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Jon Tseng

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Everything posted by Jon Tseng

  1. Buy them as late as you can but they're good for a few days. Not like, say, a crisp tart shell which loses its crunch. Yes, as piracer suggests Pierre Herme leaves his macs a few days before selling thing. Although this probably doesn't help you if you're buying them from the shop! In my experience a box of macs, like an opened bottle of Tokaji, keeps in the fridge longer than you think.
  2. One observation I'd make about Sharrow Bay. A number of components repeat themselves on the menu, e.g. a creamy risotto component in a couple of dishes or, as I've already mentioned, very similar saucing. I think this is a feature of old school haute cuisine - think Escoffier giving your mother sauces as building blocks to work with. The idea of individually composed dishes with fewer shared components is something you see, I think, from nouvelle cuisine onwards. Just an historical note. J
  3. After I went I looked up some of the write-ups at the start of this thread. To be honest that "crazy years" stuff looked a lot more interesting than what I had! Now the restaurant has "grown up" (and calmed down) it feels the cuisine has converged with what you can get at Viajante/North Road/Texture etc etc, just with slightly different ingredients. Maybe that's what happens when chefs grow up. I note that Paul Kitching also seems to have calmed 21212 down a lot from his Juniper days... J
  4. Interesting. So four days (ok maybe a bit more given it probably hung before butchering) is too long, but people pay big bucks for a sixty day dry aged steak!
  5. Ta One last one to consider. Darina Allens Forgotten Skills of Cooking This article will give you the gist of it: http://matthew-rowley.blogspot.com/2011/03/bookshelf-forgotten-skills-of-cooking.html
  6. Oh I'm also pleased someone mentioned terry durack. He was (is) an excellent food critic and writer, of a very similar stature to mr rayner. If you ever see his collection of columns Hunger in the bookstore do snap it up. There is done superb writing in there. J
  7. No Hakkasan, Yauatcha are still top dog for getting dim sum, certainly for the non traditional sort. I haven't been to Yauatcha for a while but in the past I've never seen that much difference in standard between it and Hakkasan (although if I was splitting hairs the dollop of tobiko on the shumai looks a little more miserly than its been in the past). Nowadays I tend to prefer the Mayfair Hakkasan, if only because you can eat in the daylight rather than being shunted into a dingy basement. The menu is slightly more westernised (e.g. TCR has a lovely beef tendon dish you don't see in Mayfair) but on the dim sum section its much of a muchness. To be honest though the level of places immediately below Hak/Yau it much more interesting. I mean the level of more modernish dim sum places which don't quite have the Hakkasan quality or attitude, but are a touch better than your bog standard Royal Chinas (the fact the RC is now sort of bog standard actually says a lot about the excellent quality of London dim sum). For example I am very fond of Shanghai Blues in Holborn. The dim sum, while not quite as good as Hakkasan is excellent. However the real plus is they just don't have the arsey attitude you get at Hakkasan (viz comments about service above!). Nowadays I just can't be bothered to deal with snotty staff, prebooking credit card details, being forced onto set menus for groups more than eight, fumbling around in trendy but essentially unlit toilets and generally getting treated like a piece of livestock. Its much easier just to stroll into Shanghai Blues, grab a hassle free table and hit the dim sum. As a bonus they also have a particularly good range of choice for veggies, if you decide to consort with such people. For another shot at modish dim sum also try Grand Imperial in the big hotel bolted onto Victoria station. For a place of its size it has surprisingly slipped completely under the radar. Their beef and foie gras guotie are ridiculously delicious. Slightly more on the level of Royal China you then have Pearl Liang and perhaps Princess Garden of Mayfair. PG is quite traditional but the standard is good, the location is great and - unlike RC - they let you book on weekends. J
  8. Yes I very much agree with this thinking. A taste of a dish is just not the same as a dish. That's the reason I often tend to prefer going alc to tasting menus. Apart from the fact it normally saves you about twenty quid, it means you can really appreciate the food. I increasingly think the ideal format for a restaurant to show off is more a four/five course app - fish - main - pudding type formation rather than an 8-12 course degustation. When you start to load the diner with too many courses people get fatigued and the meal loses its pacing. I think this is a particularly a problem with today's noma-esque type food where many of the dishes are conceptually very similar (ten different things stuck on a plate, normally with a bit of crunch and a sorbet/granita/snow thing tucked away sometimes). J PS And I'd like to know how roganic and l'E compare too. The main reason I've held off on trying Roganic was because I knew I was going to be visiting the mothership...
