watch as I make a Scallop Crudo with Piquillo Pepper GRanite, Smoked Maldon Salt and Limes
Nothing gets me more excited as a Chef than the beginning of truffle season. My first batch of truffles rolled in today from Burgundy. While they are not as pungent or expensive as Perigord they still are beautiful and fragrant. Here are my specials for tonight! Please stop by Figue in the Palm Springs market for dinner and be sure to say HELLO!
Di Stefano Artisan Burrata Caprese $16
slow cooked Cherry Tomatoes, Pesto, Sicilian Organic Citrus Oil
house pickled Currant Tomatoes, Fig Vincotto and Di Stefano Burrata
Salmon Crudo with Citrus and warm Merguez Olives $16
Mint and Citrus cured Salmon, drizzled with 1,000 year Olive Oil
Grapefruit, Kaffir Lime and Mandarin Orange, fried Sausage stuffed Olives
Salt and Pepper Moroccan Calamari and Octopus $18
deep fried Calamari and Octopus with Harissa powder, Green Charmoula
American Berkshire Prosciutto $18
Di Stefano Artisan Burrata, Brioche Crostini, Fig Jam,
Carpaccio of Octopus $18
Truffle Basil Aioli, Arugula and Asparagus Salad, shaved Manchego, Brioche Crostini
Turban of Sea Scallop and Burgundy Truffles $30
Spaghetti, shaved Truffles, Cabbage Salad, Beurre Blanc
Paleta Iberica de Bellota $42
Cinco Jotas pure bred Iberico shoulder Ham aged two years
Tomato Olive Focaccia, Green Tomato Jam, shaved Idiazabal Cheese
Warm Truffle Tart $95
Filo, Smoked Bacon and Candy Onion Jam, Burgundy Truffles
Squid Ink Chitarra Pasta in Guazetto $28
Greek Branzino, Mussels and Shrimp in a Saffron Tomato Brodo, Hand Cut Squid Ink Pasta
Buckwheat Pasta with Rabbit Ragu $28
hand rolled Buckwheat Pasta, Rabbit Ragu, Sicilian organic Citrus Olive Oil, aged Pecorino
Spit Roast Jidori Chicken $26
Chickpea Fries, Ratatouille, Preserved Lemon Jus
Daube of slow braised Wagyu Beef Cheek $36
baked Ricotta galette, Cherry Tomato confite, Pumpkin Seed Crumble, Micro Arugula
Whole Roasted Daurade Royale $38
Mediterranean Gilt Headed Sea Bream, Artichoke & Fennel Barigoule, Olive Tapenado
SWEETS & TURKISH COFFEE
Moroccan Donuts and Harissa Hot Chocolate $9
house made Donuts, Cinnamon Sugar, spicy Hot Chocolate
Turkish Coffee $10
Honey and Cardamom flavored Coffee served in a Copper Ibrik
Squid Ink Chitarra Pasta with Uni $18
chilled hand rolled Chitarra Pasta with fresh Dungeness Crab
Diver Scallop, Piquillo Pepper Granite and Lime Crudo $16
Mexican Diver Scallops drizzled with Kaffir Lime Ginger vinaigrette
Piquillo Pepper Granite, Bautista Creek Finger Limes and Organic Sicilian Hot Pepper Olive Oil
Crunchy Moroccan Scallop $16
Mexican Diver Scallop wrapped in Potato, Green Charmoula Vinaigrette, fried Mint
Bistilla Spring Rolls $16Ras el Hanout spiced Chicken with Green Onion Spring Rolls, Marcona Dipping Powder
Di Stefano Artisan Burrata Caprese $16
Slow cooked Cherry Tomatoes, Pesto, Sicilian Organic Citrus Oil
House Pickled Currant Tomatoes, Fig Vincotto and Di Stefano Burrata
Carne Cruda $19
hand chopped raw Beef Filet Mignon tossed with Lemon Juice, smoked Maldon Salt, Arugula and Truffle Pesto, shaved Parmesan, Brioche Crostini
Turkish Coffee $10
Honey and Cardamom flavored Coffee served in a Copper Ibrik
Photographed by Chef Francois de Melogue 2013
Carla Rojas, Pastry Chef at Figue Mediterranean
August 9th, 2013
6:42 pm Friday Night Service
“I enjoy cooking with wine,
sometimes I even put it in the food I’m cooking.”
