I've had a small obsession with ice cream bombes ever since I saw a certain domestic mogul make one into a watermelon look-alike on TV. With summer coming up, I decided to start experimenting with them for fun. An ice cream bombe is really just layers of different flavored ice creams frozen into a bowl or other mold. When you slice it, you can see all the layers, and it really looks impressive. It doesn't require a recipe, but it's a method that can be creatively reinvented hundreds of ways. This week, I decided to do a riff on a Creamsicle using orange sherbet, vanilla ice cream and raspberry sorbet. Once you have it down, create your own favorite combo—I think my next one will be a mocha bombe using chocolate chocolate chip, chocolate vanilla swirl and coffee ice creams. Here's how to do it:
Use a 1 1/2 quart mold, such as a metal or glass bowl, Bundt pan or kugelhopf mold, and line it with plastic wrap. Soften 3 1/2 pints of ice cream, sorbet or sherbet in the refrigerator, in any combination of flavors. Using the back of a large spoon, spread 1 1/2 pints of the ice cream into the mold to cover the entire surface. Freeze between spreading each layer to harden. Repeat with another pint of ice cream and then once more, creating an ice cream bombe with 3 layers. Once complete, freeze for at least 4 hours before serving. To serve, invert the bombe onto a platter, remove the plastic wrap and, using a sharp knife, cut the bombe into slices or wedges.
(Note that a 1 1/2 quart mold holds 3 1/2 pints of ice cream. But you can use any size mold and adjust the amount of ice cream accordingly.)
It’s debatable who among the F&W staff is the ultimate foodie. F&W’s supertalented senior designer, Mike Patti, is definitely in contention for the title. His recent trip to San Francisco revolved entirely around food. Here, he shares highlights from his aggressive eating itinerary:
Perfect picnic: Sentinel's smoked salmon and fennel sandwich and spicy pork sandwich stuffed with sweet peppers and celery root made for a great, affordable lunch in Golden Gate Park.
Artisanal snacks: Tartine's oversize black pepper-cheddar gougère was the standout of my morning. I finished the day with two scoops of brown sugar ice cream with ginger caramel swirl from Bi-Rite Creamery.
Ferry Plaza food marathon: A basket of perfect strawberries from a vendor at the Ferry Plaza market and a cup of Blue Bottle coffee (each cup is individually dripped) was the ultimate breakfast. Dinner at the Slanted Door included a superlight, unexpectedly crispy Vietnamese pancake with shrimp and extraordinarily flavorful wood-roasted clams with pork belly, chiles and Thai basil.
Incredible pizza: At A16, Nate Appleman, one of our 2009 Best New Chefs, prepared fantastic grilled fava beans with chiles and an awesome pizza topped with lemon, asparagus, ricotta and prosciutto. We loved the little honey pot filled with chile oil that came with our meal.
Cocktail revelation. I decided to try Alembic, a cocktail lounge in Haight-Ashbury featured in our new F&W Cocktails 2009 book. My friend is still thinking about the surprising shot of celery juice in her gin-based Southern Exposure.
© Mike Patti
Pastries at Tartine.
© Photo Courtesy of Meg Connolly
Sandro Micheli creating chouquettes
Baking can be pretty intimidating—the precision and delicacy required to craft things like pâte à chou and soufflés leave many home cooks ambivalent about giving pastry a try. This past weekend, though, I got to see how simple and satisfying dessert-making can be with pastry chef Sandro Micheli of Adour, Alain Ducasse’s restaurant in New York City’s St. Regis hotel. He led a class of 10 through the basics of French pastry, from financiers to pâte de fruit. Even though the creations we ended up with appeared precious, Sandro showed us the (relatively) easy steps required to make them, taking much of the mystery out of the process. When our chouquettes came out of the oven puffed and airy, I knew I would be making them again within the week.
While Sandro takes the summer off from classes, expect him to return in September with more, focusing on fall sweets like pies and fruit tarts. Call Adour for details starting in late August, 212-710-2277.
Michael Recchiuti is truly a chocolate master. One of his latest strokes of genius is the Asphalt Jungle Mix: "A riot of caramel hazelnuts and almonds, cherries two ways and peanut butter pearls." I keep wavering between which of the five pieces is my fave. While I love the caramel hazelnuts, I'm really torn between the crisp, tiny peanut butter pearls and the chewy dried cherries. The problem is that the box is just about empty. Clearly, I will need more to make this decision.
