Friday, August 29, 2008
I was very surprised to find a few less booths than normal. Perhaps the heat is keeping everyone indoors for the week. Hopefully so. I was amazed at what I did find though!
The first booth I passed was packed so I passed it by and headed to Beauty Ranch's booth. It was great, they had fabulous Asian pears just picked, 2 varieties of apples, 3 varieties of plums, peaches, jams, all kinds of wonderful stuff. I did grab a bag of apples, plums and pears. I spoke with the owners and they informed me they did not spray this year and used minimal fertilization! The fruit looks amazing and they even threw in some extra fruit, so I ended up with almost all the varieties they had!
Next we headed to the Spice Grills food booth. I love this guys food. Anytime a new person walks to the booth to observe the crowd that is gathering, they immediately get drawn closer for a sample. One sample turns into a second, followed by a series of tastings. I think today was eight total! What a treat! I joked that if he kept feeding his people like this they would fill up and not by food to go! But they all do! And I was no exception.
I settled on the chicken and the potato filled samosas, as the spinach and the lentil ones were already sold out by 10am! Guess I need to come earlier! He tops these with a wonderful cilantro pesto sauce and a sweet and lil' bit spicy mango chutney, the sauces are to die for! He also offers fire grilled naan bread, traditional north African spices and sauces and much more!
Unfortunately I was not able to stop at all the booths today, but I did manage to cross back to the first booth I had passed. And I am so thankful that I did. They grow all organic produce at The Natural Trading company. And it is good and they have a variety of the not so common ingredients. That is why I love them. And today I found a new reason to love these guys! They grow the best arugula this side of the Atlantic? I don't know but it is the only locally grown arugula I have ever seen, and it is delicious! It is absolutely like nothing I have ever tasted in any store, so full of smoky and pepper flavors, absolutely amazing. I grabbed a bunch and was raving. Quickly 2 or 3 more people followed with intrigue to purchase and I offered them a hint, try it in a salad with peaches! Viola! Hopefully they take my advise because that is one great combination and my secret! Oh a little fennel would be great too!
I also grabbed some hot peppers that look amazing at .25 cents each. They had red baby beets, baby carrots, heirloom tomatoes, all kinds of great looking greens.. you name it, this place is great! Stop in and check them out!
Lastly I stopped in and spoke to Dan Macon of Highland Farms or Flying Mule Farm. He is the most amazing farmer of grass fed lambs. I am telling you, I have been eating lamb for my entire life and his is the best. You can truly taste the difference, the flavor is amazing and it is really a healthy meat, and locally raised in Auburn. You have to go talk to him, he is a great guy! Get more information from his website http://www.flyingmulefarm.com/ and learn about what he is doing, but most importantly, taste him lamb! I would even offer a recipe for those in need, shoot me an email!
A great way to support our local farmers, community and eat healthy! Give it a try, the vendors are amazing at this market! And they are not at Thursday nights market... so don't try and find them there!
Lincoln Farmers Market
in Persimmon's Cafe parking lot
corner of McBean and "A" street
Friday mornings, 8-12
Thursday, August 28, 2008
The Lincoln invasion has brought so much growth to our town. Along with this has increased our options for food when deciding where to eat. I remember always wanting to go to Roseville because that was where the good food was, at least where the options were. I also remember the nostalgia that was felt when eating a slice of BJ's extra large pizza with ranch dipping and the standard butter sauce for the incredible crust! Oh how so many of us miss that place. And how about the old A & W that was then the Mexican joint and now houses McDonald's.
Today Lincoln seems flooded with an array of different cuisine; Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Sushi and Japanese, American Traditional Home Style, Italian, Pizza... you name it, our choices have increased to include it. There are some very good staples of Lincoln that we enjoy and we do have our favorites that I would like to share.
1) Mexican Deli - Excellent Mexican food with authentic feel. From the outside it looks a bit scary to some perhaps, but rest assured they keep a very clean kitchen. I pay attention to these things. This is one of the original Local places in Lincoln and still remains excellent and almost unchanged as ever. The Chile Verde is the best secret in town... so I am weary to tell those not aware as of yet. However I have yet to taste a better Chile Verde burrito anywhere in all my travels. I used to get the chile verde chimichanga but they are too big, so I changed to a crispy burrito special. They also make the best crispy beef and chicken tacos in Lincoln. Don't forget their classic hot sauce! I pray that this place never closes, I would be lost without it!
