Archive for September, 2008

Rocco’s Pizza, Portland, Oregon

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

We needed to carbo load before a grueling marathon at Powell’s City of Books in Portland. NYC style pizza seemed to fit the bill. I won’t give away the verdict, but be warned the F word is used when describing what they put on the pizza. (Hopefully you’ll also notice much fewer “ums” and “ahs”.)

Perspectives — Bahadonas, Ramat Gan, Israel

Monday, September 29th, 2008

My friend Megan recently took her first trip to Israel. I always tell people about the food there, but there’s really no substitute for experiencing it yourself. Her full report (with pictures!):

“It was unanimous. He told us about his favorite local place. He described it as “The Hummos Nazi” – like the Soup Nazi in Seinfeld. I was more in than ever for this place! We set of on our hummos adventure for the Hummos Shack (my term, not his!) which was tucked in a small retail space in another office complex. (Its in the Ramat-Gan neighborhood)”

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Butter

Friday, September 26th, 2008

I came here today to to tell all of you about the salted caramel ice cream we make at Molly Moon’s.  I had plans to describe exactly why it is such a dynamic flavor.  With a small reminder that on our tongue are the 5 cornerstones of taste, salty, sour, sweet, bitter, and umami, I was going to tell you that salted caramel is the only flavor that touches all five of those points, a rarity for any dessert, particularly a single scoop of ice cream.

I sat down to surf the web, in hopes of finding a factoids, particularly some backing on the statement, “the butter added to the caramelized sugar provides umami.”

I got lost along the way, however.  Or more accurately, found a road I had meant to travel down later this week; the path from cream to butter.

I was hired to teach two in home cooking classes, my only guideline being to center the menu around the farmers market.  Because the farmers markets have recently begun to include raw milk and cream from Sea Breeze farms, I knew immediately that we would make our own butter to top a loaf of Tall Grass Bakery’s superb bread, and use the buttermilk to flavor the soup the bread would be served with.

An article in the New York Times food section last year, written Daniel Patterson followed his path from cream to butter for the tables in his restaurant Coi, and provided a recipe.  Most of all, it reminded me that butter was in fact very simple to make.  I had made butter as a youngster many times with nothing more than a mason jar and a little cream.

But knowing that I can do something just because it works is never really enough for me, particularly when I am teaching the process to eager students.

With a simple google search of the phrase, “does butter have umami” I came across this site detailing the entire process of butter making, with everything my curious little head could want to know.  It would be an injustice to paraphrase the massive amount of information this website holds, so go ahead and read it yourself.  It’s worth every moment.

What got me thinking was the section about culturing the cream before making butter, a tradition still practiced heavily in Europe.  I recently learned that as cheese is all essentially the curd of milk separated from the whey with rennet, it is the culture added to the dairy that makes for the vast and varying flavors.  So the thought that culturing cream makes for varying flavors in butter also piqued my interest, and started me thinking about flavored butters.

I have certianly made flavored butters, or as we call them in the industry, compound butters.  These compound butters amount to nothing more than butter mixed with something like an herb, spice, or cheese.

But i wonder what would happen if rather than mixing in a whole spice or herb after the fact, we infused the cream itself then used the flavored cream to make butter.  Aroma molecules are incredibly fat soluble, so it stands to reason that the fat in cream which is to become the butter itself would absorb said flavor and make a nice flavored butter.

Would it work, would it taste nice?  How would we use it?  Banana’s caramelized in coffee butter?  Lavender butter smeared on toasted brioche?  Yellow cake made with rosemary butter?  Scallops basted in cumin butter?

How will the flavor carry through  to the final the application?

Attention Restaurants

Friday, September 26th, 2008

I get a boatload of spam from PR folks trying to get me to try a particular restaurant. I never go. I figure, if the restaurant is really any good, I’ll hear about it from someone else. Additionally, going and eating canapes at the opening VIP reception for a restaurant is not exactly representative of what the food’s going to be like for most diners.

But, I have finally happened upon a technique that is almost guaranteed to get me to come to your restaurant and try your food. Name a dish (or in this case an entire section of the menu) after me. This is from my dad who was visiting the Beneluxx Tasting Room in Philadelphia.

Benelux, save me a table please. I’m on my way!

