New recipes

Can you really eat and enjoy a 22-course dinner?

Can you really eat and enjoy a 22-course dinner?

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

I recently finished a 22nd course dinner at Saam, the boutique restaurant-within-a-restaurant at the SLS hotel in Los Angeles, and realized two things: First, there was absolutely nothing in José Andrés’s parade of teensy, fanciful dishes that could teach a home cook anything. Second, I wasn’t in the least bit full.

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

Sign up for our daily newsletter for more great articles and tasty, healthy recipes.

Rare is the marathon tasting menu that doesn’t leave you feeling like a force-fed goose. Pierre Gagnaire’s three-star Paris shrine to his monumental personality served astonishing food which, as the meat courses droned on (and a long parade of desserts waited in the wings) caused real fear to set in, and not only fear of the bill—fear of explosion.

Several people have described the legendary tasting menu at Per Se in New York to me in a tone that is three-fifths wonder, one-fifth buttery bile, one-fifth anxiety about their credit rating. I recall a spectacular meal at a restaurant called El Raco de Can Fabes in Spain—a rival restaurant to all-time-champion El Bulli—that just plain exhausted me, and my wallet.

I recommend Saam to anyone who will be visiting LA and is curious about the fancy-pants world of the long-form, ultra-finnicky show-off dinner. First, $120 for 22 courses is a relative bargain, compared to prices at the rest of the restaurants named above, or for that matter (just for perspective) the price of Pittsburgh Steelers nosebleed-section tickets on Stubhub. Second, there’s a tapas-like friendiness to Andrés’s food (the huge restaurant that houses Saam, called Bazaar, is a riff on the tapas theme). One dish consists of a tiny boneless chicken wing, marinated and made crispy, topped with a drop of gelatinized hot sauce, a wee daub of blue-cheese emulsion, and a microscopic mince of celery. It was a one-bite homage to the buffalo wing—and delicious. Other treats: a little ampule of spun sugar containing a drop of olive oil; glass noodles constructed from smoky dashi broth, with a wee clam; a demitasse foie-gras flavored soup with a sweet corn foam and bits of crunchy corn nuts; a slow-cooked quail egg with crisp potato, wrapped with “veal breast pastrami.” The food was matched with a canny assortment of vivid wines (which costs extra, of course).

As I say, nothing a home cook could learn here. But then, you don’t go to the ballet to learn how to pirouette. Some things are best left to the fancy-pants professionals.

My crazy dining companion the ever so eccentric Laird Bell was a tad jealous when i managed to get into the Berkeley before him last August.He`d planned to go there for quite a while and he had dinner booked but was totally peed off when he had to cancel at the last minute ….the day before my visit, Ahhh bless .Of course i didn`t rub the salt into his wounds telling him all about one of my best meals of a lifetime , the fabulous 22 course meal cooked for me by Marcus Wareings head chef James Knappett ( click HERE to read all about the meal ). The only way to shut the big man up was to head off to London again and make sure that another similar experience was booked again at the Berkeley….then maybe he would shut up whinging at me. All was organised with a very helpful reservations team at the Berkeley and we decided to go for Chefs tasting menu..the big one and we would be fed whatever chef decided to cook and whatever was available on the markets at the present moment….Exciting ?…oh yeah, Personally i thought that this way would be the best way to let the chefs play and give the kitchen the freedom to cook whatever they wanted for us knowing that we would be more than happy to be their guinea pigs.
So same as last time , we turned up 3o minutes early and headed to the Berkeley “Blue bar”. It`s called that because…erm…its totally blue, infact the whole place really is painted blue. It`s very different. It`s a buzzy little bar , very popular during early evening and has an amazing list of cocktails that`s so long its impossible to start deciding what to drink.We both went for Champers cocktails , mine was served with Black raspberry liquor.The crazy Laird plumped for a fine Champagne remy XO with brown sugar cube. At 8.30 sharp we strolled through the hotel to the Marcus Wareing restaurant and straight away we were met by a little posse of staff , all smiles and handshakes “welcome back Mr Spedding , so pleased to see you here again”….wow , i was impressed.Their warm and very friendly greeting immediately setting the mood…i walked over to my table like a cock chicken, feeling like royalty….I knew that this was going to be another fantastic Berkeley experience.
As far as chefs go, I`d been wondering who would be cooking my meal now that Marcus`s head chef James Knappett had left to work for Brett Graham at The Ledbury.I asked one of the staff and was informed that Marcus was in the kitchens every day and working on the pass.Tonight unfortunately he had to dash elsewhere but had left the kitchen in the capable hands of his head chef…..I`m sure that we`ll get to meet the main man eventually. The Maitre d came to settle us in for the evening , lovely guy called Dimitri. He just smiled and gave us the old wicked smirk and … ” We won`t be giving you menus this evening Mr Spedding”…..Ahhhh ,how good is that ?
The Sommelier was right on Dimitris heels…with another big smile. “Welcome back Mr Spedding”.He was holding a bottle of Champagne and two glasses….I smiled a big stupid smile , I knew what was on the way….Lots of wine , we were to be sampling some of the Berkeleys fantastic wines with our dinner.
Now before i kick off with the food pics , as i explained in my James Knappett blog post last time ,the lighting isn`t the best by a long way for my geeky foodie pics.Its taken an awful lot of work on Photoshop to bring these ones round to something acceptable.My trusty little Lumix struggled quite badly during the meal.I don`t use flash, ever.I only use natural lighting so as a result the pics all come out very dark , grainy and without Photoshop they wouldn`t be of any use at all.My next blog post will be about my lunch in The Ritz , the pics taken at Lunch time in daylight and they`re worlds apart in terms of quality so ..that`s my excuse and i`m sticking to it.If anyone wants to see just how good a £299 Lumix is when it works in daylight then check out my recent Lenclume photos on my homepage…….On with the food –

Minced Shrimp with Sesame.

Oyster , red wine and shallot jelly.

Beetroot , ricotta , Liquorice.

Foie gras , Date , sorbe , Milk , Walnut bread.

Sorbe – An explanation as i had to look it up myself , never heard of them until last week. ( These tiny pear-shaped fruits are grown in Piedmont. Sorbe are fruits from the same family as the rose, but grown on trees similar to Rowans. They are picked when they are what would seem to be ‘ripe’. However, at this stage they are not yet ready to eat. Although it goes against what you might expect, to really enjoy their true flavour, you must let them ripen to a stage which looks like they are rotten. When they reach this rich deep brown colour, the flavour will be just incredible. Chocolatey, sweet and even with hints of Cognac flavour due to the fermentation process of ripening, the texture is soft, floury and simply wonderful)

Tunworth cheese , Ceps , Girolles , Mushroom consommé , chestnuts.

Dorset Crab , Pear , Chestnut

Salmon , Cockles , Sea purslane.

Lobster Broccoli five ways.

Quail , Squash , Girolles.

Anjou Pigeon , Celeriac , Hazelnut , Radicchio.

La Fromagerie.

This was the moment that i knew we were in for a sweet treat.Six glasses appeared and we were each given a taste of 3 dessert wines to accompany the puddings which were about to follow….Ahhhh , my favourite part of the meal was just about to get even better.

White Chocolate ice , Redcurrant.

Opera Gateau , Hazelnut.

Marcus Wareings baked Egg custard tart .This one made it to the final of Great British Menu….it`s simple and it was absolutely beautiful….and i have the recipe.

The Tale of an Epic, 6.5-Hour, 22-Course Meal at Providence

After my first visit to Providence, where I had the nine-course tasting, I vowed to return and tackle the 16-course Chef's Menu. Well, I came back a second time for a 5x5 event, ordered a la carte on meal three, and then paid a fourth visit for another 5x5. I was thus determined that there would no more messing around this time: my fifth trip would be for the Chef's Menu, end of story. And actually, I did it one better: one of my readers arranged a special 22-course degustation at the Chef's Table, which would end up being the longest meal I've ever had, clocking in at an astounding 6.5 hours!

Amuse Bouche 1: greyhound & gin and tonic
An amuse bouche at Providence almost always includes some sort of spherification. This time is was a Greyhound cocktail, which I'd also had at the last 5x5. A Greyhound is a vodka- or gin-based cocktail enhanced with grapefruit, and this time around, the spherification was somewhat richer in flavor than before, with the tart quintessence of grapefruit artfully captured and exploding in my mouth upon mastication. Along with the Greyhound came a "Gin and Tonic" in gelée form. We were told to squeeze lime juice onto the translucent, oblong cuboid, which in turn activated a distinct, tingly effervescence, simulating the carbonation of tonic water. It was a tart, fizzy experience, like a G&T with very little alcohol.

