Archive for risotto

Insane craving for food

Posted in pictures, Travel, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 18, 2020 by xi'an

Within a couple of weeks, I read two related US stories about ordering food from an insanely far destination, like hand-made frozen pizza from Napoli, Italia, or like one startup called Goldbelly ships frozen food made by some restaurants nationwide. (With a motto of Whatever [food] they dream of, wherever they are.) While I am not consistent in consuming non-local food and drinks, like my mass orderings of Italian wines and Darjeeling teas, and while I’d love to get a new taste of Toukoul’s Ethiopian dishes, a creamy sepia risotto from Da Franz, an okonomiyaki from any street stall in Osaka, and many many other dishes from all over the World, it sounds to me rather debatable to have a special single meal prepared on the other side of the World and delivered immediately to one’s table… Furthermore, one of the perks of dining at fine restaurants is exactly to dine at fine restaurants, not in one’s own room, and having starred chefs’ dishes ending up in reheated frozen plastic containers is certainly killing a major share of the experience.

Sens’o risotto

Posted in Kids, pictures, Wines with tags , , , , , , on February 6, 2016 by xi'an

A chance dinner last Sunday led us to dine in Sens’o, an empty Italian restaurant on one of the Paris islands with a superlative scallops risotto and a chance encounter resulted from talking from the idle waitress who happened to be a free-lance journalist. We talked for quite a while on her previous trips to Haïti, Egypt, and field hospitals at the Syrian border in Turkey. (The restaurant was empty for a combination of reasons, from the drop in tourists after the November 13 killings to January being a low tide month, to a blistery Sunday night being unattractive for revellers. Not because of bad reviews…)

cooking experiments [more fixation on food]

Posted in Kids, pictures, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2016 by xi'an

I received the above bowl (or jar?) above as a[nother X’mas] gift. Not only it is a beautiful pottery from a Norman handicraft centre, at Noron-la-Poterie, but it is specially designed to cook Norman-style rice pudding, and it does it superbly! (The recipe stems from bakers cooking rice in cold and creamy Norman milk while their traditional wood oven was cooling down. The ensuing slow cooking produces a very creamy rice pudding.)

Besides testing this new bowl, I further experimented on the kitchen front this week with a Nutella galette des rois and a red wine risotto, both of which were far from successes! Maybe due to the poor Pic Saint-Loup I used… The most notable achievements were borrowed from two recipes I found in The Guardian. Including a sweet potato tarte tatin. Even though the sausage and kale dish found therein let me [and even more my family] quite dubious about the appeal of kale for human consumption…

workshop a Padova (finale)

Posted in pictures, Running, Statistics, Travel, University life, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2013 by xi'an

The third day of this rich Padova workshop was actually a half-day which, thanks to a talk cancellation, I managed to attend completely before flying back to Paris. The first talk by Matteo Botai was about the appeal of using quantile regression, as opposed to regular (or mean) regression. The talk was highly pedagogical and enthusiastic, hence enjoyable!, but I did not really buy the argument: if one starts modelling more than the conditional mean, the whole conditional distribution should be the target of the inference, rather than an arbitrary collection of quantiles, esp. if those are estimated marginaly and not jointly. There could be realistic exceptions, for instance legit 95% bounds/quantiles in medical trials, but they are certainly most rare (as exceptions should be!). This talk however led me to ponder about a possible connection with the g-and-k quantile distributions (whose dedicated monograph I did not really appreciate!) even though I had no satisfactory answer by the end of the talk. The second talk by Eva Cantoni dealt with a fishery problem—an ecological model close to my interests—that had nice hierarchical features and [of course] a possible Bayesian analysis of the random effects. This was not the path followed though and the likelihood analysis had to rely on bootstrap and other approximations. The motivation was provided by the very recent move of the hammerhead shark (among several species of shark) to the endangered species list and the data came from reported catches by commercial fishermen vessels. I have always wondered about the reliability of such data, unless there is a researcher on-board the vessel. Indeed, while the commercial catches are presumably checked upon arrival to comply with the quotas (at least in European waters), unintentional catches are presumably thrown away on the spot (maybe not since this is high quality flesh) and not at a time when careful statistics can be saved…

Actually, the whole fishing concept eludes me, even though I can see the commercial side of it: this is the only large-scale remainder of the early hunter-gatherer society and there is no ethical reason it should persist (well, other than feeding coastal populations that rely solely on fish catches, and even then…). The last two centuries have provided many instances of species extinction resulting from unlimited commercial fishing, but fishing is still going on… End of the parenthesis.

The last talk was by Aad van der Vaart, on non-parametric credible sets, i.e. credible sets on curves. Most of the talk was dedicated to the explanation of why there was an issue with those credible sets, that is, why they could be incredibly slow in catching the true curve and in shedding away the impact of the prior. This was most interesting, obviously, if ultimately not that surprising: the prior brings an amount of information that is infinitely larger than the one carried by a finite sample. The last part of the talk showed that the resolution of the difficulty was in selecting priors that avoid over-smoothing (although this depends on an unknown smoothness quantity as well). I liked very much this soft entry to the problem as it showed that all is not that rosy with the Bayesian non-parametric approach, whose foci on asymptotics or computation generally occult this finite sample issue.

Overall, I enjoyed very very much those three days in Padova, from the pleasant feeling of the old city and of the local food (best risottos in the past six months!, and a very decent Valpolicella as well) to the great company of old and new friends—making plans for a model choice brainstorming week in Paris in June—and to the new entries on Bayesian modelling and in particular Bayesian model choice I gathered from the talks. I am thus grateful to my friends Laura Ventura and Walter Racugno for their enormous investment in organising this workshop and in making it such a profitable and rich time. Grazie mille!

Magical risotto!

Posted in Kids, Travel with tags , , on June 29, 2010 by xi'an

When Marilena Barbieri told me in Padova that she could make [good] risotto in her microwave oven, I was quite skeptical, both because I avoid using the microwave for cooking and because risotto is one of my favourite dishes! (Did I ever mention this outworldly risotto di seppie a la Veneziana that was so good it was almost a desert, served at an outrageous price at the Hostaria da Franz in Venezia!) However, Marilena sent me her recipe and I tried it last week. Now, I have to acknowledge that it is an excellent recipe, to the point that I will use it in the future (as long as my kids do not get tired of it, as happened with fajitas, crumbles and quiches in the past years…). Here is the core of Marilena’s recipe:

2 deciliters/cups hot chicken or vegetable broth/stock (or soup cube)
1 deciliter/cup arborio rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
chopped onion
risotto ingredients (e.g. minced vegetables or truffle bits)
oil or butter

Start with oil or butter and chopped onion in a covered bowl. Put in the microwave for 2 minutes. Add the other ingredients. Cover and put in the microwave for 2 additional minutes (or more, depending on the kind of vegetable you add). Then add broth, rice and cook at 750W for 3 minutes, then at 350W for 10 additional minutes. Stir only at the end. If the risotto looks too liquid, keep cooking one minute at a time until it tastes al dente.