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Catching Up in February

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve talked about what I was reading, but I didn’t want to let February go by without pointing to some really interesting articles.  Of course, the El Bulli story has continued to develop with the  announcement that it would close permanently in 2012 and re-open as a non-profit foundation 2014.  There were two interesting pieces in the New York Times Diner’s Journal by Grant Achatz and Frank Bruni about the very different emotions the restaurant inspired. From Lydia Martin for the Miami Herald there was a great interview with Daniel Boulud, who is being honored at the South Beach Food and Wine Festival that started today.  I especially liked the part where he describes midnight visits to a Palm Beach truck stop for Cuban sandwiches.  I’ve never wanted to visit a truck stop in the middle of the night before but those must be fantastic Cubans.  She also spoke to Douglas Rodriguez, who recently opened D. Rodriguez’s Cuba at the Astor Hotel, about Cuban home cooking.

Meanwhile, David Kaufman spoke to Alain Ducasse about Mix on the Beach, his new restaurant that’s part of the new W Spa and Resort on Vieques for the Daily Beast.  While I’m wary of any venture that can be described as a “playground” for the “gringo masses,” it’s encouraging that Ducasse is working with local staff and finding so much inspiration in his surroundings:

“…breadfruit, star fruit, quenepa (Spanish lime), avocado, guava, passion fruit, 100 varieties of mangos—it’s all literally falling off of the trees here,” Ducasse says. Also on the toque’s radar screen: traditional Puerto Rican street foods, which he is giving a haute-nouvelle spin. “I always visit those overlooked holes-in-the-wall wherever I travel,” he says. “In Puerto, I love the kiosks serving authentic cuisine like whole roast pig.”

Closer to home, Maricel Presilla, a Best Chef semifinalist for a James Beard award, opened Ultramarinos in Hoboken, New Jersey.  A prepared foods and specialty market, it features a variety of products products from Spain, Portugal, Mexico and Central and South America.

So much activity for such a short month.

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