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Robert Schonfeld

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Posts posted by Robert Schonfeld

  1. I didn't see mention of a place called Alla Furatola, near the Accademia. We've always gone at lunchtime. Two brothers; one waits tables, the other cooks. Impeccable seafood and seafood-related pastas. Many locals.

    It takes a certain amount of strategizing to eat well in Venice, and to enjoy the city free from its theme park cloak. It also takes a certain education of the eye, as well as the other senses. Worth the effort for some.

  2. I just happen to have ready access to expertise in this matter, and I'm told that, in Hebrew, it is spelled with an "ayin", producing a subtle pause and a soft glottal sound which is very difficult for westerners. For our purposes here, "zatar", or "zahtar" is good.

    We have always used it with savory foods, but the dessert idea is intriguing.

    There used to be a Lebanese bookstore owner on the next block who would bring me his own blend. Now there are no more neighborhood bookstores.

  3. Based on descriptions thus far, including that of the estimable FG (who inexplicably failed to invite me to join him on this outing), this is an Italian-American restaurant, as opposed to an Italian restaurant.

    Since I can drink good wines at fair prices at home anytime, the opportunity to do so in a restaurant would also have to include the promise of a rewarding meal. And while descriptions of correctly prepared Dover sole, and even gnocchi Bolognese, are very nice, sufficient inducement for this trek they do not make, even with the entertainment value of the decor thrown in. The gotta-go-there list is too long. And yours is very much longer than mine, FG. What made you do this?

  4. If you're using all the right equipment and ingredients, how exactly do you "water down" the 'cue? Since it's cooked over smoke, the only explanation I can think of is to depart from the commandment: "low and slow". I wonder if they parboil any of the meats?

    Steve, do you hold the same opinion of all Meyer restaurants, that they are "watered down"? Does this include Craft?

  5. Meyer never claimed he was aiming for 'real barbecue,'

    I wonder why not? He invested the time, effort and money in equipment and expertise. Why wouldn't he aspire to "realness"?

    Macrosan is absolutely right that there is a kind of "mysticism", as he puts it, surrounding barbecue. But it's mostly poker game talk, designed to throw the competition off their game. Steve and the FG have said that barbecue is and should be reproducible from venue to venue and from day to day. I agree. The only explanation I can think of for reported inconsistency at Blue Smoke might arise from different cooks not following the instructions or not yet having learned the rhythm of the smoke. If they're taking stuff off the grill too soon in order to meet demand, that would be bad.

  6. And I'm looking forward to going to Torino to eat with a scuba diving mask. Fortunately for me, I am going to be in Torino next week and I will try to get there.

    Now that I think about it, still photography isn't nearly good enough. This is an event that should be filmed. Where is Fellini when we need him?

    Are we talking Modernist? Modern? Postmodern? Futurist? Surrealist? Symbolist? Who knows? But I have a feeling this could be one of the defining moments in contemporary gastronomy, whatever its label.

    Anyone care to take a stab at the lead for the press release?

  7. Robert Schonfeld = Chief Italian Cuisine Apologist  :biggrin:

    Well I am going to try and eat at that place in Torino next week if I can figure out the name of the restaurant. Otherwise I agree with you. But you have to admit that if there is interesting cooking hdiding out in the Italian provinces, the reason it is going unnoticed is because past attempts at doing something interesting wern't tremendously successful. Also, the ecnomic and cultural centers of the country didn't create the equivelent of the type of high end, hybrid of dufferent region cuisine that you see in Paris. They cook regional even in those places.

    I'd rather eat it than defend it. I think I said more than a year ago that Italian food hardly needs the likes of me as an apologist.

    Please have Mrs. P take a picture of you with the mask on, Steve. That's one we'll all want to see.

  8. Chef Blumenthal's reply to my question was not only a good one, but was consistent with the point made repeatedly in this discussion that Italian cooking in large part continues to be driven by tradition and regionalism; and that that is not a bad thing. At the same time, he refers to work being done of the sort that would capture the attention of cutting edge enthusiasts, thus confirming, or at least encouraging our suspicion that this aspect of Italian cuisine may be under-reported or under-investigated.

