Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Santa Claus or The Jesus Character from South Park? You be the judge.
From left to right:
Smoked, fennel crusted sausage, tasso ham, Chorizo stuffed date wrapped in bacon, Okinawan yam custard with orange caviar, farmer's cheese dressed with fresh thyme and black truffle, organic honey comb, Humbolt Fog

1/2 gallon whole milk
1 cup butter milk
2 tbsp. white vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. honey blossom vinegar
salt and pepper
Bring the milk up to a simmer. Add the vinegar and buttermilk and stir vigorously. Stop stirring and let the curds settle at the surface. Turn off the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes to allow the curds to fully seperate from the whey. Skim the curds from the top and strain through a china cap with cheese cloth. After about an hour, pour the curds out into a bowl and season with sea salt, cracked pepper, extra virgin olive oil and honey blossom vinegar. Wrap the cheese loosely and press it flat with a hotel pan overnight(poke holes in the plastic to release any air).

5 lbs pork loin cut into small chunks(including some of the cap)
2 lbs. applewood bacon cut into small chunks
1/4 cup toasted fennel seed
2 tbsp. cracked black pepper
1 tbsp. dried sage
Put all of the meat and grinding utensils in the freezer for 1 hour. Grind all of the pork while adding the spices and salt gradually. Test a small piece and adjust with seasoning. Shape the sausage with plastic wrap and steam for 45 minutes. Remove the sausage from the plastic and roll it in chopped fennel and black pepper. Smoke the sausage for 2 hours with cherry wood.
10 oranges(juiced)
2 tbsp yuzu juice
1/4 cup sugar
8 sheets of gelatin(bloomed)
2 qts. of grapeseed oil in a tall, thin bain marie(in a large bowl that's surrounded by ice and in the freezer)
Bring the orange, yuzu, and to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and dissolve the gelatin into the liquid. Allow the liquid to cool to room temperature and transfer it into a small squeeze bottle. Drip the liquid out slowly into the bath of cold oil. It should be cold enough to gel the liquid before it hits the bottom of the bain.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Past, Present, Future

Smoked sausage and tasso ham, Okinowan yam custard with orange caviar, Farmers cheese crusted with rosemary, black pepper and sea salt.
Faced with the task of creating the future part of Amelia Island's new signature amenity which I interpret as being a mix of new technique and older crafts such as charcuterie and cheeses, I came up with this dish and it was well recieved. Although the panna cotta style custard is nothing futuristic, spherification is something still something being experimented with. Even if it is probably the most basic method(the agar, oil method or in my case the gelatin, oil method). Chris will have to school me on some of the more complex ways of doing it. As for the sausage and cheese, we're trying create an identity for the plantation. One that embraces the new techniques but also respects and practices the age old crafts that have been around for years. More to come as we progress.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Meat Glue Mania | Lecture 10

you not trying to beat people over the head with this stuff, but come on.......if you care about cooking this should interest you......

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's been a week and no words have come, I know.  I even made a play date with a legal pad and some quiet corner but alas, nada.  People keep asking me what the best part/meal of NYC was and my only response is that I don't know.  I need to think on it and write and see what happens.  All things are eventual or so says Stephen King.  I'm out of excuses not to write so soon I hope.  It's cold out, late night TV sucks so soon I hope.  Nightly night...

Monday, December 6, 2010

reflection and words to come...

Monday Dec. 6th, 2am.  Back home on the couch, reeling from barely being back from NYC and the cold an hour.  When we stepped off the plane and into the Florida air, now colder than Manhattan, an airline worker joked "welcome to New York!"   
Only's great to be home but I miss the noise and the pulse.  I sat down to unwind, debate eating the other half of a corned beef and pastrami from Lansky's on the upper west side, debate how many bagels to freeze, and try and put down a few words before returning to the grind.  The only real thought I have to express right now is that I have a LOT to write about.  It would be a disservice and injustice for me not to put all I saw and felt and tasted into words.  At the risk of sounding selfish, it's as much if not more for me than you, the reader.  I can not and will not forget food memories so significant.  Everytime I come back from NYC, I feel different.  It is my test kitchen, my role model, my inspiration.  It makes me a better cook.  It makes me a better person I think.  I hope, I hope. 
A simple walk through a meat market in Chinatown, 10 minutes of one day, changed me.  I can't say how, not right now at least but it did.  The crazy American snapping pictures, giggling to himself, wide eyed with delight.  But I did not feel awkward or unwelcome.  Respect, admiration, and childlike wonderment breaks down cultural and liguistic barriers.  I gotta post pictures of the vats of live frogs and eels. 
Ok, lots of writing to do.  It might take a few days but the food chronicles will be up here soon enough.  Anyone that wants to start up the Send Food Bros To Take Over NYC fund, please do.  I am eager to share a meal with my brothers in food.  Till next time.....

