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  1. Content advisory: this is going to come across as an unalloyed rave, so let me say at the outset that I have no connection with Pen-y-bryn other than having stayed there. Now we have that out of the way - we visited Oamaru for the annual steampunk festival at the end of May this year. Oamaru, a small (pop. 13,500) town in the South Island, 250-odd kilometres south of Christchurch, is home to one of the best-preserved Victorian precincts in the country. The Victorian heritage has been embraced by the community, first with Victorian re-enactments and now with the steampunk. Oamaru calls itself the steampunk capital of New Zealand and the annual Queen's Birthday weekend festival is quite an event. I could go on at length about it, but this is not the place. Pen-y-bryn (Welsh for 'top of the hill' was built as a private residence in 1889 and is said to be the largest single-level residential building in New Zealand or Australia. Here's the house: I met one of the owners, James Glucksman, through eGullet a couple of years ago, and this seemed a good opportunity to meet my first eG member in person. James and his partner James Boussy (collectively: the Jameses) are of US origin and have travelled extensively. The lodge is filled with period furniture, some of it made for the original owner, and decorated with items the Jameses have collected in their travels. There's a full-sized billiard table (one of three originally made for the New Zealand Parliament; only two would fit so the remaining one came south to Oamaru), a fantastic original Florentine ceiling in the dining room and any number of comfortable places to sit with a book and a drink. James G is the chef and morning guy (how does that work?); James B is the gardener and evening guy. Breakfasts are splendid affairs. As well as (lodge-made) fruit compotes and wonderful jams, muesli and granola, there's always a freshly-made baked selection. I can thoroughly recommend the croissants, although it's hardly fair to single them out, and I have now been introduced to the famous biscuits and gravy - not something often seen in this country: Rather good, I must say, and I'd certainly have them again. I think James said we were the first guests he'd tried them out on. Sausage gravy, for those of you who are wondering, with just the right level of cayenne. After that, if you have room, you can have your choice of eggs with bacon, tomato and mushrooms. For the first few days of our stay we were deeply involved in festival affairs and weren't able to have much more than bed and breakfast at the lodge. Not that that's anything to be sneezed at, and it was very pleasant to return exhausted in the evening and be met at the door by a James, then ushered into the drawing room for a nightcap - a cocktail, or perhaps a glass of James G's excellent nocino. On the final day, though, we thought we'd be having a free day and arranged to have two of our friends who had travelled with us from Wellington join us for afternoon tea, to be followed by a proper dinner. As it turned out we got involved in a photo session in the morning followed by helping pack out of the hall much of the festival had been in, and ended up with only minutes to spare to dress accordingly (one must!) before we were due for tea. But we made it: (Photo courtesy Pen-y-bryn) What a splendid group of people, don't you think? That's Mrs Hudson (the younger) on the left, then Professor Carwardine, myself (Colonel Hawthorne) and Captain Smollett. A very distinguished gathering indeed - you may note we had abandoned most of our steampunk accoutrements in favour of a more pure Victorian look (save for my cravat pin, but you can't see that). Our host was no less splendid: OK, he didn't dress like that all the time - he cuts a decent figure in chefs' whites as well - but this is what eGullet members can look like when they put their minds to it. We'd neglected to warn James until the day before of the gluten-free needs of one of the party, but he came through magnificently. Coronation Chicken and radish/poppy seed/cream cheese sandwiches, feijoa/orange tea cakes, English Royalty currant scones with clotted cream and more of James's jam, along with rosewater/pistachio meringues. All except the tea cakes were gluten-free, and everything was delicious. I haven't experienced much gluten-free food, but if it's all like this (I believe it isn't!) I think I could cope. This was accompanied by our choice from an extensive tea list. The Jameses have lived in China and their knowledge of teas is vast - they can even do a full tea ceremony at the lodge if you wish. A very nice touch at afternoon tea was a discreet printed menu so we knew what we were having. This was also offered later at dinner, to which we now come. Having dressed appropriately (again - we're getting quite good at it), Mrs Hudson (the younger) and myself descended to the drawing room. James G had unfortunately been forced to take to his bed after our afternoon tea (we wore him out?), but his young sous-chef Ashley and James B between them gave us a memorable evening. We began with cocktails and canapés. For the former we introduced James to the Tolkien. He's not big on mixed drinks, but allowed that this one was acceptable. Ashley presented this offering: Chorizo, mozzarella and cherry tomato with a balsamic reduction, and crostini with stracchino and saltwater pearls. The chorizo and both cheeses were - again - made at Pen-y-bryn. After a suitable interval we repaired to the dining room: James offered a short but thoughtful wine list, and we went with this: When one is in Otago, one must drink Otago, don't you think? It was a good choice; warm and fruity and a good match for what followed. First, cocoa-nib rubbed North Otago venison carpaccio, served with confit cherry tomatoes, sumac-sesame-pinenut soil and balsamic caviar: This was a beautiful dish in every way. Although our first meeting on eG was in the chamber sealer topic, I hadn't been aware quite how modernist James's cooking was (he told me later he likes to include modernist elements, but may dial it back depending on his audience. He didn't have to hold back with us). Ashley was able to chat happily about maltodextrin and spherification - I flatter myself she enjoyed having people there who knew what she was talking about! But as the eG modernist community knows, it's not all about appearance; the food has to taste good. And this certainly did. If you're wondering, the white thing is a coconut sphere. Then, after a lovely mixed fruit sorbet with triple sec, the main course. Sous vide confit Canterbury duck leg with crumbed quenelle of pommes sarladais, sorrel gel, baby bok choy and haricots verts, and port wine sauce. And look at the plate: This was another lovely dish. The duck was just as tender as you'd hope, with just the lightest crisping of the skin. The potato quenelle was possibly the best of its type I've had, and the dots of sorrel gel provided a nice bitter note. We had to finish eventually and it was in fine style, with passionfruit-lemon tart with crème Chantilly and vanilla-poached tamarillos (the photo was taken before the tamarillos went on): Again, delicious. A shortcake-style base with delicious thick cream, complemented beautifully by the berry (I think) sauce and tamarillos. After this it only remained to return to beside the fire in the drawing room to join some new friends we'd made on this trip. A very lovely evening. I can thoroughly recommend Pen-y-bryn for a luxury stay if you get to this part of the world. I have only one criticism - it's completely ruined me for staying anywhere else. Thanks, guys. We'll be back.
  2. And so it begins... I arrived in Las Vegas at 10:30 or so this morning, picked up my rental car and hastened over the the Tuscany Suites to meet up with Chocolot. After a brief cruise through all the loot that she had accumulated for the workshop we headed out to do a few errands. We checked in with Melissa and Jean Marie to check that all was well for later in the week and to enjoy a little look around the facility. I also had to deliver several bottles of wonderful looking paté that Alleguede had made for Jean Marie (I kept one bottle here for snacking purposes this week). There was serious drooling going on over all the equipment they have available for us to play with. What was to be a quick stop at Chef Rubber took a little longer than expected - there is a lot to look at there! And to buy! We investigated a couple of thrift stores - notably the Habitat for Humanity Reuse to grab a couple of items that will show their usefulness later this week. And for dinner we hit Lotus of Siam. We know that we are going back there this week - but it is a place I've wanted to check out since FG wrote about it a few years ago. And you can never eat too much Thai can you? Jasmine tea for me. Chicken larb. Khao soi - noodles with a red thai sauce. And the condiments to go with them - some sort of pickled green (perhaps mustard), onion and of course lime. Pepper garlic shrimp - didn't see a table without this one! And fried rice with veg and egg. Right now Ruth is cruising the internet reviews to see what we should order when we return there on Thursday.
