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Peter Green

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  1. No disagreements, SA. But I did want to catch the moment, as it was (or "were"?) Perhaps soi Polo tonight, which is quite a bit more settled. One foodie benefit to all this trouble is that traffic is lighter than I've seen it for decades, and so I can get to most anywhere in minutes. Cheers!
  2. Thanks, everyone. Now, if I can just catch up on my writing for the last year........ Was anyone else out there today?
  3. March 14, 2010 – Demonstration Kitchens Following my (much) older posting regarding how to cater a coup (back in 2006), and other notes on times of troubles, I figured, with time on my hands, I should see what the eating options are for a major demonstration. A lot of people are rather tense about things just now, but I try to look on the brighter side. For instance, the UDD (Red Shirt rally) on Rachadamnoern by Government House. I’d expected good street food, and I wasn’t disappointed. First up was dried meat hanging on the wire, ready for a heating over the charcoal. The fixings were around for som tam, but, other than a bowl in someone’s hands, I didn’t spot any. Really, all you need for catering is a can of buta gas, a pickup truck, and a jet burner. Add a wok and a stirring spoon, and you’re in business. With that, and just a supply of fresh vegetables, you’re off and away. With a support base heavy in the North East, grilled chicken was prevalent on the street. And it looked really good. Laid open for the marinade to penetrate, this was just going over from a colour reminiscent of me to a deep gold. Looking at this was making me thirsty. Okay, standing around in the street in 30+ centigrade weather may have played a part, too. Someday I’ll discover hat technology. But that just gives one an excuse to have cold Thai coffee, strained through evaporated milk. (Note, Carnation comes in red cans) Omelets were another popular option. Thai omelets, served with nampla sesame, and lots and lots of chili peppers. Fruit is the healthiest choice, with fresh mango being peeled up. And one cart had pomelo (som o) cleaned and packaged to take away. Sweeter than grapefruit, with a definition to the pieces that I love. Of course there’ll be things on sticks. Fish balls, Isaan sausages, wieners (why does the world love the hot dog so), and more stuff that’s been pounded down and reshaped. Thai fruit juices, garnished with fresh greens, range from lemonades to coconut to lime, served from these family sized containers of ice. Serving stands vary from the basics that I’d shown before, to sleek stainless models attached to motorcycles. Street food, in the true sense of the words. Peanuts are always good for sitting around and listening to the speeches, and gingko nuts are good for your memory, so you might remember what they said. And then there’s laab, marinated meat (cooked, in this case). As I write this, its still not clear how things will work out here. But, at least this afternoon, the focus seemed to be much more on just hanging out, snacking, and visiting with friends. And the Thai are very good at snacking. Leaving the demonstration proper, past the barricades, there was even more food packed into the nearby streets. Beautiful plump sausages called out to me. And the last thing, as I headed to Wat Sakhet to observe from above, was fresh corn on the charcoal. So, in a rather rushed manner, there’s a sampling of what’s to eat on Rachadamnoern today.
  4. Yes, to be fair, it was the downtown district that I was cruising about. Still, I thought with the university so close that there would be more nightlife on the go. Of course, being a Monday may have been part of the mix, too. On the Thai side, what I saw were pubs that were advertising Thai cuisine. I'd thought that I'd seen more than a couple, but I may just have been seeing double, knowing me. Cheers, Peter P.S. - it is a town I'd like to spend more time in.
  5. I am tempted (and so, as temptation is the basis of corruption) to pitch in with "What! Gambling in Casablanca!"
  6. To be completely fair, I was happily pleased (surprisingly so) with this last trip. I didn't have a lot of control over my schedule, particularly in Liverpool, where I arrived late, and was then taken in hand, but we were brought to the Side Door (twice) by the university, and both times I found nothing wrong with the food or service. On our first visit, I gave in to nostalgia and had the duck leg confit, served on a bed of lentils. The leg was adequate, with a nicely crisped skin (albeit a bit dry on the meat), but the lentils were wonderful, with the bite of vinegar added in. Pleasant, and a good lunch option (just around the corner, as it was). It's worth a note, that, while Zagat treats Liverpool with the same disdain as they do Oklahoma City (another story I have to write), Michelin is quite kind in handing out cutlery, and they did have good things to say about the Side Door, referring to things as "fresh", which they were. For a lunch venue, there was no issue with this. For dinner, another arranged meal, this time at Kimos. Given the crowd we were with, this was satisfactory, a mix of Arabic and Indian dishes in a subterranean venue that gave a good atmosphere once we filled it with students. Again, good, polite service, and reasonable food. As a treat I was let off my leash and allowed to roam that evening, but downtown Liverpool was quite a tame affair, with most venues closed or closing. (I was taken aback, when I asked at the hotel about pubs, to be advised "Well, sir, for a gentleman of your years...."). Still, I managed to visit the birthplace of the Beatles, and paid my respects to Eleanor on her bench. It was an interesting walkabout for the potential that I saw. A lot of Thai places, which indicates wives come home to the pubs, and a few pleasant bistros, that I would have enjoyed if I'd had more time. And I never made it to Fraiche. I solaced myself (and don't take that in an auto-erogenous manner) with a return to the Side Door the next day. Again, we were on a tight schedule, so there was little choice, but I was happy with this for what it was. I started with the chili squid. I would have done this with more aggro in the spicing, but then again, I don't have to make a living at this. They know their market, and the tastes are proper for that. And then I had the steak sandwich. Beautiful, fresh, full-fat meat, just off of rare pushing medium. As a lunch meal, I was quite satisfied with this (even if my decision on a starter had made us late). To be fair, would I go here for dinner? Perhaps if I was living here, or staying at the Uni. It has a pleasant feel to it, with little pretension to the dishes or service. (And I did mention that the service was good, didn't I?) This is the curse of business travel, that you have to clear out of town with so little time to explore. There was a to here I'd like to take the time to explore and turn over, to find what was under the pleasant facades. But it was the pleasant facades themselves that surprised me. I'd expected the depths of recession and gloom, but Liverpool did its turn back a couple of decades ago, and now it's hardened itself to such extremities. Not a riot, not even a minor punch-up to be found. But there's always next trip.
