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Fermentation has been around for as long as humans have been eating food and drinking beverages other than water. Many cultures have used it to create their most iconic foods. It is only recently, however, that the techniques of fermentation have gained attention in western fine dining circles outside of what is in the glass. It’s not that fermented products hadn’t been used, just that the techniques have gained specificity and focus in these kitchens. A week ago, I traveled to Princeton, New Jersey to attend a dinner featuring the work of four people who understand and utilize the products of fermentation probably as well as anyone in this country. I have featured the work of Scott Anderson and his Elements team a number of times on this website and justly so. For this dinner, Chefs Anderson and Mike Ryan invited master fermenter Kevin Farley of Berkeley, California’s The Cultured Pickle to provide product for them to cook with along with Chef Matthias Merges of Chicago’s Yusho restaurant. Accompanied by Alex Talbot of Ideas in Food, this was a very worthwhile journey. Continue reading →
I first became enthralled by Chef Sang-hoon Degeimbre’s cooking at the 2011 StarChefs International Chefs Congress in New York City. His cooking was beautiful, alluring and had soul. I longed to actually get to taste it. His restaurant, L’Air du Temps, immediately became one of the restaurants that I most wanted to try. Fast Forward to late January of 2013. I had just enough time between Madrid Fusión and the Bocuse D’Or to make a quick side trip to Holland, Belgium and northern France to visit a few of the restaurants there that had captured my attention. L’Air du Temps was at the top of that list. Continue reading →
Most people in the United States have no clue about how truly wonderful Mexican cooking and food are. Sure, there is plenty of love for tacos, burritos and guacamole and a few other Mexican or Tex-Mex dishes, but Mexican food is so much more than that. Not many people in the United States have eaten in Rick Bayless’ authentic and authoritative Mexican restaurants or a handful of other restaurants in the United States that provide authentic glimpses into the complex world of the Mexican kitchen or visited Mexico outside of canned tourist resort destinations. Mexico is similar to Italy in terms of its agricultural richness, traditional values and regional variations, but where it differs is in many of the actual ingredients used. Mexico has an incredible resource of ingredients both native, pre-Colombian and those brought by Europeans, Africans and Asians. Many ingredients are still exclusive to Mexico or if they are grown elsewhere, aren’t quite the same. The good news is that Mexicans are beginning to fully appreciate the culinary wealth they have and people outside of the country are starting to take notice in ways they never quite had before. The inaugural Mesamerica Congress held in Mexico City from July 24-28th proved to be a coming-out party to celebrate the wide world of Mexican cooking, both at home and abroad and both traditional and modern. There was plenty to celebrate! Enrique Olvera, the chef/owner of the critically acclaimed Pujol in Mexico City was the principle organizer, though he had plenty of help and eventually enough sponsorship to bring this project to fruition. The second edition begins today under the rumblings of the nearby Popocatepetl volcano with an incredible global cast. Alas, I could not be there this year. Below are slide shows of each of the four days of this wonderful event.
This doesn’t even include all the wonderful dining available as part of or surrounding the event, including meals at Pujol, MeroToro, Contramar, Paxia and Amaranta amongst others. You can follow the 2013 edition of Mesamerica LIVE on Animal Gourmet.
A new season, the second, has started for the weekly pig roasts run by Jose Ramirez-Ruiz of Chez Jose and John Ratliff of Ends Meat in the backyard of the Crown Victoria Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Each week they cook with a different theme. I went to the first, the aptly timed Mexican on May 5th and had a blast. The mole-rubbed pigs were delicious and so were the sides, which included grilled porgy tacos and Pam Yung’s desserts. If you have the opportunity, go. They are held every Sunday through the summer starting at 4PM until they sell out. Get there early for the best selection. Prices are reasonable. Bring cash.
If there is someone making chocolate confections more creative, beautiful and delicious than Francisco Migoya is doing at his new Hudson Chocolates in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. I am unaware of it. I recently stopped there on my way down to NYC and was blown away by his work. I haven’t been so impressed with chocolate creativity since I first tasted Oriol Balaguer’s revolutionary chocolate bon bons with pop rocks about a decade ago. Migoya is making a wide range of chocolate confections unlike any I have experienced and making others on a level as high as I have encountered anywhere. Continue reading →
It wasn’t yet Mothers Day or my wife’s birthday. Those would both be the following day. It was, however, the day to celebrate both as well as two bon voyages. We drove down to New York City to take our two eldest sons to JFK airport fot flights to Europe. L.J. would be on his way to Spain to attend Espai Priorat: the Second International Exhibition of Priorat Wines on behalf of this website, while Andrew was on his way to London for an academic program to study the European Union. Fortunately for us, both flights were out of the same airport and scheduled to depart within five minutes of each other. We took advantage of this opportunity to share a nice restaurant meal en famille, something we had not had the opportunity of doing since we celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary at elBulli in 2011.Well situated for us on the East Side of Manhattan and a restaurant I hadn’t been to in too long and one I knew my wife would love, I chose Cafe Boulud. It turned out to be the perfect choice. Continue reading →
By the time we left Rancho Doña Maria to drive back to our hotel in Santiago I really didn’t want to think about more food, let alone eat it. We had already had a wonderful seafood breakfast at the Mercado Central and two huge and delicious lunches at El Meson de la Patagonia and at Rancho Doña Maria. The good news was that we were going to a restaurant that specializes in seafood and I can always make room for some good seafood. When the seafood is as wonderful as it turned out to be at Aqui Está Coco, a stylish and historic restaurant in the Providencia section of Santiago, making room is not an issue. Continue reading →
After getting a taste of Chef Alex Gauthier’s cooking at last year’s StarChefs ICC (read about it here), I was looking forward to our reservation at his nouveau-French restaurant more than any other on our pilgrimage. Happily, it did not disappoint. Gauthier’s cuisine fits in the 21st century – modern and fun, he reinvents classic French flavors by preparing and presenting them outside of the classic French context. Continue reading →
At Viñedos Alcohuaz high up in the Andes overlooking Chile’s amazingly blue skied Valle de Elqui they make wines the old fashioned way. Amongst the ancient techniques they use is the time honored tradition of crushing grapes underfoot. They say that it is a gentler technique than most modern ones and that it results in better wines. Though this new winery has yet to release any of their wines commercially, we got to taste a few and they were delicious! I don’t know if they were delicious because the grapes were stomped on, but delicious they were and the stomping – it was a blast and one of the absolute highlights of a great trip!
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