is an itinerant pastry chef who really just wants to be Vince Vaughn to Zak Pelaccio's Owen Wilson. Or vice versa. He currently proved how much he can't escape the past by reopening Room4Dessert in the outskirts of Ubud, Bali to some critical acclaim but mostly yawning disinterest. Mr. Goldfarb lives quite happily among the rice fields with his wife Maria and daughter Loulou. He remains blissfully unfulfilled until the day he can return to New York and reclaim the very small and inconsequential dessert bar full of its own merit whose stratospheric rise was interrupted by life.
Time, space, and the quest for elusive taste
Monkeying around the salle
Three questions. Three questions.
Alike in dignity? Certainly alike in irrelevance.
How can there be free movement of capital but not free movement of labor?
Can “foreigners” do anything other than culturally appropriate “local” cuisine?
Is sustainability meaningful without development of human capital?
Shit, that is for the wrong essay. (Please see below for actual questions.)
Is the spice route the original time space taste continuum?
But what is the time space taste continuum, you may ask? Simply the fact that we acknowledge that things taste different based on where they are made, from, or eaten. We also keep finding examples where different things have in fact become the same; moqueca, a Brazilian fish soup in coconut milk, is essentially a samba-fied Malaysian laksa. Or, for example, all things that are orange taste good together. I believe in chromatherapy, which means all things that are the same color or shades of the same color give off the same sense of place and therefore taste. Whether or not empirical truth resides here is fortunately irrelevant. This represents the unifying theory of flavor, whereby everything is the same while obviously different: the essence of then-ness.
I digress. But let me repeat with clarity: Barolo tastes different in Piedmont with a gaggle of boars and truffles than it does in some snooty upper East Side Eatery surrounded by weekending yogists of varying degrees of sincerity.
Things are the same but different.
Where is spaghetti from? What is the difference between salsa and sambal? Why do I crave rice after living in Bali for a few years? How do we keep finding the same essential truths at the bases of our shared eating experiences? How can everyone like pickles and yogurt?
Things are different but the same.
So creative, a new method for combining tangerine slices with pork chops. But beetroots and raspberry and red wine and hibiscus are amazing because they are all red.
Everything is the same if you decide it is.
Do we have to read Stephen Hawking to discuss the disappearing black hole of flavor?
(Spoiler alert: I hope not. I just saw the movie.)
Is there such a thing as the disappearing black hole of flavor? It (must) exist, for if time indeed has a beginning and an end then flavor does also. Not so much which came first—the chicken or the egg—but rather when did it all go pear-shaped?
If universal truths are just relative (see what I did there), then it is fair to ask whether they can be relevant. Fortunately for this labored analogy, they are. For example, what happens to cuisines not recorded, relationships not documented, dishes not tasted? They literally disappear. Chance encounters of moonlit green beans with mystery seasonings never enter the hallowed cannon of classicism or hipsterism: lost forever.
If there is no law of infinite return, there is in fact little/greater consequence to our decisions on flavor combinations and plating styles. So time is linear again? Let's put aside that we cannot disconfirm due to the possibility of an infinite number of exchanges in a finite space in an infinite time (Wiki Simmel), and focus again on the meaning we cannot extract from the unbearable lightness of breading, mainly that nothing is a big deal since it doesn't come back to haunt us in the end.
Can metaphors change the world?
More importantly, is Milanese Kundera a more apt metaphor or portmanteau?
Are we likely to encounter a perfectly fried schnitzel at more than one time, or in more than one place? Or does it just depend on your point of view?
I am running out of questions here and very, very hungry.
Brief interlude and pause for deep breath.
What’s that you say, all bark and no bite? Bullshit and experience, as the man says. Feast your eyes on these wonderful ways that taste is all relative at our humble dessert bar in the hills of Bali.
For the chocolate crème brûlée the taste is relative to the serving vessel. To wit: we make a simple cream with a light caramel and fresh cocoa paste from Tabanan, ground nicely for us by a distinguished Italian architect. We do the brûlée thing and then scoop it out and put it on a plate so you get to eat the brulee without the invariably nasty ramekin. Context change! Then we season with sea salt and bitters that we make from mangosteen peel. Jerry Thomas bitters. But of course we don’t got no snakeroot, so we peel the yucky purple part from around the skin and use the interior skin to make our bitters in the classic style. Key character in bitters hero arc change. The result, transportative change through context via flavor, the latest example of the disappearing black hole of flavor, provided you finish it.
Flavor relative to the deliverer comes from an exploration of taro and coconut prompted by a distinguished gentleman from Bangkok. Taro pudding and jackfruit the game, caramelized coconut the name of the new sorbet that graces it. So still the same. Bali (not equals) Bangkok so not the same. Change in spacetime (context) affects flavor. Garnishes garnishes garnishes: coconut apple; passion fruit; tarragon oil; pumpkin seeds; meringue from soy milk (technical relativity, despite not actually existing outside of my imagination, means any technique can apply to any product regardless of divergent properties of said product). finish the dish and make it new. So everything old is new.
The white chocolate margarita is another shrew tamed over years of exhaustion and most recently inspired by another Bulgakovian relationship sans master or margarita. This dessert comes from 1999—what could be more time traveling than actual time travel across continents and ingredients? We make a black rice meringue now out of black rice porridge because we are in Bali (context change), and we make a sorbet from pennywort and kemangi because we can (paradigm shift for medicinal herbs in pastry), and we make a steamed pound cake from Big Tree Farms cocoa butter because butter is only relative after all and we can serve a pound of cocoa flesh with less saturation. There must be some other things like a lime and olive oil gel (because olive oil never changes no matter where it is), and some bubbles that we make from juicing aloe vera and emulsifying even more cocoa butter and nectar and a little whiskey (because I like it and I am the center of this universe). The result: everything is different except the result: a smile.
So nothing is the same I guess.