  7. We're by the Sorbonne right now. What would be the easiest Fauchon to get to?
  8. Thanks, everyone. It sounds like Fraiche is going to be on the list. Cheers, Peter
  9. October 10 – To a Tea Francois Payard – Payard New York – NYC (with a caveat here) I did a drive-by shooting of the tea in the lobby. Yoonhi, M, and an interesting new friend of M’s were taking tea, as proper ladies shall do. Of course, being a repeat by Francois Payard doesn’t hurt, either. Let me run through the glitz. Scion of the house of Payard of the French Riviera, he’d made his name amongst the bright lights of New Yok, and has settled comfortably there. He made his name at Le Bernardine, and then at Restaurant Daniel, and then opened his own place in 1997, and has since franchised around the world. My caveat above is due to the fact that the NYC venue had closed, due to lease issues. He’s since reopened as Francois Chocolate Bar (but in a limited manner), on Madison Avenue on the fourth floor of Mauboussin's jewelry store But enough of such things (You have to imagine Ruby Rod from the 5th Element here). What were the sweets like? Consider, in the foreground, raspberry litchi chocolate. And then there was a bowl of chocolate truffles. For some reason, this makes me want to start quoting Romeo and Juliet. I do have some self-restraint, but at this point I was sorely tempted to reach in and grab one. I know the hotel wouldn’t complain, but I do have some ethics about paying for things, and I wasn’t part of this tea. (Stop gasping, you lot) To the far right: pecan chocolates. The tray in the top middle are milk chocolates, and below those are marmalade chocolates. Tucked into the upper left corner are Tant Tatin chocolates. A table of meringues, aglow in the first blush of Autumn. Coming from class I was late, of course, and so the Montemarte Cake I found already ravished, it’s fresh berries peeking out from underneath the disarray of the savaged marzipan. And a selection of teas. This is a “tea” afer all. Crab cilantro gelees in the foreground, perkily at attention; and salmon rillette, cream cheese, and poppy seed in the back. And a favourite of mine – cauliflower panna cotta with ikura, mint, and a nice tuile for a bit of crack. Mind you, I do prefer this with sevruga. Some foie gras; foie gras-sauterne gelee. I was tempted to nab some, but, as I said, I’m a man of ethics. Not much of a man, but…… And, finally, a pretty little croque monsieur sat alone on a plate, the last, unchosen for a dance. There was much more, but I was merely a gawker in this affair. Yoonhi’s opinion was more telling, and less influenced by shiny colours and the gleen of chocolate in the afternoon light. She felt the tea to be acceptable, but disappointing in contrast to Laiskonis’ tea of last year. Interesting. Both Laiskonis and Payard have Le Bernardin to their credentials. And, to me, there seemed a heavy overlap in the dishes proferred. Take that as you will. For myself, I was growing hungry again.
  10. Thanks, Gary. I'll go hunting under the individual threads now that I have names.
  11. More travel is in the offing, with the opportunity to do it on other people's money (OPM). Tentatively, there should be two days in Liverpool, two in Leeds, a lunch in Leicester, and a lunch in Cardiff. Where is recommended? I'll probably be near the universities in all cases, and reliant up taxis, so nothing too far afield, please.
