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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Quail with Citrus Grits, Warm Corn and Tomato Salad, Arugala

Homemade Corn Stock with Cobs, Lemon, Garlic, Onion, and Rosemary

Grits Made with Corn Stock, Cream, Citrus Zest, and Butter

Confit Tomato and Warm Corn Salad

Partially De-boned Quail Split in Half and Seasoned with Salt, Pepper, and Corriander

Plated Dish

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dinner Party

Curing Duck Breasts

Scoring Duck Breast

Rendering Duck Fat

Pan Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Crispy Parsnip

Caramelized Onion and Garlic with Purple and Orange Cauliflower

Ricotta Ravioli with Lemon, Local Honey, Pepper

Aerated Chocolate Cake with Cheese Cake Cream, Toasted Coconut, Caramel Nougat

Monday, April 18, 2011

Whole Squab with Confit Onion and Garlic, Pea Shoots, Lime, Smoked Salt

Thanks to D'argantan I was able to procure an awesome NY Dressed Squab, head and all. I broke down the bird into it's two breasts, legs, wings, and head. The process is the same as when you fabricate a chicken, except the product is much smaller, so you have to be more gentle and delicate.

Next, I seasoned the bird with lime zest, smoked sea salt, pepper, and grated ginger. I let the squab marinade while it tempered up to room temperature.

Once up to temperature, I seared the squab in a very hot pan until the skin was crispy. Butter, thyme, and garlic was added to the pan and the basting began.

The rested squab was plated with some simply dressed pea tendrils and confit onion and garlic. Delicious!

Monday, April 11, 2011

L'espalier Review

Last Wednesday I treated myself to a feast at L'espalier in Boston. I was lucky enough to get a spot at the chef's table and have an experience that will never be forgotten. Executive Chef Frank Mcclelland and Chef de Cuisine Shane O'neil run one of the best kitchens in the northeast. It is organized, clean, and well-managed. The cuisine is primarily French with accents of New England produce. All of the members on staff are dedicated and passionate professionals. They know what they are doing.

Eating at the chef's table is more than a meal, it is an experience. Chatting with the cooks was a blast and I got to see how the restaurant functions. Eating alone was not awkward what so ever. The staff made me feel welcome.

Service was the best I ever had. One person's job was to wait on me, that's it. I had my own personal server! He was very knowledgeable about every course that was served to me and answered all of my questions. When I had to use the restroom I was escorted to the bathroom, which made me laugh a little. When are you going to be escorted to the bathroom? I was treated like a celebrity in the kitchen, it was a surreal experience. To put it simply I was pampered and loved it.

Since there were sooooo many courses I will not comment on all of them. If you have any questions about any course that I did not comment on don't hesitate to ask.

When they say that you eat in the kitchen they are not kidding. Look at that view!

Torchon of Foie Gras with Candied Kumquats, Cocoa Bubbles, and Toasted Brioche
Goat Cheese Gourges

The Goat Cheese Gourges was light and airy, yet still decadently cheesy. It was a magnificent morsel of food. The foie gras was equally as delicious. The rich foie gras paired well with the bitter cocoa bubbles and sweet kumquat. So far an incredible start.

Island Creek Oyster with Cucumber Salad and Cucumber Foam

This dish was light and refreshing. The pure flavors of the oyster and cucumber shined through in this simple preparation. The addition of liquid nitrogen looked really cool, but did not add anything to the flavor of the dish.

Lemon and Lime Fizz

The lemon and lime fizz paired perfectly with the oyster dish. The bright lemon flavor and the cool cucumber was a match made in heaven.

Pretzel and Foccacia with Apple Street Farm Butter

The foccacia was good, but the pretzel was fabulous. I have been craving the pretzel ever since I left L'espalier. It was doughy, salty, and just right.

Baby Red Beets with Compressed Strawberries, Rhubarb Mousse, Vermont Chevre, Cabernet Sauvignon Vinaigrette

This plate of food showed a lot of finesse. Aesthetically it was gorgeous; the vivid colors were strikingly beautiful. Everywhere on the plate there were big flavors, especially the compressed strawberry. It was fresh and intense.

Butter Poached Maine Lobster with Pear and Rutabaga Puree, Celery Leaf, and Sweet Pepper Emulsion

Due to the butter poaching the lobster was really tender. The smooth puree of pear and rutabaga had a great body and was super flavorful. The clean celery flavor from the under utilized leaf was a nice touch. The monotonous texture was a small fault in this tasty dish.

Blood Sausage with Potato Bilini, Duck Egg, Truffles, Roasted Tomato,  and Hollandaise

This was one of my favorite dishes of the night. The blood sausage was astounding on it's own. The potato blini added the comforting flavor of mashed potatoes in an elegant fashion. As I have stated before in this blog, "Does a runny egg ever fail to delight? I don't think so.". The luxurious addition of the black truffles gave this dish a depth of flavor.

Virgin Bloody Mary

A Virgin Bloody Mary was spiced accordingly and well suited for the "breakfast" course.

Roasted Foie Gras with Pineapple

Roasted Foie Gras was lush, meaty, and well seared. The savory flavors of the foie were so tasty with the acidic and sweet notes of the pineapple. However I felt as if this dish needed another garnish, something to bring the foie and pineapple together.

Housemade Gingerale

This drink was delicious and nothing like the commercial ginger-ale found in supermarkets. The ginger flavor was not over-powering, it was subtle and refreshing.

