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Everything posted by Culinista

  1. The "third way" is kind of obvious in real life applications of vanguardist technique, isn't it? It's not as though people drive concept cars on the street or wear runway creations to a dinner party. Pure creative expression has to live in its own sphere, but real food is something else.
  2. Getting back to Madrid Fusion: many were shocked that Santi's tirade got a standing ovation. Yes, Santi's machine-gunning of the vanguardists was in many ways illogical and intellectually unsound. However, he is a great preacher for someone who claims not to be a missionary, and his hellfire and brimstone approach brought down the house with a romantic image of a pure-hearted chef as a cook for friends and family, not a commercially-minded courtesan to the elite. Clearly, he struck a chord. I suspect that Santi represents a crisis of nouvelle cuisine chefs faced with the challenge of the upstarts. He himself has made many of the commercial compromises he was condemning, and so I think there was a huge element of self-disgust in his speech. Is he having an identity crisis at this point in his career? But the applause is another matter. Santi did strike a chord, and it reverberated all over the hall. Maybe people are getting nervous about what they might be losing, and it was reassuring to hear the old values being defended, even by a person who does not have the power to turn the tide. I'm also thinking about the lukewarm response to Heston's presentation. Are people beginning to doubt that there is a Wizard in Oz? As Zoticus says, the critics are not going away.
  3. You are right!! I have never seen a sweet shop in the UK.
  4. He silkscreens the sauce onto the plate with the traditional silkscreen method. The bar code can be scanned by Japanese cell phones, which are far more advanced than Western ones. The code then directs the diner to a URL which contains a greeting from the chef and a description of the dish. A fun gimmick, nothing of great gastronomic value, but somehow very Japanese. I had several of these silkscreened sauces when we ate at Ryugin last September. His unagi was probably the best I ever had, although some of his Spain-influenced dishes were rather shaky. He has some of the best traditional knife skills of anyone in Japan. I was also the one who asked Heston in the Q&A how he planned to keep manipulating diners' expectations once they had been to FD 3 or 4 times, as I have, and the menu stays the same. I have nothing against classics or working slowly to improve a dish, but most of his tricks work only once. After you know the punchline, the joke falls flat. For the record, he banned me from the restaurant. The scent is a perfume, I believe. I find it sickly, like the way I feel after eating a meal at FD. .I usually avoid the sardines on toast and the pigeon, and that seems to help.
  5. I'm planning a trip to Denmark next week. So far I'm planning 2 meals at Noma, one at Umami, and either Paustian or Premisse or both. Is MR a must? Should I shuffle the list? I normally like to start with the traditional places when going to a city for the first time, but this is a business trip, and the theme is modern Danish. I'd also like to find out what is the single best dish in Denmark--preferably traditional, but it could be an unusual product or experience. I'm willing and eager to travel outside Copenhagen if necessary to find it. Any suggestions for the best way to spend 5 days when not eating?
  6. I'm going to Denmark this week to check out the "New Nordic Food" for myself. Some questions to play devil's advocae: Is it new? Is it Nordic? The phrase seems to imply that there was an old Nordic cuisine...was there? But given how poor people were in the old days, is this luxurious cuisine with traditional ingredients an oxymoron? Should restaurants charge exorbitant prices for Gotland truffles, which I understand are far inferior to Perigord ones? There is also something ironic about serving rich people bread made out of tree bark. I think the trend of focusing on small local producers is a very healthy one. I always wondered why the Nordic countries seemed so dominated by large chains when traditional foodways seem to still thrive in people's imaginations. I'm very excited by the idea that Nordic chefs will start to notice their own spectacular and special products, not just foie gras.
  7. I have to add Ilmatar, in the nice Klaus K hotel.
  8. My experience in France confirms the wisdom of Ptipois' advice. However, in our case we had some rather formal occasions. This called for flowers to be sent by a florist in advance (and much angst about the hosts' decor and tastes) and a mandatory day-after phone call of thanks. I was raised in the Southern US, so a written thank-you note from me often complemented Mr. C's phone call. (I have a thing about speaking on the phone, particularly in French.) I like to give flowers in a container. I was pretty much told that any wine other than champagne or a quaint foreign vintage was pretty much not a good idea. Foreign gifts seemed well received. Depending on the person, we have offered top-quality Scandinavian smoked salmon, Japanese sake or food, etc.
