Picnic on Monte Urgull

I finally made it to Don Serapio today. Marti suggested we pick up some goodies and take a hike up Monte Urgull for a picnic. It’s a quaint gourmet store full of imported goods as well as local, artisanal treats like hand-churned butter. Of course I grabbed some to try. We loaded up on some jamón, cecina de león, queso de idiazabal y pan for the picnic. I guess I don’t have to be in Paris to faire le picnic!

Don

The ciabatta pan was decent for Spanish bread. iQue sorpresa! Crunchy outside, hollow ‘knock’ and a hint of yeasty goodness.

Pan y queso

A lover of charcuterie, I jumped at the opportunity to try cecina de león (cured beef leg) per Marti’s recommendation. The texture was similar to jamón serano but not quite as dry. There was a subtle smokey flavor to it that lingered at the end–nice touch.

Cecina de León

Of course we splurged on a bit of jamón bellota because there’s no rival to this king of hams. So rich, so nutty, so smooth.

Bellota

Of course I saved one piece for my last bite because when you are without chocolate to end on a sweet note, bellota is a suitable substitute. Such great, thin slicing on the butcher’s part as well. Bravo!

Sunny Bellota

Though a bit chilly, the hike up the “mountain” warmed us and the sun did peek through the clouds a few times. It was a beautiful view and a perfect way to spend a friday afternoon, eating and conversing with two fellow food enthusiasts.

Sol

Advertisements

Best [eats] of 2010

2010 was a glorious year in food and travel for me. I am very fortunate [and forever indebted to those who made it possible] to have experienced all the delicious journeys I did. Here’s a look back:

The tastiest, crispiest-skinned pork chop:

Restaurant Martín, Shanghai

The freshest ikura (with edamame soy beneath):

Urasawa, Beverly Hills, CA

Best intermezzo (passion fruit custard, XO rum granité, coconut foam):

Joël Robuchon, NYC

The best taste-bud-numbing spicy (lazi ji 辣子):

Chuan Ban川办餐厅, Beijing

Favorite ‘cold’ dish veggie-seafood medley (dashi jelly with sea bean, bell pepper, zuchini, tako, white fish):

Sugawara, Tokyo

Best shaved-ice, a.k.a. mountain of ice with various bean and gelatinous toppings:

Bellagio鹿港小镇, Shanghai

Best gelato (or in this case, lemon sorbet):

Grom, Paris

Best drinks (my favorites include: 1919, French 75, Old Cuban, Sazerac…just to name a few):

Drink, Boston

The ultimate naan bing (okay this was actually 2009 but I’m still remembering it!):

Tian Shan Mountain 天山, Xinjiang 新疆

The best banh-mi sandwich [aptly hidden inside a convenience store on Larkin Street]. Don’t forget the jalapeños!

Saigon Sandwich, San Francisco

El mejor jamón [bellota]. Que rico:

Bar La Cepa, San Sebastián

Crispiest sea-bass [with safffron emulsion]:

The French Laundry, Yountville

The coolest gougère [pillow]:

Meadowood, St. Helena

Best cheese course (chevre, roquette, pain et miel confiture):

Une Table au Sud, Marseille

Favorite dessert [an ode to Alex Stupak] (vanilla-mango ice cream, yuzu, spruce):

WD~50, NYC

Best ma soy (house soy sauce), anago and bonito [an ode to Yasuda-San] :

Sushi Yasuda, NYC

Best pasta (Fresh cut semolina spaghetti, crab, Santa Barbara sea urchin, basil):

Marea, NYC

Tastiest post-dessert treat (Olive oil ganache):

Spring, Paris

Best offal (Tête, langue et cervelle  de veau croustillante, pommes vapeur et sauce gribiche aka crispy head, tongue and brain of veal with boiled potatoes and gribiche sauce):

Café Constant, Paris

The juiciest, most tender pork bun (“Chairman Bao” with Berkshire pork, haus relish, Taiwanese red sugar, crushed peanut, cilantro):

BaoHaus, NYC

The tastiest non-standalone-uni dish (Santa Barbara uni with black soy bean yuba in shiitake broth):

Soto, NYC

The ultimate beef [flap meat] roasted over an open pit (Annual Portuguese American festival held in August):

Portuguese American Recreation, Woburn

The best chocolate tart (smooth, velvety, deep):

Les Cocottes, Paris


 

 

Stay tuned…

Jamón Bellota

I spend the majority of my days in Paris in sauna-like conditions, which include but are not limited to: my sans air conditioning apartment, the crowded, sweaty locker rooms at LCB where we are required to change out of uniform before we leave the premises, the [might-as-well-be-wearing-winter-parkas-they’re-so-thick] uniforms of LCB (jacket, pants, apron, hat, towel) and the sweat induced by classroom “pressure-cooking” I call it, since chef is always lurking or hovering somewhere, ready to pounce on you. It’s not anything like Betty Homemaker taking her sweet ol’ time to bake a pie in the comfort of her own home. Plus, I think I’ve sweated extra this week since I have been assigned as one of three class delegates. Therefore I have the responsibility of retrieving, setting up and returning ingredients from the basement and pantry to the classroom. For these reasons, I cannot find my appetite. Where has it gone?

Thus I have been eating ‘lighter’, ‘summery’ fare such as tomatoes, avocadoes, bell peppers and pesto. I feel like a vegetarian!

Jamón Bellota at L’Atelier de Jöel Robuchon

So after the tomato salad I made for dinner tonight, I realized that although I may not be hungry, I still have last week’s dinner on my mind. More specifically, the unctuous sensation of pork melting between my tongue and palate lives on. Yes, Jamón Bellota, I miss you. You were the best I ever had and I want you back.