~ Julia Child
Today we are preparing three recipes: Soupe au Pistou, Coq au Vin and a warm Figue Tarte Tatin. Soupe au Pistou is the liquid expression of summer’s bounty made with the freshest vegetables of the season and flavored with Pistou, a mixture of basil, garlic and olive oil. Pistou gets its name from the Provencal word pistar, which translates “to grind”. Coq au Vin is a traditional Burgundian dish from the old days. Roosters worked hard all their lives chasing the hens around and grew quite large and tough before they were dispatched. They needed long cooking in generous amounts of liquid to stay moist. Our final dish is a warm Fig Tarte Tatin. Tarte Tatin has been popular worldwide since its birth at Jean Tatin hotel since its creation in the late 1800’s.
Jean Tatin opened his hotel (l’Hotel Tatin) in the 1800’s. In 1888 his two daughters Caroline and Stéphanie took over when he passed away. Caroline managed the books while Stéphanie cooked. From morning to night, she worked in her kitchen. She was a great and gifted cook but not the brightest of people. Her specialty was an apple tart, served perfectly crusty, caramelized and which melted in the mouth.
The sisters were always busy during hunting season and their restaurant was exceedingly popular. One day, Stéphanie, running late because she had been flirting with a handsome hunter, rushed into the kitchen, threw the apples, butter and sugar in a pan and then rushed out to help with the other duties. The odor of caramel filled the kitchen, Stéphanie realized she’d forgotten the apple tart, but what could she do now? She decides to put the pàte brisée on top of the apples, pops the pan in the stove to brown a bit more and then turns it upside down to serve. Raves of delight emanate from the dining room. The story continues a bit from that first day. Curnonsky, the famous gastronome of the time, hears about the Tarte and declares it a marvel. Word of this new gastronomic delight reaches Paris. Maxim’s owner hears about it and he decides he must have the recipe. He supposedly sent a cook/spy, disguised as a gardener, to Lamotte-Beuvron to discover the secret. The spy is successful, brings the recipe back to Maxim’s, and it has been on the menu of that famous restaurant ever since. Our version features fresh California figs which currently are in season.
- 1/4 cup Olive Oil
- 1 Onion, Chopped
- 1 Carrot, Chopped
- 1 Leek, Chopped
- 1 Zucchini, Chopped
- 4 cloves Garlic, Mashed
- 2 Tomatoes, Peeled and Chopped
- 1 cup Great Northern Beans, cooked
- 1 cup Green Beans, Cooked and Chopped
- 2 Potatoes, Peeled and Cubed
- 1 quart Water
- Sea Salt
- Black Pepper
- 1/2 Bay Leaf
- 1 cup Vermicelli, broken into 1″ pieces, Cooked
- 1/2 cup Pesto
- Sauté all vegetables in olive oil.
- Add water and seasonings. Simmer one hour, or until all vegetables are tender.
- Add vermicelli; ladle into hot bowls, and garnish with a spoonful of Pistou and a sprinkling of Parmesan and Gruyere cheeses.
- 3.5 # Chicken
- 1 bottle Red Wine, Burgundy would be traditional
- 2 sprigs fresh Thyme
- ½ Bay Leaf
- 1 c. Flour
- To taste Sea Salt and Black Pepper
- ½ # slab Bacon, cut into ¼ inch pieces
- 1 Tablespoon Garlic
- 1 quart Veal Stock
- ½ pound Button Mushrooms
- ¼ pound Pearl Onions or Cipollinis
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- Mise en Place:
- Marinate chicken overnight in red wine, thyme and bay leaf.
- Cook bacon pieces in a large pan, reserve.
