Showing posts with label domaineLA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label domaineLA. Show all posts

Monday, July 11, 2011

Gala Parfait: Octo-Q

One byproduct of co-hosting The Table Set that I'm really enjoying is that - as it is a podcast about entertaining - I am hosting gatherings more than ever! I recently co-hosted one of my favorite bashes to date, and forged a new friendship with an old familiar face.

Some things are just fated. Natalie and I went to art school together in Eugene, Oregon, but didn't really know each other. When I waited tables at Portland's uppity Pearl District hot spot Bluehour I recognized Natalie dining with the PICA and Wieden+Kennedy power lunchers. (I later found out Natalie too had worked at the restaurant before me). Five years later, I discover that we are both working on flip sides making a DEVO record in Los Angeles. We couldn't ignore this any longer. We joined forces. A barbecue on Natalie's Hollywood Hills deck was decided upon almost immediately. A blending of our friends; food lovers, art lovers, and music lovers... But what would we serve?

Ever since Natalie's recent trip to Chile she told me she's been obsessed with finding out how to make octopus tender and flavorful like she had tasted there. What she knew was that barbecuing is part of the secret. The proposal: An octopus BBQ?! Obviously I was down for the challenge, so we started to brainstorm the plan. Octopod culinary research went underway. A smoker was purchased and assembled. In the meantime I whipped up an invite to encapsulate the vibe. Natalie only has a turntable, so we would ask guests to bring a record. Other secret surprises were concocted.

Like any proper party, we needed to conceptualize a cocktail that would stand up to the smokey char of a crispy tentacle. Natalie brilliantly suggested the inclusion of smoked ice(!) Several tests on her part found that smoking water over cherry/mesquite wood and then freezing it produced subtly satisfactory results. In the spirit of the wood we ran with cherries and I made a brandied batch to muddle with orange in a Smokey Cherry Old Fashioned.

Macerating the cherries before tossing with hot water and submerging in Brandy.

The afternoon of the party, I was led up the steps to Natalie's deck by the scent of tantalizing smoke. Crows were eying the smoker, cawing at me as I approached the house. Inside I could hear a commotion. "Hello?..." I called stepping gently toward her open door, like a marked slasher victim. The grisly scene I walked into was not what I expected.
Whack. Whack. Whack. It takes 99 from a hammer to properly tenderize an octopus, they say. Natalie was just finishing up, and wiped her brow following the workout. The beast beneath her was HUGE, and the gravity of our endeavor finally sank in. "WOW," was all I could say.
The marinated creature went in a boiling pot next, where it began to reanimate and coil about in the simmering liquid. Then Natalie took a blade to it and carved it up for the grill.
Out back she gave me a peek of the little guys she had jerkifying in the smoker, spicy marinated buggers peppered with crackling chilies. While she breaked for costume change, I set up the bar.
Sure, our guest list had grown (and still was unbeknownst to us), but Natalie insisted on china and silver (bless her!) We set the table for... 15 or so, with a back-up stack of plates on the sideboard.
Our first guest arrived, which meant records, and cocktails! To have enough glasses for all, I picked up a couple crates of Kerr half pint wide-mouth mason jars, which make a pretty swell old fashioned tumbler. (Naturally I failed to photograph a finished cocktail, I was too busy cranking them out!)
The Smokey Cherry Old Fashioneds and a lovely contribution of cheese and salumi from one guest busied our happy hour revelers while we continued to ready for the main event.
We plucked the jerked octis from the smoker and joined the table with the tasty dishes our guests provided.
Michael's spicy shrimp were a hit. Luckily some cucumbers were handy to quell the heat.
The spread of vegetables was staggering... From kale salad to watermelon n' feta to spiced potatoes to fiery Sriracha slaw. I made two salads - One of chickpeas, chorizo, and arugula, and another of radicchio, Italian parsley, apricots and shaved fennel with a minty olive vinaigrette.
Natalie stood watch at the grill, turning the big boy's legs.
The flavor was robust and delicious. "Next time more char," Natalie said, tugging at the outer skin. Regardless, everyone waited with patient curiosity while I sawed the leggies into medallions.
What to drink with grilled octopi? Well I leave that to the experts. Luckily Whitney of Brunellos Have More Fun and DomaineLA was present with a few fitting bottles. My favorite was La Dilettante, Domaine Breton‘s 2009 Vouvray moustillant. A delicious crisp chenin blanc with light, moussey bubbles.
"Hey, that's from the store!" Whitney called at another guest's contribution of Causse Marines Marcillac, a... funky, earthy, inky red. Joy the Baker's fabulous peach & blackberry cobbler dessert (gobbled up before it was photographed) was geniously paired by Whitney with a Frantz Saumon Gamay Moelleux, a sexy, lingering yet tangy pomegrante, strawberry and pine masterpiece. (Read Whitney's account of the BBQ here).
But the cherry on top was our secret surprise guest, Luz Elena Mendoza, singer of Portland's beloved Y La Bamba. She graced the hushed patio with a short set of passionate arias ripe with duende.

