Monday, April 24, 2006

Retro Food Porn (or just bad pictures?)

I’m completely in awe of bloggers with the fantastic pictures, how they make images seem to just pop out of the screen. Sometimes, it’s as if you could taste and smell the (often, not always) food images. Food porn at its best.

I don’t know how they accomplish this. Great cameras and gazillions of accessories? Slick software to touch up the images? A good eye for arrangement, color, etc? A magic wand that makes everything come out right? All of the above?

The photography is my weakest link, even though I spend the most time on it (hey, we all eat with out eyes almost more than our taste buds).


And yesterday I had nothing working for me.

Same camera as always. Basically same set up- lights, colors, etc. Same (ever more worthless) eye. Terrible results.

If it were not for digital technology, and the fact that the hundreds of mistakes I make for each picture that is not directly embarrassing are basically free, ...

Maybe it was the fact that after a week of Spring break from school, and waking up late, and staying up even later, my eyes looked like the red eye in the middle fish this morning.

I don’t know if the odd Pennsylvanian Dutch man laughing on the 30 (?) year old plate from K-Mart is a clever accident, or a hideous mistake. I can’t believe we put the fish on that plate and then actually took pictures.

Actually, the fish heads came out pretty clear, of course. But the pictures of the final dish look like we all dropped acid before playing with the camera. In most of the pictures, you can’t tell that the picture is of food, let alone what possible type of food.

So in light of this maddening situation, Retro Food Porn. Bad pictures distorted by software (http://edit.Pixoh.com) to look like they might have 100 years ago. Oddly enough, it is easier to discern the components of the image in its distorted state that in the original. How sad is that?!

And it’s too bad, because the meal itself was really good. We had found some fresh sardines on sale. Good sized ones – not like the ones they put in the cans.

I used to love to get sardines at a Hamburg seafood restaurant in the Schanzenviertel, on the Schulterblatt. They would serve them as an appetizer plate, lightly dusted in flour and deep fried. Served with an Aioli that practically melted the serving spoon. Everyone at the table had to taste some of the Aioli, or they couldn’t stand to within 10 feet of the table. It was a rough place, filled with some rough looking characters.

I also like to make sardines in Escabèche. But these have to be made a few days in advance so they can marinate properly.

So, time to stretch a bit. We found a recipe for stuffed and baked sardines that had an ingredient list everyone could buy into. Tomatoes, sultanas, capers, garlic, basil, wine, olives and pine nuts all combine to make a nice flavor. Despite the fact that the sardines are stuffed, it’s not that much work, as the each sardine can only hold a fingerful of stuffing. And once stuffed, they just bake until done.

We put this on some pan-fried polenta, with a few leaves of spinach on the side. All in all very good. Worth trying again, maybe tweaking the ingredient list a bit – a little more sweet sultanas and capers to balance the tomatoes.

Of course, you can’t actually see this in the pictures, but with some imagination?






Sardines:
18 sardine fillets, scaled
3 tsp capers, roughly chopped
2 tbsp sultanas
2 tbsp black olives, seeds removed and roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh bread crumbs
2 tbsp virgin olive oil
maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

Tomato and Olive Sauce:
1 x 400g can of chopped plum tomatoes
150ml red wine
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
3 tbsp basil leaves, shredded
3 tbsp black olives, seeds removed and roughly chopped
maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tbsp virgin olive oil
maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
8 slices of focaccia or similar bread
200g rocket leaves
2 tbsp parmesan shavings

Sardines: Mix together the capers, sultanas, olives, garlic, bread crumbs, olive oil and a little salt and pepper until well combined. Stuff the sardines with the mixture. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
Sauce: Preheat an oven to 200°C. Mix together all the sauce ingredients and place them it in a oven tin.
To Cook: Place the sardines on the sauce and drizzle over the olive oil and season them with a little salt and pepper. Place the oven tin in the preheated oven and leave them to cook for 20-30 minutes. The sardines are ready when the flesh is opaque. Serve.
To Serve: Place 2 slices of the focaccia on each plate and a handful of the rocket on the bread. Scatter the parmesan shavings over the leaves. With a fish slice or palate knife place 3 sardines on the rocket on each plate. Spoon the sauce over and around the sardines. Sprinkle the pine nuts around each plate. Serve. Enjoy!



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3 Comments:

Blogger Haalo said...

What a hoot! Must say that plate is gorgeous! I had a blurry problem recently. I was stumped that it seemed the lens wasn't focusing when it had worked fine a day earlier. Seems the other half, fiddled with the inbuilt diopter - so it looked perfect with his out of focus eyes.

7:17 PM  
Blogger ilva said...

great post! Do you want some suggestions on how to improve? The fish pic is great!

3:25 AM  
Blogger surfindaave said...

Haalo - I took almost 70 pictures of those sardines,everyone blurry, and I don't think my digital camera even has an inbuilt diopter!

Ilva - I would love some suggestiosn on the pictures. Yours are always spectacular. I actually often spend more time on my sorry images than on making the food. I wouldn't feel so bad if the pictures were better!

12:06 AM  

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