- Season chicken and dredge in flour.
- Pat chicken dry, sauté in bacon fat till brown and crispy. Remove from pan.
- Add garlic until it perfumes the air, about two minutes.
- Sprinkle pan with 1 or 2 tablespoons of flour.
- Add red wine marinade and veal stock and bring to a boil.
- Return chicken to pan and simmer slow for one hour, or until chicken is tender.
- Add bacon, button mushrooms and pearl onions and simmer 10 minutes more.
- [br]To Serve:
- Reheat coq au vin. Serve with roasted potatoes, pasta cooked in butter or mashed potatoes.
- [br]Yield: 10” tart
- ¾ c. Sugar
- ¼ c. Butter
- 15 Figs cut in half
- 1 Orange, zested
- 1 pinch Cinnamon
- 1 recipe Tarte Tatin Dough
- [br]Tarte Tatin Dough
- 12 oz. All Purpose Flour
- ¾ t. Salt
- 1 t. Baking Powder
- ½ pound unsalted Butter
- ½ c. ice cold Water
- [br]For the Figs
- In a heavy gauged pan, preferably a 10” cast iron pan, caramelize sugar and butter.
- Add zested orange and cinnamon.
- Arrange fig halves in pan.
- Top with dough, tuck in edges around the sides and then bake in a 500˚ oven till the dough is golden brown, about ten to fifteen minutes.
- Let cool slightly then flip over onto plate, dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately.
- [br]Tarte Tatin Dough
- Mix the flour, salt and baking powder together.
- Cut the butter into small cubes and mix into the flour mixture. You’ll know it’s mixed in correctly when it looks like coarse corn meal.
- Add just enough ice cold water to make a dough. You want to be very careful NOT to over mix the dough or else it will be tough. Flour develops gluten which acts very similarly to a muscle. It’s what gives our bread and pastries structure.
- Let the dough rest for one full hour, or overnight.
- Roll the dough out to a 12” circle.
Everytime I make cheese I am reminded of Gareth Blackstock in the absurdly excellent BBC sitcom ‘Chef’ talking about raw cheese (see the entire episode ‘The Big Cheese’ here). In particular, when his cheese monger Sebastien comes to sell him cheese and he is looking for real, unpasteurized Stilton. Before you read on watch this clip about unpasteurized cheese. Hilarious! It is even worse in the USA where we are scared on real cheese. Today I bought five gallons of raw milk in a dark, back alley. As I made the transaction I looked over my shoulder to make sure no one was watching. Five nerve wracking miles of driving back constantly eyeing the rear view mirror to make sure no one followed. The joys of running illegal raw milk.
I hadn’t made cheese in a long time and I needed to reference the words and confident advice of cheese maven and guru Ricki Carroll vise a vis her excellent tome on cheesemaking simply called “Home Cheese Making”. A few years back I had bought a cheese press and enough bacteria to convert rivers of milk into curds. Now I was dusting off the press and refreshing my memories of house made tangy cheddar, creamy Camemberts and perfect Mozzarella. Here is a pictorial of today’s efforts, note Ricki’s book on the work counter.
Afterwards I ladled the curds into camembert molds and let the whey run out. For the next five hours I flipped the cheese every hour till it compressed the curds into the traditional camembert shape. Now the cheeses need to rest for a few weeks and ripen into heaven. I should mention for cheese making purists that I combined three processes into one here. While initially cheesemaking is the same regardless of cheese, the starters added are different.
Warning: Purists will be pissed off! This is an upscale expensive version of what commonly is a street food in the Middle East.
Warning # 2: I do not have a tower and I did not use a vertical spit… I used my traditional spit and basted frequently.
