By Anne Kingston - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - 0 Comments
The Japanese dish’s alchemy of humble ingredients is only beginning its culinary ascent
In December, the first issue of Lucky Peach, a quarterly food journal produced by Momofuku mogul and chef-of-the-moment David Chang, sold on eBay for $162.50 to $152.50 more than its newsstand price in June 2011. Crazy? Not to anyone up on food trends: the issue is devoted to ramen, the Japanese broth-noodle combo once best known as a mainstay for starving students. But that was before forces—cultural, economic, primal—transformed it into the new cosmic chicken soup for the soul, metaphorically and culinarily speaking.
We’re currently in the grip of ramen mania, as illustrated by thousands of Instagrams of wheat noodles in glistening hot broth topped with sliced pork, mushrooms, egg, corn, seaweed, green onion, pickled bamboo shoots—you name it. The dish’s Vancouver toehold has increased and migrated east, with shops opening up in Toronto and beyond, seemingly with the frequency of Starbucks. Chatter on Chowhound message boards has turned to critiques of tare, the seasoned sauce that defines ramen type: miso, fermented bean paste; shoyu, soy-sauce based; shio, salty seafood and seaweed essence; and tonkotsu, creamy pork-bone broth. Studying ramen-making in Japan has become a chef’s bragging right, the way training at former molecular cuisine mecca El Bulli used to be.
Ivan Orkin, a New York chef turned ramen celebrity in Japan, sees the trend only beginning in North America. The self-described “Japanophile” moved to Tokyo in 2003 amid a ramen renaissance. His two Ivan Ramen shops, which offer a “Mexican” and a “BLT” ramen, were big hits; he also gained fame selling high-end instant ramen. Orkin is about to open his first U.S. outpost in Manhattan’s Lower East Side this spring. He’s publishing a book in the fall.
By Jessica Allen - Friday, July 27, 2012 at 7:16 PM - 0 Comments
Beer aficionados cooled off on Monday night–one of hottest days of the year so far–at Bellwoods, a brewery housed in an old auto garage that opened up on Ossington Ave. in Toronto. The occasion? “The mother of all collaborations,” says the Bellwoods website, with Evil Twin Brewery, whose beers are coveted by microbrewery nerds the world over.
Evil Twin is the mastermind of brewmaster Jeppe Jarnit—Bjergsø. He’s Danish. Once he came up with a beer after changing his son’s diaper–there were hints of vanilla. It’s called Soft Doofie, or Soft DK. There is actually no Evil Twin brewery, making Jarnit—Bjergsø a bit of a gypsy. He currently brews beers, of which there are about 20, everywhere from South Carolina and Scotland to Holland. And now, in Toronto.
Guests paid $25 for a glass of the collaborator’s finished product: “a pale ale brewed with aromatic hop varieties from New Zealand, apricots and mango to compliment the heat of summer, and finished at a solid 6.8% ABV.” They were also treated to food prepared by Daniel Burns, “The best Canadian chef you’ve never heard of,” according to a fantastic profile in the Globe and Mail by Chris Nuttall-Smith. The Halifax-raised 37-year-old chef worked at Noma in Copehagen for three years, not before finishing degrees in mathematics and philosophy at Dalhousie. Burns also worked at the Fat Duck in England and at Susur back in 2003. And he was the head of research and development at Momofuku. Back in February, he said he was hoping to open up his own restaurant but he couldn’t confirm where in the world it would be. While Burns was preparing little crostini topped with a cabbage and cucumber slaw in a horseradish dressing topped with a slice of grilled veal heart, I asked him if any decisions had been made. “My plan is to move to Denmark and open up a place there,” he said. “I like Europe a lot.”