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Everything posted by tupac17616

  1. The work of an amateur. The mint leaf has a hole.
  2. tupac17616

    Obscene Sandwich

    Soft-shell Crab BLT with Avocado and Chipotle Mayo (2 crabs, 4 strips of bacon, 1/2 hass avocado, 1 homegrown tomato, 1 satisfied smile)
  3. Would JG mimic Passard's pigeon like that, I wonder? ← The reason I brought that up is because I recalled seeing a recipe in one of Vongerichten's cookbooks for duck crusted with dragées (and, if I'm not imagining things [or mis-remembering], I recall seeing it on his menu as such a couple of years ago). I just went through all of his cookbooks and couldn't find it. Then, I realized that I have one ("Simple to Specatular") on loan to a friend (but, for some reason, I don't think that recipe is that book). Heading to Google, here's what I found. Yep, that's definitely Passard's pigeon/dragee/hydromel.
  4. Would JG mimic Passard's pigeon like that, I wonder?
  5. It did include wine. Here's the breakdown: tasting 120E each cheese 25E each (!!!!) water 5.50Eeach bottle of champagne (La Grande Annee Bollinger 1999) 170E glass of red (Sono Montenidoli 2001) 15E each They told me at the outset that they had only been open again for 3 days, so they didn't have any wine by the glass. Call me picky but I found that borderline ridiculous Then to later open a mediocre bottle for the pigeon after our friend lamented the annoyingly bad service and proceed to charge 15E a glass for it added insult to injury.
  6. In my opinion, eating at Da Renzo in Cervere and Piazza Duomo in Alba in the same day might kill you. Eating 7 meals out in a row might kill you. Eating anywhere and Cracco in the same day might kill you. In other words, you're a brave, brave man. Piazza Duomo is very, very good. I went about a week and a half ago. We gave chef Crippa carte blanche, and he wowed us with 17 courses, not even counting the parade of amuses before the meal and petit fours after. Crippa's flavors are just so beautifully balanced, and nothing about his food is heavy-handed. We left feeling great. I would not miss this place. Da Renzo is also very good, though in a very different vein. In my opinion, it's a great place to try traditional Piemontese cuisine. Near Cracco in Milan, I think Peck makes good gelato, especially the honey flavor. For coffee, Zucca in the Galeria Vittorio Emanuele is not far, either. Not near Cracco but in Milan, I've heard great things about Il Massimo del Gelato, though I've not had a chance to try it myself just yet. Saw Cracco's new spring menu the other day, by the way. Looks very nice. I think Cracco is a great.
  7. And yet I think it is exactly people like you, who have a deep experience of traditional Italian cuisine, who are in a best position to assess innovators like Cracco, because you would have the necessary cultural-gastronomic background to put what he is trying to do in context. I mean, if you have eaten hundreds of proper standard risotti you can better appreciate what a risotto with acciughe and cacao means. Wouldn't you be willing to give him an unprejudiced chance, based only on your sensory experience? (this is of course not to detract from Tupac's report which I found very perceptive). You raise an interesting point, Man. I think we would all benefit from experienced folks like fortedei giving more innovative restaurants a chance. I read many reviews of Cracco in English that were critical, and many reviews in Italian that were pandering. Strangely, not many the other way around. And in reference to fortedei's proclamation pf some (all?) of these dishes as an "abomination", I would venture to say that I'm not sure "Adria-ness" requires one to forfeit his or her "Italian-ness".
  8. Thanks, cinghiale! Me, too! And I had read a number of them before the meal as well. In fact, I almost made the mistake of letting expectations get in the way on this trip. Based almost solely on my friend's suggestions, we had three big meals planned -- Cracco, Piazza Duomo, and Combal.Zero. But I ended up substituting the second with something I figured was a bit "safer", more traditional, because I didn't want to take chances three nights in a row. (FYI: my "safety" choice the second night was Antica Corona Reale in Cervere, which was also great.) Truth is, Cracco and Combal.Zero were wonderful, and I realized I had misconceptions about them before. But misconceptions are made to be broken. I'm going back to Italy in a couple of weeks, and I'm going to try my best to go back to Combal, and hopefully Cracco, too. Piazza Duomo is also a definite this time around. That's the restaurant my friend's been raving about the most lately. And I'm beginning to trust him. I completely agree about the service. It was formal but personable and comfortable at the same time. Everyone we interacted with just seemed so much at ease with themselves, and that put us at ease quickly.
