Thursday, 14 July 2011

13 Places to Eat Before You Die

One of my culinary heroes, fantastic speaker, braver than most when it comes to food...Mr. Anthony Bourdain!

My kitchen apron signed by the man himself Anthony Bourdain

 Reprinted from 

Any seasoned traveler can tell you that the "best" meals on the planet are the result of an ephemeral confluence of circumstances. A table at the most expensive restaurant in the world does not guarantee a truly great meal. That said, if you're planning on dying in the near future and want to knock off a list of final, glorious dining experiences, these places would make a very respectable binge. Start with one. Make a reservation today. Go on an empty stomach. Trust me: This is livin'.

1)  St. John
(London) If I had to die with half a bite of anything hanging out of my mouth, it would probably be the roast bone marrow in Fergus Henderson's plain-white dining room at St. John. Scooped out and slathered onto a crust of toasted bread and sprinkled with sea salt, it's simple yet luxurious. The menu is proudly English, a rebuke to anyone still laboring under the impression that English food sucks. Famously pork-centric and focused on traditional offal and game dishes, St. John is as wonderful for what it does as for what it doesn't do: compromise. It specializes in good ingredients from "happy" animals that are treated with love and respect. Henderson has become a reluctant spiritual leader to a whole generation of chefs--and even the old-guard guys love to stop by for crispy pig tails, ham in hay, or a properly roasted bird. This is one of the truly bullshit-free zones on the culinary landscape.

2)  el Bulli
(Girona, Spain) It's the hardest reservation in the world. And everything they say is true: It's an adventure, a challenge, a delicious and always fun acid trip to the farthest reaches of creativity. Brothers Ferran and Albert Adrià and their team are the most influential and creative people working in food--and this surprisingly casual restaurant on a sleepy cove on Spain's Costa Brava is probably the most important restaurant of our time. Love it or hate it, if you have the opportunity to wangle a reservation, do it. It's like seeing Jimi Hendrix's first show. Forget any preconceptions you might have. Is it good? Yes. More important--is it fun? Yes. Yes. Yes.

3)  The French Laundry
(Napa Valley, California)

4)  Per Se (New York City) The best sit-down, multicourse, white-tablecloth meal of my life was at the French Laundry. And subsequent meals at Per Se, also run by chef Thomas Keller, were no less wonderful. There's no better way to go than the full-on tasting menu, a once-in-a-lifetime marriage of the best ingredients, creative thinking, and high standards, along with the personal imprint of the most respected chef in the world. How can Keller be at both restaurants at once? It doesn't matter. Pick one. Fast for 2 days, stretch your stomach with water the day of, and then see how they do it at the very top. It's a level of perfection in food and service that few even try to approach.

5)  Sin Huat Eating House
(Singapore) It's grimy looking, the service can be less than warm, the beer is served in a bottle (often with ice), and the tables sit halfway into the streets of Geylang, Singapore's red-light district. But the crab bee hoon--giant Sri Lankan beasts cooked with a spicy mystery sauce and noodles--is pure messy indulgence. The whelks, steamed spotted cod, prawns, scallops (in fact, any seafood available that day) are all worth having. Warning: It looks cheap, but it's not.

6)  Le Bernardin
(New York City) This is the best fish joint . . . anywhere. And it's relevant and fun, despite its formal service and fine-dining ambience. The grand tasting menu is a stripped-down thing of relatively austere beauty. And whatever they're doing this year or this month is always, always interesting.

7)  Salumi
(Seattle) It's a sandwich shop with a couple of tables, and a true mom-and-pop--even if they're the mom and pop of famous chef Mario Batali. Anything cured, anything braised, any of the limited hot specials . . . in fact, anything the Batalis make is worth grabbing with both hands.

8)  Russ & Daughters
(New York City)

9)  Katz's Delicatessen (New York City) Russ & Daughters started as a pushcart nearly a century ago, and it now serves some of the last traditional Eastern European Jewish-style herring and smoked belly lox, sable, and sturgeon. And since you're close, walk down a few doors to Katz's to remind yourself how pastrami is done right. This is what New Yorkers do better than anybody else. And here's where they do it.

10)  Etxebarri
(Axpe, Spain) Victor Arguinzoniz grills unlikely ingredients over homemade charcoal: baby eels, imperial beluga caviar, oysters. (The fresh chorizo and prawns work, too.) Theoretically you can't grill a lot of this stuff, but a handcrafted series of pulleys that raise and lower each item makes it possible. Eat here, and no one is eating better.

