We love purple carrots because they are tasty and beautiful. There are very few preparations that highlight their unusual hue because once you peel them the purple disappears. We decided to continue playing with our technique of steaming and dehydrating, having used whole carrots and beets thus far, in order to play up the contrasting colors in our sliced carrots. We used the mandoline to slice them and then steamed them for 3 minutes. Then I laid the slices out on a tray for the dehydrator, staining my fingertips purple in the process, and dried them for about an hour. We call these carrot blossoms because as they dried they crinkled and curled up until they looked like small flowers.They are not completely dehydrated, retaining a slightly firm texture that yields instead of crunching. The sweetness of the vegetable comes through nicely and they have a wonderfully intense carrot flavor. The real question is what to do with them next?
January 25, 2009
January 25, 2005
We're working with venison and calamari to get ready for our workshop for the International Chef's Congress. Cervena was kind enough to donate some venison for us to test recipes with and we are having a great time playing with all of the possibilities. Here we have some beautiful shanks. When it comes to sous vide finding the right balance of time and temperature is everything and we are excited to see what particular combination works best for us.
A mistake in understanding a cheese's ripeness led to another version of burrata. We have made buttermilk burrata in the past. At the eleventh hour we learned that ripe Delice de Bourgogne did not aerate in the same way as a denser brie cheese. The scrambled mess was saved when we looked at it and saw a delicious burrata texture. We paired the cheese with a green olive oil, black pepper and miniature fennel. If we were to raise the bar, some grilled bread would be added. As it was the dish was delicious and a great way to reinvent a disaster by utilizing a different point of view.
How can you tell if something the real deal? We just learned from PSFK about RFID tracking to prove the authenticity of legitimate San Danielle hams. An interesting evolution in the sourcing and identifying ingredients is now upon us. Will we see this in our beef, cheese, onions, corn, citrus, or Copper River Salmon in the future?
Time will tell.
Today is huge. It is Aki's Birthday and we all must celebrate. In order to ice the cake I coordinated the news stand release of the Saveur 100 with her birthday. Why is this important? We are mentioned in item 76 on self published books. There is even a picture of our book in the article. And the company we share in the piece is none to shabby: Martin Picard's book Au Pied de Cochon, Ammini Ramachandran's book Grains, Greens, and Grated Coconuts, and Massimiliano and Raffaele Alajmo's In.gredienti.
Happy Birthday Aki!!
(By the way, do you think she will buy the idea of me coordinating magazine publishing times and her birthday? I doubt it, and so I must secure an even greater gift. Perhaps I will tell the sun to set this evening just for her.)
I've been working on a white chocolate-butter rum cake. Although I've made a couple of delicious cakes, they're not exactly what I'm looking for yet. On the other hand I've made a new discovery. Alex managed to find one kitten with a serious sweet tooth. I left a cake cooling on the table yesterday and when I returned home there were tiny paw prints and licked out divots all over the surface of the cake. I may not be satisfied yet, although Runner certainly gave it his stamp of approval.
That is how I felt when I received an email from Star Chefs. I had the faintest internet access as I sat on a couch looking out at the crashing waves, with a cool and happily overcast, day. We were finally able to relax a bit after wrestling with our book boxes and diving into our wine boxes, which needed more attention than I first anticipated. Lets just say there was quite a bit of bleach involved in cleaning parts of the basement and leave it at that. We are by no means done with the salvage operation, although things are back on hold for the rest of the week.
It turns out that the golden ticket came about by taking a chance. Aki found the Pacojet recipe contest on Star Chefs and thought we should enter. After all, a winning recipe in exchange for a free Pacojet seemed like a match made in heaven, throw in a free ticket to the International Chef's Congress, and it definitely seemed worth sending in an entry. I was game and we debated which pacotized ice cream recipe to enter: pumpernickel, sourdough, apple crisp? We ended up with grilled potato. The ice cream came about by accident like much of what we do. Accidents are good. Capturing accidents and utilizing their results is truly special.
And so, grilled potato ice cream comes out of our recipe vault, yes we have a vault, and will be making an appearance at the Star Chefs International Chefs Conference. We entered the recipe to win a Pacojet, a piece of culinary machinery which I have used on again and off again, depending upon whether or not we had one in the kitchen. I have coveted one for our personal batterie de cuisine for years. The Pacojet is in short, a controlled engine, which can shave pretty much anything, such as a potato ice cream base, and make it creamy, silky and smooth. The genius of the system is that the final product will encompass the essence of a frozen potato puree with a beautiful charred grilled flavor, without any of the gumminess of overworked mashed potatoes. The contest chooses three finalists in two categories, savory and sweet, who will compete at the Chef’s Conference. What is equally exciting is the fact that we will now be going to the conference and we’ll be able to share the experience with all of you.