2) Thai Basil - We are lucky to have such a great place in town. It is not a Lincoln staple but it is darn good. We really like the "Sa-Tay" chicken satay with peanut sauce, a great dish with coconut milk flavored peanut sauce, it is great;"Gang-Keaw-Wan" green curry chicken served with vegetables and rice is one of the best, serves 3 people; "Som Tum" Green papaya salad is excellent and tastes of fresh papaya, citrus and a bit of heat; The very best jasmine fried rice I have ever tasted! Excellent freid rice... a must! Overall, really fresh tasting Thai food with excellent flavors. Make sure and ask for the special side plate of all their hot spices and sauces.
3) La Villa Mexican Restaurant - great for an enchilada or a few quick tacos. Good chimichangas. Try their Panaderia a few doors down located in the old Coconuts coffee building, they make a "cheesecake filled bread cover with sugar" that is super good!
4) La Fiesta - only eat there for breakfast and we split it! They have the best "chilie quiles" anywhere. They basically smother crispy tortilla chips with melted cheese and a special red sauce and you eat them with tortillas and rice and beans. Also, they have excellent chorizo and eggs, but a half portion is usually enough! The salsa bar is also very good and help yourself!
5) Persimmon Cafe - Housed where the old Lincoln Produce once was. Fresh sandwiches, salads, but the best thing is their roasted chicken dinner for 2. $6.75 I think gets you a fresh roasted whole chicken and a side salad of choice! Very good! They are warm and ready to take home and eat. Also, fresh homemade pies are their specialty and are excellent! By the slice or whole!
6) Zakuro Sushi - Really lucky to have a quality sushi house in Lincoln now. This may be our favorite new addition. Excellent rolls including "Red Bull", "Mike B-B", "HWY 65", and much more. Excellent miso soup and very good Gyoza, but ask for some srircha sauce for the gyoza! Drink specials like $1.00 sake nights and $3 beer nights....
7) Conchas - so sorry they are gone, they really made true authentic style food, not just tacos and burritos, but mole and flautas, chile quiles... all topped with quality Mexican cheeses... so sorry you did not have more support, now we are all missing you.... food fears anyone? You did an excellent job... Replaced by a current Mexican Restaurant which I will not comment on.
There are so many restaurants which I could give my honest opinion of, many which I could bad mouth or tell you something negative about from my point of view. Being that I appreciate food and appreciate good ingredients being treated properly, I could really dish it out. But I won't. I will tell you to get out and support your local business people and eat at their places. Spend your money with them, encourage them to do good and cook fresh.
It is important that we give back to our community!
I will tell you that there is a bakery in town that, in my opinion does not make good bread. This is only my opinion. They have one single dough that they shape 20 different ways and call it different bread. All baked bread goods taste the same, bland and not exciting. Especially after a trip to France, the bread capital of the world to taste "real" bread made with "real" flour and it was excellent! I would love an authentic bakery, but would we support it? If we really want good things then we must support them when they arrive!
I also used to really like Buonarotti, however have not eaten there lately. We used to eat the red bell pepper soup every Thursday evening. Last time we went we had a good tortellini dish with bacon and peas I believe. Will have to give them a go again. I hear Daniel has opened a beer and wine bar where he brews his own beer now! Good for him, hopefully you will all support him so he can keep his business running!
We miss Beerman's as well. Not as much for the food as for the beer and atmosphere. Although they did have good fries! And the Lincoln Inn, what happened to the classic Bar?
Anyhow, if you have any suggestions, please drop me a line and let me hear about it. I would love to add them to the blog! Happy eatings!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
- Private Dinner Parties for Friends, Family & Associates
- Romantic Dinners for Couples
- Slow Food Events
- Wine Pairing events
- Outdoor fine dining
- Menu planning
- Tasting menu dinners
- Cooking and Technique classes
- Private cooking for you at home
- Weekly meal planning and cooking
- Weddings, Birthdays, Anniverseries
The above is just some of what I can and do offer. I will come to your home and create a truly unique dining experience, from creating a special menu and printing a copy for every guest, to doing demos in the kitchen for the guests, speaking about the food and the source of food and showing your party a truly good time.
I specialize in fine dining and pride myself in the flavors of my food. To get more info about your next event please contact me directly. Here are some links to previous dinners I have offered...
I also fear snakes. A person who works with snakes and has a passion for them could not understand my fear I am sure. They too would presume that with a little effort my fear of the slimy, creepy crawlers could be conquered.
I am a Chef. I dream and live food day in and day out. It seems to be pumping through my bloodstream, a deep rooted passion for all things food and all things delicious. In my line of work I cook for people, this is what I do. Doing so brings me much satisfaction and reward. Many people I have encountered have had very real "food fears" as I call them.