11)  Sukiyabashi Jiro
(Tokyo) The best sushi on earth? Maybe. Jiro Ono is more than 80 years old, and he's been doing old-school Edo-style sushi his whole life. Every piece of fish is served at precisely the right temperature and the rice and seaweed alone are blackout good. Ono will ruin sushi for you from anywhere else.

12)  Hot Doug's
(Chicago) This place convinced me the Chicago red hot is, in fact, superior to the New York hot dog. And it's home to two great innovations in American gastronomy: the "foie gras dog" and the weekends-only practice of cooking French fries in duck fat. It's proof that food doesn't have to be expensive to be great.

13)  Oklahoma Joe's Barbecue
(Kansas City, Kansas) People may disagree on who has the best BBQ. Here, the brisket (particularly the burnt ends), pulled pork, and ribs are all of a quality that meet the high standards even of Kansas City natives. It's the best BBQ in Kansas City, which makes it the best BBQ in the world. 

Anthony Bourdain is the host of the Travel Channel's No Reservations, A Cook's Tour. He is also author of the books by the same names. (BIO)

A Cook's Tour: French Laundry Episode

No Reservations: Istanbul

Anthony Bourdain rocks!
Follow on twitter @NoReservations


1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 pound imported elbow macaroni
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter plus more for greasing ramekins
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups whole milk
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
9 black peppercorns
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup mascarpone
6 ounces Taleggio cheese, rind removed and diced
6 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
6 ounces Pecorino Romano, coarsely grated
1 cup garlic bread crumbs (recipe follows)
Truffle oil, for drizzling
8-Ounce Ramekins
Note: You'll need 8-ounce ramekins for this dish.
Butter the ramekins. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Bring a large pot of water with 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil. Add the pasta and stir just until the water returns to a boil. Cook until just al dente, drain, shaking well. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until softened. Sprinkle the flour over the onion and stir constantly for 2 minutes; don't allow the flour to brown. Add 1 cup of the milk a little at a time, stirring constantly. Stir until smooth, then add the bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns, and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt and 21/2 cups of milk.
Increase the heat to medium-high and continue stirring frequently until the liquid reaches a boil (don't let it boil over). Boil for 1 minute, then reduce the heat to low so the milk barely simmers, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes more.
Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes, and then strain through a sieve into a very large bowl, working the onions back and forth with a rubber spatula to extract all the liquid possible. Immediately stir in plenty of ground pepper, the nutmeg, mascarpone, Tallegio, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Pecorino Romano, stirring until the cheeses are just melted.
Stir the cooked macaroni into the cheese mixture, then fold in the beaten egg whites. Spoon the mixture into the ramekins, mounding slightly, and top each with a big pinch of the bread crumbs.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cheese is quietly sizzling and the bread crumbs are golden. Let cool for 5 minutes, drizzle with the truffle oil, and serve.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Makes 2 cups
5 ounces (about 3 thick slices), country-style white bread, crusts removed
2 large garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a garlic press
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Pulse the bread in a food processor until it is in coarse crumbs. Toss the crumbs with the garlic, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl until thoroughly combined. Add the olive oil and work vigorously with a rubber spatula to force the oil into the crumbs.

This recipe is from Donatella Arpaia's "Donatella Cooks: Simple Foods Made Glamorous."

Available for order through your favourite online bookstores. This book is delicious, simple yet elegant! A must for any fan and those who simply enjoy great food done well! Take care, we are off on a new foodie adventure. Check back soon for deets and photos!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

One Pot Wonders Equal Comfort Food for the Soul

Kale, Cabbage, Beer and Smoked Sausage One Pot Meal

Olive Oil
Bay Leaf
Garlic Cloves (3)
Bunch of fresh Kale (wash and de-rib)
Green Cabbage 1/2 (wash and cut into uniform chunks - about an inch wide)
Bottle of your favourite Beer, Stout, Bitter or Lager
Chicken Stock (1 cup)
Heavy Cream (1/2 cup)
Smoked Pork Sausage 
Dijon Mustard (1 tbsp)
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Heavy pot – preferably Le Creuset for even heat distribution and supreme cooking
Dijon Mustard

Wash and de-rib the kale, drain

Wash and cut the cabbage in to uniform chunks about an inch wide, drain

Place Le Creuset on the range on high heat

Once things get going things are going to get done in pretty quick order…get ready!