Lauren Rothman, our fantastic food intern and lover of Mexican foods, managed to dine on authentic Mayan dishes, catch a speech by Harrison Ford, and learn something about archaeology, all in one night. She reports:
Being a food intern at F&W has its perks: On Tuesday night, I got to attend the Archaeological Institute of America’s 130th Anniversary Gala held at the Chinatown event space Capitale. The dinner honored Harrison Ford, whose famous role in the Indiana Jones movie franchise, archaeologists at the event explained, inspired countless young men and women to join the field. Taking his inspiration from the exotic locales shown in the films, Capitale’s executive chef Jason Munger created a Mayan feast to celebrate the AIA, consulting with Mayan food archaeologist Patricio Balona. Having traveled—and eaten my way—across Mexico, I was excited to get a taste of the ancient foods that are the foundation for the country’s modern-day cuisine.
When I told friends that I was going to a Mayan dinner, a lot of them joked that I would be eating corn, corn, and more corn. I shrugged it off as a stereotype, but they were right about one thing: corn was central to the Mayan religion. In fact, Mayans believed that humans were created by maize gods out of a mix of the gods' own blood and corn flour. In light of this information, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the first course was a seared corn cake topped with sweet potato puree, roasted duck and tomatillo salsa. But the rest of the (amazing) meal was corn -free, including the dessert, a Mayan banana split. This south-of-the-border reworking of the classic featured soft, sweet fried plantains topped with three different sorbets--creamy coconut, spiced pumpkin and lush avocado--and was finished with crispy plantain chips.
Chloé Doutre-Roussel shares her black book of the world’s best filled-chocolate shops.
PATRICK ROGER: “He lets his imagination run wild, like Alice in Choco-Wonderland. At the same time, his chocolate has a sense of luxury and high quality.”
PIERRE HERME: "He is nicknamed the Picasso of pastry; he remains one of the best chocolatiers in Paris."
ARTISAN DU CHOCOLAT: “This atelier has exceptional-quality chocolate in surprising flavors and fun packaging. Try the caramels.”
WILLIAM CURLEY: “He makes a mostly classical range of chocolates from quality ingredients. Some of his range has a slight Japanese influence—his wife is from Japan.”
MELT: “Melt sells a chef’s line custom-designed for London’s top cooks, like Mark Hix.”
TOUT CHOCOLAT: “The chocolatier Ruis Robledo trained at the Valrhona School before opening this shop, where he sells a range of elegant, French-style chocolates in a country where there is not much quality chocolate.”
GUIDO GOBINO: “This shop is trendy in every way. And when I say trendy, I mean because he falls into the bean-to-bar category and because his packaging is modern (transparent/opaque, black/silver). All of the hazelnut-related products are outstanding.”
LA MOLINA: “I collect the packaging, a collaboration with designer Riccardo Fattore, and hang it on the wall as pieces of art. Standout products are small squares of chocolate that are aromatized with herbs or spices encapsulated in sugar crystals.”
CHOCOLAT DE H: “Hironobu Tsujiguchi trained in France and uses French couverture to make his French-style chocolates. Individual cakes are packaged like perfect Channel lipsticks.”
VASALISSA: “This cute, feminine shop was opened by Dadi and Federica Marinucci, a mother and daughter who are both photographers. They make the best chocolate possible from Argentina’s couverture.”
French chocolate authority Chloé Doutre-Roussel insists that being French hasn’t biased her palate. “French chocolate is just simply the best,” she says. Here, she makes her case:
France is still the best when it comes to chocolate, and it is not an accident that most of the good chocolate-makers outside of France use mostly French couverture (a high-quality candymaker’s chocolate that contains extra cocoa butter, usually 32% to 39%) and have trained with or copied French-style chocolatiers and chocolates.
I’m not saying all French chocolate is perfect. It can range from mediocre to very good. However, on average, French chocolate is often the best quality-to-price ratio for the following reasons:
1. High-quality couverture is expensive but still less expensive than any other country, and the best couvertures are made in France.
2. There are many talented chocolate technicians in France and more opportunities to train with chocolate-makers.
3. French chocolate-makers make small filled chocolates with thin coatings and a four-week shelf life. The longer the shelf life, the worse the quality. In France, people treat chocolate like a fresh product and buy it in small quantities to eat soon after. In the U.K., U.S. and Belgium, shelf life tends to be three to six months; people buy chocolate and it sits in cabinets.
For shopping, I suggest people buy chocolate from Patrick Roger, he is one of the best. And also Jean-Paul Hévin and Pierre Hermé.
Anyone interested in the chocolate-making process should call ahead and schedule a visit at the French factories of Pralus and Valrhona.
Find out what Chloé thinks about the rest of the world's top chocolate-making countries tomorrow.
