What a line up: Bill Buford with Mario Batali and Anthony Bourdain at the NYPL on June 21. "Join Bill Buford, author of the kitchen memoir Heat, as he plunges into the life of Mario Batali and his rise to extraculinary fame, along with Anthony Bourdain, executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles."
Try a Pecorino Romano instead of a Parmigiano-Reggiano next time you're looking for a cheese for grating. Change, like cheese, is good.
Patricia Wells reviews Thierry Marx's Château Cordeillan-Bages near Bordeaux in the IHT. With dishes such as liquid quiche Lorraine and virtual sausage, it sounds like chef Marx might be attempting some of that technomodern cuisine in France.
A recipe for Roasted Alaskan Halibut with Pan Seared Foie Gras Over Stewed Morels with Wild Asparagus. That's some good closure on a day's worth of posts. We went from halibut to foie gras to halibut and foie gras. Phew!
Moto is one of those molecular gastronomy restaurants (like wd-50, Alinea, El Bulli, and Fat Duck) that are technomodern, or post modern, or just plain weird, depending on who you ask. Always a fan of weird and tech anything, and with my interest piqued by the Fast Company profile of chef Homaru Cantu, I made a reservation during a recent trip to Chicago.
We had twenty courses, not including the menu. (Yes, the menu was edible, served with curried lentils and accompanied by a cold cucumber chaser. It was delicious.) Some courses were good, some were so-so, none were bad, but few were knock your socks off great. Some things, the "goat cheese snow & balsamic" for example, seemed to be trying too hard — difference just for the sake of difference. Sure it's cool that you can use liquid nitrogen to freeze goat cheese into "snow" pellets. But if the resulting dish doesn't taste any better than (or arguably even as good as) unfrozen goat cheese, what's the point? Pushing culinary boundaries should be done with the ultimate goal of making something yummier.
When dishes worked, they worked very well. Taste and texture were excellent in the "bass baked tableside & paprika" that arrived on our table in a super-heated polymer box. As we enjoyed other courses, the box perfectly cooked the fish. It was moist and succulent. Another winner was the tempura-coated sea scallop resting in a luscious pool of sweet Jerusalem artichoke purée. It was accompanied by a section of grapefruit and a chunk of pineapple, both of which had been infused with CO2. The carbon dioxide transformed the fruit's flat water into sparkling, and the result was a piece of fizzy fruit, akin to a piece of solid full-flavored fruit soda on the tongue. I loved the fizzy fruit and thought this was one of Cantu's best inventions. Update: Cantu did not invent fizzy fruit. More information here.
Invention is the word for what chef Cantu does in the kitchen to be sure, and they never let you forget it while you're dining at Moto. Not only do articles about the restaurant brag that you can't see the kitchen without signing an NDA (we did not ask for a visit), the two edible paper items contained nearly a paragraph of edible printed copyright legalese. Servers arrived to tell you about the 'patent pending' innovations they were about to lay down on your table. After a while all the secrecy and ownership began to irritate me. While the chef/kitchen culture isn't necessarily about giving and sharing, cuisine is built upon the work of generations. Tweaks are made, new recipes and changes created and offered back into the pool for the benefit of all. At some point I just started to wonder, is this place about the food or about the inventions?
In the Fast Company article Chef Cantu says his goal is to use his inventions to help feed starving people. But his desire to feed the world seems at odds with the secrecy of his kitchen. What governments or organizations are going to pay fees to Cantu to use his food printer or polymer box? Wouldn't it do more good to make it as easy as possible for people to implement his inventions? If he needs to recoup his technology investment, maybe they could do something with Tropicana to get kids eating carbonated fruit. Now that would be something. In the meantime, I'd rather they keep the secrecy in the kitchen and delight me with the food.
945 West Fulton Market
Chicago IL 60607
Just a little fun fact: Sony is such "a sprawling conglomerate that [they] sell just about anything from flashlight batteries to online banking services and even foie gras." [source]
AH reports that Michael Pollan's blogging about foie gras behind the Times pay wall. Curse you New York Times and your Times Select! You've locked up our hero in a tower like a mean old witch/stepmother. Michael Pollan is doing some of the most interesting and important writing about food right now. He's doing it frequently and it's being published in the easiest possible manner for massive distribution and influence. But only the Select few can see it. Even if I paid to access it, I couldn't share it with my readers. So much potential unrealized.
Two podcasts with Anthony Bourdain from eGullet co-founder Jason Perlow's site Off the Broiler. I continue to be astounded by what podcasting has done for food blogging. Everywhere I look, someone's got some fascinating interview with somebody else about food. If I'm not careful, Megnut could turn into an all-podcast revue blog.
A recipe for strawberry soup from Heston Blumenthal. Now that strawberries are coming into season, this sounds like a delightful treat. Since the recipe is from the UK, it needs a bit of translation to American. "icing sugar" = confectioner's sugar, "clingfilm" = saran wrap, and "liquidiser" = blender. Oh those Brits! They may use funny words, but they sure make a good strawberry soup.
Suzanne Goin's Caramelized Bread Pudding with Chocolate and Cinnamon recipe sounds amazing. I love bread pudding and you can bet I'm going to try this out soon. Also on the same page is Sautéed Halibut with Arugula, Roasted Beets, and Horseradish Crème Fraîche. Pacific halibut is on the list of safe fish, so this is one you can happily make at home.