Monday, January 31, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
'And what exactly am I supposed to do with these?' says the flat mate to his mother. When in amongst the moving-in gift that was a parental care pack that consisted of enough food to re-nourish a small village, a bag of apples is discovered. In the days that followed and once all the biscuits and cheese had been taken, we'd say to each other the odd time, 'we should make like, a pie with them or something.' But that was said in the same hypothetical context as when you turn to your mate at the end of a long night and say something along the lines of, 'You and me dude, driving across South America in a Reliant Robin. I'm tellin' ya man, this summer for sure.' In other words, nice idea but the when the effort involved was considered, not likely to happen.
Castor Sugar: 100g
Butter, cold: 100g
Whole Cloves: 3
- For the apple base start by putting the putting the sugar and about 50ml of water into a pan large enough to hold all the apples. Melt on a high heat and allow to turn to a caramel, should take about 5 - 10 minutes. During this try to move the pan as little as possible, only at the end when the edges start to discolour should you really start moving it around. This allows it to colour evenly.
- Throw in the apples and spices, leave for a moment before stirring. This is to allow the juices in the apples to come out, which then dissolves the caramel so you don't spend your time scraping lumps of solid sugar around the pan.
- Add around 200mls of water and cook on a medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until tender when poked with a knife. Ideally the water should be evaporated by the time the apples have cooked.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Eggs: that's it today pure and simple. More specifically a method of cooking them I've recently gone nucking futs for. By the way, if you've clicked onto this hoping for some kind of elaborate brunch preparation then, well, tough. Because recipe-wise all that's here is a way of cooking eggs. And not even a properly written one either. In fact looking over this it's pretty much just a sentence at the end of the fourth paragraph. Oh and a photo. You're lucky enough to get a photo. So let's talk for a minute about something called a slow poached egg. Something that some of you might be familiar with. But for those who don't, and haven't really been reading a word of this because after seeing the heading photo all they're thinking is, 'Jumping Nike-Air Moses what the fuck is that!!' Let me explain.
You see, I was never that excited about eggs until my folks took delivery of three hens (now two after an introduction from Granny's dog), because apparently that's what you do when you turn 50 and move out of the city. Since then I've discovered that they provide simply the best Goddamn eggs in the whole world. And so I've proceeded to boil, poach, scramble and fry my way through tons of those little nuggets of awesome. Their richness, the way that (when poached) they'd immediately fold up into neat quenelles. And then there's the yolk, oh man the yolk. That vibrant, rich, near-florescent shade of orange. To me, one of the great pleasures in life was poaching a couple of those bad boys, then put them on top of a bacon-covered, Ballymaloe relish-smeared piece of toast. Then watch as that golden yolk flowed out, over and onto the plate, creating a mess of pure deliciousness.
But now you've found me after experiencing a paradigm shift of sorts. You see up until recently I was convinced that eggs, poached to perfection in acidulated water was the ultimate tribute you could pay to l'oeuf. But no more, not now. I believe it was Sat Baines, several seasons ago on Great British Menu, who had it incorporated into his dish. This was the first time I saw the 'slow egg'. The judges 'oohed' and 'aahed' over it and the dish itself ended up getting to the final banquet. Since then it'd pop up here and there. Tristan Welch did it a few seasons later. The odd time on Professional Masterchef, etc. Then I saw Wylie Dufresne prepare it for a challenge on Top Chef Masters. It was the first time any show had gone into any real detail about it. Dufresne had my attention already from an appearance on Iron Chef where he used an enzyme (transglutaminase) to make noodles out of pureed fish (there is no typo in that sentence, he made noodles out of fish, watch!). Back to Top Chef Masters, Jay Rayner wound up gushing about the unctuous, custard-like consistency of what, at a glance anyway, looked like a pretty standard soft-boiled egg. My curiosity grew.
Fast-forward to a month or so ago. A package arrives containing David Chang's Momofuku. A book I'd end up reading with the same vigor and devotion as you would a great detective novel. A book I've fallen asleep to reading on more then one occasion, refusing to submit to sleep for just one more page! Then early into the book my eyes glide over the header at the top of the page: Slow Poached Egg. Up until this point I had an idea of the method, but no clue to the specifics. I knew that the egg was cooked in its shell in water at a certain temperature. But at what temperature and for how long? Here at last was a definite method and recipe. In short, 60-63 degrees for 45 minutes. I closed the book and knew that I HAD to try this.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Monday, January 3, 2011
Phone +3531 475 5001
‘Sure it’s only spaghetti in water, I don’t see what the big fucking deal is!’ this is the words of someone voicing their opinion of the Japanese delicacy that is Ramen. Once more, they’re mine. Or at least they were, spoken several years ago during a conversation with friends over where we should eat. Someone suggested Mao’s, several seemed enthused by this, so that was my response. Forgive me as I was so very young and wrong about so many things that have been put right since. So now I totally kill for Ramen. I also don’t wear stupidly baggy t-shirts and realise that the music of Fred Durst and Kid Rock were never ever, ever, ever, anything but total shit on a stick.