Add olive oil, bay leaf and garlic cloves to the pot. Note do not burn the garlic

Add Kale – stir, let it sweat for a few minutes, kale takes quite a while to soften.  Make note to ensure that Kale does not burn!

Reduce heat to Med-High on a gas range – if you have electric…manage your heat so that the bottom does not burn!

Add Cabbage – stir, let it sweat as well for a few minutes, like Kale cabbage is a harder vegetable, takes longer to soften but is ideal for stews and casseroles

Now time for the beer – this adds flavour, steam, complexity to the end result.  The alcohol will cook out. Reduce. To reduce means that the water evaporates from the liquid  you added, intensifying the flavour. Make sure that it boils.

Add chicken stock. Reduce as well. IF you don’t have chicken stock…lord knows why not…just add a dry white wine.  Make sure that if you wouldn’t drink it…why would you cook with it?

Add heavy cream. Reduce and simmer.

Now for the Smoked Sausage. Place on top. Cover the Le Creuset.

Leave it alone now on a Med-Low Heat and let the sausage cook up and the juices flow over the vegetable mixture. Stirring occasionally.

Add Dijon Mustard at the end just before you are going to serve. Just a tablespoon or so…it is to taste.

Seasoning is important! I always season as I go and so should you.  


Recipe created by baguettes and butterscotch and heavy influences from mentor and friend Master Chef Robert Orsi

CHEF UNLEASHED! - Pilot for consideration for Production

Chef Unleashed from Chris Cosentino on Vimeo.


People pitch me TV ideas all the time. Some are good, some not so good. Having done my fair share of TV, I’ve gotten to a place where I’m particular about the projects I choose to do. I’ve also watched how our celebrity-driven culture has infiltrated the food world, with some alarming side-effects. But I’m getting off-topic.

Last year, a couple of guys approached me about doing a food/adventure show called Chef Unleashed. One of them had written about me a couple of times in food magazines and the other was known for directing music videos and concert movies. I was intrigued. The approach they suggested was fresh and honest and, as it would turn out, envelope-pushing: They actually wanted to do a show that would challenge and excite me, a chef, and, in so doing, challenge and excite viewers.

The impulse behind the show was simple: Everybody on-board loves food, is fascinated by where it comes from, and is not squeamish about how to get it, whether it might be game hunted on open terrain or tuna hand-gaffed by blood-soaked Sicilian fisherman, a tradition that goes back 1,000 years. As the guys wrote in their proposal, “Chef Unleashed invites the viewer on a global eating exploration. It’s a new kind of reality show, about where good food really comes from—when it’s done right.”

I appreciated the directness and honesty, along with the prospect of traveling the world to explore how the very best food is raised, butchered, or farmed in its native habitat: Chef Unleashed would have me put on waders, pick up a rifle, wear a hardhat, don overalls, whatever it might take. Real stuff. Challenging and yet totally entertaining. No oohing and aaahing studio audience. No eating of 40-pound omelets or 9-foot hoagies. No races or contests.

We went to the Texas Hill Country in January and shot a pilot with one of my favorite purveyors: Broken Arrow Ranch. They’re the go-to guys for wild game in the US. We had a blast. I learned how to “field harvest” deer alongside their sharpshooters and, in turn, I taught them how to use the whole animal, including the heart, the kidneys, the liver. We had a huge feast at the end, outside, with the moon rising. Some of the ranch guys were pretty skeptical about a.) my hunting ability (well, honestly, I was skeptical about my hunting ability, too), and b.) my approach to cooking. But when it was all over, everyone was fast friends. We learned a ton from each other and it was, I have to say, one of the very best days I’ve ever experienced as a chef and easily my best experience doing TV.

The guys working on the show captured it all brilliantly: my excitement, my apprehension, my eyes opening – and my hosts’ too -- to new ways of doing food. I have no doubt that the pilot will open more eyes, right down to the very frank, honest, and totally riveting footage of Texas deer – majestic, gorgeous animals — being hunted (and butchered) to provide food for our dinner tables.

Oops. Mistake. Yes, we were pretty aware that we were, to repeat the phrase, pushing the envelope with this. And I admit, it was pretty gory stuff. If you watch, you’ll see my very real reaction to it.