  9. Mum used to try to do this when I was younger. It's really really hard to get right. Definitely one of those things that falls into the "lifes to short..." category. Just find yourself a good cheap northern chinese restaurant and order the beef noodle! ;-) J
  10. Hola The good thing about foie gras is that its probably the worlds easiest ingredient to cook with. You either fry or terrine the b*stard and serve it with fruit. Very hard to go wrong (although sometimes I'm a bit reluctant to order it in restaurant given I know how easy it is to do. I mean yes its delicious but yes I could probably fry the damn thing just as well as they can. I sometimes have the same dilemma with scallops). Anyhow back to your questions. On deveining room temp is fine. If you do it fridge cold the liver with crack into chunks (well it does this a bit at room temp do... but not as much). In terms of the veins get as much out as is practical but you don't have to be religious about this. If you're that obsessed with the smoothness rub the whole this through a tamis sieve and make a parfait rather than doing an entier terrine. Also remember if you slice and fry hot foie gras there is no need to devein. re: Temperature this is an ongoing debate. James Petersons Glorious French Food has a good discussion of this (p99 of the hardback). In a nutshell: 48c: Where French Cooks sometimes cook to 60c: Kills most pathogens 71c: FDA requirement - but too dry 100c: Canned foie gras (the stuff that tastes slightly like dog food) Peterson recommends cooking to 58c and letting carry-over take it to 60c. That's what I do - it works fine for me. I think this whole discussion is complicated by the fact that there area whole bunch of cold pate-like spreadable preparations of foie gras which are not terrines. Apart from the terrine which is cooked and weighted and cooled you can have preparations which are barely cooked - just enough to melt the pieces together - and compressed (the foie gras torchon recipe in the French Laundry cookbook is a good example of this), then there are various recipes for salt- or otherwise-cured foie gras which are not cooked at all. Then there are the sort of cheaters-terrine recipes you mentioned where you fry the liver slices, layer them weight and cool and end up with something cold and spreadable. All are valid approaches, but deliver different products. BTW when I saute foie gras I make sure I have nice thick slices and zap in a smoking hot pan til brown both sides (wont take long!). If its a thick piece however that will leave the inside raw - then I put them in a low over for a few more minutes to carry on cooking through. Works for me, although I do acknowledge this way gives you oil leakage (you can always mop up with toast...) and my slices always seem softer and more jellylike than the ones in restaurants. I think actually poaching foie gras in a nice stock is an excellent and underrrated preparation. Poach it in a consomme and serve it in the broth (think "foie gras pot au feu"). Then any oil which comes out simply floats to the top of the broth and gets munched. I've tried roast whole foie gras before. That's just a recipe for pain and losing half the damn thing as fat! Don't bother. Poaching a whole one might work though. qv. Rgds J
  11. I use Librarything - click the link in my sig. Obviously it doesn't index books like EYB but it lets me keep track of what books I have don't (useful in the bookstore sometimes!). EYB looks very interesting but I'm a bit put off by the subscription-based payment. Librarything are (or at least were at the time) dumb enough to offer a one-off lifetime membership payment... J
  12. I found this randomly in the UK shortly before Christmas An excellent and inventive read I'm sure it has be-toqued french chef-patissiers turning in their graves J
  13. Hello Sorry if this is a bit late!! So basically you want to be looking at good cheffy books from local one or two star chefs. * The three star bigwigs will have big book deals and you'll be able to get them in the US. The more prosaic "how to bake bread" or "69 ways with fish" books are, to be honest, done better in North America anyhow. So off the top of my head consider: Stuff by Andrew Pern from the Star at Harome. His self-published books are plush and excellent - Black Pudding & Foie Gras, and Loose Birds & Game (this title is double-entendre,FYI!). Books from the endlessly inventive David Everitt-Matthias of the Champignon Sauvage are also work a look - Essence and his Dessert book. Aiden Byrne who used to cook at the Dorch has a great book called Made In Great Britain which has playful, inventive haute cuisin. Sort of reminds me of Michel Richard. Formulas for Flavour by John Campbell is by a slightly more toned down molecular type chef. Excuse the horrific title its actually quite good. I normally tend to avoid compilation cookbooks (too bitty) but if you want a good snapshot of current British haute try Great British Food (published by Dorling Kindersley) - basically the book of our version of iron chef (ok a MUCH more genteel version!) If you want an all-in-one guide to slightly on-steroids traditional British food you should look at Gary Rhodes New British Classics. It is a great one stop shop for all out best bits. Hope this isn't too late! J * The same sort of logic also works in reverse when I'm browsing bookstores in France or the US