  12. October 10 – “Knives are for pros” Kazumi Sawada – Banrekiryukodo - Tokyo Of all the classes, this was perhaps the most anticipated. The room was packed out, with extra tables brought in, a total of 64 covers patiently waiting. We talked, of course, of where to get Japanese food and products. Tensu on soi 16 was mentioned, and there was word of the tofu at Suiryu (soi Tonson, I believe). Aoi came up again (at the Emporium, and I made a note that I’d have to get there sooner rather than later). Isetan seemed to be taking pride of place over Fuji, and the Emporium was still holding its own. And the issue of mochi came up. Somebody thought they’d seen peanut butter mochi around somewhere. That’s something I have to find. Meanwhile, to the side of the room, the sake representatives stood - bright happi coats and appreciative smiles. I had hoped that they might be discussing their products, but there was an issue of communications, unfortunately. With a minimum of delay as things were put in place, Chef Sawada arrived from the kitchen in back, and was introduced by Malcolm. Chef Sawada was originally from the Kwanto, but trained in Kyoto under Maruyama Yoshizakura in Gion, developing a feel for the traditional Kyoto mthods. After a decade in Kyoto he’d moved back to Tokyo, and is now the exec at Banreki-Ryukodo, which took a Michelin star in the first edition, and has hung onto that star. Reading the Red Book (1st edition, page49), Banrekiryukodo “cultivates a seasonal sensibility, bringing out the essential flavours of ingredients…”. That doesn’t seem that out of place with Kyoto cuisine. “The menu includes meat and foie gras. While respecting tradition, the chef’s new take on Japanese cuisine draws on Tokyo’s resources, as a cosmopolitan food capital.” I mentioned the foie gras thing yesterday, didn’t I? Our first dish was Chlled Soup in Gingko Nut Tofu Matsutake Mushroom and Smoked Duck With Citrus Flavoured Japanese Yuzu Ingredients: For gingko nut tofu 750 ml kobudashi (kelp stock) 45 g kuzuko (arrowroot) starch (this will “dry” things” 200 g gingko nut paste (he used fresh gingko nuts here and made the paste separately) a bit of sesame paste a pinch of salt a bit of usukuchi shoyu (light soy sauce) While making paste of the gingko nuts, he put the kelp into a pan to heat, making up the stock. A touch of salt went into this. He spoon stirred this until the stock hardened up from the kelp, getting a blobby, gooey texture, and then put in the gingko paste and mixed it up with his hand. This was then put into the dish/mold, covered with wrap, and put into the fridge. Ingredients: For matsutake mushroom soup 900 ml ginan stock (kelp or dried bonito flake stock with kuzuko starch) 2 or 3 pc grilled matsutake mushroom (or enoki) a pinch of salt a bit of usukuchi shoyu (as we said above, “light soy sauce”) The hot ginan stock was blended with the mushroom. With this the arrowroot starch congeals, and the result is a smooth paste. Add 2 tsp of mirin, a touch of salt and the usukuchi shoyu to taste, and then refrigerate. For the duck, there are two things on the go. One is the dressing, and the other the duck itself. Watch the timing here. You could make up the marinade in advance, but you’d lose a bit if you did so. Ingredients: Spiced Beetroot Dressing for marinating sauce for duck 250 ml sake 50 ml mirin 50 ml koikuchi shoyu (soy sauce) 1 piece sliced ginger 1 diced beetroot Put all the ingredients into a pan, and bring to a boil in a steamer. Ingredients: For smoked duck Japanese way 2 pc duck breast (cleaned, pricked) a pinch of slat Sugiita (Japanese cedar wood board) Meanwhile, the duck breast was poked and prepped with some salt, and the cedar soaked. This had been going on earlier, as it needs some 30 minutes for the cedar. Slice the skin of the duck, and then wipe the skin side into a hot pan. You want to sear your duck. No oil is used, just the fat that you draw out of the duck. The duck is steamed lightly (3 minutes and 30 seconds) with the marinade. I must admit, it made me sad to see good sake being left behind in the steamer, but it was for a noble cause. The sugiita – the cedar - is different. This is a paper thin sheet of cedar, sold tidily (of course) in small plastic envelopes (contrast this to the large cedar planks popular now for salmon). I snagged a piece and brought it back home as a sample. A little springy, if anything it reminds me of the outer layers on the neapoliton wafers we used to have as kids, waffles sandwiching edible petroleum by-products. The duck breast (with that bit of salt) is placed between sheets of the cedar, and then popped into the oven at 180C for a couple of minutes, just enough to draw out the aroma of the cedar. Retrieved from the oven the duck is finished with a light torching of the skin. To assemble, spoon in the soup, and then place the block of “tofu”. Position the duck on top of the tofu, and dress with some lightly grilled mushroom. Traditionally, you would finish with yuzu, appropriate for Autumn to Winter. Here he zests it, and then adds a bit of green onion, and puts one of the cedar leaves on the plate to pretty things up, reinforcing the aroma slightly. It’s a strong dish, with the citrus notes and the duck. The mushroom flavour in the broth is very solid, and you get that slight bitter of the gingko. Traditionally, this would be served in a bowl, but I like