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Everything posted by victornet

  1. Got mine today. After looking at 'Spring' I was drooling, as my schedule only has only brought me to Chicago (and Alinea) in the Autumn.
  2. victornet


    In some sense Anthos is off the radar screen, or at least at the very edge. Despite its quality it seems to defy categorization. When a Greek wine was part of the pairings during a recent meal at Alinea I told the wine guy that he should really check out the Greek wine selection at Anthos. He was not familiar with the restaurant, which really surprised me, though I believe he was going to immediately check it out.
  3. The discussion with Ferran Adria, Anthony Bourdain, and Eric Asimov was a lot of fun. Adria started it off by showing a very trippy video of a deliriously happy couple (they are said to have eaten there more than anyone else) experiencing a dish at El Bulli, to the theme of the Beatles' A Day in the Life. There were not a lot of revelations, but Adria's passion, intensity, and sense of humor really came through. He quite effectively refuted any overemphasis on the scientific in a discussion of his work. Hinted at, and clearly due for more discussion, is the infrequent use of heat in his cooking. He showed a video demonstrating the use of nitrogen baths, noting that it was a lot less 'scientific' than a microwave oven. As an aside, the avoidance of heat as a technique was also pointed out to me by the staff of Alinea last month. Bourdain really conveyed the magic of the El Bulli experience, as well as placed it in the context of Catalan tradition. Adria noted that he had shared with Bourdain the meal at El Bulli, which he never does, as well as perhaps the best ham he had ever tasted. Adria accepted Bourdain's request to visit (with camera crew) despite being dissed as the 'foam dude' in Kitchen Confidential. Bourdain claimed to have approached the meal with hostility, but having seen the video, perhaps this was a stretch. In the end he couldn't have been happier, noting that one needs to bring an open mind and heart to the adventure of an El Bulli meal. Asked where he would eat in NYC, Adria replied "Katz". Books were signed, wine and chocolates were served, a good time was had by all.
  4. I too ordered the book a year ago and had a chance to briefly see a proof copy when I dined at Alinea 2 weekends ago. It looks terrific. As has been noted (and my wife is an editor of lifestyle books so I know where the dollars go) the publishing model they adopted gives you an amazing book for the price (in terms of production values). I don't expect to use it as a recipe source, given the gulf between their product and technique and mine, but as a guide and inspiration.
  5. We're sort of minimalists. Most of the year it's baby arugula with grape tomatoes that have been halved and salted for a while (to remove some water). Dressed with a basic vinaigrette - 1/2 sherry vinegar, 1/2 red wine vinegar, good olive oil, salt, pepper, shallots. Or a mache and grape tomato mix with lemon vinaigrette (no shallots). Of course all bets are off the few months we get a variety of fresh local greens.
  6. victornet

