Guest Chef Dinner at Rover's...

I will soon be collaborating with several colleagues and friends for a special guest chef dinner at Rovers Restaurant in Seattle, featuring the glorious foie gras! It is a gastronomic feast of culinary indulgence. Simply sublime! Here is some info about it from Rover's website. I will post a full review and pictures after the event next Tuesday. Enjoy this tease...

Hudson Valley meets Madison Valley
Foie Gras Dinner at Rover’s
Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Thierry Rautureau, The Chef in the Hat!!!Michael Ginor, CEO of Hudson Valley Foie Gras FarmJason Wilson, Chef and Owner of Crush RestaurantBill Morris, Executive Chef of the Rainier Club

This evening begins with champagne and amuse bouche at 6:30pm. A 6-course dinner will follow. Price for this dinner is $150 plus tax and service.
Rover’s Wine Director, Scot Smith will create a wine pairing for this evening from Rover’s Cellar $100 plus tax and service. Rover's extensive wine list as well as, wines poured by the glass, will also be available.

Amuse Bouche
Hudson Valley Duck Prosciutto and Litchi Sorbet with Fig Glaze
Crush Foie Gras Huckleberry Burger
Salted Foie Gras Lollipop, Pickled Cherries and Pistachio Dust
Torchon of Foie Gras, Harissa and Rhubarb Glaze

Tuna Tartar and Shaved Nori Cured Foie Gras with Quail Egg Tempura, Yuzu Vinaigrette, Sweet Soy Glaze and Wasabi Oil.
Foie Gras Agnoletti and Lobster Soup
Wild Alaska Salmon, Foie Gras and Licorice Butter
Seared Squab Breast & Foie Gras, White Asparagus, Caramelized Pear, Thumbelina Carrots and Spiced Savory Boisson
Rabbit Two Ways, Foie Gras, Sweetbread, Truffle, Farro, Ras El Hanout and Argan Oil
Bill, Thierry and Jason
Trio of Desserts
Mignardises of Chocolate Truffle and Pate de Fruit

Please call Rover's directly at 206.325.7442 to make a reservation for this evening. For online reservations click here: Foie Gras Dinner


Spring Lamb Fabrication...

true learning!

learning the muscle structure...

getting started with the carcass...

Meat fab, or fabrication for the purist of the bunch, is a process and undertaking that is not for everyone. Some are grossed out by the mere thought of it, others are totally into it in all of it's glory. Either way, unless you are like some, who wouldn't put a hair of a hare to your sacred lips(vegans, etc) you are supporting this art form in some way or another. Somebody's gotta do it! I enjoy it, and I strive to teach others about it. I was taught long ago that the ability to break down whole carcasses and use the entire animal in various and creative ways is an art form, and one that can be very lucrative for your business. Sure, in high volume houses it may not make sense, but I have never been one to order in pre-portioned filets of salmon or beef tenderloin etc, just to save labor. What the hell does that teach? How can a cook learn to perfect his or her butchery craftsmanship? This act is reconfirmed again and again in our kitchen. Our team, myself included, are lucky to be able to enjoy such a creative outlet and opportunity. Many others will never learn what this is all about by virtue of purchasing pre-portioned and convenience type foodstuffs. That may be all fine and good for their respective operations, but it does not teach the craft. By working with a whole beast and using every little piece of flesh and bone, one can actually make some great financial progress towards other areas in need of fiscal assistance. Sure we all know how to cook the loins, the chops, the leg cuts, but what about the breast? The offal? The neck? The shoulder and shank? It fuels our salumeria. It provides secondary cuts to our banquet operations so as to make the loin prices on the line justifiable. If we can not sell the undesirable cuts, then our prime offerings will be eventually out of cost's reach. It will simply be too high to use. We must learn to use and appreciate the rest of the animal, therefore, by exercising our practice of meat fab, it allows us this benefit. This series of shots takes one from inception of the spring lamb up to the point of prosciutto. Many of the cuts were used in various other processes, and not listed, but believe me, it was very well utilized, and savored. Most importantly, the young lamb was respected in every sense of the word!

left-shoulder and neck being removed...
right-rib and loin being removed...

shoulder being removed for coppa or braising...

raw weight...


in cure...


