I am not an "authentic" maniac. In fact there is no one authentic recipe for anything as each mother or restaurant--even abutting--will make the same dish differently. I do tend to group the ingredients in a dish by the part of world from which they come. I have had too many disasterous combinations of disparate ingredients brought together in a misguided leap at originality.
On the other hand, things happen. Yesterday, I was making a spring time shrimp and fresh green pea risotto. I started conventionally enough with olive oil and chopped onions cooked until soft. I went on with Arborio rice cooked at high temperature until white. However, I happened to have a flat bottle of Champagne left from the night before. In it went instead of the more conventional Italian white--not a big departure. I kept stirring and adding good homemade chicken stock that I had defrosted (another leftover--this time from a roast chicken). When the rice was almost cooked, I threw in the peas and when they were almost done. I added raw, cleaned shrimp. At the last minute, along with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, I added some wonderful, tender, young dill that I realized that I had brought back from Vermont. It went in, chopped, with chopped parsley. it was hardly traditional. Dill after all comes from Russia. However, it was a rapturously greeted variation. The freshness of the dill added another spring time note. No cheese with seafood.
I think I might do this again on purpose.
Next week a real recipe in Recipe of the Week just go to the home page Bkafka.com. That way you will also get to see me looking pretty darn good and proud at the Beard Awards.
I did have some really creative combinations at Momofuku Ssam (207 Second Avenue, Ny, NY,...212 254 3500). I had never been there before even though it had great word of mouth and awards. They don't take reservations and I am not a stander-in-line. However, it was my daughter-in-law's birthday and it was her choice. Fortunately, they do take reservations if you order the pork butt dinner. So a bunch of us went down.
It was great, but young and noisy. I guess I'm showing my age; but we did manage to hear each other. The menu was so inventive that everybody kept asking me what held it together. It was fairly Asian (the owner-chef is David Chang) but beyond that hard to define with tripe--a Chinese favorite although here it owes something to South America--as well as raw fish and on and on. The important thing was the taste never got muddy often a hideous result of too many ingredients. I asked and they cannot define the food either; but as the work of a great designer has a look, their food has a taste whose profile is fairly spicy but not too hot with an underlying understanding of French technique and even vinaigrettes. In some ways, the closest relative would be Pierre Gagnaire's three-star restaurant in Paris. That's a compliment son. The prices and the wine list do not relate. It goes to show that "eclectic" is not necessarily a dirty word.
The actual chef in residence--there is another nearby Momofuku--is Cory Lane who obviously has great taste buds which are essential for this creative kind of combining. You can trust him. So round up group of your own, dress casually as it's at 13th Street and head on down. There is sake; but I found the best combination to be a Cramant from Alsace. Odd what?