Bistros and brasseries reached their height of buzz in the late ’90s/early ’00s (just around the time that Sex and the City made Balthazar in New York a household name). In the years since, such transparently French transplants became somewhat expected, and their cuisine started to seem old hat. Lately, however, we’re seeing a resurgence of interest in French culture—its aesthetics, its foods, and even its lingerie.
No blog da Carla, cheguei a falar da onda francesa que assolou NY este verão, especialmente downtown, onde novas brasseries e bistrôs trouxeram de volta os prazeres (simples) da cozinha francesa. Primeiro foi Monmartre, uma brasserie despojada, com jornais do dia, pratos pequenos, médios e grandes, em Chelsea (que precisava muito). Depois veio Calliope no East Village, com seu menu retro, ostras e coelhos e novos players na gastronomia de NY (o casal Eric Korsch e Ginevra Iverson). O Le Philosophe na Bond Street adicionou alguns toques de haute cuisine, com seus patos e lagostas. Mas o melhor acho que foi o novo de Andrew Carmellini, Lafayette, na Lafayette St, com seu menu gigante, com pratos de todas as regiões da França, ingredients de mercado e comida para o dia a dia. Os preços nem se comparam a São Paulo – o prato mais caro provavelmente sai por $35. Vive La France!
Sushi em Seattle custa uma ninharia e o peixe é sempre fresco. Geralmente vem do Pike Place Market, o centro nervoso da cidade — um mercado centenário com tudo de mais fresco, colorido e vivo. Mas se você tiver que escolher um restaurante só, que vai lembrar pro resto da vida, vá ao Shiro, porque o chef Shiro Kashiba e seu sócio Daisuke aprenderam tudo o que sabem com Jiro Ono (aquele do filme Jiro Dreams of Sushi). Ele só trabalha três dias na semana. Abre às 5:30 da tarde, mas a fila na porta começa às 4:15. A espera vale cada minuto! Shiro é conversador e vai contando histórias diferentes para cada um enquanto prepara um omakaze a gosto do freguês. É como se você fosse cliente regular. Lá de vez em quando pergunta: ‘are you almost full?’ É preciso avisar o chef quando se está ‘almost full’, porque sua pièce-se-resistance chega no final: dessert sushi, que é um hand roll, com ovo, mackerel, uni morno, gengibre e shiso. Sublime.
This is a foodies paradise, or a true food porn site. Beautiful pictures, curated recipes and an easy search engine. It has been compared to StumbleUpon because searching is that easy: type in an ingredient, and Gojee sweeps the web to deliver relevant recipes in seconds, and that includes its history and the looks. One can “like” and “dislike” a page, their least favorite ingredients and cuisines, crave drinks or food, which all makes for smarter search engine and results more personalized over time.
Carlota is a restaurant that became a mandatory reference in the two biggest cities in Brazil. It has a signature kitchen; an ongoing search to update what is considered standard in gastronomical principals, and to reposition culinary situations in this effervescent time we live in. The main force and chef behind Carlota is an old childhood friend, Carla Pernambuco. I just adapted one of her cookbooks, Basketful of (brazilian) Flavors to English. The book was published first in the mid nineties; and now, over 10 years later, it’s still current and fresh. She chef herself has redefined her path during a professional maturing process; however, she has launched new classics revisited by modern techniques. From distant parts of the globe, she has produced combinations that awakened unexpected perceptions to the palate. Her food inspirations travel anywhere from the hills of Minas Gerais to the mountains of Italy, from villages in Vietnam to seedy bars in Rio.
Since the first edition, it was always the intention to compile most wanted recipes and Carlota’ style hits. But Carla Pernambuco is a woman of the 21st century, mindful of the growing volume of data of a society surrounded by digital information. From her basketful of wisdom, flavors, scents, colors, textures, techniques and mixtures, she’s created a trail of personal practices to (re)think culinary in a global way. In ten chapters of curious, casual or celebratory anecdotes, culinary tidbits also propose creativity to everyday’s meals. Essays filled with diligent observations gastronomy may provoke unfold into musings and spirited commentary that are divided by the themes of the book. From bickering to celebrating, romancing to traveling, family recipes to unexpected combinations, there’s more than enough pleasure to be in the kitchen – or at the table.
Perhaps the perfect cookbook is the one proposed by Monteiro Lobato in A Reforma da Natureza, where a doll, Emilia, decides that Dona Benta’s cuisine volumes should have thousands of flavors; in a way the pages with recipes could be torn and –chomp! — eaten in a heartbeat by whoever was reading those pages. Carla Pernambuco still doesn’t reshape nature. But she revamps what is signature food, in the same tradition of signature chefs. After all, for a good cook all it takes is an ingredient the kitchen and an appetizing idea in mind.
Perbacco is a little place on the Lower East Side that after you visit, probably will always remember as one of your most memorable meals…ever. Wow! No, WOW…. Is the most common expression at this trattoria’s dining room. A couple of years ago Frank Bruni of the NYT described it as a “humble setting in the far East Village” –correct!– that was a “a trove of surprises, of dishes that don’t duplicate anything anywhere else in Manhattan.” He was absolutely right. Fortunately even though they’re seven years old, they’re still under the radar!
The chef, although from Modena, is a fan of Ferran Adria, so the meal begins as unconventionally as it might end—perhaps with crème brulee made with aged parmesan in a mousse topped with a thick, crackly shell of balsamic-infused cream. Then green olives stuffed with four different kinds of meat, dunked in breadcrumbs and fried to resemble mini croquettes. El secondo was a vitello tonnato, disguised as sushi, or seared tuna and veal little squares garnished with the slightest sprinkle of sea salt and cracked pepper. Dessert, vin santo. I am addicted.
That gastronomy culture and literature exploded in the past few years, everyone knows. But that the phenomenon is spreading online came as a surprise to me. There’s a new food blog practically every day, and a new thrill list, and a how to make this, and where to that….even blogs to list the best blogs! NY is easily the quintessential foodie’s paradise, and it’s where I came across 20 that I immediately bookmarked…. all of course for the one I write: www.carlotany.com.br
Happy browsing: Serious Eats, Foodista, Eater, The Oinking, The Wednesday Chef, Restaurant Girl, GRUB STREET, Chowhound, Smitten Kitchen, Bitten, StarChefs.com, Urban Daddy, Delish.com, Midtown Lunch, Eat me Daily, Opinionated About Dining, Amateur Gourmet, Food Mayhem, Girl Who Ate Everything, Eating in Translation, East of NYC, Wandering Eater, Tasting table (nesse post).