There is an unbelievable amount of talent attending this conference and it will be a pleasure to see what ideas we will be exposed to and what concepts will act as a catalyst for new thoughts and culinary explorations. We look forward to meeting anyone attending and hopefully a few people will get a chance to eat some Grilled Potato Ice Cream and maybe, just maybe, we’ll be taking home a Paco Jet.
Look, it is a weed. It is something many people pick to be rid of. And yet, now it is a table staple. Well, it is a staple on our table. Purslane is a succulent. Purslane is succulent. It also has a tang. A crisp and juicy tang. Purslane makes a dish.
We had some trouble the other night. We were working on dishes, that is what we do and the end result just was not where we wanted to be. We were looking for some clarity. Sure a clear vision for a dish is great, though at days end we get to the end of the path by fining through our mistakes.
We try and procure great ingredients. We put ourselves in situations were we are able to procure great ingredients. Even so dishes do not always emerge clearly, if at all.
Last evening we were fine tuning a dish with wahoo. We had a simple cauliflower puree which we were using to complement the fish. While simple and short is good, sparse is sometimes viewed as lacking. We turned to sprigs of purslane. In leaning on purslane we needed to give it a bit of support. We made a light vinaigrette with lemon vinegar, olive oil and salt. I wish we were more complicated in out approach, though it seems simplicity was the torch bearer of the day.
The slow cooked wahoo, dressed with the lemon vinaigrette became enriched by the cauliflower and piqued by the succulent purslane.
It is amazing to me how the addition of a weed could take what was a dish and make it memorable. It really is in the eye of the beholder.
Well, if someone thinks enough of us to give us a nomination, we would be quite remiss if we didn't acknowledge it here. A special thank you to Chris Abraham for nominating us! If you're so inclined, please vote for us by following the link and clicking on the button where it says total votes, if only so that we're not the only blog out there with zero votes. Modesty prevents us from voting for ourselves...
Driving cross county is not high on my to do list. We usually try and get from point A to point B as quickly as possible in as little time as possible. On our last journey I vowed that we would not drive cross country again--at least not in the near future. As usual I was wrong. We just finished driving west again. This time we took a different route. That makes some sense since our end destination was Montana rather than Colorado. We also took some time driving. We actually pulled off the road and stayed in hotels. Choosing a hotel while driving cross country is a bit of a crap shoot. It is more like Russian roulette. I guess that is why in past trips, 8 or nine of them we just drove straight through. This time was different. I just cannot make the 36 plus hour drive without sleep, or at best minimal sleep. Also, after one of those journeys, I end up exhausted, taking more time to get my sea legs. So this time we agreed to stop. We were also aided by a GPS which not only got as 99.8% of the way here without a problem, it also allowed us to scout ahead on our route to find dog friendly hotels. Unfortunately, our scout does not allow us to see the interior of the hotels.
On night one we found the bullet. Our place of residence was certainly not a dive, though its levels of comfort and cleanliness matched my college dorm room days. However, night two was much more promising. Yes, we paid more buck and we got more bang. The room was large, spacious and clean. We hesitated a bit when we arrived to the hotel and saw stacks of mattresses by the dumpster, though upon further investigation we learned that all the beds had just been replaced with new pillow top mattresses. (Yes, they were comfortable.)
Today, we arrived at our new home after a last bit of stuttering. Our GPS kept finding the same road again and again. I became frustrated quickly. I was tired and new it. I also just wanted to reach the finish line. When I drive long distances, I feel quite relieved to finish, to stop, to actually get there. It was fascinating to see how the property itself changed in only a month since we last saw it. The grass is green, the rivers are full. I am just a bit concerned about roof over our heads. (picture included)
Oh yeah, and that is the 4 runner after a the cross country run.
Taste3 that is. Yesterday was busy, quite busy, actually stupidly busy. Aki and I normally cook for small crowds. We cook on the small scale and do most everything ourselves. We were just reintroduced to the other side. The side where we need to figure out how to do a canape for 300 guests. A side where our contemporaries, our friends push us to excel, to make sure second best does not get any further than the bin and that fine tuning is done to the last second so that we can try and excel and create great food.
I make gnocchi. Not traditional gnocchi, rather many varieties of gnocchi made with Methocel. For the event last evening we were serving ranch gnocchi with smoked and crispy cocks combs, bee pollen-grains of paradise and garlic-celery leaf puree. I will go further into the dish and the event and the people soon, I hope. We are trying to relocate west and time is moving faster than I thought was possible. The story I wish to tell revolves around the gnocchi themselves. The basic gnocchi base is relatively simple. Yet, I managed to mess it up twice. And mess it up I did. We were making the ranch gnocchi and the first base was grainy. I could blame the cheese. It was not the one I wanted. However, I am smart and have a bit of common sense and should have worked and adapted to the ingredients. Yet, I did not. Back to the drawing board. I refashioned a recipe and swung for the fences. What a miss it was.
