Saturday, April 19, 2014

é - exploring the mind of José Andrés

The meal at é isn’t a fantastic in a traditional sense. It isn’t family plates of comfort food that stroke our soul into that safe place but it is a thinking meal, a look at tradition and an appreciation of imagination and culinary technique. Dining here is essentially a look into José Andrés mind. Through his food he brought us to a place in Spain that exist in his mind through memory and flavour and tells you a story about who he is and where he has come from, a chef that stands between the traditional and the avant-garde and America and Spain.

The food was very entertaining. There were at some points where I thought there was an overuse of foam but the meal was incredible in terms of the breadth of technique in creating ethereal light, airy, crispy, cold, paper thin textures and the flavour combinations that were unfamiliar but fascinating.  At the same time, Jose Andres is also what I would call a chef’s chef where he serves you what chefs want to eat in their after hours – a whole lobe of foie gras and secreto of iberico pork - big flavours, simply done.

Below is the menu we were served on 8 Sep 2013
hand invitation
REBUJITO - tonic water, nitrogen freeze dried sherry and espuma

APPLE "BRAZO DE GITANO" - apple meringue, Spanish blue cheese, hazelnut spread
NITROGEN ALMOND CUP - almond components and caviar




BARQUILLO - anchovies, basil flowers and truffle espuma
"EL VERMUT" - escabeche mussels, vinegar, spherification of olives and escabeche foam
"MERIENDA" - typical Spanish after school snack of muffin with goat's cheese and iberico


CRISPY CHICKEN SKIN EN ESCABECHE - chicken oysters and chicken skin
CAVA SANGRIA
"FABES" CON JAMON" - jamon consommé with cubed fat, spherification of white Spanish beans and garlic puree
LOBSTER WITH CITRUS AND JASMINE
"KOKOTXAS" AL PIL-PIL - Northern Spanish cod jowl with a squid ink sauce
WHOLE LOBE OF FOIE GRAS BAKED IN SALT
WHOLE LOBE OF FOIE GRAS BAKED IN SALT - with clementine, chocolate and grapefruit confit


 
SECRETO OF IBERICO PORK WITH SQUID


SECRETO OF IBERICO PORK WITH SQUID

TORTA PASCUALETE WITH COTTON CANDY

FLAN - with ice shavings and caramel

PAN CON CHOCOLATE - chocolate soil, shaved frozen chocolate, bread, cream and olive oil

"ARROZ CON LECHE"


COCOA PAPER WITH DRIED STRAWBERRY


25 SECOND BIZCOCHO


25 SECOND BIZCOCHO AND CHOCOLATES
Getting a spot here is another story altogether. The dining bar only sits 8 and we were a party of 4 and they only do 2 sittings. Reservations are tough but not impossible, so if you can, you should get a seat at this table.

 
é by josé andrés
3708 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
 

                   

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, November 08, 2013

Trying to Make a Homemade Delicious Life with Granola



On most days when I have to cook for myself and don’t actually want to cook, I turn to my blender or juicer or sometimes both and make a green juice or a green smoothie. Let’s face it, most of the time healthy foods aren’t social food. So when I try to drink some health into myself, I sometimes do it when I’m alone and when people don’t look at my food or me in disgust. The green stuff, it really isn’t that bad! When I do cook for one, eggs are often on the menu and I have learnt that bacon, kimchee and eggs are a winning combination.
I had a kitchen without an oven and barely enough space for two for about a year but now I’ve moved apartments and I have a slightly larger kitchen and an oven – a real luxury in Hong Kong since space is a premium and ovens aren’t used much in Chinese cooking. I’ve decided to try different things. The current idea that has captured my imagination is homemade granola. Now that I’ve made my own granola, I don’t know why I didn’t start doing it earlier or why more of us don’t do it. I don’t actually think it is much cheaper than a good store bought mix but it is way more fun and you get to choose all the ingredients that go into it.

I used Melissa Clark’s Olive Oil Granola as a guide but omitted and substituted where I didn’t have ingredients and left out the sugar to make a sugar free and not too sweet version of this. I will tell you from experience that this is a pretty robust recipe that will stand up to a lot of change. What I drew me to recipe was the spices and the use of pistachios which made this terribly addictive to eat, if not use this recipe for ratios and keep mixing and matching nuts, and dried fruits until satisfied. But be warned, this granola is dangerously addictive.

