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


20 To Go...

...but who's counting? This twenty-course (and then some) culinary "gastronomica" outlay was for a special foodie friend of mine who has inspired me in many ways along the years. To cook for him and his guests are totally driving, exhilarating, fun, invigorating and satisfying for the soul. It is times like this that remind me of those core reasons why I got into this business. The journey that lie ahead was based on and envisioned by the ingredients of the moment, the state of mind, the music I was rocking on the way in and his desire to create the style of menu from days gone by with a spicy edge...kick-ass hodge style! So, without further adieu...here you go...I am thankful for the opportunity to cook like this. Hope you enjoy the porn.
crispy spiced duck tongues, saba aioli, sherry-maple drizzle

heirloom tomato gazpacho, spanish dauro olive oil, peach
spicy clams, cured lemons, romesco streusel

maine lobster, cantaloupe, avocado, sturgeon caviar, champagne-yuzu-elderflower sabayon

"cold cuts"...
slow cooked duck breast, crispy hot onions rings, pickled shallots
compressed nectarines, toasted marbled rye, peppered crème fraiche

hawaiian opah tartare sandwich, brioche, celery root remoulade, togarashi
purple bean salad nicoise, sun gold tomatoes, olives, artichoke tapenade, fennel, arugula

grilled atlantic bluefish, heirloom tomato pave, gold shiro plum
celery, grilled marcona almonds, chive blossoms, sherry XO sauce

scallop dashi, popcorn grits, bacon, honshimejii, sriracha aioli, chard
pea tendrils, aleppo pepper, SMOKEY JAL hot sauce,  micro intensity,
pork belly-citrus-chili dashi broth

pouring dashi...mmmmmm

seared foie gras crisp, apricots, muscovado crumble, tayberries, cacao nibs
natural nectar

chamomile milk jelly, blackberries, blackberry & peach pearls
grated sweet almonds, fleur de sel

squab liver flan, crispy squab wings, king trumpet mushrooms, radish sprouts
pickled watermelon radish veil, peaches, soy-rice vinegar-plum vinaigrette
(one of my tributes this week to Charlie Trotter)

tomato fondue stuffed squash blossom, basil, baby purple tomatoes,
oranges, rock hill ranch olive oil, crispy shallots

carrot ravioli, truffles, thumbelina carrots, carrot butter, snap peas, pea vines

alaskan halibut sous vide, truffle mousseline, chanterelles, corn, nasturtium sauce
sautéed sea robin, zucchini ribbon, black garlic, caramelized heirloom garlic
tomato jus de poisson

local peppered blueberry-yogurt terrine, fennel, olive oil, lemon verbena lemonade soda

foie gras stuffed squab, roasted cherries, walnuts, walnut potatoes
walnut powder, roasted squab hearts, cassis-syrah gastric

slow merlot braised beef short ribs, lobster mushrooms, purple cauliflower
wilted spinach, black huckleberry-peppercorn sauce

silky lemon-vanilla posset, figs, strawberries, plums, pistachios, caramel wafer
strawberry-lime sorbet, plum sorbet, white chocolate-lavender ribbon

pb&j "croustillant"
fried peanut butter-apricot-truffle conserve sandwich, honeyed eggwash, brioche
honey bunches of oats-cacao nibs breading, apricot salad, banana ice cream
(inspired from a scene in Spanglish)

fresh graham cracker, smoked scharffenberger chocolate, cinnamon marshmallow
graham streusel, caramel, raspberries, smoked cherrywood ice cream

salted vanilla caramels, lemon balm-lemon macarons, apple mint dove stix
tayberry pates de fruits, peppered fig vodka


Any Given Day...

