American Bad Ass...

This here's the shit! As kid rock sings...It's not braggin' mf if you back it up! We just pulled yet another bad ass brisket out of the slow cooker....and what a tasty guy this was. I have never traveled much to the deep south or experienced the barbecue circuit, but it is on my list...here's a version of the pacific northwest style...throwin down in seattle...how we roll!

Chocolate Death Magnetic...

Two different chocolate cakes in all of their glory and all of the sense of the term. The first one, a special token of our pastry chef to me, in recognition of this old man's birthday last month. A big thank you to you and the whole team. Death by Chocolate as Marcel Desaulniers penned years ago. Death Magnetic as Metallica has done as well. Chocolate Death Magnetic as I now call it. It died a good death. It fought a good fight. It tasted wicked killer as hell.

The second one below, labeled merely as a Stairway to Heaven...as it surely left you there once you ate it. It was for a fundraiser dinner in which we were asked to donate a special cake for the auction. One word and that is all it took. Bring it on I say. Our pastry gal did a great job on it. It is the Peanut Butter & Jelly Dark Chocolate Stairway to Heaven. Dark chocolate flourless sponge, peanut butter-chocolate mousse, peanut joconde sponge, dark chocolate ganache, and garnished with peanut macarons, peanut butter mousse, huckleberry gelee, chocolate pearls, dove bar stix and sauces of raspberry and vanilla...it sold like there was no tomorrow and for all we know, there might not be. Live for today!

To Russia with Love...

Never been there. Might never go...who knows? Maybe someday, I will. I have a lot of thoughts, dreams and plans to fulfill for the rest of my life. As I think about the dishes I have eaten, cooked and contemplated, the places I have been, read about or dreamed about...it typically always boils down to food and the locale. The food of it's heritage...the food of the season...the food of the region and the food of it's life, all of which when I draw upon them for my own dishes, it is always about an interpretation. Perhaps merely a nuance of what it truly is about, but I am ok with that, as it is my own vision. I don't want to be authentic or traditional, yet my own. I want to be me and speak as to the vision I see and feel. It is my personality. After all, as Jimi sings..."I'm the one who's got to die, when it's time for me to die...so let me live my life, the way I want to". What does that have to do with anything you ask? Well, what it means, is that when asked to come up with a certain style of menu, or dish, or flavor component, it is from my thoughts as a chef and through my eyes, and just maybe, I have not been to that place, but I will put my heart and soul into it and let you know how that sings to my heart in terms of taste and flavor. Don't get me wrong, I want and aim to please my guests. Always. Here is a little tribute to a Russian singer and musician that I was asked to put a little sumptn sumptn together for...it was a dessert for a Russian music night that was really quite amazing in taste, albeit, not one damn iota of authentic-ness! Damn good times.
Apple & Currant "Blintze"
Terrine~Brown Butter Crepes, Slow Cooked Gravenstein Apple, Spice Cake
Brandy Soaked Currants, Mascarpone
Spice Cake Crumble, Nutmeg Crème Fraiche, Cider Sorbet, Apple Jam
Brandy Caramel

New Tastes of Tradition...

A new hope. A new vision. A new life. Each day that is what transpires as we venture into the unknown. The unknown world of cooking where anything can happen and usually does. Sure, there are the safety zones and the familiar faces of the moment who and what bring you that comfort and sense of security...in essence, all the things we have learned and come to know as our experience levels and background past...past, but not forgotten. The good...the bad and the ugly, all wrapped up into one big ball to be delivered to you any second. Don't blink as it may pass you by, for you wouldn't want that, for this is what you live for as a chef. Hold on and don't look back.
lobster-tomato salad, tomato gazpacho, nectarines, almonds
smoky jalapeno-tomato-nigella dressing

tomato-lobster salad...
up close and personal

seared foie gras, pecans, grilled peaches, brioche, sauternes gel
cacao nib-pecan streusel

grilled halibut, parsley crust, baby zucchini "carbonara", pancetta
yellow finn potatoes, zucchini pistou broth

seared duck breast, corn, chanterelles, corn-quinoa pancake, pistachio pesto
cherry duck jus

sweet corn brulee, nectarines, peach cobbler, chocolate-nut sponge, noyaux ice cream
s'mores, cinnamon marshmallow, apple beignets, salted caramel tart
plums, plum sorbet


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