In a recent interview for a Chef position the owner and I were discussing my idea of food and style of cooking. He looked at my portfolio and listened to my ideas. He then commented "I won't eat anything I don't recognize and sure won't order from a menu that I don't know what it is. " At the time I could not help but think that was a very arrogant comment and narrow frame of mind. But after a little thought I understand that statement, he has food fears.
By engaging our fears we can all find new ways to experience things and the possibility of experiencing something that we really really enjoy is increased dramatically. I still have food fears, I am "afraid" you could say of certain foods that I have not tried; perhaps fried worms or brains, tripe and head cheese. These all sound horrible and are a bit extreme to Americans. However I bet that once I muster the strength to try them all, there will be at least one that I find tastes amazing. Maybe not one of these, but point being that the willingness to continue to try new things will lead to the discovery of many things that are desirable and enjoyable.
My goal and purpose I feel as a Chef is to teach people along the way. I want to serve people new tastes, new flavors, new experiences. I want to teach them not to be afraid of food, because food is so versatile, so fun, so open. A single ingredients can be prepared in a million different ways, a good chance that of those you will like many, even if you are not liking the ingredient. Foods can be manipulated and flavored to be different than what you are used to. I want to show people that they can learn to like something they are afraid of, that they can find something they never thought they liked, that it can be good. I want people to lose their fears of foods and be open minded, travel out of the box and journey through life with a taste for many foods!
If I can do this then I have done my job. After this inspirational lecture, I think I am going to find me a base diver to give me some lessons on the joys of heights! I know I can do it! Happy eating!
Monday, August 25, 2008
Our visit began January 24th, at 9:50 am to be exact. That was the time that I had prepared my cell phone, my work phone which consits of 3 lines, Terry's and Angie's cell phones, every line we could operate. I had the number dialed into every line so I could just hit redial.
I got through on the line until about 9:59 which is when the chaos began. It was busy and stayed busy as I held the cell phone in one hand and the office phone in the other, juggling to hit redial on every line. We did this non-stop until 10:20 am when the magic happened; finally, a ring tone!
I was then put on hold for about 10 more minutes. By the time the receptionist finally spoke with me they only had lunch reservations available, fine with me! We took the March 24th date at 12:30 and we were set for 3 people! Whew!
The 2 months thereafter seemed like forever and at the same time flew by, I love it when that happens. There was so much anticipation I had for the event, it was almost better than actually going! Finally the day arrived.
We arrived a bit early to the "Laundry" as we call it. Immediately we were greeted by a door man, followed by a coat man, then the hostess. From there we were asked if we would like to be seated immediately or rather linger a bit. I do remember the overwhelming feeling or nervousness, of sheer panic almost. I was like a little kid, eager and scared, anxious and yet ready to run at the same time. I was definitely sweating up a storm I felt like. I was fully dressed and we were definitely the youngest in the joint.
We were taken to our table which was the first room to the right, downstairs, immediately following the walkway to the kitchen. It was the room which looked into the wine cellar of the worlds finest wines, a room filled by stone walls yet with a wonderful feeling of natural light.
The waiter came and introduced himself: Bob was our guy. He was a character, a little up tight at first as I think they feel their clientele out for their demeanor, but once he got comfortable with us was a charm. We started with a bottle of champagne while they brought the classic Salmon Tartare cornet.... I have made these prior at my home, straight from the book. I must say that they are truly a lot of work considering the time consuming efforts and patience one must have to complete each individual cornet, working it while hot to form the mold. They were delicious! Every little bite filled with extreme flavor and texture, crispy, creamy, cold. It was all there.
Next they followed with the homemade bread. I must say that to date I think this may have been the very best single piece of bread I have ever eaten, absolutely amazing, and I was quite impressed with something so simple, I laughed! It was the round Boule which I did not capture a photo of, but highly recommend to anyone going there!
Bob then came by and took our orders: 3 Tasting menus it would be... If I had know then to ask for the extended menu I would have, but I was young and inexperienced? Lol.. next time. They then brought the signature Gourgeres made with gruyere. Delicious and so much smaller than I would have imagined them to be and much smaller than those I have ever made personally. Light and airy while still being able to maintain the creaminess and cheesiness!