Lime Sorbet

The lime sorbet was served with the foie gras and helped to balance out the fat from of the foie.

Coconut Linguine with Candied Olives, Coconut Powder, Lime Fluid-Gel, and Roasted Pineapple

I have to say this dish emphasized technique over flavor. Nothing on the plate was offensive, or delicous. The olives were cut too big and tasted pretty weird with a gel and powder of coconut.

Rhubarb Fizz with Strawberry Explosion

Roasted Amish Chicken with Spring Vegetables and Apple Street Farm Maple Sap Nage

This might sound strange, but this chicken tasted like chicken! When you get a great product, like L'espalier does, the flavor is so much stronger than the enemy's (Purdue). The vegetable garnishes were simple and tasty. This was another favorite of the night for it's simplistic deliciousness.

Blood Orange Bubble Tea

Veal Sweetbreads with Confit Ox Tongue, Pickled Shimeji Mushrooms, Fava Beans, Horseradish Cream

This dish was beyond amazing, bordering perfection. Every bite was explosive in flavor. I wanted this dish to last forever, but sadly it couldn't.

Roasted Dry-Aged Lola Duck with Sweet Onions, French Breakfast Radish, and Poached Green Garlic

Oat-Crusted Loin of Lamb with Roasted Garlic, Escargot and Asparagus

A perfectly cooked piece of lamb loin was grassy and moist. The nutty oats brought out a distinct flavor in the lamb that I had never tasted before. This dish was interesting and new. I loved it.

Painted Hills Beef Tenderloin with Chanterelle Puree, King Oyster Mushrooms, Bearnaise, and Crispy Potato

Raspberry Fizz

Selection of Nine Cheeses

The highlights on the cheese board were the Azeitao Dop from the Arrabida Mountains, which suprisingly tasted like booze, and the tartufo flavored cheese, which had an intoxicating aroma of truffles.

Raspberry with Sorbet (Forgot Flavor), Dehydrated Pineapple Filled with Granola

Fromage Blanc Curd with Compressed Rhubarb, Strawberry Balsamic Tuile,  Pink Peppercorn Sable,  Pineapple Sorbet

Petit Fours

A common criticism of L'espalier is that it is good for Boston, but not good for New York. I am a huge fan of the NYC dining scene, but I would have to disagree with that statement. My meal at L'espalier was the most consistent meal I had ever had. What I mean by that is that everything was good, there were no major flaws.

I left L'espalier happy and stuffed. It was one of the best meals of my life, and I look foward to coming back.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Before the Modernist Cuisine Event.....

I don't voyage out to the city enough, so I had to take advantage of my time there this past Wednesday. I wanted to hit a lot of NYC's casual and relatively cheap places (John Dory Oyster Bar, The Breslin, Momofuko Ssam Bar, and Momofuko Milk Bar).

I started off at the John Dory Oyster Bar, which is run by Chef April Bloomfield. Only until recently have I been able to eat oysters, or all shellfish for the matter (A couple years ago I finally got tested for my allergies and it turned out I wasn't even allergic to shellfish, just fish with scales. This was a complete revelation for me. My whole life I had been living a lie....Ok maybe that is a little too extreme). The first couple oysters I had eaten weren't exceptional, just good, not great. I wanted my first oyster to taste "like the deep sea" and transport me, but it didn't. However the oysters at The John Dory Oyster Bar did.....I finally know what the whole hype about oysters is about.

Roasted Peanuts with Garlic and Rosemary was the perfect bar snack. The peanuts were a tad bit salty, but that is done to encorage the ordering of more drinks.

A parfait of chilled crab and avacado was honestly perfect. The sweet crab was light and played off well with the rich avocado.

After my snacks at The John Dory Oyster Bar I walked right over to The Breslin, which is also run by Chef April Bloomfield. I started off with the chicken liver parfait with madeira jelly. This tasted like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on steroids. I can't describe in words how good this was, you must taste it yourself.

The well renowned lamb burger and thrice cooked fries blew me away. Bite after bite my mouth was flooded with fatty, lamby goodness. The slight gaminess was a great match for the rich feta cheese. The "bun" was reminicent of ciabatta bread and did not interfere with the star, the burger. The fries were addictive on their own, and did not need the cumin mayo.

After my marvelous meals at Chef April Bloomfield's places I took a quick cab ride to Momofuko Milk Bar, which is owned by Chef David Chang.

When you think David Chang two main things come to mind - Ramen and Pork Buns. I got to try the latter and to be frank was disapointed. Maybe I was too full to appreciate quality food, but I did not enjoy the pork buns. The belly was fatty, which is a great thing, but there was nothing to cut the fat. It was too heavy and made you feel gross.

I should have invented cereal ice cream. My whole life I would devour bowls of cereal and then gulp down the sweet, sweet milk that was left over. It was pure heaven, and still is. Christina Tosi however was the one to come up with this cereal ice cream. Hers was much more subtle then I expected. There was an over-arching flavor of grain and corn that was not for me.


On the other hand Chef Tosi's compost cookie was awesome. The salt from the potato chips and pretzels really brought ought the sweet flavors of chocolate and butterscotch. I could have eaten my way through a sea of these cookies. However one thing I must point out about the cookies is the ingredient list, it is rather large and contains hydrogenated oils, which I was very shocked to see. But for the cookie's sake the end justified the means.