What an amazing response to my last post, thanks to all of you. I wanted to bring back a touch of levity, the homeless, hunger and do gooders can be more of a mindful but necessary PSA post, less fun of a cooking tip post.
So, I present to you, my take on how to choose a knife and what to look for. I hope that you find it mildly useful in a ridiculous kind of way.
The City Guide
It’s 7:10 in the morning not so long ago and I am headed into work. A year ago that would have meant getting out of bed, maybe taking a shower, putting on my guide shirt, grabbing my vest and rods, load up the truck and be at the fly shop with a total of an 8 minute commute. I would meet my clients for the day and go fishing wherever I felt it would be great on the Gold Medal waters of the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers. That was my “work” for 18 years.
Today, I get out of bed, definitely take a shower, get dressed in my monkey suit, grab a coffee, get stuck in traffic, get aggravated and then try be the best employee I can be in the new city job I have recently taken on. I like the first paragraph of this story much better.
The changes I have made to move to the big city are all for good reason, I was fishing for love and I landed her in Denver. So I made this commitment and moved from the Roaring Fork Valley to the “Big D” to begin my life with my bride to be. All of that is good. Here’s the catch though. This change of lifestyle does make guiding and my love of the river a bit, if not a lot, more difficult. So, it begs to be asked, how does a mountain guy, fly fishing guide adjust to his new surroundings?
He doesn’t. What he does do, is try to view the world through trout colored glasses.
This summer, I was pining to go on the Fryingpan River, remembering the how the water rushed around my waders with the occasional caddis fly going up my nose. I had to get a fix. So I went down to South Platte River right here in downtown Denver and found an eddy behind a trashed grocery cart freshly thrown into the river. I took a number of big inhales through my nose to get a whiff of the fresh smog from a nearby factory to help transport me back to the place that I love. To my surprise it didn’t work. But I was still optimistic.
Just the other day on my way into work, I stopped in the coffee shop directly across the street from my house called Stella’s. I go there every day to get a medium cup of danger monkey dark and chat with whoever is behind the counter. This place is just like any other coffee shop in any other small town. The other morning I noticed a pick-up truck with the license plate ‘6X20RS2’ (referencing the fly pattern, an RS2, and the size of the fly and tippet). Now that is a very specific vanity plate. A big smile came across my face and I just had to go and find out who this person was. I strolled around and found the only guy (this is not sexist statement, there was only dudes in the coffee shop) that fit the “I like getting a line wet” look.
Let me stop here for a moment. There are always two perspectives when you live in a destination resort area; the locals and the tourists. I have always been a local, very rarely a tourist. So, it is not uncommon for us locals to strike up a conversation with someone that you might not know and talk about anything – fishing, skiing, biking, whatever. They are often just excited to be there and to get an inside scoop on what’s going on out there and what bug is hot.
I say to this guy, “Dude, is that your truck? You must fly-fish. That’s pretty light tippet.” This is when I realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. A curt “Ya-and…?” is all I got. Nothing, zilch, nada. I found myself standing there awkwardly, not as a knowledgeable local guide with an information starved tourist or as tourist with tourist getting ready to swap fish stories, but instead as the guy interrupting said dude with newspaper. Awkward. So I mentioned that I was a guide – still nothing. I got my coffee, did the customary guy head nod and went on my way somewhat jaded.
But I am not discouraged; there is hope.
The great part of moving here is that I live by Wash Park. An incredibly beautiful open space in the center of Denver, filled with volleyball players, freshly parented 30 somethings with BMW baby joggers, yoga pants and iPhones. Off in the distance I see two people, both with fly rods, casting on the grass, horribly. “A-ha” my inner guide senses whispered to me. I walk up and ask, “How’s it going?” sheepishly, doing my best not to look like weird random park conversation guy. “Where are you going fishing?” I ask. They look at me and mutter, “Nowhere yet, just practicing.” the worst caster say’s. “That’s cool. Can I show you a couple tricks that might help? I do a lot of this……I’m a guide out of Basalt.” I say. “Ya, so you fish in the pan? Come on over.” they reply. The guide in me is satisfied.
I wouldn’t be telling you the truth if I said it has been easy to be so far away from the activity that I love so much, but I will say that it will always be a part of me. Guiding is so much more that just taking somebody fishing. It’s about relationships and sharing common interest. I may not be near gold medal waters anymore but I can still share and teach the art of fly fishing. That is, if fly-fishing in a random patch of grass, doing my best to be a city guide counts.
18 year Taylor Creek guide, 1st year city guide, life time teacher
It’s has been just a week since my last fly fishing article was posted online and to my surprise, it received a ton of traffic. Thank you for reading and sharing it with your friends.
The article is called “The City Fishing Guide”, it is just a brief account of a geographically misplaced Fly Fishing guide trying to make connections in a big city. Call it a treasure hunt if you will.
