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Everything posted by SWISS_CHEF

  1. Hi Man, Point taken, perhaps all the usual 'network of friendships' has been translated to conveniently blame the Communists... There is a lot of rivalry here among groups like GR, Slowfood, Coldiretti and Paolo Massobrio, etc.. All things being equal, I have found Paolo's guide to be the most useful for both wine and interesting restaurants, but I have heard it maligned too.
  2. Here some links of four restaurants within a ten miles of my home. Now, I live in the middle of nowhere, so before you dismiss all of Italy as backward, please take the time to look at these web pages and the pictures of their food. http://www.cascinamartini.com/ English side isn't working at the moment but click on Italian, then keep clicking on Passione and Traditizioni to see the pictures. http://www.locandamartelletti.it/ (click on: English, then: Restaurant, then: Our Cuisine) http://www.cannondoro.it/pages/ri_st_proposte.htm http://www.osterialecorte.it/ Old school house/clever web page designed like a report card. I think you would have to agree that the food is modern particularly considering our rural location. I have spent a couple of years traveling around France and I have found it very hard find restaurants of the quality I find regularly in Italy.
  3. I draw my parallels from the wine world, with which I am quite familiar and there is nothing preposterous about it. It is something I have heard over and over. Given what is at stake and the tremendous amount of corruption that exists in both the public and private sectors in Italy, it might be more preposterous to expect GR to be squeaky clean.
  4. Actually I have never really considered the French (on the whole) to be very dedicated to the cutting edge. By the way FG, have you eaten at Davide Scabin's Combal.Zero in Turin. He might change your opinion about Italian chefs being traditional. http://www.combal.it if you figure out how to work the very weird web page let me know...
  5. Look what I found: http://www.gamberorosso.it/portaleEng/noi/
  6. Not to worry, Get a good transformer about half the size of a shoebox and cook away. I came to Switzerland 8 years ago with my Kitchenaid and it has been working just fine. One word of warning: don't get one of those cheap plastic travel transformers you get at Walmart. They are worthless.
  7. Cinnamon goodness Grandma's kitchen Cutting edge Molecular cuisine Authentic French (Italian) Effortless Cooking Light Inspired
  8. Very helpful as always. But... ← I don't want to answer for Fortedei but I think the insinuation is that there are others that are better or deserve it more. Do you know the origins of GR? You might be surprised! GR is the food and wine commentary from the Manifesto news paper of the extreme left party in Italy. It is (in my, and many others opinion) steeped in politics. I can tell you with good authority that the wine makers that continually earn one, two and three Bicchieri are certainly not the finest wine makers in Italy. Many wine makers are sick-to-death of the whole GR/Slow Food political bullshit. Large numbers of winemakers that I respect greatly, swear open hatred of these two organizations and I can say that I have regularly tasted seriously inferior wines that continually earn Biccheri. My advice is to take all this GR stuff with a grain of salt!

    Erba Luna

    Never mind, got the address off the web page. Will pop them in the mail.
  10. I agree there is no easy answer. When I lived in the States I was always trying to squeeze more flavor out of the ingredients. I cooked ethnic, fusion, traditional...everything I could think of. Molecular cuisine didn't exist back then or I would have tried that too! Then I started coming to France and Italy and everything changed. Suddenly the same dishes I cooked in the US tasted totally different when cooked in Europe. The butter was different, the vegetables had so much more flavor, the only weak link was the beef but there were hundreds of other things to make up for that. The effect on my cooking was surprising. I began to use much less seasoning and my preparations became less elaborate. Shallots, white wine, mushrooms and cream made a simple sauce that tasted so good to me here and always left me wanting more in the States. In retrospect, I am sure that this influenced our decision to live in Europe. Note: I know that it is possible to get high quality ingredients in the US but you have to search for them and they usually cost a quite a bit more. I am referring to the average grocery store quality levels. Also, bear in mind that I have not set foot in the US in seven years so things have probably changed.
  11. I could not agree more. But this is hardly a phenomenon unique to Italy, so I just don't see it as justification that Italian restaurant ratings/rankings are inherently different than those in any other country. ← There seems to be a very strong sense of family and community and the people really depend on each other here in Italy, more so than I have experienced in the US or even Switzerland. Clearly, I am stereotyping and this may not be at all true in the big cities. edit: Also let me say, that I am not declaring the list as bogus. I couldn't possibly do that because Piazza Duomo is the only one I have eaten at.
  12. awesome sinful pan-seared scrumptious I once read a post by Anthony Bourdain using the words "skull-f#@ked"...I think we could lose those too.

