Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A New Step

We had a blast is Hong Kong! I have a ton of inspiration, from both the city and all of the catching up I did with culinary publications. But since I had to plan for this week in advance to avoid a last minute scramble, those ideas will have to wait. Until then...

This week we are not only introducing a new dinner menu starting Thursday, but also an upgrade to better our brunch menu by implementing cage-free eggs from local Stiebers Farms, and while they feed their hens mostly organic food, that minute amount that they don't is what separates the cost of the eggs by another 50%. We'll try these out on our customers before we upgrade again - not everyone appreciates the value that a humanly raised animal can cost.

To showcase this new addition to our brunch menu I wanted to feature these wonderful eggs as a dinner special first, along with several other tasty bits:

Many months ago I had already tested the idea of softly poaching an egg and then breading it with panko and frying just enough to crisp the outside and warm the yolk without overcooking it.

I've always thought that it would make a great addition to an awesome salad with other rich ingredients and an acidic vinaigrette, so I started with my favorite green: frisee because it's fluffy, crunchy and bitter; already giving great contrast to the dish. I've been curing my own guanciale, or pork jowl cured with salt, herbs and peppercorns that I then hung to air-dry for a month. I finely julienned the fatty meat that's been compared to pancetta (but with WAY more flavor) before cooking it in its own fat until tender. And, just for good measure I used the remaining fat as part of a vinaigrette made with steamed spring onions, garlic, fresh herbs and extra virgin olive oil.

I also added diced vine-ripened tomatoes, the raw green ends of the spring onions and some nice pistachios for crunch and flavor, creating an excellent early spring salad that has enough heft to enjoy as a small entree or light enough to save room for one of my new menu items!!

I had a few of the dates leftover from the special before I left (like I was hoping for) so I chopped them up in a blender with some rum to macerate while I frolicked in Hong Kong like a fool...

When I got back, the flavor of the date had infused beautifully into the rum as expected, allowing me to combine it with other tropical flavors to brighten up our slow spring, like a splash of Malibu coconut rum, pineapple juice, lime juice to cut some of the sweetness, and Peychaud bitters to balance it all out.

With Love,