Happy holidays, people who love pretty and delicious things! For my Christmas, my landlord booted me out of our apartment (to be fair, he claims he lost his job and needs to move back in while searching for another one, so my annoyance is slightly offset by basic empathy). My grand plans to cook, cook, and cook some more have been abbreviated by a lot of box-packing and mold-scrubbing. Our new place is kinda cool, and has some extra space in the kitchen that affords me a few interesting things:
On the left there is our crappy fridge from our other apartment; this one comes with a fridge, so I now have my own Alinea fridge; handy for storing squirt bottles of things I don’t want Sarah to fire onto a sammich or salad. The rack on the right is just because we don’t have enough cabinet space, but I really dig the ‘industrial kitchen’ look and am always fascinated by restaurant kitchens, so this was a cheap attempt at being creative to that end. I kinda dig it.
Today I finally got some time to whip up a few plates of this dish, which turned out to be pretty easy to assemble. Egg doesn’t have a ton of taste for me, so this was more an interesting textural thing, which I *think* is the point but I’m not sure. I recall being equally-confused at Alinea when I had this dish, because the flavors are all fairly subtle. There’s an underlying ‘lemon puree’ that involves blending whole chunks of lemon, rind and all. It was really tasty, but NZ lemons often have a disproportionately-thick rind, so it was more bitter than I imagine it was meant to be. My asparagus foam, though, was nice and asparagusy. Amusingly, the recipe completely omits one of the title ingredients (black pepper), but it’s not too terribly-confusing figuring out how that could have fit in there. If any readers are trying this recipe, the most crucial element is the temperature of the butter; too hot and the yolk drops, um, ‘curl’ from expanding so quickly. The specific mention of the temperature at which to heat the butter seems to have been chosen to maximize the ‘bubble-ness’ of the drops, as any colder they failed to rise, and any hotter then cooked too quickly and flattened out or curled up.
Oh also, I have kind of a cool story: a few weeks back, I got an email from Nick Kokonas. He’d somehow found this blog, and offered some very generous compliments before mentioning that he would be traveling through NZ over the christmas holidays and wanted a recommendation or two for places to eat in Wellington. I can’t even begin to express how giddy I was at hearing from him; Sarah was making fun of how long it took me to write him back. I have a severe brevity problem at the best of times, and when I’m nervous it kicks into overdrive. I think I told him about more or less every curve and rock that was minutely interesting in NZ. I’d hoped to actually meet him but I’m sure his time is quite precious; Nick, if you indeed read this, I hope your trip was great!