Food For Thought...

just a few dishes to contemplate, ideas to ponder and flavors to imagine! These were put together on the fly for a dinner for a small group of folks who were dining at the chefs table. Although only a few of the many dishes we created, they pack a punch. Of the ones we didn't capture in that kodak moment, let me just say they were tasty and fun! Bottom line is we have fun when we cook. Isn't that what it's all about in the end anyway? Enjoying what you do...living the dream?...following your heart and living out your passion? Always remember this little slang for something I saw long ago~LISDIN....life is short, do it now!
seared veal sweetbreads & porcini dusted scallop dashi
truffles, lobster mushrooms, corn, chard, soy pearls, micro intensity blend
(savory pork belly & truffle dashi broth- not pictured)

pepper crusted moularde duck breast, chargrilled savory zucchini bread
baby zucchini "carbonara", caramelized garlic, honshimejii mushrooms
crispy shallots, fennel mustard-rosemary essence

pan roasted beef tenderloin, red wine onion-farro risotto
baby turnips, preserved cherries, fried chickpeas, balsamic jus

strawberry-vanilla crisp, graham cracker streusel, noyaux ice cream
porcini custard, fig jam, citrus wafer, apricot sorbet
salted caramel tart, raspberry salad, praline-chocolate flake ice cream
chili scented churros, brazil nuts, chocolate-chili dipping sauce

mignardise (top to bottom)
hibiscus-ginger chocolates
salted caramels, raspberry dove stix
pink peppercorn-lime macaron with coconut mousse, huckleberry pates de fruits


Curing, Canning, Conserving...

That is the story of the season...the story of the moment. The summer is when all the production happens to put up all the goodness of the warm months so that we can enjoy that bounty long beyond its time runs out on us. The fruits, vegetables, herbs, wines, meats, and many other wonderful foodstuffs picked at the peak of the season are given love, care, nurturing, passion, and a push and a shove into the future to end up becoming something surreal. In essence, the fruits of our labor become the just that. It isn't until fall that the magic begins to take place and things start to transform themselves into something alive, cultivated, evolved and special. And sometimes, it takes as long as a year or more to really develop into greatness. Enter the world and love of meat curing, vinegar making, canning, preserving and conserving, pickling, marinating, and many other amazing old-world traditions passed down from chef to chef, grandmother to granddaughter, father to son and chef to client. And although I don't have pictures of all of our productions, the list is long, the wait even longer and the patience disciplined. But, the reward is more than one can imagine and very well worth the wait. Here is but a glimpse...
canned vans and rainier cherries, put up for the season
with vanilla, port, bay, black pepper, thyme and spice
various batches of vinegars in the making
sexy syrah, rhubarb, lemon, raspberry, huckleberry, apple-fennel, maple-bourbon
and so on

peppered, pork pancetta...
fresh artisan duroc and kurobuta pork belly, lathered with curing spices, salt, and sugar
and hung out to dry

truffled apricot conserve

sweet, spicy coppa...


Consummate the Marriage...

Well...not sure if we actually did this for these two, but it sure was a nice way to send a wonderful couple off on their way to a wonderful marriage and hopefully wonderful life together. Of Hawaiian origins, the guests were mainly from the Islands of the aloha state and had gathered here before us to allow us to bless the couple on the night before the wedding by cooking for them and their family. I wanted to craft something unique, super fresh, relative to the clientele and that bestowed a special meaning for them as they traveled into  the deep blue waters together. Something memorable, fun, tasty and flavorful... a dinner that they would fondly remember for many years to come. I hope that this was the case. May I only be so fortunate someday to enjoy this same experience prior to my special day in the future! Mahalo...
hawaiian kona kampachi crudo, heirloom tomato pave, mixed heirloom tomatoes
peaches, peach pearls, lemon verbena, green harissa, yuzu pudding, micro greens
hiwa kai sea salt, tomatocello vinaigrette

togarashi and hibiscus seared hawaiian tombo tuna, purple potatoes
plum coulis, carrot-herb tapenade, plum relish, herb infusion, micro mustard
wild shrimp-heart of palm-watermelon radish salad, grated smoked macadamia nuts

spice crusted moularde duck breast, baby zucchini-basil puree
sweet summer corn fritters, honey roasted cipolline onions
chanterelles, licorice root-syrah sauce


Art of Garde Manger...

