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  1. this is kind of a long shot - but you are all the most amazing resources...i was in spain for a year about 8 years ago. i lived in seville and am dreaming about cookies made there. they were holiday cookies - but they could have just as easily been easter as christmas cookies. i can't remember. they were very simple and came in just a few flavors (i remember loving the cinnamon) i bought them at a little corner bakery across the street from the cathedral. they looked like flat bottomed eggs and had absolutely no browning whatsoever. the texture was uniform - creamy sand. i remember asking a proprietress for the recipe and she just looked at me like i was crazy - i am almost positive however, that she told me that there were only 4 ingredients. (flour, sugar, butter, eggs??) i think the name starts with an "m" - they are butter cookies - so maybe a variation of mantequilla? i'd love a recipe - these ladies didn't use cookie molds - how did they get the shape? what should the dough look like? many thanks in advance.
  2. I just returned from a trip to Lisbon and would like to play around baking some Portuguese pastries. Does anyone know of an english language book of portuguese pastry recipes, or an online source for same?
  3. Hello Everyone, I am taking this time to reintroduce myself to Egulleteers, now on the Spanish message board (thank God that the Spanish keyboards are more similar to American keyboards than the French) to inform everyone that I have made the transition from France to Spain, or from Provence to Cataluna to be more exact. Yes, I finally decided to pack up my now considerable belongings and see for myself where all the hype of the new Spanish Culinaria is coming from. No I am not at El Bulli, even though one day I might end up being a dead cat (you know what curiosity--anyway) but decided to go for the more "grounded" cuisine of Santi Santamaria at El Raco de Can Fabes. Thanks, in part, to Mr. Buxbaum, to what many of you have written about Spain and its emergence as a culinary tour de force, and to an old colleague/sommelier from my first year at L'Oustau de Baumaniere who now works for Chef Santamaria, I decided to make a reservation at El Raco de Can Fabes. In my last post, Staggaire´s Story, some two years ago on the French message board, I was at the beginning of my culinary odyssey at the highly acclaimed, L'Oustau de Baumaniere, a once three but now two Michelined starred Provencal restaurant. In brief, I had read numerous books on becoming a chef stating the importance of grounding oneself as a cook in French technique, so I discussed this possiblility of doing a stage in France with my chef at the time, Wolfgang Puck. The story still exists to my knowledge on the French board, archived probably somewhere two years ago for those interested. Initially, I was supposed to stay for a short stage (pronounced the French way with a soft "a") for a month but the short stage turned into a 26 month job to which I ended up working as demi chef de partie (not going into the French Brigade system) in both Rotisserie and Garde Manger. In short, I advanced as high as an American staggaire could advance without taking over a "real" title. I wasn´t paid handsomely for my toil, nor was I ever embraced within the organization (not saying their was an anti-American sentiment--just that I wasn´t French), but what I experienced and learned, I feel to be invaluable. In the end, I had a very comforatable life in Provence, with many advantages and benefits, but I knew that it was time to move on. So with a higher appreciation for Provencal cuisine, wine and life (all pretty much synonomous), I decided I wanted to see the bigger picture of French cuisine. So, I asked the owner of Baumaniere, Jean Andre Charial, for assistance in placing me into one of the many Parisian starred restaurants (Pierre Gagnaire being at the head). He responded by saying he would try and then I waited and waited and waited--to no reponse. Later when I wore out all patience, I asked him the possiblility of working in a three star in Paris to which he replied--en bref, je ne pouvais pas t'aider. The problem was I wasn´t European. That is exactly when I took matters into my own hand and initiated a new game plan. First, I would mail out a curriculum vitae to all the restaurants I wanted to work at, then follow up with a personal visit to all the restaurants and then if necessary beg and plead. All this was unneccessary in the end, when by chance an old acquaintance/colleague now close friend showed up at Baumaniere and mentioned he was working for a three star in Spain. My eyes lit up and so we got to talking and more talking...to which it was settled, I would eat there and present myself. We made a reservation and thus the process was set in motion. I talked a friend, another sommelier from Baumaniere, into driving down and joining me to eat at Can Fabes. I think the conversation went something like, "hey there's a three star next to Barcelona, do you want to go" to which he responded "Barcelona, three star, party %&$/ yeah! You need to take off an extra two days" Well obviously the meal itself was extraordinary and with some interesting Spainish wines, a Gramada white and Penedes red, I was sold. The only real problem, apart from actually getting a chance to work there, was apart from some of the more--lets say inappropriate language I learned