OK, now that I have clarified things I hope to have kept the hate mail to a minimum. I work at a great Mediterranean restaurant in the middle of Southern California’s desert called Figue. With temperatures soaring in the mid 110’s to 120’s this time of year I got to thinking what do other hot cultures eat this time of year. My overheated brain wandered past cool bowls of gazpacho and cucumber soups drizzled with Greek yogurt to the Middle East, specifically shawarma. Even with the heat I still want real food… that shocked me. I really thought this time of year I would wither away nibbling on frozen popsicles and salads. Part of the problem is my friend and boss, Lee Morcus, owner of Figue Mediterranean, absolutely LOVES food too and we talk a lot. We share texts about food, emails about food, face to face conversations about food. Pretty much every single time we are together food comes up. Lee has to be credited with getting me to put shawarma on the menu recently. I can’t remember if it was his mouth drooling description of eating shawarma at some point in his life or the fact that he is of Lebanese decent and that triggered my mind. However it came to be, here is how I have been making it lately. I apologize to cooks who need exact recipes, this is not one of them. The first thing is starting with high quality lamb. We buy our from a small cooperative of farms out East called Elysian Fields. It is a collaborative effort between former lawyer Keith Martin and Chef Thomas Keller and has often been referred to as “Kobe Lamb” because of the unsurpassable quality. If you want to taste what lamb should taste like please visit Elysian Field’s website and find a way to get some.
For our shawarma I used the best cut available, a saddle of lamb. I boned it out leaving both the tenderloin and filet attached. Then I made a paste from garlic, cilantro and ginger and spread it all over.
I sprinkled a spice mix tentatively called “Shawarma Lamb Mix” all over the lamb and tied it up. The spice mix was basically a mixture of black pepper, cardamon, fennel seed, cumin, star anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, paprika, sumac and smoked Maldon salt.
Then I cooked our lamb in our almond wood fired rotisserie and cooked it for six hours basting it frequently with it’s own juices. Obviously the picture below is chickens (stuffed with herbs and preserved lemons seasoned with Moroccan spices) spinning on our rotisserie… Sexy, isn’t it?
I top the flatbread with a sauce made from Harissa Paste and Tomatoes, cover with shaved lamb dripping in it’s cooking juices, a salad of cucumbers, red onions and heirloom tomatoes flavored with sumac and parsley and mint, then drizzled with a tahini sauce (tahini, lemon juice, salt, pepper, lamb fat and shawarma spice mix)… WOW is it good! I sold out both Friday and Saturday nights. Come soon to taste this dish!
Here is an incredibly bad shot from my camera phone:
It’s hard to even fathom turning my oven on with summer’s heat so hot that if you dropped a grape it would turn to raisin before hitting the ground. More and more my mind wanders towards thoughts like: Would an egg really fry if I dropped one on the sidewalk? Or could I really bake cookies on the dashboard of my VW Jetta? Yes, it’s my first summer in the Desert, yes it is hot, but that is no reason to stop cooking. In fact, summer forces me to light the barbecue and explore outdoor cooking with renewed passion.
There are so many colorful theories as to the true origins of the term barbeque. Ask a group of fervent believers and you will get a host of different answers. The two most plausible originate with the French term ‘barbe a queue’ and the Taino Indian word ‘barbacoa’.
‘Barbe a queue’ comes from French speaking Haitians who were quite fond of spit roasting whole animals (and the occasional tourist) over slow burning fires. Barbe means whiskers and queue is the tail, therefore barbe a queue denotes a spit roasted whole animal skewered from it’s whiskers to it’s tail.
Others theorize barbeque is the Americanization of the Taino Indian term barbacoa, which refers to a framework of green wood built to slow cook fish and meats over an open wood fire. When the Spanish made their way from the West Indies to the shores of our continent, they brought this cooking technique everywhere they conquered and pillaged.
By the early 1600’s, backyard barbeque feuds in Virginia were so frequent it was illegal to carry a firearm to one in Jamestown. Probably even back then folks argued whether or not what they prepared was true barbeque. The word barbeque shows up in George Washington’s 1769 diary where he mentions that he traveled to Alexandria to attend a “barbicue”.
Lamb was the favorite meat of early barbeques giving way to pigs when Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto arrived in 1539. Pigs adapted better to the lazy colonial lifestyle than cows. Colonists found it easier to let the pigs run wild, foraging on wild apples, nuts and other goodies and then recapture them rather than to shelter and raise them.