Amuse Bouche 2: soy wasabi marshmallow, cured trout, gougers, carrot soup/vadouvan
We were told to eat from left to right, so I first tried the cured Tasmanian trout with ginger crème fraîche, crispy rice, and shimeji mushrooms. I quite liked this one, with the mushrooms adding a certain weight to the delicate nature of the fish, while the rice lingered on the close, while also providing a fantastic crunchy textural element to liven things up. Second was the gougère, made with Gruyère and Parmesan. When I bit into it, the cheese puff exploded, coating my palate with its contents--a hot, gooey, salty liquid that was quite in-your-face, thanks to the use of that second cheese. Next I had the soy marshmallow, coated with wasabi-green pea dust. The marshmallow itself was incredibly soft, almost ethereal, but packed a biting punch, an amalgam of salty and sweet and spicy, with a lingering pea-tinged finish. Finally came the chilled carrot soup with vadouvan and crème fraîche. The spice blend was apparent on the fiery attack, but was tempered somewhat by the creamy crème fraîche the carrot only came to the fore on the late midpalate, and was the main component I tasted on the finish.

Amuse Bouche 3: hokkaido scallop | nasturtium blossoms, crispy rice cracker
The final amuse was also the best. The key here was how the nasturtium and wasabi countered the scallop's innate sweetness with an admixture of peppery and spicy notes, thus forming the perfect foil to the mollusk. Meanwhile, the rice added a fantastic crispness to an otherwise creamy dish, taking things up a notch. Superb.

1: kanpachi sashimi | endive, summer truffle vinaigrette, soy crème fraiche
Our first "real" course was comprised of kanpachi, served with sous vide endive, yuzu, soba, soy crème fraîche, and black truffle. What made this dish for me was the interplay between the kanpachi and the truffle, with the truffle adding a profound earthiness and gravity to the otherwise subtle fish. Texturally, things worked out perfectly as well, with the bits of soba adding a fantastic crunch to things, while the endive had a very pleasing, snappy consistency as well. Arguably my favorite course of the evening.

2: santa barbara sea urchin | served in a farm fresh egg, champagne beurre blanc, fines herbes
Next we have Cimarusti's take on the classic "egg cup" dish: slow-cooked yolk, Santa Barbara sea urchin, Champagne butter sauce, toasted brioche croutons, fines herbes, and American caviar. I appreciated how the salty caviar cut the rich, monolithic creaminess of the yolk, but the egg-on-egg action was the ticket here, with the yolk tempering the brininess of the uni considerably. Some, however, would've liked the uni to have been more apparent, and I can definitely understand that point of view as well.

3: grilled santa barbara spot prawns | served simply with french olive oil and lemon
Now for some tableside presentation: a cart was wheeled in, on top of which sat a pan containing five beautiful salt-grilled spot prawns. Providence Co-Owner and Maître d' Donato Poto proceeded to serve the shrimp, separating the head and tail sections, then splitting the two pieces before plating. The natural sweetness of prawn was deftly balanced by the salt, while the lemon added a great sour tang to spice things up. Most of my dining companions actually preferred the more flavorful head portion.

4: unagi | summer truffle, crushed potato, quail egg
Here was quite possibly the best preparation of unagi (freshwater eel) I've ever had. Though some thought that it was overly fishy, I appreciated the eel's strong, heady savor, as well as its exceptionally crisp, oily skin. The cruces of the dish for me was the potato, which did a great job in mitigating the unagi's overt fishiness, as well as the quail egg, which added a moderating creaminess to the dish. Again, as with the first course, the application of summer truffle worked beautifully here as well.

5: wild turbot | matsutake, sake, rosemary
Following up my best ever unagi was perhaps my best ever turbot. What did it for me was the use of rosemary pairing it with the turbot was genius, with the pungency of the herb complementing the hearty, buttery fish superbly. I especially enjoyed the crispy, super-saporous skin. The matsutakes, at the same time, mixed things up texturally, while providing a subtle veil of earthiness.

6: pasta alla chitarra | italian black summer truffles
A specialty of the Abruzzo region, alla chitarra refers to pasta that has been formed by forcing flat pasta through a chitarra, a grid of finely spaced strings. The pasta was dressed simply with olive oil and set before us, unadorned. Donato then stepped inside with a basket of truffles, and proceed to give each of us a generous shaving. The fungi's heady aroma was intoxicating, but its flavor was actually tempered by the heavy, al dente noodles, as well as the olive oil.

7: niman ranch pork belly | carrot-orange purée, pickled ramps, mizuna, carrot-ginger butter
I've been liking pork belly more and more as of late, and this course just continued the trend. The pork itself actually reminded us of pastrami, with its distinctive brine and pepperiness. It was also quite fatty, but not overwhelming so, with a delightfully crunchy skin to boot. The belly's weight was simultaneously balanced by the sweetness from the carrot sauce and the pungent bitterness of the mizuna and ramps.

8: columbia river king salmon | kumquat, peas, jurançon
The salmon was a point of contention for us. The salmon itself couldn't be faulted, but some thought that the kumquat was far too tart, overshadowing the natural savor of the fish. For me though, that wasn't an issue, and I really appreciated the vegetal tang and finish imparted by the peas. We all, however, agreed on the brilliance of the stupendously unctuous and flavorful skin.

9: loin of colorado lamb | eggplant, artichoke, celebrity tomato
The lamb had the honor of inspiring the best quote of the night: My lamb has more game than my date! This seemingly Delicious Life-inspired line had some merit though the lamb was more robust than most, and though it was too overbearing for some, I appreciated its rank, as well as its delicate body. But it wasn't just about the lamb, the tomato compote added a distinct weight, a marked sweetness to counter the slight sourness of the meat, while the artichoke accented things with a bit of bitterness. The best accoutrement, though, was the basil sauce, with a bold pungency that greatly tempered the lamb.

10: japanese wagyu beef (gunma, japan) | roasted asparagus, wild mushrooms, bacon parmesan risotto
I think we were all blown away by the beef here. Magnificently marbled, tremendously tender, supremely sapid, with a splendid, savory crust--it was as good as any you'd find in a high-end steakhouse, and that includes CUT. It was so good, in fact, that I preferred to eat it completely devoid of any trappings. The asparagus, mushroom, butterball potato, beef jus, even the risotto--they were fine, but unnecessary in my opinion.

11: cheese selection
Providence has always had one of the best cheese carts in the City, from which we were given a select sextet of fromage, accompanied by figs, candied walnuts, apricot-black pepper jam, apple jam, and nut bread:
• Capriole Sofia - My second favorite of the bunch, this was a delicate, slightly sweet, lightly flavored goat cheese from producer Capriole out of Greenville, Indiana.
• Tomme de Chèvre des Pyrenees - Tomme is a term that generally refers to cheese produced in the French alps however, this example was from a different mountain range: the Pyrenees. It was a goat's milk cheese, with a mild, subtly salty character.
• Ossau-Iraty - Next was another cheese from the Pyrenees, though this time one made from sheep milk. The Ossau-Iraty had a creamy, medium-firm body and lightly nutty sapor.
• Gubbeen Cheese - From Ireland comes this surface-ripened, semi-soft cow's milk cheese with a pleasant, soft earthiness and lovely nuttiness.
• Grès de Vosges - This was a soft cow's milk cheese from Alsace, notable for its gooey consistency and pungent, sweet flavor (from the use of kirsch in the production process). Easily my favorite of the set.
• Rogue River Blue Cheese - A cheese plate just wouldn't seem complete without a bleu, so here we had one from Rogue Creamery of Central Point, Oregon. Made from raw cow's milk and wrapped in grape leaves, the cheese was sharp, herbaceous, and a bit sweet.

Dessert Amuse Bouche: cantaloupe soup
And with that, we were on to dessert. Though our menus listed the "Mojito" spherification as the pre-dessert, we were instead given this (due to the similarity between the Mojito and the Greyhound): a cantaloupe soup with blackberry gelée, vanilla ice cream, lime granita, and mint. It was a great substitution. The cantaloupe was ever-present, a base on which the sweet berry, sour lime, and creamy vanilla could play, while the mint gave the shot an overarching lightness.

