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Craig Camp

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Craig Camp

  1. I have a message out to my good friend Stefano Inama one of the top winemakers in Soave for a list of his favorite restaurants and will pass them along to you. It seems when I am Verona I it is always for work at there is a big trade show in town and the restaurants are all packed - not a good time to judge them. In additon to La Peca you really should try: Pila Vecchia I'll fill you in when I get his list.
  2. There is superior and inferior technique in all cuisines. Do you think we should judge Italian cuisine by Olive Garden or American food by T.G.I.F. Fridays. There is excellent food to be found everywhere if prepared by dedicated cooks seeking the best local and fresh ingredients.
  3. This is again following your argument that YOUR preference is superior so that negates all others to a secondary status. I am sure there are many New England Boiled Beef Dinner prepared by loving cooks that far outdistance many Pot au Feu. I do not understand your hard-line attitude and extreme self assurance that you somehow know what is superior. Please tell me why you know the answer. To me the beauty of the experience is not knowing the answer and constantly seeking to know. One thing is for sure the more that I know – the more that I realize I do not know. Eating is for joy.
  4. To decide one cuisine is superior makes you look at that favored cuisine with a positive attitude while automatically seeking to find the faults of other cuisines that we have declared somehow inferior. This creates a situation of self-fulfilled prophesies. This is to me not only a pointless exercise but one that deprives individuals of the true enjoyment and experience of different viewpoints. It is the experience of these differences that make dining and cooking an activity worthy of forums such as these. When I eat at an excellent restaurant, wherever it is, I still meet the food presented with a sense of excitement and even wide-eyed innocence at what these talented and hard working individuals strive to create. I do not care if I am in Italy, France, Japan or the United States. Although I have had the privilege over the years to be exposed to the creations of some the finest chefs in the world, my love for what serious cooks everywhere strive to create constantly rekindles my wonder at the experience – it is always new and exciting. I pray that I never lose this certain childish wonder for excellent food and wine. To debate that French cuisine is somehow superior to Italian or Chinese is to me an effort that can only lead to a lack of appreciating for the beauties each can offer. Who is a better musician, Itzhak Perlman or John Coltrane? For me the argument is pointless and perhaps worse. If I spend my time defending Perlman, I will most certainly close my ears to the subtleties that Coltrane offers just to prove my point. The difference is what makes both interesting and wonderful. There are no superior or inferior cuisines, only superior and inferior cooks. I intend to keep both my mind and mouth open.
  5. Indeed I am and I do not believe in absolutes when it comes to taste.
  6. Somehow I think you are missing the boat when it comes to the Italian kitchen. First of all you plop all of Italian cooking into the same style, In the north it would not be unusual at a fine restaurant to get a chicken with a sauce similar to what you discribe and in the south and many other regions, the flavors of the chicken and the natural juices you write about are infused with wonderful fresh herb flavors. How can you say one is better or more sophisticated? The difference in style is what makes this all so interesting. Cuisine is defined by where we live and what is available. The better the ingredients are that you use the fewer you need.
  7. If you find one in NYC or anywhere else in the USA I'm there. OK I go for the combination of NYC ambiance with European quality food.
  8. The French (and the Italians and Spanish and so on...) have similar complaints about restaurants in the USA. They deplore the trendy ultra casual but still expensive restaurants that seems to dominate the food scene here these days. I for one prefer the European model and sincerely love all those bistros and osterie with simple but delicious food and great prices instead of the overdone, dull and expensive food passed off hear as casual. It is easier to find better food at better prices almost everywhere in Europe than it is here - except in Venice.
  9. O.K. I know you can’t make the claim that one restaurant is the best. But I don’t care I love La Peca located just 30 minutes from Verona. When I eat here I don't care about the others. Here is the combination of food, service, wine and ambiance we love the most—and it is a bargain besides. The only way to eat here is to take the degustazione—it is impossible to choose anyway— and taste as many dishes as possible. The seven or eight course dinner costs only €66.oo and we cannot imagine a better value in a dining experience. This is the kind of food that ruins dinner conversation as you are just too busy concentrating on the flavors. The presentations are artistic but simple and elegant — never taking away from the ingredients on the plate. The kitchen is the perfect combination of innovation and tradition as the food is decidedly Italian but with a deft touch of internationally inspired creativity. The huge wine list is loaded with values from throughout Italy and as you would hope has great depth in the best wines of their own Veneto region. La Peca Via A Giovanelli, 2 36045 Lonigo (VI) (011 39) 0444-830214
  10. Overlooked and Forgotten It was one of those winter nights in Chicago - cold, windy with snow blowing straight into your eyes. It was a tough day and all I wanted was to be left alone with a meal and a good bottle. There was nothing else to expect from the day. Then she showed up. She was looking quite a bit older than when I last saw her, but you could see she was trying to look as good as she could. What she was wearing was a little dusty and draped lower on the shoulder than was proper for someone her age - you could tell she thought she was still in good shape. After all this time I was a little afraid to open up with her - everyone changes. When her taste crossed my lips again it all came back to me - sure she was a little faded and not as intense - but now she knew how to do everything with more style and grace. When I first picked her up it was just something for everyday - you know what I mean? Nothing serious. I mean I enjoyed each encounter - all eleven of them. I just did not expect this chance twelfth meeting this many years later. Her red dress was now quite faded - a bit brown. That perfume that she still wore was out of fashion and you could tell she was running low because she was putting it on lighter than before. Then she was gone forever. My lips could still taste her for awhile, but then all was just a memory. I know that no one cares about these small affairs anymore, but they still move me. TN: 1982 Chateau du Courlat, Lussac Saint Emilion An overlooked bottle from a case I bought for everyday drinking almost 2 decades ago. I found a bottle with some surprise while looking for something else. Low on the shoulder now - not looking promising. The color is light scarlet with more than a hint of brown. On the nose it is light, but elegant and complex. In the mouth it is a bit thin and tannic but all in all a very enchanting wine to drink. I finished the whole bottle with an omelet and a salad while thinking about how no one seems to care about lovely little wines like this anymore. No high power or new oak here - just good winemaking and a light touch. No it is not now and never was a great wine, but twenty years later is was still good enough for a couple of hours of pleasant contemplation and a bit of sadness that no one cares about wine like this anymore. How many $8.00 wines are there today that can provide such simple yet real pleasures at 20 years old?
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