Thursday, March 29, 2012

(Belated) Valentine's dinner wrap-up

Bad pictures unfortunately, but here we go:
Our dinner was all chocolate and all savory. We have one couple who has been to every one of our tasting dinners and they declared this the best meal yet. One major change is that I offered no entree - all small bite or mezze sized portions.

Course 1: Paté Lolli
Local chicken liver paté with candied cherry and hibiscus liquer, rolled in sugar and finished with cacao.

Course 2: Celery root mousseline with cocoa and truffle espuma
best course of the night

Course 3: Mushroom Cocoa Millefuile

Savory acorn crepe layered with savory dark chocolate ganache infused with foraged oyster mushroom

Course 4: Cocoa Caponata with Parmesan Crisp

Course 5: Cauliflower risotto
I think I borrowed this concept from Osteria F where you painstakingly cut off the micro flowers of cauliflower and cook them ala risotto with white chocolate. Topped with a cocoa tuile.

Course 6: Arugula Salad with Vodka Dressing
Wilted arugula, mushroom crema, liquid cocoa-infused vodka sphere dressing

Course 7: Crawfish Cakes
Foraged crawfish cakes with sweet potato, foraged watercress and foraged amaranth

Course 8: Savory Brownies
This was a stretch but we pulled it off. Small bite of savory brownie with candied mushrooms and topped with mushroom whipped cream

Course 9: Bratwurst
House made cocoa wild boar bratwurst, dijon, potato purée and greens

Course 10: Beets
Borderline sweet/savory beet mousse with cocoa crumb and beet greens

Course 11: Ash pasta
This was served earlier in the night but I don't remember where...leek ash pasta, cocoa sphere, mango, parma and olive oil powder

Curious Kumquat

Monday, March 26, 2012

Random Yumminess

This is a new cookie for us:

We call it a Spring Shortbread, but really its a spinoff of alfajores. Cornstarch based cookie infused with lemon zest, topped with candied violet petals, crumb, toasted sunflower seeds, Balinese pyramid salt and a bit of Valhrona white chocolate grated on top.
And here's Adam who made it - the tall one, not the short one. He's been my pastry guy for a while now and will be heading to ABQ in the Fall for college - I doubt you'll find a more competent pastry worker in the Duke City...he'll be looking for work.

And here's someone who's kind of competent himself - me doing some precision cuts on a dish I'll show in my next post.

Our Easter bon bons are starting to roll out...more on those at Easter.

Last week's dinner special - Aji de Gallina (Peruvian chicken stew with aji amarillo)

And finally we've been serving vegan saffron ravioli stuffed with cashew cheese...very good.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Chocolate Sculpture week final

The New Mexico Museum of Natural History held its annual Chocolate Fantasy Event this past Saturday in Bernalillo at the Hyatt Tamaya Resort. There were plenty of scary masked people in attendance

and the event included a Parade of Chocolate bon bons

which was funny since many of the servers had such sour faces!

But, what a great crowd! 3oo in attendance.

Our bon bons were judged the best of the event - rosemary salted caramel. Our sculpture drew a very positive response from the audience. Our title was Venice Crumbles, honoring the corrosion of the city into the canals. I used a number of new techniques for this sculpture including 50 paper thin dress panels and the detail on our column.

The column was actually made to be pink marble but my coloring was off so we sprayed it with a mustard yellow cocoa butter which created an effect that we preferred.

There are a few corrections we would make in the future. First, the judges were all traditional pastry chefs, so we should have stuck to a very traditional design and technique. One of my criticisms of traditional sculptures is that they lack artistic life. They're very static and meant to look good on a buffet table. That said, the judges are the audience for an event like this. We should have also not used my favorite skull mold and continued the folk art style used on the hands and feet. Those changes, I believe, could have made a big difference in our outcome.

Here are many of the other entrants. This one was 100 pounds of modeling chocolate with very expressive detail.

A fun interpretation by a Native American culinary school program

One of the resort entrants

A restaurant entrant - some beautiful hand work on this one

Another resort entrant and one of my favorites

Dancing chocolate figurines

Our former intern, Patrick Abalos' entry for NM State Univ.

One of the restaurant winners - if you stood in front of the chocolate costume you would see yourself wearing it in the mirror on the wall.

Beautiful detail

The overall winner from Hard Rock Casino - well executed traditional design