More garbanzo

As we were painstakingly processing our fresh chickpeas I was thinking of more and more applications. What if you compress the chickpeas with the flavors of hummus. Maybe a little lemon, evo, sesame oil, salt, and a minute touch of roasted garlic.

So I compressed a few and ran the machine a couple more times over to infuse. It worked nicely, a whole fresh chickpea with a distinct hummus note.

Then as we were playing with it a bit we pounded out one of the bags. This went into the freezer so we had nice bright green bars of hummus.

Fresh Garbanzo

You cannot even begin to compare fresh and dried garbanzos. The sweetness of the fresh ones are incredible. I love snacking on them raw, but a quick saute or blanch is all that is needed for preparation, no soaking and boiling forever. We will be approaching this product from several different angles. In true Mexican style of fire roasted in the pod, wrapped in paper for a street food feel with a little lemon and dried chile to adaptations of hummus that I experienced in Israel. It's hard to make exceptional hummus here in the states mostly due to the bitter tahini and the quality of their fresh pressed olive oils are impossible to beat. The traditional hummus served there is made with dried chickpeas and is usually served as breakfast with the main consumption going to the Arab population. It is cheap and used as a source of energy to get them through a hard days work. One trick that was common place in all the hummus restaurants was that they add 1 teas baking powder to the pot during the cooking process to soften the skins and give their finished puree a silken texture. We will make our own tahini and frix air it to add another dimension and texture to the finished dish.


Can you say Kobe

the real deal

brought it in for a corporate dinner


Spring Vegetable Tasting

Had the GM of the hotel in tonight with the F&B Director, along with the GM of the Chicago Sheraton Waterfront. Having been to Chicago to eat at Alinea early last year and I wanted to produce something with Alinea esque inspiration. I didn't want to copy anything, I just used the style of the plate up as my inspiration. One of my courses as Alinea was the white bean course, a white bean puree with a dozen different garnishes placed around the white bean puree in the center. I went with the same plate design but without the one element in the middle to pair with each of the other garnishes.
12- peas and carrots...english peas, purple carrot, pea puree, roasted carrot puree
2-micro patty pan squash
4-fiddle head
5-spring onion
6-braised baby fennel
7-waterkist tomato
8-artichoke...acg(it's a todd thing)
11-cuke blossom

Wish I could of snapped a picture but we were getting rocked. I also sent out our John Daly, and a reconstituted tomato basil course that we prepared in the frix air. The texture that the frix air produces is awesome, since I did not add any fat or ultra tex, gelatin, ect, to the tomato water before processing it looked like granita but super fine, smooth and melt in the mouth. We added some basil flowers that got a dip in liquid nitrogen and a touch of basil oil. Also when we blended the tomatoes we added lots of fresh basil, evo, fleur de sel, and then super bagged it before freezing in the canister.
Overall a good night, a good service, and some good dishes that left the kitchen. Not a bad way to end a 14 day stretch. 2 days off in a row hasn't happened in 2 months and I'm ready for some family time.


Nemox Frix Air

A new toy showed up yesterday. The Nemox Frix Air reconstituting machine is similair to a paco jet but just a little bit different. The canister seals and the pressure drops to around 2-5mb while processing takes place.

I have some canisters freezing and will play with it tomorrow. It also has a whipping blade, I'm going to attempt to make aioli in 1 minute. I put one egg yolk, a little mustard and some evo in the canister. We'll see tomorrow.


Arnold Palmer

This is the my version of the Arnold Palmer, or more specifically a John Daly as this is the alcoholic version. I made a fresh lemonade with a touch of fleur de sel and gelled it up with gelatine then put it in the ISI. I made a Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka gel with agar and some good southern sweet tea.

About 30% sweet tea and 70% firefly, .8% agar. We also made a sweet tea isomalt garnish. 200g Isomalt, 2g lipton tea cut out of the tea bag, mix it up, put between two silpats that are between two sheet pans, press the sheets pans, and bake at 365 until melted, remove the top layer of sheet pans and silpat, let dry, break up and hold in dehydrator. We only have to do this for 1200 people so it should be fun. We will have two antigriddles, and are also serving suckling pig with whipped turbodog, and a fuid gel of louisianna hot sauce. We usually pair wines but we are turning to one of our beer reps for a couple kegerators and a selection of Abita beers.


