Jump to content


participating member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Culinista

  1. There are a lot of Spanish preparations as well, but that's for a different board. The Basques practically fetishize it. Depending on the thickness of the piece, I desalt it slowly over 3-5 days. The first day or two I leave it in the same water, then start changing the water, about 4 times overall. The key is to desalt to the right level, but still leave a little saltiness. Good quality baccala can be used raw in salads, best with roasted vegetables. I like to deep-fry bacalao, as well as make croquettes. It also takes well to spicy tomato sauces. The best baccala dish I had in Italy was the baccala tripe at Caino, wrapped in guanciale. (Baccala tripe is characteristic of Catalunya). Marvelous.
  2. I consider "gourmet" to be someone who cares about food enough to care that it's done well. I wouldn't want a cassoulet made by a non-gourmet, and if the level of discussion is any indication, everybody here qualifies as gourmets. Part of the fun of being a fanatic is splitting hairs over arcane doctrine. But I draw the line at Boston baked beans. What will ya'll appropriate next, Texas chili?
  3. /e backs away, takes refuge behind the menu....
  4. Victoria Abbott Riccardi wrote a memoir about studying cha-kaiseki in Kyoto called "Untangling My Chopsticks." You may find it interesting.
  5. I've had whale 3 times, and the air-dried, somewhat smoked whale I had in Norway was reminiscent of prosciutto. Probably not the best way to understand the quality of the meat, but it was tasty. I had slices of fresh whale meat and blubber simmered in a broth in Japan. Delicate, but for me not worth killing a magnificent animal to eat. I agree that restaurants in Norway, as well as the rest of the Nordic countries, are super expensive for their gastronomic proposition. I wish more Nordic chefs would stop importing tired Continental ingredients and culinary ideas strike out on their own. I'd love to see a professional chef doing something with wild foods from the forests. I did find unique meals in the country by semiprofessional cooks. One of the best meals I had was in a farmhouse in Finland, outside Mikkeli. There was a wild nettle flan with an Arctic bird called kiiruna, and an intriguing custard made by gently heating the first milk given by a neighbor's cow that had just calved. I also had an amazing dinner on Lake Inari, by a woman who had learned to cook in France but serves foods hunted or foraged from the forest. We stayed in her cottage by the lake. And don't get me started on Sweden
  6. I remember when my uncle bought an expensive fish-locating radar for his boat, and he told my aunt to think of how much they would save on fish The priceless thing about gardening is the connection it gives you and your children to the food you eat. I always remember the incredible flavor of the vegetables my mother grew to save money--much better than the pathetic supermarket produce. You can't put a price on memories, or the carrot you grew yourself.
  7. Looks like we're going to have the "Grande Confrérie du Cassoulet de eGullet" soon. Interesting recipe, Dave. I'll have to try it. I bake mine in an enameled iron casserole, which works well. I've made small ones in gratin dishes. It's all about having a good crust surface area, but the pot must have a minimum depth to keep from drying out. Has someone ever written a formula to determine the best surface area/volume ratio?
  8. Good point about giving the source of restaurant reviews. BTW, I don't have my notes, but I don't know if that is the same Endo tempura shop. The one I am thinking of is quite modern inside, at least at the bar. The bar, of course, is the only place to eat. Also I'm not sure what the big deal about Maisen is. It's almost a chain. We had both the regular pork and the special mountain kurobuta by Okita Hayao, and the kurobuta was not worth nearly triple the price (the heavy batter-fried technique obscures any difference in the pork). I found the rosu far too fatty given the batter, and I like pork fat. It was a good tonkatsu, no question, but surely there is better?
  9. "Eternally Recycled Duck " I shouldn't talk. I've got a 4-month old cassoulet in my freezer. Yikes!
