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Lord Michael Lewis

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Everything posted by Lord Michael Lewis

  1. 'Pil-Pil' is typical of Basque cuisine, and, while I have no idea if the term means anything in Euskera or even if it is Euskera, it usually describes preparations of gelatinous fish; Bacalao, Kokotxas de Merluza, which are very gently cooked in olive oil flavoured with garlic and sometimes cayenne. When the fish releases serum and gelatine it is then swirled around in it's terracotta cooking dish in order to ligar or emusify with the oil. The result is then served in the dish in which it was cooked, sometimes with parsley. A critical element of 'pil-pil' is the olive oil used; it should have a relatively high acidity - 1º, and should be virgen. Without this acidity the dish can be rather hard to stomach due to the high oil content of the sauce -- 100ml+ per serving. 'Pil-Pil' is not so much an acquired taste, but, even at it's best, is rather bland. In Southern Spain, as in France 'pil-pil' is often used to describe the fiery African spice mix 'piri-piri', which is widely used in Portugal.
  2. Indeed. I'll take your word on decadence. That's really comforting, thanks.
  3. Thank you, Tony. I wouldn't expect any less from you and your profound knowledge of Spain. 'Fresh' white asparagus that's three or four days old becomes wooden. That's the 'fresh' asparagus most people eat. And then of course the season is a very short one. Do buy yourself a tin of ultra-large Navarra white asparagus (of the size that's legally and quite precisely known as 'cojonudos') next time you're in Spain, open it without preconceived notions , and then report on it, please. Don't blast things you haven't tasted yet. That would be my humble piece of advice. I agree. One of the great Iberian gastronomic experiences must be going to a restaurant and paying someone to open a tin of leeks, asparagus or whatever, and put them on a plate for you, that takes skill and imagination, and thus it's no surprise that Spain is being heralded as the new France. Wonderfully decadent! Long live the clear superiority of tinned vegetables!
  4. Ferran Adria believes that champagne/cava is the ideal pairing for one of his meals.
  5. Gamey, means that it tastes like 'wild', not farmed meat. The difference is clear in comparison of both types of the same species: rabbit, pigeon and duck, for example. Differences in diet and lifestyle imbue the meat with differing qualities. A gamey flavour being one; and tough, lean, athletic flesh, rich in connective tissue being another. The relative toughness of 'wild' animals is ameliorated by the enzymatic and microbial processes wrought by hanging the beast for several days before consumption. In Britain, meat used to be overhung, although with commercially available game this is rarely the case these days due to economic concerns over lengthy storage and changing consumer tastes. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of countrymen who will hang a pheasant by its neck and not eat it until the body drops off under its own weight. Overhung game birds share similar compounds as are found in strong aged cheeses, the likes of which make one sweat on the crown of the head and the cheekbones, and are very much an acquired taste. The necessity of hanging game birds makes a total mockery of any restaurant that races to serve grouse on or about the 'Glorious Twelfth', as the flesh of a bird shot on that date is thouroughly inedible until the Twenty-First at least. Indeed, the slick city boys seen wolfing down their grouse at two-hundred pounds a bird, on the TV news of the 12 of August are willingly unwitting participants in their own public humiliation.
  6. I think it's exceptionally brave of him to virtually dispense with the convention. Indeed, pairing wine with food has very much been a limiting factor in what can done by chefs.
  7. Curiously (or not), Rafael Garcia Santos reviewed El Corral del Indianu in today's El Correo. He gave it 7.5 out of a possible 10, and wrote enthusiastically. But seeing as how he never seems to award anything less than a six, I can't really work out if he thinks it's good or average.
  8. I should also add that The Plough is in an extremely pleasant spot, and, despite bubbly Babs' intervention, has a long reputation for for serving extremely good food. Indeed, a history of the Gastropub would be incomplete without reference to the Plough's (like the Sir Charles Napier), influence on early nineties pub eating. I wish David "Dave" Bennett the absolut best of luck with this endeavour, for, although not a character that courts attention, his floating islands are the best I've ever seen or tasted, and his interventions into the body of la carte, with his foie-gras puff pastry, to name but one unique innovation, have been some of the highlights of my gastronomic life.
  9. David Bennett used to be a superlative pastry-chef, so I expect that the apparent simplicity of the menu belies a fucking exquisite execution. Go now before this guy gets a better deal.
  10. According to Michel Roux -- Cooking a stock for longer does not make it better -- quite the reverse. Long cooking can actually be detrimental, since the stock becomes heavy and loses its savour... only veal stock needs several hours cooking (3hrs). A stock is ready when it smells ready. When a stock smells right and you continue to cook it all that you achieve is to send the flavour up the extractor. And please, handle the term 'complexity' with care.
  11. FG's stock is cooked for 12 hours... That's fine but, as I think you pointed out earlier, it will taste of bone. In my experience, and providing the ingredients you use are small (not whole chickens or veal knuckles) then anything more than three hours simmering is uneccessary, not to mention counterproductive.
  12. This is all very well if one wishes to recreate the taste of the past, but these long-cooked heavy stocks just don't work well with modern recipes.
