Salt Fat Acid Heat: Cookbook Launch Party

In February, I heard about a new cookbook called Salt Fat Acid Heat (SFAH) that was going to be published in a few months. In this book, the author, Chef Samin Nosrat, another Chez Panisse alumni explains how using these four elements properly can help anyone become a better cook. Chef Nosrat describes how salt enhances flavor, fat carries flavor and provides texture, acid balances flavor, and controlling heat creates texture. I was immediately intrigued because I wanted to learn the simple science of this and be able to rely less on recipes.  
The cookbook has actually taken Chef Nosrat five years to write and it has finally been released. To celebrate, Chef Dominica Rice threw a party at her restaurant Cosecha in Oakland today. Chef Nosrat and artist Wendy MacNaughton were present to sign books. MacNaughton includes tons of illustrations that makes the book fun and appealing. They were both friendly and down to earth people and meeting them was an honor.  
What kind of party doesn’t provide good food? Not this one. Chef Rice not only hosted this event, but she and her crew catered delicious food. They served chicken tamales, as well as nettle and corn tamales.  
They also served duros, the Mexican puffed wagon wheels. With a little lime and chili sauce, I couldn’t stop munching on these.
The one recipe we got to try from the SFAH cookbook was the Green Goddess Dressing which was used as a dip for the fresh jicama. I can’t wait to make this.
To drink, we had delicious horchata and cucumber lime agua fresca. I really wish these were in the cookbook. Chef Rice… When are you writing a cookbook?  
I have browsed the book and am super excited to go through this cookbook page by page from beginning to end and be able to use SFAH properly in my own cooking.  
Today was a great day! Congratulations Chef Nosrat and thank you Chef Rice

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Madhur Jaffrey’s New Cookbook Inspires

Actress. Chef. Cookbook Author. Food Writer. Television Personality. Worldwide Name. She is Madhur Jaffrey and is known by some as the Godmother of Indian cuisine. She introduced the United States to Indian food in 1973 when she wrote her first cookbook, An Invitation to Indian Cooking.
I was fortunate to be in Ms. Jaffrey’s presence last Wednesday at an event at Camino in Oakland. We enjoyed delicious food that the talented Camino kitchen prepared using recipes from her latest cookbook, Vegetarian India: A Journey Through the Best of Indian Home Cooking.   
 In her new cookbook, Ms. Jaffrey travels throughout India and explores vegetarian dishes in various regions of the country and compiles the best and most simplistic recipes she finds. With each recipe, Ms. Jaffrey provides a description of where the dish originates.   
 I had fun reading and learning about her travels, including her experience with Kodava mushroom curry with coconut, a dish enjoyed in the mountainous region of Coorg. The Kodava community farm cardamom, coffee, black pepper, and multiple varieties of mushrooms that range in size from tiny to a large dinner plate. When Ms. Jaffrey came home to her test kitchen to recreate this dish, she substituted lime juice for a type of vinegar that could only be found in Coorg kitchens. This was one of the many dishes we were served on Wednesday and it was my absolute favorite!   
 I have always been intimidated by cooking Indian food and have never experimented with this cuisine. After having this fabulous meal and perusing Vegetarian India, I am inspired to cook from this book. There are probably a few basic Indian spices I need to get my hands on, but Ms. Jaffrey does mention over and over that the recipes are simple. Wish me luck! 
 

Nopi: The Food Tour Stops in Oakland

Last week I was in a room with Yottam Ottolenghi and I was giddy like a school girl. He was at Camino, Oakland with his coauthor Chef Ramael Scully promoting his new cookbook Nopi. I have only known about Ottolenghi for two years, but in the short time have become a big fan. I’ve eaten at his restaurant Nopi in London and cooked amazing food from his cookbooks. This guy makes vegetables sexy.

Upon arrival at Camino, we were treated to drinks and snacks with the opportunity to get our cookbooks signed by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully. With a glass of rose wine in hand, I waited my turn to meet. I thought it was ironic because I read Ottolenghi’s recent blog post that he isn’t a fan of rose wine. I didn’t want to try to maneuver my book and my wine so I finished it up before I reached him. Part of me also didn’t want him seeing me drinking the rose wine. With a few words shared, I got my cookbook signed and a photo taken.
 The lunch we would be eating today were items carefully prepared by the Camino kitchen using recipes from the Nopi cookbook. Before the official sit down lunch, we had three passed appetizers that came around multiple times.

