What ingredients make your heart go pitter pat?
- roxlet Jul 17, 2008 11:23 PM
If I am reading a menu, and something has artichokes, I almost always have to order it. I'm not talking about a dish (like I HAVE to order soft shell crabs when their on the menu), but some ingredient in a dish that is irresistible. What draws you to a dish in a restaurant or in a cookbook?
Depends on the cuisine, but soft shell crabs are one as well as oysters, seafood in general, veal and saltenas!(?)
Fried clams or oysters
Duck in any form (feet too).
and oddly enough I'm presently addicted to scallions though it has not yet carried over to restaurants. This week alone I've made baked crab rangoon, tomato pie, bourbon chicken, and squash rollatini primarily because they all prominently showcase scallions. Weird.
To steal from others and add a few
whole lemon sole... in fact pretty much any fish served whole
Hearts of palm
i think chocolate is a given for all of us :) i was thinking more along the lines of savory dishes for mine [yes, chocolate does appear in the occasional mole or other sauce, but i equate it more with dessert].
as far as savory goes, i'l add pistachios & pine nuts to my list. oh, and bacon. definitely.
i've been on a *serious* lemon kick lately. i'm using fresh lemon on everything, squeezing it into my drinks, baking with it...i made a batch of lemon-cranberry muffins the other day and i couldn't believe the way everryone devoured them. there's just something about citrus in the summertime.
i have to say, i've always felt particularly sorry for people who have nut allergies because they miss out on so many things. plus, you have to be so vigilant about avoiding potential contamination in so many places.
but hey, at least you can still have lemon bars & key lime pie!
of course now i'm craving both of those things :)
re: Ruth Lafler
Ruth L - you're in the SF Bay area right? if you ever venture to Menlo Park, there are unappreciated Meyer Lemon trees everywhere just waiting for surreptious plucking. I like to think of it as milking cows - has to be done or bad for the source. and I wasn't spoiling anyone's crop, these were usu. recently fallen to the ground.
re: hill food
It's sad, isn't it? Many people in California have them and don't know what to do with them, and poor people in New York are paying a fortune for them. When people ask where to buy them in the Bay Area, I often tell them to ask around and/or to take a walk around their neighborhood (or the nearest older suburban neighborhood) and find someone who will be happy to have you take them off their hands. Really, there are only two amounts of Meyer lemons: not enough and too many. My little bush hasn't started bearing yet (I can hardly wait!), but I get them from my Mom, and from people around town.
Segueing back on topic, here's one that will make many chowhounds drool: fritto misto of Meyer lemons and artichokes. I could no more not order that than I could stop breathing.
Lemon (in desserts)
Mango (not Tommy Atkins kind, however)
Key Lime Pie (REAL key lime pie!)
Québec artisanal and European cheeses.
Anchovies (especially fresh marinated ones!)
Gorgonzola (and most other blue cheeses)
Butterscotch (in a dessert)
On the other hand, there are two ingredients whose presence will make me refuse to order a dish: Eggplant and okra, both because of texture issues more than taste.
To Bob8: Julie Sahni, in her cookbook "Classic Indian Cooking" (1980), said the way to avoid texture issues (sliminess) with okra is to avoid allowing cut okra to be cooked with water or other liquid. Her methods involved stir-frying cut okra in hot oil (never with water). Southerners avoid it by coating cut okra with cornmeal before frying it in oil or bacon grease in a black cast-iron skillet. And others avoid it by only cooking whole okra pods, thus not exposing them to liquid. If you don't like okra because of texture issues, those might help. If you just don't like it anyway, nothing will help - okra tastes like okra.
bayoucook, i'll bet bobB is turned off by okra in its gumbo state, rather than fried. those two prep methods produce such vastly different textural results.
ok, now i'm craving some fried okra!
ps, there's a quickie frozen veggie mix with sliced okra that is great to throw together with some tomatoes and stock to make a little gumbo soup... shrimp, chick, whatever optional. it's just easy and pretty tasty. i get it at harris teeter.
I can get that here, too, have used it many times.