from the many Mexican cooks back in Santa Monica, I didn´t know a word of Spanish. That was OK by me and perfect revenge for my eventual return--now I will know what those guys are saying to me behind my back. Who am I kidding, it was never behind my back but straight to my face. Luckily Santi Santamaria speaks French and we discussed my background and such for a brief minute and that was it. I didn't hear back from them for what seemed an eternity. Basically I gave up hope and was planning to stay the rest of the season, til the end of December at Baumaniere (it being the beginning of June), and during their annual closure (January and February), make my assault on Paris. Fine, that will buy me time, I thought til one day out of the blue some three months after we had dined there, I get a call from Javier Torres, head chef at Can Fabes with not only a job proposal but a real position (chef de partie--something unattainable at Baumaniere) and a real salary. I obviously grew very excitied and maybe prematurely called everyone about the news. Well after a month of not hearing from them and then hearing from the chef but with nothing definitive, I conitinued to do what I was all too tired of doing--wait. In this time, I started to wonder--well they know I'm American, they know I don´t know how to speak Spanish, they know I was never a chef de partie in a three star restaurant--this is just too good to be true. Well eventually before my grand depart, we hatched out some details--well one, my start date--Sept. 30-- the rest was up in the air. I knew lodging would be provided, what I didn´t know was that I would share a room a bit larger than the one I had at Baumaniere (where I was living single) with not one but two other cooks--who have both since left. I have an empty bunkbed to look at when I wake up now. I knew I would be fed one meal a day. What I wasn´t prepared for was the 14 hoer work days which ended in scrubbing the kitchen from figurative head to toe, the overworked cooking staff who threaten to and then actually quit without notice, the relentless amount of tedious repetition necessary in achieving consistency in the upper echelons of fine dining followed up with more attentiveness to details, details, details. Yes, I am now chef de partie, garde manger, but for the last month I worked like a staggaire with chef de partie responsiblities. That is to say, there is nothing beneath me in terms of what is required of me. If I need to deshell 15 kilos of buy de mar (crab) and make sure there isn´t a milligram of shell in the final process, I need to do that. I don´t know if any of you have done this before, but in short, its a pain in the ass. Ask me to deshell five kilos of shrimp everyday, thats fine, but deshelling--index finger by index finger of every gram of meat--doing it again-- and then again--five solid hours is fairly torturous. I remember writing in my last post about my Baumaniere hell week (basically a week without my chef de partie--who was in the US at the time-- which had me working 14 hour days)--well I just signed up for a hell year. I did this in my last post--a shameful plea for pity. Well there is no looking back so to speak. Again, not to make things sound worse than they are for cinematic affect, I work like a dog for around 75-80 hours a week just to say I worked in a three star restaurant. One might ask, "well are you learning at least", to which I have to smile a sardonic, contemptuous smile and say, "I'm learning a lot" but what I really want to say is "I'm learning to work and work hard." I think in the end that is the difference between great restaurants and good restaurants. We could call it quits after lets say the tenth hour and have satisfactory results. I would honestly say that half the customers would hardly notice the difference, but we don´t quit . We could call it quits after the twelth hour and none but a few of the customers would notice the difference, but we don't because we, the people in the kitchen, know the difference. I think this is of vital importance. Before, I asked, "is it really necessary to do _____, noone will know the difference" but every effort in the kitchen is noticeable, even if it is only incremental. Someone kick me off my soapbox for heaven´s sakes. Of course, I am here for the same reasons many of you come here for--the search for quality. Its here and here in abundance. I have never seen so many mushroom hunters come in with prized "oy de reys", cepes (with heads so dark and bodys so heavy) and many varieties I´ve never seen before--it raining about everyday now, definately paying the price for the heat wave of the past summer. The produce is excellent, coming either from our weekly run to France or from the numerous farmers, ranchers and food artisans from the region. I love working with all the fresh seafood and the suckling pigs, beef...well basically everything we get is incredible. Although the hours are long, and this is where I do my customary about face, I love what I'm doing here. It is worth the price. At least I can say I work long tedious hours along side with Santi Santamaria--he being infatigable as well. As far as my opinion of Santi Santamaria--I am falling in love with the man. He is generous to a fault (mis en place takes big hits), and absolutely unfaltering in his pursuit for perfection. An absolute pleasure to work for, even if he has his darker moments--naturally. I just hope some of his