  3. French food is my favorite cuisine and l’Arpege is my favorite restaurant. Currently, entering the 4th year that I haven’t returned to l’Arpege (Since ’06, I usually make an effort to go there at least once every 2 years). At the very least I had a chance to savor Alain Passard’s cuisine in late ’12 when he became a guest Chef at Beaufort hotel Sentosa – the most memorable part was when Alain personally cooked 2 Brittany lobsters for me. Fortunately, Singapore has a restaurant owned and run by Passard’s apprentice & his former sous chef, Gunther Hubrechsen. Therefore, whenever I crave for (home-style) French cooking that’s light, delicate and delicious, I often come here. Similar to my Les Amis’ experience, I’ve actually been here about 4 times since 2008 but never wrote a (serious) review even once. As a matter of fact, Gunther’s is one of my favorite restaurants in Singapore I had dinner at Gunther’s in the same week as my meal at Les Amis. On purpose, I ordered carte-blanche here with similar budget to the Les Amis’ degustation menu. I wondered how these 2 elite gastronomy restaurants (cooking nouvelle cuisine without any molecular element) would fare against each other. A short comparison in a glance, Les Amis = 7 courses including one dessert. 2 courses with caviar and 3 courses with black truffle. There were scallop, lobster and wagyu beef Gunther’s = 8 courses with a dessert. 1 dish with caviar and also 3 courses with black truffle. There were scallop, gambas and wagyu beef Anyway, I ate and enjoyed very much the following stuffs at Gunther’s (my top 3 dishes): 1st: cold angel hair pasta with Oscietra caviar - the restaurant’s most well-known dish and Chef Hubrechsen should be proud of it. It’s the 3rd time I savor this dish; it’s still very delicious – the flavor, the smells, the texture and all other elements were spot on. High degree of consistency... 5th: carabinero gambas with tomato rice – given how far Spain from Singapore is, the kitchen did a good job in preparing this prawn. I tasted the gambas’ freshness and sweet flavor; it’s well-seasoned too. The Japanese rice cooked with the prawn’s stock and tomato was pleasant except I prefer rice with firmer texture (like in risotto or paella) 6th: grilled scallop with black truffle – the main highlight of my meal. The Hokkaido scallop was juicy and tender though not as tasty as the one I had at Les Amis. However, it’s well-enhanced by the sublime and sweet caramelized onion below as well as the pungent winter truffle aroma and flavor on top of it. I liked the onion very much here – a good example how Gunther brought out the essence of its ingredient; possibly the closest one (in terms of ‘deliciousness’) to the Passard’s perfect onion gratin with parmesan that looks deceptively simple What makes Gunther’s special is that the talented Belgian chef-owner is capable of generating many different kind of ‘unassuming’ dishes and elevating them to higher level using no more than 3 fresh produce on each plate. It seems modest at times, but actually quite sophisticated. Let me describe a few more dishes I had, 4th: roasted garlic with onion essence – if I had to pick one dish I like the least, it’s probably the one. The roasted garlic had smooth texture and good smell, well-integrated with mascarpone sauce. However, I found the (garlic) portion was too big. After consuming 2/3 of them, I just swallowed the rest (almost no chewing) so that I wouldn’t be too stuffed and/or dilute my palate for the next dishes 7th: Char grilled wagyu beef in bordelaise sauce – this was the main course served in a nice portion with a right amount of “fat”. Delicate Japanese beef was generally a safe choice; the chef didn’t do too much and just allowed the natural flavor of high quality wagyu to shine. The sauce and the grilled corn were precisely executed. Nothing wow but it’s hard not to like Japanese beef J 8th: Truffle parfait – dessert. It’s a soft and light vanilla ice cream served with rich chocolate brownie and topped with aromatic smell induced by the Perigord truffle (having slight peppery taste). I hardly eat dessert with truffle in it. This one was sweet and rather delicious There were a couple more dishes I had and you can see/read them on the picture link below. For the meal, I drank 2 glasses of wine. The first glass was 2010 Vincent girardin chassagne-Montrachet; it’s rich and creamy with buttery aromas. The second one was 2009 Black quail Pinot noir; it’s medium bodied with dark berries delicate fragrance and dry finish in slight acidity – a quite refined pinot noir that surprisingly went along nicely with my scallop dish (of course, better with the beef). Oh before I forget, this place only offers one type of bread and butter – to be exact warm mini baguette and salted butter served at room temperature – simple but good; I ate 3 baguettes if not mistaken. The meal ended with a petit four consisting of a green tea macaron and canele – both were fine. It was a quiet evening, about half of the restaurant’s capacity was filled. Probably most people were still busy to attend reunion dinner with their friends and colleagues. The dining room decoration was minimalist dominated by dark grey color for the walls (some paintings were hung on them) and medium lighting. This way guests would not feel overwhelmed and the food took center stage. The staffs were polite and helpful without being intrusive. Besides the sommelier, one friendly “Indian” maitre d’ and the greeter, most of restaurants’ FOH staffs were relatively new. Chef Hubrechsen, usually visiting the dining room to greet guests, explained that the staffs turnover at Singapore restaurants were still very high; he even did not have any permanent sous chef assisting him in the kitchen. So the good thing is that it’s almost guaranteed Gunther himself would always be in the kitchen daily to ensure food quality. I gave my overall meal experience at Gunther’s nearly 94 pts (a good 2 ¼* by Michelin standard) and it meant about the same level as Shinji by Kanesaka Singapore and Eric Frechon’s Le Bristol, seriously. Another lovely meal, and overall it ranked as the most memorable one I’ve ever had here. Well, there was no bad meal experience at Gunther’s. Hope I can return again sometimes next year, even better if not on my own expenses. Lastly, I prefer this place over Les Amis by a small margin. Check here for pictures, https://picasaweb.google.com/118237905546308956881/GuntherSRestaurantSingapore#
  4. Today we started out with a trip to the college to start getting ourselves set up for tomorrow. Then at 10 am we met at ChocolateFX and started our tour. Of course hair nets are obligatory if you are going to go into a food manufacturing facility! Wilma and Art had the small pan set up so that we could pan some raisins. Here's Pat (psantucc), with beard appropriately netted, applying some chocolate to the raisins. Ava (FrogPrincesse's little one) preparing to add more chocolate, Kyle helping and FrogPrincesse awaiting her turn. The fancy packing machine. Listening with rapt attention to Wilma explaining the making of ganache truffles in the round silicone molds.