the presentation here, the cocktail glass giving a good view of what’s underneath. Skewered Fried Pike Conger And foie gras, chrysanthemum sauce Ingredients: For chrysanthemum sauce Syungiku chrysanthemum Chicken or dashi stock Kuzuko starch A pinch of salt Hanahoshiso micro shiso blossom Usukuchi shoyu (light soy) – a dash Mirin – a dash First, blanch the chrysanthemum in a pot of water, then squeeze it the hot water and transfer to an ice water bath. Next, boil the stock, put in the chrysanthemum, and then add the kuzuko and some salt. Set it to cool overnight, and then mix it carefully with a mixer, avoiding any excess motor heat that would affect the colour. Ingredients: For pike conger 1 pc Hamo pike conger 150 gm foie gras Kuzuko (arrowroot) starch or katakuriko (potato starch) Fine panko bread crumb Sansho green pepper A pinch of salt The eel was introduced to us, in less than flattering terms. ”Quite a grotesque face.” Still, despite the upsetting appearance, this is a summer favourite in Kyoto and Kobe. ”Trim the pike conger and slice meat in half.” That’s an easy thing to say. This was the main part of the demo, with Sawada gracefully wielding his blade to separate first the meat from the spine, and then latitudinally to remove the bones from the body. With his head down, he used his left hand to pull the eel through, while the blade in his right cut in and spread and butterfly’d the eel. To remove the bones takes a special technique and a change of knives. You need to slice between the skin and the meat to avoid the bones, knifing crosswise to the fish. He does move quickly. Finished, the meat is sprinkled with salt and sansho, and then the skin dusted with kuzuko. The foie gras, cut to serving size, was seasoned slightly with salt and the sansho, and, as with most tempura, kept very cold before use. This will help it retain its competence through the frying. Then the eel rolls over the foie, an embrace the covers the top and bottom. This is then floured, dipped in egg, and rolled in the panko. At this point you deep fry it. The oil should be at 170C (a quick finger check under the lips). Use a bamboo skewer to see that it’s done properly. Retrieved from the oil, it’s slice as a roll, and then quickly dish and serve. To put this together, first put down a puddle of the sauce, then place the eel on top, and garnish with the hanahoshiso. Persimmon Paste and Pear Ingredients: For Persimmon and Pear Kaki (persimmon) Yonashi (pear) Water 350 gm Wasanbon (Fine Japanese brown sugar) 40 gm Mizuame (Glucose – to make it shiny and sticky) Shiroan (Strained white navy bean paste) 2 tbsp lemon juice Koshian (Strained Red Bean Paste) Communications had been a bit of a challenge, and by this time we were starting to lose it. So, bear with me a bit here as I struggle through my notes. He’s put the persimmon, skinned and chopped, into 1.8 l of water with sugar and glucose. This will come out as a compote. Set aside a little of the persimmon paste for later. The shiroan is worked up as a paste with sugar, and the persimmon is mixed into this, cooking it while you work it solidly with a spoon. The same is done with the pear. They’d done this up the night before to work within the time frame of the class. With the two finished products we see a hard mix for the persimmon, and a softer result for the pear, given the higher water content in the fruit. To do the dessert, we use a Kyoto took – a straining basket. The approach is a hand strain to produce a noodle look. It’s important not to break the paste in doing this in order to get the proper aesthetic. You place the persimmon down as a nest, and the pear, which comes out more as a ball, rests in the middle. Take that small amount of persimmon paste from before, and paint the plate with a stroke of this. Sake Shirataki Junmaidaiginjo Jozen There were two sakes served with lunch. The first was, as expected of a Niigata, very pleasant. This came across as mild and generally dry, but with a bit of sweetness there. Overall, a nice mouth feel to this, a lingering haunt hanging on. I enjoyed this with the duck and particularly with the eel. If I had any complaint, it was that the reps had only brought two bottles of each with them for the whole room. Still, at about 3000 baht a bottle at Isetan or Fuji (around $100) maybe it wasn’t something to be guzzled. Ichinokura Himezen Sweet Sake This was a bit of a disappointment on its own. This was an ume flavoured “dessert sake” from Miyagi. Very soft, sweet, and fruit forward, with a light alcohol content of 8.5% (and a relatively light price tag, at only 1800 baht). The Himezen wasn’t something I was thrilled with, but alongside the dessert it worked well enough. Overall, it had been a difficult class, with the issue of translation making it hard to draw the most from this. But that's always a risk when you draw an international group of chefs. Still, the food was good, the first sake was excellent, and I was content with the display of knife skills I’d seen. It's always refreshing watching cold steel.
  13. To the best (or worst) of my knowledge, a sriracha sauce is a typical sauce of Sriracha in Thailand. Spicy and sweet. I could be wrong, but I do know there are a lot of these on the shelves. Does anyone want to hazard a guess as to how to manufacture sriracha peas at home? I have sriracha sauce. I have peas. I have the technology!
