you don"t need to save the crystal for a special day, even water tastes better in a "Fancy Glass"

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sublime Per Se

About a month ago during my trip back to the North East in the USA I had a chance to go to a few fantastic restaurants. One of them was Thomas Keller's gorgeous spot on Columbus circle. Per Se.

Keller is extremely famous. Creator of one of the world's best restaurants in California, The French Laundry, Keller has consistently produced some of the most amazing and delicious food that the culinary world has ever seen.

Per Se was amazing. The food was stellar. Keller's approach was so different. Not in crazy exotic ingredients, or in tricks and gimmicks. His gift is to make fantastic combinations where every element on the plate works together but maintains it's own glorious identity.

One difference I noticed is that many chef's create a main dish and then add things to the plate that support and draw attention to that main item. That is a perfectly wonderful approach. Think of it as main actors and supporting roles that add to and highlight the main character's role. That is NOT the way things work at Per Se. Each dish is like an ensemble cast, each ingredient plays it's own special role, and together a taste profile develops on the plate that is new, creative, and unique.

It is quite something.

The decor at Per Se was nice, not phenomenal. And the service was very good but not the best I had on this trip. However the food was amazing, and at the end of the day that is why I went there. I wish Keller had chosen a more modest address- more to his roots of making his first home in Yonteville ca. rather than right in the middle of a trendy neighborhood. I think his address in NYC makes it necessary to over charge for his course menus. Per Se is significantly more expensive than the other famous chef-restaurants in NYC. I believe food pilgrims would have come to find him anywhere in the city so It would have been nice if he had chosen something a bit more interesting in locations that would have been a bit less pricey. With Jean George just across the street it felt a little like keeping up with the jones's.

It was an incredible meal, and there are several taste elements that I can remember a month later as if I had just tasted today. wonderful.

Trivia note, Thomas Keller was the food adviser for the Pixar fill Ratatouille. He helped the animators understand how things work in a kitchen and on a plate and for restaurant professionals around the world the truth of those aspects of the film was a delightful surprise.

PS. the Christmas tree at Per Se was totally gorgeous!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Resurgence of the Slow Cooker

Slow cookers are back in vogue and better than ever. On our trip home for the holidays we picked up two for the catering business and the wine bar. There are tons of recipes out there and slow cookers make it easy for even busy folks to make and eat real food.

We test drove the smaller of the two - this one was a christmas present from my mom. It is a 5 qt. simple slow cooker with 3 settings; keep warm/ low/ and high.
Our first test was a pork roast, my catering chef prepped and browned it for some nice color, then tossed it in the pot with carrots, potatoes and some very fresh nice rosemary. TaDa! done. This one needed maybe more juices added to keep it moister but we are testing so trial and error is A-OK. Next up perhaps is a Winter Beef Stew. Didn't get photos of the first dish (bad-food-blogger-bad!) But I will be sure to better document the next one.

Anyway, I recommend either getting a slow cooker or dusting off the one that you put in storage and trying it out again!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Heaven is Cheese

Looking back at Christmas 09- one of the fun things we did while in NYC is browse leisurely through the Grand Central Station Market. And my favorite, hands down, booth in the market was Murray's Cheese. Friends and readers know I love cheese. And it is a continued trial and tribulation that here in Japan cheese is hard to come by and quite expensive- So seeing these rows and rows of cheeses was just heaven. I wanted to try everything!

We picked 5 and got small amounts cut for us by the fantastic and knowledgeable staff and then that night back at our friend's house where we were staying we had a tasty cheese plate, salami and some champagne. YUM.

The cool thing at Murray's is reading all the cheese descriptions. They know everything about cheese and are more than happy to share that knowledge. For those of you who want to know more about cheese and for anyone stateside you can go to the Murray's website and read, browse and order. sadly they can't ship to me here in Japan.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

time to get organized and get rid of stuff

drawing from Writer in Waiting

A nice tradition in Japan is that so-called spring cleaning is actually done as New Year's cleaning. You start the new year as much as possible by cleaning house, paying bills, getting caught up. Actually you try to do all this by Dec. 31st so you can truly start the new year with a fresh slate. I was traveling till the end of the year so I am using this first week of 2010 to try to get some organizing done.

This month is likely to be rocky because of some unresolved stuff and money as usual, but I am determined to get the apartment more organized and cleaned up. Move stuff over to the admin office at the hacker space and get rid of stuff. I need some room to think. And the clutter here just makes that impossible.

Time to unload and get back on the simplfy track.

there are little irritating problems left right and center that I need to resolve. Hoping to get that all done by the end of January. That is the goal anyway. Today unpacked from the trip. Packed up a ton of geek wires, plugs, and gear. Unburied my desk. But still sooooooo much more to do.

Just have to do a little at a time till it is all done.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Been too long

New year`s resolution, write again on my little corner of the food world...

oh and Happy New Year