Saturday, 26 September 2009

Egg Stream

I have a passion pending towards an obsession for poached eggs. I have already said too much about the fragile pod of gooey goodness, silently contained yet secretly yearning for an encounter with a sharp object, preferably laid on top of rice, like here.

This week I was in London with Arabeschi di Latte, as part of a pop up egg bar titled ‘Egg Open Source’. The Arabeschi girls are a design-based creative group that experiments with new design concept focusing on food fascination and power of food to create situations and relationships. Like egg and mayo, food and design go hand in hand, and this week was all about the egg; a perfectly designed shape and a symbol of life and death.

We set up shop in Studio TooGood's ‘The Hatch’, a Memphis group style inspired environment, and the perfect breeding ground for eggs. Upon arrival we unpacked our things and made the space our new home for the coming week.

We sourced the eggs from London’s farmers market, Marylebone and Swiss cottage, to ensure our eggs were the freshest eggs from local happy chickens.

The concept was this: We begun by offering two typical Italian egg recipes; a zabaione and Uovo in Camicia, literally translating to egg in a shirt, essentially a poached egg on toast.

People order a dish, receive a kit and a recipe and prepare their egg. This is when the fun starts, as people begin to interact with the egg, with the recipe, and with each other, all of which happens without them noticing. Before leaving the participants leave us their favourite egg recipe.

A universal staple foodstuff, we have now a collection of egg recipes and egg making techniques from around the globe; sweet, savory, raw, baked, cooked, mashed, and then some.

Similar to an egg, our bar evolved and changed as a direct response to people’s input, participation and dialogue. By the end of the week we were offering a total of 6 different egg dishes picked from contributed recipes.

Food is swell and turns out people really love eggs. Some had prepared 3 different recipes in one go, others came in everyday. All Left the space having had a good time and a really good egg.

I need a couple of days before I look at one let alone eat it, but I’ll be ok, I have to. I need to get started now that I discovered so many new egg recipes.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Monday, 14 September 2009


Firenze is outside my door step, and will be my home for the coming weeks, as part of the last phase in this Italian adventure. This is my opportunity to polish up on my Italian, regain control of my food and alcohol intake, and further explore local specialties. My days are spent practicing both food and architecture, and I am glad to report the three of us are enjoying each other's company.

It is the weekend, and it is time to eat. I had been building up to lunch for the past week. Everyone around me talks about lampredotto; Its typical Florentine and can only be found here. Sold in approx. 10 different places around town by specialist masters, it is the cattle’s 1st stomach lining, boiled, chopped, flavored in red and green sauce, then wrapped in Tuscan bread dipped in the cooking liquid. Trying this delicacy was a decision I had made, and although I keep delaying the moment of truth, eventually I would have to face it. So when better then now?

Note to self: I did not enter the Florentine branch of McDonalds to check if they serve a McLampredotto, what with McDonalds global range of local specialties.

I headed out to Nerbone, an eatery at the San Lorenzo market, and one of the recommended sites serving this gastro- delicacy.

For 4.5 Euros, you are served the innards and a glass of the house wine, to help it all go down smoothly.

The texture resembles over cooked, chewy, rubber like calamari rings. It is soft and smooth and looks like grey matter. The piccante salsas, however, ignited an internal burning inside of me, I could feel my stomach digesting the stomach, which started of a series of philosophical questions. Does my stomach know it is digesting a stomach? Is it confused? Does she feel as if she is looking in the mirror?

I felt an uncomfortable heat in my stomach, so this was not an easy experience, be it an important one. (R)Ice cream was my stomach’s cold patch.

I never used to be this way, but now, the thought of NOT trying a local dish seems unfathomable. This is my Mona Lisa in Paris, My Michelangelo’s David. This comes instead of standing in a cue, spending 10 euros on an entrance ticket, then touring around a museum full of old, static art surrounded by tourists equipped with a must see list.

Food is the contemporary, the present life, the colors, tastes and smells of a locality, and an art that is consumable.

An entire meal in a sandwich, paired with wine for under a fiver, how could McDonalds count as an alternative?

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Deja Vous

How many times, and I still refuse to learn. If the train arrives early to the station then its not the right train. I insist on attributing the Italian train system with a quality it does not posses- efficiency. Beyond efficiency. early. No such thing.
I realized it was the wrong station when I stepped onto an unpaved platform and, aside for me only a teenage boy had boarded off. I turned to board again but it was too late. The train was gone and I was in the middle of nowhere.
Not a soul.
20 Km away at the next stop, a connecting train was scheduled and I was supposed to be on it. The teenager spoke no English.
Between his English and my Italian this was a matter for drastic measures. And I was in no way willing or equipped to sleep outdoors.
The boy was waiting for his father to pick him up.
Both were in the car and ready to drive home to a warm pasta dish accompanied by a glass of Lambrusco when they saw me in the back seat sitting, seatbelt buckled, with bags piled on top of me. I aint staying here alone. Dinner would have to wait.
It was a race against time, me, two kind Italians and a train to catch.
I still ended up missing my connecting train. By less then 10 seconds.
I was saving the soggy, squashed Parisian chocolate almond croissant I bought earlier in the day for breakfast. It was my dinner, and it was comforting.
I may have been stranded, messy and tired, but not hungry.