  5. Gravetye Manor is a magnificent country house hotel that has been tucked away just south of East Grinstead in Sussex for over 400 years. William Robinson, who bought the property in the late 19th century, created the magnificent gardens, including the walled vegetable garden that used to supply much of the restaurants fruit and vegetables in times gone by when we actually used to have a summer. Peter Herbert bought the house in 1958 and created one of the first and still considered amongst the best country house hotels in England. It is still privately owned, now by retired fund manager Jeremy Hosking - a founder of Marathon AM, a $46bn investment fund, who bought the hotel out of administration in 2010. Perhaps its proximity to the Bluebell Railway was a deciding factor. Mr Hosking has what might be described as a healthy love of trains, owning a not insignificant amount of steam locomotives which are loaned out to various heritage railways throughout the UK. The house itself is in the middle of the rolling sussex hills, down a mile-long driveway which takes you through some of the 1000 acres of gardens. Inside its just what one would expect and want to find in such an establishment...faultless classical English upper-class style. A very friendly welcome from the maitre-d introduced us to our surroundings and swaddled us in the inglenook luxury of one of the 3 drawing rooms, where we took an aperitif. Some canape's were brought along with the drinks - a perfect cylinder of duck pate with little spheres of orange balanced atop; a smoked salmon and cream cheese lasagne and a very rich camembert with some brittle pastry dippers. All very nice. Three menu's were presented - a set 4-course table d'hote menu at £40; the a la carte and a 7-course tasting menu priced at £85. It was my birthday. We had the tasting menu. Provenance and and locality are obviously very important to the chef. The 5 or 6 main suppliers are listed on a front page of the menu and all were within a 25 mile radius of the hotel. Bread was a choice between sweet onion rolls, sourdough and focaccia, all homemade. I took rather a liking to the sweet onion rolls and took slight advantage of the generosity of the bread waitress who seemed to appear every few minutes offering more. I thought the room itself very attractive. Perhaps 10 tables, well-spaced in the main room, and a smaller room with 4 tables adjoins this. we ate Longhorn Beef, jerusalen artichoke and spring truffle. Upon completing the dish I asked how the beef had been prepared and was told by a rather too enthusiastic waiter that the chef dusts the beef in icing sugar before searing. There was a slight sweetness that I had put down to the wonderful tender beef itself, and I was a little disappointed to be told the chef dusts it in bloody sugar first. Anyway, a pleasing start to the meal, the artichoke and slivers of truffle being very happy bedfellows to the beef. Hebridean Langoustine, Carpaccio of Middle White pork brawn and parsnip. This came as a thin rectangle of brawn upon which sat a single langoustine cut in half with a frothed shellfish sauce with parsnip crisps and slivers of parsnip that had been poached in butter. The sauce was extremely rich and strikingly pink, the buttered parsnips having fantastic sweet flavour. Spiced Rougie Fois Gras, pain d'epice and prune. A thumb-sized cycliner of fois gras parfait with some bread crisps, prune emulsion and prunes. Nice fois gras and combination of flavours. Simple dish, nicely constructed but did little to show me what they can do in the kitchen. Ash Cured Line Caught Haddock, slow poached Gravetye egg and granola. A fantastic dish of very strong flavours. Now, I have never had a slow-cooked egg before so am not sure if the white was in fact just egg white, or had been replaced by something. It had a wonderful texture of fluffy yoghurt. The granola gave a nice crunch and sweetness to the dish, which was required to counter the incredibly strong, salty flavours of the fish, presented again as as a cyliner. Taken together, this was a fabulous plate of food. Milk Fed Lamb, tomato, polenta and garlic. A waitress brought a gleaming miniature copper pan of fantastic...I'm going to call it gravy. Another great dish, the lamb came with a small twist of kidney, a rich and sticky garlic clove and a breadcrumbed cheesey-potato thing (is there a name for these?). Rich and satisfying, this was up there with the haddock for pure eating pleasure. Artisan cheeses in miniature, frozen grapes and walnuts. Very nicely presented on a slate with a small glass cloche, the four cheeses were tiny slivers. I could definitely have eaten more. The frozen grapes were a nice touch. despite the punctuation on the menu, the walnuts were not frozen! White Chocolate and Green Olives, lemon curd. A cracking desert. Another cylinder, this time of white chocolate ice cream, was held off the plate by two pyramid wafers with bits of green olive and drops of lemon curd. Another first for me, the slightly salty olives with the sweet ice cream was a great flavour combination. Coffee & Petit Fours. Top quality coffee. A huge box of chocolates was brought to the table with a selection of truffles, white and dark chocolates. Overall a very good meal in beautiful surroundings. Service was very good throughout. A bottle of £35 wine (as you can imagine very much at the cheaper end of the list) and the bill was £250 for the two of us. I would return. I am not sure I would opt for the tasting menu again though. This was my first tasting menu and I do like the format. My only reservations are that for £85 I am not convinced these dishes offer great value for money. There was not a great deal of luxury ingredients included nor was I wowed by the effort involved in most of these dishes. That said, it was a very enjoyable meal. I'm still pondering on this. I feel that I need another tasting menu or two, perhaps at the Ledbury, for comparison. Purely for educational purposes, of course.
  6. Mr Rogan makes the move into Manchesters Midland hotel and Tuesday 12th March will see the doors opening to a very exciting start to the fine dining scene and fingers crossed the Michelin stars back into the city again. I was fortunate enough to be invited down to a preview of what the new look The French restaurant is going to be producing over the next few weeks. I believe there will be 2 multi course tasting menus in true Rogan style , a small and a large ( itll be something like a 5 and a 10 course choice i would expect.). Here`s a wee sneak preview of what delights await....The future looks promising for Manchester.
  7. This is probably the most delayed dining report ever to appear on eGullet. We went to Paris in May of 2011 and I am just now getting to the point of this report. What can I say – life intervened. But some folks are still PM’ing me with hints about this report, so I thought I’d go ahead for anyone who is interested. We got lots of help and advice on the trip before going from eG folks, especially Forest who we were fortunate enough to meet and have dinner with. If you want to see the England part of our trip you can start here: http://forums.egullet.org/topic/139686-england-trip-report/ Wednesday 5/25/2011 That morning we took the train from St. Pancras station in London to Gard de Nord in Paris. We left so early that we didn’t have time to stop for a last English breakfast and had to make do on the train with a Crunchy, an apple and a pain au chocolat. Train food being train food, the Crunchy was the best part! Arriving in Paris was otherworldly. Everywhere we went in England felt like my natural home, but Paris was ‘foreign’ in a very special and wonderful way. You must remember that this was the first time I’d ever been anywhere that English wasn’t spoken. It was exciting and scary all at once. My Mary Tyler Moore moment as the fact of actually being in Paris really washed over me: 25-20m by ozisforme, on Flickr Our hotel was the Familia in the Latin Quarter on rue des Ecoles. Family owned, small and charming with a wonderful, welcoming and helpful staff. When the young lady who served us coffee and croissants in the mornings realized that I didn’t like coffee, she brought me (unasked) fabulous hot chocolate every morning. After checking in and hurriedly dumping our luggage we hit the street. We were still ravenous after our train snack, hour long taxi wait at the station and open mouthed drive through Paris so we stopped at the first place that smelled good and bought two quiches to eat as we walked: 25-20k1 by ozisforme, on Flickr A mushroom for Mr. Kim and a Lorraine for me: 25-20k2 by ozisforme, on Flickr Not fabulous, but perfectly good and much better than any street food that we are used to. We took a bus to the Eiffel Tour area. And, as an aside, we found the Paris bus and Metro system incredibly easy to use. Mr. Kim has a little French and I can say “hello”, “goodbye” and “thank you” and