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Michael Laiskonis

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Posts posted by Michael Laiskonis

  1. The flavor mirrors that of coffee, yet offers so much more... an earthiness and spice. Using it in conjunction with coffee will give you interesting layers of flavor and depth, but I like on its own just fine.

    I remember posting the following in a thread over on the France forum, discussing those items one would bring back from a trip there, about a year ago...

    My great mission when in Paris was to find a liquid chicory extract that a chef friend turned me on to a few months ago. Far and away better than granules. Eventually found it at La Grande Epicerie on Rue du Bac (or is it Rue du Sevres?) in the 7th. Brought back armloads of it.


    Most Americans would know chicory as a coffee substitute (roasted and ground) and is quite common in New Orleans where it is added to coffee itself (the name of the specific drink escapes me, though I think the famous Café du Monde serves it). The liquid chicory, as it was explained to me by a French expatriate, is a favorite children's after-school drink, added to hot or cold milk, with a little sugar. I use it in ice creams, sauces, chocolates, etc. The liquid is nice; there can be a bit of guesswork with infusing granules. A little goes a long way! I do not, however, know exactly how the extract is produced.

    I don't have the bottle in front of me, but the brand is Leroux, dark brown bottle with a yellow cap and maybe 250 ml or so. About 2-3 euros. The few super-marchés I went to didn't carry it.

    Ken Oringer, along with his maitre d', Christian, at Clio in Boston, initially turned me on to the liquid extract. I used the last of my stash from last summer a couple of months ago... I think it is time to go back to France and pick up some more!

  2. Isn't it also funny that the majority of top chefs... are French...

    The idea came to me earlier this week, of starting a thread asking that very question... why do French chefs come to the US (and the UK, Japan, etc.)? And what is it about the culinary culture of France where more importance is placed on chefs who run patisseries, and not those who work in restaurants? Don't respond here. I'll get to to opening a fresh topic soon...

    We still haven't gotten many nominations for the world's best pastry shop...!

  3. All of this underscores my primary concern with regard to wholesale desserts, especially plated desserts...

    To what extent do you maintain control of your product, and by extension, your reputation? What compromises are you willing to make in order to please the client and make the sale?

    And perhaps a catch-22 situation... is it worth, as a wholesaler, trying to deal with a chef or company that isn't willing to hire an in-house pastry chef in the first place?!

  4. Pascal Caffet used to have a pastry shop...

    I hadn't realized that Caffet is no longer open. What about his pal, Olivier Bajard, whose shop, I believe, is in La Moutonne-La Crau, near St. Tropez? Having seen his style and methods up close, I've long been curious about his offerings...

    It would be interesting to open up the discussion to include shops that might reflect the recent pastry trends in Japan, where chefs have embraced the French model, yet applying their unique aesthetic and flavors. I can only testify as to what I've seen in the Japanese pastry magazines, but I've heard from more than one source that they just may be beating the French at their own game! Anyone intimate with the latest and best in Tokyo, Osaka, and elsewhere in Japan?

  5. I, too, am intrigued by the MPW tart- almost a rhubarb tarte tatin! I only own White Heat- not really inspired by the recipes offered there, but flipping through it now and then sure does lift my spirits when I'm feeling burned out and beat up!

    I love doing chips similar to the ones jackal10 describes above, though I poach them briefly in simple syrup, which will make them much more palatable in addition to merely pretty. I prefer to go in a very low oven (160-180ºF) and stop well short of 'caramelization'- it will taste bitter and nasty if taken too far! I also get the best results from bright pink, young and slender hothouse rhubarb.

    I don't do tarts, crisps, or crumbles per se, but my favorite rhubarb preparation is versatile, can be used hot or cold, as a sauce, compote, filling... And it offers a complex sweet-tart flavor with a backbone from caramelized sugar, a tight and consistent texture, and a beautiful deep, rich color. Not just as a dessert component, it is amazing with foie gras, too!