  10. Mr. Creosote recommends Restaurant Gastronomique. 38 34 84 36.
  11. Hi Christopher, I ate alone at Oscarsgate on June 1, right after doing the Hurtigruten trip. (The ship had surprisingly Norwegian, not international, food, including whale and seagull eggs and very smelly fermented cheese. ) Oscarsgate was very ambitious for such a young, not to mention tiny, kitchen. Very labor-intensive food competently prepared, nice presentations in a small but modern dining room. I liked the atmosphere of the restaurant quite a bit. I particularly remember some crisp miniature flatbreads and a collection of butters, some amuses that seemed to be inspired by French Laundry (cones of salmon tartare, etc), a well-proportioned mini salade nicoise. The risk that did not pay off was the pretty square of salmon scattered with enoki mushrooms under a blanket of transparent cucumber. The problem was the house-made soy sauce, which was hamfisted and overpowering. (Chef Bjorn Svensson, I discovered to my surprise, is ethnically Korean. He was adopted, and maybe he did not learn how soy sauce should be used while growing up in Scandinavia.) There was an eggplant ravioli with porcini, and skate wing with too much going on on the plate, rather overwhelmed by meat jus. Nice crispy lamb sweetbreads with rosemary, and a very beautiful spring chicken breast with a cylinder of orange-carrot puree that showed clear signs of an El Bulli stagiere. There was a huge chessboard of chocolates that came after the mango sorbet dessert--way too many for one person, or even four. Clearly there for effect. Had the usual faults of the ambitious new Scandinavian restaurant (overly international style, too much demiglace, too much salt, imported products of poor quality, and a heavy sense of imitating others), but for all that, a nice vibe and I'd go back. In Bergen, I tried Potetkjelleren. Another lovely restaurant in terms of atmosphere, more provincial than Oscarsgate, of course, with a lower standard of execution. The standout was a huge veal chop with a mushroom that they called a "horse mushroom"--tasted like a cinnamon cap. I went to Bagatelle in June 2004. Very good, second only to Bon LLoc in Scandinavia. Pontus, the sommelier, is wonderful. He gave us a good evening with some very original, bold pairings of weird wines I'd never drink on their own. Oro was just miserable, with the exception of a good asparagus with smoked salmon starter and a decent Kamchatka crab. In Bergen, I was miffed at Lucullus for promising to have Bergen fish soup and then reneging, so we cancelled dinner and went to get a mediocre snack at Pasqual's bistro downstairs. My most memorable meal that trip was peeling shrimp and drinking beer at Grassholmen on that island in the middle of the harbor in Oslo that is covered with wild rabbits. This was the only time that trip that I felt I was really eating in Norway. PS: I tried to visit your restaurant (it looked sort of like a cafe for students), but it was closed.
  12. John, I loved your cassoulet blog. I'm also a cassoulet aficionado, and I've been known to start mine six months in advance (to cure the duck confit). Once my husband came home to find homemade sausage garlands suspended from the beams in the garage. It is our annual New Year's Eve dish, and sometimes I make enough to serve on my birthday, Jan. 6. Given that our birthdays are so close together, maybe next year we should do a cassoulet tasting For making cassoulet, 6 months is one thing, 600 years quite another!
  13. I REALLY wish this no walking-and-smoking were the rule everywhere. I got a cigarette burn on a white raincoat from some careless person who brushed past me on the street. They didn't even notice what they had done. I hate walking and eating anywhere, even outside Japan. My husband finds it annoying that I insist on eating only where I can sit down, since this takes more time while we are traveling.
  14. This doesn't happen often, but today I find myself disagreeing with John. Yes, those raw onion photos don't help, but I find color photos enormously motivating to make a dish, particularly if the cuisine is not one that is very familiar to me. And those errors do get caught eventually, most likely by a frustrated home cook. I used to review cookbooks, specializing in glossy, expensive food porn, and my method was to cook a whole week from one book, inviting friends to evaluate the results. I found significant errors all the time--the rule seemed to be the glossier the book, the more plagued with bloopers. Most publishers made corrections in the second printing. There is a reason it's called food porn--food has replaced sex in the modern libido. My concern is that we are living in an age so dominated by the visual that unphotogenic but tasty food is going by the wayside, like girls with nice personalities at the prom. How many times have I had a mishmash of flavors on the plate for no gastronomic reason other than for visual effect? I've also had too many dishes ruined by sweating under the heat lamp as people fussed with the presentation. At least in the days when curly parsley was the only nod to pleasing the eye, no one was expected to eat it. A few weeks ago, I was having dinner with a couple of uber-fashionable twentysomethings at Abac in Barcelona. These young Catalans were totally turned off by my becada, one of the few dishes that was done in a completely traditional way--roasted whole, with the head, naked on the plate except for a thick, sinfully rich game sauce. "It's too brown and crude" was the objection.
