Sunday, May 11, 2008

Food Porn: FAIL

Ghenne over at The Cutting Edge of Ordinary always has the best food porn. It makes me feel like a pathetic foodie cause I haven't been cooking as much as I should be lately.

But tonight was different. I get my inspirations from a lot of different places and tonight I was trying to reproduce something I saw on an episode of Cook's Tour, a fisherman's soup that involved purée'd fish, cream, a shot of Pernod and a variety of toppings like fresh garlic croutons and gruyere cheese.

Our local seafood shop, as such a shop is quite firmly positioned to do, makes it's own seafood stock out of shrimp shells and fish bones. At 2 dollars a pint, it's a very nice local foodie resource. Now if only other local meat suppliers would do as much (hint, hint Jacobson Brothers). So I picked up a few pints of stock with some potatoes, albacore tuna, chives and garlic at Willy Street.

It's actually a pretty easy soup to put together. I grilled the fish, warmed the stock, made my croutons with some slices of dense crusty bread brushed with butter, olive oil and crushed garlic, seasoned my stock with salt and white pepper (for the look), added three small diced potatoes and my chunks of fish (when they had finished grilling up GB&D), then I took the boat motor to the lot of it. Afterwards, I added a small shot of half and half. What you are left with is a very nice, thick, slightly gritty soup (the fish never quite purées all the way). I got stuck pondering the seasoning at the end. Salt and pepper added, it still needed that mysterious... something.

I would normally have reached for my trusty can of Old Bay at this point but for two things stopped me. 1. That's not what the original recipe called for and 2. Beenie doesn't like Old Bay. I started eying up that shot of Pernod.

Pernod is a anise tasting pastis that is consumed on hot days, sitting outside at a cafe, mixed with ice water. Think of it like a liquorice iced tea with alcohol. I suspect it wound up in dishes like fisherman's stew because of it's pervasive presence at just about every restaurant and cafe in France. Sooner or later, some Chef (probably plastered on that very product) threw some in his soup for the hell of it and liked the result.

Riding the indecision pony, I finally decided to give it a shot and made up a test batch in a coffee cup. I only added a little dribble, swirled it around the cup a few times and poured it out before adding a ladle full of soup. The Penod smell was so overpowering that I couldn't taste the soup through the smell for the first two bites. Finally my nose settled down and I managed to concentrate. It's different. Anise is peppery and kind of exotic tasting. It made an interesting undernote to the soup and seemed to complete the dish in a somewhat obtuse way. I wound up adding a cap full to the final pot, in retrospect, I probably could have thrown in a whole ounce.

The final product looked so good. Big bowl of creamy soup with a few toasted croutons floating on top with some shredded gruyere cheese and some snipped chives to garnish. I served it with a big pile of croutons and extra cheese to add as you went along. It was BEAUTIFUL.

I remembered about halfway through my bowl that I wanted to take a picture.

Fuck.

Soooo... you'll have to trust me that it was mighty. Beenie is half passed out on the love seat after finishing her bowl. This one definitely goes on the "do it again" list.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Aww Pari I'm blushing, thanks for the nice comment! It's nice to hear something like that. When I look at other "big time blogger" sites I think my photos are shit compared to theirs. I have a measly little digital camera. I long for my dream camera (Nikon D80), but that will have to wait for now. I can give you 2 tips that have helped me out a lot. Shoot in natural light when at all possible and go in deep. Close up's really have the wow factor when it comes to food porn.

I'm glad to see that you too now will be yelling at your loved ones before they take a bite "DON'T I haven't taken a picture for my blog!"

Welcome to the club man.