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Jon Tseng

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  1. Hmmm. Finally got round to trying this place yesterday and found it somewhat ordinary. Canapees: The buttermilk fried chicken was best in class, but at the end of the day simply a very well executed chicken nugget. While I applaud how they keep the meat inside so moist (is there any brining involved) there was little discernable "pine" flavour. Other nibbles - radish with gouchuchang and smoked roe on toast (basically taramasalata on ryvita) a bit meh.Starters: I had the mackeral tartare mentioned above - not really anything more than the sum of its parts with the mackeral tasting a bit "fishy" to me (why can't other restaurants get those big spanking fat mackeral you find in Atariya and other Japanese grill joints around town?). Its basically raw mackeral mixed with some gooseberries with some raw cumcumber on top and a microscopic dab of mustard on the side. What can I say? Well sourced and competently assembled...Main: Roast Lincolnshire chicken with cobnuts, summer truffle and other do-dads was again an unsatisfying dish. The chicken was low temp cooked with (I think) the skin crisped flat between baking sheets and added back on top. Only problem was the end part of the chicken ended up unpleasantly medium inside with a corresponding gelatinous texture. Now I know there is an argument for cooking pork/chicken less than has been done historically (I remember a superb piece of pork at Le Gavroche many years ago done nicely medium), but I think this was underdone. The other complaint - any chef who puts summer truffles on a dish goes down instantly in my estimation. This is an ingredient with the flavour and texture of cardboard - the only reason to include it is if you care more about how your dish reads on the menu than it tastes. My conclusion the same as with the tartare - a dish which was not more than the sum of its parts.Dessert: Pudding was poached damsons with meadowsweet custard. The baked custard was nice (think creme brulee without the brulee) but overpowered by the fruit. The waiter proudly told us that the fruit had been dehydrated and then poached... Which begs the question why dry something out if you're then going to cook in liquid (yes I know there's probably some replacement of water with poaching liquid going on... but you get the idea).All in all disappointing given the laudatory reviews around the press. I'm left thinking if I'm just turning into a grumpy old curmudgeon in my old age - I has a similar disappointing experience at Restaurant Story (am I the only person who thinks the tallow candle is basically a too-clever rip-off of St John Roast Bone Marrow? Its exactly the same flavour profile with the added feature that if you leave it too long it congeals...). To me the Noma-esque throw-textures-together-on-a-plate approach is very hard to pull off. You need not only pristine ingredients and technique, but the ability to make ta dish greater than the sum of parts. Texture and Viajante pull it off in London, but few other places satisfy. J
  2. My suspicion on this one is that correlation does not necessarily imply causation. If it was a Thuilier dish not a Outhier one I might be tempted to agree, given how much Heston has talked about his experience at Le Baux. While some components are similar (fruit trompe l'oeil, stalk of real plant in top, pate-type composition, some are not (Napoule version has truffle pit, 100% foie, also not clear if the outside is the same concept). Although I do find Heston's faux-medieval inspiration for the dish slightly tendentious (its a chicken-liver-parfait-with-fruit-jelly with a slightly tarted-up presentation. so what), I see no reason to suspect he's ripping off anyone in particular. As I said, correlation vs. causation an' all that. J
  3. Yeah I tried the torchon (French Laundry version) a few years ago. Found it just a bit too rich though Maybe good if you're shaving it on a salad but not if you're gorging big chunks of it! Also in the UK I'm never quite sure of the quality of the stuff we get - I always worry that we end up at the bottom of the heap when the French decide who gets what! Lets see... J
  4. Yeah deveining it and using the poor man's sous vide is the way to go... (Oliver yeah veins are a bit of a pain when cooked. Easier (though not easy) to get them out while its puttylike and raw). My main issue is that I tend to get 40-50% fat leakage when I opt the traditional route oven - presumably even with a water bath its just too hot. Am trying to moderate the gradient of the temp curve variations so the top doesn't melt off before the middle is done! Ta J
  5. PS finally ran into the PG book the other day. Actually pretty dire alas - lots of very dull domesticated recipes. Not much Pierre. Oh well!