    I use rhubarb mostly early in the season, coincidentally, just as the best blood oranges are fading off (or at least, when they used to fade off- it sure seems as if the season gets longer every year). By adding the chopped (and I prefer peeled, as well) rhubarb to the lightly caramelized sugar, the moisture is released quickly, and the cooked sugar thickens and binds it somewhat. Late in the season, I've also used raspberry or strawberry juice, in place of blood orange, with pleasant results.

    Rhubarb-Citrus Compote

    YIELD: approx. 1#/500g

    300g granulated sugar

    water, as needed

    500g rhubarb, washed, peeled, and chopped

    juice and grated zest of one blood orange

    1. In a medium non-reactive sauté pan, place sugar and water to moisten.

    2. Over high heat, cook to a light caramel.

    3. Add rhubarb to the pan and toss. The sugar will immediately sieze, but as it cooks, allow juices from the rhubarb to dissolve hardened bits of sugar. Reduce heat. Stirring occasionally to avoid scorching, cook until mixture is fairly dry.

    4. Add orange zest and juice. Cook until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. Cool and chill, or use warm, immediately.

  6. I think there are people like that, who get the attention, though over time, fade out just as quickly. Fewer pastry chefs and more savory chefs come to my mind. And while I hate to perpetuate the idea of 'chef cliques', it's sometimes fairly easy to spot who has the respect of their peers and who doesn't, just by the company they keep. The public is easy- they'll tend to accept whoever is offered to them. Recognition from your peers is much harder, and for me, perhaps more important.

    Getting burned by such people directly, sure, I can see getting a little miffed. But on the whole, while I think it is important to keep up with who the flavor of the moment is, whether deserved or not, you can't necessarily put yourself in head to head competition. If you think they are a hack, take the high road and simply transfer that to your work and resist going down the path of shit talking and whatnot. At a certain level, the chef community is really quite small, and I think alanamoana is right, there is a bit of karma in this whole business. But then again, it's not necessarily bad to have an opinion, and to voice it once in a while. Personally, I like to keep my 'enemies' to a minimum. With few exceptions, if I don't have something positive to say, I tend to keep my mouth shut!

    Whenever I come across some cocky chef or cook, someone with a bit more attitude than talent, I just quietly think to myself, "OK, where will you be in five years... and where will I be?" Pondering that will usually make me feel much better!

  7. Are we limiting the field to just Paris, or beyond?

    To Ladurée and Dalloyau, I might add Gerard Mulot (6th arrondisement) to that category- contemporary, yet classic, meaning that you are likely to find the usual suspects plus signature pastry that has made each of those shops famous or distinctive from one another.

    Fauchon might be placed in the middle ground, progressive, but not exactly cutting edge. I was never lucky enough to see Fauchon while Pierre Herme was at the helm, but what I've seen over my visits within the last five years, I question whether his succesors have maintained what he started there. Beautiful stuff, but I can't really say. Also in this realm, I'd include Lenotre, whose newest (?) shop, about a year old, can be found on Rue Cler, in the 7th.

    For my money, the most exciting pastry in Paris can be found at Peltier and Pierre Herme. Both Herme and Philippe Conticini offer signature lines, or 'collections', that might be seasonally inspired, conceptual or technical (in the case of Herme, he offers a seasonal rotation of desserts served in small glasses... perhaps influenced by Conticini), or simply modern interpretations of the classics (as Conticini does). Though sadly Korova is long gone (Herme provided desserts for the restaurant and an attached salon du thé), for some of the most progressive restaurant desserts in Paris, Michelin starred Petrossian, where both the savory and the sweet are orchestrated by Conticini as well, is a must. It just might make you rethink the whole notion of 'plated' desserts.

    And though people seem to love it or hate it, a sentimental favorite of mine is Poujaran. Surely more of a boulangerie, as opposed to patisserie, Jean-Luc Poujauran was one of the first French bakers to go 'bio', and produces some of the best- rustic and simple- breads and pastries... think cannele, financier, pain au chocolat, etc.

