Published October 18, 2012
Globally inspired menus don’t have to be scary or intimidating anymore. Days of dodging exotic far-reaching dishes have come and gone in the U.S.
Danyelle Freeman, celebrity food critic and blogger behind Restaurant Girl is on a mission to prove that any diner can and should try just about anything. In her new book, “Try This: Traveling the Globe without Leaving the Table” (HarperCollins) she coaches and guides her readers through the world of restaurants and global cuisines. From Thai food to Italian, no menu is left unturned.
“You don’t have to speak the language, speak the menu and navigate it,” Freeman told FoxNews.com.
If you’re not an adventurous, try-anything type of diner Freeman’s book is packed with advice and instructions on how to break out of your everyday dining routine successfully.
“I understand fearing things you don’t know. I used to fear Indian food growing up because I never understood what it was. I thought curry was something fiery but really curry means nothing more than gravy,” Freeman told FoxNews.com.
Once you’ve decided to take the plunge and try something international Freeman says to find out what the restaurant is known for. “Ask your server what their favorite dish is or what a great introductory dish is. Every culture has their dumpling or noodle so if you like pasta start there.”
To celebrate the international palate, Freeman hooked up with The Food Network’s New York City Wine & Food Festival for a special dinner series to celebrate her book’s ode to different cuisines. Rounding up an amazing group of chef’s you would normally never find in one kitchen, Freeman’s dinner event served up dishes from Thailand, Japan, India and Italy.
Starting off the evening in Thailand, Joey Campanaro, chef and co-owner of The Little Owl in New York served an appetizer of bite-size pork summer rolls with a pineapple chili.
Known for using flavors and techniques from around the globe, Campanaro brought out the night’s first course, Thai fried chicken salad with sesame asparagus and string beans.
As dinner ticket holders sat down for a marathon of a meal, many hoped to give their palates a fun and exciting night. “Since my husband doesn’t like to try a lot of new things we don’t get to check out many global cuisines, so we thought this dinner might be something fun and different,” diner Katherine Komar told FoxNews.com.
While some attendees were looking for a chance to experience different foods, others were returning food enthusiasts. “I live in New York, I live with a different cuisine every day, but it’s always a pleasure to have a master chef prepare a meal for you,” said Jessica Flegg who also came to support the No Kid Hungry, a supporter of the event and group which aims to ending childhood hunger in America.
Moving down the menu, Dan Kluger, executive chef at New York’s popular ABC Kitchen prepared an appetizer of fresh line-caught tuna marinated in ginger and mint from Japan. For the night’s second course he cooked a delicious steamed cod with kombu, cabbage and breadcrumbs.
Though the native New Yorker cooks seasonal American cuisines at ABC Kitchen he recommends diners to try one of his favorite global dishes, okonomiyaki. “It’s a Japanese street food. It’s a great pancake that I love with teriyaki and Japanese mayonnaise, the pancake has these great flavors and texture,” Kluger told FoxNews.com.
The third and final course of the night came from India. Chef Floyd Cardoz, a pioneer of new Indian cuisine, served diners black pepper-braised lamb with oat pilaf. As the former executive chef at New York’s groundbreaking Indian restaurant Tabla (which has since closed), Freeman couldn’t wait to taste one of his famous dishes again. “I fell in love with his modern take on making Indian food at Tabla,” Freeman gushed. “Because he’s not cooking Indian anymore I wanted people to experience that. He is always thinking outside the box and reinventing Indian food to make it his own,” she said.
The well traveled and cultured chef says he couldn’t pick a favorite global dish, he too was once squeamish about a new cuisine. “I was a little hesitant to try Japanese. Raw fish was very alien to my culture, but then I tried eel and started liking the texture and the whole process. I go by the philosophy that you should try everything,” Cardoz told FoxNews.com.
Wrapping up the night on a sweet note, pastry chef Karen DeMasco dished up a savory maple budino, or pudding, with butternut sorbetto, roasted butternut and candied pecans from Italy. DeMasco says the popular Italian dessert has all the favorite flavors you crave when the chilly temperatures of the fall and winter sneak up on you.
Although the award-winning chef claims she was intimidated to work at her first Italian restaurant Locanda Verde, you would never guess it by the mouth-watering delicacies she bakes there now. “In the restaurant I try to make things approachable. So maybe it sounds like something foreign like ‘budino’ but then there is something in there that is familiar like the maple,” DeMasco told FoxNews.com. “I find that it’s easier to get people to try something new if there is something not so scary and unfamiliar in there,” she said.
Whether or not you can jet-set all over the world to experience new and different cuisines, according to Freeman you still can and should eat like your there in one meal.