Showing posts with label scallops. Show all posts
Showing posts with label scallops. Show all posts

Monday, December 31, 2012

Gala Parfait: Feast of the Seven Fishes

You know what they say, Italians do it better.
Christmas is no exception. I had heard of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a coursed Christmas Eve tradition to count down the hours to Christ's midnight birth, but never have I experienced it. Until this year.
On the Table Set's holiday episode this year we decided to shake up tradition and go intimate dinner party instead of all-out Xmas bonanza like last year. Add my co-host Greg's recent collaborators Alaska Seafood graciously sharing some of their top-of-the-line sustainable seafood and our Buone Feste was heartily underway.

AND the table is set (no pun intended). In fact, Greg is such a pro I believe it was set a full day in advance.

As per usual, we had too many cooks in the kitchen — That's because some of our most talented friends were in attendance. Seven courses for seven wonderful cooks. And for extra credit, seven beverage pairings. No lazy bloggers 'round here!

To serve as guests arrived, I thought Philadelphia Fish House punch seemed a fitting choice.

Course #1: The Cuisinerd and her main squeeze are no amateurs when it comes to sea bugs, and they knocked us flat with their Grilled Alaskan Oysters and Mignonette Trio: Spicy Chipotle, Cilantro Lime, and Classic Cocktail Sauce. (Seriously, these sauces should be sold in jars.)

Their offbeat pairing choice of Cantine Elvio Tintero Grangia frizzante (90% Favorita and 10% Moscato) created a wonderfully dry and fizzy bridge to the next course.

Course #2: I volunteered for the amuse bouche. Starting with salmon roe, I got inspired by dishes from LA's Son of a Gun restaurant and in the sexy NOMA cookbook. For added depth I first cured the roe in a beer brine. I used Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel's sweet and spicy Route Des Épices rye beer brewed with black and green peppercorns.

The finished amuse comprised of a Rye Crisp with Maple Cream, Beer-cured Salmon Roe, Green Chile Sugar and Fennel Top.

Course #3: Jackie the Beeroness (also behind Domestic Fits) wowed us all with her comforting Seared Alaskan Scallops wtih Smoked Sweet Corn Puree and Stout Balsamic Reduction. A sparkling wine cocktail with fresh basil and elderflower liqueur was an elegant brace.

Course #4: Chef, artist, and former Table Set guest Brian wove a tapestry of a "soup course" with his Seared Halibut over Forbidden Rice with Miso Pork Broth. For a cleansing respite, fresh lavender-infused spa water was paired.

Course #5: It wouldn't be a Table Set supper without something showy from Andy. His "Surf 'n' Turf" entree was no exception. Here, oceany Uni Capellini with Scallop, Bonito and Nori Crumble met earthy Rye Toast with Pine Nut Porcini Butter for a unique twist on the concept.
It was paired with Kabaj Rebula, a full-bodied Slavic white wine (100% Ribolla) capable of standing up to the intense flavors of the dish.

Course #6: Salad after entree? Why not?! Salad with crab? Hit me! Joy the Baker made magic with her crisp and refreshing Alaska Crab, Apple and Pomegranate Salad — a new Insalata di Mare classic. Get her recipe here.

Six courses in, I can hardly recall what we were drinking anymore... but my blurry photo shows that it was bubbly, and that we were having fun!

Course #7: And boy, the fun wasn't over yet. Greg built a mountain of it with his festive Caffè e Frittelle Dolci (Coffee & Donuts) — Glorious rosemary glazed donuts studded with gummy Swedish Fish, a highbrow/lowbrow win. I think I had seven.

In all, a beautiful night of subtlety, skill, festivity, and togetherness. Thank you to Alaska Seafood and all of our lovely guests!