    I'd love to see some candidates outside of Paris, if anyone would care to share them!

  8. 4)  The wireservices for many papers (NY Times, Wash Post, Chicago Tribune) usually have a delay in distribution from when the original story ran. If your local paper reprints food articles from the Times a week later, you can prepare a local content paragraph or sidebar with your pitch and have it on the reporter's or editor's desk ready to be used. Check the source so you know what's on the way to your local editor.

    Awesome tip.

    So, being media savvy also means paying attention to the press others are getting, and knowing how to position yourself among them. It's a way to practice that 'think globally, act locally' approach. You must make it a point to at least flip through the glossies, and browse the weekly, online food sections of the major newspapers. Once they are bookmarked, it's just a matter of a few minutes each day. And the great thing about eGullet is, most of the work is done for you, as we tend to cut through the fluff, and highlight the most relevant, meaty pieces being written.

    Not only will you be keeping in touch with the current trends and issues, but the more you read and scrutinize food writing and reportage, you'll notice patterns, styles, and agendas- which in turn prepare you for dealing with the media at large.

    5) Volunteering at food shows, food bank events, etc gets you in front of many chefs. There's always a need for people to work the line, help with plating, etc. Even if you're not the star, your get-it-done attitude will be noticed by potential employers. (one lucky eG member worked with Daniel Boulud at an event and even received a ride home from him)

    Another pearl. I've met and worked with dozens of students and aspiring pastry chefs at all kinds of events. The learning experience and potential contacts are indeed worth the time volunteered, and as someone often being in the position of relying on such help, it is appreciated, and sometimes, crucial to the success of the event. And there are several young chefs with whom I've kept in contact with long after the event; not only does it keep them engaged and inspired, but I feel it is in my best interest (and the industry as a whole) to foster that excitement and maintain those relationships.

    At my restaurant, we host a few guest chef dinners each year, and by keeping in touch with the local pastry community (chefs, assistants, and students), I've been able to provide opportunities for people to come in to my kitchen for those events, to work side by side with Nancy Silverton, Claudia Fleming, and most recently, Johnny Iuzzini. It is not uncommon for our kitchen staff to suddenly double on those days when a Morimoto, Ming Tsai, Eric Ripert, or Jean-Louis Palladin (sigh) join us to cook.

  9. ...allow me to take you all way back to October 2000 and the Gourmet magazine issue which invited us to "meet America's most exciting young chef."

    ..."There is indeed something of the Eagle Scout about DiSpirito, something a little too clean in his complexion and his brilliance, straight teeth, in his graceful posture, in his easy laughter.  Something perhaps calculating.  Serious, driven, and intense, he knows that being a chef today requires an image as managed as any major politician's, and he aims to manipulate that perception as efficiently as he brings a risotto to silky perfection."...

    I had been thinking of this Gourmet piece for the last few weeks, and Steve Klc's mention of it inspired me to dig it out of my files. From the paragraph just before the one Steve quoted:

    You are not likely to see him posing nude with an appliance or trying to beat the clock on a goofy TV show. Says Mark Dissin, a producer at the Food Network, "He doesn't really go after publicity like that. And yet he manages his persona very carefully."

    Perhaps my read of this is slightly different than Steve's. Having been around him a few times at this period (2000-2001), admiring not only his food, but his intensity and professionalism, I saw his attitude as a template, at the time, an anti-Emeril. I respected him for the choices he was making, at least as it was perceived. I thought he might be leading the way for our generation of chefs, but all the while making sure the focus was on the work, the passion.

    When I first learned of this TV project many months ago, I was excited, thinking that he was the one who could make it work. We'd see a slice of what went into a great kitchen, a great restaurant. As the details began to surface, my expectations and respect had plummeted, and have continued to do so with the airing of each painful episode. This makes "Ready, Set,...Cook" look like "Masterpiece Theater". This is the mother of all Vitamix ads, but without the blender there to hide all the naughty bits.

