Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Reader Discretion Advised

written by Andrea Scalici
In the Land of the Free where we eat what we please, it is hard to imagine using more of a product than the same ol’ thigh, breast, or wing. But all over the world, cutting up a fish or animal and using every single part is common practice.. While the varieties run the gamut, I have broken it down so it’s easier to stomach. Blood, Brains, Body, and Booze. (Reader discretion advised…)


In places like Hungary, Trinidad, Sweden, China, and all over Europe, pig’s blood is used for dishes such as blood and eggs, blood pudding – much like rice pudding –, blood dumplings, jellied blood, and of course, blood sausage (the only food my brother doesn’t like), all respectively. Blood sausage is known and Boudin in France and Blutwurst in Germany so be sure to know what you are ordering.


Not only used for thinking, but also for nourishment, who woulda thought?! Right here in the U.S. of A. dishes like squirrel brain grace tables in the South. Other places in the world enjoy calf’s brains, or tete de veau, in France; sheep’s head, called smalahove, in Sweden; and cow brains, made into “tacos sesos”, in Mexico.


This is where it gets interesting, seeing exactly how consumers get the most if their meat. Monkey toes in Indonesia for example, deep-fried and eaten off the bone like our version of chicken wings. “Borewors” from South Africa are sheep, pig, and cow intestines stuffed with meat and off cuts, much like our version of sausage. Have the BBQ on? Why not try skewered rat like in Thailand. Got a smoker in your house? How about smoked bat like in Indonesia. If those aren’t for you maybe you would rather try dried bugs or lizards like in Beijing or Hong Kong? A little closer to home of course is the cow’s foot, usually jellied in Poland and called “nozki” or “p’tcha” in the Jewish religion. If that wasn’t enough use of your cow, you could always use the lungs too like they do in Malaysia and the Philippians. I am starting to feel like we are being very wasteful here!


Last but certainly not least are the many wondrous things our human race does with the art of fermentation. Though definitely not as…well, interesting, as the foods listed above, these liquors certainly break the mold. If you are, like me, a big fan of artichokes, try “Cynar” from Italy, a bitter liqueur made from artichokes. (There also exists a non-alcoholic artichoke tea from Vietnam). “Kvass”, from Russia is for beer lovers and is a beer-like beverage made by fermenting old bread in water. And from Greece, “Retsina” takes a different twist on white wine by adding pine resin. The story goes that the church imposed taxes on wines not altered in an attempt to discourage drinking. But as these things go, the people developed a taste for the cheap stuff!

Bon appetit

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Lucky No.7

written by Anthony Ramos
Each time we walk through the doors at No. 7 Restaurant we wonder to ourselves – why do we go any place else? The restaurant, perched right above the Lafayette subway station, is located at 7 Greene Ave in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn. Fort Greene is home to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, known to locals as “BAM” and to a diverse mixture of people. The neighborhood exudes a bohemian, earthy, liberal air – no wonder French Culinary Institute Alum, Chef Tyler Kord, has dug his heels into this eclectic enclave.

My partner, Marc, and I settled into one of the tables in the back of the restaurant guided by a chic but approachable hostess. The room is filled with culinary hipsters, first dates, flirty gay couples, and the like.

I love that point in the evening during dinner service where you can feel the electricity and excitement in the air – it’s usually when the house is packed, the kitchen is running like a well-oiled machine and the wait staff never misses a beat. Everyone falls into this mesmerizing groove of sorts – having worked back of the house I feel that nervous thrill as dishes are being knocked out one by one and the intensity of the environment fuels every drop of adrenaline in your body. A feeling I miss from working at L’Ecole – the restaurant at FCI.

As we settle in with a cocktail, we peruse the concise menu sitting in anticipation to listen to the specials of the day. The wait staff is friendly, confident and sexy and our waiter tempts our palates with the chef’s daily selection.

We started with a snapper sashimi over Galia melon dressed with a spicy peanut, jalapeno and cilantro sauce. Each bite was savored and the various flavor notes were absolutely harmonious.

For main entrĂ©es we had the boneless pork chop that was slowly braised in a ginger broth then seared on the grill – served over Sardinian pasta called fregola the juicy chop delivered savory bites. I love their crispy breaded chicken, it is incredibly moist, rolled into a cylindrical shape – it’s a must have! The contemporary American cuisine has hints of Korean influence with pickled vegetables and kimchi pierogies.

Sitting comfortably in our seats my eyes wander to check out the bustling bar scene and the busy yet tiny exhibition kitchen. No. 7 is the kind of restaurant I would love to own someday, it’s cozy, sophisticated and always a welcoming place to dine.

The night winded down, I sip an after dinner coffee, and slide further into my chair. My body almost limp from feeding off the adrenaline rush, sated we saunter into the night.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sex, Food, and Photography.

written and photographed by Rebekah Peppler
As you read, please enjoy my current fetishes throughout…
Giada, Nigella and Rachael are all doing it, heck even Thomas Keller is doing it. It glistens, it envelops, it’s like velvet on the tongue. Are we talking about the same thing here?

The phrase “food porn” sauntered into the spotlight via Frederick Kaufman’s aptly titled article, “Debbie does salad Read Full Article Here: the Food Network at the frontiers of pornography.” Originally published in 2005 by Harper’s Magazine, the term quickly vaulted into our vocabulary through the likes of Anthony Bourdain and has definitively, and lasciviously, stuck.

In Kaufman’s piece he works with a photographer (who based much of her career in the porn industry) to compare the striking parallels between porn films and Food Network shows. Especially startling is the analysis of camera techniques. Imagine Giada with her beguiling smile and trademark low-cut top squeezing a lemon – close-up on the curvaceous, dripping lemon, then Giada, back to the lemon – you get the picture.

Besides television’s seductive presentation of food, there’s the good old-fashioned photography. Not that we’re complaining. Who doesn’t love a beautiful shot of food? Whose lips do not part slightly while peering at the perfect composed covers of Saveur, Gourmet, Food & Wine and Bon Appetit?

A still of freshly-made pasta coaxed into shapely tortellini or a close-up of a juicy burger, cheese dripping off the perfectly formed patty onto its unfailingly plump bun. These shots are products of an ideal trifecta of light, focus and composition. Since food porn is a delight to sit back and enjoy as well as actively participate in (as I do on an markedly frequent basis) here’s a few starter tips:

1. Lighting is key. More precisely, natural lighting is key. Think of the sexiest times of day and use those as your ideal times to shoot. Morning’s hazy sun, slinking through the shades or early evening’s sultry shadow creeping into to steal the day away are both perfect moments to capture your creation on film.

2. Focus on something special in your piece. Isn’t it true that the small – sometimes lacy – details make all the difference? Whether it be the tip of that perfect berry atop your tartlette or the ripple of molten chocolate ganache languidly making it’s way down the edge of that triple chocolate layer cake, spotlight that special something and narrow your focus to get up close and personal.

3. Compose your piece to bring your viewer right in there with you. Take a bite out of that vivacious red velvet cupcake, leave just a few crumbs of a cookie lingering on the plate. Let your viewer feel like they could use their finger to swipe up the leftovers or finish what you started. Leave something to the imagination (just because it’s – food – porn doesn’t mean it can’t be a bit classy right?) Crop out the end of that croissant, remove a basket of overflowing tomatoes from the table full of them. Leave it up to the viewer to fill in the gaps – you know they want to.

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