Lately I have been reading a lot of books about cooking. Not cook books, but books about the process, restaurants, or a particular ingredient. On the Line by Eric Ripert describes how Le Bernardin in New York City operates. What Einstein Told His Cook by Robert Wolke is much like Harold McGee’s books on the science of food and cooking. Recently, I picked up A Day at El Bulli by Ferran Adria. It describes how the famous restaurant works and some of the methods that they use to create new dishes. The similarities between creating a menu and creating a game are striking.
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We spent this afternoon carving pumpkins. My daughters, of course, picked some insane designs which required intricate carving skills. I happen to have a fruit and vegetable carving set, which made the task much easier.
The first step was taping the outline onto the pumpkin. Then, we used a mini-saw to cut out the shape…basically, it just created an outline. We then removed the paper and started cleaning each of the cuts.
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I went for a long run and then bike ride this morning, so I was in the mood to be lazy for a while. I spent the afternoon making fresh pizza dough to cook on the grill tonight. The finished pizza is a ground lamb with goat cheese, grilled onions, and red bell peppers, covered with a rosemary and garlic infused oil. The lamb came from Wind Dancer Ranch. We have been working with Lisa, the farmer, for a few years now and get all of our meat from her. Our freezer is filled with lamb, pork, turkey, and everything else she sells. At this point, we rarely buy our meat from the grocery store. Wind Dancer’s is cheaper, tastier, and better for the environment! Plus, since my family spent all day on Saturday at the Hoes Down Festival, I was feeling like cooking sustainably.
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I am in Tokyo for a few days and I went to the Tsukiji Fish Market this morning. The market is the main place for all seafood for Japan…a giant warehouse of fish, crab, eel, and other sea creatures. Of course, the earlier that you arrive, the more interesting it is, so I was up at 5am to head over there.
After wandering around for a while, I went to get breakfast. The best breakfast around the fish market? Sushi! At 7am, I was eating maguro, saba, uni, and other wonderful raw food. Got to love Tokyo!
Even though I am leaving for a business trip to Tokyo tomorrow, I still felt like making cinnamon buns this morning. On Saturday, I made the dough, let it rise, and then put it into the refrigerator overnight. Then in the morning, I rolled it out, added the filling, and tossed it into the oven. Excellent!
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I went to Coi Restaurant last week for dinner. Coi is an amazing restaurant owned by chef Daniel Patterson. Chef Patterson used to own Babbette’s and Elisabeth Daniel, and cooked for a while at Frisson. The three meals I had at Elisabeth Daniel are probably some of the best that I have ever had. My meal at Treo (Grant Achatz’s restaurant before Alinea) was probably my most favorite, but it is followed closely by Elisabeth Daniel.
Chef Patterson likes to experiment and play with food combinations. For example, over the 11 course meal, we had Yuba ‘Papardelle’ with english peas and corn-brioche custard with huitlacoche. Paul Einbund, the sommelier, picked wonderful wines to match. My favorite was probably the Riesling that went with the corn-brioche. However, the sake with the Kampachi Sashimi was amazing as well.
This was the second time that I have been to Coi. For some reason, it felt like the menu was more adventurous when I was there last year. Maybe it was because the restaurant had only been open for a month and he was still experimenting more. Maybe it was just the night’s menu. Delicious food though, no doubt…even if they did not have the smoked yogurt like last time (yum!).
The best part of the meal is that our Meyer lemon tree paid for it. We have become a major supplier of Meyer lemons to Chez Pannisse. Chez Pannisse is just down the hill from my house and we have probably sold about 300 pounds of lemons over the past 1 ½ years. If you have a meal there and enjoy Meyer lemons in something, it is likely that they came from my tree.
My friends know that I am seriously into food. I should probably even call myself a food and wine snob. I also do a lot of cooking. Back on The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers game, my wife always knew I if had a difficult day when I came home and started cooking…often cooking four or five course meals after a long day. We often did not eat until midnight during that project.
Today I am cooking Osso Buco with a Risitto Milanese. It is rainy and cold here in the SF Bay area. Looking out the window in my kitchen, I cannot even see the Bay. Luckily, my house is filled with the smell of cooking veal shank. For those who do not know, Osso Buco is a long-cooked veal shank. It has a couple more hours to go before it is ready, but it already smells great. Very easy to make. Brown up the veal shanks, saute some root vegetables, pour in a can of peeled, plum tomatoes, and throw into the over for a few hours. One of the best parts is the marrow in the veal bone at the end. My kids always fight over who gets the biggest bone with the most marrow. I know I am raising them well :-) The recipe I use is from The Dean & Deluca Cookbook by David Rosengarten. This cookbook is my main recipe guide in the kitchen. It has never let me down with a wide range of recipes. I have number of cookbooks (~50) and this is one of the 3 or 4 that I always rely on. The other ones probably are The Barbecue Bible by Steven Richlen, The Original Thai Cookbook by Jennifer Brennan, and Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters.
Along with the Osso Buco, I am making a Risotto Milanese. This is an extremely straightforward risotto. Arborio rice and saffron cooked slowly with herb flavored stock. This combined with Osso Buco is a very classic meal. And it is wonderful on those dark, cold, rainy winter nights. I already have a Ravenswood wine picked out. Yum.