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吐槽美式“私房菜”

  Nibbled to Death

  吐槽美式“私房菜”

  ONE of the most inviting openings to a restaurant meal I’ve ever heard came when I had closed the menu at Bouley and a server asked,“What shall we cook for you this evening?”The question managed to suggest that my choices would bring the kitchen intense pleasure,and that the pleasure would be returned to me many times over.

  我在餐厅就餐听到的最美好的开场白,发生在Bouley餐厅,我合上菜单之后,服务员问道:“今晚我们能为你做点什么菜呢?”这个问题让我觉得,我的选择会给厨房带来极大的快乐,而这种快乐又会成倍地返还给我。

  Compare this with the words of another server this year at an unnamed restaurant that offered tasting menus of several lengths.When I said I would tackle the whole megillah,a 12-course$245 spectacular,this was the response:“O.K.,I’ll go get that started for you.”

  比较一下今年我在另一家餐厅服务员跟我说的话吧。这家餐厅提供几种不同的厨师精选菜单。当我说我要尝尝所有这些菜(有12道菜的大餐,售价245美元)时,我得到的答复是:“好的,我去让他们开始做。”

  If the server at Bouley had made me a partner in an imminent adventure,this one turned me into a cog in an invisible machine.The machine would operate for a fixed length of time,and my function would be to eat anything it produced until the gears stopped turning and I was allowed to leave.

  如果说Bouley的服务员把我当做即将开始的探险之旅的伙伴的话,那么这位服务员是把我变成了一台隐形机器的一个齿轮。这台机器有固定的运行时间,我的功能就是吃掉它生产出来的任何东西,直到齿轮停转,我就可以走了。

  Not all tasting menus get off to such an awkward start.Even so,when I face a marathon of dishes chosen by the restaurant,I often feel the same trapped,helpless sensation.

  不是所有的厨师精选大餐都是以这样让人不爽的方式开头的。即使如此,当我面对着餐厅提供的一长串菜肴选择时,经常产生这种被困、无助的感觉。

  牛肉配松茸瓣、洋姜和骨髓

  In the hands of a chef who grasps the challenges and possibilities of the form,a tasting menu can yield a succession of delights that a shorter meal could never contain.

  有的大厨能够经受挑战,搭配出各种形式的美味;在这种大厨的掌控下,一顿精选大餐能带来一重又一重的喜悦,那是简短的一餐所无法赋予的。

  At other times,though,the consumer of such a meal may feel as much like a victim as a guest.The reservation is hard won,the night is exhausting,the food is cold,the interruptions are frequent.The courses blur,the palate flags and the check stings.

  而有时候,这样的一餐可能让顾客觉得自己既是客人,也是受害人。好不容易才预订上,漫长的晚餐让人精疲力竭,食物是冷的,还经常需要等着上菜。感觉不到每道菜之间的差别,味觉渐渐麻木,账单却贵得惊人。

  I’m getting used to that sting.Across the country,expensive tasting-menu-only restaurants are spreading like an epidemic.

  我已经习惯了这种漫天要价。“只提供精选大餐”的昂贵餐厅在全国像瘟疫一样蔓延开来。

  This year in New York,two such places were born,Atera and Blanca,while two other restaurants,Eleven Madison Park and WD-50,dropped theiràla carte menus in favor of all-or-nothing tastings.

  今年在纽约诞生了两个这样的餐厅——Atera和Blanca;还有两家餐厅——Eleven Madison Park和WD-50——摒弃了单点菜单,转而采用“要么不点,要么全点”的精选菜单。

  Many of these restaurants are hits,with long waiting lists for their limited number of seatings.They have been hailed by critics(including this one)and by Restaurant Magazine’s suspect-but-influential ranking of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.The Michelin Guide to New York,published last week,piled on,awarding three such restaurants three stars,pinning two stars on two more,and giving one star to two others.

  很多这样的餐厅都是热门餐厅,座位有限,等待的客人有一长串。这些餐厅都是被美食评论家(包括在下)以及《餐厅杂志》(Restaurant Magazine)那份虽然值得怀疑但是影响力很大的“全球50个最佳餐厅”,给捧起来的。上周出版的《米其林指南》(Michelin Guide)纽约分册对这些餐厅也是大加赞扬,给了3家这样的餐厅3星,两家2星,还有两家1星。

  A high-end anomaly a few years ago,three-or four-hour menus now look like the future of fine dining.Before corner delis begin parceling sandwiches into 18-course pastrami tastings,it’s worth asking if this is the future we want.