    I was initially worried for Rocco, and his reputation. Now, I realize these were choices he made, and while I wish he hadn't made them, I hope he finds continued success, because it is well deserved.

    I just have one less peer to look to for inspiration.

  10. Yikes, I lose power for a couple of days, and I return to find this! This is the kind of thread that makes me happy to be part of this little community we have.

    Where to start... I think we've split the discussion into two parts: recognition within the industry and recognition to the outside world. I don't know if these are two separate battles or one large conflict. Addressing both at once, I may at times simply summarize what others have already pointed out, but these are things that I think about and work toward and, generally, lie awake at night obsessing over...

    1. Doing good work and keeping in touch. Obvious, right? Refine, refine, refine. Make your crunchy textures crunchier, your ice creams smoother, your tuiles and chocolate garnish thinner and finer. You don't necessarily have to be 'innovative'. We are all working in different markets and at different price points and for different clientele; it's a given that what sells in NYC might not go over in Alberquerque. What I can produce for a hundred covers and sell at $12 a pop, won't be practical in a hip, high volume tapas-oriented restaurant in DC. Making your stuff better than any other place in town is the only way to start. Good tasting, attractive, and consistent pastry is essential. Keeping yourself up to date with developments, be they across the street, across the country, or across the globe keeps us envious and hungry and inspired. And look beyond the surface- dismissing Adria because "foams don't sell in Peoria" is missing the point. You can integrate the ideas and concepts behind what these chefs are doing on every level of production. I don't know how else to say it, but that you must strive to make each plate, cake, or bonbon better than your last. And it does have to be a 24/7 job for as long as you can handle it. Sure, the names you see on a monthly basis- Payard, Torres, Gand, Silverton, etc.- while they don't toil away at all hours in the kitchen now, I'd bet they did at one time. And then one could argue that the remaining balance of their time is filled with phone calls, recipe development, photo shoots, and the like, but more on that later.

    2. Spread your vision. So you are doing your best work, you're not spending too much money, and you are running things cleanly and efficiently. It all starts with your fellow employees. If you have assistants, make it so that they are excited to come to work every day. Whether they are making your bases or simply plating your ideas, make sure they believe in you. Care for them and teach them well, and get them to suscribe to your vision, because they will be your true legacy. As for the chef, you are still working under his or her overall vision, yet hopefully you are being given some autonomy and trust. Ask for guidelines, so you know how far to push them. Know what is expected of you, so you can exceed those expectations. When given an inch, take a mile; give them tastes on a daily basis, talk about things you've seen and want to try. Make every simple assignment a complex one. Make yourself irreplacable. Don't forget the little things- turning in your inventory early, typing up those menu changes instead of scrawling them down on a torn sheet of notebook paper. Be the golden boy/girl. I understand it can be a rare kind of relationship, but if the chemistry and support ain't there in the kitchen, you're not going to find it outside the kitchen. It's a great feeling when your chef brags about you to other chefs.

    Ah yes, outside the kitchen.. the front of house. The servers are your conduit. They must taste each dessert and they must know every component and ingredient. If they love it, they'll sell it, because it is in their own best interest to increase the check average. Sure, we all know the career waitrons who'll never give a shit. Find the two or three who care, who glance at a copy of Food Arts now and then, the ones who know an Hermes tie from and Herme macaron, the ones who know the difference between fleur de sel and Maldon salt. If they like what you are doing and they buy into your vision, they are going to know why Blumenthal or Bras or Balaguer influenced that dessert and they are going to convey that to the guest. Buy them a beer or a glass of wine once a week and find out what the guests are saying about this dessert, or why that dessert isn't moving. Get over the the BOH/FOH differences; they must be your allies. And you have the benefit of learning some of the insight from the guest's perspective.