Now, time was getting short. The other chefs were organized with their dishes together and their stations set. Aki left me alone. I had the look. I was frustrated with myself because the gnocchi should have been fine. They should have worked. They should have been a no brainer. They were not and I had just over an hour before the event started to go from start to finish with the gnocchi. My first two failures actually taught me a fair amount about what I wanted with taste and flavor from the gnocchi. I put my head down and soon Aki emerged from making sure everything else for the dish, the station and what we needed to get done for the event was completed to make sure I was going to make it. I was there. I was not able to do it alone. I was helped by a number of the cooks in the kitchen of Mondavi winery as well as the exposure to the other chefs who were producing creative and polished dishes. The gnocchi came together. In fact, the flavor, texture, and taste of the final gnocchi is what we were going for. It just took three times to get it to taste right.
Today we started work on souffle in a can. It is not really a can, we use the whipped cream canister, but what is really neat is the souffle cooks quickly, it has no eggs and it will not fall. Our first tests were with pistachio as a base. We used California pistachios in the base along with some brown butter, water, mascarpone, pistachio oil, sugar, xanthan gum and Methocel. (Now that we have a base recipe, I think we will use Turkish pistachios for a more intense vibrant green color and flavor.) The result is a light airy souffle with the most intense pistachio flavor. That is the key. The souffle is primarily the flavor base. Because of that we are not searching for the flavor when eating the souffle, we are presenting front and center. The other exciting aspect of souffle in a can is that we can just have the base in an isi canister and shoot it into a container and bake. Imagine not having to pre order your souffle. Imagine making nearly instant souffle's at home. Imagine a souffle without worry. I am off to find some rhubarb and freeze dried strawberries for my next attempt at this quite simple and worry free souffle.
By the way, I believe this approach will work equally well with savory souffles.
Thanks to a little help from a new friend we were finally able to fix the Google Toolbar in the left side of your screen. Now when you search for information on Ideas in Food it goes through all of the archives. Thanks Lyle!
We're off to Sydney this afternoon. We're flying there via Los Angeles, with a three hour layover. We leave at 4pm on January 31 and arrive in Sydney, Australia at 8am on Feb. 2. Should be quite a trip. We're very excited to do another culinary cruise with Holland America. But we are leaving with slightly heavy hearts because Patty had surgery on her ear this past Monday. She developed a nasty hematoma from flapping her ears that had to be removed,along with some torn cartilage and various yuck. She will be recovering with a huge plastic tube around her head for the next three weeks. Fortunately we got her settled at home yesterday, with lots of love and attention, and we know that she has a very capable nurse in the form of Aunt Marie. We hate to leave her but the show must go on.
Once we've done the demonstrations, we'll post the recipes here to share with all of you. We're looking forward to meeting new culinary enthusiasts and experiencing as much as we can of Australia and New Zealand during our time in the ports. It's not quite real to me yet, that we're actually going there. I don't think it will sink in until we get off the plane in Sydney. We'll be out of a touch for a couple of days although we've set up some posts to publish while we're traveling. It'll be our first experience in Business Class, one of the perks of the cruise, and I don't know if there will be Internet access or not. We'll just have to see how it goes.
We'll be stopping in Melbourne, Burnie, Milford Sound, Fjordland Park, Dunedin, Christchurch, Picton, Wellington, Napier and Tauranga. We'll be in most of these ports for a good eight hours to explore so if anyone has any suggestions please send an email or leave a comment. Any advice would be appreciated! And no, unfortunately we won't be going to Tetsuya, we're not in Sydney long enough to make that happen. There are shore excursions through the cruise but we may just rent a car and explore on our own. It's a once in a lifetime experience for us and we plan to savor every moment.
Well, yesterday was an action packed day. We've been working on a photography job so we've been staying pretty close to Ingram St. these past few days. In fact, the only adventure of any note was on Wednesday evening when we got to visit Silver Cup Studios with Jason, a reader of this site. He contacted us when we moved back to New York to see if we would be interested in visiting his workplace, the studios where The Sopranos are filmed. The answer was a resounding Yes! and on Wednesday evening we got to see where the magic happens and even a bit of the magic itself, since they were filming that evening. No, we can't tell you what we saw, it's a secret. The empty sets were almost more fun than the set where the actors were filming. There's something about the space that sets your imagination afire. The spaces are so perfectly preserved and empty, just waiting for someone to come in and bring it all to life. Thanks again Jason! We had a wonderful time meeting you and touring the studio.
