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AlexForbes

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  1. The reopening is now official, effective today. Thought some of you might like to read

    a very well-written update on the whole fiasco, posted today in the

    Guardian`s Word of Mouth blog. Here's the link.

    It even comes with an official statement from Heston, in which he says that

    "Obviously we are overjoyed to be able to get back to business as normal."

    Hooray.

    I couldn't agree more with Tim Hayward when he says

    " it will be an enormous pity if this unfortunate episode damages his reputation or holds back his efforts to push British cuisine forward."

  2. The irony of it all, Heston's book and TV series being called In Search of Perfection... and yet letting perfection slip, somehow.

    I think Heston is one of the nicest, most perfectionist and humblest chefs out there, and that's why I find the news of the closing incredibly sad.

    He explains exactly what happened and what's being done to remedy the situation in an interview with The Guardian's Matthew Fort.

    Here is the link to the video.

    That takes courage and strength of character, and I commend him.

    And I also hope they figure out soon what went wrong.

  3. Hi everyone,

    this is for anyone planning a trip to Rio or SP and is researching restaurants. My list of tips:

    1- For those who have trouble booking a table due to language barriers, the best thing to do is either call or email the concierge of the hotel where you'll be staying and ask them to do it for you. Any 5 star hotel offers this service, as do many 4 star hotels. Another good tip is to use the concierge service of your credit card (Visa Signature, Amex centurion, etc) - premium cards offer premium services, so make good use of them! BTWY, reservations are essencial at Roberta Sudbrack and D.O.M. and any other high-end restaurant. Do keep in mind, however, that Brazilians dine late, so if you show up at 8 without a reservation you might get a table. The big rush usually starts at 9.

    2- For reviews in English of Roberta Sudbrack and other restaurants in São Paulo and Rio, with photos, you may want to check out the site Brazil for Insiders

    3- For those looking for good recommendations of very casual places in Rio, the secret password is boteco (bow-tekk-ow), which means small bar. Rio is famous for its wonderful botecos, which are very simple bars, usually with rickety tables set up on the sidewalk, where you can have an excellent meal for under 10 dollars. things to try include caldinho de feijão (black bean soup), bolinho de bacalhau (cod croquettes), empadinha de palmito (crumbly, buttery pastry filled with seasoned heart of palm and baked) and pastel (samosa-like deep-fried pastry with fillings that come in a few standard flavours, cheese, meat or shrimp). Rio's most famous boteco is the Bracarense, in the Leblon district, adjacent to Ipanema.

    hope this helps!

  4. Doc, I honestly think that the economic climate will have no effect whatsoever on El Bulli`s business. They have such an incredibly huge overflow of people that yearn for reservations that no recession, no matter how strong, would ever make that place easy to eat at!

    Especially now that we all know it`ll only be around for 3 more yrs...

  5. Thanks for the link, Robyn. It turns out my friend Patricia Ferraz, who edits the most important newspaper section in Brazil, O Estado de Sao Paulo's PALADAR, wrote a big piece on ceviches this week. In it she says

    "La Mar (...) In Brazil the business has as partner Alexandre Miqui, who owns Shimo. (...) A Peruvian chef is already in Brazil training the team."

    The Sao Paulo La Mar will be in the Itaim district, and will serve 6 different ceviches, among other things.

  6. There are lots of interesting restaurants opening in Sao Paulo this season. Dalva e Dito is THE one everyone is talking about, but other openings of note include:

    Millesapori

    Tiny restaurant owned by an expansive and eccentric Italian. Food is as straight-forward as it gets: arugula topped with sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan shavings, freshly-made pasta topped with a rustic tomato and celery sauce. For desserts, he’s got gelatos from one of the city’s top ice cream shops, Sottozero.

    Millesapori

    Rua Pedroso Alvarenga, 1177, Itaim, (55-11) 3073-1061

    Na Cozinha

    Self-billed a “gastropub” – although it was never a pub to begin with – Na Cozinha is actually a hip little restaurant in the same line as the bistronomics that are becoming so popular in France and Spain. Casual setting, ambitious food, open kitchen (which you must cross to get from the room in front to the additional tables in the back. Plates and bowls are by ceramist Hideko Honma.

    Na Cozinha

    R. Haddock Lobo, 955, Jardins, (55-11) 3063-5377

    Vito

    An “authentic” italian owned by André Mifano, a tatooed and outspoken chef who, surprisingly, has never been to Italy. It’s always filled with foodies, who get there by word of mouth, which means it’s quite hard to score a table. A trusted friend went recently and found it very overrated - dry pork belly, apple risotto teeming with garlic. But many others have gone and loved it.

