Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred - part four

Continuing on from Part three.

Here's how it works.
"list a hundred interesting foods and:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at linking to your results."

Since this is a cooking blog, I'll add 5) italicize the items you've cooked.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

76. Baijiu - I had never heard of this, but, when I saw the picture at the Wikipedia entry I discovered I've recently been treated to a few glasses. Surprisingly smooth drinking considering how strong it is.
77. Hostess Fruit Pie - Feh. Anyone who grew up in the mid-Atlantic states knows Tastycake is miles better.
78. Snail - Like the frog legs it's traditionally prepared drowned in garlic. What's the point?
79. Lapsang souchong - One of my favorite teas. America's Test Kitchen has a really cool recipe where you quickly infuse smoke flavor into meat by putting a tray full of this smoked tea into the oven with it. I want to try it once the weather cools down a bit.
80. Bellini - I had a couple different versions at the Mango Brunch last month.
81. Tom yum - Geez, they may as well have just said "Thai food". Does any Thai restaurant not have tom yum? It's surprisingly easy to make, too.
82. Eggs Benedict - On the other hand. Eggs benedict is a pain in the butt to make. No wonder it always costs so much.
83. Pocky - I prefer Yan Yan, where you dip the cookie sticks in the still liquid chocolatey goop.
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant. - Some day.
85. Kobe beef - I've had the American equivalent, but I don't eat enough steak to really appreciate the difference.
86. Hare - I've seen rabbit on menus but never hare. It's probably more common in the U.K.
87. Goulash - Easier to make than you think.
88. Flowers - As far as I can tell, petals sprinkled into salad are mostly just for color. You need extracts to concentrate the flavor if you really want to taste them.
89. Horse - Anyone who's tried it want to say what it was like in the comments? I'm curious if it's worth seeking out.
90. Criollo chocolate - I'm pretty sure the top end chocolate makers like Ghirardelli use some in their mix but I don't think I've had the straight stuff.
91. Spam - When you've grown up with scrapple, Spam seems downright classy. My mom used to make a killer Spam fried rice but I can't get it to come out the same. It probably helps to be twelve.
92. Soft shell crab - Great stuff for freaking out your sister. Also best when you're twelve.
93. Rose harissa - Plain harissa sure, but not this extra-fancy version.
94. Catfish - Another gimme for Americans that's probably much harder to find in the U.K.
95. Mole poblano - Unlike some of the other concoctions on this list, this is legitimately difficult to make. You've got to wonder how so complicated a staple ingredient was developed.
96. Bagel and lox - I've put lox on bagles, but I've never made either although I understand lox is easier to make than you'd expect.
97. Lobster Thermidor - I almost always have my lobster simply boiled and served with butter and lemon. I don't have it often so when I do I usually just want a lobster.
98. Polenta - I've never quite managed to get the nice crispy crust I want when I fry it. I don't know how it manages to stick to teflon.
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee - I used to work in a kitchen store that sold little packs of Blue Mountain with just enough to make a couple cups. I didn't have a very good coffee maker at the time and I think I ruined it when I tried it. Or maybe I'm just not a discerning coffee drinker. Quite possibly both.
100. Snake - Haven't had the chance.

Since I've gone through the list bit by bit I've had a chance to go shopping and pick up some black truffles. These are summer truffles so it's the $20 little bottle not the $55 one. But they fit the entry. I haven't done anything fancy with them yet, but I did try the simple recipe suggested on the bottle: a slice of homey crusty bread, drizzled with olive oil and topped with slices of basil, tomato and truffle. I've just baked some suitable bread this morning, I've got plenty of basil from my garden and Whole Foods had a sale on heirloom tomatoes when I visited Friday so I think I'm well prepared to let the truffle strut its stuff. I made one slice with and one without the truffle so I could compare and contrast. What I found was that the truffle didn't jump out in front. Instead, it was an suffusing earthy richness that undergirded the sharpness of the basil and brightness of the tomato. Now that I've done a little research I see that the summer truffle is much more subtle than the winter variety and that's why it didn't step forward. I suppose I should be a bit less parsimonious with it.

That brings my totals to 72 eaten, 25 cooked or cooked with and three I'm not interested in. Looking over comments of the hundreds of folks who have gone over the list it looks like 72 is respectable. I'm more interested in added to my cooking list though and since I added that aspect myself I guess I'm the benchmark

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