Chef's Table with Special Guests...

We are graced a handful of times a month with the presence of some very special people whom come to dine at the chef's table. This week, we had once again, our guests from Venice, Italy...Lino & Lina Tagliapietra, a master glass blower(think Chihuly, yet with a totally different charisma). We knew they were bringing some fab wines with hopes of pairing them up to some tasty food. You're on we said! Without even really trying to serve up some humble Italian fare as an homage to our guests, the dishes and ingredients just came to fruition by themselves, almost as if the menu drove and guided itself. The flavors and compositions were amazing. Here is what took place...
house cured salumi, jams, olives
Maine Lobster, Blood Oranges, Avocado, Golden Caviar, Blood Orange Gel
Lobster-Vanilla Oil
~Foie Gras 2 Ways~
Seared Pave, Preserved Rhubarb, Mosto Cotto, Pistachios, Crisp Potatoes
Foie Gras & Tapioca filled Tortellini, Granny Smith Apples, Olive Oil

~Risotto Nero~
Seared Scallop, Cuttlefish Ink Carnaroli, Cuttlefish, Bacon, Pecorino

~Grilled & Marinated Swordfish~
Goat Cheese-Olive Oil-Chive Potato Puree, Saffron Glazed Cipolline Onions
Black Olive Aioli, Green Olive-Lemon-herb Composure

~Pineapple Smoothie~
Fennel Pollen, Fleur de Sel

~Pan Roasted Quail~
Creamy Polenta, Braised Salsify, Truffles, Cornbread-Cranberry Gremolata

~Syrah Braised Short Ribs~

Yellowfoot Chanterelles, Oca, Root Vegetables, Huckleberry-Chocolate Essence

~A Tasting of Artisan Cheeses~

Hazelnut Crusted Vermont Butter & Cheese "Bijou", Truffled Apricot Conserve

Crisp Shallot encased Pt. Reyes Bleu "Truffle", Golden Raisin Puree

Shaved Rembrandt Aged Gouda, Carameled Pear, Sea Salt


earl grey chocolate, macaroon sandwiches, zeppole

Pear, Chocolate & Caramel...

certain flavors go quite well when paired together and such is the case in this modern spin on a classic French dessert preparation. A Bavarian cream, or Bavarois as the French call it, is a rich yet light pastry cream concoction used in various layered desserts (trifles, parfaits, charlottes, millefeuilles etc) and as an ethereal filling for layered cakes and gateaux. In the turn towards new preparations and individual style dessert presentations back in the late 80's and early 90's, the bavarois started to appear as itself, as a featured item with it's own embellishments, sauces and garnishes. What was once a filling,(and usually not venturing much beyond the simple flavors of vanilla, chocolate, chestnut or nuts and coffee) had been replaced and transcended into flavorful and light renditions with a multitude of fresh flavors. Raspberry and Anise Hyssop, Pear and Caramel, Rose and Lychee, Lemon Verbena and Stonefuits led the way. Even the proportions of the structure of itself were being re-considered and questioned. Once just a base of creme anglaise, gelatin and whipped cream, now became more fruit forward, less cloying and fresh with seasonal ingredients, which paved the way for a lighter and more desirable flavor and texture. They were still being layered in elegant stemware, as well as being set in unique and refined molds giving the plate and presentation a new sense of sharpness and sophistication. I first witnessed this first hand at the 1988 Culinary Olympics in Frankfurt, Germany while watching Christopher Northmore C.M.P.C.(certified master pastry chef) crank out 150 of these for the U.S. team's hot food menu earning them their 3rd gold medal and world championship designation in a row. For the next 8-10 years, the bavarois was developed and re-enhanced on many a plated dessert the world over. Still, as so many things tend to do, the bavarian has in some ways been pushed aside to make room for the evolution of much more of a modern day dessert. Foams, powders, fluidgels, capsules and caviars, along with simply a minimalistic approach to desserts(as well as to savory cooking) have virtually taken over. The new preparations are striking, unique and flavorful with an emphasis on technique and style without any sacrifice to flavor. As a cook...I try to embrace all things new, yet without casting away what got us to where we are today. Every now and again, I like to reintroduce the bavarois in some form or fashion. In this case, I wanted to focus on the great seasonal flavors of pears, chocolate and caramel. For the pear; we centered our sights on the ingredient for the bavarian itself, infused with the pear caramel, in addition to using it as a fruit garnish and sorbet. The caramel, also deriving from the pear scraps was used as a rich cloak for the ivory cylinder and a foil to serve as a bridge for the fleur de sel. Caramel was also the focus for the sponge that lay inside as a base for the next ingredient(and my favorite foodstuff); chocolate. In this case, we made an earl grey infused chocolate truffle to be set inside the bavarian as a "surprise" and a huge burst of flavor.
Some pistachio dust and florentine finished out the dish. Although somewhat classic or "outdated", these flavors worked well together and presented nicely. I always feel it important and necessary to teach our cooks about the fundamentals and foundations of yesterday in order to understand and forge ahead to tomorrow, for it is these techniques and methodry that segues into the newest of creations. It is exciting knowing that in some ways...looking into the past is really seeing into the future.

Two Posts to thedigitalkitchen...

here are a couple shots of new things just posted to thedigitalkitchen site. Check them out and enjoy.


A New Bite...

as we have just re-opened after a small hiatus, we find ourselves getting back together mentally and trying to cope with some challenging realities of the bitter economic climate, so we started off with our first chef's table, and subsequently, a new dish. Nothing ground breaking mind you...nothing crazy and full of products that one can barely pronounce, (those are being worked on) and nothing short of damn tasty. We decided to go a much more simplistic route for this one. Quite a bit out of context and form for me. As luck would have it, we were very busy with multiple tastings happening so I only got one shot off with my new camera. I wanted to take advantage of an ingredient that we found our larders to be in excess of(can there be such a thing?)~ enter the black truffle! It is a dish that fit the occasion and weather so well. It was a small glass of wild mushroom-truffle consomme, fortified with white truffle oil, shallots and grated truffles. It sat beautifully with an adornment of a single spoon; resting on top holding a gorgeous tortellini filled with a mixture of foie gras, tapioca, truffles, mushrooms and herbs. We cooked it slowly in hot water and then tossed it gently with shallots, chervil, truffles, butter and truffle oil. Awesome to say the least. Some of the other highlights of the meal were as follows

Maine Lobster "Beggars Pouch" with Golden Caviar Creme Fraiche
House Cured Bresola & Sardines
with Arugula, Dauro de L'Emporda Olive Oil, Pecorino Air and Mosto Cotto
"The Soup"
Seared Diver Scallop & Braised Pork Belly
Parsnip Jam, Smoked Paprika Streusel, and a Lentil-Matsutake Cuisson-Bacon Fat Vinaigrette
Blood Orange-Chai Sorbet, Fennel and Kumquat Intermezzo
"Three Ducks in a Row"
Rhubarb Glazed Moularde Breast, Seared Foie Gras, House Cured Prosciutto
with Quinoa, Roasted Cipolline Onions, Organic Baby Carrots, Preserved Rhubarb
and a Port & Cardamom Essence
Tastes of Chocolate, Pear, Lemon and Orange
Blackberry Pates de Fruits, Honey-Date-Orange Palmiers, Earl Grey Chocolates