Gypsy Experience 8.6...

yes...you figured right. Gypsy as we know is 86'd! What a shitty deal. There are currently lot's of back lashing and throwing mud in the faces of the founders of the culinary treat that we knew. People need to get a damn clue and a life! I know that there are many views on their practices and business model, but that is based on personal and emotional preference and thought. Were there some potentially sub-standard practices and methods in which they ran their business...perhaps, yet I challenge each and every person to take a good close look into their own businesses and lives and ask themselves are they on the up & up?!? To each their own I guess. It is a shame and very disappointing that something like Gypsy, which can be so great to many people is now lost. I will forever miss the times cooking, sharing, experimenting, mentoring, teaching, exploring, researching, learning and enjoying them while fueling my passion. To Gabe and family...I wish you all the best!

The Anti-Griddle...

"Key Lime Pie" Intermezzos

Savory Key Lime Sodas/Salted Graham Cracker-Honey-Creme Fraiche Lollipops

The start of a Hot, Chilled and Frozen Snack...

Ginger-Soy Aioli/Celery Root Remoulade/Smoked Paprika Dust/Fried Lemon Scented Calamari

One of the new things that have been inspiring to work with and interesting as well is the Anti Griddle from Poly Science. It is currently on loan from a good friend. It has definitely inspired me to purchase one. It has although seemingly a small window of usage, it has limitless possibilities within that realm. We plan to use this as a marketing tool for our banquet operations, a very integral and interactive component for our chef's table and for special signature hors d'oeuvres in a progressive state...which with some thought provoking adaptation, will make it's way into the upcoming Foie Gras Guest Chef's Dinner at Rover's that I will be cooking at next month. It is a concept that reverses the normal act of cooking on a griddle somewhat, in that it freezes, rather than cooks by heat. It has as you can see, a flat frozen surface that allows one to produce a frozen exterior while maintaining a creamy or semi-custardy interior. It makes for a unique and exciting textural experience. We are by no means at the end of our journey with experimentation and flavor explorations. This is only the beginning.


To Taste at the Chef's Table...

Moularde Duck Salad/Lobster Cous Cous/Tatsoi/Pears/Mostarda/French Breakfast Radishes

Alaskan Halibut/Squab Breast/Wild Rice-Corn-Truffle Salpicon/Miners Lettuce/Honshimejii

What a difference an awesome camera can make! Being there at the right and opportune moment as the minutia is taking place. Sometimes we miss them. It has happened over and over again. If I had a dollar for every dish and idea that left the kitchen without a snapshot and wishing I had. The memory remains only in my mind. No doubt there are many that have long been forgotten. Perhaps they will resurface and become reincarnated as a juxtaposition of new thoughts and tastes, yet all within the same realm, on a slightly different canvas, on a much different plane and level of infrastructure?!?...Nonetheless...we keep moving forward, hopefully anyway. We must continue to push ourselves and each other to be able to do this effectively though, otherwise we get stagnant and old. Boring. Dead. Forgotten. Here is a glimpse of those developmental moments captured by the fast blink of a camera eye and click of the shutter. Look...think...contemplate...imagine...get inspired!
Foie Gras Terrine/Rhubarb/Almond Milk Sherbet/Pickled Radishes/Sherry Vinaigrette
Grilled Hawaiian Swordfish/Controne Beans/Clams/RC Jamon/Sorrel/Bottarga/Rapini
Broiled Spanish Sardines/Marcona Almonds/Crystal Lettuce/Duck Prosciutto/PX-Blood Orange Olive Oil Infusion

Coriander Crusted Monkfish/Caramelized Garlic/Garlic Foam/Celery Root/Fennel


Salumeria & Charcutiere...

Here are but a few shots of our locally and artisan made salumi and charcuterie, specifically various salumi, sausages, salami, coppas, as well as our versions of prosciutto, both duck and pork and different flavored and enhanced jamon. It also entails a multitude of house made vinegars, conserves and infusions...


Time in the Desert...

