Cooking with Fire
The fine dining temple of Los Fuegos from Argentine grillmaster Francis Mallmann is where one can find a bounty of flavor-packed vegetables smoked, grilled and charred to perfection. The restaurant's latest menu takes inspiration from the chef’s recently
To any son or daughter of Patagonia, the potato, a humble tuber, dug out of dirt, is the food that has united the cuisines of peoples who live in the shadow of the Andes from the shores of Tierra del Fuego to the highlands of Peru, explains Mallmann in Green Fire. The trajectory of his life has been shaped by this South American food staple, which inspired him to turn from cooking French haute cuisine and return to the fiery roots of Andean cooking. On the menu, the Osetra caviar dish makes use of crispy potato skins with a dash of mascarpone, a smoked quail egg, and chives.
Wood-fired eggplant (accompanied by smoked eggplant yogurt, tomato chutney, tahini, and crispy buckwheat with a fresh herb salad) is an ingredient Mallmann first came into daily contact with over an extended stay in the Greek Island of Mykonos during his youth. “In one way or another they always found their way to the table,” he remembers. “Their creaminess, their smokiness, their ability to form friendships with other ingredients were a revelation to me, and I have cooked with them ever since.”
From leaf to heart to stem, artichokes can be braised, roasted, or grilled over a wood fire and play the role of a loving but never overbearing companion to herbs, spices, and fresh vegetables, Mallmann muses. Los Fuegos serves up a mouthwatering dish of crispy artichokes with potato and garlic cream, a soft egg, and zaatar (Syrian oregano).
Other additions include butternut squash with black truffle and parmesan cream with crunchy pumpkin seeds and pistachio crumble; wood-fired caciocavallo cheese, honey, and mustard seed vinaigrette over a tart apple and radicchio salad; and endives with stilton cheese, pear and vanilla confiture, red onion and roasted hazelnuts.
According to Mallmann, cooking with fire demands both simplicity and perfection.
"Fire pushes fruits and vegetables to such peak flavor, it’s as they’d never been truly tasted before.”