    He makes a great raviolo stuffed with shredded oxtail.

    Vito: Rua Pascoal Vita, Vila Beatriz, tel. 55-11 3032-1469

    Has anyone been?

    ps. photos posted on my blog (link below)

  7. Sorry, Robyn, but I think you're mistaken. The only mention of franchises I found in the article cited above was this:

    "The decision to take La Mar to America ahead of his other franchises, which include the white-linen Astrid y Gastón and the fast-food Peruvian sandwich joint Hermanos Pasquale, was a conscious one."

    And by America the writer means the US. I doubt VERY MUCH that the Sao Paulo restaurant will be a franchise in which Acurio has little say. In fact, even in the other franchises, I am sure he's quite involved and is a part-owner, even if he is backed by investors.

    That being said, I still don't have the contact of his P.R. people.

    anyone?

  8. Doc (and others that attended the MF):

    There was a lot of talk about Brazil being the featured country at the next

    Madrid Fusión. I've been told that

    Joan Roca and other chefs were gently nudging organizers in

    that direction. Were any announcements made on stage about the next MF?

    Also, I heard Grant Achatz did not discuss, as was expected,

    his tragic loss of his sense of taste in 2007

    due do his cancer, and how he dealt with that and managed to still put

    out tasting menus full of new dishes and new flavours.

    How he found a way, in other words,

    to heighten his other senses to make up for the lost one.

    Is it true that he did not touch on that subject?

    Last but not least, how could one summarize Elena

    Arzak's presentation on colour?

    Did I understand correctly that in some dishes the colour of, say,

    a broth can be changed tableside, as the diner watches,

    without altering the flavour of

    the dish? Can someone please clarify this?

    thanks!

  9. O.K., so it's now the third day of the Madrid Fusion, which ends tomorrow night.

    Here's a report on what was said at the highly anticipated debate "Does Molecular

    Gastronomy Exist?"

    Andoni Aduriz (chef-owner of Mugaritz) said that cooking and science have always been linked, and illustrated his point with examples of how food has been conserved in the past, in confits and compotes, for instance.

    Harold McGee (author of the cult book On Food and Cooking), ever so modest, started by saying: "I'm not a scientist nor a cook, but a writer". He said anyone that cooks will easily find a million things about it that are scientific, and in that he includes not only chemistry but also physics, biology and psychology.

    Heston Blumenthal (chef-owner of The Fat Duck) said that "what makes a great chef or a great restaurant is the same that makes a great work of art: sensations". He said it's very important to respect the history of gastronomy, and that it's natural that everything that is going on now in avvant-garde cooking is a bit shocking to some. Likewise, people were shocked when electricity was invented. But that it's important to realize that it shouldn't be this scary, and that using a Thermomix or an immersion circulator is no different than using a blender.

    As far as the terminology goes, he favours the use of "gastronomy", plain and simple. No "molecular", no techno, no scientific this or that.

    Ferran Adrià, with a loaf of bread in his hand, said “Science has always been linked to cooking. Every aspect of this bread contains science, from the search for the best flour and the best yeast to the choice of baking method and oven.". He also said that the chocolates we eat today, too, are "scientific" in their own way. Thanks to science, the way chocolate is made has progressed greatly and improved greatly. Today's chocolates are more refined and less rustic and plain better, thanks to science.

    Aduriz said he studies herbs. Some herbs mostly used in cooking have medicinal properties, and vice-versa, and he wants to explore this and learn more about it. That too is science, he said. Bottany is a science.

    Harold Mcgee said that the fear of science in cooking probably stems from the terminology (molecular gastronomy, for example), and that it makes little sense.

    Brazilian chef Alex Atala (owner of D.O.M. and Dalva e Dito) was in the audience and afterwards said that "Mc Gee spoke brilliantly" and that he lives these times of discovery in cooking with all his soul.

  10. vserna, I love how your comments always DRIP with sarcasm.

    so if you want to talk wines, here it is, a list of tastings that will take place at the MF:

    Sponsored by ICEX, 5 Spanish wine tastings have been planned:

    (text from the official program press release):

    >JANUARY 20th

    From 9h30 to 11h15. INNOVATIVE SPAIN: ancient

    > vineyards, new wines. A trip through the most novel and interesting wine

    > labels to have appeared over the last year on the Spanish wine scene,

    > paying particular attention to wines from less known Spanish wine

    > producing regions that have attracted little press atention. A

    > presentation of premieres, which in a way aims to open attendees eyes to

    > the new offerings of an ever expanding wine industry.

