Archive for December, 2011

Happy (fizzy) New Year!

Chef Alceo Rapa is not just a great cook — he’s a terrific showman. When David had Rapa’s seafood risotto with Gruppo Ristoratori Italiani at Ristorante da Alceo in Pesaro (Le Marche) last spring, Rapa set off a bottle of spumante as if it were a fountain. The risotto used delectable shrimp from the cold waters seven miles out in the Adriatic along with Grand Marnier, parsley, fish stock, and blood orange juice. At the finish, Rapa added a teaspoon of sugar to the just-opened bottle of sparkling wine, and voila! Happy New Year!

Ristorante da Alceo, Strada Panoramica Ardizio, 119/121 – 61122 Pesaro, Italia. Tel: +39 0721-51360, www.ristorantealceo.it.

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12 2011

Basque treats: angulas for Christmas

Nothing says Christmas in Basque country like a nice plate of angulas, i.e., baby eels, also known as elvers, glass eels, or ”spaghetti with eyes.” Threatened by overfishing and by Asian buyers who purchase the live elvers to raise on fish farms, angulas nonetheless remain a touchstone of Basque traditional cuisine. They are, however, expensive. We have a piece in the December 2011 Robb Report about fishing for and preparing angulas. We should note that we had a lot of help to research this story, especially from chef Fernando Canales of Etxanobe in Bilbao, eel fisherman and all-around outdoorsman and gourmand Txetxu Oliver, and chefs Juan Marí and Elena Arzak, who were good enough to sit down and talk with us at Restaurante Arzak about angulas in Basque tradition. You can find the whole piece on our Sample Articles page. Watch for coming posts that share some recipes from Basque home cooking.

We refer you to the Robb Report article for the details on angulas, but wanted to give readers a peek at some of the photos that didn’t run with the magazine story. First up is a shot of Fernando with his angulas salad in the kitchen at Etxanobe.

And then there’s the stunning version of angulas served at Restaurante Arzak in San Sebastian. The Arzaks plate the eels on a buckwheat toast and add a seaweed salad. The whole thing is served on a plate of wet black slate.

And, finally, here is Juan Marí Arzak himself cooking the angulas over a wood fire in a perforated frying pan as fellow chef (and daughter) Elena Arzak looks on.

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12 2011

Montreal bargain lunches

Of all the guidebook series we work on, the research for the Food Lovers’ series may be the most fun. Our most recent published volume was on Montreal, but we didn’t spend all our time eating foie gras or dining at innovative contemporary restaurants.

We’re always on the lookout for good values, and we found 10 great lunches for about $10 where we could tap into various strains of Montreal culture. We recently published that roundup in the Boston Globe. You’ll find the results as a pair of PDFs on our Sample Articles page.

We are just about finished writing our next volume, Food Lovers’ Guide to Vermont & New Hampshire, and have a refrigerator full of artisanal cheese, cured pork products, and storage vegetables that we brought back to Cambridge from our research forays. Inspired by the great grilled cheese sandwich we had at Maison Cheddar in Montreal’s Outremont neighborhood (it’s in the Boston Globe article), we took some of that provender to improvise a New England locavore grilled cheese lunch.

The sharp cheddar cheese came from Vermont, a fig-walnut jam spread came from Stonewall Kitchen in Maine, and a few slices of Fox Smoke House bacon hailed from the woods of New Hampshire. We put those ingredients between a couple of slices of Nashoba Brook Bakery’s ”Harvest” bread, a sourdough studded with nuts, fruits, and candied ginger. (Nashoba Brook is in West Concord, Massachusetts.) As a counterpoint, we grated some Vermont carrots, added some golden raisins, and tossed them with a little cider vinegar, salt, a pinch of sugar, and a few drops of milk to make a Montreal-style carrot salad. Not bad. It succeeded in bring a taste of travel back home.

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12 2011