Olive Oil Granola With Dried Apricots and Pistachios
By Melissa Clark

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 cups raw pistachios, hulled
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, hulled
1 cup coconut chips
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots
Fresh ricotta, for serving (optional)
Fresh berries, for serving (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, coconut chips, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown and well toasted.
2. Transfer granola to a large bowl and add apricots, tossing to combine. Serve with ricotta and fruit, if desired.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

85 South, HK

 


 
BBQ ribs, pulled pork, chips and slaw.

Will this be the start of a new food fad in Hong Kong? This hole in the wall on Kau U Fong is really easy to miss. I’ve walked past it a few times and even on this intentional visit, we weren’t sure if they were even open. I eat meat and I eat BBQ but I’m unfamiliar with the nuances. And since I’m unfamiliar, my yardstick is what they promise to deliver.


“North Carolina BBQ is different from what you’ll find everywhere else. It is the only kind of barbecue in which the meat itself – rather than the smoke, the pepper or the sauce is the centerpiece. Our slaw is a traditional North Carolina BBQ slaw that is unlike any other coleslaw you’ve ever had before. Ours is tomato based with a sweet yet tangy flavor that really compliments the smoky flavor of the pork.”

We had the big boi plate which came with a little of everything – ribs, pulled pork, chips and slaw.



So let’s put the meats forward - the ribs were tender off the bone but spiced rubbed rubs was a tad too aggressively salted and the pulled pork was a little on the dry side but douse it with a bit of sauce or as recommended with the coleslaw and it is good to go. Other meat plates offered were rib plates and also pulled pork sandwiches that judging from mixing the pulled pork and coleslaw on my own plate would be a good sandwich. And finally, as promised, the coleslaw was like nothing I had before and I like their version of it. Out with the mayonnaise and in with the tomato and tang, this was my favourite thing on the plate.

85 South
6-10 Kau U Fong

Labels: , , ,

Friday, November 01, 2013

Roli Roti and other Ferry Building Market eats, SF


Roli Roti, it is seriously good food in a casual setup. It is about meat on sticks in a roasting truck and about a man dedicated to his craft of butchery and the art of a mobile rotisserie.






We staked out the place early. Jetlagged, wide awake and hungry, we got there as they were setting up and way before the line formed. We watched them set up the line and just watched as the roli(s) of porchetta rolled and roasted away at the back of the truck. It is a thing of beauty. Ok, I’d admit that sounded very geeky but it was really something to watch. The truck had been driving all morning to get to the market and during that roadtrip the porchetta had just been hanging out back there rolling in the deep. The rolls of pork were in different stages of brown – light, medium and ready to be eaten. We watched the skins blister, and we watched them turn brown and we watched the fat drip down onto the potatoes. It is a very clever and economical set up and it turns out utterly delicious porchetta sandwiches. The whole set up is clever. No fat is wasted, no juices are wasted. The bread is used to as a edible glove to hold down the piping hot rolls and then used to mop up the jus on the boards, nothing and no flavour is wasted. A little salt and herbage and volia! The guys were really nice too, as I was being an annoying food paparazzi, they offered me some crackling.


Other Ferry Market Building Eats


Blue Bottle Coffee
Craftsman and Wolves – The rebel within
Nothing gets me like a runny yolk.
Boccalone – tasty, salted pig parts.
I like tasty. I like salty. I like pig parts.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Thomas Keller Casual – Addendum and Ad-Hoc, Yountville

If there was a food mayor in Yountville, it would be Thomas Keller. Take a walk down Washington Street in Yountville and it would be near impossible not to walk past one of his establishments – French Laundry and the gardens, Bouchon, Ad Hoc or Addendum. We skipped French Laundry but headed to the more casual establishments – picnic lunch at Addendum and dinner at Ad Hoc.

