Thursday, December 12, 2013

living milk

alham wood

the quality of even average dairy in the UK is remarkably high. milk generally tastes like milk, instead of water, cardboard, or vinyl. some milk, though, is exceptional.

at last sunday's market, i cast about the stands for some milk in which to poach a freshly purchased side of smoked haddock. the poultry lady hadn't brought any with her, and the regular cheese women by the biweekly mushroom guy had sold out. on the verge of giving up, i saw a few litre bottles at the irregular cheese dude's stand (alham wood seems to only come to market when they feel like it). raw, unhomogenised, organic milk. sold in the light of day.

he was trying, with minimal success, to persuade cheese buyers to try samples from a bottle of raw milk that had been unrefrigerated for 3 weeks. for science, i had a little cuplet: lactic, creamy, thick, emulsified. remember what pasteurised milk smells like when you leave it on the counter for a day or two? it smelled nothing like that.

as he handed me the bottle, the cheese dude said, "real food, buddy, real food. it still exists."

Sunday, December 8, 2013

the food you eat every day

Jean [Troisgros] was never so happy as when we drove down the block to the schlocky café and had the steak frites. He honestly loved that better than going to a three-star restaurant. It was pretty clear, the food you eat every day is the most important food. This is what we do at Zuni.*

Saturday, December 7, 2013

el soplo


if you are in barcelona and you seek spanish wine of A Certain Persuasion that does not taste like french or italian wine of A Certain Persuasion, you already know of l'anima del vi (at which all three are obtainable at fair prices). you may wish also to visit the new wine bar el soplo. triumphant after securing a shipping container just after sunset, i turned down a little alley and, midway through the block, saw a cracked-open door, dusty empties with whimsical labels in the window, and a big beard behind the bar. the establishment is a pair of italians who love natural wine and have fetched up in barcelona because "eh, it is a nice place to live, yes?" they have just opened and—for reasons unknown—appear to be unfindable on the internet and only barely findable in person. but i am here to show the way: el soplo is in el born, on c/ mirallers between c/ sombrerers and c/ vigatans. the current list is, perhaps perforce, admirably short. the skin-contact chardonnay from casa pardet is worthwhile and may surprise and delight those who are just a bit tired of overpaying for brown goop.

Friday, December 6, 2013


dicentrarchus labrax

fish and shellfish are the chief virtues of the boqueria market in what passes for winter in north-east spain. this 2.2 kilogram whole european seabass fit snugly in the roasting pan with only minor modifications. the little still-wriggly parasite attached to the underside of its tongue gave me a moment's pause, but not much will survive 20 minutes at 200C in a fan-forced oven. i made sure to wedge the mouth open with a piece of lemon.