Last week I had a business meeting with so partners for my Manhattan Project, so I suggested no other than my friend Wylie’s WD-50.
As always the food was amazing!
There were a few stand out items…………..
The best of which is in the photo below (sorry for the poor quality, it was taken using my iPhone), it is effectively a sponge made from Foie Gras terrine. It is a technique using the vacuum machine to aerate and set the mix. It is a technique which is now widely used but never in this format from what I have experienced. It was technically perfect with an even bubble pattern throughout the whole terrine.
Another was a small bowl of what looked like fettuccine but infact it was scallops which had been fussed together using Transglutaminase. I was a little annoyed as I had done exactly the same technique 2 years ago but I never thought of cutting it into fettuccine. I used mine to make a Rubiks cube when I was helping to coach the Spanish team for the Boccuse d’Or.
Of course Wylies False Sorbet Bagel is always a winner, the shock of the sorbet fools people everytime!
To finish a great meal with desserts from Alex Stupak is always a pleasure! I love his false tarts which are so convincing that you find yourself chopping at the plate as you assume the pastry on the outside is hard when in fact it’s very soft. The tart he prepared this time was hazelnut with coconut, chocolate and Chicory.
The boys both front and back of house did an amazing job to make us feel welcome, comfortable and very satisfied!
Tonight we went to La Esquina for dinner,
For those of you who do not know about the restaurant in New York, let me fill you in………………..
Back in the day it used to be “The Place to Be”, with entry only possible once you have proven you know the right people and even then with a long wait.
It’s a regular taco stand to the unsuspecting passer-by, but to those in the know, it’s a clandestine restaurant hidden in the basement behind a grey door. Once you go down the stairs it is necessary to pass through the kitchen and into the dark restaurant.
The menu is modern Mexican with a few unique touches, but for the most part it is pretty standard Mexican.
Unfortunately it is now very touristic and has suffered the same fate of those restaurants that used to be the fashionable place and are now surviving on that “Used to be” reputation. The food was good, but not spectacular and unfortunately nothing memorable enough to write about.
If you are up for a tourist attraction it’s worth a visit, but if you are looking for a gastronomic experience………………… Eat elsewhere.
Today I went for lunch with one of my business partners to David Chang’s Ma Peche. It is the latest restaurant in his Momofoku empire that is now 4 restaurants strong. It only opened a month or so ago and was the only one of his restaurants which I had not been to, well now I have.
First we tried to call to see how busy they were as they do not take reservations and we wanted to know if it was worth the walk, they would not tell us if it was busy so we would have to come and see for ourselves. Little did we know that had they answered our question they would of told us it was very empty.
The room itself is pretty amazing with very high ceilings and an interesting use of material and light to give the place a unique feel for very little cost.
We started with some American oysters with a Vietnamese mignonette, they were small but very very tasty! Next we had a selection of starters such as some Fluke fish with strawberries which was a really great combination, something that was dissapointing was the boiled shrimps (which were bought frozen for sure) with a dipping sauce which was way too powerful for the bland shrimps.
For the main courses we had items such as: Rice pasta with pork mince and corriander which was beautiful, pork ribs which just melted off the bone, Pork sausage and snails which sounds like an unlikely combination but really worked, and a few other dishes.
Overall we had a great meal but I must admit that it is not as good as his other places…………………..
Another worry is that it was only half full for a wednesday lunch, this is never the case with his other eateries.
In a little street named Stanton in New Yorks fashionable district of the Lower East side is a food concept that seems to be on everyones lips (litterally).
In a City which seems fixated on finding the next fad eatery, the meatball shop ticks all the boxes.
When we arrived we were told the wait would be and hour and a half, and up to two and a half on weekends! So we decided to take a drink at the bar to begin with. Once inside, if you were not hungry before you arrived you certainly would be once you step inside this place of prayer for meatball lovers. The smell was almost overwhelming yet comforting!
We couldn’t wait for our table, so we decided to eat while standing up and using a small table in the corner.
The title of the restaurant is exactly what it is! Many different ways to eat meatballs!
This us not a place for vegetarians, that’s for sure!