Four Story Goodie Bag

The executive chef of the hotel walked into my kitchen and dropped of a box random goodies. Included were some great poularde and poussin from four story hill farm. A nice giant two bone cote de boeuf bonus as well. The milk fed poularde, a hen which has been spayed for fattening, was delivered whole, all the guts intact, and not yet bled out. Super fresh.

The poussin, also referred to as the "veal" of the chicken world, was also whole, not yet eviscerated, and about half the size of the poularde. The poussin was boned, then we removed all the meat keeping the skin intact. Then carefully scraped the skin making it paper thin, this way when we go to sear it the skin will get super crispy. Activa the breasts into a nice uniform cylinder, season and wrap in blanched and squeezed spinach. The legs and thighs were diced and then pushed through the tamis, no robot coupe here. If you overwork your forcemeat then you just wasted a whole lot of time. Added super fine shallot brunoise, chives, egg yolk, and truffle oil. Then we spread the mix over the skin, place the spinach wrapped breasts in the center and then cinch in plastic wrap and tie. Put in the freezer for 15 minutes to get it a little stiff but not frozen and then cryovac. Sous vide with thermocoupler probe at 66C until it reaches 62C then pull and into an ice bath. We'll warm it and sear it before serving. A little old school meets new school.


Domestic Mangalitza

The NY Times article on the Hungarian Mangalitza breed of curly haired pig has sparked a craze in the pork lover world. I think if anyone writes anything that says"so and so sous chef of the French Laundry sous vides the belly and serves it with..." then there is going to be a run on it. Basically, its the kobe of the pig world, or kurobuta squared. They are well marbled and prized for their belly. As soon as we saw it I put the word out to our specialty purveyor, he was looking for a couple weeks and nothing. Now sources are turning up. Our guy estimates that there are only about 1000 heads of domestic Mangalitza, but I have found producers all over europe. We were fortunate enough to get a small sample. We received a nice piece of the collar attached to a huge hunk of fat back. I see mangalitza lardo in the future.


Patty Pan Squash Blossom

It was VIP city tonight, we just got a shipment in from chef's garden. They hit us up with some patty pan squash blossoms. Since we were going to have a lot of amuse going out we wanted to stay simple.

We dredged them in a very light tempura, fried and served with truffle aioli.


Blue Abalone

Tonight we had some New Zealand Abalone from OceaNZ Blue. It is a farmed abalone and the product is of good quality. It's no Monterrey Bay abalone, but the next best thing. It is a farmed product and their operation is impressive. We had a rep bring it to us about 6 months ago and we have been using it here and there ever since.

I love the the abalone shell, a work of art in its own right.

These New Zealand abalone have a trademark blue tint to the shell.

As for the preparation, we clean and trim them. Slice nice and thin, then give them a very fine score on both sides. I compressed them with a little olive brine and evoo for about an hour. It seasoned them throughout. A little flour, and a brown butter sear and they are done.

In the shell is some of our spring vegetables that we have been running and a little parsnip puree. The sweetness of the parsnip went well with the brined abalone.

Now the question arises. Is this a sustainable product? In terms of not depleting the wild abalone population I would say yes. In terms of carbon footprint, maybe not. I would say the actual production of the product seems sustainable but we are getting it from New Zealand. So some may make the argument that yeah you're not depleting wild stocks but you are depleting other natural resources from packaging, to shipping, and a whole laundry list of other things I probably haven't thought of.

I've seen this argument come up with the new influx of Australian farmed hiramasa in the states. A farmed yellowtail, but ferocious eaters. It takes a lot more feed to get them fattened up and that feed usually is containing fish oils and meal. Where do you get fish oils and meal from, more fish. So where is the sustainable line drawn? There has to be a balance. When you go out of local, biodynamic, delivered by bicycle, harvested by hand, watered with recycle rain collections, solar powered ovens to cook everything, can we be fully sustainable? I believe some people are at least attempting to fix some of the problems we have made for ourselves within our environment, right now that is better than nothing.


