Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Undying Passion

Well, I didn't advance in my food blog competition, but I won't offer any theories or make any excuses; it was a great learning experience that made me realize how much I enjoy writing about food and want to continue doing so, with this blog as well as new ventures in the future. Even after rejection we must press on with the things that we believe in and are passionate about. After all, Colonel Sanders spent a year and half on the road, sleeping in his car, before he struck a deal to open the first KFC.

At risk of brushing off the failure like I never really cared, I have to say that I am a bit relieved that I don't have have to stress out while jumping through hoops to form my writing or my food into a mold as dictated by someone else. I fret tirelessly over my specials as it is, and though we all need to work out of our comfort zone to improve, I don't want the focus to stray away from what's the true point of this blog: the food.

That relief payed off in spades, because once I sat down on Sunday night to work out this week's special the lack of constraints opened the flood gate of ideas, and along with the concepts in my notebook, I laid out three quarters of the specials from now until Thanksgiving! And for that, I am thankful.

I had written this idea off for this year since summer in Seattle was just a fizzle and salads don't make great statements for food blog competitions, but I guess the stars aligned just so to allow it to happen, and I'm all the happier for it. I had the thought written down to pair a stuffed calamari with a hearty salad for quite some time now but it was overshadowed by too many other seafood dishes that played better with the summer season, but now with the warm temperatures predicted for this week this one seemed fitting.

I've been wanting to make a chorizo vinaigrette, probably because I like the notion of taking something that is seemingly healthy like a salad and desecrating it with something like sausage. So instead of simply adding sausage to the salad I brewed a rich stock by simmering fresh chorizo sausage from the local Cascioppo Brothers meat company. Once cooled I blended it with champagne vinegar, shallots, garlic and extra virgin olive oil as well as the ingredients that flavor the sausage like smoked paprika, black pepper, fresh oregano and a touch of ground arbol chile.

To balance such a rich dressing I went with contrasting flavors by using baby arugula and radicchio for bitterness and crunch, which I then countered with freshly julienned green apple and ripe tomatoes. To give it more depth I roasted radishes, which changes their texture and softens their bite.

I initially thought of stuffing calamari tubes with the chorizo, like a play on sausage itself, but I chose to use the filling to bridge the flavors instead; kind of like working from the inside out. I knew from one of our brunch items (and past specials) how well the classic combination of chorizo and manchego cheese go together, so I made a base by sauteing onions, garlic and celery that I then cooled before incorporating finely grated manchego cheese and the cooked, chopped calamari tentacles.

Not to leave anything to waste (and taking every opportunity to add flavor) I used the leaves from the radishes that I roasted to make a delicious pesto by chopping them with whole almonds, fresh garlic and olive oil that is not only very functional by holding the calamari in place, but also gives a suprising hidden burst of flavor.

If there's a last chance of selling a summery style cocktail I think that this week is it; besides, last week's Tropical Iced Tea sold so well I think that our customers are about as ready to give up the thought of summer as I am ready to give up pork!!

This one has a classic southwestern flavor with sweet prickly pear puree (which is actually a type of catus) combined with the tart juice of passion fruit in place of the lime juice that typically balances the sweetness of the common mojito, an since these flavor combinations work so well together I bypassed the mint and just added a splash of club soda to lighten it up enough to drink more than just one!

With Love,



  1. Sorry to hear about the elimination. They don't know what they are missing ;)

  2. I'm sorry too, but I'm glad to hear that you're relieved and free to write as you wish!

    This stuffed calamari looks amazing, and the dressing sounds intriguing! I had no idea radish leaves were usable.

    Oh, and we'll be visiting on Thursday this week. We're going to Claim Jumper tonight to celebrate Scott's birthday ;)