For my gumbo and soups, I precook the okra in a hot skillet with a little oil and some flour until the major stickiness is gone. Use Wondra flour and it works really well. I fried some fresh okra last week that was SO good.
Old fashioned way: dipped in seasoned buttermilk, then cornmeal and fried in hot oil in a cast iron skillet. Ok. I want more.
seared foie gras
mangosteen (unfortunately, I don't see this on menus very often)
So I guess from this list, my ultimate meal would be:
Crab and prawns with avocado, artichoke hearts and braised leeks chilled in a meyer lemon vinaigrette
Duo of seared scallops and seared foie served with a black truffle sauce
Seared muscovy duck breast with mangosteen sauce served with potatoes flavored with bacon and topped with a poched egg (with some bitter greens to add balance to the dish)
Valdeon cheese with figs
Ice cream "sandwich" made up of salted caramel macarons and vanilla bean gelato
re: Miss Needle
Where did you see mangosteen on a menu? I have never seen it (am very sad about that). But hopefully that will change, as mangosteens seem to be more common and cheaper now! We've been snacking on some lovely bags of them in the last few months...
That is one fine menu you have put together for an ultimate meal!
I've seen it at a couple of fine dining restaurants in SEA -- once in Thailand and once in Bali. I've heard that when fresh mangosteens first came to NYC last year that some of the chefs were going to try to do something with it. But the prices were so astronomical that I don't know if they ever did it -- I think it was like $35/lb or something crazy like that. I've never seen it in the states, but I think it's the perfect accompaniment to a rich meat like duck.
Oh, lucky you that you've got a great supply of mangosteens in Montreal! Aren't they the absolute best? Moh, I do have to say that if I saw both chocolate and mangosteen on a menu, I think my eyes would be heading for the mangosteen instead of the chocolate.
re: Miss Needle
Mangosteen may be my favorite fruit ever! lately we have been able to find a bag of about 12-15 or them for $10 or so, and they have been very good. They aren't as wonderful as the ones you get in the country of origin, but it has been fun to sit and eat a bunch of them at once! But they haven't yet made it to the dining scene. I bet it would be wonderful with duck. And pork also. Suddenly I feel the need to start branching out with my mangosteen habit!
Luckily, we've been starting to get them at a better price in NYC this year. It's hard because some of the stuff has been previously frozen (which makes it really bitter) and you can't tell from just looking at it. I tend to buy them if they're more on the expensive side -- like a bag for 12-15 for $14 or so. I'm pretty sure the cheaper ones are frozen as I've experienced that a couple of times.
Yeah, pork and mangosteens would be awesome! Any chefs in NYC and Montreal listening out there? Please put this on your menu, and I'll be there!
fennel esp. if sliced thin in a salad
lemon in desserts
chino farms veg
wild mushrooms (hen of the woods, chanterelles, morels)
salted caramel esp if sea salt flakes are sprinkled on top
hollandaise sauce and its sibling bernaise
vinegar (when specifically listed as a featured ingredient)
orange blossom water
shrimp,cream, and tomatoes in the same dish
dumplings-specifically the stuffed kind, but i have a pleasant visceral reaction to just the word
fresh fish with a bordelaise or bornaise and capers
fried or grilled eggplant
chocolate with fruit, particularly pears or raspberries
french fries or any fried starch, fish or vegetables
plainer broth soups
cheese or creamy sauce with vegetables, like a cauliflower and broccoli gratin,mmm.
Reading this thread makes me reach for a beta blocker...
Others I don't recall seeing:
Chanterelle or shitaki mushrooms
and lots of the other stuff aleady listed...
Venison hanging in my garage that smells of pepper as it ages.
Fresh picked morels especially those I find on a dark rainy day.
Fish so fresh it still smells of the sea.
Anything I don't have to make on my day off! :)
Fresh picked lettuce or maters from my garden.
Sausage from Salumi.
Chocolate chip cookies
Good question! I have so many. Where to begin???
fresh wasabi root
bacon and pancetta
great grassy olive oil
the great cheeses - parmesan, ricotta salata, pecorino, triple cream brie...
game and wild birds - elk, caribou, wild boar, quail, partridge, pheasant...
