Wine Country Trippin...

This three day weekend allowed me some ability to catch some R & R as we did not have any events happening, which was a bit odd, as we always seem to have something happening to put a damper on one's travel plans, albeit, it pays the bills, and for that...I am grateful. So, with that, we decided to take a trip to Walla Walla, in the very heart of the wine country in Washington. Packed up the 4-Runner and headed east. We made it to Richland yesterday and decided to crash for the night in the 85+ degree heat. This little jaunt was merely to check out some warmth, as our summer is basically done, and pay a visit to a handful of cool wineries that we have never been to. We are off to explore them today. My next post will hopefully expound upon some of those experiences. Even though I do not drink alcohol, and have not for almost 20 years, it is still fascinating and educational to learn more about them as it is crucial for my food development. Having been at the club for almost 13 years and many of my previous jobs, I have had the great fortune of working with many of these great wineries and wine makers so it is to them and my learning that I owe them this visit. Now, back to the coffee shop for a jolt.


A "Joule" of a Restaurant...

Last Friday, we went to a local hangout for foodies, a restaurant named Joule, for my birthday. The gourmand outing was inspired by a simple taste that was had at a guest chef benefit I was involved in a couple weeks ago. A simple taste it was...a tasty, slightly spicy quenelle of venison tartare, adorned with chilies, mustard seeds(I believe), spices and savory nuances, sitting gracefully atop a marinated pear disk, sitting on a spoon. It was one bite. No unnecessary frills, no shit ingredients, just good, solid execution and taste. I had heard of Joule a couple times over the last six months, read a couple good reviews in the local papers and it was recommended by a several colleagues. I knew I had to go, it is always just a task getting to all of the new places that open alongside a busy work schedule. Rachel Yang and her husband/business partner; Sief Chirchi, have made a good name for themselves in just a short time in Seattle. They opened Coupage(now defunct I have heard), a small Korean inspired eatery in Madison Park with owner Tom Hurley with great reviews, and some of their pedigree shows that the two met while working at Alain Ducasse in New York and Rachel also logged time at Thomas Keller's Per Se. I figured I would meet them soon and with high expectations. I was sure they would deliver. They did. That focus on tecnhique and attention to detail was evident in their cooking. We ordered many things from the menu, and yet even with some complimentary bites sent out to us gratis from the kitchen, there is still many things yet to be discovered and enjoyed for another visit or two without feeling like we had "been there, done that". Everything we ordered and tasted was honestly wonderful. It tasted very good and was served in the most comforting manner. Not a stuffy or overly formal style place, yet a welcoming and enticing hangout for the lovers of good food and all things tasty. Very approachable and soothing. There was not one thing I felt lacking in technique or execution. Flavor was awesome and seasoning with the exception of one dish(side of spinach a bit salty) was stellar. Listed below was the outlay of our culinary journey of a fusion of tastes in a place where everyone should check out.


Chilled Seafood Salad, with shrimp, calamari, octopus, radishes and a sweet chili dressing (tasty, refreshing and light)

Wild Boar Bacon with red onions, corn and charred nuances (the boar rocked! smokey, sweet and savory. a nice bold flavored dish to start off)

Heirloom Tomato "Bloody Mary" Salad, a nice refreshing composure with arugula, baby heirloom tomatoes and olive oil (very light and tasty. simple and good)


Lasagna with shiitake, caramelized bleu d'avergne (served as a side with streusel over top. my favorite of the sides. rich, tasty and savory. fall is here!)

Crispy Kalamata Olive Gnocchi, with toasted almonds, sweet peppers and olive oil (a subtle taste of olives embedded in the gnocchi. could eat a bowl full)

Cornbread with preserved garlic, smoked gouda and herbs (this was hella cool. a very moist and succulent version with a savory body)

Creamed Spinach with hazelnut salt and sweet cream (nice and full flavored, yet still subtle. A bit too much salt)

Roasted Cauliflower with brown butter and herbs (awesome and so simple)

Zucchini-Shrimp Pancakes (herbed and pan cooked. shrimp embedded inside. toasty and rich)


Madagascar Prawns, vanilla mayonnaise, candied walnuts (huge and plump. tasty and sweet. moist and luscious. grilled for a hint of char)