Sunday, December 5, 2010

....rounding the last curve....

and I can't believe I ate the whole thing. 
I begin this post in the middle of a sentence to emphasize the feeling in my gut as we speak.  There is so much in my mind, my being, it's a jumbled mess.  With every bite of every dish of every meal, I replenished some depleted depth of my belly and some deeper, richer place.  It has left me full, overstuffed, confused, a place of joyous possibility, speculation, and wonder.  I can't consciously form a thought about any of it.  Two nights ago I wrote a full page and had to delete/throw it into a dungeon of attempts at free verse that never go anywhere.  I am still going no where.  This post has no cohesion other than the fact that it will have a beginning of sorts, an end, and the conclusion that our weekend of excess is approaching it's final destination. 
It's 1 am, I have no more room but I am about to venture back out for one last taste.  A simple gyro means more than the sum of it's parts.  The streets are quiet of the normal human chatter but the truth of the street is fully alive and pulsing.  The subconscious hum is beckoning me to walk a thousand blocks, the chilly whisper of a thousand voices past, the subtle vibration of feet too many to count passing under my own.  I am a confused mess by the underlying possibilities of this city, a place so full of unabashed culture and pride for such.  It is so real to me.  I hope I won't forget that.  It is so easy to forget.  I only wear closed toed shoes by choice once a year and my feet feel it.  I wish the rest of my senses could keep such a close fossil memory. If and only if a certain sight, smell, or sound could bring me back here to where food changes me so much.  Good night and till next time...

Marathon day

Union Square Market, Taco truck lunch, hotel beers, Marc Forgione, hotel beers, Momofuku....3am full and tired.  Sorry, words later.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity. ~Voltaire

Pork belly fried with it's own cracklins with pickled apples and pink peppercorn crusted goat cheese

Seared tuna with grape vinaigrette, toasted nuts and feta cheese

This was our first night eating at Tamasso during a short getaway a couple of weeks ago. Chris did five coarses for us but we only got to pictures that did his food justice. Beautiful presentation, great flavor combinations with paired wines and we loved the atmosphere. Thanks for treating us to a much needed, soul satifying meal.

Friday, December 3, 2010

WD 50

WD50.  Pictures, yup that's it.  2:30 and I need to think about this one a bit.  Stew actually.  Details.  Well let me say this.  One clear miss, a few major hits.  The single best piece of meat I may have ever eaten.  But I'm coflicted.  A stromboli and corona and sleep with the sounds of the city for clarity I hope.  Till next time.....

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A simple crunch to soothe the soul and swarm the senses with possibility...