Video and additional photography courtesy of Ted Houser

Monday, November 22, 2010

Foodbuzz Blogger Fest: Day 2

Nothing wakes you up early on a Saturday morning like the word PORN emblazoned across a giant hotel conference room screen. Day 2 of the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival and off to a sniggling start. My first breakout session of the day explored lighting, composition, and tips for photographing food, lead by [No Recipes] and The Cooking Photographer.
Following the workshop, Border Grill's Mary Sue Milliken demoed variations on the fish taco using fresh Alaska Seafood. A charming interlude to... lunch? Unfortunately not yet. 
The Food Blogging Guide to Success (Whatever That Is!) panel was an interesting one. Featuring the bloggers Lick My Spoon, Kitchen Corners, and Carrots 'N' Cake, discussion topics spanned recipe ethics to personal safety. In the end, Lick My Spoon made me smile commiserating about her massive, shelved French Laundry post... (the beast we ALL have as bloggers that we can never seem to finish and get out there!)
A short walk downtown followed, leading to the Tasting Pavilion at the Metreon's top floor.
479 Popcorn was my first stop, with a wooing Chipotle Caramel & Almond corn.
Next door were some poached gulf shrimp and chile-gazpacho from Miss Pearl's Jam House
Three Twins sampled their smooth mint confetti and strawberry ice creams.
Prather Ranch Meat was popular, grilling sausages in their cheeky t-shirts.
I enjoyed Tyler Florence's roasted butternut squash & apple soup with parmesan herb savory shortbread.
Other highlights included Annie the Baker's peanut butter cookie, Ledgenear Farm's literally drinkable maple syrup, INNA jam's raspberry preserves and jalapeño jelly, a wistful Macadamia nut blossom honey from Royal Hawaiian Honey, and spicy pickled vegetables from Pick-A-Peck.
And let's not forget the booze. It may have been midday, but I was sure tasting the many varietals dressed to the nines in JAQK Cellars' clever designs. An example of gambling gone right.
The Watermelon Wheat Beer and Fireside Chat Winter Spiced Ale from the people over at 21st Amendment came giftwrapped in 6 pack boxes - a novel idea! I was also impressed by the distinguished Bison Brewing Organic Chocolate Stout , but most (surprisingly) of all by the wines from Far Niente
in Napa. The overdressed gilt labels on their Estate Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon bottles deemed them missable, but both wines were so down to earth, nuanced and drinkable I had to retract my judgemental claws. Their Dolce late harvest Napa dessert wine was a proverbial cherry on top. 
But it was the ladies at the Jacob's Creek tasting booth that saved me from the poker face of the pavillion. Tall pours -and always a mischevious smile- made me return to their booth again, and again.. and again.
After a small wine nap break, dinner was served at the incredible church de gourmand - the Ferry Building.
Like something out of a dream, the thorough way of the closed complex was transformed into a sprawling dining room, light arches overhead bracing the length of our hungry mob.
Most of all it was the company at our table is what made this such a fabulous experience. I had the pleasure of dining (and drinking copious amounts of wine before dinner) with the sassy j e t s e t WISDOM, Culinary Herbalist and wonderful conversationalist Pat Crocker, my buddy the Wind Attack, the charming Tomato Tart next door, our team captain Casey Angelova, and the très hip Warm Kitchenette.
The meal we were about to enjoy was presented by the Cooking Channel and featured wine pairings by Bonny Doon Vineyard.
Dinner started with a Roasted Golden Beet Tart with crimson beets, feta, currants, wild arugula, and basil puree. A 2009 Bonny Doon Vineyard Albarino (very familiar to me by this point in the weekend) was poured alongside.
The second course may have been my favorite - Seared Scallops with Bonny Doon Vineyard Verjus Beurre Blanc served over braised fennel and garnished with fried fennel fonds. A lovely 2007 Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Blanc made the near perfect dish sing.
I was impressed that the entrees were dropped around the room at once, hundreds of Rosemary and Garlic Infused Racks of Lamb with local wild mushrooms, pinot noir sauce, and butternut squash puree, all cooked to a sultry medium rare. The components all worked wonderfully together, a warming toast to the season, paired with the 2006 Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Volant.
(I have never seen a group of diners so uniformly and ferociously tear meat from bone like us hungry bloggers. It was a carnal and beautiful site!)
Dessert was a Tarta de Almendras - A buttery almond cake with oranges, figs, Spanish sherry sabayon and parmesan crisp. The pairing was a delicious 2008 Bonny Doon Vineyard Vinferno fortified dessert wine.
Following the satisfying meal, Angelova championed our group in the after dinner Foodbuzz Twitter scavenger hunt. Several blocks away after her third capture, a cab was flagged. Deja vu, there was not enough room for everyone in our group - All but one could fit. I looked up at the clear autumn night sky between high rises, considered my full belly, wine buzz and put my trust again in fate.
"It's alright," I told them, a sudden chill curling my lips into a smile. "I think I'm going to walk."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Voyager Bien: New Orleans, Day 3

