Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday's Drool

My current high school intern is from Chile and so I've been dabbling in Chilean cuisine. Most recently dulce de leche and alfajores. In this picture I simply put some dulce de leche in a pastry shell and later topped it with chocolate mousse. I just love the glare in this picture.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Odd things in my kitchen...aka Justin Bieber decapitated

Here's a glimpse into my kitchen from a non-food perspective. First, let's start with Justin Bieber's head.

Why is Justin's head on my cup of local bee pollen? Well, remember my Chocolate Fantasia chocolate sculpture from a month ago? I created an homage to Willy Wonka and I needed an Augustus Gloop. If you remember he was a portly lad, so when I went shopping for a portly doll, as you can imagine, there weren't any. So then I looked for beefy...GI Joe or a wrestling doll. Oddly enough, Justin Bieber's doll was the beefiest of them all! Well, the end of the story is that I had to decapitate poor Justin to make it all come together.

Next is a gift from one my servers.

Yes friends, next to my Valhrona white chocolate is a penis lamp. Not sure how to defend that one. If you look just to the right you'll see a small penis that customer gave me hoping it would fit on the lamps "switch." It was too small.

Good luck.

A customer brought me this good luck talisman. I think it was from Korea but I can't seem to remember, but it looks over our kitchen.

I gave my first python cooking lesson recently which led to a friend suggesting Revuelta's poem/chant Sensemayá which led to me overplaying the YouTube of the corresponding orchestral piece.

And finally, here's Justin's pants. Just don't ask why his fly is ripped. Some secrets are best kept in the kitchen.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Book Review: Design Culinaire

Some people design couches. Others design cars. Stéphane Bureaux designs food. And what’s a food designer to do when he wants a collection of the best contemporary food design? Why, design a book to feature food design of course! Design Culinaire is a collection of notable design intended to document and inspire food artists.

Read the rest of the review at TheGastronomersBookshelf.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My recent foraging trip

I don't get out much anymore. I used to get the dogs out for a good walk almost every day and sometimes twice a day. But with my kitchen duties increasing I have much less time out in our wilderness. About a week ago I went to one of my favorite spots - a favorite because there are rarely other hikers, but also because of the marked change in flora and ideal spot for me to forage. The trail is call Tadpole Ridge and has a true Southern and Northern side leaving one side sparse of tree and thick of thorn, while the other side is a netting of moss and pine and often berries.

After about a 10 minute uphill section you come out into an area with this view:

The area had suffered a forest fire a few years back (maybe 8 or 9 years ago) so the ground is cleared with the exception of thorn and charred debris.

But after just a few minutes of the thorns the oasis appears and my dogs, Lexi and Lucia, turn back to make sure we're heading in.

Lexi, the hound, is my hiking buddy. Lucia, the minpinpoo, is the cleanup girl (meaning she eats lots of crap and dead animals). Lexi is keen to keep us on trail but will quickly head off-trail with me, as I tend to do.

On both sides of the ridge there is beauty at every turn.

and right now a bit of snow which turns Lexi into a maniac.

The North side of Tadpole is also where we tend to scent the most bears and commonly find fresh scat. And look who's caught a scent.

And when a scent is found, look who's runnin' to papa! That's no jack rabbit.

But this is a post about foraging for our restaurant. The trip brought up more questions than answers. Like, what about this moss - very plentiful and thick...but that in itself suggests a problem. Why aren't animals eating it. I'll pass for today and do more research.

Or what about this one? I think this is lichen, but I'm bad with my terminology. Same questions and concerns but I'd sure like to fry this bad boy.

A couple of years ago I took the very risky (aka - do NOT try this at home) step to eat ferns. In general ferns are poisonous. But its not fair because Northeasterners have fiddleheads and I wanted my own version. So I took the youngest of the baby tips of ferns and lightly sauteed them. Very good taste and texture but ultimately too risky to do again. I always find it odd though that there are so many ferns on the exposed section of Tadpole.

And just when I was ready to head back, Lexi reminded me that there are edible ingredients in some of the most obvious, but not acknowledged places. She loves eating the snow!

I did end up with two types of pine needle tips both with great taste and texture, and neither with the astringency or sappy texture. I served them fresh in this past week's dinners and will work on cold infusions next week as I'm worried about heat pulling out the bitter oils.

Hope you enjoyed the trip.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


We try to be eco friendly on our ends of our operation. One way is by recycling our food waste. We used to provide compost to a local organic farmer but we were going through too much citrus which was damaging their compost. So now we're working with our UPS driver (and my doppelganger) to feed his pets - domestic pigs that went ferile and then returned to domestication. They look like our wild javalina but we've been assured that these are domestic pigs. And no, they will not be eaten. They are pets.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Foraged: Popotillo & Salt Bush

With our foraged dinners, I'm attempting to take the concept as far as possible. I want to move beyond simply using mushrooms and garnishes to intense manipulation of the ingredients - just as I would standard ingredients. So when the foraging team brings me a new item I walk myself through a process.

My first thought after tasting the item is: powder, liquid, gel, ice, oil? And then I typically will work the foraged ingredient into each of those forms to see what happens. In some cases, the simplest is the best. Take for example my current Duck Pot Pie. I found that the salt bush was a great seasoning, but it did best in water. Likewise, the popotillo performed best in water (which makes sense since its also called Mormon tea). So, I lightly warmed the duck with the salt bush and popotillo and let them rest for an hour to infuse. Then I poached the duck until tender and done.

This picture is an older version of my dish where the duck is then sliced, set in a pine cone tip infused savory cream with green onion and savory granola.

I'm looking forward to the foragers venturing out a bit further and bringing me some new items as the weather becomes a bit warmer.