The battle over authentic barbeque continues to rage to this date with no side emerging as the clear winner. No matter what history you prescribe to, get out and enjoy, if for nothing else than to keep cooler inside.
Get yourself a copy of Desert Star for the photos and recipes or go to their website: http://desertstarweekly.com/
Tarte Tatin has been popular worldwide ever since its inception in the late 1800s. Jean Tatin opened his hotel, l’Hotel Tatin, in the 1800s. In 1888, his two daughters Caroline and Stéphanie took over when he passed away. Caroline managed the books while Stéphanie cooked. From morning to night, Stéphanie worked in her kitchen. She was a great and gifted cook but not the brightest of people. Her specialty was an apple tart, served perfectly crusty, caramelized and which melted in the mouth….
This recipe comes at the request of my wife Lisa who enjoys hummus in all it’s forms and variations. The history of Hummus is unclear with a few different nations claiming it as their own. Chickpeas have been around the Mediterranean since forever though they likely came from Western Asia. The Phoenicians introduced them to Spain. Excavations around Languedoc show that wild chickpeas grew there. Roman vendors used to sell roasted chickpeas at events throughout their Empire. You can still find chickpea fritters being sold at events in the South of France. I like serving Hummus underneath Kibbeh and a refreshing Cucumber Salad.
- 15 oz Chickpeas, cooked
- ½ c. Tahini
- ½ Lemon Juice
- to taste Sea Salt/Pepper
- Puree everything till smooth as silk. Add enough water to achieve this. Add as much olive oil that suits your taste!
- ¼ c. Olive Oil
- 4 oz Seared Ahi, sliced into four pieces
- 1 t Fennel Pollen
- 1 t dried Orange Zest
- 1 ball Greek Flatbread, or pizza dough
- 2 Plum Tomatoes, sliced and dried in oven
- 3 oz Feta Cheese, diced
- 10 Olives, pitted, halved
- 1 oz Frisée Lettuce
- Marinate Ahi in olive oil, fennel pollen and dried orange zest for at least four hours.
- Arrange tomatoes, feta and olives over flatbread.
- Bake till done.
- Arrange tuna on top and garnish with frisée.
Thank God fig season is back! French author George Blond once quipped the fig was “the manna of the Mediterranean countries.” Especially if we take the dictionary definition literally, ‘Spiritual nourishment of divine origin.’ Figs have been cultivated since the dawn of time. Assyria used figs as a natural sweetener; figs were grown in the hanging gardens of Babylon; they were important to the Phoenician economy; baskets of figs were buried with Egyptian rulers in the great tombs; they were the favorite fruit of the Greeks. Figs first appeared in America in the 1600’s brought over by the Spaniards. They were planted in California and known as Mission Figs. 90 % of USA production is in California. Figs appear with great frequency on our menu at Figue Mediterranean (www.EatFigue.com). One of our more popular fig dishes is our tagliatelli of figs and pancetta.
Tagliatelle al Pancetta e Fichi│ Hand Rolled Tagliatelle, Pancetta, Conserved Figs, EVOO
Chef François de Mélogue
Ingredients for four orders:
400 g Semi Dried Figs, sliced
160 ml Olive Oil
80 ml Balsamic Vinegar
to taste Sea Salt and Black Pepper
5 sprigs Marjoram
3 cloves Garlic, crushed
3 thick slices Pancetta, diced
2 small Leeks, diced
30 ml White Wine
2 T grated Reggiano Parmesan
Mise en Place:
- Marinate figs in balsamic, olive oil, s/p, marjoram and garlic for at least 30 minutes.
- Heat olive oil and sauté pancetta and leeks for eight minutes, or until leeks are soft and pancetta is crunchy.
- Add figs and marinade and white wine.
- Cook tagliatelli.
- Heat sauce.
- Toss together, top with grated parmesan and olive oil.
