(I'm a few pictures short of the full meal, so I'll add them as I get them from friends, and I'll break up this post into two sections for length.)
It was a super meal - not perfect, but I was very happy with the meal, the response and the staff. First off, I had a new-to-town guy just happen to walk into the store on Thursday asking for kitchen work. I was ready to send him away because we didn't have any work, but he happened to mention a few words that caught my attention. In the end I found out he worked at Shade in Houston as a sous, and then I was thanking the kitchen angels for sending him my way at the last minute.
He served as my sous for Saturday night which freed me up to focus on plating and entertaining. His girlfriend was taking pics for me so I hope to have her pics in a day or two. To recap - this meal was a tasting menu for 18 customers with a theme of Fall Memories, focusing and reinventing meals that came from my childhood in the Fall. As with my previous tasting menu, it was highly locally sourced, organic and modern. My goal is to show people what can be done with local foods.
Course 1: Champagne Toast
I simply gelified some sparkling NM wine and cut it into spaghetti sized noodles. Those were then coiled on a spoon and tossed with pomegranate seeds. A simple amuse to kick off the night.
Course 2: Bread Service
This was my regular sourdough, but made into mini batards and included rosemary and orange zest. I served it with butter formed into madeleines.
Course 3: Borscht
A delicate sour cream scone served with a beet sorbet sphere, lemongrass foam, celery ice. I think this was the most beautiful dish of the evening, and the beet was one of the best tastes of the evening.
(You'll note that I haven't posted any pics yet because I was madly cooking and plating at this point.)
Course 4: PBJ
A childhood favorite: peanut butter and jelly, except mine was a sheet of black sesame paper infused with garam masala and finished with gray salt. The sheet was suspended above the bowl of grape gel made from locally raised concord grapes.
Course 5: Tuna Tempura
My self-imposed signature dish! I started with a little flame set inside of a chile pepper.
This was then enclosed in an oil lamp chimney. On top of the chimney was a skewered, tempura battered prickly pear tuna (fruit) filled with chuchupate (an indigenous herb), white chocolate ganache & blueberry. Its a great dish since it tastes great and folks really think its tuna fish. Both times I've done this there have been table arguments about whether it was tuna fish or not, and I enjoy having that diversion at that point in the meal.
Course 6: Oyster Terrine
Locally foraged oyster mushrooms & morels set in a terrine, served with a savory cocoa soil, basil powder and lemon olive oil pudding.
Not my favorite dish, but the soil is a solid component for me, and that olive oil pudding was amazing! Also in my top taste for the night. It has many future possibilities for me - as many possibilities as there are oil profiles!
Pana’s Cafe – Albuquerque, New Mexico
3 days ago