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heidih

The perfect taste that spoils you for anything lesser

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As I get older I have come to realize that I am no longer willing or even able to bother eating things that are less than the best. Now, this is not with all foods, but I first noticed it a few years ago with stone fruit. I grew up with a productive backyard orchard that had a variety of plums, peaches, apricots and nectarines. We mostly ate them off the tree when dead ripe. Over time I never purchased much stone fruit and thought I just did not care for it though I had been an avid consumer from those trees. A few years ago I plucked a peach from a "wild" tree and was immediately transported back to my childhood; concentrated essence of peach. I tried the very good farmers markets locally and was left unimpressed. This year my feeble ancient peach managed to gift me with just a few beauties (normally the birds poke holes and mess with them when they are still green - and don't get me started on the scarab fruit beetles). At the same time my dad's plums were in a 20 year prolific & delicious cycle, and a neighbor crawled down a hillside into the canyon and presented me with 6 small nuggets of apricot heaven.

Have you experienced this, and with what foods?

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For me it's chocolate. Folks know I work with chocolate and so give me chocolate for gifts. Lovely thought. Much appreciated. But dreadful chocolate. And there's a lot of that around. So if it ain't good chocolate, I ain't gonna et it. End of announcement.

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Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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My mom's wild crabapple jelly. It was so intensely flavored, with a tartness to it, pure ambrosia. The boughten kind tastes like sugared vaseline to me. Just not worth eating.

And the trout we used to get in the mountain streams in Idaho and Montana, cooked right out of the water, in fresh bacon fat over a wood fire.

And the new potatoes, just dug, boiled, mixed with freshly shelled little peas, just picked, salted and buttered, then warm cream from my grandmother's neighbor's cow stirred in.

I'm drooling over my keyboard here.

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Beautiful fruit. I live in Tucson during the academic year and there are some things I only eat when I go back East in the summer: fish, which is fresh-caught; some kinds of shellfish; tomatoes, most fruits (some can't be grown here at all, like raspberries and blueberries), especially apples. New England is still a source for old-fashioned apple varieties. Corn. won't touch the stuff except anywhere between NJ and MA in summer.

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Sanfilippo
Anchoas en salazon de Cantabria
Bajada del Gromo, Argoños, España, Avrupa
https://maps.google.com/maps?q=43.455139,-3.484163
(+34) 942626005

I brought back six kilos of salt-packed anchovies from these guys, on a fall excursion to San Sebastian and environs for Pintxos. The factory can be dropped in only by prior arrangement, and you'll only see the front alcove. Speak Spanish. They had three kilo tins ready, but as I wasn't a restaurant and they didn't know my OCD tendencies first-hand, they insisted on repacking into eight anchovy tins. This also raised the price, though I didn't mind.

Print the map or get those GPS coordinates into your navigator, or you'll never find the place. There are people who've never heard of eGullet, who will be finding this thread on Google for these coordinates. Most of them will wish I'd written this in Spanish.


Unequivocally the best anchovies in the world. Oil-packed are for the understandably lazy, though they make most of their money this way, for tapas bars. They relayer the anchovies every two weeks during fermentation; pretty much everyone else just lets the stack go.

To lay down my cards, I am pro everything Italian, but I recognize that in many ways foodie Spaniards have it all over Italians.

It is worth the flight over for the anchovies alone, but if one is going to be this close to Santander (a distant second to San Sebastian on the Pintxos front) one must fill out one's luggage with turron from Monerrris. A different league from any other in Spain. And I'm not even that much into dessert.


Edited by Syzygies (log)

Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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Cantrabian anchovies are the business but having eaten the house-cured anchovy on toast at Asador Etxebarri recently I doubt anything will come close now. Similarly the Palamos prawns served there, as close to perfection as I could imagine. I cry a little now every time I have to cook a frozen Asian tiger prawn.

Baklava freshly baked from karaköy güllüoğlu in Istanbul. I can't even bring myself to buy the stuff anymore. So good that nothing will ever compare to it.


