Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy New Year!!!

In case any of you were wondering if I made any New Year's resolutions for 2010, I'm sorry to inform you that I haven't. In fact, it is my personal belief that if you really want something NOT to happen, then you should make a resolution for it, otherwise you are just setting yourself up for disappointment.

Instead of grandiose wishes I like to build upon the things that I have done well and try not to dwell on what I have not; slow and steady wins the race. With the hard-hitting economy a devastating factor to small businesses like ours I am truly grateful for our loyal customers and feel positive about the things to come in the new year.

So what's new for us this year? Well, I have been working on menus for special dinners that we will be holding one Wednesday a month with the possibility of an occasional Sunday/Monday night as well. The limited seating dinners will include some form of libation pairing and will have a specific theme, such as beer pairings, foods that aren't supposed to go with wine, cocktail pairings, spicy foods, the versatility of pork (of course), maybe even a vegetarian/vegan night and probably a gluten-free menu as well. I am always up for suggestions; if you have a suggested theme or are excited about one that I have listed above, please feel free to contact me to let me know what you would like to see featured first. Stay tuned for updates!

Now on to this week's special:

Chowder is another one of this country's great dishes, but when most people hear the word they immediately think of either the white New England or red Manhattan versions, but a chowder can simply be a rich and creamy soup made from corn or even chicken. I personally prefer mine white and creamy, so I'm going to build upon the New England version with this one.

I slowly cooked chopped fennel and onion with steamed whole garlic cloves in equal parts of butter and olive oil (to keep the butter from browning) and then added clam juice, thyme and bay leaves. I added peeled potatoes as a thickener as opposed to the traditional flour base for the growing number of people with "gluten allergies" a.k.a. Celiac disease whose special requests have outnumbered those with shellfish allergies, an irony for this type of dish. Another plus to using fresh potato as a thickener is that it will create an amazing velvety texture when pureed, almost as if you didn't need to add cream... but I did anyway.

As for the other components of the dish I added roasted fennel and fingerling potatoes to a saute of shrimp, bay scallops and chunks of Pacific red snapper. For the finishing touch I made some fritters by breading a mixture of ground chorizo and chopped clams with a touch of Old Bay seasoning for that classic taste before frying them to crispy deliciousness.

As I've said before, the winter doesn't offer a lot as far as produce goes, but a surprising gem is the blood orange. After using it to brighten my Beet Carpaccio plate a couple of weeks ago, my mind was brimming with cocktail possibilities, but I felt the best use was to implement it in what is considered to be the first drink to be called a "cocktail" in this country, the Old Fashioned.

Instead of the now obligatory ritual of muddling, layering, shaking and topping that has come to define what Mixology means to us today, I chose a simpler route that emphasizes the quality of the ingredients:

Rocks glass full of ice, fresh squeezed blood orange juice, Bourbon and a splash of club soda to liven it up.

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." - Leonardo da Vinci

With Love,