Monthly Archives: February 2014

Chorizo week 2

Starting to look like something awesome! Can’t wait for next week. Hope they dry out proper.

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Starter Cultures for Charcuterie – 1 week into ageing.

Checked on the chorizo today, and they are looking good!

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Drying up nicely. Was a little bit worrying when they filled the entire wine cellar with the smell of garlic. Wouldn’t want those 50 yr old bottles getting tainted.  Thankfully, the smell has subsided and so are my worries.

Interesting though, some of the chorizos are developing different colours. I made 4 types. A control (no bacteria, no mulled vinegar), 1 with only bacteria, 1 with only the mulled vinegar, and 1 with both. It seems that the ones with the vinegar look a bit brighter on the red side while the bacteria and control look to be darker. Could it be that they are drying at different rates? It’s possible, but then they are all under the same temperature and humidity conditions.

Here’s a photo to see the varying colours.

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The batches in the middle are the ones with the mulled vinegar, the ones on the sides are the control and bacteria only. Well, another week or so and we’ll see how they look and taste. Cheers!

 


Charcuterie Starter Cultures

Toronto Food Lab and it’s parent company have teamed up with a company from Spain who has isolated certain strains of starter cultures used in charcuterie. This to me is just truly exciting news. I’ve played around with charcuterie before, but this just brings it to a whole different level. I understand that people have already been using starter cultures. This time though, I get to work with a company that PRODUCES the cultures. Imagine the potential…mixing different cultures to cause different flavours from fermentation. 

Currently all their products are listed in Spanish. Once we’ve translated them and understand what strains they are (be it from the salami, for chorizo, or even jamon iberico), we will start selling them through the website. 

I had a go at some of them and decided to make some sausages just to see for myself what would happen. Some are the control (no cultures added), some with our vinegar food seasoning, and one with the culture. 

Let’s see how they look in a few weeks! 

Nothing like having access to a wine cellar for ageing. 

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Alinea, yet again!

So, Alinea once again, and once again blown away. Alinea is quite a different experience for me simply because I’ve been lucky enough to visit several times, 4 to be exact. Whereas other restaurants, incredible as they were, I’ve only been to once. Consistency is one of the biggest challenges of any restaurant, and Alinea has proven to be consistently innovative. More importantly, it is staying relevant. To me at least. There is really something about how they are able to pull off a multisensory experience. Some can call it a gimmick, but if it works, makes sense and doesn’t get in the way of the food, then it rises above being mere smokes and mirrors. To me, Alinea is really THE multisensory experience done right. That being said, I haven’t gone to all the restaurants that do a similar theme.

Just a few of the dishes of the experience.

 

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There is always something special about being able to eat the whole prawn, head, shell and all! The head was my favourite part, delicately crispy and didn’t give me any worries about skewering my gums.

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This perhaps exemplifies multisensory and emotional dining. Who would even imagine having a pile of burning coals in front of diners, and on the damn table itself. This was their center-piece. Knowing Alinea, I knew something was up. I knew this was more than just a pile of coals to burn. And I was right. To not give away too much, it becomes part of a dish later on that night.

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Yet another dish that makes you wonder what else they could come up with. An edible balloon? I mean, that stuff is just crazy cool.

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If you search the Alinea channel in Youtube, you’ll see this dish somewhere there. Though, in that video it was lamb, we had duck 5 ways, with 60 garnishes, yes 60! Still just taken aback at how much prep this dish takes.

As always, I leave Alinea with bittersweet feelings. Glad I dined, sad it had to end. Till next time!