Sunday, April 23, 2006

Food Porn Alert

Do you know the cookbook area of the Chapters on Robson and Howe? I love sitting and browsing the cookbooks there at the cluster of chairs near the huge atrium-like wall of windows. I also love the fact that the best view in the building is right next to the cookbooks. It's usually nice and quiet, the natural light floods in, and on a beautifully sunny day, you can look out onto a postcard perfect slice of downtown, with the Vancouver Art Gallery, various surrounding skyscrapers, Robson Square, a few trees, and bustling Robson Street pedestrian traffic. Today I flipped through Susur, A Culinary Life, a unique, two-volume book from celebrated Toronto chef, Susur Lee. The two parts are presented as two books joined at the spine, with the first focussing on a biography of the chef, and his personal culinary life journey, and the second volume is a collection of recipes with full-page colour photographs of each dish. The platings are stunning, and really appeal to my love of intense, vibrant colour, and layering of textures.

Just like most celebrity chefs, the buzz around them always makes me suspect each might be a bit of an ass to work with, but it's probably just a by-product of the kind of self-confidence, attention to detail and sky-high standards that make their food so desirable in the first place. Susur, in particular, seems to come off as one of the most pretentious of the bunch, and I had never really had much of a desire to try his cuisine. But those photos have convinced me that I need to go to Susur (his Toronto restaurant) one day. They were THAT pretty. And the dishes are complex and sound really intriguing. The back cover plate photo with it's bright palette of baby veggies had me just staring and staring at it. The almost gruesome presentation of whole roasted squab - cut in three section, including the head, all garnished with a round of foie gras balanced on it's butt (while foie gras is liver from a different bird, to me, it's as if it's own guts are there to remind us of the bird as a whole organism, Something that is not shyed away from in Chinese cuisine, which is what provides the foundation of his cooking) - took me in too. His food has amazing visual impact.

Another famous restaurant with incredible visual impact that I'd like to visit is Chicago's Moto, where Chef Homaro Cantu really pushes the envelope of cooking, with incredibly inventive techniques and presentations. He's the one responsible for the ink-jet printer edible paper sushi, fresh herb-holding eating utensils, so that you take in the aromas of the herbs while bringing the food to your face, and even a clear, tabletop "oven" made of a clear plastic box that cooks your fish at your table while you eat the other dishes. Check their website out for more food porn. I'm not aware of a Moto or Homaro Cantu cookbook, but would love to see that.

2 comments:

Tai said...

mmmmm food porn!

ranger said...

Oddly enough, I visited my friend's ESL lunchtime discussion group and they were reading an article about Moto. It sounded so cool, provided you had the cash to spend.