Bison Hangar, garlic chive chimichurri, preserved garlic (very robust. chimichurri was awesome with the bison. perfectly cooked, and tasty)

Wild Boar Spare Ribs, spicy korean BBQ glaze, soy pickled turnip (again, the boar kicked ass! the glaze was spicy and full flavored. tender and ultra tasty. couldv'e had another plate full)


although my lovely better half brought me a surprise tiramisu for dessert, the team sent us out scoops of condensed milk ice cream and coffee essence along with it. Top that off with a very exquisite tasting French Press Pot of Lighthouse Roasters Coffee, and you have the makings for a remarkable evening. It was!

Lastly, they then sent out a small "wonton" spoon portion of the "Joule Box"; a soft and silky bouche of creamy tapioca pearls, caramelized ruby grapefruit, opal basil and lime. Awesome!

Auction of Washington Wines...

our dish as it lay basking in the sunlight

Weekend before last in the squelching heat of about 95 degrees, I was invited again to be a guest chef at the largest wine auction in the state; The Auction of Washington Wines held at Washington Ste. Michelle Winery in Woodinville, Washington, benefiting Children's Hospital and un-compensated care.
Matt & Josh... at our table waiting to get started!
We raised approximately over $2.3 million this year, which was totally awesome given the fact that the economy for most, is in the toilet, the real estate market has taken a bath of late, and most importantly to our livelihood as chef's...our business levels have been down given those factors, all-the-while with somewhat of a bleak outlook on our immediate future! All in all, it is not quite as bad as perhaps it may sound or as other parts of the country, but it is not the greatest, and it was certainly a surprise to raise that much. Our part in the auction was to serve one of the three special hors d'oeuvres concocted by Rachel Yang of Joule, Adam Stevenson from Earth and Ocean and myself, in which I brought along a couple "cuisiniers" from our atelier. Rachel, a quiet, young, polite chef whom I was honored and fortunate to make her acquaintance that evening, served up a very simple, yet extremely tasty venison tartare moistened with what seemed like a touch of fish sauce and soy, then laced with chilies, spices and pepper which gave it a bit of a Korean infused kick. This all sat in a nice quenelle on a disk of marinated pear, then on a spoon. Simple, elegant, sexy and nice! Inspired by her flavor, and some good press, it inspired me to go there last Friday for a GREAT birthday dinner! Adam, and his cohort, had a nice and refreshing "gazpacho shooter", very summery and light and reminiscent of the garden, that was flanked by a small skewer of salumi, and a tantalizing fresh Dungeness Crab Salad "Panzanella". He also had brought a "gross piece" of house made hog salumi, which was hella cool. He and I shared thoughts, ideas and concepts about both of our house made salumi programs, having both entered the Seattle salumi-fest last year with great results. My "symphony of tastes" was a play on one of my favorite combinations...foie gras and scallops!
We seared the scallops, and served it with a silky and rich hudson valley foie gras mousse, which sat on top of a savory olive oil sponge, a summer peach relish adorned with anise hyssop, house brined and smoked duck ham, a pedro ximenez reduction and sea salt. A bit much on the tongue, but definitely not for the mouth! It was sublime. The hors d'oeuvre ensemble was stellar to say the least. Some helpers of the event commented that the hors chefs should have done the dinner and visa versa. Unfortunately except for a couple dishes, the served dinner after the reception was not very soigne. I do not want to talk negatively about colleagues or other chefs of respected establishments, but I will just say that if I was dropping 1000 large to dine per person, I would be saddened and disappointed, if not quite upset. I am not saying I am perfect, hell...far from it, but I know I care about my food, I care about the flavor and I care about the technique, no matter if it is for 1 person or 1000, or if I am getting $1000. per person or a dollar. In my perspective, you do it right and with all your heart and soul, or don't do it at all. Unfortunately, I did not take any photos of the dishes of the dinner, only the reception as there was just not an opportunity or time. I enjoyed working with the likes of Wayne Johnson from Andaluca, who did a nice chorizo stuffed quail with creamy polenta, Bobby Moore and Christina Longo from Barking Frog who served up the dessert of "Seastack" Cheese cake, honeyed compote of peaches, figs and fig macaron and my longtime friend and team member; Micah Windham, whom was on hand to help plate up and orchestrate the dessert for his wife; Christina and Charles Ramseyer and John Sarich for organizing such a big event and undertaking all the BS that goes along with it. Sure, there were many un-named helpers, students, young cooks and "partners in crime" who were there to help raise money and make this whole beast come to fruition, (which it did and with great success) that will unfortunately go nameless, as we just did not have the chance to communicate much during the dinner. My hat is off to you all for helping out for such a great cause.