  9. As we were eating the world's best fabada asturiana at Bar Asturianos tonight, I was just saying how I would never forgive you for keeping me away from game pie. OK, Mannix here I come.
  10. If memory serves me correctly, somewhere in his rant Santi said he didn't care about the tomato itself. I'm not sure about this stuff about a dish not made with "great" ingredients not being a great dish, but one you simply enjoyed. Is there such objective reality out there? I really enjoyed Ernesto's pizza at Pizzaiolo del Presidente (made with bulk flour and canned tomatoes and tap water) and Wally le Saharien's couscous, made with Ricci superfine couscous and the cheapest possible ingredients, but I don't think that takes away from their greatness. I suppose they would be even greater made with designer ingredients, but to me that is gilding the lily. Honest enjoyment is enough for me. And for the record, I paid my own passage and lodging with my own money. I also challenged Heston in the Q&A, yet I see merit in his project. I don't consider myself to be in anyone's PR pocket.
  11. I'm salivating, and I helped eat it Thanks so much to Pedro and Rogelio, my partners in crime this week. Actually, more like fairy godfathers, making all my Madrid wishes come true! The tostón was at least as good as any I have ever had, and possibly the youngest I have had. Such tiny, tender little ribs. It was also the first time I had the foreleg portion. Miraculously crackling skin--wonder how it gets that way when it is constantly being moistened with salt water. The sweetbreads were even better than the tostón. The riñones were a salve to my long-standing craving after tasting a single charcoal-roasted lechazo riñon years ago at the now defunct Asador Real. I had ever liked offal until that moment, and they had cruelly run out. They didn't even have the courtesy to stay in business long enough for me to come back to try them. The only real improvement I could suggest would be to upgrade from using pine wood. After all this talk about Mannix, I am seriously tempted to rent a car and check it out tomorrow. Is it worth it? --C Why do I never see anything done with the heads in asadores? I kind of don't eat brain voluntarily myself, but I imagine they could be good.
  12. Ferran is right. He gave more or less the same presentation at Alimentaria last year, and most people only woke up when the fireworks began. However, these ideas about sourcing, both Dan's and Ferran's, are central concerns to the future of haute cuisine, or any cuisine, for that matter. ← So, is this a confession by Ferran? He, 6-7 years ago, stopped putting the premium on sourcing top products. He is also unable or unwilling to cook whole pieces(of meat and fish) as Santi does and without which one can not pretend to put a premium on sourcing. On the other hand, it may be to everybody's benefit that the pendulum is swinging back....Spain particularly has a lot to gain from it because they still have great products. ← Vmilor, I'm sorry to tell you it wasn't a confession but an unapologetic exhortation to move in a different direction. When Ferran was talking about the need to source new product, he was specifically excluding what have traditionally been considered "premium" products (foie gras, caviar, lobster, etc.). He was asking that we expand our notions of what is a wonderful or interesting thing to eat, even beyond the bad lobster/ good sardine question. The bitter white lemon rind, for instance, or tomato seeds have been considered garbage, gastronomically speaking. Ferran is taking another look at these throwaways--tomato seed pulp is a natural gelatin with no space food whiz-bang, and it can be an interesting component of a dish both visually and texturally. He's exploring the uses of rabbit ears and mackerel belly. I can't remember who it is now, but there is another chef (Regol?) exploring trash cooking. Reminds me of George Washington Carver examining all the uses of a peanut. I'd agree that a great Ferran rabbit ear is at this moment no match for a great Santi rabbit, but the question is a vital one to ask in this time of greater scarcity. Who knows when the exploration will hit pay dirt? Someone after all discovered espardenyes (OT: the contrasting uses of sea cucumber by Dong and Roca was another fascinating presentation) and other unlikely delicacies. Maybe someone will hit on the best way to cook rabbit ear. I remember the first time I had ostrich, I said to myself that this could be a good product if only we knew what to do with it. In a way, Ferran is turning away from the cuisine of the rich and going the way that popular cuisine has taken since time immemorial to find good uses for economical products that are to hand. Why does every haute cuisine restaurant have to serve the same rarefied ingredients?
