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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summer Food

Refreshing, light, and simple. These three words, single handedly, symbolize the food associated with summer. The warm summer air, while beautiful, is sometimes overbearing. When it is hot and humid, you don't crave heavy braised meats, you crave light, crisp, and delicious food. The abundance of fresh, seasonal produce is so stunning that not much is needed to be done to make tasty food. Honestly, what is better than the best watermelon, or perfectly ripe strawberries? To me, nothing. Nature, when let to create, produces flavors that need no altering.



Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Crabs!!!

I am heading down the shore this weekend and plan to go crabbing, where if lucky I will come home with an ample supply of the delicious crustaceans. Wish me good luck!! :)



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My Ultimate Steak

Who doesn't love beef? Really, besides vegans, who does not dream of fatty, well marbled steak, cooked so the exterior is crispy and the interior is a devilish medium rare. It is pure paradise. My favorite steaks, first and foremost must be dry-aged. 

Mastering the art of dry-aging beef takes copious amounts of time. Every aspect of the process is crucial to the success of the final product. All factors must be precisely monitored; some of these factors include temperature, size of beef, humidity, air flow, time, etc. Primal or sub-primal cuts of beef are let to sit uncovered in highly controlled refrigeration systems for about one to seven weeks where enzymatic and biochemical reactions take place. These reactions intensify the beef's flavor and also tenderize the meat. The only negative effect of dry aging beef is that you lose a lot of yield due to moisture evaporation and the necessary trimming. It's a factor of quality vs. quantity. Would you rather have a 12 oz weakly flavored steak, or a 8 oz assertive and incredibly delicious steak? For me, I would choose the latter every time.

Now back to my ultimate steak........ My favorite cut is the rib-eye, but specifically the spinalis dorsi, also known as the cap of the rib-eye. This heavily marbled piece of meat runs around the "eye" of the rib and is oleaginous and divinely beefy. If you have never tried this cut I would deeply urge you to do so. I guarantee that you will thank me.

Once you acquire the ultimate steak most people would go and grill it. I wouldn't. When a piece of fatty steak gets grilled a good percentage of the delicious fat leaves the steak and plummets down into the charcoal (This is where the charcoal flavor comes from). Since you just spent a ton of money on the perfect steak, why would you want to waste all of that fat? This is why I pan-sear my steaks in a smoldering hot pan. This develops a marvelous crust and I use the rendered fat to baste my steak. After I flip my steak I add some butter, herbs, and garlic to the pan to add some aromatic flavors. After my steak reaches about 120 degrees I remove it from the pan and let it rest for at least 5-8 minutes. I know how tempting it is to want to just dig in right away, but if you do so you will lose a ton of moisture and flavor. Let it rest!!!!

Steak is a very personal subject, as is food in general. I prefer rib-eyes, but the guy next to me might prefer strips or flat-irons. Figure out what you like best and cook it with care and I assure you it will be delicious.

Dinner


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Birthday Dinner at Elements

When you are stuck in New Jersey and are not willing to muster the effort to trek all the way out to the city (NYC of course), do not panic! The past few years the restaurant scene in New Jersey has really became excellent. One of the reasons this is so is because Elements opened in 2008.

Its seemed fitting that for my birthday I would enjoy a fabulous meal at a groundbreaking restaurant, Elements. Stepping out onto the parking lot I could not help but notice the beautiful herbs, vegetables, and fruits sprouting up. The fact that Elements grows some of their own produce shows how passionate and devoted the staff are.

The amouse bouche for the evening consisted of a trio of bites. Eating from left to right the flavors voyaged from a subtle vegetable soup to a robust goat cheese mousse. The soup's texture was opulent, but it's flavor was somewhat bland. A touch of salt and acid could have made the soup more enjoyable. Secondly, a simply cooked maitake mushroom was seasoned to perfection and very tasty indeed. Lastly, the final bite was my favorite - rich, tangy, and fresh.


Vegetable Soup, Roasted Maitake Mushrooms, Goat Cheese Mousse with  Cranberry

After the delicious "bites" our first courses shortly arrived. A perfectly cooked pheasant egg had a bright orange yolk that oozed all over the plate when cut into. The addition of the gluttonous lardo was transcendent. Fresh asparagus and pickled yellow pepper brought brightness to this masterful plate of food.

Pheasant Egg with Lardo, Asparagus, Aji Amarillo

After the great high of the first course, I was hoping for the bliss to continue and my first couple bites did. Unfortunately, I bit into a mushroom that was filled with grit that upset the mood. This was very displeasing because besides the gritty mushrooms the dish was wondrous. The scallops were cooked better than I have ever had, and the tart apple was the perfect accompaniment.

Scallops with Apple, Mushroom, Bok Choy

Once all the savory courses were finished and our plates were cleared, our desserts arrived. The sour lemon flavor went well with the sweet meringue. I also enjoyed the various textures that excited my palate. This was a refreshing and clean end to a very satisfying meal.

Lemon Tart with Meringue, Sable, Sorbet

Service was genial and very attentive to our needs. I have to give a shout out to my friend Sam, who was the runner for our meal. I worked with him for over a year and a half at Uproot before he left for Elements.

I want to thank Chef Scott Anderson and the rest of the staff for a delightful and pleasing meal.