  14. The Duck Egg Tart was one of the most outstanding dishes I had last year. It is a great example of taking a homestyle dish (I guess we start with oeuf meurette), putting it on steroids and turning it into real haute cuisine. The kind of thing I would expect to be done at Le Gavroche or at a Ducasse joint. J
  15. Oh interesting to see they've relocated (they have relocated right? Not a branch?). For years Morgan M was the only place a self-respecting foodie could be seen with a vegetarian in polite company. Great little place. I wish them well. Although if they are relocating it is a big change - a move from being an evening-trade local to a more city (and lunchtime) focused model. In that part of London a more dumbed down bistro deluxe works better than haute (witness the ongoing empire that is the Cafe du Marche). There are a number of places that have tried doing haute cuisine in that area with mixed success. Failures: Maison Novelli, Eastside Inn, Clerkenwell Dining Room (perhaps). Success: Club Gascon. Too early to tell: North Road, Chiswell St Dining Rooms. It's tough. There's a reason there are very few michelin stars in the City of London. On the topic of the michelin star I think this has been a long-running saga. Morgan M has always been very open about his ambitions (do they still have the subtle rack of red michelin guides in the dining room). Maybe he has been held back by being too ambitious? Or by the location? I have always consigned it into the category of places-that-should-have-one-star-but-don't (along with Jun Tanaka at Pearl and Barry Tonks at bonds). Anyhow I wish them luck. J
  16. A quick note. Some of you with longer memories will remember the Angel Mangal, a legendary old crate which did grilled sheep plus some other stuff which we never got to cos we were too busy stuffing our faces with grilled sheep. Well after it shut down it was very difficult to find a Mangal with the right deliciousness of juicy grilled sheep crispy grilled sheep and meaty grilled sheep (preferably all served together as part of a mixed grill). Some places were too dry. Some were to miserly. Some were just too far off the beaten track in sodding Stoke Newington to bother with. Well a year or two back (yes I do take a while to write things up nowadays) I finally found the new Angel Mangal conveniently located a mile up the road from me in Camberwell. Step forward the FM Mangal, on Camberwell Church St. It's directly opposite the Silk Road Xinjiang joint (an excellent backup, who's jiaozi are much tastier and a fraction of the price of currently fashionable Mama Lan's in Brixton). Believe me, this place is the real deal. Great friendly staff (some of whom, amusingly, used to work at the Angel Mangal) from the hot apple tea when you get there to the complimentary grilled oniony pomegranatey thing to the humous and rustlingly fresh grilled bread. But of course that's distracting from the real deal which is the FM Mangal Special mixed grill. A great great plate of juicy crispy meaty grilled meat. With quail on top. The only thing missing from the AM is they don't do sweatbreads, but apparently this can be arranged. It's simply the best Mangal I've found in London since Angel. And best of all you don't have to trek up to Stoke sodding Newington* Go (and yes, Majumdar Sr I'm looking at you) J * Although to be fair its a hefty bus ride along the Camberwell New Road to get there from Oval Tube. Do it (36 436 or 185) as its well worth it.
  17. Had quite fun lunch at both L'Enclume and Sharrow Bay over the crimbo break. As you can tell these are polar opposites in terms of style and culture! L'Enclume had some high notes - the oyster rocks and the malt cream with pear ice were excellent dishes. However my overall impression was after fizzing with the canapees and earlier courses, the main dishes were much of a muchness. e.g. the snow crown in beef broth. It was a perfectly nice peace of roasted cauliflower with consomme and mushrooms, but there is a limit to what a man can do with a piece of cauliflower (at least in polite company). One thing I have to say was that the portion control was absolutely miserly. OK it was a 12-13 course menu but normally in a degustation there is some progression so the main meat and fish dishes are larger (this adds some pacing to the meal). Here up until the puds everything was utterly thimble-sized. Call me a gourmand rather than a gourmet, but when I'm paying 89 notes I do like a nice feed. The irony of course was Sharrow Bay was the opposite - incredibly time-warped mid-eighties fine dining (yes including a sorbet before the main) which appeared to serve everything with two sauces - the meaty one and the heavily reduced cream one. But I think as an overall experiences perhaps as (or more) pleasurable than Cartmel. Even on a gloomy day the views from the picture window were to die for. In the end I'm glad I went to both, but I wouldn't drive all they way up from London for either. J