Yesterday we attempted to go to lunch at 'Ino but it was packed. So we decided to try out Ditch Plains, where the staff is friendly and the food is tasty. The oysters were well shucked and juicy, the Eggs Benedict was loaded with lobster and the mac and cheese was one of the best I've had in a restaurant. We did some window shoping around the village and then moved uptown to look for parking in the theater district. We found on-street, unmetered parking for the second time that day, a minor miracle, and walked up to the Time Warner for more window shopping and menu perusing. We discussed the new pricing at Per Se $250/person for a set menu, no choices and supplements for premium ingredients such as foie gras. This is up from last year and led to a discussion about restaurant prices in New York in general. We both understand that premium ingredients are expensive, rents are extremely high and you have to pay well to attract great staff, but I'm wondering if there's a glass ceiling on menu prices and where it is. As a culinary student and as a young cook I used to be frustrated because I couldn't eat at many of the great restaurants because they were so expensive. All these years later, I now feel the same way again.
Finally we wandered back downtown and met Mom & Uncle Steve at Le Madeleine for a pre-theater dinner. It's a comfortable, cozy bistro that is exactly the kind of place that is perfect for a quick meal before a show. We went to see A Chorus Line, which was one of my favorite productions as a teenager. The tickets and dinner were a Hanukkah/birthday present from Uncle Steve and Claire. We thoroughly enjoyed the entire evening.
As we walked towards the car after the theater, I noticed that the lock looked funny. It was separated from the car door in a way that it hadn't been when we left. Upon closer inspection the paint around the lock was slightly chipped and it looked as though someone had jammed a flathead screwdriver between the lock and the door. When we opened up the car, we discovered that someone had indeed been inside and had broken into the center console to search for hidden treasures. Ironically the console had not been locked so there was no need for force once they were ensconced in the vehicle. As a result, repairs will be needed on both the lock and the console. Fortunately the thief got nothing more than an open roll of quarters and some older prescription sunglasses. The car was basically intact and we were relatively unscathed by the incident. It does make garage fees look much more palatable, but even parking in a garage is no guarantee against theft in the city. But even this could not ruin the evening. It was just a blip on the radar of a basically excellent Saturday.
**Alex was just playing with the lock. For all you Jeep Wrangler owners out there, locking the car is basically a waste of time. After a bit of experimentation he realized that if you pop out the top half of the piece where you put the key in the lock, it unlocks the car. You don't need any special equipment and it's almost easier than using a key. Lesson learned. There's a reason why they put a microchip in the ignition keys. Even if they break in, at least they can't drive it away...
We are very pleased to announce that Ideas in Food, the Photographs will be in stock at one of our very favorite stores: Kitchen Arts and Letters. They only have a sample copy at the moment, but that means that those of you in the New York City area can stroll in and check out an actual hard copy of the book. You can put your name down to reserve a copy (they should be arriving soon) or you can order it on-line, the price will be the same either way. Best of all, while you're there you can shop in one of the most comprehensive cookbook stores in the country. They have all of those obscure food science tomes, one of the best selections of foreign cookbooks available in this country, specialty out of print cookbooks, treatises on almost any individual cooking subject and ingredient you can imagine, wine books and everything from Thomas Keller to Betty Crocker. I must warn you, it's a dangerous store. Few people have been known to walk out of there empty-handed. Nach and Matt really know their stuff and if they haven't heard of it, it's probably not worth finding. Matt's been our go-to guy for years. He's introduced us to some amazing books from around the world. We're so excited that our book will now be among the many precious volumes to be found in their shop.
So what are you waiting for? Go check it out. Kitchen Arts & Letters is located on the east side of Lexington Avenue between 93rd and 94th Streets.
What, no activa? That is how Aki responded to me when I showed her the trout. I made a mousse with trout, marcona almond puree and heavy cream. I folded the trout loins into the mousse and then poached the whole base as a roulade. After poaching, I chilled the trout log, that is what she called it, and sliced it into portions. We served it last eveneing without the pickled cherries, though I think their addition today piques the flavors of the trout and cauliflower.
Truth really is stranger than fiction. We had a party of six coming in tonight. They made 6:30 reservations last Monday and as we were explaining that the doors open at 5:30pm and that they were welcome to come up early for cocktails, they mentioned that they were coming in to celebrate their civil ceremony. Well isn't that sweet, congratulations, and we look forward to seeing you on Sunday evening to celebrate your special occasion.