  9. I know there is the all-inclusive Milan dining thread already, but I was hoping to generate some conversation on this particular restaurant. Especially since, for whatever reasons, Cracco (at that time, Cracco-Peck) happened to be the very first restaurant in Italy that I ever read about. Not all these reports were glowing -- far from it. Many complained about the price, others questioned the "Italian-ness" of the cuisine, but some, it seemed, loved it, calling it one of the best in Italy. On this second go-round in Italy, I decided to give it a shot. Here's what I thought. (Pictures, if you are at all interested, are HERE). Un buon abbinamento is Italian for “a good pairing”. It might refer to matching a shirt with the right slacks, coupling a glass of Sauternes with foie gras, or even allowing one slightly obsessive gourmet to share the table with another. The combination is complementary and sometimes magical. And it’s probably the best way I can sum up my dinner at Cracco with just three little words. My striped dress shirt had French cuffs, a Windsor collar, and… Wait, what? You’re here to read about the food and the wine? I see. Then first I should tell you that we were lucky. Very lucky. I discovered just a few days before our reservation that there is a chef’s table at Cracco, so I asked my friend to call and beg profusely see if it was available. The response wasn’t optimistic. People book that table way in advance, he was told. (New parents presumably have to choose right off — start a college fund for the baby, or send him to public school and book the chef’’s table at Cracco to celebrate his 18th birthday instead.) But hey, at least we tried. Citibank gifted us with an annoying ATM conjunction junction malfunction at the airport, which meant we arrived at the restaurant out of breath, out of patience, and horribly late. But the maître d’ was unfazed. “You doubted me?”, Davide Osterero quipped with a self-assured smirk as he led us first through a heavy swinging door and then a smooth sliding glass entrance to our private kitchen annex. Controlled chaos gave way to calm silence. We had box seats for dinner and a show. I was in heaven. They brought a box, or rather a treasure chest of white truffles to tempt us. There was even a truffle tasting menu available. But ordering à la carte was the only way to keep all the mouths at the table happy. We unleashed Luca Gardini, the young sommelier, to pair the wines as he saw fit. I don’t want to hyperbolize, but that was basically one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. Gardini’s choices redefined abbinamento for me in a way no restaurant — save l'Astrance — had been able to before. And unlike that experience, he did it in a language I could understand (for the most part). People of his caliber should be sainted. We sipped a flute or three of Giulio Ferrari 1999 Riserva del Fondatore while some pre-game snacks arrived. The olive ascolane (meat-stuffed, breaded, and deep-fried olives) and savory baci di dama (sandwich cookies) were my favorites. But the creamy fish croquettes, dehydrated vegetable chips and four types of bread plus long, thick grissini didn’t disappoint, either. The Insalata russa caramellata was chef Carlo Cracco’s update of a classic antipasto. This mayonnaise-bound mélange of boiled potatoes, peas, carrots and other ingredients brings with it 150 years of tradition — which is to say that most Italian kids hate it and most Italian adults are terrible at preparing it. This version could be a social reformer. Two crunchy disks of caramelized sugar infused with a powder made of dried capers and Maldon salt add pizzazz to an otherwise almost too rich and creamy combination in the center. The flavors were familiar, but their delivery was unexpected and fun. The Crema bruciata all’olio d’oliva e garusoli di mare will stay in my mind for quite some time. A starter as stunning as the Arpège egg, it actually might never leave. Cuttlefish, olive oil, and vanilla sounded more like an orphanage for abandoned ingredients than an intentional combination. But this creation of sous-chef Matteo Baronetto won praise — 18,000€ of praise to be exact — at an international chef’s conference in San Sebastian last November and now I can see why. He cooks cuttlefish in olive oil at 62°C for 2 hours, blending it all with salt, sugar and vanilla to obtain a thick pomade. This is later chilled, passed under a broiler to caramelize the top, and dotted with winkles and pea sprouts. I plunged my spoon in and it came up creamy and thick, with the bounce of a