  14. I had my first Krispy Kreme in Seoul a couple of years back. I was amazed at the ethereal manner in which fat molecules could be strung together so lightly. We brought too many back home with us that day. I found that hitting one with about 20 seconds of microwave the next morning was enough to break the molecular structure up. It wasn't as good as off-the-belt, but it was still an excellent accompaniment to my morning coffee. Now, where did I put my waistline?
  15. For Bangkok, I'd take Vertigo over D'Still. Aqua (in the Four Seasons) is also good in handling their cocktails. Indus had a few consultants in, helping them work out cocktails to go with their cuisine, and could be worth a try, and the same people were over at the Syn Bar at the Raffles a couple of years back. And the jazz club at the Oriental is worth the effort of getting there. And if you want to observe the wonders of transgender surgery, there's always Q-Bar. Just be careful in Bangkok. More often than nought, when I've asked for a martini, I get a glass of just that. P.S. - are you only looking for higher-end cocktail bars, or are you planning on hitting everything? P.P.S. - there used to be a place on the Bund, on the river side, partially underground, that did a fair bit of absinthe, and was a bit removed from the tourist strip. It was called I "heart" Shanghai.
  16. If you're on the North Shore, the butcher in the Lynn Valley mall would order foie gras from Quebec for me when I was in town. Mind you, that was a couple of years ago.
  17. Why not call St. John, or Hereford Road, and see if they'll do hearts?
  18. Peter Green

    Dinner! 2010

    This was a day when things at the store looked good. First, some Indian potatoes. Small, round, happy things that reminded me of Bogota. We did these with a melt of cheese: a mix of French brie and German blue (the German blue is extremely creamy, and gooey). For a main, fish and pasta. I fried the skin side, and then cleaned the pan, put in some decent olive oil, some roast yellow peppers, and nestled in the fish. A squirt of lemon for flavour, bring it to heat on the range, some rosemary, and then pop the pan into the oven. For the pasta, a boil, a drain, and then a quick fry up in the wok with some more olive oil, fresh slices of garlic, and, for fun, some of the last of my Marks & Sparks smokeless bacon crumbled up.
  19. Well, raw would be my personal preference, with cured foie gras shaved on top. However, if that's not to you taste, I would do it as Korean han-u. It's already a thin cut, as you say, so simple give it a bit of seeing to from flame (or a table top skillet with a couple of drops of sesame), hit it with fresh ground pepper and salt as it sizzles, and then pull it off quick before it's overcooked and have it with rice and spring onion/chili powder/sesame oil. Come to think of it, a Sichuan hot pot would be good too. I've had wagyu in hot pot, and, like the Korean method, you can control how well done you want it.
  20. October 9 – The 10th Gala Dinner I’ve become very familiar with this foyer. This is a good thing, as I now know all of the best spots to stand for maximum air conditioning. This is the sort of life knowledge that can come in really handy in Bangkok. Paola had prepared the canapés, which were served with a Stony Peak, Brut Reserve N.V., Australia. The Stony Peak was quite pleasant, a good, dry cut to the mouth. I’m afraid I never pay enough attention to the canapés. I’m challenged enough by just trying to hold a champagne flute, a camera, a pen, and a notebook, let alone add a food item and a napkin into the juggle. (Lots and lots of flower petals. In Thailand, you can do this.) Our table was a very good mix. M & E were there, which is always a good thing there were also two young ladies, sisters and very blonde. The elder had been on the way back to the Philippines to have her child, the first blush of pregnancy upon her, when the hurricanes stranded her in Bangkok. Her sister was also stranded in Bangkok, but not in an international sense. It had been raining (it was October, after all) and, dressed to the 9’s, no taxi driver would stop for her. Another couple with us, Canadians, had likewise had a fun time of things. He’d arrived the day before from the beach, his wife coming in from the UK. They’d booked the package (which is an excellent deal) but he’d arrived with nothing but beachwear. The Four Seasons was quite concerned. He needed to have his meal. Especially in Thailand, it’s important that you not go without food. But he had nothing to wear other than beach gear, and he wasn’t going to be caught in a proper dining room dressed like that. The compromise? The Four Seasons had had the meal catered to his room, a waiter on station with him to pour the appropriate wine as each course arrived. Sitting at a table in his room, watching television, with a collection of wine glasses in front of him, wearing shorts, and being tended to by uniformed staff…..I think he used the term “surreal”. But, enough with the local colour. What of the food? Graham Elliot Bowles Deconstructed Caesar Salad Baby Romaine, White Anchovy, Parmesan Fluff, Brioche Twinkie Kim Crawford, Sauvignon Blanc 2007, New Zealand Our same opener from the Monday, and still an excellent way to do a Caesar. My photo of this was horrid, so either go back to my Monday dinner with Graham, or else I’ll have to hunt up Austin’s pictures and see if he did it. The Kim Crawford was a bit astringent, very forward on the palate. A good wine on its own, but it went a bit crossways with the flavours in the dish. This was a very good start, regardless of my fussing about