  9. They all (which is to say a lot of artists, famous and otherwise) had a studio in France until the War, Steve. Then, most of them worked in New York.

    Francesco's comments about a certain kind of restaurant in Itay are illuminating and welcome, but they fall into the trap of Steve's criteria, or those which he inferred from the FG's original question. No cookbooks in English, no English language (or other than Italian language) press, no international "buzz", no advancement of technique as defined, etc.

    Rather, it might be interesting to hear in some detail about what is available at these restaurants named, and to consider it on its merits, and in relation to the rest of Italian cooking, as well as cooking elsewhere. I guess for the time being, we have this to look forward to.

  10. One minor criticism. Dee ordered a glass of wine while we perused the menu. It arrived about 2/3 full (maybe 5 oz?). She sent it back to be topped off. For $10, they should serve a decent amount of wine, and not try to squeze five pours from a bottle.

    This is always interesting to me, RP. In my experience, most places offer a six ounce pour. Some allow the server some discretion. At one place in Sonoma recently, there was a note on the menu: "We pour a five ounce glass of wine".

  11. It's relevant because the gastrotourists are disappointed in that aspect of travel there. If you do not define yourself that way, this prong of the thread has no relevance to you. Otherwise I competely agree with you.

    To the gastrotourists: sorry; you're looking in the wrong place.

    For the rest of your reply, thanks, Steve. That ends it for me.

    Pasta for dinner tonight with a sauce made of chicken gizzards. Let me see... if I put the sauce through a chinois, add some cognac and maybe some nuggets of black truffle, then pipe it into pastry cornets...

  12. Why Italy is so isolationary on matters culinary is puzzling. Especially with their core cuisine being so delicious.

    Why is it still puzzling? Haven't a number of good reasons been put forth?

    And I have this question: Is there any reason that Italian cooking *should* be relevant, as it has been peculiarly defined for this discussion? If we just say, yet again, that, no, it's not relevant as defined, is that not sufficient? Can't it just be what it is?

  13. Robert - Gee did I say that they (the Italians) didn't have good 20th century furniture and decorative arts?

    No, Steve, you didn't say that. I was simply pointing out their existence as an interesting analogy with the discussion we've been having about food.

    As for being a secret, I was referring to the marketplace, which, with certain notable exceptions - Carlo Mollino and first quality Murano glass, for example - has tended to undervalue Italian furniture and decorative arts, although not so much anymore.

    But what about this: are the greatest chefs of Spain - the ones you are interested in - producing great Spanish food? Likewise England?

  14. The discussion might now benefit from a turn towards Tonyfinch's remark that advanced restaurants in Spain and England, for example, are in these countries, but not OF them. Might it not be the case that indigenous cooking in these countries is no further along than it is in Italy, and perhaps less so? Is Tonyfinch on to something when he talks about a "pan European culinary avant garde movement". Is this movement, if it exists, influenced by the French approach to chefdom and restauranteurship (is that a word?). Maybe FG's original question might now be seen as whether any European country's cuisine is relevant to the greater wave that is sweeping over haute cuisine as it is practiced in countries other than France.

    By the way, Steve, Italian furniture and decorative arts of the 20th century has long been a well-kept, spectacular secret, maybe for reasons related to this discussion. Also, I don't know anyone in the middle class who can afford Pierre Chareau.

  15. Robert S. - I used facile as in the facility to change positions easily. Not to accuse you of being simpleminded. I didn't even know that use of the word existed. My apologies if you took it the wrong way.

    As I've said, I took no offense. I usually prefer to put my own foot in my mouth.

    I would just say that, rather than changing positions easily, I would call it learning as I go and failing to clean up behind myself. I think the cook/chef distinction is an interesting avenue for investigation, particularly as regards economic and social differences between France and Italy and their respective restaurant cultures.

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