Fast forward to tonight just after 5:30 pm when the happy couple arrived with her parents. As we greeted them at the door, they announced that they were going to get married here, on the flying deck before dinner, and did we have any aluminum foil that they could use to make a ring? As Alex went off to get the foil, they explained to one of our servers that the wedding would be next year but they were having a civil ceremony now for insurance purposes. As a matter of fact, his parents, due to arrive any second, didn't even know that they were planning the ceremony for this evening. It was a big surprise! For us too. Apparently in Colorado you do not need anyone to officiate a civil ceremony. All you need is a marriage license, a witness and the bride and groom.
So, as I write this they're getting married out on the deck using a piece of aluminum foil for a wedding ring. Frankly his mother does not look pleased. But then again, since she didn't know that she was coming to witness her son's wedding ceremony this evening, who could blame her for being a bit disgruntled?
Honest to goodness, this is really happening. Who could make this stuff up???
At dinner last night we were talking about how life balances things out. How every time there's a run of good luck something happens to remind us not to take things for granted and vice versa, when things seem to be unrelentingly cloudy and gray, eventually a glorious rainbow forms over the horizon as a signal that all clouds have a silver lining buried somewhere in their depths. It was a wonderful and unusual evening. Wonderful in that we were having dinner with two very interesting and engaging dinner companions, unusual in that we were in the Dining Room at Keyah Grande sharing a meal with our guests at their request. Since there were no other guests staying with us yesterday evening, it was a pleasant change of pace to sit down with our companions and break bread and sip wine at the table.
And speaking of the wines, they were amazing. We were privileged to drink the 1997 Vineyard 29 and the 2002 Screaming Eagle. The wines were very different and in wonderful condition. Don had shipped them in from his personal wine cellar just for our dinner and we had decanted them a few hours before dinner. We kept the meal very simple to let the wines really take the spotlight. The first course was a chopped salad with romaine, tomatoes, onions and bacon, dressed simply with lime juice. For the entree we had slow cooked, grass-fed fillet mignon with truffled potato puree and sauteed broccoli. Dessert was old fashioned hot fudge sundaes with candied walnuts and whipped cream. It was a match made in heaven, if I do say so myself.
The Vineyard 29 was a beautiful wine. It had a faint echo of Bordeaux in it's dusty, slightly barnyard-y flavors with hints of roses, black olives, a hint of eucalyptus, cedar and a long, lingering finish of black cherries. It had a strong backbone with bright acidity and firm tannins and will definitely last for several more years in the bottle. It was a fabulous match with the bacon in the salad and a total indulgence paired simply with bread and Diane's butter.
The Screaming Eagle reminded me of heavy folds of raw silk slipping through my fingertips. The wine was smooth and silky on the palate with a definite richness and soft viscosity on the palate. It had a rich deep color and an aroma that drifted across the table as soon as the wine was poured from the decanter. It was extremely well integrated, especially considering it's youth. There were notes of smoke and bittersweet chocolate, roasted currants and oak. The finish was long and smooth and it was great match for the truffled potatoes and hot fudge sauce. Frankly I don't think that either of us ever expected to be drinking Screaming Eagle, ever, and the fact that Don and Sharon wanted to share it with us made every sip taste that much better.
This past week absolutely proved my theory about the generosity of oenophiles. People who love wine love to share them and to teach others to love them too. We've tasted some truly inspirational wines this past week, shared stories and swapped information on the different wineries of California. It was an incredible pleasure just to talk to the two of them and we would have had a great time even if we had never tasted a thing. But last night's dinner, our companions and the wines that we drank are an experience that will stay with us for a lifetime.
Kitchens, especially professional kitchens can be hazardous to your laptop. There was an unfortunate spill and a subsequent stress-full drying out period that involved my Powerbook and the beginnings of a maple vinaigrette. Thank goodness I hadn't added the vinegar yet. It was just a solution of warm water, soy sauce and salt, which while still corrosive, was not nearly as damaging as it could have been. Everything is back up and running with no noticeable after-effects (knock wood). Unfortunately my laptop picks up emails for the website and when we attempted to use Alex's computer to pick up those emails we somehow managed to lose them all. It's been a week. So, if anyone sent an email to the ideasinfood address in the last 48 hours, please resend it because chances are good we never received it. Thank you!
We procrastinate. Not only am I impatient, I also tend to put off deadlines. Most recently we have been charged with taking four dishes for elk and trout respectively and cataloging them with recipes and photographs. Sure, a piece of cake for two idea fountains. Problem is, when you have to do something you inevitably put it off. Enough with the lead in, here are the dishes we will be fine tuning over the next few days, so get used to seeing them in a variety of forms.