Garde Manger...the cold part of the kitchen. The cold storage areas. The place where some real cool things happen...no pun intended...well, maybe a little. This was a place in the kitchen way, way back in the day where before refrigerators, there were wooden boxes in the cellar-like areas or cooler places that you kept the perishable items like dairy, meats, fruits and vegetables. This transformed into the area in the professional kitchen where the cooks would typically be working on cold arrangements, beautiful platters, canapés and hors d'oeuvres, centerpieces for displays like whole decorated hams, fish, game etc. Sometimes tallow carvings, aspics and the like as well as various fruit and vegetable composures, salads, pickling, curing, brining, smoking etc. In today's modern kitchen, the garde manger sometimes is just the "pantry" station for things like caesar salads, soups, small cold appetizers etc. But in others, it is where all the cold items are produced, including elaborate platters, displays of foods, canapés, all kinds of pates, terrines, sausages, galantines, gelees etc. I have always worked in kitchens that employ the garde manger chef(s) as they should be...doing all kinds of wizardry that showcase the art and craft of the cold kitchen and the artistry it possesses. This was a terrine we made last week for a series of chefs tables. Rachel and I thought up the components and crafted the arrangement of the layering. This is a terrine of the following:

  • veal sweetbreads, cooked in a seasoned stock for 8-10 minutes, then cooled. We then sliced it into 1/4 inch slices, sautéed it in brown butter, then bathed and soaked in a black currant reduction.
  • fresh foie gras, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces, seasoned and seared in a hot pan, turned over and then cooled to room temperature.
  • a fortified chicken broth with fresh cider, black currant juice, caramelized shallots, apples, onions, thyme, bay, aromats...simmered for 30 minutes, then strained. From there, we added soaked gelatin leaves at a ratio of 7 ounces to a gallon of liquid.
  • granny smith apples, diced 1/4 inch, sautéed, added fresh thyme, seasoned, cooled
  • shallots, shaved thin, caramelized gently, seasoned, cooled.
  • fresh herbs(thyme, flat leaf parsley, chervil, tarragon...chopped fine
  • salt, white pepper
When all cool, we wrapped the terrine mold in lightly oiled plastic wrap, tossed the foie gras and the sweetbreads in herbs and seasonings. Always make sure everything is properly seasoned because you can not go back and re-do it. Then we carefully layered in the sweetbreads, then apples, then shallots and lastly foie gras into the mold. We repeated this until the terrine was full. We then poured the melted, but cool gelatin infused stock into the terrine until full(if too warm, the heat "burns" the herbs and meats). Taking a small skewer, I manipulated the pieces of foie gras and sweetbreads gently around to allow the stock to flow evenly and thoroughly throughout the meat and garnish so as to provide proper and adequate coverage and adherence, thus bonding the entire mass so you can slice. Wrapped up in plastic, covering the top completely, I placed a small press over top and allowed to sit overnight in the refrigerator until completely set and firm. When serving, I sliced the terrine into 1/2 inch thick slices, brushed with a few drops of walnut oil, sprinkled a few grains of fleur de sel (French sea salt) and served with the accompaniments of the day...in this case:

  • saba aioli (grape must syrup infused into basic aioli, black pepper)
  • pears, diced small
  • celery leaves and slices, blanched
  • walnuts, char grilled, chopped slightly
  • walnut powder ( walnut oil, tapioca starch, salt)
  • black currant pickled golden raisins (1/2 cp water, 1/4 cp black currant syrup, 1/4 cp red wine vinegar, thyme, salt, black pepper, coriander seed, tablespoon honey)
  • black currant vinaigrette (banyuls vinegar, black currant syrup, shallots, salt, white pepper, walnut oil, olive oil)
  • micro purple radish and amaranth
  • fleur de sel


Study in Beef...

