Recently I checked an item off my bucket list. It isn’t every day that you get to eat at one of the best restaurants in the world (Currently ranked # 5 in the ‘World’s 50 Best Restaurants’) but I finally had the opportunity to dine at New York’s premier (arguably) elaborate prix fixe tasting extravaganza, Eleven Madison Park.
I wasn’t shocked how amazing Eleven Madison Park was - of course it’s outstanding. Daniel Humm, and his partner Will Guidara, do not garner the sort of acclaim they have per chance. They are wizards, and truly some of the best chefs in the world. But I was surprised how playful they were (Some may use the word gimmicky, but I would ask those same people how long, exactly, have they lived with that bug up their ass?). One course was a carrot tartare (pictured above) that was minced at the table and served so that you assemble it yourself. Another was a “clam bake” with clams 3 ways and a chowder served with a Parker House roll. They even threw in a picnic basket course with pretzels, beer and grapes - and later a malt whipped up at the table.
Tasting Menus can often be a chore in many ways, so adding some adventure into the mix never hurts. It was a night that will not soon be forgotten……
Another piece I wrote for Across the Margin (www.acrossthemargin.com) that deserves a home here as well. An in-depth look at Cheetos (“the height of food engineering”), through the eyes of Michael Moss’s latest tell-all: Sugar, Salt Fat, How the Food Giants Hooked Us……
Cheetos were invented in the 1940s by Fritos creator Charles Elmer Doolin. Doolin cooked the earliest known version of these modern miracles in the Frito Company’s Texas-based research and development kitchen. Cheetos are made of corn, fat, and something called “cheese seasoning” (Which itself is made of 11 ingredients, including canola oil and the artificial color “yellow # 6″). These “ingredients” are heated under pressure, and then extruded through a die. The texture of the snack is formed as a result of contact with hot air, causing steam in the mixture to expand and creating its characteristic puff-like composition. After oven-drying or frying, the product is then tumbled with the desired flavor components. The process takes approximately 19 minutes and each half hour an in-house lab team inspects and taste-tests each batch. They now come in no fewer than 17 different flavors and as of 2010, Frito-Lay has 14 fried-Cheetos plants in 11 states throughout the US.
Another defining characteristic of Cheetos is: They are absolutely delicious. They are one of those foods that you cannot eat just one. No way, no how. With one bite they pull you in, make you yearn for more…..and this is completely by design.
I have been eating a whole lot of barbecue as of late, and I am not entirely sure why. But I believe it has something to do with the fact I can feel that the deep crisp of Winter, finally, withdrawing its grasp on the atmosphere. A recent upturn in the temperature has affected me deeply, and I can almost perceive Spring in the air. Almost.
Thus, I suppose, I am preparing myself. Readying my taste buds for the days ahead where char-coaled fire and smoke seasons my meat, and meals can be enjoyed under a bright Summer sun or a starry night sky once again. Oh how I yearn….
Two spots I fancied recently are competent additions to New York’s actively growing barbecue opportunities. One you most likely know - Mabel’s in Williamsburg. And another, you may not, as it is new(ish) - Mighty Quinn’s in the Lower East Side….
My latest piece at Across the Margin (www.acrossthemargin.com) - which has great pertinence on a website such as this as well…..
A brief capsulation of a problem that must be confronted before it is too late. GMO’s 101……
The old saying goes if you’re not pissed off you’re are not paying attention. The problem here, with this profoundly truthful statement, is that We the People have exhibited time and again that we’d rather not be pissed off. That we’d rather not pay attention to some of the most glaring and disturbing problems facing us as a Nation. In fact, we proved this to be true in triumphant fashion when in NovemberCalifornian’s voted against Proposition 37, which would have required retailers and food companies to label products made with genetically modified ingredients. Californians didn’t just say we don’t care if genetically modified ingredients are in our food – they said they don’t even want to know if this is the case.
Californians who were in favor of the passage of Prop 37 were up against much more than merely fellow voters who opposed the bill. They were up against Big Business. This decision would profoundly impact the companies that design, produce, and sell these genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), companies such as Monsanto, Dupont, PepsiCo Inc., and The Hershey Company. These companies, and those like them, ponied up an estimated 45.6 million dollars to fight the passage of this bill. While proponents of Prop 37 were able to muster up a measly 8.7 million.
Torrisi Italian Specialties
Dry Aged Guinea Hen, Black Truffle, Brussels sprouts, Foie gras sausage.
I believe in love at first sight. Why not? Aesthetic beauty has the capacity to completely overwhelm and titillate the senses, in ways which will activate the stimulate PEA in the brain, which then discharges those intoxicating chemicals known as dopamine and norepinephrine into our system, causing one to feel that flood of euphoria that we simply call…..love.
Oh yeah, love at first sight exists. It’s real. In fact, I used to experience this phenomena three to four times during a singular commute home on the L train. But love at first sight need not be limited to eye contact between two sentient beings. I recently experienced this wonder by simply walking into a restaurant. No lie. Il Buco Allimentari & Vineria had my heart the moment I walked in the door. The reason for this is Il Buco A & V is not an ordinary restaurant, not in the least. And this is blatantly obvious immediately upon initial appraisal.
Wood-Fired Oyster Roast and Fried Alligator with Chili Garlic Aioli.
Cochon New Orleans, LA
Submitted by Sam Ensogna
It isn’t easy to mimic the Catalan dining experience. Many have tried and most have come up short (Chef Alexandra Raij has done a commendable job in this task - El Quinto Pino and Tia Pol are both fine restaurants.). Tapas are an experience. It is difficult to contain, and fully enjoy, the experience of tapas in one restaurant alone - something we have discussed in depth here. But still chefs from Spain, or those inspired by the region, try and try again. And thank goodness for their resilience as once one becomes thoroughly acquainted with Spanish cuisine a strong craving will always reside within them.
One of the chefs committed to bringing Spanish cooking to the 5 boroughs is Luis Bollo, Executive Chef at Salinas (formerly of Meigas). Chef Bollo trained for years in San Sebastian so he knows a thing or two about how it is done in the north of Spain. One of Chef Bollo’s strengths is a commitment to traditional Spanish cuisine (Salinas is a foam-free environment, for better or for worse), a strength that makes Salinas such a fine place to dine…..
Pork Knuckle Kapusnica (whole smoked pork knuckle with sauerkraut, chili, mushroom, potato). I love this pic.
Bar Tartine SF,CA
Submitted by Corey Sheridan