gastronomy

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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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Nordic Food Lab x Pestival

Six-Legged Delicacies Tantalize Foodies at London's Wellcome Collection

Moth mousse whipped with hazelnut milk, cricket broth with a side of grasshopper garum sauce and a liquorice-glazed ant stick reveal their unexpectedly delicious side in this still-life series by photographer Joss McKinley. Served up by cutting-edge culinary research institute Nordic Food Lab, the experimental menu is part of the Wellcome Collection's Who’s the Pest? season, a collaboration with a mobile arts “Pestival” in celebration of all things six-legged. Paving the way for a new ethical - and aesthetic - code for food, the Copenhagen-based kitchen-cum-laboratory is the brainchild of Noma super-chef René Redzepi, and sits in a houseboat across the harbor from his two Michelin-starred sensation. Born out of Redzepi’s quest to tap into more local and underused ingredients, it is a forum in which chefs meet scientists, chemists and academics on a shared mission to explore the 1,400 untapped wholesome crawling creatures that are edible to man. “Roasted grasshoppers are a great place to start,” says Ben Reade, head of research and development, of introducing the food's full-bodied natural flavors to more squeamish Western palates. "They're simple to make and are an excellent beer snack served with mayonnaise." It may not be long before we see them filtering into the kitchens of world-renowned restaurants, either, with Noma making waves by serving a bed of ants at their pop-up at London's Claridge’s last year. “I think in 2023," adds Reade, “we’ll be asking ourselves why we didn’t eat more insects in 2013.”

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Yannick Alléno: The French Revolution

The Parisian Chef Reimagines Modern Cuisine From the Heights of the Alps

“The rhythm of French cuisine has always been dictated by its jus and its sauces—that’s what its DNA is made of, but it’s time to blur the lines,” says award-winning chef Yannick Alléno, the subject of this new short by French filmmaker Frédéric Guelaff. Heard among the incidental sounds of Alpine winds and feet trudging through snow, Alléno narrates the philosophy behind his relaunch of 1947, the top restaurant at the Cheval Blanc hotel in the winter paradise of Courchevel. The gastronomic créateur recently announced his departure from the prestigious Hôtel Meurice, a Parisian palace for which he earned three Michelin stars, to dedicate himself to this high-altitude culinary refuge designed by interior architect Sybille de Margerie, who dressed the locale in white leather and coriander green finishings. Known for pushing research into taste and texture as far as possible, Alléno's current obsession is “extraction,” a new cooking technique that optimizes flavor beyond compare. The results are advanced foods like truffled bread and essence of smoked parmesan, cooked in a vacuum and followed up with “cryoconcentration” to make a powerful elixir that gives a granulated texture to pure liquid. Is this molecular cuisine at its peak? “Not at all,” he says. “I am just thinking about what modern cuisine should be. Everything is put into question and thought of in a new way.” 

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