  几年前,这只是高端餐厅的非常规做法,而现在一顿饭吃上三四个小时,好像成了精致大餐未来的发展方向。在街角的熟食店开始把三明治打包成18道熏牛肉的精选菜之前,有必要问一句:这是不是我们想要的未来?

  I am not talking here about Japanese kaiseki or omakase menus.Both are old traditions with underlying structures that chefs and diners understand.The kind of tasting menu I mean is a younger,more free-form invention,championed at destination restaurants like the French Laundry,Per Se,Noma and Alinea.Being so new,the genre has no rules and few limits.

  我这里所说的不是日本的怀石料理或者无菜单料理。这两种料理有着悠久的传统,厨师和用餐者对其深层结构心照不宣。而我所说的厨师精选菜单是一种更年轻的、形式更自由的发明,得到了一些值得专程前往的餐厅的支持,比如French Laundry,Per Se,Noma和Alinea。这种形式还很新,没有什么规则和限制。

  This is a challenge no chef should saunter into casually.A restaurant whose sole product is an expensive,lengthy,take-it-or-leave-it meal sets a dauntingly high bar for itself.And a few of them vault right over it with a grace and agility that are truly thrilling.

    蛐蛐英语 www.qqenglish.com

  哪位大厨都不应该随意尝试这个挑战。如果一个餐厅唯一的产品就是一套昂贵、漫长、没有选择余地的精选菜,那它是在给自己设置一个极大的障碍。只有少数几家餐厅能够优雅而敏捷地跨过这个障碍,这很是惊险。

  At Benu in San Francisco,Corey Lee’s menus are breathtaking explorations of the potential for treating Asian flavors with a modern American sensibility,and the look and flavor of each fresh course are surprising.In a quieter voice,Christopher Kostow of the Restaurant at Meadowood in St.Helena,Calif.,puts together menus that gently unfold as meditations on the season and the region.

  在旧金山的Benu餐厅,大厨科里·李(Corey Lee)的精选菜是一种非常惊险的尝试,他用现代美国的口味偏好来料理亚洲美味;每一道新鲜的菜,从品相到口味,都让人惊喜。加州圣赫勒拿的Restaurant at Meadowood餐厅的大厨克里斯托弗·考斯特(Christopher Kostow)用轻柔的调子,设计了一套菜肴,它缓缓地呈现出来,宛如对季节和地区的沉思录。

  César Ramirez of the Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare has an almost supernatural gift for seafood cookery and noncookery,assembling meals that build from a salvo of sashimi-like bites to more complex hot dishes,made with ingredients of staggering quality.Technical mastery and a sensitivity to nature’s forms distinguish Matthew Lightner’s tastings at Atera in Manhattan.

  Brooklyn Fare食品店的“大厨的餐桌”(Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare)餐厅的凯撒·拉米瑞兹(César Ramirez),在海鲜烹饪方面天赋异禀;他调配的一餐,从类似生鱼片的菜肴开始,过渡到更复杂的热菜,所用的原材料品质极好。曼哈顿Atera餐厅的大厨马修·莱特纳(Matthew Lightner)技艺精湛,对自然形式有灵敏的感知力,这让他的精选菜与众不同。

  The tasting menu reaches what may be its most sophisticated American form at Alinea in Chicago,where Grant Achatz composes meals that are almost like symphonies in their skillful manipulation of complexity,volume,tempo and harmony.

  芝加哥的Alinea餐厅的精选菜复杂而精致,可以说是美国菜式的巅峰之作,这里的大厨格兰特·阿查兹(Grant Achatz)创作出的菜肴就像是一首交响乐,巧妙地处理了复杂、音量、节拍及和声。

  In other cases,though,much of the work of clearing that high bar falls to the heaving,struggling patron.

  不过,在其他一些餐厅,跨越障碍的工作落到了反胃的、挣扎的顾客身上。

  Making each course as different as possible from the last is not just a chance for chef to show off;it’s necessary to keep the diner’s attention.During an epic evening at Saison in San Francisco,I was often amazed by the way Joshua Skenes coaxed extra flavor from his ingredients through ancient means like dry-aging,curing,fermenting,smoking and grilling over fire.But some of the courses,more than 20 in all,were repetitive in ingredients or preparation,and others felt like padding.I walked out dazed when I could have been dazzled.

