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Everything posted by victornet

  1. I'm pleased to be the first to post on the 2010 season, though I'm going to concentrate on the photos rather than a lot of description. I was really lucky to get in this year. After receiving my annual rejection (with the exception of 2007, which was the greatest meal of my life) my best friend, who has pretty good contacts in the art and to a lesser degree food worlds in Spain, requested a table for the period after a meeting he had in Barcelona the opening week of the season. We were told we were at the top of the list for cancellations, and one came through a week or so later. The VIP nature of the reservation yielded a meal of 40 elements (as opposed to 30 last time) and some special face time with the chef after the meal. Instead of one cocktail-like starter, there were several at the start. Needless to say the meal rocked. If I were to make a general observation about the differences between the two meals it would be: 1. Last time freeze drying was a dominant technique and this time freezing was. This may have been a result of us getting extra 'frozen' snacks towards the beginning of the meal. 2. The meal was a month later than my 2007 dinner. At that time we had several dishes (peas with artichokes puree and asparagus in different cooking times)that depended on super fresh young spring vegetables which I believe were only briefly on the menu. Those remain special taste memories. One of the first memorable dishes was 'handkerchief'. It was sort of a reconfigured corn snack - salty, crunchy, and tasty. We ran into some other El Bulli eaters at Salvador Dali's house museum in Port Lligat the next day and they were still talking about this treat. 'strawberry' was one of the many frozen snacks. Great concentrated strawberry flavor. One of the highlights was the gorgonzola ball. I read somewhere (probably the 'Food for Thought' book) that a chef who had worked at Moto in Chicago got them excited about creating ballon like dishes in 2008. In this case the sphere was deeply flavorful, reminding me more of a really complex yogurt than gorgonzola. There is not much I can say about this shrimp dish that will express how flavorful it was. The photo is a bit shaky. My friend had eaten at Extaberri several times during a long stay in Bilbao, frequently extolling the perfect shrimp there. This was probably his favorite dish of the evening. Freeze drying remained alive and well in the tomato busquit. Rounding off the 'snack' portion of the meal, after which we went inside and no longer had as much natural light for the photos, was a trio of mimetics peanuts, mandarine seeds, and the central dish which I'm not sure if it was called 'american' (more likely) or 'beetroot and yoghurt meringue' ( which I think I did not photograph, as I'm not partial to beets). I can't sommon up a detailed recollection of it, but it was good. The 'peanuts' were intensely peanutty and soft and gooey if you did not eat them very rapidly - and greatly enjoyed. The mandarine was a perfectly contrasting acidic taste. Soon after this we went inside for the central portion of the meal, and for red wine drinking. I'll get to that in another post.
  2. victornet


    I had quite a good meal there last month, and can second the quality of their tofu (and noodle soup).
  3. I consider it very early in the game to really decide whether I can actually follow Sifton's jugdement on a restaurant (leaning against at the moment), but what I really care is whether I can map where his aesthetic overlaps mine and where it does not. One could do this with Bruni, and factor in his bias towards Italian food (to oversimplify). I loved The Wire references and Sifton's tone in general, but have thus far found his reviews not very useful. I'm hoping he evolves further away from the creative feature writer he was into the author of a useful consumer guide.
  4. The only prize I've won in my adult life (at least since I won a book collecting prize in College) was in the traditional category at an annual Lasagne contest. To my wife's despair the trophy remains on display. So bring it on.
  5. I'm no pro, but my Hattori FH 240mm is really a super all purpose knife (Though I use my 210 Ichimonji TKC almost every day - I like a light knife). But once you start hacking through joints a different knife is called for, if you want the gyuto's edge to last. I whack chickens apart with a much less expensive appx. 175mm Yamawaka Deba I bought from 330mate.com on ebay. In short, I think you could get 2 good knives for under $500.00 and end up with a stronger kit.
  6. For good chinese food there is Cafe Evergreen at 69th and 1st. If you'll go as far as 73rd and 3rd I'd recommend Spice (Thai) and Slice (organic pizza). Petaluma at 73rd and 1st also makes a good pizza, as well as a full Italian menu, but is more expensive than the others.
  7. This is just based on a quick visit to Dallas back in 2004, but the Cabrito at El Ranchito was spectacular. If it hasn't changed too much (the description at the time was kitschy which accounted for the mariachi music, but the food was anything but) this is worth the trip.
