Taste of the Week – August 30-September 5th

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"Grilled Cheese Soup"

My wife, son and I had the pleasure of visiting with Alex Talbot, Aki Kamozawa and their beautiful daughter, Amaya, this past Friday night. They were, as anyone who knows them or who just knows their blog and websiteIdeas in Food, would imagine, great hosts. They prepared a phenomenal dinner for us that other than the utilization of a CVap to cook some amazing pork rib roasts (braised in butter and garlic) was essentially, more or less, grounded in traditional techniques. A pasta sauce from bacon, onions, tomatoes and grated aged Rembrandt gouda was simply spectacular. The pasta, was "cooked" in a unique fashion, though. It was pre-hydrated for a couple of hours with the addition of water in a freezer bag and then without boiling in water, the now soft, but uncooked spaghetti, was finished directly in the sauce – quick and delicious! For dessert, we had a marvelous carrot cake from The Chocolate Mill that we had brought with us. The cake, which had all the flavor of the best carrot cake, was produced in a farm unlike any other carrot cake I had ever had. It utilized pureed carrots and an amazing cream cheese mousse, that felt light and avoided being overly sweet. We washed everything down with a 1990 Grande Dame that we brought as a house-warming gift and which paired extraordinarily well with the Rembrandt gouda and then a 2003 Williams-Selyem Pinot.

Any of those dishes or wines or even some tasty bites we had the next day for breakfast and then for lunch at the Trenton Farmers Market would ordinarily have been exceptional contenders for My Taste of the Week. Instead, that distinction must go to an amazing soup that Alex had Kitty and I try – their "Grilled Cheese Soup". An evolution of their "Garlic Bread Sauce", which was used in one of their collaborative dinners at Elements in Princeton, N.J., the idea for grilled cheese soup was sparked by Scott Anderson, Chef/owner of Elements and used cheddar rather than Parmiggiano. Alex also placed some of his CVap "warmed" tomatoes to add texture, color and depth. The result was a soup of wonderful body and intense, delicious flavor that captured all the comforting aspects of a great grilled cheese sandwich or cheese and macaroni, but in a way that only contemporary techniques can manage, concentrated amplified the flavor so that it was actually better than the best examples of either dish. Alex and Aki assure me that their will be a recipe for this in their recently announced book. This recipe alone will make that book a worthwhile acquisition when it is published.


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