Come dusk, we walked up the hill to a nearby viewing point and sat with circling ravens, watching as the sun sunk into the ocean. The way every perfect summer dinner party really should come to a close.

For those hoping for some more in depth octopus cooking tips, here are Natalie's four simple steps to making killer tentacles at home!

Just do it.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Foodbuzz 24x24: YOU INSPIRE ME

This isn't a Chocolate of Meats post.

No, get ready for something completely different.

Yesterday, myself and four other LA food blogs turned Foodbuzz 24x24 into a game of culinary roulette and, we hope, raised the bar in the process. This is our Twitter-spawned adventure. And it started with a phrase.

YOU INSPIRE ME

Moved by the prospect of an homage to what really is the core of the food blogging community - how we continually inspire one another daily - Greg (Sippity Sup), Andy (the Wind Attack) and I drew up a plan.

The challenge:
5 Food Bloggers. 5 courses, inspired by - each other.
To help us find our spark we called on one of our favorite Northwest bloggers, Ms. Salty Seattle herself. Or should I say, Madame Saltzmerelda...



The players:
Greg of Sippity Sup
And our Twitter-delivered mystery guests (and lovely new friends):
Melba and Kim of Out A Thyme

And to make things even more exciting, we employed the genius of Jill Bernheimer of our favorite wine store DomaineLA to dream up course pairings, with the help of fabulous wine blogger Whitney Adams (of Brunellos Have More Fun). Furthermore, we were ecstatically fortunate to have Whitney attend the meal and give insight to the pairings as each was poured.
Day of event. Table is set and the kitchen is abuzz.
Our hungry plus ones. Looks they need a cocktail.
Amuse Bouche & Cocktail: 
The Chocolate of Meats inspired by Joy the Baker
Cucumber Sorbet with Herbsaint Sabayon and Vanilla Salt
Joie de Vivre cocktail
So I was fated to start the show. No pressure.
But let's be honest, Joy the Baker couldn't be a more exciting muse.
For the cocktail, I was directly inspired by a spirit I learned about reading Joy's blog: Ransom Old Tom Gin. The caramel-colored gin has been aged in oak barrels imbuing it with a rich bourbon-like mouthfeel, while retaining bright ginny botanicals. Basically it's perfect.
If you've ever taken a gander at Joy's blog, you know it's pretty perfect too. To invoke Joy's effervescent personality, I decided to mix the gin with prosecco, kissed by sweet rhubard and orange bitters.
And in light of Joy's infectious bon vivant nature, I fittingly call this the Joie de Vivre cocktail.