  15. Could you be more specific? I tried to answer your questions, but I can't be sure what you are talking about. ←
  16. I agree that since cassoulet is baked, it is unlikely to be kept going as a pot-au-feu would have been. (AJ Liebling mourns the loss of long-simmered dishes with the advent of modern cooking fuels). However, I'm curious about what place might have been mentioned in Rabelais in connection with either dish, and what restaurant might be trying to market itself accordingly.
  17. What a nice program. I'd second the suggestion to cut some of the hotel breakfasts and sushi, particularly in Kyoto. We take breakfast only in the good ryokan. In Kyoto, you should try some of the Buddhist temple cuisine, particularly tofu dishes. We liked the yudofu at Ryoanji. Izusen is also a good choice. Personally, I'd also throw in a yakitori-ya in Tokyo, maybe an unagi place. A tempura specialist is a must. Endo in Kyoto is very refined. Hyotei is wonderful but difficult for a beginner to fully appreciate. Be prepared to eat off the floor sometimes. You must have good knees and no back problems.
  18. What is the charcoal used in good traditional nabemono restaurants? I've never noticed a ventilation system. Also, what is the fuel used in the tabletop braziers?
  19. My sister asked me if she should believe a co-worker who claims that a restaurant in France has a pot of cassoulet that has been kept going for 600 years. Apparently the pot was mentioned in Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel. Anyone know anything about this? (My first doubt here is that it would be cassoulet as opposed to pot-au-feu.)
  20. These are super old posts, but I wanted to add what I learned in the process of doing a short piece on Global knives recently for Newsweek Japan. A lot of the brands marketed as being "Japanese" in the West are actually hybrid knives, like Kasumi. They are made by Japanese manufacturers but are not truly traditional Japanese knives. They are completely different products aimed at adapting Japanese knivemaking ideas to the specific demands of the Western market. It doesn't make much sense to look for these in Japan, although they probably are available somewhere. For a variety of reasons already mentioned in other posts, custom-made, high-performance traditonal Japanese knives stay almost exclusively in Japan, but these are like exotic sports cars. Few people period have them. The basic traditional Japanese knife, still a superior mass market product even compared to the best German and French knives, has found little commercial success in the West because of maintenance issues, cost, differences in Western and Japanese cutting habits, and even health regulations in some areas that forbid wood and carbon steel. Japanese knife manufacturers (I'm not talking about the artisans here) decided to develop knives for Western cooks as well as hassled home cooks who didn't want to deal with rusty knives anymore. There are different degrees of hybrid. The Global is one of the most radically non-traditional, while others like Shun can get quite close to the traditional knives. The main points of difference are the type of metal used, whether the blade is sharpened on one side or two, the size and material of the handle, and the shape of the blade. That said, most Japanese and Western knife snobs do sniff at these knives, which usually sacrifice edge performance for ease of maintenance, sharpening, or Western-style cutting. Quite frankly, I think some of them in Western knife emporia are vastly overpriced for their quality--they are cashing in on the samurai sword cache. Then again, hybrids are by definition mass-market and made for export and ease of use. With so many different cooks out there, there is a knife to fit everyone. Torakris, these might be the knives for you! The hybrids are a step up from Wustofs in edge performance and should be perfect for a Westerner cooking in Japan. If you're hardcore and want to try a traditional knife, Budrichard's advice to start learning on a modest one is right on. You must learn to sharpen it on 3 whetstones and keep it oiled. Aritsugu in Kyoto is an excellent source for good quality knives that a novice doesn't have to be afraid to use, and the manager is very friendly to foreign and first-time buyers. I think their products are also available online and in Takashimaya in Tokyo. Since the knife should fit the cook, I figure I have a ways to go before my skills warrant a honyaki knife.