passion for eating and living rubs off on me. I would like to take this opportunity to thank eGullet again and to Robert Buxbaum again for organizing such a gell informed site. I live for this kind of stuff and although I seem to be longwinded in my account of personal events, I hope it gives some insight into the "other side" of restaurant life. Being an English major, I always ponder the bigger questions of dining, such as a wonderful article about deconstructionism and El Bulli. The last time I spoke to an old professor at UCLA, I asked, definately ignorantly, what seems to be the next thing after post modernism (the reinvention of the classic) and are we seeing signs of a Hegelian thesis, antithesis to synthesis pursuit towards "zeitgeist" (seems very foolish in hindsight) and he responded by saying there seems to be something seen as postcolonialism. Just to get a head start on new restaurant trends, I am wondering, the more and more food attains the level of art instead of craft, can we take modern discourses of art and apply them to trends in restaurants? That is, are such discourses driving influence in fine dining? It seems to be one way in analyzing what Ferran Adria is doing and thus the following trend he has caused? I am sure this subject has been done to death already, but if there is a new era of postcolonialism, does that mean that a new trend for restaurants is to revert back to more "traditional" values and although we cannot discount the effects of multicultural "fusion" we need to pay more heed to the colonized and less to the colonial powers? Last thing on this mental self pleasuring exercise, what restaurants do some of you see in my future? If one were to open a quintessential California restaurant, one would hope to have Mediterranean influences, Asian influences and of course exposure to other Californian/Pacific Coast restaurants, but what other restaurant, region would round off my culinary career? Pierre Gagnaire? Tuscany? Piedmont? Pais Vasco? Will be looking in anxiously, Simon
  4. I thought my first post should be a recipe to share with you all. It is one of the most popular dishes on my website. Shopping list pinch of saffron (azafrán)1 tsp oregano or thyme (orégano o tomillo)4 cups fish or vegetable stock (caldo de pescado o verduras)2 tsp sweet smoked paprika (pimentón dulce ahumado)1 bay leaf (hoja de laurel)olive oil (aciete de oliva)1 onion (cebolla)1 red pepper (pimiento rojo)3 garlic clove (dientes de ajo)2 cups of paella rice such as 'bahía-senia' or 'bomba' (arroz bomba o bahía-senia)1 large tomato (tomate)1 large fillet of white fish such as haddock or cod (filete de pescado blanco)handful of mussels (puñado de mejillones)handful of clams (puñado de almejas)4-6 large prawns (langostinos)parsley (perejil)chives (cebollinos)freshly ground black pepper (pimienta recién molida negro)Method for Seafood Paella recipe Warm the saffron in a medium saucepan for about 30 seconds and then add 4 cups of stock, the paprika and a bay leaf. Simmer very gently. If using whole prawns, break off the heads, remove the shells and de-vein. Then add the heads to the stock (if using vegetable stock) and put the prawn bodies to one side. Tip: to prepare whole prawns, just break off the heads by twisting with your hands and then carefully pull the shells away from the belly. Once removed you will notice a thin black line along the prawn, this often contains grit and sand. Run a knife along this line and then remove the vein with the tip of the knife. Warm two tablespoons of olive oil in a paella pan and then add the very finely chopped onion, pepper, oregano and garlic. Soften for about 7-8 minutes. Tip: leave some longer strips of pepper for garnishing. Add the rice and stir well. Then grate the tomato into the rice so the flesh passes through the grater but the skin does not. Continue stirring until the rice starts to dry out. Drain the stock, add half to the rice and simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, wash your clams and mussels, removing any grit and cutting off the beards. Then, add the clams, mussels and prawns to the pan, pushing down into the rice and then add half of the remaining stock and simmer for about 7 minutes. Cut the haddock fillet into small portions and fry in a splash of olive oil in a separate hot pan, skin-side down for about 4 minutes until the skin is browned and crisp. Remove and place to one side. Tip: when crisping the skin of fish, try not to move it while it is cooking as you will damage the skin. After about four minutes on a high heat you should be able to ease a palette knife under the skin and lift. Add the rest of the stock to the pan and simmer for 5 more minutes and then add the fish pieces, flesh-side down and continue to simmer for a couple more minutes until the liquid is all gone. At this point you should taste the rice and it should just be cooked. Season with pepper and then remove from the heat, cover with foil and leave to stand for 5 minutes. Finally garnish with parsley and chives and serve with bread and lemon wedges. This seafood paella recipe is perfect for sharing with friends and family and always raises a smile. Enjoy!
  5. a friend heard from some guy that this place called Galecia or something is really good. it's in newark. it's spanish. but i can't find any info (address, spelling, etc.) does this ring a bell with anyone? thanks.
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