The heartland of a country — that is, the area where its essence has persisted in the strongest and most living fashion — seems usually to be marked by two characteristics among others. Its people speak the national language in its purest form, and, a particularly rather more difficult to account for, cook the most robust form of food, meat (especially beef), in the simplest manner, without fuss or frills. The purest French is spoken in Touraine, noted for its roasts. The purest Spanish is spoken in Castille, also noted for its roasts. The purest Italian is spoken in Tuscany, noted for its grilled beef.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Saturday, February 26, 2011
|From Momofuku with Ben|
At any rate, it came with a large mound of lettuce, along with a few sauces: the classic Korean fermented bean red sauce, a scallion and ginger oil-based sauce, kimchi, a spicy carrot sauce, and sea salt. A large bowl of rice also came. Along with all that came a platter of oysters. In fact, all that I just mentioned was doubled. Two bowls of lettuce, two sets of sauces, two rice, two plates of oysters. Finally, one giant pork shoulder came out, a long with enough tongs for everyone. The meat was very tender, and just could be gently pulled off. The idea was to take some shreds of meat, put it in a lettuce wrap along with sauce, an oyster, and rice. The pork and oyster was a really interested combination that worked surprisingly well. "It's double treif!" one of my eating companions joyously exclaimed.
|From Momofuku with Ben|
The shoulder could probably feed 6 people without any other appetizers. We had probably a few too many appetizers, and were left with about half a pound of meat left.
|From Momofuku with Ben|
The whole thing cost $200. Is it worth it? Financially, I'd say the price is pretty reasonable for what you get. The opportunity cost is high, though. Even though there's a variety of sauces, and the meat actually varies in fatiness and texture as you go through it, the fact remains that if you get it, you can't get much else. Which means you are missing at least some of the other awesome items on the menu. So you are essentially trading off variety for a unique eating experience. It's not just unique, it seems like an ancient communal eating experience: a group of friends gathered eating from the same cooked animal. It was pretty special. Probably worth doing once, but not more than once.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Although people say that the giant ice cubes chill more without melting, my guess is that this can't be true, and that chilling is directly proportional to melting. Luckiliy my daughter has a science fair coming up, so perhaps we can test it.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
After the last post, I decided to try out Ayada. I read a post raving about the panang duck curry. When I arrived, I was surprised to find that the duck curry was $15, while a normal curry is $8. That's a pretty big difference. Was it going to be worth it?
I decided to try it out, and when it came out, the price difference became a little more understandable. It was basically all about the meat, with the panang sauce more of an generous sauce than the normal meat-in-curry combo you see elsewhere.
The duck was indeed pretty well cooked, and had delightfully crisp parts. The panang sauce was very good, about as good as Sripraphai.
This is too expensive to make a habit out of, but it was nice to try. It would be better as part of a larger spread of dishes, due to the meat-centric nature of the dish.
The key thing to realize here is that Chowhounders are a bit crazy. They often mistake inconsistency with long-term trends. It's still a good source of information, but take what they say with a grain of salt.
The salt, of course, has also gone downhill. It used to be saltier.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
I neglected to take a "before" picture, but here is an "after" one:
Saturday, January 1, 2011
There are three main varieties of cocoa: Criollo, thought to be the finest type of beans, grown mainly in Madagascar and Venezuela, the Forestero, which is the bulk of all cocoa grown, less fine, more bitter, but strong, and Trinitario, which is somewhere between the two in quality. All the cocoa in this estate was Trinitario.
Later in the tour, they chopped open a cocoa pod, which opened to reveal a column of beans covered in a white flesh. You can just take one of the flesh-covered pods and suck on it. To me, the flesh tasted like citrus and banana. If you opened up the bean itself, it looks purple at this stage.
- Cheap chocolates are mostly vanilla and sugar flavor. There is very little cocoa mass. Most of the loss of mass comes from the fact that they separate out all the cocoa butter and replace it with palm oil. The cocoa butter is then sold to the cosmetics industry.
- I asked about Trinidadian cocoa tea. The cocoa balls you get in Trinidad are very hard, and must be grated to get cocoa powder which you mix with boiling water, sugar, and a bit of milk to make a cocoa tea. Compared to hot chocolate, it is pretty weak stuff, but the flavor is nice. But why is it so weak? I asked about this, and was told that the other chocolate has more sugar, milk and extra ingredients added to it to make it rich and creamy. The Trinidadian cocoa balls you get are pretty much just cocoa mass and spices. Also, the beans that make up these cocoa balls are C-grade cocoa beans, which due to their non-standard size or other attributes can't be used in normal exported cocoa.
- In the estate, they have a number of interesting plants. There are several coffee trees, which produce coffee for the consumption of the workers. There are a variety of local fruit trees, like sugar care, gru-gru, Trinidad cherries. They also had some Immortelle trees, which helps absorb excess water in the rainy season, and releases it in the dry season.
- Most small cocoa farmers in Trinidad (and probably elsewhere as well) sell to a cocoa purchases, where the beans are mixed. The farmer is paid by weight, so they have an incentive to over-water the beans to bulk them up. This results in mildewed beans.
- There is no store in New York just yet. After this next harvest, we should be able to purchase the bars, which retail at around $15.