 That was the mission. The challenge. The adventure. A 17-course journey for a special guest and part three of a culinary excursion of about 52 courses of tastes, textures and flavors in three seating's. Enter the menu~ A study in beef, veal, and all that is beef-like. A menu where I could step out of the norm to express even more from the soul...both refined and casual. Not a typical style of menu mind you...but whimsical, fun, playful, street food-esque, snack style, crazy good...all about flavor. I can only imagine what lie ahead for the next study that will present itself.
beet  tenderloin, truffles, pickled shallots, mustard crème fraiche, crispy potato

veal sweetbreads, foie gras, apples, caramelized shallots, cassis gelee
saba aioli, celery-walnut salad, celery leaves, walnut powder, ras el hanout
cassis-banyuls vinaigrette

heirloom tomato, tomato sorbet, sturgeon caviar, crispy duck leg, sriracha aioli
canary melon, lemon-bourbon vinegar dressing

barbecued beef brisket, maine lobster, plum-fennel-carrot slaw, mustard éclair
black garlic-ale mustard, deep fried winey-briny house pickle

~shabu shabu~
aged prime beef, smoked tofu, baby sun gold tomatoes, honshimejii mushrooms
black rice, cabbage, pear-onion dashi broth
on side- spicy peanut sauce and citrus ponzu

~pictured here with broth~

seared scallop, silky risotto, artichokes, beet greens, crispy parmesan chip
jus de poisson

~frozen yogurt~
compressed cucumber, cucumber sorbet, spice pickled green nectarines, nigella
fennel pollen-honey frozen yogurt lozenge


stuffed with braised beef short ribs, foie gras, truffles, shallots
served with savory tomato-red pepper sauce, cumin cracker crumbs

carrot-mascarpone ravioli, parmesan, tenderloin, tomatoes, lobster mushrooms
cipolline onions, poultry jus, herb oil

~street food~
marinated, smoked beef flank, grilled, smoked jalapeno brushed
summer corn-peach relish, purple beans, black garlic buttermilk dip

~dried beef~
potato noodles, parsley-chive puree, sea urchin, chives, black peppercorn veal jus
grated dried cured beef

~veal cheek~
syrah braised veal cheek, goat cheese polenta, chanterelles, leeks
pearl onions, balsamic reduction

~tri tip~
kobe beef, smoked quinoa, Portobello, caramelized salsify, chard, rosemary essence

spice rubbed bison, apples, fennel roasted thumbelina carrots, argan potatoes
crispy onions, dark chocolate jus

porcini custard, truffled apricot conserve, apricot sorbet, parmesan wafer

zucchini bread, white peaches, peach pearls, pecans, peach coulis, cocoa wafer
spicy beef brisket ice cream


Kitchen Cooking Sessions...

Inspired from the book and PBS series; The Kitchen Sessions, penned by the late chef Charlie Trotter, this approach to cooking is paralleled with the types of jazz sessions that arose in the 50's and 60's as jazz musicians would step up to the mike on a dim lit stage for a small handful(or not) of folks and just jam. No real set list, no real format, just raw playing as it came to them for the folks that cared to show up to hear something amazing. Cooking at the chefs table is a lot like that, and in fact it is Charlie Trotter's inspiration of this jazz playing that inspired the conception of the chefs table theory in my kitchen as it did Charlie Trotter way back when. Our table has been in force for over 13 years. It is a style of unrehearsed, creative, "of the moment" passion that unravels before the guests. You are experiencing it as the creator is conceiving it. It doesn't get much better than that. When a artist is creating without borders or restrictions, it allows for something of sheer beauty. When it is confined, it is like a tiger in a cage...dead. Here are a few dishes that have transpired of late...more to follow.
heirloom tomato salad, orange zebra pave, baby sun gold, tomato sorbet, spanish gazpacho
buffalo mozzarella, smokey jal-turmeric vinaigrette, crispy potato

seared local foie gras, peppered nectarines, pistachio-smoked chocolate pancake
wild huckleberry gastric, pistachio dust

