Two Kitchens: an exclusive extract from Rachel Roddy’s new book, part one: Of course I thought Rome was glorious, but I didn’t want to stay. A month – three at most – then I’d return to Sicily to finish the clockwise journey I had interrupted. An area of the city called Testaccio tripped me up with its workaday, easy charm. It was where I met my partner, Vincenzo, a Sicilian, and it was nearly 12 years ago that we settled into a life there. Although Testaccio is in the heart of the city, it feels more like a village; it is where Roman food – distinctive, traditional and inextricably tied with the history of daily life of the place – seems to permeate everything. It was living in this quarter of Rome that the idea that “every cuisine tells a story” made absolute sense. I soon discovered that if you ask someone to show you how to cook something, they almost always give you a story too – be it a small domestic tale or a great, sweeping history. You also get lunch … possibly a rambling newspaper column out of it, too.
No fisherman’s friend: rumours surface of bitterness against Rick Stein in Cornwall: Fisherman Gary Eastwell was pleased with his morning’s work. Shortly after dawn he had chugged out of Britain’s most southerly port on his boat, the Morning Star, and by lunchtime was back on the sunlit quayside at Porthleven with a haul of pollack and lobster.
Success is an evolution – Falling in love with Dominique Crenn: When Dominique Crenn received the award for world’s best female chef, she immediately worked to strike a balance between accepting the honor and pushing back against the concept. How many female chefs can you name? What does an award like that mean if it elevates one individual from a pool of fewer than ten? Fewer than five? Tokens of femaleness that make it easier for the men at the head of the industry to get away with their mysoginist antics—“but look, we have a category just for girls!”
What fine dining looks like in Lisbon: Lisbon might not be known as a fine-dining destination, but a group of groundbreaking chefs are ushering in a new era of ambitious cooking. Showcasing the unbelievable ingredients Portugal has to offer, including fresh seafood and porco preto pork from Alentejo, these restaurants blend Portuguese traditions with inspiration drawn from across the globe. Menus run from 40€ to 165€, which means even the most splurge-worthy meals in Lisbon still won’t blow your budget.
The Society of the Illusionists: The World’s 50 Best Restaurants List: An ever-increasing number of food enthusiasts do not frequent restaurants “just for the food”. They are no longer out to enjoy a good dinner with friends. Their primary aim is to “tick a cultural box and have bragging rights to some rare effete spirit”. (1) Some critics deem the Michelin Guide responsible for perpetuating the growth of this type of customer. Leaving aside the debate whether this phenomenon is good or bad, the Michelin Guide for several years has not been alone in creating such symptoms.
Alain Senderens, chef and Nouvelle Cuisine creator, dies aged 77: Leading French chef Alain Senderens, one of the founders of the Nouvelle Cuisine movement, has died aged 77, food critic Gilles Pudlowski said. “He was one of the last great creators of Paris. This creator was a visionary,” he said of Senderens, who along with Paul Bocuse, Michel Guerard and others was a stalwart of France’s Nouvelle Cuisine in the 1960s and 1970s. “We will never forget you dear Alain. We miss you already,” Pudlowski wrote on his blog.
When the cows come home: The breezy open-air milking barn on Mirella Ravera’s farm is as serene as a yoga studio. Cows wearing ankle bracelets wander freely between open stalls lined with latex pads covered with sand and a top layer of straw that’s fluffed twice a day. At one end of the barn, bristly back-scratchers are mounted at the height of a cow’s ribs and an automated feeder dispenses food (or doesn’t) after synching with a cow’s bracelet to determine whether she has had her meal allocation. Ravera had the barn built in 2011 specifically to accommodate a 24-hour milking machine manufactured in Britain. The cows stroll unprompted to its gate, where they queue patiently. When an animal’s bracelet confirms that she is due to be milked, the gate swings open and she stands, facing a feeding bin, while the laser-guided pump milks her. The job takes five minutes.
Why Today’s Greatest Wines… Aren’t necessarily the great wines: Let me not dance around the bush: The greatest wines today are not, paradoxical as this may sound, the so-called great wines. This conviction has for me grown stronger than any other in recent years. Allow me to explain. In my recent WineSpectator.com column “The Three Essential Words for Greatness,” I submitted three criteria that I, anyway, believe help define greatness in wine. Also, I have no quarrel, or even quibble, with many—although not all—of the wines deemed “great” today. You know their names as well as I.
Waiter, waiter: please don’t tell me my wine ISN’T corked! Last week, while touring vineyards and tasting with winemakers in northern California, I stopped into a popular restaurant for a before-dinner glass of wine in one of the area’s trendy tourist districts. After I took a seat at the bar, the bartender walked me through a couple of by-the-glass rosé selections. They all sounded good, even though I didn’t know any of the producers. I asked her to pour me one of her favorites. Her ability to rattle off all the grape varieties in each wine and describe the style of each was impressive. It was clear that she was familiar with all of the restaurant’s by-the-glass offerings and I was confident that I was in good hands.
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