12: kalamansi gelee | white chocolate coconut soy milk soup, litchi-shiso sorbet
First up was a dessert with a distinctly Thai-influenced tinge, thanks to the coconut and the pandan-esque flavor of the sorbet. It thus had a sweetness reminiscent of Lod-Chong Nam Ka-Ti, a dessert of pandan noodles in coconut milk, but was balanced by the tartness of the kalamansi, or calamondin, gelée. Overall, a light, refreshing course to kick things off.

13: mud creek blackberries | yuzu curd, blackberry-jasmine sorbet, meringue, warm almond cake
Next, an interesting study in the interaction between sweet and sour. We have a meringue tube, filled with a tangy yuzu curd, atop an almond cake. The curd-cake complex was rather nondescript on its own, but was countered beautifully by the sorbet, imbued with the saccharine essence of blackberry, and the blackberry fruit itself.

14: harry's strawberries | basil ice cream, balsamic marshmallow, pistachios
Surprisingly, the bracing, pungent smack of the basil proved a superb complement to the cloying sweetness of the strawberry--a fanciful, yet fabulously fitting foil. The pistachios, meanwhile, provided a countervailing nuttiness, as well as a great crunchy textural ingredient, while the heavy, toasty balsamic marshmallow seemed a bit out of place, though it did add a distinct gravity to the dish.

15: miso cheesecake | masumoto peaches, black sesame, white peach sorbet
This next dessert was easily the most controversial of the series, due to the miso cheesecake. The cake was actually quite savory, especially when taken in concert with the black sesame one of my dining companions even likened its flavor to Cheez Whiz! As a result, it was a bit disconcerting to eat, though fortunately it was tempered significantly by the sugary peach (from Masumoto Family Farm in Fresno) and peach sorbet.

16: chocolate ganache | peanut butter, "these pretzels are making me thirsty", chambly noir ice cream
Given that I'm not a fan of peanut butter, it's not surprising that this dessert wasn't a hit with me. Nevertheless, the ganache did do an admirable job in covering its sapor, while the pretzels contributed a bit of saltiness, while adding a great crunch to things. The best part of this, though, was the ice cream made from Unibroue's Chambly Noire dark ale, with its unique bitterness, smokiness, and toffee notes.

17: a café in bordeaux | coffee mousse, canelé ice cream, chicory caramel and hazelnuts
This was actually a dessert that I had on my last visit. A canelé is a type of pastry from the Bordeaux region of France however, the "canelé" here was merely a shell, filled with a cold coffee mousse center. The canelé's delectable rum- and vanilla-tinged flavor was thereby moved to the ice cream, with the hazelnuts providing a lovely, nutty finish. A great interplay of tastes and textures--I can see why this is the restaurant's most popular dessert.

18: white chocolate, mango and cardamom lollipop
And now, Providence's infamous lollipop. Despite being made with mango, we all thought that it tasted of banana, with a spicy savory accent on account of the cardamom. Humorously, we were warned not to shoot the glass of sugar!

Without a doubt, this was my strongest Providence meal to date. While my previous visits were certainly enjoyable, it's only now that I was able to realize the full extent of Michael Cimarusti's talent. What I experienced clearly demonstrated a masterful grasp of ingredients, combined with plenty of innovation, creativity, and a touch of "molecular" technique, all together creating what I consider the most exciting seafooder in the City--it is clear to me now why Michelin chose to bestow two stars here.

What’s Next for Gaggan? A 10-Seater Restaurant in Japan Serving Impossible Food

But like the wise say, you need to know when to stop Gaggan too is old school in certain ways. "Everything comes with an expiry date. When I started out, I gave myself 10 years' time to make Gaggan one of the most famous restaurants in the world despite all the challenges. Progressive Indian food has becomes a phenomenal success, but you need to be smart to know when to stop, and go chase new dreams."

Photo Credit: Plavaneeta Borah

So if not restaurant Gaggan, what's next for the culinary maestro? Looking at him smile across the table we know that numerous ideas are brewing in his mind. Even though there are three more years till Gaggan finally stops service, his new plans are already taking shape. He shares some light on two immediate plans.

The Task of Making Tofu the Next Big Thing

We all know Gaggan Anand as the genius chef, but only a few are aware of the fact that he is also a restauranteur, having invested in some of the most exciting food concepts in Bangkok recently. Heard of Suhring - the progressive German restaurant? It currently ranks No. 13 in Asia's 50 Best Restaurants List, and Chef Gaggan is a proud investor of the venture started by German twins Thomas and Mathias Suhring, among other projects.

At a time when chefs are going all out to spruce up traditional cuisines or bring global food to the table, Gaggan sees potential in a humble ingredient, which many of us turn away from, and is willing to bet his money on it. It is none other than tofu, the cottage cheese. Yes, you heard it right, Gaggan is investing in an eatery which will solely be serving tofu.

"Nobody really thinks about tofu. It is the most underestimated ingredient, but we are going to make it the most popular food soon. The new eatery will be a small place, probably surviving on the salaries of three people, but will serve the most delicious tofu in ways you couldn't have imagined before."

The 10-Seater Restaurant in Japan

In 2014, Gaggan met Chef Go in Japan, and realised they were, in a peculiar way, very similar. They share the same birthday, have resembling signatures and even similar energy. They have cooked together in several occasions ever since, and have grown to admire each other a great deal. So when thoughts of starting a new food project sprouted in his mind, he knew it had to be with Chef Go. Perhaps it's destiny.

"Go and I are planning to open a restaurant, which will be called GoGan. It will be a 10-seater restaurant that is open for one month and then closed the next. This is because we want to put in time for a whole lot of experiments and creativity as well as relax and enjoy our life. I am done working like a dog," says Gaggan.

"Go and I share an expression of art through food, which can beautifully co-exist together, and has this unbeatable energy. Our earlier food collaborations have done very well, particularly the pop-ups, where we have cooked for 72 people over three days, 12 people in batches of two per day. Now we plan to come together and create a whole new level of dining."

The Concept of Subjective Food

Food is subjective. One man's meat is another man's poison. So is it really fair when you head to a restaurant and be served food made with ingredients that don't really impress your palate? But then again, looking at it from a restaurant's perspective, it is almost impossible to cater to every person's individual likes and dislikes and serve food accordingly. Gaggan plans to do the impossible.

"I want to go through every diner's details before they come to dine at my restaurant - what they do, where they come from, eating habits, what they like, what they dislike - and be able to give that individual attention to my diners. I will be sending them a questionnaire after reservation to get to know them and then cook different dishes for different individuals based on what they love to eat," says Gaggan with a lot of confidence while we are left wondering how he will ever pull it off.

"It's the worst thing ever to go to a restaurant and get a dish that you hate and then have the Chef convince you that it's good. Different people have different choices, that's the truth. Food is subjective. You may like garlic, I may not. Someone may like chilli, ginger and coriander but hate mint. That's the kind of details that will be going into the menu."

What to Expect at the New Restaurant?

Needless to say, we were very curious about the kind of cuisine that will be served at GoGan. Will it be a fusion of Japanese and Indian, only Japanese or something completely new? We badgered Chef with a lot of questions to which he counter-questioned, "What is good food? Can you name any particular cuisine that defines good food? It all matters on how delicious the food tastes and that's all. I want to create impossible food, something you haven't even imagined before."

Well, seems like we have to wait and watch. And Chef Gaggan knows very well how to keep the surprise factor top notch. Even at Gaggan, he only reveals the menu once the diner has finished the 22-course meal, making it a rollercoaster of a ride where you don't know what to expect other than trying to decode the emojis, further instigating the curious mind.

GoGan is slated to launch in 2020, but Chef Gaggan plans on opening reservations in 2019 and having the restaurant booked one year in advance. Another impossible task, yet he is convinced that it will happen.

Photo Credit: Plavaneeta Borah

"The Japanese Government has been very helpful and supportive, quite unlike Thailand and India. India would have never let me open a restaurant anywhere close to the Taj Mahal, but Japan has offered us an unimaginable location. They are certain that I will be bringing them the world of gastronomy to their country," he adds, revealing nothing further about the new project, but hinting that it will not be in popular cities like Tokyo or Kyoto. Perhaps in Okoba.

The Need to Change the Game

Anyone who knows Gaggan is aware about his "muphat" nature. He says it as he feels it, there is no pretence. And probably this is the reason why it bothers him to witness the fake world of commercialisation, where people are more interested in blowing one's trumpet, or try and out-do each other rather than growing together as a community.

In the days to come, he plans to get submerged more into the world of cooking and be less accessible. He explains, "When you buy designer clothes or shoes, do you go and meet the designer every time? Why not just appreciate the art itself? I love the fame no doubt, but now I hate it too. I want my food to speak for itself."