Elk in Four Services
Elk Tartare and Carpaccio
grated guacamole, smoked tortilla chips,
hand cut tagliatelle
Kasu Marinated Elk Hangar Steak
roasted onion puree, miso glazed cippolini onions,
Forest and Lake
Poached Loin of Elk
smoked trout and potato cake, horseradish,
Trout in Four Services
Wild Brook Trout Torchon
tart cherry crisp, parsnip ice cream,
brook trout roe
smoked grapes, honey roasted peanuts,
Crispy Skinned Trout
smoked trout ravioli, wild mushroom agro-dolce
Lake and Forest
Spruce Salt Roasted Trout
chipped elk sauce, aromatic spinach,
I like to read. Anyway, I came across an interesting technique on fruit purees on Phatduck in the Pastry Department. Go there and read the article.
Great huh? Somebody thinking about food, figuring out a better way to generate flavors and textures. No, I have not tried the process yet, but it makes sense. In fact, I actually have a couple of thoughts beyond the initial approach. What if you held the fruit in a strainer and collected the extruded juice while the fruit thawed in the refrigerator? Could you then cook the juice down to a concentrate and then puree it with the fruit to concentrate the flavor even more. How would the process work with just blanched vegetables like asparagus. Could you make an incredible vibrant asparagus puree, freezing the asparagus and then pureeing it in its near frozen state? What about cooked or raw carrots? Heck what about peaches? Those super ripe heady wonders. Cut them in half, freeze and then scoop out the flesh and puree. Plums to for an incredible plum puree, add some salted plum for a taste balance. I know flash frozen peas make a tasty soup. I am quite excited with this bit of culinary insight.
Thanks again Dana for the culinary spark.
Here's a link to an interview we did with Ratha Tep of Food & Wine magazine on their website. This interview was actually the impetus that led to them inviting us to do a tasting for their staff at the magazine's offices. It's a little strange to see our words on someone else's website but it's a good kind of strange. So, check it out and let us know what you think of the interview!
We arrived in NYC late on Saturday. We had arranged for the last couple of posts to be published while we were traveling so there wouldn't be gap, we really try to make sure that we post something every day but...well, you know how it goes, the best laid plans of mice and men... Sunday morning Alex woke up sick as dog, by midafternoon I had a borderline migraine and the internet was not cooperating with me at all. I couldn't get the connection to work no matter what I tried. Thirty six hours in a car with two dogs and a cat can drain the life out of you and I guess our bodies were telling us both we needed a day of recovery. But it's a brand new day, we'e feeling fine and we've worked out our internet issues. We just wanted to post a brief note to keep eveyone apprised of the situation and we'll be back later on today with more food!
I have been sitting on a really interesting product for about a week now. The product is Film Loop. It is a program of sorts which allows you to assemble pictures, add comments ideas and more and send them to individuals, groups and even eventually link to them on a website. I found out about Film Loop from Guy Kawasaki. Anyway, the program is still in pre-beta form, whatever that means and still it is quite amazing. I had all these plans of showing the evolution of our cooking and even just the ability to share multiple photos in one easy sharable piece. Similarly, if the maker of the loop updates or changes it everyone who has access to that loop gets updated the next time they have it launched and are on line. Also, depending on the loop, others can update and alter the work. Amazing.
Think about sending someone your entire food extravaganza, or a proposed menu in photography or even twelve great sunsets. What food and more evolve as it streams through pictures. Brilliant.
The hook, they have embedded advertising into the zoom feature of the pictures. My balloon deflates. So, I email and ask about getting rid of the advertisements. The answer, no go, the ads keep the program free for all. But, I would pay to keep it ad free. Think about that. I want to share ideas, give them away and am willing to pay someone to make sure the advertisements are not there. What has the world come to?
Anyway, perhaps since the program is still pre-beta they will work out a different system for the future. Well, since it is pre-beta, and they give it away, and it still is amazing I figured it needed to be shared. So, go to film loop and check it out. Oh, and if anyone is interested in receiving our Film Loop, Food in Motion, (with stupid advertisements embedded in the program) email us and we will get you in the loop. You will have to install film loop on your computer, not a bad thing, just not perfect yet.
Today is our one-year mark of Ideas in Food. It seems only appropriate that we continue to improvise and experiment in the kitchen. After our initial success with hot ice cream I became a bit concerned that perhaps I had created an anomaly. Well, I had in the sense that it is hot ice cream, not that hot ice cream is a one-time occurrence. Today we made sour cream hot ice cream flavored with dried mango and rose tea. We serve it with warm apple chutney, miso caramel sauce and date flakes. It is good to be wrong, at least sometimes.
Today marked the successful execution of pear spaetzle. The spaetzle is made with a mixture of bartlet pears, silken tofu and bound without eggs or flour. We paired the sauteed spaetzle with Yellow Tail Snapper, roasted mushrooms, epazote and huckleberry-fermented black bean confiture. The spaetzle hold up quite well both in hot water for poaching as well as sauteed with the mushrooms.
