Beginners Guide: What Equipment Do I Buy? Part 1: Knives

One of the things I love about cooking is that everyone has their own style. Cooking is an art which means people tend to bring in their own vision, culture, and experiences into every dish they make. I truly love this. I’ve said it once and I will say it again, you can learn a lot about someone based on what they do in the kitchen. Even though this essentially means that everyone brings something different to the kitchen, there is one thing everyone cooking has in common – you need quality tools to get the job done. All chefs need knives, pots/pans, and accessories to bring their food to life.

Which brings me to Zatorrius. Zatorrius (I just call him Z) is one of my best friends that I met at the nationally ranked amazing Florida State University. Z, a fellow foodie, was often my best taste tester. He’s hard to please and has a very specific 3-point scale. “Eh” means its needs work or scrap the recipe. “Meh, its ok” means it’s pretty good, I’m onto something, keep tweaking. “It’s pretty good” means wow, you knocked it out of the park, make me more right now. He’s also one of my go to people for southern food. To this day, his mom made me one of the best southern meals I have ever had. I will often travel with Z and one of my other best friends (Michael) and we try to eat everything on the menu at the restaurants we pass through. Foodie trips are the best trips, especially with these guys.

zName: Zatorrius
Rating: Pretty Good

Z is a decent cook eater and a below average cook (his words, not mine). He has been looking to take his cooking to the next level. When I first started this blog (way back when), he told me he wasn’t sure he owned the cooking equipment he needed for all of your basic cooking needs, likewise, he wasn’t sure what he had was of the right quality or brand. He asked me to do a series on the blog of what every basic or beginner cook should own to produce quality meals. It was a great idea and I should have done it sooner, but I digress. It may be three years too late, but the time has finally come – Z, this one goes out to you.

This series will be broken into three parts. This is part one, Knives. The second part will be for Pots and Pans. Finally, part three will be for Kitchen Accessories and Extras.

In general, this can be a difficult topic to tackle for two reasons. Continue reading

Restaurant Review: Kitchen on San Marco, Jacksonville FL

Once I turned 21, the Gastropub quickly became one of my favorite kinds of restaurants. I like to go out to bars with friends. When a bar offers food as well, it makes then environment to hangout and relax so much easier. If someone gets hungry, you don’t need to leave. Everyone can get what they want.

Gastropubs are a hybrid between a bar and a restaurant. Now yes, it’s true that many bars serve food. Likewise, most restaurants serve alcohol. It’s really the expectations that are setup by labeling your place of business a gastropub that sets it apart from other places within the food industry. A gastropub typically offers a higher quality, elevated, and fresher experience from the rest. It doesn’t just serve drinks. They create their own using flavors you won’t find anywhere else. Likewise, it doesn’t just offer bar food. Gastropubs take bar food and elevates it to a whole new level. It finds a way to balance familiar flavors with new experiences. The best gastropubs take their unique food and drinks and use them to form their own identity.

Naturally, one of the first spots my wife and I found when we moved out to the west coast was a gastropub. When we moved back to FL, I searched for the same thing. I am happy to say that I think I finally found that place in Jacksonville. Located near the riverside area on San Marco road, Kitchen on San Marco offers a gastropub experience with southern flair.

Kitchen on San Marco Front

Walking into Kitchen on San Marco, I was caught by the atmosphere and service. I made a reservation online ahead of time. We were shown to our table immediately, there was no waiting. I should note that they were not busy at the time. I assume we would have been seated immediately even without the reservation. It was nice to have the option to make one. It picked up by the time we were leaving with satisfied patrons enjoying their meals and time. The restaurant featured a large bar seating area, roomy booths, and high top tables. The atmosphere was warm and inviting. It seemed like the kind of place that allowed for both a nice dinner, or a place to relax and keep the drinks flowing – the perfect combination for a gastropub. Our server was super friendly. She knew the menu well and kept the drinks refilled. She checked on us frequently, but wasn’t annoying. Continue reading

Cook the Blog Returns

March 16, 2014. That was my last blog post. It has been awhile. After almost a year and a half, Cook the Blog emerges from the shadows reinvigorated and ready to discuss food, restaurants, recipes, travel, and life. But why now? And what took so long? Did I get lazy?

In short, yes, yes I did. But there’s much more to it than that. As with most things in life, my time off from the blog was not due to a black or white reason. It was due to many grey, green, blue, black, white, and purple reasons. Not to mention all of the red reasons – way too many red reasons.

When I look back at my original blog entries, they seem kind of sterile. With this second go around at the blog, I hope to fix the tone. I want to inject this blog with personality. Make it feel like my food blog, rather than a generic food blog. With that in mind, please allow me to explain my absence.

The last time I was constantly, actively writing on this blog was mid-2013, right before I got married. In July of 2013 I married my high school sweetheart (and the love of my life). At that point, we had already been together for 8 years. I really didn’t expect anything to be different, partially because we had lived together for years before getting married. What I have learned from the experience thus far is that no matter how well you know a person, no matter how long you have been with them, you never truly begin to build a life with someone until you get married. It takes effort, energy, and hard work to build that life and honor that commitment. It took me longer than it should have to figure this out. Now that I have, I work every day to ensure I am the best husband I can be.

Wedding Photo

After a quick honeymoon, we were off for adventure.  Continue reading