recognize lots of menu French, but even so I think that I could have gotten around on my own fairly well, I think. I was raised in Washington DC and that Metro is supposedly based on the Paris one. I think it must be true because I found the maps very familiar. We walked and gawped and grinned for some time. I loved finding the food stores and wished I had a kitchen: 25-33kby ozisforme, on Flickr 25-34kby ozisforme, on Flickr 25-35kby ozisforme, on Flickr And, of course, the bakeries: 25-36kby ozisforme, on Flickr 25-37kby ozisforme, on Flickr Some of the canned goods gave us a bit of a giggle: 25-56k2by ozisforme, on Flickr 25-56k3by ozisforme, on Flickr The food that French people don’t want us to know about! And, dear Lord, the cheese shops: 25-56k4by ozisforme, on Flickr Since we were taking an evening Seine cruise, we had an early dinner at Café Constant: 25-61k9iby ozisforme, on Flickr I’m sorry that I can’t remember who recommended this to us, but thank you! Every single dish was excellent. And the restaurant itself was charming with a nice mix of old and modern: 25-61k9bby ozisforme, on Flickr 25-61k9aby ozisforme, on Flickr We had a nice chat with the waitress and bartender while we were waiting for our table and it turned out that the waitress had worked in NYC for some time. Again, as I noted in my England report, folks on my side of the ocean don’t do near as much traveling as the British and French folks that we met. I started out with Bisque de crustaces aux queues d’ecrevisses a la crème legere: 25-61k9dby ozisforme, on Flickr Creamy shellfish bisque with crayfish tails. Perfect. So light and intensely flavored with the shellfish. Mr. Kim’s starter was Terrine of ‘Kako’, pressed foie gras and pork shin, lentil salad: 25-61k9eby ozisforme, on Flickr No idea what ‘Kako’ is, but this was stellar. Albeit a tad scary looking to a fellow raised on middle class American food, but he bravely tucked in and cleaned his plate! Mr. Kim’s main was duck and potato pie with crispy apples: 25-61k9fby ozisforme, on Flickr Perfect pairing and really good. My main was veal cutlets from the Basque country with white Tarbais beans: 25-61k9gby ozisforme, on Flickr Just gorgeous. Tender and flavorful and the beans were so perfectly cooked firm, tender and each one separate. And that little wedge of lightly grilled romaine on top: 25-61k9hby ozisforme, on Flickr was just astonishing in its simplicity. I’d love to know how that was done. Of course, I couldn’t possibly find such perfect little lettuces in Richmond VA, so I’ll just have to make do with the memory. More than a year later, I can still feel the texture and taste it. The cruise was wonderful. One of those things that seem slightly too touristy before you go, but something that I’d recommend to anyone visiting Paris for the first time. Especially if you only have 2 and a half days there. Since it was an evening cruise, we got to see Paris light up for the night. Breathtaking! After the cruise, we walked along the Seine and took the Metro to the Arc de Triomphe and wandered down the Champ-Elysees. I ended up having a head cold for most of the trip (irritating, but not bad) and was hoping to find something like Sudafed. Just down from the Arc is the Pharmacie du Drugstore des Champs-Elysées. The sign indicated that this was an ‘American Drugstore’. Translation is everything. This was NOTHING like an American drugstore. Gorgeous place with little specialty shop-type areas, amazing confections, Joël Robuchon’s L’Atelier in the freaking basement. Tres posh. But alas, no Sudafed. At least not that we could find. One of the travel guides that we read said that when in Europe resistance to McDonald’s was futile. That, no matter what we thought ahead of time, no matter how lofty our culinary standards, we’d end up in a McDonald’s. Primarily because of the bathrooms. Once inside, it posited, we’d succumb to the familiar fragrance and the cheap food. Well, we didn’t eat there, but strolling along the Champs-Elysées, we DID need a bathroom and lo and behold there was McD’s. So, we’ve been into a McD’s in Paris. But not even a cup of coffee passed our lips. We felt like we’d passed some arcane test. Cab ride back to the hotel – around the Place de la Concorde, past the Louvre, across the Pont Marie and into the Latin Quarter. To our first view of Paris at night from the balcony of our room: 25-150kby ozisforme, on Flickr Coming up - first full day in Paris and my favorite meal.
  8. Visit to Cocoa Plantation in Ecuador On my recent trip to Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, we stayed for a day in Guayaquil, in order to tour a cocoa plantation and small factory- "Hacienda El Castillo". They manufactur the chocolate- from the cocoa trees to bar, solely in this plantation. We started in the main house, where we drank some cocoa juice, made from the pulp surrounding the cocoa beans- very sweet, but delicious: We saw cocoa trees in various stages of growth. In Ecuador, the cocoa variety that is grown is called "Arriba"/"Nacional". Since this pure variety doesn't produce many pods, they use a clone "CCN51"- a hybrid of trinitario and Nacional Inside of a cocoa pod: Fresh beans from 2 pods- 1 pure nacional (the darker), and one CCN51 cocoa tree Sun Dried and fermented beans: They mostly dry their beans in the sun, but if it is rainy, they have a gas heater to dry them. They claim there is no impact on the final flavor of the chocolate (I don't know how true that is), but there was a very heavy gas smell The small factory and their website: http://www.haciendaelcastillo.ec/home.php They produce 50%, 70% and 100% chocolate in the factory. After tasting the finished chocolates, we were a bit disappointed- the 50% was very very sweet, the 70% was just an average chocolate, not very special, and in my opinion not very good (The 2 left bars in the picture below). I bought a bar to bring to the conference in April, to hear some other people's opinion. Eventually, we went to a supermarket and bought some chocolates, that are produced in Ecuador, from cocoa grown in Ecuador: What really stood out (in price as well- ~$8-9 per bar), was the Republica del cacoa chocolate. They use only the pure nacional type, and not the clone. They had bars from severel areas in Ecuador which were incredible, and my favorite was a dark-milk chocolate- 65% milk chocolate- where you could taste the high quality dark chocolate, with some milk creaminess.
  9. Momofuku Toronto

    Noodle Bar finally opened on Wednesday, with Shoto opening tomorrow, and Daisho and Nikai opening soon after. I managed to get to Noodle Bar last night with a friend I used to work with. We ate almost half the menu between the two of us. I was really impressed, it is definately up to the standards of the NYC original, especially when you consider it's in its opening week. I'll be brief, because it's late and I've just come off a 12 hour shift. Enough has been written about the pork buns, so I'll just say they're just as good. The smoked chicken wings glazed in a fish sauce and chilli spiked caramel were sweet, rich and spicy, with a nice tang from the fish sauce ensuring they never became too rich. Roasted rice cakes with chilli, onion and sesame were amazing, and a great lighter version of the pork sausage and crispy rice cakes on offer at Ssam Bar in NYC. The Momofuku Ramen was on par with Noodle Bar NYC, good without being exceptional. The noodles, pork belly, sous vide egg and pulled pork were all cooked well, but the broth could have been hotter and the flavour of seaweed came on a little strong for me, masking the other flavours of the broth slightly. The Chilled Spicy Noodles with pork sausage and honey roasted cashews and spinach was the dish of the night, the combinaton of the spicy cold noodles with the warm sausage and the sweetness and nuttiness from the cashews was unbelievably good. It'll be the first thing I order next time. We were getting a little full by the time the Kimchi stew with pork shoulder and rice cakes came out, which was entirely our own fault. When we ordered, the waitress did warn us that it was a lot of food. It was also probably a little too hearty for the weather at the moment. Solid delicious though, the crunch of the kimchi and the tender strands of pulled pork proving a great partnership. With a few beers each, the bill came to $115 before tip, which is pretty reasonable, and the pace at which the kitchen is pushing out food is impressive. If the keep up that level of quality, I can see them being packed for a long time to come. Also nice to see David Chang observing service from the second floor balcony. I actually have been talking to one of their executive sous chefs over the last month, he said as soon as the behind-the-scenes mania dies down, he'll get me in for an interview, so fingers crossed I'll be working there in a month or two. Can't wait to see what you fellow eGulleters think when you check it out.