    smoking chicken

    This is different enough to be a possibly irrelevant dish, but perhaps you could consider a full chicken. I smoke whole roasters in a 'beer can chicken' type pan (found it at Lowes I think), with white wine, tarragon, and garlic in the cup that holds the liquid. I give it about 2 hours at 250 in a big green egg with applewood chips. Super moist chicken results.
  7. I've been very happy with this new store since it opened. The prices are quite good, as long as you only buy "sale" items (looks like about 1/2 the wines are always on sale) if you are purchasing less than a case. There's a 20% discount on the 'non-sale' items in a mixed case. Last week they sent an email increasing this to 23% and I got a great price on some items I had not seen on sale there. I can't vouch for the higher end wines, but the values I got between about $8.00 and $30.00 are good. On the other hand, I wouldn't really chance the staff at the cheese/deli counter to properly slice the Iberico ham.
  8. Sounds like a phenomenal meal. I get to Chicago every other September for a trade fair, and can't wait to do the tour this year. We did the slightly shorter menu in Sept. 2006, and it was the best meal I've had in the USA. I rarely do wine pairings, as I may want to drink more with some dishes and less with others, but I did the pairings at Alinea (requesting the reds to be elevated but not the whites) and I could not have been happier.
  9. I would absolutely add one of the Momofuku restaurants, preferably Ssam bar. And if you don't get into Gramercy Tavern (which would not be on such a short list for me (think David Bouley instead), though I have not been there in ages which renders this judgement very fuzzy) you might console yourself with some fried chicken at Dirty Bird to Go on 14th St. Of course, after reading Bryan's amazing description of his European tour, I'm hesitant to argue with your crash course. I've taken it slow myself - when I was your (presumed) age we foodies were just slowly venturing out of Chinatown.
  10. Wow. Graduate school on steroids (without congressional investigators). Thanks so much for the posts. I'm amazed you could get so many great photos of the dishes in such a big room. Looking forward to the rest of the posts, and I'm already adjusting the eventual next trip to Spain.
  11. Great thread. I'm returning to Umbria in late August for the first time since '99 (I think - it was the year the church in Arezzo reopened after the '97 earthquake - we followed the Church bigwigs by only a couple of days, but the city was still a mess). I'll be lurking here for ideas till then.
  12. I've had pretty good success getting reservations at Babbo, using the strict 1 month before schedule, but I'm sure I never tried for Friday or Saturday night at prime time. Why bother? Per Se, as I recently found out, works on a 2 month in advance schedule. Thus, although they could tell me the date I ate at French Laundry several years ago, they were unable to acomodate my 25th anniversary (with only 6 weeks advance notice) which we had to enjoy at Daniel. Rao's is indeed the toughest. We have friends who have let us have their table twice, most recently a couple of weeks ago. Great fun, you are treated a lot nicer than at Babbo, but Mario wins on food, decor, and music program.
  13. I went last night with a group of 10. We had the bo ssam, 3 pork buns, 2 uni, 2 apple kimchi, 2 brussel sprouts, 2 mushroom salad, and 2 $60.00 bottles of wine (4 were non drinking teenagers). With tip it came to about $55.00 a person, and I think it was terrific value for the money. We brought a bunch of pork home and certainly everyone was full - though this is indeed a function of which dishes you order. So I second fat guy's take.
  14. victornet

    Piquillo Peppers

    You can also stuff them with crumbly goat cheese or feta, into which you mix sauteed shallots, cayenne, and thyme. makes a great appetizer. If the pepppers are large I slice them into rings, but the slicing is messy.
  15. Rosemary and Sage looks ok, though I have not tried it. Reading the menu I could not tell if the dish descriptions were deceptively simple and I'd be wowed or if it was keeping things unambitious and simple to please the clientele. Please report if you try it.There was another restaurant in that space some years ago that we really liked.
  16. I'm looking forward to trying Kopici. I spend my weekends in West Milford and mainly cook, as the dining out options that I've found close by do not seem to be up to the standards of Montclair.
  17. victornet


    Also, I would mention the Kirkland Toscano extra virgin olive oil. It's a fall harvest, so last years crop has been sold out at my Costco, but the 2007 harvest will be available again, fresh and delicious, in the spring.
  18. victornet