half-set custard. It whispered a faint sweetness and conjured up sentori di mare, inklings of the sea. Its versatility was as remarkable as the taste, and frankly it could’ve made an appearance at any stage of the meal with equal grace. Luca Gardini came in with a book. He flipped through the pages with a gleeful expression reminiscent of my niece showing me where Elmo is in her Sesame Street books (”He’s riiiiiight… there!”). The pages were edible. The pages, actually, were made of fish. Various types of raw fish and shellfish were puréed, spread out into thin sheets, and slow-cooked at a low temperature until smooth and pliable. Cut in short, wide strips, this “Marinara” di pesce in foglie con verdure croccanti (40€) came tossed with crisp artichokes, sweet little dried tomatoes, and a vibrant green vinaigrette. Cracco took the classic seafood salad and played with the textures and presentation without playing with the taste. This game was fun, and a glass of Etienne Sauzet 2000 Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru made a fine match. I have the kind of appetite generally observed in animals that are taken down with tranquilizer darts or seen behind the really tall fences at the zoo. So my companions anticipated a moment of calm before the storm, while I ate the seafood salad and they waited on the dishes they had actually ordered. But Chef Cracco, kind soul that he is, must have seen the looks of forlorn jealousy on their faces. He sent them each a Musetto di maiale fondente con scampi, an unctuous block of pork snout served with a single, beautiful prawn. Gardini followed in tune with some Heymann-Löwenstein 2006 Schieferterrassen to drink. I knew Cracco was supposed to have a way with risotto, so I ordered one that has been on the menu in one form or another for years: Risotto con olio d’acciuga, limone e cacao (36€). Anchovy oil, lemon and chocolate certainly haven’t been in my mouth before at the same time. It sounded like the craving of a pregnant woman or someone who’s just puffed the magic dragon. But it piqued my curiosity, and if that implies that I was somehow pregnant or high, then so be it. The rice was cooked beautifully. Every grain was distinct, plump and saturated with flavor, but in a blink it melted away into a creamy sea of others just like it. The anchovy oil, lemon, and cacao were salty, sour, and bitter in every mouthful. There was minimal sweetness, which was nice, as I had feared a bit more. It was bracing and bold, making my taste buds stand at attention. But its texture was thick, delicate and sexy. It was somehow satisfying and challenging at once. The pairing here was the not-so-Italian-sounding Vodopivec 2005 Vitovska from Venezia Giulia. My friend enjoyed his Ravioli di broccoletti cotti sul rosmarino e frutti di mare e semi di basilico (36€), for which Gardini’s sippable suggestion was Gyokuro green tea, Japan’s highest grade. I popped one of his ravioli in my mouth along with a plump mussel and razor clam. The shellfish were fresh and lovely, while the unmistakable woodiness of rosemary and the seductive sweetness of the basil seeds made a masterful pairing with the broccoli rabe. Meanwhile my brother had a Milanese classic: Risotto allo zafferano con midollo alla piastra (36€). The brother tested, sommelier approved beverage for him was a sweet passito from Campania, Cantina del Taburno 2003 Ruscolo. He finished it in record time, letting us share nothing but the view. I chose not to tell him that midollo means bone marrow. Gardini is like a fire hydrant. Crack him open just a bit and he spews forth a fountain of information in rapid-fire Italian. From a barrage of words describing the aromas and flavors of our next beverage, one stuck out: banana. A beer that smells like… banana? Indeed, that was it. That was exactly it. And somehow the Aventinus wheat doppelbock made friends with the Spaghetti d’uovo, funghi e asparagi di mare. Okay, maybe not best friends — frankly I was as confused as I was enthused. But if nothing else, it kept my brain as engaged as my palate. This spaghetti was made entirely of egg yolks — look ma, no flour! — so it had an incredibly rich flavor and a pliable, slightly sticky consistency. Mushrooms and sea asparagus tugged the dish back and forth between land and sea. A technique and a flavor pairing that showed how Cracco is a wizard with eggs. In fact, he wrote a magic book on them. The Cicala di mare con verze brasate al corallo (55€) was just frustrating. All shellfish ought to be as fresh and sweet as this Norway lobster. Would that it were