Joie de Vivre cocktail

1 oz Ransom Old Tom Gin
1/2 oz Dolin Vermouth de Chambery Rouge
dash Fee's rhubard bitters
dash Fee's orange bitters
Prosecco

Shake gin, vermouth and bitters with ice and strain into a cocktail glass or flute. Top with Prosecco and garnish with a lemon twist and [slapped!] leaf of lemon balm.
Whitney on the Prosecco choice, Sommariva Prosecco Superiore di Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Brut, Veneto, Italy:
My favorite prosecco to use for cocktails! The Sommariva has a fun, approachable fruitiness with a very dry, clean finish. And it's affordable.
Life is a LOT about dessert for Joy the Baker.
Perusing the recipes, you'll find every sweet, baked good, and indulgence under the sun. But clearly I can't bake for an amuse bouche, I wanted something light, crisp, refreshing.
I took a lead from Joy's cantaloupe sherbet - Summery and exotic, but familiar, and a little boozy. To keep the course dry I opted for garden-bright Persian cucumbers as a sorbet, challenged by a sassy Herbsaint sabayon and dash of vanilla salt. Dessert in disguise. And palate-cleansing to boot.

Get the recipe here

1st course: 
Joy the Baker inspired by Andy of the Wind Attack
Shaved Brussels Sprout and Poppy Seed Pineapple Salad
Joy on her inspiration:

The essence of Andy's Wind Attack is seasonal surprise... well, that... and bright lime green.
The green of the brussles sprouts, avocado, and herbs represents the lime green walls of Andys website. Sometimes I like to get literal.
This salad is a surprising combination of greens, spring, and tropics. Andy doesn't shy away from odd pairings: Avocado and Stout Cake, Raspberry and Persimmon Sorbet, and Emu Egg Frittata. All of his surprise ingredients and combinations have a distinct seasonal feel to them. The surprise seasonal element in this salad is the first-of-the-season pineapple. The fruit is tossed into the salad and it's both its flesh and juice is used to make a vinaigrette. Combined with both poppy seeds and macadamia nuts, I tried to make this dish a surprising celebration of early spring.

Get the recipe here at Joythebaker.com

Whitney on the pairing, 2005 Jacques Puffeney Savagnin Arbois, Jura, France:
We wanted to do something a little outside the box for the first course and chose an oxidative savagnin from "The Pope of Arbois" Jacques Puffeney. The nuttiness, acidity and texture of the wine really played well with the macadamia nuts and pineapple.
2nd course: 
Out A Thyme inspired by the Chocolate of Meats
Stone Crab Salad with Watercress, Red Onion, Avocado, Hearts of Palm
Out A Thyme on their inspiration:

Fresh and healthy – but with a sharp bite and more than a passing curiosity about what’s going on below the surface. Whether you’re about to meet Nathan Hazard (aka ChocoMeat), or this seductress of a salad, there’s a fine line between pleasure and pain. Arizona-native Chiltepin pepper stays true to its desert character, even in the midst of hearts of palm and watercress… and yes, that’s crab, the chocolate of the sea. All it takes is a fork to appease that curiosity. Now – or you’ll be Out A Thyme.

Get the recipe here at Outathyme.com

Whitney on the pairing, 2009 Domaine de la Pepiere Marc Ollivier Muscadet de Sevre-et-Maine Sur Lie, France:
After the savagnin, we knew we would need to give everyone's palate a little respite and this muscadet from Marc Ollivier was the perfect thing to do that. It's minerality and freshness was great with the creamy crab and lemon of the dish. And even worked with the subtle spiciness of the chiltepin!
Main Course: 
the Wind Attack inspired by Greg of Sippity Sup
Chuck roast braised in Stone Brewery Smoked Porter with red onion, mushrooms, fresh thyme and garlic. Roasted turnips, parsnips, carrots and mushrooms in a reduction of the braising liquid, fortified with syrah, avocado honey and tomato vinegar. Potato and cauliflower blue cheese mash. Sauteed pea tendrils with garlic, capers, red onion, lemon and grüner.
Andy on his inspiration:

Greg's blog is full of savory treats, but my real inspiration for the entree of this meal came from one of Greg's own blog inspirations: his Mother.