I know you have all read here and there of my somewhat "boycott" against, or at least a diversion towards the corporate giants in this industry and the mere thought of dining there. I know they have a lot of bells and whistles, mega-bucks to throw at decor, space, lavish fixtures and the like, but so what! The amount of staffing does not ever seem to change, because if any of you have worked in this business, one of the main things that you need to control, that can make the difference between making it or going bankrupt(and still there are no guarantees) is controlling your labor. The food quality generally is about the same at those places...nice read on the menu, usually large menus at that, somewhat high prices(they have to pay for that Chihuly above you), good seasonal ingredients and such. Great...you order and then what typically comes before you is a huge plate of disappointment. I know that there are exceptions to any rule, and I never claim to be perfect in my own craft, hell, far from it, but that seems to be the norm as I travel and dine around. Well...here I am in the middle of the desert; Palm Desert that is. On a trip with my family, and with two young kids, I can not go to Per Se, Daniel, "The Laundry", or the like all the time. In fact, it gets tough to do so any time, but that is another story. So, we find ourselves in LA~ the thoughts of Sona, Providence, Nobu, Kerry Simon, Table 8, Craft, Patina, and Melisse come to mind. Oh well, maybe next trip. We head to the desert. Wanting to get some sun. We did. Towards the end of the day, we looked for a place to re-nourish ourselves(as that is the mere meaning of the word), yet with some cool substance. Little places, ok, but perhaps too formal...hotel dining rooms, a bit stuffy for now...As we drove down "El Paseo" a popular road lined with designer shops, boutiques and eateries, we saw a place where we like to shop...Tommy Bahama's. What we found is that they have a rather large restaurant above the store with a patio/deck to dine on. With the temperature at about 78, that was a no-brainer. We were greeted by very nice, attractive ladies(go figure). We sat outside and from the moment we did, our server took care of us to the likes of Per Se and the Laundry. Obviously, not as polished or food savvy, yet very meticulous and refined in their own way and for their own business model. It was great. If it made such an impression for me to mention to our server that he had a great attitude, it definitely struck a nerve...a good one! The food was not foie gras or squab...kampachi or fluke...morels or white asparagus, yet the food served was quite tasty, and attractive. They were huge portions(ok...it worked for my kids and family). It was fun to fill the table with family-style platters like we would at home. We were made to feel very welcome and allowed to order in any fashion, all apps, split portions, other sauces...whatever, all in a tropical nuance! It was great. We started with Big Island Goat Cheese with a warm Macadamia Nut Crust, Mango Salsa, Crisp house made Flatbread and a Sweet Soy Glaze. That was tasty. We enjoyed the "South Seas" Diver Scallop Sliders, fun minis with Asian Slaw of Cabbage, Carrots, Ginger, Roma Tomatoes, Basil, Chipotle Aioli and Crispy Mini Onion Rings. Since my kids passed on this one, I enjoyed most of it myself. We also had the Antigua Quesadilla..fresh Asparagus, Monterey Jack, Goat Cheese tucked into flour Tortillas. Topped with Tomato Jam, Lime Sour Cream and Queso Fresco. Tasty! We then opted for the Tortola Torilla Soup, which had a nice blend of tortillas, chicken, spices and lime. The Boca Boca Beet Salad was very nice and refreshing. Nothing I would expect at a corporate chain, at least executed as it was. Roasted beets, both red and gold, fresh Arugula, Yellow Bell Peppers, Hearts of Palm, Cabbage and Passion Fruit Vinaigrette. To round out the table amongst my kids bowl of pasta and cheese quesadillas were a Big Bucket of Fries with a Mango Ketchup and the "Perfect Storm" Smashed Potatoes, laden with Grana Padano, Roasted Garlic and yes...heavy Cream. We ended the feast with the Barbados Brownie, a typical rendition, yet served warm and gooey with Coconut, Warm Chocolate Sauce, Caramel and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Topped off with some soothing Island tropical drinks, this was nice stop in the midst of the heat and heart of the desert. It worked. It did not mislead. The staff lived up to the task and their potential and well as our expectations. The food was tasty, fresh, and lively. Hell, even The Chef's Garden was represented on the Scallops. If I am now labeled as going against my grain, I can live with that. I would recommend this to anyone looking for that kind of entertainment. Sometimes, the experience can be more than just a fancy menu degustation, and usually is.