so. It was the Savoy cabbage that had been puréed with the lobster coral to a smooth cream, but somehow the ultra-tender chunks of cicala seemed to dissolve on my tongue with even more ease. A few tantalizing little tendrils of radicchio di Treviso provided welcome bursts of bitterness. This was a simple dish (or at least it appeared to be), but precise cooking and prime ingredients made it an immensely satisfying one. Its alcoholic running mate — Domaine Ramonet 2006 Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru “Clos de la Boudriotte” — was also lovely. Sea urchin is one of the first terms I learn in any language, so I was immediately drawn to the Rognone di vitello al forno con ricci di mare e spugnole (40€). This was my first experience with eating kidneys (and funny enough it was the first of three consecutive nights that I would have it) so I was unsure what to expect from the rognone, but the seductive sweetness of the Castello di Monsanto 1993 Vin Santo “La Chimera” must have been enough to put me at ease. A dish with considerable heft, the veal kidneys and sea urchin roe were paired with morels and sauced with an intense veal demi-glace. This loud cymbal crash signaled a slow decrescendo to a blissed-out state of surfeit. Was it the Barolo taking over, or were my brother and my friend always so smiley? They sipped some Edoardo Sobrino 2004 Barolo “Vecchie Vigne di Montivigliero e Pisapola” and their exaggerated grins were downright silly. He already complained of being well beyond full (hell, so did I), but my brother obliterated the Fassone arrosto, anice stellato con patate croccanti (40€) like a champ. Given his undying love for steak and potatoes, I was not surprised. His only disappointment was the fries, which were less crispy than he would have liked. My friend practically polished the plate that had borne his wild hare: Filetto di lepre dorato e glassato con castagne, mele cotogne e salsa di melograno (44€). With those ingredients — chestnuts, quince and pomegranate sauce — I probably would have done the same. Adjectives used as nouns are just one of the many lovable characteristics of the Italian language. Cremoso means “creamy”, and that’s exactly what the Cremoso all’arancia, carota e paprika was. I’m not sure if this copper-colored disk should be called a pre-dessert or a savory postscript. Like the olive oil crème brulée earlier, this could stunt double for a dish at any point in the meal. The orange, carrot and paprika combination had a flavor that was a more smooth and sweet than I had expected, tasting more of fruit than root. The Diplomático Riserva Ron Extra Añejo tasted of, well, alcohol. That web link claims it smelled of white chocolate fudge, but I was far too inebriated by this point to either confirm or refute that. I didn’t do back flips over the Cioccolato fondente e avocado al peperoncino fresco (25€), though frankly acrobatics were out of the question — I wasn’t even sure I could walk. I’ve had chocolate cake with chili pepper before, but the inclusion of avocado was a new one for me. I had expected it to play a slightly salty role here, but instead it was only vaguely sweet. Little hillocks of shortbread crumbs were actually saltier, sweeter, and more buttery than the avocado. I switched plates with my brother mid-way through, though he was reluctant to admit such a plan ever existed. So, yeah, I basically stole it. He’d ordered the Caco al forno, pesto d’arachidi e bignè caldo al nocino (25€), to my taste the better of the two desserts. Wedges of warm persimmon came laced with a peanut pesto and had the consistency of a thick custard on the tongue. There’s something utterly luxurious about this fruit when it is baked. The mini cream puff spiked with nocino, a walnut liqueur, was lovely and I would venture to guess that I could have eaten approximately 200 more of them. But if that would entail 200 more glasses of The Arran Malt Single Malt Scotch Whiskey, then I take that back. My friend is my hero. He is known to drink champagne throughout entire meals, and here he was having caviar for dessert. But even better than the mere presence of the caviar was the fact that it worked remarkably well with his Crochette di cioccolato gianduia, chinotto e caviale (50€). Warm croquettes filled with pure liquid chocolate-hazelnut sexiness would have been more than fine on their own. But with the bittersweet chinotto underneath, little globules of caviar dispersed about, and a few well-placed grains of sea salt on top, these croquettes were otherworldly. In many restaurants, I would imagine