  18. Jay Rayner and Marina are both excellent critics. Its unsurprising that they are the two who post most here, as they are both foodies at heart (well I hope so, otherwise the research for Man Who Ate The World would have been a quite enormous drag). However I suspect that outside of these rarified circles critics like Jay may come across as a bit to OTT about the food (I know that sounds like something of an oxymoron for a food critic). I however have no objections. I like to read about what the food on the plate is, where it comes from and why its there. Couldn't really give a fig for what the food critic was doing earlier that week, who with and why it is germane to the restaurant review. Which of course leads on to the other category of "food critic" which are the AA Gills or Giles Coren of this world, which seem to treat a restaurant review as some sort of GCSE creative writing assignment. One, (call me an Aristotelian) but I sort of think a restaurant review should be about the restaurant rather than about how high the critics' GCSE creative writing score is. Two its a kick in the face to the people working night and day at the restaurant and in the industry to just treat it as a playground for their limited prose skills. Whenever I come across these scribblings (thankfully less now the Times has sequestered itself behind its firewall) I pay them the ultimate compliment of completely ignoring the page. In between there are the various other critics, the Normans, Forts and (increasingly less so) the Fays of this world. They are all pretty decent and write about the food and I'd be happy to read them. One reservation though for critics with large consultancy businesses (Nick Lander and Fay Maschler I'm looking at you) I do wish they would disclose how much (if any) overlap there is between the restaurants they gush about and the clients who pay them. Of course there may be no overlap but I think there should be disclosure here which is sorely lacking. Finally I reserve a particular circle of hell for Amol Rajan, sometimes sports journo, "adviser to Evgeny Lebedev" and occasional restaurant critic of the Independent. His reviews are consistently error-riddled and show zero understanding of food and of how the industry works. When I read a national newspaper I expect a certain level of competence and expertise in exchange for my money. He displays neither. And that's that. J
  19. Not places where I'd go on a weekly basis, but some of the grand tables in Paris such as Tour D'Argent and perhaps Taillevant are more associated with the patron or the restaurant than the chef.
  20. I reckon the revamped ashmols your best bet, but to be honest you struggle to get beyond chains in the city centre.
  21. Heh And the ironic corollary is chefs who claim to be self taught but have actually done time in famous kitchens. Heston is a good example of this. For years the newspaper profiles banged on about how he was entirely self taught,went from debt collector to inventing triple cooked chips etc etc without mentioining a word about the fact he'd worked in MPWs kitchen. I think it was only when they got round to doing the big fat duck cookbook I finally saw a clarification on this (think it was a stage). An amusing inversion. J
  22. I've been getting the Time Out London guide for donkey's years. Overall very thorough and reliable. They are the only guide I know which has specialist reviewers for different cuisines. Last year's had a few issues (bizarro categorising of restaurants by proprieter meant Ledbury was treated as a branch of the Square), but this year it seems to have been sorted and their has been a noticeable increase in content. J
  23. I think desserts in high end places are much of a muchness. Off the top of my head I can't think of a single dessert dish in London, at least in a posh place, that would justify a trip to the restaurant all and of itself. I would suggest an old fashioned dessert trolley but I can't for the life of me think of anywhere that still does it! A properly done dessert trolley is always a treat. Pollen Street Social is probably a good bet given they have the whole dessert bar schtick... But need to book fast. Sketch Lecture Room does the whole Pierre Gagnaire Grand Dessert thing (lots of mini desserts), but is stinkingly expensive in evening (the tasting menus is probably the most economical option but still price). Gordon Ramsay at RHR does a similar composite dessert (Assiete De L'Aubergine for two). Alain Ducasse at the Dorch is worth considering too. For a three star the three course is very reasonable and you do get a cascade of sweets. As well as pre-desserts and dessert (rum baba?) they have an excellent mignardaises trolley at the end. In the evenings ladies also get given an iced bun or suchlike as a send-off. A final option could be to go somewhere and then pop round the corner to a specialist place for one (more more) desserts. Perhaps Hibiscus then Sketch Parlour, or The Capital/Laduree Harrods, Rousillon/William Curley. This is easier to pull off a lunch as dessert bars don't open that late. I know Hibiscus and Capital do lunch on a Saturday. Ta J
  24. Quoth the response on Tripadvisor <winces> Publically suggesting your clients should solicit an escort, even in jest, really /cannot/ be a good move... Definitely one of those "stop digging now" moments!!! Still looking forward to the book though! J
  25. Doh silly me! Forgot those! Defo worth trying these places. Note that I suspect fromagerie will have lots of oozy unpasteurised or raw milk cheese unobtainable in the US due to import restrictions! Ginger pig sausage rolls def good - find out what time they are coming out the oven and get em hot!
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