Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Duty Free

I still have a few ideas kicking around from my trip to Hong Kong a few weeks ago; don't be surprised if you see remnants for months to come.

If you haven't ever gone abroad, let me tell you that one of the greatest things about international travel is actually the duty free shop here at the airport in Seattle. Seriously! The yardstick by which duty free prices are measured: Johnny Walker Blue Label is $138 a bottle!! We held out for Asia only to see that price rise.

Luckily for us duty free extended onto the plane, where we went for the Remy Martin XO cognac that was priced a little less. We sipped glasses of the elixir like royalty in our hotel room; I even mixed it with some champagne which made an amazing cocktail that I promised myself that I would feature at Table 219, but alas, the price would be too much, so I had to draw inspiration from elsewhere...

The second most memorable beverage we had was at Bo Innovation, where aside from some amazing food that you will no doubt see in my specials over the next couple of months (or even years) we had sparkling sake for the first time. As I was trying to figure out my specials this past weekend I remembered that Gary had been duped into buying a bottle of Effen cucumber vodka, I realized how well the vodka would benefit from the unique flavor and effervescence of the sparkling sake, leading me to this refreshing cocktail:

 We muddle fresh mint and sliced ginger with a little simple syrup and ice to help break it all up before dousing it with the cucumber vodka, topping it off with some sparkling sake that Uwajimaya happened to have on sale, like it was meant to be!!

Another inspiration came from THE most beautiful restaurant that I've been to (and that says a lot!!), Amber, in the Landmark Hotel which is a part of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel chain. Though my wife Anna giggled over the fact that our server looked like one of our close friends, Tommy Lee, she burst out laughing at a dish that looked like "Asparagus Man with Bone Marrow and Black Truffle 'googly eyes'"! It was delicious, but comical; too bad we were laughing too hard to take a pic...

So I drew from that flavor profile, one of my favorites, and created a dish like it but with more of my own style.

Since asparagus is available locally now I knew that it would be a good time to pair it with the leftover black truffles that I had from the cod dish on the previous menu. I also love black truffle with chicken, so I seasoned an airliner chicken breast (which has the wing bone attached for presentation and flavor) with black truffle salt and pan-seared it while basting it with butter, fresh thyme and garlic. During the long process of roasting I warm thick slices of purple potatoes in butter, steam the spears of asparagus, and whip up a black truffle hollandaise to order with the aid of a hand blender.

Everything is seasoned with some sea salt that has been infused with black truffle that I've been using to flavor our popcorn every since the conception of my Pacific cod dish on the last menu. A wonderful, earthy dish that joins the flavor of winter with that of spring.

Enjoy the past while it lasts!!

With Love,


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