Skip forward to last week and I’m the LUAS into town, when I find myself with a sudden desire for anything involving noodles that verges on ‘third-trimester’ level of craving intensity. Being the good boy I was this year I’m now the proud owner of an iphone. And if you think that’s me gloating I’d just like to point out that I had my previous phone for nearly six years. A phone so old that I’m pretty sure it’s preceding model was two baked bean tins connected by a piece of string! I Google ‘Dublin, noodles’ and scroll through the results, there’s a few options but being not exactly flushed for cash I’m looking at the more informal and fiscally approachable end of the market. It’s then that Yamamori pops up. I’d been there years ago for dinner with college friends to celebrate graduation. But it being a few years ago my opinion wasn’t far from the opening words of this post. I decide to right the wrongs of culinary ignorance and reckon today Yamamori seemed to fit the bill.
I arrive and am seated in about a minute flat. Good start. I then look around the room and guess that there must be close to 50 – 60 people sitting at this moment. By the time I leave, close to an hour later, three of four tables around me will have been turned. From the off one thing is clear, this is not a place that fucks about with getting food out. Remember this is Tuesday lunchtime; I try imagining what this place is like on a weekend and how frantic the kitchen must get. And then I have to stop because I start feeling faint as my eyes tear up. I look at the menu. Yamamori is a Japanese restaurant so the menu offers a range of sushi, grilled dishes, sides, stir-fry and one section devoted just to Ramen. A glance-over draws my attention to the Yamamori Ramen. Then suddenly the menu went blurry as all the words became unreadable. All except this dish and its description, which was crystal clear and surrounded by flashing neon lights, as two blonde cheerleaders danced either side of it. It boasted of mixture of grilled chicken, pork, prawns, seaweed and crispy tofu. All yours for less then a tenner! I ordered it and a bottle of beer at the next possible opportunity.
I wait, expecting my beer to arrive shortly. So I continue to wait and it still fails to show. My waitress has forgotten, but hey, we’re all human and it’s a busy place. She’s probably looking after at least a dozen other customers, all in different stages of their meal. It happens. I get her attention and remind her as politely as possible. She apologises but her tired expression means I still can’t help feeling like a dick. What the hell is that anyway? Is it something in our Irish – Catholic DNA that means guilt and shame are automatically hardwired into our system? Only in
would the train of thought be, ‘You made the mistake, I’m pointing it out, yet I’m so sorry for doing so.’ You see that shit just wouldn’t fly in Ireland , ‘Forgot my drinks did you, right and how much of a tip were you expecting? Now dance, dance my little server monkey!’ So my drink arrives, ‘Busy one today?’ I ask. She sighs, ‘You could say.’ as a table of twelve is seated ten feet away. Shortly after this my meal arrives. My meal in this case being served in a bowl the size of my freakin’ head! Not only that, but damn-near overflowing with the aforementioned goodies the menu promised. I grab my chopsticks and dig in. New York
The broth boasts the meaty punch of pork and chicken. Thin strips of pork are tender if a little anaemic in both appearance and taste. The chicken is just above room temperature and a touch dry. The prawns, they’re fine. The crispy triangles of deep-fried tofu give a good variation in texture, but my advice would be to eat them first as after a while they became soggy and I became less keen on them. Now while these may seem like scathing criticisms, let’s just put things in perspective. I’m looking at a bowl containing five forms of protein (there was also a hardboiled egg sitting on top) swimming in a broth that tastes like someone has actually put some effort into making. And an overall portion size that’d give the Incredible Hulk concerns of finishing. And it’s less then ten quid! So although I noticed these things, did I care? Eh, no.
However by the end I found my palate had reached a kind of plateau affect. Where, by sheer volume, any variation in texture or flavour had been numbed into a monotonous experience. Any subtly or nuance now lost, not even refreshed by the occasional acidic bursts of scallion or pickled ginger. But again, in no way did I consider this a bad thing. As the last of the chunks and noodles disappeared, leaving only broth, I picked up my spoon for the last push. I looked around. The waiters now dashing around like coked-up honey bees. I saw one dropping a drinks order at a table without stopping, like drive-by serving. The waitress comes to clear my table, I’m slumped back in my chair and rubbing my belly like content Buddha. I try to say thanks but I'm so full that all that comes out is an incoherent mumble.
My bill says the Ramen was €9.95. I also got a side of pickled daikon for €1.50 which just wasn’t for me. Older and wiser then my first visit, on sheer value alone I’d recommend Yamamori for whenever you’ve in the mood for spaghetti in water.