Wednesday, May 13, 2009


As often as possible I like to create specials that really emphasize our restaurant's concept, though sometimes I find it too limiting and enjoy playing outside of it boundaries. What is our concept? It is a common question from those who peruse our menu, and even if I were to admit that it isn't blatantly obvious, it is still a concept by definition - not a theme. If you want a theme restaurant, try Epcot. No, what we have is something we like to refer to as New Americana; a slant on food that symbolizes American Cuisine. It is a double entendre that embodies us not only as who we are now as a country, but that of those foreign cultures that also comprises us. Without this influence we wouldn't have pizza, chicken fried steak - and yes, even what we all call Chinese food...

This time, though, I wanted to present a dish that is solely American and not a new generation of another; So this week, as promised in another post, I am featuring a variation on Buffalo Chicken Wings after months of requests for them.

At first I was reluctant to have wings as a special, even though I have toyed with the idea for some time now. For one thing, hot wings are a simple dish - only four ingredients comprise the entire ensemble, and barring a complete transformation of those key ingredients (i.e. by means that are known as "Molecular Gastronomy"), there is only so much that you can do with them. I wanted to create a faithful representation without compromising the original integrity of the iconic dish, while reflecting who we are as a restaurant, and implementing my personal style of cooking (Yes, sometimes those two are not always one and the same since I tend to push the envelope of what is expected from a restaurant of our type in order to create exciting dishes for both our customers... and myself).

How do I implement my style? Well, normally chicken wings are deep-fried for quick searing and to keep them moist, but since we only have one fryer - and a good following of vegetarians - I didn't want to blemish the purity of our frying oil by cooking meat in it, so instead I went on the other side of the spectrum and pan-fried the pieces in DUCK FAT!!! It is a medium that imbibes a subtle yet great succulence, and it takes an traditional method one step further without imposing on the dietary needs of other patrons. It's WIN WIN!!!!

Now for the heat - I was inspired by the harissa hot sauce that I made for a previous special, which in turn was inspired by our former incarnation as a Mediterranean restaurant known as El Greco, without which we would not be who we are today, and for which I owe for the great Tzatziki Sauce that I used to replace the blue cheese sauce that traditionally accompanies wings. Finally, I had to have celery; for reasons that span from garnish to added fiber, I couldn't get away from using this vegetable that I now publicly admit, I HATE; but it isn't about me, it is about the food, so I forwent the traditional sticks and finely julienned the ribs, then soaked them in ice water to create "curly cues" .

Hence, another slice of Americana!

Now, I know it has become cliched to feature another cocktail with the forbidden M word, but I have been waiting all winter long to utilize watermelon, and when it made it's first appearance at the market, I jumped on it! I have many plans for this big boy (more food foreshadowing...), but for now I couldn't pass up the opportunity to pun it up for a fresh start to entice the summer thirst!

With my trusty, yet erratic juicer in hand I mowed through the red flesh of a fifteen pounder with ease, and despite it being the first watermelon of the season, it didn't need a grain of sugar! So I splashed it with a bit of lime juice, doused it with a lot of vodka, and garnished the rim with a thick wedge of it just to prove it's purity.

Despite my way with words, my kryptonite is my lack of ability to name cocktails, so I am forced to settle on the obvious:

The Watermelon Martini.

I know that my cocktail naming abilities SUCK! But are you any better? Come in and give it a name, or mention this blog and it is yours for $4!!! You won't find a better deal on fresh-made cocktails like this anywhere in Seattle, and if you do, drop me a line - The first round is on me.

With Love,