    And don't forget the maitre d' and sommelier (ok, if you have them). Know what is on your wine list, make sure your somm or wine buyer knows your desserts. Heck, increase your own knowledge of wine, so that when you unveil a new dessert, you can say, "hey, I think we should order the Lustau San Emilio Pedro Ximenez sherry, because the caramel-malt-nut flavors in the dessert would work really well with it," or, "with the rhubarb component in this dessert, the acidity of a Bonnezeaux or a VT from Alsace would work better than a cloying Sauternes." Encourage your somm to put together a matching program- it doesn't have to be cheesy, just having the option and the inventory available. Feel confident and comfortable bitching and moaning if they serve a moscato with your chocolate dessert!

    Perhaps only in those "elite" environments, the maitre d' can be your most valuable FOH asset. At their best they are your (and the chef's, of course) representative out on the floor. In a best case scenario, the chef, pastry chef and front man are a trio, a visible team. And as one once described his job to me, a good maitre d' simply stands in front of the food, believing in it much like a gallery owner or museum curator. Make sure you find support there too.

    While you are not likely going to match the executive's chef's salary, at least try to put yourself in a position where you can command the same respect, as someone who efficiently runs their own department, and exercises creative control.

    3. Beyond the kitchen. Is your name on the menu? Do you have business cards? How many regular guests do you know by name or by sight? If you have the opportunity to walk the dining room, by all means, clean yourself up and get out there! If you are doing the best work you can do, people will want to tell you how much they loved it and ask questions. I work in an open kitchen; it was bizarre at first. And while there are still times I just want to hide and do my thing, I see it as a unique opportunity. I'll put certain components and garnishes on the counter in full view just to impress and start conversations. Guests will want to know how that was made, and what exactly is that? This winter, if you put Buddha's Hand on the menu, keep a whole one, and see how long you can snake through the dining room, showing off this crazy piece of fruit!

    Say yes to every ludicrous substitution and cater to every paranoid food allergy. Do you have a couple who dines in house on a weekly basis? A guy who drops a cool grand on that '82 Petrus? The cute couple who just got engaged? Have one or two VIP desserts- a surprise, something off the menu, two or three bites, something that makes people feel good. A pannacotta, a fruit soup... easy. Pay attention. Remember the crazy guy who only likes a Grand Marnier soufflé with extra creme anglaise, but also recognize the woman who has had everything on the menu and be prepared to whip up something new, just for her. Earn yourself some fans. At the same time, make sure they know who is responsible for it. You overhear that someone is going to Spain? Tell them they have to go to Cacao Sampaka and Espai Sucre. Give them the scoop. Tell them about that kooky eGullet website. Let them know you are down with what's up. Build a following among your regulars. They'll come to think of you whenever they think of pastry.

    4. The outside world. The kitchen staff is now curious about what you'll do next, the servers are happy because the guests are buying and loving everything, and chef is happy because the percentage of covers ordering dessert is well above 50%. Word of mouth is spreading, and you even have a good amount of late tables and bar traffic coming in for dessert only. Pastry cooks at other restaurants in town want to come and stage for a day. On your one night off you go out to another restaurant and see a copy of something you did last month. You are the big PC in your town or burg.

    If your restaurant or establishment has been open for awhile, chances are you are well in between the review cycle. But some local food writer catches wind of the buzz you are creating, and gives you a call... "We're doing a story on such and such..." Respond immediately. Chefs are notorious for being behind schedule and unorganized. They want one recipe, give them three. Keep your recipes on your computer- easy to access/edit and they can be emailed instantly. When the piece finally comes out, follow up with a thanks and an eagerness to work with them again in the future. Better yet, let them know when they have a story on their hands. Update your local press when you launch a new menu, or when you discover some new ingredient. Hype the local farmer who's getting you those beautiful peaches or that seedy asian market that is likely a chef's playground. You see some story in the NY Times of a chef using tobacco in desserts? Give the scoop to your local editor, saying that you can top that! They run a wire service bit on Pierre Herme using salt in his desserts, invite them into your place so they can taste something that you're doing, demonstrating why it works. It's simply about getting on their radar.

