Monday, January 25, 2010
The New Year begins and a decade ends. Looking back at the last 12 months we saw cooking change and redefine itself, the 2010 gourmet is wild, ecological and filled with treasures of modest means. Good-bye, red tuna. Hello, wild herbs. Get your gloves and your hiking boots on and bring your Corn Flakes, we going to the forest.
HOT: Herbs, berries, mushrooms, game.
All that is wild. The Scandinavian Chefs are walking in the footsteps of the French Marc Veyrat, who brought to the table, scented shoots from the forest and hills. In Quebec, hunting and fishing is making a comeback in the last few years. We not only want to eat "regional" but we want to eat altogether natural, no fertilizers, no energy-intensive work.
COLD: Stuffed deer heads in restaurants.
The game we want on the plate, not in the decor.
HOT: The animals we eat nose to tail.
Chicken feet, oxtail or pork tail, tongue, ears ... Forget veganism. If you want to eat in an environmentally sensible way, and not encourage the monoculture of soybeans, it’s by eating meat intelligently. So natural products, regional and no waste. When we kill a beast, we eat everything! Pork belly & shoulder are already popular in New York. Lamb’s neck is arriving on our plates. Veal or beef cheek is already everywhere. It goes on. A little pig stomach with that?
COLD: Our fish are overfished.
Even if some are delicious, such as yellowfin tuna, it is really bad taste to serve and eat. Moreover, the restaurants of Relais & Chateaux have totally removed yellowfin from their menus. Several other endangered species should follow.
HOT: Tap water.
We forget the water imported from halfway around the world in exotic bottles, often very pretty, but that cost a fortune to transport. We have very good water here. Why not drink it?
COLD: The restaurants that simply do not allow us to drink tap water, cold, filtered, without ice.
HOT: Momofuku Noodles.
It comes from northern China, with large plump noodles and dumplings filled with broth, reinvented by David Chang, New York chef of the moment. Mixing influences of Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese cuisine, Chang is both Asian and American. It feels solid but fragrant, tasty but refined. After sushi and dim sum that marked the last 10 years, leave room for the roast pork buns, pickled fish, salted seaweed used as a condiment, and home-made Kimchi.
COLD: Badly prepared Sushi now in every supermarket.
It is on the verge of indigestion.
HOT: Small fish and seafood whose survival is not threatened and that we too often snub: sardines, herring, mackerel, squid, shrimp from the Gulf ...
Fortunately, we just discovered environmentally correct sablefish, which is increasingly taking the place left by the Chilean sea bass (to avoid). But there are other fish to discover, such as brook trout...
COLD: Fish and seafood from non-organic farms.
Shrimp imported from Asia, for example, or farmed salmon grown in highly polluted environments.
In northern regions like ours, vines don’t grow easily. Hops, though. Why not enjoy leaving more room for beer in our dining arrangements? The Scandinavian Chefs are moving away from olive oils, citrus and other Mediterranean products and turning increasingly to beer.
COLD: Restaurants and bars that do only commercial traditional lagers on the menu.
In 2010, we expect to find red beer everywhere. And why not golden & brown?
HOT: Vegetarian or vegan.
No need to refrain entirely from meat or cheese. But no need to eat it all the time either. In a world where the quality of meat is often dubious, we choose the best products, what about paying the high price and eating vegetables, grains and legumes at other times. Well? It's delicious, too.
COLD: Vegan and vegetarian products that are processed like junk food.
What is the idea of eating veggy products which we know neither the origin nor the recipe? And then eating tons of soy, ultra-processed, colored, flavored, is it ecologic when you know that this food, often grown in monoculture, is one of the first products on the list of GM?
HOT: Non-traditional grains, other than wheat, corn, soybeans.
We are rediscovering kamut, spelt, quinoa ... Not only because they taste good and are easy to cook, but also because it is a good idea to encourage biodiversity and revive the forgotten cereals. Like ancestral vegetables from far-off.
COLD: Organic or local at any price.
Do we really want to eat organic strawberries imported from California in the winter? Or local tomatoes grown in greenhouses when it’s snowing outside?
HOT: Bitter and Sour.
In a world that loves very sweet and fatty tastes, where flavors run together almost too easily, we rediscover the joy of angles and punctuation that provide bitter and tart tastes. Good, because they are abundant in these wild fruits and ancestral vegetables that we are looking for.
COLD: Stickers that decorate plates.
They are often very elegant, but do they really add to the fruit tart? We are ready to move on.
HOT: Modest ingredients.
In 2010, we no longer want to place the biodiversity of the planet at risk by eating it.
So we choose products, cheap & accessible: rice, beets, squash, pork feet, and make little miracles, delicous and not too expensive, like David Chang at Momofuku, who puts crunch on desserts with Corn Flakes or Inaki Aizpitarte at Chateaubriand in Paris, who reinvents radishes.
COLD: Expensive ingredients, which are often rare ingredients like caviar or yellowfin tuna. For who says rare often means threatened. In 2010, we prefer to pay for good simple food and good ideas.