Category: Culinary Arts

A Week in Paris, Part 2 (of 4): Madeleines in Reverse

April 22nd, 2010

     If you travel to Paris an ascetic, you come back an epicure. If you go there an epicure, you come back a hedonist. And if, god help you, you go to Paris a hedonist, well, you’re not coming back. Come the hour of departure you’ll be gobbling ganache in the back-room of some confectionery, rifling through rues for one last macaron shop, or just sitting in some square, serenely feasting on the fresh memory of how a tomato or chanterelle or asparagus spear startled you into new recognition of a food you thought could not surprise you.
     Of course, we do come back — bellies full, livers bruised — but some part of us never really does in quite the same way; this of course holds true for any place we visit that deeply moves us. We come back with some faculty or sense transformed, and that changed part of us is perhaps the most satisfying souvenir we can hope for when we travel. Maybe it’s the texture of the pillars in the Place de la Concorde or the brocade wall-coverings in Versailles that gives us new eyes; maybe it’s a week of being balmed in the honey of spoken French that gives us new ears. Maybe some lingering walk through the medieval Ancien Cloître Quartier‘s street-tangle awakens us to history, opens it within us like a nova, revealing to us the depth of ages, a gift of an awakened sense of what has preceded us. All these things and more were true to some extent for me, but the simplest way I’ve come to feel altered by Paris is in my relationship to food, drink, and all the collected table pleasures of texture, vision, taste and smell.
 (Read More . . .)

[posted by: C Way at 6:26 PM]

[file under: Culinary Arts ||| non-fiction & essays]

Stinking Bishop Cheese: The Blessed Bludgeon

July 7th, 2008

Part 1: What Rankled

Stinking Bishop is a soft, creamy cheese from the U.K, made from the milk of Gloucester cattle:

stinking bishop cheese

It is also liquefied death in the nose. Old flyblown duck embryos. Warm hippo eye stuffed with fermented melon rind.

When I was six or seven, while walking to 7-11 to buy candy and Garbage Pail Kids, I decided to take a detour through a gravel ditch running parallel to a newly-built shopping center. Suddenly, before my nostrils had even registered what was happening, I reeled, and I saw at my feet, against the blinding-white sunstruck gravel stones, a pale, wet, hairless flesh-lump.

It was a baby bird. It had fallen from its nest and was boiling under the south Florida summer sun, eyes crammed with crawling things.

What I smelled at that moment — that’s basically what catching a waft of this cheese is like.

Odor aside (if one can, even intellectually, shift aside a sensation as brutish as this cheese’s funk), the taste actually offers layered savor: flan, nuttiness, traces of buttery caramel. My senses were confused trying to match up malevolent odor to nuanced taste. But since my senses like all that jostle, I was happy to be lost in the reek/flavor disconnect.

That pleasure didn’t last long though, as the nose coda hit about 5 seconds after the bite: coming back up through the palate and nostrils, haunting the mouth like a nightmare haunts a freshly awoken mind. It was at this point that the briefly-inviting flavor was totally ambushed by the reek. I put my knife down & left the rest of the wedge I had cut untouched: I’d been bested by the Bishop. My tongue hadn’t lolled in enough gutters to lap up & love curd like this.

I drank some water, I drank some lemonade. I ate some mustard on celery. I ate an orange. I bit into an orange peel.

Five more minutes passed. I glanced back at the Bishop. I got nervous. I fidgeted.

Then, automatically, as if in a trance, I reached over and ate the rest of the cheese in one bite.

Part 2: Why I Stay with Stink

What’s wrong with me? I wondered, as I sat there rolling creamy horror around in my mouth.

 (Read More . . .)

[posted by: C Way at 3:12 PM]

[file under: Culinary Arts]
Comments (2)

Sweet, meet Savory: emchocolatier of New York

June 18th, 2008

emchocolatier            emchocolatier

Basil, Balsamic vinegar, chocolate ganache.

Perhaps not flavors that you would think weep to share the same morsel.

But after my first bite of a Basil Balsamic Chocolate Truffle by emChocolatier, I couldn’t imagine anything tasting more harmonious, more singing with sympathy, than these ingredients bound and blended in a little dark bundle. Mouth-bliss.

Ellen Mirsky, owner of EMchocolatier, is clearly a gifted sweetster. She’s also quite seasoned: her website’s C.V. cites Todd English and Pichet Ong (whose P*ong is another study in whimsical and tantalizing flavor-play) as former employers. Her impressive past aside, what she’s doing in the present is wonderful: her artistry in this basil-balsamic truffle winningly showcases the power of spiking sweetness with savory elements. The result is a complex, transporting bouquet of a bite. The rest of her offerings — including chocolate bark, turtles and clusters — show the same adventurousness & spirit: sea salt, fennel and chili are among the flavors and ingredients that regularly show up in her confections.

It’s not often that chocolate makes me really slow down, focus on & wonder about what it is I’m experiencing. These truffles made it happen so often that I felt nearly guilt-ridden from the experience by the time the box was empty. Thank you emChocolatier.
C. Way/ © 2008

[posted by: C Way at 9:37 PM]

[file under: Culinary Arts]
1 Comment

Logan ‘Sleepy Hollow Vineyards’ Pinot Noir, 2005 – Poem-Review

June 5th, 2008

Logan Pinot Noir 2005

It broods in the glass, when I bring the lip of glass under my nose, warmth rises first, thick and sudden, then odor: musky blend of mustard, onion, damp root vegetables. This wine is an owl, old & noble, with ratfur stuck to its talons.

It fills the mouth aggressively, fruit-bitterly, with cherries, prunes, chili. Flakes of chocolate. It bristles & sulks all over the inside of your mouth.

This is a wine that works you into the soil, holds you there in the rooty rich damp, until you feel a hum and churn fill you, created by:

gnarled roots,
flinty secret minerals waiting for light.

C. Way/ © 2008

[posted by: C Way at 8:55 PM]

[file under: Culinary Arts ||| Ekphrasis]

2006 Domaine Bourillon Dorleans Vouvray: Wine Review

June 1st, 2008

Bourillon Vouvray 06

2006 Domaine Bourillon Dorleans Vouvray

Peach held in the Pouch of
Mouth, a Ripe secret,
Like warm Gems palmed
in Pocket,

Fruit opening
as if by Molars' edge
to sweet-sharp Bloom
in Throat

C. Way/ © 2008

[posted by: C Way at 11:39 PM]

[file under: Culinary Arts ||| Ekphrasis]