“Cooking by Hand” by Paul Bertolli is a book for Chefs and those who love food alike. I wish more cook books were written like this. It is extremely thorough and informative. I am going to make Mortadella this week because of it… Thanks Paul for an amazing book!
“Find the Shortest, Simplest way between Earth, the Hands and the Mouth”
Saffron Arancine $9
Saffron Risotto Croquettes filled with Fontina Cheese, Tomato Sauce
Crab cake $12
Italian Cauliflower, Chickpea and roasted Pepper Salad, Fennel Caper Aioli
Saltata di Cozze all Fiore $9
steamed PEI Mussels with White Wine, Tomato and Basil
Polpette al Barese $9
little Veal and Pork Meatballs from Bari, Italy simmered in a Pomodori Sauce
Fritto Misto $16
crispy Italian Lantern Fish and Calamari, Spicy Saffron Aioli
Jamón Ibérico de Bellota $32
shaved 2 year Iberico Ham served with house made Tomato Olive Focaccia
Wild Porcini and Salumi Pizza $19
wood fired Pizza with roasted fresh # 1 Porcinis, shaved Salumi and Mozzarella
Shrimp, Calamari and Scallop Pizza $18
wood fired Seafood Pizza, Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella
Margherita Pizza $16
Tomato Confite, Basil and fresh Mozzarella Pizza
Bucatini all’ Amatriciana $19
classic Italian spicy Pasta with crispy house cured CookPig Pancetta and Pomodori sauce
Wild Spanish Turbot and fresh porcinis $38
sautéed Turbot with Potato Puree and Washington State Porcinis, Proseco Sauce
Blackberry milkshake with Whipped Lemon Curd $10
Unbelievable taste of Summer in a milkshake form!
Let me clarify that. I think when we die we get front row seats to a review of our entire lives… we firsthand relive the proud moments of achievements completed and we watch, eyes fixated to the screen, the disasters of our lives feeling every bit of emotions we did the first time. We cannot hide from ourselves. You never can.
In 30 years of cooking I have never eaten where I worked. It is near impossible to separate myself from being so intimately connected to simply being a guest. It was voyeuristic to watch firsthand how people react to your soul being laid out on a plate naked for the world to gawk at, criticize, compliment. It is one thing to get a good/bad review on the internet where people hide behind computer screens and critic your efforts anonymously and it is completely another thing sitting next to them, hearing their comments live, unfiltered. I wasn’t sure I had the fortitude to do so.
Last night my wife and I went on a date to Figue in La Quinta, California where I am Executive Chef. We walked in the massive front door and were promptly greeted by one of our hostesses. We settled on a few drinks and a charcuterie plate at the bar before going to our table. We ordered two different bubbly cocktails. I had the Poinsettia and Lisa tried the Fraises Embrouille. I really enjoyed mine, it had the perfect balance of flavors, sweetness and tartness. Lisa fraises embrouille lacked flavor and needed some amping up. Celeste, our sommelier, had our drinks remade and it was much better the second time.
Our Italian American charcuterie plate was amazing. On the plate was slices of charcuterie from various salumi producers in America who make Italian charcuterie, olive and mostarda. The absolute best was the lardo made from Spanish Bellota pigs by la Quercia in Iowa. Lardo is completely decadent and rich and amazing. We enjoyed the perfect bit with the richness playing off the saltiness of our house made focaccia. The varzi salumi with it’s distinct cloves and nutmeg flavors from Creminelli in Utah was the perfect foil for the sweet, mustardy mostarda. Javier, our waiter, brought the complimentary bread service which tonight was Turkish flatbread served with Labne, a house made yogurt cheese dusted with Aleppo pepper. Mistakenly he called the bread Syrian mountain bread but I wasn’t here to correct while eating. The bread was doughy and undercooked and felt like a dagger being stuck into my heart. I live and breathe my food and it hurts to see it served incorrectly. I pushed it aside and continued with the amazing focaccia.
The hostess returned and took us to our table. On the table are beautiful, hand made pottery diamond shaped plates made by the Wheel in San Diego that we use as share plates. They are incredible plates.