Day 1 Manhattan........ 28th St. between 6th and 7th. 
    New York is all I remember, all I wished, all I could hope for it to ever be.  I am not so much a religious man as much as a spiritual one.  I believe in what I feel, it runs in the family as my mom told me the same,  I honestly feel premonitions or connections or what have you.  Stay with me people, seriously.  Not trying to get all Jon Edwards on you but admit to yourself that you have gone somewhere new and felt that you knew it or had some immediate connection to it.  The second I drew a breath of air in France then again in New York, forgotten memories stole my breath and pulsed through my veins.  They are so real, so vital it almost brings tears to my eyes as if some part of my soul lived and breathed these places and all the emotions came through.  The nostalgia, the magic of memory but also the heartache, the longing of things since past.  If I may quote Adam Duritz of Counting Crows correctly, "the price of a memory is the memory of the sorrow it brings." 
     But I love New York.  As we speak I had to take my headphones off to see if the TV I muted in respect for my sleeping family spiked 1 thousand decidels  from a poltergeist or the NYPD was blaring by.  Strangely the later is calming to me, sirens as well as church bells at all hours are welcomed disturbances to the unrest of silence. 
    So we are here.  I did my usual.  The sense of it all never really peaks until you get up above ground and breath that first breath, hear the first sounds, and dodge the the first New Yorker silently screaming "seriously tourist A hole, get out of the way." Then I walked a few steps and muttered, "God, I love this town!"
    We ate lunch at Carmines, a wildly successful family style italian restaurant that's been here since who knows when.  My wife and I don't fight about much foodwise with the exception of spaghetti and bolognese.  This is her the risk of horribly misspelling the word.  She grew up eating NYC bolognese and spaghetti.  Mine will never suffice.  So we go to Carmines.  In all truth, it's good.  Real good.  But to my constant torture, 1 portion is $24.  It will eat up 3 adults.  This is lunch people.  First day in NYC.  I'm frikking starving but I've tasted the bolognese.  I want to taste three more dishes, their antipasi both hot and cold, the roasted peppers with anchovies, the saltimbocca, but much to my torment, I don't have a football team with me or Donald Trump. 
So I sat in contemplation last year, watching my wife, mother in law, and friend grub on bolognese as I dissected one of their limited lunch options, a hot or cold italian cold cut sub.  This is where you say either take the hit and order a bathtub of penne with spicy sausage and greens for myself or eat the bolognese cause it is by all standards delicious.  And this is where I tell you to eat real italian cold cuts on great jaw cracking bread with roasted peppers, aged provolone, a dash of vinegar and salt, dwell on the majesty on your pallet, and then tell me it's not one of the greatest things you have ever eaten.  If so, wait calmly as I try to figure a way to punch you in the face via the web:)
As much as I would have dared take a whole plate at Carmines I actually spent much of the last year debating whether or not to get the cold cut sub hot again or try it cold.  I went for cold one, they added prosciutto.  My wife is not one to get the balance of the sandwich and how critical these choices truly are.  Bread is life, cured meats are God's intervention on how to best honor and preserve His creations.  The combination is the closest to heaven man can long as heaven has pickled bits, cheese, and mayo.
Then off to Grand Central with my sister to people watch over beers for too many hours.
Then a revelation of the most me kind.  Three ravenous women in a hotel room.  My old buddy who I visited every night last year for a Gyro half a block away.  Same truck, new guy.  Two chicken gyros, one lamb.  Those with mild appetites need not share after reflection so I ran back for my own.  The vendor made his own tabasco/cayenne sauce and used raw cabbage/broccoli with the standard lettuce, tomato, onion.  They were great.  They had crunch.  The crunch spoke subtly to be.  It said to write.  The other half of the cold cut sub from Carmines said hurry up and be done so you can eat again..... for all sake,  it is New York.  Eat and drink and let the world be well.  Till next time....  PS sorry for typos..will revise

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I'm fat because I eat and I eat because I'm fat.....ummm fat!

Hello San Dimas High!  I am off on another epic weekend of glutony in NYC.  This yearly outing to ravage the bowels of all things food in the big city literally consumes my thoughts for months if not 12 straight.  Last year the main focus was Wd50 and Babbo.
    This year's journey comes from a soulful place, a simple place, mostly anyways.  I wanted to try as much as possible instead of going all out on 1 or 2 meals.  Some choices were researched and some simply fell into our laps.  The list is in order of appearance: Carmines, Ippudo, WD50, Di Fara Pizza, Marc Forgione, Momofuku, Barbuto, and Lansky's deli.  I will with all my best efforts, detail each day with a little diary/monologue while everything is fresh including some backround on the choices.  There are some other quests to write about also namely salt bagels, food trucks, San Daniele Prosciutto, and Pink Floyd and the Doors on vinyl.   God I love New York!  Try back everynight and I swear I'll do my hardest to have entries until monday and hopefully pictures.  Till next time....