Edited by Prawncrackers (log)

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I'm with Darienne, for me it's chocolate. My wife is often given boxes of Lindt Lindor balls as gifts - as a teenager I thought these were divine but now they just taste like margarine to me. I eat a fraction of the chocolate I used to as a kid but my standards are now higher!

As a teenager I worked in a local bakery for about 7 years. I wasn't a baker - just packaging and serving - but working in a bakery for so long made me used to fresh bread. Fresh as in straight out of the oven. Same with doughnuts - they may have been made from premix, but straight out of the fryer and into the sugar cinnamon was the only way to eat them. I would refuse any doughnut that was more than a few minutes old! And to this day I don't eat a lot of bread, because I grew so accustomed to only eating fresh bread that even something a few hours old isn't great (although I do love artisan sourdoughs).

I understand that in France there is a real culture around fresh bread - I hope that it one day spreads to Australia and we find artisan bakeries replacing the plastic blocks that supermarkets churn out.

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Fresh, and I mean ocean fresh, fish. I grew up on, and my Dad owns a restaurant on a small World Heritage Island,where the fish are delivered to the restaurant within 6 hours of being bled and iced down. Even as a small kid, I refused to eat fish that were frozen, I'd simply spit it out and throw a tantrum if you believe my mother's stories. I will so rarely order fish anywhere simply because it will never match the taste memory embedded in me.

I don't know whether it's psychological or I have some super taste buds (okay, it's clearly the former), but for me eating fish is so much more about context than how I feel on the day.


Edited by Broken English (log)
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James.

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Baklava freshly baked from karaköy güllüoğlu in Istanbul. I can't even bring myself to buy the stuff anymore. So good that nothing will ever compare to it.

I haven't had the Istabul variety, but I've had my mother-in-law's and my aunt's homemade baklava and I just can't eat the stuff they sell in stores anymore. It's like a photocopy of a Rembrandt.

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The only time I will eat sweet corn is when I have gotten it from my garden an hour or less before I sit down to eat it. I know the supersweet and sugar enhanced hybrids don't lose their flavor as quickly after picking but they are often too sweet and don't taste properly "corny" so I prefer the old-fashioned varieties that need to be eaten quickly.

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Wonderful stories of how the tastes of the finest, freshest, best have made anything else a big disappointment. For me tomatoes never are good enough if you grew up on ones from the garden.

I still remember "the pear"....eaten in France in the 60s....sweet juice running down arm. Never knew a pear was supposed to taste like that.

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Central Texas barbecued brisket

home-grown tomatoes

mangosteens in Asia

fresh halibut just-pulled from Alaskan waters

Central Texas peaches just off the tree

And I remember a drive south to the US Lower 48 from Alaska, through BC, during cherry time. We bought a bushel, thinking we could enjoy them the whole trip to LA. But we were stopped at the US border and told we couldn't bring fresh produce through. So we pulled over to the side of the road and sat on the hood of our car and ate that whole basket. For years, every time I saw fresh cherries in the markets, I felt hope building inside my watering mouth.

I'm completely over that now.

Regarding corn: when I was a kid, we lived in rural Nebraska for a few years. Our neighbor raised field corn. It grew right up to our back fence and he said we could have as much of it as we wanted. Mama would put the big pot on to boil and, when it was boiling, send us kids out to get the corn. This current sweet corn just doesn't do it for me. I want to be a kid again, running barefoot across the cool green grass in my backyard, heading for the kitchen and mama's boiling pot and the fresh butter from the neighbor.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I grew up in California, and on our lot we had a wide variety of fruit trees. on comming home from school id study the peach trees and pick just the one i wanted. a good one involved the juice running down your arm and dripping off the elbow.

but the one fruit I love and never ever get ripe and fresh is California Apricots. they are ripe for about 10 days, then split and dried.

I love California dried apricots because of this. these are very different than Turkish.

and BTW Im still able to grow my own tomatoes . I grow them in cages I have made and they get to be over 7 ft tall. I grow enough to give to neighbors and the local squirrels. but those squirrels only take one bite then when they come back they pick another. Rats with Tails they are.