The kitchen battery of stoves, ovens, warming boxes and convections


plating in action...


the last dish...


Is Summer Over?...

Lavender-Ginger Creme Brulee
Roasted Plums, Strawberry Sorbet, Vanilla Jus and Black Pepper Tuile
I can not believe that summer is quickly coming to an end. Shit, that sucks! And it seems that we just started getting all the nice nice summer ingredients; plump, juicy and tasty just waiting to be popped into our mouths. Ripe and ready berries and tomatoes just picked and still warm begging to be eaten. In the Northwest though, we are somewhat a bit "behind the scene" from that of our SOCAL counterparts. Hell, we are seeing heirloom tomatoes when we are still wondering whether or not to bring an umbrella. That is to say we have not even begun to think about taking off our sweaters! Still, I love Seattle and all that the NW has to offer. We had implemented a couple new dessert dishes a few weeks ago, and I am almost embarrassed to say that I am just now getting it up on the site.
I think we will be changing the menu again very soon...which is a total bummer only in the fact that it indicates that the summer is almost over! Don't get me wrong, I love the fall and the savory, slow foods that it bears upon us, but the summer is so long-awaited and longed for, and we end up having to endure so much cold, rain, cloudy, chilly weather, that when summer finally builds it's momentum, we just would like to enjoy it a bit longer than 5 minutes. Really though, the summer does last a longer than that, and we do typically see warm weather well into the end of September and into October, it just seems that way this year. Anyway, here are some sweet tastes based on the season...which is about to end. Oh...almost forgot, we added another dish which we didn't get a shot yet, which is a playful childhood favorite~ two tasty ice cream sandwiches~
Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream with Chocolate-Macadamia Nut Cookie
and a Caramel-Citrus-Toffee Ice Cream with a flourless, dense Milk Chocolate Sponge
all embellished with a strawberry salad, citrus-vanilla syrup and little crisp nuances

Bing Cherry-Almond Clafoutis

Macerated Peach Orchard Peaches, Lemon Verbena Ice Cream, Pistachio Florentine
Peach Coulis, Chocolate "Pop Rocks"

"Tastes of Rhubarb & Lemon"...
Poppy Seed Sponge, Poached Rhubarb, Lemon Curd, Rhubarb Sorbet, Citrus-Mint Sablee

and served with a chilled Rhubarb-Vanilla "Consomme" on the side



Vacuum, a New Way of Life...

Most of us involved in professional cooking have been noticing and seeing a new world of cooking styles and techniques of various sorts and fashions since the eruption of Ferrin Adria and El Bulli. Freakin cool to say the least. And yet, there are many who scoff or see it in a negative view as bs, or simply unrealistic and playing with the food. Un-natural comes to mind for some of them. For me, I am fascinated and intrigued by the various techniques and styles, obscure new combinations or playful textures, and yet some of it, I admit, I have to scratch my head and ask why do they do that? Not for the sake of how did they, but why did they? I question that it does not make much sense, but I know that is why I must learn more about what they are doing. That is really a whole different story in and of itself, and for another time though. One of the new techniques we are seeing is the modern use of vacuum sealers. They are being used for far more than just sealing a bag of ingredients to keep it from spoiling. Compression is first up to bat. Our team has been experimenting with varying combinations of ingredients to infuse into other foods and testing the results. I think the methodry is cool, and the concept unique and inspiring, and yet, this is where I am having some difficulty jumping into bed with the concept, at least just yet. I do admit that the textural change is somewhat interesting, and there is definitely some noticeable extraction of flavors, but I have been marinating foodstuffs for years and have to say that I can achieve a very beautiful product without placing it in a vacuum sealer! I guess the jury is just still out on my new toy in that realm, but as with most things new, we just need to keep searching for the right application and result before we judge. The concept is that by compression, you are able to "suck in" the flavors of the liquids or infusions set in the bag with the item(s) you are looking to alter, thus changing it's appearance and flavor, yet still being able to call it a "melon". Do we need the vacuum sealer to achieve this? Perhaps. Time will tell. Sure is cool though. The other technique being applied and has been for years is the art of cooking sous vide. Using a vacuum sealer is definitely essential. We have used zip lock bags, but with only marginal success. Storage of food is probably the most logical and widely utilized application, and a great one hands down. Some other concepts are the ability to change texture and profile of foods by vacuum sealing them and allowing them to cool or heat in a different state. Chocolate piped into a bag under pressure from a charger turns out wild. Foams and purees with gelatin turn into interesting mixtures. Cookie doughs placed into the sealer to make them taste better or cook better, I just do not see any difference. I know there is still a universe of information out there yet to be unleashed. Science will most surely take us all on a new and interesting journey in the future, for that, I am certain.