  10. NiEggara Fest 2012

    Sunday was a gorgeous day at the Hernder Estates Winery - site of the 2012 NiEggarafest - the Big Green Egg fest put on by my Big Green Egg dealer. AnnaN and I asked for the use of 2 BGE's and spent the week preparing - we hoped to impress folks with what we were able to produce on the egg. We started the morning with a breakfast bread pudding - chunks of dried country bread, broccoli, onion, mushrooms and cheddar held together with a custard containing well blended cottage cheese and sour cream. Next up - Not Cinnamon Buns - rolls containing Macadonian green pepper and eggplant spread, some cream cheese, garlic and cheddar shreds. Next we did the Momofuku pork buns - didn't get a picture - too busy with the assembly. After this - some naan with a La Bomba dip. I was making the naan the same day as the steamed buns - put the dough in the fridge to retard it - apparently it didn't retard a whole lot. Then some kimchi pancakes - they were a big hit. Pork tenderloin in a thai coconut dip. We finished off with dried figs, stuffed with dark chocolate and walnuts - roasted for a few minutes to make the chocolate nice and melty. Didn't get a picture.
  11. The building and the name are pretty much all that remain to tell the visitor that this was once a pub. Inside, it’s fitted out and staffed in entirely restaurant style. So, let’s regard it as a restaurant and, indeed, one with a Michelin star, rather than a gastropub where one might go to drink as well as eat. There’s no freebie amuse bouche, but there are a few nibbly pre-starters to buy. Scotch egg, perhaps, or a couple of rollmops. Or, for me, rabbit rillettes on toast. Well seasoned bunny with a few slices of cornichon to contast. Game, in the form of pigeon breast salad continued to be my choice. Thin slices of rare pigeon, quails egg, a little frisee, a little radicchio, a scattering of pine nuts and sultanas. They all worked well together. It felt a bit Italian and that part of the world was certainly the theme of my partner’s starter – a courgette flower stuffed with ricotta and served warm. Alongside, and served at room temperature, pine nuts and sultanas, sliced artichoke, a little beetroot and a few raw peas. All very summery. Lemon sole, served on the bone, was excellent and came with a salad of pea shoots, marinated cucumber and brown shrimps. If the starter hadn’t been summery enough, this sorted it out properly. On the other plate, venison haunch came with a very zingy pepper crust – the sort that harked back to the peppered steak of the 1980s. But here, the dish was softened by wilted spinach and a mash which was, to my taste, more sloppy than it needed to be (but then, I’m someone who likes their mashed potato to be potatoes mashed, rather than pomme puree) Desserts were a mixed bag. Strawberry jelly and elderflower cream shouted “English summer”. And, including pieces of fruit in the jelly and topping it with a strawberry sorbet, meant it was shouted pretty loud. I liked this a lot! Rice pudding was as well made as your granny would have made it. It came with two jam doughnuts. Now these seemed to be fashionable dessert accompaniments three or four years ago (at least in our part of the world). They weren’t a good idea then and the passing years havn’t improved the concept. Service was generally good, although the order taken seemed to do a runner towards the end of service which left us, and other tables, doing a bit of finger tapping until we managed to flag down a passing waitress who consented to take our dessert order.
  12. The Cube by Electrolux

    The Cube is perhaps the ultimate pop up restaurant. It has already made an appearance in three major European cities atop of some incredible buildings. In London it makes its appearance on top of the Royal Festival Hall, giving pectacular views out over the River Thames, Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament etc, etc. Its runs until the end of September and features some of the UK's top chefs who are all Michelin starred. Daniel Clifford, Claude Bosi, and Tom Kitchin are amongst those who feature. We ate here three weeks ago when Daniel Clifford was cooking. In between then and now Claude Bosi has made an appearance for one week and Daniel has another week starting tomorrow. More details are here http://www.electrolu....uk/Cube/London
  13. Sushi Tetsu opened on Monday night in the very tiny premises formerly occupied by Passage Cafe on Jerusalem Passage in Clerkenwell (next door to the Dove Belgian bar). It's owned and run by Toru Takahashi and his wife. Toru was sushi chef at Nobu for five years before leaving to open his own place. I don't want to burden them with massively inflated expectations, but this was the closest thing to the Yasuda experience I've found in London. Toru served up piece after piece of top class sushi whilst keeping up a patter on Belgian beer, bossa nova (Astrud v. Bebel Gilberto), blues (Does Johnny Winter hate Japanese people? Why Bobby Bland isn't really blues) and the relative merits/demerits of various sushi restaurants in London and further afield (in fact he namechecked Yasuda as an influence). It's a more classical sushi bar than Sushi of Shiori (which I also very much like). No hot food, no miso. Just sashimi, nigiri and maki. It's a true sushi omakase experience, one piece of nigiri at a time, the meal developing its own flow, its own momentum. It is quite traditional, occasional use is made of a blowtorch but not to the extent it is used at Yashin. The torch giving an effect not unlike the grill used by Masa in Tokyo. In the end, of course, this is London. Billingsgate is not Tsukiji. The fish is not quite at the level of Yasuda or Kuruma (who can import directly from Tokyo) not to mention the Tokyo heavyweights. But it's very, very good and it's prepared with immense skill and passion. This was a hugely encouraging first meal (all the better for it being 400 yards from my front door). I suspect the London sushi scene has a new contender.
  14. Full review and photos: http://twofoodiesonejourney.blogspot.com/2012/06/evolve-cuisine-san-diego-explore-your.html Evolve Cuisine (San Diego) – “Explore your Senses” Tasting Menu Trends in the food world are no different than trends in other parts of life. Some of them evolve over time and become part of the mainstream food world like “farm-to-table”. Today hardly any restaurant doesn’t use some kind of play on the theme of farm-to table to describe their approach towards ingredients and dishes. And even though the concept gets overused by now it also describes a pleasant development of a stronger consciousness of restaurants and customers alike towards a more thoughtful approach regarding sourcing of ingredients. Some other trends get so overhyped that they become more of a stigma than description so that they slowly fade away and only might reappear under a completely different premise as it happened with molecular gastronomy. One of the big buzzwords of the restaurant world in the 90s with pioneers like Ferran Adria, it became more and more a cuss word for restaurants who didn’t understand the original intend but forgot that the quality of the final dish is key to a successful restaurant not the abundant use of new fancy techniques. Over time many of the techniques and tools used during the molecular gastronomy heydays became standard tools of many advanced kitchens like, sous-vide, vacuum sealer, different stabilizers and enzymes and are used today without much reluctance. Chefs using these modern tools understand by now that these are just tools to achieve a better dish and not their main focus. This new attitude was also captured by the seminal work of Nathan Myhrvold and his team who wrote the book which labeled this field – Modernist Cuisine. We have seen quite a few restaurants in San Diego using tools from the modernist cuisine arsenal and incorporating it in very impressive ways, like at Blanca, Georges and Kitchen 1540 by using for example sous-vide, liquid nitrogen or transglutaminase to name a few. But at the same time none of these restaurants strongly advertised their use of these tools as they were just aids to achieve their final dishes. And so it was just a matter of time until the first chef in San Diego would use a more “direct” way to clearly advertise his work as part of the Modernist Cuisine movement – Evolve Cuisine. Evolve Cuisine is the brainchild of Chef Daniel Barron. We first heard about Chef Barron when we read about his work at Anqi in Costa Mesa which is an Asian Fusion restaurant that also offered special molecular gastronomy tasting menus at their chefs table. He got his start into the culinary world through the American Culinary Federation Apprenticeship Program at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, Michigan before he worked successfulyl in a number of restaurants in Nashville (Mad Platter), New York (Cesca) and Atlantic City (Donald Trump’s Premier Casino Restaurant). More recently he moved to San Diego to take a position as Executive Chef at Blue Point Costal Cuisine where, similar to Anqi, a special molecular gastronomy tasting menu was offered on request beside the regular standard menu. Finally beginning of this year he decided to be able to create dishes without any restrictions in a conventional restaurant setting and started Evolve Cuisine to focus on the “culinary intersection