Category: dinning out

Philosphy Statement

I think that one of the problems with the restaurant industry starts at home.  People have lost the admiration of the chef-driven food and the glamour of dining out because they lost to the knowledge of cooking themselves.

People have become numb to the talents of chef’s and the potential of food itself because of our extreme lack of connection with food.  It starts with a reliance on packaged food, it ends with not knowing how to cut an onion properly.

If we can get people excited about cooking again, we can get the people excited about what the true talents of the curious chef.

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Seeing Tres

 

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Early summer’s rendition of 3 leches:

Lemon-poppy seed cake with buttermilk added to the traditional three milk soak, rhubarb preserves, fresh market strawberries, confit lemon, strawberry chantilly, violet meringue.

Light and bright like spring’s glorious rays warming up our frosty skin, delicate like those first flowers brave enough to poke out of the hard ground, melts in your mouth like fresh spun cotton candy.

Flavors mimic a sweet tart candy, just sour enough to make you crave another subtly sweet bite.  A disappearing crunch, a creamy cloud texture, a cartwheel of flavors to carry you home.

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Rice Pudding Parfait

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This rendition of the classic rice pudding dessert truly highlight the humble grain of rice.

It’s a rice on rice concept, one that makes the most out of one ingredient.  The rice is cooked in horchata-  a Latin American drink made from water soaked in rice, almonds, cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar. This flavor is highlighted by first toasting the rice in the horchata and in the rice pudding itself.

The dish is served with candied almonds, to bring out the almond flavor in the horachata, to match the toasted flavor in the rice, to add a necessary crunch to the mushy pudding.

The horchata rice pudding, rice on rice custard, is also served with diced raw banana and a caramel sauce made from Guanabara beer- A Brazilian Imperial stout made with raw cane sugar.  The caramel sauce is additionally sweetened with raw cane sugar- in this instance piloncillo, a Mexican version that is readily available.  The banana and beer go great together, each drawing out the flavors of one another.  The grain of the beer pairs well with the toasted rice, unifying all the flavors.

To further draw out the raw sugar flavors present in the beer, and the natural sweetness of the banana, the horchata rice pudding is sweetened with demerara sugar- it’s like sugar in the raw but just slightly less processed, having a nice raw flavor to it.  The only processed white sugar in the dish is presented in the candied almonds- here it is necessary because the almonds are caramelized slightly, and this can only be done with a purified sugar else it will burn.

This dish is finished off with long, thin crisps made from almond meal, banana purée, and rice flour to add height and another crunch dimension.

This dish is presented in layers in a parfait style to give class to this common food item, to showcase the subtle flavors that all tie together nicely to highlight the simple grain of rice.

3 Leche Spring

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Because the concept of the 3 leche cake- a Latin American iconic confection, a cake soaked with 3 types of milk until soggy, is limited to white cake and milk soak.  I love this concept and I want to build upon this classic dessert with a curious twist, with fanciful flavors, and whimsical undertones.

In this rendition, I made a cajeta sweetened cake (cajeta is goat’s milk and sugar cooked down to a caramel flavor and consistency- when it is cooking it fills the entire restaurant with the scent of snickerdoodle cookies.  This is a heavenly smell and produces an equally heavenly end product) that is then soaked with the traditional 3 leches, but with goat’s milk replacing the cream, and further fortified with chocolate to make a unique chocolate milk soak.  This lightly sweet, slightly chocolaty and caramel cake is served with Brazil nut streusel (for crunch and a nice nut flavor that resembles the Macadamia nut), acai purée (a small dark purple berry valued for its high nutritional content and subtle blueberry flavor), candied cocoa nibs (a pure form of chocolate) to enhance the chocolate notes in the dish, and cajeta chantilly (whip cream sweetened with cajeta) to balanced out the heavy liquid with a cloud like aura.

