Wednesday, July 22, 2009

K.I.S.S. Me Again

As some of you know, last Wednesday we participated in Farestart's Guest Chefs on the Waterfront (see last week's post for more detail), and I couldn't be more happy with the way that it went. I wanted to offer something easy and delicious, and most certainly and item from our actual menu, so we served our delicious Roasted Garlic and Bacon Deviled Eggs with Smoked Paprika and Sweet Pepper Relish. The praise was overwhelming.

I would like to say that Stacey and Nani (from our sister restaurant, Geraldine's Counter) were a great help, but truth be told they pretty much ran our booth on their own so my inflated chef ego could mingle with the masses and hobnob with my culinary peers, and for that, I am thankful.

I met some wonderful people, tasted a lot of great food and sipped a lot of great beverages, but to my surprise my favorite samples were the most simple offerings, like the Chilled Baby Octopus Salad from Matt's in the Market, the Hot Pastrami from Roxy's Diner, or the Pavlova "Shooters" from Starry Nights Catering, just to name a small selection of highlights. Normally I go for the over-the-top stuff, but it was evident to me that all of the chefs there with the best dishes focused on what they do best and allowed the ingredients shine as opposed to trying to outdoing someone else's food; if I've heard it once, I've heard it a thousand times:

Keep It Simple, Stupid

It is a statement that rings out through serious kitchens everywhere, basically saying that you should focus on building from a few, solid flavors instead of muddling a dish with a laundry list of ingredients. I am the first to admit that from time to time even I stray away from this philosophy of cooking every now and then, for good or for worse, but I never do it in a way that compromises taste for theatrics.

So this week, I embraced the KISS principle wholeheartedly. The second my produce purveyor mentioned those holy words "Heirloom Tomatoes" I knew what I had to do.

If you have ever strolled through a Farmer's Market and wondered "what is an heirloom tomato?" you can find more in-depth information here, but it doesn't stop with just tomatoes; you can now find varieties of potatoes, lettuce, beans, even melons such as honeydew (a nod to my birthday dinner at How to Cook a Wolf). To put it simply: pains have been taken to maximize flavor instead of a mass-market visual appeal, so really, you shouldn't have to do much with them anyway; to fuss with them beyond that would only mask the amazing flavor that has been painstakingly produced.

Though I cannot predict what varieties that will be available throughout this week, some of them should include Brandywine, Black Krim, Ida Gold, and Green Zebra. (I am growing a few of these varieties myself on my balcony, but I will never give up those!)

I just alternated thin slices by size and varietal on a long plate and dressed them with some fruity extra virgin olive oil, a medley of fresh cracked peppercorns and Fleur de Sel(the top layer of hand-harvested sea salt collected in France), served with a few herbed baguette crostini. A tribute to the simple beauty of nature and those who labor to keep it!!!

As a newbie to the Seattle area I am sometimes overwhelmed with the many summertime opportunities that this beautiful region has to offer, and I find myself falling behind on my to-do list every year. At one point I wanted to make plans to take the ferry over to Sequim, WA between Port Angeles and Port Townsend on the day before my birthday for the Lavender Festival since the final day coincided with one of my days off, but alas, too much too soon.

So as a tribute to the festival, as well as the glorious season of summer, I decided to honor the floral member of the mint family by steeping it in water, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest. Once strained and cooled I stirred it with vodka and ice in a tall pint glass to compose a super refreshing summer cocktail sipper, the Vodka Lavender Lemonade!!

With the record high temperatures that are predicted for this weekend in Seattle an inevitable truth, I can promise that this vibrant cooler will beat the heat better than any shade that you can find!!!

With Love,