    If you live in a modest metropolitan area, you could probably name a half dozen daily, weekly, or monthly publications with limited, local circulation. If you don't know the food editor or writer by name, it's time to do some homework. Know their phone numbers and email addresses; know who they think is good and not so. They need you to generate interesting copy, and you need them to get some attention. Use them. Same goes with your local radio and television stations; if you or your restaurant has something to promote, give it a shot. They all love free food- especially dessert.

    4b. Take your show on the road. So you may not get an invite to Aspen or the Masters in Carmel, but once you get a fair amount of notice, you'll get asked to do all sorts of events- it might be a class for the church ladies, or a big charity gig. If your higher ups are willing to donate the food, you should be willing to donate the time. At first, say yes to everything. You'll learn a lot about setting up a demo and speaking to people the more you force yourself to do it. Doing a walk around tasting for two hundred across town will gear you up for the eventuality of shipping boxes of food to the next state to cook onsite for six hundred. It will come. And then you can be a bit more selective of the events you do. It is really important to talk to the people, and to work hard on how you present yourself. A lot of chefs phone it in with these kind of things. Challenge yourself- it will be noticed.

    5. Going national. It's sad but true. If you read about a chef in one of the glossies, or even Food Arts or Nation's Restaurant News, chances are they have PR representation. I vividly remember the day my naivete and innocence were shattered when I realized that many of my chef heroes made the big time with the help of publicists. I was under the delusion that chefs acheived fame simply of their own merit. Well, merit obviously plays a major role (though we all have our own lists of famous chefs who shouldn't be!), but good PR can be beneficial in at least getting your foot in the door, and getting on the radar screens of the big boys. Even if you find yourself with those resources available, it will still require a lot of work on your part. The deadlines are shorter, the restrictions tighter, and the competition for that space is more fierce. And then you have to keep pressure on the firm that represents you, reinforcing your vision and goals. You may want to be in Art Culinaire, but left to their own devices you might be lucky to surface in Restaurant Business. Just like the local press, the national press need us too. And despite what the evidence within the industry shows us, there is a slow creep of interest from the media. Whether it will boost the profession outside the big names... I don't know.

    So yeah, as Fat Guy noted, it all begins with not "sucking". I think it helps to have some kind of vision, something personal. And professionalism, both in the kitchen and out is key. There is also a lot of necessary motivation and work outside the kitchen, which I think FG meant by the word "de-ghettoize". It's not difficult, it's just a matter of commitment.

  11. I won't divulge the particular details, at least as I know them, though fans of Spring may be interested in a new project Shawn is working on. The concept is exciting and something that he should be able to pull off very well. Look for it to surface in the next few months...

    Shawn is opening a vegetarian restaurant. My "source" says it's somewhat close to Spring and will be close to the same price point. I think with his talent this will be a very interesting restaurant.

    If you know me well, you can probably figure out who my source is :smile: .

    Good. Now I don't feel bad, as if I was letting loose any deep secrets. I haven't seen Shawn in a couple months... they've had the space for some time... it's to open soon, yes?

  12. I haven't been across the border in ages (sad, as it is only a 20 minute drive), but there are indeed some here in the Detroit area that feel the overall dining scene is better in Windsor. Sorry I can't recommend anything specific...

  13. I won't divulge the particular details, at least as I know them, though fans of Spring may be interested in a new project Shawn is working on. The concept is exciting and something that he should be able to pull off very well. Look for it to surface in the next few months...

  14. I had a great time in in Toronto last week, though, apart from a brief foray into Chinatown and dinner at a portugese place, we were in the kitchen for much of the two or three days...

    Thanks for all the info- I'm hoping to return soon for some leisurely exploration.

  15. Although I don't know the brand of chocolate you are using, in what applications you are using it, nor the kind of quantities you are dealing with, the pistole format is probably the way to go. The slightly higher price of pistoles will be offset by the saved labor costs of manually breaking down block chocolate; my time is certainly more valuable than the extra cents per pound I pay. You can also factor in the ease of precise measurement, quick and uniform melting, and that there is no waste.