    >

    From 17h30 to 18h45. ALBARIÑOS. Longevidad juvenil

    > (Youthful long lived ALBARIÑOS), offered by the Regulatory Board of the

    > Rías Baixas Designation of Origin).

    > The wine tasting will focus on a selection of Albariño

    > wines. These Galician whites have managed to redefine the historical

    > interpretation specialists and the public at large used to have of these

    > Spanish white wines - accepted as vintage wines with scant ageing

    > potential - diversifying their profiles by means of the ageing on lees or

    > in tanks. Rías Baixas white wines are today´s most representative sample

    > of the ageing potential possessed by some Spanish vineyard white wines,

    > and the Albariño variety itself represents the flagship on this new

    > generation of white wines created to mellow with the years.

    >

    > - JANUARY 21st

    From 9h30 to 11h15. RIBERA DEL DUERO, Punta de lanza

    > , sponsored by the Ribera del Duero Designation of Origin.

    25 years have passed since the birth of this Designation of

    > Origin, a bench mark among Spanish wines, and once this wine comes of age,

    > the 21st century will show us a Ribera del Duero without inhibitions and

    > with a wine wealth in terms both of authors and well established national

    > wineries which without doubt bestows on this region a great potential for

    > international critics. This reach heritage will be the source from which

    > 15 of their best wines will be selected for a presentation where classic

    > and new born wines will live together.

    >

    From 17h30 to 18h45. GRANDES PAGOS DE ESPAÑA.

    A trip through the most outstanding features endowed to the

    > small wine growing regions of our country. This wine tasting sponsored by

    > the association of select wineries of the same name, which will offer

    > delegates the chance to fully appreciate for themselves the quality of the

    > most recently produced wines achieved through respect and fidelity for the

    > native soil where the wines are cultivated. The requirements to join the

    > ranks of this selected group are demanding; while the urge which brings

    > them together is universal. The seduction of the unique as opposed to

    > globalized uniformity.

    >

    > - JANUARY 22nd

    From 9h15 to 10h45. RIOJA, las compras más

    > inteligentes (RIOJA. The smart buys). Offered by the Regulatory Board of

    > the Rioja Qualified Designation of Origin.

    A tasting of various UEC selected wines, following

    > assessment by national and international critics, will be introduced in

    > terms of their excellent price/quality relationship among all the

    > Qualified Designation of Origin Wines. No doubt about it, this is going to

    > be a really useful tasting for all the attending professionals and will

    > demonstrate once again why Rioja is still a wine making power due to its

    > variety, global quality and diversity of wines.

  11. gallery_36345_6409_1609.jpg

    Chef Alex Atala's Dalva e Dito, which officially opened last night with a cocktail party, is, most definitely, THE restaurant opening of the season.

    Construction was very delayed - months and months, if not even a year! - and in that time, expectations grew tenfold.

    Only a mere steps away from his flagship D.O.M., Dalva e Dito aims to serve ultra-perfected Brazilian comfort food. Simple food made by a huge brigade (70 cooks!) under the direction of Frenchman Alain Poletto, in an ultra-expensive and equipped kitchen (the restaurant reportedly cost 6 million reais, or more than 2 million dollars).

    Dalva e Dito's open kitchen has very separate food stations, including one entirely devoted to sous vide.

    Waiters have been trained to serve the dishes - big, family-style portions - and carve meats tableside, in the traditional French manner. The signature dish is the roast chicken, roasted to perfection in what Atala calls "the Ferrari of roasters", a Rotissol rôtissoir flewn in from France.

    The space is nothing short of beautiful. Modern, but not in a tired all-white minimalistic way. Very Brazilian, but not in a folksy or tacky way. Hats off to designer Marcelo Rosenbaum. I especially like the terrace shaded by ferns and the bold wall art showing tropical birds in the downstairs bara.

    The bar serves finger food, with a communal table.

    To see photos of Dalva e Dito, just click here.

  12. I don't think this is meant to be a discussion of the merits of the term. Instead it is more of a dialectic on why the term doesn't work or apply. They want to put the term to rest.