This dish is reflective of the season.  This is a spring dish in the ingredients used, the textures represented, and the earthy presentation.  This dish is modeled after the soggy spring, with lush, muddy ground waiting to sprout new growth.  The chocolate soak mimics the wet and fertile ground.  The streusel mimics broken up, freshly tilled soil in appearance and texture.  Because of limited local seasonal availability,  I used the hard to source acai berry to add a fruity flavor that interacts very well with the established flavors of the cake.  Early spring, right off winter, is the season to focus on frozen and preserved foods, and highlight them in the menu when you have the chance to search to globe for ingredients.  If you are going to use a frozen product, you mind as well use one that invokes curiosity and is not readily available to the average person.

Finally the whipped cream adds such a soft touch, light as the spring’s warmth, to round of the overall mouth feel.  The flavors are not too bold, except for the tiny explosion of flavor in the cocoa nibs- as a final lasting impression.

 

 

Elemental Inspirations

The four elements of western culture are earth, air, fire, water.  The goal is to include these concepts in the dessert menu, to create a memorable experience and one the ties the diner to a deeper meaning than simply consuming food.  Eating, we take for granted, simply because since it is done so often it becomes mundane.  I am not of the opinion that Americans truly value everything that goes into their mouth as building block of who we physically are and who we become.  Dessert is not nutritious by nature, and I am not trying to make “healthy” desserts.  Dessert is a treat, and should be viewed as one- something special, something to make you feel good.  The reasoning behind wanting to incorporate classical earth elements is to subconsciously tie you back to the history of food, to mimic fundamentally how modern cuisine was formed, to tie the present into the constant past.  We are a reflection of our ancestors, we have a lineage drawing back to the basic building blocks of life.

How can I show respect to the four corners of life through a sweet dish?

Sounds like a challenge.

Individual Eating

The fear of sharing food, and the American standard of everyone getting their own plate is strange, yet this weird and selfish eating style is never addressed. Each plate is composed like a miniature meal.  You go to a restaurant and order your meal, it’s meant for you and you only.  You have to ask the person you are dining with for a bite of their plate.  It’s ridiculous.  You should decide what sounds good for the group, and the restaurant brings the food out as it is ready and you dig in.

The fear of sharing food permeates into the shared plate movement found at tapas places, where still we get it wrong.  One large plate is brought out, yet people insist on putting a small portion on a small individual plate before bringing it to their mouths.  Like setting it down momentarily somehow is polite.  It’s like if you eat out of the serving bowl you are a barbarian.  Instead people take tiny spoonful’s and place them on a lonely side plate, insuring that the food gets cold immediately. Really you are ruining the integrity of the dish.  You are two people sitting next to each other, you might be on a date, you probably just had that persons tongue in your mouth 30 minutes ago, but god forbid you eat out of the same bowl.  Horrifying.  What are you so afraid of?  Why we feel the need to create so much distance between ourselves and our food?

Eating is supposed to be unifying, to bring everyone closer together, to share something as a collective, to create a bond.   Instead, we give everyone their own personalized plate that has no direct correlation to any other dishes.  You can go out to a restaurant and everyone is eating something completely different from one another, inspired cuisine from all around the globe.  Everyone pretends to like their plate, but really everyone is envious of what everyone else is eating.  We need to get back to family style dining, where what’s for dinner is not a negotiated globally treaty.

Music and Meal

Music is a quintessential part of the dining experience.  Can you imagine going out on a dinner date and eating in silence?  Shutter.  What if it was a first date and you don’t have anything to talk about? That is the most mortifying situation my creative mind can muster.  What if you had just gotten in a fight and you are trying to null the differences over a steak, but there is so much silence that the tension only increase?

The finest of fine dining could never exist without music, yet this area is so overlooked.  It seems almost like an afterthought, like right before the door open, somebody is like oh yeah, what should we like put on?

Music is just as important for mood as is the interior design.  Restaurant planners pay so much money for all types of mood enhancements and designer’s expert advice, but the music issue is hardly ever addressed.  This is a niche that need to be filled, a profession that needs to be established.  I see a restaurant future where there are dj’s to create and enhance the mood, where what you hear is as important as what you are eating and the curated wine list provided.  Now this is a well rounded experience.