April 5, 2017
I’ve never had the pleasure of encountering this incredible multi-volume Chinese Food Encyclopedia until today. And after I did, after I’d looked through the whole Sichuan volume page-by-page, I had no option but to walk outside, head a few blocks south, and into the first decent Chinese restaurant I encountered. What did I order when I got there? Mapo tofu and rice, of course. Here’s the dish from Grandma Cheng’s, in 1984:
Though the whole encyclopedia was printed in Japan, this volume was written entirely by Sichuan writers. Each of the recipes comes from one of the best restaurants inthe province. This is Grandma Cheng’s, the institution credited for popularizing the dish:
And here’s the charming recipe:
The factory where all of their tofu is made:
And the most astonishing knife skills I’ve seen in some time:
April 3, 2017
So this is what you need to know: Darrell Corti knows more about food and wine than anybody else in America. No contest. Steve Wallace was, for many years, the wine purveyor to the stars at Wally’s. As they both turned 75 the other day, they invited a group of friends to celebrate with them at Chez Panisse.
It was spectacular.
Many people were there, including Cecila Chiang, who at 97 puts the rest of us to shame, and food critic and restaurateur, Patty Unterman. Cecilia ate everything, drank everything, and worked the room.
This is what we ate: Blinis with mountains of the most wonderful caviar;
Asparagus with a citrus-enriched hollandaise and a slice of blood orange. You forget sometimes, now that asparagus are available the year round, what in-season asparagus taste like. These tasted like – does this sound silly? – the color green. The sauce maltaise was like a gong of orange, clanging alongside. Synesthesia: eating colors.
The loveliest broth, clear as a bell, with little raviolini, filled with ricotta and greens and spangled with Parmesan. The pea shoots, floating in the broth, were extremely eloquent.
Lamb, rare, clean-tasting, cooked in the wood-burning oven, with those lovely long bones. A creamy little square of new potatoes. And a pile of the sprightliest peas, carrots, baby artichokes and fava beans you’ve ever encountered. Sorry, but gorgeous as that meat was, it was totally overshadowed by the vegetables.
A cheese plate. And because Alice could never serve a meal without a salad, she came around to plunk a little fluff of baby greens on every plate.
This was an apple galette. The tart was delicious. But that huckleberry ice cream… no words. Deep, rich… completely purple.
Music. Of course there was music….
And wine… wonderful wine.
Look at the menu.
And then imagine that ’82 Haut Brion.