gastronomy

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Latest In gastronomy

August 19, 2014

At Home with Diana Kennedy

Inside the Chili-Filled Kitchen Garden of Mexican Food's Grand Dame

“In 1976 I decided to create a centre for my learning and cooking,” says Diana Kennedy, the 91-year-old doyenne of Mexican cuisine and culture. “I bought some land and gradually built my ecological house.” Quinta Diana in Mexico’s Michoacán state has been the longtime home of the legendary food writer and culinary anthropologist—and following a private lunch and post-prandial stroll through her garden—is explored in today’s film by James Casey, founder of New York-based Swallow Magazine. Kennedy’s publishing career began in 1972 with the epicurean classic, The Cuisines of Mexico, most recently winning a James Beard Award for her 2010 journey into the heart of her adopted country’s eating, Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy. Nestled in the verdant hills above the small town of Zitácuaro, the fertile grounds of Kennedy’s home support an embarrassment of riches. Vast selections of meticulously sourced chilies are flanked by numerous edible plants, herbs and fruits, celebrating Mexico’s extreme biodiversity in miniature. “There’s a lot I want to do,” she says. “When I make this place a foundation it will keep my ideas of conservation and sustainability alive.” Plans are afoot to turn the property into the Diana Kennedy Center, a non-profit space housing Kennedy’s vast archives of literature, writing and collecting, a fitting tribute to a life’s work both edible and otherwise.

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Bay Leaves

Californian Chef Leif Hedendal Forages a Micro-Seasonal Meal

San Francisco-based chef Leif Hedendal creates an exclusive meal for NOWNESS with ingredients foraged locally in the Bay Area, from Laird’s Landing in Point Reyes and Slide Ranch in West Marin. In the resulting photo series by Jake Stangel, the delicate petals and leaves of pennyroyal, lemon balm and bachelor buttons feature alongside the more robust flavors of lardo, abalone and oysters. Hedendal has always operated across both food and art worlds, exploring those points where the two converge. This August he is taking up residency on artist-run Rabbit Island, in Lake Superior, and in September he will be feeding those artists aboard Doug Aitken’s cross-country train project, Station to Station. The chef has staged in the kitchens of Noma and Chez Panisse, and in 2008 created Dinner Discussion, a bi-coastal dinner series where invitees have included designer Yves Behar, his partner, the art advisor, Sabrina Buell, and food-centric artist, Jennifer Rubell. "The next one will be hosted by Alice Waters, which is pretty special,” he says. "I want to put together a curatorial project where I commission new work by artists doing dinner-based work.” Shot at the J.B. Blunk House, with its majestic views of the Pt. Reyes seashore, our shoot looks at those flora that form the basis of Leif’s signature dishes. "These days it would definitely be wild flowers and medicinal herbs. You will be eating ingredients you have never heard of before.”

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Spotlight

Swallow: Mexico City

The “Anti-Foodie Food Magazine” Presents Sought-After Recipes from the Vibrant Central American Metropolis

Hearty pork stew, Veracruz-style snapper and a fresh take on the ultimate Mexican comfort food sopa de fideo seco are some of the first recipes ever to be published in Swallow Magazine, the gastronomy title with an aversion to all that is predictable in food coverage, and a taste for all that is avant-garde and under-documented. The dishes featured in this special preview from the latest Mexico City-themed issue pay homage to the inimitable flavor and energy of the Distrito Federal’s culinary microcosm. “The city itself is a glorious combination of both the high and the low, the old and the new,” says Swallow Creative Director James Casey. “On one hand you have rarefied beaux art mansions and streets that look like turn of the century Vienna, and on the other you have a city full of chaos, color and clashing sensibilities.” Casey highlights the acclaimed fish restaurant Contramar which "serves some of the most amazing seafood I’ve encountered. It’s all super simple, with light Mexican flavoring—lots of lime, chilies, amazing tortillas all washed down with bottles of white wine.”

Ceviche Contramar

Serves four

½ small red onion, thinly sliced
Juice of 4 limes plus juice of 15 additional for the mackerel
½ cup white wine vinegar
4 skinned fillets of mackerel, cut into ½-inch cubes
2 serrano chilies
2 tablespoons coriander
Salt 
Pepper
1 habanero chili, thinly sliced

Marinate sliced red onion in lime juice and white vinegar for about three hours to lightly pickle. Set aside then combine mackerel, serrano chilies, celery, and coriander in a large bowl and mix well. Add the lime juice and let sit for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in the pickled red onion and top with rounds of habanero chilies. 

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