Monday, January 11, 2010

The Fat Duck Cookbook

The Fat Duck Cookbook The Fat Duck Cookbook by Heston Blumenthal

I love how obsessive Heston is with his approach to scientific cooking. Some sections can be 'dork talk' overload, but he values cooking tradition, tweaks it, and is taking his craft to the next level. Not only self taught, the chef also has a three Michelin star restaurant which is where these recipes are inspired from...The Fat Duck.
My favorite recipe right off the spoon is the 'Nitro-Poached Green Tea and Lime Mousse'. Liquid nitrogen! word. Luckily enough for me, my friend acquired the nitrogen in a liquid state to make some eggnog ice cream. Like a witch's cauldron, I stirred the pot while the liquid nitrogen was poured in. Soon enough our dinner party audience were blown away by the spectacle. Can't forget cooking scrambled eggs at -321 F. (definitely a first)
Thanks to Heston's passion I have a new perspective of cooking with science. Hell, the oven that sits in most households today is not that old...why not some new toys for the kitchen. Heston has opened the door to science and technology, while keeping his traditional cooking roots and making way for....the nouvelle cuisine.

View all my reviews >>

Wild Rose Oven

The Wild Rose Oven was built in the Chilcotin region of British Columbia (Sept 2009). The design was inspired from old Russian fairy tales which gave me the idea for the ogive style arch. All materials where salvaged locally except for the fire brick for the hearth. The door was made by a local blacksmith named Darren from Mountain Shadow Metals ( I gave him some dimensions and discussed some artistic ideas for the door. A week later he hammered together this arched door with a beautiful rose on the front...the man has serious skills.
The oven was finished with Keanu's (two years of age) hand print on the right hand side of the oven. With an abundant supply of pine wood in the Chilcotin, wood fire cookery will be happening in this gorgeous part of British Columbia.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

I like is good

I like food and food is good. Thanks to my friend Kiera for putting together this clip, which pretty much sums up how I feel about food. (music by the Descendents)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Those were the days

December usually steers me nuts with all the xmas pandemonium and annoying carols. This night however, set the festive mood for December. A bis ass xmas tree, nice cozy fire, friends, music and 130 hand made ravioli's to feast on. The tallegio cheese ravioli were blackout good along with the beef mixed with fresh tarragon and savory. While my friend and I were cranking the pasta machine, Peter was welcoming the festivus Archie Bunker style.

You'll laugh, you'll cry and you'll stand up and cheer.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Smokin' Tuna Cafe

No hello kitty, it's hello tuna. Before your face is Attila, the emperor of East Sooke (Vancouver Island) at the Smokin' Tuna Cafe. I heard about two girls who wanted an oven for their ocean front food establishment, so comrade Ben and I started scheming. They wanted a smoking tuna oven which was a great artistic challenge, but could we actually make a tuna oven that smoked? Why not? So Ben whipped up a design and we decided where Attila the tuna would reside on the patio. A front venting chimney was too much of a 'tunicorn', so we decided on a cross draft chimney (where smoke vents through the back of the oven). Our first rock foundation with concrete was built and underneath the hearth we insulated with pumice. The door was made next door by a boat builder, the egg lady chatted with the local glass blower who made some eyeballs for atilla. With two different style of eyes, Attila was starting to take shape...amazing. Our good artist friend Kirsten dropped some sculpting skills and was responsible for the great looking tail. Armed with questions, customers ate their lunch and watched with curiosity. I could see it in their faces, MUD?

The learning curve with Attila was massive and I knew more ovens were on the horizon. Aesthetic and practical ovens would be the direction of our creations, with the material we loved during our childhood...mud.

It was all a dream

This is where it all started, my nonsensical notion of building an oven made out of mud. Like a knife fight, I wondered how I got into this mess and still aghast why my friend agreed to this. It was all a dream and completely unaware of how this fire breathing mud dome was going to shape my future. The first building step was the foundation, which I decided a mortar mixture of clay and sand would be a fine substitute for concrete (comrade Ben was not convinced it would hold the oven or even last one west coast wet winter...fair enough). Next, the salvaged 'character' bricks from an 80 year old greenhouse for the hearth, followed by the sand form to shape the dome of the oven. While beer with sand bits were going down the hatch, the ingredients of cob were being mixed by a bunch of amateurs. I'd keep taking a step back looking at the creation of mud and it would trigger all kinds of new ideas. How artistic and functional can we be with mud? After much skepticism, the oven was completed and a fire lit. What the hell were we going to bake? We were not cooks or bakers, normal kids that grew up with canned food and tv dinners. Damn. Wood fire cookery 101 here we come.
A new relationship with the oven quickly developed as did our kneading skills. Food club started every Sunday. No more ordering pizza, now it's backyard pizza. My favorite...banking new smells and flavors...memories.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Cunnings Oven Builders

The architect Christopher Alexander says that humans have a biologically built-in human preference for radiant heat--- his answer to why people prefer an open fireplace to an open heating vent (I guess that is why you see people huddled around a fireplace and not the heating vent). Perhaps that's another reason why bread is better baked in a wood fired oven. These particular ovens are built with a mixture of clay, sand and straw, known as cob or "natural concrete". MUD? Yes my enthusiasm for creating with mud is much like a four year old building a sand castle, except for the playing with fire and filling my belly with baked goodness. Most of my projects have been built with my comrade artist Ben Van Netten a great oil painter from Victoria BC.

My goal for this blog is to keep people updated with building projects. I will post a couple past ovens as I am new to the blogger's universe. As a food dork, I will be posting other interesting food porn about our local area of British Columbia.