of modernist cuisine and fresh, organic fare”. Chef Barron is working at Evolve cuisine together with Pastry Chef Jeff Bonilla, who is best known in San Diego for his work with Cups and as Executive Pastry Chef at Kitchen 1540, and Mike Yen, mixologist who worked at Nine-Ten, Avenue 5 and Kitchen 1540. Evolve Cuisine is at this point not planned as a restaurant but as a catering service which uses the currently highly popular pop-up concept to promote its ideas, dishes and philosophy. The most recent incarnation of the Evolve pop-up was focused on “exploring the senses” with a 7-course tasting menu at Fixtures Living. Fixtures Living is during the day an interesting place to buy furniture for kitchen, bath and outdoor but not the first place you think about for a pop-up restaurant. As it turns out the space is very well suited for such an event with its few communal tables, several small booths and bar. It’s a beautiful open space which allowed a lot of interaction between the guests. The open kitchen gave everybody the chance to see the chef and his team preparing and plating the different courses. Amuse Bouche 1: Duck confit ravioli The night started with a reception and three amuse bouches prepared by the three cooks helping Chef Barron throughout the night. The first one was a deep-fried ravioli filled with duck confit. The ample duck confit had a good but delicate flavor which was easily overshadowed by the fried pasta dough. The amuse bouche would have been more successful if the pasta wouldn’t have been deep-fried to let the duck confit shine. So the dish had mainly the ubiquitous flavor of deep fried food. Amuse Bouche 2: Smoked duck breast If there is one kind of utensil which symbolizes best what went wrong with molecular gastronomy it is any kind of syringe – unwieldy, awkward to use in a restaurant setting, doesn’t add anything to any dish and should simply be forbidden to be used by any chef. This amuse bouche proved the point as the idea of combining smoked duck breast, bing cherries and coconut milk was interesting but the execution lacked and it was hard to get a good taste of all the components. Amuse Bouche 3: Seared Yellowfin tuna For us clearly the most successful amuse bouche of the night – Conceptually a simple dish with some seared tuna and a yuzu based aioli but the flavors of the fish and the aioli nicely came together to form a very tasty bite which we would have liked to have as a larger portion. Cocktail 1: Tequila shooter Mike Yen also prepared two excellent small cocktails to go with the amuse-bouches during the reception. The tequila shooter resembled visually a hefeweizen beer but also the flavors reminded us of this class of beers with its slight fruitiness and subdued tartness. Cocktail 2: Cranberry-lime Cosmopolitan The Cosmopolitan was slightly on the sweet side but nicely balanced by the encapsulated cranberry and lime juice. A good play on this classical cocktail and we couldn’t resist to ask for seconds. 1st Course: Smell – Crab consommé, sweet pea, truffle For this dish we were instructed to pour the broth over the peas and pea shots and stir everything. By this, one created a kind of chowder with a wonderful mix of truffle and crab aroma. The flavor of the liquid resembled the heady aroma with a very delectable taste of the crustaceans which was never overwhelmed by the truffle flavor. The balance between both flavors was impressive. The peas delivered a welcomed textural counterpoint and made this dish to one of the highlights of the tasting menu. 2nd Course: Sight – Sculpin, honeysuckle, red chile Sculpins, also known as scorpion fish, are very unusual looking creatures and even though we weren’t served a whole one this dish was a good example for mildly flavor fish. This piece of fish was lightly coated but the crust didn’t interfere with the flavor of the sculpin. Both sauces, one of them characterized from Chef Barron as an Asian-inspired pesto, accompanying the fish had some Asian influences and the red chile added some heat to the dish. The dish would have benefited from another component, like a vegetable, otherwise it was too protein heavy and felt one-dimensional. 3rd Course: Sound – Lavender, pork jowl, mustard Some grassfed beef, smoked, sous-vided and then seared, was the foundation of the dish. It was combined with pork jowl, starting point of guanciale, mustard green and a lavender based vinaigrette to yield an impressive salad which only had the “mistake” of being too small. The pop rock made from mustard were a nice gimmick but didn’t add much to the dish. 4th Course: Touch – Chicken liver, ahi, pumpernickel, peach With the controversy around foie gras in California and a few protesters somewhere outside Chef Barron decided to rename all foie gras into “chicken liver” for the evening. Here the foie gras was incorporated into a panna cotta which still had the characteristic taste of the foie gras but at the same time made it particular light. Pairing foie gras with ahi is quite unusual but due to the lightness of the foie gras panna cotta this combination worked really well as the foie gras didn’t overwhelm the fish. The pieces of peach brought some burst of fruitiness and sweetness and completed the dish. Cocktail Intermezzo: Acid rain Mixologist Mike Yen introduced another one of his creations midway through the tasting menu. In addition to having a nice flavor profile with strong notes on lemongrass and some sweetness from the pink cotton candy rose which slowly dissolved in the cocktail the visual aspect of the cocktail was also entertaining – once you poured the cocktail over the small rocks in the glass you created some “fog” from the dry ice. 5th Course: Taste – Beef cheek, uni, fava beans This course showed again the advantages of sous-vide cooking. Instead of braising the beef cheeks which would result in tender meat with a more fibrous texture cooking it sous-vide gave an equally tender meat but with a much more satisfying texture resembling a steak. The beef checks were paired nicely with some grits made out of hominy and pumpernickel and a sauce created from uni and eel as two main components -a strong dish and one of the highlights of the night. 6th Course: Sensory overload – Duck confit, spot prawn, blackberry, horseradish Chef Barron described this dish as using every part of the duck – the spot prawn was filled with duck confit accompanied by some seared foie gras, dried duck sausage and a blackberry sauce. Even though the different components were executed well this dish also showed what happens if you are using too many techniques just for the sake of it. The dried duck sausage didn’t add anything to the flavor and had a distracting texture but would have been much more enjoyable if it wouldn’t have been unnecessarily dried. This dish also was again too protein-heavy and felt unbalanced, some non-protein components would have helped the dish. 7th Course: Dessert – Watermelon, prosciutto, basil, love & break dancing Pastry Chef Bonilla mentioned that he wanted to capture different parts of summer and the dish indeed included variations on ingredients which are associated with summer and its grilling season – grilled corncake, candy prosciutto, caramelized goat cheese, lemon air and watermelon semifreddo. All components of this dessert came nicely together and created a great finale of the tasting menu. Especially the watermelon semifreddo was exceptional and so it was no surprise that an extra portion of it was successfully requested at our table. We went to this tasting menu from Evolve Cuisine with little expectations and were even a little bit skeptical if we would witness an evening where technique trumps flavor and creativity. But we came away quite impressed from this night and enjoyed the whole experience a lot. Starting from the location with its communal tables which created a nice setting for interesting conversations to the professional but yet pleasant service to the good pacing of the menu. But most importantly the food presented throughout the night turned out to be creative, well executed and used all kinds of techniques just trying to achieve the best flavors for any dish. It was good to see another new chef in San Diego who could bring new creativity and culinary momentum to this city which recently lost some of its best chefs. If there could have been perhaps one improvement to this tasting menu it would be that Chef Barron tended to cook quite protein-focused but those dishes which had more vegetables and other components, like the consommé, mustard green salad and beef cheeks, were the highlights of the night and hopefully he can extend this to all of his dishes. Evolve Cuisine positions itself as focusing on modernist cuisine and even though they use, like many other chefs, modern techniques advertising themselves in this direction might limit their customer base. Buzzwords like modernist cuisine might attract a few foodies but still discourage many other potential guests and it also doesn’t do dishes of Evolve Cuisine justice enough. They should instead describe themselves as what they are – a team of very talented chefs focusing on developing creative, well executed dishes exploring new flavor combinations. Even though Evolve Cuisine won’t have any pop-up events until fall we are already looking forward to visit them again in the future and take part in their culinary journey.