More paris, more food, more new discoveries

A glowing bride waiting to be whisked away, I discovered an indigenous French cheese (though technically, not a cheese). Covered in a white muslin cloth to protect its delicate structure, the Fontainebleau is a lighter version of the crème Chantilly and must be eaten on the day it is put out on sale. A mélange of separately strained and whisked whipped cream and fromage blanc the light and fluffy Fontainebleau is recommended with red fruit.
Did I mention the 75% fat??

Paris, think of a thick layer of butter spread on a freshly baked baguette. There is butter for every pocket, taste and mood; hand made, with crunchy chunks of fleur de sel, smoked salt, algae flakes and yuzu and more. I just know that if I’ll pack one in my suitcase I’ll be sorry when I unpack.

The marché des enfant rouge is Paris’s oldest market. Never heard of it, right? Neither has every Parisian I told of it. Established in the early 1600s in the heart of the Marais, this is the oldest covered market in Paris, only adding to the mystery. The market has a variety of small stalls serving Italian, Japanese, French, Afro-Caribbean, and Middle Eastern food.
39 rue de Bretagne,
entrance opposite rue Charlot

Tartes kluger is a tart shop I stumbled upon looking for the entrance to the marché des enfant rouge. I was in the wrong direction when I walked into this strange looking place but the kitchen in the back drew my attention. It’s a tart place.
A wide choice of sweet (passion fruit tart with hazelnut meringue, maple brioche, rhubarb riz au lait ) and savory ( asparagus, orange zest and chervil, carrots, preserved lemon and coriander) tarts are either custom made on order or enjoyed on site.
There is a website for preorder that expands on each tart that is also paired with a recommended wine. Getting lost had its purpose. You cant find it if it ain’t lost.
6, rue du Forez

Fromagerie Quatrehomme on rue de sevres is run by Marie Quatrehomme (voted France’s worker of the year in 2000), a cheese experts in Paris, and the preferred supplier for chefs such as Guy Savoy and Pierre Gagnaire. Complete with a creamery and cheese- aging cellar on site the fromagerie is conveniently located 5 minutes walk from the Le Bon Marche’s grand epicerie. (This would be a good opportunity to get some of the butter and Fontainebleau.)
Fromagerie Quatrehomme
62, rue de sevres
Mº Duroc or Vaneau

Paris, Tokyo.

There is a glass cube on the roof of the Palais du Tokyo and it has my name on it. Nomiya is a one-year only restaurant on top of the Palais du Tokyo in Paris, designed by artist Laurent Grasso and his brother, architect Pascal Grasso. The project is called ‘Art Home’ (prononcer arôme) and is sponsored by Electrolux, offering tours, a lunch & dinner service and cooking workshops.
Planned ahead I managed to book a place for the workshop. For a symbolic €20 I would assist in the preparation of 2 dishes served in the restaurant, in a state of the art Electrolux kitchen. In French.
Perfect. Not just a vacation, but an educational one at that.

On arrival we were greeted by a member of the chef’s team, handed an apron (that we got to keep as a souvenir) and were led up to the roof garden to see fresh herbs and vegetables used by the restaurant.
We then got down to coking our lunch; a steamed then fried squab stuffed with dates and hazelnuts, served with aromatic rice and a warm salad of chives, bell peppers and cardamon, followed by a cold melon soup with a quenelle of white chocolate mousse.
In the kitchen we divided ourselves to small groups; those making the dessert, those cleaning and preparing the small birds, feathery head attached and all, and the English speaking foreigners; that’s me, 2 Canadian girls and a Frenchman (not foreign, but group less). We were in charge of the chopping, cutting and slicing of the nuts, dates, peppers and general odd jobs.

2 hours later a bunch of foreigners sat down for a really good lunch, in French.

I got to cook in a really nice kitchen, met some strangers, ate good food for little money, got a new apron and took part in an art installation. Thats an afternoon well spent.

Incidentally, the day of my scheduled workshop was also market day on boulevard Président Wilson (Wednesdays and Saturdays) for that special little extra.
Reservations, tours and workshop can be booked here