Normally when I eat out I scan the menu for dishes I really am excited to try. Any belly, pork belly, hamachi belly, usually gets my vote. Tonight I picked dishes I normally would never pick. I love scallops but I never order them. Part of the problem is they usually suck. It is more normal to get water added, or wet scallops, than it is to get diver picked dry scallops. We also ordered the charred tuna crudo with Moroccan Charmoula. The whole tuna served raw thing is so over played now that it is easy for me to look past that on any menu. Tonight I ordered both and was reminded of how gorgeous and delicious they can be.
The thin slices of charred tuna marinated in Moroccan spices served with orange segments and deep fried garlic chips sang in my mouth. Every bite was an explosion of exotic flavors. The scallops were perfectly seared by my sous chef Alejandro Hernandez and served with a pile of zucchini spaghetti and a carrot juice and saffron emulsion. Like a bad infection, the underdone flatbread reappeared at our table. I returned it, hoping never to see it again. Celeste our unbelievable sommelier picked a Pic Poul that went spot on with both dishes.
We moved onto two newer dishes, a Piquillo Pepper roasted and stuffed with Cypress Grove Sgt. Pepper’s Goat Cheese served over a Mache Salad dressed in a shallot vinaigrette that to me was jaw dropping in it’s flavors, richness and creaminess. We also had the Spring Sweet Pea and Mascarpone Ravioli in a Lemon Vegetable Brodo with Truffled Pesto. It was outstanding. I had eaten my fair share of these raviolis in the kitchen but to get them table-side was orgasmic. We decided to let Celeste go and surprise us with wine choices. She knows my palate well enough. She picked a Cinsault Rose that sang to the gods.
We moved onto probably my favorite dish on the current menu, a whole Daurade Royale served with Artichoke and Fennel Barigoule with Olive Tapenado. Celeste served two wines, a Domaine Coulerette Chablis that sang and an effervescent Getariako. Both were great in their own way. One thing I always wonder is why more guests coming to a restaurant do not leave the experience in the hands of the Chef and sommelier. It is a far more interesting way to eat and you will probably try things you are unfamiliar with. Part of the problem is we fear letting go of control. We think we are open minded and ready for spontaneous things. When in reality we want to be firmly in control fearing the unexplored and the new and different.
While eating the Daurade the table next to us returned the Porchetta, a spit roasted acorn fed pig slow cooked over a wood fire on our custom made Italian rotisserie. I ordered some to try it myself. Another dish I love in the kitchen but would never order. The customer felt it was too fatty. I felt it was perfectly cooked and would not change a thing. Sometimes dear friends the customer is NOT right. The Pigue Newton, a fig and bacon compote we serve with it went extremely well. Celeste had picked a Burgundy to match the pork. Another great choice.
While eating I noticed a gentleman I had spoken with a few days before sitting at the table next to me. The attempt of dining incognito ended. I bought two desserts for the porchetta table and introduced myself when they received it. I said hello and talked with the gentlemen I met before and started a great conversation with the folks next to me who happened to be from my hometown of Chicago. I also met the owner of a few area restaurants and discussed our concept with him. Celeste is pictured above with the doctor who owns three area restaurants.
We finished the night off with a dessert me and former pastry Chef Sarah Smith had come up with while working at Copper Beech Inn in Connecticut a few years back. It has been re purposed and modified with current pastry chef Carla Rojas. It is a Strawberry Soup with a Vacherin of Mara de Bois Strawberries and Frozen Lavender Yogurt.
All in all it was a great night and everyone made me proud. I am so happy with my sous chef Alex and my entire kitchen staff. Javier and the front of the house did really really well minus a few mistakes on menu knowledge. Micheal my charcuterie bar Chef did an amazing job with the cold food. I forgot to mention he served us a delectable parmesan shortbread with tomato confit and Bulgarian feta… I slept very easily knowing we are on the straight and narrow road. I may eat here again before thirty years pass… If you come to visit ask for me!