Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pride and Joy

It's that time of year!! Pride officially kicks off at 12:01 am Thursday morning and we have a few things planned to help you celebrate and get involved. First, Thursday night is PrideFest, where a portion of each bill goes to support Gay City Health Project which provides HIV and AIDS testing to gay men, and Seattle Counseling Service that advocates for and offers health services to the GLBT community.

Secondly, this Saturday is the Capitol Hill Pride Festival, where Broadway will be closed from Roy to John St./Olive Way allowing for local businesses like ours to offer booths or tables in the street as well as a variety of events like music and a Doggie Drag Costume Contest (WOW!), bringing some of that flare back to The Hill before the big parade on Sunday.

Finally, I have my personal contribution to commemorate this special occasion, in a way that I know best - tasty cocktails!!! After an ongoing collaboration with one of our servers, Kari, we ended up with a simple yet effective way to celebrate diversity by infusing Skyy vodka with individual flavors of Skittles candy, creating a rainbow of colorful liqueurs resembling the pride flag.

It is it's simplicity that is astounding, because as long as you allow the candy to completely dissolve in the vodka, thoroughly strain it through cheesecloth and shake it over ice you end up with the perfect balance of alcohol, sweetness and flavor that is undeniably a Skittles Martini!!
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You may not think that my dinner special seems like a direct example of what Pride exemplifies, so allow me convince you otherwise...

Our country was built on fundamentals of diversity and equality, an ideal that was a thousand times greater than the founding fathers could have possibly imagined at its inception, allowing for a world of cultures to flourish and influence each other, thereby creating the society that we live in today, and something that will continually evolve into the future. After every hurdle and every struggle we always come out a little bit better than before, solidifying that notion of "home".

So what I wanted to do was create a variation of a classic American dish that dates back to the Colonial days of our country but with local and cultural additions (along with a few touches of me) to emphasize the steps that we have made, and that dish can only be our beloved chicken and dumplings.

My version is less practical than the traditional because I started with a rich chicken broth instead of the cooking process yielding a broth from water and chicken legs, guaranteeing me optimal flavor, and then adding roasted chicken thighs that were cooked separately so that they are perfectly juicy. To bring the broth to another level I simmered it with red wine and some crushed juniper berries while I worked on the tedious process of the dumplings.

As an interesting deviation from the usual dumplings I made mine with eggs, Parmesan cheese, half and half and semolina flour - a favorite among Italians in order to make great pasta that gives them a texture that is less doughy than all purpose flour but finer than cornmeal. For added refinement I shaped each dumpling into perfect balls by hand as opposed to the Rorschach-Esq versions that adorn the rustic versions.

I finished the dish by sauteing locally available Gai Lan, or Chinese broccoli, that is of the same family as broccoli and kale and has become a modern staple in Chinese-American cooking, along with morel mushrooms, one of my favorite fungi that also happened to be sourced locally, to my delight.

The broth is amazingly light and rich at the same time, while giving way to the creamy dumplings accented by the earthy mushrooms and vibrant greens; a perfect balance of culture and versatility that livens the taste buds as well as the mind!

With Love,


P.S. - A funny side note; many of you are well aware that we change our pancake recipe for brunch weekly, and I have decided to offer our popular Ginger Pancakes in honor of a new addition to my family: Ginger, a Australian Shepherd mix that my wife and I adopted this past Sunday (hey, the food connotation comes naturally to a chef!).

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