that putting caviar in a dessert might have been more interesting than ingestible. At Cracco, it was done with finesse and fluidity. And it was enjoyed with some Capovilla 2001 Bierbrand Distillato di Birra Theresianer. A somewhat shaky stroll to and from the bathroom suggested some caffeine was not a bad idea. Thank goodness they brought even more food while we downed an espresso — I was just famished at this point, as you can imagine. The Piccola pasticceria (a.k.a. petits fours) at some restaurants are a forced afterthought. A little box of coffee-flavored edible contact lenses made it clear that is not the case at Cracco. A thin little film of coffee gelée with a convex center even felt like the real thing on my fingertip. Maybe I need to get out more, but I thought this was an exceptionally fun presentation of a really simple idea. Dehydrated fruit chips – kiwi, orange, and apple among them — recalled the vegetable chips we had eaten a few hours before. Hazelnuts covered in bittersweet dark chocolate vied with powdered sugar-dusted almonds for the stomach space that all of us claimed but none of us really had anymore. Then I glanced down at the large tray of macarons, truffles, tuiles, jellies, and cookies and managed only a smile — laughing was too jarring for such a full stomach. They essentially killed us with kindness all night, and I would gladly die such a happy death anytime. I couldn’t remember how many dishes I had actually ordered, but I definitely tasted about a dozen. I didn’t say much about the flavors of the wines on their own, because honestly I’m not sure I’m capable. But Luca Gardini’s choices — and the accompanying explanations — were enlightening, well thought out, and just plain enjoyable. Truth be told, Cracco is the first restaurant in Italy I ever read about. This was several years ago, before my love affair with this beautiful country began. So even if it wasn’t like I was returning home, it did feel like I had made a new one.
  10. That would be a "Michelada", a popular Mexican concoction that I happen to like. me too
  11. Seems to me that Blumenthal is handling a rather unfortunate situation remarkably well.
  12. Anyone here taken a look at the Guida Gourmet 2009 yet? They first released it with, I believe, the February issue of TuttoTurismo magazine, but they've started to sell them in bookstores as well. They seem to favor innovation over tradition to some degree. And it's still too soon to see if it will take off, but so far an interesting read, if nothing else.
  13. Best lemon tart I've ever had: Sol y Luna 4421 De Zavala Road (210)492-5777 Tell them Aaron says hello. I've been curious for a long time about Nadler's myself. Just have never made it over there. Would also like to try Janie's Pie Factory (http://www.janiespiefactory.com/) on of these days. For Mexican bakeries, I like Bedoy's on Hildebrand, and -- I almost hate to admit it -- Mi Tierra downtown.
  14. Thanks for sharing the photos. The egg looks nice, although it appears the truffle slices were arranged, rather than shaved in front of you. I never have understood why some places do that.
  15. A woman left a comment on my site about that recently, actually. I'm just surprised it's a problem they've not yet been able to remedy! Sorry to hear about that.
  16. So in 100 words of less, what did you think? If you plan to write so extensively about all the places you ate at in Paris this time, you've got your work cut out for you, my friend. Did you like l'Ambroisie better than l'Arpege? I know you've not yet written about that one, but a simple yes or no will suffice. What is your current favorite 3* in Paris?
  17. tupac17616

    Dinner! 2009

    Alas, no pictures, but my side dish last night was really good. Baked some fat beets in a salt crust for a while. Peeled, cut into thick slices. Made a vinaigrette with sour orange juice, chestnut honey, and Sicilian olive oil. When I poured the cold dressing on the warm beets, aroma explosion. Really tasty sort of bitter-sweet-sour-fruity-peppery-earthy thing going on.
  18. I made an Italian-ish bean soup the other night myself. Cannelini beans, several chunks of parmigiano rind, red chili flakes, dried oregano, olive oil, butter, and a single dried Thai chili. Delicious. ← Chili! I will add some to my soup tomorrow when it's reheated for lunch. Genius. ← If you use Thai chili, just don't lick it clean when you pull it out of the pot like I did. It was like a frickin' capsaicin festival on my lips. I guess I assumed it had given up all it's spiciness to the soup. Not so much.