If all of the above were on a restaraunt menu I would have a very, very hard time choosing! :)
Duck, salmon, lamb, goat, mutton, squid, octopus, trout, chiles, (a number of) cheeses, several fruits. Increase the pitter pat by smoking or drying.
Love the question!
These are the words that make me do a double-take:
tempura, or batter-dipped
reduction (fish particularly)
King Crab legs
soft shell crab
fleur de sel
Tahitian vanilla bean
It may be up there but I haven't seen Pheasant...God I love pheasant and a few years ago I was in the " lounge" area of Daniel in NYC alone and the menu had Grouse with which I was not familiar... I asked the wonderful waiter to compare it to pheasant for me and he said" Non.... too gamey but let me check with Chef to see if we have a pheasant" They did and I was cooked a pheasant, the only diner to have one that evening. Daniel himself came out to be sure it met my approval...what a great memory for one of my favorite birds ....
Working in a restaurant, some of the favorites listed on this post are some that I don't want to taste again until next season! That being said:
"Head to Tail" paired with charcuterie
Heirloom anything, basically
Mushrooms (one of those things that will immediately draw my eye on a menu - mushroom content of a dish)
Oysters (raw preferably, but I'm learning to like cooked ones, thanks to kaki fry)
Beets..beets, beets, BEETS!! If I see this on the menu, especially in a salad, I'm ordering it. I just love them :P
almost any fish or seafood
mushrooms, especially wild
anything with pecans
I think you get the drift with those...
Fresh Mussels. I MUST get them if they are in a dish on the menu, and sorry, I will send them back, if they are frozen. Far too easy to tell when they have been frozen.
Escarole (not in soup)
Some restaurateur should complile these, pick the dozen most common, and come up with the world's most irresistible menu.
Reading all the posts here I realize many are items I would absolutely avoid. Some are items I like, but do not make me go pitter patter, and some are items I've never had. But there were some I agree with:
the great cheeses, parmesan, ricotta, salata, pecornio
fried, grilled, or baked eggplant ~~ but NO flour or bread crumb coating please
Bacon, Bacon, Bacon
Roasted Beets (but NOT pickled or Harvard)
Brick oven thin crust pizza
king crab legs
prime or dry aged beef
My list would be VERY similar to yours, minus the bacon, beets, pizza, crab and beef (don't dislike any of them, they just have no pitter-patter effect on my heart).
lime (probably more so than Meyer lemon)
On the dessert menu: caramel, toffee, malt, pistachios
Good question, having fun reading all others responses. For me, it's:
REAL maple anything. Be it syrup, sugar, and creme. If real maple is involved, I think I would eat dirt, nasty bugs and chrome car bumpers. I'm absolutely ADDICTED to maple.
Seared foie gras
wild-caught any fish
Fresh pasta w/wild mushrooms (though I tend to make it better than any resto)
Stuffed zucchini blossoms
savoury dishes with nuts (I think these are never used enough)
artichoke (jerusalem included)
Some key terms:
wood-roasted/roasted in the wood-burning oven
When we travelled in Italy, my partner (who doesn't speak Italian) very quickly learnt his favourite food names in Italian, skimmed the menu and picked dishes which contained all or some of the following: fungi/pasta/risotto/calamari/gamberi/scampi/al forno!
*capers tilt my eyebrows
*roasted garlic 'topped' is a winner- not 'flavored with' - i want it full throttle
*sesame oil- i'm happy just to stand there smelling it
fresh water chestnuts
hearts of palm
garlic, white wine and cream
sweet potato fries
lavender beurre blanc
re: Sam Fujisaka
I just read that thread - holy smokes, there are a couple people who have so many items on their list I wonder how they eat anything! Also wonder if they carry that list with them when dining out to make sure the kitchen doesn't use any of the items in their food.
Just plain wow.
Grilled or fried onions and peppers
Anything braised, cured, or smoked
truffles. i don't even know what it is about them. everytime i read the word "truffles", i melt a little inside.
Barley esp w/ beef and shrooms
Hot Chilies and peppers
Any plant matter I haven't tried before ... ditto things with fins (restaurants)