  21. Natto is considered a difficult to acquire taste among non-Japanese. If I have a kid someday, I'll make sure they are introduced to it early I'm also surprised at the number of non-Japanese who don't like azuki-based desserts. Are Japanese bean dishes really so much more difficult than raw fish ones?? Hiroyuki, here in England, I've discovered that any dessert is pudding, as in, "What's for pudding?" (Answer: "Ohagi!") It's now one of my favorite English words. I'm developing the impression that this advice to start kids very slowly on super bland foods, coupled with a culture of cooking less and the almost automatic "dumbing down" of food for kids, might be leading to narrower eating habits as they grow. (Obviously this is a generalization, but I think the reaction of the waiter in Cleo's post shows that chicken nuggets are now largely the norm in the population outside the children of eGulleters. The exception does not make the rule, after all.) The websites that Kristin posted were far more varied in complex flavors and textures than the Gerber baby food/frozen peas regime I'm seeing my friends use. The older kids (about 10) are generally still eating chicken nuggets and hot dogs while the parents make (or order) a separate meal for themselves. Restaurants might also play a role, since the kid-sized portions are all bland, unchallenging foods. I think there was a study published early last year showing that babies were very receptive to new flavors early on, but became more cautious as they hit the 2s. If this is true, it would make sense to introduce important flavors earlier rather than later, as long as it isn't dangerous from an allergy perspective. Does anyone know if all of these allergy precautions have paid off? Obviously, you can't explain taste. I consider myself open to just about anything. Bring on the pickled duck embryos, the worm salsas, the boiled pig's snout. But I've always hated eggs
  22. Very interesting. How does a baby react to the first taste of natto? I can't remember the first time I had it myself. Pediatric advice really changes a lot across time and cultures. Have there been changes to Japanese kids now that they are drinking more milk than their parents did? There are picky eaters everywhere, as well as kids who eat anything. One of my Japanese cousins refuses to eat fish or green vegetables. And Hiroyuki, milk+rice=rice pudding
  23. Darn, all the kanji look like gibberish on this browser. Newbie Luddite question, but does anybody know how I can see the page properly? What is Fazer Salmiakki doing with all those Japanese foods? It's Finnish salty licorice. I actually learned to like it when I lived in Helsinki. And what are those boob-shaped things? Weirdest thing I've had in Japan was iki-chi, a turtle blood cocktail. Although Calpis is pretty weird.
  24. I don't have kids, but I've noticed that in America pediatricians are telling parents to introduce their babies very slowly to solid foods, starting with the blandest. Kids eat food that is completely different from what their parents eat until they are at least teenagers. They also seem to drink nothing but sugar--apple juice and then Coke. Most parents assume their kids will not eat fish or seafood. My cousin's 18-month-old in Japan once came with us to an expensive sushi place, and he demanded-and got-all 4 of his parents' raw Hokkaido shrimp. I've loved umeboshi and other "difficult" flavors as long as I can remember. I don't remember eating food different from my parents. That got me thinking. How are Japanese babies and children taught to eat? And what do they drink with their meals? At what age do Japanese start eating rice and raw fish and drinking green tea? Are babies today eating differently from their parents? Maybe it's a modern thing.
  25. One of the hardest plants to cultivate that requires a lot of sun and regular watering? I'm doomed On the other hand, provided I can find a cutting of kinome in England, maybe I could leave it outside in a pot. I live on Richmond Hill with a famous view overlooking the Thames. The hill is a big meadow with some trees, and the view is legally protected open space. It rains pretty much every day, but it will get whatever sun is available in London. Maybe it would grow there, as long as a cow didn't eat it.
  • Create New...