Food of Spain

As promised, my gourmand sister has graciously sent me the following pictures and comments from her trip to Spain.

Now on to Moo
Pronounced "mow" as in mow the lawn. This place is Michelin starred. The craziest food ever, and worth every penny. Sorry my pics are so blurry - many of my food pics did not turn out on this trip. But at least this one did. This is the golden egg I was telling you about. I think that gold was spun sugar. raw egg inside on the nest of among other things, corn nuts.

Here's the green apple sorbet surrounded by thin sheets of goat cheese at Moo

Blurry, but you get an idea of what the inside looks like

Also from Moo
Cherries stuffed with foie gras. and I have to tell you that I am not
a foie gras lover - I find it too rich, so much so that i think it
loses all flavor. But this was outstanding. It was a first course and
they served it with port!

This was the mother of all cheeseplates
It was served to us in Barcelona at a place called Vila Vinoteca. It is a food shop with the best charcuterie and cheese selection in the city. We went there twice and both times we put ourselves in their hands, which was a good idea cos look what they brought us on our second visit:

Tomato Bread
So this is a local speciality - it is ubiquitous. Bread rubbed with
raw tomato and drizzled with salt and olive oil. Plus they love their
cured meats.

More Yummy Tapas
From a place called Xampanyet in Barcelona

Typical tapas bar
Just point and eat

Fries with eyes
Could not get enough of of the 11 courses at Passadis del Pep.

Now on to Barcelona
And their famed snails. Vikki is a mermaid, she couldn't get enough. We ate these at Passadis del Pep (the locals-only cousin of tapas bar cal de pep). You show up, they start pouring and bringing you seafood until you say stop. We ate probably 11 courses of mostly unrecognizable seafood.

Food of Provence

Dianne sent me the pictures from Spain but she also sent me these pictures and notes from France.

Trust me when i tell you that you would sell your own mother for a
bite of this tomato tart.

Olives at a Provence market
That's my friend Kevin and I contemplating our choices, while the
French gal just digs in. I seriously don't understand why we don't
have this kind of choice here.

Green Pea Gazpacho with Garlic Sorbet
You are just forced to LOVE the french. This was amazing. It was at a no big deal place we stopped at for lunch. Cheese tray and dessert sampler to follow. I repeat - this is a no big deal place. The normal, working french person in Provence eats this food.

Cheese and dessert in Provence
So I show you the casual nature of the cheese tray because it is just laying around presuming that you will eat it. It is not the big over the top deal we make of it here. And the dessert sampler? this came after we told them we didn't want any dessert. This came with the check!

This is the same restaurant where we ordered the green pea gazpacho - for our main we ordered ahi tuna and we couldn't finish it because we were getting full and wanted to save room for cheese. We told the waiter that he could remove our plates and he refused! He said he couldn't bring that much food back to the kitchen or the chef would be upset. He told us to repose until we were hungry again and then we could finish. What was our hurry anyway? indeed! another glass of champagne please!

Stuffed Zucchini Blossom
I know I know you've eaten a million stuffed blossoms, but this one was truly special. We had this as part of a tasting menu at a restaurant in St. Remy de Provence. The restaurant is called Maison Jaune and it was all fabulous, but this was the stand out due to the fact that they bypassed the cheese all together and stuffed the blossom with the tiniest dice of veggies. The second pic is better than the first. such a bummer many of my food shots are blurry or even blurrier than the first one. guess my camera was on the wrong setting. more to come.

Different things at a market in Provence
Check this out - gigantic pans of paella and cockles...they serve
these at all of the markets in Provence.

Sausage display at Provence market

Just a reminder, it's summer

A quick trip out the garden confirms it's summer. It's time to cook from the garden and exercise some sustainability.

Farmers Market

There's very few things I'd rather do on Saturday morning than go to the market. As basic as it may seem I still find it incredible that Seed+Dirt+Water=Food. Today's top find were some beautiful gooseberries. Two things are cooking today, gooseberry pie and a rhubarb crisp.

It's nice to see local corn being sold to actually eat instead of being shipped to the ethanol refinery. I can not comprehend turning food into fuel.

Stop Eating My Dill

This ravenous beast was caught eating the dill in our garden. It can consume an entire plant in a couple of hours.

Vietnamese Style Salt & Pepper Shrimp Salad

This pretty much sums up what we think about this salad - We ate 3 entire salads during the course of development. That’s saying a lot given the fact that it was early in the day and we had a full day of cooking & eating ahead of us, a total loss of control. Not your ordinary bowl-o-greens. The flavors are so well balanced that it leaves you craving more as you finish.

Salt & pepper shrimp, flash sautéed in spicy red chili oil. Papaya, young pea greens, English cucumbers, sweet carrots, scallions, mint, basil, cilantro, cashews, Nuoc Mam sweet & sour dressing.

Ideas Are Infectious

New ideas start like this. We’re peeling & seeding papayas and stop to look at the seeds, they’re beautiful shiny black pearls. An idea emerges, maybe we don’t throw them away…..could we dry them in the oven? We’ve never heard of anyone doing it before, which makes it even more intriguing.

After some time in the oven they look like peppercorns and have the same texture. They have a Szechuanesque quality to them without the heat.

Finally, we have grind the roasted papaya seeds and mix them with kosher salt as a seasoning blend. Final use TBD.

Simplicity At It's Best

Some things are better if fussed with less.....Just stop, don't add anything else, a hard thing to do sometimes. As a chef, you're always convinced there's "one more thing" it needs to "make it".

"When you acknowledge, as you must, that there is no such thing as perfect food, only the idea of it, then the real purpose of striving toward perfection becomes clear: to make people happy. Thats what cooking is all about." This quote is posted on the wall of the kitchen at the French Laundry and embodies the core philosophy of the restaurant.

The unpretentious quality of this salad is the very beauty of it. The flavors of watercress and arugula are allowed to come through.

Appetizer Salad
Watercress, arugula, frisee, baby spinach, sherry vinaigrette, Parmigiano-Reggiano, red onions, strawberries.

Lobster Cobb

It just feels like summer, on the east coast, somewhere around New England, a friend from 70's shows up, he has a bag of cornuts..............

Lobster Cobb Salad With Tarragon Dressing
Watercress, arugula, baby spinach, tomatoes, applewood smoked bacon, cornuts, white cheddar, avocado, fresh corn, red onion, sweet potato shoestrings

Kona Kampachi Poke

Like hamachi (yellowtail), Kona Kampachi is a premium fish worthy of the most discriminating sushi bar, but with even more rich, buttery flavor and a firmer texture. As delicious as it is raw, however, cooking is where Kona Kampachi really excels. Firm flesh and a high-fat content make it suitable for virtually any cooking method, from gentle steaming to high-heat searing, and its subtly rich, pure flavor complements a variety of different culinary styles, simple and straightforward or spicy and complex.

Kona Kampachi is harvested only when it's ordered to ensure the ultimate in freshness and is available on a year-round basis.

Whole Fish - this is a great place to start ideation, buy the best damn fish, put it on the cutting board, and say what next?.....I mean how could you go wrong, this fish is so fresh it smells like watermelon.

Kampachi Poke - Derek concludes that the fish is so fresh we shouldn't bother cooking it.

Kampachi poke, black Hawaiian sea salt, togarashi, sweet soy, wakame