Ramp Top Gnocchi

We made the gnocchi dough and added a ramp top puree to bring it together. They didn't take on as much of the bright green color as we would of liked but they did have an earthy, garlic\leek flavor in the background. First we wash, oil, season and fork the potatoes. Bake until done,rice the potatoes through a ricer, not a food mill, an old school potato ricer. Then add egg yolk, flour, salt, and the ramp top puree. Mix very lightly, almost like making biscuit dough so they do not become gummy or chewy. Then roll them out into strands about as thick as your pinkie finger. We cut them into a different shape though. As you cut(about 1 cm in length), roll the dough forward and back to make little pyramid shapes. Then we blanch, shock, and toss with evo, season again then store until we pick them up in brown butter. Tonight's "chef pasta" also had creamy nettles, sous vide ramp bottoms, spring onion confit, and some more ramp tops sauteed with everything, then topped it off with butter poached crab tails.


Stinging Nettles tonight

Tonight on the list for seasonal veg we have our nettles, ramps, favas, spring onion, morel, english peas, artichokes and salsify. We are running a free form spring veggie lasagne topped with sopraffina herb ricotta, focaccia bread crumbs, and garlic chips.

The pot has been stirred

Chris Cosentino of offalgood.com has posted some interesting PETA related news. After being threatened by a PETA related group for continued service of foie gras at Incanto and Mark Pastore's virtual masterpiece on the foie industry in response to these threats, he has posted a link to a website whose sole responsibility is to expose PETA for who they really are. I'm sure most people join and donate money to PETA because they love animals and truly feel like their money is going to help animals in need. The radical extremists that run this organization have found a few new ways to spend the money instead of using it to save abused or mistreated animals. Hey, you can do whatever you want to do, that is your right but if I were a member of PETA I would read this and see what my donations are contributing to. Join the other 166,000 people that have already done it and sign the petition to have PETA's tax exemption status removed. Either way I could care less about them, but when restaurant chefs and owners are threatened, the way we live is effected, our safety is compromised, and our businesses are effected then I assure you that we won't just sit back and take it.


Cocoa Puffs

Salted whipped milk with layers of chocolate meringue.


Dancing Pompano

This is a love hate relationship with this piece of equipment. We have a giant rotisserie on the front line of our show kitchen to cook the fish for our "dancing fish" entree. The fish twirl and rotate around the grill while 3 wok burners below slowly roast them. This is a custom piece, chef has two more in his Boston and Seattle restaurants but they are wood burning and are much more efficient. We are not allowed to have wood burning anything on our property so we had to go with gas.
The problem in the past was we couldn't find or get parts for it, the burners clog up every other day or it would go off track. We have a new company that takes care of it for us and it actually works the way it should. The fish have a smoked paprika rub and are served with fingerling chorizo hash that is pressed cut and seared with a green olive, whole grain mustard and orange supreme salad. They are then filleted tableside by your server. Right now pompano are everywhere but we will run yellowtail snapper, v-liners, dorade, black sea bass, kampachi, or anything we can get in the 1.5-2# range that will fit on the plate.
When the grill is working properly it produce a slight char on the fish while keeping it moist. When we have the grill loaded, the people walking in to the dining room see this and then they want it. We have been consistently selling 20-30 a night.



Something good always happens when you have lots of whole pigs laying around and a brazilian prep cook\butcher.

Maybe a new bar snack special. Just need a little more meat attached to the skin and we're in business.


Coming to America

Our pastry chef Laurent has all kinds of connections in France. The french food scientist that was working with Laurent on his alcohol spray and infused sugars is producing caviar. All I can get out of Laurent is that the frenchy scientist is also named Laurent, other than that I know he is building a plant here to produce said caviar. It has a four month shelf life and he will have around 30 flavors available. He gave me a couple samples, one was red wine vinegar and shallot. Basically a mignonette caviar designed for oysters. I also had the casis, mint, and caramel. The caviar DOES pop like freshly made alginate caviar but he is making it with something else, possibly gellan. They are perfect spheres and very flavorful, not like the flavor robbing alginate caviar pretty much everyone has seen or made. Here is some sample packaging

They are available in France right now but they are expensive, around 15 euros for 250g. When they come out here I foresee every oyster bar using the Les Perles de O'Cean, as they should. They are delicious.