grilled alaskan halibut, baby zucchini ribbons, fava bean tapenade, arugula
sweet corn, cured lemons, sea urchin essence

seared swordfish plank, spicy glazed mackerel, quail leg lollipop
shiso, fennel, lobster mushrooms, potato noodles, black garlic
spicy pork dashi broth (not pictured)

pepper & cardamom crusted kobe beef strip loin sous vide
coffee roasted carrots, chanterelles, polenta gratin, cassis pearl onions
sage-cassis sauce

anniversary sweets
lemon posset, s,mores, salted caramel tart, white chocolate-lavender ribbon
peach cobbler, fruits, sorbets

spice crusted bison, lobster mushrooms, silky potatoes, walnuts
quinoa, purple cauliflower, caramelized garlic, walnut powder
black pepper-huckleberry sauce

heirloom tomatoes, shiro plums, french breakfast radishes, arugula
crab-lime salad, tunisian cous cous, plum-jalapeno dressing

seared foie gras, diver scallop, pistachios, nectarine-graham cracker tart
shallot-potato streusel, huckleberry-syrah vinegar reduction


Study In Umami...

818 on 8/18...this reflects the number of chefs tables to date on the date in which is was executed, and for the person who was the first to dine at the table! What a long road, amazing journey and incredible story it has been along the way! Tonight's dinner was a study in UMAMI...14 courses of savory, succulent, earthy, palate tingling, and salivating satiation, in which mental, emotional and spiritual intoxication of eating is all wrapped into a bundle of amazing flavor combinations, which are considered the fifth element of taste, dubbed as savory, or umami. It is really a concept and experience that is not easy to explain or define and exceptionally deep to fathom and contemplate. It refers to the glutamates in foods, the sensation it evokes as the taste receptors in your mouth and on your tongue become stimulated and create an almost euphoric sensation that makes you salivate and get that craving for something tasty. Certain foods posses more glutamates than others, and some are extremely high in them, thus creating more umami than another. Foods that are high in umami are foodstuffs such as shiitake mushrooms, parmesan cheese, soy, seaweed, fried potatoes, truffles, truffles and the like. Here are a handful of dishes that we created for such an experience. I can honestly say that this was one of those dinners that I will remember for the rest of my life. To cook this dinner was an honor and a privilege.
peach and house cured lomo skewers
uber ripe summer melon and grana padano parmesan cheese wafer

truffled popcorn and spicy parmesan popcorn

lobster, white nectarine, avocado, caviar, yuzu sabayon

crispy duck tongue cocktails, black pepper-maple aioli
fish sauce, shiitake-plum relish, crispy potato, maple-sherry drizzle

heirloom tomato core, baby sun gold tomatoes, heirloom tomato sorbet
shiso, surf clams, smokey jal-turmeric-shiso dressing

soy and sweet chili lacquered spanish mackerel, broiled, citrus heart of palm
caramelized mango, kimchi puree, micro greens, herb oil

peaches, peach pearls, herbal tea reduction, green tea sorbet

potato noodles, fresh uni, cured lemon, bottarga, micro arugula
vermouth-sea urchin essence, chives

seared scallop dashi, beer & soy braised quail leg, sriracha, black garlic
carrot-ginger salad, peas
(staged for dashi finish)

sides for dashi...
crispy togarashi potato fries and savory nori seaweed ice cream

silky and rich dashi broth with pork belly, szechuan, lemongrass, garlic
mushrooms, chili peppers, citrus, bay, thyme and other love
sweet corn flan, truffles, leeks, chanterelles, corn, truffle-foie gras nage

american kobe beef tri tip, grilled, cabbage-plum slaw, king oyster mushrooms
mustard dressing

slow braised unctuous pork belly, blackberries, polenta, lobster mushrooms
chard, tamarillo-pistachio-pickled shallot sauce

fig and pine nut tart, porcini crust, porcini custard, fig jam
parmesan ice cream, pine nut dust, peppered balsamic strawberry salad