I had decided that I didn't have the fat wallet to afford to buy 3 bottles of high quality wine therefore we brought our own bottles.... the first was a 2480 Hollywood Vine Chardonnay. It is a great bottle of wine which is normally on their menu for I think it was $240 but they were fortunately out of it, therefore we were able to bring ours in and have it corked for a mere $50 fee! Ouch, but much cheaper than buying the bottle!
Next another signature dish came, I think this came while we were still enjoying the Champagne, as that would make the most sense. It was the Cauliflower panna cotta with oyster glaze and Caviar. I have never liked caviar and I sure did not expect to start. But I was so surprised when I fell in love with the flavors of the dish. I truly learned to appreciate the greatness of good caviar and learned an appreciation that day! I am very lucky to have experienced that and was stoked to have liked it!
Our official first course came after this. It was a delicately constructed salad of Sacramento Delta Asparagus spears, Meyer lemons, Golden Beets, Golden Beet hash and a meyer lemon aioli. This was light, earthy, citrus-ee, truly a delicious course unexpectedly so. The beet hash was so amazing I fell in love with it. It also exhibited a truly skilled hand with the knife, the hash was so finely brunoised that I was truly impressed. The dish was a star to begin with, and it was one which we thought would pass without much notice.
Traditionally the next dish is the Foie Gras option. I opted to pass and instead went with the Kampachi dish. It was thinly sliced and folded into ribbons with perfection. It was paired with red turnips, hearts of palm, celery stalks, micro cilantro, small round balls of beets, madras date curry emulsion and again a hash of some sort, I will have to check my notes as I am writing this from my memory and the photos! The dish was excellent, the fish was extremely fresh and silky smooth, and very cold. The madras date curry emulsion was very good, again an unexpected pairing that really worked excellent together. Overall this dish was right in line with the flow of the meal thus far. Following was a Lobster tail, "cuite en sous vide" or rather cooked sous vide. Butter poached, forget about it, rather, take your lobster tail and cook with butter to perfection in a sous vide bath while obtaining the perfect texture and doneness! Viola, a perfect piece of Lobster. And this was no exception at all. This lobster was excellent, paired with cippolini onions nicely caramelized, a hazelnut and sunchoke puree I believe. Again back to my notes to double check and I will update. The sauce was a coffee and chocolate sauce. The dish was probably my least favorite of the night but still remained excellent!
Following the Lobster came my favorite dish of the evening. This dish evolved as the single dish that changed myself and my perspective of food incredibly throughout the meal. It was the one dish that I could not let go of and that I found great motivation in. It was perfect. Quite possibly the best thing I can remember eating. I had never tasted pork so delicious, so tender and succulent, so crispy and textured, so flavorful. No this was new to me as was the rest of the combinations thus far, the flavors, the ideas and techniques involved in creating them. But this dish, the best of the night. It is what lit the flame to my infatuation with this meat which I adore. It was Kurobuta pork belly cooked Sous Vide. I am sure they cook it for 36 hours or so. Just a guess. I am also assuming that they brine the meat as well, something with some brown sugar, honey, salt, apple cider? Peppercorns, herbs, thyme.... etc etc... all speculation and what I could taste coming through, or what I would and have done to execute such a perfect dish myself. The belly was seared to a perfect crisp on top. The inside perfectly cooked, tender and juicy, full of flavor! The puree of apples and vanilla was magical and the creaminess and sweetness paired wonderfully with the saltiness of the pork. The caramelized apple slice, great addition with some fruitiness and acidity, and lastly the braised cabbage finished with champagne vinegar I believe. All the elements were present, salty, sweet, hot, cold, tart, crispy, silky smooth, all of it and more. This dish luckily, was not the favorite of Mom and Angie due to the fat content. I was lucky enough to finish all 3 dishes and still wanted more! It was the one dish worth the entire trip to the "Laundry". Kudos to Corey Lee for this was perfection on a plate and something I relished in!
Following a dish like that is like being on vacation in Hawaii, then someone telling you they are taking you on vacation again, this time to the most beautiful place in the world, but you end up in TJ. Well ok that was corny, but you get the drift, hard to follow. However, they did a pretty darn good job at the progression of the meal as I have stated previously, keeping everything timed just right, keeping the orchestrated touches on all the dishes, the composure and restraint in flavors and in portions sizes, the whole bit. Next we had a Kobe Beef, it was actually American Kobe or Wagyu, from Snake River Farms. Ok so I led you on a bit, this dish was absolutely amazing and again taught me something new. It was a Rib Cap, off the rib eye. It was perfectly cooked Sous Vide I am assuming here, due to the perfect butteriness of the meats texture, the perfect medium rare without being too bloody, and a beautiful crisp or sear on the outside. It was a brilliant piece of meat, one that only a man like Thomas Keller can actually order I am assuming. You will never be able to find a butcher willing to let his rib eye caps go without the entire rib eye. It is the very best piece of the steak and it is very small as well. This dish was prepared with Hen of the Woods mushrooms, or maitake. Th earthiness and texture of these magnificent mushrooms really stood out and held up to the complexity of the meat. There was a broccolini puree and turnips I believe, finished with a black truffle jus. This dish was spectacular!This was another dish that I finished all 3, Mom and Angie not caring the meat and its rare-ness!
