Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Duck Fat Poaching

We are going to poach cod in duck fat. We figured if we can poach in water, olive oil, and you can fry in canola etc, then why not duck fat. Tomorrow:

Duck fat poached cod, summer vegetable medley, celeriac puree, and snow pea tendrils with star anise-red wine reduction.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Foie Gras

Foie Gras can be quite the controversial menu item. Ben Barker in Durham has been serving it for a long time as have many other reputable chefs. On the flip side many reputable chefs won't serve it because of the controversy. Well, I love Foie Gras, but I am mixed about the treatment of these animals. A lot has been written on this and one can make a decision for themselves. 2 things to remember about Foie Gras; 1.poorly treated animals make really bad meat; 2. We should never fail to utilize an entire animal. Hudson Valley Fois Gras is a cage free and humanely treated product and that is what we serve. It is pricey but well worth the peace of mind. My peace being said on Foie Gras here is our new appetizer.

Seared cage free Hudson Valley Foie Gras, with pickled NC blackberries, port-blackberry syrup, and toasted brioche

Lobster Paella

I love Paella. My Mom made a killer paella for me after returning from Spain. Well, we took a method I'd seen on Ideas in Food in which Aki and Alex cook risotto in cheese cloth as a par cooking method. We figured if it worked for risotto it should work for Calaspara the traditional rice for Paella. We found out that cooking the Calaspara for the same time as the risotto gave us mushy garbage. So we dropped the time from 30 minutes to 25 and we had the perfect consitancy.

That's part one. Part two were the lobster. We ordered in whole 1 1/4 pound lobsters and blanched them all to remove the meat. We really wanted to use every part of these lobsters seeing as they perished for our consumption. So each plate received claw and tail meat. We used the coral or innards to make a lobster and saffron aioli. The bodies went into stock with which we finished the Paella rice. Then the tail shell and tenticle were used for garnish.


We use Tanglewood Farms Chicken out of Winston-Salem, my home town. It's a great chicken and local. We have worked towards a summer style chicken to get a lot lighter than the one we have had on the menu.

The finished dish: Lemon thyme pesto stuffed chicken, yuzu beurre blanc, marscapone polenta cake, and Serrano ham and artichoke sautée. This is a really good example of how I like to pull from different types of cuisine and really searching for what tastes good regardless of boundaries.

Our New Toy

Thanks to the owners for we finally got our vacuum sealer. I love this machine and although we are using it in many ways, compressing strawberries to poaching fish, I thought this was a pretty cool use. We made rye croutons for a gazpacho shooter. But I wasn't sure how to cut the croutons small enough to fit in the shot glass without mangling them. Well, we took the marbled rye and cut off the crust and compressed it in the vacuum sealer. Then sliced it and diced it thin because the bread was so compact already. We then foamed butter in a saute and added the rye, and to our surprise it popped right back into shape. Here is the finished product.

A few shots

Here are a few shots from around the kitchen.

This is our view from inside the kitchen. I have never had a window to the outside world while still working on the line.
The Calm before the storm.
Brioche Grilled cheese with Gruyeres. A special request for a special guest.
Here are a 2 shots of a party we were about to send out.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bocuse d'Or

The Bocuse d'Or is the Olympics of the culinary world. It happens every 2 years in Lyon France and is coming up in January 2009. The NY Times has nice article about the USA's involvement over the lifespan of the awards. No one from the US has ever placed higher than 6th place.
In an effort to up America's showing Thomas Keller and Daniel Boulud are putting a together a competition with Paul Bocuse's son Jerome call Bocuse d'Or USA. The winners will get to train with Keller and Boulud before going to France. I think it's awesome that America is finally taking the culinary world seriously. I hope this all proves to be successful and allows America to place first. Although I'm sure to be at the bottom of around 20,000 applicants, I figured why not try so I will be filling out an application to the Bocuse d'Or USA.

Monday, June 9, 2008

James Beard

I personally consider the James Beard awards the be the tops for any chef working in the United States. I am not trying to sound like a patriot and I am not trying knock Michellin, but this is how I feel. Anyway, The awards came out today and Grant Achatz won for oustanding chef of the year. There are also a lot of other great chefs listed who were either won or were nominated for other various awards. If you want an inside to some of the best chefs in this country check out the website.

Grant is really cutting edge and he is coming out with his cookbook this fall. The cool thing is his cookbook will be linked to an interactive website. Pretty cool and congrats to all.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

New Dessert Menu

We have rolled out a new Dessert Menu. Just wanted to let you know. Here it is:

“Strawberries and Wine”

Local North Carolina Strawberries and Goat Lady Dairy Chevre drizzled with wild flower honey and served with Mer Soleil Late Harvest wine


Filled with banana gelato with bruleed roasted banana and chocolate ganache

Rocky Road Parfait

Fudge brownie topped with chocolate, chocolate chip gelato, house-made marshmallow and pecans

Colombian Chocolate en Terrine

Dense chocolate mousse with raspberry coulis, crème anglaise and pistachio prailine

Tart au Citron

Lemon Tart with blueberry compote and Grand Marnier Chantilly

Tahitian Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee

I have a lot of favorites here. The blueberry on the tart are local NC berries as are the Strawberries and wine. For the strawberries and wine we actually compress the strawberries with a little honey in our new vacuum sealer.

Talking S--T

All the pictures of the last post got one of our prep guys a little jealous. I overheard him talking in Spanish that why don't I take picture of him making crab cakes. Well, we talk a lot of junk in our day to day life in the kitchen. I figured instead of a witty retort I would just post his picture on my blog.

Nothing beats a guy holding meat. This is also a little tribute to a guy who does a lot of work no one else wants to do. Such as cleaning green beans, sugar snap peas, peeling potatoes, bearding mussels. Either way take that Alberto!

De-Boning Lamb Loin

We had the opportunity of having one of our purveyors come in and demo us on de-boning a lamb loin. For those of you wondering what is lamb loin, I'll give you a brief description. Lamb loin is the saddle of meat just below the rib cage on the back of the lamb. In America the lamb loin come cut with the last rib bone still attached. The ribs towards the head are what you would eat when you eat French racks and crowns. After de-boneing the lamb loin you end up with what is equal too 2 lamb NY strips and 2 lamb tenderloins. We left the top 2 loins attached and rolled them for our special. Here is a sequence of Will who works for Halpern's our sole beef supplier. Will is a former chef and butcher and was very kind to show us this technique.

1. Lamb loin before trimming.
2. Cleaning the underside of excess fat

3. Here we have cut away the tenderloins and are working on pulling away the short loin from the spinal cord.
4. Here the whole spinal cord has been removed and we are left with the 2 short loins still intact.

5. Here is our finished product. We ended up stuffing this with mint chimichurri and we served with chevre gnocchi sauteed with baby arugala, tomato butter and smoked shitake relish.