  13. These are fair points, but as for taking too long I disagree, a mirepoix can be cut very finely, and will render its flavour extremely quickly. Convemience aside, there is no real reason to add this at the beginning of the cooking process. In addition, the inclusion af carrots, onion or celery can detract from a stock's usefulness. Carrot and onion add sweetness, which, in the case of of Madeira or Port based sauce, can be excessive. Celery, on the other hand, considerably reduces the shelf life of a fresh stock. While I generally make stock along similar lines to you (out of laziness), for saucing especially, a basic stock is often inappropriate.
  14. Agreed. There is nothing simpler than making a neutral meat stock and then adding the appropriate flavourings afterwards. Traditionally, bones have been used for stock making, but it is not the bone itself that imparts flavour to the stock, but rather the meaty elements that cling to it. Perhaps the most intensely flavoured sauces come from roasting juices; e.g. the degenerate jus gras, whereby whole chickens are roasted until dry and inedible, in order to extract the juices. For stock, I favour chicken wings. They seem to have the correct balance between collagen and meat, thus ensuring strength without being overly gelatinous. A dark stock can be made by roasting the wings at 180ºC and simmering for 2.5 hours. Light stock for soups merely require the uncooked wings to be simmered for 1.5 hours. In either case the wings should be rinsed well in cold water. Tomatoes and tomato paste can cause difficulties in clarification. This can be avoided by either using tomato 'water' which retains both the tomato flavour and acidity; or preparing a gastric.
  15. Please develop this assertion. In order to aim for perfection one needs a general idea what perfection is. The creatively bereft rely on importing their standards from those whose standards have acquired something generally agreed to be approaching perfection. The key element in this equation is creativity, obsessives are two-a-penny.
  16. When are you going to post your experiences at these restaurants? I'm looking forward to the 'ballast/regime' take on high profile gastronomy.
  17. Absolutely, if it seems a chef is passing off someone else's work as his own. Can you proffer a good reason why I should defend intellectual theft?
  18. Does this mean you are suggesting greatness resides in other areas - which areas? Do think a chef that makes his reputation by purloining other chefs hard work, merits the epithet, 'great'? I think you confuse greatness with success. By your tone, it seems that you're a chef. If you feel that there is no stigma attached to stealing recipes and passing them off as your own, why don't you post details of where you work, and to what extent you practice what you advocate?
  19. There is a world of difference between the generic dishes you cite, and the personalized 'haute cuisine' of Boloud et al. At the highest level, and never more so than at present, fortunes are made on chefs' ability to create and innovate. Unfortunately there are some high profile chefs, who, lacking this ability, rely on importing other chefs' creative endeavour into their own menus and claiming the credit for themselves. Your compelling what's-yours-is-mine rationale may make you feel this is acceptable, but it's hardly rooted the moral or ethical foundations of the society in which you live.
  20. Then you imagine wrongly. The chef world works more along the lines of -- fuck you. It's not illegal. I quite agree, but this convention doesn't exist in catering, and its lack has provided ingress for many a reputation builder.
  21. This is unsurprising magnamimity for a scientist, but imagine if someone copied your ground-breaking work on fruit flies, and passed it off as their own. I doubt very much if you'd be feeling quite so generous. Time and again we have discussed this topic, and I am ever surprised at the generosity of non-chef pundits towards those who usurp others' creative efforts. What about the creators? Do you think they like it? Downplaying the importance of creative pillage, may have some benefits for the diner, but in the long run it allies food with fashion, and not art, with trends spreading like lice throughout a creatively corrupt industry serving a morally bankrupt, and clearly undiscerning clientele. The net result is the comforting homogeneity in which everyone knows what's in and what's out, that we find on these boards.
  22. Although not legally inhibited (and thus, for many, acceptable), there is a moral dimension to recipe theft or unacknowledged heavy borrowing that requires articles like these. Public humiliation is an effective mode of influence, I only wish we had these kind journalistic values here in Britain.
  23. His reputation is a misrepresentation. Were it his food, I might.
  24. This is not a rationale, and Gazpacho and Mustard Ice Cream is not of the same generic ilk as chocolate mousse. Blumenthal is sublime technician and deserves his status amongst the best of British Chefs. However, his exploitation of a frustratingly ignorant British food media has resulted in an excess of undeserved praise for creativity. Hence, the decontextualized comparisons between him, and Gaganire, Adria et al.
  25. Gagnaire's tasting menu , even between adjacent tables, is in constant flux, but besides, Blumenthal is neither Gagnaire nor Adria. Rather, he is resting on his bay-leaves. Lionized by so many as an immense creative talent, it seems ironic that Blumenthal's creativity should be so little evident in his restaurant. Blumenthal doesn't deserve the comparison with Gagnaire and Adria. They produce the goods, Blumenthal just talks about doing it. Indeed, the lengthy extra-gastronomic discursions in Blumenthal's menu, remind me of Strauss' inability to musically convey meaning in Don Juan without recourse to lengthy programme notes culled from Lenau's play of the same name: the very genre he wished to sequester.
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