Well, if one can cook food that can strike a chord in one's soul that's what people are bound to return to time and again. Food has no boundaries, and there's no end to the creativity. We wish Gaggan luck to do what he does best - present the unexpected.

8 questions for foodie Bill DeLind

Milwaukee is filled with amazing people. And some of those people are wild about food. 8 Questions is a series that focuses on food lovers in our midst. They aren't chefs. They don't work in the food industry. But, they know a thing or two about eating. And that's part of what makes them awesome. This week, we talk to art appraisal specialist Bill DeLind.

Milwaukee is filled with amazing people. And some of those people are wild about food. 8 Questions is a series that focuses on food lovers in our midst. They aren&rsquot chefs. They don&rsquot work in the food industry. But, they know a thing or two about eating. And that&rsquos part of what makes them awesome.

If you&rsquore into art, you probably know Bill DeLind. After all, he has owned nine gallery locations in Milwaukee over the past 46 years, and he&rsquos been one of the city&rsquos most notable custodian of Dennis Pearson&rsquos famous Beasties.

But, DeLind is also a foodie&rsquos foodie, and his dining adventures &ndash which include wine-rich dinners and unapologetic foie gras feasts &ndash inspired me to catch up with him to chat about some of his favorite foods and food memories.

But first, a little background.

DeLind isn&rsquot a Milwaukee native but, as he says "he&rsquos lived here longer than most." He was born and raised in Michigan, where he remained to pursue a degree in marketing at Michigan State. He landed in Milwaukee after graduation, when he was offered a job with Libbey Owens Ford Glass Company (LOF) and transferred to the Milwaukee office.

DeLind says he always loved art, but never had any delusions that he would be an artist. However, he figures he must have talked about art enough that when TC Esser acquired the Bressler Art Gallery in 1969 (at the time on Milwaukee Street), they hired him to run it. Unfortunately, it was a short-lived gig the owners sold the gallery to a fellow who was more interested in starting a frame shop than maintaining a gallery.

So, DeLind took matters into his own hands, opening his first gallery at his Wauwatosa home in 1971. When he outgrew that space, he moved offsite, eventually ending up downtown where he had nine locations over the course of 46 years. His most recent move landed him in the space next to the Watts Tea Shop in 2010.

"What I was attracted to, and built my business around, were antique French posters and 19th century French paintings from the Barbizon," says DeLind. "They were the original en plein air painters and included names like Pissarro , Renoir, Monet and Russeau."

Over the years, DeLind traveled and visited the village of Barbison, steeping himself with the surroundings so thoroughly that he says he can often tell where a specific painting was painted.

DeLind also became notable for carrying Beasties, the fanciful, amorphous, make-believe animals created by Dennis Pearson. When Pearson moved to New Zealand in 2000, DeLind became the conduit for maintaining the artist&rsquos Milwaukee legacy. He set up the "Beastie Beat" (Beasties on the street) in 2002 and 2004 for the Milwaukee Symphony, as well as selling Beasties in his gallery.

"He&rsquos going on 80," says DeLind, "And when I got the big shipment of Beasties in last summer, it was apparently everything he had left. But, after we sold more than half of the sculptures in 48 hours, he was so energized by the enthusiasm for his work that that he made more. So, he just shipped me 17 more."

Although DeLind closed his gallery earlier this year, he still maintains space in the Watts Building for his appraisal business, DeLind Fine Art Appraisals, LLC. It&rsquos work he&rsquos been doing for years, but is now able to focus more intently upon the work . when he isn't eating, that is. What inspired your love of food?

Bill DeLind: I had been a very finicky eater growing up, with parents who were products of the depression. And the food on the table was pretty much overcooked, flavorless hearty but not interesting, even though a good percentage of it came from my father&rsquos garden.

My father was of Dutch descent, so occasionally we would have calf brains with scrambled eggs. And I did eat those.

Of all things &ndash and a lot of people would chuckle at this &ndash but I learned to love food while I was 17 in the army. For the first time in my life, I was starving and I ate spaghetti. It&rsquos something I&rsquod never eaten at home. Once there was an oyster stew &hellip and sauerkraut, and I ate all those things that I&rsquod never eaten before. Even SOS (shit on a shingle).

I started cooking for myself at university, so by the time I moved to Milwaukee, I was cooking for myself. My wife was a good cook, but I always wanted to help. Eventually, I ended up doing most of the cooking. As a treat one year she enrolled me in a class at La Varenne.

OMC: When you cook, what are some of your favorite things to make?

BD: One of my all time simple comfort food favorites is wild mushroom risotto. With a bit more time and planning, I really love making pork rillettes. You can make a bunch and share little pots with friends.

I have many foodie friends in Madison, and I wouldn&rsquot say it&rsquos competitive, but we&rsquore always willing to experiment. One of the fun ones were when my friend Jim made up a batch of dough and each of us made up our own pizzas taking from about 30 ingredients that he had available. My pizza was fresh spring asparagus and morel mushrooms.

My other specialty is large morel mushrooms stuffed with foie gras. We did a game of thrones dinner recently where I stuffed quail with foie gras. And we all came dressed as characters from the show.

OMC: Do you have a favorite food city?

BD: Oh, golly. I&rsquove had so many outstanding meals in so many cities. I don&rsquot know if

I never have bad food in New York. Obviously, there is incredible food in Paris &hellip mmm. I&rsquove had outstanding food in the Napa Valley. I&rsquove eaten at the Culinary School of America.

OMC: Do you have a most memorable dish of those you&rsquove eaten abroad?

BD: I&rsquove been able to replicate a lot of them. But, there was a town in the heart of Bordeaux country where I ate a meal . It was a baby chicken dish that sort of melted in your mouth. And that I&rsquove not been able to replicate. The chickens here are all factory made, plus people here would likely take issue with eating a baby chicken.

As you know, I&rsquom not apologetic for my tastes. I love foie gras.

Speaking of which &hellip I had an unmitigated cooking disaster just before the going out of business sale started. My refrigerator downstairs went out, and I didn&rsquot know. I had five racks of lamb in there, two whole foie gras and a dozen quail. And they all wound up in the dumpster, smelling to high heaven. I think the seagulls had a great meal that day.

OMC: What's your favorite Milwaukee restaurant?

BD: I think probably my new number one is David&rsquos Chef&rsquos Table &ndash it&rsquos more a dining experience than a restaurant. Right up there, though, is Crazy Water. Peggy [Magister] has become a friend. It&rsquos been my favorite place to go forever, and she never disappoints.

I love MOVIDA for brunch. And I haven&rsquot been to Morel, but it&rsquos on my list of places I&rsquom sure I&rsquoll enjoy.

In Madison, I love to eat at Heritage Tavern. And there was one point where I took some of my Masonic brethren there when we were in Madison for Grand Lodge. And I called ahead and Chef Dan Fox prepared a whole pig&rsquos head for us.

OMC: What about your interest in wine?

BD: Way back when the world was young and I had my first taste of champagne. I was probably under age, and it was probably something you could buy for $1.90. And I though "OK, I like this." Then someone did me the service of serving me champagne that was probably $3. And I saw a huge difference. So, from there it was about drinking a better one and a better one.

Once I moved to Milwaukee, I was guided by one of the old wine guys, a guru at the time in this town. And he increased my taste a lot. But, it wasn&rsquot really until I started cooking with a vengeance that I realized that even if you have a great wine &ndash sometimes expensive &ndash it doesn&rsquot always match with the food.

You could have four different Pinot Noirs and one might be drop dead great with chocolate, and another drop dead great with lamb. So, it&rsquos an adventure. You can never know it all. It&rsquos continuous learning. Which is why I love being part of the food and wine societies. There are a variety of members who are distributors, and they&rsquore experts at pairing wines with food. Its&rsquo quite exciting to engage in the continual experience. I can come into a dinner, enjoy what&rsquos there, and then buy some of the wines for myself.

OMC: What's your favorite guilty pleasure?

BD: One of my Masonic organizations meets at the Wisconsin Club each month.

They put out an onion dip and Fritos. And it&rsquos just so good. So, once a month I overindulge, and that&rsquos one of the guiltiest pleasures I have.

OMC: Tell me about your most memorable food adventure.

BD: I think that going to Daniel in New York. I was celebrating my 10th anniversary with Lori Skelton. It was a blowout dinner. It was the white truffle dinner with paired wines. It was such a memorable evening. Every time you&rsquod be served a dish, he&rsquod bring out a little glass plate with a white napkin folded into it. And nestled into it was a large white truffle. He&rsquod come over and lift the top, and a fellow waiter would pick the truffle up with a white glove and shave the truffle over the food. It was such a presentation. That was probably one of the more memorable.