We decided the beat meatballs were the Spicy pork and the best side dish was the creamed polenta. The traditional tomato sauce was also a great way to eat them. They also do Sliders (which is apparently a fashionable way to eat mini burgers, but with just 1 meatball and sauce in a bun), so we had to of course try these as well. We made the rookie mistake of ordering too many sides and eating too quickly, so we were pretty much destroyed by the time we left.
A very simple concept done very well!
Last night after a large dinner with my friends Monica and Nick we decided a whiskey would help ease the pain in our stomachs!
Being in New York no ordinary whiskey bar would suffice, so Nick suggested The Brandy Library in Tribeca. When we entered I was supprised at the extent of their collection, it seemed to just go on forever. I spent the whole time trying to spot repetition of bottles, but could not seemed to find one which was doubled up.
While being extravagent they still kept the most important part if any whiskey bar intact; intimate, dark and comfortable.
The waiter asked me what Whiskies I normally drink then said he will make a suggestion. This was the best decision of the day as his choice was purely spectacular! I mentioned I was a Chef so he would suggest something interesting in flavor instead of just something old. He found a combination of the 2. It was a 13 year old Balblair from the North of Scotland. It had such strong aromas of Toasted coconut that it truly surprised me, then what surprised me more was how long that flavor lingered!
A truly remarkable whiskey in a memorable place, well worth the trip if you are in New York!
On my recent trip back to Australia I was fortunate enough to be invited by a friend of mine Professor Russell Keast to visit him in the Food Science department of the Deakin University. Russell was kind enough to give me a full tour of the university and showed me all the current testing that is taking place.
I will be reporting on several things which I observed over the next few posts.
One of the tests which Russell gave me was a taste sensitivity test, this test was using a compound called: n-6-propylthiouracil, or PROP. This is a compound which not many people can taste and others are born with a genetic sensitivity to. I was instructed to place the strip of paper in my mouth and leave it for a few seconds on my tongue. I didn’t know what I was expected to taste or feel but after about 1 second I had to take it out of my mouth as it tasted 100 times more bitter than grapefruit peel. After eating a chocolate I could finally get rid of the awful taste. Russell told me that when he puts it into his mouth all he can taste is paper, this is the same for most people. There are a lot of things which people can’t taste and this just demonstrates how obvious this can be, one of those things is namely truffle. I read a study about truffle where it said more than 40% of women and 50% of men can’t actually properly taste truffle, yet it is one of the most expensive ingredients. So a large % of these people are paying for Truffle without getting the full effect.
As this is a Genetic thing I took 2 tabs home to test both of my parents to see which one I got it from, the great news is that they both detected the compound, so I got a double dose
I will be in New York from tomorrow (22nd of June) to the 3rd of July.
This trip will be to put all the wheels in motion for my planned Manhattan restaurant and my proposed US TV show. No doubt there will be PLENTY to report on upon my return (like hopefully dates and confirmations).
For those of you who don’t already know, I will be opening a restaurant and Bar in Manhattan in 2011. The concept will also include a TV series which I am planning to shoot in my basement Laboratory.
The trip will also include spending a day with some of the most brilliant minds in the world of Food and sensory science.
Sometimes as a consumer we need to be a little less concerned about seeing our food displayed and rather insisting that it be stored correctly.
Here in Spain the people seem to be attracted to the place which proudly displays it’s offer in the window for the word to admire. Take the photo above as an example of what to look for in a place you would never eat. This is a restaurant around the corner from my house in the center of Madrid which is always quite busy.
The photo is not the best as it was snapped from my iPhone, but I think it is clear enough to spot the error of their ways. We could use this as one of those photos where you try to find as many errors as possible. I will list a few:
- It is an open chiller with no separation of the meat and seafood, so the meat will start to develop the smell of the fish and the fish that of the meat.
- They obviously don’t rotate the stock as they get an order as the skin of the Hake was dehydrated and the surface of the meat was oxidized, plus the eyes are sunken.
- The fish below the Hake will be taking the flavor through osmosis
- The cubes of Ice are too big and will be crushing the flesh of the fish from direct contact
- Etc, Etc, Etc
But by far the most alarming of all of this has to be the effect of the sun. This window gets the effect of the full afternoon sun for about 2-3 hours!
As a general rule I will never eat anywhere that displays their produce in this fashion except if it were a fish market where they have a high rotation of stock and fresh everyday.
Are you one of these people who find this inviting?