  13. Yes, the new law is in effect. I did not ask about the fish being frozen, but I may on Monday. I assume asking will not really get answers, as there is the official answer and the truth. Most sushi quality fish is frozen anyway--almost all tuna, for example. The question is about the local catch. The cutting technique of the fish was quite different from the Japanese way. I'd like to see his knives. And just to make you envious, V, we are heading off for both cochinillo AND lechazo!!! I love this place.
  14. Finally, we settle the score with the long-awaited Kabuki lunch! I would not call it Japanese nor Spanish but a very interesting and well-balanced mix of the two. It shows the shared interest in wonderful seafood presented in a Japanese idiom but with a strikingly European accent. The rice revealed it was not Japanese, but it was fusion in the richest sense. Speaking of rich, that tuetano nigiri was to die for. I'd banish all soy sauce from the table, however. It would ruin the balance of the dishes. We didn't have any wine, but maybe we should have. I can see how it would complement the Spanish element of the dishes perfectly. Beer would have been good if I liked beer. They need to reduce the amount of vinegar in the rice just a touch, however.
  15. Ferran is right. He gave more or less the same presentation at Alimentaria last year, and most people only woke up when the fireworks began. However, these ideas about sourcing, both Dan's and Ferran's, are central concerns to the future of haute cuisine, or any cuisine, for that matter.
  16. For the record, I don't think even the most vanguardist chefs would argue with Santi's main points that we need to respect nature and tradition, upon which our health and happiness is based. He is certainly entitled to his opinions about machine-made automaton cooking (not really a fair evalutation of the new directional cooking, but certainly intellectually defensible). I'm glad he decided to participate, and his remarks were some of the most provocative things I heard. It's no use having one-sided polemical discussions. He also cooks like a dream, and the smell of that pigeon and the whole foie roast in salt, not to mention the whole black truffle embedded in bacon fat, wrapped in cabbage leaves and baked in clay, nearly made me faint. No other chef's cooking demo wafted through the auditorium with such power, not even Heston's fake candy shop perfume. However, he did take some rather personal potshots (for example, an uncharitable gibe at the generous use of raw black truffle in his lunch the day before at Viridiana) and make unkind characterizations of the chef's role today. I'm not sure fellow chefs appreciated being characterized as plagiarists and thieves in the service of rich snobs. Man, Santi talks a great game, however. I applauded his sheer oratory skill. I can understand Santi's frustration with his new unwelcome role as media rep for a restaurant empire that has to grow or die. He is a romantic cook caught in pragmatics, and smart enough to know it. He may be getting tired of the rat race and the need to compete for media attention. His restaurant is in the house in which he was born, bless him. You can't get closer to home than that.
  17. I thought Dan Barber's presentation was thought-provoking. Not many restaurants can afford to do the same, however, and can he make the numbers work without the deep Rockefeller pockets? Santamaria's all over the paper today. He had some very strong words for the congress declaring he does not believe in "scientific cuisine," well received by the public but many chefs naturally took umbrage at his rather cynical take on the role of the modern haute cuisine chef. I think he is feeling very isolated and depressed with the state of the kitchen today. He claimed he was not a missionary, but he spoke like a Baptist minister. His friends worry about his inability to make nice politically, but it's good to have the debate. The Santi storm made Heston seem like a postscript. Never mind the bubbles and 3D glasses-fun, but no substance. Interesting that there was no real food or cooking shown anywhere during the FD presentation, only thoughts on how to manipulate the expectations of the diners. I at least had heard the FD message too many times before. It, like the sweets he handed out, are feeling very packaged. Anyway, why does product-centered cuisine and technique-centered cuisine have to be at odds? Ferran emphasized ingredient quality more than I have heard from him recently on this subject. I agree that we should be looking to alternative products to the classic luxury foods, and he is very realistic about pricing and scarcity. However, we should not give up the battle to preserve and sustain fabulous products. Ferran would certainly agree with that, although I think he has long ago stopped shelling out for top product at EB. I think the world is richer for having both Santis and Ferrans and even Hestons cooking, and it would be a shame to lose one of them. I thought the underlying issues in this debate were economics, class, and fears of environmental and cultural loss. There is a great deal of uncertainty about the future role of cuisine and cuisinier, and I think the mixed response reflected that. If the public applauded both sides, it's because they are fascinated by the new but afraid to lose touch with the old. That's only natural. I really enjoyed the presentations by Seiji Yamamoto and the Chinese chefs.
