Gluttony

What we're eating

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All mushrooms are edible but some only once in a lifetime.

Mushrooms don’t grow to be gathered or picked, they are there to be hunted. Globalisation might give us strawberries all year round, but wild mushrooms don’t keep or travel well. Throughout Catalonia, whose stunning geography offers up the ideal climatic conditions for mushrooms to flourish, mushrooms are literally everywhere for a few months. Restaurants promote them from a basic side to a a main dish fighting alongside creatures from the sea and the land. Meanwhile markets are full with the earthy aroma and white, golden, brown and black hues.

These days I’m eating mushrooms and for me mushroom purity looks like the porcini, we call them ceps in Catalonia. Their smooth creamy flesh seems so far removed from the dark mossy forest floor from which these beauties are hunted.

Fresh porcini shaved carpaccio thin drizzled with olive oil, and seasoned with toasted pine nuts, Reggiano, Modena, baby mint leaves and red currants

This month I found porcini in a rough and unassuming restaurant on the road between Barcelona and the hills of Girona where mushrooms are at their thickest.

The main dish was amazing hunks of grilled meat showered with fat flakes of salt and charred pine needles – spectacular. But it was what the gruff waiter/chef/owner brought out on a black slate that etched itself into my gastronomic memory.

It’s the type of dish that you can’t help but eat in slow-motion, savouring every succulent sensation as the flavours and textures combined.

Find them at a farmers market or specialty store, or go hunt some of your own! The buttons with their brown paper bag will always be there, but there are only a few months every year to enjoy a sensorial and potentially hallucinogenic experience.

wild mushrooms

Watercooler

What we’re reading

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foodie club

Mile-high eating is the bane of some sky warriors and the guilty pleasure of others. One of my favourite scribes, Matt Goulding, asks the burning question: “Chicken or pasta?” as he delves into how plane food gained it’s cult-like status and exactly why rom-coms are obligatory viewing in the air.

foodie club

Another less-than-complimentary piece from by The Atlantic lays out the realities of taste at 30,000 feet and why the inflight meal should, but probably won’t be part of our flying future.

This year (with an entire month left!) I’ve boarded 62 flights and been served some 80 inflight-meals; I’m qualified to have an opinion on plane food and on rom-coms. So I’m sharing some favourites to make your red-eye flight feel good and taste even better:

Top Rom-Coms to Watch on the Plane

Top 5 In-flight Meals of 2016

  • Soba noodles, bok choy and teriyaki salmon, Japan Airlines
  • Black pepper beef stew with arugula and feta salad, Air New Zealand
  • Vegetarian lasagne with basil pesto, Swissair
  • Double Bloody Mary + with Absolut, Jet Blue
  • Chicken curry with pumpkin and papadums, Singapore Airlines

Reflections

What we’re thinking

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creative world

These days, creativity is the ultimate caché. It crosses politics, business, the arts, and everything in between. It is untouchable and unteachable. It sits in our subconscious fermenting away, invisible until that day the dots line up. It demonstrates an ability to see the world differently, connect it in new and exciting ways, and fundamentally influence how we evolve. Creativity is inimitable and by default denotes influence.

When I reflect on what drives me, I can pinpoint the exact moments in my life when it was power, money or sex that forced my hand. But these days, with Maslow’s basic needs taken care of, I keep coming back to creativity. The moments I feel that deep sense of calm contentment and that euphoric bursting pride come from the endeavours whose intangible results laugh in the face of the KPI and ROI.

Papalosophy is my take on the world and my dreams for the future, it’s my philosophy. It’s about combining all of my passions into one unique and original style.

Papalosophy is where I give in to creativity

creative world

Anthony Bourdain

My first hero was Frank Abagnale Jr., the con-artist Leonardo DiCaprio became in Catch Me If You Can. He gave the kid growing up on the farm a life of flash and glamour to dream of one day living. I saved my $6 an hour minimum wage working on a tomato farm until I could afford the hulking silver Tag Heuer DiCaprio sported. I started to become expert at caressing my CV for my next job, no matter whether I was stirring cocktails, laying bricks or playing economics in an expensive suit. I idolized the character and the nonchalance with which he switched from story to story, profession to profession, life to life.

My next hero, Hunter S. Thompson was also about the excesses, but there was a chaotic creative bent that filled my head as I wandered the corridors of the 11th floor in a convict-striped suit. Hunter prodded my journalism background and his all-consuming dangerous passion to create with abandon was intoxicating. I really started to believe that “Freedom is something that dies unless it’s used.” And with that heaved my spreadsheet-filled monitor out of the window, reduced my collection of silk ties to ash, and left.

Then I discovered Anthony Bourdain, that rare freak that lived by Hunter’s rules that “’Crazy’ is a term of art; ‘Insane’ is a term of law.” With food and all the beautiful madness that goes with it now the driving force in my life, Bourdain’s influence on this glutton cut deep and continues to this day. Because he was the first chef that gave the category we broadly call food an oversized serving of sex, drugs & rock ‘n’ roll. I read his books, watched his shows, saw him literally own the stage wherever he talked. Bourdain gave me the confidence to become multi-faceted chef I slowly transformed into – cooking, eating, writing, entrepreneuring and above all else creating.

The future is creative and I’m going to be madly doing my part in and out of the kitchen. Following Hunter S. Thompson’s advice, I bought the ticket and I’m going to damn well enjoy taking the ride.

I bought the ticket and I’m going to damn well enjoy taking the ride

Kitchen experiments

What we’re cooking

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scallops bacon

Crispy Scallops on Saffron Almond Cream with Jamon Shards

Ingredients

16 large scallops, roe removed (keep the shells for presentation)
1/2 a head of cauliflower, broken apart
1/2 cup of almonds, blanched and peeled
A pinch of saffron threads
1 shallot, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
6 slices of jamon
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked Zest of 1⁄2 a lemon
1⁄4 cup of almonds, toasted Olive oil
Cracked black pepper
Salt

Steps

Add chopped cauliflower to a pot of simmering water and cook for 5-8 minutes until tender then remove, drain, squeeze lemon juice over the top and set aside. Heat a pan with oil then add shallots and garlic and sauté for five minutes. Add saffron, thyme and cauliflower and continue to sauté until shallots are sweet and sticky. Scrape into a blender along with blanched almonds and blend with 3-4 tablespoons of oil and a pinch of salt and cracked black pepper until smooth.

Wash scallops and pat dry then season both sides with salt. Heat oil in pan and once hot, fry scallops for 2-3 minutes until golden and caramelised then flip and fry for another minute so they remain translucent in the centre. Remove and set aside.

Fill the empty scallop shells with the cauliflower cream then top with the scallop, torn jamon and thyme leaves. Place under a hot grill until jamon is beginning to crisp then remove and serve still hot.