Tonight at Poppy……

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Poppy, Jerry Traunfeld’s restaurant of his very own (you didn’t think the Herbfarm was his did you?) opened for their 6th service tonight, with a menu titled, “A Thali to welcome Dana.”

You see, it was my first day as their pastry chef.  I know, I know.  Another job?  Another restaurant?  You think it’s hard to keep up, try living it!  But this is the nature of my industry; fickle, transient, fluid.  Sometimes we stick around a while to climb the ranks, sometimes we are expected to leave the nest, sometimes we leave because we don’t make enough money, sometimes we flee a kitchen the minute we realize it isn’t right, sometimes we stay 9 months after we realize it isn’t right because we love the guys we work with so much, and sometimes we leave because we are made an offer we can’t refuse.

6 days ago I had no idea I wanted to work anywhere else.  But after a single conversation with Jerry, it became clear to me that I wanted nothing but Poppy.

This week and next will find me in both the kitchens of Poppy and Molly Moon’s, and after that Poppy will be my home.  The menu won’t reflect my presence until I have come on full time and can begin to replace existing dishes with my own as needed.  But soon enough.  First settle, second change menu.  I finished my first service surrounded by the chatter of 7 cooks, spent from 10+ hours of work, talking about the dishes they put out, the food they cooked, and how they could make it better.  I went home a very happy girl.

You can still find a little Dana Cree at Molly Moon’s, as I will always make her toppings, and participate in the sundaes.  And you might find me on the other side of the kitchen door, waiting in line for a scoop and a little chat from the friends I made there.

Txori, Seattle, Washington

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

From the people that brought you the Harvest Vine in Seattle, it’s Txori… trying to be an authentic tapas bar – replete with throwing your napkins on the floor. Check it.

And p.s. check out the new and improved Seattle Restaurant Guide.

Perspectives — Sushi Izakaya Gaku, Honolulu, Hawaii

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

Who says there’s no good food in Hawaii? Well, I speculated at one time. But what the hell do I know. Courtesy of Ono Kine Grindz (of course). Adorable printing on the tamago? Check it:

“Creative, memorable and delicious beyond words. The food at Sushi Izakaya Gaku is probably better than most of the Japanese food that you would find around town. Open for about a year now, the crowds at this izakaya/sushi bar have been growing steadily. Inexpensive Japanese food this is not, but it is so worth every penny spent. It is that good!”

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Perspectives — Cue 2 Go, Gigi’s Trattoria, Terrapin, Rhinebeck, New York

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

A recent graduate of a culinary program blogs their way through a short visit to the Hudson River Valley including apple picking, take out BBQ, and two restaurants. Good job covering all the bases and it sounds yummy:

“It was time for a road trip out of the city last week. We went to a little gem of a town in the Hudson River Valley called Rhinebeck. If you have never been, I highly suggest it. In Bon Appetit magazine last month, they called Rhinebeck ‘one of the foodiest towns in America.’ They weren’t kidding, aside from being ultra-quaint, these people are crazy about their local food supply. I loved it.”

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Perspectives — Kampuchea and Cambodian Cuisine, New York City, New York

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Sorry to be so New York focused, but when you have a huge percentage of great restaurants, you have a huge percentage of writing about restaurants. Courtesy of the New York Times:

“It looked as if 2008 might be a breakout year for Cambodian food after epicurious.com predicted in December that it would become the new Thai. Yet here it is September, and we seem to have only two Cambodian restaurants in New York City: a relocated Cambodian Cuisine and a revived Kampuchea.”

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Perspectives — Sea Side Crab House, Falls Church, Virginia

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Not only does Tyler Cowen host the excellent Marginal Revolution blog, but he also has his own ethnic dining guide. Who knew?!? Is there anyone without a food blog? Food blogging is America’s dirty little habit. From Tyler:

“An excellent seafood house in Eden Center. The soft shell crab is some of the best around. The crawfish are served Cajun style, although not as spicy as you would get in southwest Louisiana. It’s small and not a great place to sit and chat inside, but absolutely worth having in the repertoire. Outdoor seating is available. Right now it is my go-to choice for crabs. Make sure you use lots of the lime, salt and pepper sauce they give you.”

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