The forecast said rain, but on my third NOLA morning, sun streamed in through the window and the Southern birds were chirping. Our rental car for the day was parked on the curb outside and we were packing up for a day trip to visit Laura Plantation, an authentic Créole sugar cane plantation on the bank of the Mississippi.The splashy color is what distinguished a French Créole home from the common white columned American manor houses (the Créole were a proud people who didn't want to be mistaken as American by passersby). Built by the Duparc family (and originally called l'habitation Duparc) in 1804, the sugar plantation was run for four generations by the matriarch of the family, lastly the plantation's namesake, Laura Locoul.Not the family's primary residence, the plantation house served as office headquarters for the business as well as the site for all manner of social entertainment - probably why the dining room is the largest, central room of the house. The front room served as an office.
The brick plot in front of the animal coops here is where a 2,500 square foot detached kitchen once stood behind the main house.These clay pots were buried to the rim in the moist and cold swamp earth and used to "refrigerate" milk and other perishable foods.Approximately 400 feet behind the house was a road, going south, perpendicular to the river, lined on both sides with slave cabins and stretching a distance of 3.5 miles.I am still kicking myself for not purchasing a jar of Laura pure sugarcane syrup.. But did pick up my favorite new cookbook in their gift shop - River Road Recipes: "The Textbook of Louisiana Cuisine". It is loaded with Southern staples that I can not wait to get fat making and enjoying.After the tour, a magical treat was uncovered back at the car. Before we left Peter had picked up a giant muffaletta at Central Grocery Co. for us to share. I was stoked to compare the "original" muffaletta (Signor Lupo Salvatore, owner of the Central Grocery, claims to have invented this sandwich in 1906 when he started making sandwiches for the men who worked the nearby wharves and produce stalls of the French Market) to the one I had tried previously at Napoleon House. No question, this sandwich from Central Grocery was far superior! Moist sesame bread, tender meats and cheese with just-greasy-enough-to-be-awesome-and-not-sinful tangy olive tapenade. Perfect balance. We also munched on several bags of Zapp's Louisiana potato chips as we pulled back onto the main road, that rain we'd been promised appearing from nowhere and pelting the windshield, misty sheets sweeping across the sugar cane fields outside.

Darkness fell over the French Quarter and the anticipation over our big splurge dinner was teeming. We had reservations at Susan Spicer's acclaimed Bayona. I was practically skipping on the wet bricks as we clambered through the corriders in the rain, bumping umbrellas and shouldering the icy runoff (hard to believe it had been 84 degrees that morning!).After shaking off the rain, we were lead upstairs to a round table in Bayona's wine room. We stuck by the classic and ordered a round of Sazeracs, which were dreamily perfect.We decided on three appetizers, starting with the seared sea scallops with baby fennel, barigoule (a Provençal mushroom), Kalimata olives, thyme, and orange. Refreshing and balanced!Next, the foie gras torchon with apple butter, cider vinegar caramel, brioche and celery salad. I will admit it, I do not love foie gras - but this was quite delightful and may start me leaning. A flawless plate.I was nervous about the veal sweetbreads in lemon caper butter, but our affable server convinced me that if I was curious, this was the place to try it (and that it doesn't get any better!). Plus I had already established an adventurous mission for myself this week, so sweetbreads it was! The cornmeal-fried bits were not untasty, delicately seasoned and rather enjoyable. Done and done!On to the big guns. I ordered an '06 Fiddlestix Pinot Noir once I decided on my entrée, the rabbit duo. This gorgeous plate consisted of a liver and bacon-stuffed rabbit roulade, paneed leg, with portobello mushrooms, marsala sauce, polenta, and Lacinato kale. Holy delicious. Though I adored my meal at Jacques-Imo's, this paneed rabbit leg was far more tender and lightly breaded, the roulade heavenly rich and hearty.Alex ordered the grilled duck with pepper jelly and wild rice which was just stunning, moist and flavorful.Michael ordered my runner-up, a peppered lamb loin with goat cheese and zinfandel sauce. It too was beyond satisfying. I didn't get to try Peter's pan roasted halibut with brussels sprouts, chantrelle mushrooms and sherry brown butter, but I could tell from his clean plate it passed the test.
We finished with an espresso and two desserts to share. The semolina cake with autumn compote and fresh pomegranite seeds was super moist and not overly-sweet. An unexpected flavor that grew on me as I, well, finished it off!
The other dessert was a satsuma curd empanada with pumpkin brittle and frozen banana milk punch. Every element was popping with flavor and creativity, but I did feel it was a little overwhelmed and scattered.. But frozen banana milk punch!It was a lovely meal with great company and the best birthday present I could have ever asked for (thank you Michael!). After dinner we retired to the St. Philip for cocktails in the owner's flat and then off to Halloween 26's Friday night party. Yes, this is a life I could get used to!

Bayona Restaurant
430 Dauphine St. New Orleans, LA; 504.525.4455
Bayona Restaurant on Urbanspoon