Fantastic piece from Nick Paumgarten in The New Yorker on Damon Baehrel, a chef in upstate New York whose restaurant is booked a decade out.
The first course was served on a slab of sawed wood. It was a small rectangle of what looked like salami atop a curled cracker. He said, “It takes me sixteen to eighteen months to make cedar flour. I use a pull knife, a two-handled grater, to shave off some cedar under the bark. The shavings are bitter, tannic—inedible. I soak them in water. Every four to six weeks, I soak them. After a year or a year and a half, I can grind it into cedar flour. So the crisp is made from cedar flour, with a little hickory-nut oil, duck-egg-white powder, water, sea salt, which I sometimes render.”
There’s more to the story than just food though. Keep reading.
When I described the situation to a friend of mine, he suggested a “stakeout.” But that seemed crazy. Doughnuts and coffee? Full camo? This wasn’t a crime story.
Paumgarten definitely should have gone on a stakeout.