End of Week 1 at Osmosis

9 Jun

I’m loving it! Oooohh, I’m so mad McDonald’s uses that as a tag line, as I’ve always used it and now it sounds gross when I say it. Anyway, I AM loving my new stage, the chefs, and the food we produce. I’m also loving my weekends that are now free after early Sat a.m. (after the late night Friday shift is over). At top, here are a couple of pics when i was meandering the streets of Barcelona today.

I tried a new fruit yesterday called mispero – it looks like an apricot but tastes like a starfruit to me. I had never had it before. It’s light, refreshing, and best when soaked in ice water, which I’m now getting hooked on. Every day at Osmosis family meal there is a bucket of seasonal fruit (for past few days, it is peaches, mispero and cherries) in ice water (easier for peeling, as well). I know you’re not suppose to ice fruit as it changes the flavor, but when you’re in a hot kitchen this is a great thirst quencher and a refreshing treat.

Toward the end of the week, it was much busier at lunch and dinner, as it will be through June when the tourists start to flock in. It’s locals for lunch and mostly tourists at night. I’m feeling useful, and, as usual I get a chance to be really useful when it comes to translations. 2 nights ago, 2 darling young blond women from Australia were eating upstairs and Chef Frederic came down to the kitchen and asked me to go translate. He couldn’t understand their accent. Apparently, I have a very good “English” accent πŸ˜‰ All they wanted was more Bailey’s ice cream, so that was an easy one.

I like that there’s nothing Chef Frederic or Sous Chef John won’t let me do in the kitchen. Last night, I made the apple-foie dish (see recipe below, if you like foie, and even if you don’t, it’s a pretty spectacular dish), I plate everything, jump in and make things when they need it, work side by side with Chef when he’s in the kitchen and little John when Chef is not. John is a great teacher, so much so that he even says to me, “taste this, it is bad.” I say things like, “no thanks. if you you think it’s bad, it’s bad.” Then, he insists that I taste it off of the same spoon that he just tasted it. It’s not a wonder i get “colds” and my stomach turns somersaults from working in kitchens in Spain. I love that he wants me to understand the difference between the old product we’re surely not going to serve to customers and the very new one, but I got that one πŸ˜‰ I had that one a long time ago: don’t serve rank food to anyone, period. Taste everything that is not brand new, even if you made it yesterday, as some bacteria could have spoiled it or something could have gone wrong with it overnight. Now, if these kitchens, including Dos Palillos, could get used to the concept of labeling and dating what they make and refridge or freeze, this would definitely help with knowing what’s old and what’s new. But, Osmosis at least markers “antiguo” and “nuevo” on the “film” (plastic wrap) that covers everything.

Apple Vanilla Foie Bar with caramelized sugar, sea salt, and balsamic reduction. Foie – get good quality foie, if you’re not in CA or one of the other states that has banned it. Make sure it was as humanely treated as possible, although I still argue that force-feeding anything until its organ(s) are several times the natural size is probably not humane under any circumstances. But, I digress. Chop it up into small chunks. Brunoise approximately 2/3 the amount of peeled, green apples as there is foie. Brunoise is a very small cut. Saute the apples in butter and put whole vanilla beans in the pot to scent it. Sprinkle in some salt. When the apples are caramelized a bit and before they start breaking down too much, add them into the foie (remove vanilla bean). Stir everything together for several minutes, as the hot apples help “cook” the foie. Then, put into small rectangular molds and freeze. When frozen, top with sugar, caramelize the sugar with a torch, sprinkle on some maldon sea salt, put a drizzle of balsamic reduction on the side for garnish, et voila! So simple, so decadent, and it has some “wow” factor.

Here’s a second recipe which I’ll probably use, although it employs the use of lots of film, which is obviously not great for the environment. It’s the perfect 6-minute poached egg. I’ve seen chefs who can poach an egg perfectly and make it look oh so lovely on the plate, but it takes some skill, and when you have 5 other burners going with 5 other things in them at the same time you’re trying to make perfect poached eggs, the error factor is high.

Here’s a preview of the first steps:

Use some some flan cups or small plant pots, line them with plastic wrap, paint the inside of the plastic wrap with olive oil, carefully crack and drop one egg into the pot, top with a little pinch of salt flake and cracked pepper, carefully squeeze the air out of the plastic wrap (make sure to twist the wrap right at the point where the white meets the “air”), and seal with scrunched plastic wrap made to form a twist tie. Double knot it. Refrigerate until ready to use. Then, when you’re ready to poach, drop the plastic bundle in simmering water, set the timer for 6 minutes, and then after 6 minutes put it in a nearby ice water bath for 30 seconds or so. Finally, carefully cut the twist tie off, carefully peel away the plastic and invert the egg so the round side is up in a bowl or on a plate or on top of rice or soup or whatever.

So, the idea is to make these little egg bundles ahead of time so all you have to do is drop the bundle in the water. No mistakes, all uniform little bundles on the plates, or in our case in the bowl in the center of the squash cream.

I have always said the mark of a good restaurant is the bathroom. That may sound silly, but I think you need to look at how the owner/chef treats every aspect of the restaurant. If it’s gross and dirty and the bathroom is disgusting, your food is probably not handled quite as nicely and is not as “clean” as it should be. So, this is the employee bathroom at work. Yep, fresh flowers, cloth hand towels, very clean. It has a shower, which the cooks use in between shifts as it’s bloody hot in the kitchen and it’s not even mid-June.

Here it is:

And, here is a pic of one of the 4, small dining rooms to choose from. The restaurant is a converted 3, story flat in an apartment building. It’s pretty cool. It gives intimacy and tranquility to the place, and in the event there’s a party of around 20, they get a room all to themselves (we had a party of 24 the other day) so they don’t disturb other clients. We call restaurant patrons “clientes” in Spain.

One last parting thought before I stop blogging for a few days (I’m going up to Cadaques to meet Shan, Fred and their kids)… I think good chefs don’t mind sharing their recipes. This question of to share or not to share isn’t new, and many great chefs whom I have had the pleasure to meet or hear speak have said they have no problems sharing their recipes. Why? Because it’s about endless reinvention. You share and someone “plays” off of it and makes it different or maybe even better. The idea of putting eggs in film is not new, but it was new to me and I love the idea because of the way the egg looks and for the ease of cooking. The idea of putting foie with apples isn’t new, but the Osmosis twist makes it excellent. Would I change something about each recipe? I might, and maybe I will if I use either. It’s about sharing ideas to keep pushing the envelope. And, people go out to dinner because they don’t want to make the food at home, even if they have the recipe. So, I will always share my recipes (and those of others whose I have, unless I’m specifically forbidden not to, of course). Please, try them, experiment with them, have fun with them. That’s what making food and cooking is all about!

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One Response to “End of Week 1 at Osmosis”

  1. gigi abel June 9, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

    I made the mango vinaigrette and it was lovely on the oh-so-cliche tomatoes and mozzarella. Apparently the balsamic we get here is ka-ka, but we do what we can. xxoog

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