 
Addendum


We were there for the labour day weekend – not the best time to go but we didn’t realise this till it was a little too late. Nonetheless, we made good of a potentially bad situation, braced ourselves for the crowds and tried to avoid traffic when possible. The upside of being there during this busy weekend was the Lobster Roll which was the labour day special at Addendum. The downside (and a very big downside) was that Addendum was crowded beyond belief. Tables were hard to come by, their order system crashed and so the food was a little slow coming out of the kitchen and our cookie order went missing.



 
The food is ordered and confirmed in the small hut in the addendum area but it is good and in the Ad Hoc Kitchen and then hand delivered by food runners. When the finally food did arrive about 45 minutes later, it thankfully did arrive hot and it did delivery on being finger licking good.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken - Thick crispy crust and hot juicy chicken – it is very good fried chicken

Ad Hoc
If I lived in the area, I would probably dine here regularly. The menu changes daily for variety and seasonality, it is best for communal dining, you don’t have to get dressed up for it and the food is comforting and fantastic. The food is not fussy and it simply quality ingredients, straightforward flavours that are easily appreciated. At its core, it is just downright good cooking, well executed and properly seasoned.


The pre-fix menu is a standard four-course (currently $52) – salad, meat, cheese and dessert - with an optional additional daily special.

For our menu that day – 1 Sep 2013


Salad of little gems with smoked trout, English cucumber ribbons, scallion crème fraiche, picked red onions, crispy capers, the French laundry garden tomatoes and everything vinaigrette

Grilled chicken wings with Alabama white sauce

Braised beef short ribs
The ribs were rich and fatty and braised till they were extremely tender.

braised beef short ribs, charred corn and haricot verts in sage buerre sauce, crispy spiced marble potatoes, Jacobsen orchard figs and red wine beef jus


Harbison cheese -
A cow’s cheese that has an herbal and sweet flavour, served with black pepper flatbread and honey mustard.
Blueberry cobbler ice cream sundaes

Addendum and Ad Hoc
6476 Washington Street
Yountville, Californi

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ah Hock's Fried Oyster Hougang (not in Hougang)


I was recently home for a few days and man I’ve missed the local food. Whampoa market has fast become part of my home visit routine for a plate rojak and Ah Hock’s Oyster Omelette. I actually don’t crave or usually order Orh Luak but I love their version here. It is extra crispy from the sweet potato starch, hot pan and grease which is a good contrast to the small juicy oysters that punctuate the dish with a burst of flavour. What brings it all together is then the homemade chilli sauce – not too fiery and tart - swish chopsticks full of crispy starch, oysters and egg in the sauce for that acid that brightens it all. And it looks like the frying “kung fu” has been passed down to the next generation, so we’ll continue to have this hawker hero around. Hurray!


Ah Hock's Fried Oyster Hougang
Whampoa Makan Place,
Blk 90 Whampoa Drive #01-54

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Swan Oyster Depot, SF – Timeless Eating





The mood here is tutti a tavolo a mangiare. It is a little like joining the family at the dining table, but a happy family. After all, a family that eats together stays together right? They joke, banter about meaningless things and talk about sports whilst shucking oysters and clams and serving customers.

oyster station
oysters - kumamoto, miyagi, blue point
There are more luxurious dining places, chairs and waiting in line is a real pain but the fresh seafood is undeniably good. The seafood here is what you see if what you get. The menu is either on the board or in front of you. We sat in front of the bivalves and watched them repeatedly shuck the oysters and clams and had some of those briny morsels for ourselves. It isn’t just pristine produce that sets this place apart; it is about the history and the family – the Sancimino family bonded by blood and also by a labour of love that they perform every day with a great sense of joy, and that little extra goes a long way.

We skipped the chowder having read mixed reviews about it and stuck to the fresh, raw and cured. With pints of ice-cold Anchor Steam, we picked through a platter of oysters, raw clams, house smoked salmon and some juicy shrimp.


house smoked salmon


house smoked salmon
cherry stone clams
seafood salad


Very unfortunately for us, there was no crab and crab fat (we were too early for the crab season) – there was a collective groan in the room when they announced that there was no crab for the day, and no uni. Nonetheless, it was just honest no bullshit good food.


shrimp and cocktail sauce

Swan Oyster Depot
1517 Polk Street
San Francisco

Labels: , , , ,