  让每道菜尽可能跟上一道菜不同,不仅是大厨炫耀手艺的机会,也是出于始终吸引用餐者注意力的需要。在旧金山Saison餐厅那个漫长的晚上,大厨约书亚·斯基尼(Joshua Skenes)用一些古老的方法,比如风干、腌制、发酵、烟熏和火烤,让他的原料迸发出更多的味道,这令我赞叹不已。但是这20多道菜中有些菜在原料或制作方法上有些重复,还有些菜像是在凑数。我本可以在心满意足的熏熏然中离开餐厅,而实际上却是带着昏沉沉的感觉离开的。

  Wylie Dufresne’s vision has been consistent from the day he opened WD-50 in 2003.But a recent tasting menu there was,perhaps,consistent to a fault.Almost every plate was composed the way Mr.Dufresne used to put together his appetizers and entrees when he still served them;nothing broke the pattern.Rather than using the tasting menu to tell a different story,WD-50 tells the same story more often.Mr.Dufresne is one of the least boring chefs in the country,and his plates never lack originality,but the shadow of monotony loomed over the meal by the end.

  从威利·杜弗雷斯内(Wylie Dufresne)2003年开始经营WD-50餐厅以来,他的愿景未曾变过。但是最近的精选菜是一种失误。几乎每道菜都是用杜弗雷斯内先生之前搭配开胃菜和主菜的方式做出来的;没有哪道菜打破了那个模式。WD-50餐厅不是用精选菜讲述不同的故事,而是把同一个故事重复了很多遍。杜弗雷斯内先生是美国最不乏味的大厨之一,他的菜肴从不缺乏新意,但是单调的阴影始终笼罩着这餐饭,直至结束。

  If a meal goes on for hours,even radical costume changes from course to course may not be enough.Daniel Humm has rounded up an amazing variety of ideas for his new$195 tastings at Eleven Madison Park.But I wasn’t sure why he was presenting so many at once.Some of the menu was based on classic New York dishes,but a lot wasn’t,and I struggled to find a single point of view.<-->纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com<-->

  如果一餐饭持续好几个小时,那么即使每道菜在外观上有很大的区别,也还是不够。Eleven Madison Park餐厅的大厨丹尼尔·哈姆(Daniel Humm)在他新推出的195美元精选菜中融入的元素真是多得惊人。但是我不确定他为什么要一次推出这么多种类。有些是基于经典的纽约菜,但还有很多不是,我费尽脑筋也没理出一条思路。

  The shapelessness of certain tasting menus might be blamed in part on a broken feedback loop.A restaurant that sells appetizers,main courses and entrees quickly learns which ones customers like.But one-bite dishes rarely come back to the kitchen untouched,so the chef has little chance to learn what customers think.Asking“How was everything?”of somebody who has just consumed 27 items isn’t likely to produce constructive criticism.

  某些精选菜不成套路的原因,可以部分地归咎于反馈链的断裂。销售开胃菜、主菜和配菜的餐厅能很快得知顾客喜欢哪些菜。但是分量很小的菜,很少会原封不动地返回厨房,所以大厨没有机会了解顾客的喜好。你要是问一个刚刚吃了27种菜的人“每样菜都好吃吗”,你很可能得不到什么建设性的评价。

  These restaurants can deviate from old-fashioned notions of hospitality in other ways.The ideal of serving a hot meal has been increasingly a lost cause,given how quickly a morsel the size of a cat’s tongue will cool.

  这些餐厅可能会在其他方面偏离传统的待客之道。提供热腾腾饭菜的理想已经逐渐被淡忘了——想一下猫舌头大小的一点儿菜凉得有多快,你就知道了。

  The strangest of all the anti-hospitality gestures,though,is the delayed-bread power play.For centuries,good hosts have placed bread on the table.Blanca,Momofuku Ko and other restaurants do the same thing,and their bread is often superb,but the meal is about half over before it appears.When I’ve asked about this,I’ve been told that the chef didn’t want diners to fill up on bread.When did it become a restaurant’s job to keep its customers from feeling full?

  不过,其中最违反待客之道的,还当属“延迟上面包”这个做法。几个世纪以来,好客的主人们都是把面包摆在桌子上的。Blanca,Momofuku Ko和其他几家餐厅也是这么做的,而且他们的面包一般都很美味,但是菜吃了一半多之后,面包才现身。我问起这件事的时候,他们告诉我大厨不想让用餐者被面包填饱了肚子。从何时起,不让顾客吃饱变成了餐馆的责任?

