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Pleasure overload! The art of perfect balance.

September 19, 2010

Hello all! I hope this finds you wrapping up a great weekend of food, wine and quality people time.

I am in Atlanta and had the most amazing food and cocktails at a place called Holeman and Finch. You enter facing a glass kitchen but your eyes roam quickly as you approach the glass case of aging meats. They do their own prosciutto, salumi, bacon, etc. The meats aren’t the only thing they do great. I am now an okra fan. It was pan roasted to perfection with oven-dried tomatoes. The okra had a perfect tender crunch and a deep green vegetal character that rang true to the South. There was just a touch of that characteristic gummy texture that acted as the creamy balance to the sharp, sweet oven-dried tomatoes. I am going to create a few okra dishes now for sure! The seasonal green beans were slightly golden and tender with strands of lardo melted through them like a well-marbled steak. Everyone would eat their veggies if they tasted like!

The cocktails were as exciting as the food. Michael the bartender is a master of balance. Although they were cocktails the principals apply perfectly to cooking. He tasted each cocktail by placing a drop of the drink on the back of his hand before serving it. It was as smooth as a magic trick. He added a touch more simple syrup in one drink because the limes were more tart this time. He made me a Pig Pik Sour (Bourbon, Maria brizard apry(apricot), orange bitters and smoked egg white. Possibly one of the best drinks I have ever had due to the perfect balance of each flavor. The smoked egg whites gave the drink the slightest viscosity and the most amazing mild smoke flavor. There were anise-like notes that developed as a result of all of the marriage of all the ingredients. The Apricot liquor added a touch of sweetness but was kept under control by the bitters. The Bourbon was a sturdy backbone of flavor. You could taste the barrel age but it did not dominate as Bourbon sometimes can. Michael measured every liquid precisely as if a chemist. I am sure he could have eyed it fairly accurately but he understands that the balance can be easily thrown off. The lesson for all of our cooking – Taste often, think about the balance of flavors and only add things that make the dish (or the drink) better. Don’t add ingredients just for the sake of adding them or trying to reach too far. Cheers!

Eat well, Enjoy life, Be happy!

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