Ok by this point I am stuffed. I just finished all of the last two dishes and I don't eat that much usually. I am not a particularly large person, actually not at all.... 5'11" and about 160lbs soaking wet.... So we really needed an intermission... we began to take our time. I failed to mention that we were already on our 3rd bottle of wine by this point.
When the cheese course came out it was beautifully plated. San Marzano tomato compote I believe, Panisse and a firm goat's milk cheese which was a hard cheese, cannot remember name as of now. Again to my detailed notes I took and the menu I took home! Paired with balsamic reduction, was very good dish.
Ok so then dessert started. First was a cleaner or transitioning dish. A wonderful rhubarb sorbet, sweetened yogurt, a cardamon scented financier, a sugar disc tuile and some orange peel candied. Then we got two desserts, one was the pistachio cake with green tea mousse and white chocolate mousse. This later was a play directly from the Claire Clark Dessert book. It was paired with an amazing passion fruit gelee, and some very dark chocolate. Next was a baked meringue, a play on a baked alaska. It had compressed pineapple and was not our favorite dessert. Last they brought out lemon pot de creme, and creme brulee. We had orange tuiles and the traditional tray of truffles and mignardises. Whew... a lot of food! Now I am thinking I may be lucky I did not order the extended menu!
Friday, August 22, 2008
Most recently I had been craving a really good burger. This brings up the things that I look for in a burger to make it worthy of "really good" .... they are as follows...
1) A really tasty and fresh bun: the key ingrediant to any good sandwich as well.
2) Juicy, tasty, properly seasoned meat.
3) Really good quality cheese with a punch.
4) Fresh toppings, tomatoes with some juice, nice strong red onion, really good bacon, avacado!
5) Excellent aioli or mayo, no kraft mayo. Roasted Garlic mayo seems perfect for me!
6) Lastly, to complete the meal, homemade fries with dijon to dip, or as seen below spicy chipotle ketchup.
All of the above will make for a quality burger, get them all right and you are gauranteed a great burger! Well we got close, never perfect in my book, nothing I ever make is, I actually end up critisizing it for something minute or thinking of how to make it better next time. I have enclosed a few recipes if you want to try at home.
1 pack high quality ground meat
1/4 yellow onion, pureed or zested with citrus zester
1 teaspoon worchestor
Mix all ingrediants very gently, do not overmix! Overmixing the meat is the number one reason why meat dries out, or turns out like meatloaf.
Buns, you can find a ton of homemade bun recipes online. I prefer Brioche, although this time I used I stole from the net, and I was not impressed. Next time back to the brioche. Note that if you are making brioche you may want to lesson the amount of sugar and butter in the brioche, this will help it to not be so cakey. Unless cakey is your thing!
1 cup ketchup
chipotle to taste
cayenne to taste
tabasco to taste
1 head garlic
1 egg yolk
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon
Roast garlic in garlic roaster or in oven. If you dont have a roaster, which I would suggest getting one... because they work, at least the one I have does... To roast in oven.. Cut off tops cloves. Put cloves on aluminum foil and sprinkle with salt and pour olive oil over to cover. Wrap tightly with foil and put in oven at about 250-300 degrees for about an hour. Each oven varies so check until they are golden and fragrant and soft. Remove once cooled and squeexe the garlic out of its skins, discard skins. Puree or mash garlic into a bowl.
Next put egg yolk, salt, dijon and vinegar in bowl. Combine with whisk. Slowly whisk in a drop at a time oil until starts to emulsify, slowly contiue to add whisking vigorosly. This must be diner slowly. Eventually it will thcken. Add garlic puree and whisk until combined. You can adjust thickness with vinegar or water to thin, or add more oil until thickened to desired texture. Adjust salt and pepper, seasoning.
The rest is pretty simple, bbq the meat, or however you prefer. Use the freshest of ingrediants and you should be fine! Bon Appetit!
p.s. yes we eat on paper plates at my house... occasionally!