  It’s rather unaccommodating when those customers are giving up unusual amounts of time,control and,of course,money.Dining at the upper tiers will never be cheap,but tasting menus have made some of the country’s greatest restaurants into luxury goods.A meal at the Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare is now$225;it was$135 at the beginning of 2011.It’s true that Mr.Ramirez buys more expensive ingredients than he once did,but it’s also true that in the same period,accolades for the restaurant piled up while the number of seats remained constant at 18.

  顾客延长了用餐时间、放弃了对菜肴的选择,当然也花了一大笔钱,这些都非常不人性化。在上等餐厅吃饭从来都不便宜,但是厨师精选菜已经让美国的一些最棒的餐厅变成了最奢侈的餐厅。在Brooklyn Fare食品店的“大厨的餐桌”用餐,现在要花225美元;2011年初的时候是135美元。没错,拉米瑞兹先生购买了更多昂贵的原材料,但是还有一个原因是,在此期间,这家餐厅获得的赞扬越来越多,而座位却还是18个。

  A small restaurant serving a set menu to just a few customers each night can transcend the normal laws of restaurant economics.Everybody knows how much a plate of chicken should cost in a fancy New York restaurant,but what is the value of 30 courses you haven’t seen yet?You’re not buying 30 courses,of course.You’re buying a ticket to a show that is probably going to sell out,which leaves the restaurant free to charge scalper’s prices if it likes.

  一个小餐厅每晚只给几位客人提供固定的菜肴,这可超越了餐厅经济学的正常法则。每个人都知道在纽约一家上等餐厅点一盘鸡,需要花多少钱,但是你知道你还没见过的30道菜值多少钱吗?当然,你不是花钱买这30道菜,你是在购买一张很可能会售罄的演出票,这让餐馆可以随意定出黄牛票的高价。

  It’s my job to urge readers to try the best,so I can’t feel good about watching great restaurants that were already serving an elite audience taking themselves further out of reach.(Several tasting-menu restaurants serve lower-priced options in their lounges;WD-50 also offers a shorter,cheaper tasting of its greatest hits over the years.)

  我的工作就是鼓励读者们去品尝最好吃的菜,所以看着这些原本已经只服务精英阶层的优秀餐馆,还在继续减小它们的受众面,我不会觉得高兴(有几家精选菜餐厅在大堂提供定价较低、可选择的菜单;WD-50也提供一个较短、较便宜、内含这些年最受欢迎菜肴的精选菜单)。

  And the elite who now fill these dining rooms are a particular kind of diner,the big-game hunters out to bag as many trophy restaurants as they can.Another kind of eater,the lusty,hungry ones who keep a mental map of the most delicious things to eat around town,may be left outside.

  现在把这些餐厅填满的精英人士,是一群特殊的用餐者,他们像是喜欢捕获大型动物的猎人,总是尽可能把更多的餐厅收入囊中,好像那是他们的战利品。另外还有一种食客,他们强壮、饥饿,头脑中有一张美食地图,上面标明了城里最好吃的食物的所在地点,他们可能就与这类餐厅无缘了。

  That’s one reason these dining rooms can feel less lively.A monoculture of earnest foodies has replaced the old biodiversity in which senior partners taking out the sales team from Atlanta would sit next to couples on blind dates.You can’t eat a meal like this with a passing acquaintance since you’ll be together for hours,but you can’t go with somebody you really want to talk to,either,since there’s little time between courses for sustained conversation.

  这是这类餐厅不那么有生机的一个原因。热切的美食家单独进餐,不像以前那样,各种身份的人共同进餐:亚特兰大销售团队的几位资深合伙人的旁边坐着的,可能是经人介绍初次见面的男女。你不可能和一位只有一面之交的人共进这样的大餐,因为你们要在一起呆上好几个小时;同时,你也不能跟一位你真的想好好聊一聊的人一起用餐,因为两道菜之间的时间很短,无法进行长时间的谈话。

  Once in a while,I’ve had tasting menus so extraordinary that none of these things seemed to matter.But the format presents formidable hurdles for customers and restaurants,enough to cause us to stop and wonder how many more meals like this we need.Not every novel should be“War and Peace.”Sometimes,enough really is enough.

  曾经有一段时间,我对厨师精选菜非常着迷,所以以上这些问题对我毫无影响。但是这种形式给顾客和餐厅设置了可怕的障碍,让我们忍不住停下来思考:我们还需要吃多少顿这样的大餐?不是每本小说都得像《战争与和平》那样厚重。有时,差不多就得了。

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