  8. Besides the usual pettys and gyutos (I too love my 270mm Tadatsuna, but tend to use my 210mm Ichimonji TKC daily) I reach for a 180mm Deba for cleaver-like tasks, especially breaking down chickens. This contributes to keeping the gyutos in good shape. I look longingly on some of the longer thinner Japanese knives but as I do very little cutting of raw fish I can't justify it.
  9. At the risk of attack, I would recommend my favorite, Bornier - still made in France and available in the states with a little searching. I always preferred it to Maille, though the vinegar balance is a bit different.
  10. The passport issue also meant he was unable to attend the tribute to Michel Bras at the Alliance Francaise in NYC. Instead he sent the funniest, most rocking, full tilt video I've ever seen a chef make. If you are reading this, chef, please put it on YouTube. Decent compensation for not getting to see him cook. I've got to get back to Paris for the real thing.
  11. I've been meaning to return and try the reasonably priced 'taste of Robuchon' menu that is served until 7pm most nights. The 3 course option is $60.00. Here is a link to the menu options: http://www.fourseasons.com/newyorkfs/menu_3244.html
  12. Are you suggesting something better? My local NJ farmer is selling his corn for $8.00 for 2 dozen ears, so I want all the corn recipes I can get for the next few weeks. I made a corn salad this weekend (from an old Food and Wine recipe) with lime, vidalia onion, sour cream, and chipotle peppers. No cilantro but a common geographic heritage is clear. I'm cutting back on the lime next time, but it was yummy.
  13. victornet


    For world class fancy dining I'd also recommend the Sette Consoli in Orvieto and Il Postale in Citta de Castello, north of Perugia. On a given day one might be better than the other, but both are excellent. Both are members of the Juene Restaurateurs de Europe group (spelling may be off here) and I've had great experiences with members of this group over the past decade or so - no others near Umbria, though. For really good food, and a lot more fun (not always the top desire) go to Bacco Felice in Foligno. If possible go more than once. You will eat whatever the chef/proprietor, Salvatore, chooses to serve you, and you will be expected to eat a LOT of food and show enthusiasm - this is not at all difficult if you are in a receptive mood.. The food is really good, not overly refined or fancily plated (family style is the really inadequate description I would choose - just a family with a better chef and ingredients than mine) . You may have many courses of great salumi, roast chicken, super tomatoes, pasta, etc. Salvatore gets great ingredients and prepares them simply and with gusto. And he hangs out and keeps the mood of the place buoyant. Unlike the fancier places they push excellent wines at really inexpensive prices. Go hungry - lunch is a good time, perhaps after a morning in Assisi. The walls are filled with graffiti from appreciative visitors - our teenagers really loved finding a blank spot on the wall to record their happiness. I'll try to post a photo later.
  14. My son was there last week on the way back from Japan. He has no positive tips, but can advise you to avoid the Japanese restaurant in the upper food court. It looked good but was terrible. He also does not recommend the Subway, but you probably were not going to be seduced in Korea by the attractions of a 'foot long'.
  15. I'm a slaw on the side kind of guy. Just did a shoulder and a 'boneless butt' (from I great pig I've had in the freezer all winter) in the big green egg for about 15 hours this weekend (fire did die down sometime while I slept, so it was probably a bit less). I use Adam Perry Lang's slaw recipe. Omitting the cream, and cutting back a bit on the mayo. I keep the cabbage more coarsley cut than most slaws - gives it a lot of body. http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/crunchy...d-caraway-seeds
  16. The interesting thing is how little they talk about the food. Andres' discussion of the liquid olive gets right to the heart of the El Bulli experience. I'd love to have seen this sort of discussion about more dishes. Also on the site is a longer talk with David Chang, which focuses more on him as a personality but is really interesting.