    Agreed, Doc. Which is why I wonder how come they're even bothering to have this "round table discussion". The term molecular gastronomy has long been dead, we all know it, so why keep repeating the reasons why it was "killed"? Is it for the benefit of those in the audience who aren't up-to-date on the issue? Wouldn't it be better to discuss something new, considering how rare it is to have these greats together on the same stage?

  13. I know Doc is going. So am I. Any other egulleters?

    No big Ferran ending this time, sadly. But then again, is there anything he hasn't said yet? He'll be doing a round table on molecular gastronomy (yawn) with Heston Blumenthal, Andoni Luis Aduriz and Harold McGee.

    Other highlights include:

    1- Angel Leon on plankton

    2- Elena Arzak on color

    3- David Chang and Sotohiro Kosugi on small plates

    4- Gagnaire on... Gagnaire

    5- Achatz on the power of gastronomic memory (and did he ever use his memory! the guy had a cancer on the tongue and couldn't taste his own creations!)

    for those of you who can read in Portuguese, I wrote about it in greater detail HERE.

    The link to the official site is HERE.

  14. Hello Ronaldoebt, yes, I have many many many photos of the Mesa Tendencias event. For those of you who understand Portuguese, the index of all that I wrote about the event, illustrated with photos and videos, is HERE.

    For English speakers, you can read a full account in English of the amazing dinner that Alex Atala served to all the Spanish greats at the close of Mesa Tendencias - attended by Berasategui, Arzak, Adrià, Joan Roca, Andoni Aduriz, Josean Alija, etc - with a video and a description of all the Amazonian ingredients, by clicking HERE.

  15. Thought I'd add a couple of things... Minibar - José Andrés' tiny D.C. restaurant - is actually a restaurant within a restaurant. It looks like a small sushi bar, and it's hidden on the upper floor of his Cafe Atlantico restaurant. Diners sit at the counter and enjoy the "show" - 2 or 3 hours of culinary malabarism.

    Egulleter Zeemanb described Minibar very well, so I'll quote his blog:

    "There is nothing like sitting and watching what goes on in the minibar “kitchen”. It’s part laboratory, with things like liquid nitrogen and thermal immersion circulators, and part gourmet kitchen, with all manner of containers and ingredients meticulously spread out on the counter. (...) The level of detail is excruciatingly amazing…..elements like using a big pair of surgical tweezers to grab single bits of lime zest off of a microplane before gently placing it on top of a dish…and that sort of precision was the theme throughout the evening. "

    What I'd love to know is if the L.A. outpost will mimick the Minibar concept, or will be a simpler, less adventurous restaurant, which is more probable, since the place is a) in a hotel and b) much bigger than Minibar.

    Still, I found out they will serve a few trademark Minibar concoctions in L.A., such as the caipirinha nitro and the steamed buns with caviar.

  16. I've long been a huge fan of José Andrés, the Spanish chef who is an old friend of Ferran Adrià's and serves dazzling tasting menus at the tiny Minibar in Washington D.C.

    Here's a full report of my last meal there. Some of his specialties are the deconstructed guacamole, foie gras cotton candy and an amuse of caipirinha nitro (a solid and smoke-filled version of the traditional Brazilian cocktail).

    It's not just me that loves this chef, in fact: many egulleters have raved about his ultra-inventive cooking in the D.C. forum. The link to the Minibar topic is here

    For those who have never heard of him, here's a quick recap, quoted from the press release:

    "Born in Asturias and raised in Barcelona (...) His popular Washington, DC restaurant, Jaleo, was one of the first critically and commercially successful tapas restaurants in America(...) José has also been credited with introducing Americans to both traditional and avant-garde Spanish cooking, particularly with his exclusive Washington, DC-based restaurant, minibar by josé andrés. Food & Wine hailed José as the “hero of the Spanish revolution,” who “helped create the Spanish food boom in America.” And the late R.W. Apple of the New York Times called him “the boy wonder of culinary Washington.” José is also a television star in Spain."

    It turns out he's just opened (or is about to open, I am not sure) his first West Coast restaurant, Bazaar, at the SLS hotel, which by the way has a very funky website

    The p.r. team sent me a release and photos (below) of the dishes but I was wondering... have any of you tried it yet? I'd love to hear your thoughts...

    gallery_36345_6344_18743.jpg

    WATERMELON CUBES WITH TOMATO SEEDS

    gallery_36345_6344_9206.jpg

    TROUT ROE CONES

    gallery_36345_6344_26371.jpg

    WATERMELON WITH FETA

    gallery_36345_6344_5959.jpg

    LOBSTER SALAD

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