  19. I made an Italian-ish bean soup the other night myself. Cannelini beans, several chunks of parmigiano rind, red chili flakes, dried oregano, olive oil, butter, and a single dried Thai chili. Delicious.
  20. stinky tofu is good for the soul. you'll be fine.
  21. I'm assuming cut into strips, breaded and fried? Was the mustard sweet at all, or was it just full on vinegar and nasal pick? Yup, pretty large strips (say, 1.5in x 2in). Re: the mustard... much more the latter than the former!
  22. Went to SPQR last night. We were 5 in total, and among us we had 7 antipasti, 1 antipasto grande, and 4 pastas. The online menu isn't current, but I'll do my best to remember what we had: Cold Antipasti Tuna conserva, puntarelle, anchovy, chilies, mojama Hot Antipasti Acqua cotta with white beans, cavolo nero, and poached egg Polenta, gorgonzola and mushrooms Fried Antipasti Pig ears with whole grain mustard Tripe, chilies, fennel, and mint Brussels sprouts, garlic, parsley, capers, and lemon Mozzarella bocconcini, frisee and olives Antipasto grande Crispy pork sandwich: rib, trotter, bacon and ham Pasta Trombette, broccoli romanesco and ricotta salata (2x) Fettucine with pork ragu and mushrooms (2x) The tuna conserva was a bright and crispy, really refreshing. I've always liked puntarelle. The one gripe I had with this dish was that I found it a touch too acidic (maybe too generous a squeeze of lemon juice? Who knows) I didn't taste the acqua cotta, so I'm not entirely sure of those ingredients in the first place. My friend returned a clean bowl and didn't seem too eager to share with any of the rest of us, so I think he liked it. The polenta was polenta. Not bad by any means. Well cooked and creamy. My gold standard for polenta with mushrooms will always be Scott Conant's. This cannot be mentioned in the same sentence. The pig ears were nice. Good mustard. Same mustard went into the breading, which for me was just a bit too thick. Friends weren't too fond of the texture, but that's a personal thing, to be sure. The tripe, my, my, my. Wonderful. The chilies weren't just written on the menu, they were all over the place adding a nice heat while the sort of aromatic sweetness of the mint came through at the same time. I might be forgetting an ingredient in this dish as well. I'm going to call the restaurant to find out, because this dish ROCKED, the best of the night by a long shot. The brussels sprouts were frankly a bit of a disappointment, considering all the praise I've read for them at SPQR. They were quartered, and I think I would've preferred them whole or just halved instead, so there was more of a range of different textures in each piece. In this case, they were blackened and crispy pretty much all over. I feel like I could achieve the same texture by essentially just broiling the hell out of them at home and tossing with a nice olive oil. The bocconcini were good -- they're clearly using a good quality fresh mozzarella. I only tasted one, and didn't touch that salad of frisee and olives. The pork sandwich, oh yes. Excessive and delicious. The crispy fried trotter-and-rib cake, the ham, the bacon were all wonderful. A good description of the sandwich is here). Didn't taste the pastas. Everyone was pleased with their choices, though. No dessert this time. They all passed, and I wasn't going to be the only one. Not this time, at least. They're certainly not afraid to use salt liberally here, most notably on the pig ears and the brussels sprouts. I was really dehydrated afterwards, and somehow the bottle of Montefalco Rosso we drank didn't help either. $40/person with tip. Not bad. I would absolutely go back.
  23. agree with everything u.e. just said. hopefully nobody else arrives late to the party to re-discuss issues that have already been elaborated on. can we talk about that fantastic foie gras dish? later reading leads me to think that apricot stones (which also share the compound benzaldehyde) played some part in that dish as well. do you remember them being present, u.e.? or does anyone else here recall?
  24. Hopefully a local eG'er will chime in with a response, because I'm not entirely sure. But I seem to remember that I was almost turned away when I went (June) because I hadn't reserved. Never hurts to do so.
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