matchings. The Caesar works well for repeated eatings, which removes it from the realm of novelty dishes and puts it to the comfort side. The next dish was stunning. Mind you, I look stunned most of the time…… Christine Manfield Woodbridge Smoked Ocean Trout, Tea Smoked Oysters Blood Sausage, Celeriac and Apple Salad George Dubouef, Puilly-Fuisse 2007, France I’d read ahead, and loved the sound of this. Blood sausage and oysters. Now there’s a combination. The dry, mildly ferric taste of the blood was there, and you could taste the tea in the oysters and that funky, pulpy mouth feel that smoked oysters get. Add a hit of salt with the ikura, tang from the pomegranate seeds, and you almost forget the fact that there’s a smoked fish in there somewhere. (Don’t ask me about the celeriac and apple. I was in the midst of blood-lust). The Puilly-Fuisse came across a bit tart, on the back of the teeth sort of feel. But there were enough different elements in this dish that it would match up with something. Having seen and tasted this, I was pained all the more that I’d had to miss her dinner (but then I’d never have had that wonderful meal by Luke Dale-Roberts). Next they returned to Oz and poured out a Wolf Blass Chardonnay. I might have preferred this with the last dish, and Wolf Blass was the wine that Christine had been working with at her classes. Then Kazumi Sawada did a wonderful thing. Kazumi Sawada Fried Pike Conger, with Foie Gras Chrysanthemum Sauce Wolf Blass, Chardonnay 2007, Australia The man deep-fried foie gras. Okay, he wrapped it in eel, but that’s okay. It was still deep fried foie gras. We’ll talk more about this tomorrow when we get to his class. Like I said, the Chardonnay was fine with this, but I was slightly disappointed that there was no sake. I made up for it by having them refill my last few glasses. Michale Ginor Citrus Butter Poached Lobster With Sea Beans and Potato Cream Springfield Estate, Firefinch Rip Red 2004, South Africa Michael did a play on the lobster from the previous night. I’d have to say that the previous night’s presentation was prettier, but that was for a smaller crowd. Different from the last night, however, tonight it was the lobsters turn to get the scraping, the chefs coming out from the kitchen with the cured foie to be planed off on the dish, as opposed to having the foie directly in the dish. The Firefinch was an acceptable Cabernet Sauvignon. It was light, but this worked with the lobster and the fat that had been liberally shaved. But now it was time for soup. David Kinch Pumpkin Veloute “Potimarron”, Pop Corn and Brown Butter Ice Cream Catena Alta, Malbec 2006, Argentina Where do we start? What a pretty thing is a scoop of ice cream, dressed in flower petals and crumbles of popcorn and pistachios. And then there’s the drama of the pour. The warm orange of the pumpkin just makes you feel secure, in an oversaturated sort of way. Now, from the naming of the dish, does it also include the potimarron? That would the gourd I mistook for something dropped by Boris and Natasha at the Or Tor Kor market. It holds all the comfort you expect of ice cream and of pumkin soups. I do admire David’s soups. Both this and the tomato of the other day. The wine was a bit discordant. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to see a Malbec, but this would have been more at home with a champagne. Something to lift and celebrate. The Malbec – which I do so admire – was like, well, bringing Hannibal Lector to my daughter’s birthday party. It just seems a tad brutal. But it is a nice wine. Compare the Malbec on the right, with the softer, paler Firefinch. Fulivio Siccardi Caramelized Vinegar Leg of Goose, Braised Endives Lungarotti, Sagrantino Di Montfalco DOCG 2004, Italy Someday, I must return to Italy. This is a wonderful example of good, solid Italian cooking. A beautiful leg of goose, the gaminess lifted away with the vinegar. The endive gives just that right bitterness to contrast the deep, sweet flavours of the goose. Damn, I’m getting hungry again. The wine, as expected, just kept getting better with more time in the glass. But, side by side, my heart (and spleen, kidney and liver) was with the Malbec. But, now for a note from the podium. This was, after all, the Tenth, and it was time to quantify things. There must be a reckoning: There have been: 109 chefs 21 countries represented 74 days of festival 365 event 20,752 guests (how many times was I counted?) 2700 lobsters and 500 kg of foie gras served by Michael Ginor. Francois Payard Palet d’Or with Hot and Cold Chocolate Yamazaki, Malt Whisky, Japan As many of you know, I’m not a dessert man. But I put that behind me when it comes to the WGF. Payard’s chocolates are a fine, fine thing. And a bit of gold leaf just makes one feel so much more noble. Of course, having a 10 year old Yamazaki is a good way to enhance the flavour of chocolate. By now the crowd was, like my hair, thinning. Hal Lipper was still here, and Austin, and a few of the other die-hards. This was the time to consolidate my whiskey glasses and catch up on the blow-by-blows. But, all good things come to an end. We may not have been the last out the door, but we probably weren’t far off. As we left, the staff, who had begun to dismantle the hall, had become distracted. They were busy throwing the flower petals. I do like this country {b]Comment - As a matter of full disclosure, Christine did present me with her chef's whites. Somehow, they'd done then up for her as an XXXL, which is something of an overstatement. Everyone figured that it would probably just fit me better. I'll wear her stains with pride. End of disclosure.
