating as fact that traditional Italian sausage does not contain eggplant. It contains PORK. And is stuffed into PIG INTESTINES.

If you ask me, the only way to make artisan vegan sausages is to hand grind the vegan yourself.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Full disclosure: I have this book. I make bread using its recipes. I LOVE the bread.

...but for Pete's sake it is not artisan!

The basic recipe is a wet, no-knead dough that - when properly baked - comes out with a snapping, crisp crust and dense interior. It is delightful. I eat it warm, even though the book says you shouldn't. I love it. Love it, love it, love it.

But I am just some asshole blogger. I am not an artisan. And if something takes only five minutes, it is not an art. Five minutes and no kneading! For real. I think you would have to at least knead the dough two or three times to even qualify for the "a" in artisan. This you mix only until wet and leave in the fridge until you're ready to cut off a hunk and bake it. That gets me the "a" in asshole.

I may have said this before, but I think bread and cheese are so often mis-characterized as artisan because they are two foods that really do have a huge segment of artisan products within them. I make both bread and cheese. One of those things for a living, even. But frankly, I am not an artisan. Oh -- my cheese is good. Really good, actually. But it is not artisan. And I really can be kind of an a-hole. ...but at least it is not because I claim to be an artisan when I am not.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Artisan Pepper Collection

It was inevitable. I mean, if salt was going to get artisan status, you knew pepper could not be far behind. ...but at least the salt was separated from water as part of its handling. These were just picked off a fricking bush and allowed to shrivel. Classic rule three violation.

These posers didn't even take the time to write a bad block of overwrought copy to convince you their little dessicated fruits are artisan. No- they just said the assortment is, "a great way to experience these unusual peppers before investing in larger quantities."

I don't know - I kind of respect them a little for that. I mean no bullshit; just one line saying, basically, "Yeah, this is some overpriced motherfucking pepper. Buy small now so you won't be pissed at us about it later."

It's good to know that some people out there are still able to appropriately feel shame.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Artisan Vanilla Extract

Let me get this straight: you drop a couple vanilla bean pods (made by an orchid, as we have discussed previously) into some alcohol, let it steep for a while and that makes you an artisan? By that token, my unfinished martini from last night is a mere two months away from being an artisan olive extract. I can't wait!!

From the website: "Masterfully grown on plantations in the South Pacific and the Bourbon (Reunion) Islands, ripened on the vine, cured carefully and bought to California, this 'Vanilla Panifola Andrews' and 'Vanilla Tahitensis' will create new taste sensations in all of your culinary adventures."

Jesus. Where to start? "Masterfully grown"? That's just idiotic. And frankly, it seems perilously close to taking credit from the farmer/orchid raiser, which is a whole new level of ass-hattery we have not seen before.

"On plantations"? Seriously?! Colonialist imagery is not a plus in my food. I am kind of a fair-trade girl. But I suppose the kind of person who would seek out "artisan extracts" would be really big on slavery, too. That's a generalization I am perfectly willing to make and stand behind.

"New taste sensations in all of your culinary adventures?" These people are clearly a bunch of puppy-eating elderly abusers.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Artisan Diet Pizza

From the renowned artisans at Weight Watchers - whose previous offerings included diet cheese puffs and "Fruities" candies - we get Artisan diet pepperoni pizza. Now with extra artisan fillers!

Here is the ingredient list (Which, oddly, seems to be truncated, as it ends with a comma): Water, Wheat Flour, Low Fat Mozzarella Cheese (Milk, Nonfat Milk, Cultures, Modified Cornstarch, Salt, Enzymes), Tomato Paste, Pepperoni (Pork, Beef, Salt, Spices, Dextrose, Seasoning [Natural Spice Extractives, Paprika Oleoresin, Natural Smoke Flavoring,

When one of your ingredients is low fat cheese, your artisan battle is already lost. Low fat cheese is a crime against mammals. All lactating animals should take umbrage. In fact, it is a provision in the Geneva Convention protocols that prisoners of war cannot be fed low fat cheese. (It is possible I made this up - but Switzerland has some amazing cheeses, so - you know - could be true.)

The pepperoni goes down when we get to "oleoresin". That it goes on to "natural smoke flavoring", you know - as opposed to actually smoking the oleoresined shit, well---case closed on the pepperoni.

For me, the final nail in this pizza's coffin is the fact that the "sauce" appears to be nothing more than tomato paste. Which could be good news to the lunch lady from my elementary school cafeteria, I suppose, who may now qualify for retroactive artisan status for her Bisquick pizza recipe. I'll first send an email to Weight Watchers to make sure she's not the artisan responsible for this hot mess.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Artisan Handcrafted Organic, Private Reserve Diamond 100% Pure Kona Coffee, Pure Luxury, Whole Bean

Did you catch that? Artisan Handcrafted Organic, Private Reserve Diamond 100% Pure Kona Coffee, Pure Luxury, Whole Bean.

When I was a cubicle farmer, we used to play Buzzword Bingo on conference calls. We would have a card filled with terrible marketing buzzwords like, "synergy", "core competencies", "leverage", etc. The only thing that made these calls bearable was the thought that if enough of these douchey words got thrown out there, we might win chocolate.

