10 Comments January 26, 2013

Favorite Drip Coffee of 2012

The Coffee Collective

A Collective Post of Multiple Locations 

I’m taking a break from espresso. I can’t remember the last time I ordered one at a cafe or attempted to make it. At home, my Rancilio Silvia with PID kit has been collecting dust for almost a year. There are simply too many variables: time, temperature, pressure, grind size, tamping uniformity, etc., which need to be re-adjusted continuously throughout the day as the environment changes. It’s not that I don’t like espresso, but it’s too temperamental a drink; it’s inconsistent, even for the best barista.

Espresso is a hobbyist’s drink: an oftentimes futile quest for perfection. The perfect shot is unlikely to be found at a high-volume store as the variables are too many and difficult to control. For me, 2012 was the year of drip coffee. Coffee shops started to take pride in their filter coffee instead of it being an afterthought to the espresso machine. Some shops, mostly in the United States, are regularly calibrating their extraction with a refractometer.

4 Comments January 16, 2013

Favorite Dishes of 2012

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A Collective Post of Multiple Locations 

In compiling this list, I faced the difficult task of choosing dishes that stood out on their own, outside the context of the meals in which they appeared. My favorite dishes from this year are very different from my favorite meals, which can be viewed here.

For me, 2012 was an incredible year. It brought me from Noma to Sukiyabashi Jiro, from Tickets to Saison and Masa. Nearly 200 Michelin stars later, 2012 was the most diverse eating year of my life. But despite the many dishes I’ve consumed (and pounds I’ve gained) in fine-dining restaurants, the dishes that stick out in my mind this year are the simplest ones. Not the caviar and foie gras from Europe, but rather the shellfish tostadas from Mexico’s Baja peninsula and fresh fish from Tokyo.

Of all the places I’ve visited this year, these are the dishes that particularly stood out ranked one through twenty five.

4 Comments January 04, 2013

Favorite Meals of 2012

Best Meals of 2012

A Collective Post of Multiple Locations 

There is no question that 2012 was the best eating year of my life, with experiences in places ranging from Copenhagen to Kyoto. To create this list, I examined the dining experience as a whole, factoring in the progression of dishes and overall story they told. I can only hope 2013 will bring as much culinary excitement as this past year has.

One theme that links my top 10 meals of 2012 is the focus on intensification of flavor. Cooking with fats is not the only way to maximize flavor. The Japanese intensify flavor by aging, cooking over a wood-burning fire, or using a pure umami-rich dashi broth. In Denmark, many of my best dishes were served raw or still alive. This theme, a focus on intensifying an ingredient’s natural flavor, led to a reduction of fats being used in the cooking process of many dishes. An unintentional side effect of this is the health benefit of lighter cooking. Chef Joshua Skenes of Saison, for example, didn’t even realize he was cooking without butter. The Japanese have been doing this for thousands of years, but recently other restaurants like Relae and 41 grados have sprung up embodying similar principles.

No Comments October 05, 2012

MAD 2012 w/ Enrique Olvera

MAD 2012 Presentation

Copenhagen, Denmark, Official Website

Mexican cuisine remains one of the most interesting cuisines in the world, and is finally starting to get the attention that it deserves. This past July, I had the honor of introducing my close friend Enrique Olvera of Mexico City’s Pujol at the MAD 2012 conference in Copenhagen. Below is the video of our presentation, as well as the transcript.

Enrique Olvera:

Good afternoon everyone, I would like to first thank Rene, Ali and all the staff at noma and MAD for the hospitality and opportunity to share our work in one of the most exciting food events in the world.

I would also like to introduce you to Alex Dzib, alex has been part of our family for a few years now and he will be assisting me in the cooking demo.

And last, but defenetly no least is Mr. Adam Goldberg, a foodwriter from NY that has visited Pujol at least twenty times in the past year. So because I can be as objective about my cuisine as my mother can be objective about me and because he has beaten the record of most visits in a year, I wanted instead to let Adam talk about his experience at Pujol and I will talk about our thought processes a bit later.

9 Comments April 26, 2012

Pujol Revisited

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Francisco Petrarca 254, México D.F., México, Official Website

What is authentic Mexican cuisine? Ancient dishes like bírria, menudo, and chochinita pibil are the easiest to categorize as authentic because of their age, but what about colonial dishes like chiles en nogada or mole poblano? Tacos al pastor and tacos de pescado were brought to Mexico even more recently by Lebanese and Japanese immigrants. Are these dishes still “Mexican?” The more recent the dish, the trickier it becomes to call it authentic. Unless of course, we agree that Mexican cuisine is constantly evolving with new dishes being created all the time.

In this sense, Pujol has evolved significantly since my first visit in 2010. It is now not only a restaurant that recreates ancient dishes, but a restaurant that pushes Mexican cuisine forward by creating new ones. In the beginning Pujol looked inward at Mexico’s rich culinary history, cataloging, studying, and improving upon very old dishes. Pujol still does this but with more confidence, now looking outward as well, placing one of the oldest cuisines into the context of international dining.