  18. El Mundo had an interesting article in "Cronica" on Dec. 10. It of course detailed the outraged reaction of chefs and did a taste test to see what the effects of freezing are on different kinds of seafood: marinated shrimp, tuna tartare, lubina ceviche, merluza and bacalao. Lower fat, delicate white fish were the clear losers. The chef of Kabuki, Ricardo Sanz, is quoted as saying that most of the fish affected with parasites come from the North Atlantic and to a lesser degree from the Mediterranean, and that the that the government is going overboard in treating all marine products equally. In Japan, almost all tuna comes frozen.
  19. Aack! I'm going to be in and out of Baltimore twice over the next couple of weeks, and I was hoping to get a fix of blue crab. (I grew up on fresh-caught crabs in Savannah.) Gaffney's sounds like my dream spot, but they are too dang seasonal and won't be open in Dec. Any other quick and dirty Baltimore specialty that will make my trips there worthwhile? I'll be coming in by train from NYC, running over to Johns Hopkins, and have to be back in NY by dinner. I have to cab it everywhere since my license was stolen. I'm looking for an outstanding regional dish, not another modern Mediterranean bistro.
  20. Ah, the names were hilarious. "Star Academy," "Hiver Froid et Coeur Chaud," and "L'Infant Divin" (lamb shoulder with eggplant and corn-juniper ketchup). I was more swayed by the names than the actual dishes, so I had to order the Pelerin just because I walked to Compostelle once. I think the real force behind the restaurant is in the front of the house, M. Frederique. I would be very curious to know what you think. I felt that it was really a traditional restaurant at heart with a mad flair, or maybe it's the other way around...
  21. I was there last week, and the photo is up to date. The pain au chocolat was very mediocre.
  22. I had lunch alone there on Thursday, and walked past it twice on Wed. night. Both times it was busy but not full, so you should be able to get in. Prices are very high, but it's a beautiful place with a rather innovative menu, modern but not aggressively so. The combinations of ingredients were daring but worked. I had the Bugs et Bunny lapin terrine with tetragone (a chunky, somewhat livery and loose-textured pate with greens mixed in and dusted with coffee) for 19 euros. The rouget was better (18 euros). The seared fillet was served on yogurt layered with basil leaves and chives, covered with a crisp potato gallette with a dab of caviar, and sauced with a combination of pumpkin and bell pepper. Somehow, they managed to get the balance just right. The Pelerin de Compostelle was 5 small scallops skewered on a chopstick and grilled with sea salt and sesame (35 euros). It was served with a flan made of the scallop coral, covered with a dice of jerusalem artichoke and apple and an unexpected burst of citrus flavor. I think the best deal would be to choose the tasting menu option. You choose either 5 or 7 courses of anything on the menu for 65 or 85 euros. I think the restaurant would be perfect pre-Christmas, romantic but not cloying. Most of the wine list is in the 25-45 range, except the Hermitages of Jean Louise Chave.
  23. I shave mine, but I haven't figured out where I can buy whole bonito in London. I bring it back from Japan.
  24. I got really fascinated by tripas/callos de bacalao after having them for the first time of all places in Caino in Italy--she had learned about them in Catalunya. I'd love to find them in the UK. Actually, callos de bacalao is very hard to find in markets outside Catalunya and possibly Madrid.
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