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Orion is a fan of the "molecular gastronomy" now being pioneered in Barcelona, but even more influential on his cooking has been the Japanese kaiseki idea -- the emotional and aesthetic response to the changing seasons, reflected in a seasonal menu. But a "tasting menu" (a kaiseki equivalent) proved impractical for Azul's tiny kitchen and isn't offered routinely, although such menus come in to play at special-event dinners. "For me, kaiseki is more about presenting a moment -- the cuisine is about your feelings about what the moment should entail. The influences are mundane. You see colors on the way to work, then you use spices to create paints on the plate to produce emblems of things that you might see on the way in to work."

Incidental notes: First, an abashed apology for using the term "Paki" (re Jaynes). It's true that I had no idea it was a slur. My last time in London (long ago), the "hipoisie" (film, rock, and reggae critics, Anglo and Jamaican) were flinging the term around casually, usually attached to the word "restaurant." The absolutely brilliant "Indian" restaurant nearest my Clapham B&B, my main source of nourishment for ten days, was run by a Pakistani (not Bangladeshi) family. But perhaps I should have been less trusting in bohemian values. Soon after, a bunch of my SF friends decamped for Austin's music scene. During a brief visit, hearing the Texas hipoisie referring to local Latinos as "messkins," I nixed moving there myself. And on a sadder note: a belated farewell to the delightful Tom Fat (owner of Fat City and China Camp). He's remembered publicly as a Galahad for the Asian-Pacific community, but I remember him as the most charming interviewee ever -- the epitome of the warm, self-mocking Cantonese sense of humor. He was a delicious person to know, and he should have lived 200 years to keep spreading his light and wit wherever he went.

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