Bitter by Jennifer McLagan and Daniel: My French Cuisine by Daniel Boulud. In the former, Jennifer sings the praises of bitter foods, from endive and Campari to dark chocolate and tobacco. She especially highlights the cardoon, a plant that looks like the prehistoric cousin to celery, but is actually in the artichoke family. I've cooked cardoons a few years before, after reading about their use in the iconic Venice restaurant, Harry's Bar. The cardoons made a very nice, artichoke-tasting soup, but fell off my radar as time went on. Now, with cardoons fresh in my mind from Bitter, I snatched them up at our local grocers.
|Overlapping escallops of scallops on greased foil|
|Whipping the morel liquid with soy lecithin to produce a foam|
"What do you think?" I casually enquired.
Her eyes bugged as she chewed.
"Have you tried this yet?" she asked, wondering if perhaps I was trying to poison her.
"It's that bad?"
"It's soooo bitter!" she exclaimed.
And it's true. The dish was totally unbalanced. The cardoon overwhelmed everything and blunted all of the other, more nuanced flavors I tried to include. Honestly, the cardoon would have been better with equally strong ingredients; a base of cardoon and slivers of salty country ham, slices of sirloin on top, with broiled taleggio or some other pungent cheese on top. That may have worked. Maybe.
But I'll need to test it out myself next time, as I think my wife will be a bit wary if I place another plate of cardoons in front of her.