Fried baby artichokes and parsley with pink peppercorn aioli.   
 Halibut and bulgar tartare with preserved lemon salsa and Jerusalem artichoke chip on endive. 
 Burnt green onion dip on flatbread. 
 The popular bar at Camino was open and they were shaking up two specialty cocktails while we were snacking.
Sparkling wine cocktail with Cocchi Americano and homemade vin d’orange 
 Nopi Coriander Martini with vodka, lime, coriander, and cilantro.   
 After some time eating, drinking, and being merry with friends, I had the courage to go back to the chefs to talk to them some more since it seemed they finished all the autographing. I went to recommend a place for Ottolenghi to grab tacos in Oakland since he mentioned he really wanted one at a talk he gave the night before. I talked to Scully about his Malaysian heritage and where he likes to eat. He like me is a big fan of Momofuku. One of my friends was also having a special moment with Ottolenghi. I give him a lot of credit because in the past two weeks, he’s eaten at Ottolenghi restaurants in London three times. We took another photo.  
We returned to our assigned seating with table cards before the first dish was served.

 
We had baby carrots and mung beans with smoked labneh and crispy flatbread. 

 
Our entree was smoked lamb loin and leg with eggplant purée, jalapeño sauce and daikon pickle. Earlier I watched the lamb being cooked in the Camino fireplace. 

 
We were served a side of mixed cauliflower with golden raisins, capers, and almonds to share. This was the one dish I requested seconds for.   

  

Our meal was accompanied with white and red wine to pair accordingly 

 
Allison, host and co-owner of Camino brought out the chefs to say a few words. 

 
Coffee service came out with dessert which was popcorn ice cream with caramelized popcorn and black pepper.   

 
I had an amazing meal and overall experience at the Nopi luncheon. Chef Scully fuses a slight touch of Asia to the Mediterranean cuisine of Ottolenghi that inspires me to cook from the Nopi cookbook. Russ, chef and co-owner of Camino did an excellent job interpreting the food of the Nopi cookbook. 

 It was an absolute privilege to be there and document the day. Thank you Allison and Russ and everyone at Camino for hosting this event!

Takashi: A Chicago Find

I had never heard of Chef Takashi before my recent trip to Chicago. My friend and I were looking for places to eat in Chicago and first found “Slurping Turtle,” a restaurant of Takashi’s, which specializes in noodles. The menu didn’t “wow” us, but then we found the restaurant of his namesake. That was enough for me to make an Open Table reservation for this Japanese and French inspired restaurant.
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My friend and I arrived to find a really cute, upscale restaurant. As we reviewed the menu, we decided on sharing two appetizers and two entrees. The appetizers of our choice were the corn chowder and the soy ginger caramel pork belly. The soup came out first and was enjoyable with a nice, sweet flavor and was comforting to the palette.
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The pork belly arrived with a pickled daikon salad and steamed buns that were meant to create open faced sandwiches. The pork belly was incredibly good, cooked with a sweet flavor of hoisin sauce that melted in my mouth. Oh, I wanted more.
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One of our entrees was the sautéed west coast sea bass. The fish came with a ratatouille on a bed of white beans. The fish was cooked very delicately with a crispy skin.
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Our other entree was the seared loin of veal. We got three pieces of veal each prepared on top of something different. We had a gratin of onion and zucchini couscous, asparagus, and bacon preserved lemon-caper brown butter. I haven’t had veal in a long time, but this was likely the best preparation I have had.
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My friend and I were quite full and ended up foregoing dessert. To be honest, we thought the choices were unattractive and slim. It was okay, because we enjoyed everything we ate.

As we were leaving, I saw copies of Chef Takashi’s cookbook, “Noodles”. As I flipped through it, I found that his recipe for the pork belly was in it. I asked the host if they had any autographed copies. The host responded that the Chef was there and could sign it. I ended up being able to meet him and have a photo with him. He was extremely nice and gracious. I am now a huge fan.
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