  15. Some of the attendees enjoyed a lovely day here in Washington, secure in the knowledge that the U.S. Secret Service was providing for their protection. (Notice the truck behind them...???) They ventured to western Virginia to enjoy a local BBQ joint While the Friday crew was getting together to head off to Albert Uster and Penn Quarter for some shopping, I was chided into making sure that Caramel Corn was on the menu for the Meet and Greet Friday night. So, this morning I downed some coffee and headed out to the shop where I popped some corn Made some caramel which resulted in my famous caramel corn.... See everyone soon....
  16. NOTE: For planning-related questions, please see the PLANNING TOPIC. The eG Heartland Gathering (2011 edition, eG HG v7, and celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Society!!) is almost upon us, thanks to NancyH's indefatigable efforts! The schedule is as follows: Thursday Evening "Tremont Crawl" 5pm: Fahrenheit, 2417 Professor Avenue ($11) 7pm: Lolita, 900 Literary Road ($32) 9pm: Dante, 2247 Professor Avenue ($38.30) Friday Lunch 11am: Meet with Chris Hodgson of the Hodge Podge food truck 11:45am: Eat at the food truck, Voinovich Park (pay per item, $3-$12 per) After lunch: Tour of the soon-to-open Crop Restaurant by owner/chef Steve Schimoler Friday Happy Hour 5pm: Velvet Tango Room, 2095 Columbus Rd (pay by drink, no t-shirts, shorts, or ripped jeans) Friday Dinner 8pm: Greenhouse Tavern, 2038 East 4th Street ($73 + T&T + $8 valet) Saturday Feast [NO TIME SET]: The Chubby Cook, 3365 Richmond Road #225 ($30) Sunday Lunch 10:30am: AMP 150, 4277 West 150th St ($30 + Tip) For reports on previous Heartland Gatherings, see: eG HG 0, Grand Rapids, MI 2003 eG HG I, Ann Arbor, MI, 2005 eG HG II, Ann Arbor, MI, 2006 eG HG III,Cleveland, OH, 2007 eG HG IV, Chicago, IL, 2008 eG HG V, Kansas City, MO, 2009 eG HG VI, Ann Arbor, MI, 2010
  17. Well - it's Friday night and we'll all just rolling back to our various homes and hotel rooms. We've been eating all day!!!! I've spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday running the contents of my house down to Niagara - and wondering how I'm going to get them all home again Sunday evening. It was a delight to see people again and to see some new faces as well. We drove across the border in a couple of different cars and I dropped off my charges at Landies Candies. I had a few errands to run so wasn't able to join them there. Apparently they weren't allowed to take pictures. We had planned to meet at the Anchor Bar for lunch but apparently the earliest reservation was 1:30 so I quickly headed over to Duff's (the other wing place in town) and grabbed up a table for 10 before the joint filled up. Apologies in advance for the pictures. Gene and Josh (who works for Art and Wilma and attended in their stead) RobertM and Curls - so sorry about this picture - not one of my better ones! Chocolot. Plus one and Connie (another of Art and Wilma's staff) The wings. The fries. After lunch - off to Tomric to meet with Brian Donaghy to show us some panning and play with the Selmi. Brian starting to pan some cereal. RobertM - cutting his caramel and cookie creation in preparation for enrobing on the Selmi. Brian making some last minute adjustments to the Selmi. Waiting for the goodies to come through the chocolate.
  18. T-Minus 3.5 hours until our first Gathering event begins, so I figure I'd start a thread for us to post reports, pictures, and whatever else to! I'm leaving work now to go meet up with Alex. Malawry should be cruising in in a couple hours. See the rest of you at dinner!
  19. Just got back to the hotel after the first day of the 2010 chocolate conference. Steven Lebowitz has done a stellar job of putting together this conference for us here in Gaithersburg, Maryland. A bit of a crisis to start the day - eG was down!!! Making it impossible to figure out where we needed to be and at what time. I remember worrying a lot last year when I was organizing it that something like that might happen - and indeed it did. Fortunately I had Steve's outside e-mail and was able to contact him and figure out where we were meeting. So we started the morning meeting for dim sum at the New Fortune restaurant. An excellent variety of the classic dim sum offerings - there was something for everyone - one of my favourite ways to graze. People trickled in, more food getting added to the tables until it was time to head over to Albert Uster. There we were met by Amanda Haba - one of the corporate pastry chefs. She was assisted by another excellent pastry chef - who's name I will have to leave for others to post - as I seem to have lost track of it. They showed us a number of different items - salted caramel macarons, nougat (made with crystallized flowers), a couple of different bon bon fillings and showed a few different decorating techniques for molded chocolates. A small showpiece flower was produced as well. Here is Amanda using oiled gloved hands to incorporate the inclusions into the nougat. Tip of the day - use an alcohol dipped knife to cut nougat. After purchasing a couple of things at Albert Uster, and getting all the supplies out of Stevens car into the school for tomorrow's classes - we got a bite of dinner then met up for a little look at what everyone has been making. There was a nice selection of wines (3 ice wines and at least a couple of nice reds that I noticed) and a huge quantity of chocolates, popcorn and munchies. The popcorn that RobertM brought along was excellent - I'm going to snag myself a little more of that tomorrow! Another hit of the evening was merlicky's caramelized white chocolate center - wonderful. The secret seems to be let it caramelize long enough. We all wimp out too soon! Didn't realize how small the memory on my new little camera is - so I didn't get a lot of pictures - and missed a picture of the 'care package' that Ilana (Lior) sent. The halvah was fabulous! and there were a variety of packages of various herbs and spices that I'm going to get a closer look at tomorrow (and perhaps make use of in my class). There wasn't any Ganache brand chocolates in there though!
