Archive for June, 2010

Carpaccio – I love you so!

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Recently a restaurant near me had added carpaccio to their menu for a limted time. I was thrilled, we are talking all kinds of excited and demanded we go for it AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. When we placed our order at the restaurant, I noticed that the chef came out with a plate and the waitstaff all kinda crowded around him. They talked for a few moments and the chef himself came over without plate. It turns out that we were the first people to order the dish, and the chef wanted to know about our background, experience with the dish, and to pretty much give us a culinary pat on the back.

I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed to discover that no one was ordering the carpaccio, but considering that very thinly sliced or pounded raw beef is one of the main ingredients, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.

For a pretty decent picture of what all this looks like, check out this link.

The meaning of what carpaccio is has changed a bit over time to be pretty much any thinly sliced raw meat or fish (even fruit or veggies sometimes too) with some sort of dressing on top. When I was a kid however, carpaccio was always the same thing: very thin raw beef topped with shaved Parmesan, a drizzle of good olive oil, capers, and perhaps some lemon juice. Yes, yes, I know, raw beef can be challenging for some people to eat (and even scary considering Mad Cow Disease and all that), but when prepared by a reputable chef, it might be one of my favorite dishes of all time. Imagine if you will the beef melting on your tongue, set off by the sharp and salty toppings…. I am getting hungry just thinking about it!

If this sounds appealing to you in anyway, I highly suggest you try it. The Boy tried it for the first time that night and we have already gone back a second time for more (only to discover that we are still the only people ordering it). Alton Brown even has a pretty easy recipe for those of you who want to take things one step further and make it at home. Considering my level of obsession, this might be a better option than camping outside my local restaurant every Wednesday night for the summer.

Pimpin’ A Project

Monday, June 14th, 2010

While I am hoping to post something food/bento related this week, I wanted to take a minute to let you all know about a project a friend of mine is doing.

Please please donate if you are either a Troma fan or just a fan of indie films. In this final days of pledging, the goal is in reach and I’m hoping that letting the word out a bit more might help. Geoff is a stand-up guy and a true foodie, so you can give yourself a strong pat on the back for donating or even forwarding the message along.

Assuming I still have any readers out there, feel free to spread the word and let me know in the comments with a link or something. I might even reward your efforts with a little bento something if you are in the first few people to notify me. You gotta do your part before he reaches the goal to be eligible.

Durian? Don’t Mind if I Do!

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

I have to admit that I am pretty lucky when it comes to friends. I’ve managed to surround myself with a pretty adventurous crowd of people who always like to push their culinary boundaries. May it be braving the snow to fry a turkey in the back yard, or seeking out Chinese soup dumplings and cold pig ear salad, my friends are pretty much up for anything. And yes, this includes the infamous durian fruit.

So one afternoon I found myself at the home of The Red Menace for my first durian tasting. For those of you not familiar with durian, allow me to point you towards the Wikipedia article. It will save us both some time I’m sure.

I do admit to being pretty nervous about this afternoon. I was genuinely worried that the smell would get the best of me. I had visions of myself turning green and hiding under a bush with a clothespin on my nose, or worst yet…getting an unexpected visit from my breakfast.
The durian itself is heavy with hollow spikes. This is definitely something that is not something you want to carry around with you. Regardless, we all insisted on touching it anyway:

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Before we cut into it, there really wasn’t that much of a smell coming from the durian. There was just a faint smell of onions oddly enough. Nothing too scary. So we all prepared ourselves as to dive on in.

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When the smell hit me, it started off rather sweet. Not so bad. But then the durian got closer and I got a better whiff of the finish. Think sweet fruit and onions that have been left out in the sun and are just starting to turn. It smells like it’s rotting. Much to my relief though, the smell wasn’t nearly as strong as I thought it was going to be and it was just kinda icky rather than horrifying and vomit inducing. The Red Menace suspected that the smell wasn’t too strong because the durian might have been previously frozen, also she had heard that durian from different regions can vary in strength.

The durian itself reminded me of an almond custard. There was a sweet fruitiness at the beginning that reminded me of melon, but then the finish was almost creamy and tasted like almond butter. All-in-all I could see why people would go nuts over this. The consistency was custard-like as well, but had fibers running through it, kinda like the furry stuff around a mango pit, only these fibers were longer and maybe even a bit tougher. The fibers also had a drying quality that coats the top of your mouth like when you eat a really unripe banana or persimmon.

Final consensus was that I liked it, but I was too afraid to go back and eat more because some people were reporting an onion taste in their bites. I figured it was best to quit while I was ahead. Escaping with no regrets can often be essential to having a positive food adventure experience.