donlever wrote:...I'd be interested in your opinion of Homero Cantu (and the molecular gastronomy fad/phase) Topper.
Topper wrote:Donny - Molecular gastronomy.
My science background really influences my interest in food. I want to know why some flavours work well together, and why some don't. I want to know what is happening when food cooks and how it cooks. Chefs have done this for millennia. Dry heat vs moist heat cooking of meats and developing bread doughs are two examples. Chefs use thickeners, flour, corn starch, agar agar, all very natural.
I love the idea of an immersion cooker and often thought of making one when I was in culinary school, but I also recognize that meat needs some browning to develop flavours.
Where I have my problem with what now dubbed "modern cuisine" is the chemistry set in the pantry to make pearls and powders from liquids. To me that is not food.
Spud - Komado style grill.
Congrats. A friend in Calgary bought a Big Steel Keg a couple of years ago. Definitely the best style of charcoal grill available. From slow cooked 200F(10-20hr) bbq to 600F+ flash grilling, those grills are the cats meow.
When I visited my fiend, I made an apricot stuffed lamb loin on it. He said he was doing pizza once week on his last summer.
Often I'll but a pan of smoking chips under the grill and on top of the burners of my gas grill, but it isn't the same.
LB - plating
Sight and smell have such a huge impact on our taste of food, plating is critical. My tastes and styles are probably very traditional. There is a reason things become traditional and that is because they work. I like my flavours to combine on the plate. To me, that is what differentiates each course of a dinner. A dominant flavour, with three or for complimentary flavours and some contrasting textures. Get all of those in each bite and you have a successful plate.
The current landscape style with thick sauces looks more like an attempt to combine three tasting menu courses on one plate. Thomas Keller said that when he put together the tasting menu for the French Laundry, ideally he would have liked one bite courses but settled on two to three bites because he felt that after one bite the surprise and excitement of the flavour was gone.
I mentioned a few days ago that I was happy to see terrines come back into vogue. I have had some good discussions with a foodie friend who is into all these new fads. A couple of years ago it was sausages and slow cooking, now its nose to tail eating.
It is probably because I trained under classic French chefs with firm roots in neuvelle cuisine (fresh ingredients, sauces naturally thickened instead of using a roux, olive oil instead of butter and cream), that I don't follow many of these trends.
I made my own prosciutto, several types of sausages, and rillette long before charcuterie became a fad. In the restaurant we always used the animal nose to tail, it was called controlling your food costs. We made a duck sausage for a special seven course dinner we did for a winery. Duck being so lean, we brought in pigs feet for the gelatin to bind the duck meat, moisture and flavour in the sausage. We made and served terrines for appys.
I consider all of this to be part of a chef's tool kit and part of a varied and interesting menu while sitting back and watching the popularity rise and fall with fashion.
Finally the world is awakening to the silliness.
Topper wrote:Donny, a few more thoughts on modern cuisine. I equate some of what is done to what goes on in the desert and pastry world. The way some chefs work with chocolate and sugar so that the plate is no longer food but becomes sculpture is not too different than what some of the chef's going overboard on molecular gastronomy are trying to achieve.
At a certain point, it crosses the line between food and art and the closer it comes to art, the more hands have been messing about with your food, and the less edible it becomes.
Contrast that with a nice Italian dish of six very fresh ingredients, simply prepared to let each ingredient speak for itself while providing a sum greater than its parts.
I am also noticing plating reverting to tightly composed plates instead of disjointed deconstructed clumps and real sauces are returning over purees.