This coffee would provide someone a winning card in d-bag, faux-elitist, foodie buzzword bingo.

When you go to read more about the product, you get this:

· Perfect and supreme

· The finest you will ever taste

· Very rich and extremely smooth

· Flavor is truly extraordinary know - in case you don't have bingo yet.

But wait! There's more!

Product description: "This coffee is to coffee lovers what the Aston Martin is to the automobile; perfect and supreme" - The Hollywood Reporter. What can we say? This incredible, rare, and truly superb coffee is the finest you will ever taste. Our Private Reserve DIAMOND 100% Pure Kona Coffee (8 oz Whole Bean) is very rich, extremely smooth (as smooth as velvet, actually) and should be sipped and savored like a fine port wine. The flavor profile is complex: Broad, yet distinctive, well rounded, yet not to be taken lightly. The depth of flavor is truly extrordinary (sic). Enjoy this coffee with special occasions, with an exquisite dessert following a superb meal, or just treat yourself (or someone special) to this incredible coffee experience."

I hope the person who wrote this is permanently haunted by the machete-wielding ghost of Juan Valdez. Seriously. For claiming that coffee beans are artisan and handcrafted, they deserve to be publicly flogged, but the rest of this train wreck deserves so much more. The depth of my hatred is truly "extrodinary". (As deep as the Marianas Trench, actually)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Artisan Croutons

Artisan croutons. If I had not already used my yearly allotment of f-bombs, I might have used one here. ARTISAN CROUTONS!

I worked in a grocery store bakery at age 16. In this brave new world, that apparently makes me an artisan. So let me tell you how I made the croutons.

Step 1: Collect all of the old, expired bread from the shelves.
Step 2: Run it through the slicer, one way for baguettes or both ways for loaf bread, to get cubes. (A definite OSHA violation, BTW, as the slicer was supposed to be off limits to the under 18 set)
Step 3: Drizzle with some kind of trans fat.
Step 4: Sprinkle with paprika and dried herbs.
Step 5: Bake.

Not one of those steps took skill. The old guy in the bakery didn't have to demonstrate technique to me. I didn't have to practice. He didn't have to give me the closely guarded secrets that he had accumulated in his decades as a master baker, save this one: "Croutons are just dead bread. Hurry up."

So, back to these particular croutons - I should point out that the package first calls them gourmet. Which is what I think most people mean when they misuse the word artisan. But then they go on to call them artisan as well. I want to chalk this up to a language issue since these seem to be some kind of French Canadian crouton, but realistically they are probably just intentionally exploiting the word artisan and being douchey - which I think, in French, is still douchey.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Artisan Fucking Sprinkles

While I love to use salty language, I think it's important to reserve the f-bomb for truly egregious situations, otherwise it just loses its impact. So let me repeat: Artisan Fucking Sprinkles.

I also decided, when I started this project, that I would try to reserve my ire for large corporate interests. This breaks that rule. This is clearly a small company. But artisan sprinkles? I cannot give them a pass.

When you go to the site, this product is alternately referred to as sprinkles and sugar mix. Artisan fucking sugar mix. And what goes into an artisan sugar/sprinkle mix? Well, let's take the raspberry: Organic cane sugar and natural raspberry sprinkle mix.

Okaaaaayyyy... can we break that down further? Why, yes! Yes we can. Ingredients: Organic cane sugar, dried raspberries.

Seriously. I think I am having an aneurysm. a) They have called sugar artisan. b) They have called sprinkles artisan. c) They have called a dried raspberry a GD sprinkle and d) Both those things are made by plants. D is for d-bag!

I need to let this go now. I have blown my reserve of f-bombs and thus have been rendered speechless.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Artisan Frozen Pizza Crust

So, I was going to rip this apart by listing unpronounceable ingredients from the label, but it turns out the ingredients are simply not available on the world wide interwebs. (I did some more intensive googling.) WTF? What kind of artisan hides his carefully selected ingredients?

Whatever. We'll attack this from other flanks.

a) Ad copy. While not proof that their product is not artisan, it is at least proof they did not hire an artisan copywriter. From their website: "Reminiscent of the rustic hearth ovens of old world Italy, these crusts are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside." The crust is reminiscent of an oven? FAIL.

b) Photo. The photo of the product out of its package shows that the edges are irregular. It is not a perfect circle. I know, I know - that seems so genuinely artisan! But look closer and you'll see it doesn't really look like a pizza crust, either. It looks like a slab of pita bread loaded with dough conditioners. Bleargh. Really...even Boboli kicks this pizza's ass in street cred.

c) Concept. I may be willing to stretch my definition of artisan to include pizza. Maybe. But probably not. But if I did, a good "artisan" pizza would be cooked in scorchingly high heat in a wood fired oven. You can't par-bake the crust and chuck it in the freezer for later pizza making, to include further baking. Just not possible.

And so Freschetta, your artisan pizza crust is not. It is just a wobbly, over-sized pita suitable for topping with bile and hate. Of which I have plenty.