Here is a taste: “…….I had to get a fix. So I went down to South Platte River right here in downtown Denver and found an eddy behind a trashed grocery cart freshly thrown into the river. I took a number of big inhales through my nose to get a whiff of the fresh smog from a nearby factory to help transport me back to the place that I love. To my surprise it didn’t work. But I was still optimistic.”
I will be posting the entire article here in just a few days. Please check it out on their blog and leave me a comment of your thoughts and if you have had any similar experiences, I would enjoy hearing your stories.
Those of us that would prefer to hear the river report instead of a progress report NEED to stick together.
Please hit the ‘follow’ button, I appreciate you support and you will be the first to catch the freshest stories.
Thank you again,
It has been a very interesting couple months in my world. In short I had a job drop into my lap perfect and not perfect all rolled into one. I’ve been cooking my ass off. I have been attempting Stand Up comedy in Denver with moderate success, but I made my charity, LOVE HOPE STRENGTH some money, I’m happy about that. I have been collecting more than my share of speeding/parking tickets. My cars been hit. I am in the best shape I have been in….let’s see what else?
It’s been a pretty good end of the year, everything and skill I have, I did!
So here is my big plans. 2013 is the year of getting out of all of my comfort zones. I am going to do ANYTHING, all pride aside, all ego aside and live this midlife crisis to the max, as we used to say way back in the day.
Here is my list of 2013 tasks;
a) Start a design firm
b) Restore at least 2 vintage motorcycles
c) Get my foot in the door of a custom furniture maker
d) Get to know Brooklyn better
e) Get even more fit
f) Help somebody and do good
g) See one Deepak lecture
h) Learn one song on the piano
I) Get a one man monologue show written
j) Continue to prove to my lovely bride to be how much I love her
k) Get my niche in the food world (I can assure you oddly enough, that it won’t involve working a line anywhere)
l) Get off Facebook
This is just a small starting list for the next 365 days ahead. All I can hope for is that the Mayan weren’t correct in their prediction. I’m looking forward to next year.
“Mom…..MOM! I am SOOO hungry! Do you have any pine needles? I’m starving!”, screams the child of the future.
I remember vividly, it was 1979 and the new buzzword of ‘people in the know’ was Sushi. My friends and I all of 16 and 17 years old. went to our very first Sushi restaurant in Denver, Colorado, the mecca of fresh seafood. You can imagine how that experience went… not so good. I think, I mean I know, that we buried our waiter with questions, “What do you mean it’s not cooked, it’s RAW? and so on. We ended up eating something cooked that we could say. This was not a good start.
Then came the Nouveau Cuisine movement. It was [I swear] 1 or 2 peas, a bite size bit of meat and a sprig of something for interest at 38 bucks. What were we thinking? Was it just another way to show excess and wash our arrogance down with a nice white Zin? I’m not sure, I was just 20 but it just seemed odd.
Fast forward to today, the 2012’s, the ‘we know everything about food era’. How it’s grown, who were its parents, what farmer use what soil to grow that heirloom tomato that has had its DNA traced back to the Mayflower. awesome right?
I don’t know…..I enjoy food and cooking as much as anyone out there and probably more than most. But my question is, have we all become so jaded that we can’t enjoy just eating?
First of all, let me make one thing clear, the raw product should be good, as good as you can get and afford. Not a freak science projects, grown on the other side of the earth, picked and shipped 2 weeks ago or meat that is harvested inhumanly- to best of your knowledge. It is very important to put good things in our bodies and our families bodies and friends bodies. But to what end?
I want to pose a few quick questions, would you turn down your grandmothers chocolate cake because it’s not gluten-free? How about that favorite dish you had every year for your birthday and your mom made it special just because she knows you like it? Do you stick to your guns or is there some flexibility in your views?
My view as a cook and chef is to try everything, everything in moderation and practice moderation in moderation.
Some of the best food I have eaten was off a street cart in a market in any other country than the USA. Thailand, France, Italy, anywhere else but here. Is it the best of ingredients? Do I know the farmer? Is it described and greens from _______ farm and ________cheese aged for ______ days? Fill in the blanks.
What I do know is that most of the product did not come from a major distributor, there are no semi-trucks dropping off cases of meat and produce to the side of their 3′ x 4′ cart. They bought what they needed, when they need it. I could not ask for a better way to eat.
Back to the whole chemical cooking thing and is cooking getting too creative. Yes. I thinks is cool and the skill and knowledge to produce that style of cuisine in worth a degree in chemical engineering and organic chemistry. Do I crave it? Does it satisfy my soul? Will it be timeless?
I hope that all this information that we all have gained doesn’t get lost to history as all the other trends of the past.