    Erba Luna

    Judith I have seeds left over that my sister sent last summer. PM me your address and I will send you some packages.
  14. Hi P.N. Any idea of the salt content? Here it can be very salty. Thanks, S.C.
  15. I wonder, have the rest of you heard of the "three ingredients" argument before? Is it something that is heard everywhere in Italy or is it regional or perhaps even an abstract thought. Also, why is there an aversion (maybe you believe there isn't) to ultra modern cooking techniques in Italy? As a chef who has cooked in the US, France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, I have to say that the abundance of produce available in Italy is overwhelming and must leave the average cook here very content. When I cooked in the US, I was frequently frustrated with the variety and quality of the fresh ingredients. Can limitless variety and superb quality ever cancel out (or perhaps reduce the desire for) creativity?
  16. As a chef, having my food photographed without my knowing is like having someone snap a picture of me out of the blue. Was my hair combed? Did I look stupid? Was I holding my belly in? It is just something you like to be a little prepared for because the result may be misleading. Honestly I think it is asking a lot from the chef. Using a tiny camera or doing it without a flash is simply being covert. It does not change anything, except perhaps that it is less disruptive to the other customers. A good idea would be if some one said: "Hey your food looks fantastic, when can we setup a professional photo shoot" If you are only gathering souvenirs then tell them and hopefully they will believe you. If not, look closely, sniff, taste and remember. That works too. What would flatter me the most would be if you photograph the kitchen in full sail. A good kitchen is like an operating theater in a hospital and for many chefs it is where all the adrenaline comes from. Here you will take great pictures.
  17. I think that getting voted number 1 in Italy is often a question of politics (especially with GR). I know for a fact this is true for winemakers. I also think ratings have their place in many countries but in Italy there are so many great restaurants (and so much rampant corruption) that most Italians couldn't care less (or trust) who is declared to be number 1. My experience is that most Italians do not make pilgrimages to fine restaurants, they prefer to visit the place where they are well known and can be sure of special service. The food served to an unknown diner is not nearly as important as the plate served to an important long-time, regular customer. No restaurant guide can factor this in and it paves the way for quite mediocre restaurants to excel to astounding levels from time to time... for the right people.
  18. I'm not a star chaser and and I don't eat out very much, but I have been to Piazza Duomo in Alba several times in the last two years and I like it very much, but to be honest, I was very surprised to see it on the list.
  19. Very good point and an argument I have heard here in the Piemonte too. I have a wine company and attend lots of wine tastings and I do have trouble being objective when tasting multiple wines (even if I spit). Come to think of it, three is a good number. Not to dismiss layering but there are a lot of dishes (like stews and soups) that are composed of a wide range of ingredients and are actually better when they sit for a day or two and the flavors start to blend together.
  20. Thanks John and the rest of you. We are headed to Paris this weekend and we have not been there in a few years so this is very helpful. Will pick one and report back. Now let's see, I wonder where I put my camera!
  21. Here in Piemonte we LOVE salciccia. In Piemontese they pronounce it sal-chi-cha (in my surrounding villages). I am told it means salted fat. Here you can get it flavored with fennel and other spices but most people buy the plain version. I suppose all butchers have their own secret additives. Better quality salciccia has less fat in it. In Villa San Secondo there is a butcher named Gilberto that makes the stuff fresh every day and you can even eat his salciccia raw. I have many times and it is wonderful...strange at first, but once you get used to it it's great. I would not recommend doing that unless you know for sure that the butcher has a reputation for making salciccia to be eaten raw. Certainly do not eat grocery store salciccia raw!