On any given day, I am thinking about food and my career, my boys and the life I want to live and the person I want to live it with. The personal things are quite focused and stay the same in my head and heart, but the food forever changes. On any given day, the ideas come and go, change and morph into whatever they are meant to be and as they become. Some good, some weak, some tasty,  exciting and great, some lame and some I am totally unhappy with. Doesn't mean they are bad, just that I am my worst critic. At times, I feel as though I need to totally depart from whatever I am thinking. When cooking for those that are open to whatever, I tend to stray from the soul in search of new foundations. And then at times, I seek comfort in what I like and what is just simply tasty and goes well together. It is not uncommon for the menu and direction in a menu to change course mid-stream and take on a different mood and identity. It is how I roll. Here is what has played out recently. Take it for what it's worth. If it inspires, great. If not suitable for your tastes...no worries...many other fish in the sea.
grilled hawaiian opah, citrus braised heart of palm, bacon, basil
corn-pickled nectarine relish, micro greens, macadamia nuts, fennel-lemon vinaigrette
seared foie gras sandwich, apricots, fig jam, onions, brioche
grilled apricot salad, walnuts, walnut powder, chive blossoms
silky onion soubise soup

lavender & thyme honey lacquered duck breast, smoked cous cous
chanterelles, baby zucchini, polenta, fava beans, tayberry sauce

chilled duck salad, pickled nectarines, black pepper crème fraiche, arugula
rye, mustard ice cream, pickled shallots, crispy onion rings, sherry dressing

seared opah dashi, honshimejii, sriracha, daikon, watermelon radish, heirloom tomato
bacon, savory herbed dashi broth

grilled bluefish and sautéed sea robin, thumbelina carrots, silky popcorn grits
corn, chanterelles, nasturtium sauce

foie gras stuffed squab breast, crispy squab leg, cherries, purple cauliflower "sous cous"
walnuts, lobster mushrooms, cassis-syrah sauce

truffled lamb tartare, radish salad, baby sun gold tomatoes, purple beans
micro arugula, pickled watermelon radish, crispy potato, saba, truffle dressing

blueberry-panna cotta terrine, white chocolate-lavender ribbon, plum sorbet
s'mores, smoked wood ice cream, raspberries, caramel
fried pb&j, apricots, langue du chat, banana ice cream
minted fluke, silky lemon potatoes, sun gold tomatoes, peas
peas shoots, spicy clam-cured lemon salad, herb essence


State of Mind...

As the mission statement reads on the header to this blog...a state of mind, a passion, an addiction, an abusive drive, an emotion, an inspiration and so on. In this case, it reads more a like state of love and trust. The state of love I am in with the woman I fell madly for and who started this dinner in motion... and the state of trust I have that things will work out for the best and the way they should be...whatever that is in his eyes. I only know how much she means to me and that I hope we will be once more...so, thank you for bringing this together m. This was a dinner celebrating 29 years of marriage for three different couples, and two of the couples within about a week of each other. Crazy to think! I only hope that I too someday can celebrate that amazing and wonderful milestone with that special person in my life. This was a combination and gathering of tastes that were inspired by the thought of cooking for a soul mate, which I believe that was who these folks were to each significant other. Here is how it played out...

lobster, cantaloupe, avocado, american sturgeon caviar
lobster-vanilla dressing, champagne-yuzu-elderflower sabayon with chives

togarashi seared local albacore tuna, pickled green nectarines, basil, honshimejii,
watermelon radishes, daikon, srirachi aioli, micro greens, soy-peach vinaigrette

pan seared local foie gras s'mores, peppered apricots, cinnamon marshmallow,
smoked valrhona chocolate, graham cracker crumble, fig jam, natural nectar

herb crusted atlantic fluke, sungold tomatoes, bacon mashed potatoes
corn, lobster mushrooms, carrot ravioli, arugula and green harissa

peppered berries, balsamic gelee, fennel sous vide, frozen olive oil
lemon verbena-fennel pollen lemonade soda

apricot & pistachio crusted loin of lamb, truffled baby zucchini, chanterelles
caramelized heirloom garlic, polenta gratin, pine bud essence, tayberry sauce

lemon verbena pot de crème, plums, plum sorbet, langue du chat
strawberry-rhubarb pastry, apricot noyaux ice cream, strawberry coulis
lavender-white chocolate ribbon, peaches, caramel tuile, raspberry sorbet
chocolate silk, chocolate brioche, cherries, smoked wood ice cream
salted caramels, valrhona dove stix, cherry jellies,
thyme-lemon macarons, blood orange olive oil chocolates