After trying some of Cartagena, Colombia’s well-known, classic restaurants I was curious to discover which chefs and restaurants were currently garnering buzz. To my surprise, there were quite a few—Cartagena is having a bit of a restaurant moment. Not only are these spots serving excellent food, but many are also set in distractingly beautiful spaces. Here, the short list of my favorites:
La Perla: Colombia’s top mixologist, Roberto Carrascal (he’s a partner in Bogota’s super hot Scirocco Bar and trained at London’s venerable cocktail lounge Eclipse), opened this stylish Peruvian-fusion spot last November near the Plaza Santo Domingo. Peruvian chef Gean Carlo Mayorga Macchiavello creates outstanding dishes like grouper served over squid ink risotto; a delicate corvina (similar to sea bass) carpaccio and a sinful suckling pig that gets roasted for four hours, so the skin is crackly, salty and perfect and the meat is juicy and moist (at $19, it’s the most pricey item on the menu). An impressive cocktail list includes the signature La Perla, an electric blue gin martini mixed with hypnotiq, basil, cucumber and lime juice). Ask to try Roberto’s homemade limoncello. He wouldn’t share the secret ingredient, but it was deceptively potent and way too delicious.
Mila: Colombia’s star pastry chef and caterer Camila Andrea Vargas (she supplies freshly baked bread to most of the city’s boutique hotels) opened this chic French-style bakery-restaurant eight months ago. Domaine Chandon Champagne is displayed on wooden shelves (and served at the Champagne bar on the rooftop terrace), and glass cases show off almost-too-perfect-to-eat desserts like torta porteña, a chocolate cake topped with a dollop of dulce de leche. This became my regular morning spot for their excellent café con leche, which is served with a tiny treat (usually a small square of banana bread) and a shot glass of mint water (for fresh breath afterward).
El Pulpito: This tiny, two-week-old casual cevicheria, opened by one of the chefs from Cartagena’s hip Palma restaurant, serves superfresh, ridiculously affordable ceviche. I tried the mixed seafood (octopus, shrimp, scallops, sea snails, fish) dressed in El Pulpito’s special sauce (a mix of ketchup, mayo, yellow chile sauce and lime juice). A small serving cost just $1.75 and was the perfect midday snack.
El Santisímo: French-trained chef-owner Frederico Vega recently moved his restaurant to classy new digs on Calle del Torno. The new two-level space feels like a home, with high ceilings and modern artwork on the walls. He’s kept the Caribbean-French menu mostly the same, right down to the wacky religious names for his dishes, like La Anunciacion, thinly sliced grilled beef tenderloin with a mustard sauce. The menu also includes some local staples, like cloyingly sweet plantains marinated in Kola Roman, a bubble-gum-pink version of Coca-Cola. It reminded me of a Latin American version of candied yams. Most of the desserts feature unique local fruits, like candied mamey, which tasted like maraschino cherries and was perfect on top of vanilla ice cream.
By day three in Berlin I’d already had my fill of bratwurst and wiener schnitzel and was directed to a superhip sushi restaurant on the ground floor of the chic Lux 11 hotel called Shiro I Shiro. The name is Japanese for “white castle” and refers to the amazing white interiors accented with pops of bright blue and pink neo-baroque-style furniture. If Louis XIV were still alive, this is what his modern-day dining room would look like. French-trained chef Eduard Dimant recently took over the kitchen and prepares French-accented Japanese food and exquisite sushi. I also noticed some South American influences on the menu, like a section devoted to tiradito, a Peruvian-style ceviche. I tried the yellowtail tiradito (superfresh yellowtail marinated in citrus and olive oil) and had an excellent rice-paper roll filled with tuna, tobiko (flying fish roe), cucumber and tamago (egg). I always ask what the server recommends and he gushed over the miso cod. I hesitated before ordering something so obvious, but it was superb. The lightest touch of my chopstick broke off tender flakes of black cod marinated in ginger and soy. Nobu would’ve been proud.
Today, I met Wolfgang Nitschke, the fabulous general manager at the Regent Berlin, for lunch at his hotel’s two-Michelin-star restaurant, Fischers Fritz (the name stems from a German tongue twister). Chef Christian Lohse is definitely one of Berlin’s rising stars, creating stunning seafood dishes that get served on gorgeous French china in the elegant dining room. In my mind, this is Germany’s Le Bernardin. Wolfgang and I split an unusual, yet delicious, tartare of smoked eel and foie gras with pepper caramel and eggplant puree (usually only offered on the dinner menu). The wild char was amazing, roasted and served with Lombard-style cabbage and red chicory. All of the fish comes from France. The orange-leather-bound wine list is quite thorough and wide-ranging with depth in the German and French bottles. Dessert was among my favorites of the year: three tiny Persian figs lightly drizzled with honey and olive oil. I’m usually a chocolate lover but this was so interesting and flavorful that I wasn’t even tempted by Wolfgang’s decadent-looking chocolate-caramel fondant. In this economy, the meal felt indulgent and luxurious—and it was—but it reminded me what fine dining should aspire to and why I don't think it will ever die.