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September 12, 2005

Thomas Keller's Secret Recipe

Thomas Keller's Secret Recipe.

© 2005 Bruce Cole. All rights reserved.

The nicest thing happened to me Saturday night. I was enjoying a traditional Chinese banquet at Yank Sing restaurant, arranged by food writer Olivia Wu and the SF Chronicle as part of the Association of Food Journalists conference (AFJ). Someone tapped me on the shoulder and said "Are you Bruce Cole?" I turned around and it was none other than Mimi Sheraton, former NY Times restaurant critic (1975-1983) and author of the recently published Eating My Words, An Appetite for Life. She had some very nice things to say in regards to this little website you are reading right now. Made those pig ears taste that much better, believe me.

I also got to say hello to former SF Chronicle food writer Kim Severson, who looked pretty comfortable, despite sitting in between her old boss, Phil Bronstein, and her NY Times boss, Nick Fox (Phil says he is scheming of ways to hire her back). The first thing Kim did when she got into town was to have an arugula salad at Delfina. She was taken aback at how fresh and flavorful the greens were, compared to the average NYC arugula salad. The second thing she did when she got into town, (rumor has it) was propose to Alice Waters (this being San Francisco and all that). Ok, so it was actually part of her Conversation with Alice Waters gig. Didn't work out though...Alice is so past arugula.

Thomas Keller was at the table next to me, and for one fleeting mini micro moment my vainglorious ego floated up the possibility that he might be next to congratulate me on my food writing prowess. After all, I wrote the universally lauded imaginary matchup featuring him and Heston Blumenthal. Well, not only did he end up slapping me on the back, he also invited me up to the French Laundry for dinner next Saturday, and even extended an invitation to fly on the private FL JET the next day for a meal at Per Se.

Ah yes, that little fantasy was ruined by the waitress tapping me on the shoulder with a offer to refill my wine glass.

Ok, since Keller dissed me, I mean missed me (just kidding)(kinda), I'll let you in on a little secret. In A Conversation with Mimi Sheraton earlier in the day, he confessed to never having actually tasted his signature oyster and pearls dish. Composed of tapioca pearls bathed in a rich sabayon that acts as a raft for an Osetra caviar topped oyster, it's a classic Keller play on words, and how we associate them with food. In the ten years it's been on his menu, he's never once tasted it, and now is too superstitious to even think about it.

Doesn't know what he's been missing...

Here's Harvey Steiman with Keller's recipe for Oysters and Pearls (Google cache of the page here). .

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Posted by Bruce at September 12, 2005 01:00 AM

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