    No one has mentioned my favorite item, the Australian racks of lamb at ca. $9.95/lb. Marinate them with a little soy and your choice of red pepper (piment d'espelette in our house) and they rock. I'm also fond of the frozen shrimp and the various fish from Blue Hill Bay (Acme smoked fish of Brooklyn) I get the smoked Atlantic Salmon as well as the dirt cheap whitefish salad. I recently had the pleasure of a behind the scenes tour at Acme and got to see the machine that turns a whitefish into salad. I'm a big believer in the adage that you do not want to see how laws or sausage are made, but there was nothing scary about this process. (I must admit I purchased a piece of Acme's smoked wild salmon while there, and it was a notch more delicious.) Has anyone noted how hopeless Costco is in many wine regions where one might expect them to really score, Spain in particular?
  19. What sort of places (in terms of atmosphere, especially) does your family prefer - casual, funky, or anything? Of the places you mention, I recently enjoyed the food at Sauc but did not much enjoy Colibri - which I found very cold and formal. While the food did not bowl me over, it might be a great meal for someone who cares about an elegant, spacious room, formal service, a "fancy" sort of atmosphere. Closer to the El Bulli sphere, we had a wonderful dinner at Hisop, which skews younger and hipper.
  20. Of course if such a conflict came to pass it would be the art critics, not the chefs or foodies, wielding knives.
  21. One overlooked fact is that art critics are at the bottom of the economic food chain of the art world. They get invited to lots of nice dinners given by gallerists, but their pilgrimage priorities might not be to visit Adria or Blumenthal. On the other hand, lots of folks in the art world are crazy about the state of the art in food, and do get around. During the years I was trying to score my El Bulli reservation a curator friend offered to query his Spanish curator friends to see if they could grease the way (with typical art world bravado he assumed it would be a done deal). I declined, but might have explored that avenue eventually. I certainly thought it was really cool when Adria was announced as the "A" artist as an advance teaser by the documenta curators (they named an"A" artist and a "Z" artist well in advance of the entire roster). But I'd rather have Adria focus on the food world, with so many demands on his attention as it is. An aside: while many artists do a 'cheap line' such as large edition prints, this is much more peripheral to their achievement generally than it is in food. I think it's great that Adria started FastGood, though when I sought one out in Madrid I must admit that I lunched at Sergei Arola's slightly downscale (but less utopian) branch across the street.
  22. Chef, I join those who have also been nourished by your creativity in wishing you strength and success in your recovery. Marc Freidus
  23. About this intention stuff (as it relates to the art world, attitude, and the more frivolous side of the argument). Back in the 80's (last century) I was touring the very fine corporate art collection of a brokerage house with the donor class of an arts organization at which my wife was working. Decorating a glass walled room were a group of framed charts and graphs. Some discussion evolved about what these things were. One trustee (owner of a very fine collection - I'd love to have her Anselm Kiefer in my living room ) opined that they were works of conceptual art. I suggested that they were charts and graphs (not mentioning my doctoral studies in art history). After the curator affirmed that they were stock charts, and that was the war room where they try to f*** Merill Lynch, the collector noted that she had thought they were art because she had art running through her brain, implying I was cleraly an insensitive lout by comparison. Today she'd probably say they were edible paper from Homero Cantu. For me the message was that you can't win. It's interesting, and a bit unfortunate, that Adria's understated contributiion to Documenta has largely been ignored by art critics. But he has little to lose by this, other than a lot of unneeded half-attention.
  24. "I don't know about that. It's really just the difference between the classical idea of an artist, which is based on a normative definition, and the modern idea, which is based on a descriptive one. The modern idiom is broadly inclusive as far as what is art/who is an artist, but it's no less rigorous regarding what is great art/who is a great artist." - I think Paul really hit it on the head here. The old idea of artist depended on a hierarchy of media. So that a talentless weekend watercolorist was easily recognized as an 'artist' while great artists using photography a century ago were considered craftsmen. Many photographers still prefer being called photographers, rather than artists, because they (at least consciously) identify more with their medium than the more abstract concept of art. In this they may be mindful of predecessors such as Atget who managed to do just great without proclaiming themselves artists. This brings us back to the artist's intention, which clearly is a questionable determinant of the status of art. The issue here is not really whether cooking can be art. For me there is no room for debate - Adria's creation is very fine art. But so is Opera, and it is rarely shown at Documenta or the Biennials, etc. There are a lot of arts. I think the debate here is whether the "artworld" will try to claim chefs the way it has claimed photographers, video artists, etc.
  25. It is clear that Adria's work comes out of a tradition/medium of use (i.e. nourishment). This is one of the elements of a discussion that makes some people think of seating (rather than pure pleasure) when they see George Nakashima furniture or imagine teacups when viewing a non-utilitarian ceramic sculpture by Ken Price. Use value has often been used as an element of viewing photography or video as somehow less of an art than painting. I think this tired logic has less currency each year. Whether art has a lot of high craft value/artisanship (think Matisse's painting) or little interest in craft but high 'conceptual' value (Lawrence Wiener's wall drawings for example) it can be either successful art or unsuccessful art. Adria's achivement is on the highest level of giving the diner a new, enriching experience (I finally ate at El Bulli in May) - pretty much my definition of art. There is always room for arguments about medium/use/intention (There is currently a very grey line dividing 'time based art' from 'theater'), but I'm more interested in how many angels Adria can balance on the end of a pin.
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