Friday 13 January 2012

No reservations

We've recently discovered the Anthony Bourdain "No Reservations" back catalogue on Youtube. We've been vicariously travelling around the world with him and (mostly) loving it. I don't know if the varying quality is due to different levels of research by his producers, or just his differing levels of response to the places he goes, but either way it is a bit of a mixed bag.

The one pretty consistent thing is that I want to eat what he's eating. Not the raw liver in Japan or the many yards of andouillette he seems to encounter. The other stuff.

So after watching Berlin, Prague and Vienna, I made schnitzel (pork, not a proper veal Wiener Schnitzel, because veal is bloody expensive at the moment). I dusted pork escalopes with flour, then coated them with beaten egg and breadcrumbs flavoured with salt, pepper, fresh thyme and sage. I made a warm potato salad sauced with horseradish, chives and gherkins. I sauteed cabbage. I served it all with an abundant squeeze of lemon.

After watching the Moscow episode I felt compelled to make pelmeni. I figured that after my pasta-making successes I had that sort of dough under control. Um, yeah, not so much. It's a much softer dough and was pretty tricky to work. I made a very simple beef and onion filling and borrowed Paul's favourite whisky glass to cut out circles of the dough.

I think our shaping of the pelmeni also needs a bit of work. Some of them have a distinct Georgia O'Keeffe quality to them.

After boiling (I don't think for long enough - the filling was cooked but the dough was a bit too al dente) we served them with a dollop of sour cream, a splodge of mustard and a dusting of paprika.

They were OK, but I am sort of stuck between making them again to see if I can do better, or going to one of the many London restaurants that make delicious ones and leaving it in their hands.

Paul is a willing participant in most of my food experiments. He tastes, provides feedback and helps with a lot of my cooking. As a reward for his patience and even enthusiasm, when he asks me to make something I generally do (even if it takes a few weeks because I am working on other things). We were watching the Naples episode and he decided that he had to have a big, meaty ragu.

When I reviewed Pomodoro! A history of the tomato in Italy a couple of years ago I became familiar with the Italian American "Sunday Gravy" - a rich, slow-simmered tomato sauce containing a number of meats, which had developed from the Neapolitan ragu. I couldn't do the full version just for two of us, but I did use featherblade steak, spicy sausage and some little meatballs, simmered slowly in a rich tomato sauce. Instead of serving the meats as a separate course, they were eaten with the sauce, piled onto spaghetti. As an occasional treat and variation on our usual ragu, it was delicious. I'm looking forward to further inspiration from Tony's travels!


Kavey said...

Aah, the best food and travel shows really do make you want to get moving and eating, don't they?

For pelmeni, wonder if the dough recipe here will help?
The filling wasn't as soft as the ones at BBR but the dough worked very well.

And the vareniki were lovely too!

Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

I love No Reservations. I've been watching Tony travel around since his Food Network days! Your creations look great, I'm totally impressed that you tackled them! GO YOU!!

Alicia Foodycat said...

Kavey - oh bugger, I knew I'd seen a good recipe somewhere recently! Couldn't remember where!

Andrea - thanks! He's also attractive, which helps.

Arlene Delloro said...

Oh, dear, here goes more of my stitching time as I look up those past shows! I would definitely try those pelmeni again; they looked wonderful! As for your ragu, I must made a vat of Sunday gravy. My vice of choice is pork and my sauce starts with pork neck bones, joined by sausage, meatballs (a beef and pork mixture), and a few country ribs. Mom's family was Neopolitan, so this was our version of Sunday gravy. Yours looks yummy! BTW, I much prefer pork schnitzel.

Shu Han said...

I love Anthony bourdain for bringing world food to our screens! He did an episode on Singapore food, which, I must say, is one of the few international shows that have portrayed it well and fair! Not sure about pelmeni but have made sourdough rustic noodles/ pasta, somewhat inspired by the traditional overnight soak and fermentation if the dough.. probably not what you're looking for, but its tasty anyway:)

leaf (the indolent cook) said...

Oh yes, I was watching No Reservations for awhile, also with varying enjoyment levels. It's awesome how you actually went right ahead and put that inspiration into actual meals on the table!

Joanne said...

My guess is that the variation in the shows has more to do with Tony's mood than anything else. He's a bit crazy, isn't he? :P

Alicia Foodycat said...

Arlene - I will definitely try a porky version of the Sunday gravy!

Shu Han - we watched the Singapore episode the other night, so I am making chicken rice for dinner tonight! I thought he could have talked about Singapore Indian food a bit.

Leafy -it doesn't take much to make me want to cook.

Joanne - very crazy!

Caroline said...

I have to admit I haven't watched any of those, but all of these look delicious. Perhaps if the programmes are filled with such dainties I'll have to make a point of watching!

grace said...

many of the things tony eats don't appeal to me at all, but i LOVE the show. he's so snarky and candid. :)

Alicia Foodycat said...

C - they are all on youtube, so you can watch them at your leisure.

Grace - he's certainly a lot more into offal than I am!

Su-Lin said...

His show came in very handy for me when I went to Chiang Mai! Never knew he was in Vienna though...gotta check that out.


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