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2007-05-19

>salmon caviar vs. trout caviar

If rarity makes a product more distinguished, trout roe seems doomed to be run-of-the-mill from the start.

Considering how familiar salmon roe
-'salmon caviar'- is in sushi joints (ikura), trout roe or 'trout caviar' seems somewhat of a novelty, yet it crops up from a bountiful source.

Just like its fellow roe-harvestees (sturgeon, paddlefish, whitefish...), a trout can be bursting with eggs. The trout roe looks like mini salmon roe, similar in color and and bubble wrap texture.

Already widely enjoyed in Scandinavia and elsewhere in Europe, trout caviar is increasingly mass-produced in farms. Caviar extracted from farmed trouts may not be killed for the eggs, unlike "the iconic caviar producers" which "must be killed to extract their caviar, and are becoming increasingly rare in their native Russian waterways" according to abc.net.au.

>Toast with fried quail eggs, trout caviar and butter, El Lliure, Barcelona, Spain
>Artic char tartare with basil and trout caviar, Bar Room at The Modern, New York, NY

>Poached lobster Russian salad, water vinaigrette & ocean trout caviar, Village East, London, UK

2007-05-17

>affordable set menu banquets



At
Chinese restaurants, ordering one of the set menus -the ones without English translation- for the entire table can be somewhat exciting. I don't mind a few misses - this particular banquet happened to be ten times cheaper than a chef's tasting menu at a typical top-tier restaurant.

A multi-course meal served family-style - it can be a very happy experience indeed, as this one turned out to be. Pictures are from Wednesday's 9-course dinner at Gourmet Delight in Oakland, CA. (The last item on the menu, a sweet bean dessert, is not pictured.)

2007-05-15

>thymus sweetbread vs. pancreas sweetbread

We made it to a family dinner at Incanto last Saturday after an unexpected delay.We toured the nearby old church of Mission Dolores (Mission San Francisco de Asis) and came back to the car to find the rear left tire flat. My very first. After a helpful visit from AAA, we were on our way, hungry and half an hour late.

I opted for sanguinaccio (fine-textured blood sausage) and the chef's special sweetbread. Mom is the only one who can't stand 'offal', so she went for house-marinated olives and halibut with greens. I now put 'offal' in quotes. Not only are these parts edible, they are increasingly prized by ordinary restaurants and diners. Incanto is known for plentiful offerings of uncommon cuts, and I was surprised to find only a couple of 'offal' options Saturday evening.
As I stretched my neck and belly to attempt to point to different types of 'sweetbreads', I became unsure of the exact locations of each. I had to come home to look them up.

Which sweetbread do you prefer?
I think the name should be more specific, and I don't just mean the veal/lamb distinction. We think nothing of graphic-sounding names when we are used to them. 'Liver', 'pork belly', 'fish cheeks'... we might start calling sweetbreads by their real name - pancreas and thymus glands. 

...  (um) ...

Maybe not. 

2007-05-05

>chashu vs. char siu

Char siu is a familiar word, even in America.

Char siu bao,
the steamed pork buns on dim sum carts,
Char siu (barbe
cued) pork at Chinese mom-and-pop restaurants,
BBQ char siu chicken at many mainstream restaurants...

Char siu literally means fork-roast (you know, not roasted fork, but roasted on forks).

<--photo by "the food pornographer" (flickr)


Even the Japanese call their version of this pork chashu, taken d
irectly from Chinese, rather than calling it, say, matayaki, or sasho. Invariably in Japan, chashu means pork slices topping ramen noodles.

Which version is better, Chinese or Japanese?

For me, nothing beats a good char siew mee from a Singaporean hawker stall, commonly accompanied by wontons (wantans).

2007-05-03

>buttery chardonnay vs. perfumey chardonnay

Even I, not the sharpest wine taster in the world, have tasted the distinct difference.

Some chardonnays are "butter-bombs" - smooth like butter, smell like butter, taste like butter. Less outrageous wine notes include "sweet corn", "popcorn", "cream"...

-Marcassin Chardonnay 1998, Lorenzo Vineyard,
Sonoma Coast

Rather than being buttery, some chardonnays are sharper, more perfumey, rosy, lemony.


-Blason de Bourgogne 2004, Saint-Veran (a "chardonnay" or white Burgundy)


Scientists are able to isolate the chemical compounds responsible for these different taste sensations.

The chemical responsible for the buttery taste is diacetyl, the cute puppylike compound on the left.

One of the chemicals responsible for the perfumey, citrusy sensation is linalool on the right.

2007-05-01

>quinoa chirashi

The "hot" new Conde Nast business magazine "Portfolio" doesn't appear so hot, yet.

When I do a search, this magazine comes up first.

Anyway, the NEW Portfolio does
have a website.

In one of their videos
-and it does have a Food & Drink page- a Gourmet magazine columnist tours and samples the Hearst Tower cafeteria food at Cafe57.

Here's a screen shot of one of those dishes. (Notice the misspelling of chirashi? It should be quinoa chirashi, not quinoa "chirachi".) For the full video, go to Hearst.

We've seen chirashi sushi. Cafe 57's version looks like its veggie cousin, with quinoa "rice".

So what does chirashi actually mean?
It's uncaked sushi, and comes from a word meaning loose or scattered.

Untidy, in other words.
But colorful, I have to say.