Wine of the moment? ‘Le Picpoul’

Los Angeles Times/July 2007

MONTPELLIER, France — The four women at a nearby table at lunch in the Medieval quarter here looked as if they had tottered in straight out of a Gallic translation of “Sex and the City”: made up, dressed up and hoping for something more than salads. Any silly resemblance ended with their drinks, though, because the waitress was delivering not a tray of cosmos but a bottle of what she cheerily announced as “Le Picpoul.” Continue reading

Immersion blenders: Crazy kitchen power

Los Angeles Times/June 2007

Not long ago I watched a chef visiting from Italy make a showstopper of a dish, little pasta “hats” stuffed with beets, drizzled with a three-cheese sauce and garnished with twists of beet greens and cubes of beet gelée. He blazed right through this elaborate production not only with knives and whisks but with an immersion blender: puréeing Gorgonzola, mascarpone and Roquefort cheeses with cream for the airy sauce, dissolving gelatin in beet juice, whizzing beet juice and soy sauce into the inevitable foam.

And it was not the first such performance I had seen lately. The immersion blender has become so essential to chefs it could almost be considered a third hand, and not just because of the molecular craze. No other tool seems to work such immediate magic in emulsifying, aerating, puréeing and whipping. Continue reading

The fifth dimension

Metropolitan Home

In the age of molecular gastronomy, the whole language of cooking is changing fast. Tradition-flouting chefs are throwing around such terms as osmosis and desiccation and sous-vide, all of which are fine and kitchen-scientific. But the most important new word is actually as accessible to home cooks as it is to wizards of foam: Umami. Continue reading

Low, slow and succulent

Los Angeles Times

A new oven is being billed as the greatest invention since the discovery of fire itself. This high-tech contraption, seemingly a cross between a furnace and a microwave, allegedly can roast a whole rack of lamb in 6 1/2 minutes flat. Which sounds impressive if all you want is chops on the table in less time than you would need to set it. Continue reading

The taste of things to come

Los Angeles Times

MILAN, Italy — Think of Italy, and wild and crazy exchanges of cooking ideas are not what come to mind first. This is a country where each and every region is a world apart; the Tuscans in the center might as well be on Mars for all the interaction with the Piemontese to the northwest.

Which makes the frenzy of Identità Golose (literally “greedy identity”) all the more extraordinary. Continue reading