I became consciously aware (perhaps unconsciously at 6:30 in the morning) that everything is an ingredient and that the quality and variety of these ingredients is instrumental in our own pleasures and successes. The early morning sun was breaking through low lying clouds as I began my bi-weekly ritual of arranging flowers. The crisp air and pointing light accented the shapes and colors of the flowers I had to work with. The natural beauty of the flowers along with the clarity provided by the morning light struck a chord which resonated within me. While everything is an ingredient, it is how and what you end up doing with them that defines you.
I begin most mornings with a cup of coffee and a quick glimpse at the world at large via the computer. I came across an interesting product, Fizzy Fruit. What I found truly exciting is how the worlds of fine dining and mass market consumption continue to weave ideas and techniques into a culinary fabric. Now I can only wait to order my first can of Fizzy Fruit.
My supper of choice incorporates all that is good about breakfast and marries it to the heartiness of dinner. Actually, I can make this meal anytime of day, usually it sustains me for the day with the occasional complimentary cappucino. So what am I talking about? Angel hair pasta dressed with butter, hot sauce (Crystal from LA), slivered jalapeno (a recent addition do to my current jalapeno fetish) cooked bacon, grating cheese and butter steamed eggs. A meal fit for a king though usually just consumed by me. The eggs are steamed in a shallow pan with butter. Cold butter, cooked chopped bacon, jalapeno slivers and hot sauce sit in a large bowl. The cheese is grated and is added at the last minute. The pasta is slightly undercooked and tossed dripping wet with the ingredients in the bowl creating a slick of a sauce, spicy and smoky; agrresively tamed. The steamed eggs are set like sunny side eggs with a bit of moxy. I place the dressed pasta in a bowl, top with grated cheese, more pasta, more cheese and slide the four steamed eggs on top. Crack black pepper over the eggs and the dish is done. Oh, the grating cheese is ideally Piave Vecchio though any full flavored grating cheese will suffice. Alright, search out the Piave, do not skimp on the jalapeno or bacon. If jalapeno is unavailable use two hot sauces: Crystal and Matouks. One last drop of luxury which adds an over the top flavor to the dish is a few drops of black truffle oil. The key is a few drops, not an extreme application like hair spray in the 1980's. This dish is it. If you get a day off, cook it for yourself or con someone into making it for you. It is even better if you do not have to lift a finger, only a fist holding an ice cold Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
I have talked about Steve Stallard of Blis Caviar before, he cures sea and brook trout roe with fleur de sel--sometimes smoked, sometimes with mezcal. Well, he does a few other crazy things with food and the like. Currently, he has sourced out whiskey barrels which had previously been used to age single barrel whiskey for eighteen years. He takes these gems, the wood saturated with aged whiskey and fills them with a rich decadent maple syrup. He then ages the syrup in the barrels for a period of months so the maple pulls in the whiskey and wood flavors. The syrup arrived yesterday; it is amazing. We plan to use it in several preparations; I had it for breakfast on these fromage blanc and blueberry pancakes.
Steve has captured and transformed one flavor in order to impact another. His crazy thoughts inspire ours. In fact, I have asked him to age some tamari soy sauce in the used maple syrup barrels. Oh, he is also infusing some of the maple syrup with Tahitian vanilla...another story and more inspirations.
In order to truly put our best foot forward we must continue to challenge ourselves. Everyday we need to be better, more focused and driven. Without these personal challenges we would not be able to continue to climb. What drives us is the terrifying symbol of excellence. To be extraordinary we must be excellent. The challenge is that excellent today is expected tomorrow. We must improve upon ourselves in all situations in order to stand up to the associations of what is excellent. And that fact, the daily challenge, is terrifying in that we could trip and stumble, and we have, and knowing that is frightening. Yet, we can get up and try again. We must get up and climb higher, hopefully getting closer to excellent.
Food and wine, either individually or in tandem, may occasionally be exquisite and hopefully be eloquent. The eloquence of food is a new concept in that up until now I have not thought of the possibilities in treating food, more so engaging food as something which may be eloquent. And yet like the picture and the thousand words, a dish, a composition of ingredients is more often more eloquent than the prose used to describe it. Furthermore, the term eloquence with regard to dining and cooking engages me to truly understand ingredients and how they may be combined. As great writers and orators capture audiences with words so do chefs with the combinations of ingredients, flavors textures and tastes. I have come to the conclusion that chefs are given many devices with which to tell stories, it is the acts of combining and integrating them which leads to the eloquence of food.
