Each year we take at least two vacations—at least one abroad to live, eat good food, and drink great wine. Our idea of truly living means making any travel an adventure, whether that means foxhunting, fishing, shooting, diving, polo, or some other excuse to get into the countryside and really experience the culture. These trips leave us with dreams of the past and plans for the future. The poppy fields of central Europe, the lavender covered slopes of France, or even the much closer arid green chili fields of New Mexico, all inspire you to become a better chef. The open-air markets and the scent of tomato vines cling to the air and, later, to your heart. Through these quests, we have discovered the love of the craft of cooking, the love of traveling and the love of sharing it all with family and friends.
This our way, transforming what you find at the market or alongside the road into great, simple home cooking. One night inspired by freshly harvested game birds, I decided to no longer be satisfied with cooking methods which just result in something fit for peasants. I became on a quest for the ultimate–the best way to prepare each and every dish. In this book, we hope you will find the ultimate recipes. You won’t find it here if we didn’t believe that it was simply the best version we had ever experienced. What’s the point in collecting recipes for things you wouldn’t want to eat again and again? Making a second-rate French onion soup just leaves you wanting to return to that one bistro on a back street in Paris, which simply had the best one you have ever encountered. And where is the joy in that, as you will have to retrace your footsteps back to the same place again.
These times have often led us to experience the ultimate in pleasures–a state of mind about feeding ourselves, our friends, and our family well and enjoying simple pleasures over an imaging meal. It does not have to be haute cuisine, sometimes the ultimate is found not just in restaurants, but in simple homes or even the street. The best noodles in Hong Kong are sold by a guy with a cart on a street I will never find again. As he didn’t speak any English, nor I any Mandarin, we are left to continue our search in books and nooks and crannies for something which will compare–not just compare, but actually become the new ultimate. I have yet to find that one, so you won’t find a recipe for Hong Kong street noodles here.
When we encounter the ultimate, we are always prepared to pay the price and not leave without attempting to get the recipe in hand. Often times this means simply asking. Sometimes it results in more nefarious methods of bribing a busboy or simply stealing the recipe. I have found most chefs to be above bribery and most waiters are as well, or simply do not have the time to write it down for you, but the busboy–he has the time and is anxious for the reward of a few Euros, quid or dollars.
And securing the recipe is less than half of the adventure. Sourcing the ingredients at home will be more another adventure in and of itself, leading you to ethnic food markets, Chinatown, and the quest for the ultimate tomato at your local farmer’s market. Without the ultimate ingredients, the ultimate recipe will fail to reproduce. These recipes are simple enough for you to reproduce, if you make the effort, and it is not the sort of effort which requires a $100,000 duck press from La Tour Argent, or will not find it here. After all there are limits to the crimes we are willing to commit to replicate the ultimate.
And, many of our recipes come from friends or family. Now step with me through an invisible veil, into another land, the land of the ultimate cuisine.
PLACES I HAVE BEEN:
- Lower 48 States, except Maine
- Mozatlan, Cancun, Cozumel, Juarez, Tijuana Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City, Mexico
- Roatan, Honduras
- Barcelona and Madrid, Spain
- Lisbon, Portugal
- Vienna, Austria
- Budapest to Baja, Hungary
- London, England
- Hong Kong
PLACES WE ARE GOING: