The 2013 edition of the Omnivore Food Festival (officially called Omnivore World Tour now that it’s a traveling festival) was held at Paris’s Palais de la Mutualité last week. I spent two days out of time in a dark auditorium, watching chefs cook on stage and jotting down notes in a handwriting that looks considerably more pulled together, I’ve only recently found out, if I use felt-tip rather than ball-point pens.
Every year a few common themes or ingredients emerge, and this time we saw a lot of oysters, cabbages, onions, and vegetables cooked to the point of being charred.
Aside from the excitement of climbing into a chef’s brain, seeing him (overwhelmingly more than her, regrettably) do his thing, and listening to him talk about his craft, what I love about those sessions is being inspired by details, pairings, or techniques that I can take away and perhaps rig into my own cooking sometime.
Looking through my notes a few days later, I thought I would wring out a list of these ideas to share with you, in the hope that they may inspire you, too.
- A pork belly, cooked for 30 minutes in the skillet, then soaked for 1 1/2 hours at warm room temperature in nuoc mam infused with star anise, cinnamon, and clove (pictured below).
- Talauma, a Vietnamese spice that you grate (a bit like nutmeg), pairs well with game meats.
- Fresh, uncooked green beans layered with coarse salt and meadowsweet flowers in a barrel and left to rest for a while. He then cuts the beans in small slices and uses them as a condiment or seasoning, especially with fresh cheese.