It has just been brought to my attention that in all our musings about food, I have made a large oversight. We have missed a culinary touchstone, Montana Breakfast. The recipe is for a true hearty breakfast, one which satiates a hunger that only potatoes, onions, peppers, bacon, ham, paprika (the luckiest spice in the world), poached eggs, american cheese, green onions and more can.
The time and when to serve such a beast, only individuals know.
and to conclude our trip to NYC here is the list of where we dined:
Pearl Oyster Bar
Nick's Pizza-4 times
Per Se-2 times
BLT Fish Downstairs
The Bar at the Modern-2 times
Peter Luger-Long Island
Grand Sichuan East
Eddy's Sweet Shop
Spanish American Food
Jean George at the bar for dessert
Peking Duck for take out chinese-4 times
We are now full and headed West to cook. Thanks for the ideas NYC.
We had lunch at our favorite local pizza place last week. The salads are good, the pizzas are great and the cannolis are amazing. They make them with a very light cookie shell, reminiscent of a pizzelle only lighter with a creamy almost mousse-like filling. We always start with salad and then get a large pizza, half white with ricotta and half red, prosciutto and garlic over all. Needless to say they use fresh mozzarella & basil on every pie. We always have a good time there but last week we were off to a bumpy beginning. We arrived at 11:45am only to be told that ovens wouldn't be ready for another 45 minutes so we could just have salads or come back later. We opted for the latter. Normally the place is open by 11:30 but there were some late repairman that morning and some water issues, etc., those in the business know how it goes, and the ovens were fired up late. We came back about a half an hour later and opted to wait for the ovens while we had our salads. The long suffering server turned away a few more groups as we waited so I can only imagine how many had come and gone while we were away (this is a very popular place). Anyway, a family of four was the first to be greeted without the pizza oven speech. Mother, grandmother and two kids. They bounced around the room, trying five different tables before settling in the last booth. We were mildly amused by their antics and sympathetic with the waitress's plight but then our pizzas arrived and we forgot them. When we next looked around we realized that we were alone in the restaurant. We could hear the server discussing something with the cooks and so when she came to check on us we inquired about the family. Apparently they had ordered one small pie (pies only here) and four waters. When she went to place the order, they pulled out bag lunches from home. Apparently only the small boy was eating pizza. She approached the table and let them know that they didn't allow people to bring in food from the outside but they were welcome to take the pizza to go. The grandmother proceeded to inform her that the food wasn't from the outside because she had made the food at home. Further more, she and her daughter DIDN'T EAT PIZZA. Hello? We're sitting in a serious pizza parlor, one that doesn't even serve pastas or heroes, just salads, pizza and dessert. The waitress threw them out. She noted that if they had asked her if she minded them bringing out their own food that it might have a gone a bit better for them, but probably not. They were difficult from the moment they walked in and she took great pleasure in telling them to leave. Heaven knows there have been times when I wanted to do the same. Honestly, would you do that at someones home? Actually, that grandma probably would.
The sandwich--griddled ham, egg, American cheese, salt, pepper, ketchup on a hard roll--is near impossible to beat. The ingredients come together after steaming for several minutes inside the paper bag. The sandwich must rest, otherwise everything will fall apart. The rest lets the cheese melt and set and keep the sandwich whole, though it is usually devoured too quickly for one to notice. I could go on, but the time it took to take the picture and write these brief thoughts has resurrected an internal hunger which only a second sandwich can satiate. (sandwich purists will note that the egg here is scrambled and should be fried, but it was still darn good.)
First we must personally thank Rudi Steele, Alain Ducasse, Francois Delahaye, Helen R. Smith and Michael Chaffin for there generosity, spontaneity, and inspired moments which allowed our quest for a spoon to be achieved within mere moments of the words coming from our mouth.
Thank you all, we are extremely grateful.
There can be only one; and we have it. The marrow spoon just finished its journey from France via Florida and now here to our kitchen in Colorado. The heft, its sheen, its pure magnitude. Now to the kitchen to work on new dishes with bone marrow. More later; ideas come sporadically and we must take advantage.
After asking my question about marrow spoons in our improvisational cooking class Rudi Steele accepted my query as a challenge. He sent us this e-mail.
"Yesterday morning I sent off an urgent message to Alain Ducasse at Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris,
having him look for a bone marrow spoon Alex spoke of, and which he had been searching for.
Alain mobilized his entire staff and "good news" I just received a message from Alain's kitchen
in Paris. They found a bone marrow spoon at Alain's kitchen at Hotel de Paris in Monte-Carlo.
These spoons are no longer made, but the company still does exist. The spoon in the kitchen
in Monte-Carlo is sort of beat up, but it has already been sent to the original maker for restoration
and new silver plating."
More to follow.