Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In a Pickle

I know that I have already professed my love for over-extending myself by hand-making the components of my specials that could otherwise be purchased like vinegars, cured meats or chips, but what you may not know is that the same holds true for our everyday menu as well. From condiments like Tomato Jam, Tzatziki and Ginger Dill Pickles for our burgers to the Sweet Pepper Relish under our Deviled Eggs. Aside from the concept that the more you do yourself the better the outcome, there is another factor here: my passion for the old world technique of preserving.

This time of year is the highlight of agriculture, with an overwhelming abundance of produce falling off faster than we can use, and just as much now as before fruits and vegetables are being jarred, dried and canned, but what was a method of survival is now a matter of flavor. So now I take it upon myself to carry on those traditions - not out of necessity, but of desire.

So for this dish I went with a more delicate approach of the pickling method; a tribute, if you will: instead of the heavy infusion of a boiling vinegar solution poured over the ingredients I decided to quickly marinate thinly sliced Green Beans, Red Onions, English Cucumbers, Red Bell Peppers and Celery in seasoned red wine vinegar over a period of hours at room temperature in order to retain their color and crunch, but still imparting that acidic bite.

The next component is something that I have been bouncing around my head for quite some time, being someone from Indiana and having a background with some Pastry Arts skills: I pureed fresh corn kernels with half 'n' half, cream and egg yolks and baked the mixture in a shallow pan (like a savory custard base for creme brulee), which was then cooled and cut into rectangular bars and topped with a new ingredient - Seared Sea Scallops, and for added dimension I dotted the plate with a sweet and spicy puree of thickened carrot juice cooked with Madras curry powder. The dish pops from the pickled vegetables and the spiciness of the carrot curry puree in contrast with the rich and creamy custard, all of which compliments the naturally sweetness of the scallops.

I know that this may seem like a backwards way of composing a dish, but you have to realize that accompanying ingredients are just as important as the alleged "main" ingredient, thus creating a balanced dish.

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This time, I can't take the credit for this week's drink special, and I am more than happy to do so. Our Brunch Manager Extraordinaire Kari Zumwalt took it upon herself to come up with this one.

Sometimes my cocktail specials don't translate well from nighttime to brunch; some people just don't like the taste of bourbon at 9 am (go figure...), so we have been augmenting them with more accessible concoctions like pomegranate mimosas or apricot bellinis in order to soothe the beast instead. Last weekend Kari was inspired by my use of local raspberries in the raspberry mojito and decided to implement her own version of a Kir Royale, but instead of sparkling wine with creme de cassis she used Chambord and garnished the glass with the same local raspberries! I loved it so much that I had to showcase it here!!!

It just goes to show you the dedication that everyone here has, and that I am not the only one here that has love to give.

With Love,