  6. Okay so I've got me hands on a nice plump 700g duck foie gras for Xmas lunch. My normal modus operandi would be to crack it open, devein the puppy, season, terrine and then bake in a water bath til the centre gets a shade over 60c (I know if can be 58c or below but I prefer to be a little over). But the thing is vacuums packed so it occured to me is there any reason I can't just drop the pack into a warmish pot of water and just let it gently poach til its done? Obviously it won't be deveined or seasoned but I think I can live with that. Salt can always be added once its sliced. As you've probably guessed I don't have a vacuum packer or any particular sous vide gear. I figure with a heat diffused and a gas flame I should be able to keep a pot of water at 70c or thereabouts. Is there any reason this wouldn't work and/or kill someone? What temps does standard commercial vac packing plastic melt at? Anyone tried this before? All the best J
  7. There aren't that many over in the UK that are padded but I do like it when it is. Add's a touch of luxury - maybe if everything was padded I might thinks its overkill. Not that practical in kitchen but works nice on the coffee table. I guess partly it makes it look nice and partly its signalling effect "this is a luxury item. be prepared to pay more". I remember years ago I visit a company which manufactured DVD box sets and they pointed out they made quite a lot of money designing posh packaging for more expensive box sets. Same rationale applies. Ta J
  8. Yes I've got the pressure cooker bug too recently. Excellent for blasting pigs cheeks in half an hour, making congee in even less. Don't know how I lived without it. Really want to try octopus in it soon. Actually the original Modernist Cuisine set doesn't have much on pressure cookers. It recommends them for making stocks, but while it admits they have their uses cooking tough meats the preferred method is sous vide, hence much more on that. There is a table in there of recommended pressure cooker times for meats but I can never find it as the PC stuff is poorly index. The Modernist Cuisine @Home book seems to use pressure cookers much more, presumably because its a more accessible piece of kit. re: books here are two recent ones I've had my eye on: The Pressure Cooker Cookbook by Catherine Phipps 80 Recipes for your Pressure Cooker by Richard Ehrlich Happy blasting! J
  9. Agree it's broad topic - if we're talking all books abt food which aren't recipe books. The way I'm thinking about it is food about the process of cooking which aren't cookbooks, as opposed to works of culinary biography, history, reportage. I think that's a more fruitful category to explore... If we want good food bios etc the list in endless! J
  10. The best two books two books I know about cooking aren't recipe books: Culinary Artistry (Dornenburg & Page) and On Food and Cooking (McGee). J
  11. e.g. deglaze the pan you fried the iberico pork in with stock/sherry/etc, add some juniper berries/random flavour ingredient. finish with butter. In contrast to have some chef saucier on the other side of the kitchen prepare a veal stock several hours ago, reduce it, add madeira, thicken with flour and then add juniper berries at the end and then come across to you and splosh it over the finished dish. If you want a good understanding of sauces my recommendation is to get your hands on a copy of James Peterson's Sauces: Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making. It explains this all far better than I could! J
  12. Off the top of my head: Thickeners: Classical sauces often used flour to thicken then. Contemporary sauces use reductions of the liquid itself rather than adding a starch, or don't thicken it at all. Structure: Classical sauces are generally created by taking a "mother" sauce (e.g. veloute, bechemal, supreme) and adding flavouring ingredients to create desired variation. Contemporary sauces don't have such a structured typography. Integralness (is that a word?: Classical sauces prepared seperate from dish. Contemporary prepared as part of the dish. NB by "contemporary" I mean anything non-Escoffier ie nouvelle cuisine onwards. Of course one you get molecular with all sorts of fluid gels, carrageens etc it gets even more complicated. J
  13. PS I pillaged the selection at Foyles (London's best cookbook selection) the other week and two volumes I thought particularly interesting were Japanese Farm Food by Nancy Singleton Hachisu and Secrets of the Sommeliers by Rajat Parr (this one might be a year or two old - its a US import). Both def were worth looking at J
  14. Bugger. I've been blogging about cookbooks for a whole two months now and not been offered one freebie of note! Not even a copy of Jamie's Fifteen Minute Meals. Am clearly not doing enough to make myself notable! ;-p
  15. More thoughts (random, in no apparent order) 1) Beauty contest vs. peer review: One disadvantage of Twitter / blogs is they tend to reward quantity over quality. For example if someone who doesn't know their arse from their elbow posts on a forum they tend to be shot down quite quickly (and sometimes too harshly, I might add - viz "trolling"). In contrast they can keep posting their blog as long as they want and curate critical away comments to their hearts desire. As the Twitter/blog world rewards weight of followers what is most popular is right, rather than whats is most insightful or correct. Of course in a perfect market what is most correct is what is most popular. Two words: Daily Mail. 2) Immediacy: Twitter wins by a country mile. Note this is part of a wider trend (viz "prosumer") where keen amateurs are closer to pros and have more interaction with them. eGullet was ironically at the cutting edge of this trend in the early 2000s (viz Alinea thread) in contrast to Chowhound which shut-down pro-amateur interaction via its shilling policies. However Twitter now spanks it in this regard (although not always in a good way - viz #chefunite). 3) Depth vs. breadth vs. control: Twitter gives very shallow, broad information and lots of interaction (although there is a lot of noise - info is definitely not presented in an optimal manner). Blogs provide in-depth analysis but little interaction. Forums provide something between the two. However the downside of forums is that they take control away from the user (viz comments about moderation) where as a blog you have complete control over your environment. Unfortunately people tend to prefer control over quality of interaction - obviously quality of moderation is also a variable here. Happy Sunday. I'm off to research a blog post on Cooking for Geeks! J
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