I&rsquove also eaten at Alinea twice. And their 21 or 22 course meals are so memorable. They once brought a little pillow filled with smoke that they set down and, as it deflates, it fills the atmosphere with an odor. Really every course is memorable that way.

More stories on:

Share with someone you care about:

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She&rsquos had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book &ldquoMilwaukee Food.&rdquo Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.

When she&rsquos not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you&rsquoll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.

7 Food Experiences in Bangkok No Food Lover Should Miss

Bangkok has long been touted as a food paradise, and it keeps up to its fame, adding more exciting food experiences every year. The love for food amidst its people is contagious, offering so many delighting options to choose from that you are spoilt for choice. Right from their street food culture and hawker stalls to floating markets and weekend fleas, there's much to discover and relish to your heart's content. In the fine dining circuit too, the culinary scene is reaching new heights with restaurants like Gaggan, Nahm, Suhring, Bo.Lan, Issaya Siamese Club, Eat Me, Le Du and many others making their way to global awards. No wonder it attracts so many food enthusiasts from across the globe who make their way to Bangkok for an unforgettable experience.

If you love food just as much, we bring you seven exciting food experiences in Bangkok that you must experience this year -

1. The 22-Course Progressive Indian Meal at Gaggan

If you are travelling all the way to Bangkok, then you shouldn't miss the chance to dine at Asia's No. 1 restaurant and World's No. 7 restaurant (as per Asia's 50 Best Restaurants Awards and World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards). Chef Gaggan Anand is known for his spectacular reinterpretations of Indian food that never fail to impress his diners. You don't really know what to expect and the food is never really what it seems to be. There is no menu to follow sans a list of emojis that only builds up the thrill of dining at Gaggan. Imagine a chocolate bonbon which turns out to be a golgappa, some sponge and foam that exactly tastes like idli-sambar or an eggplant cookie that takes four days to prepare. There's lot to discover in the 22-course menu and meet the man himself.

Price: 6,500 Baht approx Address: 68/1 Soi Langsuan, Ploenchit Road, Lumpini, Bangkok Tel: +662 652 1700

Photo Credit: Plavaneeta Borah

2. Royal Thai Cooking Class at Blue Elephant

Anyone in Thailand who is passionate about cooking looks up to the Blue Elephant Cooking School and Restaurant. Started by renowned Chef Nooror Somany Steppe and nestled in a beautiful, old Thai Chine Building, this is where you can learn the secrets of Royal Thai Cuisine and discover all the fragrant ingredients and pastes that go into the making of Thai curries and stir-fries. They offer a range of classes to suit your needs - Morning Cooking Class, Corporate Cooking, Carving Class, and Ancient Thai Cuisine Cooking Course where you learn to create 10 of Thai cuisine's long-forgotten dishes.

We enrolled ourselves for the Morning Cooking Class, which included a guided tour of the market to learn about the local ingredients and a first-hand experience of cooking four popular Thai dishes in their well-equipped kitchen set-up - Mango and Shrimp Salad, Stir-fried Snapper in Thai Spices, Thai Chicken Soup in coconut milk, and Stir-fried Mushrooms. The whole class took about three and a half hours, was fun and interactive, and we learnt many tricks to perfecting our dishes. This was followed by a sit-down lunch to savour all the dishes we made, as well as get to interact with our classmates to learn about their home cuisines and tips and tricks of cooking. Don't forget to browse through the Blue Elephant boutique, where you can pick up Thai pastes, sauces and other local ingredients, as well as Thai crockery to add to your cooking experience.

Price: 3,296 Baht Address: 233 South Sathorn Road, Kwaeng Yannawa, Khet Sathorn, Bangkok Tel: +662 673 9353-8(Also read: From Galangal to Basil: Spices That Make Thai Food So Healthy)

Photo Credit: Plavaneeta Borah

3. The Art of Fruit Carving with Airbnb Experiences

If you are familiar with Thai food, you would have noticed the marvellous range of garnishes that accompany the dishes. Fruits and vegetables are carved skilfully to represent exquisite leaves and flowers, so perfect that it's almost unbelievable. Well, this is their ancient art of carving, which the Thais take great pride in. To try our hands at it, we signed up for a fruit carving class through Airbnb experiences. Yes, along with booking a stay at local homes, you can also discover exciting local food experiences through this popular online platform. In India too, they have a range of experiences you can take part in.

Our host and teacher Waewmanee, who is incredibly warm and encouraging, took us through the basics of carving in the three and a half hour session, which also included a fun trip in a tuk tuk to the local market to pick the right type of fruits. We started off with Level 1, which included easy steps to carving spring onions, red peppers and tomatoes into flowers, moving on the Level 2, where we learnt to carve cucumber into a palm leaf and a melon into a rose. Level 3 got a little tough, but gave us a great sense of accomplishment as we carved out a watermelon into a lotus. All along Waew was unbelievably patient, correcting our mistakes and making the art of carving surprising easy. It's a great way to learn a new skill as well as hear tales of Thailand's food and culture.

Photo Credit: Plavaneeta Borah

4. A Trip to Bang Nam Pheung Floating Market at Bang Kachao

Known as the lungs of Bangkok, Bang Kachao is a little island that is a short boat ride away from mainland Bangkok. It is like an urban oasis, which is bustling during weekends and you can discover local, street-side eateries as well as chill at quirky restaurants and cafes amidst bamboo tress and other green cover. Unlike Bangkok, here you can enjoy nature's beauty as you cycle through the winding lanes to the market area called Bang Nam Pheung Floating Market or hop on a bike taxi. There's also a park called Sri Nakhon Khuan Khan Park for you to explore if you seek more nature.

Bang Nam Pheung Floating Market is a paradise for food lovers, housing numerous stalls where you can go and treat yourself to local Thai food - satays, seafood balls, noodle soups like Kuay Teow Tom Yum, Thai puddings, rose cookies, fried rice, stir-fried meat dishes like Moo Pad Prik Yuak (stir-fried pork with banana peppers), Thai soup, and lots more. The market is extensive and you can get your hands on local spices, snacks, home décor, lamps and lightings, crockery, clothes, shoes and bags at very affordable prices. It's definitely worth a visit to get away from the high rises of Bangkok and into the lap of nature.

How to Get There: Take a taxi to Wat Khlong Toey Nok in the Khlong Toey area of Bangkok. Walk towards the river dock and take a boat to Bang Kachao, which will cost you 20 Baht one way. At Bang Kachao, you can hire bicycles or hop on a bike taxi to visit the market.(Also read: 6 Local Markets You Must Visit in India if You Love Food)

Photo Credit: Plavaneeta Borah

5. Night Life at JJ Market or Chatuchak Weekend Market

JJ Market is the most lively weekend market in Bangkok, also known as Chatuchak Weekend Market, which will remind you of flea markets. It is the place to be during weekends to get a taste of the local culture, as well as indulge in local food, drink and shop. While Bangkok is not devoid of trendy bars, but the experience of hanging around in the many quirky watering holes that dot this market is a hard to forget. You will love the vibe and the bohemian theme of the place, and the live performances (though quite loud at times) will ensure that you are having a gala time till late hours of the night. Here too you can try and sample the local food through the various stalls or head to the many restaurants and bars that offer ramen, noodles, sushi, as well as global food.

It is open from Thursday to Sunday only, so plan accordingly.

Add: 587/10, 2 Khwaeng Chatuchak, Khet Chatuchak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, Bangkok

Photo Credit: Plavaneeta Borah

6. Street Food and Shopping Spree at Chinatown

If you are up for exploring Chinatown then make sure you dedicate an entire day for it because there's much to see and do. Various places across the globe may have a Chinatown but Bangkok's one is considered to be the largest. The remarkable amalgamation of Chinese and Thai cultures is evident in this part of the city. If you love ancient architecture, then make a note to go and see the Wat Traimit where resides the largest gold Buddha in the world, the China Gate at the western entrance, the Wat Mangkon Kamalawat or Dragon Lotus Temple and Romaneenart Park. For food lovers, every nook and corner houses eateries and food stalls that will thrill your tastebuds.