  17. We had a very good meal at Bazaar on Sunday. We were a bit concerned that we were going on a night the chef was not scheduled to be in the kitchen, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Jose Andres in the dining room. I went with two friends who had recently returned from a tour of San Sebastien's best restaurants (3 meals at Extaberri and a 'world changing' meal at Beresategui among them) and wondered how critical they would be. Apart from noticing that the foie gras inside the foie gras cotton candy was not up to the product they had been getting in the Basque country, all was good. And the fact that Bazaar allows you to bring great wine with only $20.00 corkage really helped. Many dishes were familiar from Minibar - the Philly Cheese Steak was quite a bit better than it's earlier incarnation. The El Bulli olive was paired here with a more traditional version - Frank Bruni praised this in the Times yesterday, but I found the liquid olive so superior that the combination didn't add to my experience. Lots of good things to eat. Great, skinned California cherry tomatoes with liquid mozarella. The modern tortilla espanola was particularly good - I've had water bath cooked egg dishes from Paul Liebrandt and David Chang recently and this was right up there. We had a lot of vegetable based dishes and Bazaar is sourcing really good ingredients - you could see we weren't in DC anymore. It didn't hurt to have some Jamon Iberico de Belloto. The service is still working itself out here. Dishes were coming out way too fast at first, but when we mentioned this the pace was moved to slower than glacial. But all the servers were enthusiastic, and the errors seemed to flow from a process of both learning the LA audience and providing as much education as the diners want or need. With 200 seats and an enormous menu to choose from they have to gauge how much steering diners need or want. I don't want to seem like I'm emphasizing the negatives - we had a really good time and will be returning.
  18. I'm going Sunday during a long weekend in LA, even though the chef is unfortunately not in house that night. I've been to Minibar and Jaleo, and am really looking forward to seeing what the Andres' team does with this format in LA. When I first went to minibar I was amazed I could get reservation on a couple of weeks notice. In NYC, where I live, a 6 seat restaurant of this quality, value, and concept would be as sought after as Momofuku Ko. DC is very international, but much colder to the avant garde than LA, so this should be a lot of fun.
  19. Wow, that dinner sounds fabulous. We held my son's bar mitzvah party at Tabla - that was fusion!
  20. I don't know about the profiserie line, and there are great differences in the quality of the sitram lines, but I've used the 'catering' line, with flat handles for 20 years. I'd say I like them a bit better than all-clad stainless, though I cook with a mixture of the 2. Zabars used to sell them at better prices, but you can see them on Bridge's site: http://www.bridgekitchenware.com/browse.cf...ance/2,210.html I got most of mine in France in the days when the dollar was quite strong against the franc.
  21. After ignoring many offers to resubscribe, they just sent me an offer for $19.95 that includes what appears to be a fairly nice pair of Wusthof kitchen shears. Though I mainly value the magazine for product testing - cutting boards and bread knives come to mind - this offer will probably hook me.
  22. I'd like to hear opinions on the preferred thickness of the meat. I spent a couple of weeks in Umbria this summer and was thrilled to see veal shanks were really cheap in the local market, just like they used to be in the US. The only problem was that they were selling it pre-cut, no more than 1" thick. Given my non-existent Italian skills, it took me 10 minutes and a lot of pantomime to get the butchers to cut me a half dozen pieces that were 2" thick. Between the great meat and the rosemary bush in the backyard I didn't even need my A game to make a great dinner.
  23. I've bought them at Katagiri and at Sunrise market. I assume most Japanese markets in the area will carry them. I cook them like Spanish pimentos de padron (learned this trick it from Seamus Mullen of Boqueria). Fry them quickly in very hot oil (canola or grapeseed). Drain the oil on towels and salt them heavily with a coarse salt.
  24. My favorite brisket recipe is Lynne Rossetto Kasper's Tyrolean Pot Roast (Brasato di Manzo) from The Italian Country Table book. It uses cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds to give a really layered flavor to the sauce. I also use a bit more vegetables than the recipe calls for for sweetness. After cooking I slice it, refrigerate and heat the sliced meat in the sauce the next day. I used to shudder at the thought that my mother in law made her brisket the night before, but I'm a convert to this idea. The meat just gets softer and absorbs more flavor. I made a nice little 3-1/2 pounder last weekend during the football games.
  25. I'd add that a good thick piece of veal is preferred. I spent a couple of weeks in Umbria this summer, and discovered that a thin (3/4"-1") piece of shank is standard in markets there. With my minimal Italian, I had a difficult time explaining to the butchers that I wanted much thicker pieces. But I succeeded, I cooked from memory something very close to Marcella's recipe, and the thicker veal and longer cooking times produced a perfect sauce.
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