    Depending on your application (tempering, ganache), there may be concern that some manufacturers may formulate pistole and block formats differently. I personally haven't done any large scale, side by side comparisons to be able to pick up on any subtle differences in fluidity and the like, though I've heard claims that they may behave differently. For me, pistoles or tablets are the way to go.

  16. ... as they get a slightly wet feel.

    My first impression when reading about using a grinder per se, was that it would release too much oil. Commercially "ground" nuts go through more of a milling process. For those who have found success, though, carry on. While it is admirable to know how to produce such products as almond paste, and even finely ground nuts, I leave it to the commercial manufacturers to give me quality, consistency, and convenience.

    I guess I'm sort of with cheffette... stir together equal parts commercial almond flour and confectioner's sugar, and, well, that's it!

  17. Until you hear some glowing reports of the 6 quart Kitchenaid from some really good pastry chefs not sponsored by Kitchenaid, I'd stay away from them.

    Even as someone who is about to receive another comped KA product soon, I will offer a few of my criticisms...

    While I haven't yet burned out any motors on the newer models, I do find with repeated heavy use (small batches of pasta dough, and even thick nougats and marshmallow), some of the structural connections have a tendency to loosen up and wobble around a bit. Also, I've seen slippage with the attachment arm, which has required adustments so that the whip or paddle doesn't scrape the bowl too badly.

    I am also not a huge fan of the burnished metal attachments- I've seen doughs turn a nasty gray when not cared for properly. And with the wider bowl came that wider, flared out whip attachment... I'm glad that I just happened to save a narrow whip from one of the older 5 qt. models. It fits the new machine, and I use it when doing an italian meringue or pâte a bombe, as the wider whip tends to throw the stream of sugar syrup everywhere but into the eggs!

    Oh, and they sure are loud...

  18. i'll also go with belgian whites...

    At the restaurant, we just started serving an interesting Japanese beer, modeled after the white ale style, Hitachino Nest. From the Kiuchi Brewery. It's got a nose full of banana and clove and nutmeg, a subtle strawberry sweetness, yet finishes fairly clean, as one would expect from a Japanese beer. The same people also do what they call a red rice ale, among others, which is a touch heavier.

    Very cool.

  19. Tonights episode featuring the Bellagio was really interesting.

    Tan, any covergae of Jean Philippe Maury, exec. pastry chef at the Bellagio? I'd be curious to see how such an operation (dozens of cooks in the pastry shop alone) cranks it out, and what a televsion program of this sort might portray...

  20. Thanks to all for your responses... I will be taking a look at the previous thread as well. My time will be limited as it is a work trip, though coming from Detroit, there really is no good reason for not making the relatively short trip more often...

    Seeing as that I will be setting up shop at Susur for a couple days, what are all of your impressions of dessert there? How does it fit into the overall style of his savory cooking, and particularly with regard to the structure of his tasting menu?

  21. I'll be in town at the end of July for a guest chef dinner at Susur. I'm woefully ignorant of the pastry scene in the city, and assuming I'll have a day or so to explore, who or what should I check out? Restaurant pastry chefs, retail shops... anything?

  22. Clio and Radius. Picking my favorite of the two would depend on my mood, though Ken Oringer's cooking at Clio tends to be push the envelope a bit more (in a good way). Clio also has a sushi/sahshimi bar in an adjacent lounge that may offer an alternative if reservations are difficult to secure.

    Michael Schlow (Radius) also has two other restaurants, Via Matta, open now just over a year, and his latest, seafood-focused, if I recall, the name of which escapes me.

    No. 9 Park is solid and I've seen improvement over subsequent visits. Barbara Lynch deservedly won this year's Beard Award for the Northeast.

    Actually, I have to confess, one of the best meals I've had in the last few years was at Clio. Ask for Ken to orchestrate your menu, and you just may be blown away. Question for anyone who has been recently... How are the desserts at Clio these days? I know the pastry chef is relatively new and I've heard he's doing "interesting" things... Anyone?

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