Yaowarat Road is a must-visit, especially at night to try the spectacular range of street food, ranging from dim sum and noodles to ice creams and exotic fruits. Sweets lovers shouldn't miss the Old Siam Plaza, which is housed in an attractive Art Deco complex. Here you can sample traditional Thai-Chinese sweets (with very complicated names) to your heart's content. For your shopping needs head to Sampang Lane, which is no doubt overly crowded but worth its while. If dealing with the noise and the crowd gets to you, then find the Grand China Princess Revolving Rooftop Bar and let your hair down while you sip on smashing cocktails and enjoy the view.

Add: 6 Yaowarat Road, Samphanthawong, Bangkok

Photo Credit: Istock/ Aluxum

7. Sundowner at Rooftop Bars - Vertigo Grill and Moon Bar

Bangkok is a city of high rises, so one of the best ways of enjoying the city is to head to one of the many rooftop bars for sundowners. The panoramic view is breath-taking, and you can lounge around with friends sipping on heady cocktails and biting into fresh grills and seafood to unwind and relax. Vertigo Grill and Moon Bar at the Banyan Tree Hotel is currently a hot favourite, along with Lebua (from the Hangover 2 movie fame) and Above Eleven Bar. For those in the mood to tap their feet, hang around till later when the beats are turned up.

Add: Banyan Tree Bangkok, 21/100 S Sathorn Rd, Yan Nawa, Khet Sathon, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon

Can you really eat and enjoy a 22-course dinner? - Recipes

Chef Josh Skenes’ Sungold tomato stunner at Saison.

San Francisco’s Saison might just be the ultimate pop-up success story ever.

In 2009, it started humbly enough as a once-a-week pop-up in the rear part of the casual Stable Cafe in the Mission District. It featured the uncanny juxtaposition of Chef Josh Skenes’ high-concept food and Sommelier Mark Bright’s exceptional wines in proper Riedel stemware contrasted with jeans-clad servers attending to guests seated in slat-style garden-variety chairs at bare-bones wooden tables.

Fast forward to 2013, where it’s has not only been transported to a different part of town, but now holds the distinction of being the priciest restaurant in the city. Its tasting menu will set you back $248 per person. If you want wine pairings, that”ll be another $148 per person.

Perhaps you saw Bon Appetit magazine’s September edition, in which it named Saison as one of “America’s Best New Restaurants.” The insightful story broke out why the restaurant costs run so high: The custom build-out of the kitchen and dining room? $2.8 million. Food costs per week? $15,000. The four tanks that hold live seafood? Also $15,000. The meat aging room? $40,000. The wood-burning hearth? $50,000. That hand-made dinner plate you’re eating off of? $300. The Levi’s-designed cook’s uniforms? $500 each. And that cashmere throw provided if you get chilly? You guessed it — $500.

And the place seats only 32.

Skenes just before the start of service.

Chef Gabriel Kreuther of The Modern in New York City.

This week, Saison added even more luster — if that’s possible — by hosting five renowned chefs, each cooking alongside Skenes on a different night to create a 12-course tasting menu for a spendy $500 per person.

Tuesday, it was Chef Laurent Gras, formerly of L20 in Chicago and the Fifth Floor in San Francisco. Thursday, it was Chef Matthew Lightner of Atera in New York City. Tonight, it’ll be Chef Guenter Seeger, who owned Seeger’s in Atlanta. Saturday will wrap up with Chef John Shields, previously of Town House in Virgina.

I was lucky enough to be invited as a guest of the restaurant at the Wednesday dinner that featured Chef Gabriel Kreuther of The Modern in New York City.

The long dining room with the open kitchen at the back.

The bank of refrigerators that flank tables in the dining room.

Dining at Saison is a unique experience, most notably because the large kitchen is not only completely open, but the tables are mere steps away. A wall of refrigerators, their thermostats set at different temperatures, flanks one side of the dining room, so periodically, you might see a cook open the door of one to reach inside for additional ingredients. What’s also striking is just how calm and quiet the kitchen is. Even with two head chefs in the kitchen that night cooking a medley of courses, it seemed as if every movement was effortless.

In place of the former jeans attire, servers are now spiffed up in slim-cut gray suits. In a nod to Skenes’ penchant for a more relaxed dining atmosphere, though, his favorite 󈨔s tunes can be heard emanating from speakers in the kitchen. So, you’ll enjoy a little Steve Winwood, Elton John and Bruce Springsteen with your meal.

Dinner began with an aperitif of sake that had been infused with Japanese seaweed. I’d never tasted anything quite like it. It’s floral and almond-like as it hits your palate, then finishes almost mushroomy.

Skenes started off the night with a dramatic white dish with the tiniest divot to hold a treasure of white sturgeon caviar atop a bed of intense tasting grilled tomato gelee, creamy corn and okra. The gelee almost surpassed the caviar as the star of the dish with its smoky, sweet, acidic tomato brightness.

Kreuther’s first dish was a stunner, too: tiny cabbage parcels, each snuggled inside a porcelain replica of a oyster shell. Bite into it to find the surprise burst of briny plumpness from the oyster within.

Tomatoes starred again in Skene’s Sungold tomatoes with smoked tomatillo consomme. He is incredibly deft with broths — creating delicate pools of liquid that look so weightless yet carry a load of complex flavor.

A fanciful applewood-smoked sturgeon tart.

A glass dome covers Kreuther’s next dish as it’s brought to the table. When it’s lifted, you smell the applewood smoke that was used to smoke the sturgeon in his Alsatian sauerkraut tart that arrives with a center as creamy as pudding. It’s haute comfort food that you can imagine eating in front of a fire place, albeit at a four-star hotel in the Alps.

Monterey abalone has never been so tender and completely void of any chewiness as in Skenes’ next dish. The abalone is grilled for less than 2 minutes over embers. Then it’s served with artichokes, pickled kelp and a broth made from the abalone’s liver, which gives it a heightened umami note.

Alsatian rabbit dumplings.

King crab poached in sea water.

Kreuther’s Alsatian dumplings have a gossamer pasta-like exterior and a fluffy filling of rabbit. A swipe of sweet, nutty sunchoke puree, a tiny ice plant and chanterelles round out the satisfying dish.

The two chefs assembling a dish.

I’ve never been much of a fan of king crab. Maybe too many bad Las Vegas buffet experiences have dimmed my opinion. But in Skenes’ hands, I finally discover the appeal of this crustacean. The flesh, poached in sea water, is pillowy. A broth of blood limes, ginger and yogurt is so fragrant and reminiscent of the flavors of a Thai lemongrass-infused soup.

Half a dozen Parker House rolls arrive next. It takes everything in me not to inhale them all because they are warm and soft as can be. Alongside is house-churned Straus butter that has a bit of lovely funk with its almost cheese-like taste.

Irresistible Parker House rolls.

Bright made a run to the airport bright and early that morning to pick up the main ingredient in Kreuther’s next dish: langoustines flown in live from Scotland. The body meat is finished with a smoky chorizo sauce. The teeniest radish and turnip, complete with their greens, are there to be dipped in the kohlrabi puree. Suck out the juices from the langoustine head and you’ll be rewarded with a warm towel from the server for your efforts.

Langoustine flown in that morning from Scotland.

Skenes’ next dish looks like dessert with its head of cappuccino-like foam, but it’s not that at all. Not when it has beer, milk, bread and duck liver with an airy mousse-like texture. Take a taste and it’s a little sweet, a little savory, and almost coffee-toffee-like.

Kreuther finishes the savory courses with Mangalitsa pork neck. My husband was speechless for the first two two bites, only managing to murmer, “Mmmm” and “Ohhh” before cutting off another morsel. The heirloom pork was rippled with fat, which tells you all you need to know about how good it was. After all, fat is flavor. And this had that in spades. Curlicues of the tiniest chicharrons shattered in one bite. A round ravioli had a clever wrapper of the thinnest slices of soppresseta that had been crisped up to almost resemble pastry on first glance.

Then, it was on to sweets. Not one, not two, but a parade of them. First, a raspberry marshmallow sorbet swirled into a mini beehive that hid a center of Meyer lemon curd for a zingy palate awakening.

Raspberry marshmallow sorbet.

Next, a study in buckwheat: The most perfectly shaped quenelle of buckwheat ice cream sprinkled with toasted buckwheat arrived with a puffy buckwheat souffle. You puncture the souffle and drop the ice cream into it. The result is the flavor of Japan in a French dessert. It’s toasty, nutty and slightly earthy, and refreshingly restrained in sweetness. To cap it all off, a server comes by to pour cups of hot toasted buckwheat tea.

The accompanying buckwheat souffle and buckwheat tea.