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Tree-ripened Orito bananas straight off the bunch while it's still hanging. Nothing else comes even remotely close.

Especially when that bunch is hanging in your backyard in Panama.

Which, since I'm now remembering my yard in Panama...

Mangoes just off the tree

Papaya just off the stalk

Pineapples just pulled from their nests

Butter avocados pulled from the tree and ripened on your kitchen counter

There's pretty obviously a pattern here.

Nothing tastes like good fresh fruit.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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And what about grape juice? I once thought Welch's tasted pretty good. I knew nothing else.

And then one day I took the grapes from the supermarket...we are talking run-of-the-mill produce purchased from a large grocery chain in East Central Ontario which is about as diverse and exciting as a piece of cardboard...and juiced them. My tiny mind was blown. So THAT'S what grape juice can taste like.


Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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basil-three-weeks.jpg

After having Genovese friends patiently explain to me what basil for pesto must look and smell like, while clutching six inch shoots bought at market in Genova, I don't know whether to laugh or cry seeing basil for pesto in the United States. Which is exactly why they viewed the lesson as a matter of some urgency. (Also get the pine nuts right; Chinese pine nuts can be toxic. Google "pine mouth".)

Supermarket basil, or the weedlike basil plants in most gardens, are suitable as leaves for flavoring a pasta sauce, and make a spectacular bed on which one can smoke brined salmon over apple wood. But any pesto made from these large plants will taste like lawn clippings, after one has tasted the original in Genova. (A great place outside Genova, if passing through, is Ristorante U Giancu, Via San Massimo - Rapallo - Genoa - Italia http://www.ugiancu.it/.)

We grow Genovese basil from seed in half wine barrels, using misting equipment on irrigation timers, and thin the bed of basil for pesto till it starts to taste wrong. This is now the only pesto we'll have outside Italy.

Tree-ripened Orito bananas straight off the bunch while it's still hanging. Nothing else comes even remotely close.

Yes, a little old lady sold us apricots, from her front lawn outside Marseille, and I simply can't eat a fresh apricot again in my life. Cooking them into compote, perhaps, but raw will never be the same.

the house-cured anchovy on toast at Asador Etxebarri recently I doubt anything will come close now.

Will check them out as departure lodging, next trip through Bilbao airport. I'd guess that they're on par with Sanfilippo, unless this is a scaling issue (beer has a sweet spot and it isn't smallest batch size; I don't know about anchovies) or a source issue, or one kitchen is more attentive. Sanfilippo does absolutely everything in their power to get it right, without regard to expense. So if one is actually better, the other could and would learn and enact the improvements. I can't judge which would be best on first principles, without a direct comparison. And will Asador Etxebarri sell you six kilos to take home? A life-changing tasting experience wouldn't lead me to a vow of anchovy celibacy, I love them too much.


Edited by Syzygies (log)

Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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Yes, a little old lady sold us apricots, from her front lawn outside Marseille, and I simply can't eat a fresh apricot again in my life. Cooking them into compote, perhaps, but raw will never be the same.

dried are also very very nice. I wonder what strain these were. Im partial to the California type just because thats what I grew up with. It probably think the same for the Turkish if I grew up in Turkey.

the theme seems to be : right off the tree/vine/or bush.

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having eaten the house-cured anchovy on toast at Asador Etxebarri recently

After other raves, friends of mine ate there, the one high-end meal of that trip. (After crawling pintxos bars for days in San Sebastian, it would be tough for any tasting menu to compete, but...) $200 a head with wine for the tasting menu, very good but very overpriced with standoffish Trama-esque service.

The "salted anchovy with toasted bread" is a fresh smoked, not fermented product. My friend said the anchovies were excellent when I asked him now, but at the time he directed me to Sanfilippo without even mentioning Asador Etxebarri anchovies. He believes Sanfilippo is best of category.


Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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Early Vermont Mac apple. In Vermont, freshly harvested.

Apricots from a friend's family property in Los Alamos NM. The size of a peach and dripping with juice. Not this planet ever again.

Dried peaches that were dried on the roof of an adobe house in NM.

Croissant from a town near Avignon from a bakery advertising "feu de bois" breads and pastry. Still warm, never tasted anything like it, probably never will again.

Espresso ice cream shake in Ashland, OR. This one is a stretch, but it was very hot day, I was really thirsty and we had been driving for hours. Can't remember the name of the place but it's on the main drag, easy to find.

Okay, I'm making myself sick here.

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Tree-ripened Orito bananas straight off the bunch while it's still hanging. Nothing else comes even remotely close.

Especially when that bunch is hanging in your backyard in Panama.

Which, since I'm now remembering my yard in Panama...

Mangoes just off the tree

Papaya just off the stalk

Pineapples just pulled from their nests

Butter avocados pulled from the tree and ripened on your kitchen counter

There's pretty obviously a pattern here.

Nothing tastes like good fresh fruit.

Absolutely, but I think we have to nail down the definition of "fresh" - where I grew up (just south of 60 N), fresh fruit meant "raw" and had little to do with the age or time from picking.

I'd say that truly fresh fruit is what was on the tree/bush/plant right up until I crammed it in my mouth. In this vein, although the Oritos are still standouts and all other presentations of that type of banana (which northerners know best as "baby bananas") taste kind of like cardboardy marshmallows, I'd also nominate:

Granadilla dulce right off the vine, slurped like obscene plant-based caviar right out of the shell which is cracked open on the balcony rail,

Teensy little wild strawberries with the warmth of the morning sun still on them,

Uva del Monte, which are actually wild fuchsia berries, with the mist still on them, and

Perfectly ripe Babaco straight off the tree.

Also, thinking about this thread, I'd also have to nominate an Arroz Marinera that I had at twilight on a deserted beach near Olon, Ecuador. The restauranteur sent her son into the surf for an octopus to include; he came back with one plus a couple of small fishes he'd speared on the same reef. It is probably the very best seafood dish I have ever eaten in my life, and I doubt that I will ever have anything nearly so tasty ever again. All other arroz marinera has paled by comparison.


Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Fresh, really fresh, fish & seafood. By fresh, I mean I actually saw the fish alive within the hour before it was cooked, or I saw the live seafood go into the pot (or whatever).

The green beans at Cooper Island Beach Club that are so good we have them with the meal, and then for desert.

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The "salted anchovy with toasted bread" is a fresh smoked, not fermented product. My friend said the anchovies were excellent when I asked him now, but at the time he directed me to Sanfilippo without even mentioning Asador Etxebarri anchovies. He believes Sanfilippo is best of category.

I'm sure the server told us the chef filleted the fresh anchovies himself and packed them in salt to cure for a year before they're ready to be eaten. They were very fat and juicy and appeared to have had no cooking done to them. The light airy bread was toasted to perfection and carried the smoke flavour from the grill.

image.jpg

If the chef Victor Arguinoniz sold these by the tin there would be a pretty long queue. With me at the front!

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Corn is also one of those "had the best, screw the rest". I grew some excellent corn in maybe 1997 and again in 2001. Currently do not have the proper location. But I did fall in love with the corn grown around the corner at the now unfortunately closed forever Ishibashi farm stand (see my eG blog here ) I may hit the larger farmers markets and give it a whirl but I think I won't get that intense corn taste that my memory is highlighting. So far it has all been that overly sweet soft stuff.

Sweets- well coming from an Austrian-Hungarian bunch of immigrants and having "going to coffee" as the regular social ritual, I was exposed to some great stuff. I rarely bother to eat offered pastries and often they are one bite in and same bite back into the napkin. Baklava is one of my 3 or 4 Christmas offerings learned from mom via a Jordanian woman. When they bring out those big Costco platters of "baklava" I just cringe and mention being pre-diabetic.

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