chilled cucumber "boisson" with baby cilantro
bill & jims salumi, marconas/dates/castelvetrano olives/paillettes

just a couple shots of some new ideas and contemplation of tastes...maybe they will share space in our next menu, or not. This is probably something more geared for our sister site...thedigitalkitchen...as it is more of a photo gallery, as this mothership is more about life, cooking, thoughts, philosophies, food, ingredients, relationships, work, the stress we go through, the bullshit, good times in the kitchen and beyond and everything that is even remotely connected. Just go with it.

Preserved Goodness...

The summer season is a time when it is so fun to be a chef, especially in Seattle! The plethora of fresh, ripe fruits and vegetables are simply begging us to do something cool and fun with them. Sexy and luscious coming in hand-picked from local farmers or being placed on display at the local markets ready for the taking...either way, you want to just take all of them and eat them right then and there, which in our kitchen, is what sometimes happens. Some of the local fruits and especially tomatoes barely make it to the line, as the cooks are constantly dipping their greedy little fingers into them and popping them in their mouths before they come out of the walk-in. Cool. During the summer, we like to do a lot of preserving and canning...whether making pickles, putting up vinegars of various sorts, housemade salumi, alcoholic infusions or canning different batches of local love, it just is part of our gig. As with years past, both at the club and at my previous stomping grounds, canning was like a ritual, and one that was to be missed. Sure, in the days at Rover's, it was almost always done after service as we hovered over our steaming water baths until wee hours of the morning, but nonetheless, it was something that gave us a sense of our upbringing and that made it special. In my kitchen at the club, it is no different. Not a lot of professional kitchens do canning anymore from what I gather, but for those that do, they obviously realize the "importance of" and the joy and crazy goodness it brings us when we tap into it late in the fall or winter as the weather is cold and all one can find is citrus. Here are a few shots of the last batch we did of local Bing, Lapin and Sweetheart cherries. Although not pictured, we did up some Rhubarb Compote with Vanilla as well as "Batonettes" of Rhubarb. The process is quite simple. Try it, I am sure you will enjoy the results!

just pitted 65lb!
placed in sterile jars...
ready for a shower of spirits, water and sugar...
sealed ever-so-gently and placed into a bath of boiling water just over the rim
after about 12-15 minutes of simmering to allow air to escape, they are removed, wiped and allowed to sit overnight at room temperature...
~so tasty our team can hardly wait until fall!~


No Crue for the Wicked...

well, as I sit here waiting to put out our wedding for about a buck-70, it is with some disappointment and sadness that I am missing the local heavy metal show of the summer...CRUFEST! I missed them the last time they were here and now again. Shit! Tommy, Mick, Vince and Nikki, and all of the other bands will have to rock out without me! Oh well. At least I am doing something that I enjoy tremendously with a serious passion...COOKING! I know that this is a huge departure from my normal posts, but hard core rock and roll and aggressive loud music goes hand in hand with cooking in my book. So, in a way, it is all connected. I have my own "motley crew" to attend to now, so for those about to rock, I salute you...