Thursday, March 3, 2011
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
For example, sketches of the layout and set-up of the station, workflow, and important names to remember. I also include Spanish terms to remember, notes, and ideas that pop into my head throughout the day. Whilst waiting for action, we can compare these books with other cooks', exchange recipes and cool techniques. It's an excellent tool.
The birth of a recipe. Above is a quick sketch of ingredient ideas and plating diagrams for a dish I'm creating to test some of Sammic's amazing equipment. As ideas pop into my head, things will be scratched out and re-written, or re-drawn. It's like smooshing your brain onto a piece of paper, except with less gooey grey matter to contend with. Can you tell I'm a bit sleepy?
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
As such, one striking thing I noticed about Sammic's factory was how spotlessly clean everything was, the air even smelled fresh. Many manufacturing areas are rough, greasy, and stinky, but Sammic's light and fresh headquarters really spoke to the kind of pride they take in what they do.
They treated us to lunch at a local Sidreria, nestled pertly atop one of the region's softly rolling mountains. Cider season is from January to May, when locals gather at these spots to eat, drink, and make merry.
Like so. Then repeat. Then you should probably repeat again, as we wouldn't want to offend our hosts, and each barrel's cider tastes a bit different. It's not the kind of cider we're accustomed to in the U.S., it tastes nothing like the apples from whence it came, but it is nicely alcoholic, with an almost lanolin-like essence reminiscent of the ewes that meander through the scene outside.
After sampling the local drink, you return to find a heaping omelette, riddled with tender beef and slow-cooked, sweet Spanish onions. Crusty bread makes excellent company for this rich first course. Oh, by the way, you must make sure that you and your friends clean every plate, lest you offend the host! Luckily, this was no problem.
Dessert was Idizabal cheese, with almond cookies and mebrillo (quince) paste. A not-too-sweet finish for an exciting meal. A conversation about D.O.P. regulations and Spanish wine regions lingers over a cafe solo (espresso), then it's back to Lasarte for a siesta.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
I started with morcilla (blood sausage) topped with a fried quail egg, cradled in fried potato slices. It had just a bit of burstingly-fresh tomato sauce on the side. I highly enjoyed this, the blood sausage has a gorgeous rich, meaty flavor unlike anything else. The yolk serves to add a bit of creaminess and cohesion to the whole ordeal, turning this little bite into something quite rich enough to sate your hunger. It also went really well with Ribera del Duoro...
Tracy had pulled suckling pig, served with a tart mustard sauce and a buttery crouton. The flaky salt on top was a nice touch against the incredibly tender piglet.
This dish actually belonged to one of the neighboring patrons, but it was pretty intriguing; baccalao served on a grate over a smoldering ember.
For some as yet unknown reason, every Tom, Dick, and Harry (I mean, Guillermo, Amaia, and Andoni) in Donostia can cook calamari to perfection. This smelled (and tasted) so great Marti dug in as soon as it hit the bar. The aroma didn't lie about the roasty-sweet flavor, and the calamari was silky with just a bit of "al dente" bite to it.
Pig's trotters, oh, yum. The meat was pulled and then formed into disks, which were then seared to crispy goodness. The crunchy exterior gave way to a beguiling, gooey, sticky center of pork, skin, and fat. Maybe it sounds weird, but the way the fat stuck to your teeth just a bit was pleasant in some very, very wrong sense of the word.
Last night, Guillermo (Sammic's technology guy) invited us to a small party at his flat for some pizza, so we grabbed a few pintxos beforehand to sate us. Above is jamon, topped with creamy goat cheese and a tomato coulis. Excellent, creamy, salty...
While I dug unceremoniously into this unctuous plate of seared foie gras with caramelized onions, pumpkin puree, and raisins. I'm a pumpkin obsessive, so it was an amazing, ooey, gooey, rich, yummy plate of happiness!
Again with the calamari perfection; seared ring of squid atop sweet onions and an ink sauce, topped with crispy fried parsley, the dish that would convert any squid-adverse diner into an enthusiastic devotee.
Post-pintxos, we joined Guillermo and a cadre of Spaniards and Swedish transplants at his flat for an array of pizza and drinks. It was a really fun time, I got to practice just a little bit of my Spanish, and enjoy some very tasty flatbread in the company of warm and inviting people.