See all of you in Grand Junction at Mountain Winefest this weekend.
“I love the idea….But I don’t get it? How it will make money?”
This is a statement that I have become very accustom to hearing. I as well as many others have ideas come to them and we believe it will be a big thing. Be it a new widget or the next Amazon.com, you believe that it is viable, attainable and EVERYONE will love it. It’s needed, It’s wanted and I haven’t seen it yet.
Sure, until you open the magazine you just bought and your idea is there, smack dab in the middle of the ‘What’s Hot” section staring you right in the face, as your self esteem gets crushed by that dog-eared page that you felt was rightfully yours. Then your ego does the quick scan to see if the person that made this fill in the blank, were sitting at the table next to you somewhere or even worse, you know them!
More than likely, not.
Great ideas are a dime a dozen. New ideas are nothing new.
So what do you do? I am probably the worst person to advise anyone on this but I am going to do it anyway. This advice is coming from the guy who believes that he was ahead of the curve by wanting to franchise coffee shops in 1981, after spending my youth in a coffee house in the dumps of Denver and thinking “hey, college kids would love this!” in short, Starbucks you owe me. The reality is, this idea has been strong since coffee has been born.
What I should of done was just do it or do something. I pitched the idea to some friends and some friends parents (because I didn’t have any money) the same response came up, “Well how does it make money? people just sit there for hours and drink a bottomless cup of coffee for hours…students don’t have any money anyway…what are you thinking?” F–cking analysis got in the way, again.
Why am I even bring all this up anyway? I had a few eye-opening thing happen recently, one being that I have really good ideas, two is, they are really good ideas that I analyze to death and three, Why?
Here is what I have come up with;
What I reason-I don’t know, it sounded like a good idea but…..
The reality- I haven’t even tried it, how do I know?
Reason: It will cost a lot.
Reality: I don’t know that…
Reason: It will fail.
Reality: So what! It might, it might NOT.
Reason: It must not be that good of an ideas, someone else would of done it already?
Reality: So what, they are not you.
I’m not trying to write a self-help book here, but what I am doing is trying to do is foster inspiration. Cooking is a great and safe way to develop your confidence, try to do something that you have never cooked before, Buy something you have never tasted before. This will give you the opportunity to take a risk, experiment and taste your successes. What do you have to lose? A few buck maybe, but you are now wiser and know what you capable of. Bring this experiment to all aspects of your life and WILL BE RICHER for it.
Trust me, Look for the next big thing and I am sure I had something to do with it.
What is the right Knife for you?
Chefs take great pride in their knifes, almost to a cult, better than thou level. I am one of them. I love the beauty of a the perfect knife, the look of the steel, how it feels in my hand. If any of you are a Kill Bill fans and understand, even fictionally, the admiration on “Hatori steel” you will get the feeling an passion of what chef is searching for. We spend lots of money, we travel to far away lands, looking for just the right blade.
In my lust for knifes, I offer some advice…There are some factors that you must take into account when you hunting and are being ‘fit’ with the right knife;
When you are shopping at knives, DO NOT LOOK AT BRAND NAMES! Have a bunch of different kinds and lengths all put down on the counter top and start handling them. Don’t worry quite yet about the cost or kind. Pay attention to which one you keep on grabbing or going back to, set them aside.
1. Is it the correct size?
Bigger is not always better. It’s not bad, but make sure it is something you can handle, will use often and want to touch. [Insert joke anywhere]
2. The Handle.
Also, an important feature. Some are made of plastic, some wood, some metal, bone… Well, here are my thoughts, Get the one that feels best in your hand, the one that has a bit of girth, the one that won’t get slimy, the much over looked feature-the one that wont get Hot.
Also think about cleaning, Solid handles are best for that, high end knives are made without gaps or seams around the tang, I like that.
3. The blade.
I like steel, I like Japanese knives. Thin kerf, great looking but take extra care and a really good knife sharpener to keep an edge. I had a guy I didn’t know take mine and attempted to sharpen it and turned my $180 Shun knife into something I open paint cans with now, Still pissed!
Some like the ceramic blades. They are shape but I worry every time it falls off the table of gets chipped. I guess they are good.
I do not like a thick kerf of a thick blade. Some people do because it is easier on your fingers and hands, Toughen up, thin is in.
This is the biggest issue. Buy what you can afford, but remember, if it’s the right fit, you will use it. A knife will last a life time, (I have had some knifes for over 30 years, and I still use them).
Spend more than you should. You do it for your coffee and the photography equipment that you barely use or that carbon fiber mountain bike that you absolutely needed to keep up with your buddies. If you think about it, an expensive knife might be the cheapest good thing you bought that you might actually use. Don’t cheap out.
I made a fun little video explaining my thoughts on knife choices, Click the link and enjoy
He said boner (a video on chefs knives)