Since I'm new here, I thought I'd start out with a long-held desire:
I have been cooking for 58 years (I'm 78) and love to make ethnic foods. I have scoured recipe books and now have a huge collection on my iPad, iPhone, and Macbook. There are several famous, and allegedly secret recipes I'd love to have (not knock-offs but the real originals). They are:
1. Sacher Torte from Demel's in Vienna; In a famous lawsuit an Austrian court ruled that Hotel Sacher, and only Hotel Sacher could call theirs "the original"; Demel's and only Demel's could call theirs "the genuine", and nobody else could use the name.
2. Hummus from Abu Hassan's (Ali Karavan) in Jaffa, Israel. Abu Hassan says the recipe is "nothing special" but tens of thousands of Israelis would disagree.
3. Shorty Tang's New York cold sesame/peanut noodles. He's passed away now; the NY Times has honored him with articles in the past, including an approximation to his recipe by another. Two of his grandchildren claim to have the "secret" family recipe, which they won't reveal, and sell the dish on weekends at a market in NYC; that does me no good in LA.
4. Crustacean's Garlic Noodles; from the Anh family's "secret kitchen". They have places in LA (Crustacean), San Francisco (Thanh Long), and overseas.
5. Taramasalata from the now defunct White Tower Restaurant on Percy St. in London. It is much more creamy and addictive than most; being in London they made it with British Smoked Cod's Roe, a much better tasting and less heavily salted product than the ersatz "Tarama" sold in jars in the U.S. by Krinos and others. Whenever I visit London I buy whole smoked Cod's roe sacs (they are vastly larger than the Asian product) from either Selfridge's or Harrod's and happily eat it spread on toast or crackers in my hotel room.
6. Turf Cheesecake; from the eponymous Broadway-located restaurant, long gone, run by Arnold Reuben in competition with the original Lindy's a block away, whose cheesecake was also great. NYC gourmets used to come to blows over which cheesecake was "better". The latter recipe has been published.
Some may scream "Copyright" in response to my request, but a slight variation in wording vitiates any recipe copyright, which is not intended to protect individual recipes, their ingredients or proportions.
In my search, the closest i have come to #1 was in the Alice B. Toklas cookbook, where she claims to have hired a chef from either Demel's or the Hotel Sacher. I have eaten the original/genuine ones at both Demel's and Hotel Sacher. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Demel's tasted better to me. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, Hotel Sacher's tasted better. Strange.
No luck on #2, which I know only by reputation.
I have eaten #3 about 40 or 50 years ago when Shorty Tang was going strong. His place's cold noodles were a great favorite of many famous Juilliard musicians, one of whom introduced me to the dish.
I know #4 only by reputation and would like to try to make it without shellfish.
I used to eat #5 as a high point of every trip to London until the place closed. It was patronized by quite a number of locsl literati.
I've eaten #6 often when I lived in New York, at both Lindy's and Turf. A recipe was published called "Turf, or is it Reuben's Cheesecake?" with no claim to authenticity. The originals had Philly Cream Cheese, no other cheese, no sour or heavy cream, flour only in the crust. It would break a toe if you dropped in on your foot.
If anyone has the original recipes, even in paraphrase, I'd be most grateful for copies. If you don't want them published, e-mail is fine, with my assurance of personal use only.
Thanks, and happy cooking;