7*7 Favorites of 2009: No.6 - Food I went crazy about
January 18th, 2010

Compared to the picky eater I once was, I’ve made major improvements. Nowadays I consider very few things inedible or not worth trying (tripe might be among the few that still give me the hibby jibbies). But I am fighting on all fronts, working hard on myself to overcome culinary childhood indispositions like raisins, capers or mussels - with growing success. Isn’t it a huge gain to constantly be able to discover new food favorites? And once the hey-this-is-not-so-bad enlightenment kicks in, I tend to indulge in newly found faves as often as possible…

Just thinking about these makes me salivate, even though I already had dinner. Here we go, in no particular order:

Grillot noisettes
When shopping for our daily breakfast at the beach in Nice, we discovered these by accident: just around the corner of the famous Cours Saleya market, “Le Poulette” offers a vast selection of poultry, among other French delicacies. Grillot noisettes are more or less small salami sausages with whole walnuts inside. They instantly made it on our breakfast list for the remaining days. They pair nicely with St. Marcellin. We brought a good dozen with us back to Germany and still, we fought over every tiny slice.

Peschiole al tartufo
Our friend Sherry introduced us to these and the setting couldn’t have been more perfect: a balcony overlooking the harbor of Villefranche-sur-Mer, Bob her husband preparing Absinth and small nibbles to wet our appetite. These tiny unripe peaches are preserved with vinegar (and spices) and keep a crunchy consistency with an edible seed. On first sight you could easily mistake them for olives. Very addictive, we almost forgot to drink the Absinth. Almost.

Pizza al taglio
While my grandpa loves to tease me “little gourmand”, when in Rome, I get the feeling I could live on the simplest pizza alone. Almost every hole-in-the-wall-sized-pizza shop sells great pizza. Pizza bianca and pizza with mozzarella, squash blossoms and anchovies are always my first choice. If you’re not in the mood for experiments though, try Roscioli or Forno.

Guanciale
I blame my dear friend Hande for fostering this addiction, whenever she got the chance she ordered guanciale (Italian bacon, unsmoked, made from pig cheeks) for me at her favorite butcher Annibale, who was so kind to show us how he cut up a whole lamb. But back to the guanciale: the one we brought from Rome two weeks ago is diminishing fast, it works wonders in pasta dishes and stews. And it outstripped pancetta in our kitchen.

Murtabak
When a friend who had moved to Singapore suggested Zam Zam for a very basic, nevertheless tasty and authentic breakfast, we happily surrendered. Since I generally like the idea of starting the day with a spicy dish, chicken murtabak (think roti prata with chicken, served with a spicy curry dip) immediately became a breakfast favorite. Of course we went back to Zam Zam, but for comparative reasons I had some at every market or hawker center we visited. And am still not fed up. Ah, I could have some right now.

Sweet red beet souffle
Red beets have silently conquered our palates. Roasted with vegetables, served in salads paired with goat cheese, they are as tasty as nutritious. But as a dessert? You bet! We enjoyed the most extravagant dessert at Aquarello, an intensely colored pink red beet souffle (paired with sour cream ice cream). It’s hard to describe, but it worked surprisingly well. Let’s-lick-the-plates-kinda-well. Craving it ever since.

Oliver’s steaks
Last, but not least, Oliver’s steaks. We ate an enormous filet steak once a week for almost two months until we had both aspects worked out, a good source for the beef and its perfect preparation. The result has the nicest shades of brown and pink, a spicy coarse pepper crust and melts in your mouth. Code word: reverse searing.

Which food items have impressed your palate most through the last year? Any new food addictions you’d like to confess?

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