  20. The annual Heartland Gathering is this weekend in Kansas City: this is the place to post reports about the event, and read about it as it is ongoing. Many thanks to the Kansas City denizens who have been working feverishly to get ready for the onslaught, especially Aaron Deacon and moosnsqrl who have spearheaded the beast. The schedule of events for the 2009 event is: Thursday, July 23, Dinner: Lidia's Thursday, July 23, Cocktails: Manifesto Friday, July 24, Barbecue tour of KC Friday, July 24, Dinner: bluestem Saturday, July 25: The Main Event Sunday, July 26, Breakfast/Brunch: Crum Farm My knives are sharpened, and I'm hungry! ___________________________________________________________ Topic Recipe Index: Roasted Green Chile Risotto (chileheadmike) Pastrami-Brined Short Ribs (edsel) Thai Red Curry with Lychee and Pineapple (Kerry Beal)
  21. While we haven't actually started yet - I figured I get a little teaser going for all you folks that are 'green'. I headed down to Niagara on the Lake this morning to drop off yet another load of stuff for the conference. Poor Peter - the patisserie instructor at the college - he wants to keep all my stuff safe so he's putting it in his office. He had no idea just how much stuff I was bringing. I don't think you could swing a cat in his office now. Tomorrow morning I pack my clothes, my computer and a whole bunch of stuff from the freezer and fridge and head down there to stay for the weekend. I have two slabs of ganache to take to Tomric so we will have something to play with on the Selmi. I've also taken some chocolate animal crackers - can't wait to see what they look like enrobed. I wonder if we can dab little eyes on them when they come out of their chocolate shower. I've got a little bottle of ice wine that I've had for about 12 years, and a bottle of banyuls for the wine and chocolate tasting - as well as a few squares of the Becolade single origin Papua New Guinea chocolate (actually more like a bunch of shards - as I dropped the mold on the counter as I was unmolding and broke them all). I had the pleasure of having lunch with John DePaula today - we checked out the restaurant "August" that I mentioned on the planning thread. A very satisfactory lunch, and it was such a treat to get together with John again. I picked up some white cocoa butter colour from Peter as I had run out half way through my preparations - so tonight after getting home from work, I've mixed it up with the immersion blender and consigned it to it's little specimen bottles. I'm sure as people start posting pictures on this thread you are going to get to see my extensive use of these special bottles. Try not to be too horrified!
  22. Underbelly, a supper club in a rustic, Civil War-era Brooklyn brewery that's been taken over by artists, will launch with a recession-friendly dinner to raise money for egullet. We've been working hard these last few months sourcing ingredients from the Hudson Valley and Pennsylvania, and making special arrangements with our friends and local purveyors. The menu will include: assorted hors d'oeuvres corn chowder with porcini cream roasted rack of Jamison Farm lamb, lamb coulis with lapsang souchong, hen of the woods mushroom celeriac and fennel purée salicornia with lemon butter home made bread with farm butter by Saxelby Cheese chocolate marquise with ginger banana tart with black sesame, brown butter cognac ice cream, caramelized banana, salted butterscotch a succession of four wines selected by our sommelier to make you very happy. (details may change subject to ingredient availability and last minute tinkering) To make a reservation, please send an email to dine@under-belly.org. There will only be fifteen seats so please reply soon. The dinner is being announced on egullet first, so society members will have the first opportunity. The suggested donation is $70. (The wine alone would cost more than this at a restaurant!) More details will be posted soon on egullet and on our blog at the Underbelly site. THIS EVENT HAS BEEN ORGANIZED THROUGH EG FORUMS BY MEMBERS BUT IS NOT SPONSORED BY THE EGULLET SOCIETY FOR CULINARY ARTS AND LETTERS OR EG FORUMS. YOUR PARTICIPATION IN ANY EVENT OR ACTIVITY ARRANGED ON OR DISCUSSED IN EG FORUMS IS AT YOUR SOLE AND EXCLUSIVE RISK. BY USING AND PARTICIPATING IN THE FORUMS YOU AGREE AND UNDERSTAND (1) THAT IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR PARTICIPATION IN ANY EVENT OR ACTIVITY, YOU MAY BE EXPOSED TO A VARIETY OF HAZARDS AND RISKS ARISING FROM THOSE ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS; (2) TO THE FULLEST EXTENT ALLOWED BY LAW, YOU AGREE TO WAIVE, DISCHARGE CLAIMS, RELEASE, INDEMNIFY AND HOLD HARMLESS THE SOCIETY, ITS AFFILIATES, OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, AGENTS, AND OTHER PARTNERS AND EMPLOYEES, FROM ANY AND ALL LIABILITY ON ACCOUNT OF, OR IN ANY WAY RESULTING FROM INJURIES AND DAMAGES IN ANY WAY CONNECTED WITH ANY SUCH EVENTS OR ACTIVITIES. YOU AGREE AND UNDERSTAND THAT THESE TERMS WILL BE BINDING UPON YOU AND YOUR HEIRS, EXECUTORS, AGENTS, ADMINISTRATORS AND ASSIGNS, AS WELL AS ANY GUESTS AND MINORS ACCOMPANYING YOU AT THE EVENTS.
  23. We only had four people this time: franktex, future eGullet member Anthony, my girlfriend, and me. We still managed to order nearly everything we've gotten in the past. Pork intestine. Proper high-heat stir-fry with a bit of a crispy crust on the intestines and rich, smoky flavor from the peppers. This treatment of intestines doesn't leave them as chewy, which is more palatable for Westerners. Overall, one of the best intestine dishes I've ever had. Seafood dumplings. OK. Filling overcooked, packed too tightly. Not as good as Zhong dumplings at Asia Cafe. Pork stomach and pickled vegetable soup. Very simple. The pickled vegetable was quite sour and an interesting thing to have in a soup. Lion's head. Very soft, with a few very small pieces of water chestnut. Whole sea cucumber. Very tender. Best sea cucumber I've had in America. Quail. We forgot to take a picture, so this photo is from last year. This year it was only four pieces, but there was a nice tray of sea salt for dipping the quail into. Braised ham hock. Sauce with rock candy. Appeals to my Shanghai tastes. Better than last year. Eight treasure rice cake. Very wet, even more so than previous years. Otherwise, pretty good. Overall, the food is the best I've ever had from Pao's and one of the best Chinese meals I've had in America, and not far at all from what you can get in China. I hope to organize more events this year, the next one in March. Higher res photos in my Flickr. Pao's Mandarin House review on Fearless Critic partially written by me. Reports from 2008, 2007.
  24. I gotta say, this was a fantastic, extremely well planned, timed and organized tour, with not a weak dog in the bunch, from Dee's Truck (my personal favorite of the day), to Galloping Hill (who COMPED EVERY PERSON ON THE TOUR A HOT DOG AND DRINK to start off the Tour--that is amazing generosity, and evidence of the high regard in which our tour organizers, John Fox and Benzee were held), to The Windmill, to Jimmy Buff's to Manny's to Bubba's, each and every place was unique in its own way, and each place was distinctively great in their own way, a tremendous achievement by the thoughtful planners of this tour. The Galloping Hill dog, a custom dog on a custom bun, I enjoyed with mustard and hot relish, and it was dazzling. But nothing, to me, topped the fresh snap of the natural casing Sabrett dog at Dee's, served on a equally fresh bun, simply perfection. The Windmill was also quite good, nicely grilled footlong dog with very good chili, mustard and onions. Manny's is my current favorite chili dog, with a chili sauce that has hints of nutmeg and cinnamon--I thought I was in a Cincinnati chili parlor!---and a nicely grilled dog. Great service staff also, I must say. JImmy Buff's in East Hanover was the best version of the Italian hot dog that I've had in along while, just well sauteed onions, peppers and potatoes, great pizza bread and a very good tasty dog. But Bubba's was also great in its way; I had parts of a plain dog with mustard and relish, as well as a chili dog, and they were both superb. KIller fresh cut fries at Bubba's, too. But in the end, its the people on a tour that you enjoy the most, and I've gotta say that this tour had some of the NICEST people you'd ever hope to meet; enthusiastic, eccentric, colorful and best of all, funny. Truly a great day of fun in the hot dog subculture of New Jersey. I hope I can make it every year from now on.
  25. I'm getting the topic kicked off although my time so far has been spent in the kitchen so I have experienced much of the weekend. Chris Hennes and Misstenacity showed up almost at the same time last night. I scurried them off to the tamale/tortilla workshop while I kept prepping for the tasting dinner tonight. I heard many pics were taken so I'll let them talk about the workshop. They'll be off for the Chile Fest in just a bit. Many, many more details to com.
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