Greg writes about what an amazing cook his own mother was and how that was such an influence in developing his interest in food. Since her passing, Greg's brother took the time to collect some of her recipes, and Greg was kind enough to share some of them on his blog.

My own Mother wasn't a great cook, but I felt inspired to honor my deceased mother in a similar way to Greg... by cooking a dish inspired from her. The one food that she made that I enjoyed most was pot roast, which consisted of three ingredients: powdered onion mushroom soup mix, water and beef.

Naturally, I wanted to make something a little more gourmet and robust, so I braised the beef in porter with lots of real onion and mushrooms. Clearly not my Mama's pot roast, but I think she would have enjoyed it just as much as we all did.

Get the recipe here at Windattack.com

Whitney on the entree pairing, 2009 Donkey and Goat The Prospector Mourvedre El Dorado, California:
Porter braised beef and blue cheese mash! We would need a red that would have enough body and fruit to not get lost. One of my favorite wines that's just arrived to the store, Donkey & Goat's "The Prospector" mourvedre, was seriously gulpable and perfect with this course.
Dessert: Sippity Sup inspired by Out A Thyme
Baby Coconut Lemon Bundt Cakes Swimming in Lemon Cream, topped with a Chocolate Toasted Coconut Surprise
Greg on his inspiration:

What do you do when you are working with some of your closest blogging friends on a FoodBuzz 24 24 24 project about inspiration and one of the most inspiring bloggers in the group has to drop out at the last minute?
You could throw down your spatula and go all diva. Which had a certain appeal I must admit. But wait I thought, the whole point of this exercise is to find new inspiration from the wonderful blogs around us. So I went to Twitter and invited the first blogger fearless enough to respond to join us in our game.
Which was inspiring all in itself, because almost instantly Out A Thyme responded. A few mad volleys forth and these brave bloggers decided to throw themselves into the project, having never met any of the rest of us before!
But I have to admit I was not familiar with this blog. In fact a little research told me that these were new bloggers. Brand new bloggers. So new that when I went to their site– I saw they had but 4 posts. Four!
The spunk alone of these two women was enough to inspire me. Because let’s face it. When I was a newbie blogger I never would have raised my hand in the presence of blogging royalty like Joy The Baker and offered up my scant scribbles.
Right away I decided to find inspiration from the amazing character these women obviously possessed. I needed to find out what makes them tick. So I went to their “About” page to snoop around in their personal lives.
Well not only is their blog a newborn, but these bloggers are moms too. So to honor the spirit of Out A Thyme I became the proud papa to these Bouncing Baby Bundt Cakes with Lemon & Coconut. Hey, I realize it’s not the same thing as having an actual child, but it’s the closest I’ll ever come! Besides aren’t they the cutest thing you ever saw?

Get the recipe here at sippitysup.com

Whitney on the magical dessert pairing, Vergano “Luli” Moscato Chinato, Piemonte, Italy:
We took a gamble with the final dessert course. Instead of choosing a predictable moscato d'asti or late harvest dessert wine, we went with a chinato from Mauro Vergano called Luli. It is made from moscato grapes and fortified with spirit that has been infused with typical chinato herbs and spices- cinnamon, orange peel, clove and quina bark among other things. It has added sugar but also that classic undercurrent of bitterness and a cloudy, curvy texture. This was the standout pairing of the evening for me. The risk paid off!
(love).
And what comes after dessert? More prosecco cocktails!
With a toast to our success and our incredibly generous hosts Greg and Ken we drank up all the joie de vivre we could muster!

Follow us!
@ChocoMeat
@sippitysup
@windattack
@joythebaker
@Outathyme
@domaineLA
@ubriaca
Video created by the The Wind Attack and Sippity Sup, starring Salty Seattle. Edited by The Wind Attack. Featuring music by Oh Darling.