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Tastingmenu Gets Schooled #1 Asia, February 17, 2006  After our December break we embarked on a new series here at tastingmenu where we "get schooled". The first part has been the recounting of our almost three week trip to Asia. It's long been a dream of mine to really travel around Asia and experience so much of the food firsthand. It's been a challenge for example loving Thai food my whole life and never tasting it in Thailand and knowing what the true baseline is. I'd been to Tokyo before, but Hong Kong, Bangkok, and  Cambodia were all new for me. I don't know that I have any deep or insightful lessons learned from my trip other than I can't wait to go back.

After roughly 26 proper meals (not including food on planes and grabbing random stuff for breakfast) I feel like even though I barely scratched the surface of what's available in the region, it was well worth it and my horizons were definitely broadened. The number of truly stellar meals I had in such a short time was pretty fantastic. And Asian food is still my clear favorite spectrum of ethnic cuisine. Below I've included links to the entire catalog of imagery from the trip. Hong Kong, Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Angkor Wat, back to Hong Kong, and Tokyo.  426 photos. Click on the thumbnails below to check out each of the albums. Enjoy.

16 sausage bun.jpg 24 even more truffle shaving.jpg 08 mee grob.jpg
03 green curry of river fish dumplings.jpg 01 fish balls.jpg 07 chaw muang.jpg
23 mise for tom yam.jpg 10 chicken with black bean and chili hunan style.jpg 20051207-phnompenh 396.jpg
20051210-siemreap 392.jpg 10 roast goose.jpg 09 dan dan noodles.jpg
10 deep fried chicken poking out between the chilis.jpg 21 deconstructed zucchini.jpg 03 foie gras soup - chaud froid.jpg
12 spaghettini with meat sauce of guinea fowl and kyoto vegetables.jpg 25 cauliflower viole potato and broccoli puree with pork veal truffle and font de veau.jpg


Starting next week we go on to part #2. You'll have to wait until then to see what it is. I promise it's very different than a trip across Asia.











Tastingmenu is focused on superlative restaurant experiences from two perspectives: behind the plate and behind the stove. Tastingmenu is written by Hillel (professional eater) and Dana (up-and-coming professional chef) in Seattle, Washington.

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  Garlic has long been credited with providing and prolonging physical strength and was fed to Egyptian slaves building the giant pyramids. Throughout the centuries, its medicinal claims have included cures for toothaches, consumption, open wounds and evil demons. A member of the lily family, garlic is a cousin to leeks, chives, onions and shallots. The edible bulb or "head" grows beneath the ground. This bulb is made up of sections called cloves, each encased in its own parchmentlike membrane. Today's major garlic suppliers include the United States (mainly California, Texas and Louisiana), France, Spain, Italy and Mexico. There are three major types of garlic available in the United States: the white-skinned, strongly flavored American garlic; the Mexican and Italian garlic, both of which have mauve-colored skins and a somewhat milder flavor; and the Paul Bunyanesque, white-skinned elephant garlic (which is not a true garlic, but a relative of the leek), the most mildly flavored of the three. Depending on the variety, cloves of American, Mexican and Italian garlic can range from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches in length. Elephant garlic (grown mainly in California) has bulbs the size of a small grapefruit, with huge cloves averaging 1 ounce each. It can be purchased through mail order and in some gourmet markets. Green garlic, available occasionally in specialty produce markets, is young garlic before it begins to form cloves. It resembles a baby leek, with a long green top and white bulb, sometimes tinged with pink. The flavor of a baby plant is much softer than that of mature garlic. Fresh garlic is available year-round. Purchase firm, plump bulbs with dry skins. Avoid heads with soft or shriveled cloves, and those stored in the refrigerated section of the produce department. Store fresh garlic in an open container (away from other foods) in a cool, dark place. Properly stored, unbroken bulbs can be kept up to 8 weeks, though they will begin to dry out toward the end of that time. Once broken from the bulb, individual cloves will keep from 3 to 10 days. Garlic is usually peeled before use in recipes. Among the exceptions are roasted garlic bulbs and the famous dish, "chicken with 40 cloves of garlic," in which unpeeled garlic cloves are baked with chicken in a broth until they become sweet and butter-soft. Crushing, chopping, pressing or pureeing garlic releases more of its essential oils and provides a sharper, more assertive flavor than slicing or leaving it whole. Garlic is readily available in forms other than fresh. Dehydrated garlic flakes (sometimes referred to as instant garlic) are slices or bits of garlic that must be reconstituted before using (unless added to a liquid-based dish, such as soup or stew). When dehydrated garlic flakes are ground, the result is garlic powder. Garlic salt is garlic powder blended with salt and a moisture-absorbing agent. Garlic extract and garlic juice are derived from pressed garlic cloves. Though all of these products are convenient, they're a poor flavor substitute for the less expensive, readily available and easy-to-store fresh garlic. One unfortunate side effect of garlic is that, because its essential oils permeate the lung tissue, it remains with the body long after it's been consumed, affecting breath and even skin odor. Chewing chlorophyll tablets or fresh parsley is helpful but, unfortunately, modern-day science has yet to find the perfect antidote for residual garlic odor.  

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