  21. A few years back, on the North Shore of Vancouver, Yoonhi and one of her old friends were shopping in a Korean grocery. They chanced upon a can of beondegi (lsilk worm larva). "Oh, remember when we were kids? I loved this! It tasted nutty!" "Oh, yeah, I remember! These were so good." "Oh....it's bugs." "Oh, yeah....ughh." They put the can back on the shelf. Note - edited because I was slapped on the head and told how to spell "beondegi" properly
  22. October 9 - The Morning of The Gala The less said about that morning, the better. Champagne and cognac both have a hateur that keeps them from mingling well with other spirits. While my theory that two negatives should make a positive did have a certain elegance to it, in practice it failed to play out. Luckily, being the day of the Gala, we had no other commitments, and so could stay in bed and wait for the world to stop trembling. Of course, M had to phone and ask about lunch. It would be Korean. Of all cuisines, Koreans seem to have done the most in addressing the after effects of alcohol poisoning. Restaurants across the Peninsula proudly proclaim themselves as “hangover soup” specialists (hejangguk). M had a place she wanted to try up in Lad Prao. Hanyang was the name, and they did have kopjang (intestines) in a stew – my own personal favourite as an ally in these challenging moments. ”The enemy of my hangover is my friend.” Somebody must have said that. And if they didn’t, they should have. The jongbul (as mentioned above), kimchi chiggae, haemultang, a couple of cheon. I could post more pictures, but, honestly, "they're all just pots of red" (as Yoonhi says). The food was passable, but it lacked the “ajima in the kitchen” element. Still, it had accomplished its function, and we arrived back at the Four Seasons somewhat better off than when we had left. A swim, a shower, some time in the lounge (and perhaps a glass or two of wine and some more food), and then it was time to try and fit into my tux. Next – Showtime
  23. I would hazard a vote for Fergus Henderson's "Nose To Tail Eating". It's a lovely book to read, although the amount of ingredients is very much a personal matter (and I believe that may be his point). I have not bought the second book (but shall when I'm in the UK in February) so I reserve judgement. Having said that, I would second David Thompson's Thai Food. Yes, it's hard to find some of the ingredients, but his history and general working principles are very, very good. I know I'm a heathen, but work with This book for the ideas, and then improvise as you must. (Has anyone seen his Thai Street Food yet?). And I also second (or third) Heston Blumenthal's Perfection series. I also have the Big Fat Duck Cookbook, but I haven't had the free time to read it yet, so I shan't venture a verdict. And it's hard not to like NIgella. Her "How To Eat" is a very nice book.
  24. October 8 – Michael Ginor, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, New York If you ask me about my favourite things to eat and drink, I’d probably go on for quite some time. But, in that first flurry of enthusiasm, you’re going to hear the words “foie”, “gras”, and “champagne” somewhere in there. Is it little wonder that Michael’s dinners are something I look forward to every year? We opened with Piper-Heidsieck’s Brut N.V. as our initial champagne. A good, standing around and gossiping bubbly. A bit of a bite to it, some toast, and butterscotch (according to M), and an acceptable finish. And there was a bit of standing about to do, as there’d been such demand on this dinner that they’d moved us over to one of the function rooms to accommodate the crowd. Yoonhi, M, E, and myself took up part of a table, the rest filled out with a group of mainly Scandinavian origin. If you’re planning on eating and drinking well, this is a good crowd to be part of. You’ll regret it the next morning, but you’ll have a great time while it’s happening. Torchon of Hudson Valley Foie Gras With Duck Prosciutto and Mostarda di Cremona This is a traditional terrine, full of fat and buttery on the palate, the mostarda giving a contrast with its sharp fruits. I love that feeling of sumptiousness (is that a word?) in the mouth, the crunch of the brioche, the tang of the fruit, and a nibble of the cured duck breast to bring some smoke and salt. As you can tell, it’s a good start. If I contrast this with last year’s opener, it’s a much more conservative approach, similar in philosophy to the layout at The Latymer dinner we’d eaten a couple of weeks before. Discrete elements laid out for tasting. Truffled Kobe Beef Tartar With Shaved Foie Gras and Quail Egg Tempura Michael’s truffled Kobe beef last year was one of my favourite dishes, and I was salivating at the mere mention of it. Last year it had been a fetching lump of tartare on top of a carpaccio-thin layer of the same, but this year it arrived as one slab, the crispy quail egg (also from last year) now perched in one corner, rather than as a crown. Both were fine approaches, but where this excelled over the previous year was in the theatre. Last year, the cured foie gras had been shaved over the tartar in the kitchen as part of the plating, and we never had the opportunity to see it in its pristine state. This year Michael had brought David Britton back with him, and Itay Skoropa, who's with David at Lola. The three of them, for this course, were busy about the tables shaving foie gras onto the servings, moving table to table with their baskets like aggressive Easter bunnies. Microplaned butter is almost what it was. Freshly dropped, with no time to congeal, this had a beautifully light, lifting feel to the dish (if you can imagine that in conjunction with what is almost total fat). Yeah, I could eat this most any day. Our next champagne arrived (we’d continued to punish the brut throughout all of this). This was the Brut Reserve. Finer bubbles, a little bit softer on the palate with more fruit discernable. I could be very good friends with a bottle like this, as could Yoonhi. Citrus Butter Poached Lobster With Sea Beans and Potato Cream Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Butter poached lobster was once more on the menu, this time presented on a backdrop of foam, rather than last year’s solid green puree. This was one of the courses that Michael did in his class this year. The lobster was initially boiled, then cracked and the meat cooked in citrus butter for 10 minutes at 170F. The citrus butter was a mix of butter, white wine, cream, butter, orange, and lime. The potato cream underneath is an ultra-smooth blend of potatoes, stock, butter, and some more butter. The greens (the sea beans) were prepared with a warm vinaigrette to give a sea tang to the lobster. And there’s a hint of foie gras under there, just to bring the fat content up. As we worked through the lobster, the rose came out. I enjoy a rose. They just look so….festive. This one is clear on the palate, with a cheerfulness about it that’s hard to ignore. ( I asked for more of the Reserve. The rose was to cheerful to be lonely). Roasted Squab and Foie Gras With Celeriac Mousseline and Rhubarb Tarte Tatin Piper Heidsieck Rose Sauvage Brut N.V. Last year it was roast squab and parsnip mousseline. This year we’ve kept the squab and brought in celeriac to replace the parsnips. I guess its just a matter of rooting about for the right combinations (both of these are very traditional European vegetables, whose light has dimmed since the advent of the mighty spud). The handling of the foie gras is much different, though, as last year it was present as a sabayon, whereas now there’s a very satisfying bit of roast foie gras. (Aside: my favourite, still, of Michael’s various treatments of foie gras was his roast foie, a lovely, meat like thing served at the opening party) The rhubarb is, of course, perfect with the foie gras. That biting, bitter stalk from my youth, stewed and served with a mound of sugar. A good bird, done a bit beyond the point of bloody, in deference for the mainly Thai audience here tonight. Roasted Venison Loin Bordelaise With Truffled Foie Gras Flan This went both ways. Yoonhi had a beautiful piece of venison, just off of rare, with a muted flavour of game. Perfect. But mine was not quite right, and came away with a strong tang of iron, as if this particular beast hadn’t been bled out properly. In any case, the flan was a good match, the soft richness going with the vibrant game element. (I just wish mine hadn’t had that liver-flavour). Halva Parfait With Silan Date Honey and Sesame Croquant Remy Martin, VSOP Cointreau For dessert, a touch of the Middle East. A parfait flavoured with bits of halvah – the sesame based favourite of the Levant. Underneath, to anchor its tehina biography, a croquant of sesame seeds. We strayed from champagne to cognac to finish up. I would dearly love to have a Remy Martin Iceboxx for my home when I grow up. I’d not paid attention when I arrived, and had thought this was a stand for the champagne. As an aside, I’d met up with David and Itay in the pool earlier in the trip. Hudson Valley foie gras continues to do well, and, as David says “that’s good, as it pays for the other stuff”. But he’s having a lot of fun with his restaurants -Tel Aviv and Lola, in Great Neck - where he’s cooking what he feels like cooking. “We can probably only get away with it for a while longer, but it’s a lot of fun for now.” And he’s doing poutine, but with foie gras and black truffle. Man, that is something I’d like to see here next year. Chillled cognac made for a fair enough finish. If there was anything to complain about, it was that the glasses were so small. Still, it just means that you grab a lot of them, and, given the demographics of our table, we were soon weighed down with little shot glasses. The conversation, I must say, was captivating. One of our comrades had worked both sides of the Korean border for several years, and it’s not often that you get to break bread with someone with that sort of experience. It became apparent at some point that the staff were hoping to get home this evening. We repaired to the lobby, and continued our discussions, comparing the two Koreas. I looked down to my left, and, magically, a near-full bottle of champagne was there. That just helps the conversation even more. Miraculously, bottles of champagne and cognac continued to appear, until, finally, we parted company and we made our way back to our room. A good meal. It would be a bad headache, but a good meal. But I’ve really got to try that poutine of his some day. Next – The Mourning After
  25. Good news for Singapore. It seems that the AVA (Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority) removed absinthe from the banned list in November. There are some restrictions on the thujone levels (check them out here.
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