New York City’s Eleven Madison Park is probably Mrs Prick and mine’s favourite restaurant in the entire world; the meal we had there a couple of years ago was nearly a religious experience and re-calibrated much of what we thought about the experience of food. So it’s a treat to see Serious Eats offer a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Chef Daniel Humm’s signature lavender and honey duck. It’s the sort of thing I’d love to attempt at home, but I’m not sure how the rest of the family would feel about my leaving a dead duck hanging in the pantry for ten days as recommended in the recipe.
It is also nice to see that, in comparing this slideshow to the recipe in the gorgeous Eleven Madison Park cookbook, nothing is left out in the manual for home chefs, nothing is dumbed down. (The one quibble I have with the book is that Humm’s sea urchin cappucino didn’t make it in, but I’ve managed to re-create it in the past with reasonable success).
I once had a chat with a working chef running a modernist cuisine workshop we participated in who told me that a lot of chefs leave out key steps or introduce errors to protect their creations from showing up on other restaurants’ menus; he said that Heston Blumenthal is among the worst offenders on this score, though understandably so. This was something I had long suspected, and for years I have played “spot the error” (photos are a good clue as to what’s missing in the text) with new cookbooks. The worst example of this – and it may very well have been a legitimate typo, given the quantum of the mistake and the relatively pedestrian nature of the dish – I have ever run across was in Gordon “Fookin'” Ramsay’s Sunday Lunch, where the sweary chef calls for a whopping 500 grams of fookin’ puff pastry to cover a mere 750 grams of fookin’ beef fillet. Fookin’ hell.