New York eating is a fine thing. On a whirlwind week of good-times and good eats, the whole experience was rad, the only sad part was not having time to dip my fork into so many other tasty looking places. This trip was just a teaser of all the treats to be had, and until I’m fully loaded up(cash), these are a few bites from my experience there.
First let me blast out my most excellent meal. The company outstanding, the conversation of life affirming quality while eating a paced meal where dishes come out one after the other(or near enough). A perfect place that let’s you get stuck in to the things that matter. This magic all happened at Momofuku’s Ssamm Bar.
While I would like to drop nuggets of dialogue from the meal, I’m gonna stick to talking about the food, as the running commentary would definitely be too much for you troops to handle. The Herculean ratio of gin to tonic, might have had something to do with that, but old friends and birthday libations might have been more the case.
Jonah Crab Claws: Already cracked for my stupid ass to easily suck the meat out of.
(note:- bad memories from marathon crab eating session due to non-cracked crustacean).
The residual moisture from the ice; regenerative, bringing cool life back to the crab meat.
A mild harissa mayo, the soft touch dip that gave a warmth to cooled claws – fire and ice an elemental dish. Not to be outdone, there was also a homemade ‘sriracha’ sauce that gave a heat sting, higher in contrast and more of an attack than the milder harissa.
Edwards Wigwam Ham: This was the plate that brought about the most debate. As far as I know, the guys at Momofuku have been the ones to bring Country Ham back to the table.
The typical treatment of ham, would be thick-cut ham served in such dishes as, ham n’ eggs, this is on a whole new level. In Europe your used to a plate of cured meats, Italian, Spanish or French, it’s the norm whilst dining out(or even at home) it becomes just a taste. But, this is the New America, respect to the old world, welcome to the new world of U.S. cured meat. Country ham that doesn’t completely reek of tired out Mediterranean clap-trap concepts and breaths life into produce that has always existed, but not really been exposed or used to its fullest potential.
We choose the Edwards Ham as it was described as ‘full of funk’. If that sounds unappetizing, so be it. The world is changing and so is the way in which we describe foods.
(I’ll leave that topic for another day/post). Cured meats are a great way to take a chill and just mellow out on one thing, one uncomplicated dish. It centers you and the conversation, since you do not have to process the information from too many ingredients, it balances a meal and prepares you for what is about to come next…..
David Chang(Momofuku originator) brought kimchi into the lexicon of the American food scene. As everyone went nuts for the cabbage varietal, the real fun can be had with fermenting other foodstuffs. Here the coarse, crisp and juicy, honey crisp apple has had the treatment. Maple labne(strained yoghurt) took on heat from the apples; heavy flesh jowl bacon compacted the taste with a salty ununctuous flair.
These suckers are a staple here, and we could not leave without trying them. Steamed buns where the porky belly performed a magic trick called “Meat Dissolve”: the hoisin, scallions and cucumbers; magicians assistants, helping the pork belly performing its disappearing routine. A solid act.
Not photographed here, but a huge glorious success, agreed upon by all the senses in my food lab, were the veal sweetbreads. Only in America have I seen sweetbreads so big and so bloody delicate at the same time. The inclusion of almonds complemented the rich silky sweetbreads with their own milk and butter characteristics.
This was a sojourn into the realm of a wizard: the mage of culinary mixology, of melting pot cuisine. This is what is right about U.S. cooking: value of heritage, the understanding of great technique, the constant need to re-invent or re-purpose dishes/produce, and to above all have fun. Man, I’m dinning in a fantasy world, press stop on the VCR and eject the tape, that was too much.