  22. This is not true, I would say almost the reverse, go to Alba in November AFTER the truffle fair is over, all the tourists have left, the Umbrian and Croatian truffles have gone home and in fact everyone in Piedmont knows that November is better for (white) truffles then October or at least nowadays, and especially this year when the weather has been so dry (still) and white truffles are still scarse. Of course I am being somewhat facetious about the truffle fair, its still a great spectacle and the smell of truffles pervades the town every weekend. You know that there are local truffle festivals somewhere in Piedmont evry weekend from October to December, I I posted a list sometime back Piemonte Truffle Festivals. Although the truffle fairs and festivals are great to visit, I would still reccomend anyone who is not an expert and doesn't spaek Italian to have their truffles at a good restaurant, where they will have their own trifulau to supply them and becaus ethey are catering for Piedmontese customers will obviuously be serving the best they can find. Most of the small trattorie and osterie let you shave your truffle selection as much as you want and charge you by the gram, at a price not too much higher then the market price. By the way thats a white truffle in my hand ← Very good advice. Just heard that the market price at the moment is 3000 euros a kilo. When you are here you will hear a prices quoted per "etto" which is 100 grams so 3000 a kilo would be "300 a l'etto".
  23. So why are we being shown these things? Can a photograph substitute for us being flown there to experience the real thing with you? Is it any different to see photos of it than to be invited there and witness the transformation in person? If we only read about it on paper and see photos of it, can we possibly care about it then? Or is it the case that when it's photos you took of something that you care about, or want for a documentation or a remembrance, that it's the most wonderful thing in the world, and when it's photos of things that other people took for the documentation or remembrance of something that they care about, it's meaningless, pointless, and useless? Why is it the case that if you want a photo album of every nail and every inch of tubing that went into your house, it's valid, and if somebody else wants a photo album of every dinner they ate on their vacation, it's stupid. Is this all about what matters to you? This was in no way intended to be a personal attack; I was just noticing the hundreds of photos that you posted, and wondering if your own postulations about the meaninglessness of photos only applied to those that others have taken? ← I couldn't agree more. My pictures are endless and tedious. It was done as a documentary and it does not at all give you a feel for what my little house is really like. The pictures are by nature deceptive and I am disappointed that I have not been able to capture the essence of the project. The same is true of all my blogging and my eGullet posts. I totally understand why people write about and photograph food and I don't begrudge them that. The problem is I love food and so it is a pleasure for me to write about and photograph it but the limits of words and photos frustrate me as a medium and so I prefer to cook. Back to the original question: I have photographed food in restaurants (even without asking) I was once almost thrown out of Fauchon in Paris for filming with a video camera and I have also had my food photographed by customers in the restaurants that I have worked. It is just a fact of life, people want a memento. But I find that if I stop, smell and study a great plating I carry a fonder and clearer memory of it than a photo can capture.
  24. Was there ever anyone stupid enough to consider them a substitute for the real thing? Do you think people take food photos to eat them later? ← Delicately put Ptipois, thank you. Of course not, my point is, if you want to really learn about, appreciate and understand food you have to cook, share and eat it. Reading about it and looking at enhanced pictures (although often useful) have some major shortcomings. I know many people that have stacks of food magazines and cookbooks and yet hardly ever venture into the kitchen and get the pots and pans dirty. For these people, the pictures and articles become a substitution for the real thing. Ask yourself how many hours you spend on eGullet and looking at and reading about food in books and magazines and how many do you spend cooking? To be honest, aren't we all a little guilty of this? What does an computer-enhanced photograph have to do with the flavors, textures and aromas of the original dish? Can one person's review ever accurately and completely sum up a restaurant? How can we ever really judge food by these things? I'm not saying to ignore them, I am saying that you have to consider the motivation behind them. You can't lie to your tongue, but the eyes and the mind are another story. Anyway that's just my opinion... snap away!
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