That was followed by one-bite tartlettes of passion fruit and milk chocolate sprinkled with chives. I can’t say I necessarily tasted the chives in the chocolate, but the pairing was inventive.

And truffles that absolutely positively have to eaten in one bite.

Molten truffles must be eaten in one bite, lest you end up wearing some of it on your chin. The craggy, chocolate exteriors are as thin as can be. But instead of thick ganache inside, there is a completely liquid center of vanilla that floods your mouth. Wow.

Sizeable caneles arrive in a box that smells delightfully of cinnamon. The pastries have that wonderful, deeply caramelized, crisp exterior that gives way to a custardy, bread pudding-like interior.

Caneles in a fragrant cinnamon box.

Before you depart, a fancifully wrapped brioche is delivered for you to enjoy for breakfast the next morning. The cellophane is closed with a red wax seal bearing the design of a flame.

Spain 2015: We Are Ham Eaters!

April 10, 2016

Lunch at Casa Roman on a pleasantly sunny afternoon under a bright blue sky.

The first leg of our adventure behind us, we left Madrid on a brisk, sunny morning via high-speed train, southbound for Sevilla.

After a 2 1/2-hour journey through a tawny landscape stippled with olive trees, we detrained, collected our bags and met Sebastian, who along with Dorothy had orchestrated our trip. He led us out of the cavernous station into glaring sunlight, where we boarded Sevilla’s version of the Weismobile and headed to the hotel. The stunning Corral del Rey occupies a restored 17th-century casa palacio in the city’s old quarter. After checking in, we tried to orient ourselves. Sebastian’s advice: Drop a pin on your phone’s map to find your way through the city’s ancient labyrinthine passageways. Modern-day breadcrumbs.

Jamon Iberico curing over the bar inside Casa Roman.

After a short respite, we strolled to la Plaza Venerables for lunch. At Casa Roman, waiters arranged a long table on the square in the shadow of the imposing Hospital de los Venerables. Once a home to priests, today the building houses a research center devoted to the work of famed Spanish painter Diego Velázquez.

Pitchers of ruby-red Sangria appeared, along with a couple of bottles of fresh, fruity Albariño. Soon the table was laden with salty cheese, fried cuttlefish, crispy dogfish croquetas, earthy artichoke hearts, tangy Salmorejo and, of course, thin slices of jamón Ibérico with its distinctive ribboning of rich fat.

Inside the restaurant, sweating lobes of Ibérico hung curing above the bar, a familiar scene in our travels. In Toledo, we had asked Gerry why jamón was so ubiquitous. He explained that in medieval times, pork was plentiful and easy to preserve, but it also served an important cultural function. If a Christian found himself needing to prove his religious affiliation, he would eat pork, which is forbidden to pious Muslims and Jews. “See? I am a ham eater!”

Jamón Ibérico appears on nearly every menu as a standalone snack or appetizer. At Casa Roman, it’s incorporated into practically every other dish, too. It was clear: In Spain, jamón is royalty. And during our lunch at Casa Roman, the refrain never rang truer: “We are ham eaters!”

One Bowl S’mores Brownies

Greetings, humans. I woke up with a lot of energy this morning, weirdly enough. That honestly never happens and I’ll hit snooze on my alarm until well past when I should. I suppose I’m well rested from having a pretty low-key weekend, and I didn’t go out on Sunday, which I’ve been doing for some reason the past couple of weeks and it always leads to me dragging my ass come Monday. I probably wanted to squeeze in as much

as possible before the end of summer, but I’m looking out my window this morning and it’s absolutely gorgeous. The high is supposed to be 77 degrees today and the sky is impossibly blue. Nothing gold can stay, of course, and I think it’s going to rain for much of the rest of the week, but we have our windows open right now so I’ll take what I can. On Friday night, we went to our friend’s apartment in Park Slope to play Settlers of Catan. The house won the game (this time – I will beat them eventually), but it was a really fun night and got to be a bit close there between Kramer and our friend Russ. On Saturday, we slept in a bit, lounged on the couch while watching a little TV, then made our way over to The Meathook Sandwich Shop to pick up classic Italian subs (and one roast beef) to bring over to our friend Tom and Valerie’s house. You see, Tom and Val just had their baby and as pregnant women are cautioned not to eat cured or smoked meats, my M.O. when I see a new mother is to bring her a giant Italian sandwich with all the fixings. It’s because I care. About meats. Anyway, we spent the day meeting the new baby while Tom made us piña coladas – not too shabby. I used to work with Valerie at a hedge fund when we were both admins (i.e. she knew what she was doing and it was my first real New York job). We’ve been friends for just over four years now, but it feels like we’ve always known each other. Sometimes you really luck out with the people you end up meeting, and Val’s one of those people that I felt an immediate connection with. Thankfully, we’re both out of the hedge fund game now and it’s so exciting to see her and Tom starting their own little family. I even got called Aunt Sydney, which probably would have scared the crap out of me a few years ago, but now? I kind of like the sound of it! I always thought I’d be a cool aunt.

My beautiful friend Valerie.

A few weeks ago, before Val had the baby (obviously), she asked if I’d take a few photos of her while she was still pregnant. I was thrilled. I shoot food 99.9% of the time, so my pictures-of-people skills aren’t really that great, but practice makes perfect and if Val was okay being my guinea pig, then so be it. I rented a fun tilt-shift lens and we spent the day walking around the Long Island City waterfront taking pictures while I tried to “direct”, by which I mean I made a bunch of stupid jokes and tried to make her laugh while also forcing her husband Tom to jump in a couple shots. I’m really happy with how these turned out. Val is clearly gorgeous, pregnant or otherwise, so that made things pretty easy, but she seemed so happy and excited to be a mom that her good spirits made getting a smile out of her a piece of cake. I hope I can convince more people to let me take a couple of photos of them some time soon, and Val and Tom seemed to like these, so there’s nowhere to go but up!

I believe that this is the last of my graham cracker recipe series. There’s been s’mores cinnamon rolls, a mocha ice box cake, paletas, snickerdoodles and a chocolate peanut butter pie. For the final recipe, I wanted to share something that I love – brownies. I’d prefer brownies over a cookie or a piece of cake (the only thing I love more is pie, which has also been well documented here). I adore thick, chewy, fudgey brownies in particular. I want a brownie that calls out of a big, cold glass of milk to wash it all down. These are those brownies. The graham cracker streusel is only a bonus, and the gooey marshmallows make for an excellent s’more brownie, indeed. I’m especially proud of the streusel. Why not just replace all of the flour in an ordinary streusel with ground up graham crackers? I had trouble not just spooning the streusel directly into my mouth – maybe go ahead and make a little extra to sprinkle on your morning oatmeal or yogurt, or your evening ice cream (because we all need evening ice cream). While the graham cracker saga is coming to an end, I think that you’ll remember these recipes for at least a while longer…or until you’ve hit the gym a few times. You’re welcome.

