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January 11, 2005

Food News Jan. 12, 2005

Food News January 12, 2004

Tracking a Recipe 1999/2005 - Toasts with Chocolate, Olive Oil and Sea Salt

There's a simple recipe that I often serve after dinner - it's a stunner - in that when you serve it, your guests are usually stunned that such an effortless assemblage of ingredients is so incredibly good. I've never come across a mention of it since Amanda Hesser wrote about it in a 1999 article for the New York Times; Temptation; A Child's Treat Grownup (October 13, 1999). This month's Food & Wine Magazine (Feb. 2005) includes a recipe for it in an article on Ferran Adria, and coincidentally, it's going to be published in my food column for 7x7 Magazine's February issue7x7 Magazine. The recipe is Toasts with Chocolate, Olive Oil and Sea Salt.

While dining in Barcelona during a trip to interview Ferran Adria (In Spain, A Chef To Rival Dali, NY Times, September 15, 1999), Amanda Hesser was finishing dinner one night when a waitress set before her the toasts w/melted chocolate. "This is not our normal dessert. Our pastry chef is on vacation" the waitress explained. On the plate, Amanda noted, "were two squares of chocolate weeping on top of two slices of baguette. They were studded with clear crystals and drizzled with a yellow oil. The olive oil, like liquor, lingered with each bite, and the crystals -- sea salt -- cracked under my teeth, an echo to the crisp bread."

(We'll pause while you dash to the kitchen to try this - it only takes a minute...)

Ferran Adria is the world famous chef of El Bulli in Rosas, Spain, near Barcelona. The February 2005 issue of Food & Wine features a few of his "fast food" recipes from his new cookbook Cocinar en Casa, in which he uses commonplace supermarket ingredients to elevate ordinary recipes to another level. In a take on Spain's classic dish, the tortilla de patata he replaces the potatoes with potato chips. His riff on risotto is a pilaf-like combination of toasted spaghetti with clams. Then there is the Toasted Bread with Bittersweet Chocolate, the same exact recipe that Hesser wrote about in 1999.

Admittedly, I'm probably more fascinated with this particular recipe and it's publication than most people. I always considered it kind of a secret weapon of sorts, a dish that is so easy to prepare at the last minute, that you can trot it out at a moments notice when you need a treat to end a meal. It's one of those "not really a recipe" recipes, where ingredients are put together almost haphazardly, yet the results are intriguing enough to make your palate take notice. It's also simple enough that anyone, even those cooks whose skills are limited to making toast, can master.

Time: 10 minutes
8 1/4-inch baguette slices
8 thin 1-inch squares of best-quality bittersweet chocolate
Extra virgin olive oil, for sprinkling
Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay bread slices on a baking sheet. Lay a chocolate square on top of each. Sprinkle with a little olive oil and sea salt.
2. Bake until chocolate is molten but not seeping through bread, about 3 to 5 minutes. Bread should crisp slightly but not toast. Sprinkle with a little more olive oil and salt, and serve immediately.
Yield: 4 servings.
Copyright © 1999/2005 The New York Times

Food and Wine's article Fast Times with Ferran Adria (Anya Von Brezman). Note: Food & Wine's website now requires a subscription to access recipes (tsk tsk).

What if France's leading restaurant critic came to the U.S., reviewed a few of the best NYC eateries and proclaimed the food fabulous. What if he then took a road trip, let's say, down Route 66, and found wonderful, authentic American cuisine all along his way. What if he returned to France and proclaimed American food to be delicious, exciting, and astounding. We'd be reading about it in the NY Times. We'd be seeing it on CNN. We'd hear Terry Gross interviewing the critic, Francois Simon, on Fresh Air. The news would absolutely make the cover of Time Magazine. Actually, Mr. Simon did eat at Le Bernardin, Daniel and Per Se, and "all three meals fell substantially short of expectations.". Then he did actually take a trip down good ol' Route 66 and "I'd wanted to be able to report that the US is getting better and better as food goes and to tell the French we're not always the best. It was so disappointing to not be able to say that." So much for a story. More from The Financial TimesMichael Steinberger.

"The Spot: A blond woman—wearing a strapless dress and high heels—sticks her entire fist in her mouth, then pulls it back out and smiles. "How do you know if you can eat the largest double burger in the country?" Francois Simon musta missed the Hardee's drive-thru on his cross country trip... More from SlateSeth Stevenson. Related: Newest Gut Bomb in Burger Wars Is Audacity on a Bun. More from the La TimesJulie Tamaki.

Japanese Markets for U.S. Beef to reopen. "Japan was one of 58 countries that closed its borders to U.S. beef that day, all acting within 24 hours of the finding in a herd in Mabton, Wash., but it's the U.S. beef industry's most lucrative export market. In 2004, the closure meant a loss of some $60 million to California beef exporters and $1.5 billion to the U.S. beef industry." You want to know where all that excess beef went? Duh, the Monster Thickburger and the 1-pound Double Six Dollar burger. More from The SF ChronicleGeorge Raine. Related: Tyson trims Beef Operations due to reduction of overseas demands. More from: The State/S. Carolina.

"After spending millions on advertising their processed food products to children, the nation's food manufacturers are now attempting to appeal to parents worried about childhood obesity and unhealthy eating habits"..."What we're trying to do is provide a nutritional profile that appeals to moms and a taste profile that appeals to kids," said Juli Mandel Sloves, a spokeswoman for Campbell Soup Co." (Bullshit Juli, what you are trying to do is sell more of your product so you can justify spending millions on advertising.) More from The Washington PostCaroline E. Mayer. Related: It'd Be Easier If SpongeBob Were Hawking Broccoli. More from The NY TimesMarion Burros

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Posted by Bruce at January 11, 2005 06:18 AM

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