But this was not – at all – about shock value. This was all about getting down to the very source of the very best food and showing where it comes from. People who know me know I’ve been waging war against our Styrofoam-wrapped, hormone-pumped supermarket culture my entire career. Chef Unleashed allows me to continue that by other means, along with cracking some jokes, making new friends, and preparing some great food. But I suspect that some squeamishness – both the kind that I encounter occasionally in diners at Incanto, but, seriously, more often in TV executives who like to say they’re always looking for the next “new” thing, but in reality are pretty terrified when they ever really see anything new – got in the way of our show: The program made its way around the network that paid for it. And then just kind of petered out. Whatever. These things happen all the time and I refuse to take it personally. I’ve done other projects that didn’t get above the ground floor. Fair enough.

But this one is different. I think it’s a great opportunity for viewers and for a network game enough to break the boundaries of where food TV is right now. I’ve said way too much and yet I don’t think I’ve even given the best picture of what I think this show could become -- something, I believe, that can inspire a lot of people in their own kitchens, in their own journeys. It’s part travel show, part cooking show, and total adventure. It’s a food and travel show that looks and feels like no other. I love it and, even in this roughed-out pilot form, I think you might, too.

Thanks for checking it out.


Chris Cosentino

A bit about Chris...what Wikipedia has to say about one of my favourite all time Chefs...
Chris Cosentino is an American Chef noted for his specialty, offal dishes, now considered haute cuisine by many, and his eco-consciousness. He is executive chef at Incanto in San Francisco. He was a competitor on The Next Iron Chef and has appeared on Iron Chef America. As of September 2009, he is writing a book on offal cookery, and he maintains an offal-themed website, Offal Good. Forbes Traveler calls Incanto "perhaps America’s most adventurous nose-to-tail restaurant … On offer are lamb’s necks, pig trotters and a five-course nose-to-tail tasting menu perhaps including venison kidneys and chocolate-blood panna cotta."

1550 Church Street
SW corner of Church @ Duncan St
(bet 27th and 28th Streets)
Noe Valley, SF


Monday, 4 July 2011

In CHEESE we Trust! CHEESEWERKS Tasting Event @ Knead Bakery!

I want to thank Kevin and Tom from Cheesewerks, as well as Heather and her team from Knead Bakery! Thanks for the delicious opportunity to sample some of the up coming tasty menu items of the future Cheesewerks! Here are the photos from the event that was very well attended by fellow Tweeters, Social Network Junkies and Facebook followers.


The evening was filled with lots of fun, tasty food and a very special opportunity to meet and greet with the ambassadors leading the charge to bring designer grilled cheese sandwiches to Toronto! In grilled cheese we trust! I look forward to bigger and better ideas from the leaders to push the envelope of artisan cheese, locally produced breads, ingredients with a story and that little something extra. Cheesewerks will be opening soon!

Here are some photos taken from the event. Take a look at what you missed. They will be conducting more Monday night Tasting Events, so don’t miss out again. Check out the Cheesewerks Facebook Fan Page for more information. While you are there, you might as well "LIKE" them as I am certain you will!

Kevin, one half of the dynamic duo behind CHEESEWERKS
Tom the second half of the dynamic duo behind CHEESEWERKS
Cherry-wood smoked Pulled Pork with Black River Pepper Jack Mozzarella with Chipotle Beer BBQ Sauce sandwich! OMG!

A tasting of Brownies from Knead Bakery, heavenly bites of yummy goodness!
The cheese-mobile!
Just a detail shot of the lovely goodies from Knead Bakery. Contact their website for hours of operation.
56 Bathurst Street,
Toronto, ON M5V 2P7

Knead Bakery
283 Scarborough Road,
Toronto, ON M4E 3M9

Saturday, 2 July 2011

A Little Bit of Paradise - My Vegetable Garden

I have only recently discovered the joys of growing my own food. Michelle and I live right in the city of Toronto. We have a small backyard with a large deck right I built last year. When I was designing the deck, I wanted to make sure I had enough space around it to grow vegetables. I started with herbs - to save money and for a better quality ingredient from what I normally would find in grocery stores. Then, I planted some tomatoes. Now, I have more than 5 varieties of tomatoes, 5 types of herbs, baby mixed greens, carrots and 2 kinds of onions. I can’t wait to harvest and taste a bit of everything!

I started to harvest young onions both yellow Spanish and red onions from the garden this weekend. They smell lovely!

I am quite proud of myself as this is the very first time that I have had the pleasure to grow my own. Ever since I had the pleasure to enjoy the fruits of my friend's efforts, I have desired to grow my own herbs and vegetables.

I just wanted to share a few shots of what is growing in my small paradise. Take care and enjoy the summer!

Keep Gardening!