22 Courses in the Berkeley hotel , Knightsbridge , London

I`ve eaten quite a few meals over the years in a number of high key restaurants scattered all around the UK.Some bad meals , lots of good ones and a “couple” of top of the ladder ones. I say “couple” because only that amount stand out to me as food memories which will last a lifetime.Nico Ladenis at Ninety park lane started me off back in the Nineties ( 1993 i think ) and his “tasting menu” consisting of several Nico classics had me knocked off my feet at the time. The menu now hangs framed on my wall as an everlasting reminder of Nico , a culinary legend in a restaurant that was very short lived and now stands firmly in the history books of legendary master chefs.Seventeen years have since passed by and many more enjoyable restaurant treats came my way,but unfortunately nothing as memorable as Nico…. until summer 2010 when my next super meal was experienced. I sat down and ate 30 courses cooked for me by Simon Rogan at Lenclume in Cartmel ,Cumbria. 30 courses of fresh , wild , foraged and home grown ingredients , new tastes , textures and flavours which i had never experienced before and although a totally different style of cuisine , it gave me the very same buzz as the Nico meal. ( click HERE to see the lenclume meal ) .This Rogan experience was followed only weeks later by a fantastic lunch cooked for me by Aiden Byrne at the Hillbark hotel near Liverpool , a luxury trip through some of Europes finest produce expertly cooked by Aiden and his team.( Click HERE to see the meal ) Unfortunately Aiden left Hillbark shortly after my visit so i now count myself as one of the fortunate few to have ever experienced Aidens personalised touch in such a grand location as Hillbark…Ill never forget those delights.
So , only three meals of such a high calibre in 35 years of dining out…until time came around for my birthday treat , August 19th 2011 and dinner at Marcus wareing at the Berkeley hotel in London…..Now , problem is , where and how do i possibly begin to start to describe this heavenly experience ? , i`m in dreamy mode even now looking at the menu from my wonderful evening and wondering where the hell to start. – Ok , so i`ll start with the star of the show , chef Mr James Knappett.
James Knappett was going to be cooking my dinner , Marcus Wareing was elsewhere so James was leading the kitchen brigade as the head chef .James has an amazing pedigree and when i read the impressive list of restaurants that he`d worked in i was really excited at the thought of what he would be cooking for us.Thomas Kellers “Per Se” in New york , Gordon Ramsay , Rick Stein and 2 years in the kitchens of the `worlds Number one` restaurant – Noma in Copenhagen…WOW , i was wondering what James was capable of whilst in charge of the Berkeley kitchen team. I had already been studying the Menus for a couple of weeks prior to my dinner there. I could see influences of Noma straight away on the various menus that Marcus and James had created together.Marcus specialising very much in classic cuisine ( ex Gordon Ramsay ) married up with James`s wild and modern twist of flowers , hedgrow , seashore , wild and foraged produce.Part and parcel of chefs daily chores whilst working at Noma was their daily forage in the countryside and then creating a menu around what was available that day . So what an amazing combination they had at the Berkeley kitchen, both of classic mixed with modern, exactly what i love so much in cuisine.When i dine out , i want to be eating Lobster , foie gras , truffles , reduced sauces etc etc .Im very much old school in my tastebuds but i also get off on the modern twists of food “from nature to plate” , Simon Rogan and Lenclume for instance.So my meal with James would be very much of a cross between the two….or so i hoped.

We arrived at the Berkeley hotel in Knightsbridge at 7.30 , perfect timing for fantastic cocktails in the hotels “Blue bar” , a well known celebrity destination hang out.It was to be a long night of eating , 5 hours to be precise so time to relax , enjoy the friendly faces and prepare for the feast that lay ahead. Shortly after we were greeted and ushered through to the Restaurant , it was stunning , all with a Burgundy / Aubergine theme….and very…..very…..very dark.Ohhh dear , my immediate thought straight away was ” My photos “.The restaurant really was so badly lit that i doubted that even my trusty little well researched Panasonic Lumix LX5 wouldnt be able to save the day. I had flashbacks to my night taking photos in `The Witchery` in Edinburgh , the fantastic Gothic restaurant lit only by candlelight…which was so dark i had to read the menu with my phone light. I had horrific thoughts , the Berkeley restaurant lighting wasn`t quite as bad but it was still going to be a nightmare to use a camera – with no flash. I asked one of the staff if they could turn up the lighting over my table but i was politely informed that it wasn`t possible as all the restaurant lighting would increase…Ahh well , onwards and upwards and ill try and make the very best of a bad job and then let photoshop save the day on my computer….as it did with the Witchery photos ( click HERE to view ) ….Its a lifesaving computer programme sent from the heavens .
And so the food started to arrive , as you can see from the photos below , photoshop actually worked its magic and managed to turn dark and grainy photos into something not far from acceptable.Next time i go to the Berkeley then ill do Lunch , sit beside a window and get some decent light on the plates , wait and see the difference.Little appetiser treats from the chef arrived one by one – Aubergine tart , / Grilled Quails hearts , / Pickled egg , caviar and Pigs skin , / Pineapple weed , Scottish Scallop in pickled Cucumber , grape , Lime mayonnaise. / Dorset Crab , Avocado puree , tomato , pickled vegetables , pickled Chilli , coriander

Pickled egg , caviar and Pigs skin

Pineapple weed , Scottish Scallop in pickled Cucumber , grape , Lime mayonnaise.

Dorset Crab , Avocado puree , tomato , pickled vegetables , pickled Chilli , coriander

Creamed Foie Gras , caramelised milk tuile, fresh cobnuts, blackberries and Hyssop

Burrata “stretched” Mozarella , Malted crumbs , cherries and onions.

Summer “Vegetable patch” – Pickled Damsons , pea puree , turnip , baby carrots , Elderflowers , soft Goats curd and Elderflower dressing.

Butter poached Scottish Lobster,Quails egg ,Nori Seaweed powder,buttered cabbageVinegar.

Girolles , Herb Pappardelli , Chickweed , Purslane , Truffle butter and Fresh Truffle from Tuscany.

Now was the start of the fish experience.The waiter came over to my table with a big smile on his face….” and now James is going to give you a little tour through the Cornish fishing industrys catch of the day” , starting with Cornish Mackerel , Smoked Paprika , Paprika oil , Sweetcorn puree , Grated Zests , Parmesan , coriander , Lime puree.

Cornish Line caught Sea bass with 7 textures of Cauliflower , pine nuts , flaked Almonds , sauce Polonaise , Purslaine

Cornish Turbot , New potatoes , Green Strawberries , courgette and Coastal herbs.

Wood pigeon , Turnip , cabbage , Chocolate sauce , pigeon jus

Cumbrian Lamb with Japanese Rose petals , Yoghurt and charred Leeks.

Beef , Smoked Bone marrow , Hogweed seeds , Grilled courgette , cucumber , Raspberries and Nasturtiums. The best main course of my life, no two ways about it.The beef melted , it was so tender.The smokiness of the bone marrow paired up with the tartness of the raspberries , the reduced sauce ….Ohhhh it was a gift from heaven.I actually eat most of this course with my eyes closed , never ever experiencing flavours like this before.I finished the plate of food badly wanting more I noticed that my partner had one last piece left on her plate…”darling …please..cmon it`s my bithday” , and so followed one last fork full of ecstasy….who need drugs ?

Broken down Pina Colada , Pineapple sorbet , Rum and different textures of Coconut.

Caramelised apple parfait , Bramley apple jelly and sorbet , pearl barley and cinnamon.

“Hay” creme brulee , Strawberries , Sweet cicely , Malt crumbs

Caramel sundae with different textures of Caramel , Yoghurt and Malt.

Liquorice cake , Smoked milk ice cream , fresh pear and wood Sorrel.

Sea Buckthorn mousse in Milk chocolate….My special birthday cake .

And some yummy chocs to take away back to the hotel

So….to summarise my 22 course dinner by James Knappett @ Marcus Wareing @ The Berkeley…..Spoken from the heart as an `impartial diner` – First of all the negative points….or should i just say `point` ?….The restaurant lighting.The lighting was horrendous for anyone who enjoys taking pics of their meal , flash photography isnt allowed in the restaurant in respect for other diners.So bloggers and lovers of food , and those wanting to show off their wonderful meal on their phones or cameras have to rely on the restaurants available light. Far more importantly the food is so amazing and pleasing to the eye that i personally feel that it needs to be proudly presented in all of its glory.Take for example the `summer vegetable patch` , it was visually beautiful , a work of art on the plate but sadly couldnt be seen to its full potential and beauty because of the poor lighting , same for the rest of the food. So c`mon Berkeley and tweak the lighting levels up “just a wee bit”.
As for the good points….Ohhhhhh i`m gonna struggle here ha ha….Well for a start, no two ways about it I ate 3 star Michelin food, ….I ate James Knappetts 3 star Michelin food.This guy is so talented he blew me away with his innovative , perfectly cooked and faultless food….Words fail me right now but theres no doubting that this guy is going places, he`s cooking up there with the best 3 star chefs in Europe and its only a matter of time before his name is up in lights.There you go…Summed up in a couple of lines.I`m a happy diner , im a happy blogger and hopefully my photos and words will portray what an amazing dining experience we had at the the Berkeley. Marcus…You`re leaving your kitchen in very good hands.
I cant end this piece without thanking the front of house team.It makes a world of difference to see people smiling and it seems that everyone at the restaurant was doing just that.It`s evident that everyone is happy at the Berkeley and that came over during service. A quick look inside the kitchen ( By then it was 01:15am ) and a big thank you to Chef James and the team and we had to make our excuses to leave and let the lads all get back to their beds……Seeing as though they were all back up again at 07:00…..Ohhhhh No….Life as a young chef.Thanks also to our Sommelier , a lovely guy with some beautiful wines…and yet again , a mini education for myself in pairing wine with food….Cheers.



  1. Tacage


  2. Athmore

    Well, what next?

  3. Tuhn

    This is the mistake.

  4. Mogal

    It is remarkable, it is the valuable information

  5. Leman

    I am firmly convinced that you are wrong. Time will show.

Write a message